We make it to the meeting room before Dorora the Harpy went back to her business. We all take our seats like the last time we were here and wait for his arrival. The only differences between then and now are Lili’s absence and Kenaka’s and Mametama’s attendance, who are currently sitting in Erizora’s and Ren’s laps, respectfully. Kalline sits with the poise of tranquility and wariness, like a warrior ready to draw her sword at any hint of danger, and Ume, not even reading the room, gets comfortable and intimate with my arm against her bosom. Honestly, her nonchalant behavior in this setting actually helped make living in this air a little easier, and I, of course, don’t dislike the feeling of her generous mounds pressing against me.
“Thank you for waiting, Jinma—AAAH! Kalline! Thou art here, too?!” Eugus exclaims as he comes in the room and practically slams the door behind him. Upon closer inspection, I see bags under his eyes. It seems he also got his beard trimmed after I gave it the bad cut yesterday.
“Yes, Guild … nay, Dear Uncle, I am here as well, and I will politely ask again: please, let me join Master Jinma Kotori’s adventurer party,” she requests with hardened eyes.
“Where have thou been?! I have waited for thee to join me for breakfast and I ended up getting here hungry!”
“I was training and taking a bath before I went over to the Cantering Dreams Inn to speak with Master Jinma and the others. Please, let me join his adventuring party,” she requests again.
“… He did not do anything strange to thee, did he?”
“Master Jinma did no such thing and has taken care of me quite well. Please, let me join Master Jinma’s adventuring party.” One can already see how much she was losing her patience asking once more.
“I will not let thee join this dubious human’s party!”
“Why art thou so against this?! Thou had no problem registering him as a black-rank!”
“That was before I read into the reports from the infiltration! Summoning a herd of Bear Moles, including a King Bear Mole, into the city; destruction of property from them and his ominous ‘Slash’ skill; seven cultists from the White Rapture killed, many survivors left with major internal injuries, including the former black-rank adventurer who led the infiltration with dislocated and broken bones from being forcibly bent the wrong way; the many lives of the scouts he took yesterday while traumatizing one through torture enough to break his mind; taking the majority if not all of their money and belongings after defeat; and let us not forget the fact that the same man who did all of this bears a certain kind of eyes that no human should ever have! Thou were there and witnessed it all, and yet thou did nothing to stop him, Kalline?!”
“With all due respect, Dear Uncle, but Master Jinma was not even a registered adventurer at the time of the infiltration, but a foreigner who had nothing to do with this city, yet still put his life on the line to save it and its citizens when he was merely passing through. He confiscated the cultists’ possessions to not risk them doing anything sneaky, helped heal the mortally wounded citizens with the potions that were confiscated, and used the majority of the money he took from them to pay for the reparations in this city, including those he damaged himself! Not only that, but now that he is a black-ranked adventurer, he has more leeway to decide how to handle enemies without receiving consequences, and I heard he managed to pull important information from the one he kept alive that could possibly lead us to one of their hideouts if we follow their tracks!
“Adventurer or not, people kill and steal from each other all the time, at least he put what he stole into a good cause and stopped a threat from getting any worse. Also, those eyes of his, as well as the tanto he now carries, are a bigger threat combined than that infiltration, yet here he is with us not even abusing either of those powers! Thou art only calling him a notorious man because thou were not there to see who and what he really is!”
“If I could step in before someone says something they will regret?” I ask while standing and move between them. “Eugus, I understand your concern for your family, as well as how I do my ethics, but Kalline is more than old and capable enough to start making her own decisions, and my party has plenty of girls for her to go to with her troubles and concerns as a woman. She will not be alone should something happen to her.”
“Yes! I want to get closer to Ms. Gallofree as a friend and fellow party member!” Ren exclaims.
“Same goes for me!” [Erizora]
“I want to get to know more of Kalline Gallofree’s bold and loyal nature as well.” [Ume]
“By ‘party,’ thou mean thy growing harem, yes? Art thou not just trying to get my niece for thy sick twists?”
“Yes, my party might as well be my harem and I explained that to Kalline as best as I could, but I was willing to let her join as a special exception. I would not force her into something she would not be interested in and I try not to let one’s work interfere with personal lives. She would be free to go about her tasks like any other member of a party would.
“As this newly-formed party’s leader, I want Kalline to feel welcome here as well. I’m impressed with her knowledge and experience as an adventurer. I want to support her goals as a friend and comrade, and you can be sure that she’ll be taken care of under my watch,” I say.
“Master Jinma …”
“If our party’s word for her still means nothing for you, then …” I get up from my seat, take out my black adventurer’s card, and …
The others around me jump in shock as I slap my hand on the table hard enough to break it into two. My adventurer’s card sits on the floor where the break is.
“…” Uh, I was trying to make this more dramatic by slapping the card on the table, but I didn’t think I’d actually snap the thing in two. Damn, I’m stronger than I thought. Despite the thought, I pick up my card from the ground and thrust it toward Eugus while maintaining my cool air.
“Eugus Gallofree, I would like to put my place as a black-rank adventurer and all the money I have on the line and challenge you to a duel.”
““What?!”” Kalline, Ren, and Erizora exclaim. Ume, Eugus, and my familiars sit there unfazed.
“A duel, thou say?” Eugus asks.
“We would be fighting for Kalline’s freedom to choose what path she wants to take. If I win, I keep my place and money while you let her do what she pleases from now on. If I lose, then she will be forbidden in joining my party, all of my money on hand and what’s in the account will go to the guild, and you can demote my rank back down to the bottom as a white. You can even put that table I broke into a part of my debt. I’ll still pay for it if I win, of course.”
“Master Jinma—!” Kalline exclaims before I stop her in place with a hand up, staring her down, trying to remind her of what we just agreed on moments ago. Despite looking frightened, she pulls back.
“Thou art putting up a hard bargain, Jinma, and thou art asking to go against the guild master of Dondegarm, who is currently ranked bronze as an adventurer. Thou may have incredible Innate Stats, but thou do not know what I am capable of. On the condition that I decide how we do battle, art thou sure thou want to do this?” Eugus asks.
Eugus has one thing wrong about me in his assumption, for I actually do know what he’s capable of since I evaluated his status in detail with my ‘Size Up’ since he and Kalline started that family spat.
I admit I was surprised he was ranked as bronze, being a guild master, but his stats are more than what I was expecting.
[Name: Eugus Gallofree
Classes: Equestrian Paladin (1st), Equestrian Tank (2nd), Equestrian Knight (3rd)
Measurements: 220 cm in height [~7 ft, 2 in], 500 kg in weight [~1102 lbs]
Titles: Guild Master, Adventurer (Bronze), Dungeon Conqueror III, Master of Sanctity, Longsword Master, Spear Master, Shield Wielder, Bull Tank of Diligence Summoner [error; other titles can't be revealed at this time]
Equipment: Golden Armory Armlet, Steel Chainmail, Leather Vest
LV: 413 (1st), 201 (2nd), 234 (3rd)
SP. ATK: 14713
SP. DEF: 22134
Ability: Warrior’s Last Stand
Passive: Holy Resistance LV 9, Holy Magic LV 6, Shield-Wielding LV 6, Great Strength LV 6, Fear Resistance LV 5, Great Vitality LV 5, Longsword-Wielding MAX LV, Spear Wielding MAX LV, Armor Walk*, Third Class Privileges*
[error; other skills can't be revealed at this time]]
With ‘Size Up’ at LV 7 now, I can see skills, abilities, and maybe more titles than I could before, but there’s still much that I’m unable to see just yet. Even so, appraising Eugus definitely gave me confirmation that it is possible for one to acquire multiple classes through different means. What’s off though is that compared to my case, I don’t have the ‘1st, 2nd’ and other labels for the classes in my status like he does. What difference does it make for his classes to be set in a certain order, and why is his ‘Equestrian Tank’ class at LV 201 set as ‘2nd’ before ‘Equestrian Knight’ on ‘3rd’ at LV 234? When I look closer, their levels don’t seem to be evenly distributed in a way like the classes in mine are.
I want to ask Eugus on why this is but then my cover would be blown right then and there, so I play dumb and pretend I didn’t see anything. I may have the advantage in stats, but there are skills and titles I can’t see that he could use to possibly turn the tides of battle depending on how he wants to do this, let alone all of his experience on the field as an adventurer. With that in mind, I can’t get cocky since I’m putting a lot on the line for Kalline’s sake.
“Yes, I’m sure,” I answer to his question while looking straight into his eyes that seem to gleam with an expression that I’m not familiar with.
“Very well, then! How about we put the details of thy Assigned Quest aside for now and prepare for our duel 2 hours from now when we art nourished with lunch? Know that since I already gave our client notice about thee and Umeiyon’s participation, the results of this duel will not affect thy eligibility to take this quest. Will thou accept these terms?”
Eugus and I then shake on it and he tells me to be present in the guild when the time of our duel is near. If I’m not here by the appointed time, then I would be automatically disqualified and will have to give up my end of the bargain. After I give my confirmation, he steps out into the hall and leaves us in the meeting room.
“Master Jinma, why?! Why would thou risk thy own rank and money just to let me join thee?! Do thee even realize how much thou art staking?! Who thou art up against?!” Kalline asks.
“I do, but I’ve only been a black-rank for one day, and I honestly didn’t really care about my rank at the start. As long as I have a stable source of income, I’m fine with anything even lower than a white rank. Not only that, I have a feeling being a black-rank will bring unwanted attention my way, so being put in a position that doesn’t attract as much would be more favorable to me.”
“Eh, I never really cared about my own rank, either,” Ume says. “I only joined in as an adventurer because I had nothing else going on and Jin was becoming one, too. If I was suddenly demoted to the lowest rank, I probably wouldn’t care all that much. It doesn’t really value how great I am anyway, and the same goes for Jin.”
“Yeah! Black or white, Master’s still Master! We already know how great he is!” Ren exclaims.
“I am still against these conditions …” Kalline trails off while folding her horse ears back before shifting her gaze to me. “If thou lose to Dear Uncle, I will not be able to join thy party. Nay, more than that, he may forbid me from speaking to thee ever again.”
“Kalline, do you mind if I ask something personal?” I ask before she nods. “You’re clearly old enough to be your own woman, right? Is there a reason why he has you on such a short leash?”
“… I have mentioned he is my late mother’s older brother, yes? I am afraid that plays a large part in his overbearing behavior.” Kalline grips her bronze armlet and looks to the side. “Dear Uncle told me of this when I was old enough, but it seems my parents were on their way back here from my grandparents’ home by carriage when my mother went into labor in the middle of the road. It was apparently the most opportune time for human bandits nearby to make an ambush and try to rob them of everything they had. Dear Uncle must have found out those bandits have been seen along that road, and so he got there by himself as fast as he could to save my mother and her husband. He managed to get them all before they got away from the scene, but … it was too late.
“It was a miracle I survived. From what Dear Uncle told me, my mother must’ve done everything she could to keep me safe while I was still inside her. It was not until he heard me crying from the carriage after he finished off the bandits that he knew at least one had survived from the attack. From then on, he did everything he could to raise me on his own for his little sister’s sake.”
“Was that why he was so against you joining a party that includes a human like me?” I ask before she nodded. As annoyingly strict as he might be, I have a feeling Eugus and Mom might get along since she was in a similar situation while having me.
“Dear Uncle has been as much of a father as one may, a role model of a proud warrior that I want to strive for and I could never express how grateful I am to him for saving me that day. That is why … it is difficult for me to go against Dear Uncle’s word.”
“You really love your uncle, huh?”
“I do indeed, and I want to show him how strong I have become as a warrior, how much I want to put all of what he had taught me up to now into achieving my own goals, but it is so frustrating that he dost not allow me a chance to do so …”
“And you can’t really win against him in a match, being a guild master and all, let alone your uncle,” I say, to which she nods. “Well, you can’t really help it with him being so strong, and who knows how long it would take for you to get strong enough to even stand up at his level, but you still want to show him how strong you’ve become, how strong you will become as you join me and my party during our quests. If you were to fight him in my place, knowing full well you’ll lose, would you still do it, Kalline?”
“… If fighting him with everything I have was what it took for me to join thy party, then yes, I would.”
“All right then, I think I hear you loud and clear now,” I say before I cast [Soundproof] in the meeting room, make sure the door’s closed, windows are covered and I get to my MIB, reaching inside to search for something by touch. “There are some things in life where one’s resolve can achieve incredible feats, even if it seems impossible. Your resolve to show your uncle your strength as a warrior as well as joining my party are strong, so if you don’t mind, Kalline, I will borrow it to use in my duel as I fight in your place.”
““Haa~?!”” Kalline, Kenaka, and Mametama gasp as I pull out what I was looking for in my MIB, a golden bracelet that glows upon contact with me. Those three are the only ones left among others in this room who aren’t aware of my identity that I will now reveal to them.
“Th-That bracelet … is it really?” [Kalline]
“I knew Milord was someone unique, but …” [Kenaka]
“To think he was actually one of them …” [Mametama]
“Ohh~! Master’s getting pumped now!” [Erizora]
“I can practically feel the energy! It’s the same kind that Master had when we started the resistance on the White Rapture’s raid!” [Ren]
“Hmph. If you have this much enthusiasm, Jin, then as your primary wife, I expect one hell of a victory by the end of this.” [Ume]
<“You heard the lady, Jinma. We gotta buck that old geezer’s ass in the coolest way possible.”> [Nyra]
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” I answer to Ume and Nyra as I slip the IEB on my right wrist before it glows brightly as if it senses my determination. I then turn to Kalline who stares at me wide-eyed before I thump my fist with that same bracelet over my heart with an excited smile.
Just this once, I decide to let a little of my Dark Past help me say these next words.
“Kalline Gallofrey, I swear to thee on this bracelet, as a Champion representing for the Goddess of Lust, Obina, I will defeat thy uncle and win thee thy freedom to join my adventuring party or my name isn’t Jinma Kotori, the ‘Merciless Demon!’” I declare in the same archaic language the Centaurs use the best I could.
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Hello and welcome. You may call me Orange Rain, and I looooove orange soda.
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