TL: Delay due to a combination of midterms, game day, and homework. In other news, ToS second beta, hooray.
Preparations to Conquer
“Ye~ah, how about something like this?”
Making modifications to Porter, me and Poyopoyo looked over it with the intentions of putting him together for real this time.
But no matter what, we weren’t able to decide on the important finishing touch.
“That’s a little… how about something like this?”
Poyopoyo was also worried. She was hard pressed on the completion of the machine she called the fruits of our love, and thus, she presented ideas alongside me.
The ancestors within the Jewel also gave their fifty cents.
『Oy, oy, are you really sure about putting it there? The balance will definitely be off.』
In contrast to his usual self, the Third sounded serious.
『No, how about the opposite side? Even if looking at it gives a sense of discomfort, taking the balance of the whole body into consideration…』
The Fourth spoke.
『… Wouldn’t it usually just go in the middle? I can’t have it any other way.』
The Fifth, who usually didn’t hold a shred of interest, was also serious.
『Hey, Lyle… put on some cat ears. That will definitely make it cuter.』
The Sixth opposed him.
『What are you on about!? It’s horns, you know. Horns! Lyle, a man has got to put on horns!』
The Seventh took the middle ground.
『Just randomly stick on some horns, or ear-like things. What’s important is for it to have clear eyes!』
The round cylinder in my hands had two clear, lovable eyes stuck onto it. Poyopoyo had embedded orbs of glass into them.
We couldn’t decide the placement of the head.
Within the warehouse, Aria, who had recently become much manlier, looked over us with a sigh.
I know she’s fed up. But after coming this far, there’s no way we would forgive erring on the last detail.
With a tired tone, Aria opened her mouth.
“Do you even need a head? It’s just an ornament, isn’t it? Then just stick it somewhere suitable.It’s not even essential in the first place, right?”
She was sound.
She wasn’t wrong.
And that’s exactly where she was wrong.
Poyopoyo laughed scornfully, before speaking.
“For the current you, are those breasts of yours not a useless ornament as well? Recently, you’ve become more and more manly, former baron house Aria-san.”
She put her hand to her mouth, and raised an annoying laugh that sounded like she was intonating it on purpose.
I looked at Aria with all earnesty.
“Aria, we’re serious here. I’d like it if you didn’t get in the way.”
I heard affirming voices from the Jewel.
『Shut it, girly!』
『Cat ears… horns are denied, but ears may be nice.』
『With appearance, playing it safe is best! Make it lovable, and have it earn some popularity. Don’t do anything unnecessary!』
『Rabbit ears are nice too.』
『Why are horns no good…』
『No, why not just simply keep it at where you have it now? If you awkwardly stick on horns and ears, its adoring eyes won’t stand out any more.』
… No, I was wrong.
Besides the Second, none of them were even listening to Aria.
I tried to follow up with her. I was starting to find her a little pitiable. Of course, I doubt she thought of herself like that at all.
She was currently glaring at Poyopoyo with a vein surfacing on her forehead.
“… I’m sorry, Aria. But we’re earnestly worrying about it here. This is important for Porter… for our new comrade.”
Poyopoyo looked at me, raised her hands into the air, and started hopping up and down. Her twin tails lightly floated into the air.
“Yes, yes! I, here, am also a member of the chicken dickhead’s merry amazoness legion! I’m everyone’s soothing maid automaton! So I think my name is also an essential point!”
This time, Aria laughed in scorn.
“Hah, isn’t Poyopoyo just fine, you piece of junk?”
Poyopoyo looked at her.
“So you picked a fight with me… so be it. I’ll more than take you up. From today onwards, your meals will be nothing but high calorie. I’ll gradually increase your body mass, and make you overly conscious of it. What’s more, I’ll even secretly prepare midnight snacks to sooth your anxiety. I’ll earnestly put myself to making delicious sweets for you!”
I tilted my head wondering if that would actually do anything.
When I looked at Aria’s eyes, I found her making a bitter expression.
The Second spoke.
『It’s that. Aria’s been feeling up lately.』
“That’s damn unfair!”
Poyopoyo smiled. It was a detestable grin.
And I thought.
(This one… she can even make an expression like that. Praise be to the ancients.)
Poyopoyo lifted up one of her tails idly, as she spoke.
“Unfair? Are you trying to praise me? For that bastard over there, I’ll use any means at my disposal! … Ow!”
I struck her head with Porter’s. It let out quite a fine sound.
“Don’t be making it my fault. More importantly, where will Porter’s head…”
“How about that area right there? You can’t just incessantly mull over it forever…”
Both me and Poyopoyo looked at the end of Aria’s finger in shock.
“Nice, you’re amazing, Aria! With this, the location of Porter’s head has been set in stone. Thank you.”
When I directed a smile at her, her face became conflicted. Was she trying to be happy, or annoyed… how complex.
“N-no. As long as you’re happy with it… Hoh?”
Poyopoyo also nodded.
“I hate to admit it, but rather than the front end… rather than the complete center, that spot is definitely splendid.”
The ancestors also spoke up.
『That girl’s surprisingly competent.』
『So all that’s left is the ears…』
『Wunderbar! Appearance and profitability are directly correlated! Like this, we’ll definitely have some popularity among the customers!』
『To hell with the location. The problem is what ears you’re putting on it!』
『And horns are still no good…』
『We don’t need any of you guys’ unnecessary junk. If the the head is going to be near the edge, then your strange ornaments will only be a nuisance!』
I started fastening it.
Through operating it with magic, the head could move. With a ball-like joint placed around the neck, it was possible to manipulate it to an extent.
The make of the head Poyopoyo spent a day working on was truly magnificent.
“Porter… my, how you’ve grown…”
I praised our workmanship, and Poyopoyo’s eyes started tearing up. Aria looked over us with a doubtful expression.
Having been further specialized to Arumsaas’ Labyrinth, Porter’s body had become lower, and the horizontal width of its wheels wider.
Around the wider wheels, Poyopoyo had wrapped a sort of rubber she had on hand. When looked upon from above, they were rectangular, and they were able to make the turns in the corridors of the labyrinth with a little space to spare.
The space to load luggage was equipped with a roof, and the metal sheets on its sides could act as shields.
Its frontside was heavily armored, and it was even capable of blocking up the passageways. The legs attached onto it to traverse stairs had grown much shorter than before.
But by expanding its side shields outwards, pushing those feet downwards, it could make for a fine wall.
The lantern stuck onto its ceiling was also modified for it to be possible to regulate the light.
I think this was all a little overkill.
“I wanted to make the shield a separate piece.”
I agreed, but I had to reject the notion.
“There was no helping it. I’m going to be driving it alternatively with Clara, so while I’m one thing, she’s…”
She can control one body, but if there are two it would become difficult.
We tried borrowing a small doll to test it, but it didn’t work out well.
“I’ll also be participating in battle. Depending on the situation, I may end up using magic. With that in mind, there’s nothing we can do about it.”
I had completed the plans to use Porter to compensate for our lack of members, but we still have a fundamentally low number of combatants.
While me and Poyopoyo were having an earnest discussion, Aria spoke.
“… And wait, why are you putting so much effort into a baggage carrier doll that can only be used here anyways?”
Hearing that, I, Poyopoyo… and the ancestors all at once.
“At least remember the name. The fruit of our love, and one that boasts a name much more splendid than mine own, Porter!”
『『『It’s Porter, dammit!』』』
After I had come a while spending all my time and efforts on it, even the ancestors started developing an attachment.
You sure are popular, Porter.
… At the Arumsaas guild, Novem had stopped by to submit the paperwork to challenge the labyrinth.
Miranda and Shannon were with her.
Chewing on the tip of her finger, Shannon’s eyes were teary.
To finish registering as an adventurer, she had pricked it with a needle to record her blood onto her guild card. She was shaking through the process.
“Why do I have to become an adventurer, anyways!? I’m still thirteen, you know! I’m ridiculously weak…”
Hearing that, Miranda put her hands onto her sister’s shoulders.
Her smiling figure made it look as if she was an elder sister comforting her sibling. They were a pair with good looks going for them, so it was an image that would make for a nice painting.
Among those looking upon the two, there were even some who felt their hearts warmed.
“Hey, you, do you plan on staying like that forever? That ain’t happening… those who don’t work, don’t eat, you know.”
Still smiling, her fingers started digging into Shannon’s shoulders, and Shannons frantically shook her head up and down.
“O-of course, that’s exactly right, Onee-sama! I was in the wrong!”
Novem was holding two blank forms in hand.
The first was for their full blown attempt at the labyrinth in a week.
She had filled in their intent to proceed to the thirtieth floor on that one, and the second one was one to request permission for Shannon to accompany them there.
No one intended to have Shannon fight.
But they couldn’t just leave her home alone for who knows how long. Also, considering the girl’s future, it was something Miranda decided.
The daughter of a viscount house… but with a defect in her eyes, she was driven away to Arumsaas. That was Shannon’s official position.
Novem spoke to the two of them.
“Both of you, once we’ve submitted the forms, we’ll be entering the labyrinth to conduct some tests for Porter with Lyle-sama. Have you finished preparing?”
Shannon wasn’t used to the labyrinth.
It had its characteristic oppressing air within it.
In order to accustom her, they were going to take her along this time.
(If it looks like she won’t be able to handle it, since she can’t stay alone in the mansion, we’ll find her some place to room at.)
There was no way they would leave a single weak girl in the vast mansion.
The necessary supplies to challenge the labyrinth were already prepared. They had already placed in an order for the required foodstuffs, so all they had to do was pick it up.
While observing porter’s tuning, if Shannon ended up unable to stand the atmosphere, she would be left.
Of course, everyone planned on doing that in the first place. The only one who wanted to take her along was Miranda.
“We’re prepared already. Shannon, make sure you listen to whatever your senior support says. Got it?”
“I don’t want to carry luggage. Also, I don’t like the sticky feeling… is there perhaps a bath there? Hiii! That was a lie! I’ll properly listen to whatever that glasses girl says!”
Miranda made a clenched fist, and smiled harder, so Shannon accepted in fear.
Novem felt a little uncomfortable having Miranda dragging her sister out against her will.
After she finished submitting the forms at the receptionist desk, she moved to leave the building in order to meet up with Lyle.
On the way ont, some adventurers who realized they were Lyle’s party members tried calling out to them.
On the stairs out, they met a party of three.
There, Novem remembered Rondo’s party she had become acquainted with in Dalien.
“Oh, are you the 『Burden』’s comrades? Hey, when is he going to be renting out Porter next?”
“That burden? Hey, isn’t his party a gathering of beauties? No wonder that story spread so far.”
“Oy, you’re troubling them. Sorry about that. Can you pass on the message that we’ll be counting on him next time?”
Novem said her greeting, and parted with them when Shannon spoke.
“What? So he’s called the 『Burden』? How fitting.”
Miranda’s clenched fist came down on her head.
Shannon started writhing around in pain.
As Novem was troubled by the sight, Miranda called over to her.
“He sure is popular. 『Lyle, the Burden』… even when he’s the one carrying their baggage, what a strange moniker.”
“It’s a bout of cynicism fitting for an adventurer. Also, the image of Lyle-sama returning on our shoulders from clearing the fortieth floor must have left a strong impression.”
While Novem offered as harmless a response as possible, Miranda suddenly made a serious face as she surveyed the area.
Noticing her motion, Novem noticed a suspicious figure in her line of sight.
(… So that’s why Miranda-san is trying to take Shannon-chan along.)
For the past few days, Novem had also sensed the presence of someone watching her.
She had thought it was because Lyle had become a famous topic within the city, but it seems there was something more malicious at play.
(… We should avoid moving alone. I’m worried about Aria-san.)
Aria was receiving instruction from an adventurer.
That seems to have ended, but in order to talk, she would still stop by that adventurer’s place.
The individual herself seemed to be enjoying It, so Novem wouldn’t stop her, but she would caution her.
At some point in time, Miranda’s eyes had fallen on Novem.
“… Somehow you give off the feeling you already noticed it.”
Novem offered a bitter smile.
As her conversation partner was remaining vigilant of her, she was troubled with how to deal with her.
“No, I was merely looking at where your eyes were pointing, Miranda-san.”
“I see… Shannon, how long are you going to be in pain? Let’s go already.”
Miranda’s eyes remained in doubt.
But even receiving that, Novem’s emotions didn’t experience any change. She simply thought of her as a candidate of Lyle’s harem.
Taking the pained Shannon along, Miranda continued down the guild’s stairs…
Having come into the labyrinth to carry out tuning on Porter, I looked at Shannon.
“No, are you in pain or anything? Like isn’t it a little hard to breath? Normally, it’s rough when you experience this atmosphere for the first time.”
As I said that, she looked at me in scorn.
Sitting on Porter’s roof, she let her legs sway back and forth.
“The density of the Mana around here seems high, but what of it?”
Even when she had gotten worn out from walking, and retired to Porter’s roof, she managed to put up quite a strong front.
“Oy, don’t kick your legs about too much. And why did you even enter the labyrinth in a skirt? I can see the contents.”
When I cautioned her, Shannon raised her voice.
“Noooo, Onee-samaaa! This man is peeping up my skirt!”
While she tried speaking ill of me, Poyopoyo was in the middle of working on fine tunings.
Clara seriously looked over her, and didn’t even listen to Shannon’s words.
Aria was on standby at the entrance of the room we entered to conduct adjustments.
“It’s because you came in a skirt to begin with. Are you even trying? And wait, that scrap metal is wearing one too. She’s not shown her underwear once, though.”
It was truly a manly opinion.
Poyopoyo turned to Aria, and spoke.
“Why do I have to provide fanservice to you? The only one to look over my undergarments is to be that chicken over there.”
I replied instantly.
“I’m not interested in the slightest, so just put on some pants already.
She yelled in response.
“You’re telling me to discard this attire, and wear something else!? This is my uniform, and my battle suit… this garb can even pierce through a battlefield!”
… What is this girl even saying?
And Novem addressed Shannon.
“He can’t see from that angle, so don’t worry about it Shannon-chan.”
In order to prevent her from having any misconceptions, I offered a revision.
“No, I didn’t have any intentions of looking. In the first place, I’m not even interested in that girl’s undergarments.”
There, Shannon threw her shoe at me. It hit my face, and kinda stung.
I ended up thinking something like, ‘this girl has talent,’ or something along those lines.
“What do you mean by ‘that girl’!? Even like this, we were called the alluring sisters back at Centralle! I’ve even heard people say they wanted to protect me and my ephemeral disposition, you hear!”
From the Jewel, the Third let out his voice.
『Both of these girls are good at putting up a front. I can’t wait to meet the second and third daughters.』
For some reason, I imagined the forms of the Fifth and Sixth awkwardly staying silent.
As we were on break, Miranda-san was taking a swig of water from her canteen.
Her way of drinking somehow made me feel locked down by her gaze. She was just sipping water normally, but my eyes wandered towards her.
She spoke to Shannon.
“If you wanted him to see them so badly, then you can’t keep wearing that kiddy stuff forever. How about we get a little bolder?”
As she laughed at her own jest, Shannon’s face turned red.
And as she reached to reclaim the shoe she had thrown, she whispered to herself.
The way she received it with her eyes locked on the ground truly gave off the sense that she could see better than a normal person.
“This can’t be my kind sister…”
“And what were you trying to do to that kind sister?”
While thinking our newly added member was too rowdy, I looked towards Miranda, and thought.
(If Shannon didn’t do anything, the current Miranda-san wouldn’t exist, right? … I wonder which would be best.)
I was just a little lost in thought.