The Playboy is the Devil King’s Worry
The ‘Cursed Lands’.
People have lots of different impressions of it, but if you ask an adventurer they’d tell you it’s a place where all sorts of spirits run loose.
So, why is the place called ‘curse’?
Because there’s a bunch of monsters.
These guys don’t just appear in the tower.
Monsters can roam on ‘cursed land’ like this all over the continent.
And those monsters sometimes roam about, looking for human shaped food. They’ll attack villages and towns, eat the people and livestock, then multiply.
They’re a pretty big menace to normal people.
But, for adventurers, they aren’t too bad of an enemy.
Most monsters that show up in these ‘cursed lands’ are low tier enemies that you’d only encounter on the lower floors of the tower.
So, typically former adventurers turned mercenaries and the knights in the employ of Kings and local lords were enough to protect towns and villages.
“Just outside Babel, there’s a ‘cursed land’. I want to test our strength.”
After eating breakfast with Tina and Nyannyan, we set off outside of Babel.
To the ‘cursed land’ that existed on its outskirts.
Once you get outside of Babel’s high walls, the city is surrounded by vast forests, spiny mountain ranges and swampy marshes.
For a normal person, all those places are filled with monsters and absolutely deadly.
That swampy land especially was forbidden to the general public.
After we got permission from the guild, we entered there.
As we advanced through it, we encountered a bunch of monsters, but…
Tina would bash it silly with her shield, then Nyannyan would finish it off with her dual swords.
Since they’re such low-tier monsters, I guess I don’t have to do anything.
With a quick movement, Nyannyan cut cleanly through the goblin’s neck. Yep, she’s great. I guess her being level 15 wasn’t just for show.
Just as I thought that, the big breasted catgirl came running up to me with those things swinging side to side.
“How was that, master? My knife handling skills, nya? Praise me, nyaa!”
“Yeah, I was watching. You’re pretty skilled, huh?”
“Nya! That’s right, that’s right! My master really is a good judge, nya!”
As I gave her head a pat, she kept gloating happily.
Then, from behind me.
“Dylan-san! Me too, me too! Didn’t you see me defeat that raven!?”
This time it was Tina, that lightweight agility tank, who came running up to me with her massive breasts swaying side to side.
“Ah, yeah, you did great too.”
I pat her head with my other hand.
“Ehehe! Right, right!?”
Tina twisted this way and that in happiness.
Because they’re both so short, it’s easy to pet them like this.
“Now that I think about it…”
Then, Tina asked.
“Dylan-san, why did you want to come to the cursed land in the first place?”
I looked around as I answered her back.
“I wanted to assess what Nyannyan was capable of as a thief.”
“Assess? Me, nya?”
“That said, the monster strength here is a bit… Aren’t there any higher tier monsters anywhere?”
As we’d gone through the swamp, we’d left many manastones where they had dropped.
Tina thought about it with a finger on her chin.
“Ah, I heard that sometimes strong monsters do show up in the cursed land.”
“Let’s see if we can’t make that ‘sometimes’ a little more frequent. Hmm…”
I took out a spellbook with a magic trick.
It’s an old tome, but it’s still well kept with an exquisite binding down the side. It’s one of those so-called magic grimoires.
Tina shouted out in wonder.
“Wow, a grimoire!”
Nyannyan also got involved.
“It’s true, nya! And that looks really expensive too…!”
I replied as I flipped through the pages.
The grimoires that mages spend their lives using and studying are stupidly pricey, but the item I have in my hand right now is…
“You could eat for a year if you sold this.”
“It better be worth it, considering how much I paid for it.”
After flipping to the page I was looking for, I pulled out a magic wand with another trick.
Holding the grimoire in my off hand and the wand in my right, I began to cast a spell.
“――Wrap me in the embrace of divinity, I who is merely of flesh and blood, let mortality and the ethereal realm embrace and take form, on the bones of those who came before me――”
Thanks to my job as a Great Sage, I can recite the spell as easily as if I were rehearsing lines. Jobs sure are handy.
I kept chanting the incantation written in the book.
When it comes to jobs obtained in the tower, you gain more skills as you rise up in level.
Be it a mage, a priest, a warrior or a martial artist, it’s all the same.
It’s probably more accurate to say that instead of ‘learning’ the skills, you’re simply having the limiter preventing you from using them released as you level.
When you attain a new spiritual state as a result of changing jobs, the skills are already innately part of that, it’s just that when you level up as an adventurer those skills become unlocked.
Once you reach level 99, you unlock them all.
But, of course, that’s only for the job you’ve levelled up.
There’s an infinite amount of magic in this world.
There’s no way it could fit purely into one job like ‘mage’ or ‘sage’.
So, even if a mage raised their level to the maximum, they won’t learn any spells that aren’t part of the mage’s repertoire.
Using grimoires, you can supplement those skills.
With a magic book like this, you can use magic that’s not restricted to your level or job.
The magic I’m chanting right now isn’t something I’d ever learn as a skill even if I raised my level as a ‘Great Sage’ to the maximum.
“――So, take form afore me!”
When I finished casting the spell, a purple fog spread out in front of me. It seeped out to cover what looked like the entire swamp.
“…I get it now.”
That colourful fog penetrated every nook and cranny of the swamp, making it easy for me to understand the ebb and flow of the nature around me.
The atmosphere, the smells, the natural orders. I finally understood just what it meant to have this job as a great sage. This kind of feeling, it made up at least 10% of the reason I wanted to change my job to a sage.
Tina and Nyannyan looked up at me with curious faces.
“Dylan-san? What did you do?”
“Master, what are you looking at, nya?”
It seems like these two can’t see that purple fog. I wonder if only people with a talent for magic can see it?
“I understand now. There aren’t any strong monsters in this cursed land, for the time being anyways.”
I stared hard at the ground.
To the eyes of me, the great sage, I saw countless flowing white rivers beneath me. They’re the spiritual pulses of the land. The river doesn’t flow uniformly, in some places it forks and bends and in others it suddenly rages faster and harder than it did before.
I look closer. Deeper.
I sink my consciousness into one of the rivers.
The rivers seem to form deep underground, twisting into a spiral extending into the earth.
Outside this spiritual vortex, a substance like blackened mud seems to constantly seep in.
The deeper I dive, the darker it becomes.
The mud became thicker as I traced through the vortex, and I found it overflowing from an unstable spiritual pulse.
I’m sure of it. That mud is a monster.
When the mud from the outside infects one of these spiritual veins, it floods back to the surface and appears as a monster.
Since the mud close to the surface is still relatively thin, it’ll only form weak monsters.
Maybe the thick, pitch black mud from the true depths will form a monster of medium, or even high rank. That said, it’ll be a while before it rises to the surface.
“Five years… Maybe ten? It still has a long way to go…”
Since this place is so close to the tower, it has a very unstable spiritual pulse. To put it another way, it’s ‘cursed’. If it takes between five and ten years for a high-tier monster to spawn in a place like this, it’ll take even longer in the cursed lands back in the Kingdom or elsewhere.
Since those two seemed anxious, I gave them a smile.
“It’s nothing. Now then, work’s over. Wanna head home?
“Eh, we’re already finished?”
“Nyaa. I think master saw something we can’t, nyaa…”
“Oops, before that…”
I let a white bird out of my sleeve with a magic trick. It’s a pidgeon.
Coo coo, it called.
“Waa, a pidgeon! So cute!”
“Nnnyaaaa! A pidgeon!”
Tina’s eyes glittered, but Nyannyan seemed to have something else on her mind as she snorted excitedly. It might have been a bad idea to show a bird like this to a cat girl.
“Good girl, gooood girl. It’s your time to shine, Hatomi.”
After giving the pidgeon a stroke, I tied a letter to its leg.
“I’m counting on you. Don’t get eaten by any monsters or hawks, okay? Now, fly!”
The white pigeon flew away in a rush. Since I gave it a warding amulet and a few strengthening spells, it should deliver the letter safely.
“Dylan-san, I didn’t know you had a dove, that’s amazing!”
“It’s a jester thing. It’s fundamental, actually.”
“Where did you send Hatomi?”
“Ah, back to the royal capital.”
“The capital!? Isn’t that really far from here!?”
“Hatomi will be fine. Besides, doves can fly a really long way.”
“Hyaa, Hatomi is amazing…!”
Tina looked up at the sky, making little flapping gestures with her hands like she was putting on a puppet show.
Nyannyan asked me a question.
“Can’t you just use the transitional magic mail service, nya?”
“Ah. If I just used the ordinary method, I’m not sure my message would get through. Besides, I’d have to worry about the censors.”
“The censors… Dylan-san, who did you send that letter to, exactly?”
“The King of Garland.”
“Don’t be so shocked. I’m still a former member of the hero party, remember. I’ve met the king before. Besides, what does a king love more than a jester?”
“That… Might be true… But still!”
“A jester sending a message by carrier bird to a king… It’s all sorts of strange, nya!”
Tina asked me.
“So, what was in the letter…?”
“Mm…. My resignation?”
“For one reason or another, I was basically being treated like one of the kingdom’s soldiers. That idiot Laius fired me without permission, but that’s not really official. So, with that, I’m now legally out of the hero party.”
Looking up at Hatomi fluttering into the distance, I muttered under my breath.
“I sent along the investigative report as well. With that, my work for you is done, king.”
Tina and Nyannyan still looked at me incredulously.
“The hero party, the king, notice of resignation sent by carrier bird…”
“Master, you’re really insane in a lot of ways, nya…”
“This way, everything should be all cleared up for me to climb the tower. Alright, let’s go!”
In that way, along with the shortstack warrior and thief by his side, the playboy who became a great sage returned to Babel.
◇ ◆ ◇ ◆ ◇ ◆ ◇ ◆ ◇ ◆
The demon continent.
Although it’s called a ‘continent’, it’s not actually very large.
It’s less than a tenth of the size of the continent Dylan was born on.
It’s basically the same size as the single Kingdom of Garland.
And the ruler of this land lives atop its highest peak, the demon’s castle.
He’s currently granting audience in the throne room.
The one who sits on that throne, the Demon King.
Wrapped up in a jet black robe, it holds a truly abominable form.
The hand that extends from the sleeve of the robe looks human in shape, but it could only belong to a monster.
Before the Demon King, a man kneeled.
Even if you call him a man, though, he was half eagle. One of the Demon King’s generals.
Despite having repulsed the assassins calling themselves ‘heroes’ from the continent, the Demon King wants to know how they managed to escape at all.
“Was it the illusionist?”
“…We lost sight sight of them. However, on investigation, it seemed they used spatial magic.”
The eyebrows of the demon king perked up at that.
That action alone caused the eagleman general to stiffen in fear. He’d been sweating ever since he first knelt in front of his lord, but now he was sweating profusely.
That king, so terrible to behold, spoke.
“I want you to investigate him thoroughly. Find out where he is. Pinpoint the exact location of the party. His behaviours, habits, routines, any information no matter how trivial it may seem. Report it all to me as you discover it.”
“By your command!”
The eagleman sighed with relief.
He breathed a deep breath, but just as he did…
The air caught in his throat. He can’t exhale.
The demon king’s aura was just utterly menacing.
“There will not be any more reprieves.”
He’s too afraid to even lift his face.
The general known as Vanaguar managed to get up and leave without raising his head even once.
The demon king sitting alone in his throne was left to his thoughts.
――Of the members in that low level party, only the illusionist amongst them was any different.
Only he had the claws that could reach them.
But he had never truly drawn those claws. When he saw that he was at a disadvantage, he had retreated. Was he being sporting, or simply not wanting to show his true hand?
“The jester, Dylan Albertini…”
His has no time for the likes of the Alliance.
Right now, that man was the one he was the most wary of.
◇ ◆ ◇ ◆ ◇ ◆ ◇ ◆ ◇ ◆
“Nyaa! Master! No matter what you say, this is way too embarrassing!!”
“It’s fine, so shut up and dance.”
That ex-jester had lent his spare ‘cloth of the dancer’ to that busty cat girl, who was now dancing all over the place against her will virtually half naked.
“This is also training. You see, the dance of the jester and the dance of battle are very similar…”
At the Dylan Mansion, the screams of the girl echoed until the morning birds cawed.
As to what that playboy did with the two girls wearing the ‘cloth of the dancer’… That will remain a secret.