Chapter 75 – Encountering our Friends

[Hmm? Isn’t that Shisuha?]

[Ara, you’re right.
What is she doing over there?]

After buying the necklace at the general store, we were aimlessly walking around the city.
We were unable to decide on where to go next.

As we were walking, we chanced upon a scene where Shisuha was patting an Ojii-san on his waist, while being watched over by a crowd.

What is happening there?

[Oohー, it feels better now.
Sorry for the trouble.]

[No no, do take better care of your back.]

Estel and I temporarily stopped to watch what Shisuha was doing, and Ojii-san began doing some twisting and stretching after his treatment was over.

From overhearing their conversation, he appears to have been healed with healing magic? There were no flashy lights from the healing magic, maybe she did something else with direct contact.

[Shisuha, what’re you doing?]

[Wha-, it’s Okura-san and Estel-san.
What brings you both here?]

[Ah, we just happened to be passing by.]

We approached Shisuha, seeing as the event had ended.

Most of the people crowding around were elderly, having them all look intently at me as I approached is kind of embarrassing.

It wouldn’t have bothered me much if I was in my usual armor, but the party has been in our casual wear throughout our holiday.
My face was in full view without my helm.

Now it feels like I can understand Noru’s feelings of hiding her face somewhat… I’m a lot less prone to feeling embarrassed when I have my helm on.

[Hmm? Are you an acquaintance of Shisuha-chan’s?]

[Yes… He is a very important person.]

[Oh my, is he your boyfriend!?]

[Yes… Kyaa, I went and said it.]

[Oi oi oi, what did you just say!?]

Shisuha “accidentally” blabbed, and is now acting all shy.

This little! She’s starting to pull her pranks anywhere and everywhere… Plz stahp.

[Oh no need to be a shy young man.
It’s a good thing to have such a pretty girlfriend.
How envious.]

[Err, that’s really not how it is.
She’s just a member of our adventurer party.]

[Oh, so you are one of Shisuha’s adventurer buddies? Then, the little one over there is also…]

As I desperately tried to deny the accusations, the elderly crowd were laughing it off as me being embarrassed.
They all watched our little skit with fondness.

They appeared to be aware that Shisuha is an adventurer, so they showed immediate understanding when I spoke of us being at a party.

And then the attention of the elderly crowd turns to the “little one” who was behind me… Only to be cut off midway.

[Fufufu, Shisuha, how about you try sleeping again? I’ll make sure you are really asleep this time.]

[Estel-san, it was just a joke! Calm down, please calmm downnnnnn!?]

When I turned around to see what’s happening, it seems Estel has cornered Shisuha to a wall of a nearby building.

Shisuha was desperately combining herself with the wall in her attempt to escape, as Estel closed in on her with the loud crackling of sparks coming from her fingertips.

[Ahhー, stop, stop! Estel, calm down please!]

[Muuuー, fine…]

[I, I survived…]

It looked like Shisuha might go into eternal slumber, so I stepped in to pacify Estel.

Estel pouted in dissatisfaction as she pulled back, leaving behind Shisuha who patted her own chest in relief.

Shisuha was probably up to her usual antics with that prank of hers, only she didn’t include Estel being with me in her calculations… It’s not as if she doesn’t know how scary Estel is.

I’d be grateful if she stopped teasing me from this event… But, Shisuha’s probably not the type to be stopped by something of this level.

[So Shisuha, what’ve you been doing?]

[I’ve just been talking to the townsfolk.
I’ve been exploring the town since our holidays started, I just made some little connections here and there.]

[Huh… I see.]

So she has been exploring on her own… I do wonder what she has been doing to make connections.

How the times have changed, with the older girls Sisuha and Noru actively going out, while the younger Estel and Luna preferring to stay home.

Estel would hole up in her room reading books when I don’t go out, so in a sense I’m kind of the reason she’s like that.

[Y’know it’s that, my back acted up when I was moving my things, and Shisuha-chan, who happened to pass by, healed me.
We have some small talk or she does some healing for me when we come across each other in town… Hope ya don’t mind.]

[No no, I’m only doing so because I want to.]

While I was thinking about all that, one of the grannies who were with Shisuha spoke to us.

So that’s why she was patting some grandpa’s back for treatment.
Maybe they could have just used a potion for some chronic back pain… Well whatever.

[Pardon me, let me step away for a moment, I need to talk to my friends.]

[Oh don’t mind us, take your time.]

[Uoh!? Wha, why are you pulling me!?]

It didn’t look like they were doing anything suspicious, so I was going to quietly step away so as not to bother them, but before I could leave Shisuha said she wanted to talk, then pulled me aside.

[Bruh… What’s this all of a sudden?]

[Okura-san, are you having a date with Estel? You two are having a date, aren’t you!?]

[Fufu, indeed.]

When we got to a spot a little further away, Shisuha started furiously shaking her fists and asked her question as she closed in on my face.

Estel caught up to us shortly after, and answered her question with a grin.

Date… This is a date!? I had all but assumed this was just an extension of what I usually do when I go out… But well, Estel seems to be happy, I’ll not comment so as not to add oil to the fire.

[Kuh, I must have missed lots of interesting events…..]

[… You’ve just about given up on hiding your real intentions, haven’t you.]

Shisuha groaned in regret as she clenched her fists.
Seeing her reaction, she would’ve stalked us if she knew what we were doing.

Any semblance of her purity from when she was just summoned has disappeared.
Her clean image has all but crumbled.

[I did think you went outside often, but it’s surprising to find out that you have been getting along with the townsfolk, Shisuha.]

You looked like you knew them well.]

[Ufufu, it’s just another part of my charm.]

The image of Shisuha getting along with the townsfolk never crossed my mind.
Though it’s not that hard to imagine her doing so, so long as she doesn’t break her outer image of a Priestess.

She isn’t wearing her usual sister outfit too right now, her current white dress and cardigan probably makes it easier to approach her than usual.

Shisuha does a cute pose and winks while stating that it’s all part of her charm, compliments don’t work that way.
And that’s why I don’t find her very “charming”.

[Since Okura-san is also living in this town, it’s not a bad idea to talk with the townsfolk and get along with them.]

[Ahー, yeah… I’ll try.]

[Onii-san’s not the type that’s good at holding conversations.
He doesn’t even look me in the face when we talk.]

Getting along with the townsfolk, eh… Now that I have a home in Brunne, I guess I should at least get along with my neighbors?

This makes me feel like Shisuha is amazing as she has already done it.
It’s such times, when I envy her open personality.

And as Estel has said I’m a shy guy, so I’m just a teensy bit stressed about actively interacting with the townsfolk.

It’s not like I’m utterly unable to hold conversations, I talk fairly normally to Noru and the girls… but even then I still avert my eyes more often than not.

[I know rightー! Hoo, this takes me back to his reaction when I teased him about the same thing at the Labyrinth――Ah.]

[And? Do keep going.]

Shisuha responded happily to Estel’s words, but stopped mid-sentence and covered her mouth.

Estel was listening with a smile, tilting her head and urging Shisuha to continue.

We agreed with each other not to say anything about what happened in the Labyrinth…..
Looks like she had a slip of tongue and dug her own grave.

[A, anyways! There have been rumors about Noru-san floating around lately!]

[About Noru?]

Shisuha suddenly makes a “Pon” sound with her hands, and makes her great escape while covered in cold sweat by changing the topic.
Estel was still staring silently at her, with the same unfaltering smile.

Leaving Shisuha digging her own grave aside, these rumors about Noru have gotten my attention.

She(Noru) does get caught up in trouble often, here’s hoping she hasn’t caused any big problems.

[Recently, a girl hiding her face who carries a small fluffy animal has been appearing in the town square, is how it goes.
The people talking about it were skeptical themselves, but also said the girl doesn’t appear to be malicious because she always greeted them cheerfully.

She does stand out.]

[She is mostly ignored when she’s wearing her helm, but she just looks doubly more suspicious in her casual wear.]

She is finally being treated as a suspicious person…..

Noru has been in her own casual wear, since the start of our holidays.
Her shirt and shorts are supposed to look normal, but then her eye mask throws everything out the window.

Just that appearance alone would turn heads when she walks in town.
And she’s cheerfully greeting everybody with that appearance too…..

She says she’s just taking Mofutto out for walks, but she somehow becomes the talk of the town.

[I’ll be heading back now, I’ll leave the 2 of you to enjoy yourselves.
Do share your thoughts with me when you get back later, Estel-san.]

And Shisuha, I’d like to finish hearing the thing you were talking about too when I get back later.]

[Heee――, I’ll excuse myself nowー!]

Shisuha begins walking back to the elderly crowd, seeing as our conversation has ended.

It almost looked like she skillfully diverted the topic away from herself…..
But Estel gave her a fearsome reminder before she could escape.

She then fleetfully makes her leave, pretending she didn’t hear anything.

…..She really does like living on the edge.

[So we’ve come to see if Noru has been doing anything strange… Are we at the right place?]

[Hーmm, this sounds like the right place… Ah, is that her over there?]

We arrived at Brunne’s town square, after asking townsfolk for directions along the way.
It is located near the center of the town, there’s a healthy amount of vegetation around while still being a wide open space.

There’s a decent number of people here, there are also spots with benches here and there, this square has been designed to be a place for relaxation.

From what we’ve heard Noru should be here somewhere… but it’s kinda hard to find her with all the people here.

I was thinking it would be difficult to find her here, but when I looked at where Estel was pointing at, there was a spot where the people in the square seemed to be avoiding.

When I looked closely, a silver-haired woman wearing an eye mask was sitting on a bench together with a little boy and girl who are about the same height as Luna.

Ahh…there she is.
She sticks out like a sore thumb.

[I’ve become thirsty, do you guys want to drink this with me?]

[What’s that, weird big sis?]

[I told you, I’m not a weird big sis! This is a Potion.]

They appear to be on friendly terms, Estel and I made a roundabout approach to stay out of her line of sight and got closer to them.

The little boy has been calling her ‘weird big sis’.
She was retorting back angrily too…..
Not that you could blame the kid.

It would have been fine to leave them alone if there were no problems… But, Noru had to get up and pull out a red colored Gacha Potion from her waist pouch, and offer it to the children.

T, this girl… aren’t you treating the Potion like it’s juice!?

[But, potions taste bad, don’t they?]

[Mufufu, this Potion here tastes delicious.
Want to give it a try?]

[Eh, can we!]

[Sure thing.
But don’t go around telling other people about this ‘kay? I’ll get grilled if a certain someone finds out about this.]

The little girl asked Noru anxiously, and Noru replied confidently that the Potion is delicious.

The Potions in this world are green and bitter like vegetable juice.
I drank 1 before once, it tasted so bad that my tongue was paralyzed for a while.

It was word for word “That which is good for you usually tastes bad.”.
In comparison the Gacha Potions are great for being effective and still taste good.

[Heehー, so who’s going to grill who?]

[Well of course I’ll get grilled by Okura――Eh?]

She was about to give out Potions like candy, so I decided to interject.

Noru reacted to my voice that came from behind her normally before stopping halfway, realizing that the children weren’t the ones talking to her, you could almost hear the creaking of her neck as she slowly turned to look behind her.

[Pyaaaa!? Wha, why are you here!?]

[I came to have a look ‘cause I’ve been hearing rumors about you, Noru.
…..I see that you have been drinking Potions like water.]

[Th, this is, well… Forgive me!]

Noru jumped off the bench with a scream.
The children were also surprised at her reaction.

When I questioned her about the Potions, Noru lowered her head and apologized without making excuses, probably because there were the children to consider.

Hーmm, I wasn’t trying to sound angry… Since she apologized honestly, I don’t need to be too hard on her.

[Nah, that’s fine.
Rather than that, you should let me know if you run out.]

[O, Okura-dono… Such generosity!]

[Just don’t overdo it with the drinking.]

[Uuu… I understand.]

I gave out those Potions with the intent to be used in battle, Noru would be in trouble if she didn’t have any on hand when she needed them.

We have a huge surplus of Potions from rolling the Gacha either way, I can let her drink some of it.

I would obviously be angrier if she was doing this with the rarer Hi Potions.

It would still be bad if she drank through our stock, so I gave her a warning.

[Nii-chan, do you know this weird big sis?]

[Yeah, I do.
What were you two doing with this weird big sis? Did she do anything strange to you?]

[Un, we got to pat Mofutto.]

The children who have been silent until now, began speaking to me.

The boy has short blonde hair, he gives off the typical naugthy kid vibes.
The girl on the other hand, with her blonde hair, appears to be the more timid kind.

When I asked whether Noru had done anything weird to them, the girl replied to me by showing me Mofutto who was on her lap.

They sure are courageous kids to approach Noru with her suspicious appearance, but it’s mostly thanks to Mofutto.

[O, Okura-dono please don’t call me weird big sis too!]

[You should just up and take off that eye mask of yours when you’re in your casual clothes.]

[I do not want to! Oh, Estel’s with you.
It’s unusual for the 2 of you to come out together like this.]

Estel suggests Noru should just remove her eye mask, as it makes her look very suspicious, but the latter shook her head furiously and refused with all her might.

I can attest that there’s a cute girl under that mask… But I’ll leave it at that, ‘cause I’ve had a somewhat similar experience earlier.

[Hey hey, nii-chan.
Is the weird big sis really an adventurer?]

[Nn? Yes, she is.
She might be weird, but she is an adventurer just like me.]

[Heeh, so she wasn’t lying.]

The boy asked me a strange question, about whether Noru is really an adventurer or not.

She’s not in her usual armor, so she doesn’t literally look like an adventurer… but why did he go out of his way to ask me that?

[Karm you were you still doubting me!]

[That’s ‘cause big sis, you keep losing to us when we play games together.
Shouldn’t you be stronger if you are an adventurer.]

[Ah, well…about that…]

Hーmm? So the kid was doubting Noru because she kept losing to the kids in the games they played together?

Judging from how she’s reacting, she’s probably letting the kids win.

Fumu, it’s not like she can just say “I’m letting you win” in their faces, so I’ll lend her a hand here.

[Big sis there is actually really strong in a fight.
Like, she can knock me out with just a single punch.]

[Wow, really!? Big sis, so you’re a musclehead.]

[Okura-dono, would you please stop telling them unneeded stuff!]

Oh, I guess she didn’t like how my compliment sounded?

Fact is, Noru is more than capable of knocking me out with a single punch, more so since I’m not wearing my armor right now.

She’s the only one among the girls who has upgraded stats after all.

[It’s relieving that everything seems to be okay.
Noru, don’t stay out too long, since there’s rumors of you floating about in town, okay?]

[My appearance is still leagues better than Okura-dono’s usual appearance… You are the last person I’d want to hear from regarding matters about appearance, Okura-dono…]

[Maybe Onii-san’s lack of fashion sense is rubbing off on Noru.]

I warned Noru just in case, but she seemed to be dissatisfied about it.

It’s not like I wanted to put Noru on the spot there… At least I wear my casual clothes like any other normal person, it’s just that my full battle outfit looks suspicious.

It didn’t appear like she’s causing any problems, so Estel and I left Noru behind and went to an observatory-like building near the outskirts of town.

It wasn’t the best time to go window shopping as it is evening, we ended up here after searching for a place with a nice view of town.

[I’m sorry Estel.
I said we’d go where you wanted to go, but we didn’t really go to many places.]

[Fufu, it’s alright.
And I told you from the start didn’t I? I don’t mind as long as I’m with Onii-san.]

[U, oh… if you say so…]

Due to our encounters with Shisuha and Noru, I ended up not being able to show Estel around as much as I wanted to.

We only got to spend leisure time in the clothing and general stores.

Even so, she gives me that same line she said before we went out with a smile.

It only makes me want to let her enjoy the outing even more if she’s going to say that.

[We haven’t been able to simply enjoy the scenery of this world slowly like this, up until now.]

[Onii-san you mean to say your time was hurriedly spent on hunting before I was summoned?]

[Yeah, ‘cause I really wanted to roll the Gacha.
I also needed money to start up.]

I rested my elbows on the wall and looked at the town, I haven’t taken my time to look at the town like this before.

This observatory is not so high that one can see the entire town, but you can see a good portion of the town from here.

The buildings have various types of roofs, like triangular or flat, and various colors such as red and green.

I can see the square where we met Noru a while ago too, there’s still quite a number of people strolling around.

Looking back, I’ve only ever hunted monsters and know nothing about the town.
I might actually be more familiar with hunting grounds than the town.

Now that Noru and Shisuha have gotten cozy with the townsfolk, should I really continue staying ignorant as I have?

Estel talking about things before she was summoned made me remember, I was hesitant about summoning Estel for some reason.

When I think about it now I feel pretty stupid for hesitating, I even feel regretful now…..

[We might have more days to relax like this, if the manastone collection plan works.]

[Hーmm, I wonder about that.
We still need to raise our levels to be able to conquer more Labyrinths.]

If the manastone plan is successful, we will be able to get manastones while doing less.

With the way things always go, I don’t foresee it going smoothly…..

But if we can divert our attention away from collecting manastones, we will be able to focus on leveling up instead.

Additionally we can now use our Dimension Room when we go exploring Labyrinths.

With it, we have become able to hunt in Labyrinths for more than just a few days.

It would be nice if we can find some place like the Goblin Labyrinth to hunt and or level up.

[Aight, the other girls should also be heading back by now, let’s go back too.]

[Ah, just a sec… I wonder if this is enough?]

[Hmm? What’s up?]

The sun was about to set, so I told Estel we should head home and was about to leave the observatory.

But she wanted me to wait for a bit.

[Here, Onii-san have a look at this.]

Estel moved in front of me, then opened her clenched hands.

In her hands, was the Magic Gemstone attached to the necklace which she bought at the general store…..

[Uoooh!? That’s amazing! Hats off to you Estel.]

The Magic Gemstone Estel was holding on to, transformed into a rainbow colored jewel that shone brilliantly.

The color of the stone changed depending on the angle of light being reflected off it.

Who could have known that that transparent colorless gemstone could turn into such a jewel… I don’t know how it would turn out if some other spellcaster tried doing this, but I certainly thought Estel was amazing.

[Estel’s magic power sure is beautiful.
The purchase was well worth it, if it becomes that beautiful.
It really suits Estel.]

[Fufu, thank you.
But I didn’t buy this for myself.]

[Eh? Then who did you buy it for?]

I thought she bought the gemstone because she wanted to make a gemstone of her own, turns out I was off the mark.

Hーmm? Is she going to give it to Noru or Shisuha or Luna then?

We just summoned Luna, so it wouldn’t be strange to give the necklace to her as a gift.

[I bought it because I wanted to give it to Onii-san.]

[Eh, for me?]

[Yes, I have been receiving many things from Onii-san, but I haven’t given anything to you have I? So I’m thinking of giving this to you as a gift.]

Estel says with a smile, as she picks up the necklace and shows me the jewel.

I was surprised to hear her say that.
I haven’t received anything from her, that’s true.

I have given Estel and the girls a plethora of things, but they were all things rolled from the Gacha with manastones that we earned together.
I don’t consider those to be gifts per se.

It’s nice to receive something personally as a thank you, but it feels complicated.

I’m starting to think about giving her money for the necklace.

[Are you sure?]

[Yes, that’s what I bought it for.]

[Th, then let me at least pay for it…]

[Really now! Then there would be no point in me spending my own money to buy it! This is the kind of time where you shut up and accept the gift, alright?]

[Ermm, okay…]

When I talked about paying her, her smile turned into a frown instantly and she blew a fuse.

That was unneeded consideration from me.
Woe is me, I really can’t handle these types of situations properly…

[Onii-san, Imma put it on for you so can you crouch down a little?]

[Ye, yeah.]

I was going to honestly accept the necklace, Estel then says she wants to put the necklace on for me and asks me to crouch down.

Since she looks younger than me, it’s a bit embarrassing to have her put the necklace on me like this.

[Nn, it looks good on you, Onii-san.]

[…Err right, thanks.]

[Fufufu, I’m glad you like it.
Think of that necklace as part of me, and always keep it with you.]

I’m actually very happy to have received the necklace.
It’s strange, but it feels just about the same as when I get the top prize in a Gacha and start dancing.

However, I only gave her a word of thanks compared to my usual antics… Because this is somehow more embarrassing.
My face was really hot.

I’m not the only one who’s happy, Estel satisfyingly tells me to keep the necklace with me at all times, as she looks at me who now wears the necklace.

…Hmm? How should I put this… I should be happy right now, but I can’t help but feel strangely anxious after hearing what Estel said.

[Let’s head back then.
Noru and the others must be waiting in hunger.]

[Y, yeah, let’s go.]

Estel was all smiles as she spoke of going home, perhaps because she has achieved what she wanted to do.

Why do I feel so uneasy… I really want to know.

Seeing her smile makes it all feel so trivial, as those thoughts start fading away.
I then walked back home together with Estel.

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