Squatjaw’s Amusement Park of Mystery (1)

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“By the way, that guy… I haven’t seen him around these days?”

Leo’s question came out of the blue, but it was enough to energize the party, who had been getting tired of the tedious journey.

They had been trekking for two days across a barren field, with nothing to see but sand and wind.

“You mean that Squatjaw?”

“Now that you say it.
It always felt strange, like he was circling around us.”

Leo looked back at Yan, who had been silent so far, and asked a question.

“You know something, don’t you? About him?”

“Well, um… me, me too…”

“He was with you back then.
Before you fought me.”

“Well, that was because that guy impersonated one of our members…”

“Impersonated? Really? Because he has a different identity every time he appears.”

Then Kiriko brought out the same words that he’d repeated every time the topic of Squatjaw had come up for discussion before.

“Isn’t he a secret agent of the International Council? I can smell it.”

“Isn’t that just a problem with your nose? And you don’t even know what secret agents do, do you?”

“I don’t need to know something like that.
You know that makes him a secret agent? The important point is that his identity changes every time.
Other than the secret agents of the International Council, who else would change their identity every time like that? Those guys are the ones who can deceive even veteran adventurers.”

“It’s not even funny.
Anyone who listens would think that you’re one of those veteran adventurers, Mr.
Kiriko.
You dolt.”

Despite saying something like that, Siana couldn’t hide her smile as she looked at Kiriko.

Oddly enough, she seemed to enjoy making fun of him.

“Anyway, that’s not the point.
Whether he is an enemy or not, is the question.”

“So what if he’s an enemy, he’s a funny guy.
Where did he go anyway?”

“Who knows.
He might pop out of nowhere again sometime.”

Then,

“I…”

Yan, who’d been hesitating, spoke up.

“Somehow, I think we’ll see each other soon?”

“What?”

“What do you mean?”

“How do you know?”

“It’s, just… at the end of this field, somehow I feel like he’s waiting for us…”

Yan’s remarks were quite interesting.
Because this kind of talk was the favourite of some veteran adventurers.

“Oh oh… are you saying this as a guide?”

“I, I’ve been told before that I have bright eyes…”

At that moment,

“Oh, over there! See down there!”

Kiriko, who’d been walking a little ahead, exclaimed suddenly.

His eyes, which were pointed to the front following his finger, were dyed with astonishment.

And beyond that finger, a strange sight stretched out beyond the suddenly sunken terrain.

“Hey, what is that?”

“Castle? But how could there suddenly be a castle in a place like this…”

“No, wait… It looks like a castle, but those definitely look like rides in the back… Is it an amusement park?”

There was a huge amusement park, right in the middle of the road.

There was nothing else around.
Just it.

“What?”

“What, what?”

Only Leo had a different reaction.

“Wow! I was getting so bored, this is great! You all want to go take a look?”

“But that… doesn’t that look really suspicious any way you see it?”

Siana questioned carefully, but she couldn’t slow down Leo’s already excited footsteps.

“That’s the taste of adventure! Let’s go, let’s go!”

That was then –

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– Welcome to Squatjaw’s Amusement Park of Mystery.

A young voice came from somewhere.

“Squatjaw?”

“Squatjaw? That Squatjaw!?”

Something caught Leo’s eyes as he whirled around searching for the source of the voice.

“Oh, over there!”

Leo was pointing to the front entrance of the amusement park.

A little kid in a Pierrot mask stood there, holding a megaphone in one hand.

As if in response to Leo pointing, the little Pierrot spoke on the megaphone.

– Go play.
There are so many fun gadgets.

Leo went up to the little Pierrot and asked,

“Does Squatjaw own this amusement park?”

“Yes.”

“How can I meet him?”

“Squatjaw is inside the amusement park.
You can meet whenever you come in.”

“Really? Then can I take a look?”

But as Leo was about to enter, the little Pierrot stopped him.

“Wait, there’s an entrance fee.
It’s a million gold.”

“What?”

It was an embarrassing amount to even hear.

“What’s so expensive!”

“Then, 500,000 gold.”

“…?”

“You won’t be wasting money.
You can make dozens of times that much in here.
Just 500,000 gold isn’t enough for you to get cold feet, right?”

“… ‘Course not!”

Leo readily took the money out of his pocket and handed it to the little Pierrot mask.

Of course, it was Siana’s money.

“What about the rest of you?”

“Well, let’s just go in once.”

“Hmm, it’s suspicious, but it can’t be helped.”

Kiriko and Siana also handed over their entry fees following Leo’s example.

“Hey, I don’t have any money…”

“Here’s for this guy.”

“Yes, Thank you.
Then I will let you enter.”

The little Pierrot mask, receiving Yan’s entry fee from Siana, quickly put all the money into his sleeves and opened the front gate.

– Four guests will enter!

The amusement park stretching out beyond the gate was like a new world.
Gardens that were a riot of colours filled with exotic flowers, all kinds of rides and shops scattered around, and even people running around laughing raucously.

It was a landscape in stark contrast to the desolate wilderness outside.

“Look over there! A roller coaster! There’s even a gyrodrop!”

“Are you a kid…”

“Didn’t you come here to meet that Squatjaw?”

Besides Leo, who was openly excited, even Kiriko and Siana’s faces were dyed with excitement despite their protests.

“Oh, there’s even an ice cream shop… Hey…”

And Yan, too.

While everyone was engrossed in the new environment –

“By the way, you’re lucky, sir guests.”

The little Pierrot, who came in after them, spoke quietly.

“There’s a game event running in our amusement park right now.
Would you like to participate?”

“A game event?”

“Yes, we took the most popular games in the park and changed them into a separate event format, but it doesn’t happen every day.
There are a lot of different games, and even prizes.”

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“Oh, really?”

“How about it? You can both enjoy the game and earn money.
Two birds, one stone.”

Leo answered without hesitation.

“Let’s do it!”

And,

“What’re the events?”

“Can we all participate?”

Kiriko and Siana also intervened enthusiastically.

Seeing this, the little Pierrot raised his hand asking them to calm down.

“There are several events, so why not participate one by one? First off, what about this red-haired gunslinger here?”

Approaching Kiriko, he quietly gave him an offer.

“Isn’t there one game that a lot of people especially like? ‘Shoot at the Sunset!’ It’s a kind of gunfight, you just have to hit a moving target.
Why not try participating once? I think you’ll do well.”

“A gunfight?”

“Yes.
Even the prize money is huge.
If you beat the current champion, you’ll get 100 million gold on the spot.”

“100 million? 100 million in prize money?”

Looking at the surprised Kiriko, the little Pierrot continued whispering.

“Yes, but the participation fee is only one hundredth of that.
One million gold.”

“Huh? A million-gold participation fee?”

The little boy looked surprised at the question.

“Oh my, why are you surprised? Can’t you make 100 million gold with just 1 million? Aren’t you confident? Why are you even carrying those guns then? Are those just fakes? What about that handsome red hair, is that fake too?”

“Hey, who said I’m not? It’s no big deal to hit a few targets.”

Then, once Kiriko handed over the money,

“Good for you!”

Without anyone saying anything, the little Pierrot shouted on the megaphone.

– Champion! A cheeky opponent has appeared to challenge you!

And simultaneously,

“What? Challenge the champion?”

“Who is this cheeky bastard!?”

“Hey, over there!”

People from all over the amusement park gathered in an instant, as if they’d been waiting for this moment.

Putting our heroes in a really awkward situation.

“What, who are these guys?”

“Are they all one gang?”

“I told you this place was suspicious!”

While the three of them were hesitating because of the sudden crowd of onlookers,

“Uh, uh, uh, uh, over there!”

Yan pointed to a spot in the distance.

Right there, a man with a jutting chin wearing a cowboy hat was barely visible, riding a merry-go-round.

The onlookers, also becoming aware, started clamouring.

“Wow!

“It’s the champion!”

“It’s the gunfighting champion, Squatjaw the Cowboy!”

It was a very strange and bizarre situation.

“Do you mean that Squatjaw is the current champion?”

“What’s he cooking up this time?”

Leo felt he needed to have a bout with the guy.

They hadn’t seen him for a few days, and here he was already planning something crazy.

“Should I call him right now? Hey! Squatjaw!”

Oddly enough, despite Leo calling him a few times, the other party pretended not to hear and kept picking his ears.

Little Pierrot sneaked in a few words from the side.

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“If you want to call the champion, you have to shout out that you are going to challenge him first.
That’s the rule here.”

“Challenge?”

“If you want to compete with him, you have to ask him first.”

“Oh my gosh, it’s all so annoying.”

Still, Kiriko meekly followed the Pierrot’s words.

“Hey, Squatjaw! You call yourself a gunfighter champ? Let’s have a match, you bastard!”

Then,

“Which kid dared challenge me to a match?”

The Cowboy got off the merry-go-round as if he’d been waiting for this moment.

A deep smile filled his lips as he slowly trotted over.

“Alright, I accept the match.”

– From now on, we’ll start the popular game of Squatjaw’s Amusement Park of Mystery, ‘Shoot at the Sunset!’.

– The rules are simple.

– All you have to do is hit the moving target.

– However, guns and bullets are not provided.

– The cheeky challenger will go first.
It’s this red-haired kid!

Along with the introduction from little Pierrot mask, the onlookers began to boo.

“Boo!”

“You cheeky little bastard!”

“You’ll definitely lose!”

Leo also started cheering for his teammate.

“Kiriko! Set an example!”

“Mr.
Kiriko you dolt! Can’t you even do this?”

“Come on, good luck!”

Siana and Yan also joined the cheering squad.

Kiriko calmly entered the shooting range with an unconcerned gait.

“Just watch.”

Whatever the planners planned, or the onlookers booed, or that there were no bullets, it didin’t matter.

It made him want to laugh.
Because he didn’t need bullets in the first place.

The red sun was blazing beyond the shooting range.

“Good.”

The scene reminded him of his youth, when he’d devoted himself to shooting practice like an ascetic.

It was as if all his nerves were on the edge and ready to fire.
In this state, he couldn’t miss the target even if he wanted to.

Soon, something dark sprung up in the distance.
It looked like a human shadow, and that must’ve been the target.

Kiriko pulled out his revolver, giving the chamber a quick spin.

The magic bullets defaulted to the ‘Explosion’ type.
However, since that risked raising a large dust cloud, he immediately changed it to ‘Penetration’.

Then, he fired a magic bullet straight at the target in the distance.

He could hit a target that size with his eyes closed.
What’s more, if it was that slow…

That was then –

“Huh?”

The number of targets he needed to hit and knock down quickly increased to dozens.
Their sizes also reduced significantly, and they even started moving quickly from side to side.

“Oh, hey, hey, this is fun.”

Kiriko continuously fired magic bullets as the targets popped up.
Although the targets were moving faster, it was not enough for him to use ‘rapid fire’.

And then,

“Is it over?”

The targets stopped appearing.

Every bullet had hit the bull’s eye.
There was no need for even an extra shot.

Kiriko tucked the revolver back at his waist and returned to his seat.

– Here we are, the red-haired kid with the gun is back at his seat! Has his score been counted? Are you done? Yes! It’s been counted! Now, that kid’s score is…!

Kiriko checked the scorecard with a confident expression on his face.

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Then,

“Eh?”

He opened his mouth in embarrassment.

– 12 points! That’s 12 points! Did you all see that red-haired kid shoot aimlessly into the air? He really should’ve checked what the target was before he started shooting! All he managed was to hit it by some ricochets!

“What, what!? I got them all right! Isn’t the score wrong?”

But the little Pierrot didn’t even listen.

– Next is the champion! It’s the turn of Squatjaw the Cowboy!

“Wow!”

“Champion! Champion!”

“Show us your skills!”

Shortly thereafter, Squatjaw the Cowboy stepped into the shooting range.

“Hey, I’ll see how well you can shoot.”

While Kiriko was watching the scene with eyes mixed with dissatisfaction and absurdity –

Out of nowhere, Squatjaw jerked his head towards him.

And,

“Do you know which of the six magic bullets has the most destructive power?”

“… What?”

“It’s not ‘Explosion’ or ‘Penetration’.
It’s a combo of the two.”

It was an incomprehensible statement.

“Wait, how do you know about my unique ability…”

“How is that your unique ability?”

Squatjaw’s following words and actions almost made Kiriko pass out from surprise.

“It’s my unique ability.”

He pulled out two revolvers from his waist.
They looked just like Kiriko’s.

“What, what…”

Then, the two guns in Squatjaw’s hands began to emit blue light.

It was obviously the light that’d come out when two bullet types were combined.
That was a new skill that even Kiriko himself had just discovered.

“One piece of advice.
Before starting a game, it’s good to have a close look at the name of the game.
Especially if it’s a one-opportunity game.”

Squatjaw raised both revolvers up.

However, the two guns were not aimed at the dark targets that were suddenly rising up in the distance.

Rather, they were aimed at nothing other than the huge sun at the horizon scattering the red light of dusk.

“No, that, that…”

Soon after,

Bang! Bang!

Two magic bullets were fired from the revolvers, blazing trails of blue.

Then, the magic bullets flying into the distance suddenly collided with something invisible.

Claaaaannngggggg –.

It seemed that the ‘real target’ was hidden somewhere in the air.

“…”

Kiriko stared at Squatjaw, who returned to his seat with a refreshed expression.

– Alright, here’s the score! The champion, Squatjaw the Cowboy scored a whopping 100 points! This time too, there was no changing of the guard! Look at that speechless redheaded kid over there! That’s great!

It was a trick.
It was an unfair game.

But at that moment, winning or losing was not important to Kiriko.

There was only one thought running through his mind right now.

Somebody stole his unique ability.

“What are you…?”

It was a question that had been asked many times already.
But the weight of the question this time was different from before.

For the first time, Kiriko was caught up in an urge to sincerely dig into Squatjaw’s identity.

However, Squatjaw just turned around leisurely, leaving only a sentence behind.

“If any of you beat me, then I’ll let you all know.”

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