“The number one achiever?” (Hikaru)
“It means you are the explorer that contributed the most in the subjugation.”
You are kidding, right…?
The guild should already be aware that I was participating as a porter.
“There are several people nominated for second place, but only one for first place. I have already asked many people, and you were the one who defeated the Demon Lord, right?”
“No, I didn’t.” (Hikaru)
I denied straight.
The one who actually defeated it was Rifreya.
Alex and the other explorers contributed more as damage sources too.
Why is it going in the route where I am the one who defeated it when all of these facts are present? I would be scared of what would happen later if I were to become the number one from a misunderstanding.
“The one that defeated it was Rifreya. I saw it with my own eyes. There’s no doubt about it.” (Hikaru)
“I have also confirmed myself that it is indeed Rifreya-san who dealt the finishing blow. However, I have also heard that the subjugation would have been impossible without your contribution, you know?”
I wonder about that. It is true that it was because of my Spirit Abilities that we managed to buy time.
It is also true that everyone was unsteady on their feet, not knowing how to deal with the Demon Lord.
However, I don’t know if to consider myself the number one.
There’s several people nominated for number two, and I think I contributed enough to be chosen in that one.
Even so, I didn’t want to be chosen in any of that.
“Anyways, you got it wrong. I am bronze, you know? Also, I was participating as a porter.” (Hikaru)
“Have you heard what kind of monster the Demon Lord was? I couldn’t even damage it with my thin arms, you know. I was far from contributing.” (Hikaru)
I didn’t lie. My attacks barely got through.
I do want the reward.
However, if I am going to be standing out in this way, demerits will mix in.
Dark Spirit Users are simply rare around here and it is not like they are targets of persecution, but I am a Loved One. I am more scared about the chance of standing out and getting discovered.
If it had been a reward I would be conferred to among many other people, I would have wanted it, but…
“I am also aware of that, but I have also been told you were the first one that found the Demon Lord, and in the subjugation, you contributed greatly with your Spirit Abilities. Everyone that participated in the subjugation battle have all stated the same with Rifreya-san as the top…”
Looks like this guild staff member was going around asking the details about the flow of the whole Demon Lord subjugation and who exactly was fighting.
However, if the person himself denies it, the credibility should decrease.
I feel bad for the people that spoke honestly about this, but I want to drop from being number one.
I don’t want to be the center of attention in a weird manner.
“That…must be some kind of misunderstanding. They must have seen wrong. We were fighting at our utmost limits here after all.” (Hikaru)
“Do you really think a bronze porter can contribute that much? If I had really done that much, I would also want the reward, but I am scared of the repercussions if I were to get it from a mistaken evaluation.” (Hikaru)
I laugh it off with a friendly smile.
It is not like they have recorded the battle. The guild staff member should accept it with this, is what I thought, but…
“…No, you have partied with Rifreya-san and have sold quite a lot of Spirit Stones in a short period of time. It wouldn’t be strange for you to have the ability to perform in the battle against the Demon Lord. In the first place, with just the fact that you are partying with that Rifreya-san, it was clear that you weren’t normal.”
“…Is Rifreya that famous?” (Hikaru)
“Several influential parties of gold rank and higher have invited her. However, she declared that she wouldn’t be joining any others aside from the party she was already in, and she actually stayed true to that statement. And then, she suddenly partied with a newbie man, and it had become quite the rumor.”
“But using that as an argument to my own skills is a bit of a stretch. I might just be leeching off her.” (Hikaru)
“Well, I won’t deny that there’s staff members that think so.”
So there are.
But that’s good for me.
Now that the Viewer Count Race is over, I have to return to the numbers from when I was cooped in.
Rifreya is talking with the members of the Crimson Vials a good distance away.
Her platinum blonde hair is being shone by the light of the chandelier, making her shine like a Light Spirit.
An overwhelming sense of presence.
She is going to stop being an explorer and become a Light Templar in her homeland.
And then, I will live quietly in the dungeon in a way that I don’t stand out.
That’s what I have decided.
“…Well, I can’t refute me being a leech. Rifreya-san…is kind, so she is standing up for me, but I was actually just dead-weight. That’s why, please evaluate this correctly. The number one is Rifreya-san. I might have contributed a bit with my Abilities, but I was mostly carrying the luggage. Give me the same evaluation as the other porters.” (Hikaru)
“I see… I have a general picture of things now. Well then…”
The female staff member shrugs her shoulders with a ‘good grief’.
It is pretty doubtful whether she actually understood this, but they also wouldn’t want to evaluate a person that doesn’t seem like they would gain the acknowledgement of the other explorers.
More so with the fact that the person himself is denying it. Other explorers may appeal their own achievements, but they wouldn’t talk about other people.
The hunting horn boy might have spoken fervently about me, but I would rather he didn’t.
I should have also told Rifreya. When she said before that I could get number one, I just ignored it because I thought it was just her usual overvaluation of me, but to think it would actually turn out this way…
…Being suddenly told about being number one, I was concentrated on that point from beginning to end, but maybe I should have touched on how bad the Demon Lord subjugation was?
There’s probably a lot I still don’t understand since I have only participated once, but this time’s subjugation left a lot to be desired. The second half team could have been wiped out.
Even if the second half team serves as watches, I think there should have been a better way of handling things.
(….Well, not like it would hold much weight. You can say whatever once things are over after all.) (Hikaru)
In the first place, I know almost nothing about Demon Lords. I don’t know just how irregular of a situation this one was, so it might unexpectedly be something like this the whole time.
Also, I myself am a bronze that has gotten his license just recently. I am not in a position where I can give my opinion.
What I can do is to prepare myself if there’s a next time.
(Everyone…seems to be having fun.) (Hikaru)
I am incredibly out of place here in this party venue all alone with a gloomy face.
I barely have any acquaintances, and I don’t really have anything to talk about.
It would be more accurate to say that there’s too much I can’t say.
“Yo! Hikaru, are you having fun?”
“Do I look like I am?” (Hikaru)
“Nyop, you look bored.”
One of the few people who I have things I can talk about, Alex, spoke to me.
Just a few moments ago, he was going around with Crabbell here and there and talking to the female explorers, but it looks like he has paused his skirt chasing for now.
Alex has waxed his hair cleanly, and with his good physique, he is quite manly.
I end up feeling dejected as an average Japanese person.
- Chapter 115: The two good matches and sinking into the darkness alone
“Those are some impressive clothes. They sell something like that?” (Hikaru)
“Nice, right? I got Points from the Demon Lord subjugation, so I bought them.” (Alex)
Alex was unexpectedly in a really nice suit. He even went as far as buying it with 1 Point. What an incredible westerner. His spirit of joining a party is just different.
“Buying equipment is nice, you know? The size is just right too. You got Points too, right?” (Alex)
I got 3 Points from the Demon Lord subjugation, but that disappeared from the Point Loan.
I got 1 Point from the Hero title, but I really don’t feel like using that for clothes.
“I don’t really fit the bill for a hero though.” (Hikaru)
“Oh, so you really got it too, Hikaru. We probably got it from defeating the Demon Lord, but I was a bit happy since this was my first time getting a title.” (Alex)
Must be a cultural difference.
No, the truth is that I was the type of person that wasn’t against the idea of being called a hero.
It is just that a part of me derailed somewhere.
“More importantly, the suit, the suit. How about getting one too, Hikaru?” (Alex)
“I will think about it.” (Hikaru)
I dodge the question, but it would be a waste to buy something that I could get by using money.
I would like to have at least one Barrier Stone on hand at all times, and if allowed to be greedy, even a High Heal Scroll. With those 2, I won’t be dying unless it is something really big.
“Hey, Hikaru, can I ask you one thing?” (Alex)
“If it is something I can answer.” (Hikaru)
“What’s your relationship with Rifreya-san?” (Alex)
I did know he would one day ask me this, but it seems he really was interested in it.
“A party member.” (Hikaru)
“Hmm, not going out?” (Alex)
“No way. Also…our party has already been disbanded.” (Hikaru)
“Why? Even though your battle against the Demon Lord went that well.” (Alex)
“We were simply teamed up for a limited period of time after all.” (Hikaru)
I stir the wine in my glass that I still haven’t drunk yet.
The party disband has already been decided. It is a party that barely any people even know about. That’s why it isn’t that big of a deal for it to disappear.
Even though I understand that, it still stung my heart when talking about it to others.
To the point that I can’t even show an okay face unless I borrow the power of alcohol.
Even though it was a choice I made.
“…You…are you okay?” (Alex)
Alex asked me this as he leaned on the wall just like me, but I couldn’t respond to him.
Without even knowing what kind of face I myself am making, I gulp down the remaining wine in my glass.
“Oh, Rifreya-san.” (Alex)
Rifreya, who was talking a few ways away, noticed me, and came walking here.
I ended up diverting my gaze.
Right now, for some reason, I don’t think I can talk properly with Rifreya…no, with anyone at all.
“Rifreya-san is beautiful today as well.” (Alex)
“…Hey, Hikaru, please introduce me to Rifreya-san.” (Alex)
The handsome man by my side says that.
He says introduce, but they fought the Demon Lord together, so they should be acquainted already. Maybe he is trying to be considerate with me in his own way.
“Introducing, you know. You get what I mean, right?” (Alex)
He repeated it. In other words…he wants to make advances on her.
I honestly don’t want that, but I don’t think I have a justifiable reason to refuse it.
While we were at that, Rifreya called me.
“Aah~! Hikaru, you are drinking! Even though I was holding myself back there~.” (Rifreya)
Rifreya laughed cheerfully, and that sight looked so dazzling like a Goddess, and it was too bright for me.
Compared to that, I can’t even enjoy the party and can’t even have fun talks with other explorers, and was simply passing time without doing anything.
—At that dungeon.
It was because of that darkness inside the dungeon that I could be together with Rifreya.
Me being together with her was truly just a coincidence.
It is such a strong radiance that it made me recognize that it normally would have been impossible for me to mingle with a person like her.
I don’t remember what we talked about after that.
I introduced Alex who is the same Chosen from Earth as me, and I left that place.
Alex is also shining.
He is tall, and his smile that shows his white teeth was charming, and that picture of his standing by the side of Rifreya felt like the two looked good for each other.
Sparkling party venue, shining participants.
There’s no place for me there.
[Pan paka paan! All Chosen, good work! Thank you very much for your participation in the 1st Viewer Count Race lasting 2 weeks! It is the awaited announcement of the results!]
A thoughtless and cheerful voice suddenly rings inside my head.
Looks like the Viewer Count Race has ended.
After that, the voice was reading the names of the winners that were not me.
My name is not there.
I forfeited on the 12th day, so it is obvious.
“With this, it really is the end…huh.” (Hikaru)
I couldn’t revive Nanami.
There’s no need for me to push myself to stand out.
I will be compromising here and living in this world while still being hated by the viewers.
Alex seemed to be arguing vehemently about something and Rifreya was smiling elegantly.
I of course couldn’t hear it and I couldn’t even look at it, so I left that place silently.
I exited to the outside from the terrace, and walked through the garden.
I sat at a bench that’s far enough where I can’t hear the noise of the party.
There’s no street lights, so the garden is veiled in darkness.
The light of the moon, the blinking of the stars; none of those had the strength to shine onto my figure.
This darkness where no one will see me is comfortable for me.
The dance must have started, slightly cheerful music was being played, and the clear air of the night reached me all the way from the far venue.
Just like seeing the brightness of the Earth from far in space, it felt as if those events were happening in a far world.
The laughing of the people, the lively music; a world of light that has nothing to do with me.
Even without wanting to, I still ended up associating this with the distance between me and Rifreya from now on.
Light and darkness can’t go together.
That obvious thing -that separation- I have once again felt it here.
…From tomorrow on, I will be diving into the dungeon alone, and I will be living a lifestyle that will lower my inflated viewership.
If it is a lifestyle of hunting in the 2nd Floor, I won’t be dying or standing out.
I could leave the inn and rent an apartment somewhere.
I did feel like reducing my unnecessary expenses, and I should be able to rent an apartment now.
If it is a normal lifestyle like that, I won’t be attracting the eyes of the viewers.
Now that I have failed in reviving Nanami, I can’t bring any other choice in my life aside from living quietly.
With my back onto the bench, I absentmindedly watched the stars that twinkled differently from the ones on Earth.
I couldn’t help but remember the two weeks I spent together with Rifreya.
—I want to continue being together with you.
If only I could say that…
It would be a lie if I said that that thought didn’t surface in my mind.
But I can’t do that.
If I said that, I won’t be able to forgive myself for the rest of my life.
She can make her dream come true.
She can become a templar.
I grew sentimental for a bit as I looked up at the starry sky for a while.
A small light ball suddenly was shot into the sky, and the garden was illuminated.