“Stop it already!! Please stop!!”
Inside the Jewel’s conference room, I was curled up on the floor with both hands over my ears.
No matter how much I screamed or submitted, there was no sign of it stopping.
The villainy of these six.
The Fifth was just looked over the others with a fed-up look on his face.
『As I thought, the best one has to be the 『Kiss the Sleeping Beauty』, you know.』
The Third was standing in front of a blackboard, picking out the interesting events from my recent Growth.
Gathered around it were the Second through Seventh, and they were arguing and exchanging opinions to decide what was this times greatest achievement.
The Fourth agreed with that proposal.
『Right. Lyle’s actions this time around of giving his first kiss to an automaton win this race by a landslide.』
The Second brought up an objection.
『It’s hard to rule out his words of love to Novem-chan. That questionable expression she had on her face as she tried to calm him down… don’t you think it was wonderful?』
The Sixth spoke.
『I think him scaling the wall, and crashing and burning posed with bug in hand was quite a splendid piece too.』
Remembering the scene, the Third burst into laughter.
『This time was a plentiful harvest. What was that about not making the same mistake twice? At this rate, how about we just hold a 『Best Lyle Award』 each time?』
The Seventh looked at me, and spoke.
『Lyle, those with the outstanding talent to make others laugh with their Growths to this extent are quite hard to come by, you know.』
I’m sure he was trying to console me, but it wasn’t working at all.
I’m sure all these guys were sitting back, and watching the scene in laughter.
Why did I give such a consecutive stream of failures… even if I try thinking hard about it, I can’t reach an answer.
“I can’t go on. I’m never going out again. Ever!”
As I said that, a fed up Fifth spoke.
『You’re making too big a deal of simple laughter. More importantly, can we get into the main topic now?』
The Third stopped him.
『Please wait! Just a little more time to decide Best Lyle please!』
The Fourth spoke, while having his glasses catch the light.
I hate these guys.
『I don’t think his emphasis on eating Shannon up at the end should be ignored too easily. Well, there’s also the fact that the Fifth and Sixth were too conscious about it.』
The Fourth’s eye shifted to the Fifth and Sixth.
The Fifth remained calm, and the Sixth folded his arms with a foul expression on his face.
After Miranda-san returned, there weren’t any notable changes.
Regarding Shannon, she requested that we leave it to her.
With the understanding that there would be a heated sister to sister talk, we entrusted her to it.
From my point of view, it seems I didn’t have to do something like smashing her eyes, so there wasn’t a problem.
“By eat, I didn’t mean it in such a suggestive…”
As I resisted, the Second and Third…
『Hmm, so what sort of feelings did you have then?』
『I’d like to hear it, just how you felt at that time.』
『『Now, out with it, Lyle!!』』
“You guys are the worst! If you know what’s going on, then stop me! And wait, please stop me, grandfather! No, gramps!”
When I looked over at the Seventh, I found him covering his mouth, and hitting against the table.
Did I say something funny? Just looking at him is irritating.
But these recent actions were none other than my own, so I have nothing to say about them.
Letting out a sigh, the Fifth finally stepped in to end the flow.
(And wait, hasn’t it been a bit too long? I get the feeling these guys have been at it for at least two hours…)
While thinking he should have stopped them early, I turned to face him.
『Are you satisfied yet? Well, decide your Best Lyle Award or whatever on your own time. First, let’s talk about that automaton.』
The one I kissed to register myself as its master. The bad mouthed maid Automaton.
At Damien’s laboratory, she’s currently being asked, and investigated on for various things.
If you’re asking what I don’t like about that, it’s that she elaborately recorded the details of my conversation, and she was treating them as an official record.
Damien, you bastard… not letting a single phrase past, he was passionately intending to use my conversation with the automaton in his thesis and further experiments.
And the high-spirited me gave permission for that.
By this point, there’s no doubt he’s gathered all the necessary data.
(If I tell him it’s no good tomorrow, it definitely won’t get through his head.)
The number gathered students and professors in the laboratory wasn’t to be laughed at.
To Damien, it was nothing but a means for him to increase his funding, but if you think carefully about it, it was a revolutionary breakthrough.
I had been thinking too lightly about the fact that an ancient automaton had awoken.
Damien Valle… he may be a pervert, but he’s truly a genius.
『Well, it’s not good to just leave her to Novem, but if you just think of it as having our number of helpers increase, there’s no real problem. The main issue is how to maintain it.』
I asked Damien, and apparently, we would generally get maintenance free of charge.
But that ‘generally’ part made me curious.
And having returned to his serious expression, the Seventh informed me.
(You’re late, gramps.)
『The truth is, Lyle… your Mana is being robbed by a source apart from us. Apart from the Mana used to charge the First’s 【Full Burst】 Skill, it seems that a new line has been created.』
“A new line?”
At the fact that my Mana was being taken, I tilted my head.
I didn’t feel anything like that.
The Second spoke.
『Your Mana has increased as a whole, so that’s good and all… but you’re constantly having a fixed amount extracted from you. The burden on your shoulders has increased. And so, we’ve done a bit of thinking on our part.』
The Third took over.
『We’ve reached the conclusion that the toxic maid is definitely suspicious! No~ for you to have gotten something that sucks it the moment your Mana increased, I guess you’ve got a talent of sorts, Lyle.』
The Sixth agreed.
『While you may be able to use a greater amount of Mana than before, if you use it too frequently, you’ll run dry before you know it.』
The Fourth brought it together.
『I’m not sure if it’s always a fixed sum drained out, or this is just the average… it will be messy from here on.』
It seems I may have picked up quite an extraordinary toxic maid.
The Mana that had finally increased was going towards maintaining that automaton’s function?
(No, perhaps it’s the Mana that’s being maintained? By that thing?)
I’m suspicious about whether or not she will do her work properly, but the Mana steal is the greater problem.
I thought I would finally be able to fight freely with magic, but that plan has gone amiss.
“So does that mean I just have to fight with the same style as always? After going through such an embarrassing Growth, the restrictions on my magic haven’t even been lifted…”
As I was getting depressed, the Fifth spoke.
『Ah, let me add this on, but Lyle… your use of Skills will be restricted for a while.』
I lifted my face to match his.
He didn’t seem to be joking.
The Sixth continued on.
『Your Skill 【Experience】is perpetually active, so there’s no helping it, but the other Skills will be completely restricted.』
The Seventh agreed.
『We’ll be personally restricting them, so you really will be unable to use them in the truest sense. Please act with that in mind. Oh, the Firsts as well. That large sword is…』
The Second spoke up.
『You’re forbidden from using that sword. For a while, you should persevere as an adventurer with your own power.』
“U-um, I’m really not sure what’s…”
As I was unsure of what was happening, the Third continued on.
They were the conditions for me to be able to use Skills.
『If you defeat the thirtieth basement floor’s boss, and return to the guild… if you’re able to do that, then we will let you use Skills once more. Oh, we’ll still offer advice, so don’t worry.』
Rather than you guys’ advice, the Skill usage is… I swallowed those words, and looked around.
Everyone had earnest expressions.
The Fourth explained.
『No matter how you look at it, with just the Skills, your current state would be able to transcend the ranks of first rate adventurers. With them, you were able to conquer the fortieth floor of a labyrinth with only six.』
Normally, a party of fifty would challenge it, and barely get by, but we were able to do it with six.
“You’re saying that’s bad?”
The Seventh went ahead and spoke.
『There’s no problem with using Skills. It’s not bad to use what talent you have on hand. Up to a point, that is.』
The Second told me.
『You haven’t grown in the slightest on our own. Not that sort of Growth, but growth in the truest sense. Whenever something happens, you turn to rely on the Skills. If you continue on like that, your Mana will run out, or perhaps a Growth will happen again, and you’ll be forced to retire from the front lines. When that happens, what will you do?』
I could imagine it quite simply.
The moment I became unable to move, the party would cease functioning.
In the worst case, we would be annihilated while waiting for me to recover.
A party that relied on my Skills could birth such dangers merely through my absence.
The Third talked on.
『It’s completely fine to use Skills. But with this many, there will definitely be a problem at some point. When you accept a request beyond your own ability, your troubles will merely increase. Before something like that happens, you and Novem-chan and Aria-chan have to polish yourselves. I think this is the time for that.』
The ancestors that had been teasing my up to now were all seriously thinking for my sake.
(So this is what Damien was talking about.)
I nodded, and swore to clear the thirtieth level without Skills.
Until then, I would be limited to what I had on myself.
And the Third…
『Now then, that’s out of the way, so the next pressing matter is… The Best Lyle goes to kissing the sleeping beauty! Any objections?』
The Second spoke up.
『Objection! You’re forgetting her ignoring his words of love!』
『It’s hard to say which of the two is better, but I’m leaning towards the sleeping beauty.』
The Fifth was…
『That one had quite a bit of impact. Surpassing it is going to be difficult.』
『Sliding posed with a bug in hand. It would be troublesome if you forgot that!』
『As expected of the Walt House’s child prodigy… for him to trouble us to this extent!』
All of them…
『『『I’ll be waiting for your next growth, Walt House wonder child!!』』』
They said that with smiles.
“Stop finding entertainment in this!!”
I definitely don’t think I’m at fault for screaming there.
… Late at night.
Having been released from the depths of the Jewel, I exited to the yard, sat in a bench, and looked up at the night sky.
When I got some water in the kitchen, the face that was reflected in the mirror was quite haggard.
“So they’ve pressed me this far… god dammit.”
The past I wanted to forget had become important research data for the academy.
I thought I had fallen for myself time and again. Just what sort of wind could have driven me to think in such a way?
Thinking about it didn’t produce an answer.
“It would be nice if I could go back to the past.”
As I let that out of my mouth, I saw Novem approaching the bench.
“What’s wrong, Lyle-sama? Are you having trouble sleeping?”
A worried Novem was in her pajamas.
I thought she was cute, but at the same time, I was forced to remember my kiss with that toxic maid.
I wanted my first kiss to be Novem.
“I want to disappear already…”
“Ah~ is it about today? There was no helping it. Everyone feels that uplifting sensation. It’s just that it came out quite remarkably for you, Lyle-sama.”
Even if she tries consoling me, it doesn’t change the facts that my lips were stolen.
“It will never come back…”
“My first kiss will never come back to me! I want to beat the crap out of the me of that time!”
As I said that, Novem’s face became troubled.
Why must Novem be troubled? Am I not enough, I thought as I got myself even more unnecessarily depressed.
“Can we not count it? I mean, I heard it was to a doll.”
“That one’s ridiculously human, so I can’ bring myself to think of it that way, and that toxicity is definitely going to break my heart. If I wasn’t in such high tensions, I would have definitely had my heart fold in onto itself.”
Even remembering it now, it was a fearsome ancient automaton.
Why would the people of old create such a malicious maid?
(Did those ancients have a pervert surpassing Damien’s level? … I don’t really want to think about it.)
“Also I… won’t be able to use Skills for a while. It’s kinda like everything is happening to me at once, and I don’t think my heart can take it.”
As I said that, Novem sat down beside me, and gripped my hand.
Looking up at the sky, she spoke.
“Can I ask why you can’t use Skills?”
“Eh, ah well… at this rate, I’ll become no good, and I want to become able to defeat the thirtieth floor’s boss with my own ability at least once.”
It’s not like the ancestors ever actually told me I would become no good.
A worried Novem could take my foolish notions to be an illness, fasten me to a bed, and nurse me… wouldn’t that be fine?
No, that’s no good. I have to become the breadearner, and let Novem live a quiet life… it would be nice if I could do that.
Seeing me become faint hearted, Novem spoke.
“Just a little. I’ve become a little jealous. Hearing that Lyle-sama’s first kiss was taken by an automaton… is that strange of me?”
Hearing that, I stood up, and grasped both of her shoulders.
“I-it’s not strange at all! I’m happy! I’m delighted, Novem!”
“I-is that so?”
Seeing me in high spirits, Novem looked puzzled.
The fact that she became jealous for me must mean that she was a little interested in me, or so I reassured myself.
It’s fine… Novem hasn’t given up on me yet, right?
“I… want to kiss Novem.”
As I said that, her face was flushed red.
She quietly closed her eyes, lifted her chin a little, and assumed a pose exceedingly easy to kiss.
My heart let out a thumping sound in my chest.
Under the beautiful moonlit night sky, me and Novem…
『I’m delighted, Novem!』
『My heart will break~』
『My first kiss will never come back to me!!』
『I wish I could return to the past was the defining factor.』
『So he’s even at that level when he’s in his normal state… I think you’re taking a turn for the worse, Lyle.』
“Quit screwing with me, you guys!!”
And on another day, the words from that time were reliable used as fuel to tease me. By these ancestors, my psych was being beaten black and blue.
What should I do… I think it’s about time to toss this Jewel away.