HWTR – Chapter 10 – Strategy Meeting?


If I were to describe Lamp-chan’s appearance in a few words, “the ghost of a widow” would be appropriate. It’s not just because of her appearance, but also her presence. Lamp-chan’s presence is as faint as that of a ghost. It’s so faint, you could say it’s almost non-existent. For example, even if she’s sitting close enough for our legs to touch on the sofa, it’s common not to notice her.

Because of this, I didn’t even notice that I was being stalked for a while. That’s right. Even though Master Kisaragi had praised my eyesight before, I still failed to notice Lamp-chan stalking me for about three months.

In other words, Lamp-chan has a special talent. And it’s an innate talent. I’m jealous.

While thinking of such things, I take a seat at the table. Opposite me are Hoodie-kun, who seems strong-willed, and Pupumuru-chan, who seems timid. But even Hoodie-kun was surprised by the sudden appearance of food and drinks placed on the table. Un, un. If you don’t know Lamp-chan well, it is quite easy to miss the moment when she served the food and drinks. I get it.

On the other hand, Pupumuru-chan seemed to be getting used to it. People who are timid and cautious tend to have a high ability to adapt. Un un.

“The food and drinks are on the house, Saburo-san.” (Lamp-chan)

“Yeah. But it feels like it’s always on the house.” (Saburo)

“Don’t mind it!” (Lamp-chan)

I don’t understand why Lamp-chan seems so happy, clasping her hands together. But it’s good that she’s happy. Un un.

The atmosphere in the bar is dark. The area is quite dim and the surroundings of the bar probably also played a part. The location is too remote, after all. Outside the bar, there’s a strong scent of crime lingering. Also, I heard a story when this bar was built that the previous establishment closed down after the owner mysteriously disappeared. And today, it operates as if nothing happened.

Now then.

With food and drinks on the table, the preparations for the meeting were complete. The two remaining heroes, who still seemed a bit nervous, would get used to this environment soon.  So, I calmly took a sip of the drink Lamp-chan poured into my glass. Fruity. Not too alcoholic. After letting it settle in my stomach, I spoke up.

“Well, let’s start with a more detailed self-introduction, shall we? After all, we couldn’t get too in-depth into it when we were at the Adventurers’ Association due to all the chaos. Anyways, my name is Saburo. I’m twenty-three years old. Despite my appearance, I’m an S-class hero. I mainly play a support role within [First Family]. I’m not particularly strong in direct combat.” (Saburo)

“Is that so? Saburo-san… As I mentioned earlier, I’m Hoodie. I’m twenty years old. I’m a B-class hero. But I’m also in the process of applying for A-class. Whether I’ll pass or not, I don’t know… In [Double Stardust], I’m a frontliner. I believe a leader should always be at the forefront, leading and commanding everyone.” (Hoodie)

“Yeah. That’s a great mindset.” (Saburo)

“Um… I’m Pupumuru, I think. I’m twenty-two years old, and um, I might be a B-class hero… Um, in [Last Puzzle], I’m also at the rear, but, well, our party is mainly composed of magicians, so… yeah.” (Pupumuru)

“I see, I see. So basically, there’s no concept of frontlines or rearguards, right? That makes sense if everyone’s a magician.” (Saburo)

“Yes! That’s exactly it!” (Pupumuru)

Pupumuru-chan nodded, her pink hair swaying along with the movement. Beside her, Hoodie-kun, playing with his short blue hair, sniffed disdainfully, as if mocking magicians. No, not just magicians, but magician heroes.

I had suspected it from the start, but Hoodie-kun’s attitude wasn’t particularly pleasant. Initially, I thought he had that attitude towards everyone. However, reflecting on the events from earlier until now, it seemed like his negativity was directed more towards Pupumuru-chan.

Pupumuru-chan probably noticed it too.

…Why? Well, the answer was already pretty obvious.

――Rivalry.

…This could double as both a strength and a weakness. Rivalry isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Wanting to surpass someone, wanting to do better than them, those competitive feelings often breed ambition, which is something I obviously lack.

As fellow B-rank heroes, it’s natural for competitive feelings to arise.

So, I decided to remain neutral. In fact, it’s not my place to meddle in the relationships of others. And even if problems arise between them, it’s not my responsibility. Of course, if issues occur during the investigation because of this, I’ll report to Mamiya-san and have the investigation team reorganized from scratch.

With these thoughts swirling in my mind, I continued.

“Now then. With introductions out of the way, let’s move on to the main topic.” (Saburo)

“…And what would that be? What exactly is this meeting for? I’m the leader, and you’re supporting me. Isn’t that enough? In both [Double Stardust] and [Last Puzzle], I’m the one in control.” (Hoodie)

“…Um. Could you, um, maybe refrain from using the term ‘control’?” (Pupumuru)

“Words are just words, right?” (Hoodie)

“No, they’re not. Depending on the choice of words, the effects of magic can change…” (Pupumuru)

“Huh? I wasn’t talking about magic. Don’t change the subject.” (Hoodie)

“I-I’m not changing the subject! I’m just asking you to reconsider your choice of words!” (Pupumuru)

“So, how does the choice of words affect the strategy?” (Hoodie)

“That’s because it’s like magic!” (Pupumuru)

“I’m telling you not to change the subject to magic!” (Hoodie)

Un un. Arguments can be a good thing. They say that adversity strengthens one’s resolve, after all. With those thoughts, I nibble on the dessert that Lamp-chan probably made. Sweet and delicious. Once I finish eating, I’ll step in to mediate.

But by the time I finish my dessert, both of them fall silent. Of course, it’s not because they’ve reconciled. Their personalities and opinions are just too different, and they’ve both given up on each other. Well, that’s one possible outcome.

And then I speak up.

“Well then. As you can see, this is my stance. I’m just here, like the air. I won’t get involved in your party at all. It’s been proven time and again that adventures go smoother that way.” (Saburo)

“…That’s fine. Saburo-san, just stay silent and follow behind. If I’m the leader, anything goes.” (Hoodie)

“…Following this person is irritating, but if that’s what’s decided, then I might as well follow.” (Pupumuru)

“Well, if you ever find yourself in a situation where you’re so desperate you’d even consider asking a slime for help, feel free to call on me. I’ll surely be more useful than a slime, right?” (Saburo)

“…” (Pupumuru)

“…” (Hoodie)

“Alright, shall we start filling in the details bit by bit?” (Saburo)

After that, I discussed the details of Dungeon X that Mamiya-san had mentioned. However, Hoodie-kun and Pupumuru-chan already know about it. It’s essentially a process of aligning our information.

Once that’s done, we move on to discussing preparations. When should we set out?

The conclusion we reached was “tomorrow at noon”. It works for me, no inconvenience there. By tomorrow noon, I should be able to get everything prepared.

It would be nice if the members of the [First Family] were back by then… but that might be too hopeful. They said they’d be back soon, but “soon” for them could mean a few days. That’s their idea of soon.

And as soon as the discussion was over, we parted ways.

“Now then.” (Saburo)

Before departure, there are many things I need to take care of. Let’s enter the phase of tackling them one by one.

First, I should contact the vampire girl I have a contract with.


TL Notes:

Thanks for reading!

Wow, this situation reminds me of my school group projects where I can’t be bothered dealing with useless teammates so I just do my own thing to avoid a low score and give them a bad rating during peer review evaluation.


Footnote:

  1. None
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