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Chapter 3

Let’s Start Our Slow Life Together

The next day.

When I opened my eyes, I was a little confused to feel the hard floor beneath me and realize I was wrapped in a cramped sleeping bag.

“…Oh yeah.”

Seeing Rit’s face as she lay asleep on the bed, I remembered our back-and-forth last night with a pained chuckle. When it came time to sleep, we got into it about who would get the bed.

Rit offered to sleep on the floor, of course, but I insisted on her taking the bed. After a little arguing, we nearly both ended up sleeping on the cold planks but settled on deciding it with rock-paper-scissors. I won in the end, which meant I was the one who had to forgo sleeping in the bed.

“What a silly argument.”

Since we were both well acquainted with sleeping outdoors, it wasn’t like a night in a sleeping bag was a big deal. Thinking about it now, there wouldn’t have been any problem if I had taken the bed, either.

“Well, what’s done is done. Guess I should make some breakfast.”

Zoltan summers were sweltering even in the morning. In the rest of the world, it was already autumn, but here there was still another month of summer left. Outside, cicadas were buzzing away. Part of me despised the noise while another part appreciated the summer sort of feel they provided. I crawled out of the sleeping bag and headed to the kitchen.

“Ugh, hot water?”

The water I was storing in the pitcher hadn’t cooled at all overnight.

“Ahhh, lazing around the house on days like this is the Zoltan way.”

But drinking hot water wouldn’t stop the sweat. It was a nuisance, but I decided to fetch some water from the well.


I was carrying four jugs filled to the brim that were hanging off the end of a pole. Generally speaking, here in Zoltan, water taken from the river was for routine daily uses, and water taken from the well was for drinking. Most people had a preference for mixing some diluted wine or ale with the water to drink. Even children drank it that way, despite the alcohol content.

“Heave-ho… Things would probably be a bit different if more people out here had blessings with access to magic, though.”

I set the vases in a dark corner of the kitchen. With as hot as it was, if I put them someplace where the sun might shine on them, they’d likely heat up pretty quickly. Maybe even hot enough to boil an egg.

“Speaking of eggs… Bacon and omelets? And lettuce salad and potato soup. Oh yeah, I didn’t go get bread yesterday. I’ve got some flour, so I could make crepes to wrap around the salad and omelets.” Once I settled on what to make, all that was left was to do it.

As I busied myself fixing breakfast, Rit’s smile while she ate dinner the previous night crossed my mind. It was only the first morning since she had moved in, but it felt as if she had already become a regular part of my life.


“Morning,” Rit said groggily.

“Got up early, eh? Good morning.”

Even without me going to get her, she’d managed to wake up herself around when I finished cooking. Seeing me, she flashed a smile and headed to the washroom to clean her face.

“I’ve got some cold water in the kitchen you can use if you want.”

The water supply in Zoltan got tepid in the heat of summer, but Rit just shook her head with a smile.

“I’ll be fine.”

I heard her cast some magic from the washroom. She had used a spell to cool the water.

“Must be nice…”

Thinking of the effort it took to go the well in the morning and draw water, it made me jealous of blessings with access to magic. While she was getting ready, I set the food on the table.

“Wow. It looks great.”

Rit returned from the washroom. Despite the fact that she had just cleaned her face, she still looked a little out of it as she sat in the chair. Her voice was still slightly groggy, and her pajamas were a bit disheveled. A shoulder peeked out from the wide and awkward resting place of the top’s collar.

“Not much of a morning person?”

“Yeah. Since it was a new bed, I didn’t sleep quite as well as I usually do.”

“Are you really that sensitive?” I asked.

“Hmph. Thanks for the food.” She declined to answer my question as she started to eat.

Despite saying she hadn’t slept well, Rit still looked kind of satisfied, so the trouble sleeping probably wasn’t because my bed was cheap. I just smiled a bit and grabbed my spoon. We avoided small talk as time slowly passed during the late-summer morning. The blond girl poured some of the cold water with lemon floating in it into her cup and glugged it down.

“It’s delicious.” Rit happily enjoyed her breakfast to a tune sung by a choir of cicadas. Her verdict on the meal made me smile.


Once we finished eating and cleaned up the dishes, we had some cool tea while discussing what to do today.

“Do you want to clear out your item box to dry like we talked about last night?”

“No, we should do the other stuff first. We can take care of that anytime.”

“Okay, then shall we get your bed and whatever personal effects you need?”

“No, my bed wouldn’t fit in that room.”

“…You’ve been enjoying a nice bed, huh? I guess that would explain having trouble getting to sleep.”

“That isn’t why I couldn’t fall asleep. I’m going to get a new bed, but I also planned on bringing a few paintings and things that would suit the store.”


“You shouldn’t discount how much impact artwork can have. The right kind of piece in a good spot can definitely help increase sales.”


I guess that was true. Shops with a nice atmosphere did sort of just draw you in.

“Should we stop by to get some kind of gift to go along with the application for approval from the council to sell the anesthetic while we’re shopping?” I asked.


It wasn’t as if there was some kind of official requirement that you had to give the bureaucrat a gift when you made your request. In fact, there definitely wasn’t. However, it was rare for a country to have strict rules and procedures when it came to making decisions like that. And this was Zoltan, famous for being an idyllic, easygoing sort of place. The official in charge of medicines was the person who would decide whether a new drug received approval or not. A lot could change depending on his impression.

“We’re a newly established apothecary, so it might be better to go for one on the more expensive side, since the store itself hasn’t built up a good reputation yet.”

“I know. I’m pretty experienced in these kinds of negotiations.”

Actually, running a store was a completely new to me. However, during my adventures, I had been the one who dealt with the influential people wherever we ended up going.

Something along the lines of a gift valued at thirty payril should’ve been just fine. Things made of a precious metal that could be resold for close to market value were generally preferred. Something like a piece of silver tableware was pretty standard.

“That reminds me, not just the gift, but we should get you a dining set, too.”

“You don’t need to do that. I’m fine with using your stuff.”

“I’ve got a pretty decent set, but I never anticipated needing more than one person’s worth. It’s just a numbers problem.”

“If that’s all, then fine. I’ll cover it, since it’s my share.”

“I’d rather you not get anything expensive, so I’ll pay for it.”

I was used to a pretty cheap living, so dealing with expensive tableware for everyday stuff all of a sudden would be scary. Feel free to laugh at me for being a coward if you want. If I was holding a plate that cost half a year’s income, I would end up being overly careful with it, which would take up time I needed for other things.

“It’s not like you have to treat it particularly carefully just because it’s expensive. A set of tableware is expendable.”

“Even so.”

Back in my old party, I had also managed all the finances, so I tended to be a bit tightfisted when it came to money.

“All right, then I’ll take you up on your offer, I guess. While we’re on that, though, about my salary.”

“…Yeah,” I responded with a gulp.

Rit wasn’t the type to demand some outrageous amount, so that at least wouldn’t be a problem, but…

“What do you think of one and a half payril per day, for a total of thirty per month? I’m getting room and board, too, so I think that should be pretty reasonable.”

It was a little on the low end for a store employee, but like she said, it was perfectly reasonable when considering the room and board. But Rit was a B-rank adventurer. There’s no way she wasn’t raking in at least ten thousand payril in that line of work. Considering her means, thirty payril was pretty lacking.

“Got it. Then we’ll go with that.”

It would have been a lot worse if she’d insisted on not taking any payment. If Rit refused compensation, I wouldn’t have been able to accept it and would have offered her a salary. That’s just the kind of person I was. The amount definitely would’ve been higher than thirty a month, too. Her proposed salary, which was pretty in-line with the market rate, was actually pretty considerate of her.

Wait, when she said she wanted to live here, was that so I wouldn’t feel as obligated on the salary front? I never would have guessed she was thinking that far ahead from the start!

“Thank you, Rit.”

“Eh? Um, you’re welcome?”

Rit was likely playing dumb. I should’ve expected nothing less from the adventurer who took on Zoltan’s problems completely solo. I decided to leave it at that, though, and just thanked her one more time in my heart.


I was walking beside Rit as we headed to a furniture store in search of a bed.

During the summer in Zoltan, it was well understood that you worked during the morning and evening. Midday was for relaxing and not causing a fuss. Because of that, despite it still being early, the streets were alive with people. Everyone was sweating and had annoyed expressions, though, so it wasn’t quite the standard image of a bustling little town.

“Are you already used to Zoltan, Rit?”

“You mean this sort of mood? Yeah, though on a few levels it was pretty shocking at first. Is it like this everywhere with a hot climate?”

“No, even in other subtropical places, like Mzali, the silver town. There, miners head out to the mountains in search of ore in the morning. By noon, the town’s bustling with all the places making lunch for the miners. At night, the people who are done working for the day are out drinking and carousing. It’s a really lively town.”

“You’ve been to Mzali?”

“To get mithril ingots, yeah. I’ve been lots of places, but I never would have guessed I would end up coming to Zoltan.”

Zoltan had only sent a small amount of funds to Central for help in the battle against the demon lord’s army and had hardly sent any soldiers. The frontier settlement didn’t have any notable local specialties, was relatively underdeveloped technologically, and there weren’t any particularly strong monsters around, either. The mountains in Central were crawling with owlbears, but out here a B-rank adventurer was needed to take care of just one of the creatures. That was proof enough of just how little the adventurers here knew when it came to fighting powerful enemies.

“Meaning it’s peaceful. It’s a land that doesn’t need the Hero. A place that a member of the Hero’s party, like me, would have no connection with. At least, that’s what I thought at the time.”

“A country that doesn’t need the Hero. Yeah, that’s true.”

A half-elf girl was sitting on a window ledge with her feet in a bucket of water. She waved when she noticed me. If I remember correctly, I had given her some medicine when she had fallen and scraped her knee once.

“Sometimes…I used to feel like something was missing,” Rit said as she watched the girl wave.


“I didn’t stay with your party. If I had traveled with you, I’m sure I would have been satisfied with that choice, too, but…being here with you now is what I would rather have.”


There definitely could’ve been a path where Rit joined Ruti’s group on the journey to defeat the demon lord. But that wasn’t how it ended up. Instead of walking the path of the Hero through a storm of blood, we were walking together through Zoltan as just Rit and Red.


Stormthunder’s Furniture Shop. An admittedly unusual name, but it was home to a skilled furniture craftsman.

“Are you there, Stormy?” Rit called out.

A short, stout figure emerged from somewhere deeper in the establishment. He had a nose like a boar and stood slightly shorter than a human, but he was well-built and broad-shouldered. The fangs sticking out of his mouth only served to reinforce his frightening appearance.

“Oh, Miss Rit. I’m always happy to have your patronage…but why is Red here with you today?”

“Uh, well it’s a bit complicated,” I responded.

Stormy—Stormthunder—was a bit confused at the unexpected pairing of the town’s top adventurer and the medicinal herb-gathering specialist.

“I’m going to be moving in with Red starting today.”


“So I came to buy a bed.”

“O-ohhhh, c-congratulations? I had no idea! Red’s quite the lucky man.”

“Wait, aren’t you misunderstanding something?” I interjected.

“So you’d like to order a bed, then? Please leave it to me,” Stormthunder said obsequiously as he focused on Rit.

“Oy, Storm, this is different from how you treated me before.”

“That’s because a certain customer bought a cheap bed after haggling over the price for thirty minutes. Another certain customer bought a high-grade bed at asking price! You’re damn straight they don’t get treated the same!” Stormthunder snapped back in exasperation.

“…Yeah, I guess so.”

I couldn’t really say anything else to that. It’s not like he was wrong.

Stormthunder was a half-orc—a race with both human and orc heritage. In this case, half-orc didn’t mean that one parent was human and the other was a full-blooded orc, but rather, they were mostly human but had an ancestor somewhere in the past who was an orc, and though diluted, orc blood still ran through them.

Orcs were a very belligerent race with boar-like faces from the dark continent and formed a key part of the demon lord’s army. The orc hussars often used as advance forces in the invasion of Avalon were particularly infamous for their mobility and ravenous tendencies that led to them pillaging the countryside far and wide.

The orcs that Ruti and I first fought were orc hussars, as a matter of fact.

Whenever a war broke out between the two continents, there were many children of orc hussars born on this continent, too. Despite being born of such merciless and fierce stock as the advance troops of a fiendish army, half-orcs generally had the same sort of disposition as humans. However, because of their unpleasant appearances and origins, many were forced to live among the worst of society. Most worked as low-level enforcers in the criminal underworld or made a living as pillaging, mercenary outlaws.

Stormthunder’s actual name was a word in the language of the dark continent that meant both storms and lightning, but he went by Stormthunder here to fit in with the language. The rest of the people in this part of town and I just called him Storm, though he didn’t seem particularly fond of that nickname.

“So then, what are the dimensions of the room where you’re putting this bed?”

The half-orc was bent over and taking an extremely fawning stance, the likes of which I had never seen before. Feeling like I had just gotten a small glimpse of the reality of a blue-collar craftsman who was usually so stubborn and mouthy, I glanced away and perused the furniture on display around the shop.

It was all made of wood, ranging from plain to intricately designed. There were pieces made of stout oak, beautiful ebony, and even rare ironwood. Most eye-catching of all was a bed made of livingwood, a material boasting extraordinary vitality. Even after it had been crafted into furniture, if you sprayed it with water, it would be able to naturally mend any scratches or nicks.

It was popular among the middle classes because of its long life span, but it was incredibly difficult to craft with. Working with the wood required the rare skill Intermediate Furniture Making. Such a luxury was not something that could normally be had in a town the size of Zoltan.

“Oy! If you aren’t gonna buy anything, then get your hands off the goods!” Stormthunder had noticed me tapping the livingwood bed frame.

“Even if it gets a scratch, it can just heal, right?”

“That doesn’t give you an excuse to go scratching it!” he shouted.

I just shrugged and backed away like he wanted. After a little bit, Rit called me over.

“I decided on this double bed made of walnut.”

“Make it a single.”

“Wuss…,” Stormthunder muttered under his breath.

When I glanced at him sharply, he immediately looked away and said “I’ve got a single in the same design” as he fled to the back of the shop.

“Wuss,” Rit said with a smirk, though she was blushing, too.

“It’s only the second day since we met again,” I said, deciding not to put too fine a point on it.

…A double bed? Seriously?

I honestly had no clue about things like that. I didn’t have any experience there.


“There are more half-orcs in Zoltan than I would have guessed.”

The bed was to be delivered in the evening. We had taken a statue, several paintings, plus a nice desk and table set from the estate Rit had been living in and were carrying them on a cart. An earth spirit beast that Rit had summoned pulled the load.

Rit’s residence was extravagant, befitting the number one adventurer in town. It had four bedrooms, a private bar, a hidden door leading to a secret room, and a hidden passage out in case of an emergency. It also boasted a separate washroom and laundry; even the bath was pretty spacious.

Apparently, going forward, the two people she had employed to take care of the manor would continue living there, and she would open it up for merchants to rent out for gatherings and the like. The thought that such a venture was probably going to earn her a lot more money than the salary I was paying was a little disheartening.


“Hmm? Ah, sorry, what were you saying?”

“Come on. I was saying there are a lot of half-orcs in Zoltan.”

It was true—there was a bit of a higher proportion of them here than in other countries.

“Stormthunder has the Craftsman blessing and a high level, but he ended up out here in Zoltan because he’s a half-orc. They wouldn’t let him open proper shops in other countries. He still gets dirty looks from a few people, but it doesn’t go past that. A lot of the other halfs between humans and people from the dark continent come to Zoltan from other places looking for a reasonable environment to make a living in.”

“I see… As expected, you knew everything right down to his blessing level.”

“The truth is, I was short on money to pay for things I needed from him, so I’ve helped him out hunting before.”

“Ah, so that’s how it is. It’s rough having a noncombat blessing.”

There was no way to level a blessing up unless you fought and killed something else with a blessing. That was true whether you had a noncombat blessing or a Warrior blessing but made a living working at a job that had nothing to do with combat. The fundamental requirement in order to increase the power of your blessing was to wield a weapon and fight animals, monsters, or humans.

Divine Blessings.

With the exception of Asura demons, every living being in this world has that power from birth. The one who granted the Divine Blessing was Demis, the Almighty. God. On this continent, the worship of Demis was the state religion of every country. There were minor variations in the interpretations of the dogma, but the same basic tenets were followed by elves, dwarves, undeveloped tribes, goblins, and even by the few monsters that possessed intelligence.

This was because God granted everyone a power—Divine Blessings—that anyone could easily recognize, and because the presence of God could actually be felt through said blessing, there wasn’t really much room for faith in other deities whose existences were less tangible.

To repeat myself, though, Divine Blessings were something bestowed on living things by God. They were not influenced in any way by parents or by how a child was raised. There were slum orphans born with Strategist and General blessings, and there had been nobles born with Thief blessings. What a child would be granted when it came into the world was something only God knew.

A Divine Blessing came with a name, skills associated with it, and levels. As its level increased, you were granted points that could be used to gain new skills; and by gaining skills, you could acquire superhuman strengths or techniques. Those new powers manifested in a myriad of fields beyond common knowledge. They ranged from straightforward abilities like magic, to deftness with a certain kind of weapon or armor, to the ability to create tools, to heart-moving singing. The majority of people judged the value of another by the level of their blessing.

It was fair to say that in order to attain great success, raising your blessing’s level was a necessary first step. So then, how did you raise your blessing’s level? There was just the one way: fight and kill an opponent who had a blessing of their own. Whether your blessing was meant for battle, that was the only method. Someone with a Craftsman blessing would never level up just from plying their trade.

Because of that, whether by hiring an adventurer to help with hunting to level up or by working as an adventurer on the side or something else, every living being had to kill other living beings in order to enhance their blessing.

The reason a rough-and-tumble sort of gathering of people like the Adventurers Guild was able to have such relative organizational power and influence was because of the wide range of people from all walks of life who were members in order to act as adventurers on the side.

Glancing to the side, I saw two girls about thirteen years old walking down the street as a shimmering heat haze obscured them slightly. They were chattering cheerfully despite the heat, and on their backs were plain, simple spears; the iron blades still had a bit of dark-red blood on the ends that they had forgotten to wipe off.

This world was filled with conflict.


We got a set of tableware and a few other odds and ends for Rit at the general store. I was pretty pleased with myself, since it had been a fairly reasonable deal.

“We should head to the market, too. It’s about time I restocked on ingredients.”

“Okay. I want to eat a burger steak today.”

“A burger steak, huh? Got it.”

I still had plenty of eggs. I mentally ran over my list of ingredients as we perused the marketplace. After a ten-minute walk, we passed an abandoned lot where a house had been toppled by a storm around two years back. We could hear children crying and angry shouts.

“A fight?”

Every town has its troublemakers. It’s always iffy whether an adult who doesn’t know the story behind the argument should butt in on a fight between children…

“That voice… Tanta?”

It was indeed Gonz’s nephew, the half-elf Tanta. Apparently, he was involved.

“An acquaintance?”

“I think so. I’m going to go take a look real quick.”

The voices were coming from the abandoned lot. Peeking over, I could see a group of three and a group of two going at one another. The pair were half-elves, and the trio were all humans. Tanta was brawling it out with one of the human boys, but it didn’t appear to be going well for him.

“A skill?”

It seemed as if the human boy had managed to connect with his blessing. A precocious one, probably. He had already leveled up once or twice, and I could guess at the kind of blessing just by watching him fight.

I wanted to stop it. Looking closer, Tanta’s opponent was the only one who really looked like he wanted to brawl. His two companions were content to just cheer from the sideline. Though, even they looked scared and were being careful not to get caught up in the middle of the fray.

That one human boy was probably the instigator.

“Oy, cut it out!” I called.

All the children swung around toward me. They looked a little scared to see an adult show up. Doubtless, they expected to get scolded, but they also seemed a little relieved. All except…

“Piss off!”

The boy who was beating up on Tanta reached down, picked up a stone, and threw it at me all in one fluid motion. Probably because of the Makeshift Fighting Technique skill.

There was a clang as I deflected the stone with my bronze sword. The children’s eyes went wide, even those of the boy who threw it.


Unexpectedly, I found myself a little intrigued. That toss was no mere throw from a kid. There was a little tingle in my hand holding the sword. That had been a sharp attack.

“That sort of strength is overkill for a children’s quarrel. You should try going out with an adult to fight some monsters.”

“S-screw you! Talking all big when you’ve got a bronze sword!” The boy’s face turned red as he shouted, and he quickly ran off.

“W-wait, Ademi!”

“Don’t leave us behind!”

Ademi’s cohorts chased after him. I just sighed slightly as I put my sword away. Honestly, I hadn’t intended to draw my weapon. I thought I would knock it away with my hand. Had I done so, though, I probably would’ve hurt myself. Apparently, that kid had pretty good affinity with his blessing. Despite having only just awoken to it and still being a child, his attack was already a match for an E-rank adventurer.

“Are you okay, Tanta?”


Tanta looked frustrated as he rubbed his dirty face with his sleeve. The sleeve was dirty, too, though, so all it did was spread the mess.

“Look this way.”

I used a towel I had with me to wipe off Tanta’s face and then the other half-elf boy’s face. The dirt was gone, but there was still a bit of bruising.

“There, all done.”

“Thank you…”

“You were unlucky there, fighting a kid who had already connected with his blessing. Neither of you have connected yet, right?”

The two of them nodded sheepishly.

“But at low levels, it’s not supposed to be that different from not having a blessing.”

“He had an affinity with his blessing. For better or for worse.”

“Affinity?” Tanta asked.

“Affinity is—,” I started to try to explain.

“Uh, um!” the other boy interjected. He had fluffy, frizzy hair. His face was slightly rounder than Tanta’s, though he had a bit of a droopy expression. His eyes were a little bloodshot, probably from trying to hold back tears.

“Wh-who is this, Tanta?” the boy asked.

“Ah, sorry, Al. He’s Red, my friend the apothecary.”

“An apothecary?”

“He’s an adventurer, too.”

“Oh, that’s why he was so strong.”

The boy was named Al, apparently. I thought I knew most of the kids from this part of town by now, but this was the first time I’d seen him.

“Big Bro, Al’s family lives in the Southmarsh district.”

“Ah, a Southmarsh kid. That explains why I haven’t seen him around before.”

Southmarsh was a residential district in western Zoltan. It was established by reclaiming marshland, making it not very popular as a residential area because of the uneven and soft ground. It had naturally come to be viewed as a slum for people who had come from outside Zoltan without much money. Perhaps realizing that, Al looked down when Tanta introduced him as being from Southmarsh.

“Oh, you hurt your knee.”

It was Al’s kneecap. There was red blood oozing out. He had probably gotten hurt after being pushed over. I took some disinfectant and a bandage out of my pocket.

“I need some water to take care of this, too. Can you walk to the well?”

“I-I’m fine. It’s not that bad.”

Al’s face twitched in pain as I took his hand to help him move. The cut was probably deeper than it looked.

“No need to hold back,” I said as I lifted Al onto my back and started walking.

“Whoa. Wah!” Al shouted. “I-I’m fine. I can walk on my own!”

He wriggled around, but I didn’t pay it any mind as I carried him.


“That’ll do.”

I had finished applying the medicine and then wrapped the leg to keep the sore areas stable and fixed in place.

“If you take it easy for two or three days, it should stop hurting.”

“Thank you, Mr. Red.”

Al smiled bashfully as I patted his head.

“Big Bro! What’s going on on?!” Tanta shouted excitedly, in stark contrast to Al’s quietness.

That wasn’t too surprising, though…

“Why are you with Miss Rit?” Tanta asked.

“About that…”

“Because I’m friends with Red,” Rit chimed in.


“Really. We’re going to be living together starting today.”

“Eh?! Is he really dependable enough for something like that?”

“Hmm, well, I am a little bit concerned, truth be told…”

What did Rit think she was saying? She had no right to give kids strange ideas about me. Tanta shouldn’t have been saying weird things, either! How did they think that made me feel?

“Um,” Al nervously tried to speak up.

“Hmm? What is it, Al?”

“It’s about Divine Blessings… You and Miss Rit know a lot about them, right?”

“I know a bit,” I responded.

“It’s about the guy who was fighting with us. His name is Ademi.”

“You want to know about his?”

“Yes, sir. He was never that pleasant to be around and always hated elves, but he wasn’t ever that violent before. But he suddenly changed a couple of days ago…”

“I see. That’s probably because he connected with his blessing recently.”

“Do people always end up like that when they make contact with their blessing?” Al’s eyes wavered uneasily.

Blessings were a gift from God and essential in order to go through life in this world…

“Do you know what it means to make contact with your blessing?”

“Yeah! It means becoming conscious of what it is and being able to choose and develop your skills yourself, right?” Tanta eagerly cut in from the side.

I patted his head. He grabbed my hand with both of his and smiled happily.

“Correct. You’ve studied up.”

“That much is just common knowledge.”

“And when a person makes contact with their blessing, their personality is influenced by it.”

“What do you mean?” Tanta tilted his head in confusion.

“For example, someone with the Craftsman blessing might start to like making things, or someone with the Mage blessing might start to be more interested in learning more. You could maybe say that a person’s self-image is pulled in certain directions by their blessing.”

“So that was what made Ademi so short-tempered?” The unease and fear was plain on Al’s face.

Ah, so that’s it…

“Have you reached the stage of becoming conscious of your blessing?”

“Y-yes, sir… I have the Weapon Master blessing.”

“Ohhh, that’s amazing.”

Weapon Master was a blessing in the Warrior tree that mastered how to handle a single type of weapon. A weapon master sacrificed flexibility in being able to use different weapons situationally. In exchange, their obsession meant that the techniques they mastered far surpassed those that a warrior at a similar level could achieve with the same weapon. It was more suited for adventurers or soldiers who fought from a single base, rather than a traveling adventurer who wandered around gathering new weapons one after the other.

“That boy probably has the Bar Brawler blessing.”

“Bar Brawler?”

“It focuses on unarmed combat, particularly in one-versus-many situations. It has innate skills related to using non-weapon items like stones or beer bottles as makeshift weapons, throwing and tripping opponents in order to get an upper hand, stuff like that. A weapon master who is dependent on their weapon and limited to an unarmed quarrel probably couldn’t beat a bar brawler.”

“That’s why he suddenly got so good at fighting…”

“And the problem is that Ademi has an affinity for his blessing.”

“An affinity?”

“Yeah. When a person’s body and mindset are already well suited for their blessing, their skills become even stronger. Ademi might well be a genius bar brawler.”

“A genius bar brawler…is kind of…not great.”

“Yeah, that’s sort of the problem. For blessings that are socially acceptable, it would be one thing, but for antisocial blessings like Thief, Bandit, Manslayer, and the like, having an affinity can be like a curse. It’s the same for Ademi. With the Bar Brawler blessing, whenever there are obstacles in his path, his blessing will lead him to try to resolve them by fighting.”

“I see… Um, is Weapon Master okay?”

“Well, compared to Bar Brawler, it’s probably fine, but it can manifest in a misplaced and deep-rooted conviction about weapons. Not being able to relax without your weapon at hand, getting indignant if someone makes fun of it, etcetera.”

“Ugh…” Al looked uneasy again.

That much was just everyone’s lot in life, or perhaps it could be said that these were the roles that God expected us to fill…

“Well, you don’t need to get that worried about it. It’s true that blessings have a strong influence, but it’s not like you have to be ruled by them, either. Once he gets used to it, Ademi will be able to control how he feels. You’ll likely be able to keep it to a level where you just cherish your weapon.”

“I don’t even want a blessing,” Al said.

Tanta’s face stiffened at that. Rit’s expression also turned pretty serious.

A Divine Blessing was God’s chosen gift. To reject that was blasphemy. If an inquisitor of the holy church heard Al, it would be punishable as such. For a child, it would just be the whip and a scolding, but any older, such statements would only draw even more unwanted attention.

That said…I could sympathize with an unease toward your blessing. It was perfectly reasonable. I mean, I’m sure it wasn’t just me, either. Rit’s Spirit Scout, a blessing normally for filling the role of a scout for people of the forest, was the same.

Part of the reason she couldn’t just behave herself in the castle might well have been the influence of a blessing so given to a free spirit. There was no telling whether Tanta had been granted a blessing that matched a job as a carpenter. Doubtless, the boy awaited the day he would make contact with his blessing with a mixture of anticipation and dread.

I didn’t want to just bluntly contradict Al, though. If I tried to reject it off the cuff, he might take it the wrong way. A slipup here might’ve warped the kid’s path in life. I was at a bit of a loss for what to say.

“Al, I agree it’s a scary thing to come to terms with your blessing. It’s almost like your life is completely decided by it. But you know, whatever blessing you might have, you’ll still always be you,” I said.

“What do you mean?”

“Your blessing is just one part of you. Just like your kind mother might have a side to her that nags and yells about little things, or your father might have a side to him that is totally different when he’s drunk.”

“Yeah, my father is usually scary, but when he drinks, he’s always cheerful and smiling.”

“All those different sides are a part of you. And your blessing is like that, too. When it feels like you might get carried away by your blessing, instead of rejecting it or becoming a slave to it, you should control it. It’s one part of you, not the whole. If you can do that, your blessing will surely help you out a lot in the future.”


“Really. The Weapon Master blessing allows you access to skills that increase your physical abilities and even grants you Immunity to Fear and Immunity to Confusion as long as you have your weapon in hand.”

“Fear? E-everyone made fun of me for being scared of dark places… It can cure that?”

“Yeah. You won’t be scared, no matter how dark it is.”

Al looked just a little bit relieved as he smiled.

“Thank you, Big Bro Red.”

“You’re welcome. I’m usually at my apothecary, so if something is ever bothering you, feel free to come by anytime. If you don’t mind hanging with a D-rank adventurer, I’d be happy to talk things through with you.”

“Yeah! …Um.”

“What? Something still on your mind?”

“Is it okay if I come by, even if I don’t have anything that’s bothering me?” Al’s face got slightly red as he met my eyes.

“Of course you can. Come have something to eat, too,” I responded, tousling his soft, frizzy hair.


Al flashed a beaming, childlike grin. I couldn’t help noticing the dimple that formed when he smiled.


Because we took a bit of a roundabout path, it was already almost noon by the time we reached the market. Rit and I were sweating as we gathered the food.

“I got everything on my list,” she said.

“All right.”

I had split the things I wanted to get into two lists and given Rit one. The merchants at the market were not even trying to call out to draw people in. Perhaps the heat had robbed them of the energy. They were just fanning themselves from the shade of their stores. Thankfully, that meant no one tried to call us over, either, so we didn’t have to waste any time, which was good. Still, I couldn’t help a bit of a wry smile at the Zoltan-esque laziness of it all.

It seemed like Rit had a similar reaction, enjoying the experience for her part, since she didn’t usually go to the market.

“In Loggervia, the market is annoying, even in summer. Merchants would always start with pre-written spiels about how ‘Summer fatigue is a thing of the past ever since I started eating this every day,’ and all that rubbish.”

“My hometown was rural, so it didn’t even have a market. Various homes making different things and just gathering together to trade was all.”

“So that was what your hometown was like? But didn’t you leave to join the knights by the time you were eight?”

“Yeah. My only memories of my home are from when I was a little boy.”

Thanks to that, I wasn’t the kind of person who was particularly attached to my hometown. In fact, I was away from it for so long that there were times I even wondered if Ruti would forget about me… But the handful of times a year I came back, my little sister was always the first person to come out to the entrance of the village to greet me, faster than anyone else.

“Heh, that sure is nostalgic.”

But now she was getting along so well with Ares. I had never even noticed it developing.

“…I can’t really believe that.”


“I can’t imagine her ever opening up to anyone other than you, Red.”


“Yeah. I don’t know anyone as scary as she is.”

“Scary?” For a moment, I thought Rit might’ve been joking, but the young blond woman’s expression was serious.

“When I faced off against her in the arena, it was the first time I realized what it meant to have goose bumps. Fighting her there was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. Scarier than any demon. So when I saw her fawning over you, Red—no, I should use your old name. When I saw her fawning over Gideon, I just couldn’t believe it.”

“Huh. Well, she definitely can be a bit hard to read.”

“I can’t begin to imagine her acting like that with Ares instead of with you.”

That was pretty high praise, but it seemed like Rit genuinely doubted the possibility. Honestly, even I was a bit worried about how my sister was doing, but…

“Well, Ruti is far stronger than me now. I don’t know where the Hero’s party is, but apparently, they defeated the heavenly king of the wind, so they’re probably getting along fine.”

“…That’s true! We’re out here in Zoltan, so even if we got worried about things, there’s not much we could do about it,” Rit said as she took my arm, as if trying to take my mind off the trail it was on.

“Let’s head back.”

“Yeah, let’s.”

Far removed from the battle that would decide the fate of the world, we were in an entirely different realm, so distant from the Hero’s party.

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