Chapter 1: A Handsome but Disappointing Man
“This really is a small town… For a city right on the border, I was expecting something bigger. Would there even be work here?”
Rolfo, a short (but otherwise regularly proportioned) man, crossed his hands behind his head, strolling idly down the town’s main road as he remarked on the setting.
Together with him, weather-stained and worn from a long journey, were three other travelers.
They were all dressed in well-used leather armors with thick cloaks fastened at their necks and burdened with pack and baggage.
The short one being Rolfo, the others are broad-shouldered Michelo, glasses-wearing Henrietta, and the voluptuous Anne.
Although they had only just entered the town on one side, they could see the other end of it just by staring down the road.
It really was a small town…
Michelo, their unofficial leader, lightly shrugged.
“It’s not like this is our final stop. Stonegate is just another day or two southeast. But well, that’s true. If there’s work here, we should take it,” he said.
With a precise touch to her glasses, Henrietta said,
“Then we’ll need to find the Guild Office, first of all.”
Despite being a small town, or perhaps because it was a small town, there weren’t many people out and about as dusk closed in.
A Hunters Guild Office … there wasn’t anything like that here, that they could see.
Rolfo craned his head left and right before he finally said,
“Hmm…? How strange. Although it’s just a branch off of Stonegate’s, there should be a Guild Office here.”
As the four of them were standing in the square, a bit lost as to where to go, a young man appeared.
Over his shoulder was a thick wooden pole. On that pole was a wild boar, hanging upside down from its trussed up feet, quite dead.
Oh …? It’s not just any wild boar. A tempest boar, huh? That’s good eating.
Michelo gave his silent approval. A boar that was over twice the size of a normal boar … it looked absurd, swinging on the pole behind the young man.
The pole groaned under its haul.
The young man himself was slender with white hair, but because he was dressed lightly, his well defined muscles showed through the thin fabric of his shirt.
Anne’s eyes sharpened.
Hmm… not bad.
She licked her lips and gave a carnivorous, seductive smile.
Without even missing a beat, Henrietta looked at her out of the corners of her eyes and gave a stern warning.
“He’s too young for you.”
“It’s the young ones who are the ripest~ ♥!”
Henrietta groaned as Anne pushed back her cloak, thrust out her chest, and sauntered up to the young man.
“Hey, hey! ‘Scuse me~!”
The young man looked up over at them.
Anne couldn’t help the quick grin that flashed across her face.
He had silky white hair and long lashes that rimmed slender, mint green eyes. His face had elegant features that held both the grace of a nobleman and a hint of the ruggedness of a man who relies on his strength for his livelihood.
Lucky! He’s super good looking! Even if he’s a bit on the younger side…
Anne wasted no time in sidling right into his personal space and twisted her body so her breasts just barely didn’t touch him.
“Excuse me~, we’re looking for the Guild Office~ Could you guide us?”
He stared at her for a moment, looked to the right, then at the three travelers behind, then back at her.
“It’s right there though.”
He pointed straight ahead, in the direction he was going, directly at a building not more than 20 paces from where they were standing.
Right there?! Tch.
“If that’s all…”
He made to turn away, but Anne quickly grabbed onto his free arm, halting him.
“Um, I’m kind of busy, see…”
Anne ignored his mild protest and clasped his arm to her side, brushing it up against the side of her breast.
“A-ah, then how about the town’s most comfortable inn?”
“… It’s there.”
He pointed straight ahead again, at the same building.
“Restaurant! The place with the best food sold in this town!”
No way! Again he pointed – at the same building?!
Anne lost her cool immediately.
“WHAT?! How is that possible?! Why are they all in the same place?! Why is this happening to me!?”
“How should I know?! This is just how small towns are! What’s with you?!”
Being shaken like a doll, the young man yelled back with equal hysteria. With obvious irritation in his voice, he then sighed and muttered, “This is why big town people are…”
Ignoring Anne’s outburst, the young man said,
“ANY~way, that’s all you wanted, right?”
Eh? EH?! How did he slip out of her grasp of seduction?!
Before Anne knew what had happened, the young man had slipped by her, and all she could see was the tempest boar swaying at his back.
“He, he just ignored me?! What’s with that, what the heck?!”
“Ah, Anne… Aaaah!”
As Anne exploded in rage, Rolfo attempted to calm her down, but before he could say much more, she grabbed him strongly by the arm with a grip that felt like it could crush stone.
“Dammit, that’s not going to be the end of it! Try to brush me off, will you? I’ll show you the pride of an older woman! Come on, let’s follow him!”
Henrietta and Michelo were left watching as Rolfo was dragged off, wailing and squirming in Anne’s iron grasp
“Is this alright?” Henrietta asked, a tremor of worry hidden in her voice.
“Well, we were going there anyway…”
Even as he responded, Michelo’s face was troubled.
The future seemed chaotic.
The doors to the building were wide enough to fit a carriage through.
Although the building was rustic looking, the walls and ceilings were kept reasonably clean and neat.
Ah, the floor?
The floor can only be so clean for the type of foot traffic that a place that runs as a Guild Office, an inn, and a popular restaurant gets.
Without caring to survey the humble interior, Anne thundered in looking wildly for the young man with the tempest boar.
“Laurie, you were successfu—whooooa! Hey, I said to get a big boar, but that’s a tempest boar, right?!”
“Right you are, so give me a bonus, Popo. You said you’d pay me according to the prey I brought in.”
The white-haired young man was standing at the counter situated prominently in front of the entrance. He was energetically arguing with the tall, skinny man leaning forward from behind the counter.
The boar was laughably huge, propped up against the side of the counter. Even though it was resting on the floor, it still peeked over the top of the counter.
“Whaaaaaat. This is like being asked to pay for a diamond when you asked for a rock. I object!”
“Tsk. Stingy bastard.”
Although they were arguing, the young man and the slender man behind the counter seemed to be on very familiar terms.
Locking onto her target, Anne took a deep breath before releasing Rolfo’s arm and plunging ahead.
With both her arms, she ignored the slender man’s “Oh my,” and grabbed the young man’s right arm, pressing it between her breasts – or as best between as she could get while wearing leather armor.
Wolf whistles and jeers towards the young man erupted from the north wing of the building.
From there, a tavern area was sprawled out in full view of the front counter, and many a gruff-looking man was cheering Anne on.
With the crowd’s blessing, Anne smiled seductively and said,
“Hey, heey, boy, thanks for earlier, so where are you staying at?”
“I’m sorry, but to give out the address to my personal residence to someone I just met is against my principles.”
The normally stoic Henrietta had to bite back a laugh that almost erupted from her mouth at the young man’s immediate reply. It sounded like a coined response, although the wording wasn’t something she had personally heard before.
Although she couldn’t see Anne’s face, Henrietta was certain that she was gaping, mouth wide-open, in shock.
In the awkward silence, behind them, the sound of the large double doors creaking open signaled a new arrival.
The slender man behind the counter looked up and smiled, saying,
“Ooh, the angel cometh! Welcome back, Emi.”
There, standing quietly while dragging a two-wheeled cart behind her, was a girl.
She was young, but just at the age where she would begin to blossom into a woman. Light, reddish hair was tied back, cherubic lips and glossy skin with large, mint green eyes.
The girl was quite pretty, and even her act of standing, startled, in the entryway, staring at the chaos going on in front of the counter was lovely.
Anne thought she felt a disapproving glance flicker over where her arms were entangling the young man’s.
As for that young man,
Ah! Again! How did he slip out of her grasp without her even realizing it?!
That young man quickly went up to the girl, caressing her hair and asking,
“Hm? What have you been doing? Did you take a commission? You didn’t have to go into the forest, did you?”
He hovered over her, looking at her with genuine worry.
“No… it was to pick up the next few days’ of flour from Johns’ mill, so I only had to go down to the stream.”
The young man made a dissatisfied face.
“Making Emi go fifteen rods down to the stream to pick up over ten fonts of flour, that’s – ”
“Setting that aside, Oniichan, there’s not much time left for public visiting hours to the chapel. Even if it’s you, you shouldn’t cause the Sisters any trouble.”
The young girl seemed used to dealing with this sort of outburst, and quickly cut him off.
“Oh, is it already about that time? Then I’m off. Don’t wait for me and wash up first.”
The young man with white hair disappeared in the blink of an eye, and before Anne even realized he had moved, the door of the building was already swinging as if someone had gone through it.
Behind her, the young girl had approached the counter with her cart.
“Then, Popo, can I entrust the flour to you?”
“Of course sweetie, that’s what our Guild Office is for. Commission from Tild, huh? Hang on and I’ll get the remuneration.”
The slender man at the counter quickly recovered the money from a cubby-hole, along with the commission papers, and handed the money to the girl before tying the tag from the bundle of papers to the flour and pulling the cart behind the counter.
The girl waved goodbye and disappeared out the door as well.
When she finally disappeared, Anne exploded.
“WHAT?! For crying out – if he had a woman already, why didn’t he just say so?! To think I have been so humiliated, chasing after a taken man…! And anyway, what’s better about her compared to me?”
“That would be youth and beauty, right – Buuh-!”
Anne roundhouse-kicked Rolfo into the ground at his cheeky remark, glowering down at him in a huff of rage.
Standing several paces back, unwilling to be caught up in the chaos, were Michelo and Henrietta.
With unfocused eyes staring off into nowhere, Michelo muttered,
“More and more, I’m finding women to be incomprehensible.”
And with equal monotony, Henrietta returned,
“Please don’t group all women together with THAT, Michelo.”
“Oh my oh my, are you interested in Laurie too, Miss? I’m afraid to say, you’ve picked a tough nut to crack.”
The slender man at the desk winked and called out to Anne as she stood there, fuming.
Hmph. She turned her head and glared at him.
“Laurie, is that his name?”
“Yes, Miss. His name is Laurie. As you can see, he’s completely infatuated with his little sister, so it’s a difficult game to seduce him.”
“Even if she is young and pretty, she’s missing a pair of knockers like mine – wait, what? His sister?… His sister?!”
The slender man laughed.
“Hahaha, they’re an interesting pair of siblings, right? He’s raised her all by himself, ever since they appeared in this town seven years ago.”
Anne stood there, mouth gaping open.
So that girl he was looking at with so much affection … his sister?! Was it… incest?
As if reading her mind, the slender man shrugged and said,
“Well, whether he looks at her like a father, a brother, or a lover, either way, there hasn’t been a woman yet who could take his attention from her, so if your goal is Laurie, you’d best go in prepared.”
“So that’s how it is…” Anne muttered quietly, chewing on her thumbnail as she thought.
The other members of her traveling group had little doubt that she was furiously scheming inside.
The slight, awkward silence disappeared when a nearby man, dressed similarly to Anne and the others, cloaked and armored, laughed and said with a wink,
“Hey, pretty lady, even if Laurie doesn’t budge, you won’t have to go lonely at night.”
Anne stared him down coldly.
“Please. I’m not desperate or something.”
Everyone quietly swallowed the words that threatened to spill out.
“Ah! Laurie! You’re here again!”
“Yo, Sister Mary. Sister Ode.”
Laurie raised his hand casually as he walked into the small chapel in town.
“Hehe, you’re always so diligent, Laurie. Maybe you should become a priest.”
Sister Mary said as she coquettishly tilted her head and twirled her hair. It wasn’t like she hadn’t had an interest in Laurie, but during the five years she had been assigned to this chapel, she had long since moved on with her affections.
But the pride of a woman was still at stake.
At least blush once or something!
Probably every girl in the village who entertained pride about their looks and seductiveness thought that kind of thing about Laurie.
As always, Laurie diverts her subtle flirting with,
“I don’t think I’d make a very good priest. I’m just here to give my thanks that Emi’s growing healthily this year too.”
so Sister Mary just shrugs and laughs it off.
In return, she said,
“Alright, enough teasing, I suppose. May your wishes be heard to the Holy Pantheon.”
Sister Mary lightly touched her forehead and then her lips, bowed, and left Laurie alone.
Laurie sighed, then faced forward towards the altar.
He closed his eyes and sent his consciousness out towards the gods.
In this world, those who could hear the voices of the gods were rare, but all those who worshipped the gods yearned to hear them.
[“Oh, if it isn’t Laurie. You’re diligent as always, Laurie.”]
“Isn’t that because the Holy Pantheon asked me to check in regularly?”
[“Hey, Laurie! I gave you such a beautiful face, so why?! Why are you wasting it like that?!”]
“What do you mean, wasting it?! In the first place, have I ever said, ‘Fierla, Goddess of Love, Beauty, and Eroticism, please make me so ridiculously popular that I have to fight off women jealous of my sister’? If I was to be reborn into a perfect body, I’d have preferred to be more manly-looking, anyway.”
[“Grr… To not understand the pathos of a woman’s desires, what a failure!”]
“Is that really the issue here?”
[“But why does thou not leave this town? Does thou wish to keep thy talents hidden in this place?”]
“… Dragon King God, I told you, I’ll worry about that stuff after Emi’s come of age.”
Laurie rolled his eyes.
The majesty of being able to hear the gods disappears when they nag like insistent mothers.
<A/n: Title pic will come somewhat later. It’s interesting to write an Isekai style plot while trying to adhere to a more English writing style. I wonder if I won’t slip up later and go back to including faux Japanese style later on…
It’s already difficult for me not to automatically start dialogue on a new line, and I keep wondering if I’m explicit enough with who the speaker is. Yada yada, these will be difficult habits to break later on…
To be fair, for reading on a screen, I do like the ease that starting dialogue on a new line lends to reading. >