There was an old saying that went, you reap what you sow.
And I deeply agreed with this, with the reason being that news of “Sir Hero Hantsoo* is gonna conquer the Ice Princess!” was as widespread as the amount of money I had splurged at the pub. The only ones that still didn’t know of me… were the children who couldn’t drink yet. Nay, on second thought, the children who had listened in on the talk of the adults were even more hyper about the matter.
T/N: Sometimes the natives mispronounce his name
Neither the villagers, visitors nor adventurers of Village Q came picking a fight with me, spouting something along the lines of “Don’t talk bullcrap!”, and that was because there were already many precedents of this.
“Make the Ice Princess submit, he says? How could that be possib-…”
“Hahah! That pleasant Hero really is never free from worry.”
“As for us, isn’t it fine so long as we can get some free drinks? Haha!”
“That’s right! Cheers to Sir Hero Hantsoo!”
The surroundings of Snowy Mountain M were bursting with heroes. On the continents of Fantasia where your Status was accepted as if it were a resident registration card, the word ‘hero’ was interpreted as ‘someone who would one day slay the Demon King’. Indeed—one day. In short, brave adventurers were all called heroes.
I was also entered into this group of people, as one of the men who claimed to overpower the Ice Princess, who was said to be as beautiful as a cluster of falling snowflakes, and take her as their bride. The number of such braggarts were uncountably many. Although I felt extremely uncomfortable with being treated the same as those bachelors, I decided to tolerate it until I grabbed the Ice Princess by the neck and dragged her over to Village Q. I was no different from those blowhards who were nothing but talk right now, after all. Proof was important.
As for the next thing I had to do…
I had no thoughts of only focusing on being standard(graduating). Like how there were regular admissions and non-scheduled admissions for university entrance examinations, I was going to thoroughly prepare to escape from the continents of Fantasia like Senior-1 had. To that end, collecting information was a necessity.
“You called, soon-to-be-taking-the-fearsome-Ice-Princess Sir Hero? Is there an appetizer you’d like?”
“Give me a real fiery one, later at noon.”
Using the ‘Promised Code’ which was only used in the Dark Commerce that extended throughout the entirety of Fantasia, I finished my customer authentication overnight. Although the password I spoke was slightly off due to having come here much too earlier than I did in the in the 1st Playthrough, when I had been active in the northern continent, but the bartender, in high spirits from the big jump in sales, shamelessly overlooked it. My divine status had played a large part in this.
The Barter flashed a grin and replied in the midst of wiping a glass.
“I’ll arrange the very best.”
The Dark Commerce, which frequently crossed the line between illegal and legal, would sell anything, and they even knew how to be flexible if it was for the sake of maximizing profits. What this meant… was that when they weren’t trading illegal goods like in a black market, they would provide plenty of service so as the spare the customer from taking trouble. Of course, this was limited to customers verified through the Promised Code.
“Brother Sir Hero, Lanuvel is full…”
“Alright. Looks like a heavy drinker is going to be born from that swollen belly of yours.”
“You’re too much… Hic!”
“Pipe down and just sleep, will you.”
With the intent of shutting her down this time for sure, I had fed cheap drinks with high alcohol content to Lanuvel all throughout the night; however, following the 3rd Playthrough, it was a failure this time as well. After stuffing her into the corner of her lodging on the pub’s 2nd floor, I went down to eat the promised noon meal on the 1st floor, together with a lovely young lady finely adorned in a black one-piece dress.
“Sir Hero, what are you curious about?”
The young lady, who had only been making everyday small talk such as “This pub’s chicken is really fresh” in the midst of a harmonious atmosphere during the meal, abruptly threw me this question.
No customer of the Dark Commerce would cluelessly reply with nonsense at this point. But if there was? They would begin to treat them not as a ‘customer on equal footing’, but as a ‘moronic sucker’, and would proceed to rip them of their money through flattery and coquetry.
In any case, that was entirely irrelevant to me. Only that mermaid princess Aqua, who was an idiot like the fish she was, and that Elf princess Sylvia, who would suddenly have cotton between her ears the moment she saw anybody of the Dark Commerce, would be treated as suckers.
Ugh! Thinking of those days past made my temper rise again.
“I want to know about the Hero of Origin.”
“You mean the Hero who was the first to defeat Demon King Pedonar, yes?”
Having double checked, the young lady wet her throat with sweet fruit wine before speaking.
“You couldn’t be curious about that person’s biography or the ordinary tales related to him… The time that spanned from when the Hero of Origin first appeared until he defeated the Demon King was 7 years. It may have been a short period, but the achievements he made and the traces he left in the world are truly staggering. You have to set the scope of…”
“There’s even more than you’re imagining.”
The young lady wore a ludicrous expression, her forehead lightly frowned, and so I responded by quietly catching her off guard with a smiling face.
“Then shall we do it this way? If you gather information that doesn’t overlap with what’s publicly known, enough to make a thin book for me, then I’ll give you this.”
I showed her a single drawing of a blueprint I had taken out from my ‘Storage’ while talking, and the previously unenthusiastic young lady grew wide eyed.
“The blueprint of a golem, as you can see. An uncommon item it is. I can even give you the first page in place of advance payment if you so wish. In return, if you can’t collect the amount of information I specified, talk of the blueprint ends here, and the information will be provided free of charge. How about it?”
“… Please give me a moment. I’m not an expert in this field, you see.”
The young lady gave several orders to the bartenders. While they did use the Promised Code, I could at least vaguely predict that an expert on golems was being called for.
This was another strong point of the Dark Commerce; there was no wasting time for them. As I slowly appreciated the desert provided by the pub saying it was on the house and was about to finish, the person the young lady had called for arrived. It was an individual I had seen before in the 1st Playthrough; however, it was no ‘human’.
A midget came striding inside the pub. He would be called a Dwarf in English, the race that had the greatest talent in crafts from a fantasy world perspective. But if somebody were to ask me whether they were overwhelmingly more talented human craftsmen… I would say—I dunno? From how I saw it, their straightforward personality of being able to sit down and work on something for a long time, and the experiences they would accumulate over their average lifespan of 500 years played a bigger part. It was half and half of racial characteristic and talent, you could say.
The Dwarf that approached me reached a height of 1m, which was average for his race, and his bushy crimson beard extended to his waist covering it like an apron. His big eyes were big like you would expect on a Dwarf, and his boyish face was innocent-looking without a single wrinkle on it. Just cutting off his beard would be enough to cause him to be mistaken as a human child.
In reality, there were indeed Dwarves who did away with the beard and passed themselves off as humans, travelling around or integrating into human society; however, few members of their race would shave their beards as they thought the more plentiful the beard, the more ‘handsome’ you were. But whatever the case…
“Hello. I have come to see the blueprint in question.”
You couldn’t let yourself be fooled by their young appearances, as Dwarves were by no means a kind race. When it came to the Dwarves, who would retain the appearance of a child almost until death, there was a scary facet to their way of thinking, like that of a pure child.
Ever witnessed the sight of a child tearing off the leg of an insect with a smile? Dwarves would created a weapon of mass murder with a joyful heart and then wrap it up with some nonsense such as it being a masterpiece or art. They were the kind of bunch that would spout things like “This sword must be sealed as it’s too dangerous…” after making said dangerous item for their self-satisfaction.
A sigh was the first thing that came out of my mouth upon seeing the crimson-bearded Dwarf.
“You of all people…”
This was a variable that I hadn’t seen coming. No, perhaps I should have naturally guessed beforehand as he was someone of the Dark Commerce.
The Dwarf before my eyes was no ordinary engineer, but the chief instigator of the war that occurred in the northern continent in my past. His nickname:
The Blood Red Dwarf.
This Dwarf was the maker of the crimson golem which had changed the paradigm of war throughout Fantasia’s continents. I conveniently called him Dwarf L. Although the War God had surprised the world with his golden golem, he would never have managed to become famous if there had been no one playing the role of antagonist supporting actor and villain. And it was none other than Dwarf L, the one called the Blood Red Dwarf, who had played that role.
“Mm? Me of all people? Does the divine sir know of me?”
“Take a look at this for starters.”
The blueprint I presented to the Dark Commerce was of ‘Golem D’, and this was the problem—the crimson golem I remembered had overflowed with aggression and might which overwhelmed the eyes of the humans that would look up at it. It was armed with a gigantic hammer in its right hand, meant for destroying castle gates, and its left was a drill meant for punching through opposing golems and castle walls.
It had not appeared feeble all over like Golem D, not like games and fun for little girls.
Dwarf L began to carefully examine the page of Golem D’s blueprint he had received. And after who knows how long, Dwarf L gave his conclusion in a composed tone.
“It is genuine without a doubt. Although I have not examined the entire blueprint, this one page contains the golem designer’s philosophy and passion, aside from core techniques. Deeply vexing though it may be, he is a golem engineer of more remarkable skill than I am.”
Dwarf L uttered his surrender with a slack face, seeming like a child who was down because the clay doll his friend made was more marvelous than his.
“… That so?”
And to think, it was said even trash had its uses!
I did not think that this sort of junk doll blueprint, not a super robot blueprint, would be received favorable.
Putting down the blueprint, Dwarf L continued to speak.
“I know that I shouldn’t be saying such things, but I greatly desire the blueprint of this golem. I firmly wish to refer to it for my new type of golem that I am currently making. I trust that my determination and hope will be clearly made known to the collaborator.”
After saying as such to the Dark Commerce associate young lady, he turned around to leave.
“… I see that you have presented us with an amazing item, dear customer.”
The lovely young lady’s expression had become serious following her return from sending off Dwarf L outside the pub.
“How do you want to go about this?”
“Since it has been confirmed as genuine, then we will return the favor with trust. We will collect all of the relevant information scattered throughout Fantasia’s continents, everything starting from the Hero of Origin, to his companions, lovers, friends, and enemies. We will record down everything without letting go even a single trivial rumor and hand it all to you.”
That was the reply I had wanted; however, the young lady immediately added a condition to the exchange.
“Sir Hero who will take the Ice Princess? I am aware this is disrespectful, but is it possible for you to remain in this village until all the information you have ordered for has been gathered? If we get to work as quickly as possible by even making use of transfer magic, it will take about half a month. In the meantime, we will provide accommodations.”
They normally wouldn’t hold back a customer like this, but it was apparent they had caught wind of my going off to hunt the Ice Princess. The Dark Commerce was sending a rather courteous and roundabout message—hand over that blueprint before you get murdered by the Ice Princess.
“Half a month, huh… Fine.”
I had decided not to rush in this 6th Playthrough. That Demon King Pedonar had still remained alive until now was proof of that!
‘I should take it easy preparing things.’
“Nnn… Sir Hero, where’re you off to at this time?”
The pajama-wearing Lanuvel so asked as she rubbed at her eyes with sleep in them.
Still playing cute even in that muddled state? How truly disgusting.
We had been using separate rooms until now, but never could I have possibly imagined that Lanuvel would go to sleep tightly hugging onto the ‘Sage’s Staff’ like it was a doll. Left without a choice, I had had to shake her awake.
“Shush! Shut up and sleep some more till morning.”
Although I had replied to the Dark Commerce as if I would quietly tour the village for half a month, I had no obligation to go by those words. Half a month, an excessively long period of time—enough to kill Demon King Pedonar 15 times over.
‘Miss Trainee Teacher, it isn’t wrong in the least.’
Half a month in this fantasy world meant that on Earth, where time flowed 10 times slower than in the dimension of Fantasia, approximately 36 hours would have passed. 36 hours of time I could use to live as a cultured person of the Republic of Korea would be wasted for nothing. There was no way something like this could be tolerated, no?
“I want to go together as well.”
I had known Lanuvel would come out like this, which was why I had prepared a reply in advance.
“Drinking and adventuring isn’t allowed.”
“Here, Lanuvel. Blow your breath on my palm.”
Wearing a confounded expression, Lanuvel played cute again while blowing a breath as she was told to. Because of that, I almost ended up hurling a slap across her cheek.
‘Be thankful to my patience, Lanuvel.’
“A blood alcohol level of 0.5%, a serious level. The probability of you causing a nuisance if you were to go out adventuring like this is 99%.”
“Sir Hero! Lanuvel’s mind is fine!”
“A drunkard won’t obediently admit that they’re drunk.”
“Then try testing me.”
Lanuvel didn’t back off easily today and was instead stubborn.
I asked her a question as I held out two fingers.
“Lanuvel. How many fingers do you see?”
“Heh! Easy. Two.”
“Ehh?! Broth—no, Sir Hero! That’s two no matter how you look at it though?!”
“Just admit it already. It’s proof that you’re drunk.’
Lanuvel puffed out her cheeks as she made a vexed look, but then obediently returned to her bed.
Afterwards, I quietly made my way out of Village Q. My destination was the peak of Snowy Mountain M. Located in that hollow area at the summit was the fortress of the princess who lived in isolation due to her uncontrollable power.
“Well then, shall we go meet that woman who thinks herself the most unfortunate person in the world?”
I was going to let her experience real misfortune. Then, she would come to know how happy she was until now.
And of course, the lesson wouldn’t come with a fee attached.
“I shouldn’t only be cursing my 1st Playthrough companions. What a busybody I am myself, really…”