Chapter 23

Chapter 23 – Shared Pain

Just the same as last time, we assembled at around 10.
This damn trash king is just jerking me around... he should have just told us what was going on.
Now I have to meet up with these dicks. What if I end up getting an ulcer?

"Now then, I will distribute this wave's bounty reward and support funding."

An assistant appeared carrying bags filled with money.

"For each of the heroes."

I looked at the bags.
I see, just for month-to-month living expenses we would require at least 500 silver coins.
500 coins... would not be enough for preparation costs.

"Good job."

Raphtalia smiled facing me.


What should I buy with the money?
Maybe some weapon for Raphtalia would be best? Or maybe some strong armor this time?
Ahh, it's also about time to buy some new tools for mixing medicine. The truth is, the shield reacted to the tools so I'm curious what would happen if they were absorbed.
I fantasize about what to buy while hearing the coins clinking inside the bags.
I receive the bag and check it's contents.
One, two, three... yup, 500 pieces.

"For completing requests and in expectation of the great deeds of Motoyasu-dono, we award 4,000 coins."

I stare dumbfounded at the heavy looking bag that Motoyasu is holding.
I feel like I'll be endlessly complaining if I start now so I hold it in, clenching my fists.

"Next is Ren-dono, for displaying similar bravery during the wave and completing requests, we award 3,800 coins."

You too!?
Ren coolly receives the bag while making a face as if annoyed that he lost to Motoyasu. Even cursing silently, "All because the princess favors you..."

"Itsuki-dono... Your heroism echoes throughout the country. For your great work in times of strife, we award 3,800 coins."

Itsuki acts as if this much is to be expected while looking at Motoyasu enviously.
What are these 'requests'?

"Hmm... Shield needs to work harder, you only get living expenses."

That's my name! Who's 'Shield'?!
I felt like a blood vessel would burst.
Even after all that bullshit from yesterday!?

"Um, King?"

Raphtalia raises her hand.

"What is it, demi-human?"
"... That, what are requests?"

Raphtalia was also curious. Ignoring how little we received, we investigate why.
"Requests are assigned to heroes to resolve problems that occur in the kingdom."
"... Why did Naofumi-sama not receive any requests? This is the first we've heard of this."

"Ha! What can Shield do?"

The audience sniggers.
Ahh, not good. I feel like i'm going to start rampaging.
Is what I thought until I feel Raphtalia grasp my hand as she whispers to let it go. Trembling, I suppress my anger.
... It's fine, I can bear it.

"Be thankful for even receiving this much!"
"It's not like you helped out at all."
"Right. I didn't see you during the wave at all, what were you even doing?"
"You're an embarrassment to us heroes. Completely useless."

My irritation has peaked. I spit out a sarcastic retort.

"Great heroes, abandoning the lives of the villagers to fight the boss sure was heroic."
"Ha! Just leave that stuff to the knights."
"The knights are useless, leaving it to them would have resulted in a massacre. You bastards who only aimed for the boss wouldn't understand that."

Motoyasu, Itsuki, and Ren all look towards the leader of the knights.
That bastard just nods back at them.

"Don't get ahead of yourself. Without the heroes dealing with the source of the wave, the casualties would have been far greater."

This bastard... how can you say that?
Acting all haughty while relaxing back at the castle.
Anyways, I'm also a hero. Or are you implying the the shield hero isn't one?

"Yeah, yeah. I'm busy with lots of stuff so if there's nothing else we're leaving."

There's no point in arguing here. Let's just leave it at that and go.

"Wait, Shield."
"Hah? What. I'm busy unlike you assholes."
"You have been a disappointment; that money is our way of washing our hands of you."

So for all future waves I will get nothing. That's what you mean, right?

"That's great, Naofumi-sama!"

Raphtalia replied with a wide smile.

"... Eh?"
"You don't need to waste your time coming here anymore. Instead of dawdling, you can now focus on more important things."
"O... Oh."

It feels like Raphtalia has become really reliable.
She tightly holds my hand while calming me down.

"We will be taking our leave now."

Cheerily, she pulls me along and we turn to leave.

"The whining of a loser."

Motoyasu says while Ren and Itsuki just shrug.
... Yeah. Rather than an uncomfortable partnership, this is much better.

"Now then, let's head over to the tent and redo the curse."

Leaving the castle, Raphtalia says while turning to me.

"Otherwise, Naofumi-sama will not be able to trust me completely."
"Well... Not really..."

I recall her words from yesterday.
With those words I felt that I could trust Raphtalia.

"It's... fine if you aren't a slave anymore."
"You shouldn't lie. Naofumi-sama doesn't trust anyone other than a slave."

... Maybe I raised her wrong.
Well, even though it's true that I only trust slaves, Raphtalia is an exception.

"Um... Raphtalia."
"What is it?"
"It's fine even without the curse."
"No, I want it."

... Why is she so adamant about this?

"I also want something to prove that I trust you, Naofumi-sama."

First, what a weird person... that thought comes to mind.
Second, I'm reminded of Mein and get annoyed.
Why? I don't know why but it's not like I'm angry at Raphtalia.
Normally I would feel... something else? What a strange feeling.

"So let's go."

If she insists then I won't stop her.
To handle this matter, we head back to the slave tent.