Grimgal Of Ashes And Illusion / Grimgal of Ashes and Illusion Vol 3 Chapter 7

LEVEL 3: Even the Best Laid Plans go Awry, but Such is This World

Chapter 7: Late Into Night

Time seemed to fly by after all was said and done.

They visited the Crimson Moon headquarters to sign themselves up for Operation Twin-Headed Snake and then continued to go through their daily routine, though with a good amount of restlessness. Before they realized it, the day before the start of the offensive had come.

All participants were instructed to gather early in the morning—more accurately, the simultaneous attacks on Capomorti Fortress and Steelbone Stronghold were to begin at dawn, so they were ordered to assemble at three in the morning outside Altana’s north gate. The bell toll that kept track of the time only rang once every two hours after six in the evening and it wasn’t like any of them owned watches.

Watches were indeed sold in the marketplace but only someone like a dwarvish craftsman was able to make such things. They were so outrageously expensive that Haruhiro’s eyes almost fell out of their sockets when he saw the price tag. Luckily for them though, there was a wall clock near the entrance of the reserve soldier lodge they could use to keep track of time.

The goal was to wake up at two o’clock, or something like that. Well, as long as one person woke up, they could rouse the others, so Haruhiro figured that it would work out one way or another. In order to prepare for the early start tomorrow, they all went to sleep right after the sun had set—rather, they all climbed into their bunks and made a valiant effort.

“Damn it, I give up!” Ranta declared loudly as he flailed about on his bunk in the pitch-black room.

Ranta was always tossing and turning in his sleep, but this time Haruhiro joined him.

“I can’t force myself to sleep this early,” Ranta continued.

“Y-yeah,” Mogzo agreed. “I like getting a lot of sleep, but this is too early, even for me.”

“Let’s go then!” Ranta replied loudly. “Let’s BUM RUSH it!”

“Bum rush what?” Haruhiro said. “And quit being so loud. Just because you can’t sleep, doesn’t mean others aren’t trying to.”

“Er, Ranta, where are you planning to go?” Mogzo asked quizzically.

“The girls’ room o’course!” Ranta said gleefully.

“Huh?” Mogzo replied in disbelief.

Haruhiro sighed. “Don’t be dumb, Ranta. What would we even do if we went?”

“We could do THAT,” Ranta said stubbornly.

“‘That’?” Haruhiro asked.

“Of course, that!” Ranta said.

“What’s that?”

“Uhhh…” Ranta paused.

“Uh?”

“Yeah.”

“Yeah?” Haruhiro persisted.

“Hm.”

“‘Hm’ what?”

“What’s what?” Ranta said.

“Don’t ask me,” Haruhiro said. “You’re the one who started it. Quit saying stuff when you’ve got no idea what you want to say.”

“I’m thinking about it right now,” Ranta insisted. “I’m thinking really hard! Um… uhh… MOGZO, GO FOR IT!”

“M-m-me?” Mogzo stuttered. “Erm… uhh…”

“Hang in there, Mogzo! You can do it!” Ranta encouraged. “Just a little more!”

“Arm-wrestling?” Mogzo finally ventured.

“What!? Don’t be an idiot!” Ranta spat. “No one goes to the girls’ room to arm-wrestle! Are you a pervert or something? We’re gonna go for THAT! For, uh… BOOBS!”

“Err…” Haruhiro said.

“What, Haruhiro!?” Ranta exclaimed. “What’s that ‘er’ for? You like boobs too, don’t you? You’re a man, aren’t you? ALL MEN LOVE BOOBS!”

“How do you know what I like and don’t like?” Haruhiro challenged.

“Ah-ha… so you’re saying you hate ‘em?” Ranta shot back. “So if you got boobs shoved in your face right now, you’d just turn away!? Even if they were massive triple-D sized!?”

“Hm… I don’t think I’d just turn away,” admitted Haruhiro.

“What about you, Mogzo? You like boobs, right?” asked Ranta.

“W-well… I-I guess…? Just as much as the next guy…” replied Mogzo.

“Forget it, Mogzo,” advised Haruhiro. “We don’t have to join Ranta in his stupid conversations.”

“Oy!” Ranta shouted. “You guys admitted it so it’s decided! The male primates within us are calling, so let’s go!”

“You still haven’t told us what we’re going to do when we get there,” Haruhiro pointed out.

“We’re gonna fondle, o’course!” Ranta declared. “FONDLE AND RUB AND FONDLE SOME MORE!”

“That’s rape, Ranta,” Haruhiro said coldly.

“Nuh-uh! No one said we’re going that far!” Ranta protested. “It’s like a massage! We’re just gonna ‘massage’ their boobs! It’s no problem! We’re totally safe!”

“You’d still lose your decent human being status.”

“Okay, yeah,” Ranta admitted.

“Exactly.”

“But you know,” Ranta continued a much more serious tone. “There’s no point if it’s unwanted anyways. She’s gotta say, ‘Please Ranta, touch me here,’ or it’s weird. The girl’s gotta want do you to do it, you know?”

“Ranta…” Haruhiro began. “What’s up with you all of a sudden?”

“Idiot! I’m at my most gentlemanly at times like this!” said Ranta. “Besides, you guys know right? Even Yume and Shihoru want a knight in shining armor in their lives. They’re girls after all!”

“Ah…” Mogzo nodded, as if he found himself agreeing with Ranta’s point.

Haruhiro turned onto his side. “And that’s what all girls want?”

“Hell yeah!” said Ranta. “Girls can’t resist a good romance, even if they tried. Especially secret romances where forces of nature and overprotective dads and stuff try to break them up. Yeah, uhh… okay, not a good example. Forget that. But seriously, all girls have nothing but romance on their minds all the time because they’re girls. Yume and Shihoru are thinking about it even now. They’re talking about it. Shihoru is saying ‘He’s my type of guy,’ and Yume is saying ‘I like him,‘ to each other right this moment. I know it.”

“I highly doubt it.”

“Haruhiro, you seriously don’t understand girls at all. Girls are strange creatures that don’t need to eat as long as they have love. If they happen to trip and fall, it ain’t regular falling, it’s falling in love. If they fall seven times, eight of those will be in love. That’s what girls do. So, Haruhiro. What about you?”

“Huh? What about me?” Haruhiro asked.

“Who’s the girl for you?”

“What?”

The question took Haruhiro by complete surprise. Yume’s and Shihoru’s faces suddenly appeared in his mind’s eye. Who appeared first though? He didn’t know. They kept switching places with each other, fading away then appearing again.

“Who, huh…”

“How about I take a wild guess for you?” Ranta offered. “It’s Yume, isn’t it?”

“Huh? Why do you say that?”

“I’m right, aren’t I? If it was just about looks, then it would be Mary hands down, but she’s way outta your league. Shihoru has high value boobs and I guess her face can be considered sorta cute but she’s got a pain in the ass personality and she’s immune to the usual pickup lines. The way I see it, for a guy like you with zero self-esteem who’s also indecisive as shit, an airhead like Yume’s your only bet.”

“And being cautious is a bad thing…” Haruhiro said.

“How’s it a good thing?” Ranta retorted. “It’s annoying as fuck and ain’t gonna win you points with the ladies. Quit being so wishy-washy and try saying stuff confidently for once.”

“Ranta, you know you’re unpopular with the ladies, too,” said Haruhiro. “Even if it’s for totally different reasons.”

And besides, Ranta’s guess was totally off. Haruhiro would have told Ranta that he was completely wrong, but he was under no obligation to politely correct Ranta’s flawed thinking. Besides, the line of questioning itself was moot. Haruhiro simply didn’t look at any of the girls on his team in a romantic way. At least so far… or so he thought. Maybe.

“Ha!” Ranta scoffed. “I’m bursting with gentlemanly charm. You just can’t see it because you can’t score a date with a girl to save your life. Whatever, I’ve lost interest in you Haruhiro. Mogzo! Who do you like?”

“Uh…” Mogzo hesitated. “No one in particular…?”

“No way,” Ranta said. “There’s gotta be someone. When you’ve got boys mixed with girls, there’s gotta be someone. Males sort, separate, and select available females by base instinct.”

“You make us sound like savage beasts, putting it that way,” said Mogzo.

“We’re living creatures, aren’t we?” Ranta replied. “Gotta be savage while we’re still young. What’re we gonna do if we ain’t, huh? Damn straight! So, Mogzo, who are you gonna mate with?”

“Ranta…” Haruhiro, tone warning.

“What?” Ranta said. “What do you want, Haruhiro? I’m just saying it like it is. Boys chase after girls because it’s in our nature. And that’s the truth.”

“But Ranta…” Mogzo started. “I don’t think of it like that at all.”

“Then what do you think, huh?” Ranta challenged. “Go ahead, try me. Say what you think.”

“I-it’s more like…a sort of longing that starts from admiration…” Mogzo said.

“Oh? Go on,” Ranta prompted.

“And I also think to myself, ‘She’s so beautiful’…”

“A-ha!” Ranta cut in. “It’s Mary isn’t it!? It’s her you’re chasing, isn’t it!?”

“W-what!?” Mogzo exclaimed. “R-Ranta… how did you know!? But it’s not like chasing or anything…”

“Of course I know!” Ranta said. “Mary’s the only one outta the three who’s actually hot!”

Haruhiro shook his head. “Do you do anything with that mouth of yours except insult others? You’re the rudest guy ever.”

“You’re dead wrong, Haruhiro,” Ranta answered. “I’m a guy who just says it like it is. Nothing but the truth comes out of this mouth. One look at Yume and Shihoru is enough to tell anyone that they ain’t in the ‘Hot’ category. But maybe those sleepy eyes of yours just can’t tell!”

“That joke is dead, Ranta,” Haruhiro said. “I’ve told you several times so quit it already.”

“Yeah, whatever,” Ranta brushed him off. “But Mogzo, nicely done! It wouldn’t expect any less from my business partner!”

“Heh…” Mogzo smiled hesitantly. “B-but… I really do think so. I think she’s beautiful.”

“And you know,” Ranta continued. “Mary said it before. She said she prefers you outta the three of us.”

“Ah, yeah. Actually that’s when I… I started to pay attention… I started to notice, you know?” Mogzo replied.

“Pay attention?” Haruhiro muttered to himself under his breath.

Mogzo started to notice his own… well, “desires” wasn’t exactly the right word for it, but Mogzo’s confession surprised Haruhiro nonetheless.

Ranta laughed, good-naturedly for once, and Haruhiro could tell that he was growing more excited by the second.

“Mogzo, you’re awesome!” Ranta said. “You gotta go after her! Chase, chase, chase until you’ve got her! You gotta pursue it!”

“Uh… but I don’t think I’m that kind of person,” Mogzo admitted.

“Mogzo,” Ranta said. “You’re my business partner so I’m gonna give you some advice, okay? People live a long time, but life is really short, too. You gotta do stuff while you can, otherwise you’ll end up regretting it. So that’s why you should just ask her out!”

“N-no way!” Mogzo said, shocked. “I can’t do that!”

“It’s fine! Just do it!” Ranta assured him. “Ask her out tomorrow!”

“I told you, I don’t think I can do it…” Mogzo insisted.

“You can’t because you think you can’t! If you believe you can, then you can! That’s the way it works, right Haruhiro!?”

“Uhhh…” Haruhiro replied. “I dunno… I guess so? And don’t drag me into this all of a sudden.”

“Dumbass!” Ranta spat. “You don’t support Mogzo? Friends support each other! You’re his friend, aren’t you?”

“Support?” Haruhiro repeated. “I’m not being unsupportive of him…”

“You don’t want him to be happy!?” Ranta continued.

“No, I do.”

“So that’s why it’s better if he just asks her out! He’s gotta ask her out! Do the Will-You-Date-Me Dance!”

“What the heck is that?” Haruhiro said. “The Will-You-Date-Me Dance?”

“The traditional dance you do when you ask someone out!” Ranta explained. “It has been done since the lost ages! Why? Because I decided just now! Mogzo, get dancing!”

“I won’t be able to fall asleep if I do,” Mogzo said.

“Oh. Right,” Ranta conceded. “I don’t really want to see you try to bust out any moves either. I just wanted to say it. Because I’m first-class.”

“More like third-class,” Haruhiro quipped.

“I don’t want to hear that from a fifth-class person,” Ranta shot back.

“What about you then, Ranta?” Haruhiro said instead. “You asked me and Mogzo, but you never told us who you prefer.”

“Yeah…” Mogzo agreed. “Tell us, Ranta.”

“Me? You guys talking about me?” Ranta said. “You guys really wanna know?”

“I don’t know if I really want to know,” Haruhiro admitted. “Call it morbid curiosity.”

“I-I think I want to know,” Mogzo said.

“You guys really, really want to know?” Ranta asked.

“Actually, I don’t really want to know after all,” Haruhiro replied.

“I really want to know,” Mogzo said with conviction this time.

“Well…” Ranta said. “If you guys want to know that much, then I guess…”

Although he couldn’t see in the pitch dark room, Haruhiro got the feeling that Ranta had just turned over on his bunk. Actually, Ranta made it really obvious that he had turned away from them. Did he do it on purpose? Yeah, he totally did.

“Like I would tell you, retards!” he finally said.

“What the hell, Ranta!?” exclaimed Haruhiro.

“That’s just mean, Ranta,” accused Mogzo.

Ranta laughed in response. “No one is gonna get Lord Ranta to give up his secrets so easily! But I’ve got both of yours now!”

“Not fair!” Haruhiro said.

“Yeah! It’s completely unfair if you don’t tell us,” Mogzo chimed in.

“If you guys really want to know, then get over here and try making me tell you!” Ranta said. “But you won’t be able to no matter what!”

“Yeah we can,” Haruhiro said darkly.

“I’ll twist your arm off if I have to!” Mogzo declared.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” Ranta shouted. “Mogzo—OW THAT HURTS! Guys, wait a—ARGHHHHHHHHH!!!”

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