Translator and cruel master of his editing slaves: Nigel
Editing slaves: PervySageChuck, Naté, Aura and Mare, Skythewood
“What’s going on here? Why’s there a brat drinking here? Or could it be that this man intends to get a young girl drunk for some purpose? Could it be you have lewd intentions in mind?”
Just hearing the woman speak filled her heart with anger.
She had been so happy spending time with Itami.
The mood was good, and so was the beer. She planned to continue teasing Itami, and then fake passing out in drunkenness and then hopefully he would carry her to the bed… no, he was practically about to do it...
...and then, Itami cradled Rory like a fragile doll as he brought her to the bed.
He laid her body gently on the bed, and then placed a soft pillow under her head.
Because he was worried about knots in her long black hair, he combed it gently with his fingers, and in order not to get her priestess’ outfit wrinkled, he carefully tidied up her skirt and prepared to remove her boots.
He caressed her gently as he held her heel with his left hand and supported her knee with his right, carefully bending her legs into a slight curve. Naturally, this would flip up her skirt, and the base of her legs, where they joined her hip, would become visible.
However, Itami did not notice. Or perhaps he had, but kept quiet.
Grasping the end of a bootlace in his left hand, he undid the knot with all the ceremony of unwrapping a present.
After loosening the bootlace, a small gap between her calf and the inside of the boot appeared, and Itami worked his fingers into it to pry it off.
The feeling was close to a foot massage, and the moan she made was very suggestive.
And so, now that there was enough space between Rory’s skin and her boot, Itami grabbed the heel of the boot and said, “I’m taking it off, is that alright?”
Rory’s face was red, and her eyes were closed. Then, she nodded gently, almost imperceptibly.
However, that was enough for Itami. No, in truth, even if she had not responded, Itami would not have gone on waiting. Having filled himself with determination, Itami would not look back. With a bit more force than necessary, he pulled off the boot on her left leg. And just like that, her legs, once hidden by the jet-black boots, were now exposed in all their glory, covered in white lace-edged socks.
“Owie… please… don’t be so rough with me…” Rory pleaded in a soft voice. But the cruel Itami ignored Rory’s voice, and went to work on her right boot.
After finishing up, Itami prepared to leave the room after neatly arranging her boots by the bed.
However, her hand grabbed Itami’s sleeve and would not let go.
“What a hopeless fellow you are…”
As he thought of how to deal with Rory, Itami gently pried Rory’s fingers off and left. Or rather, he tried to leave. While he was trying, Rory reached out both her hands to grab Itami before dragging him onto the bed and mounting him.
After that, they would do all sorts of mufufu things until dawn… or at least, they should have.
But now, that… all that… All that was ruined now. How dare she call me, Rory Mercury, a brat!
Rory clenched her trembling hand into a fist and looked at the owner of the voice.
At a glance, she seemed to be a Dark Elf female.
She looked to be roughly 300 years old, but on the surface she resembled a human in her late twenties.
She wore a kind of turban used by the southern tribes when they travelled, and a mantle of some sort.
The mantle superficially resembled a magician’s robes, but it was simpler in design, so it looked like a piece of cloth worn on the body. In a way, it had been carefully made, but the way this woman wore a piece of tatty cloth on her body, with her curves visible through the rents in the fabric, made the people around her quite excited.
To begin with, she looked like the sort of woman any hot-blooded male would want. In addition, she wore the Dark Elves’ unique “bondage armor”.
“Bondage armor” was just the common name for it. Technically speaking, it would be a piece of protective gear. It was made of tough leather riveted to metal components, and its defensive properties were quite good. It would not interfere with the body’s movements in battle and barely impeded the wearer’s dexterity, but the armor’s design would lewdly display the wearer’s body.
The legends of the Dark Elf tribes to the south told of their swift and nimble battle arts. That was why they favored this sort of defensive gear.
A woman like this now stood proudly before Rory and Itami.
Her right hand grasped her saber, and she looked like she was going to kill Itami right then and there.
“You, who are you? What are you doing here?”
Before Rory got angry — no, in truth she was already angry, but before she vented her wrath — she wanted to learn something about this woman. Given the way she looked, it could not be helped if people got the wrong idea of things, so she did not intend to do something unreasonable like beat her to paste or chop her into pieces. Still, she wanted to toy with this woman.
The Dark Elf female looked at the young girl, who was so frightened (apparently) that she was trembling all over. To calm her down, she decided to answer her question carefully.
“My name is Yao, a Dark Elf of the Ducy tribe that lives in the Schwarz forest. I am the daughter of Deban known as Yao Ha Ducy. I heard this was where I could meet the men in green. I have a request for them.”
When she heard this, Rory’s eyes seemed to shine.
Pretending to be a powerless little girl, she hid behind Yao the Dark Elf and begged her for help.
“Please, help me! I keep telling that man I can’t drink any more, I keep begging him to let me go but he keeps making me drink!”
The surroundings were already quiet, but now they were even quieter.
One could almost hear people gulping in the background.
Itami pointed a finger at himself in a “Eh~ is she talking about me?” way as he looked around searching for a helpful gaze. However, nobody came to his aid. Several of the guests started gathering up their food and swiftly exited the tavern, leaving Itami all by himself.
“So that was what he was up to.”
“This man gets women drunk so he can do whatever he wants with them! He said ‘Here’s a little drink’ but he wanted to get me so drunk I couldn’t resist him! Then after I passed out he would do this and that and steal my purity and then discard me like a broken shoe~”
Rory pretended to cry as she covered her face and knelt down.
After seeing her like this, Yao tried to comfort her by saying, “Poor thing, you must have been so scared.” However, she was also trembling in anger at the vile villain standing before her.
Itami could see Rory sticking her tongue out between the hands covering her face. Her eyes said, “Sorry~” as she peeked at him.
There were certain women who liked to mess with the men close to her. For instance, while he drove a car, she would cover his eyes. When he scolded her, she would cry and say, ”Don’t be mad~” When she was like that, all the man could do was endure her antics. In most cases, these women did it to get their man’s attention.
“To think you would intoxicate a child to sate your impure bestial lust! I shall never forgive you!”
Yao closed the gap between herself and Itami, drawing her saber as she did.
She held it forward with her right hand, the torchlight shining on its razor-sharp edge.
“Fear not. I shall end his villainy and life,” Yao told Rory in a comforting tone.
Then, when she looked forward again, all she saw was an empty seat and an empty mug slowly spinning on the table.
“That… was fast.”
“The Boss is really good at running,” the head cook said.
“Bye bye Boss~ we’ll put the drinks on your tab~” Delilah smiled.
They were waving happily to Itami as he vanished into the night.
Because he had disappeared so quickly, everyone else froze for a second, and then resumed their normal activity like nothing had happened.
The head cook pinned Itami’s picture to a wall behind the counter, and wrote the day’s sum on the picture in pencil.
With nobody to point her saber at, the dark elf stood there in a daze. When she came to, she nodded to herself. “Hm. The villain has fled.”
As she returned her saber to its sheath, she wanted to say, “It’s all right” to the little girl, but she was gone.
The girl who had been clutching herself in fear until just now had disappeared, as though she had never been there. Yao looked around, but she could not find the girl in the black Goth priestess’ clothes. It was not that she wanted the girl to thank her, but she should have at least said something before she left.
“What a rude brat. From her age and clothing, could she be a shrine maiden of Emroy?”
“Oi, are you going to order something, or did you just come here to chase my customers away?”
After hearing Delilah’s voice, Yao, who had been planning to eat in the first place, apologized and sat at the counter.
Yao turned to the head cook, who was holding a knife.
“So, what’ll you have?”
“I haven’t had dinner yet. Some meat and vegetables please. And something to drink.”
“Alcohol alright with you?”
“Delilah, give that Dark Elf-nee-san a beer.”
There was a Dwarf sitting beside her, and a glance at his red nose and face clearly indicated how much he had drunk. He asked Yao, “Yo, Dark Elf lady. You’re looking for the men in green, right? Why’s that?”
The Catgirl on the other side of Yao patted her shoulder and asked, “Why’d you come all the way to this place to look for the men in green ~nya?”
Yao personally did not mind drinking with others. This acceptance of company could be mistaken for kind-heartedness.
“Mm, I heard they were a group of good people, with no ulterior motives. Alright, please listen to me, then. I came looking for the men in green because I had a request for them. Everyone, do you know where I could find them?”
“Yes. No matter what, I absolutely have to get their help.”
So that was why Rory put on that farce.
Everyone realized why Rory the Reaper had chosen to take her revenge in that way. As one, they sighed as though to say, “You just drew your sword on one of them, too bad for you.”
Whether a mistake or not, hardly anyone would want to heed the request of someone who bared steel at them. If she wanted to achieve her goal, she would need to clear up the misunderstanding and apologize, before soothing the other party’s feelings. That was a difficult task to begin with, and now it was made even more difficult.
The Dwarf male turned away from Yao and said, “It might be impossible.”
The Catgirl looked away too. “Yes ~nya. I think it’ll be really hard ~nya.”
“Why is that? I heard the men in green were righteous people. They should not be the sort to abandon those in need. Why does everyone say that?”
Just then, Delilah put a mug of beer in front of Yao and said, “Here you go.” Yao looked at the frothy golden liquid and asked, “This is beer?” before taking a mouthful of it.
“Mmm, it’s good.”
And then the head cook placed a plate of food in front of Yao.
As Yao tucked into her dinner, she said, “Of course, I don’t intend to have them help for free. I can pay them with what the Chief gave me.”
Yao plonked a bag the size of a man’s head onto the table. As an aside, there was a talisman against thieves on the bag, empowered by the Lord of the Underworld, Hardy. If someone other than the rightful owner touched it, they would be cursed.
“A raw diamond.”
As they saw this, a disturbance started among the mercenaries. This was not just a mere sum of money; it was enough to buy a marquisate. And there was a talisman of Hardy, ruler of the Dark Elves, on it as well. Both the talisman and the gem were extremely valuable.
“And if that is not enough, I will offer my body as well. I have prepared myself for that. I have already bid farewell to my relatives.”
By now, the commotion had spread to some of the women as well.
Yao’s body was bewitchingly beautiful. There was probably no man on earth who would not be excited if he heard that he could do anything he wanted to that body.
One of the mercenaries said, “Why not let me do it,” while the others started to say, “No, let me, no, pick me”.
Yao looked to a mature-looking woman and said, “Ah, what a pain”, and then she smiled. Then she turned to the crowd.
“I’m sorry, but in all likelihood, none of you will be able to do it.”
“Well, that’s true. Anything worth staking this treasure and your body on can’t be that simple.”
“Then, what is your request?”
Everyone’s eyes were on Yao. She took a drink to wet her lips, and then spoke in a grave tone.
“I want to exterminate the wounded Flame Dragon.”
The Flame Dragon had flown to the Schwarz Forest several months ago.
It happened suddenly. That said, despite it being the home of the Dark Elves, they had only taken a few casualties at first because most of them were outside of the village for religious reasons.
However, the Flame Dragon was not satisfied with so few deaths. It flew by again and again to fill its empty stomach, and many of their brethren had been lost one by one.
If this went on, the tribe would be destroyed.
The Dark Elves abandoned the Schwarz Forest, which was now the Flame Dragon’s hunting ground. They scattered to the nearby barrens, creeks and foothills.
Thus the Dark Elves’ daily life became one of evading the Flame Dragon’s attacks.
They watched the sky day and night, and even cowered from passing birds. When the air raid horn sounded, all they could do was hide in their holes like moles and tremble in fear.
However, if they were careless, the Flame Dragon would get them.
It would breathe fire into their holes, dig them out, or just collapse the holes on top of them.
The same friends whom they had greeted in the morning would be torn apart, chewed up and swallowed by the Flame Dragon in the evening.
They had to cover their ears and ignore the pitiful cries of their comrades surrounding them and their wails as they awaited the end. They let their friends sacrifice themselves to buy time to escape, and moved to ever more treacherous places or deeper valleys to hide.
But a life spent fleeing was no life at all.
They had to hunt for their food, but the Elves’ hunting grounds were also the Flame Dragon’s.
When they spotted their prey, the Dragon had its eye on them. When they brought their quarry down, the Dragon might claim them instead. They tried various other means to feed themselves.
They peeled off tree bark and boiled it, then ate it as they drank muddy water. This was their life.
The resources they had brought from the stricken regions were running thin. Their food stocks were gradually running low. Resolving themselves to die, their young archers prepared themselves and headed to the hunting grounds.
There were casualties every day.
No day went by without the cries of orphaned children, or the sound of voices cursing the Flame Dragon for the loss of their children and relatives.
Of course, there were those who took up bow and sword in anger and challenged the Dragon.
However, they were like eggs thrown at a rock. All their valiant efforts accomplished was adding to the number of corpses in the Dragon’s lair.
The aid of the spirits, their mithril arrowheads, their strong armor, none of them availed them against the Flame Dragon.
They thought that magic swords might help, but then they could not even get the tips through the scales. The magic swords merely added to the collection in the Flame Dragon’s lair.
The Dark Elves’ hearts were filled with despair and emptiness.
There were those who believed in Hardy and who felt the call of the afterlife, and went to it with desperate laughter, like prisoners just before execution. It spread like an incurable disease through the tribe. There were many who lost the will to live and lay down and died.
“This can’t go on,” someone had said.
“The Flame Dragon must have a weakness. The arrow sticking out of its eye is proof of that.”
There was an Elf who had taken his revenge on the Flame Dragon. The thought of that rekindled their courage.
“There must be some way to defeat the Flame Dragon. Look at its missing left arm.”
At the same time, the tales of the “Men in Green” reached them.
They used a magic staff called the “Rod of Steel” to destroy its left arm, and saved a human village from extinction. These tales were the last, best hope for the Dark Elves, who faced extinction themselves.
After that, the tribe decided as one to send an envoy.
The one who was sent out would have to bear a heavy burden.
The envoy would need to escape the Flame Dragon’s claws, and find the men in green by hearsay alone. The envoy would need an iron will, a sense of duty, and a keen survival instinct.
The envoy would bear the hope of the village.
They would have to beg the men in green for their aid, by any means necessary. Failure meant the destruction of their tribe, their comrades, their relatives and friends.
Such a great responsibility could not be borne by any ordinary person. They would need great battle skills and knowledge, as well as the integrity to not give up the mission halfway and run off with the treasures entrusted to them.
They gathered the young people of the tribe, and began their selection.
In the end, two names were left. One of them was Yao Ha Ducy.
She was a skilled swordswoman and wise, and she was adept at summoning the spirits.
Her straightforward but earnest attitude was well known throughout the village. They were certain she would not give up her mission halfway.
There were two candidates, both of whom were equal in ability, talent and personality. However, the female Yao would be more useful. That was because her bewitching beauty would be a powerful weapon in negotiations with the opposite sex. According to the rumors, the men in green were commanded by a male.
However, things were not that simple. The chief looked at Yao’s face and sighed. Frankly speaking, her bad luck was a major point against her.
She fell into traps more often than others while hunting, and when trees were felled, they kept falling on top of her head.
It would rain when she went swimming, and when she went to town to buy things, the shops were invariably closed.
Her lover was NTRed away by a “good friend”, and when she was finally about to marry her childhood friend after overcoming various obstacles, he died of natural causes before their wedding day.
After that, during the mourning, a man who had confessed his love to Yao before she was married fell off a cliff while hunting and died. Thereafter, no man dared to go near her.
In addition, she had no luck at all during lucky draws, and the only time she won something was when she drew the top prize at a friend’s wedding.
Honestly speaking, it was enough to erase all her merits as a woman. However, although her luck was bad, she kept pushing herself to keep carrying on with life in spite of her misfortune.
Everyone agreed on that. The elders could not disqualify her just based on her bad fortune.
At this point, the elders told Yao the reason why they had chosen her. After that, they asked if she was prepared to offer her body as a reward. In truth, those words were not necessary, and they might have been hoping she would refuse.
In truth Yao was thinking about whether or not to withdraw.
However, she had accepted. Since she had no luck with men, if the other party asked her to be a slave, a lover, a whore or a maid, she would agree. However, Yao would not sell herself cheaply. If the price of her body was the head of a Flame Dragon, she would proudly pay it.
Still uneasy about the whole matter, the elders chose Yao as their envoy.
Since this concerned the life and death of the entire tribe, a miserly payment would be meaningless. Therefore, they entrusted her with the most valuable treasure of the tribe.
And so Yao began her journey, and after overcoming bad luck and difficulties, she finally stood before Arnus Hill.
Yao’s sleep was interrupted by a roaring noise.
She sprang up and looked around to see what was going on. She was in a beautiful forest whose canopy let the sunlight in through small gaps.
She had come all this way to Arnus Town, but then she was told that there were no more rooms in the inn. Since it was late at night, she could only leave her business until tomorrow, and so she had chosen to camp out in the forest at the foot of Arnus Hill.
Yao had a good night’s rest. Perhaps it was thanks to the spirits nearby, who had granted her the blessings of wood, water, wind and tree.
A pair of swords was dancing in the sky above the forest, and thunder followed in their wake.
They slashed through the air and rose high on mighty wings. They were F-4 Phantoms.
These soon-to-be-retired aircraft were not subject to the same annoying restrictions as they would be in Japan. As they took off, the control tower told them, “Birds are all gone, fly as you please as long as you don’t crash,” which filled the pilots with glee as they were let off the leash.
They were veteran pilots, with thousands of flight hours. However, since they were over 40 years old, while they were taking the F-15 and F-2 conversion courses, they were transferred to a training unit because of their age and because it was their personal decision. They would spend the rest of their careers peacefully on the ground. There were no plans to reassemble the fighter planes which were disassembled and sent through the Gate.
All that they had left was the sky. There were no passenger planes they had to give way too and no American aircraft cluttering up their airspace. The sky belonged to them, and the freedom to roam it as they pleased was an opportunity any airman would drool over.
After takeoff, they folded up the landing gear and pushed their engines to full throttle, climbing up to 10’000 meters above ground level before performing an Immelmann.
The planes turned 180 degrees in mid-air, and with their heads facing the earth, they half-rolled and dived before pulling up again, in a Split-S maneuver.
They had passed Mach 1 during their aerobatics, but there were no town councils here to complain about the noise from their supersonic flight. That said, they still had to be considerate of the Arnus Garrison and the members of Arnus Town, and how they would react to the constant thundercracks in mid-air caused by the breaking of the sound barrier. They were friends after all. They pushed their throttles to full once more and began a simulated dogfight. After peeling off horizontally, they levelled themselves out, and then they gripped the control stick with their knees and pulled back to bring their plane’s noses up.
The G-forces from the sudden turn crushed down on their bodies, and even breathing was impossible. With a loud “hu”, they poured their strength into their waists and used every ounce of strength in the upper bodies to stabilize the aircraft.
In the instant the G-forces vanished, they gasped out the air in their lungs and took deep gulps of oxygen. They were competing to see who could hold their Gs longer.
The copilot said, “They’ve got a lock on us!”
He immediately threw his plane into a Scissors maneuver. The plane jinked sharply, in order to shake the imaginary bandit locked onto them. Heaven and earth spun round and round the cockpit. Once they got the bandit off their tail, it was their turn to lock onto them.
While flying the Knife Edge, they went into a horizontal corkscrew roll... right now, they would even lock onto an F-22 to show everyone how it was done. Just by maneuvering alone, they were already of a world-class standard. In the past, they even managed to conduct a simulated shoot-down of an American F-15 while flying an old F-104.
They soared through the sky as though freed from their shackles, like innocent children at play.
They were silver swords, slicing through the sky.
The silver swords seemed to be playing a game of tag in mid-air.
Yao watched the sky dumbly for a while, and soon discovered that they were man-made objects. Elves had exceptionally keen vision, and her field of vision could see the men seated in the giant blades soaring through the sky.
Then, she smiled, even as her tears fell.
“They were true, the stories were true…”
The Flame Dragon soared through the sky like it owned it, feeding on the helpless ground dwellers.
But now, the sky was no longer ruled by the Flame Dragon. The flying swords were faster and sharper, better than the Flame Dragon in every way. It was only natural that anyone who possessed these things would also possess the Rods of Steel which could chew off the Flame Dragon’s arm.
To be frank, Yao had doubted the truth of the tales she had heard. After all, stories tended to grow in response to people’s hopes. In order not to have her heart broken, she constantly thought about what she would do if they turned out to be false.
But now that she saw the flying swords dance through the sky, it told her that her journey had not been wasted, and it turned into proof for her hopes.
Yao had the feeling that her task would be over soon.
All she had to do was return to Arnus Town and meet the representative of the men in green.
Asking for help, no matter how difficult, could not possibly be harder than the road she had travelled until now. It seemed as though her comrades back home would be saved at last.
With those thoughts in mind, Yao gathered up her determination and set out toward Arnus Town once more.
As the thickets gave way to grass, her steps became lighter and faster. Soon they became a jog, as though she was unwilling to walk all the way then, and in the end she broke into a flat-out sprint that sliced through the wind.
At Arnus, 3rd Recon, led by Itami, finished their equipment checks and convoyed up.
To one side, 1LT Yanagida was holding his clipboard as he did the final checks on the contents of the two-wheeled pushcarts.
“Silk, lacquerware, pottery, porcelain, pearls, whoa! They even have sake, and it’s high-class too, ‘Koshino Kanchubai’. Could I have a bottle?
“Give me a break, Yanagida-san. These are our ammunition.”
The man who replied to him was a diplomat in a suit, called Todo. He knew Yanagida was kidding, but his answer was sincere.
“Really? You mean you won’t drink it yourself?”
“You’ll have to trust us on that.”
With the contents on the inventory list, they could open a department store that sold famous goods from all over Japan. This seemed more like bribery than simple gift-giving.
Because many of the items were fragile, they had to be wrapped properly. Since there were many of them, they become extremely large pieces of luggage.
“After that, cases of gold coins, silver coins, and copper coins. We’ve checked inside them.”
They needed funds to do business in the Imperial Capital, and those funds were in those wooden boxes. The money was needed for activity expenses, setting up bases in the Capital, as well as recruiting and paying off informants. There were all sorts of other activities and fees to pay, so they often ran out of money during operations.
“Women, food and drinks. It’s similar to the way companies here welcome guests. We’ll find fallen nobles or people unhappy with the current regime and have them spread rumors to make the opposition’s job more difficult.”
Although he was still learning the language, one of the young diplomats had already performed several missions in the Special Region. He knocked on a case of gold coins as he spoke.
The Japanese government had obtained this currency by purchasing them from the ALC.
The ALC received Japanese yen in exchange for the currency, which they used to buy all sorts of Japanese goods.
“People in the governments of developing countries are very straightforward, they’ll ask you for bribes up front. It’s like when we were negotiating the Chunxiao business with the Chinese diplomats, they even threatened us with, “Oh, you won’t mind if we send our ships over then”. I was pretty envious of how they could do things. I wish I could say, “Do it if you dare. We’ll see who’s stronger.”
“You mean you can’t just tell them that? I mean, here.”
“Well, that’s just how diplomacy works. We’re no longer in the colonial era. We need to maintain a presence in the Special Region and keep building close ties with the locals, to avoid leaving causes for conflict behind. Now, we’re just going to focus on beefing up the pro-peace faction.”
As he said this, a CH-47A Chinook landed behind him.
The downwash from the rotors stirred the sand and dust into a storm.
As it touched down, the amount of dust it threw up blinded everyone nearby.
The rear loading ramp lowered, and 3rd Recon boarded the Chinook together at Sergeant Major Kuwabara’s order. Yanagida and the diplomats loaded the carts onto the Chinook.
They securely fastened the cargo inside the Chinook to make sure it would not move around in flight. After that, everyone sat on the seats lining the inside of the helicopter and fastened their seatbelts.
After ensuring that the diplomats were seated, Yanagida spoke to Itami.
“Then, I’ll leave the rest to you. Make sure they reach their destination safely.”
Itami raised a thumb.
The rotors picked up speed, and the dust flew again.
Yanagida got off the craft and the rear door closed. Then the Chinook took off.
And so, they flew toward the capital.
Arnus was about 10 days away from the capital by horse. By Chinook it would only take about half a day. However, in order to avoid people’s attention, they could not land too close to the city. In the end, they chose to land in the hills far away from the Capital, and walking from there to the Capital would take about one and a half days on foot.
Before she entered Arnus town, Yao heard the noise and looked up to see a boat passing over her head. Flying swords dancing in the sky, rods of steel, and now flying boats… with all these so close by, the men in green must be here, Yao thought as she entered the town.
1: Koshi no Kanchubai (越の寒中梅) is a brand of Japanese sake. You can find out more here: http://www.niigata-meijo.com/