༺ Don’t Do This At Home Kids (2) ༻
“Wow, actually seeing Judas in person. I thought my luck was bad today, but it seems it is actually quite the opposite. I, Elyeselle will remember today for the rest of his life!”
No, I wanted him to forget about today already.
But that Bronzie, whether he knew that or not, kept chattering away about this and that.
“I never imagined Lord Judas would have a daughter. Honestly, I thought you were just another impersonator. There’s no way a wicked thief could establish a family! But of course, she isn’t your real daughter, is she? Where did you kidnap or steal her from?”
He said he respected me but wasn’t he cursing me in my face?
And yet, he was rubbing his nose, looking quite embarrassed as if he had greatly complimented someone.
“To think he’s wandering around with a kidnapped child. Judas, you scum of all scum. The evilest of evil. Ah, but of course, I mean that as a compliment. I want to become an evildoer like Judas too. Hehehe-.”
They say compliments would even make whales dance.
But this guy’s compliments seemed like the kind that would sink even a dancing whale into the deep sea.
It’s been a while since I’ve received such a mood-ruining compliment.
“Naru’s dad is amazing?”
Bronzie stood up and replied.
“That’s right! Do you know just how amazing he is? If you learned about the ‘100 Thief Incident’ that happened in Ordor Kingdom, you’d be astonished─.”
I let out a dry cough.
What exactly is he trying to say in front of a kid?
I didn’t really want to be stuck here with this foul stench, so I asked for more information just to confirm a few things.
“So, what exactly is this powder?”
“Oh, that’s something called ‘Mana Powder.’ The whiter it is, the better its quality. If you inhale it like this─.”
Bronzie sucked in the powder through his nose.
Was this sight appropriate for a kid? He continued talking while I was in deep thought.
“When you inhale it like this, your magic power temporarily increases. You can also consume it orally along with water, but the effect is somewhat diminished.”
“Is that all? It doesn’t make you feel better or anything?”
“There’s no such effect. Well, if you really think about it, wouldn’t your mood improve since your magic power is boosted? After all, it’s an enhancement of your skills.”
This feels different from the kind of medicine I was imagining.
It doesn’t seem like it’s particularly addictive either.
“Isn’t it too refreshing?”
Is there a reason this might be traded secretly like some illegal item?
Just as I was wondering about that, Bronzie spoke up.
“It’s because of Headmaster Elle Cladeco’s policy. Since she prohibits enhancing one’s skills with doping or potions. If you get caught, you’ll be expelled.”
Now that I think about it, Brigitte, the party’s mage, also seemed averse to things like doping.
Well, I didn’t really care about means and methods as long as I survived.
“Still, this has a good effect. According to the officially recognized level by the Graham Academy, it should increase one’s level by 3. It’s temporary, though.”
Temporarily increases one’s level by 3?
Considering that ordinary people spend 10 or 20 years raising their level from 1, this effect was pretty remarkable.
Depending on the situation, could it mean that someone at Bronze could perform like Silver, Silver could be as strong as Gold, and Gold could match Platinum in terms of combat power?
This would indeed be remarkable.
“Of course, not all Mana Powders are like that. The white powder is the best one. I’ve heard that other cheap colors are inferior and can even have side effects….”
He’s quite a talkative guy, which was good for gathering information.
I’m glad I didn’t pull his heart out.
“Well then, I won’t forget this meeting for a long time! It’s an honor to meet you, Judas! To commemorate this day, I won’t wash these pants as long as I live! I won’t wash them ever again!”
“Don’t do bad things again. I’ll be watching, always.”
With that feeling, I parted ways with the Bronze brat.
As we left the alley and his form was no longer visible, Naru spoke.
“Dad, you were awesome! Swish and swoosh!”
“Is that so?”
“You were so cool!”
Naru was the first person who had said such things about my thieving with such pure goodwill.
This kind of compliment made me happy in a way.
I shouted in joy.
“I am amazing!”
Upon hearing that, Naru also raised her hand and shouted.
“Naru will become an amazing thief like you when she grows up!”
“…Well, that’s a bit….”
* * *
“Where did you go? I was looking for you.”
Brigitte softly muttered when she saw Naru and I returning to the lab.
She didn’t seem reproachful.
I placed a slip of paper on the table.
Brigitte opened it and let out a sigh.
“Mana Powder, huh? I didn’t expect you to find out about this already. Well, I thought it was just a matter of time since you came.”
“Brigitte, is this related to the issue you’re dealing with? Does it have any effect on people like you and me?”
If I have this, can I use magic?
I asked with a hint of anticipation. Brigitte shook her head when she heard the question.
“No. People like you and me who have reached the ‘Realm’ won’t be affected.”
When I sighed in frustration, Brigitte added an explanation.
“But it’s still an incredible item. Since it’s something that can’t be created using human technology.”
“Is that so?”
But if it wasn’t human technology.
Then what was it?
“Also, Judas, you probably have already investigated and guessed, but this is an item condensed with demonic technology.”
The name sent a chill through my chest.
Honestly, I didn’t expect that to come up here.
For the people living on this Pangaea continent, Demons were the very embodiment of terror.
Just mentioning their existence made the temperature around me drop by a degree.
However, I casually spoke as if it was nothing.
“As expected, it was indeed that.”
In this world, not knowing something was a weakness.
It makes you seem shallow or exploitable, doesn’t it?
Pretending to know even when you don’t is very important.
It was with that goal that, “Pretender”, a C-Tier Barbaroi skill was developed.
With this, I can convincingly act like I know about something.
“Indeed, it contains demonic technology. And it’s such a light shade of white because of that.”
“I see. You investigated well, as expected.”
My ability to bluff hasn’t declined at all since then.
The skills I had honed by breaking through various traps as a thief in the party were still there.
It was because of this skill that I could convince my party members, including Brigitte, that I “found” the safe zone in the traps. Not that I ever plan on telling them in this lifetime!
Brigitte twirled the white powder around with her fingers, saying,
“Our party managed to defeat the Demon King, but the demons are still alive, as you know. More than anything, the Three Calamities are still out there.”
As I thought about the fearsome Three Demons, Brigitte frowned.
It seemed like she suddenly got a headache.
“Are you okay, Brigitte?”
Brigitte smiled gently and patted Naru’s head.
Of course, that was a lie.
I knew very well that Brigitte carried a curse-like mark of a fatal wound received from the Wizard of Devastation, Valdes.
It’s a bit awkward to talk about this kind of thing in front of a kid.
I spoke to Naru.
“Naru, go play over there. The adults need to talk.”
“Naru is bored….”
Are you bored?
Well, that’s understandable.
What would I have liked at her age?
Come to think of it, what would Naru like?
“Naru, what do you like?”
“Dad and Mom!”
My nose feels a little tingly.
A little bit unusual for me.
I pretended to be nonchalant and asked.
“No, not Dad and Mom.”
“Rabbits! Squirrels! Spiders! Grasshoppers! Snakes! Butterflies─.”
The list went on endlessly.
Does she like everything in the world?
There’s nothing I can do.
“Naru, look at this.”
“Wow! Dad’s palm!”
“It’s just an ordinary palm, but if you do this, ta-da! How about it? A dagger has appeared?”
“Oh wow! Magic!?”
“Naru, you said you liked butterflies. This is called a ‘Butterfly Knife,’ also known as Balisong. It’s similar to the butterflies that you like. So be careful and play with it. If anyone bothers you in the future, you can stab them with this.”
My most pitiful and worn-out butterfly knife.
When she saw it, Naru’s eyes widened.
“…Oh wow, shh! It’s a butterfly knife! A Butterfly! I should cut the bread into star shapes!”
Whoosh! Naru dashed away.
When her figure disappeared from our view, Brigitte furrowed her brow.
“No, why would you give her someone like that… Judas, your parenting policies seem a bit off. Of course, I don’t want to meddle in other people’s family matters, but still….”
“Don’t worry. It’s too dull to even cut tofu. But more importantly, it seems you haven’t fully healed from the curse.”
“True. The curse of devastation is very strong. I came to this city for that purpose. It’s because I discovered the Mana Powder. In my opinion, Elle Cladeco is probably involved in this.”
“Elle Cladeco, the headmaster of Graham Academy?”
“That’s right. Did you already investigate that far?”
I heard it from Bronzie earlier.
She’s an incredibly great person.
It seems that she played a huge role in the rapid development of Freesia.
However, Brigitte was wary of Elle Cladeco.
“If there’s anyone in Freesia who could join forces with demons, it’s the Mage of the Forbidden, Elle Cladeco. There are even ominous rumors that she’s researching forbidden Magic.”
“Like the magic of time manipulation. Creating a temporal storm, bending spacetime….”
The swirling storm-like word keeps spinning in my head.
Could Naru have been caught up in that?
If so, perhaps that person Elle Cladeco knows a way to ‘restore Naru to her original state.’
Yes, a way to bring Naru back to her original state.
“If a person from the future stays in the past, there will inevitably be problems, right? Like a paradox.”
“A paradox? That… is a problem that even esteemed scholars in the Magic Society have only just begun to speculate on. How do you know about that?”
“This much is common knowledge in Barbaria.”
Soon, Brigitte let out a sigh.
“Well, whatever. As you say. The future might change. There’s a chance that something might go wrong, and that child, Naru, might cease to exist. Or if you don’t meet your wife, for example.”
Even if I must resort to anything, I have to meet my wife, marry her, and time the moment for ‘S’ right.
In other words.
Is my marriage going to save the world?
A marriage that saves the world.
A World-Saving Marriage.
While lost in thought about this, Brigitte took something out.
“Ideally, I would have preferred to keep this hidden a bit longer. But there’s no use hiding it for too long, as it’s just a matter of time. In fact, traces of lesser demons have been found in Prigia.”
If I remember correctly, they were demons with small horns on their heads and triangular tails sprouting from their buttocks.
Although they had ‘lesser’ in their names, they weren’t to be underestimated.
They caused a lot of trouble for people.
Stealing all the toilet paper in public restrooms or changing signs labeled in meters to yards – they did all sorts of malicious things.
They’re truly mischievous and wicked creatures.
The imps, having accumulated such experiences, eventually evolve into various types of demons, becoming powerful demons that sow chaos in the world.
From lesser to greater.
They were like sweet and sour pork, simple-looking but never to be underestimated.
While I was pondering over sweet and sour pork, Brigitte spoke.
“It’s now an established fact that demons are forming pacts with the Mage Elle Cladeco. Forbidden Magic… my speculation is that she’s researching Spacetime Magic to resurrect the Demon Lord.”
“For now, I want to find that lesser demon and definitively understand its relations to Elle Cladeco. But as you know, Judas, finding hidden lesser demons is no easy task. They’re masters of disguise.”
A skilled imp excels at shape-shifting.
They were very hard to tell apart.
“I’ve heard rumors that a lesser demon might enroll at Graham Academy. I don’t know who it is, but among this year’s high-ranking attendees, there might be an imp in disguise.”
“So, you wanted to enroll Naru to get her help in finding the lesser demon?”
“Exactly. Your wits are always sharp in moments like this, Judas.”
“Well, I try to act the part─.”
I guessed randomly, but I got it right.
Guessing skills are really important for a thief like me.
While I was truly in awe of my own greatness, Brigitte added more words.
“Also, I’ve hired a renowned ‘Demon Hunter.’ Even though their identity is shrouded in mystery, and we have no information about them, we were fortunate enough to establish contact with them. By now, they should have arrived. Have you heard of Cariote?”
It seems like I’ve heard of that name before.
According to rumors, they’re the greatest Demon Hunter on the Pangaea continent, right?
I also recalled that if I hadn’t participated in the Demon Lord subjugation party at the Demon King’s Castle, that person would have taken my place.
They must be an extraordinary individual.
I wonder what kind of person they are.
Could it be the kind of person to make necklaces from the horns and skulls of the demons they hunt, breathing fire from their mouths, and sporting a massive chest covered in thick hair?
Though I, a former street thug, shouldn’t say such things, most Demon Hunters tend to lose their touch after a while and become kind of… oddballs.
While having such thoughts, someone knocked on the door of the laboratory.
━I’ve come to capture demons.
Do Demon Hunters appear whenever their name is mentioned?
I grabbed the doorknob and pulled.
And then time stopped for a moment.
What first came into view were black leather pants and boots.
They looked very snug and comfortable for movement.
Above that, there were well-defined abdominal muscles, neatly toned in the shape of the number 11.
Not muscles for show, but muscles, developed by walking along the line between life and death.
Did revealing what could be considered a vulnerability—her exposed abdomen—stem from her unwavering ‘confidence’ that she wouldn’t be attacked? In reality, there wasn’t a single scar on the revealed skin.
Above that, even though covered by a black tank top, a rather sizeable chest was visible.
Judging by my eyes, at least Fs.
Wait, F ranks!?
By the way, when it comes to chests, the lower the rank, the more impressive!
Their hair was somewhat short.
It had the disheveled look of a young boy who carelessly tousled his hair.
The face was generally sleek, but the eyebrows were long, and the bridge of her nose was high.
She looked like a handsome young boy, but instead, she was a woman.
Furthermore, she was an extraordinary beauty of the wilderness with black hair and black eyes─.
“It’s offensive to hear such words from a stranger. My name isn’t Barbaroi, it’s Cariote. Cariote of the Iscariote Plains in Barbaria.”
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