Masamuneigh ate her full and fell asleep, so I carried her to the room at the inn. After I got back to the first floor, I started drinking a little with Yulia.
I had something to tell her that was a little hard to bring up, so I invited her for a few drinks.
“So, what do you want me to do? It isn’t as if the last hundred times you’ve invited me to drink together it was to ask a favor.”
“Ah, not really a favor. It’s about money.”
It seemed like my motive was found out already, so I just said it.
“Money? Is this about the magic bag? I don’t have enough money to pay for it outright, but I can give you the money for it over time.”
“No, no, not that! It’s actually about decreasing the payment ratio.”
“That’s fine. 30% was a bit much.”
“Don’t decide so fast! I kinda one-sidedly got you to join the party, so be a little more stubborn!”
“That’s not wrong, but just today the party made a million, and I got three hundred grand just for following you around.”
“You do the buffing and debuffing and various logistics and recon work, so it’s well-deserved, but if ya say so. Okay, is making the split 2:2:2 good with you? The remaining 40% will go to the party funds like before.”
Yulia thought about the meaning of what I said for a second, then she smiled kindly.
It seemed that I didn’t have to explain in detail.
“...Hehe, so you’re paying Masamuneigh.”
“Yeah, without money, she can’t even eat.”
Me paying for her every time was kinda stupid, so I decided to just pay her.
“That’s fine. Even if I get 10% and Masamuneigh gets 30%, I’m fine with that.”
“If her pay became higher than mine, she’d never shut the f*ck up about it, so let’s not. Equal is good!”
I could just imagine her face gloating at me. Hard pass.
“Hehe. Okay, the pay is fine, but what about the party expenses? I think you should handle it, Gyle. I’m studying it now, but you know so much more about it than I do.”
“Nope. We’ll continue as before.”
“You hate it that much?”
It wasn’t that I hated it; Yulia was misunderstanding it on a fundamental level.
If I was the one handling party expenses, I could make a simple prediction as to what would happen.
“...Don’t underestimate me, Yulia. If I were in charge of the expenses, I would absolutely definitely embezzle them!”
“That’s the first time I’ve ever heard the word ‘underestimate’ used like that… Alright. I’ll continue to handle the party’s money, but you have to come with me shopping tomorrow.”
“Yeah, sure. Do you need anything?”
We did a perfect clear without taking any hits today, so I didn’t realize that we needed to replenish anything. Maybe water?
While I was thinking, Yulia made an impish smile as she looked towards the second floor where Masamuneigh was sleeping.
“If we go to a good restaurant, we need good clothes. We’ll go get measurements for all three of us tomorrow.”
“Hey, hey are you serious? If we do that, it’s going to cost a pretty penny. A very pretty penny.”
If we were unlucky, we could have Masamuneigh whine about going every day.
“We’re having it nice thanks to Masamuneigh, so just bear with it a bit.”
“...Can I ask for a favor?”
“Hm, what do you need?”
“While you’re making sure I don’t descend into darkness, I want you to make sure Masamuneigh doesn’t overspend on food.”
"Ufufufufufu, I understand. I'll make sure to watch over her so that she doesn't waste money."
As I looked at Yulia laughing, I gulped down the ale in one go.
Damn it! This is the worst! The distribution ratio decreased, but the expenses increased! I've had enough, I'm going to drink to the fullest today!
Raising the empty glass in the air, I shouted towards the kitchen.
"Hey, old man! Bring me more drinks and some snacks!"
"We're going shopping tomorrow, so take it easy."
I didn't care about that! I'd just go shopping with a hangover tomorrow. After all, I didn't know anything about clothes or whatever. Yulia could just decide!
"Is Gyle an idiot?"
While eavesdropping and hiding on the stairs leading to the second floor, that idiot even said he would distribute the money he obtained from the adventure to me. Previous owners gave allowances, but no one had ever paid rewards equally.
"If money is so important to him, he could’ve just ignored me when I said that I wanted to eat," I murmured.
Recalling the conversation from earlier, when I mentioned wanting to eat at an expensive restaurant, Gyle reluctantly agreed to go. I didn’t understand why he treats me like a precious family member when he was definitely not a good person.
"Please stop, because if you continue like this, it will only get harder," I said.
I chose a worthless person with the potential to be of use to me. I was created by God and have sought human owners five times to defeat threats to humanity. With the power to see souls, I chose humans who were more virtuous, pure, and worthy of wielding the holy sword than anyone else.
... But all five of them, after defeating the threats, eventually turned into villains. It was fine until they defeated the threats because they were focused on eliminating enemies of humanity... But once the threats were gone, the chosen ones with the holy sword lost their purpose, and there was no one left to defeat at the same time.
After realizing that no one could hurt me once they believed they were the strongest... they quickly fell. Their pure souls became more and more tainted, and they started proclaiming themselves as the incarnation of God.
In the end, it was always the same: I would give up on the villainous owner and meet my demise. The former owners, who had lost their power, were killed by those whom they had mistreated. I would witness it and then go to sleep, preparing for the next threat.
The absolute power I possessed disrupted the lives of these five humans. Power beyond human limits easily corrupted even the purest of souls.
... But I don't want to see pure souls tarnished anymore!
All five of them initially had hearts more beautiful than anyone else's. However, because I gave them the power, they became distorted.
I no longer wanted to see such people, so this time I chose a soul that seemed dirty and could be found anywhere. It could become completely corrupted before defeating the threat, but that was fine. After defeating the threat, I would unilaterally terminate the contract and go to sleep anyway.
I thought that if I intended to give up from the beginning, I wouldn't develop any attachment... but being treated like a clumsy younger sister was unexpected. Maybe I went too far in my carefree attitude? I thought of my previous owners from before they defeated the threat, so I conversed with him instinctively.
I didn't mind being disliked. On the contrary, I wanted him to be indifferent or even cold to me—yet did he treat me like family? ... This makes it impossible for me to dislike him!
I didn't want to witness the death of such a person!
"I've decided! If Gyle tries to do something stupid, I'll do everything I can to stop him! And... once we defeat the threat, I will leave... That way, Gyle won't be consumed by power and become a villain.”
After making a firm decision, I returned to the room unnoticed and wrapped myself in a blanket, sleeping with my head covered.
I made a wish to make at least this idiotic and kind-hearted owner happy.
A thunderous cheer erupted from a force of 50,000 soldiers, filling the air with their victorious cries!
Just moments ago, the colossal Earth Dragon, towering like a mountain, was brought down by the combined might of 50,000 troops and their relentless long-range assaults.
Gyle and I stood at the bottom of the valley, listening to the news as it reached our ears. Suddenly, Yulia descended from above, her efforts in leveling up and confronting the threat evident in her arrival. She swooped down with incredible speed, employing her magic, and tightly embraced Gyle in her arms.
Gyle skillfully evaded her swift tackle, breaking into laughter as he faced Yulia.
"Well, well, the Great Earth Dragon was indeed a formidable opponent. I owe you about three of those Scapegoat Dolls, Yulia.”
"Don't ever try to face such danger alone again, Gyle! Promise me that!"
In truth, it was Gyle who stood alone against the dragon at the bottom of the ravine, bravely fending off its attacks to protect the army. Only a select few were aware of this, and in exchange for a substantial reward, Gyle allowed his achievement to be attributed to the united strength of the 50,000 soldiers.
[Haah. Don't you desire the glory at all? You defeated it entirely by yourself.]
"Perhaps you should delve into fictional novels more! If you were to defeat such a powerful enemy alone, the people would hail you as a hero of the nation, and the royal family might deem you a threat, saying, 'A hero wielding greater power than us is dangerous!' They might even attempt to take your life," Gyle warned, his tone serious.
[Gyle, you really need to learn how to distinguish between reality and fiction!] I exclaimed in exasperation, though deep down, I felt a sense of relief. It would be troublesome if he were hailed as a hero while I was no longer by his side.
Yulia rushed to ensure Gyle's safety, and then, fulfilling our mission, she set out to collect the spoils left behind by the fallen dragon. Gyle, uncharacteristically serious, approached me, initiating a conversation.
"Just to be certain, apart from this particular threat, there are no other dangers to humanity, correct?" he inquired.
[Huh? Well, no, based on my past experiences, I don't anticipate any threats for at least a hundred years,] I replied.
With that settled, we returned to the city, where a grand celebration awaited us. It was there that we would bid our farewells. It didn't feel right to leave without saying a proper goodbye.
"Now, Masamuneigh, transform into your human form... Come on, hurry up and reveal that foolish face of yours," Gyle said.
[Who's the foolish-faced one here?] I retorted.
Slightly irked, I freed myself from Gyle's grasp and assumed my human form. Yet, at that moment, I couldn't quite grasp the significance of doing so.
"You're the one with the foolish face, and since the beginning of this battle, I've sustained a wound that prevents me from ever fighting again. That's the narrative we're sticking to, so don't transform into the Holy Sword unless absolutely necessary," Gyle explained.
Um... In other words, despite risking his life to vanquish the threat to humanity, Gyle intended to feign ignorance of his deeds...
—There ain’t no way I’m accepting that!
"What are you saying? Not many people know this, but Gyle saved the world! Are you saying you'll throw away all that honor and glory? I won't allow it! How reckless do you think I've been in order to protect everyone in this battle?"
I wouldn’t accept it! No, I wouldn’t accept it! Even if I left, I absolutely would not acknowledge a world that didn’t recognize Gyle's efforts!
As I approached Gyle with an angry breath, a hand was placed on my shoulder and I was hugged from behind. It was Yulia, who had just finished collecting the dropped item.
"Masamuneigh, you really don't get it," she said.
"What is it? I'm telling you, I won't yield this time!"
"Hey, Gyle, you should explain properly to Masamune. She won't be satisfied without an explanation."
"What do you mean by explanation? No matter how much you explain, I won't be satisfied!"
"Huh? You're so troublesome," Gyle replied.
"You better explain, right?" Yulia added.
I felt a chill down my spine from the pressure of the last "right" in Yulia's statement. While I was furious, it only affected me slightly, but it seemed to have a significant impact on Gyle. He even saluted instinctively.
"Well, actually, Masamuneigh, I didn't tell you this, but you're being suspected of being the legendary Holy Sword," Gyle confessed.
"Masamune-chan, haven't you saved the world a few times? That's why the appearance of the Holy Sword and the sacred inscriptions engraved on the blade are being passed down in paintings and books, even though they have deteriorated."
I had been dyeing the blade black and pretending it was a magic sword to prevent the nobles from forcibly taking it. But the inscriptions on the blade were still there!
"Did... Did they find out?"
Despite all the effort Gyle put into not going down a dark path, if they found out he was the owner of the Holy Sword, he wouldn’t be able to lead a safe life!
What were we going to do? Wasn’t it all my fault?
As I lamented my own negligence, Yulia, who had been hugging me from behind, gently stroked my head.
"It's okay. They call it a deteriorated replica of the Holy Sword... But if they find out you survived the Great Earth Dragon unscathed, there's no guarantee we can deceive them..."
Ah, so it led to the story that I would become the Holy Sword unless something extraordinary happened. Well, it would be better for Gyle if I wasn't around.
As I was feeling relieved by that thought, the fool held my hand from behind.
"So, Masamuneigh, you have to stay in your human form forever. I'll allow you to enjoy luxuries like going to high-end restaurants once a month, but nothing more than that!"
Well, luxuries didn't matter, but was that okay?
"Are you okay with losing the power of the Holy Sword? If I can't become the Holy Sword, you won't be able to use passive effects or skills."
Even I realized what a foolish question that was.
After all, I was planning to leave Gyle, the one who had defeated the threat. Why did I even ask?
In response to my foolish question, Gyle answered in his usual idiotic manner, "What? I already have enough money to live a carefree life. I don't need the Holy Sword. Besides, if I had it, they would probably force me into work."
"...Don't you have any attachment to the strongest power?"
"Masamuneigh, don't underestimate me... If I had that kind of power, I would definitely go down a dark path! Do you really want to see me become such a villain?"
This person was a true idiot! I was laughing so much that my stomach hurt!
"Hey, don't laugh so much. It might hurt you."
Ah... I seem to have been laughing so much that tears came out. It was troublesome; they wouldn’t stop.
"Gyle, you really are beyond foolish."
"What did you say, you bastard!"
"I admit I underestimated you... I never thought you would say that you don't need the Holy Sword, even though I was planning to unilaterally break our contract and leave."
Ah, my stomach hurt. I couldn’t stop laughing.
"What? Masamune, are you going somewhere?"
"I'm not going anywhere, why would I?"
"Which is it?"
"Which one do you think... Hahaha...hahahaha!"
"Damn it, you're so annoying! Your snack for tomorrow will be a ghost pepper!"
"I won't eat it! Tomorrow, I'm going to a fancy cafe with Yulia to have pancakes, so you eat it, Gyle."
"Hey, Yulia, say something to this cheeky brat!"
"Well... Sorry, Gyle. Tomorrow, we're going to eat pancakes with Masamuneigh, so you can have the ghost pepper."
"I won't eat it! Damn it! I'm going to have pancakes too! The three of us will go, all three of us!"
"Well, there's no helping it. Just don't eat them with your hands."
"I'll eat them properly with a knife and fork! Am I some kind of barbarian?"
Ah, it was hilarious. I couldn’t stop laughing; my tears wouldn’t stop.
This idiot, he really was the greatest fool. He completely disregarded my determination!
But you see, since I was suspected of being the Holy Sword, he said he didn't need my power so he could deny me being the Holy Sword!
Until now, there hadn't been anyone like that. Everyone, without exception, relied on my power as their own.
From the moment he said he would sell me, I thought he was a fool. But I never expected him to be such a magnificent fool!
...Haah, I cried enough tears for a lifetime. My tear ducts were dry.
It was foolish of me to have worried about so many things. Why didn't I realize something so simple?
The happiness that the owner dreamed of was different for everyone.
I always thought that living with integrity was happiness. But even for such a fool, I was able to experience the greatest happy ending.
So from now on, I would push my owner’s behind and lead him to the happy ending he desired, even if it was by force, just like what Yulia did for Gyle!
Oh, wait, that fool hadn't reached the happy ending yet.
There was still a long way to go in life.
"Gyle, your ideal death isn’t to die fighting a formidable enemy, right?"
"What kind of barbarian are you? I wanted to die surrounded by my grandchildren in peace!"
I was relieved to hear that. Then, I would watch over you until you fulfill your happy life.
Hehehe, I would be with you forever, Master.