10 years before I busted Demon King Pedonar’s ass.
There was a time when I was tender too.
On that day, I was having a heated discussion with my high school friends. Boldly placed on top of the worn table which we were sitting around, were magazines about magical girls instead of textbooks. The girls in our class threw us rude looks that said “those idiots are at it again…”, but hobbies deserved to be respected. It was a healthy topic appropriate for those our age.
“I want to quit studying and go over to a fantasy world… I want to save a princess held captive by a demon king and marry her.”
“Just a princess? I would go on an exciting adventure with beauties of various races in a fantasy world.”
Two of my friends argued hotly as they revealed their preferences. They declared that they would steal the women of other men like savages, and create a harem which was rejected in modern society.
The gazes of the female students directed towards us changed from looking at idiots to looking at something below insects, but my two friends who were romantics of fantasy didn’t notice in the least. And my other friend beside them couldn’t be underestimated either.
“Adventure? How trifling. Is the history and science you learned just for show? Even world domination would be possible if you just invent a nuclear weapon?”
“Someone with a 30 score in science would surely do well in making a nuclear weapon. When it comes to fantasy, it’s gotta be a forbidden spell of the 10th circle. Wiping everything out in one shot!”
“Pft! Magic? Spoken like a geek. The martial arts from a Muhyeop world are the real deal! Have you even heard of a Sword Master?”
The things they wanted to do in a fantasy world. The dreams and hopes my friends spouted as if boasting were all outrageous things. They carelessly spoke of them because they were delusions that would never happen, tantamount to the occult.
“Kang Han Soo. What about you?”
The baton was passed over to me as I was scanning the popularity ranking for recent games printed in one of the magazines, absentmindedly listening to my friends talk. I felt a silent pressure from their pointed stares. They seemed uncomfortable that I had continued to be quiet.
‘What do I want to do in a fantasy world?’
I hadn’t thought about it deeply before. Exploring Mars would be far more realistic instead. If possible, I would have liked it if they asked about some place I could go by car or plane… or in the worst case by spaceship. After all, if it’s Mars, I might be able to set foot on it before I died of old age.
The pointed stares of my friends gradually increased in intensity. Helplessly, I pondered on it for about 3 seconds before answering.
“My dream is…”
The gag trophy of that day became mine.
It was a sweet memory before the day I was kidnapped to a fantasy world.
… Sweet my ass.
Its expiry date was so passed that the mold on it grew a flower.
What’s wrong about inventing a flush toilet?
Even great emperors, pretty princesses, archmages and sword masters would crouch over a chamber pot or over grass and do their business all the same. It wouldn’t be too late to consider childish dreams after that.
Now, let’s shove aside this miserable show of reminiscence, and confront the cruel reality that is without dreams or hopes.
I was inside of an extremely familiar room. An arch-shaped dome enveloped in pure white marble. Instead of a white fluorescent light, a dim purple light from the lanterns hung on the walls illuminated the interior from all directions. On the floor there was a complicated picture drawn in the shape of a donut, but I involuntarily gnashed my teeth the moment I saw it.
“Hero-kidnapping magic circle…”
In fancy professional terms, it was called a dimension transfer magic circle. I stood in its very center, and surrounding me as if to trap me in were men in silver armor.
Palace knights. They were the fantasy world equivalent of elite troops. Facing me, there wasn’t a single palace knight who was nervous. And it couldn’t be any other way, as right now I was in a ‘high schooler’s body’, in no way comparable with those muscular builds of theirs like that of a bodybuilder.
I couldn’t help but force a laugh.
Palace knights were no doubt the most elite bunch regardless of country, but for a long time there had been no one who held their heads up so straight like that in front of me. But after coming face to face with this unbelievable situation, I truly realized that I had lost the power I had built up over 10 years.
My forearms which had been thick as logs had become as thin as dog bones. The rest of my body was just as pathetic. And the change wasn’t limited to my body.
My high-class equipment and items had all disappeared. The time I had invested in gathered them had become for nothing in just one return trip in time.
This wasn’t a dream.
This wasn’t Korea.
This wasn’t even on Earth.
No matter how much I denied it, reality didn’t change. But even so, the thought of so simply acknowledging it made my insides boil.
It had been a whole 10 years, 10!
If it had been someone else’s life then I could have said “Oh! I see. You did your best in a dog shitty place for 10 years huh?”, and passed over the matter indifferently. But the story changes when it comes to yourself.
10 years was an extremely long time.
It was enough time for a frail kid to exercise hard, become chosen as a national representative and become a globally famous athlete.
If one was to marry and start a family, it would be more than enough time to have your first child, and from a gurgling babe, see him off at his primary school entrance ceremony.
3 years in middle school, 3 years in high school, 4 years in college. They say if you study for these 10 years in total, the rest of your life becomes comfortable, but don’t people play in spite of that?
Throughout this long period of time I yearned to return to Earth for every single day. Especially on days when I received the scorn and disdain of my damned comrades. It wasn’t enough that I was sent back in time, I was still in a fantasy world.
How could I simply acknowledge this terrible reality…!
A sweet voice like that of an oriole woke my senses.
The owner of that voice… was a young woman donned in a pure white robe which emphasized the color theme of the environment.
Hers was a face I knew.
She was one of the comrades that was part of my dark history. But she wasn’t able to accompany us up to the last boss, because in one of our adventures, she fell behind in escaping a collapsing ruin and was buried alive.
On that day, I had held a toast by myself.
I had thought I would never be seeing her again.
“Have you come to your senses?”
Returning in time, re-testing.
It wasn’t a bad joke.
“Is, is that so. Hero-nim, please come to your senses soon! You’re very confused at being summoned abruptly without even a warning, aren’t you? This is Fantasia. A different dimension from the world where Hero-nim was born and raised in. It must be unreasonable to hope for you to immediately understand. I’ll start explaining things one by one from now.”
Demon King Pedonar woke up.
Danger arrived for Humanity.
The Hero-nim of prophecy was summoned.
Please save this world!
She broke up what could have been simply summed up in four lines and turned it into a lengthy explanation.
I was aware of all of it as I had come back in time. And that wasn’t all. I had even busted the ass of Demon King Pedonar who put humanity at danger and saw through the Epilogue too. I wasn’t a fool hero who came back in time because he died midway.
“Oh my! I forgot to introduce myself. I am Lanuvel. I am the archaeologist who received a prophecy in the middle of a journey of chasing the ancient legends, and summoned Hero-nim. Lanuvel means the ‘truth’ in ancient language.”
Archaeologist Lanuvel. A genius mage who had both the looks and the talent.
She was the scholarly type so she was more specialized in supportive magic rather than combat magic but, as befitting a tough explorer, her financial capability, ability to survive, stamina and the like were overall on the excellent side.
It was just that…
“Don’t smile so brightly. It bothers me.”
This bitch was the one behind everything. The main culprit who kidnapped me to this savage world. If, I still had even 1% of my capability when I ripped a new one in the Demon King right now, I would have killed Lanuvel before anything else.
She was a woman who was repulsive in whatever she did. That’s what defined Archaeologist Lanuvel.
“Stop pretending to be cute is what I’m saying.”
But I should acknowledge what should be acknowledge. The god who chose Lanuvel had an excellent eye. The me before going back in time who didn’t know the future… let’s call it the ‘1st episode’. 1st episode me made a regretful decision when he was in the same situation I was in right now. And that was none other… than to be enchanted by Lanuvel’s good looks.
In slight defense of myself, I was in my puberty back then. And Lanuvel was pretty. Her beauty was overwhelming to the point that the game character cosplaying professional female actor who I liked seemed like a squid in my memories in comparison.
But not anymore. Lanuvel was as pretty as ever, but I had changed. I had come too far to fall for a beauty trap.
“Kidnapping someone who was living just fine and asking him for help? Do you find this situation amusing? Do you feel like bursting out in laughter just looking at my face? What a brainless truth like that name of yours, Lanuvel. Do you have a death wish?”
Lanuvel’s gorgeous smile froze.
Now that’s more like it.
“I am sorry…”
Lanuvel whose neck was shrunk back like a turtle apologized in a crestfallen tone. But she wore a look that said she didn’t know why the hero was being angry.
The hero would save the world.
In this fantasy world, it was common sense that was accepted as naturally as the harmony between Yin and Yang. The summoned hero would carry dreams and hopes and set off on an adventure. Every generation of heroes recorded in history books were all like that.
Clank. I heard the metal sound of armor.
“Hero-nim. His Majesty awaits you.”
Had he been waiting for that noisy Lanuvel’s mouth to become shut? One of the palace knights who had been waiting by the side relayed those words to me.
Though Lanuvel had received the prophecy, she was only an assistant. The material cost, magic catalysts and the like that went into making this dimension transfer magic circle I was currently standing on would have been an impossible requirement if not for the support of an entire nation. In short, the Kingdom was behind this.
“I’m also waiting.”
“Why are you surprised?”
The incompetent palace knight who couldn’t comprehend words asked what I meant. It was my fault for expecting too much of fellows who were muscle heads through and through.
I should explain in a way easy to understand.
“Think carefully. How many heroes are there in this world who can slay the Demon King?”
The palace knight immediately replied without much thought.
Just as he said, I was the only hero. This body of mine was far more precious than a mere fantasy king that could be endlessly replaced by princes like car tires.
This world would end if I died.
“You understand now right? Let the king know that if he wants to meet me, stop testing the waters and come out quick. My time is expensive. If you’ve got a problem with that, then you lot can defeat the Demon King instead.”
All those present were struck speechless at my bizarre utterance.
I bet they couldn’t think of any words to retort with?
A long line of nonsense was trying to lecture me. It wasn’t clear as to whether this presumptuous ‘lecture’ was from a voice or was a message. It was hard to tell as it was delivered directly inside my head.
So who are you?
Professor Morals reporting for duty in a fantasy world…