And so Professor Morals left me with a difficult homework and left. He said he would come back after two days this time, I think?
“I should think on it a little during that time…”
“About what?” Lanuvel, who had picked up those words meant for myself, asked me with a tilted head.
“And what about you, Lanuvel. What are you doing here?”
“Me? Assisting Hero-nim!”
“I remember leaving you to clean up the aftermath at the black market though. Just the matter of sending the Elves’ corpses back to their home shouldn’t be so simple?”
The corpses of Elves had many uses as magic materials. If they were simply left at the black market, somebody would cut them up into parts and sell them off to magicians at a high price like meat from the butcher’s.
This was the one thing that had to be prevented—I couldn’t let others reap the fruits since I was the one who did the work!
I had to rack my head quite a bit in order to solve this problem.
The bereaved families of the black market guards who had fought together couldn’t be neglected, and moving so many Elf corpses from somewhere 5 floors underground to the royal palace would also take work; thus, I proceeded in the direction of fully utilizing the gold in my money bag and purchasing the Elves’ corpses at a low price, paying the handling fee to an associate of the black market to safely deliver them to the palace.
“How did the negotiation go with the Elf King?”
“I told the whole story using a magic orb so it went well. A group of envoys from the Elf country are expected to visit the kingdom before long, bringing with them the payment which Hero-nim strongly insisted on.”
“I see. That’s the most important thing.”
I had spent every penny I had in order to take over the Elf corpses from the black market. It would be a real headache if somebody didn’t fill up my money bag again. The people of villages and cities wouldn’t provide free shelter and clothes just because I was the hero who was going to save the world—it would be fortunately enough if they didn’t try to overcharge me as they would to tired and weary travelers.
If you didn’t have money for traveling, you would easily end up starving to death unless you took up mercenary work and labored like those heroes in novels or comics.
3 days had passed in this fantasy world.
Everyone had the wrong idea about my Level, thinking I was Level 4. And that was why even the Elf King couldn’t even imagine that his own daughter had picked a fight with the Hero and ended up killed in return, and there was no one who remembered my deeds in the previous incident as the black market guards were wiped out. Even Lanuvel thought the matter had ended in mutual destruction.
“Hey, Hero. It’s been going around that you’ve switched profession to an undertaker.”
… These kinds of rumors were truly trifling issues.
Alex, who had been training the palace knights at the training grounds exclusive to the palace, had come over after spotting me to taunt me.
My hazing would take place in these grounds two days later. Alex was apparently impatiently waiting for that day.
You and me both!
Sword King Alex was born to be the vanguard, or in English, a ‘Tanker’.
People held the misconception that a swordsman can only be amazing if he possesses swordsmanship that can figuratively cleave apart the world, but in reality the kind of swordsman that was wanted on a battlefield was one that could slay their enemies for a prolonged time while protecting their allies.
The reason why Alex would later be called the ‘Sword King’ was because he was not only capable of protecting his allies like an iron wall, but he could also carry out solo missions. He possessed a swordsmanship and endurance that even if he were dropped in the middle of enemy territory, he could leisurely return without being encircled.
The stronger version of a Sword King was a ‘Hero’.
“Correct. I’ve switched job to an undertaker. To ready your coffin, Alex.”
“… You could even defeat the Demon King with that tongue of yours.”
Looking back on my 1st Playthrough, Demon King Pedonar had a better way with his words, vexing though it may be. I was completed defeated in the battle of silver tongues.
But this time for sure I was going to win!
“Hero. I could skip those two days and start guiding you even today. You shouldn’t be going sniffing around in markets if you want to receive my forgiveness even a day sooner, no?”
“I’m not in a hurry, so scram.”
My Level would be brought to light when training began.
The one thing I wanted to avoid happening was the Elf King suspecting me, so it wouldn’t do not to act like someone Level 4 on the outside.
I planned on creating an excuse for my Level before long. I just had to hide it until I made it seem as if I had entered the ancient ruins of some deep forest and raised my Level.
‘Haven’t I grown quite a bit?’
I had put Professor Morals’ teachings to practice and was earnestly ‘enduring’. If it was the me of the past, I would have already cut Alex’s throat in a fit of anger, but now I had grown to the point where I could let his taunts pass like ‘water’.
Could it be that I’m a genius?
“Hero-nim. So what’s your plan for today?” Lanuvel asked warily.
Had yesterday’s events at the black market been such a shock to her? I found this hard to understand. It wasn’t as if I had piled up a mountain of corpses, after all.
“I should strike up a friendship with our new companion.”
“Ahh… that mercenary.”
I had been forgotten about it from yesterday due to the Elf matter, but the mercenary slave who was supposed to be turned into my EXP was saved and brought to the palace.
“Has his health recovered somewhat?”
Seeing as how Professor Morals did warn of not viewing weak comrades as EXP, I planned on using the slave as a luggage-carrier or the like.
In the 1st Playthrough I had even adventured to the remote parts of Fantasia in search of legacies of ancient civilizations, legendary relics and such, but this time around I had no intention of wasting time wandering about.
I was going to choose my destinations only as necessary to my needs.
“Yes! He’s been hugely motivated ever since hearing that he’d become the Hero’s companion instead of a slave! I hear he’s eating so much to the point of frightening the palace chef and quickly recovering his stamina!”
“That’s a relief.”
It was a recovery speed that matched that of a Level 286. The effects that came with Levels survival-style in Fantasia were incredible. In exchange for being unable to concentrate and increase a desired status ability like in a role-playing game, you would gain an overall enhancement: lifespan, resistance, agility, strength, regenerative ability, five senses, magic power… There was no end to the list.
Hah! Really pisses me off the more I think about it. The Level I raised over 10 years resetted in just one trip back in time.
This return to the past had convinced me of something—a fantasy world was just fantasy in the end. I had confirmed the truth that all of the teaching staff and the mastermind behind them could reset my Level and Skills whenever they pleased if they so wished.
Magic, sorcery, martial arts, Elementalism, Engraving, Blessing… Fantasy skills that I could obtain with a little effort as someone with the fivefold-EXP perk. All of those weren’t ‘my things’. They were nothing but a figment of imagination that would disappear upon the intervention of some transcendental entity. Science was the one and only truth and power.
From now on I planned on drastically moderating my gathering of equipment as well as reducing my reliance on them since they would serve no meaning if they were confiscated upon my return to Earth, and this included the holy sword unique to the Hero. There was no way all the Heroes returning to Earth after defeating the Demon King would be given a portable nuclear weapon, unless it was with the intent of destroying Earth.
“Hm! There’s not as many places worth going to as I thought…”
Nothing much would remain of the fantasy world when excluding the fantasy part. Earth was overwhelmingly advanced in all aspects of science and technology. The one branch of science worth mentioning in this world was called ‘Magic Engineering’, while the rest were mainly a dubious fusion of science and magic. It wasn’t the kind of power I sought.
“Hero-nim. Where are you going today?” Lanuvel asked in a cutely serious tone.
Too tired to even tell her not to act cute, I instead calculated the distance to our destination in my mind.
“… It’s not a distance that can be traversed back and forth in a single day. It would still take two days even if we used the kingdom’s spatial transfer magic circle. We have to hurry the preparations for the journey starting today. We’ll set off as soon as we receive the payment from the Elf envoys.”
I didn’t have even the slightest thought of walking on my two feet. I intended on traveling swiftly and comfortable even if it costed a bit.
Wyverns, carriages, spatial transfer magic, large sailing ships, magic trains… There were quite many methods of getting around if you looked for it. And the biggest advantage of all these? The chances of being held back by running into a villager who brought danger on themselves by leaving the safety of their village or perhaps encountering some suspicious individuals become drastically lowered.
Time and safety could be bought with money—this was my firm belief.
“We’ll probably require His Majesty the King’s royal sanction if it’s far away.”
“He’ll approve. What that Dumpling King wants is something I know very well. He’ll obediently give permission so long as I promise to come back for sure after finishing my business, though it’s uncertain whether Alex will tag along as a monitor.”
“Is it a ruins?”
“No. We’ll be going to meet a mighty being.”
A great, grand and mighty being. If my spiritual mentor was the pub bartender Tony, the one I was going to meet was the mentor who granted me my physical power.
“An Elder Dragon…?”
“It’s an insult to compare that person to those flying lizards that can’t even amount to their own ages. That’s all you need to know.”
Lanuvel gazed at me with an interested look.
“I just found it curious that Hero-nim has someone you respect. You look down on others as if you know everything, after all.”
“I look down on them because they deserve it.”
The very idea of respecting these savages of Fantasia was a stretch in of itself. Imperials, royals, nobles and great merchants were no exception either. Would you be able to view as equals those who didn’t even invent flush toilets using their fancy magic and instead lived in a filthy manner?
It wasn’t as if they weren’t capable of it. These people didn’t do so because they felt it unnecessary—a difference that was not in civilization but in cultural awareness.
Afterwards, we talked about the items to be prepared for the journey, but there had been no need for me to take the lead on this topic because Archaeologist Lanuvel, who would go around searching for famous ruins and ancient temples, was extremely familiar with traveling. She lived up to being the ‘Hero’s Companion No.1’ who received the oracle.
Though it would be even better if she didn’t habitually act cute.
“Hero-nim, His Majesty is looking for you. I am to tell you that the group of envoys from the country of Elves, Elfheim, has just arrived.”
It was then that a palace knight approached us with swift footsteps to deliver a message.
Not even a day had yet to pass, yet the people of the Elf country had arrived. Perhaps it was only natural as their dearly precious princess had passed away.
As for me, I was happy with not having had to wait.
“Let the Dumpling—ahem! Let His Brilliant Majesty know that he may deal with them as he will. I just need to receive the money.”
“The envoy group requests to meet you, Hero-nim.”
“Ask His Majesty to refuse them.”
This should make that Dumpling King beam with a smile.
“It seems that will be a bit difficult, as it turns out the first prince of Elfheim has accompanied the envoy group…”
A disgustingly powerful middle-boss was calling for me.
There was no way I couldn’t go.
These Elf royalty theoretically lived forever.
Anti-aging was a basic feature that came along with all Elves and because they became completely immune to illnesses if their Level rose even a little, it was a truly rare occurrence for them to die outside of being murdered. What’s more, there weren’t even that many powerful individuals who could kill these Elf royalty.
This was due to the characteristic of Levels. A Level that was raised once wouldn’t go down even with the passing of time. While there were the occasional cases of Levels being stolen or lost under the effect of certain special powers, they would never deteriorate spontaneously. And then there was the fact that Elf royalty lived forever.
What’s the relation between those two things, you might ask?
It meant that Elf royalty would eternally grow stronger as their EXP piled up like layers of sediment. Of course, Skills could fall in rank or be forgotten and lost in the passing of years, but these would also rise steadily in proficiency like Levels as long as they were constantly polished.
And thus, this kind of monster would be born.
Level 999 was the limit of what could discerned using the Hero perk. If the Level was any higher than that, it would be shown as above with a plus sign.
Level 1000 would be shown as 999+.
Level 5000 would also be shown as 999+.
Thus from that point on, you had no choice but to estimate an opponent’s combat ability by relying on luck and instinct.
In the past, wary of this ‘invisible Level’, I had only trusted the widespread rumors around me and invested long years into training and adventuring. However, Demon King Pedonar had turned out to be far weaker than I had predicted.
In comparison to what I had experienced at that time, this handsome Elf was far higher up on the danger scale; the reason being that he wasn’t an opponent I had properly prepared myself to fight against like with the Demon King. And that was why I called him a ‘middle-boss’.
His history went as follows:
The incumbent Elf King enacted a national isolation policy. He cut off contact with the humans who occupied the middle continent of Fantasia and remained within the Elf country, maintaining seclusion for hundreds of years. And harboring opposition towards this, the first prince caused a rebellion. He murdered his own father and inherited the throne.
If memory serves correctly, his name was…
“I am Nasus. It is an immeasurable honor to meet the widely rumored great Hero of legend. I also do not know how to express my thanks regarding your protecting my sister and fellow countrymen… Ah! Leave aside the stiff title of prince and just call me Nasus. Hero-nim is qualified to do so.”
… He was an extremely likable individual.
It wasn’t like all Elves were violent like Sylvia.
“A pleasure to meet you, Nasus. I sincerely wish for a beautiful world where humans and Elves will live in harmony akin to our meeting.”
“That is my wish also.”
Ain’t nothing wrong with becoming friendly with the middle-boss, right?
Today as well, I put Professor Morals’ teachings to good practice.