I was in a different class despite being Level 1—my Skills had been completely preserved with the Black-Box’s power. Thanks to that, the range of choices I could take had widened greatly.
… What to do? It was like, while in the middle of choosing between vanilla and chocolate flavor, I was introduced to an ice cream shop with 32 flavors. I began to feel a dilemma in making a choice.
‘Professor Morals. I’m the student who received an SS-grade. A veteran of a different league compared to a timid greenhorn hero who peeks at Lanuvel’s behind. It’s already my second time just regressing! My 3rd Playthrough! Wouldn’t I be a retard if I wasn’t extraordinary despite this?’
Professor Morals left, muttering incoherently to himself. Apparently the teaching staff thought the mosaic Skill would also disappear if I regressed again; however, Black-Box had survived. Survived the tyranny of the arbitrary Fantasy God.
The moment I left the audience chamber, I laughed holding my belly for a long while. It felt like a part of the stress piled up from the 2nd Playthrough was being released.
“Mr. Kang Han Soo. Did something amusing happen or…?” asked Sieg after seeing off Lanuvel with a regretful face.
Ah! Was I being too obvious?
“It’s just, this fantasy situation is too outrageous. And Sieg, call me casually without being shy, as Han Soo. We’re precious companions dreaming of returning to beautiful Earth where cultured folk live, after all.
He was an important friend who would allow me to embrace my graduation certificate, lacking in no way as a companion.
“Hm hm! R-, right. Companions! Then I’ll speak casually, Han Soo! But returning to Earth? I’m not going to, though.”
“Keh-keh?! Let go and talk! I, I can’t breathe!”
“You won’t take down the Demon King?!”
This punk would be utterly useless in that case. It was bad enough I was pissed at the failed negotiation due to there being two heroes.
“I’ll still go after the Demon King!”
“… Is that right?”
I released my grip on the spot between Sieg’s 6th and 7th cervical vertebrae which I’d been holding as if by reflex. He collapsed to the ground, shedding a tear.
“Cough-cough! You’re strong, Han Soo.”
“Well that’s because…”
We were both Level 1 heroes, but the gap in our respective strengths was extremely large like comparing an anchovy to a cachalot. And that wasn’t all to it—this disparity in power would not lessen, but only grow further in higher Levels.
“You’re amazing even though you’re Level 1 and only have the Skill Interpretation(A) like me.”
What was this guy saying? Could this be…
“Seeing how you’ve got a good build too, you must have exercised hard on Earth.”
Heroes could see the Status of others as they liked, and fellow heroes were no exception; however, Sieg was spouting nonsense despite having seen my Status. My only Skill was Interpretation(A)?
He couldn’t see this?
It seemed that Sieg didn’t even know of Black-Box’s existence. I changed the subject to hide my puzzlement.
“Look here, Sieg. Why are you going to defeat the Demon King if you have no intention of returning to Earth? For what purpose?”
“Because they say the Demon King’s resurrection has put this world in danger!” answered Sieg without hesitation, clenching his fists hard.
“Hmm… is that so.”
I took it as that he had no mind to returned to the home planet he was born and raised on, but would fight to protect this fantasy world where he would live in from now on. I decided to respect Sieg’s dream.
As long as he took down the Demon King with me! Then it wasn’t of my concern whether he refused graduation and kept remaining in ‘class’ or took a leave of absence.
We came to an agreement to meet again after 5 days, at Alex’s exciting orientation.
Sieg wanted to go outside the palace and freely tour this fantasy world, but I had lived over 10 years in this place; I was no different from a local instead of a tourist, and thus I refused to accompany him. What was the point of two grown males going around together like partners?
“Sir Hero~ Where are you going~?”
“Yes! I’m Lanuvel!”
“Put down that cute ac… Anyway, I wasn’t making sure of your name. I was asking why you’re here. Aren’t you supposed to be chasing after Sieg?”
I had treated Lanuvel harshly ever since I was summoned, while in contrast Sieg was amiable towards her. She didn’t have any other options up to the 2nd Playthrough, as there was only one hero, but there were two as of present. Companion No.1 could choose the hero she would adventure with. It wasn’t even necessary to compare which hero she wanted to take care of more, and yet…
“Why would I do that?”
Lanuvel tilted her head to the side, acting cute.
“What about Sieg?”
“I wouldn’t know.”
“Lanuvel. He’s a hero too.”
Although Sieg did behave rudely by openly staring at the buttocks of a lady, the Lanuvel I knew was carefree and was very tolerant in that aspect. What, then, could be the reason? This Lanuvel who was loafing about before me had no memories of the 2nd Playthrough. She could even be called a different person entirely. We had not had any prior contact; we were strangers meeting for the first time today. However, she was standing before me.
“I’m an archaeologist chasing after legends.”
“I’ve researched the lives and achievements of past heroes who were summoned into this continent of Fantasia. Those heroes shared numerous common points, but something about Sir Hero Han Ssoo is different, while Sieg was the spitting image of a hero I expected.”
I could understand all too painfully well what Lanuvel was trying to say. It had to be why I couldn’t graduate and ended up on my 3rd Playthrough, a third-time student!
“What does that have to do with you following me like a puppy?”
“Umm… because I find you novel?”
“Ah! Don’t be like that and let’s go together, Sir Hero!”
I ignored Lanuvel and continued walking. My destination was the queen’s villa; a lavish wooden building constructed at the heart of a small forest, which strictly prohibited the entry of common folk due to it being a hunting ground exclusive to royalty.
Although it was an open secret I found out in the 1st Playthrough, the villa was designed by order of the Dumpling King due to his penchant for exciting outdoor action. He had initially gone in and out of the forest almost daily with the queen, but as their two sons and daughter grew up, it became difficult to hold those thrilling rendezvous. As a result, the king gave up and gave the resting area to the queen as a gift of nostalgia; however, because the entry prohibition remained in effect and the area became very much closed off…
In the end, it was abused as a secret meeting place.
“There are guard dogs as I expected.”
5 doggies guarding the villa. They were trained to unconditionally bark if anyone aside from the trainer, maids, or the queen approached.
“Excuse me, Sir Hero? This is a restricted area.”
“Go back if you don’t like it. By yourself.”
Lips pouting like a goldfish, Lanuvel didn’t natter any further and instead merely observed me with an interested gaze. I ignored her and checked the direction of the wind, then exhaled.
As a mere Level 1, it would be difficult for me to simultaneously deal with those 5 guard dogs quietly; however, it would become an entirely different story if a high-rank Skill was included in the equation—SS-rank Deadly Venom, also known as Hero’s Breath! Taking care of house guard dogs was easy as pie.
There was an instant response.
2 guard dogs in the middle of patrolling were poisoned and died immediately. The remaining 3 dogs ran over upon hearing their death throes and suffered the same fate.
With this, all of the guard dogs were dealt with.
“Lanuvel. Follow me.”
Since she had come along anyway, I decided to use her as insurance.
“… Yes? Yes!”
While Lanuvel openly stared at me with round eyes, I broke the lock on the villa’s entrance and quietly snuck in.
I didn’t worry about being caught by the queen, as I had seen her at the king’s audience chamber a while ago. It was extremely unlikely that she would head straight over to the villa, raising her husband’s suspicion. She would likely have a comfortable meal with her family since they had all gathered and then make her way over here slowly, or come here around tomorrow dawn or morning.
There was only one person watching the villa.
The queen’s personal maid. She spent all her days in the villa and took care of all the housework alone. One might think the workload too severe for a delicate female, but an individual at Level 5 possessed the stamina of an athlete on Earth—Level 34 equaled the ability to really fly around like a Hong Kong movie actor.
‘She even has Evil Miasma. Oh? It’s E-rank.’
This maid was far stronger than the usual Level 34 individual because she borrowed the power of the demon she contracted. She was just so-so to me, though.
The moment the maid showed her back to me, still unaware of the intruder’s presence, I leaped as lightly as a feather.
I didn’t make any sounds of footsteps or leave any traces of my movement, because my assassin-type Skills were at least A-rank and adding to that, my basic Skills which had achieved SS-rank caused a synergistic effect. It was with this combination that I killed even the Elf King in the 2nd Playthrough. A maid was really nothing at all. Although it would have been good if I could quietly deal with her using poison like with the guard dogs, I chose the certain method as, no matter how superior the Skill, it was simply too precarious at Level 1.
I struck the Level 34 maid’s slender neck with the back of my hand, not giving her even the chance to resist. My abilities already far surpassed that of someone at Level 1, but this was but the beginning.
Level 1→Level 12
Following the rise of my Level with the EXP obtained from killing the maid, the efficiency of all my Skills rose slightly. Normally, this would be the end of it, but I had so many high-rank Skills that my combat ability surged to the extent that it couldn’t be measured simply by several multiples.
‘Let’s use a math equation like an educated person!’
Sieg: Level 1, Interpretation(A)
Maid: Level 34, Charm(C) Chores(D) Evil Miasma(E) Constitution(F)
Me: Level 1, Alot of Skills At Any Rate
Combat ability isn’t actually calculated like this. Livelihood-assistance Skills such as Sieg’s Interpretation(A), the maid’s Charm(C) and Chores(D) had to be excluded, while the synergistic effect of similar skills acted as a variable, and the values of Skill ranks weren’t exact like in a computer game. It was merely an example that showed it was something like this.
It felt like playing a role-playing game on a GM’s account.
“… Uh, Sir Hero? You are Level 1, right?”
“No. Level 12 now.”
Lanuvel rolled her eyes, at a loss. She wasn’t capable of seeing the Status of others, but she had identified the black energy seeping out from the body of the maid who had died with her neck twisted in an abnormal direction—the power of a demon, Evil Miasma. She seemed surprised that a Level 1 Hero had managed to kill the maid despite this fact.
I decided to take the initiative before she asked anything.
“Lanuvel, if you’re going to keep following, then shut it. Don’t ask.”
There were magic circle traps set up in various places inside the villa; however, the remarkable genius magician Lanuvel naturally didn’t fall for them, while I treated them like air since I had SS-rank Immunity and Tolerance.
Our destination was decided from the beginning.
I opened the lock of a purple closet and went straight along the secret passage within. My goal was the demon worshipers’ meeting place—the cultist leader was in the middle of holding a speech.
I feigned acquaintance first.
“Who, who are you?! How did you enter?!”
I activated Evil Miasma(SS) at the cultist leader’s question. That in itself was answer enough.
The demon who had transformed into a human cultist leader trembled all over the moment he felt my SS-rank Evil Miasma. It made for a good ID card.
“Listen up, B-rank. I’m taking over here from today on. You’ll deal with the bothersome management, I’ll give out the easy orders. Got a problem with that?
“I, I do not! Oh great demon archduke!”
The B-rank demon prostrated himself as if in submission.
“Oh great one!”
“Oh great one!”
The demon worshipers who had been standing blankly also caught on and followed the cultist leader in prostrating before me, one after another.
“Uh, Sir Hero?”
“Hey. Get a clue and zip it, will you.”
After silencing Lanuvel, I stood before the B-rank demon and his worshipers, and began to give a speech.
The key point was to speak in a lowered voice.
“All of you listen! You maggot-like followers! We will rule this kingdom from within the darkness of chaos. To take the first step to that end, I’ll explain in detail what you lot will have to do.”
There was something I’d realized while observing Sieg in the audience chamber, and it was your reputation would rise in leaps if you worked for free. Therefore, as a seasoned hero on his 3rd Playthrough, I decided to labor for no cost with a magnanimous heart, so that the Dumpling King could rest easy.
“I’m taking over this kingdom.”