~~Student Council Office, Seventeenth Day of the Fourth Month, Three O’clock in the Afternoon~~
I found myself isolated and helpless in the Student Council Office, that’s when I met this peculiar woman.
“Asley, my boy~~ That goes here~~”
“Aye, aye, ma’am…”
“And here, just write whatever works~~”
“T-that’s simpler than I thought…”
“It’s not that simple to grab my interest, though~~”
She is a greatly charming woman clad in a pink tailor-made robe that exposed her cleavage and back… this woman was called Dinéya. Her movements were clearly suspicious, and she lavished herself with an excess of pheromone perfume.
Rumor had it that she had turned down the advances of over a hundred boys. She had quite a big following, but their relationship with her was more akin to Dinéya ruling over her minions.
“Ha ha ha ha…”
“Anyway~~ It’s very nice to have you with us, my boy~~ The only other White Faction representatives here are myself and that silent boy, you see~~”
“Ha ha ha ha…”
“Say, do you have your eyes on anyone right now, my boy~~?”
“Ha ha ha ha…”
“Hey, are you even listening to me~~?”
Dinéya asked, calling for attention by showing off her assets at an unnatural angle.
Those two melons, those jiggling fruits… most normal men wouldn’t be able to resist them.
“Well, I’ve been busy with many things, so… Ha ha…”
“Aha, that’s perfect~~”
“U-um — why do you keep touching me?”
“Ehh~~ I don’t know, either~~”
Sitting to my side, Dinéya reached one hand for my writing hand, and the other under the table, brushing my thigh with her index finger.
“Wha — and what did you mean by perfect–?”
I turned my upper body away in a bid to avoid her, but she matched up with my every movement.
She slowly ran her right hand, which was holding down my hand, up my left arm in a bipedal walking motion with her index and middle fingers as the legs.
And when she reached my shoulder, Dinéya jumped it to my chest.
“Ah — wha — wait, Dinéya, ma’am!?”
“Oh, no, I’d prefer you not being so formal with me, my boy~~”
As her right hand tickled my chest, her left hand plunged down to… my Garden of Eden!!
“Dinéya! What in the blazes do you think you’re doing!?”
The door opened, and from it came the earth-shattering echo through the office and the corridor.
My bailout in times of need… Irene… my savior, appeared.
“Oh no, the li’l wild Irene has appeared~~! Sorry, my boy, but we’ll have to leave that for later~~”
Dinéya promptly excused herself out of the Student Council Office, but not before blowing a kiss.
Like a watchdog, Irene barked at Dinéya to hurry and pushed her on her way, shouting with a voice so intense that the corridor windows vibrated.
“And you, Asley! You should’ve shown some resistance at least!”
“Well, she’s an upperclassman, so I reckon I shouldn’t be too… offensive?”
“…You aren’t going to say that she’s right up your alley, are you?”
“I do think she’s charming, but I can’t quite handle her assertiveness, so to speak…”
Seeming to take in only the first half of my statement, Irene felt her own chest and stood there pondering things over, then soon shook her head.
“But that sure was close. You could say that my Apple of Eden was almost harvested.”
“…Where did you even pull that metaphor out from?”
Irene asked, slightly blushing.
“I’m being roundabout just because saying it outright wouldn’t be quite appropriate.”
“Uh, if you say so… Still, if only Dinéya took things seriously, she sure would be regarded highly by the University…”
“I suppose she’s at that rebellious age.”
“…You talk like an old man sometimes, Asley. Isn’t she only two years or so older than you?”
At first glance, Dinéya certainly would seem far more mature, but since I was sixteen years old (lie), she was only two years elder to me.
I suppose normal humans would find themselves limited in some ways for being the younger one, but for one who lived outside of certain physical limitations such as me, I would say this was just about perfect.
“By the way…”
“What is it?”
“How old are you, Miss Irene? You seemed to be speaking on equal terms with Billy, so I was wondering… bwaah!?”
“You’re never supposed to ask a lady her age, you fool!”
Irene drove the heel of her shoe into my right foot.
Seeing how she spoke with Billy, I’d thought they would at least be of a similar age, but… I suppose it’s not appropriate to ask, after all.
“Ow ow ow ow… Sorry for even asking, ma’am.”
“As long as you get the point. But that aside… you’re leaving tonight, if I remember correctly?”
“Yes. I’ve already reported to the University and got my approval.”
“I wanted to go as well, you know, but the Duodecad Conference starts tonight, so I just can’t.”
Let’s keep quiet about me never asking anyone to come along.
“The Labyrinth of No Return…. was it? And true to its name, no one has ever returned after exploring it. It’s going to sound weird once it’s finally been conquered, though. And I assume you’ll be going with a B-ranked party… I mean, you’ll probably be fine, but… don’t go dying on me, all right?”
“If I die, my ghost will be right by your bedside to blow in your ears.”
“Bah, you and your corny comebacks!”
Irene crossed her arms once again and snapped away from me. And her ears are looking a bit red… makes me wanna blow into them.
Well, I’ll probably be stepped on again if I did.
I had been promoted to Rank B on the day I had gone hunting Ogres.
With a decently stable income since then, I visited the Guild less frequently.
I had gone to the Guild the other day, and it turned out that Duncan had recommended me directly by name for a certain job. A trust-based system, this procedure allowed receptionists to recommend adventurers they deemed particularly capable for special requests.
In my case, it was a labyrinth investigation. Last month, a B-ranked party had been sent there, but they never reported back.
My job here was to carry out a follow-up investigation, teaming up with a party of three A-ranked adventurers that had recently arrived in Beilanea.
Technically, I had been the first to be put on the job, and those three had been chosen after the Guild had posted a recruitment for three capable A-ranks.
It was not the type of work I was accustomed to, but if successful, a handsome reward of 15,000 Gold would be lying in wait. Per member, of course.
Still, we were obligated to hand over any article that we collect from the labyrinth to the client. The request paper had been written with magic and had clauses stating that we were to explore the labyrinth and retrieve the treasures within. The copies with the Guild had been reproduced with the same magic as well… Therefore, it was impossible to simply keep silent and take the treasures for ourselves.
And of course, many adventurers were willing to comply with those terms, since sometimes there would be no treasure to be found in labyrinths, and more often than not, the Guild’s base rewards were greater than the loot.
“Now, I still need to prepare some things, so I’ll excuse myself here.”
“Right… Well, be careful out there.”
Irene said, seeming a bit down, but I didn’t quite understand why.
I went back to my room, and after I was done packing up, I contacted Lina in accordance with our regular schedule.
Drawing a Craft Circle on my palm with my fingers, I initiated the call.
[Lina, is now a good time?]
[…Ah, yes, it’s all right. Will you be leaving soon?]
[Mm-hm, we won’t be gone for long.]
[Please don’t start any fights with Pochi this time.]
[Sure, I’ll try the best I can.]
[Ahahaha… All right then, good luck out there.]
[And do your best on the next practical training, all right?]
[Well, there’s a chance that the Contact might work in the labyrinth, but just in case… I’ll see you later.]
[Have a safe trip!]
Lastly, Lina reminded me to be careful out there, then cut the communication line.
I turned to see Pochi lazing around when we were supposed to be leaving. I heaved a sigh, and proceeded to tickle her nose with the corner of my mantle.
“A — Ah — Ahchoo! W-wha!? The enemy!?”
“The Devil King has arrived!”
“Wha — what did you say!?”
“How dare you invade our land, Devil King Ahchoo!”
“…Ah, hah! Fwahahaha! So you dare oppose me, useless creature!”
“Oy, that’s going too far, don’t you think?”
“Whoops, I revealed my true thoughts.”
Pochi feigned clumsiness by winking and sticking out her tongue.
Somehow not playing along like usual, I proceeded to tickle her.
“AHAHAHAHA — stop it, Master… Pwah — AHAHAHAHA!!”
“Damn you, I knew something was up! That title sticks because you’ve been thinking of me as a fool for a good 800 years! Now it’s gonna take damn forever to remove, dammit! Take this!”
“AHAHAHAHA! Aye’m — FWAHAHAHA! Th-that’s definitely it! HAHAHAHA!”
“Hmph, guess I’ll let you off the hook for now.”
After Pochi was completely out of breath, that is. Doesn’t seem like she’ll be able to get up immediately.
“Hah… hah… hah, whew… You are at least partially at fault, too, Master.”
“Hmm, humans are creatures that prefer to shift the blame onto others… there!”
“…If you adhere to the reverse of what you write into that Principles of a Philosopher book, you’d probably have a shot at being a Philosopher, I feel.”
“Ooh, that never occurred to me… Sounds reasonable, actually…”
“Hah… You really are a handful, you know that, Master?”
Pochi glared at me, seeming quite exasperated.
Yeah, sure, pity me all you want…
“Okay, now that you’ve calmed down… We depart to the labyrinth!”
And so Pochi and I left the University dormitory and headed for Beilanea’s north gate, where we were to meet up with the others for the job.