Chapter 19 Preparation for the Fight
The next day after the second exam.
I went to an armor shop with Celica.
As expected of a shop in the royal capital, the collection is abundant.
Celica speaks while looking at the store interior.
"But this is surprising. To think Keika-sama is buying armor."
"It's not like I'm the one who will use it."
The armor is for the trap. Having multiple traps is better.
"Well, I'm counting on you with the payment."
Celica's graceful fingers tightly grasp her purse. It's become quite thin since we met.
I've completely become a leech right now.
I'm going to make her live leisurely once I've become a hero.
A fat shopkeeper who seems to be the owner comes talking to me.
"Well, well if it isn't Keika-san. Thank you for yesterday."
"I was betting that you were live."
"Good for you. Profit on me from now on too."
"Well then, what are you looking for?"
"A shield or a helmet, the cheaper the better."
"You're not looking for armor?"
He's staring at my body that's only wearing a Wafuku.
"I don't need one right now. I'll patronize you once I've become a hero."
"Cheap helmet or shield is it. How about this?"
The shopkeeper took out an iron helmet. It's a tacked-on helmet.
I stare at the item.
【Tacked-on Iron Helmet】 The helmet looks sturdy because it's tacked, however since it uses little iron in its creation, it breaks easily. Def+15.
I glare at the old man shopkeeper.
"The iron is so thin, it breaks easily. Are you really doing business with that thinking?"
"Eh, no.... Ah, I've made a mistake ahaha."
The shopkeeper wipes his sweat.
He starts to look for other products.
I call at his back.
"Do you have a helmet with gaudier decorations."
"How much is your budget?"
"As cheap as possible."
"Then how about this mask?"
An iron mask that covers the whole face. It's strapped with a belt. The ear decoration looks gaudy.
【Mask of Kanato】 The mask part of a helmet made by the famous craftsman Kanato. Obscures vision. Def+20 Agi-5.
...I see. It's only a part of a whole. Looks like I can use this to haggle hard.
The shopkeeper puts out a forced smile.
"This is quite an article by a famous craftsman, you can expect a considerable defensive power."
"It looks hard to see with that, don't think you can make moment judgments if you equip the mask."
"As expected of Keika-san. Very well, I will give a discount to 3 big gold coins, how about it?"
Charging 300,000 yen for an incomplete item, there's a limit to ripping-off.
The whole Helmet of Kanato seems to be worth 500,000-1,000,000 yen though.
"Even though it doesn't have the whole helmet?"
"W-why does a vagabond like you know that....!"
"I'm disappointed in you. I said that I'd patronize you once I became a hero. None of that now."
"N-no way! I'll halve the price. 1,5 big gold coins, how about it?"
"3 small gold coins it is." (about 15,000 yen)
"That's too cheap! My business will--"
"Even though you're selling junk products that are originally unsellable?"
"Once I become a hero and meet the king, I'll report about a shop in the royal capital's main street that's selling junks. From what I see, it seems there are weapons of soldiers too, do you have a license to do business?"
"Y-you said that, but are you really definitely going to become a hero!?"
"You don't need to sell it to me if you're not going to bet one me becoming a hero. This thing is 2 small gold coins if you're going to curry my favor."
"Uwaaa! This man haggled it down even more! Are you a devil! --ey, just take it! Take it for 2 small gold coins!"
The shopkeeper's face distorted and he wept.
"OK. Deal. Celica, please pay him."
"I understand.... Um, mister.... Please take heart."
"Uuu.... What kind words.... You're my only ally, young lady."
While crying, the shopkeeper takes the payment from Celica and tries to grasp her hands.
I catch Celica's slender shoulder and pull her back. The soft blond hair spread. She leans on me even while blushing.
He was trying to touch Celica during the confusion, like I'd let those dirty hands do that.
"There's no need for sympathy Celica. He probably thought, 'I can't sell this without the whole part. Since I always get good profit anyway, I'll take this much' during the transaction anyway, I should have been able to purchase it even at 1 small gold coin."
The shopkeeper opens his mouth in shock. Looks like he can't retort anymore.
While still being hugged, Celica looks up and asks me at point blank while looking like she finds it unbelievable..
"....To see through that much.... Did Keika-sama possibly operate a business back home?"
"Nope. I just knew it somehow."
"You're amazing, Keika-sama."
"See ya old man. I'll come again."
I took Celica out with me.
Afterward, we returned to our room in the inn.
I immediately prepared a writing brush and paint and painted the mask. I'm creating a black pattern.
While swaying her twintail, Lapisia is staring with curious eyes at me working.
Celica's blue eyes get rounded as she looks puzzled.
"Keika-sama, what are your working at?"
"Nn, I'm thinking of setting up a trap."
"Trap is it?"
"Alright, this pattern should do it."
Lapisia is filled with disgust like she's looking at a roach. Staring at the mask while furrowing a cute wrinkle on her forehead.
"As I thought you understand Lapisia.... Don't ever equip it okay."
"un got it!"
I chant a spell before the paint dries.
"By the name of Keika Hiko-no-Mikoto Stagnant water of lamenting thought Windless of bitter thought Burn and go mad with furious resentment--<<Curse Thought Grant>>."
The iron mask's pattern moves like a snake as the curse is attaching itself.
The mask is now releasing a blue ominous aura.
Putting curses on equipment is a simple matter cause I'm a God.
【Mask of Rage】 A mask with a curse put by a God of another world. Drastically raise all attributes. However, the mask cannot be removed, and impulse to destroy cannot be controlled.
Lapisia who saw it screamed, 'Hiii', and jumped into the bed.
"hate! hate curse!"
She covers her whole body from head to toe with a blanket and shivers. The golden eyes peeking from the gap are moist. Looks it hit her trauma.
I wrap the mask in cloth and hide it.
I stand up and head outside the room.
"Then I'll be handing this mask for a bit."
"To whom will it be?"
"You'll know soon. More importantly, Lapisia and Celica, protect each other. Understand?"
"S-s-see you, nano!"
Lapisia who said good bye even while being frightened was too cute my cheeks loosened.
A few days later.
I looked down at the night town.
Townscape inside the darkness.
I watched one tavern below closely.
I execute <<Senrigan>> and <<Great Eavesdropping>>.
Gaff and his underlings are having a talk in one corner of the tavern.
"So we watched them for several days now, Minya or Celica, which one's good for a hostage?"
"Should be Minya cos' she goes out alone rite'."
One of the underlings answered, but Majiria who has become my underling reacts.
"But y'know aniki. It won't be a hostage if they ain't close y'see? I mean, for him, she might be nothing more but an inn daughter right?"
"Yer' right. Guess it's gonna be the blondie...."
"But she's usually with someone ain't she? Either that man or that blue hair midget."
"That Lapisia brat or something huh. They said she's the old man's relative, but she got some sharp intuition and very quick to yell."
"Won't the blondie be alone during the tournament? The kid ain't coming."
"Even if there's someone, it's just gonna be the inn's old fool anyway huh.... We also have two people here, just attack 'em in the spectator seats then."
"We can show it to tat' guy too with it."
"And then, aniki just gonna hafta' beat him like splat when he can do nothing."
"Kukuku, looks like that's the most effective. But well, he's not gonna be with her during the day, so we can just attack her in the inn if she's there."
"We're gonna enjoy that woman, aniki awesome!"
"We've also got that special thing too, there's nothing aniki is 'fraid too now!"
Gahaha, the bandits laugh loudly.
I left the roof.
--Looks like Majiria has successfully goaded them to aim at Celica.
Next is the place and method.
The arena at night.
The spectators seats with stairways surround the elliptical arena.
There's no one here.
I confirm the arena's entrances and seats while walking carefully.
And then I choose the place where Celica will be attacked.
There is a 3-story tall VIP seating in the center of the ellipse. It looks like a tower. The king and nobles are probably going to watch from this.
Since it's made of stones and pillar, the seats right below it are cramped. Moreover, it's easy to become a blind spot from other spectators.
--Here it is.
I went back to the inn.
The tavern has already been closed.
Minya is skilfully moving her slender arms in the kitchen, doing something. I wonder if it's a training for tomorrow.
"Minya, I'd like to ask you one thing."
"Could you buy some Rubera fruits?"
Her big black eyes are looking at me. She's expressionless like usual, but her tail is swinging.
It seems like she wants to say something.
I speak while entering the kitchen.
"Anything I can help?"
"It's fine... more importantly."
"Once Keika became a hero.... leave?"
Minya returned to her training again. But her tail is lowered.
But then, her ears suddenly moved.
"Long journey.... Who'll make you meals?"
If we're going on a long journey, it'll be me, Celica, and Lapisia.
I reply with furrowed brows.
"Either me or Celica."
She's working expressionlessly.
However, her black tail is coiling on her leg happily.
I don't really understand, but as long as she's having fun.
"Then I'm gonna sleep. Good night."
I went back to my room after parting with Minya.
I bumped into a white lump the moment I entered the room.
The twintail blue hair shook intensely.
"Keika! Welcome back! Love!"
"What is this Lapisia. You haven't slept."
She hugs me tightly. The shape of her delicate limbs are transmitted from the thin dress. It made me think that a child's body temperature sure is high.
Her pronunciations have been getting better in just a few days. It'll be perfect once her baby talks disappear.
Celica who's changed into a thin nightdress sighs tiredly.
"She kept complaining that she couldn't sleep without seeing Keika-sama first...."
"I had to go out today.... Can't be helped, let's sleep."
"Un! Make children!"
"Fool. You're a child yourself."
Lapisia's swollen cheeks swell even further.
I lift Lapisia who's hugging me, and we got on the bed to sleep together.
Then for some reason Celica snuggles with her breasts pressing my back.
Soft roundness and fast beating are transmitted from her light clothing.
"What is the matter Keika-sama."
"Haven't you gotten strangely bold ever since Lapisia came?"
"Feh.... T-that's not true! I've always been like this!"
While saying that, she hugged me even harder from behind. Her sweet breath tickles my neck.
Lapisia who's hugging me raises her face while swaying her blue hair.
"Hey, what are you saying!"
Lapisia puts out her small tongue at the upset Celica.
I moved my body while sighing.
I hug both Celica and Lapisia with both arms.
"Haven't I told you. You have to get along."
"Yes, I'm sorry.... But I don't want to lose."
"Lapisia will beat onee-chan!"
"Ha.... there, there."
I could do nothing but sighing and patting their heads to calm them.
To be honest, Lapisia who's flat sticking close to me feels hot.
Celica's softness feels gentler to me.
I speak to Celica whose blue eyes seem sad.
"Oh right, before that. Celica."
"You're coming to watch the tournament aren't you?"
"Yes, I will be going."
"Can you go alone? At the elliptical center of the arena, below the VIP seating."
"Yes? I do not mind."
"You'll be attacked there, don't resist."
"Eh!? Just what is--"
And then Lapisia sulks.
"Lapisia will go too!"
"I want to ask Lapisia to do other things."
"Minya might be attacked in the tournament day. That's why please stay on her side and protect her."
--It's a preparation for the worst case scenario where they change target of hostage.
Lapisia's brows cutely furrowed.
"Or do you not like Minya?"
"Lapisia likes Minya!"
Lapisia's golden eyes dazzled as she smiled.
"Is that so. Then protect her. But you can't hit the bad guys with all your power okay."
Because it'd be a beating to death for sure with Lapisia's power.
"Got it! Will hold back!"
I pat and rustle her blue hair.
"Un, good kid. Celica, I'll explain about it later. It'll go well, believe me."
"I understand Keika-sama. I believe in you with all my heart."
Celica snuggled as she said that.
Looks like it'll be another hot sleepless night today.