‘Oh sir respected Examiner! Please give me time to explain! I’m going to live quietly on Earth. Think about it sensibly. There’s no way I’d destroy the home planet I was born and raised on right? Where would I live if it disapp…’
‘The hell! Just why!’
Light enveloped my body.
“Welcome, Sir Hero!”
The lovely voice of Lanuvel who couldn’t read the mood provoked my ears. Seeing her putting up a cute front again with that grating expression and tone which I’d taken pains to fix, it sunk in that I had gone back in time again.
“Is this 3rd Playthrough for real…”
I truly hadn’t seen this coming. The protagonist of a fantasy novel or movie who failed in life would only be given one more chance and that would be the end, and yet I got to regress 2 times despite my clear success in life having killed the Demon King. What kind of crappy rice-cake of a sweet potato development was this? If this was written into a novel, it would 100% get dissed by the readers and go up in flames.
“Excuse me, Sir Hero? Have you come to your senses?”
I felt as if I would collapse from high blood pressure.
“Is, is that so! Sir Hero, 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.”
I was hearing the same explanation for the 3rd time from Lanuvel. What bullshit was she spouting before the great hero who cracked Demon King Pedonar’s skull once, sent his neck flying once and returned…
“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.”
I was hearing that goddamned ‘truth’ self-introduction for the 3rd time as well. Not a single word was out of place. If I were to start off by killing Lanuvel here, wouldn’t this 3rd Playthrough, which was proceeding the same as the 2nd Playthrough, turn out new? I seriously considered that direction of events.
‘Ah, Professor Morals. We meet again.’
‘Enough of that kind of lip service. My heart is on the verge of being charred black like a piece of dried filefish left atop a grill all day long.’
“Excuse me, Sir Hero?”
I couldn’t begin to even grasp where I’d gone wrong in my adventure. I had brought out the best result within the shortest period of time with the least amount of casualties. This wasn’t my subjective opinion, but an objective judgement. And yet, the D-grade in reputation I had received in the 1st Playthrough had dropped to E in the 2nd. It was an impossible phenomenon.
The only thing I could guess why was the Oblivion Dragon King ‘bus ride’—half of the middle continent being destroyed was likely the reason.
No one knew the truth that I had woken up the Oblivion Dragon King, but it was fact that the half of the middle continent was ruined. A person who could judge the matter rationally would understand, saying, “What could someone who’s only been the Hero for ten days do”, but not those people who had lost their beloved families. They would surely want to resent somebody.
“I’m completely a neighborhood drum…”
The job called hero made for a good sandbag. It was the same in the 1st Playthrough—I had painstaking saved the lives of people, but there weren’t just few bastards who went insane trying to find their lost belongings and missing family members. There was even a time when I saved a woman who was stripped and about to be raped by a hairy bandit, yet she went on screeching about me taking responsibility for having seen her naked.
The fault would always be turned to the Hero. The Hero’s reputation had been falling from the moment I couldn’t slay the Oblivion Dragon King when it awoke and civilian casualties occurred. It was the height of irrationality and absurdity.
“Excuse me, Sir Hero? His Majesty is waiting…”
“Shut your trap for a bit.”
I gently pressed on my temples after silencing Lanuvel. I wasn’t in the mood to humor the Dumpling King right now, but these people didn’t care for something like the Hero’s mood.
One palace knight who had been watching stepped forward. This part was turning out the same as in the 2nd Playthrough too.
“Sir Hero. I understand that you are confused, but we have delayed too much. His Majesty is waiting. Let us go now.”
… How did I reply back then? Ah!
“I’m also waiting.”
“Blockhead, listen well. How many heroes are there in this world who can slay the Demon King?”
“Two,” the palace knight replied without having to think much.
Just as he said, there were two… Two?!
“Excuse me, how do you do? I’ve been calling out to you from a while ago but you didn’t reply… I lived in Seoul, Korea, and I’m a high schooler. I’m 17 years old, and my hobbies are gaming and reading.”
A fresh-looking youth spoke to me. He was wearing a crap-colored school uniform different from mine. His ordinary egg-shaped face had no noticeable features aside from his black, horn-rimmed glasses, and his small build and lack of muscles suggested that he wasn’t particularly fond of exercising in his daily life.
But I couldn’t tear my eyes away from him.
It was because of the pure-white nun costume-wearing character drawn on the case of the smartphone half poking out from the male student’s uniform pocket. Beneath the character’s skirt, which was open at the sides of her thighs, was a black fishnet stocking and garter belt. She was a beauty clad in an outfit which combined the divine and the immoral.
It was just for a single moment, but I felt a sense of longing. The character’s occupation was a Saintess. That smartphone case was a character item modeled after the female protagonist of a role-playing game I had briefly enjoyed in the past.
“Ha, haha… This is a small hobby of mine.”
It was an excessively bold accessory to be called a small hobby. I could tell clearly that he wasn’t an ordinary fellow unlike his looks, at least. As for his Status, well…
It was all normal and only his condition slightly abnormal. It seemed like he was more than composed and was even welcoming this situation despite having been abducted to god knows where by suspicious people in medieval attire. Was he misunderstanding the situation for a hidden camera prank?
“May I have your name?”
“… Ahh, right. Look at me being out of it. Kang Han Soo. I live in Korea…”
A palace knight made his armor give off a grating sound of metal as if hinting at something. I was feeling better at having met someone from home, but I swept a glance around me and frowned at the interruption—this situation wasn’t to my liking at all.
“Let us go quickly.” The palace knight spoke in a low tone, fixing a hard threatening stare on me.
I was about to take out the 0.3mm mechanical pencil in my uniform pocket, but stopped. It was too risky to show attitude like I did in the 2nd Playthrough.
There were two heroes; my rarity had greatly fallen. This fantasy world wouldn’t be ruined even if the uncooperative Hero A was killed and Hero B was recruited.
Still, there was hope yet. If we heroes mutually assisted each other and dragged the king to the a table of negotiation…
“Yes! Sir Knight! You hurry too, Mr. Kang Han Soo! A mission to defeat the Demon King and save a fantasy world! Wow! I’m looking forward to it already!”
Hero B, who was having the time of it by himself, urged Hero A. Not only was Hero B not going to cooperate as fellow heroes, he was fully intent on working with his neck on the line free of charge for these barbarians.
Hero A felt the onset of a headache.
“Now now, first calm down and…”
“It should be hard for fantasy world natives to pronounce Korean names, so please call me Sieg. How about you make a new name for yourself as well, Mr. Kang Han Soo? Ah! You can’t use Sieg though. I took it first.”
His speed of adjusting to this world was mad.
Hero Sieg. I could easily guess where he picked up that name from—the protagonist of the same game the Saintess drawn on his smartphone case belonged to was called ‘Sieg’. In the main story, Sieg would later marry the Saintess.
I could feel this fellow’s desire in its entirety.
“… Right, Sieg. Don’t you want to see your parents? Your friends? Won’t they all be worried about you?”
“Not really. It’s fine?”
I should have realized it when he threw away the precious name given by his parents for a worthless reason.
This guy was definitely a social reject.
“Mr. Kang Han Soo. Don’t worry.”
“About what?” I asked Sieg, genuinely curious. What could I be worried about when just not too long ago I returned from taking Demon King Pedonar’s neck?
“I will protect you.”
This punk, was he for real?
I rubbed the back of my neck as I tried to calm my stress. The joy I’d felt towards a fellow hometown person had already disappeared to nothingness. Just where had the teaching staff picked up this kind of unfilial bastard…
‘Professor Morals. It’s beyond surprise and at the level of cultural shock.’
Sieg was currently vacantly staring at the healthy buttocks of Lanuvel who was walking briskly in the lead, seeming utterly unaware that he was kidnapped.
… Could I have been the same as him in the 1st Playthrough? If so, I would seriously want to consider suicide.
I understood the intention very clearly. I wanted to flip out in my heart, but…
Nothing at all could be done about the Status reset that came with the regression.
Although the situation wasn’t despairing because I remembered Master Mollang’s teachings, but as one human being, it was tiring to be told to start from the beginning again.
In any case…
“Just what exactly is this Black-Box… Mm? Ohoh…?”
“Mr. Kang Han Soo, is there some problem? Black-Box?” asked Sieg. Rather than being genuinely worried about me, he had merely needed an excuse to escape the embarrassment of his eyes meeting Lanuvel’s while he was staring at her behind.
“… No. It’s nothing.”
Not a single thing had changed. My 2nd Playthrough hadn’t been meaningless.
I hadn’t forgotten.
Perhaps it was thanks to Sieg who was cooperative towards those kidnappers? Unlike the 2nd Playthrough, Alex’s test of courage event didn’t happen in this 3rd Playthrough. Matters progressed smoothly following the kidnappers’ intention.
We learnt etiquette at the entrance of the king’s audience chamber. The old noble who was teaching us was shocked at my perfect display of the kingdom’s etiquette, but he didn’t drag on the time with nonsense like in the 2nd Playthrough—it was because of Sieg’s clownish attempts at decorum. Thanks to that, I wasn’t bored either.
The firmly shut doors to the audience chamber opened.
“Heroes! I welcome your arrival in my lands!”
The Dumpling King’s complexion had regained its brightness along with time being rewinded. To think in the 2nd Playthrough, his face had turned blue like a rotten dumpling after the execution of his wife and two sons.
“Hello! Your Kingliness!”
Sieg’s lamentable greeting caused irrepressible laughter to burst out among those present. I didn’t ridicule the fellow, however; anyone would make mistakes at first. I was the same in the 1st Playthrough too. Nevertheless, I had no intention of lowering myself to his level.
“Thank you for the warm welcome, Your Majesty.”
The nobles exclaimed in admiration when I had my turn.
I calmly disregarded their compliments. It was enough even with the 2nd Playthrough, but this was my 3rd time. My 3rd time going over etiquette as well. I wouldn’t be a normal person if I couldn’t do it.
“Heroes. Are you able to see your abilities?” the Dumpling King asked with an expectant tone.
Sieg replied first.
“Yes! My race is Arch-Human, Job is Hero. Special perk is fivefold EXP. Skill is Interpretation(A). My status is… extremely good!”
“I can see it very clearly.”
I could see it almost too clearly. It was a bit difficult because I had too many Skills, though.
Black-Box’s F-rank effect had activated. My body that was covered in uniform rejected oblivion and returned to how it was in the past. The ‘Evil Miasma(SS)’ I had obtained immediately after defeating Demon King Pedonar was proof.
I was about to start the 3rd Playthrough.
In the state I was in right after slaying Pedonar.
My prime state in the 2nd Playthrough!
‘It’s a pity my level wasn’t recovered.’
I didn’t worry that much about Level, however—there were plenty of EXP nearby, weren’t there?
“Sieg! And… Kkang Han Ssoo? Oh Chosen Heroes! Danger is upon this country which lies near the territory of demons! I beseech you to slay the demons, raise your abilities, and defeat Demon King Pedonar!”
The beaming Dumpling King requested us to work for nothing, and enraged at this, we…
“Yes! Your Kingliness! Leave it to us!”
Sieg replied vigorously in the affirmative without even asking for my opinion. He even dragged me into it in a natural manner.
‘… Screw being fellow countrymen, should I just kill him?’
But it was with sage-like understanding that I firmly endured. Professor Morals had said I could easily graduate so long as I followed around this extraordinary fellow, after all. I wasn’t so foolish as to rip apart a graduation certificate that was waiting for me.
After taking in a deep breath, I curved my lips into a refreshing smile and played along to Sieg’s tune.
“Yes, Your Majesty. Entrust everything to us and rest easy.”
I was done preparing.