Chapter 3-2

Proofreader: Rooker

It’s evening, Ken and Rine are currently engaged in lap-pillows and such, so I step outside the room. I already did it for the day and Ken won’t bug me anymore. He really is keen to get these WP.

What is that sound? It’s coming from the kitchen. Are the squirrels back? They should just give up, Rine isn’t an enemy they can take on.

Carefully I take a look, it’s Ara-san. She seems to be looking for something inside the cupboards. “What are you looking for?”

Ara-san turns around to me “Snacks.” She’s open about it. “There were supposed to be some in the delivery today, but I can’t find them.”

Seeing how slender all elves we met so far are, I think things like calories don’t bother them. “I put them on that wall cupboard.” Whenever I use the [Cook]-class, I can identify food and ingredients, so I already knew about these zuckies snacks. They are sweet, jellied branches, tender enough to eat them. “If they absorb some sunlight, they after-ripen.” Additionally, I can read some menus to how to prepare those meals.

In the case of the zuckies, I unpacked them, put them on a plate and left them somewhere, where they can absorb sunlight without being in the way.

“Do they? I heard they become poisonous with too much sunlight exposure.”

“Strange.” I take the plate and look at them. The after-ripen is still in process. How can they be poisonous, if they… A new window appeared. It’s poisonous for alfar, not for humans. “Sorry, my [Cook]-class didn’t consider you.”

“I see. But you’re able to switch that menu if you want.” She pauses and takes another look at the zuckies. “So humans can eat them after this decomposition process?”

“Yes, it’s supposed to become quite delicious.”

“I see. Good.”

“…What are you planning to do with them?”

“I want to give them Kenta-kun as a present.”

This seems wrong on so many levels. “Why?” Ara-san has clearly picked an interest in Ken, but while I thought, it’s only curiosity and the fact, that they got to know each other better in the course of the last two days, somehow I get the feeling, that there is more to it.

But it’s not the same kind of vibe I got when observing Aera’jos and Ara-san.

“I want to befriend him.”

“Again, why?” Objectively I should be glad for Ken, that finally there is someone who is willing to become his friend, but something in me rejects that idea. I think it’s called ‘common sense’. Who would willingly befriend someone like him?

He doesn’t even try to get along with anybody!

“He’s funny.”

“Fun to tease?”

“Ah, that’s a good expression.” I can’t read Ara-san’s face, but I think she might have realized something. “Yes, it’s funny to tease him. His reactions are always overboard and his eyebrows move in a strange way, which is captivating. Ah, yours are also moving!”

Of course they do, if I furrow them! It’s definitely curiosity, but I still don’t think, that this is everything.

Ara-san is someone I can’t read, neither her body language nor her intentions. She’s definitely different from other girls, maybe it’s because she’s an alfr. No, she seems to be a strange one among them as well. So she’s double-strange.

She may be on my side for now, but if things become complicated, she will surely turn. And since we were found by two of our classmates, regarding what Ken said, it has to have been Hoshibashi-kun and Yoshimura-kun, things are almost bound to become complicated.

Even though I can be glad it’s only those two losers, who knows what they’re capable of. Especially how things turned out with Masahiko-kun and the others, they might even think that they’re in the right.

And that’s why I have to befriend Ara-san. But she won’t let me.

Ironically, she wants to befriend Ken, so we’re in a line of unrequited friendship… wait. If I help Ara-san in befriending Ken, then my relationship to Ara-san becomes closer in the process. So it’s a win-situation.

“Kyou-san? Do you want to say something?”

“Please wait a moment.” Ara-san seems to be unsure what I’m thinking about. She can’t read my face either, so she doesn’t realize that I’m pondering.

My plan so far isn’t bad but has one fatal flaw. I have no idea how to befriend someone like Ken. Back in Japan, I couldn’t even get along with him and his hostile attitude towards everyone. I tried to be friendly to him up to some point, but any kind words were answered with snorting, grumbling, and malignant glances.

“I’ll help you, Ara-san!” I made my decision.

“With what?” Since there was such a pause, Ara-san lost the thread of the conversation.

“With your attempts to befriend Ken.” I still hold a grudge for his attitude back then. I couldn’t even collect a paper, without an arrogant grunt, which made every class president work which included him nerve-racking. This time, I will make him beg to become friends! With Ara-san that is, since the thought of me being friends with Ken is actually disturbing.

“Hm…” Ara-san is considering my offer. “Having a human as a support to befriend another human seems to be advantageous, but I’m worried about one thing.”

“What?” I have no idea what she means? Maybe she noticed my bad relationship with Ken?

“If a female human tells me, how to befriend a male one, wouldn’t it be through mating rituals? Even though it would definitely be effective, I would be troubled, if Kenta-kun jumped on me, releasing his human urges on my poor alfr body. I’m just a woman, you know?”

What is this girl talking about? In such a serious tone?

Well, considering Ken’s gaming habits, it shouldn’t surprise me, that he would jump an elf without a hint of hesitation, but why is Ara-san jumping into the conclusion, that I would give her advice on ‘mating rituals’.

Headache.

I hold my forehead. Even though it’s not a migraine, it almost feels like one. I need a new word for this kind of headache, since they occur more often after I met Ken again back in Esse.

 

―○●○―

 

“Please!” Rine’s big eyes are pleading me.

But I closed mine. “No!” With a rough nudge, I push Rine from my lap and stand up immediately, so she won’t have a way to return.

At least, if this wasn’t Rine. “Please!” Her foot hooks behind my ankle and with a shove to my shoulder, I’m pushed back on the bed again, and her blossom behind is already sitting again on my thighs.

“Phew, why are you asking me, while forcing me at the same time?”

“Hn?” Stop cocking your head, if you don’t have an answer!

And stop snuggling on me. So much body-contact tears me apart between lust and discomfort!

*Knock, knock*

Instead of a nudge, I literally throw Rine from my lap, while she was distracted by the sound. Now she lays on the floor and there is some water in her eyes.

I snort. “Come in please.”

As expected, only Ara-san would knock. She looks at me, at Rine on the floor, which is about to burst into tears, her behind still uplifted. “Sorry to disturb you. How long will one mating take?”

“Mating!?” Rine blushes and holds her cheeks, closes her eyes and began to drift off in the far realms of her imagination: “ah… he will see… but I want him to… stop, Kenta!”

Unsure if I’m about to yell, cry or sigh, I rub my face with both my hands, massaging the mixed emotions out. “Now is good.”

Ara-san blinks. “Kenta-kun, it may be a fetish of yours, but I’m not interested in the mating of humans.”

“And you never considered, that this might be different from what you think?” – “Ahn… Kenta, that’s embarrassing.” – “Let me rephrase it: I’m not in any kind of personal relationship with either Rine nor Kyou-san and don’t plan to be.”

“Then why did you insist on sharing a room?”

“Stuff.” I decided to not directly lie to Ara-san anymore. She’s too good to find flaws within it and it’s exhausting to explain too much to her.

“I see.” She flicks her ear.

“Why are you here in the first place? Didn’t we finished today’s interview?”

“I wanted to ask you if you like sweets.”

“…why?” Does she want to hand-feed me? Training me like some pet?

“To befriend you.”

… “Hah?” Is she still going about this? “Could you please stop trying to make friends with me?”

“It’s my decision to make the attempts and you only have to answer them.” What kind of logic is that? “Back to the question: Do you like sweets?”

I take a glance at Rine, who jumped ahead to a life with children. Headache. Ah, just treat Ara-san like the princess, the faster you answer them, the less annoying it will be. “…I eat them.” Well, I really love chocolate, but I don’t need to go into details.

“Good, so you eat them.” Ara-san turns around and leaves the room.

What was this about?

 

―○●○―

 

“What was this about?” I can only hold my head, as Ara-san returned to me after she went away to ask Ken if he even likes sweets.

“Didn’t you tell me, that I should consider his preferences before I should give him a gift?”

“Do you know the word ‘subtlety’?”

“Theoretically.”

“*sigh* And what did he say?”

“He eats them.”

“…Without any remarks?”

“He asked me to not make friends with him.”

“…that’s all?”

“Yes.”

… Back in school, there was an event…

‘Katsuragi, we want to prepare some snacks for the sports meet and we wanted to ask everyone for their preferences. Do you like sweets?’

‘…’

‘Katsuragi?’

‘…’

‘Katsuragi! Don’t ignore me!’

‘Stop bothering me. Just shut up and nag someone else!’

Besides ignoring me first, he was very rude and when I turned away to ask Yamaguchi-san next, I could clearly hear some sort of insult coming from him.

What is this difference in treatment!?

Maybe it’s because Ara-san is actually trying to befriend him? Maybe he changed due the whole ‘being in another world’-thing. Or maybe he has actually the hots for Ara-san. So many maybes, but seriously, whatever it is, it makes me angry.

“Kyou-san, why are you clenching your fist?”

“…no reason.” I change to a smile while forging my anger inside to something which will be used to make him pay for the things that happened. Including this world and our home world.

“So if he eats sweets, we can proceed with the plan.”

“He says, he eats them, so it’s not like he likes them. Food is generally hard to come by in this world since there are so many differences. Zuckies is something, I never heard about before, so I think there are none in our world.”

“You’re right, the fauna and flora are often quite different, there are only a few things in this world I know from Alfarheim. So you have to find replacements, if possible.”

“Is there a replacement for rice?”

“Please assume, that there is no specific plant from your world, that I know. I think our home worlds differed greatly in many aspects, so I’d be glad to hear more, but for now I like to set a plan up to make friends with Kenta-kun.”

She’s kinda stubborn. But at least it’s easier to talk to her, since I know one of her interests, even though I can’t possibly understand it. “Were there games in your world?”

“Like board games, leaf games, sports competitions, and such?”

“PC? Console? Electronic games?”

“These are unknown to me. Is that something Kenta-kun likes?”

“For better or worse.” For better, since it prepared him quite good for this fantasy world, for worst, since they’re sure at fault, that his personality turned out like that. There are always these kids that are too influenced by TV and games and stop even trying to be social.

I put one hand on my scarf. Liking something and being overly possessed by it are two different kinds of things.

Ara-san flicks her ear again. “So if I talk with him about these electronic games, he will be pleased?”

“…probably? At least he goes on and on and on if he has the chance to talk about them.” And it is boring. Telling me, how he had a character, which deals 50,000 damage per second, even though I have no idea, how much damage that actually is, relatively speaking, how he spent hours to get certain gear and… Oh my god, I actually listened to him. I’m sure that every word of his game prattle made me a bit dumber.

“Hm… Something else he likes to do?”

“Other than constantly complaining, whining, and falling into fits? Nothing as far as I know.” One of the problems we have is the fact, that I know nothing about Ken. I never asked him, since I’m not very interested in him.

I don’t even know his taste preferences since he silently gulps down everything I cook.

“But there are other ways to befriend him, Ara-san.”

“How?”

“Maybe you should reconsider your behavior toward him.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Ara-san, considering the last two days, I want to insist on one point. Humans aren’t sex-driven animals.”

“…this doesn’t make any sense.”

“It does.”

“Kyou-san, do you masturbate?”

This headache again. I rub my temples. “What does have this to do with it?” I will ‘not’ talk about my private habits with this woman!

“Everything.”

“Why?”

“Almost every intelligent species has certain time-conditioned mating cycles. Humans do not. Maybe sexual intercourse isn’t the only thing on your mind, but it has to be a very vital part of everyday human life. Since it’s something we alfar don’t have, it’s very interesting.”

“So to cut it short, you’re having fun.”

“Exactly.”

Ara-san is free-spirited. Considering the alfar I know, it might be an alfar trait. So this might be the reason, why I have so much trouble befriending her: I like to have some amount of control. So someone like her, who’s practically only bound to her whims, isn’t a good match to me.

I really thought, that Ara-san is more of an organized person and just bad at managing herself. Like taking work seriously, but being sloppy in housework.

So she’s much like Rine, but less predictable. Rine is caught by her emotions and these emotions are simple and direct, Ara-san is caught by her interests and these can be more complex than it might look.

For example, she definitely wants to befriend Ken, especially since he’s refusing. It picked her interest, how someone can be so strange like him and so she decided to take the course, which seems to be the most interesting.

Something just clicked within me. I think, I finally see a way to interact with Ara-san in a way, which will make us allies.

You can’t have enough friends in a fantasy world, but Ara-san, as a hero, is immune to my [Persuasion]-attribute. This just means I’ll just have to use my cunning.

“Ara-san, let’s move the talk to your room.”

“Why?”

“Because we need to talk a lot. Especially about you. In our world there is a saying: If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles.”

“Do I have to fight him? Well, I already heard about-”

I cut in. “It’s a proverb. We already know about Ken a bit, but for further planning, it’d be ideal to know about you as well. Then we can make a strategy.”

“But I know myself already.”

“And I know how humans work. So we need to share.”

Ara-san seems to be skeptical, but complies. The moment girls are gathered in a private room, they will begin to chat and gossip. Nobody is safe from a pajama party!

 

―○●○―

 

I grunt. That’s natural since I had to wrestle with Rine while explaining her, why she still can’t sleep in the same bed as Kyou-san and me, she totally doesn’t believe, that she’s a murderous machine while asleep, despite having the proof of dead squirrel bodies.

At the end, I couldn’t convince her to accept it, but at least she will sleep in the other bed again. So tomorrow we’ll have to have that conversation again…

I really have problems with types like that. Even though I could only realize it by spending time with Rine. I’m so glad, that there was never a person like her to deal with before, though I would be even happier if I’d never met her.

Well, at least she contributes to the party. Kyou-san does as well, to be fair, but mostly outside of battle. Not much, but she does.

If they were some nameless player characters, I could better deal with them, but this isn’t a game and everyone got a real personality and if you’re not a fictional character, it’s not set in stone. Sometimes someone will do something completely out of character for reasons I can’t even imagine. There is much more going on in the inside of a person than what you can see.

If Rine would always be happy and clingy, then it wouldn’t be that hard. OK, it would still be annoying as hell, but her spurs of insight and attempts to obtain what she wants by any means are throwing me off.

Oh well. I think, that the me that thinks a bit fondly of the now asleep Rine is also out of character. Or maybe I’m about to burst again since her sleeping breaths are turning me on and make me imagine some scenarios, which are R-rated.

I need Kyou-san. She’s the one, who can kill any amorous feeling I have and seriously, it’s time to sleep and I want neither miss out the WP for sleeping next to each other nor a lack of sleep because I waited for her.

For safety purposes, I check her status, but it’s good. No damage, no conditions, everything as it should be, so she should probably be alright. Man, maybe it’d be better to get the radar first, before the XP-bonus in the WP-store. But I want that bonus, the earlier you get it, the more it’ll bring.

Since I have no radar to check, I better look for her myself. I use [Sneak], since I don’t want to trigger Rine’s self-defense mechanism and open the door.

First I’ll check the study Kyou-san used with Rine for research. Books and scripts are laying out on one table, while two of the four desks were cleaned and free. I take a book and yes, I can’t read the letters. It’s the same script as the ones I saw before. Ah, there is a piece of paper, written in Japanese. Notes.

Five different basic types of curses: Inherit, obsessive, parasite, smoldering, and extra-dimensional. Most cursed items are parasite… Kyou-san can be diligent. Perfect notes, at least if you’re taking them in class. Would be horrible to use them for learning, but considering that she more or less just copies from the books, it’s fine. She even wrote them in Japanese, maybe so I can read them as well?

Nah, it’s Kyou-san after all. Maybe it just happened without her noticing. I don’t know how this whole translation process works, so I better don’t interpret anything here.

How about Rine? Ah, I can’t read her notes. But Rine takes notes? This is unexpected.

But I should keep looking for Kyou-san. Maybe in the kitchen? Not there either. The study Ara-san and I used? Nope. Bathroom and toilet? No one inside. So no obvious choices… Better I ask Ara-san before I jump into conclusions.

Her room was… I think this one. I knock. No answer.

Seriously, I don’t have time for this. I open the door, it’s clearly not Ara-san’s room. It’s an untidy one, which might be a study as well. With my [Darkvision] I can see multiple creatures hiding in the shadows: the panda-squirrels, which are staring at me full of hostility, sure that I won’t be able to detect them.

I slowly close my door. My backpack is still in my room, so I can’t throw a stink bomb inside, to chase them out. Maybe the squirrels are planning their next step to overcome Rine and I surely hope, that they won’t try to kidnap any of us to blackmail Rine.

But man, why am I so cautious of squirrels!?

For starters, I return to my room and check, if Kyou-san returned. But she’s still not back, so I start to look into the other rooms, knocking first and then taking a look.

*Knock, knock*

“Come in.” Finally.

The door opens by an invisible hand and I see Ara-san in one of Kyou-san’s self-styled pajama, sitting next to the Japanese girl on the bed.

Somehow I get the feeling, that I’m not supposed to be here.

But I don’t care: “Kyou-san, it’s late. Come.”

Kyou-san rolls her eyes and looks at Ara-san, whose left ear-point is standing up and the right sideways. “Sorry, Arako.”

“Don’t worry, Momo.”

What the hell is going on here? This newfound familiarity is only slightly annoying to me, but my instincts are telling me, that I should be careful.

…instincts? When did I drop to the ‘woman’s intuition’-level? I start to think like Kyou-san!

“You may keep the pajama. Let’s talk more tomorrow.”

“With pleasure. Good night, Momo, Kenta-kun.”

“Good night, Arako.”

Without even waving my hand, I turn around and wait for Kyou-san to leave the room. The door closed automatically, like always when Ara-san is around.

“’Arako’!?”

“She asked me about Japanese culture.”

“Could it be, that you’re trying to brainwash her?” Kyou-san is looking at me as if I had just told her, how wet water was. “You’re serious trying to brainwash her?”

“It’s called ‘to befriend someone’, something you’re not familiar with, so you may think of it as brainwashing, but it’s all about socializing. Ah, since this is a foreign word for you as well, let me explain it to you like this: You can actually be nice to others and they treat you kind in return.”

Why does she sound, like she’s presenting me the best concept of the century?

I already know that she thinks of me as stupid, but I only care about it, when she’s pretentious like this.

So let’s return that ‘kindness’. “You know, there is another concept. If someone is entirely useless and leeches of the efforts of others, be it in combat prowess, XP-acquiring or other matters, while completely relying on the fact, that it’s impossible to get rid of said person, it’s called ‘parasite’. And if she’s constantly nagging, complaining and slandering, it’s called a ‘bitch’. And if someone is never grateful for everything someone else did for her, it’s called ‘unthankful’. If someone is doing all three, you may call it an ‘unthankful bitch parasite’. But excuse me, you’re more than familiar with things like this, right Kyou-san?”

Our glances strike sparks. We walk into our room without any other word, just trying to kill the other with eye contact only.

“…hn…” Rine moves, her head turns our way, her eyes only half-closed. She’s in sleeping murderer mode and about to draw her sword.

Geez! She really picks up any hostile intent around her, even if it’s not directed at her.

Kyou-san slaps my shoulder two times, gives the sleep-murdering Rine a smile and lay down on our bed. “Phew.” That girl can really change gears fast.

But Rine is slowly closing her eyes again, satisfied with what she saw.

Just forget it for today and go to sleep.

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