At the Regalia Adventurers’ Guild, by the time I was getting tired of Pochi’s incessant crunching of vegetables and occasional screams resulting from their taste, the entrance’s doorbell rang.
All the adventurers in the establishment gave that direction a pressuring stare, as if it was a ritual for each time the door was opened.
Well, I suppose this could be considered normal, but it didn’t happen quite as often back in Beilanea.
Perhaps it was thanks to there being an abundance of adorable ladies like Natsu, Lina, and Haruhana as our regulars.
The one who had entered, unfazed by what was happening, nonchalantly headed straight for my table. Judging from the look on her face… it seemed that things had gone well.
“Congrats, Betty. Piece of cake, right?”
“Huhu, you could tell? But it wasn’t exactly easy, you know?”
“You don’t say… so who was your examiner?”
“Someone who’s especially good at dealing with you, Asley♪”
Betty shot me a wink. What did she mean by, ‘good at dealing with me?’
“Oh, so it was Sir Gasston, then?”
“Right… He was such a handful, I tell you! Oh, and I got to see Fuyu again after quite a long time, so that was nice.”
“She was there, too!? Anyone else?”
“Huh? Just her, who else? Oh – excuse me! Some ale over here!”
Betty turned abruptly to make her order and then snapped right back.
I see, I see… I was the only one who had to deal with three of the Six Braves huh. What an inconsistent system this is.
With that said, I was still curious about Betty’s evaluation process. Let’s see if I can drown away all my dissatisfaction with food and drinks as we talk, eh.
“So… what did you have to do for the test?”
“Well, since Sir Gaston already knew me, he just said ‘oh, it’s nothing much… just show me how much you’ve improved,’ and brought me out through the west gate to where the giant monsters are. Had me deal with this thing called the Diaminotaurous… ‘the best I could,’ he said-“
By the time she said that, the waitress came to our table with our ale.
Anyways… Betty here sure is good at impersonating Gaston, huh.
“C’mon, let’s drink!”
“…And why’s Pochi munching on the veggies like there’s no tomorrow?”
“Ah, it’s… something like a punishment game. Don’t worry about her.”
“So, about time now?”
The tankards rang with a nice, metallic clang. I usually wasn’t so hot on alcoholic drinks, but on this occasion, of course I had to have some. Yet, even after 5,000 years, I had never managed to get accustomed to this burning sensation slithering through my throat. I still wouldn’t argue that they were the perfecting thing for celebrations though. Yes, celebration… huh. Right, times like this don’t come around often. I better order some meat and milk for Pochi, too.
“-and so I had to fight that Diaminotaurous without knowing any magic that you’d usually use to take it down. Really, it should be illegal to classify it as Rank A, what with its solid defense against pretty much anything else…”
“True. Your blade shouldn’t be able to go through its skin, right?”
“That’s right. I had to hit the same spot 500 times for me to start dealing any damage, you know? I swear, I thought I was gonna go mad from all that stabbing.”
500 stabs at the same spot, huh… It should’ve been easier for her to deal damage if she’d aimed for its internals, which should have been dimly visible through their diamond-like skin… but then again, it’s quite dangerous since she’d have to be at point-blank range. Betty’s speed should be enough to pull it off, but all things considered, I suppose I wouldn’t recommend it.
I guess I’ll pass her that info once the celebration starts to die down.
“So that’s all you had to do?”
“No way. After downing the Diaminotaurous, I had to fight Sir Gaston – right then and there.”
“Wha-!? For real!?”
In response to my reaction, Betty shrugged as a half-confirmation.
A one-on-one fight between Gaston and Betty – now that sounds awesome. I would’ve liked to see that.
“A-and how did that match turn out?”
When I asked that, I also realized that the other adventurers had already gathered behind Betty, their ears peeled for the scoop. Crap, I might’ve been speaking too loudly.
Still, I’m sure just about anyone would want to hear the details. Except Pochi, perhaps, what with her being so busy with her steak.
In her usual daring move, Betty proceeded to finish the rest of her tankard in one go.
She hadn’t been drinking like this back at the Pochisley Agency, of course, so I suppose getting to do so once in a while was like her breaking free of her restraints.
The adventurers behind her proceeded to order more ale for us, saying this round would be their treat – suffice to say, it technically was somewhat of a payment for the story they were expecting to hear.
“How about you hear it from the man himself?”
Betty, now slightly red, pointed at the Guild’s entrance with one hand and raised her tankard to drink from with another.
Before the rest of us even turned to the door, a voice called out from the counter.
Now we turned – and sure enough, Gaston was there, walking in with one hand resting on his staff.
Well, I’ll be damned. We might have been too absorbed in the conversation to notice his arrival.
Amid the escalating commotion within the establishment, Pochi’s body started to twitch. Hearing the name ‘Gaston’ repeated over and over all around her, she covered her eyes with her front paws. Gah, the meat sauce’s gotten all over her fur… I’ll have to wipe it off for her later.
As Gaston slowly walked in, his staff clicking on the floor with each step, I could see a girl following closely behind him… Now, who could that handsome lady be? With her pale, almost pure skin, and the sharp look of her eyes, her presence among the crowd was as prominent Gaston’s.
Suddenly, Pochi’s nose twitched – then she took her paws off her eyes and stood up. Gah, now the sauce’s gotten on the floor… I’ll have to wipe it off now.
“Hmm!? This smell… is that you, Fuyu!? Long time no see!”
Wait, no, now that I’ve been told… I could sense the warm and gentle air distinct to Fuyu behind that sharp glare of hers. Her outward appearance was what I’d imagine a grown-up version of her would look like, too.
But… wait… no… I mean… Are girls supposed to change THAT much over the span of just two years? Even Lina hadn’t changed that much, so…
While I was stunned by how great the degree of change that was, Betty proceeded to poke on my cheeks.
“Asley~? What’s wrong? Eyes looking a bit wide there, y’know?”
Now I wanted to poke Betty back, too, what with her being locked in a broad smirk – but she may very well be correct that my eyes were opened quite wide.
Fuyu, casting her eyes down and trying not to draw attention while walking behind Gaston, seemed to have noticed me looking, as apparent from her hurriedly hiding herself behind Gaston’s legs.
Then she stuck only her face out and said,
“It-it’s been a long time, sir…”
“Yes, it has been… a long time.”
Welp, I was so caught up in the moment that I ended up repeating what she’d said.
That seemed to have taken Fuyu by surprise, too, apparent from how she reddened up slightly as she went to get a chair from another table for Gaston.
The four of us – me, Betty, Gaston, and Fuyu – sat around the small round table. It’s gotten a bit awkward around here, but at any rate, it seemed that Fuyu wanted to play with Pochi, what with her already turning to look at the doggo. Then she noticed me looking at her – again – and reddened up… again.
Was it really that embarrassing? I’ll have to be careful not to stare so much from here on out. And as of now, I realized that I hadn’t even greeted this Gaston gentleman yet.
(Anna: Yeah Asley, you better stop staring at people so much. It’s embarrassing as hell! Heck, even reading about such a thing is embarrassing.)
“Good day, Sir Gaston. I didn’t quite expect to see you here, of all places.”
I’ll have to be a bit more polite here than I’m used to. Calling him just ‘Gaston’ as I’d originally planned to for comical effect wouldn’t look good in public, after all.
“I’m doing whatever Fuyu wants, that’s all.”
“Eh – she did?”
“Sir Gaston, you promised not to tell anyone that.”
Fuyu, sounding peeved, harshened her tone as she… reddened up for the third time.
“Umph, indeed I did. Now, it’s nothing special – she’d heard that Betty would be here after the battle, you see. Figured she’d at least come to see her for a bit.”
Fuyu, her snow-pale skin now thoroughly flushed red, cast her face down as if to hide her face. Oh, no – Thou shalt not stare, Asley. Thou shalt not stare. In a bid to separate my eyes from Fuyu, I followed up on Gaston’s words.
“Yes – that’s it.”
“We were walking about the match between you and Betty just now, sir. We would like to hear about it, if you don’t mind.”
“Hmph, it wasn’t something to write home about.”
Eh – then what’s this old man even here for? I turned to look at Betty. In response, she shrugged and grumbled something along the lines of ‘of course it’s me’ to herself.
“I’m starting to get drunk so it might be a bit exaggerated, but I CAN talk about it. May I, Sir Gaston?”
“…Get me a cup of tea.”
Seeming to have come to an agreement, Gaston requested for his drink. My heart bursting with a roar of triumph, I eagerly went to order the tea for him. And now – let’s hear it. I’m so pumped up to know how the match had gone down.