It was a downright lie that the king and nobles were waiting for me. I was well aware that they had hurriedly begun readying themselves only after hearing news that the dubious Hero Summoning had succeeded.
Right about now they should be quietly making their entrances through the back. Otherwise, there was no reason for me to be waiting for a long time in front of the door.
“Hero-nim, are you listening?”
An old noble asked me politely.
“You will soon be having an audience with His Majesty the King. So please refrain from making such light remarks as before in front of His Majesty.”
“Just how many times are you saying this. I get it I tell you.”
“It is because saying it so many times is still not enough.”
“Really! Have you lived a life of being deceived or what.”
After parting ways with Alex whom I wanted to kill even more than Demon King Pedonar, I had walked for a long while through the palace corridors until arriving at an antique-looking entrance. In front of that entrance, it felt like I had been listening to this strict-looking old noble go on about things I needed to take note of for about an hour.
I heard a small noise from the other side of the door.
A signal that the preparations had ended.
“… You have achieved a satisfying standard in the etiquette I have taught you. It is now fine to enter.”
“There’s etiquette on standing like a block of stone too?”
The old noble who had argued with me for a whole hour turned his head to the side and coughed dryly, perhaps feeling ashamed.
Even from how I saw it, he had done his best. He had dragged out time, entertaining the Hero using reasons and false excuses, until the King and nobles hurried their heavy arses and entered through the back door.
Since I didn’t feel bored thanks to him, I decided to feign ignorance.
The great doors slowly opened.
A worn audience chamber that told of the Kingdom’s history and age came into view. The first thing that caught my attention was the high dais at the very end of the chamber.
“I welcome your arrival in my lands! Hero!”
A middle-aged man, who had a yellow face and looked like a garnished dumpling, stood up in an exaggerated manner from his throne and welcomed me with arms spread wide.
He was the king of this country.
Although he was said to be a battle-mongering figure who had often set out for the battlefields in his younger days, now he was just a dumpling wearing a crown.
There was a long line of irritating faces on display within the audience chamber.
The prince, princess, queen, nobles, knights, magicians…
I already knew about the ominous dark clouds that hung over this country, but I didn’t even have a bit of inclination to give them the precious gem-like information from the 1st episode — much less solve what was to come.
“Hero-nim. You are in the presence of His Majesty the King.”
A palace knight surreptitiously hinted at me to quickly give my greetings.
In the 1st episode I had given a respectful greeting, though it wasn’t received that well. Now… was because I knew the future? I couldn’t feel the need to get into the good graces of the Dumpling King who would be assassinated in the near future.
But the theme of today was modesty. I decided to play along with the other side for now.
“I thank your hospitality, Your Majesty.”
I greeted the king in the etiquette of this country which I had to learn even though I hated it. But, I didn’t overdo my bow in the least.
Was he satisfied by my submissive attitude?
A smile sprouted on the King’s face like a blooming flower. The many people of power I had met on political matters in the 1st episode had managed their expressions well, yet this King was truly an exception among exceptions. His face was excessively honest. To put it kindly he was kindly, but to judge him normally he was incompetent.
The nobles observing me whispered among themselves.
“There’s discipline in his movements.”
“Huh! His etiquette is even more excellent than that son of mine.”
“I had imagined an ignorant barbarian…”
Memories of the 1st episode flitted through my mind. The days of humiliation when I was called a barbarian who didn’t know manners by these savages.
But it wasn’t like that this time.
10 years of experience in a fantasy world. I had grasped the etiquette and culture of all countries and races. Though I hadn’t studied them because I liked them.
The face of the King whose mood had become good was even brighter compared to our meeting in the 1st episode. His face became like a tasty-looking king dumpling as the corners of his lips rising on both sides caused his cheeks to swell.
The King turned to look at Lanuvel and spoke.
“You have worked hard, Archaeologist Lanuvel.”
“I am honored, Your Majesty.”
After giving her a short compliment, the King once again seated himself on the throne, and then threw me a question with a voice full of expectation.
“Hero. Are you able to see your abilities?”
It was called status in English.
Putting aside that the Dumpling King’s voice was a little gentler than the last time, things were playing out just as it had in the 1st episode.
Status abilities existed in this fantasy world. It was made so that your own development index could be understood at a glance, generously indicated in words and numbers.
Just like… a hologram from a virtual reality game.
When repeating a certain action or situation it would become a Skill. And by raising proficiency the Skill Rank would rise and its efficiency and power would increase.
Interpretation(A) was given as a starter in the 1st episode as well, but the Fortitude(F) and Assassination(F) next to had to be a result of Sword King Alex’s test of courage.
Although I was aware of it, each look at the status window prompted a bitter laugh out of me. From Level to Skills…
Everything had been cleanly reset.
“I can see it very clearly, Your Majesty. Level 1, and my job is Hero.”
“Ooh! Can you tell the perk of a Hero?”
“It is a 500% experience bonus.”
Not only the King, but everyone in the surroundings was shocked.
And how could they not be? This meant that I would be able to grow stronger 5 times faster than others regardless of talent. If I were to repeat something for an hour, it would be the same as having done it for 5 hours.
An overpowered perk befitting a hero of legend.
“Hero-nim! A 500% experience bonus is a truly amazing thing!”
“It is not flattery but the truth!”
Lanuvel made a fuss at my lukewarm response. She continuously harped on by the side, trying to make me realize the worth of a 500% experience bonus no matter what. That was why I was about to tell her to shut up for a bit, but in that moment the King abruptly shot up from his throne and shouted in a strong voice with both his arms held high.
“Oh Chosen Hero! Danger is upon this country which lies near the territory of demons! I beseech you to slay the demons, raise your status abilities, and defeat Demon King Pedonar!”
This country was swathed in countless problems. A fight of succession between the princes, a high noble in cahoots with a demon, the queen who was hooked into a cult, the disappearance of village maidens, a freakish serial killer, famine, epidemic…
So many problems to the point of dizziness.
I did a rapid calculation in my mind, excluding the worthless problems which would only end in one word of thanks. I picked out only the tasks that would raise my combat power or give monetary benefits.
… These kinds of jobs were truly so few that they could to be counted on a hand.
The King put the blame on the territory of demons, failing to see the reality, but this country had an overwhelming number of internal issues, unrelated to demons.
The Demon King was an extremely scrupulous gentleman. He didn’t know to come empty-handed. He never failed to take care of my reward each time I slew his subordinates. Sometimes it had been too much to the point of making me feel troubled.
In short, at this rate I wouldn’t be able to work due to being unable to make ends meet.
“Your Majesty. About how much support will you give me?”
The Dumpling King tilted his head in confusion.
“I summoned you, the Hero. Our kingdom has given the ultimate support in order to save humanity. What more could we do?”
We’ve dragged over the hunting hound.
The hunting hound will solve the problem on its own.
That’s what the Dumpling King was saying.
“Then I refuse. Find some other hero instead.”
They were all astonished. Hmm. Those expressions please me.
“Crisis of this country? Ain’t my business. You lot got a lousy way of treating a hero. Giving an order in a situation where it’s not enough to beg on your knees? Look here, Dumpling King. I’m not a citizen of this kingdom.”
“Wretch! How dare you, to His Majesty…!”
One of the nobles flared up.
And I returned his outburst with my mechanical pencil.
The noble whose forehead was embedded with the 0.3mm mechanical pencil let out a short scream and tumbled down from his chair. This was me having shown enough mercy as it was. The pencil would have gone through his skull had my strength been sufficient. And if I had chosen to be vicious, I would have aimed for his eye sockets instead of his hard forehead.
Shiing! Shiing! Shiing!
The palace knights who were startled by my thrown mechanical pencil drew their swords in unison. They held me at sword point from all sides so that I wouldn’t be able to move. But that was all they did.
“Why don’t you kill me if you can.”
I began to walk slowly. A nick was made on my neck by one of the blades being held at me and blood trickled down, but I paid it no mind and walked towards the throne. The point of that sword failed to go any deeper.
It wasn’t because my skin and bones were hard.
The frightened palace knights were moving their swords aside on their own. They had surrounded me, threatening me with their blades, yet failed to cut off a single finger of mine. They were tense, dripping with cold sweat.
I spoke in a merry tone.
“If a king dies, the prince can replace him. If even that prince is lost, then the princess will do, and if there is no princess then a relative. Then, who will replace the hero if he dies? How will you take the head of the Demon King?”
My whole body was covered in cuts from all four sides, not only my neck. Hot blood flowed out of my wounds, but that didn’t daunt me in the least.
These savages weren’t worth treating with modesty. They were pigs who would crawl all over you if left alone.
The palace knights who had fallen into disorder wore dark looks. There was no palace knight who wished for their beloved family and lover to be killed or violated by the demons in the near future — except for great men like Alex who didn’t care about the world. He was the only one I needed to watch out for.
I was being bold with my experience in the 1st experience. I knew that these people could never kill me.
It wasn’t of my concern whether this fantasy world went to hell or not. But if I died in these lands, there was no guarantee whether I would be revived or things would restart like a game. I was also afraid of death.
But I was the victor in this psychological battle.
“Your Majesty. Do you have any more words for me?”
Politics was a contest of spirit. The one with the bigger voice would always win.
“… Hero. I have summoned you in order to protect these lands. I had ordered the purchase of magic catalysts from many nobles and merchants, and commanded Lanuvel to call you unto this land.”
“You belong to our kingdom!”
So the Dumpling King declared. His logic was one that I truly couldn’t even laugh at.
“I’m not a fish. The owner of a fish is the fisherman who caught it, but I’m a hero. Belonging to your kingdom? What a riot. Announce that to the world why don’t you? See how this kingdom will end up.”
The nobles began to make a commotion, the two princes who were aiming for the crown included. The queen who had been hooked into a cult that worshipped an inferior demon looked like she had many things to say, but she didn’t speak up thoughtlessly.
An atmosphere that was to my liking. It was here that I dropped a statement in a tone of finality.
“I am going to leave for a country that will favorably treat a hero. It’s no use even if you stop or imprison me. I won’t even twitch a finger. The moment the truth comes out that you oppressed the hero, hope of humanity, that will be the end of this country’s fate. That includes the rest of you who supported the foolish king.”
The nobles and knights who had been listening swallowed their breaths.
“Hero! What sort of support do you wish for!”
The Dumpling King who had become nervous shouted. He didn’t ask for the opinions of his loyal subjects or the high-ranking officials, tacitly thrusting forth a blank cheque first.
It was no different from declaring surrender.
“High quality food, clothing and accommodation, equipment, potions, military map, diplomatic immunity, room service…”
I shyly waved my pinky finger.
“And Your Majesty.”
“Is there still more, oh Hero!”
The face of the King, whose forehead had already gained more wrinkles in this short span of time, was as sorry-looking as a steamed dumpling that had fallen to the ground — though I still had no intention of letting him off.
“Show me the money.”
A role-playing game that you had cleared once already was bound to be boring.
Let’s key in the cheat code and walk only on a flowery path.