I backtracked through the Cave of Training, holding the scimitar left by the demon butler as my weapon. This time for sure, I planned on making that old prince spit out everything he knew after perfectly restraining him with a herniated lumbar disc.
But at this time, I had ended up overlooking the meaning in the words spoken by the demon butler.
The Fantasia dimension. When considering it a dimension that was split for the purpose of nurturing Heroes, even if the creatures and natural environments belonging to this continent repeatedly regressed over and over, the same processes and results would occur. A variable in all this would be a Hero kidnapped from outside the dimension.
And an uninvited trespasser.
“Hey. Why are you here?”
As the old prince was also a “Hero” that could enter the Cave of Training, I had thought him naturally a part of the Fantasia dimension; however, I had just realized that that wasn’t so.
It was because of the Hero who was fighting a wooden puppet in the Beginner’s Room, with crap-inducing effort.
“Gasp-gasp! Kang Han Soo…? It’s you, right?”
The other party immediately recognized me.
Could there ever be another coincidence like this in the world? Nay, this was definitely a machination devised by the teaching staff, as it didn’t make common sense.
“Hey. How come you’re here when you’ve graduated?”
The other side was a graduate who had returned to Earth; there was no way he would have remained behind in this barbaric world. Perhaps, he too had become split as he graduated? The mere imagination of it was appalling, as it didn’t seem unrelated to me.
His appearance was the same as I had last seen him, that of a youth around 19 years of age. It you were to call his red-dyed hair his distinguishing feature, that it would be. After dealing with all of the wooden puppets, the youth lay down splayed out and asked me question instead of answering.
“Kang Han Soo. What’s my name?”
“My dear friend, you can’t trust me?”
“The hell I could! You darned ass! You forgot again!”
High School Classmate A thus cried out suddenly.
The Earthling Heroes kidnapped to the Fantasia dimension… if they defeated Demon King Pedonar by the unfair and unsquare power of love and friendship, they could return to their home planet, Earth. This was a certain fact, as it was something I had confirmed during the Hero Festival. I asked an indirect question to the youth who was living proof of it.
“Why are you here?”
Classmate A replied in a casual tone.
“I participated in a hunt as a mercenary together with my girlfriend. Eventually, we had no choice but to pitch camp as the weather worsened, but it turned out we only had one sleeping bag. We chatted about the hunting in the day until dawn while warming my girlfriend, who said she was cold, but then got scolded by our employer who told us we were being noisy in the middle of the night…”
“Shut your trap and get to the point.”
I had flown into a rage in the midst of quietly listening and almost ended up cutting Classmate A’s throat with my scimitar.
“Kang Han Soo. You, don’t have a lover, do you?”
“Get to the point while I’m talking mean.”
“Tsk-tsk. What a temper. Keep listening since I’m getting to the main point starting now. So I fell asleep at dawn and when I woke up, I was in a fantasy village. I asked around to the villagers, who said I had a little sister… but I haven’t actually seen even a shadow of that little sister.”
According to him, he was extremely bewildered at first. His girlfriend, who had played the role of a hot water bottle, had disappeared, while he was kidnapped to the continents of Fantasia again—just like that, without even a welcome greeting! What’s more, he couldn’t see hide nor hair of the little sister character that was supposed to live with him.
However, Classmate A was a Hero who had graduated this fantasy world, after all. Despite the Hero’s adventure introduction having largely changed in a poor way, it wasn’t his first time being kidnapped to Fantasia’s continents; Classmate A quickly grew familiar with the village and spent several days doing volunteer work for its residents.
“And then one day, after entering the forest to procure medicine by the request of the stable owner, whose daughter was ill, I discovered a new Holy Sword! Heheh. Don’t be surprised at hearing this—it was an Ego Sword! Containing the soul of a noble senior Hero.”
Classmate A had apparently obtained Holy Sword 3 from the pond where that freshwater mermaid lived in.
“So you came to this cave by the Holy Sword’s recommendation.”
I could roughly grasp the flow of events; Classmate A was proceeding along the main storyline I had experienced in the 6th Playthrough.
“Huh? How do you know that, Kang Han Soo?”
After giving a perfunctory answer, the inside of my head grew complicated because of Classmate A being dragged back into this barbaric fantasy world, when he had graduated in 3 years after being acknowledged as a Hero.
Was it because his attitude or performance after graduation was bad? But that didn’t seem like the case. As I quietly listened to his story without commenting, I found that he had been diligently practicing the “power of love”. There was no reason for him to be kidnapped again.
How about examining the Status of the resummoned Classmate A?
I couldn’t tell as of the present due to the influence of the Cave of Training. Things would have been different if Classmate A had a Skill which had reached Z-rank, but if he had possessed such capability, he would have been zooming around when I met him at the Hero Festival. Nevertheless, I could make a rough guess. It was possible to buy a shabby full set of clothes made from boar hide if you listened to each and every request of the shabby village’s residents, but Classmate A’s outfit differed from that.
It was a combat uniform of a modern design. Like how I had always started over wearing my school uniform, Classmate A, who was resummoned in the midst of hunting, was in the combat uniform he wore on Earth. Perhaps his Status was also carried over, as is?
In any case, Classmate A, who had used the same sleeping bag with his girlfriend, was on the extremely fortunate side. He was nearly summoned wearing nothing but his underwear or his birthday suit, after all. Still, being employed as a mercenary, Classmate A had the professional mindset to dress neatly in any situatio… Mm?
“Call me by name.”
“You damned ass, what is it?”
“What were you hunting to have been sleeping while wearing a combat uniform?”
The Status of Classmate A I had seen during the Hero Festival was at the level of being unfazed even by the assault of a hundred tigers. He would be able to best those cats, even if he were to wear a hot water bottle made in Korea instead of a combat uniform. What could have been the reason behind him specially wearing it while sleeping when there was no way he didn’t know this?
“Isn’t that obvious?”
Classmate A’s tone was natural, but as I hadn’t managed to return to Earth, I didn’t know what that obvious thing was. When you kept your mouth shut at such times, things would be advantageous for you half the time. And as I had expected, Classmate A proceeded to explain of his own accord.
“The android army, which is the main force of the aliens who began to invade Earth from before June. In contrast to their looks of woman as beautiful as a wax figure, their battle prowess is absurdly high. In particular, they’re more threatening because you can’t tell them apart from us humans before checking their Status.”
Androids, robots that resemble humans. It seemed that these aliens invading Earth possessed numerous trashy, delicate robots like Golem D. If the time and resources spent on creating such trash had been invested into super robots instead, then Earth would long have fallen into the hands of the aliens.
… That would be troublesome. In fact, this went beyond being troublesome, so much so that I felt a chill in my heart, because my parents were on Earth. If the planet became conquered by the aliens, then the wellbeing of my parents would be put in jeopardy. I decided to consider it fortunate that the aliens had no interest in super robots.
“What’s the big deal about such androids?”
For the time being, I threw in some words to keep up the pretense of also having returned to Earth, but then Classmate A shot a dumbfounded look at me.
“Androids. Alias, Valkyries. Even the weakest mass-produced type is stronger than a Hero around Level 700. You’ll be murdered straightaway if you ignore them, yeah? Ah! But I hear they don’t kill beautiful or handsome people and drag them off somewhere instead. Though of course, that won’t apply to you or me.”
“What about me?”
I had an acquired look.
“You can’t cover the sun with a palm. Go out with some down to Earth girls instead of fantasy, haha!”
“By the way, Kang Han Soo, I’ve been the only one talking for a while now. You should talk about how you’ve been doing until now, too.”
I was put at a crossroads—to completely ignore him, or to adequately play along. While there was the third option of extracting information out of him through torture, I didn’t want to go so far against a high school classmate. That being the case, only two options remained. In truth, though, it was a problem that needed no consideration.
Earth was under the invasion of aliens.
How could I just sit still after hearing about something so absurd? In order to get more information out of Classmate A, who had crossed over here from Earth again, it was necessary to strike up a friendly relationship with him instead of giving the cold shoulder. However…
“Sir Kang Han Soo. I was wondering where you’d gone after lighting a fire in my heart…”
A voice of reproach mixed with high-pitched coquetry sounded from behind me; it was the priestess who had chased me here after I disappeared from the bed. She only had a thin blanket barely covering her nude body.
Classmate A too had just spotted her, following which he gaped widely.
“Kang Han Soo, you bloody bastard! You played ignorant when you’ve been having a lovey-dovey time with such an amazing beauty…!”
I felt as if I had greatly lost favorability with Classmate A, but nevertheless, it wasn’t a bad thing when considering I managed to evade his question thanks to him misunderstanding of his own accord again.
However, what could be a good excuse to explain the priestess, who had appeared looking outrageously unbecoming of her occupation? At the end of my contemplation, an ingenious idea occurred to me. While pointing at her, I spoke.
“Let me introduce her. She’s Cave Resident A, who I coincidentally met in the Cave of Training. As you can see, she’s a very capable talent.”
The priestess possessed the Skill, Z-rank Blessing. As Classmate A was also a Hero who could see Statuses, he had to have confirmed this overpowered Skill of hers.
“Ha! Are you bragging about your girlfriend being matchless right now?!”
“She’s a cave resident, I’m telling you.”
I didn’t even know her name yet.
“Gah, this punk. Being relaxed and deceitful until the end, even when you have such a beauty. I’m gonna expose everything at the high school class reunion, you traitor!”
“It’s really nothing much.”
“Even feigning modesty…!”
It no longer seemed like we could continue a normal conversation, which was why I decided to get out of the Cave of Training for starters. Although it was possible to reach the last room as long as the administrator, the priestess, was present, I didn’t feel the need to accompany Classmate A that far. It was enough to go to the “Challenger’s Room”, which was far from the last room, as the exit to the outside also opened starting from there.
“I’ll be going first, so come after me the best you can.”
I chose to provoke Classmate A’s competitive spirit. Seeing as how he had previously boasted about winning over the Ice Princess, he would definitely grit his teeth and chase after me the fastest he could. Nothing good would come out of going so far as to show him my current ability, and there was no need for me to safely escort him by his side since this was the Cave of Training. He would never die here.
I returned to the Transcendent’s Room with the priestess in tow.
In truth, I was in a slightly anxious state.
“Aliens, all of a sudden…?”
I ruminated the things Classmate A had said and found a strange similarity to the timing of the aliens’ appearance; it was 7 months(6 years) ago that I defeated the old prince by smashing his jaw, and the timing of the aliens’ invasion on Earth strangely overlapped.
What’s more was the First Hero the demon butler had talked about. Although the appearance of androids, which might belong in a science fiction novel, was somewhat abrupt, there was Golem D who passed as a beautiful goddess in the 6th Playthrough, and I had even witnessed the Demon King’s daughter swinging around a lightsaber. It was a situation that could indeed take place in a fantasy world, though the problem was that fantasy element had moved over onto Earth.
“This isn’t the time to relax.”
It was no situation to be reusing an old hot water bottle, as there was no knowing when those aliens would murder my parents.
On one hand, I didn’t worry too much, as my grades in the 6th Playthrough was a triple A, a three of a kind. It would be a won game if I smoothly dealt with the Demon King this time. Upon achieving straight A’s in all four subjects, even the petty Fantasy God wouldn’t be able to not let me graduate.
I leisurely waited for Classmate A to make his way to the “Challenger’s Room”… and becoming bored, I reached out for the hot water bottle again.
“Isn’t the punk being too slow?”
He had neither died nor given up. The reason behind his delay was that you couldn’t receive the 500% EXP bonus of a Hero in this Cave of Training, and thus revealed was his pure ability, which was at a truly miserable level. What if Earth was teeming with such fellows?
“This is bad news bears…”
I prayed with all my heart until Classmate A, who had been added as a comrade in a natural way, arrived at the cave’s exit—prayed for Earth to hold up until my return.
A cry of joy left the mouth of Classmate A, whose combat uniform from Earth had been reduced to rags. He hadn’t so much as even glanced towards the entrance to a more difficult stage, but immediately ran to the cave’s exit instead. Apparently, that was how much of a hard time he had. He must have died a huge number of times along the way.
I patted the shoulder of the fellow, who was shedding tears of emotion, and responded to his outburst.
“Yeah. Now that the tedious training’s at an end, let’s go kill the Demon King right away.”
“… Demon King? Pedonar?”
“My friend. Do you have any problems with that?”
Now was the best time to act, as we had good Level for taking down the Demon King; however, Classmate A didn’t seem to agree.
“Problems? A bunch! What kind of Hero’s adventure ends when not a month has passed since his summoning? In the first place, how am I supposed to defeat the Demon King with this Level?!”
I chose to keep my mouth shut this time as well.
I didn’t want to be noticed as a fantasy world old-timer.
‘Ssh, Miss Trainee Teacher! That’s a secret to be taken to the grave.’
“Hansoo, do you remember what I told you before?”
At that moment, Classmate A asked a strange question and so I asked back.
“The story about me winning over the northern continent’s aloof Ice Princess. I’ll take this chance to give you a demonstration. She’s a princess who’s just as beautiful as that priestess you claim to be a resident you have no ties with! Heheh.”
Classmate A, who had escaped the Cave of Training, thus yelled at me in a challenging manner. He was apparently envious of the hot water bottle I had discarded at the cave.
“By the way, that Ice Princess is…”
Even before I could finish speaking, a pure-white and gigantic being landed beside me, causing a gust of wind, and let loose a powerful roar.
After calming down the deathly pale Classmate A, I introduced my pet.
“This silly dragon is called Baekgu.”
It was slightly regrettable to say, but the princess who Classmate A was intending on winning over had already been traveling together with us since several days back—if she wasn’t digested yet.
“Taming a dragon of all things… s-still, my Ice Princess is more…”
“How about giving up?”
That princess’ personality wasn’t much to speak of and her Status was poor as well.
“Grr! Kang Han Soo! Let’s compete! To see whose companion is more amazing…!”
“As you wish.”
I didn’t go so far as to dissuade him.
Dreams and hopes were important, after all.