Chapter 16 – What the hell did I just see?

FFF-Class Trashero, 28.03.2019

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▷Doubt: It is impossible to hunt the Chaos Dragon. It should have already spent its life and returned to nature by the time the Hero candidate has gathered reliable companions and become sufficiently strong. This cannot be. It is not an achievement made possible by returning in time. Is that not so?

‘Professor Morals, what’s a mere student like me supposed to know?’

I had only come to feast in the EXP of a pushover dragon whelp. I would never have come had I known the current house owner was this Oblivion Dragon King—though I ended up taking it down in the heat of the moment.

And besides that, I had obtained this:

■■□

This mosaic skill was still in an unactivated state, but I faintly understood how to active it.

Now! It was time to scratch the lottery ticket.

▷Startled: Student Kang Han Soo! Please wait! In days of old, it was said to not chase after a dog whose owner you did not know. Would it not be better to leave it until the higher-ups finish looking into it? We will figure it out quickly! Please wait until then!

Professor Morals left in haste and immediately after he did, an irrepressible sneer formed on my lips.

“Pft! An ownerless dog? Being the stiff-minded teacher that he is, he just doesn’t know.”

When a person is told not to do something, it’s only natural they want to do it even more. The frail race of man reached the level of taming fire at the end of their repeated foolery of touching the ‘hot flower’.

Curiosity is what drove humans to progress.

Pandora’s box exists to be opened. If it wasn’t to be opened, then its contents shouldn’t have been placed in a box to begin with.

This ‘box’ came from the teaching staff—I wasn’t to fault in any way.

“Now… Let’s see…”

The way to activate the skill was simple: the Oblivion Dragon King’s heart. A jet-black heart(♥) the size of a tennis ball. Compared to the surreal immensity of the dragon king which resembled that of a mountain, the source of its power, the heart, was much too small and cute.

Squish-squish.

Even its texture was too much! I thought it was a slime painted in black.

Now then, let’s leave these silly sentiments up to here and…

Gulp.

I swallowed the Oblivion Dragon King’s jelly-like soft heart in one mouthful. Killing a dragon would end at gaining a large amount of EXP, but upon consuming its heart you would gain EXP as well as inherit a part of the dragon’s element.

The Oblivion Dragon King’s element was chaos. This heart would be the key to opening the mosaic skill.

Whooosh-!

I felt chaos raging within my body, as if it was being shredded apart by a blender. Those perverted Murim experts and swordmasters would endure the pain like idiots while saying, ‘I’ll take on any pain so long as I can become strong!’, but I triggered a release of endorphin and passed over it like watching a movie.

“… How dreary.”

I felt like I could slightly understand the thoughts of those perverts who enjoyed pain. Right now, it was as if I was quietly waiting for a surgical operation to end with my mind wide awake.

What should I do to burn the time? If only someone sang me a song…

■■□ → ■■F

‘Oh! It’s finished.’

The place where the skill’s name should be was still in mosaic, but the white mosaic had changed to show the rank F—this signified that the skill had activated.

“Hmm. Should I call it Black-Box for now?”

‘Until I find out its real name, that is.’

In truth, what did it matter if a skill was called dog shit or cow shit? It would be a jackpot so long as its effect was good.

I utilized a status ability which I hadn’t used in a long time—to examine something in detail.

Information
▷Type: Skill
▷Name: ■■
▷Rank: F
▷E: □□□□ □□□.
▷F: You will not forget.

All skills would gain an additional effect or an enhancement of an existing effect when its rank rose. This examine function would cruelly torture you, getting your hopes up by revealing the effect of the next rank. However, even this was hidden by a mosaic for me and so I couldn’t see the E-rank effect.

“‘You will not forget’? Forget what?”

It seemed it would be interesting though—it smelled like a ‘cheat’ to me.

In all honesty, it wouldn’t matter even if it didn’t have an amazing effect. It was good simply because of having baffled the teaching staff who were so great as to send a normal person back in time.

Wasn’t that enough?

I began to make my way back in this joyful mood, to the village where the great being lived.


***


“Hero-nim! Aren’t you too late?”

“I was worried something bad happened to you.”

The two muppets welcomed me the moment I arrived at the village. Perhaps they had eaten a lot of rich food using my money, because their skin was glossy and their complexion bright.

How long was it since they were grumbling about the dead Elf being pitiful? They were living in comfort after selling off her remains.

Turning to look at Lanuvel, I asked, “How many days has it been since we parted?”

“Today makes it exactly 7 days. Hero-nim, what have you been doing in that time?”

“… You guys don’t know?”

How could they not know this?

“Yes. You didn’t tell us your plans, so how would we know? Sigh! Don’t even get me started. While Hero-nim wasn’t here, the Dragon Oblivion King Noebius, who was nowhere to be seen for an entire 500 years, showed up and laid waste to the middle continent. The heroic characters of the continent stepped in, but they all failed and were annihilated.”

“… I see?”

The fantastic combination of the Hero and Oblivion Dragon King… to slightly exaggerate, our adventure hadn’t left any survivors.

Oblivion Dragon King Noebius was so massive that it could be sighted even from very far away, but being a human, my figure would be hard to make out unless from close up. And even if a witness had good eyesight and saw me, it would be meaningless.

Just how many people recognized the face of the Hero? And said face was even covered in venom at the time, completely darkened. As for me, I was busy harvesting EXP by making use of the dragon king’s dragonbreath, so I didn’t tell anyone I came across that I was the Hero.

In short, nobody was aware of the truth.

‘This situation, it might possibly…’

I swiftly pounded away on my mental calculator.

It wasn’t long before I came to a conclusion.

“You two, don’t be surprised at hearing this—I vanquished Oblivion Dragon King Noebius!”

This was an opportunity to raise both achievement and reputation.

“Hero-nim did?!”

Gasp! Hero-nim is the one who…!”

“That’s right. The dragon king’s remains turned into EXP and so disappeared, and even its heart, which is the sole evidence of the deed, was eaten by me on the spot, but you can be certain of it. If you can’t believe me then confirm it through informants. There’ll be no more news of the Oblivion Dragon King’s attack, I’ll bet?”

I told the dramatized version of what happened to Lanuvel and Porter, that one thing or another happened leading to the Hero slaying the dragon. Naturally, I omitted the part where the Oblivion Dragon King, who had been quietly spending its last moments in its nest, was woken into a rampage by me.

If this got out, my reputation would eat dirt.

“Wow…! You’re really amazing! Dealing with a Five Disaster by yourself…!”

“I expected no less of you, Hero-nim!”

Perhaps it pricked that they had idling about in the peaceful village, but the two muppets began to praise my feat, spit flying from their mouths all the while.

Their reaction was very nice—they showed no signs of suspecting me.

‘Good! It’s a brilliantly perfect crime!’

In truth, I had been worrying about my reputation all the way until arriving at the village, but these idiotic fantasy natives let themselves be fooled into thinking Oblivion Dragon King Noebius’ appearance was a natural disaster. Thanks to that, there would be no problems.

I would only be remembered as the wonderful Hero who took down the dragon king… though whether people would believe in it remained to be seen.

It was it had only been a mere fifteen days since I was summoned to be a Hero. Going by the standard I had in the 1st Playthrough, in this period of time I should have been struggling with the aversion to taking life until barely reaching Level 10.

Indeed. Level 10!

To a fifteen-day-old fledgling Hero, the Demon King and Oblivion Dragon King were existences of another world far apart. Thinking along these lines, the feat I achieved was impossible even when taking into account the Hero’s perk.

It didn’t seem like the people would believe the truth that I had defeated the dragon king.

“We believe you!”

“That’s right!”

I didn’t dislike Lanuvel and Porter’s flattery. However, they could believe in me unquestioningly because they had witnessed my actions at the Orc settlement. The majority of this world’s natives, who didn’t know of my capabilities, wouldn’t be like them.

Then what was I to do?

“… It’s simple. I just have to take down another one.”

They would believe the truth if I subjugated another powerful foe such as the Oblivion Dragon King Noebius and presented the evidence—this was the ultimate solution that would be an achievement and at the same time raise my fame.

The first time, when my Level was low, would be the hardest. Once you made a start, it would be simple work afterwards. Even when it came to the Five Disasters, only the first subjugation was difficult whereas the rest were relatively easy.

The optimal schedule and course of action became lined up in my mind.

“Hero-nim, what are you going to take down again?” Lanuvel asked, naively tilting her head to the side.

I had been diligently nagging her and so thought she would act cute less, but she returned back to how she was in the short time we were apart. Putting aside correcting her for later, I answered the question.

“I’m gonna catch me another big one.”

A mass of EXP greater than a Five Disaster.

“What?! What about returning to our country? Now there’s only one day left until the promised orientation day with Mr. Alex.”

“Ah…! Alex…!”

I smacked my forehead.

How could I have forgotten that friend of mine?

No matter how blinded you become by fame and reputation, you mustn’t forget about your ‘companions’. I would have simply overlooked this matter had Lanuvel not reminded me of it.

I felt grateful to the point of kissing her chee-… Ah, maybe that’s too much.

“And Hero-nim.”

“Talk. I’m in a good mood right now.”

‘How should I cook Alex so that there’ll be rumors praising me?’

“This is what the Elf undertaker told me, but apparently the Elf whose remains we secured was one of the guardian knights of Elfheim’s queen. And do you know what’s even more surprising that this?”

“It must be that there was one of those knights back at the black market as well.”

“You’re right!”

It wasn’t even particularly surprising.

The average Level of Elves was around 100. Although it was without a doubt that the Elves who had the blessing of anti-aging lived for prolonged periods of time, there were extremely few among their warriors who had reached over Level 200 because they had less opportunities to gather EXP compared to human mercenaries, to say nothing of Level 800. As such, it was only natural that such individuals would be entrusted with the heavy responsibility of protecting the queen.

In any case…

“Lanuvel. I get it clearly so shut up now.”

My patience was about to be exhausted.

“What?!”

“Bury the rest of what you have to say in your heart. Something like the Elf King’s wife being taken away by a high-class demon and the mission to search for her missing guardian knights isn’t of my concern.”

“…”

“What’s with that uncomfortable look in your eyes?”

The hussy was staring me as if I was ghost.

“Hero-nim. How did you know the truth about that?”

“It’s obvious. Yours truly has ten years of Hero-ing—… scheduled down the road. You can tell this much just by hearing the introduction.”

My sense for troublesome incidents was out of this world, though I couldn’t avoid them because of my damned companions in the 1st Playthrough and had to clean up the aftermath all by myself.

“Then what about that?”

“That?”

“That four-horse carriage rushing towards this village! It seems like its being chased by masked bandits!”

It was as Lanuvel described.

A magnificent carriage, drawn by 4 sturdy white horses. Although it had no flag of identity, I knew about the silver fox symbol branded on the carriage.

It was the mark of the Holy Empire’s first imperial princess.

She belonged to a huge country which reigned over the northern part of the middle continent. The borders of that country was indeed close to this village.

Why an exalted imperial was crossing the border so urgently was obvious—it must be a purge.

‘Strange. There should still be about 5 years until the emperor kicks the bucket… Oh my!’

I recalled late the truth that the Oblivion Dragon King had collapsed the imperial palace. That was why the emperor must have died early, and the family discord between the ordinary crown prince and clever imperial princess had already broken out.

This fight had ended in an overwhelming victory for the crown prince in the 1st Playthrough. It was the result of the high nobles hoping for a pushover emperor rather than a clever empress.

As for the defeated imperial princess?

She curried favor with the Hero’s party using her beauty… until she rose to the seat of empress.

“She was a real devious woman…”

Porter wasn’t here as he had gone to the stables in preparation to leave the village, while the villagers were cooped up in their homes in order to avoid the summer heat. The only ones who had noticed those uninvited guests were me and Lanuvel.

That being the case…

“… Wha-! A latest-model magic staff is flying up there in the east!”

“Really?!”

Lanuvel’s gaze turned toward the opposite direction of the carriage. In that moment, I inhaled, and then quietly exhaled.

“Hoo~~”

Although it couldn’t be compared to Oblivion Dragon King’s breath, the poisonous gas I produced was blown out of my mouth towards the four-horse carriage.

“Whinny~~?”

“Whinny~?!”

The horses which had been galloping hard let out death throes as they toppled down. Even the knight who had been busily whipping the horses dropped down from the driver’s seat immediately afterwards.

Crash-!

The four-horse carriage was overturned in the middle of the road.

“Kagh?!”

“Poison…!”

The pursuers from the Holy Empire, who were hiding their identity with masks, weren’t spared by the poison. Having approached the stopped carriage, they lifelessly collapsed one after another. There was no survivor to speak of who escaped from the poison fog.

The scene grew still.

“Hero-nim. I don’t see anything in the sky, let alone a magic staff?”

“Is that so? I must have seen wrong.”

We didn’t see anything.