[15] Whispers of Rumors
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"So, when are we starting?" Via asked.

"In a moment."

Whether Claire was the one that cooked it or not, there was little chance that Alicia would leave any plate of food uneaten. So, the Ice Queen was patient as the vampire devoured the meal on the table. In the distance, left unattended, Asta was busy walking and hopping about tables of adventurers. He 'looked' at them and their attire and his voice echoed.

"Woah—is that a staff, are you a mage?!"

"Oh oh? You have good eyes." A male waved his weapon about. "It's pretty neat, isn't it?"

Another scoffed and unsheathed a blade. "Don't look at that toy. Look at this masterpiece."

An archer raised a brow. "Masterpiece? Have you seen my bow?"

"Bow? Look at my shiny nails." A cat-guy also added his own words, though he was across the room.

Some were wary of Asta but most people merely laughed his antics off, taking him as a break to cool down from work. Many actually showed off their equipment to him. They seemed to find him somewhat cute. He brought out <Loki> and tried swinging it around, earning himself some claps. It was the first time they were seeing a non-living thing being so lifelike, after all.

"Hehehe," Asta laughed and scratched the back of his shiny head with his hand made of ice. Many wondered what he was possibly scratching, his thoughts?

While she waited, Claire took out the booklet she had been handed prior and began flipping through it.

There was very little known about the Seven Deadly Sins of this world. Though powerful, their actual names were unknown. And although their races were also unknown, most simply termed them all as demons. Even then, it was uncertain whether they all lived within the demonic kingdom or not.

Yet, there were a few things that Via did find out. Speculations, mostly, but any clue was better than none.

The sin of sloth was said to be able to slow time. Specifically, the booklet said, the individual time of opponents. He was sloth but, if you were to fight him, he would appear faster than anything you had ever faced.

Envy was rumored to be able to masquerade as someone else after certain conditions were met. Those conditions? No one knew. While Gluttony was supposedly a human that stole skills and had shown up around the borders of the kingdom of Arion.

In comparison, Pride, whom she had defeated, wielded flames eclipsed by only the Seed of Fire. At his height, when the sun was highest within the sky, he should have been able to burn a city asunder. Yet, he had been sliced into two by Claire's hands.

Lust and Greed? There was nothing on those two.

"Oh?" The Ice Queen raised a brow when she flipped a page. "This part is quite detailed?"

"I can already tell which one you mean. . ." Via replied, biting into a skewer much to the displeasure of the gluttonous Alicia. "That one's a load of a hassle."

There was one single sin that was well known and the book went on to explain about. The light elf Shril Strauss, wielder of the Soul Seed, and the new sin of Wrath, was rumored to currently helm the demonic kingdom after turning a portion of the Forgotten Forest undead, escaping the rage of the elves within, and killing the previous Wrath.

Supposedly, the Princess of Tress, and wielder of the Fire Seed, Erza Lamillion, had placed a bounty upon her head and the Sword Saint wanted that bounty. Then, there was the issue of the Demonic Maiden wanting the Soul Seed for herself. And, lastly, the wielder of the Seed of Edin, Cia Strauss, wanted to drag back Shril and make her atone for what she caused.

"A web around one sole elf," Claire muttered as she closed the booklet, having finished it all in one sitting and memorized its information. "And two seed holders appear to be sisters at opposite ends."

In another part of her mind, she kept the thought that Envy's rumored ability seemed freakishly similar to Fieth's to herself. That, was a curious case. The man couldn't be a Deadly Sin, could he? Or, maybe, it was merely a coincidence and, as most things written were speculations, the actual Envy might even have a different ability altogether. She couldn't say for certain. This was an isekai after all, twists and turns were the norm.

"I'm done," Alicia muttered beside her, wiping sauce from her lips with satisfaction etched on her face.

"Finally," Via said with the roll of her eyes, which earned her only an annoyed glance from the vampire.

"Claire. I don't like her. Can we get rid of her?" Alicia asked. As always, she disliked the bunny.

"Huh? What'd you say you little shit?"

"I said I don't like you."

Claire chuckled at the two as she stood up.

"Sadly, my cute partner, we need her."

Alicia pouted before ignoring the bunny entirely and Via's ears dropped. "Sadly?"

"Yes. Sadly. You need us too, don't you?"

"Tch."

The Ice Queen smiled and glanced at an Asta who was still parading around in excitement before waving a 'come here' with a finger.

"Woah. . ."

Driven by her will, his body floated into the air and dragged itself beside her. He clunked against the ground and stood tall much to the wonder of some. Naturally, since he was crafted from ice, she could control him. She really did not require any gestures but it felt more natural to use them.

"Alright. . ." She began, only to be stopped by the sight of someone else coming over to their group.

"Umm. . ." The individual in question began, looking her over with a hint of a blush. It was a female who was dressed in brown leather. There was a shortsword sheathed to her hip and a curved bow on her back. Her short hair was as red as blood. "Would you like to, maybe, go on a date?"

'Oh,' Claire thought, 'My first confession in this world. How fun.'

It was a person shooting their shot. Somewhat commendable, she thought, though she was not the least bit interested.

"No," Claire said.

The individual blinked her eyes.

"Really? Why not? It's just one date." They asked a barrage of questions right after.

Sadly, a certain vampire's nails grew, ready to slice her apart.

"Because I don't want to." As Claire said those words, Via watched, reaching over and feeling Asta's figure. 'Damn, you really are made of ice.' She thought as the poor boy found himself touched all over.

"Why?" This time, it was a more angered response on the part of the girl.

"Leave Claire alone," Alicia interjected. "She said no."

"Huh?" The girl looked at the vampire who was a head shorter than her. "Do I look like I'm talking to you?"

Alicia's eyes glowed red. Claire raised a hand and stopped her. Instead, she merely tapped the ground.

"What are you doi—" The rest of the girl's words became a gurgle.

Water cocooned around her at a speed far surpassing hers.

"You really want to know why?" Claire raised a finger, her azure eyes chilling as the girl rose into the air, squirming within a bubble. She had been fast enough to hold her breath, but the continual swishing and movement of the liquid within kept her from swimming out like a suction force. A moment later, the temperature of the air dropped and that cocoon of water froze over as the fearful expression of the adventurer was etched in place.

"I'm taken." She threw her aside.

The ball of ice slammed against the walls of the adventure guild with a bang and shattered into a spray of splinters that the ice queen stopped with but a hand. She waved and they dissipated back to mana. She looked at the adventurers who already had shields up and shook her head for they didn't need them. Unconscious upon the floor was the girl with bad luck.

"For someone so needlessly weak, you sure were persistent," Claire said, breath frosted, ignoring the frightful gazes thrown her way as she fixed her gloved hand. Turning to her companions, she continued, "Now, where were we?"

". . ." Via goodwill was speechless. This girl really did become stronger in a matter of days. Now, she could wield water too? Was she really not a hero? Something in her head clicked. "No way. . .don't tell me you're the Guardian of Water?"

Claire smiled.

"Motherfucker!" Via's eyes widened.

"Miss. . .you're a bit. . ." Asta began. His figure shuddered.

"Hmm?" Claire turned to him.

"N-nevermind!"

Though she had just shattered many hearts around them, uncaring, Claire moved towards the receptionist lines with a grinning Alicia in toe. Indeed, she was already taken. This wasn't a harem isekai and she had no wish for it to be.

'Besides,' She thought, love clouding her eyes, 'Why me? Alicia's right here.'

She still thought her partner the most beautiful girl she knew.

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