After that, it was a sad state of affairs.
“…And that was it. Can I join your party Claudine?”
“I’ll do anything. I will be of use.”
Nick and Claudine were regulars in café Fromage.
Claudine was a girl around the same age as Nick, and also an adventurer.
She was a light warrior just like Nick, and got close to him because they shopped in the same weapon and item stores. Eventually, becoming his girlfriend. Nick was enchanted by her soft, sparkling blond hair and her kind eyes.
Nick made a lot of her wishes come true. He always paid when they went out, and when she needed money, he was always there to lend it.
He had a stronger bond with her than with his party, or so he thought.
“Sorry but I can’t. I don’t want to be out of a job.”
“I-It’s just one more person. Can’t you work something out? I’m not just a scout, I can fight as the vanguard too.”
“Let’s break up.”
“I mean, without ‘All Martial Arts’ you’re just a weak light warrior.”
“I thought you were great because you were in a party that’s said to have A rank abilities, if nothing else but… If they threw you out that must mean you were just leeching off of them. I’ve been putting up with you even though you’re a bit poor but now, I’m just disappointed”
“N-No! I’m definitely…!”
That was when a man with a nice physique sat down at their table.
“You’re name’s Nick right? Don’t you get it?”
He had a face like a kumadori, ears like a feline, and fierce golden eyes.
He was a tiger person, a race known for their strength and bravery.
“…Who are you?”
Nick asked without hesitation.
The tiger person looked at him with a bored expression and sighed as Claudine answered Nick’s question.
“This is Leon, the leader of our party ‘Steel Tiger Crew’. Pretty strong right?”
“I’m Leon, and what the hell are you thinking? Troubling my little scout?”
“What do you mean troubling….? I’m just asking my girlfriend a favor.”
“Girlfriend? Come on, stop that. Leon help me, this guy doesn’t know when to quit.”
Nick raised his voice in surprise and anger.
“What’s with you asshole? Did you put your hands on my girl?”
“What did you say!? Claudine is…”
That was when Nick noticed the shine coming from the talisman hanging from Leon’s neck.
That wasn’t just an accessory, it was a proper item that increased resistance to curses and elemental attacks. And…
“Why the hell are you wearing that?”
“Ah, this? It was a gift from her”
Leon responded with a snicker. That item was something Nick gave Claudine as a present.
“Ou, you wanna fight? Bring it on, just don’t think you’re walking out of here in one piece.”
As Nick stood up, so did the people sitting behind him.
“Ah, so that’s how it is…”
Nick was already surrounded by men wearing leather armor and swords hanging from their waists, clearly adventurers. Since they were there already, it was obvious that the plan all along was to intimidate Nick and make him leave, now that he’d been thrown out of ‘All Martial Arts’.
Basically, Nick realized Claudine was only with him to milk him for all he was worth, and now it was time to abandon him.
“Nick is pretty good at appraising accessories. Getting a pro to do it is surprisingly expensive.”
“This talisman was cheap but its effects were spot on, thanks Nick… But that will be all”
Claudine’s sneer made Nick feel like all the energy was sapped from his body.
[Not only was I tricked, but even the person that tricked me doesn’t need me anymore.]
“Ya heard it, get out of here. I’ll let you go if you leave now.”
That blatant attitude made Nick lose the will to even hit him. Nothing Nick can say will get through to them.
Nick was being dominated by feelings of powerlessness, futility, and despair.
From there, things only got worse.
Nick spent his free time training and servicing his weapons, he didn’t really have any hobbies.
He didn’t drink and wasn’t interested in hanging out in taverns where girls entertained customers.
He was the kind of guy that would feel sympathy for the girls and end up feeling stiff. Besides, he had a girlfriend… Or at least he did until recently.
When he went out on dates with his girlfriend… Claudine, they were mostly about doing what she wanted. After being trampled by debt, Nick realized all he was to Claudine was a nice walking wallet.
Nick didn’t have a lot of ways to take his mind off all these depressing feelings, but there was one thing he could enjoy with childlike innocence.
“Ah♪ Let that flag sparkle♪ The saint will wipe away the darkness♪”
It was an idol’s live show.
Popular idols don’t perform in taverns, they reserve parks and squares.
They use magic items to amplify their beautiful voices, so you can hear them from the outside, but you need to buy an expensive ticked to get close enough to where you can see them.
Nick was always careful with how he spent his money so, he was happy just staying outside and listening, but now he was desperate. Nick became a proper idol otaku.
“Yay♪ How are you all doing!?♪”
“Lapis! You’re the best!”
Nick didn’t hesitate to spend the money he had left and became entranced listening to her voice and raising his own voice in support.
That day’s main star was Lapis Lazuli, a traveling idol famous in the capital.
Her enigmatic sky blue hair, her slender body and the dazzling outfit that covered it…
Usually she would appear unsophisticated, but once she starts singing that impression changes completely.
She had a child-like voice, a cool voice, a cute voice.
Everyone was surprised and fascinated by that every changing singing voice, and tossed coins without hesitation.
After Lapis Lazuli left, another idol took her place. They cheered as hard as they could and the coin tossing began once more.
But this debauched lifestyle was not sustainable.
When Nick finally came to his senses almost all the money he had saved was gone, and it’s not like he had a lot of money to spend on entertainment in the first place.
If we count the money he had left, he was going to end up sleeping and eating in a low level inn…
[Dammit… I guess it’s time to start working.]
Nick finally started to move.
Now, the problem is that adventuring is just about the only job he can do. He has all sorts of skills, but if he wants to make money, the job he’s been doing is the best for him.
Nick decided to go to ‘new beads’, a branch of the hunter guild that’s popular with newbie adventurers.
In this city, adventurers are not allowed to explore labyrinths alone. Powerful adventurers can go in pairs, but most parties have more than four members.
This place serves as a location to scout new adventurers that can’t form a party, or meeting parties looking for new members.
Nick was thinking about talking to people there.
His old party ‘All Martial Arts’ was known to be strong, so if he let’s people know he was a part of it, he should find a party interested in taking him in.
But when he tried to speak he lost his voice.
He was scared.
The thorns of the phrase ‘Nick… You’re not needed anymore’ were still stabbing his heart.
In the end, Nick couldn’t talk to anyone and wandered around the guild until business hours were over and it was closed.
Nick sighed as he entered the tavern next door.
This is a place for new adventurers that serves the minimum amount of food and drinks.
In a table close to his, a new formed party was having a good time.
“Are you alone? Don’t sit at that empty table”
The employee annoyingly guided him to another table and Nick ordered a meal for one.
Barley porridge with vegetable scraps and very watered down ale.
It didn’t have a lot of salt and didn’t taste good at all, but the new adventurers were eating it like it was the tastiest thing in the world.
“Here’s to our new party!”
“Nice to meet you! Leave the vanguard to me!”
“You got it! I’m an apprentice priest but I’m good at healing magic!”
These happy adventurers were shining too brightly for Nick. So, he just sat there, not thinking about anything, waiting for his drink to arrive.
That was when the employee approached him.
Finally… Nick felt relieved but the employee was empty handed.
“Sir, do you mind sharing the table? The counter is full.”
It seemed like that was the table where they pushed everyone that was left out. Not only that, but they kept coming like an assembly-line until the table for four was full.
[It will be a pain if they talk to me… I’m sure there’s a reason why they’re alone in a place like this is… Well, who am I to talk…]
Nick took a sidelong glance at the three people that sat down at his table and thought they all looked weird.
One of them was a pretty girl with chestnut-color hair.
She was wearing a sorcerer’s robe, but through her sleeves, you could see her thin arms and overall small body.
Her robe and staff looked expensive, so she’s probably either a noble or the daughter of a high class merchant.
On the other hand, there were some things holding back that beauty.
If she smiled she would be incredibly beautiful but she looked menacing, like she was going to suddenly stab someone with a knife.
Maybe the other customers could also feel that dangerous aura, because no one was talking to her.
The second person was a red-haired female dragon-people.
She had two horns, a tail, and her arms were covered in scales, as was characteristic of dragon people.
Beneath her scratch covered leather jacket, you could see a glimpse of her leather armor. Surely, she is a vanguard warrior.
Her appearance was both vulgar and brimming with feminine beauty. Her chest was big and her muscles were beautiful, it was a mesmerizing beauty.
A strong, beautiful dragon person should be popular but no one would talk to her.
Just like the previous girl, she had a terrible look in her eyes, like she was about to hit someone.
The third person was a lanky, handsome man that looked like a priest.
There was something odd about him. Priests usually have a sacred book with them to cast healing spells, and wear a long sleeved black outfit called a cassock.
They also wear medals with minute symbols around their necks to denote their sect, but his was missing. This is very important, so the fact that he didn’t have one probably meant he was a sinful priest that was excommunicated and had his medal taken from him.
Further proving this was the heavy smell of makeup coming from him, which meant he was coming back from a tavern with girls or a brothel.
As far as Nick knew, no priest was allowed to frequent brothels.
The other customers must’ve picked up on this oddity too, because even though priests were very popular, no one was talking to him.
Nick let out a self-deprecating laugh. His face looked just as bad as theirs.
The employee finally brought food and drinks to this silent table, and when he insincerely said “take your time and enjoy your meal”, no one responded.
Nick chugged his lukewarm ale in one gulp, and unintentionally let out the feelings of irritation that had been building up inside.
““““Humans can’t be trusted!!!!””””
Did we all say the same thing in unison?]