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Well … I didn’t expect things to turn out like this.

After I lifted Eugus off the ground and set him back on the arena with tendrils from ‘Darkness Manipulation,’ even if we were under the Immortals’ protection, I wanted to make sure Eugus didn’t suffer any serious injuries, but he seemed to be doing fine once he got back on his hooves. He looked at the scoreboard and confirmed that the Immortals did indeed track the score of every valid strike I hit on his body with my magic and bokken. I guess there’s also a recording feature as he asked the slate to show footage of the battle that took place.

Whatever device that was used to record this unique ‘video,’ I can imagine it would be every passionate cameraman’s dream from how high quality it was, especially when the footage was slowed down to countless frames per second. There were even symbols that indicated where the strikes were landed to give me points.

I was surprised how fast I moved from one place to another after watching that footage. Thinking back on that battle as well, I was astounded how everything seemed slow to me. I know I planned to assault him as fast as I could and not give him a chance to attack but I didn’t think I was that fast, let alone getting the duel done within 5 seconds.

Eugus still seemed to be in disbelief as he replayed the footage a number of times, trying to seek something that wouldn’t count as a point for me.

“Eugus, it’s time to concede,” a mature, feminine voice says as a hand is placed on Eugus’ shoulder.

The two of us look over and see it’s Ms. Tephalia giving him a considerate and somewhat apologetic smile. Behind her are my party along with Lili, Ms. Raize, and Winny.

“You’ve been going over that footage for 5 minutes. We all saw it here, the Immortals made the declaration, there’s no argument to who won,” Ms. Tephalia continues.

Eugus grunted and shut his eyes tightly. “But … Kalline will be …”

He really didn’t want to face the reality of the situation. Shutting himself out from it so much, he suddenly grew much smaller in my eyes compared to before our duel started.

It’s as if the wrinkles that show his age finally revealed themselves that depict him to be a pitiful old man.

“Dear Uncle … is there something else going on? Something that thou art using Master Jinma as an excuse to avoid?” Kalline then asks as she steps up.

“I … I knew this day was coming. I knew it, but …” he trails off while not being able to look at Kalline in the eyes. “My dear niece, thou have grown to be a fine young lady, a spitting image of thy mother. I was … I was afraid, that if thou left, it would be like losing her all over again and I just … do not want to be alone.”

“Dear Uncle …”

Not wanting … to be alone …? The words repeat themselves in my mind before I get a sudden painful throb in my head. I put my hand on the side of it while a ringing noise fills my ears, drowning out the talk between Kalline and Eugus.

“Jin-chan! *** can’t ***! I don’t want *** to ***! I don’t want to be alone again!”

<“Whoa! Jinma, calm down! Breathe! Breathe!”>

Barely getting Nyra’s instruction, I focus on my breaths and take it slowly. The pain dies down and I’m left with a cold sweat and subtle numbness down my back that makes me lose balance for a bit there.

The hell was that? I thought I heard … Mom’s voice for a moment there. I’ve never heard her getting so hysterical before.

<“It looks like the old fart’s words triggered a few your locked memories to resurface.”>

Locked … memories?

<“Remember? A point in your memories before that large jump happened was desperately keeping itself locked away for your mental safety. Whatever you were thinking when he said that broke one of the shackles to keep it shut.”>

Ah … I get it now.

<“This is actually good news for us as I have found a point to start investigating that memory. I’ll remind you again before you go to sleep tonight but I’ll trace back to your earliest memory up to that point and look into it while you rest.”>

Right. I appreciate that, Nyra.

“Master, are you okay? You look like you’re in pain …”

I look over to see it was Ren who asked that, looking up to me with folded ears while holding Mametama in her arms. The little cougar cub also stared at me with a similar expression that would make any person’s heart crumble at the sight.

“Yeah, my head just ached for a moment there but it calmed down now. Sorry to worry you, Ren, Mametama.” I try to put up a smirk while ruffling Ren’s hair and scratching behind Mametama’s ear to assure my condition. They still look skeptical but decide to leave it there.

“Jinma,” Eugus calls. I turn and give him my attention. I don’t know how long my mind was pulled away from reality but it seems he and Kalline came to an understanding during that time. “It pains me to admit this but despite the unbelievable circumstances, thou hast followed the rules accordingly, and thus … I concede defeat.” He then bows his head to me.

“You heard the man!” Ms. Raize exclaims as she takes my hand and holds it up in the air. “The winner of this duel is the uprising rookie adventurer, Jinma Kotori!”

The crowd in the audience goes wild at her announcement. It was so quiet until now that I forgot we were being watched.

“I still can’t believe it! Master did it! He beat a guild master on his own terms so one-sidedly! Mmh~! I can’t stop shaking after just thinking about it!” [Erizora]

“Master has shattered expectations with greater proportions yet again!” [Ren]

“Hmph. Was there ever any doubt?” [Ume]

“Master Jinma … just keeps growing more amazing by the hour.” [Winny]

“A very well done, Milord! To prove your physical strength being as great if not better than your magic in such an astounding victory, I couldn’t have done the same!” [Kenaka]

“Indeed, and quite cunning as well to pull that off. It seems we have chosen an interesting master to serve as familiars after all.” [Mametama]

“And now, as per the agreement exchanged between participants, Guild Master?” Ms. Raize asks him as she takes the part of an MC. The audience goes silent again.

“Right.” Eugus then turns to Kalline and puts both hands on her shoulders. “Kalline, as agreed, thou hast been given freedom from my authority. I may already know but I will ask anyway, what will thou do now?”

“Dear Uncle … I am going to join Master Jinma’s party and his journey to greatness. While I will serve him as his advisor, I will use everything thou hast taught me up to now and become a splendid adventurer that thou can be proud of.”

“I see …”

Then at Kalline’s surprise along with everyone else’s, Eugus pulls her into a tight embrace.

“I have always been proud of thee … as an adventurer and a daughter. I could not be more honored and blessed to be thy guardian,” he whispers.

“D-Dear Uncle …” Kalline tightly returns the gesture while breaking into tears. “Thank you … thank you so much for everything …”

I hear a few sniffles around me as I watch the scene. The one that’s most apparent is Ren, but unlike the rest of them that look to be crying tears of joy, hers look to be of sadness. Maybe seeing this moment is bringing up some memories that she didn’t want to look back on? I may not tell that much with my ‘Intuition’ but that’s what my gut is telling me, anyway.

I console her the best I could by scratching and petting her head again.

Taking a moment to gather themselves, the uncle-niece Centaurs turn to me with the former resting a hand on the latter’s shoulder.

“I entrust her into thy care, Jinma Kotori. I ask of thee as a guardian … take good care of her, would thee?”

I only nod to answer before Kalline walks up to me and kneels to a position that’s worthy of a noble knight.

“Master Jinma Kotori, it is an honor and pleasure to serve thee. I, Kalline Gallofree, pledge my allegiance in hopes that I will be of use to thee in the times ahead. I will be in thy care.”

“Mm. Good to have you on board, Kalline. I will be expecting much from you as our advisor, so let’s get along, all right?”

“Yes, Master Jinma!”

[Kalline Gallofree’s Affinity is now unlocked. Current level of Affinity: LV 1; Total Affinity Level: 8

[You may now use the Affinity Skill: ‘Centaur’s Honor!’ Cost: 4 AP]

<“And that’s another girl in the harem bag, plucked just ripe and ready to be eaten!”>

I mentally shake my head in Nyra’s antics.

“Don’t get too comfy just yet! There’s one more thing that needs to be settled!” Lili then suddenly exclaims. “In addition to granting Kalline freedom from authority, the guild master will pay for nightgowns, lingerie, and underwear provided by yours truly for each of Jinma Kotori’s harem members, including his beloved niece, amounting to the same price as what’s in his adventurer’s account!”

The audience is stunned into silence at Lili’s announcement.

“Ah, yes, I have almost forgotten …” Eugus says, his tone suddenly turning very sour and dark.

“I’ve been meaning to ask, I’m aware of what’s included in underwear, but what are these ‘nightgowns’ and ‘lingerie’ you speak of?” Ume asks but no one answered her.

“So, Mom, how much money does Jinma currently have in his account?” Lili asks Ms. Raize.

“Well, we have actually received enough money today for Mr. Jinma to withdraw if he wants to. Add into the remaining reward money he earned yesterday after spending most of it in last night’s drinks … it’s about 4 million karos.”

““4 MILLION?!”” Eugus and I yell.

“4 million karos … he-he-he~, I’m going to be making bank with that much money. Yes~, I’m gonna have to get creative with my lingerie designs this time around. I’ll make sure yours will be extra special for the occasion, Kalline~,” Lili promises before she giggles some more … a little maniacally, even, as she rubs her hands together like a children’s anime villain.

Despite how shady my former employer was, I admit I was also excited when I saw the number on my first paycheck, even after taking the payments for Mom’s hospital bills and other things into account. I was excited, but not in the way Lili’s showing right now.

It’s kind of scary what money can do to change a person, human or demon.

“L-Lingerie … for me? But I am not suited for …” Kalline trails off as she gets flustered.

Somehow, my eyes are stuck at Kalline’s direction and I suddenly think about how female Centaurs would wear such particular clothing.

Now that I think about it, Centaurs don’t even wear underwear like panties and briefs … right? That’d be a weird image if they do and how would they even put them on? I guess that’s why all of them wear those drape-like skirts to maintain modesty for both guys and girls. Still, if you remove the drapes and put the lingerie on the human-like torso …

“U-Um, Master Jinma, thy staring with those eyes is a little unnerving to me,” Kalline says shakily with flushed cheeks while instinctively covering her chest.

Shing.

Before I could even open my mouth to speak and defend myself, I feel a sharp point set right on my neck. It doesn’t hurt but I could still feel dangerous vibes emanating from it.

… That’s not the same sword he was using in the duel, is it?

<“Nope. This one’s faaaar more lethal than the other one.”>

“Art thou trying to steal my dear niece’s chastity along with all of my money right in front of me, thou cretin?”

“… How about we discuss details on the deal along with my quest back inside?”

Somehow or other, I managed to dodge from a possibly messier ‘duel’ by the skin of my teeth as we moved back into the meeting room for the discussion through my [Portal], mainly because of how crowded the coliseum had gotten both inside and out that made escaping difficult.

On another note, Kenny, who was with Winny a while ago, pretty much changed his mind about challenging me right after seeing how my duel with Eugus turned out and flew off with the tail between his legs. This is what Winny told me though, but I honestly didn’t even notice he left. Maybe he was getting traumatic flashbacks from how he ended up a similar fate by Ume’s Water Blast, but who knows?

~~

Unknown to everyone in the coliseum, a person sits alone on one of the audience’s benches, completely undetectable by means that not even a great Magic Dragon can see through normally with ‘Magic Sense.’ Only Jinma caught a faint feeling of being watched from this person earlier, the same one whose kind of observation he couldn’t put a finger on. That feeling bothers him even then as he and his peers disappear through the [Portal] he made.

Having seen the entire duel from start to finish, she couldn’t help but snicker while making a grin big enough that might split her face in two from how her lips were pulled up to her cheeks.

“Jinma … Kotori …” she silently whispers to herself as she trills her fingers together, burning the image of the man’s face in her mind as best she could.

~~

I took everyone who was gathered at the arena back to the meeting room where it all started. The table I broke in half was still there, and as promised, I would pay for the damage with my own money whether or not I won that duel. I went ahead and gave that money to Ms. Raize right then and there.

Then, with everyone present as witnesses and the door locking people out from the outside, Eugus and I settled on how payments for Lili’s services in providing customized, adulterous attire for my harem and Kalline would be arranged.

Ren and Erizora had to answer Ume’s questioning on what lingerie and nightgowns were earlier. Ume was against the idea at first, as she wondered what the point was of wearing something when it was going to be stripped off soon after putting it on, anyway. Even though she’d barely notice it, it was constraining enough wearing the apron-like cheongsam during the day.

Indeed, Lili made an enchantment on that outfit as she put it together that conforms to her figure and even provides ample support to her chest almost like a bra would, amazingly enough. Seeing her G-cup boobs as intoxicating and delectable as they were then, I was tempted to give them a few squeezes.

Despite Ume’s argument, it was amazingly Ms. Tephalia who whispered something in her fin-like ear that made her flush while changing her mind. It was then I remembered my dilemma between the two of them and wondered how much they both knew of what was going on before they came to the coliseum. The way her eyes smiled as she glanced my way after whispering her piece sent shivers down my spine in ways I didn’t think was possible.

Once the arrangements of how payments to Lili’s services were settled, Ms. Tephalia asked me to make a [Portal] that would send her back to her manor, which I was fine with doing so, but then made the announcement of inviting me and my whole party to come to that same place for dinner tonight.

Apparently, the invitation was the main reason why she came to the guild from the start. Not even the girls who spoke with her before the duel were aware of it. It wouldn’t be as much of a surprise if she invited only me, but inviting my whole party that included Kenaka and Mametama was quite a shock. I didn’t get a chance to talk with her before she slithered through the [Portal] but since I decided to accept the invitation for us, I was given some time to think about what I should say to her about the harem situation and my relationship with Ume.

After Ms. Tephalia left, everyone else who wasn’t part of my party was asked by Eugus to leave the room so he could discuss the details of the Assigned Quest with us in private. From there, Winny decided to head to back to the church for work, Lili would stand by in the lobby and wait for an opportunity to get the girls’ measurements, and Ms. Raize would do the same to update our party registry to include Kalline in the group.

When only our party was left in the room, we all took a seat while Eugus confirmed who would be joining me and Ume on the Assigned Quest. Me, Ume, Ren, Erizora, and Kalline. He said before that the limit to the group joining me was five but confirmed Mametama and Kenaka are exceptions since they’re my familiars summoned due to a spell. I didn’t tell him what kind of magical beasts they were, of course.

Once the five allowed participants were accounted for, with a reminder to those who were in the meeting room last time to not fall asleep, Eugus explained to us the conditions of the Assigned Quest as he explained to me and Ume yesterday.

There was some additional information Ume and I wasn’t aware of when Eugus explained it to us yesterday, probably so everyone who’ll be coming with us is accounted for and he wouldn’t have to repeat everything. One is that there’ll be a witness who will oversee the events, the guild master of Palocaesy who goes by Konjiro who’s apparently of the Kitsune race. I guess if this quest is taking place in a dungeon nearest to your city with a prestigious noble involved, it would make sense as one of the highest officials to become a witness of sorts, but I didn’t think that person would be from a race that’s depicted in Japanese folktales to be one of the Demon-Kin. Considering how they’re well known to be tricksters in the folklore, I’m curious to see how different Mr. Konjiro of the Kitsune would be from those sayings.

The second part of these new details is Lady Krauss’ bodyguard. Her name is Gabriella, and not only is she a Dullahan, but she’s one of the Duke of Demon’s Disciples. Before my excitement of seeing the famous ‘headless horseman’ in the flesh, I recall from Lili’s talk how Lady Krauss’ fiancé, Lord … Rowling, I think his name was, is the leader of that same adventurer’s party. Eugus didn’t mention this in the details but it wouldn’t be surprising if Lord Rowling himself appointed Ms. Gabriella to be his fiance’s bodyguard over the course of this quest. Though, for being possessive as Lili made him out to be, I was surprised he only appointed one bodyguard to her. I wondered if this meant Ms. Gabriella is that great of an adventurer, or if Lady Krauss is also just as great of a combatant remembering how Eugus spoke of her yesterday.

Being a former bodyguard myself, no matter how strong or diligent one may be, I’ve learned the number of them in a certain area shows how important and wealthy the client is. Maybe since Lord Rowling is aware of Lady Krauss exploring a dungeon with possibly more than two escorts, he took into account how larger numbers would actually hinder her safety if the spaces to traverse through the area are too small.

Then I remembered Eugus telling me how Lady Krauss told him she was fine with a human escort outside of Ms. Gabriella’s hearing. Why would she have to be that discreet from her own bodyguard? I might understand feeling suffocated being watched at all times but was Lady Krauss telling that to Eugus in secret because she didn’t trust Ms. Gabriella? What if she didn’t trust Lord Rowling, or maybe both him and Ms. Gabriella?

Are the two of them, engaged to be wed, holding out something out that the other shouldn’t know about?

<“My goddess, dude, can you even call that paranoia anymore?”> Nyra suddenly asks. I was going over all of those previous possibilities and then some in my mind while listening to Eugus talk, thanks in part to my ‘Hyper Thought Processing’ skill to get all of that within a few seconds.

When you’ve been in my line of work long enough, you’ll know that there are times you can’t accept everything at face value, especially politicians, people involved with the government, pretty much anybody from the upper-class of society, really. It’s sometimes because of the ‘support’ given by companies like my former one that they even got to their positions today.

<“You mean … using money to buy their way to the top?”>

Not just money, there are other means they use that would go against the law in order to obtain some sort of power.

<“So, then … should we even trust this Noire Scarletine Krauss can help you get an audience with the Demon King?”>

Right now, we’re just taking a shot in the dark with what we got. We know the Krauss family has been close by while directly serving the Demon King(s) for many generations. It’s a gamble, but it seems the people here can receive as much benefits from their connections as those from my old world would. They likely may not even try getting together to get friendly with each other. It’s really a mind game of how good one can use the other to get a step up above them.

<“That sounds really complicated.”>

Yeah, and quite frankly I’m not the brightest in this department of work, either. If you’ve seen enough of my memories, then you know just how my naivete has brought me here today.

<“I guess it’s a good thing you maxed out your ‘Intuition’ skill, huh? That way, you’d know better to who you may trust with any sort of dealings.”>

Eeeexactly.

The third new piece of information we got is the agreed meeting time and place for our departure tomorrow: the gong of the second triad, 06:00, at the guild. Eugus will have a carriage prepared for us at the time while he will escort us, and if we don’t make too many stops aside from taking breaks, we would hopefully arrive in Palocaesy at around the fourth triad, 18:00—which is basically this world’s ‘noon.’ We would head to Lady Krauss’ cottage where we’d introduce ourselves to her, Ms. Gabriella, and Mr. Konjiro while we discuss our course of action to tackle the dungeon.

There’s one last thing Eugus mentioned that got the others on the edge of their seat. Apparently, this was agreed to be made as a last-minute ‘trial’ for my first quest as a black-ranked adventurer between him and the members of the Adventurer’s Association after he reported my Innate Stats Ranking and my accomplishments to them late last night. If I were to fail or make a poor performance in the client’s eyes in our quest, then Eugus can deem me unworthy to be ranked black and demote me to violet. When that happens, I can’t apply myself as a black rank through normal qualifications until 3 months after the day of my demotion.

A little note about this world’s passage of time. Raiza is similar to Earth as there are 12 months in a year and 7 days in a week; however, there are exactly 35 days in all of the months in Raiza’s time, compared Earth’s when there’s usually 30 or 31 in a month with the exception of February and its leap years. That means there are 5 weeks in a month, and with some quick math using my ‘Calculation’ skill, there are 420 days in a year for Raiza compared to Earth’s 365.

As if the days themselves in this world were enough, it seems it will take even longer to reapply for promoting myself back up to black rank than I thought should I fail.

I guess I’ll have to do everything I can to not let that happen and make sure Lady Noire Scarletine Krauss will be satisfied at the end of our first quest together.

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Orange_Rain

  • United States

Bio: Hello and welcome. You may call me Orange Rain, and I looooove orange soda.

I not only like to read novels of many kinds, but I also like to write them. The stories published here will be in webnovel.com as well, so if you can, I'd appreciate it if you could support me on both platforms. I also like to read any professional critiques people may have on my works in order for me to become a better writer.

Thank you for your time, and I hope you'll enjoy what I have in store.

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