Authors: Fujino Omori
It looks like a small tomahawk that each of them can carry in one hand. Does that mean that all these rocks on the ground are actually landform weapons?
Three monsters all equipped with weapons. Suddenly all of the horned rabbits look in our direction, their pale red eyes softly glowing.
“Three on three.”
“Lilly is just saying, but it needs to be three on one, three times, yes? We’ll be overwhelmed if each of us tries to take one on alone. If Mr. Welf makes one mistake, Lilly will be very vulnerable.”
Al-Miraj are actually some of the weakest monsters in the middle levels. As long as you’re aware that they are more agile than silverbacks, then even the upper ranks of Level 1 adventurers can hold their own against one.
However, there’s a reason that these rabbits are classified as Level 2 monsters: They’re surprisingly dangerous in groups.
Each one of the Al-Miraj lets out a series of high-pitched squeaks as they advance on our position.
“The one on the right first!”
“But, you know, this is the first time I’ve ever felt bad about slayin’ a monster…These things are too damn cute.”
Kyauu! Ki, kiii!
A three-man battle party versus a group of three monsters.
Six shadows charge forward and clash in the dim light.
“Hermes is back?”
Hestia handed a customer a fried potato puff as she turned to face Takemikazuchi.
“Isn’t it still too early? He was even at the last Denatus.”
“That’s what I’d like to find out. He wouldn’t come back so soon without a reason.”
“Thank you very much!” said Hestia to the customer and gave a
short bow. Takemikazuchi stood next to her, resting his elbows on the counter and wearing a scowl.
They were at a food stall on North Main Street. Hestia’s friend had shown up unannounced during business hours and said, “We need to talk.” Hestia couldn’t say no to him, so she listened to what he had to say while working behind the counter.
“My, my…Aren’t you doing good business over here?”
“Heh-heh, of course. I’m here, aren’t I?”
“Curses! I had no idea that a mascot had this much impact…”
There was a constant stream of customers at the food stall, enough to make lines at the cash register. Takemikazuchi, who was not used to this much activity, looked around with a look of defeat on his face. Hestia put her hands behind her back and puffed out her chest.
Since the two of them were wearing aprons, both of them blended in very well despite being deities.
“So, what did Hermes do? You said he came to your place, Také?”
“He did…Have you seen him since his return, Hestia?”
“Nope, I haven’t. I didn’t know he was back until you told me.”
Hestia’s body practically moved on its own as she bagged freshly fried potato puffs that a female animal person had just prepared and handed them to a series of customers. Every single one of them smiled as they took their potato puffs, patting Hestia on the head before leaving the stall.
“He said that he was interested in that boy of yours, Bell Cranell…or something like that. I can’t help but feel that he’s planning something.”
“Um…Aren’t you overthinking this a little bit? I don’t think Hermes is the kind of god who would start something.”
The god Hermes was not one to instigate a fight.
Whether he was very good at maneuvering through various situations or just very shrewd, Hermes was a well-connected god who often played peacekeeper when other gods or goddesses were fighting among one another.
The Hermes that Hestia knew was open-minded and assiduous.
“He’s not the only one to try to make a move on Bell recently…Just this past week, there’s been so many that it’s getting annoying?”
“You carry his burden well, Hestia. As for Hermes, I can’t stand him. There is not a word out of his mouth that I’ll actually believe.”
“Ha-ha-ha. Hermes does give you a hard time, doesn’t he, Také.”
Hestia’s and Hermes’s domains in Tenkai were right next to each other. They were neighbors, in a sense. They had been on good terms long enough that they knew a lot about each other.
Hestia smiled and laughed with a half-elf girl who was even shorter than she before sending her back to her mother.
“It’s not that I don’t understand what you’re saying, Hestia…I’ve just got a feeling that this time is different.”
“…Any reason why?”
“Call it divine intuition.”
Hestia thought for a moment as she stared back into Takemikazuchi’s violet eyes and scratched her chin.
If he was depending on his intuition, he had no proof.
“—Takemikazuchi, are you sure you should be wasting time in a place like this…”
“Ah, my apologies, Manager. There was something I had to do…No, I’m sure our sales will increase soon, yes. I’ll work very hard.”
“You can say anything you want, but you could learn a thing or two from Hestia…”
“I will, sorry for the inconvenience. I will double my efforts—you’ll see what I can really do tomorrow!”
Hestia was lost in her own thoughts as the food-stall manager appeared and Takemikazuchi bowed in apology over and over. She happened to catch a glimpse of this and wondered what this world was coming to, a god having to bow and scrape to one of the children. She completely ignored the fact that she herself had multiple part-time jobs and had done the very same thing on countless occasions.
“I’ll take my leave, Hestia. It might be meaningless to tell you to be careful, but still, keep an eye on Hermes.”
“Sure, thanks, Také.”
Takemikazuchi made his way past the manager and turned around to wave one last time before returning to his own shop. Thankful for her friend’s concern, Hestia smiled and watched him leave.
She stuck her head out of the side of the food stall and looked toward the blue sky.
She thought about her neighbor, especially about that charming smile of his.
It happened to remind her of one other deity.
“…There’s no way, right?”
Her soft voice was carried away by a whimsical gust of wind.
The sun shone down through a blue sky filled with white puffy clouds.
West Main Street was filled with crowds of people and countless horse-drawn carts bathed in the soft sunlight of early afternoon. A certain deity and one of his followers made their way through the middle of all of it.
“So then, Asfi, what did you find out?”
“According to the public information available at the Guild, he has completed level eleven and spent the last ten days on level twelve.”
The deity having a conversation surrounded by the hustle and bustle of the citizens of Orario just happened to be Hermes. Asfi, the human woman he was talking to, followed close behind as he made his way through the crowd.
The woman wore a white cloak and rather unusual sandals on her thin feet, each of which had a pair of golden wings curving around the sides.
“Also, someone at Babel Tower had something interesting to say…He apparently bought enough salamander wool to equip a small battle party earlier this morning.”
“Oh, don’t tell me he’s gone to the middle levels?”
“Most likely,” responded Asfi. Hermes’s lips curved up in a smirk.
“And only ten days after leveling up. Just how a record-holder should be. Very fast indeed.”
“In addition, I have discovered he possesses extremely powerful Magic. He used what must have been a very long spell to cast magic so powerful that it wiped out an infant dragon on level eleven. There were many witnesses.”
The woman giving this information to her god would have looked right at home in the company of other deities as well. She had a perfectly symmetrical face, her eyes brimming with knowledge, and brilliant silver glasses framing her feminine features. Her hair was a stunning aqua blue with a few lighter shades mixed in. It was as if strands of water were flowing from her head.
Ignoring the eyes of the animal people and dwarves that passed by, Asfi continued her report.
“…That’s not the only reason.”
“Many adventurers believe that the only reason he defeated a Minotaur is that he was lucky enough to land this Magic attack. That he is a weakling who only finished off a Minotaur that had escaped from
. Some go as far as to call him the ‘Phony Rookie.’”
“Ha-ha-ha-ha! Phony Rookie! Got a nice ring to it!”
Hermes’s mouth opened wide as he laughed.
Many people were startled by his roar of laughter and stared as he passed by. But Hermes was enjoying himself too much to care, his shoulders jumping up and down in glee.
managed to hit it with his Magic, he
delivered the last blow to a monster with its foot in the grave…A god’s Blessing won’t be fooled by cheap descriptions…But yes, I understand what you’re trying to say.”
Hermes narrowed his already thin eyes as soon as his own laughter died down.
“I believe these opinions can all be explained by one thing: the fact that he leveled up so quickly…”
“Ah, yes. Adventurers are always so hard on one another.”
“I have confirmed that Bell Cranell is not very well-liked by other adventurers.”
At that point the noise on the street became too loud for their conversation to continue.
A group of bards composed of many races had set up their instruments in front of a shop nearby and were giving a live performance for the townspeople under the blue sky. They sang of the many places they had visited, the things they had seen with their own eyes, and expressed everything with upbeat tones and sometimes dark chords as their story unfolded. A large ring of people formed around the bards on the street. Even people on the upper floors of the surrounding shops and houses opened their windows and leaned outside to hear them.
Hermes stopped to listen to their songs as well. He clapped just as loud as the rest when they had finished and gave them some gold coins.
The traveling bards couldn’t believe their luck. This smiling god had not only enjoyed their performance, but given them money as well. Their gratitude was immeasurable. The people on the street who witnessed what just took place looked at Hermes with adoring eyes.
Asfi asked her god a question as soon as they started walking again. “Do you plan on doing anything to the Little Rookie?”
Hermes could feel her eyes boring into the back of his head as they continued forward, but he listened as she continued.
“Ordering me to collect information without giving a reason, you must be very interested in him…”
“What’s this, Asfi? Are you jealous because I haven’t been around?”
Asfi dropped her formal tone in an instant of anger, quickly turning her head away and massaging her forehead.
Hearing her god’s teasing tone had brought out all the frustration that had built up while working for him over the years. Her composure was gone.
A face that had exuded an aura of knowledge now only showed the resentment of someone who had been led on wild-goose chases by a particular deity for far too long.
“I’m saying I’ve had enough of your errands. I’ve done so much so that you can just go anytime! Think of what I’ve been through!”
“I’m grateful to the others, and especially to you, Asfi. Without you, things would fall apart pretty quick. I’m counting on you quite a bit. Trusted by your friends and your god—ha-ha! That’s quite the position!”
“…I hate this.”
She sounded like she was about to cry for a brief moment. Hermes just smiled at his follower and playfully patted her on the head. Asfi’s silver glasses were jarred loose from the impacts and fell to the tip of her nose as she looked at the ground.
“…Have you made contact with Hestia yet?”
Asfi sighed as she pulled herself together and asked a completely different question.
Realizing that her rambling god had no intention of revealing his plans to her, she decided to try a different route.
In response to her question, Hermes forced a smile and said, “No, not yet.
“I must talk with a certain someone before I can do that.”
Before a stern-looking Asfi could respond with another question, Hermes came to a stop in front of a certain bar.