Officer: 3 (Level 200)
Magician: 5 (Level 150)
Palace Knight: 20 (Level 180)
Regular Knight: 100 (Level 130)
Apprentice Knight: 300 (Level 100)
Elite Soldier: 10,000 (Level 10)
Conscripted Soldier: 20,000 (Level 3)
The kingdom adjacent to Demon King Pedonar’s territory—better known as the Dumpling Kingdom—kept knights and soldiers of an average standard throughout Fantasia’s continents. Whenever the Dumpling King committed a blunder, he would always claim ,”Our country fails to rise because of the demons!” but that was truly unfair thing to the demons who were merely neighbors.
But even so, the Dumpling King’s claims were being accepted. The surrounding nations didn’t touch this country—they were leaving it be as the 1st line of defense that would be the very first to be sacrificed and laid waste to by the Demon King’s invasion.
Was this completely a good thing?
Absolutely not. Although it was fine up to the part where their high-quality manpower wouldn’t be lost in war, on the flipside, it was hard to raise their Level and Skill ranks without life-risking competition. And that was why the quality of the Dumpling Kingdom’s military force was just average.
I intended on breaking this balance this time around.
“I’ll explain things one by one from now on. The home of the mermaids is a big Level 500 hunting ground. Unlike sea mermaids, the freshwater mermaids we’ll be facing have low Levels and their numbers are few too, so there’s no need to worry too much.”
“Wait! Level 500 is low…?”
Sieg interrupted me to ask this in a tense tone.
Ugh! What a cute Level 3 guy he was.
“Those low-class demons you see everywhere are Level 300. This is no time to be playing hide and seek with baby kittens—if you don’t wanna die, that is.”
Our opponents were Level 500 mermaids. A human would become mincemeat if they were even slightly grazed by the fin of their tail.
“That doesn’t mean all of the mermaids are Level 500.”
There was a difference between fantasy games and reality.
When you went to a ‘Level 500 hunting ground’ in a game, the Level of all creatures in that region would be similar; Level 490 Rabbit, Level 500 Orc, Level 510 Boss. Games were made this way. A surprising situation where two rabbits are stronger than one orc would occur!
But reality wasn’t so terrible as that. In a real life Level 500 hunting ground? There would be a Level 1 Rabbit, Level 50 Orc, and Level 500 Boss. On the outskirts of the hunting ground there would be weak and gentle critters like rabbits and deers, whereas the powerful monsters would pop out once in a while the further you went in.
The Level of a hunting ground was decided by the last boss.
“The queen of mermaids is around Level 500.”
Those below her weren’t much to speak of. Although the mermaid princesses who had received the queen’s dominant genes were about Level 250, the rest were no different from pretty little carps under Level 50. So long as the difficult queen was taken down, the rest would be tasty sashimi for the taking.
“Hansoo. How about we try talking it out first?” Sieg suggested cautiously. The kid had turned timid ever since taking a beating at my hands.
“Of course. The soldiers that I lea— the soldiers granted by His Majesty are no barbarians. We’ll enter negotiations after cutting off all the water flowing into the lake.”
“Don’t worry. My strategy is perfect.”
Fighting mermaids in water was bothersome even if their Level was low, the reason being that humans who couldn’t breathe in water had no remarkable way of attacking them aside from shooting arrows or magic from the shoreside. Thus, the mermaids had to be dragged onto land.
Although I wanted to release deadly venom into the lake and easily massacre the mermaids, I had no other choice as crops needed to be planted using the lakewater.
“Excuse me, Sir Hero~”
Lanuvel tugged at my sleeve, drawing my attention. I had neglected correcting that behavior of hers, being busy of late, and that cute act of hers had intensified.
“You’re not really going to war with the mermaids, are you? The past heroes were friendly towards them.”
“Oh I’ll bet those lechers were.”
There were no males among mermaids. They reproduced by seducing and receiving the seeds of fishermen or sailors. The heroes of old encountered mermaids while crossing seas and lakes, and they became ensnared by the mermaids’ smooth skin and body. My 1st Playthrough companion was also born that way.
Needing to seduce the males of other races to reproduce, mermaids were beauty incarnate from birth. Those scrawny Elves couldn’t be compared to them.
Ah! Elf A was an exception.
“Love between a hero and a mermaid! Isn’t that romantic?”
“Right you are, Lanuvel. It is romantic while you don’t know anything.”
My 1st Playthrough was like that, after all.
Lake of Sad Songs. That was the name of the lake we were journeying towards. It hadn’t been that long since that name was born.
Around a hundred years ago, a hero was crossing this lake when he met the mermaid queen, shared love, and then later left. And then he failed to return again—he was a retard who suffered defeat at the hands of the Demon King, who was extremely weakened from the hero penalty.
It was from then on that the queen only sang sad songs, on every night of the waning moon…
“Aww… What will I do if you snatch my role, Sir Hero? My existential value as Archaeologist Lanuvel will become faint.”
“It’s fine even if it does, so shut it will you.”
Truth be told, this was a story I heard from Lanuvel in the 1st Playthrough. I was all ears back then, wearing a sparkling expression just like the current Sieg… until the hazy illusion affecting me broke, that is.
The Lake of Sad Songs was deep and wide, enough to act as a border line between the Dumpling Kingdom and the neighboring Holy Kingdom. It had a port, and there was also a village nearby which traded with the mermaids. The majority of the village residents were men, and none of them were virgins despite them not living together with a woman or a wife.
“It’s called Sad Mermaid Village!” Lanuvel interjected, trying to regain her role.
“Right. It’s a very depressing village just like its name.”
We took a whole five days reaching our destination. The amount of food eaten and shat out under the hot sun by soldiers numbering 30,000 was tremendous. We were waging a fierce war that was called marching. It was hard to say if this was more efficient than moving with a small group of elites, but this was also a necessary thing.
‘B-rank must have finished winning over the last of them around about now.’
This showy expedition was the finishing touch for the demon worshipers to completely take over the kingdom. I hadn’t casually chosen these troops of 30,000. In particular, the commanding officers I had picked were all bothersome disruptors.
A noble advanced in years rode his war horse towards me. He was the highest in terms of rank alone out of this group.
In a businesslike tone he said, “Hero. What must we do? To think of moving an army in this period where food is lacking due to the drought… I would have never accepted this if not for His Majesty’s command supporting you, Hero.”
He stared at me as if he found us heroes extremely repulsive.
I took it head on, undaunted.
“Lord Count, starting now we will divide our forces into three groups of 10,000. The largest waterways flowing into the Lake of Sad Songs are also three. We will build a dyke upstream and divert the flow of water to the right. Like this…”
I drew a line on the simple tactical map.
“A plan to drag the aqueous mermaids onto land, I see.”
“… Very well. Hero, while there is His Majesty’s command, I acknowledge your strategy as the most effective at present and will directly carry it out.”
“Thank you, Lord Count.”
Although this Count A was hardheaded and abhorred demon worshipers, he was a noble with many uses as a commanding officer, which was why I was going to send him back alive. I had already achieved the result I hoped for just by having separated him from his lands and family, after all. He wouldn’t know even in his dreams that his family members had become demon worshipers.
The other two commanding officers who had also come along, Baron A and Count B, were no different. There had been no opening for Evil Miasma to seep into them, as they were thorough in self-management, and the kingdom citizens’ confidence in them was also extremely deep because of their upright nature. So long as I could win these individuals over, my reputation within the Kingdom would soar into the sky.
“You all are the key to this plan. Please make sure to defend the dyke after building it.”
I had roughly finished persuading them over the past five days. For the sake of the kingdom’s people who were suffering from the drought, these three commanding officers would be able to deal with the events to come with boundless composure.
This was no invasion, but a fight for survival.
“I shall. 1st Army Corps, follow me!”
“May fortune be with you. 2nd Army Corps, to the left!”
“Let us meet again. 3rd Army Corps, forward!
The 30,000 strong large army moved as if to surround the lake.
The Dumpling King wasn’t the only one who had participated in this operation. The Holy Kingdom, which lay on the other side of the Lake of Sad Songs facing the border line, had dispatched heroes along with an army of 10,000. They hadn’t come to cooperate with us, however—they had only done so out of wariness. It was a military operation carried out on their part considering the possibility of the Dumpling Kingdom invading the Holy Kingdom and not the lake.
Sieg, Lanuvel and I entered Sad Mermaid Village.
“Holy. There really are only men…” Sieg muttered, looking as if he had experienced a culture shock.
“It’s because a man who’s been captivated by a mermaid’s beauty once becomes unable to love human females. This is a village made up of mercenaries and travellers who had their hearts stolen while crossing the lake.”
“Aww… my role…”
“We’ll be heading for that inn over there.”
It was a high-class inn built by the waterside. The 1st floor was a bar, while the 2nd and 3rd floor were for accommodation. You could see the unending view of the beautiful lake upon opening the window of your lodging, which gave you the feeling of being on a boat. As this inn was where wealthy merchants and nobles who wanted to cross the Lake of Sad Songs mainly stayed in, it was the most expensive in this village and its facilities were good as well.
It was quiet in the bar of the inn’s 1st floor, the reason being that not anyone could buy drinks as the price was so high. Still, I could see several patrons.
The beauty of the perpetually cute-acting Lanuvel would receive attention wherever she went, but this was one place where her looks had no affect—she was treated like some Traveller B. It was because of the female innkeeper, who was of overwhelming beauty.
A beautiful woman in the flower of youth, wearing a loose-fitting, blue one-piece dress. She wasn’t wearing any cumbersome underwear or shoes so that she could transform into a fish whenever.
A Level 318 mermaid. She was the 2nd strongest mermaid in this lake.
She had two legs the same as any other person, as she was currently on land, but the outer edge of her ears which were slightly covered by her curly purple hair, wavy like seaweed, looked like the fin of a fish. That was decisive proof of her being a mermaid.
Furthermore, her milky skin which glowed with a blueish green light was glossy as if smeared in sesame oil. It was a unique antifriction substance which lowered the resistance of water, but it had the side effect of appearing sensual to men. It was smooth when putting it in as… In any case.
“Hello. May I ask your reason for visiting?” the innkeeper asked me, faking a radiant smile.
She also happened to be a companion in my 1st Playthrough.
Mermaid princess Aqua.
She was the daughter of the hero who appears in this lake’s legend. If Alex, who placed importance on the balance of attack and defense, was a lower version of a hero, then Aqua was an assault commander specialized in offense and speed.
To her question I replied with a smile, “For a meal and lodging.”
At the same time as I spoke, I stepped on the foot of Sieg who was staring between Aqua’s face and cleavage in turns, completely enraptured.
… Perhaps I stepped too hard?
But hurting was better than dying. If a Level 3 human and Level 318 mermaid spent the night tangled, hero or not, the human would end up a corpse in an hour.
Of course, Aqua had no interest in Sieg. Mermaids could instinctively perceive ‘strong males’, and mermaid princess Aqua’s standard of choosing men began from Level 600.
“Are you a traveller crossing the lake?”
Aqua had two objectives in running an inn here. The first was to find a potential husband, and the second to recommend fine males. If she saw a fine man, even if he didn’t catch her fancy, she would secretly let her mermaid friends or sisters know about him before he departed. She was a matchmaker of a kind.
“Then a sightseer of the lake?”
“… Have you come targeting us?”
I had forgotten for a moment. Her third objective was to protect this lake and the mermaids, and that was why she was priority number one to be eliminated. Capable of moving freely on land despite being a mermaid, Aqua’s existence was a great threat.
“Uh-huh. The lake too.”
The words were right off my tongue when a stream of high-pressure water shot out from Aqua’s mouth towards my face.
It wasn’t something like complex magic—it was a unique ability of mermaids. If Elves had their bows and Elementals, then mermaids had their transformation and water gun. That spit of hers contained a powerful acid. It would be fatal if it landed.
But I ignored it and instead closed the distance between us. I charged in straight, not caring whether my clothes melted or not. The slightly surprised Aqua reacted by wielding the broomstick in her hands. Although it was no spear and looked like an ordinary broomstick on the outside, it was a handy weapon prepared for times like these. The broom’s material wasn’t of wood, but of steel!
That was all, however.
I had already grasped her movements in the 1st Playthrough. Dodging the broomstick, I thrust my lips forward, and the sound of lips meeting followed. Even as she was surprised, she had opened her ripe lips to shoot another stream of water, and I used that opening to push my tongue in deep.
Aqua attempted to resist with her eyes wide open, but she fell limp as she succumbed to the Deadly Venom(SS) mixed in my saliva entering her mouth.
“Wh-what just happened…?”
Sieg and Lanuvel opened and closed their mouths repeatedly like a goldfish.
I lifted the ‘high-class hostage’ Aqua, who was on the verge of breathing her last, onto my shoulder like baggage and scoldingly said, “What? Never seen a woman dying of shock from a kiss before?”
“It’s my first time.”
‘… Is that so? Strange. There were quite the many women who died while kissing with me, though.’
“Aqua! Aqua! It’s terrible! I heard a bizarre rumor of heroes trying to hunt mermaids, so I came to… huh?”
My gaze met precisely with the eyes of the woman who had rushed through the inn’s doors.
“… The hero escaped through the back.”
“There’s no way I wouldn’t recognize the hero!”
Saintess A so shrieked.