Her walking posture is awkward as all hell.
And she’s going so slow… like a turtle.
She really is scared, huh?
Well, that’s why I chose an obviously intimidating monster. Makes it much easier to get the point across.
The Green Dragon… apparently, it lives in a forest southwest of town. I wonder what Irene will think of it, since she’s so oblivious yet so brave… YET SO GODDAMN OBLIVIOUS.
I can’t help but look forward to seeing how this ends.
“Your evil side is starting to show, sir~~”
“Hey, I know what I’m doing.”
“Doesn’t exactly make it the right thing, though…”
“Irene probably won’t change her mind if nothing’s done about her character first… Which is why I’m trying something a bit heavy. If it gets TOO heavy, well, you’ll have to stop me.”
Pochi seemed utterly baffled by my explanation.
Huh? I’m pretty sure I was completely serious… did I accidentally say something weird?
“H-hmph! I’ve always been there to cover for the stuff you couldn’t do! This time’s no different, sir!”
The hell? She just turned the other way so suddenly…
I really don’t get her sometimes. I guess two people probably won’t ever fully understand each other, even after being together for eight hundred years.
“Here we are, Irene!”
Her knees are shaking like mad.
She may have been able to channel pure hype to tough through the Zombies, but that was never going to work against a Dragon, I suppose.
Mm-hm, looking good so far… Oh?
All the trees around us shook — and so did the earth, in fact.
One can easily imagine that it’s caused by something unhumanly heavy.
…Oh, there it is. That emerald green creature, emerging from the trees…
“There’s our Green Dragon.”
I whispered to Irene, prompting her to tighten her grip on the Drynium Rod and assume battle stance — nope, she didn’t. She crouched down.
Yup, she’s gone full defense mode now, as if a giant rock was about to fall from the sky…
Still, if I bail her out here, she won’t learn her lesson — she’ll stay reckless and inevitably get herself hurt, or in the worst case, killed.
Drastic measures are needed to steer her personality in a good direction.
“Look, Irene! The Green Dragon is right ahead of us!”
“N-not so loud, you fool!”
Well, I mean… It already had its eyes on us, though?
That’s the Dragon’s intimidation. The deep-voiced growl, heard from deep in the monster’s throat, plunged Irene into full panic mode.
“G-go away! Don’t come over here!”
She’s swinging the Drynium Rod around like she’s trying to chase off a dog or something. But, well, except that “dog” is the Green Dragon.
Like, a REAL Green Dragon, not like my Familiar who’s technically a dog with the properties of an Avian and a Heavenly Beast.
With Irene taking the Green Dragon’s thunderous roar right in her face, she… fell down on the spot.
At the same time, Pochi sent me a signal via eye contact.
Right… I also think we should quit now.
I sent a signal back to Pochi, prompting her to immediately kill off the Green Dragon.
“All right! Way to go, Pochi!”
“Shouldn’t you worry about Miss Irene first, sir?”
“Wellllll… she’s fainted. With her eyes wide open. Maybe that was a bit too much?”
“Hmm…… You’ll have to judge that for yourself, sir.”
No specific opinion from Pochi — now that’s rare. Maybe she meant that I need to wait to see more results first before judging.
I proceeded to carry Irene back to the Adventurers’ Guild, where I put her down on one of the rest beds. Leaving Pochi to watch over her, I went on to carry out the real meat of today’s jobs: hunting more monsters, more efficiently.
Gotta grind it this way again, what with me having left most of my War Demon Nation Gold back at the Pochisley Agency.
It took me only a few hours to earn the target amount of 10,000 Gold, after which I went back to the Guild’s lodgings. Hearing me open the door, Irene woke up.
“……Where am I?”
She’s still got her fearless face on, but also seems somewhat… enlightened.
“The Adventurers’ Guild lodgings. How are you feeling?”
“Terrible… and humiliated…”
Irene covered the lower half of her face with her blanket, regretting the decision she had made… and when her eyes started getting teary, she proceeded to cover her whole face.
Now then, time to teach her one last lesson.
“You don’t have to say anything. Just listen, Irene.”
Well, she’s probably got her hands full trying not to cry right now.
“To live as an adventurer means to put your life close by death’s side at all times. Some have died to F-ranked quests, believe it or not. What you faced today was a B-ranked monster, the Green Dragon — its fangs and claws are powerful, able to kill a normal person instantly. One does not win against it by simply keeping a calm mind. Moreover, when in the presence of party members, taking action without consulting them is what will most likely pull death closer to everyone involved. Now, preaching you like this might not be completely fair — maybe hypocritical, even — but I think you should be someone who instills hope in people’s hearts. After all, being close by death’s side means one is bound to cling to life the hardest they can… That’s what it means to be an adventurer. That’s what I want you to be — someone who makes people want to cling to life. There’s no need to rush. Start by taking the easy quests and work your way up the ranks. If you feel like you’ve hit a wall, try taking a quest one rank lower than where you’re at. One day, you’ll get there — you’ll achieve greatness. You, and all the wonderful friends you’ll make.”
As Irene simply sobbed through the whole thing, I tried my best to get my point across by keeping it simple.
I don’t know whether or not she actually got it, but I’m fine with her taking just a point or two to work with. She’s got a long life ahead of her, after all.
“…Shut up… you fool…”
Bah, same old response…
“The room’s rented out for a whole day, Miss Irene. We’ll be excusing ourselves now, so please try not to bother the Guild staff members too much.”
Pochi said before leaving the room ahead of me.
Just as I was about to follow her, Irene’s voice prompted me to stop.
With her keeping her face covered with her blanket, her voice was somewhat muffled.
“Ooh, a speaking blanket. You don’t see that every day.”
I threw one last joke her way, prompting her to stand up and peek her eyes out of the blanket.
“What… what is your name?”
Nope, that wasn’t it.
“You don’t need to know. I’m just a random stalker.”
Now THAT was the last joke she’d hear from me… in quite a while.
Irene must have thrown a pillow at me, since I heard one hit the door right after I closed it.
Pochi and I headed downstairs and exited the Guild building.
“So… asking again, was that too much?”
Pochi thought it over for a moment, and then said,
“Hmm… I think she’ll probably be fine, sir.”
“You were worried that that’d traumatize her or something?”
“Well, if she ends up being a shut-in, that’s going to cause a lot of issues down the line, sir.”
“Well, that definitely happened already.”
Pochi was so surprised that she stood up on two legs.
“Overcoming that trauma is also an important part of the process, you know? Besides, it’s something she started herself — if she can’t get over this, then she sure as hell isn’t ready for what’s out there in the wilds.”
“B-but will she be all right, sir!?”
Seeing that Pochi was still confused, I raised my index finger and explained,
“Lina and Tifa have also been through a lot, but they’re fine now, you know. And also–“
“What is it, sir?”
“We DO know how she’ll turn out in the future… right?”
“Ah, fair enough, sir!”
NOW she gets it.
Suddenly, as if our hunger could not wait to be sated any longer, both our stomachs let off a long, loud growl.
The both of us looked down at our bellies.
“Well, anyway… it’s time–“
“To celebrate our victory over the Devil King–“
I’d like to think that our voices echoed through the whole town of Beilanea… because, man, we were HYPED.
So as to reward our own painstaking work thus far, we ordered all of the fancy dishes that even vaguely tickled our fancy.
And as anyone would expect, in the end… we emptied every last coin out of my wallet.