The Straw Millionaire, the Cat, and the Princess Volume 1 Chapter 4 part 1

Chapter Four: Bravado, Cats, and Big Things

On a chilly Wednesday morning in early February, we waited for someone in the parking lot of a convenience store near the Tokyo Third Dungeon, located within a cemetery.
“Why did we agree to meet here…?! It’s freezing because of the wind bouncing from the buildings!”
“Well, they wanted to do the exchange in the car, so we didn’t have a choice.”
The cold February wind pierced through to the bone, making our hands tremble as we held our quickly cooling coffees. While we wished to pass the time inside, the convenience store, being the nearest one to the dungeon entrance and early in the morning, was packed with people. There was no chance of leisurely reading magazines in such a crowded place.
“For moments like this, we should get a car too!”
“Don’t be silly. Where would we even park it?”
Parking fees in Tokyo were exorbitant. Even if the car itself could be put in a junkyard, we’d still need proof of parking space just to buy it.
“Mars should wear clothes”
“Poptees have fur, so …… “
Even though I meant that fur alone wouldn’t suffice… Damn it, if personal climate control systems became available for trade, I’d secure one no matter what it takes… I looked up at the high February sky, where clouds raced by at breakneck speed, and made a firm resolution in my heart.
In the end, the party we were waiting for, led by Abukuma-san, arrived soon after in a pastel-colored SUV.
“Sorry to keep you waiting! I’m the leader of our group.”
“Nice to meet you formally, although we’ve done business before. I’m Iida, leader of Ebisu Hedgehog. Sorry for making this difficult.”
“Ah, thanks. I’m Kawashima, and this is my partner, Mars.”
Despite feeling a bit intimidated by Iida-san’s sharp eyebrows, we shook hands firmly.
“I’m Yoshikawa.”
“I’m Takai.”
We exchanged handshakes with Yoshikawa-san, the girl with glasses, and Takai-san, who had black hair tied in a ponytail. They were adventurers, and despite being women, they all had strong, sturdy hands.
“Shall we proceed with the exchange?”
With a brief greeting, Iida-san opened the trunk of the SUV. Inside were sturdy plastic boxes stacked neatly. Towards the back, I caught sight of long cases that probably held crossbows, along with bags bearing the logo of an outdoor equipment brand. Bundles of segmented spears, possibly for assembly, were arranged from the trunk to the back seat.
“We’ll take all of these boxes and gun cases, please.”
I took out a weight scale and placed the boxes on it one by one. By subtracting my pre-measured weight from the displayed weight, we could determine the weight of the items.
“This is quite analog.”
“It’s the most reliable method.”
Under Abukuma-san’s watchful gaze, I continued weighing and storing the items.
“Mars is noting down the weights and number of boxes on my phone.”
“Four boxes and four gun cases, totaling just over twenty kilograms. Let’s round it up to twenty kilos extra.”
“Thank you.”
Iida-san took out a thick branded wallet and handed me one hundred thousand yen.
“Half as an advance, and the rest after the job. Is that okay?”
“Yes, that’s fine.”
I counted the money she gave me before putting it away securely.
“So, as planned, we’ll need the supplies by nine a.m. on Friday.”
We had already sorted out the details through DMs on social media. Ebisu Hedgehog would start their dive into the depths on Thursday, receive the supplies on Friday morning, and meet again here on Sunday morning to return the items.
“Alright then, see you later!”
With her usual slightly dimpled smile, Abukuma-san waved goodbye as they drove off towards their hideout.
“Tonbo, let’s grab another coffee.”
“Sure thing, let’s go.”
With our bodies chilled to the bone, we staggered towards the convenience store.




It was the scheduled supply day for Abukuma-san’s party, who had requested our help with transporting goods. The area around the dungeon entrance had an ominous atmosphere.
“Have you managed to contact them inside?”
“We don’t even know if the Wi-Fi survived the cave-in.”
“All other guild members have been accounted for. The only ones left behind are Ebisu hedgehogs and Ito Hunting party.”
“They must be the ones chasing after the bounty all the way in…”
The administrative staff of the guild gathered with solemn expressions, while adventurers stared at the entrance of the dungeon, still equipped.
“Procurement Specialist!”
As we hesitated in such an unusual atmosphere, we were addressed by Kimu-san, who had for once removed his balaclava, revealing his face.
“Kimu-san, what’s going on?”
“Something happened?”
“You guys, don’t enter today. Five more charred bodies were found. Moreover, after they were carried out, a collapse occurred due to an earthquake, leaving the Ebisu and Itoh groups trapped inside.”
“What! That’s dangerous!”
“This is bad. Rumor has it that those inside are not just ordinary fire-breathing lizards. We might have to seal off the entrance with explosives and concrete, potentially locking down the eastern section as well.”
“What about the people inside, like Abukuma-san!?”
“We don’t even know if they’re still alive. I remember back in Nagano, when something similar happened, four parties ended up wiped out…”
Kimu-san’s words brought unpleasant thoughts to mind. My heart pounded, and a chill ran down my spine as if water had been poured from my heels to my back.
Those people I shook hands with the day before… wiped out? The smiling face of Abukuma-san, showing her front teeth, flashed through my mind, and the firm sensation of her palm resurfaced at the tip of my trembling hand.
Mars in the baby carrier looked at me with concern, tapping my stomach. Despite it being midwinter, sweat trickled down my neck. I tried to swallow saliva but ended up choking, so I grabbed a bottle of oolong tea from the junkyard and took a sip. As something entered my mouth, I felt slightly calmer. It’s okay, it’s okay. It’s not confirmed they’re dead yet.
“At that time, nobody could enter. The snow was so bad, even ambulances couldn’t…”
While ignoring Kimu-san’s story, I mentally calculated the last possible moment. Falling rocks were the worst, but I could manage with barriers. I could store the falling rocks. With my barrier that could nullify beams, I would probably be fine against dragon flames. Counting each thing I could do, I slowly exhaled.
“…I might be able to do it.”
What I arrived at was the fact that maybe I could go and help them if it was me. And with the strong self I saw in that dream, I was convinced that I would go to help without hesitation.
Whether it was a sense of justice, recklessness, or perhaps admiration, the heat in my heart, whose nature I didn’t understand, slightly outweighed the freezing fear gripping me. The assumption of “I might be able to do it” turned into a conviction of “I can do it.” The hesitation of “I might regret not going” swiftly turned into a determination of “Then I must go.”
Driven by such heat, I clenched my trembling lower lip with my chattering teeth and made a decision that I myself couldn’t tell whether it was right or wrong.
“Kimu-san. I’ll go inside… Actually, I promised to resupply Ebisu today…”
“You idiot! Don’t be dragged into this!”
Bang! There was a tremendous sound as Kimu-san’s large, hard palm slapped my left cheek. Since I hadn’t activated my barrier yet, I took the hit directly, and my head spun.
“You can’t do anything, calm down!”
Perhaps it was the effect of the slap I received for the first time since childhood, but my narrowed field of vision returned rapidly due to the shock.
“…No, I can store rocks and stuff, so I can go deeper.”
As soon as I said that aloud, it seemed like the heat that had been inside me until a moment ago settled firmly in my gut.
That’s right, regardless of whether there’s danger in the dungeon right now, if I want to save the people inside, I’m the only one who can go. If I try to clear the rubble with heavy machinery, I’ll undoubtedly be killed by monsters in the meantime.
As I resolved myself, a cat’s paw stretched out from my chest and lightly tapped my trembling jaw.
“Yeah, I have a barrier, so I’ll be fine.”
“Oh, if you put it that way… but it’s still dangerous!”
“Um, but… If I don’t go here, I feel like I’ll regret it for the rest of my life…”
As I said that, trembling my jaw, Kimu-san looked at me with a puzzled expression.
“What’s wrong?”
“No, I feel like my teeth are loose…”
“If you’re an adventurer too, you should toughen up a bit! But make sure to come back alive…”
“I’ll explain it to the Guild. If you’re going, prepare properly!”
After firmly patting my shoulder, Kimu-san immediately headed towards the Guild office.
“Alright? Make sure to contact us when you reach the 5-kilometer mark! We can’t come to help if there’s no contact!”
I put the sturdy radio handed to me by the Guild staff into the chest pocket of my jacket and nodded repeatedly. The jacket pocket was stuffed with farewell gifts from adventurers, such as food, a LED-lighted whistle, and various types of charms.
“Don’t overdo it, Procurement Specialist! Make sure to come back!”
“When you return, I’ll let you drink to your heart’s content, so don’t you dare die!”
“We’re counting on you with Iida and Ito!”
Looking around at everyone’s faces, unable to say anything, I stepped into the dungeon. The air mixed with dust felt different from usual. The complete darkness without a light source was also different from usual.
I turned on both the night vision mode and echolocation mode of the Galactic Police’s life support device. Tensing my body as if it were my first time entering here, I advanced.
“Mars, are you okay?”
“Hmm? What?”
Mars didn’t tell me to go or not to go. But he didn’t ask me to “let him down” either.
“I might die.”
“Dying is just a part of life in space. If we get hit by a pirate’s cannon, we’ll all move on to the next life together.”
“We’re going deep underground now.”
“Being buried alive and being thrown out into space to die are all the same.”
And… he continued.
“This place isn’t a battlefield yet. There’s no need to be scared at all.”
In the darkness, amidst the warmth I felt in my abdomen, I sensed him yawning.

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