“M-maybe they just lost the signboard, sir!”
“Nope, can’t be — the building itself is also completely different. And stop snooping around! You want the security called on us or what!?”
Seeing Pochi trying to peek inside through one of the front windows, I promptly pulled her away.
“MEOW!? But I thought we were finally home!!”
“You’re not supposed to meow! That’s what cats do! C’mon, we’re getting outta here!”
“But I wan-nya be called cute like a cat, Meowster!”
“Again, stop meowing! And quit it with the winking! Keep your ear upright! Don’t stick out your tongue! You’re already out of ideas or what!? Be more creative, damn it!”
“Bah, you really don’t understand a maiden’s heart, Master! We just want to be called cute sometimes, you know!”
In her case, I can’t bring myself to say that to her… because she utterly lacks consideration for timing.
What era are we even in, anyway?
The city’s name is Beilanea, so it can’t be that long ago… But my Biological Clock only tells the time of day, so we’ll have to start with finding information from somewhere.
In which case, our first stop should be obvious enough…
“Let’s go check out the Adventurers’ Guild, sir! We’ll sound suspicious if we go around town asking people what era this is, after all!”
Does she not realize that the things she says also apply to herself? I swear, my Familiar’s mind works in mysterious ways…
Anyway, now that I looked core closely, the cityscape does look somewhat different from what I remember. I can’t exactly pinpoint where or how, but… the people and the atmosphere are all different.
“A-all right! …We’re going in!”
“Y-yes, sir! …Let’s go!”
“……How about you go first, Pochi?”
“What!? You’re supposed to lead the way, Master!”
“C’mon, this is one of the rare times I’m letting you be in command! There are SOME things I’m just scared of, you know!”
“If you’re scared, then I’m even more scared! I’m too scared to even go in and look at the bulletin board! Really!”
Ngh… she’s becoming more and more self-aware.
Okay, fine, I’ll do it myself…!
“Hey, move it!”
Huh? Is it just me, or did that voice sound awfully familiar?
Both Pochi and I turned around to where
“What are you standing in front of the entrance for!? You’re blocking the way!”
Pochi and I pointed — her with her front paw, me with my finger — at the first familiar face we saw here…
“W-what in the– SHUT UP!”
“It’s Miss Irene!”
Yes, that’s certainly Irene the Invincible Sprout, the very one we know.
“Ahh, I was wondering who it was! Mm-hm, you haven’t changed one bit, Miss Irene! Long time no see!”
Pochi ran up to her and was about to dance with joy around her, but then…
“Who are you?”
It feels like…… time just froze around me.
Pochi tumbled down, then promptly jumped back to me.
“I just greeted the wrong person… So embarrassing… Wahhh!”
“Don’t start crying now, damn it! Hey, you’re getting snot on my shirt! GET OFF ME!!”
“How did you know my name, anyway? …You’re not stalkers, are you?”
Same name, I see… So we’re still in the past, a few years before she met us?
But then… shouldn’t she have remembered us when I entered school? Was there something preventing her from pointing that out? No, that can’t be — she had never shown any signs of that being the case.
“Well, doesn’t matter — I’ll actually become famous someday, mark my words! So what if I’m just getting started at this Guild work today? I see that I already have fans, which is… something. But I’m busy, and someone like you isn’t worth my time to stop for. Hmph!”
With that, Irene went past me, opened the door into the Adventurers’ Guild, and stepped inside.
“Wait, what’d she just say?”
“She’s just getting started.”
“You know what ‘get started’ means?”
“It means to do something for the first time, as I understand it.”
“So Irene is…”
“New to this work.”
“The Adventurers’ Guild…”
Pochi and I looked up at the Adventurers’ Guild signboard, and proceeded to both facepalm.
“Oh yeah, Irene used her self-developed Arcane Energy Circulation Optimizer to keep her body from aging past how she looks now…”
“I remember hearing that she was in the same class as Sir Gaston, too…”
“I wonder how old she is…”
“Now that you mention it, the way she talks now does sound a bit less mature…”
Pochi and I pressed the inner corner of our eyes and racked our brains, trying to keep our trains of thought running against all odds, and in the end, we could only turn to look at each other.
We both heaved deep sighs in perfect unison. We’re just about resigned to our fates now.
“Let’s head inside first, sir…”
As the doorbell rang, its sound was promptly drowned out by a girl’s voice, clearly angry and dissatisfied.
“I’m asking again… Why am I Rank F!? Don’t you know how knowledgeable I am, and how much power I have!?”
There’s Miss Irene, to be one of the Six Archmages in the decades to come, arguing her case.
Sounds to me like this really IS her younger days.
“Master, Master! Take a look at this!”
Pochi, taking care to avoid interacting with Irene, ran up to one of the bulletin boards.
Then she pointed at the section of the board where the newest requests were posted.
“Hah… so what should we do from now, sir?”
Let’s see, let’s see…
“It’s currently the sixth month of War Demon Calendar year twenty-eight… Hmm…”
When we got sent through time, it was War Demon Calendar year ninety-four… Which means now should be about sixty-six years in the past.
Now, what does God have in store for us in this era?
“It’s… forty-si– no, fifty-six years before our time, right, sir!?”
“Uh, yeah. Sure thing.”
I’m too occupied with other things to correct her now.
“Now then, Pochi-dawg.”
“What is it, Master?”
“This era isn’t ENTIRELY unknown to us, but since we were sent here, it means we have another mission.”
“Yes, that’s what I thought, too.”
“The question is the same as last time — what is it that we need to do IMMEDIATELY? And the answer would be… the obvious thing. Ugh…”
Seeing me heave a sigh, Pochi realized exactly what was up.
“Yes, sir… That’s what I thought, too.”
“First, we gotta go get what we need…”
“…Yes, sir, I know.”
We turned to each other and declared the same word:
Fortunately, we’re in the Adventurers’ Guild. Do a few hunts, and we’ll probably have more than enough cash to spend.
After all, I’m Rank S. About 10,000 Gold should be enough for us to live comfortably for some time.
“Ah, perfect! I was just about to look for you two!”
Turning around, we saw the young lady who had been arguing with the reception staff.
“Let’s cut to the chase — you don’t seem all too weak, so I need your help.”
The hell is this girl talking about?
There’s no way we can afford being led around the place by Irene now, not when it’s her Rank F days.
Besides, if we end up becoming too close to her, won’t it cause inconsistencies in the memories of our era’s Irene?
“First of all, I need you to sign here.”
“Uh, well, no. I don’t think we can just–“
“–Just write your names down!”
Next thing I knew, I had already signed a contract I did not even know the contents of, compelled by some unknown force.
“Now, don’t worry! Things will get much better once I’m promoted to Rank D!”
I don’t know how this is happening, but now Pochi and I are being dragged into the city. Like, the literal kind of dragging.
“What is it, Pochi?”
“She’s got some impressive physical strength, don’t you think!?”
That’s not the problem here, damn it.
She has a point, though, considering that Irene looks like… well, a teenager. And the combined weight of me and Pochi should be almost a hundred kilograms.
It seems that talent does play a part in one’s physical strength as well.
Hmm, I should write that down in the Principles of a Philosopher.
“Now then! Let’s go kill us some Zombies!”
Perhaps, just perhaps, we’d been sent to this era not to lead, but to be led around.