I swung the door open before the scratching got any worse.
…And was welcomed by the sight of a scampering Chihuahua.
“Ngh-?! Who are you?! You are in the presence of Tarawo, the King Wolf Garm! What do you want?!”
What a strange dog.
“He’s so cute!”
Such was the first opinion of it from my equally strange Familiar.
“Hey, you’re right.”
Even Betty agreed with her. Is he really all that cute, though?
Did that tick him off? He does seem to have quite an inflated ego and all, so…
“Of course I am!”
Nope, doesn’t seem like it.
I don’t even know what is going on anymore… Okay, let’s sort things up first. So the girl sleeping here is probably Tifa. And this Chihuahua, claiming to be a King Wolf Garm, seems to be named ‘Tarawo’.
“We’re going downstairs to let everyone know we’re back, so you stay here and keep things under control, Asley. C’mon, Pochi, let’s go.”
“H-hey-! …Bah, there they go. So… anyway, what’s the deal with you?”
“Oh, I see… so you are the so-called Asley?”
Huh, did my name offend him or something? What’s up with this… Familiar? I can’t quite get a read on his personality… And he seems to already know me… Did Tifa tell him? Or was there a weird rumor making the rounds in town again?
“Ngh… I knew it! You!”
“You’ve got an impressive chest!”
What even compelled him to compliment my chest, of all things, just now?
Hmm… Aha, that’s it!
“Heh, admirin’ my pecs really good ain’tcha?!”
“Heh, sounds like gibberish to me, but that’s exactly it!”
“Behold! My muscle control!”
“OOOOHHH?! Your chest is… MOVING?! What mastery of arcane energy!”
“This is no magic, boy! No magic! All I need is pure physical energy! Muscle power!”
“Ooohhh! Muscle power…!”
(Xemul: em…Asley? What’s going on here?)
“What… are you doing?”
“…H-hey there, Itsuki.”
Well. That was embarrassing.
Just… look at her eyes. It was like she’d just found a rare monster. Like, a tentacle-type monster or something.
“Asley, don’t stop now.”
“N-no more time for that anymore!”
“Why?! I don’t understand!”
That didn’t come from Itsuki’s direction, nor was it Tarawo’s throaty voice. Not from me either, of course.
I still haven’t disengaged my side chest pose… so I let go of my arm, transitioning to the front relaxed pose, and then the side relaxed pose as I turned around… to see that Tifa was rubbing her eyes, fighting off her remaining drowsiness as she stared at me.
The light in her eyes felt quite sharp and powerful, but overall, my student doesn’t seem to have changed mu-
“What’re you doing in here without my permission, Tarawo? Do that again and I’ll throw you into my dinner soup…”
Yeah, no, she actually seems to have changed quite a lot.
Oh no. Oh no. Our eyes met. Somehow, it’s like she’s been… petrified by what she’d seen, or something like that. Anyway, I’d best to say hi first-
“H-hey, Tifa. Looks like you’re doing fine for yourself.”
I might have sounded a bit too casual there, what with it coming out on the spur of the moment.
Tifa tilted her head slightly to her side, then rubbed her eyes again. Perhaps she was still tired, or perhaps she was confused.
Oh? Now she’s standing up.
She pulled her hood down… stayed silent… and walked past me. She also went past Itsuki, out the door, and proceeded to pick Tarawo up in her arms.
“Whatever is the matter, Tifa? Oh… Heh heh heh… I see you’ve finally fallen for my-“
Around the moment his statement got there, she slammed the door shut. Then I could hear a brief whine from Tarawo, followed by footsteps of a furiously-paced run. Itsuki and I, the only ones left in my room, turned to look at each other.
“What… are you doing?”
“This is called the front double biceps pose.”
Seeing Itsuki’s blank, cold stare, I knew that I had to successfully imitate Irene’s Arcane Energy Circulation Optimizer for myself as soon as possible.
“Hey, what’d you do to that kid?! She bolted out of the place with her face all red, you know!”
“I can’t believe you, Master! She was so teary-eyed and all that! That’s got to be a new peak of your foolishness, sir!”
What a cruel thing to say. Well, only my Familiar was the cruel one in this case.
Could it be that my ‘foolishness points’ are meant to never be deducted as long as I’m with my Familiar, what with her tallying them up so religiously?
Huh, come to think about it, I might’ve thought about that once before.
Anyways… once I was down to the first floor of Pochisley Agency, everyone came out to welcome me back.
“Congrats on your promotion, man. Did ya get to let your explosive powers loose back there? Hahaha!”
“Hey, Bruce. Looks like you’re in a super good mood today.”
“Damn right I am! Hahaha! C’mon, have a seat.”
After me, Pochi and Betty sat down to my sides, and then Blazer, Bruce, Haruhana, Natsu, Lala, and Tzar took their seats around the table. We proceeded to talk while waiting for dinner to be served. Lina hasn’t come back yet – chances are she’s still busy cleaning up after the University’s entrance ceremony. Maybe I should go check up on her later?
“Asley! Listen, listen! You gotta come check out the fields! Me and Sir Instructor, we’re gettin’ good results back there!”
“Ooh, nice. I’ll make sure to go ’round to the courtyard later.”
“”No, Sir Asley, she meant the one at Faltown.””
“T-then that’ll have to wait until tomorrow…”
“It’s a promise! All right?!”
Hearing me say that, Lala’s emerald eyes sparkled. At the same time, Tzar kept his stare on me as if to communicate something else. Hmm, I see. It seems that nothing has happened at Faltown since then. That more or less confirmed that the crystal sealing Holy Warrior Lylia’s body was exactly what Cleath had been after. That, or perhaps he actually was trying to destroy the place.
“Asley, Asley! Listen – Haruhana’s got promoted to Rank C! And I also just got to Rank E!”
“Ooh, way to go, Natsu! Looks like you’re in for a celebration tonight! You too, Haruhana! Congratulations!”
“Huhuhu, thank you very much. But shouldn’t you and Miss Betty be the ones celebrated the most?”
“Oh, you always know what to say, Haruhana! But you’re in this as well. Congrats!”
Betty, in a gesture of thanks, hugged Haruhana and rubbed her cheek against hers. Haruhana closed her eyes and tried to shake herself off – now she’s looking more fitting for a girl her age.
“Hehe… and that’s not all! We’ve called in some guests – consider this a surprise announcement!”
Bruce happily gave some sort of signal to Blazer.
“Well, technically not guests anymore, though.”
Blazer gave me some sort of hint, stood up, and went to open the dining room’s door. Oh, I see. This calm aura… It’s got to be ‘him’.
I stood up to welcome them. In anticipation of what Blazer might be saying to me from now on, I briefly cast my eyes down. Then I looked back up to look at them once again.
“Long time no see, Sir Asley.”
Leading their way in was Ryan, the Chief – or rather, former Chief of Faltown. To his side was Reyna, smiling as she bowed to me.
“Sir Ryan, Reyna. It’s been quite a while, indeed.”
“Asley, my man! I see you’re still lookin’ swole!”
“Brother, spare us the embarrassing stuff, please! Jeez… hey there, Asley.”
“Reid and Mana… you two look like you’ve been doing some good training yourselves. And you-“
“Good evening, Sir Asley! Congratulations on your promotion! Hello to you, too, Pochi!”
Adolf bowed down quite stiffly. He seemed quite nervous to be here.
“Oh, thank you. Now, everyone, please have a seat.”
Once everyone was sat down, Blazer, who sat opposite to me, started to talk
“So, about what I’ve called Ryan and everyone else here for… it concerns The Silver.”
Pochi, hearing him address Ryan without honorifics, had her ears twitch right up. I also reflexively turned to Ryan, but he signaled me with his eyes to listen to what Blazer has to say.
“From this point on, Ryan – and all of his subordinates here – is officially part of The Silver.”
I see, I see… So he’s addressing everyone equally while speaking from his position as the leader The Silver.
“Additionally, with approval from Bruce, Betty, and Haruhana… I appoint Ryan as The Silver’s second-in-command.”
Wait… so this whole time, Betty has been keeping this stuff away from me?
We just got back moments ago, so there shouldn’t have been enough time for them to discuss it with her today.
Betty, noticing my glare, stuck out her tongue and winked. Okay, I’ll admit that she pulled that gesture off nicely, but my mood right now dictates that she doesn’t look cute at all.
“Well, that’s that.”
…And now both of the siblings are winking at me. Okay, guys, now you’re just being creepy.
“Me, too! I’m in, too!”
“Ooh, at long last! Congrats, Natsu!”
Perhaps still mixed on it, Blazer had a wry smile on his face when Natsu’s inclusion to the team was brought up.
And that would be perfectly reasonable – although it’s more or less normal for children to fight in this day and age, she’s going to be with a team that takes on high-level requests. Natsu’s still got so many things to learn before she’s up to snuff. She might end up pushing herself too hard… and that’s nothing to be happy about.
Perhaps she’d grown too attached to them. Now, we ARE supposed to support the kids who’d chosen to fight of their own accord, but this instance does show that things won’t always play out as intended.
“But… what about Bruce and Betty? No offense to Sir Ryan, but those two have been with The Silver for the longest time, haven’t they?”
“”Nah, we wouldn’t be fit for the job.””
“I did suggest the position to them, of course. It’s perfectly in line with what they’ve always wanted.”
“You see, Sir Asley, I thought I would be able to better provide you with assistance by working with them.”
“Wait what about the survivors from Faltown, sir?”
“Oh, don’t you worry, Asley.”
“We’ll be able to take care of them better by being in The Silver. The bigger the team, the more requests we can take – not to mention the work’s going to be safer. Blazer’s agreed to keep our finances separate, too, so we’ll be making more dough than we were before. We’ll contribute to strengthening the team, of course.”
“Hahaha, gotta do better than that, Reid. Haruhana just out-ranked you, remember.”
“S-shut up, Bruce! I’ll get stronger than you in no time!”
“Heh, go on and try it, E-man!”
Seeing how they were practically talking over Mana’s head, I’m feeling quite sorry for her.
Bruce and Betty, Reid and Mana… these two pairs of siblings bear quite a bit of resemblance. Not only in terms of personality, but also their relationship.
Their abilities are still far apart, however. I look forward to seeing how strong all of them can get.
“Hahahaha… there you have it, Sir Asley. Inadequately skilled and equipped we may be, but I ask that you trust us to get things done.”
He’s got quite a fascinating smile going on for him, that’s for sure. The Silver sure has added a powerful ally into their ranks.
“Now then, this is the first time anyone’s hearing about this, but-“
Did he mean that he’d been keeping some other new members a secret from everyone? Or maybe he’d deliberately chosen this timing to bring it up. Blazer is especially good at timing things, so I wouldn’t put this past him.
Considering that this decision was probably made by him alone, the latter sounds like the more likely explanation.
“Idéa and Midors will be joining us next year – when they graduate from the Magic University.”
“Huh, so they’ve made up their minds already?”
“Those two… I see, I see…”
Huh, those three didn’t seem all that surprised… It was like they’d long expected the addition.
Still, Idéa and Midors, huh…… hmm?
I mean, those two are still under the Black and White Chain Contract, aren’t they?!