41 Asking for Happiness
A beautiful artwork of leather, paper and ink was buried deep in the smoldering remains of our campfire. I could barely see it in the heat, but a little edge of the cover still stared at me from inside the inferno that should long have consumed it.
«That vixen made it fireproof!?»
「Of course I did. I don't want it to burn when Ofris reads it with candlelight or in the warmth of a chimney.」
«He doesn't even have a chimney!»
「It is safety measures. Safety!」
«I will give you safety!»
Before Ofris could find the time to complain and save his book, I had already fished the manual out of the fire. I flipped it open and began tearing at the pages, first with my right hand, then with both of them and finally with my whole body. I stomped down on the paper and tore at it with all the strength my arms and back could muster.
「Stop it, Rika! You will only hurt yourself.」
«But I have to get rid of this!»
「But I made it for Ofris ...」
「Can you even understand how much work I put into that?」
«You could have made me fireproof instead!»
「But you are.」
「Your magic can't burn you.」
«Of course it doesn't! Who would use magic if it hurts themselves?!»
「Others can hurt themselves using it,」 the vixen answered, seemingly lost in thoughts, 「probably ...」
«You don't even know it?!»
「I don't remember ever meeting a magician. But I think you are the best protected of them all!」
«Isn't that just you hiding behind your memory-loss?!»
«You are a fox, goddammit! A fox!»
A long sigh slipped my lips as I grabbed the book again. If fire and brute force wouldn't work, nothing would. I could only hide it so it would never be found again.
«Should I toss it in a river?»
「It is waterproof!」
«I can still put it into a bag together with some stones!»
「It will still float up once the bag rots away.」
«...» Yet another sigh could be heard coming from me. «I will just bury it here.
「But it sends out a distress signal once it is lost!」
«One day ...»
"Burying it is." I turned towards Ofris. "Do you have a spade?"
Ofris shook his head. "Why would I?"
"What about the others?"
"Let them sleep. You already woke them up once."
"That was hardly my fault! It was the vixen!"
"Maybe she has a reason for giving that book to me. Shouldn't I keep it?"
"She didn't give it to you!"
"She did. It appeared right before my feet and is written using myran script. You can't read it, can you?"
"I can't ..."
"I believe she just wants your best, in her own, weird way."
"She just tries to trick me!"
"By telling me about your favorite food and everything needed to keep you happy?"
"Why would she tell you about my sensitive spots and pregnancy!?"
I could see the color of his face rapidly changing. He shifted his gaze away, trying to avoid my answer, before giving his answer in an almost inaudible voice.
"That is a part of finding happiness, too."
"But why would she give it to you?!"
"Do you have," his voice got weaker and weaker, "by any chance..."
"Feelings for me, after all?"
A sudden panic struck Ofris. "You don't have to answer!"
"You are a friend! Just a friend!"
"Oh, I see ..."
«Dude, really?! You are going depressed now?»
「Don't you go break his heart now, Rika!」
«Stay out of this! This is all your fault!»
「He just wants to make you happy!」
«I know! That is what it makes so hard dealing with this!»
「Just cheer him up again!」
「Give him the book and tell him you want him to help you become happy!」
«Never in my life! He would totally misunderstand!»
「That is the fun in it!」
«... I will just leave it be.»
«I have already said no to it!»
«Why are you so into this?! It will be fine without me doing anything!»
I could almost hear Shiro thinking. After what felt like half an eternity, a green quest screen appeared in front of me.
『Quest accepted: Mr. Right
Description: Present Ofris the manual 'How to keep a fox' and ask him to make you happy. Telling Ofris about this quest will make it fail.
Rewards: Transformation Magic (Fox Edition)』
「It's transformation! You wanted that, didn't you?」
「People won't look at you weirdly anymore!」
«I will be able to live a normal life?!»
«What is the trick behind it?»
「There is no trick.」
『Transformation (Fox Edition): Changes the outer appearance of the user.
De-/Activation Cast: Kon Kon!
Only activated when user forms fox ears on his head using both of his hands while barking.
Mana cost: 1 per hour.
Affinities: Fox magic, nature magic (Decreases mana cost by 95%)』
«What is it with those weird requirements?!»
「It is cute!」
«Who cares about it being cute!?»
「Weeell~ I do!」
A long sigh slipped my mouth. «Will I really be able to live a normal life?»
「Yes. Mating and all included.」
«Who cares about mating!»
«Not as long as I stay like this!»
「Being a girl is fine!」
«It isn't with some random guy lying on top of you!»
「Ofris isn't random, though.」
«I won't date him!»
「But you want to start a family.」
«That doesn't change anything!»
「You are no fun at all, you know? Will you do it now or not?」
«... if it means living a normal life, I will do it.»
I couldn't help but sigh again. Ofris stared at me dazzled, but I didn't pay it any heed. Before he could avert his gaze again, I had already picked up the cursed book and presented it to him.
«Screw this! I feel like a girl handing over valentines chocolate!»
「You have chocolate you could hand over, you know? What about baking him some cookies? I am sure he will love it!」
«This vixen ...»
"What is it?" Ofris asked, clearly confused by the ever-changing expressions I had shown in the last minutes.
"I want you to have it!"
"But didn't you want to destroy it?"
"That- that isn't important!" I heard myself stammer. "I want you to make me happy!"
"Did that goddess coax you into doing this?"
"N- no! I want it myself!"
I could feel an unbearable heat spread in my face. «Just accept it! Please!»
Ofris's hands slowly reached for the manual. He grabbed it and stored it away before he pulled forth the blanket that had protected us during the night. He covered my body and gently massaged my head, right behind the ears, using only as much as a few fingers.
"Don't worry. I will protect your smile."
«So cheesy! Stop flirting with me! I am not smiling! Not at all!»
「You are purring.」
«Who is talking to you?!»
«Leave me alone! Ah~ that's the spot! This is the best~»
⊱————- Extra ————-⊰
Jack: Can't we get out yet?
Sophia: We can't!
Jack: But I'm nearly bursting! I need to take a piss!
Sophia: Just wait a minute! I'm sure it will be over by then!
Jack: Aren't they like totally getting it on right now?!
Sophia: It doesn't look that way!
Jack: I'm leaking! I'm leaking!
Sophia: Just bear with it!
~~In another tent~~
Miriam: You can do it, Rika!
Miriam: Don't let this chance escape!