I really feel “There’s something” ahead of that door.
It felt as if an aura of ominousness was swirling about like a vortex, giving off a sickly light that blended in with the lanterns’ illumination.
Adventurers are resting and waiting for their turns in the open space in front of the large stone door.
Floating magic lights and campfires have been set up all over the place.
There is also an adventurer who has spread out a cloth on the floor and begun selling all kinds of different-colored potions, shady powders, and many earthenware jars that he had lined up in a row.
As we look at those, the stares of the other adventurers gather on us.
I guess they are probing out what kind of party we are?
They might simply regard us as newcomers.
Ah well, I will just ignore those gazes.
After watching the cute Rollo, I brazenly move towards the door.
Falling slightly behind, Viine followed.
Eva and Rebecca trail after us as well.
We arrive in the middle of the plaza.
Thereupon, we heard several angry voices rising over the din.
Are there adventurers arguing to the right of us?
I casually shift my gaze in the direction of the quarreling voices.
I saw humans and… a penguin.
“What the fuck are you doing? Are you taking Nemus lightly, you shitheads? You lot pickin’ a fight with this great me?”
The penguin drew a long knife from its back and went into a seigan stance.
Its small build is cute.
But, from its movements, I can feel feel that its movements are highly trained.
The penguin isn’t a character-costume.
The configuration of its face is the typical triangle shape of penguins, colored blue, white and black. Even its yellow beak, which is talking in such a rough tone, is moving realistically along with the words.
It has small wings covered with blue fur.
Apparently, those soft and fluffy-looking flippers end in two hands.
At the end of his limbs, there are small, bird-like feet, and flesh-colored hands with ten tiny fingers that tightly grasped the haft of the knife.
It seems to have ten fingers, completely like a human, but its feet are those of a penguin.
Moreover, Magic Combat Style-like mana manipulation radiated from its entire body.
That penguin definitely is no normal penguin.
“… What’s that supposed to be? Some kind of swordsmanship? Are you trying to make us laugh — haah?”
“Hahaha. It’s certainly ridiculous. For the likes of a shitty, little penguin to act all mighty like a competent swordsman, what a joke.”
“Hey, what’s going on? What’s happening?”
“All bark, no bite, eh?”
The friends of the quarreling adventurer started to surround the penguin while slandering it.
It’s a group of four humans against one penguin.
A dangerous atmosphere. Will it turn into a fight? At the moment when I wondered that,
Suddenly a throaty, angry voice roars Nemus.
Whoa, what the hell is that?
What I considered to be a thick, black pillar suddenly moved.
It adopts a daunting stance as if protecting the penguin adventurer.
It spreads out its black, steel arms.
A huge giant.
The giant was of a mysterious race that managed to combine steel and vegetation in complicated patterns.
Its height is more than three meters.
It has a head and is humanoid, but I don’t really know if I should call that a monster or not.
Its face is a rectangle, with twigs and small, characteristic nostrils growing out of its thin chin.
The two eyes look like round, green crystals; they somewhat possess their own cuteness.
The mouth has the shape of crooked cod roe that was overgrown and cracked by bark though.
A huge dandelion-like flower bloomed on its left, steel-block of a shoulder.
Odd Kanji-like characters have been carved onto its right shoulder.
“Huuuge, t-this guy’s a monster, right?”
“… H-Hey, bird, w-what’s this fellow?”
Seeing the figure of the giant, the human adventurers, who still surrounded the penguin, were agitated and their cockiness faded.
The encircled penguin moves its black-edged beak to start speaking,
“It ain’t what. Besides I’m no bird. I’m Moga, the swordsman. And this guy is my partner. His name is Nemus, we’re both fully-fledged adventurers. There ain’t no way I’ll forgive you, who kicked Nemus many times just because you thought him to be a pillar earlier. I’ll chop you into pieces with my Moga Style Sword Art.”
What, that’s an adventurer as well?
A steel-wood-giant and a penguin, eh?
The giant of steel and wood, Nemus, introduced itself with a loud voice while roughly breathing through its nose, making its rage obvious.
The giant raises its gigantic arms high above its head.
It’s a force that will vent its anger against the hoodlum adventurers who surrounded the penguin.
“Hiiii, s-sorry. I was wrong for kicking you.”
“S-Sorry for saying strange stuff. We’re going to leave, so please don’t get angry…”
The adventurers squeal while at their wits’ end.
“Hmph, Nemus. Forgive them.”
“I… a… m, Nemus.”
The giant, who introduced itself once more with a slow tone, lowers its raised arms and stands still, looking once more like a pillar.
“E-Excuse us. Thank you.”
The adventurers wore panicked, pale expressions.
They apologized to Nemus one by one and then withdraw in low spirits.
Their pathetic appearances were coldly looked upon by the adventurers who spectated in the surroundings.
“Hahaha, the wait for our turn has decreased a bit, Nemus!”
The motionless giant sluggishly maneuvers its upper body and turns its big face towards the laughing penguin’s small face. While blinking its crystalline eyes in surprise, it repeated its name once again with a quiet voice.
That giant can’t say anything besides that?
But, rather than that, although we are supposed to wait here, I don’t know the order.
Since I’m unsure, I turn around.
I address Eva who is watching the giant with eyes opened wide and an absent-minded expression.
“Say, even guys like that are adventurers, right?” (Shuuya)
“Nn! Giant. First time.” (Eva)
Eva responds by repeatedly bobbing her small head up and down.
“Yeah, even for me a black-steeled tree giant is a race I’ve never seen before, but I ran into people of the Moga tribe a few times.” (Rebecca)
It looks Rebecca has never seen a steel-wood giant either.
Thereupon I send a look to Viine as well, trying to tell her “If you have anything to add, do it.”
“… If it’s talking trees (?), I heard about them.” (Viine)
Hee, she seems to be slightly knowledgeable.
When I’m thinking that, Rollo jumps off my shoulder onto the ground.
She runs in the direction of our conversation topic, the giant.
Ah… moreover, she climbs up towards Nemus’ shoulder…
I have to call Rollo back before she bothers them.
Separating from the place where my friends are, I head towards Nemus and the penguin.
“I a… m Nemus.”
The giant slowly moves its head to look at Rollo, who is on its shoulder, and introduces itself again.
“I am Nemus.”
The crystalline eyes of the giant move a bit, but they don’t change much…
“I… a… m… Nemus.”
Hearing Rollo’s questionably stretched voice made the adorable crystalline eyes of the giant dilate a bit.
“I… am Nemus.”
“I… a… m… Nemus.”
They have gathered… with an indescribable atmosphere between them.
『Your Excellency, Rollo-sama likes strange races, doesn’t she? It has a cute, dreamy butt.』 (Helme)
『It has a butt!?』 After lightly retorting, I stare at Rollo.
The mysterious conversation is still ongoing.
I think she’s talking with the giant after all?
“Hey, what’s with that black cat?”
Asked the Moga tribe’s penguin while opening its eyes wide, seemingly surprised by Rollo’s actions.
“… I’m Nemus.”
Nemus says quietly after inching its face towards the penguin with Rollo still on its shoulder.
“What’s up? Nemus, you like that black cat?”
“I am… Nemus.”
The giant slowly closes its crystalline eyes and opens them again.
Did it blink? When I look closer, I can see small, eyelash-like twigs growing out around its eyes.
“Ooh, how rare…”
Rollo gets off Nemus’ shoulder and greets the penguin once she got close.
“Yo, black cat. Where did you come from?”
It looks like a good time to give my greetings as well.
“— Umm, sorry for the sudden intrusion. That black cat is Rollodeen. Her nickname is Rollo. She’s my familiar and my partner. My name is Shuuya Kagari.”
I politely greet the penguin and bow my head.
Once I have finished bowing, Rollo returned on my shoulder.
“Oh my, thanks for your polite greeting. I’m an adventurer and also a swordsman of the Moga tribe. My name is Günther. Günther Moga. Best regards, tall, human Shuuya.” (Günther)
Moga is wearing light armor.
But, seeing him from close up, his face really is that of a penguin after all.
The hair on his head is gathered in the same way as with humans, but his face is covered by blue, white, and black fur, and his mouth is a yellow beak.
Moga tribe… how mysterious.
“I am… Nemus.”
When I’m focusing my attention on Günther, Nemus came introducing itself.
Moving slowly, it turns its face towards me.
But, the steel-wood giant sure is more mysterious than the penguin.
“… Best regards, Nemus and Günther-san.” (Shuuya)
I give my greetings towards the giant while smiling.
“I… am Nemus.”
The giant nods slightly while blinking with its round, cute, crystalline eyes.
“Hee, again? For Nemus to properly greet a human. That black cat called Rollo and you, Shuuya; do you guys have some unseen commonality?” Moga, who resembles an emperor penguin, says, but…
There’s no way for me to know that.
I look up at the giant once again.
This Nemus… giant-san.
Tough-looking steel-like iron and the wood have combined with each other and it moves smoothly, but I wonder whether it’s really a life-form. I can see that the steel-like parts have been created from minerals, but it might be a silicon life-form, or maybe it’s an artificial, solid-state life-form that has its insides stuffed full of circuits, though it’s obviously different from a sorcery doll. However, I can’t imagine that since there’s wood mixed in as well.
Oh well, since it won’t help anything even if I repeatedly ponder the mystery of life, I will try asking Günther Moga about the waiting order.
“… Who knows? I wonder how it works… Rather than that, what kind of order has been set up for the subjugation of the Black Sweet Water Snake beyond this big door?” (Shuuya)
I asked Günther while letting my eyes wander across the plaza.
“Oh that? The clan and party order starts from the left of the plaza. If you guys line up as well, you will be after us. Since the other party left, you’ll be the fifth group. The ones entering next is the group over there, those guys are from the knight order styled 【Algos’ Flying Swallow Band】. Next is the party 【Dreadful Path Ribkeel】 that’s reinforced with slaves. Then it’s the lot of the clan 【Nameless】. After them, it’s our duo party 【Sword King Moga and Melancholic Nemus】.” (Günther)
The penguin, err, Günther-san gave me a polite explanation with his rusty voice.
Certainly, just as Günther-san says, there are groups lining up in order starting from the left side of the plaza.
However, Günther-san’s appearance is that of a penguin.
His partner Nemus-san is a steel-wood-giant, so it’s obvious that it’s strong.
Can this unbalanced duo defeat the Black Sweet Water Snake?
I guess the fact that they’re here means that they are confident they can.
Are they actually outrageously strong?
The Magic Combat Style that coiled around Günther’s body earlier was smooth. So he might really be a sword king just as the name of their party suggests.
“… Understood. Thank you, Günther-san.” (Shuuya)
“You’re welcome. I’m Moga, so Günther is fine.” (Günther)
Moga-san does a thumbs up with his small bird-like hand.
I can’t call that cute at all.
“Got it, Moga. Thanks.” (Shuuya)
After bowing, I take Rollo with me and we leave the two.
Returning to the others, I explained to our party members what we talked about.
“Fifth, huh? Let’s wait.”
“Roger. I think I will take a rest.”
The four of us and one animal form a circle and wait for our turn.
Rebecca places her backpack on the floor and checks the contents.
Eva takes out a blanket from a simple bag attached to her wheelchair.
Viine looks up at me.
Rollo dives into the hood on my back.
She’s apparently going to take a nap.
Then I guess I will have a little rest as well. I sit down on the ground, right then and there, and wait.
Viine comes next to me and waits, kneeling.
— After more than 30 minutes, the large stone door opens.
A party came out from within.
They have many wounded people, and all of them are hanging their heads with gloomy expressions.
Each of them held onto a container for collecting Black Sweetwater, but they don’t look overly delighted.
It looks like some of their comrades died.
“The numbers have decreased, haven’t they? That 【Sorrow in the Moonlight】 has…”
“Only Ashur the Falcon is safe and sound, huh? Well, it appears they had numerous soloers and a mix of many new faces with them.”
No sooner than seeing the state of the leaving party, the other adventurers gossip amongst themselves. While being watched, the party called 【Sorrow in the Moonlight】 withdraws from the hall dejectedly.
I’m pretty sure that it’s owed to their party name being bad.
Immediately afterward, the eight people of 【Algos’ Flying Swallow Band】, who wear metallic knight armors, enter through the big door.
A few hours later, the big door opened.
Everyone in 【Algos’ Flying Swallow Band】 is safe.
There’s a great number of people who have their armor dented-in, as if had melted or changed into a green color, but everyone is smiling.
They start to sing a song with delight-filled lyrics while laughing.
I feel like I have already heard that song somewhere.
The members of 【Algos’ Flying Swallow Band】 match up their stride and leave to the passage from the plaza as if marching like an army.
The ones entering next through the big door is the party of 【Dreadful Path Ribkeel】 who are accompanied by several slaves.
Our turn is after three more, huh?
At that point, I stop watching the other parties and return my gaze to the four of us.
Eva has taken out a light brown bread that resembled French Bread from her item box and is eating it.
Rebecca has retrieved a brown bread from her backpack and is nibbling on it with her small mouth.
Hee, that long bread that Eva is eating; it really looks like a baguette. That means such bread is circulating in this city as well.
Is this actually its first appearance in this world?
Which reminds me, I haven’t researched the food appearing on the market after coming to this city.
I think I will take a stroll around the market next time. I shift my gaze towards the beautiful Viine.
She’s taken out a biscuit from her backpack and is eating it in a corner by herself.
That biscuit resembled the one I ate at Chianelas’ mansion; it’s dry and disgusting.
It’ll be pitiful if it’s the same one. Is there anything I can give her?
I swiftly boot up the item box and pick the stack of water jugs as a replacement for glasses. Next was bread, meat, and the lettuce-like vegetable for two people.
Since I also had cheese, I take it out while I’m at it.
I made light sandwiches.
I take a bite to sample it. It’s yummy.
When I’m chewing on it, Eva came close to me by operating her wheelchair.
“What’s wrong?” (Shuuya)
It seems she split the french bread. She gave me a slice.
Eva nods with a gentle smile and then moves her wheelchair back to Rebecca.
She hands her a slice of the bread in the same way. Moreover, she moves to Viine’s side as Viine kept nibbling on her biscuit while huddling at the edge of the ring.
She touches Viine’s hand and kindly hands over a piece of bread.
Viine thanks Eva by giving her a formal bow.
Seeing her doing that, Eva’s eyes became sharp for an instant, but then she immediately revealed a gentle smile again.
Was it my imagination? Well, anyway, Eva is sure kind.
I should give Viine something as well.
“… Viine. — Come here.” (Shuuya)
I pat the ground next to me, inviting her to sit down.
“… Yes!” (Viine)
Following my invitation, Viine lowers her stance and goes down on one knee next to me.
I give her a sandwich and a water jug.
“— Master, this is?” (Viine)
“I made it. It’s a food called a sandwich. It’s fresh and delicious.” (Shuuya)
“N-No, that’s not what I meant. I’m a slave. There’s no way for me to eat the same things as Master. I have the biscuit I was given by Chianelas as food, and also, I received a slice of bread from Eva-sama just moments ago… to give… something like that… to me…” (Viine) (T/N: The last few words are written in katakana)
She refused it.
Moreover, she mumbles words that were apparently changed into the elven language in a small voice.
Does she think that I don’t understand her?
“… Eva’s bread was good, wasn’t it? But, what you ate before, those biscuits, right? They are dry and disgusting even though they might be high-class. This one should be fresh and tasty. Have a bite. You certainly aren’t going to say that you can’t eat meat or vegetables due to religious reasons or that you can’t stand cheese, or such?” (Shuuya)
“No, it’s not that…” (Viine)
“Oh yeah? Then it’s an order. Since you have bread, put meat, vegetables, and cheese on top of that bread and eat it here. Though you don’t have to eat it if your stomach’s full already.” (Shuuya)
Saying so, I pass meat, vegetables, cheese and the water jug to her.
“Ha…! Then I will entrust your decision to share some of your food with me.” (Viine)
Once she spreads the ingredients on top of the bread, she begins to eat it.
“It’s delicious, isn’t it?” (Shuuya)
“… Yes!” (Viine)
Viine answers happily while eating the sandwich.
She moves her beautiful, violet lips to chew with her little mouth, apparently enjoying it.
I didn’t think it would be this delicious is written on her face.
She has a bluish-white skin, but I can see that her left cheek has become somewhat red.
“That’s good. I will eat as well then.” (Shuuya)
I throw the half-eaten sandwich into my mouth and swallow it down quickly.
Yeah, it’s quite yummy. I gulp down some more water.
When I do, Rollo, who slept in the hood on my back, starts to stir.
Haha, she will wake up without fail when it’s time to eat.
Rollo-san climbs out of the hood to my shoulder and meows with the feel of asking 『What are you eating nya?』 while looking into my face.
“Wait a sec. I will prepare your share immediately.” (Shuuya)
Rollo purrs delightfully.
I take out a somewhat larger portion of meat and vegetables from my item box and place them on top of a leather cloth.
After licking my cheek, Rollo hops to the ground and greedily devours the meal I prepared for her.
“… Rollo-chan, even though you ate plenty of the Phantasmal Big Mushrooms, what amazing appetite.” (Rebecca)
“Her eating that vigorously is adorable.” (Eva)
Does Rollo comprehend that Rebecca and Eva are talking about her? She looks up to the two with a short glance, but, it seems her appetite is more important. She averts her face again, going back to chewing with all her might.
We continue our heartwarming rest like this while waiting for our turn to come.
The slave-heavy party 【Dreadful Path Ribkeel】 opens the door and leaves, next, the clan 【Nameless】 finishes, and at last the pair of 【Sword King Moga and Melancholic Nemus】 comes out through the big door.
Making use of his size, the giant is carrying a great number of jars.
Moga the penguin has his small body dyed black and stands in front of the door with a jar in his hand.
I walk over in order to welcome him.
“Yo! We gathered plenty of Black Sweetwater! My body also became black and sweet~.” (Günther)
Moga throws out a pun while making a strange, hard-to-read face.
Although they are messing around like that, they were the fastest to come out from the rare monster room.
I suppose the party called 【Algos’ Flying Swallow Band】spent the most time on it in the end.
“… It’s true. I wonder how delicious you are going to be once I grill you?” (Shuuya)
I return a joke while smiling faintly.
“Whaaaat!? I’m no damn grilled-penguin-on-a-skewer!” (Günther)
Even though it was a joke, Moga tries to bring his free hand to his knife while obviously staying on guard.
“Hahaha, I won’t grill you.” (Shuuya)
“I-I see. I mean, there are really some humans that intend to eat me…” (Günther)
Moga breathes out, apparently feeling relieved, and disperses his vigilant stance.
“Rather than that, you were fast with defeating the Black Sweet Water Snake, weren’t you?” (Shuuya)
“Yeah. I guess that’s because it was just me and my partner. Since the amount of water we can carry is low, we have no other option but to defeat it swiftly. You are probably thinking that someone as huge Nemus can hold a large number of jars, right? But even so, the total amount is still limited.” (Günther)
“I a… m… Nemus!”
Nemus once again raises its voice and introduces itself emotionally as it carries a great amount of jars.
And then it suddenly it bends down and brings its golem face close to mine, making me wonder what it wanted.
“Hey, Nemus? What’s wrong?” (Günther)
Behind me, Moga is surprised, but the giant Nemus gazes at my face wholeheartedly with its blinking, cute, crystalline eyes without even twitching, as if it’s telling me something.
『Is me sensing an intelligence deep inside its eyes just my imagination?』
The small Helme speculates while pointing at the giant’s crystalline eyes.
『Mmh~. Maybe countless small aliens are leading their lives as a civilization at the bottom of those crystals, or there might exist another dimension, that can’t be perceived in our three-dimensional world, inside those crystals, just like ants have their own world?』 (Shuuya)
『… Your Excellency, I don’t understand such complicated words.』 (Helme)
Well, I guess she’s right there.
This world is not the one where a special duo of black suits live. (T/N: Men in Black? E/N: Yes, definitely)
“… I am Nemus…”
Oh, its tone has changed slightly?
I can’t tell whether it’s male or female, and I can’t deduce what it’s thinking about from its face either.
“Nemus-san, your partner behind me is surprised, you know?” (Shuuya)
“I a, m… Nemus.”
Though I don’t know whether it agreed, Nemus shakes its head, lifts its body, and returns to its previous posture.
Still weighed down, it walks through the plaza while stomps echo from the heavy feet of its huge body.
“— Ah, Nemus, don’t go ahead. Well then, Shuuya, I’m sorry. Let’s meet somewhere again, okay?” (Günther)
“Yeah, see you.” (Shuuya)
Moga bids farewell in a casual manner.
He waddles his penguin-like feet and leaves with surprisingly nimble movements.
… What a mysterious, peculiar, and unbalanced duo.
Putting that aside, it’s finally our turn.
I turn around and look at my friends.
“Alright, we are up.” (Shuuya)
“Nn, go.” (Eva)
“Roger, let’s go~.” (Rebecca)
Everyone is completely prepared. Opening the huge stone door, we advance at a trot.
Our formation naturally took the shape of a tree diagram.
The room is almost as big as the plaza where we waited.
However, the ceiling has a high contrast to the previous plaza.
Thick, Parthenon-like, black pillars are supporting that high ceiling, and a gloomy atmosphere hangs in the air.
Since the floor is dark, I assume it to be black.
And then I feel a huge magic source. A size that makes it easy to guess that it’s a large creature.
It appears to be at some point right in the middle of the lined-up, black, Parthenon-like pillars with their beautiful, spiral craftsmanship.
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