“Sir Hero! Are you in your right mind?! A hero attacking a human city to raise their reputation?! It’s unheard of!” Saintess A twittered with a pale face drained of color.
“Hey now! What do you mean attack? This saintess is saying things that’ll call for punishment. I just sneezed due to allergy. The startled wild creatures here leaped out and coincidentally charged towards the city is all.”
Nay. This kind of incident had happened several times even in the past. The land would be destroyed in the process of a hero fiercely battling against a strong foe. When that happened, the monsters residing in the area would take fright and flee on a large-scale, which would lead to them attacking nearby cities and villages.
“Are you seriously sayin…”
“Now! Let’s quickly go save them!”
We moved to the city under threat a little quickly. There was still no big problem, which was Saintess A’s concern.
It wasn’t a sudden raid by the monsters, as my roar which imitated the Oblivion Dragon King’s wasn’t only heard by the monsters; the people living in the city had also felt a sense of crisis. The roar of a dragon was as common as the gunshots of the military in this fantasy world. The people had even predicted that monsters would come rushing out of their homes.
“A large swarm of monsters are incoming!”
“Quickly inform the lord of this news!”
“Raise the signal fire and ring the bell!”
Evacuating and taking shelter was part of daily life to the fantasy world natives. Of course, a roar on the level of the Oblivion Dragon King’s would cause people to be swallowed by shock and fear equivalent to the impact of a nuke dropping.
The swarm of monsters charged towards the city in chaos. Even the monsters that hadn’t budged an inch when Ullullu was running amok was mixed among them, proof of how famous Oblivion Dragon King Noebius was. It was a greatness befitting of my dear companion.
I overtook that monster swarm together with the muppets and entered the city. Normally, there would have been a checking procedure at the castle gate, but it was wide open and received everyone due to the situation being one of emergency. Everything proceeded and swiftly as running water.
The bells set up in various places in the city rang noisily.
“The monster swarm is rushing towards the city!”
“Has the Oblivion Dragon King of legend woken after 500 years?!”
“Men who are brave, take up arms!”
It was a scene I had often witnessed in the 2nd Playthrough. At the time when I had formed a party with the Oblivion Dragon King and adventured here and there across the middle continent, people had welcomed us just like that. Shock, fear, despair, lament, madness, panic… they showed distinctive reactions.
The people taken by fright closed their shops and ran home, while knights atop horses galloped across the streets encouraging the citizens to participate in the fight to come. A city which had been peaceful instantly turned into the heart of a battlefield.
The time was ripe. I stepped atop the steep castle wall, climbed onto a watchtower and shouted in a loud voice, “Everyone! Leave it to me, this hero!”
While I wanted to make a rambling speech on top of doing advertisement, casualties would occur in succession if I did so, then I would end up being cursed even after saving them. I would be told, “Fight if you’ve got the time to talk.” I would then want to bully them by saying, “If you’re so discontent then fight yourselves or help sponsor the hero’s work,” so I held it in firmly for the sake of reputation.
Jumping down from the watchtower, I ran towards the monster swarm.
“Sir Hero~! What should we do?”
“We’ll fight together!”
“If Aqua’s going, then I am too.”
The muppets were spouting ridiculous nonsense. I had put so much effort into preparing this stage—how dare they try to get a finger in the pie?
“You lot just protect yourselves! You’re hindrances!”
Their eyes were full of complaint. I helplessly cooked up a rough excuse, telling them to defend the castle gate and that the citizens would be in danger if it was broken through, which added a noble flavor to the role. Only then did the muppets nod and retreat.
“Hah! What power of friendship.”
That was no more than a cowardly means the weak resorted to. To the great hero on his 3rd Playthrough who had a track record of cracking the skull and beheading the Demon King by himself, it was a low-class, worthless and trifling skill.
“Even though trash cleaning used to be that Sage guy’s role…”
The Sage used wide-range magic to sweep away monsters and demon legions. Indirect kills through poisoning, traps and the like, and large-scale hunting magic had the penalty of granting little EXP. Even taking that into account, however, the Sage had leveled up day by day. Now it was my turn to do so.
Massacre(SS), an amazingly beautiful Skill. Normally, swinging a sword would end at cutting a 2-dimensional line, but you would be able to slash at a 3-dimensional level when this Skill was added in the equation. Up to its S-rank, the Skill Massacre boasted a cute level of effect which would make you ask yourself, “This is Massacre?” but its true power only revealed itself from SS-rank and upwards—it would truly eliminate its targets on a large-scale.
In addition to this was the effect of other Skills. While they weren’t as optimized like Massacre, they each had their parts. Battle Spirit(SSS), Destruction(SS), Fighting Skill(S), Slaughter(S), Piercing(S)…
“It’s a pity about Endymion.
Elemental Sword Endymion. I had tamed it well to my tastes, but it disappeared upon my regression. It would be going to vain efforts even if I went to the country of Elves again to obtain it, so I gave up on it. The same went for other weapons of choice, which was why I used either my bare hands or cheap arms. These I could use however much I wanted regardless of regressing.
I launched a punch in the direction of the incoming monster swarm, striking at nothing but mid-air. But that didn’t end as an empty motion.
The bone and flesh of hundreds of monsters were crushed by my strike. They wouldn’t have been able to even guess why they died.
Massacre(SS), dealing damage in a fan-shaped area the size of a baseball field. Judging by my senses, the area damage was 5% inside and out, meaning that 5% of my punch’s original physical force was spread out in a large area.
That damage would be 1% at F-rank, and the area affected would be the size of a ping-pong table. The disparity could be said to be stark.
The monster swarm continued to be reduced to mounds of meat at each passing moment. It wasn’t as if the Massacre Skill had a cooldown time to it, didn’t require some sort of energy to use or restriction, and had no activation delay either. It was a mere 5%, but if my fist was powerful enough to smash the Demon King’s skull, then even 5% was enough to turn a great boulder to powder. And that kind of attack was being spread out in a large area.
“One, two, one-two~”
This battle was far from being grave or fierce; the difference in skill was too evident. The average Level of the monsters was 50 or so. If I needed EXP, it would be far more efficient to rather find one boss monster to kill. What I was doing now didn’t go beyond a simple repetitive work of stamping out the life of minnows like dirt for my reputation.
One or two of them would occasionally get through Massacre(SS) and approach me, as defensive Skills they possessed such as Endurance or Iron Wall had the effect of nullifying or reducing the degree of ‘area damage’. But that was all.
They were no more than slightly annoying. If area damage didn’t work, then I merely had to land a direct hit. There was only the bother of having to dodge so as to avoid the blood and flesh of monsters getting on my clothes.
The massacring soon came to an end. No more living monsters stood on the plain. There were an extremely few number that had fled to where they lived, but it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the threat to the city had completely disappeared. While there was a bit of harm done to farms and crops of fields, there was no human casualty which would call for the resentment of citizens.
Level 751 → Level 754
My Level had risen by a truly small amount as well. The EXP penalty to the Skill Massacre was utterly without conscience.
I shouted loudly, “My fellow people! The city is safe by the efforts of Hero Kang Han Soo! Rest easy and attend to your livelihoods!”
But for some reason their reaction was unsatisfying. Turning around to take a look at the city walls behind me, I saw that all the people were struck dumb at my performance.
“Sir Hero! Sir Hero! You were really amazing!”
Only Lanuvel, who came hopping over, showed a normal response. I would have given her a 100 points for that if she hadn’t tried to get hugged on the sly.
While I didn’t expect for applause from the citizens, they didn’t even let out cheers, let alone shed tears of joy and deep emotion.
… What had gone wrong?
I thoroughly scanned around to see if there some serious losses had occurred somewhere I didn’t know; however, it didn’t seem like I could find out before meeting the mayor or lord of this city.
“Th-th-thank you! Sir Hero!”
The city lord who came running in all a hurry was very young. Perhaps he had thought to fight himself, as he was wearing a pretty tin can-like armor. It had been for naught due to my performance, though. He preserved his life in exchange, however, so it was fine, wasn’t it? It was natural for him to express thanks.
“I only did what a hero must.”
Although I wanted to receive a reward for my efforts, I held it in for the sake of maximizing my reputation, since even taking over this entire city wouldn’t be enough when taking into account my feat. Perhaps he was aware of that fact? The lord was in a completely nervous state. He seemed worried I would ask for the city as a reward.
It was right at that moment.
“Sir Hero! Sir Hero! Come to your senses!”
The plaintive voice of one young woman broke the stillness.
… My senses were fine, though?
Those words weren’t for me. And it was no hero pretender either—it was Sieg. It seemed like he had avoided the monster swarm and ended up in this nearby city.
Sieg’s attire was truly shabby. What money could someone who did nothing but volunteer work have? His worn-out leather armor which showed marks of careful wiping here and there was a cheap article which even a rat wouldn’t wear.
At least his weapon was somewhat better. It was a one-handed sword, a sabre. One of the swords used most by the knights of this fantasy world. It was made light and long so that cavalry could wield it with one hand. As for its distinctive features, it was single-edged and had a gentle curve along its blade.
The origin of that sword was also written on the queen’s report. It was an heirloom he received from a blacksmith after Sieg saved his daughter, who was kidnapped by bandits around Level 20. It wasn’t a sword made from rare metals, however. It had meaning in that it reflected the entire effort and sincerity of an amateur.
“What’s the matter?”
“Gasp! It’s Sir Sieg!”
“Where did he get such an injury…!”
Some of the citizens who recognized Sieg made a fuss. After listening to the gist of things from the side, it seemed that he saved that woman who was nearly rammed into by a noble’s carriage and got run over instead. He really was one daft…
“As expected of Sir Hero!”
“My daughter lived thanks to Sir Sieg!”
“Thank you for saving my friend!”
The citizens helped Sieg up and began praising him. Rumors of this event spread in mere moments. A matter of merely having saved one woman instantly turned into a great achievement. There were even some who mistook Sieg and not me as the hero who slew the monsters.
These humans who would have died without exception had I not massacred the monsters were raising the reputation of the wrong guy. What I felt went beyond discomfort—it was a deep sense of defeat.
“Sir Hero~ We know of Sir Hero’s deeds!”
“You were really awesome, Sir Hero~”
“You are a preposterous thug of a hero as ever.”
And the muppets comforted me in this state. My mood didn’t get better at all, however; if I could have graduated with something like the praises of three women, I would have long done so.
“I understand what Sieg’s strong point is.”
I had thought him all softheaded, but it was all an act. Through him I saw the essence of public manipulation.
“Yeah. The very core of my thoughts was wrong.”
How many people you saved wasn’t important. In the 2nd Playthrough I defeated Demon King Fedornar with minimal financial cost and human casualties, but my reputation had fallen even more than what it was in the 1st Playthrough. I felt like I could understand why only now.
The foolish fantasy world natives just had to believe that “this hero is kind and amazing!”. The truth didn’t matter in any way.
“Muppets, let’s go. To Ullullu’s destination. There’ll be no hunting in the middle.”
Doing volunteer work that was like playing house ended today. From now on, it was going to be a cold war.
“Control the public sentiment.”
Thieves’ unions, assassin syndicates, masterminds, information dealers… I gave a command to the demon worshipers and Dark Knight Order who I could move like my own limbs: take over every intelligence network in the continents of Fantasia. Propaganda was the word.
‘I’ll show you an SS-grade in reputation.’