「Well, this time you let me take it easy, so I’ll treat you this time.」
「You’re only treating me cheap booze, though.」
「That’s rich coming from someone who’s already drunk so much of it.」
「Excuse me, one more ale over here!」
The First Prince of Avalon glares at the blonde man, who is raising his tankard high and ordering another round.
But like he said, he acknowledges that this man, his party member and his close friend, Kai Est Galbraith, is largely responsible for suppressing the Orcs on the highway.
Incidentally, Sharl and Safi have now realized that he can survive their super-sadistic friendly fire.
One of Nero’s hidden intentions was to not get caught up in that himself.
In any case, Nero has no qualms with paying for the drinks, even if Kai throws up or passes out on the toilet. He intends to let him drink as much as he wants.
With that said, he has no intentions of dealing with him once he does get overly drunk.
While thinking these things, takes a mouthful of his bitter, over-carbonated drink.
「Oh yeah, the Blue Rose of the Great Library. Whatever happened with that girl?」
After tensing for a fraction of a moment, Nero glares at his companion again.
「Nothing happened with her, and damn that Safi, going around telling people such unnecessary things.」
「Who cares? For you to get rejected is pretty rare. Actually, it was the first time I've heard about it happening.」
Kai only ever thinks about battle and swords, so it is rare for him to be bringing up the topic of women.
Even that time when Nero rescued the beautiful noblewomen of Fauren from a slave trader, riding in like a shining knight on a white horse, they had approached him with passion. But, as if thinking,「this happens all the time」, he had shown no interest in them.
That is exactly why Kai’s blue eyes gleam with curiosity; for Nero to be treated indifferently by women is very rare.
Nero is even under the influence of alcohol, so having this story of his unrequited love being repeated is not only traumatic, but Kai is being completely heartless by bringing it up.
But as a topic of conversation, he had no hesitation in discussing it.
「The Blue Rose is such an exaggerated nickname – No, I guess it’s not an exaggeration. Anyhow, it’s nothing to make a rumor about. I just showed her around the Great Library, and that’s probably when the rumor started.」
「Oh, you showed her around!」
「Well yes, I did.」
He had also gotten ahead of himself and showed her the section with forbidden books, but he was not going to tell Kai that.
Though Kai is trustworthy and reliable in battle, he is still an idiot, so Nero has large doubts about his ability to keep secrets.
「Though, Blue Rose-chan seems like she’d completely ignore a guy calling out to her.」
「In my case she just wanted someone to show her around, so I was just lucky.」
Kai is looking at him like he wants to ask him more about it, so Nero continues talking.
「Those were the eyes of a woman who has no interest in men whatsoever.」
「Is she a lesbian?」
「I’m surprised you even know what that word means.」
「I heard it from Safi.」
「That girl... Seriously, I should do something about her already...」
「Nell probably knows what it means, too.」
「Okay, I’ll have to give her a serious talk tomorrow.」
Nero makes a mental note to himself to get rid of the party member who has been tainting his pure, innocent younger sister.
「By the way, hasn’t it been really noisy since just a while ago?」
When loud voice that was the source of the noise first started shouting, Nero had taken one look and decided not to get involved.
But the man’s voice is becoming more heated and loud to the point it is impossible to ignore, even in this busy bar.
「Should I go and shut him up?」
Kai makes a suggestion with a mischievous smile on his face. He is probably happy that there is a convenient excuse to fight.
「I’d be glad to leave it to you, but...」
Nero looks again at the man arguing with the staff over something about drinks.
Nero instantly estimates how strong the man is based on his physique, equipment, behavior and the magical energy he can feel through his sixth sense.
「No way. If I let you do it, that guy’s gonna die for sure.」
Unlike his sister Nell, Kai is the kind of person who never holds back, so a normal human would not stand a chance against a fist thrown with that superhuman strength.
「Looks like not bringing Sharl has its disadvantages, too.」
At times like these, the tomboyish Third Princess of Spada would have no problem in dealing with such a troublesome task – rather, she would gladly be rushing in to get herself involved.
And since she knows how to hold back, unlike Kai, there would be no worry that she would accidentally kill him.
Though, she would likely beat him to within an inch of death. Or, she would cause him to die in a different way – socially.
But it is too late to regret not bringing her now.
Well, something foolish like sneaking out of the camp to drink is something that only men would do.
So unless one had some ulterior motive, there would be no reason to invite the girls to an event like this.
「So what are you gonna do about it?」
「I’ve got no choice but to go myself, right.」
「Oh! Good luck!」
Nero stands up with a heavy sigh, wearing an expression that tells how much he does not want to have to do this. Kai raises his ale and goes into relaxed spectating mode as he sends his friend off to do the work.
「Oi Mister, shut the hell up already, you’re making my booze taste bad!」
From his words and expression, it is clear to everyone why the First Prince of Avalon is so angry.
The reason is because he has to carry out the tiresome task of stepping up to stop this noisy man.
「Uh, y-you, can’t be... Nero Julius Elroad...」
Indeed, Nero does not make the effort to introduce himself as the First Prince of Avalon, as a certain other prince would do.
But once people realize that he is of royal lineage, things become simpler.
「I don’t care who’s coming, but if you can’t just drink quietly you should get out of here, you got it?」
Giving a command rather than a warning, he does not need to do something like introduce himself.
Faced with Nero’s title, strength and the intimidating presence of his deep crimson eyes, the noisy plump man had no choice but to nod his head.
As he resolves the problem and begins walking back to his seat –
「GAHAHA! ‘Scuse me!」
The Guild’s sturdy front door is blown off its hinges and a huge, red figure appears in the doorway.
He has a shaved head and his skin is a reddish-brown from head to toe, looking like polished copper.
With a height easily over two meters and covered in a layer of thick muscles, he has an overwhelming presence that towers over everyone like a burning castle wall.
With a horn thicker and more impressive than a Unicorn’s, he looks like an evil, bare-footed demon that walked straight out of Hell.
He is a red Orc so fearsome that if he were to be encountered in a dungeon, even skilled adventurers would flee without hesitation. But fortunately, he is an adventurer himself.
As if he has just come back from a quest, the white monster fur of his light armor is slightly stained.
And the most fearsome thing is that in his right hand, he is holding a mace – no, an iron club, as thick as a man’s torso.
「Oh, it’s quiet as a funeral in here, what’s the matter?」
「Your errand boy here’s been causing a lot of trouble, so how about you give us an apology for not disciplining him properly, Gustav-san of the『Iron Demon Brigade』?」
In the face of Gustav, the red Orc with overwhelming physique and strength who leads the Rank 5 party, the『Iron Demon Brigade』, Nero says this with a completely cool face.
「Ah, what was that, kid? You complainin’ about my lot?」
「Kid, did you call me?」
The sound of Nero furrowing his eyebrows can almost be heard.
「I don’t think I need to introduce myself.」
「Gahaha, sorry kid, I can’t read the writin’ on those tiny Guild Cards.」
It is not a provocation or an insult; he is not concerned at all about trivial things about names, and he laughs it off.
Nero’s response to that is to give a small sigh, and his face returns to his original listless expression.
「Alright, who I am isn’t really important. Anyway, are you going to apologize for the trouble that guy’s caused, or not?」
「Oh, what’s he talkin’ about, Nachim? You said we’ll be drinking.」
The servant called Nachim immediately answered his question.
「I’m sorry boss! I was trying to order an amount that you’d be satisfied with, but the Guild doesn’t want to give out enough, and the negotiations got heated... And then this... Adventurer gentleman... Came and shouted at me for being too loud.」
Seeing Nachim pathetically getting on his knees and giving his boss a version of events that portrays himself as the victim, Nero gets a sudden urge to unsheathe his sword.
But he exercises the self-control that is expected of a prince that governs the people, and his right hand’s fingers stop twitching.
「So it’s this kid who started the argument after all, so shouldn’t you be apologizin’ instead?」
Gustav is wearing an expression that suggests that he would forgive everything if Nero were to simply say「I’m sorry.」
Nero gave another small – no, deep sigh, then starts speaking.
「I see, I understand now –」
As he speaks, he detaches his sword and its sheath from his waist and throws it behind him without looking back.
「Oi Nero! It’s unfair for only you to –」
His friend catches his sword for him.
「Looks like we’ll have to settle this the adventurers’ way to see who’s right.」
「Gahaha, you can’t swallow what you’ve already spat out, kid!」
Nero is smiling fearlessly, while Gustav is wearing an expression of pure joy.
「I have’n managed to run into that “something-ago*,” and I have’n even run into any normal monsters these days, so I’ve gotta lotta strength built up. I don’ think I can hold back properly, y’know?」
With a loud sound as if the floor is being crushed, he rests the end of his iron club on the ground.
From that sound, it is clear that the iron club is just as heavy – no, heavier than it looks and he waves it around with just one arm. So everyone has some idea of just how strong Gustav is.
「Don’t worry about it, I’m not good at holding back either.」
「GAHAHAHA! That’s some good spirit you got there, kid!」
It seems Gustav is finally getting serious, but Nero does not flinch at all.
「Hold onto this」, Gustav tells Nachim as he pushes the club’s handle towards him and takes a step forward.
The Orc is already full of fighting spirit, deaf to his servant’s cries for help as he is crushed by the weight of the club.
He is also deaf to the excited voices of the adventurers waiting in anticipation of what comes next.
The「Adventurer’s way」that Nero suggested to settle the dispute is basically –
「Here I go!」
With a roar terrifying enough to cause the weak-hearted to faint, Gustav throws his boulder-like fist at Nero.
It is common knowledge that Nero has any number of ways to overcome the difference in physical strength and size by using magic, but it is also common knowledge that it is not that simple.
Nero lacks physical strength, so everyone wonders how much magic he will use to deal with the Orc’s straight punch.
Or perhaps his calm demeanor is nothing but a bluff, and he is about to be sent flying.
These thoughts briefly pass through the minds of the adventurers in the Guild, who have now become spectators.
But they were wrong on both guesses. Nero knows he does not need to use any magic, and he is about to demonstrate why.
「First technique – Flow –」
Facing a fist that would pulverize his skull in a single blow, Nero, thinking to practise his technique, calmly murmurs this.
And in the next instant, the Orc’s body is in mid-air.
As if he is doing a huge leap of his own will, he flies across the air in a parabola-shaped path.
But his flight through the air does not last even a second.
Gustav lands belly-first on a table full of food and bottles, his prized horn burying itself into the wood.
A deafening crash echoes through the bar, and afterwards, everyone is watching in complete silence.
Though, the silence is to be expected. They have just witnessed an unbelievable scene that nobody expected – Nero sending Gustav into the air with one hand.
「The Ancient Jujutsu... An interesting technique you got there.」
The one who breaks the silence is Gustav, the main cause of the silence itself.
Walking lightly and trying to act as if he had merely accidentally fallen over, he takes a guess at what technique Nero used.
「You’re surprisingly knowledgeable, aren’t you?」
Perhaps Gustav’s title of Rank 5 is not just for show.
Nero’s single throwing technique – no, he redirected his foe’s strength, and it would not be accurate to call it a throwing technique. In any case, he is genuinely impressed that Gustav figured out what technique it is from just that.
The Ancient Jujutsu, as its name suggests, is a hand-to-hand martial art with a long history, passed on since ancient times.
Said to have been learned even by the ancient Demon Lord Mia Elroad, its name is famous, but the techniques can only be inherited by a certain few of Avalon royalty.
Nero only showed off a single, minor technique and Gustav guessed it correctly, so at the very least, he is definitely knowledgeable when it comes to fighting.
Though, Nero said this with a cool expression, not even raising an eyebrow, so it is unknown to everyone whether his praise is sarcastic.
「Ah, sorry, sorry, I underestimated you. I couldn’ tell if your Guild Card was Silver or Mythril –」
The air of pressure given off by Gustav’s towering figure increases even more.
It is not just Nero’s imagination; it is the true manifestation of Gustav’s fighting spirit.
「So it’s the Mythril Plate after all...」
「So this time come at me properly, without holding back.」
Those words have no sarcasm in them; Nero is fully aware that Gustav held back a lot of his strength in his first attack.
It seems that contrary to his appearance, this Orc has the sense and kindness to hold back his strength when he needs to.
「GAHAHA, to meet such an interestin’ kid, I’m so damn lucky!」
「To start off with, my name is Nero, make sure you remember it –」
And so, a true battle between two Rank 5 fighters with nothing held back begins.