Corpses have no owners—it’s finders keepers.
We were able to find a jewelry box in the imperial princess’ carriage. The value contained in the box showed the princess’ strong unwillingness to hand over the seat of emperor so obediently.
If I had it my way I would have completely stripped and collected the vintage-style black underwear worn by the imperial princess, but I had to give it up because of the limited baggage we could take.
This was all Lanuvel’s fault.
“How pitiful. Seems there’s a story behind them being chased.”
She was spouting a line that might’ve come from a Hero’s companion… Her words were a bit strange?
In any case…
“Hey, Lanuvel. Do you only feel sorry for this woman and see me as happy? We can’t take along all the loo—ahem! The articles they left behind. What were you doing at the village instead of doing something like learning four-dimensional inventory magic?”
“Eh… I played with Mollang.”
“More like harassed it, I’m sure!”
The great being would wobble in fear whenever it saw Lanuvel. I couldn’t imagine how much she had bothered it with her touches.
Wearing an extremely worried look, Lanuvel asked, “Hero-nim, who do you think this beautiful woman might be?”
“You can tell by looking at the symbol on the carriage.”
“It’s my first time seeing it, though.”
There was no family symbol which Archaeologist Lanuvel didn’t recognize. For her to declare ignorance of this symbol, it had to mean this family was established most recently.
I came to a late realization.
‘Ahh, so that’s it. Not much time must have passed since the princess separated from the clan at this time period.’
The emperor of the Holy Empire was a cool-headed and wise individual. Having foreseen that the empire would be fragmented by the future fight over succession rights of his two children, he chose to take a hard approach by proclaiming his ordinary son as successor early on and expelling his clever daughter from the imperial family in order to curb her ambition. And then he granted his daughter the rank of marquess.
However, the clever imperial princess didn’t give up but instead steadily expanded her influence. Naturally, her family symbol, which had nothing but a pretty appearance, also became renown in that process.
But the imperial princess who still failed to achieve her goal in the end curried favor with the Hero’s party, and her tears and social ability lead to overthrowing the country.
It was the start of a tragedy.
“Lanuvel. Burn all the corpses here with magic.”
“Or you can leave it if you want to see this stripped woman being used as a flag, a skewer thrust in her butthole.”
The Holy Empire, which had been swiftly regaining stability by the united efforts of the ordinary emperor and the nobles, would be dealt a serious blow by the attack of the barbaric Hero’s party.
To describe it simply, a rock was smashed using an egg. The majority rule was broken, the few massacring the many. As a result, the holy empire which became nothing but an empty shell of a country ended up walking the path to ruin. The Hero’s party, drunk on victory, spouted bullshit, saying things like “the clever empress will rule the country well!”.
The country became impoverished because of the rebellion. Its entire military forces which had been reduced as well as public security which had crumbled weren’t things that were automatically solved because the ruler had a high IQ.
It wasn’t about managing a small city. It was a large-scale national undertaking which required a great amount of time and capital. And how to get that capital?
The ones to suffer from the taxes which naturally rose were the citizens. I had never seen a tax-raising ruler doing a good job before.
The previous emperor’s worries became reality in the worst manner possible.
After taking all the precious metals, we put all the corpses including the imperial princess’ into the huge carriage and set it alight.
This was my atonement for what I did in the 1st Playthrough. Never had I been cursed as much as back then in my entire life.
“May the holy empire be peaceful this time around.”
I prayed sincerely.
Half of the empire’s lands were already contaminated by the Oblivion Dragon King’s venom, so wouldn’t they be too pitiful if a fight over succession were added on top of that?
We returned to our kingdom over the course of two days. Although it was a day past the promised ten days to return, the Dumpling King magnanimously forgave me the moment I gave him a rotten smile.
And at last…
“Haha! Hero, welcome to the palace training grounds! Seeing how your skin doesn’t have a single scar like a pansy’s, it seems you’ve never received proper training before. But worry not. The number one sword of the kingdom is going to raise you into an excellent Hero! And in no time at that, heheheh.”
Alex’s orientation began.
The palace knights, who had surrounded me and Alex in a wide circle as if to trap us in, looked on with interest.
They weren’t the only audience.
In a shaded spot outside the dirt-filled training grounds, royals and nobles, clergy, maids, magicians and so on were gathered in a crowd, ready to spectate. It felt like I had come to a village wrestling match.
But this atmosphere wasn’t unfamiliar to me. Powerful experiences weren’t easily forgotten, after all—in the 1st Playthrough, I dropped into an unfamiliar world and without even the chance for my homesickness to fade, I had no choice but to suffer inhumane abuse all day long.
Beating, healing, beating healing, beating…
I could only be beaten truly like a dog on the first day. Whenever I fainted, I would receive healing from the clergyman waiting in the back and then be beaten again. The justification for all this was somewhat convincing on the outside.
“In no time, huh…”
“That’s right. In no time. It’s an emergency situation where we don’t know when the revived Demon King will attack, after all. I will have you undergo intensive training. Have you heard of live combat training? It’s extremely effective in raising skill proficiency.”
Alex shook his fist hard. It seemed he was itching to give my head a good knock.
“What if I die in the process?”
“You won’t. You think I can’t adjust my strength against a beginner? Don’t worry if it hurts or you get injured. The clergyman and magicians over there will heal you right away. Ah! And you have no right to refuse. The fate of humanity hangs on this matter, so no complaints accepted.”
“I think it’ll hurt a lot, though.”
“You should endure that much. Others wait in lines to receive live training from me. Consider yourself lucky.”
“You’re okay being resented by the Hero?”
“That must mean you’re just narrow-minded.”
A detailed self-introduction was skipped. In the 1st Playthrough, there was time for introduction, albeit short, but 2nd Playthrough Alex summarized the orientation because he wanted to hit me.
It was shown clearly on his status window as well.
‘Malice status. I don’t think I saw this in the 1st Playthrough?’
A small smile escaped my lips.
“Alex. Shouldn’t you be the one being trained instead of me? Who can you teach with a mere Level of 292?”
“Watch your insolence. If you want less beatings, that is,” growled Alex, a vein popping on his forehead.
“I’m warning you sincerely. I believe I’ve let it known that I wiped out an orc settlement and subjugated the Oblivion Dragon King?”
Lanuvel had reported this instead of me in the king’s audience chamber; though, no one listened to it including the Dumpling King.
“Hah! Who would believe in a lie like that? Look here, Hero. You should come up with something more realistic if you want to excuse yourself from training.”
The palace knights, who had been listening to our conversation, followed Alex in laughing vulgarly, shoulders shaking.
I recalled the memories from the 1st Playthrough one after another. They had looked at me with such gazes back then as well, looking down at me as if I was pathetic as I tried somehow to get away from Alex, strenuously crawling about the dirt.
No one had taken my side.
“Shut your traps, you government dogs. Does it look fun? Would you laugh like that if your wife and children were beaten? Should I hold them by the neck and thrash them all day long?”
The mirth disappeared from the palace knights’ faces at my words and, one after another, they stepped backwards slowly, breaking away from the audience. Not all of them had gone away, however.
“What’s with you lot?”
The ones being questioned by me avoided my gaze as they replied.
“I don’t have a wife and children.”
“I had no opportunities to meet a woman.”
“My wife passed away last year.”
The melancholic hearts of the palace knights who replied shook me down to my very soul.
These people had the right to keep watching.
“Okay! You guys can stay there! I approve! This Hero here is always on the side of singles, after all. Laugh all you want!”
‘Because this is gonna be a fun show.’
Alex’s status abilities couldn’t even compare. Even if a million-strong army comprised of Alex clones were to come at me, I had the confidence to massacre them all.
What happened to the Black-Box skill, you might ask?
It was a F-rank Skill and so according to priority, it was pushed to the end of the list. It couldn’t be seen unless the list expand function was activated. As for the usage of the Skill, that was still a mystery…
“Hero! You don’t notify the opponent when you attack in a real fight. You have to always be careful of unexpected surprise attacks! Like right now!”
Alex said the same thing as he had in the 1st Playthrough even as he charged at me.
The body part he was aiming for this time was entirely different, though.
I had intended on showing him the capability of Endurance(S) had he attacked my abdomen, but as for the part he was aiming for now, I was disinclined to take the hit on purpose because my mood might be ruined. Even so, I didn’t defend.
I chose to give this hateful man a kick first in return.
Alex, whose right knee joint was twisted in an abnormal direction, tumbled about the ground with a scream.
The jaws of the spectating crowd dropped at this strange situation.
It was a reaction to my liking.
“Alex. Stop making a fuss and get up will you. Your opponent won’t kind-heartedly wait for you in a real fight.”
Still, he lived up to being the future Sword King.
Alex, whose eyes had become bloodshot from my light taunt, pushed off the ground with both hands and nimbly got up.
But that was all.
His right leg completely ruined, it was all Alex could do to stand on the spot, focusing the balance of his weight on his left leg.
Of course, that wasn’t of my concern.
I swiftly moved behind Alex and gave an upward kick to his tailbone, which gave rise to a powerful bout of opera singing, as I had expected.
He wasn’t yet the Sword King, no more than a mere palace knight captain of the kingdom. He was a weakling that would immediately be overwhelmed if one or two low-class demons came attacking.
Someone like this teaching others?
“Look here, Alex. For starters, you’re the one with scant live combat experience, so who are you claiming to teach?”
“Don’t judge others by appearance and common sense, because those with prudence act while hiding their real skills. Listen well. There’s a fixed 50% chance of victory in all fights. You die if you can’t win. High-spirited idiots like you ignore this rule and end up dying early.”
“You little…! Kugh!”
Having fallen on his face, Alex didn’t manage to get up immediately. He had crossed the limits of what could be endured through willpower—his body was on the brink of breaking down.
I heard the shout of the clergy who had been waiting in the back.
“Hero-nim! Captain Alex will die at this rate!”
“Naturally. It’s common to die in real combat.”
I had no thoughts of immediately ceasing this live combat training. I pushed ahead, just as Alex had done to me in the 1st Playthrough.
Though of course, I didn’t have the intention to drag it on for long.
“Next lesson. Winning by fighting well is the worst policy. Winning without fighting is the best policy. A real fight doesn’t mean you have to see your opponent bleed, though it might be hard to understand for a savage like you.”
Collapsed in the dirt, Alex glared up at me.
I gave a hard kick to that face of his.
“And the most important point to keep in mind—actual battles are cruel. When harming others, you need to be prepared to suffer in return as well. The moment you forget that, you’ll be putting your comrades and subordinates in danger.”
This was extremely important, because I had suffered the most from this.
Having been kicked this way and that, Alex lay spread out on the dirt ground like a rotten squid, not even twitching a finger.
“I, I, to the likes of you…”
Alex was busy trying to deny reality, which was why he didn’t even try to listen to my lesson at all.
“Tsk-tsk. Denying reality. A common symptom exhibited when a retard who’s faced nothing but weaklings suffers defeat for the first time.”
“Well! Now then, I’ll skip the middle part of my lesson and teach you the last thing on the list. Do you know what’s most important in a real fight?”
Our eyes just happened to meet.
“You can’t be…?”
Alex, who had realized what it was the moment he saw the look in my eyes, opened his mouth wide, seemingly wanting to say something to all the others.
But I was faster.
I stomped down between Alex’s 6th and 7th cervical vertebrae and broke his neck. The EXP was much too meager, but it was still better than not receiving a tuition fee at all, right?
I revealed the answer to my question:
“To not leave future troubles.”
I didn’t need something bothersome like going over live combat training again.