Ilya’s Cheat Acquaintances
The five people who departed Lunéville for the tyrant spider subjugation walked along the road.
Chris, Selena, and Eric walked in the front, Lula following after them with York in the back. Rather than calling their current formation something like a subjugation group’s order, it was more like they were tourists taking a stroll.
Chris turned back to face the two trailing behind while still walking.
“The name’s Chris. Leader of [Stars of the Eternal Night].”
Lula and York weren’t able to react to his sudden introduction that well. Selena, seeing them, sighed and gave Chris a cold look.
“Hey, that’s beyond sudden.”
“But really, there’re lots of problems with not knowing their names!”
Chris smiled broadly. Selena gave another sigh and Eric smiled wryly.
“That’s right. I’m Eric. We’re part of the team called [Stars of the Eternal Night] in the mercenary guild.”
“Similarly, I am Selena. Pleased to meet you.”
It seemed the three from the mercenary guild were sociable enough. Looking at each other, Lula and York’s expressions didn’t change much.
“… Lula. Not affiliated to anything in particular. My regards.”
Towards her businesslike manner that changed completely from what it was beforehand, the three members of [Stars of the Eternal Night] blinked.
Meanwhile, York wasn’t surprised at Lula’s attitude and remained calm.
“I am York. Please treat me well.”
“Ah, y-yeah. Treat me well…”
“M—… my regards.”
York smiled wryly at the three who weren’t able to hide their bewilderment.
“Don’t mind this idiot. She’s normally like this whenever she isn’t near Ilya-sama.”
Even being called an idiot, Lula didn’t react at all. She looked like she truly didn’t care at all, from the bottom of her heart.
“I’ve heard the name [Stars of the Eternal Night]. In particular, there was a story about exterminating a demon being talked about even in the magic guild.”
Although he was clearly praising them, the three held mutual wry smiles. Seeing York’s questioning expression, Chris responded.
“We did definitely defeat a demon but well, it wasn’t just us. Ilya was together with us.”
“So saying something like it’s just our achievement is a bit…”
Understanding their previous pained-looking expressions, York smiled slightly.
“Ilya-sama probably said to keep it a secret didn’t she?”
“Yeah! Even though without Ilya’s support I have nooo clue how it would’ve turned out!”
“She has no interest at all in fame and wealth after all.”
“Right right! Even though we got so many rewards from the country and the association, she’d just disappear when I try to give her any!”
Although it seemed like she was just grumbling after that, in fact, she was saying nothing but praises.
Reaching a point where the topic settled down, Selena spoke to Lula.
“Lula-san, would you like to join in?”
“… Not really. For things about other people than Ilya, I truly have no interest at all.”
Although she wanted to say something back at that unusual statement, she swallowed her words back down.
Furthermore, although they weren’t as long as a beastkin’s, Lula’s long ears only ever twitched when hearing something she was interested in. No one would intentionally point that out though.
For example, when York proposed a question to the other three without minding Lula’s condition.
“If you don’t mind, could you tell me about what it was like when Ilya-sama traveled with you all?”
With her immediate reply, the five of them roused over a common topic: Ilya.
The group, which recovered their stamina by camping next to the forest, decided to wait until the sky brightened before starting their subjugation strategy.
First was to confirm their invasion route.
“—Oh soldiers that exchanged blood with Eric Bridge, show your forms, please lend your strength.”
A shining pattern of geometric lines ran underneath Eric’s feet, expanding.
As the design finished forming along the flat surface of the ground, it rose vertically away from the ground towards the sky.
First were legs.
The pattern rising to outline multiple silhouettes, next to appear were tails, followed by torsos, then wings and arms, then finally their heads. Three wyverns appeared.
York said in admiration while watching the wyverns bring their heads to Eric.
Although wyverns were just a subspecies of flying dragons, even if they were weaker, they were still a species of dragon.
Compared to flying dragons, part of their wings were assimilated into their forelegs. They had less methods to attack with, but had great flying capability.
Although wyverns seemed excellent if you viewed them as mounts, you normally couldn’t contract them and had to train them.
However, Eric just showed himself summoning them. In other words, rather than training them, he contracted them.
What was required for a summoning contract was magical power beyond whatever the target was, as well as an unyielding strength will.
As a result of having your magical power taken away if you failed a contract, there was a chance of dying even if they put up resistance.
Furthermore, to have three summoned simultaneously would require at least enough magical power for the three of them, to say nothing of the strength of will required to manage them.
Even Lula let out her voice in admiration at it.
“We’ll go in groups of two. As combinations though.”
“Divided into groups of vanguards and rear guards. That way it’ll be easier to work together.”
Chris continued Eric’s statement.
His tone wasn’t different from his usual one, but one could feel the self-confidence and persuasiveness from his accumulated experience in it.
“Next is… what kind of tactics to go with, then?”
“Ilya also said to prevent damaging the area, so we’ll go with a quick attack!”
Ilya’s words. Two people reacted to that.
“Then first I’ll stop its movement.”
“I’ll smash the tyrant’s outer layer with a swift attack.”
“After that, us vanguards will end it.”
Chris finished up York and Lula’s proposals.
Although that strategy was a very sketchy strategy, there wasn’t a single person who felt anxious about it.
As for the combinations mounted onto the wyverns in two person pairs, Chris and Selena were the vanguards, York and Eric were the rear guards. Left over, Lula took one by herself.
There were monsters that could fly in the air nearby, but none of them could match the velocity of the wyverns. Their group immediately took off above the top of the forest into the open air.
Here and there were places mowed down by the tyrant spider’s huge body, there were clusters of living things scattered about that were likely caught by its thread.
Standing in the center of it all was a huge spider, so big as to make it seem like their perception of distance from it was off.
No sooner than the group saw it, the tyrant spider that also saw them displayed a quick movement. It ejected thread from its abdomen at an arrow’s speed.
Easily dodging it, magical power suddenly began to be stimulated.
A giant spirit appeared raising its hands to the sky not at York’s back, but above the giant spider.
At that moment, water spouted from the ground like a geyser erupted. The tyrant spider was unsteady from the force of the impact.
The magic that York invoked in that instant was made to freeze its joints.
The surface of the frozen water had no waves. Towards that cooperated magic that flowed peacefully, Eric exhaled in uncomprehending admiration.
Then, in that next instant. Five gigantic boulders appeared high in the sky above the great spirit.
Looking at the boulders, with a slight smile, Undine melted into the sky.
Finishing the chant, the boulders descended at a velocity where they seemed to disappear.
As for the giant spider whose joints were frozen, it wasn’t able to defend properly.
It received direct hits from the huge masses.
By being practically smashed down, the ice restraints that held the tyrant spider broke. It moved slightly.
It’s vitality was admirable, but the exoskeleton that was its strong point had cracked due to the meteorite’s impacts, with its flesh being crushed and torn as well.
Even so, it may have been its pride as a strong creature that had hunted countless creatures, but its mouth continued to move restlessly as though to express its rage, fixing its compound eyes on its hateful enemies.
A sword of light soared down.
Burned by the light, it couldn’t recover itself.
They could feel their enemy’s temperature from that far away.
However, the tyrant that ruled over the unknown world was confused and could only see darkness, attempting to move away and distance itself from this foreign enemy. Unknowingly, this was the first time it had felt fear.
It hadn’t noticed that it was stepping further into hell.
“—Colliding Waves, Break!!”
It felt something touch its legs.
Just after feeling that, the magical power in its surroundings raged, ripping apart more of its exoskeleton and exploding its flesh.
The event was so abnormal that the tyrant didn’t notice that its balance had been destroyed.
“” Melting Ground, Scorched Earth!! “”
It realized that the ground below it would suddenly collapse, but the earth that should have collapsed suddenly heated up, its surrounding transforming into a bubbling prison of magma.
The tyrant couldn’t understand it.
Until just a moment ago, it was standing at the top of the world.
Other creatures were nothing but prey to it, running away just from the sight of it. Even if there were occasionally some that fought back, it wouldn’t suffer even a single wound to its body. It enriched its hunger by teasing the weak.
It wasn’t enough to rampage about. It wanted more prey, more prey to chew up.
That’s what it desired for itself.
However, an overwhelming power appeared.
It didn’t expect something like this to happen.
Still, it just wanted to act violently.
As for what could damage that tyrant—
“Transcending Excellence! Transcendent Saint Sword Striiiiiike!”
By the overwhelming heat generated by Chris’ pillar of light that burned everything to nothing, it died.
While feeling the torrent of that enormous power, the group looked at their comrades in satisfaction.
To their feelings—
“… That’s a weird name.”
And so the five of them, still mounted on the wyverns, got on their way back towards Lunéville.
While there were people surprised at how soon they returned, Ilya, who came out to meet them, processed their commission’s completion in a calm manner.
“I have validated the commission’s completion. For the raw materials…”
“”” … … … “””
They didn’t have any.
“Then, your reward will be four million gils per person. Would you like it in cash? Or transferred to your account?”
“”” Account. “””
They were just asked by formality of course. No one assumed they’d be rewarded in cash for it.
To begin with, there’s no possible way the branch would have the absurd sum of twenty million on hand.
“Thank you very much. We look forward to your next visit.”
With that, the tyrant’s uproar had concluded… not.
(… Now for this.)
These five people didn’t come here just for the subjugation.
“Ilya, please come with us!”
“Let’s travel together again! It’ll surely be more enjoyable than before!”
There was an invisible wall somewhere in their previous travels for everyone. Though compared to that journey that was cancelled midway through, it certainly would be a much more enjoyable time than before.
However, towards Ilya who hadn’t agreed, Chris’ expression tightened.
“… Besides, it’s said that a demon appeared in the south.”
“We’re all going to go defeat it. We hope you’ll help us.”
There was a demon that appeared in the south, but Ilya knew that wasn’t the thing they were aiming for.
She knew that it wouldn’t help even if she stopped them, and even if they went, winning wouldn’t be a problem with their own strength.
(Hmm? Wait a moment?)
Thinking about their mention about the south, Ilya recalled a certain person.
Taking that into mind, Ilya changed what she was about to say and smiled towards the three people.
“It’s alright. If it’s you all, you can win.”
“We’re not just talking about power!”
“Even so, it’s alright. Because you’ll gain a new comrade.”
Not understanding what she meant, the three inclined their heads at the same time.
Realizing it couldn’t be helped, Ilya gave them another hint.
“Go to Lant Volcano. I think you’ll have a wonderful encounter there.”
Finishing saying that, Ilya felt considerably embarrassed.
(Eh, what’s this mastermind? Some person that pulls strings from the shadows?) 
While she was feeling abashed by herself, York, who had sensed something, opened his mouth.
However, before he was able to understand anything, the others silenced him with a “Shh!” gesture.
“… Got it. Ilya said it, so it’ll somehow work out.”
“But still, we are friends.”
“We’ll absolutely meet again.”
Leaving behind statements that were beyond sincere, the boys and girls left.
If they met the great spirit salamander that lived in Lant Volcano, Selena, who held good affinity with the fire attribute, would be able to form a contract with the great spirit.
When Ilya was traveling with her, the girl was always afraid of being a burden to everyone else.
It was nothing but an imaginary fear judging from the other two and Ilya, though.
(With that, that girl’s self-confidence should be a little better.)
After gazing at the three’s backs, Ilya looked through the window outside.
She wasn’t looking at it, but her consciousness turned towards the great spirit in Lant Volcano.
(… If it leaves even a single burn on Selena, I’ll beat that lizard to death.)
Far away, the salamander laying dormant in Lant Volcano suddenly jumped up to its feet from feeling a certain blood lust. Having no way to know it was from her this time, it sank into the magma.
When Ilya looked back to the branch’s dining hall, Lula stood in front of her with a smile that stretched across her entire face.
“So then Ilya, marry me!”
(‘So then’? What do you mean by ‘so then’?)
Lula collapsed and sobbed lightly from Ilya’s immediate response. Compared to when Ilya had first met her, she was much more expressive now.
“Please, don’t mind other people and simply expand your own horizons. Even though studying magic is good, it is also important to move your body… Right. I think something like spearmanship would be fun.”
“Please think about it yourself. What do you like?”
Ilya had tried to have her solve the problem herself, but—
“Un! I love Ilya!”
Getting embraced, her lips were sealed for her.
“See you next time!”
“Uu… that kiss demon…”
Not minding anyone, that woman would kiss Ilya the moment she had a chance.
If Ilya had her true strength, avoiding even her surprise attacks would be easy. But Lula may feel like she’s being rejected if she refused her kisses. Her body unconsciously stiffened the moment she thought about that. There’s no way she could do it.
(I-it’s not like I’m happy! I’d be crying if I weren’t originally a man though!)
However, the person in question hadn’t noticed this herself.
(Quickly go and swipe that magic spear from the demon to raise your [Spearmanship] skill.)
Ilya thought as she watched her leave. However, there was a person whose gaze sent even more wicked thoughts than Lula.
“That dark elf…!”
(Ah, it’s that guy again.)
York took a deep breath, turning towards Ilya. He went to his knees and placed both hands on the floor, looking up towards Ilya.
“Ilya-sama. I will not ask you to please accept me as your pupil. However, somehow… somehow, please meet with the eldest…”
Saying that, he lowered his head and performed a dogeza.
Seeing his appearance—
(Uwaah… he a dogeza’d…)
He did it seriously.
Elf held pride above all else. They would probably go bald if they performed a dogeza in public.
(Wasteful for an ikemen.) 
Shaking away her inconsequential thoughts, Ilya answered York.
Her rejection was undeniable.
“That jiji said to call for me right? Tell him to come himself if he wants to meet. That much is the minimum courtesy.” 
And so, York wearily took his leave.
The elder Ilya knew was an obstinate and stubborn person, he wouldn’t even leave the village much less leave for human villages. In other words, her response was an indirect way of breaking off relations.
Since she knew that he would be involved in her turmoil with the elder, she considered sending some hair tonic as recompense for his anxiety. While Ilya was seriously troubled about it, a great vortex of power arose.
[Could you not advise that child?]
Queen Undine of Water. Towards the pure womanly form that aligned Ilya’s—who dislike men—preferences, Ilya shook her head.
By using her [Translation] skill, she could translate and talk even in the spirit’s language.
[He is walking directly down his best path. It’s perfect if you support him.]
[I am glad with your saying that… Even so, the others were able to receive something, he may sulk and stray from his path.]
Ilya responded to the great spirit’s laugh with a wry smile.
[It can’t be helped, then.]
She passed an earring that was in her apron’s pocket by chance to Undine.
[An earring said to be made from a water dragon’s horn. If you talk to him, he may be able to understand something.]
[That child, he hasn’t heard that person’s story, has he?]
Their mutual thoughts transmitted, the two exchanged a chuckle.
Possibly due to the arrogance of being a genius, York had a strong tendency to look down upon others.
However, having accepted this time’s subjugation that went without any problems, he was able to personally witness the famous [Stars of the Eternal Nights]’ member’s strength firsthand. It was for this reason that he also admitted Lula’s true strength.
He had that kind of a personality, but Undine couldn’t help but be endearing towards him.
[Excuse me, but I must leave. Goodbye, child of god.]
In the next instant, Undine stood beside York. When she handed him the earring, York attempted to turn back and run towards the branch.
As for his feet being frozen in place, that was simply an unfortunate accident. Although some people fainted from seeing the bizarre phenomenon of a person moving as though being dragged away, Ilya decided to not mind it.
It was finally over now.
Although everyone in the dining hall were overwhelmed by the famous people, the atmosphere returned to normal as they settled down one by one. The dining hall was filled with its usual chatter after a few minutes had elapsed.
“Ilya, was that alright?”
When she looked at the dining hall, Ria had stood next to her before she realized it.
“I mean, aren’t those person amazing? Everyone seemed to think Ilya was indispensable…”
“Un. I’m very glad, I love them as well… however.”
Everyone had a path they had to choose themselves. There were no fake turns, that’s what Ilya believed.
Therefore, she had also gone down the path she chose for herself.
It wasn’t for anyone else’s sake, it was for her own way of life.
“This town, and everyone in it… I love them.”
That’s why, for right now, she believed she was fine.
Until the time where their roads intersect once again—
—Gently and happily, she would live.