OmaeGotoki: Volume 2 001 - The Dastard Laughs
Several days have passed since Flum first acquainted herself with Milkit’s fully restored face, and the two have only continued to grow closer since.
Having just finished buying what they’ll need for supper, they walk shoulder to shoulder down the street, the setting sun lighting the path as they walk home. As always passersby look down on the two slaves with cold eyes, but they don’t pay it any mind anymore.
“...and then Marin looked down at Pyle at the bottom of the hole and said, ‘You said you wanted to crawl into a hole and die so congrats, you’re halfway there!’”
“Fufufufu, I’m sure Pyle must’ve been so embarrassed.”
“Well, yeah, but that was his own fault to begin with. Marin and I just couldn’t stop laughing…”
“It sounds like you were all very close, Master.”
“We’ve known each other for as long as I can remember, after all. I’d love to introduce them to you someday. I’m sure you’d get along great.”
“If you like them, Master, then I’m sure I’ll like them, too.”
Flum gives her a contented grin in return.
She was just telling Milkit all about her hometown of Patoria and all her happy memories there, so excited to share them that she’d barely given Milkit a chance to respond.
“Ah, I’m sorry, I’ve just been talking your ear off, haven’t I?”
“I really like listening to you talk, Master, so don’t feel the need to stop now.”
“Yes. I want to hear all about the sides of you I haven’t gotten to see yet!”
The sun’s gentle orange rays cause Milkit’s smile to glow. Even through her bandages her beauty comes out with full force, and Flum feels her face start to grow hot. She hurriedly looks away, causing Milkit to cock her head to the side in confusion.
“A-Anyways, I’m really looking forward to dinner!”
“Sara-san said she’d be dropping by to eat with us, so I’ve got to give it my all.”
“Your cooking’s delicious, though, so I’m sure even if you don’t put that much effort into it she’ll fall in love with whatever you make.”
Flum’s not just being polite, she really loves Milkit’s cooking.
Milkit smiles bashfully, receiving Flum’s message loud and clear.
The road from the Central Quarter to the West Quarter is peaceful and quiet, and they spend the time wrapped in warmth.
“No, let me go!!”
“Shut up, ya brat! Ya came from the Church, didn’t ya? Behave and we won’t hurt ya!”
If only they could spend their time together uninterrupted.
The sounds of a struggle come from an alleyway a little ways ahead of them. Flum lets out a long sigh.
It’d be really nice to not have to personally keep the peace around here, if only at times like these…
“Be right back.”
“I’ll be waiting right here for you.”
Putting down the bags in her arms, Flum runs towards the noise to find a little girl being cornered by two large men.
“Seriously, what’re two grown men doing picking on a little girl like that…”
The clearly ill-natured men are almost definitely the subordinates of the man who rules the West Quarter from the shadows, Dane Finneas.
“Alright, you two, how about you stop right there?”
Reaching into an extradimensional space, she pulls out a darkly gleaming sword almost as long as she is tall --- The Soul-Devouring Zweihander, an Epic-tier sword. It may be cursed, but thanks to Flum’s Reversal Attribute its curses become blessings in her hands.
“Geh… It’s Flum Apricot. What’re ya doing here? Didja come ta get in our way again!?”
“Haa? You’re the ones who always get in my way.”
Ever since she’s started working as an adventurer Dane’s men have been harassing her nonstop. Sometimes they kill the monster she’s been requested to deal with before she can get there, sometimes they set traps for her on the road, sometimes they bait high-rank monsters to her just when she’s least expecting it… She’s always managed to make do somehow, but if nothing else they can’t say she’s the one who’s always interfering.
“I guess as always there’s just no reasoning with you people. Let the kid go or I’ll make you let her go.”
“Kh… Fine, have it yer way.”
The man grabbing the girl’s arm lets go and they both run off somewhere.
“...That was easy.”
She’s never seen them just give up like that, but her top priority right now is making sure that the girl is safe.
“Are you okay?”
Flum crouches down to the girl’s level and holds out her hand.
It’s at that moment she realizes --- the girl has bandages wrapped around her eyes, sealing off her vision completely.
Yeah, that’s not normal.
No matter how bad a premonition she gets about the girl, however, she can’t just leave her like this.
She reaches out blindly, finally feeling out Flum’s hand and grabbing onto it.
“The West Quarter’s too dangerous for you to be wandering around on your own like this.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“Then why…? Er, I guess if your eyes are like that you can’t tell where you are, huh.”
The girl nods deeply.
Not wanting to keep the girl in the alleyway where she was just attacked any longer than necessary, she leads her back to where Milkit waits.
“Is that the girl who was being assaulted?”
“Yeah. Um… sorry, what’s your name?”
“Ink. Ink Rieskraft.”
Right after being introduced, Flum casts Scan on Ink. She’s learned that she can never be too careful after running into that ‘ogre’.
Ink Rieskraft Attribute : Water Strength : 18 Magic : 43 Stamina : 28 Agility : 23 Intuition : 49
The name Rieskraft certainly sounds like it’d belong to some noble family, so she might’ve come from a wealthy household somewhere.
“Mu. I get the feeling you’re looking at me really hard… Are you casting Scan on me?”
On top of that, she’s surprisingly perceptive. Not meaning to be rude, Flum earnestly apologizes.
“I’m sorry, I was a little curious is all.”
Harsh words for only casting Scan on her. At first glance she looks like a sickly little girl, but she’s evidently something of a troublemaker.
“I think you probably heard Dane’s thugs just a minute ago, but my name’s Flum. This here is---”
“My name is Milkit. I’m currently working as Master’s slave.”
“Slave? Do you do pervy things for her?”
“No, definitely not!!”
“I wasn’t bought, Master took me in when I had nowhere else to go.”
“Oh… So Flum’s a nice lady.”
“Yes, she’s very nice!”
Flum blushes a little at such direct compliments.
Now that they’re all introduced, they’ve got to see that Ink gets back to where she belongs. She looks to be about the same age as Sara, and especially considering that she can’t see they can’t just leave her alone in the West Quarter at night.
“Do you remember where you live, Ink? If you can’t get back home on your own we can take you there.”
“You’ve got to have some idea of where you live.”
“I have amnesia, so I don’t know.”
“Did you run away from home?”
“I told you, I have amnesia!”
“Your parents are probably worried sick about you.”
“I don’t have any.”
Flum freezes up a little at Ink’s response. A worried look appears on Milkit’s face.
“Were you at a relative’s house up until now? Maybe an orphanage…?”
Ink’s ponytail sways back and forth as she shakes her head.
“Where’d you come from, then?”
“I dunno. I have amnesia.”
What the heck!? Flum almost says aloud.
She doesn’t have any parents, but she wasn’t at a relative’s house or an orphanage --- she claims to have no idea where she came from.
She probably just doesn’t want to tell us.
“What if we take her home with us for now, Master? She looks quite tired to me.”
“...I guess we don’t have much choice, huh. Are you okay with that, Ink?”
She nods enthusiastically. She was probably waiting for them to offer.
Unsure how she feels about everything going according to Ink’s plans, Flum grabs her by the hand and the three of them walk home together.
The first words out of Ink’s mouth as soon as they’re home are “I’m tired.” According to her she’s been wandering through the West Quarter since the day before and hasn’t had a wink of sleep the whole time.
“Welcome back. Who’s that?”
“We’re back, Eterna-san. We found her getting attacked by Dane’s goons on the way back from shopping.”
“Then take her home.”
“She doesn’t seem to know where ‘home’ is, so we took her back with us instead. Anyhow, she’s really tired so I’m going to go put her to bed in Milkit’s and my room.”
Flum starts to lead Ink up the stairs by the hand, the little girl so tired it looks like she could fall asleep at any moment.
“Wait. Give her some water first. She can sleep in my room.”
“In your bed, you mean?”
“I’m curious about something.”
“Okay, if you say so.”
Flum takes her up to Eterna’s room and sits her on the bed, and a little later Eterna arrives with a glass of water in hand. Ink gulps down the water, and not five minutes later she’s sound asleep.
“She must’ve been quite tired…” Milkit says, looking at her sleeping face.
They sit and watch her sleep for a while, but then Eterna reaches out for her eyes. Very carefully, she starts to unravel her bandages.
“Are you sure you should just take them off like that?”
“We saved her, so this much at least is within our rights... Flum. What do you make of this?”
Peeking over Eterna’s shoulder, Flum and Milkit look at Ink’s fully exposed face.
Ink’s eyes --- her eyes have been sewn tightly shut.
“That looks quite painful…”
Flum and Milkit are both at a loss for words.
Even if she was blind, there shouldn’t be any reason for her eyes to be sewn shut like this.
“She probably had her eyes removed.”
“Removed… As in, because she was sick or something?”
“Even so, there's no need for this. It might be someone’s sick hobby. Maybe some sort of ritual. In any case, this child isn’t normal.”
Flum had figured Ink had some unique circumstances, but she didn’t expect this.
“You don’t suppose the Church is involved at all, do you?” Milkit asks.
“I think so… I mean, creepy rituals seem right up their alley,” Flum agrees.
When Flum and the priestess Sara were in Enchide looking for medicinal herbs, they’d run across an ‘ogre’ with a spiral of raw flesh for a face. It was far stronger than a normal ogre and could command mysterious powers, but the greatest surprise was learning that it had been created by the Church of Origin. They still don’t know all the details, but the Capital is home to Church’s headquarters, so it wouldn’t be strange for them to be performing more experiments somewhere in the city.
Eterna shakes her head calmly and reprimands them.
“There’s no proof. For all we know she might’ve been held for ransom and blinded so she couldn’t tell anyone about the abductors. Nothing connects her to the Church.”
“I guess you have a point. Just to be safe, though, I think we should keep her here for now.”
“Fine. If she's from the Church you could get involved in something unpleasant again, though.”
“It’s too late for that. I got involved with them the moment their prophecy forced me to join the Hero’s Party.”
Flum laughs bitterly.
At first glance she seems to be perfectly calm, but anxiety has already started to spiral within her chest.
“I’m here, su!”
That evening Sara arrives at their house for dinner, already in a good mood thanks to the smell of Milkit’s cooking wafting through the window.
A moment after she walks in the house, however, her smile freezes on her face.
“E-Eterna Rinebow, su!? What’re you doin’ here, su!?”
It’s only natural that Sara’s surprised to see such a celebrity there, but Flum is put out by her extreme reaction. Even if she has a slave mark now, Sara didn’t recognize her when they first met.
I didn’t realize there was such a difference between us...
“I live here,” Eterna replies matter-of-factly.
That’s probably the only response Eterna could possibly give.
She left the Hero’s party after they had something of a falling out, and she unilaterally decided to live in that house.
After Flum gives Sara that quick explanation, she still seems a bit confused but doesn’t ask any more questions.
Flum then quickly shows her to the sleeping Ink, hoping to determine if she has some connection to the Church, but Sara simply responds with “I’ve never seen her before, su.” Given how unusual Ink’s eyes are there’s no way that Sara could’ve forgotten if they’ve ever met before. Her one hope of finding an easy lead on the little girl’s identity crushed, Flum lets out a long sigh as she looks down at Ink’s sleeping face.
While Flum and Sara were talking Milkit finished cooking and is laying out all the different dishes as they walk into the dining room.
The smell causes their stomachs to growl loudly, and exchanging embarrassed glances they take their seats. All four of them then put their hands together, and all as one they say “Itadakimasu!” before digging in.
The first thing that Sara tries is a type of white cream stew made with vegetables indigenous to the region around the Capital known as harpuche. The vegetables have nicely absorbed the soft taste of the broth while still retaining a pleasant crunch.
“If taeffy, iffoffafeefeefweefyfeff, fu!”
What exactly Sara is attempting to say is a mystery, but the important thing seems to be that she likes it.
Flum, on the other hand, reaches for the main dish, a genofish saute. Cooked in an aromatic herb oil, it gives off a gentle steam that whets the appetite. Genofish are a type of D-Rank monster that can grow up to two meters long, and even though the one Flum and Milkit had bought was only half a meter long it has an impressive presence on the table. Cutting off a sizable piece of fishy flesh, Flum uses a knife and fork to move it onto her own plate before taking a large mouthful, lightly crisped skin and all.
“Mmm, faeffy! Fa finff fuff ferffeffyfooffanfefifinf!”
Mouth full of fish, her words are completely unintelligible.
“Thank you, Master!”
Milkit somehow understands exactly what she’s saying nonetheless.
The other dishes include fried mincemeat and veggies, a genofish-broth soup, freshly baked bread---
Eterna normally wouldn’t go out of her way to give a compliment, but even she finds herself extremely satisfied with the spread.
Pleased that everyone seems to be enjoying her cooking, Milkit smiles cheerily to herself throughout the whole meal.
Flum notices her good mood and slides closer to her.
She skewers a piece of genofish on her fork and holds it out to Milkit.
“D-Don’t worry, Master, I can eat by myself.”
“So you say, but it looks like you’re just sitting there watching us. C’mon, open wide!”
Unable to resist a direct order from her master, she opens her mouth and accepts the fish. It tastes incredibly sweet, even though the impact of Flum feeding her has temporarily killed her taste buds.
“They really get along well, su.”
“They’ve been like that a lot lately.”
“I’m kinda jealous, su. I heard Milkit was all better, though, so why’s she still wearin’ those bandages, su?”
“She only shows her face to Flum.”
“...They really, really get along well, su.”
“So well it's sickening.”
It’s only natural that Eterna would get a bit fed-up with them after watching them fawn over each other every day --- but at the same time she has to admit that it’s a relief to see a smile on Flum’s face instead of that gloomy expression she always seemed to have when she was in the Hero’s Party.
After they finish eating, Flum and Sara start sharing what they’ve learned recently while Eterna listens in. Milkit puts on tea for them before starting on the dishes. They all offered to help her, of course, but she was determined to not give in.
“I can’t contribute at all to your discussion, so let me do this much at least.”
Hearing that, Flum couldn’t argue with her.
“I tried lookin’ into that research facility but I couldn’t find anythin’, su.”
“There wasn’t anything in those notes on the Chiaraly?”
“I think the bishops in charge of the Central Quarter church must’ve left those notes out by accident back then, ‘cause when I went back to check on ‘em everythin’ was gone, su. I think I remember some of the writin’ that was on a map, though, su…”
They probably can’t just go and personally investigate everything on the map without attracting unwanted attention, however, even if Sara remembers that much.
“In other words, it’s probably only the bishops and above who know the truth.”
“Maybe, su. But even if I tried just tailin’ one of ‘em, I’m just a priestess so there’s a lotta places I’m not allowed in, and the Grand Cathedral’s completely outta the question, su. Since you’re one of the Chosen, Oneesan, they might let you in, su.”
“If I do that then they’ll be watching my every move for sure. What about, like, the churches in the West and East Quarters?”
“The West Quarter… I know a coupla paladins there, but I’m pretty sure there’s nothin’ there, su.”
“What makes you so sure?”
“There’s an orphanage there, su. The West Quarter’s got the slums an’ it’s really unsafe an’ everythin’, so there are a lotta orphans around, right, su? I visited ‘em once before and they were runnin’ around all over the place, su. I don’t think they could keep a secret lab there without any of the kids noticin’, su.”
There are times where a child’s curiosity can overcome an adult’s carefulness. Furthermore, not even the Church can just ‘erase’ children from an orphanage without anyone noticing, making a secret lab there more trouble than it’s probably worth.
“What about the East Quarter, then?”
“All the rich an’ powerful people live there so there’s no way the Church’d do anything that might upset ‘em or make ‘em suspicious, su. It might even be more impossible than in the West Quarter, su. I think they had a lab out in Enchide just so that they could avoid this kinda problem, su.”
“Yeah, there’s a fair chance we won’t find anything no matter how thoroughly we search the Capital. We don’t even have any proof that they’re still experimenting.”
The lab where they’d met that 'ogre' had been abandoned for at least ten years, so it’s very possible that they’ve either given up or succeeded in their research.
Eterna, however, steps in to correct Flum.
“The Kingdom has been experimenting for a long time. There’s almost definitely a lab around here somewhere.”
“They’ve at least been at it longer than I’ve been alive.”
Nobody knows exactly what that means, however. Eterna probably isn’t aware that they have no idea how old she is.
“Even if there aren’t any active labs there should be ruins. It’s worth checking inside the Capital first.”
“I’ll start by checkin’ out the churches in the West an’ East Quarters, su. I’ll ask about Ink at the orphanage while I’m at it, su.”
“In that case, I can start on the likely places that aren’t Church territory. Sorry again for dragging you into all this.”
“It’s fine, su. As a member of the Church it’s my duty to clean out any corruption, su.”
The Church of Origin has raised her since she was only two years old, so she really doesn’t want to doubt them. After seeing those monstrosities in Enchide and all those corpses, though, she can’t just turn a blind eye to their sins. The Church itself taught her that sins must be punished, after all.
“Flum-oneesan, how’re things goin’ with Dane, su? D’you think they’re holdin’ a grudge over what you did in Enchide, su?”
“...Yeah, you could say that.”
“I thought they would, su… Those creeps probably think they never even did anythin’ wrong, su.”
Dane’s not the type to just sit back and twiddle his thumbs after the deaths of two of his men. Even now Flum doesn’t regret killing them, but if nothing else Dane has numbers on his side. He’s not an easy enemy to deal with.
“Let me crush them already.”
“But Eterna-san, you’re keeping an eye on Milkit for me, aren’t you?”
“I never get to have any fun. All I do is sit at home all day…”
“That’s enough, really.”
Flum’s single greatest fear is that Dane will try to harm Milkit again. He’s surely aware of how important Milkit is to her, so Flum’s convinced that he could try to go after her at any time.
“I’ll help however I can, so if you need anythin’ just let me know, su.”
“Thanks again, Sara-chan.”
Finishing with the serious talk, the three of them start talking about much more normal things, and even Milkit joins them after finishing the dishes for some light girls’ talk. It’s fun enough that it seems as though they could keep at it forever, but Sara’s first yawn signals the end of their time together. Regardless of how capable she is she’s still only ten years old, after all, and Flum walks her back to the Central Quarter church.
At that time, elsewhere in the Capital.
Dane and his men are drinking together at the adventurer guild’s attached bar, making as much of a ruckus as they please.
A sober-faced man takes the chair immediately across from a slightly drunk Dane.
“What’s the matter? Come on, drink, drink!”
The man holds out his glass. Dane fills it to the brim with cloudy booze.
“I’m sorry, Dane-san.”
“Nn? What’s with the sudden apology?”
“Earlier today I found a brat who looked like she had somethin’ to do with the Church, thinkin’ we could use her in that plan of yers. Before we could take her back, though, that Flum bitch showed up again, an’... we, uh, lost her.”
“I had no idea that’d even happened. I knew that woman was trouble the instant I laid eyes on her…”
The smile disappears from Dane’s face as he gulps down the contents of his glass all at once.
He slams his glass down on the table, causing the man across from him to flinch.
“Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you. Don’t be so hard on yourself, it’s not like I ordered you to bring back that brat. A plus becoming a minus is one thing, but no decent person would be upset about an unexpected plus becoming a zero.”
If nothing else, Dane is relatively kind to his subordinates. If they produce results he rewards them, and if they have talent he welcomes them into his inner circle. He’s harsher on failures, yes, but all he does is force them to the bottom of the hierarchy; he never just cuts them loose. While he does in fact have a reputation as a liar and a coward who doesn’t hesitate to fight dirty, his techniques set an example for thugs and hoodlums everywhere.
At one point he was in fact nobility, the eldest son of the prestigious Finneas family. His comparatively elegant manner of speech is also likely thanks to his upbringing. When he was still young the Finneas estate came to ruin, both his parents lost their lives, and Dane himself was forced into the slums. Between his parents’ failure and his new life in hell, he learned an invaluable lesson.
True strength isn’t being able to hold one’s own in a fight or having an abundance of wealth.
True strength is all about human connections.
He dominates those around him with violence or money, and on top of that strives to earn the ‘trust’ of as many people as he can. Efficiently and methodically, he built his strength until the point where the entire West Quarter has become his backyard. Over time he has gained a reputation as a truly terrifying man, but one who is invaluable as an ally.
“It’s high time I set about crushing that foolish girl in earnest. She’s killed two of my beloved men, so on my honor I can’t just allow her to run free.”
He has to properly get revenge for their deaths, but on top of that if he simply forgives and forgets his influence over the West Quarter may weaken along with his reputation.
“Are we gonna rush in all at once and bash her skull in?”
“That’s not a bad plan, but brute force is oh so dull. I think I’ll put on a little play.”
Dane takes a bite of jerky, then starts swinging it around emphatically like a conductor’s baton.
“First I’ll crush her spirit, and right when she’s at her weakest… curtains, you see?”
He grins, malevolence apparent in his every feature.
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- It’s basically saying grace, but without the religious context.
- Dane uses the first-person pronoun ‘boku’. While it sounds a little childish or pratty for an adventurer, it’s the golden standard for spoiled rich boys.