“It’s been a while since we last met, Asley.”
“Quite a while indeed. My jaw figuratively dropped to the ground when your partner Pochi suddenly appeared in my cave, I’ll have you know.”
“Oh, don’t worry about her. I assure you, the food here is very good… so she must be quite full by now. Still, I must say that I’ve never seen a Familiar that… indulges in food as much as she does. Oh? What is the matter, Asley? I don’t think you look so good.”
“Please tell Pochi that I’ll be going back to town ahead of her. Goodbye.”
Perhaps I ought to give up on the promotion to S Rank and aim for some other titles. Yeah. That’s what I’ll do.
Even I myself was surprised by how easy it was for me to turn around and step away.
I walked around the warrior woman who stood still, confused as to what was happening – but then another unfamiliar voice called out to me.
“C’mon, don’t say that. ‘Least you can do is come in and have a meal or two, kid.”
It was a woman’s voice, but the words spoken were not what I’d expect from one. It had the same brashness as Irene’s, though the voice itself was obviously not at all the same.
I turned around, and sure enough, the new person that stood there was a black-haired woman. She hopped toward me, instantly closing the ten-meter gap between us and landing without so much as a flinch – her leg strength was astounding.
She wasn’t particularly tall nor buff, but now that she was right in front of me, I felt that she had a strangely imposing air about her.
She stared at me, her jet black pupils seemed as if they could suck me right in with their lack of gleam… so I took a step backwards to make some space. And of course, she followed me with a step of equal length, so I gave up.
Speaking from my first impression, she was quite…high-handed. Considering her tone of voice and the pressure she exerted, that opinion will most likely will stick.
Her equipment was of the lightweight variety, her sleeveless shirt and wide-sleeved pants enhanced mobility.
Although her build was slender all around, I could practically feel the strength exuding from her well-forged arms. Her age must be… thirty, give or take a few years? Most likely the same or slightly older than Betty, from what I could see.
She seemed to be a go-getter type of warrior… and there’s a reason I think that. It was because she wasn’t armed with any weapon.
“Well, this is some crazy visitor we’ve got today,”
She gleefully declared as she perked her head and circled around me, checking out my body – all the while completely unarmed.
Even Warren, now that he’d gotten closer to me, was also more or less surprised by how I looked.
“That is… quite an interesting transformation, I suppose? Since when were you a warrior, Asley?”
Warren cast his eyes slightly downward and asked his question while holding back his chuckle.
“Before we get to that, would you mind telling me who this is? This woman who’s enjoying herself rubbing my calf so much?”
“She’s called Jennifer… and I must say, there’s no stopping her once she gets going. I’m sure she’ll be sticking with you on the way back as well. You’d be best off to… not mind her so much. Now, if you stay around for an hour or so, I’m sure she’ll eventually be satisfied and stop.”
Would even a Holy Warrior be able to ‘not mind’ being fondled all over for a whole hour? Yeah, no – I’m sure even a Holy Warrior would bolt off some time along the way.
But wait, the name Jennifer… I might have heard that from somewhere, quite a while ago?
I directed my gaze down on Jennifer as she perked her head once again, ducked, took off my shoe, and… took a sniff of the arch of my foot.
This is the foot of an adventurer, woman… of course it stinks – they all do. Especially one fresh out of a shoe after several hours. Shouldn’t that go without saying?
“Sir Warren, everyone seems to be safe and sound. No major injuries to speak of.”
One among the several people moving around behind me made a report to Warren.
The warrior woman, hearing that, was greatly relieved. She excused herself and went to stay by the side of her friend, who has just started to regain consciousness.
“Heheheheh… I see that you’re as nice as ever, Asley – to your enemies, no less.”
“Enemies, you say… are they really, though?”
“Considering that you are testing for S Rank, we most definitely are. Heheheheh…”
Warren said as if he had completely seen through me.
Seriously, I’ve always wondered where he’d gotten all his information from.
“You being chosen for a Rank-up Evaluation to Rank S at your age is… quite surprising. How much time do you have left?”
“About three hours.”
“Well then, I ask that you hang out with us for about an hour.”
Warren said as he glanced at Jennifer.
Wasn’t that the approximate time it’ll take for Jennifer to get off me? And does he seriously think the remaining two hours will be enough?
Yeah, looks like I’ll have to give up on that promotion.
Knowing Warren, he probably had a good reason to be THIS pushy, so it’d be unwise of me to refuse him outright. For now, I’ll listen to what he has to say, and then maybe I’ll go back to train with Tūs some more.
With things roughly planned out in my mind, I walked with Warren into the cave, in accordance to his invitation.
All the while, Jennifer clung to my thigh muscles like a permanent piece of armor.
“Everyone, you’d do well to remember this man’s face. I have plans for him to potentially be part of the army’s activities.
After informing the warriors and the mages at the entrance, Warren went inside.
The army, he said. So… that’s it. I’d guessed as much when I’d seen one of the warrior’s titles… and it turned out to be as much trouble as I’d expected.
…They were ‘The Resistance’.
Warren, seeing me keep silent while following him, crossed his arms behind his back and proceeded to speak.
“I assume you haven’t heard of me yet? Of what I’ve been up to lately, I mean.”
“I figured you’d explain everything during the time I’m here, so…”
“Heheheheheh… Back when I was in school, I swear… you were the only thing there I couldn’t quite get a read on. Oh, I mean, there WERE many aspects of you that I’d understood easily, but… Ah, now this brings back memories. I must admit, everyone was so worried when they’d heard of your arrest, but I could barely hold back my laughter.”
By ‘everyone,’ Warren was probably referring to the Student Council at the time.
And Warren laughing at the top of his lungs? I would’ve loved to see that.
I visualized it in my head as we went in deeper, and eventually, I smelled something delicious from the deeper part of the cave. And then I heard a distorted voice saying ‘So tasty!’ followed by loud munching and slurping. I’m actually embarrassed in ‘her’ stead for being this noisy of an eater.
“Pochi turned out to be quite different from what I remembered. But she was identical to you in at least one thing… in that she turned to leave the instant she recognized my face.”
“Hahahaha, of course, she would!”
“But then she immediately stopped when she caught a whiff of the stew I was having.”
“…Of course, she would.”
As Warren’s chuckle echoed through the cave, sounds of bustle came back from the deeper chambers.
Were they in a rush because their boss came back? Wait, no, it felt… different?
Once we reached the first spacious room, I saw Pochi… for some reason sitting in front of stacks of plates and licking around her own mouth.
Is she done with her meal?
“I’d like another serving of this, please!”
Nope, far from it.
“Ah, Master! …I’ve been waiting for you! Now, let’s get back to town, sir!”
“Nah, just keep eating. I’ll say it when we go.”
She sure is awful at dealing with Warren, huh…
I mean, not that I’m one to talk, but seriously, bribed with food? Really? Was she THAT hungry?
“Please, have a seat.”
Warren urged me to sit down first, and so I did.
The room had five warriors. All seemed quite talented, and visibly held Warren in high regard.
They DID pay attention to me, but more as an enemy, I’d imagine.
It was with Light Source magic spells that the place was kept well-lit, but the place seemed to have all of the rest of life-necessity items on the ready. The minimum necessities, but necessities nonetheless.
“Now then, where to begin…”
“From the recipe of this stew, please.”
“Heheheh… I’ll have our cook write it down for you later, then.”
Sounds of bustle came echoing from somewhere in the cave again. In reaction to the chuckle, I’d assume.
Don’t tell me… this guy actually doesn’t laugh all that much? Even though he was practically a perpetual laugh-er in front of me back at the University?
“In all seriousness, please explain everything regarding how you got here. Last time I asked you what you’d do, you refused to elaborate on your answer, so…”
Two years ago, Warren only said that he was aiming for the upper tiers of the Nation.
So why or how did he become one of the Resistance, let alone as an apparent leading man?
“Then and now, my goal has never changed. I aim to put myself in a place higher than the Six Archmages, and for that, I have gone down a path I deemed the shortest.”
“The shortest path… you mean the Resistance?”
“But of course. There is no future for this Nation – not when it insists to be kept running on a corrupt system of… everything.”
Now that he’d brought it up, I’ve realized that I’d been so focused on dealing with the Devil King that I’d practically ignored everything else.
Perhaps this is the chance to get myself the current big picture in one go. A biased view it may be, but it’ll still be better than nothing.
“As for the related subject… First off is War Demon Emperor Vaas… or rather, Puppet Monarch Vaas. Let us start from him.”
…Maybe it’s not so biased after all.
(Anna: has sounded pretty biased to me though XD)