We got on the VTOL aircraft and moved quickly, but I didn’t get the feeling of flying. What was flight to me? A way of transportation where your face was exposed to wind so cold as to cause frost, and coming with it a sense of giddiness knowing that a misstep or letting go of the means of flying would directly lead to death. It wasn’t so comfortable as sitting like this.
The leather of a common high-quality sofa in Fantasia’s continents was stuffed with either wool or feathers in order to make it cushiony.
They didn’t contain springs like the one I was sitting on at this moment. The power of ergonomics cosily wrapped my buttocks—ah, what ecstatic comfort…!
“Is it to your liking?”
The female Sorcerer so asked me, sitting oppose me and leaning against the back of another cushy sofa with her legs stretched out and crossed.
I did feel a slight discomfort mentally and not physically, due to the feeling of suddenly having entered an unsuitable environment. Just looking at the inside of the aircraft, it was more comfortable and splendid than any carriage of a Fantasian great emperor. If I had to describe it…
It was like a commoner sitting on a flush toilet with a bidet installed VS an emperor crouched over a gold chamber pot.
It was the difference of living standard divided by civilization, which I didn’t dislike. I felt a sense of liberation, of my body and heart—which had become used to the lifestyle in that barbaric fantasy world where ergonomics and safety regulations were tossed into the trashcan—being cleansed. I had the thought that this was the life befitting a cultured man, that this was what I had put in so much effort for.
“What will you drink? Cola, beer, wine, orange juice… Ah! There’s also fresh milk produced from a clean region in Denmark.”
I unhesitantly made my choice at the female Sorcerer’s question.
I had tasted plenty of high-quality beer, wine and the like even in Fantasia’s continents. Even if this female Sorcerer could take out good liquor, she wouldn’t be able to offer any of the finest goods made in the eighties or whatnot. That wasn’t the only reason, however; there was no way to procure carbonated drinks in Fantasia. While I did have several opportunities to try natural carbonated water, that was closer to health goods rather than soft drinks.
“Are you still a minor?”
“And what does that have to do with cola.”
“I was just asking.”
The female Sorcerer took out a 500mL cola bottle from the small fridge placed next the sofa and handed it over to me, while she took out the banana milk next to the creamy white milk pack for herself. The high-quality wines and beers neglected in the fridge seemed to me as if they were bitterly grieving.
I wordlessly took a mouthful of cola. Beyond the crisp sensation of the liquid refreshingly passing down my throat, the ensuing fizzy feeling presented me with strange delight and deep emotion. As I thought, this is the stuff, I felt the stress accumulated from that fantasy world being cleanly washed away.
Meanwhile, the female Sorcerer was drinking banana milk.
I observed as a line of milk messily dribbled from her lips and ran down her slender chin and neck, heading into the deep valley of her cleavage. And then our gazes met.
“Mm? Don’t laugh. You’ve got a childish appetite yourself.”
The female Sorcerer’s face turned bright red.
“I didn’t laugh.”
My expression had eased purely because my mood was good; after all, coming back after 17 years, I found everything on Earth to be beautiful—including messily dribbled banana milk.
The female Sorcerer had quite the spirit. She had her own comrades seated in the common seats of the first deck below, while she sat alone with just me, face to face, in the VIP seats in the second deck. Was this a display of her confidence, perhaps?
“Mm… Now that I’ve actually met you, I don’t know what would be good to talk about first, even though I prepared a manual in advance.”
Having emptied her pack of milk, the female Sorcerer began talking with a light sigh.
“I’ll ask a question first if you’ve got nothing to say. At your Level, Miss Sorcerer, how do you rank among the individuals on Earth?”
“How would you calculate rankings like in a game? When victory or defeat can change in any way depending on your condition of the day, as well as matchups. In particular, a big difference is made for Sorcerers like me depending on how much we invest and prepare. But this isn’t the kind of answer you’re looking for, am I right? My official rank that covers single and group battles, hunting, versatility and so on is 8th place.”
I examined her Status once again.
I thought, wouldn’t it be too hard for her to manage to slay even a pet of Demon King Pedonar? Yet on Earth she was supposedly the 8th strongest human. In order to make a confirmation, I made a remark with a covert implication.
“8th ranking female Hero, isn’t that amazing?”
“It’s the overall ranking, though?”
With a single line from her, the available fighting power of Earth I had estimated dropped by more than half.
“… Really amazing!”
“Enough with the soulless compliment!”
“I’m not giving you lip service. Have confidence, I tell you.”
“Are you teasing me? I saw that golem you summoned, destroying dozens of Valkyries with overwhelming ability.”
“If it couldn’t even do that, I ought to send it to the scrapyard.”
I had no care for what others did with the power of friendship of love, but for someone to call themselves a companion or subordinate before me, they had to possess worthy skill and capability. She had chosen the wrong thing to make a comparison.
“This time it’s my turn to ask. What’s your name? There’s no use even if you hide it at this point. Although I failed during the closing ceremony of the Hero Festival, as there was no chance to leave a video record, right now your face has been properly captured. Plus, the language you use is Korean. It’ll be easy finding you with the search range narrowed down like this.”
“Kang Han Soo.”
I boldly revealed my name.
I wasn’t able to say it during the Hero Festival because I couldn’t go back to Earth at the time—I didn’t want to be noticed as a fantasy world old-timer, after all—but that was no longer true as I had made it through that unjust, biased grading system. I could be as bold as I wanted.
“I’m Victoria. It’s a bit awkward saying it myself, but I’ve been quite famous ever since I started being called by my alias, Yōma. Currently, I’m active as a technician and businesswoman rather than as a Hero. I made a bit of money through a new technology development business based on the combination of science and magic, and at present I’m running a nation-wide large-scale munitions factory and a retailer.”
“Nice to meet you.”
“… What did I say my name was?”
“There are limits to ignoring a person. Factoria, isn’t it?”
“It’s Victoria! Don’t treat a person like they’re a factory!”
The female Sorcerer, whom I intended to part ways with after only extracting information from her, bothered me as she harped on and on, but I didn’t make the mistake of having my hand slip or grabbing her by the throat, and this was because I was treated to cola. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that cola had saved her life.
“By the way, you’re dressed unusually.”
Victoria found fault with my fantasy outfit. The combat uniform I was wearing was prepared from only the best materials from head to toe by the Magic Kingdom, but it couldn’t be helped that, in various ways, it didn’t fit in with Earth’s modern sense of fashion. I didn’t feel inferior, however, as I had thought about all this beforehand.
A single tree would stand out, but the vast scene of many trees gathered to form a forest would overwhelm the viewer and thus they wouldn’t mind one mere tree.
So I decided to show her.
“I have many clothes, you see.”
I proceeded to repeatedly take out and put back the clothes I had stored in Skill: “Storage”. They were precious items which I had taken during the Hero Festival, from the treasury of those wicked angels. Armor, protectors, casual wear, underwear… it was a diverse collection of different types, materials and uses.
After that, Victory didn’t find any fault with my clothes. Instead, becoming of a Sorcerer filled with curiosity, she showed deep interest in the clothing of angels. Naturally, I didn’t show them to her.
“Were we that friendly?”
“I can understand well enough even if you just say you don’t want to show them!”
Later on we partook in in-flight meals and rested separately. Victory had wanted to continue talking, but I courteously refused, because…
“To think this boring movie would get a fourth part…”
I swiftly went through the movies, comics, news and so on provided in flight using a remote control or touching the screen with a finger. Victoria peeked at my monitor, sitting in the next seat with her bottom surreptitiously stuck to mine, but I didn’t particularly mind. Anyone did this much searching when they got a plane, didn’t they?
“You didn’t know they released the fourth part? It’s a hugely famous movie, though.”
Victory interjected all of a sudden.
“It’s normal to not know sometimes. Do you count every person you’ve killed in your life?”
“Isn’t that analogy wrong?!”
“It’s the same in that they’re both pointless.”
The year and a half’s time I had lost was much too bone-aching. There was too much that I didn’t know; however, in other words, this meant that the number of movies, dramas, comics, novels and so on that had been released during the time I was kidnapped had hugely piled up. These things along would be able to keep me occupied for a while. Thinking of it like that, it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Before I knew it, we were in the middle of Earth’s Pacific Ocean.
I fell into contemplation after checking the flight path. Until now, I had been obediently riding this VTOL aircraft as it had been flying in the direction of my home country, Korea, but the aircraft was starting to slightly veer off course.
‘Should I just jump off here?’
I would have been called nuts if others heard my thought, but as I had caught a dragon in the skies and gone skydiving frequently before, it wasn’t a difficult choice. At that moment, however, Victory spoke up, having noticed my intent.
“Mr. Kang Han Soo. Endure it a little, even if it’s frustrating. We’ve almost arrived at our destination.”
I wondered, was she heading for the island of Hawaii?
But then Victoria began to give an unasked-for explanation.
“The core force of the aliens, Valkyries, have no flight nor swimming capabilities, you see, which is why their air-raids are focused on targeting land only, and the countermeasure found for that is this naval munitions facility. It’s a plan to safely produce weapons, and it’s been quite successful to this day. The naval city we’re heading for is the third military base in the Pacific Ocean which I’m the chief director of. This VTOL aircraft, which is equipped with a satellite radar and stealth function, was also produced there.”
“… It’s well made.”
I gave an offhanded response while inwardly thinking “The heck is this chick goin’ on about?” because the terms she was using differed too much from that commonly used in Fantasia’s continents—the inside of my head was spinning. Even as I thought to myself, Victoria’s explanation continued.
“Construction technology that combines science and magic goes beyond imagination. After all, a total of six naval cities were built within a mere year; three in the Pacific Ocean, two in the Atlantic, and one in the Indian Ocean. If no problems pop up, the plan is to keep on increasing them. Politicians and families with conglomerate backgrounds who are condemned for abandoning the people and fleeing to the oceans are living here, but it isn’t an overstatement to say that the tax they pay is what makes the munition factories run.”
“So when are going to arriv—Duck!”
A blue flash of light swallowed my vision.
I wasn’t merely watching it happen, however; I summoned forth Holy Sword 2 to block the surprise attack, then kicked off the VTOL aircraft, which had been split in half, into the air. What followed after that was a second flash of light, and I couldn’t dodge as I had no sure ability to fly—but there was no saying that you had to fly yourself.
Summoned in the blink of an eye like a mirage, Saintess H tightly hugged my waist from behind and then completely unfolded her three pairs of wings.
Flap! Flap! Flap!
I was able to deflect the light attack using Holy Sword 2 without having to even dodge. The reason why I had summoned Saintess H despite this was to pursue the culprit behind the attack. I couldn’t simply take things lying down, could I?
I mixed the powers of Divinity and Dark Energy to give rise to a whirlwind. Saintess H remained still with all her wings unfolded, embracing my body, while I used this artificial wind to control our flight direction and speed; her role was to be a hang glider. Added on top of all this was flight stability through the blessing of wind.
“The oceans are safe my ass.”
I had no interest in something like the safety of that female Sorcerer, Victoria, who had fed me misinformation. My gaze was fixed on the other side of the clouds.
There I saw a familiar-looking man. Although there was nothing like wings on his back, he was floating in midair by standing atop two artificially formed gray whirlwinds like they were a pair of water skis. He, too, recognized me at a glance.
“That old prince who ran away the other day…!”
“That dastardly Hero I encountered in the Cave of Trainin—Wait! Why do you say I’m old?!”
‘You call that a question?’
In the 6th Playthrough, I had ended up letting that old prince slip away from me in the Cave of Training. I had constantly felt regretful and ill at ease regarding this, yet never in my dreams did I expect us to meet again like this on Earth. But how did he know I was here? I decided to ask honestly.
“I’m surprised you found me. Are you a stalker? Or maybe…?”
“Hold that horrible line of thought! I was only drawn by your disordered power of a Hero!”
By power of a Hero, was he referring to Black-Box?
But that didn’t matter at the moment.
“Shall we go for round two?”
“Ha! I see you’re puffed up at having won once!”
On this day, the naval cities of the Pacific Ocean came to face an unprecedented crisis.