Chapter 1 – The King, the Princess and the Quest

Unedited

Next day. Kyou-san and I visit the castle.

Even though the church was a part of it, it was about two and a half month ago I last went to the actual castle building.

“Good morning, guardsman-san.”

“Oh, Momokawa-dono! Great to see you again!”

“Thanks. Ah, hallo, cook-san.”

“Momokawa-kun, you’re as pretty as ever. Is this your boyfriend?”

“No.” Uh, so cold. Her smile vanished from existence in a moment.

Kyou-san takes time to greet anyone we met.

Why is everyone so nice to Kyou-san and some are even including me! I mean, Kyou-san is the hero who got left behind, because she was weak. There is no reason to be so friendly to her…

They are luring us into a trap!

“Ken, do you actually think that they’re tricking us?”

“Aren’t they?” I whisper my words and look around carefully. With my [Perception]-ability I should be able to see through their farce.

“No. It’s my [Persuasion], idiot. Isn’t there something like this in games?”

[Persuasion], one of the seven attributes.

[Strength] for damage and physical prowess.

[Vitality] for pain-tolerance and resistance.

[Dexterity] for eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills.

[Agility] for speed and reaction time.

[Intelligence] for memory and math.

[Luck] for… being lucky, it seems to work into all kind of things.

And finally, [Persuasion], which describes how… Erm, what was it? Can’t be so important, it’s my lowest stat and I simply ignored it, so it has to be unimportant.

“What is [Persuasion] again?”

“It measures how non-heroes react to you, if you try social interactions.”

“So the more you have, the more people like you?”

“No, it’s more like ‘trust’ or maybe ‘success in doing what you want to’. For example, if I request something, the request is more likely to be fulfilled. If I threaten someone, it’s more likely to intimidate them, if I lie, it’s more likely to be believed as true.”

“… What an evil attribute!” No wonder Kyou-san has that much of it!

“Are you thinking something rude?”

“No… but wait, it’s only within social interactions and what again?”

“It doesn’t work on heroes. And before we went to pilgrimage, my [Persuasion] wasn’t enough to get much better treatment. Teru-chan had a higher score than me and now, that I think about it, I felt the difference already back then.”

“…Who?”

“Kurosawa Teruko. … One of our classmates? … My friend?”

“The one with the ponytail?”

“That’s Eri-chan. Teru-chan is small and cute.”

“Ah, the shrimp. So she’s called… Teru?”

“Kurosawa Teruko. Can’t you remember your classmates names?”

“You remember that I don’t care about these guys at all? Let me count… I know five names at all. Well, six now. Kurosaki Teruko!”

“…I want to make a comment, but I don’t know where to begin with.” Kyou-san is holding her head, as if she have headaches.

But I see, so Kyou-san’s [Persuasion] raised quite a bit. Though it’s just natural, since she was Level 2 when we started the journey and now she’s level 20.

“Wait, is that the reason, why the Ss’rak were listening to you, but tried to kill me, whenever I tried to negotiate?”

“Most likely.”

“Then why didn’t you tell me then?”

“I needed some time to figure it out”

… Damn Kyou-san! Stop making sense!

I take a look at all the people in the castle corridors. Most of them are most likely servants, there are some guards here, even though it’s supposed to be the royal castle of the kingdom, its inhabitants are mostly commoners. There is currently only one guy, who just turn into the corridor, wearing some fancy clothes.

Wait, don’t I know that guy? When did I see him? … “Ah, isn’t it the chancellor?”

“Oh, that one you remember.” Kyou-san don’t seem to feel great seeing the chancellor. Maybe something happened, but she had to be the one to speak to him, since I don’t really know him.

I met him back when we were summoned, saw him a few times, but since I disappeared after two days, he won’t remember me.

Kyou-san inhales deeply: “Good. I’m ready.” I think she almost pumped her fist, but hesitated after looking at me. “Excuse us, chancellor-san, but we have to talk.”

“Oh, Momokawa-dono. Long time no see, I heard you came back yesterday, so I wanted to visit you. But when I had time, you weren’t in your quarters anymore.”

“There are reasons for this, but my companion and I have important information to share. It’s about a danger, which might befall the kingdom.”

“I see. The king is attending to government businesses, but this seems to be important.”

…it’s that easy? Wait… [Persuasion], huh? What a cheat-like stat. Even though I don’t really need it, since I don’t talk to others.

We are brought to the king’s study room. Why is a king at a desk and reading and writing stuff there? This seems strange, shouldn’t he be like… in the throne room all the time? No, that’s in games, in reality government work is most likely like this.

The chancellor clears his throat. “My king, I’ve brought you the hero Momokawa Kyou-dono and her companion…” He looks at me.

“Katsuragi Kenta.”

“…Katsuragi Kenta, who… wait…” He just stumbled. “-erm, who are bringing important information regarding the security of Feuerberg.”

“Katsuragi Kenta? Ralf, this is a strange name.” So the chancellor is called Ralf?

“Yes, he is the hero who left us early, before even meeting you.” Ah, after hearing my name, he just remembered me, that’s why he stumbled earlier. “Even I’m surprised to see him here, especially since I think he looked different back then. Let’s hear them out.” The king nods and the chancellor clears his throat again and turns to us: “You’re in presence of king Heinrich von Stolzherz, king of Feuerberg, protector of the holy fire!”

The king is a tall man with blonde hair and a full beard, his orange eyes seem to burn, they’re that intense. But he looks at us with a poker face, waiting for what we have to report.

“Sir.” Kyou-san bows and after hesitating a bit, I imitate her. “We were traveling to the shrine of Heißquellen, in the Vulkan-mountain range.”

The chancellor inquired further: “The one, who got attacked and raided? We got the message from pilgrims, which visited the shrine after the attack. There were some priests there, do you know what happened to them?”

“No, but we saw the raiding party. Ss’rak.”

“Ssr’ak, the lizard people? On this continent? In Vulkan?”

“Yes. We were captured and brought into a chasm and…”

Time to cut in, since I don’t want to go into details here: “The chasm is a hard place to survive. You can’t climb the cliff, unless you’re a Ss’rak or bring climbing tools, we had to look for another way. We found an underground passage which led to a strange lava cave and there we saw… a dragon.”

“Dragon?”

“A dragon?!” This time even the king seems to be shocked, despise his attempt to keep a calm face. So dragons are special existences in this world, at least. They may even be just a myth, just like in our homeworld.

“Yes, a dragon. It’s called Muaotef and he’s the leader and god of these Ss’rak.”

The chancellor seems to be deep in thought. “Muaotef… maybe the sages know something about him.”

The king doesn’t care about the rumbling of his chancellor and asked: “And you survived?”

Well, this is uncomfortable. Because we only survived by doing him a service. How can I lie about this?

But Kyou-san butted in: “He had not much interest in us, he was arrogant and after what happened afterwards, we understood that he must have thought, that we would die anyway.”

“What happened?”

Words like that actually works? Is this the power of [Persuasion]? Even I begin to wish me more of it. They don’t even inquire details! Or maybe they’re waiting for the story to end, before asking us questions. Like, why we were in the Vulkain-mountains in the first place.

Kyou-san and I decided to keep the curse-part a secret, since it’s our personal business. And the whole curse-break-department is part of the church, not the government. Both are mostly separated in this country.

Kyou-san continues the story. “We saw a city full of Ss’rak and encountered multiple of them in battle. We could only run and survive with our power as heroes, but that advantage didn’t last long.”

The chancellor and the king seems to be engulfed in Kyou-san words. They’re totally caught. This seems like brainwashing.

“Because we met another hero. A Ss’rak and a hero of Muaotef! We faced him, two versus one, only Ken’s zeal and all the power I got from surviving in this chasm could save us. We won this battle, but failed to eradicate the city. There are too many Ss’rak for us! I don’t know, what they want, but they’re malicious and strong.”

Two versus one!? Stop lying! I want to scream, but Kyou-san is giving me a look, to shut my face and for now, I’ll just glare at her with my most furious expression! Going into a fit would be detrimental right now. And she knows it! You bitch!

“I see. Momokawa-dono, Katsuragi-dono, you did well. Heroes are stronger than the average person, but not invincible. And this doesn’t call for a group, but an army. Can you try to show us on the maps where the city lies, so we can send scouts?”

We try our best to be helpful and thankfully this doesn’t seem to be something, only a hero can accomplish.

The king is pleased with us: “You should better get a rest, and…”

Suddenly, the door opened and a middle-aged woman, a servant. Not a maid, which are surely a product of imagination. “My liege!” She knees before the king and presents a small message, like the ones carrier pigeons delivers.

The king took the message and while reading it, he changes color often: red, white, blue. Powerless he hands the paper over to the chancellor, who reads it and begins to tremble. What’s written there?

After the chancellor read the paper, the king exclaimed: “Send a message to the border, to the heroes if necessary. Or through the whole kingdom! The one who brings her back alive, will be highly rewarded! How much, chancellor?”

“500,000 Newgold would be appropriate.”

“500,000 Newgold for the ones, who bring her back! And double if unharmed!”

Kyou-san and I are exchanging gazes. Kyou-san asks: “Who?”

“My idiotic daughter!”

―○●○―

Katarine von Stolzherz, crown-princess of Feuerland. She’s 15 years old and quite capable, it seems. She’s skilled with the sword, able to use divine magic and well-loved. The problem is, she’s headstrong and naive.

After we heroes arrived in this world, she became convinced, that she, as royalty, has to play a more active role in the kingdom and especially the war. To please her, she was sent to the east to organize the supply lines to the front, even though clerks did most of the actual job.

It appears that she got sick of it and was recently seen at the front-line. The same one, the heroes – my classmates – are. Without any guards or servants she left her post and fought against parties of bandits and demon-soldiers and even defeated them all by herself, without returning to her actual task.

The problem is, that she’s the crown-princess and should not engage into unneeded danger. But since Katarine-hime is such a powerhouse and stubborn to boot, normal guards or soldiers won’t be able to bring her back safely.

So all the hope lies within the heroes and non-heroes with incredible skill, who are able to actually capture her. And this is the reason for this high reward and twice as much for capturing and transporting her unharmed.

500,000 Newgold is no joke, you can buy about anything with this. And if the king owes you, you can count on several benefits in the future. There is no reason not to try.

Especially for us, who needs 300,000 Newgold for another try to break the curse. And then we still have 200,000 left, 100,000 for each of us. This is still enough for me to upgrade my whole equipment or maybe just getting more consumables for quick power grinding.

I try to beat the game/world, so I can go back. One of the most important aspects is power. I don’t trust the god who claims to send us back if we kill the demon king and end the war, but whatever comes, first I need the power to realize the decisions I’ll make.

And of course, being powerful really helps in terms of survivability.

Kyou-san doesn’t know about my thoughts, but still wants to lift the curse, since she really hates the fact, that we are kinda married. And since raising 300,000 Newgold will probably takes about one or two months of serious grinding, a quest which might be take a week or two is preferable.

And even if we don’t capture the princess, we’re at the border and can get some materials and monster drops, which are more valuable in the capital than the regional ones. Since it’s hard to collect those in a war-zone, we’ll get some bonus payment.

The only downside: We will probably run into our classmates.

I think for Kyou-san it’s a mixed blessing, since she was left behind but still, some of them are her friends. On the other hand, she’s with me.

For me, it’s complicated. Normally, I wouldn’t mind it, since I don’t particular care about any one of them, but in the end, I was kinda bullied. Not in a physical sense, only socially. But I don’t really want to see those glares and experience that behavior again.

Yes, the girls will look at me like I’m puke again and the guys will probably making fun of me. I’m confident, that my level is much higher than theirs, though. I’m level 39 and Inoue Masahiko, the alpha-male, was level 18 just about 4 weeks ago.

Maybe it’s payback-time?

Well, for now it’s traveling with the carriage the chancellor arranged after we agreed to search for the princess ourselves as well.

=======================================================================

You gain 1 WP.

A lovely evening carriage-ride is romantic in its own way, but also gives you the opportunity for holding hands, snuggling and other ways to show your affection, while observing the rolling landscape.

=======================================================================

Except, that this is not romantic and there is no affection between us.

Kyou-san sold our loot before and we bought two pairs of gloves, better to hide our rings for now. Too bad there was no time to find someone who would be able to make my crimson bear pelt to an armor or another piece of equipment.

Yes, Kyou-san sold and bought everything. With her high [Persuasion]-attribute she’s able to haggle the prices to some degree. I really want to get a higher [Persuasion] now, but it’s my worst stat. I have less then half of Kyou-san’s, even though I have about twice her level.

I guess her [Priest]-class heightens her [Persuasion], while none of my classes does the same.

Generally your attributes are level-dependent, but how much your level changes your stats depends on your class. I guess it is a [level]x[class factor] thing. But the math doesn’t add up, so there might be several other factors in there, but at least my [Strength] as a [Pikeman] increases more per level than the [Strength] of my favorite [Scout]-class.

In the end, there is still a lot I don’t understand.

But there are still some possibilities outside the hero-system, to strengthen ourselves. We do gather all these WP for a reason.

“What kind of bonus should we purchase next? Personally, I think we should save the WP up, until we get a XP boost. At the moment we only get 50% each, but even though Kyou-san profits, my progress practically halved.”

“Ken, how long do you think, we’re going to stay cursed? The WP-amount is too high to aim for it, unless you think we’re going to be stuck for months.”

“Erm… right.”

Well, we need about 500 WP for this and we only gain 5 WP per day regularly. But with our WP so far, we should get it in about two and a half months, considering the current WP and the irregular ones.

The only bonus we have so far is shared inventory. But it was flawed.

Since our inventory simply was put together, we had to rearrange it and it took some time to reach a consensus, how we do it. Since it’s important to know exactly, where which pot is. It would suck to grab a SP-potion when you want to cure a poison-effect instead.

Maybe that’s like moving in together.

There are still more bonuses to get. I end up thinking about how to spend those WP all the time, it must be my gamer-mentality. Finding ways to exploit and power-game are always fascinating.

And one other aspect: How to bring down bosses!

“What do you think, should we ambush the princess while she sleeps and tie her up?”

“Ken, this is no way to treat a girl.”

“But since she’s able to fight bandits and such alone, it might be too hard to capture her unharmed, otherwise. What are we suppose to do? Talk to her? Isn’t she stubborn?”

“No matter how stubborn she is, she is still a girl. I will talk to her, befriend her, cook for her, slip some sleep-drug into her meal and keep her sleeping, while transporting her back to Esse.”

This… is far worse, than my suggestion. Since the princess was called naive, I think it might work, but this strategy is wrong on many levels.

Is this how girls treats each other?! Or is this only Kyou-san’s way of dealing with nuisances?

I know she has a bad personality, but seriously: This is outright evil.

“Ken, I only use my [Healer]-class abilities, so it’ll be more of a narcotic. This might be the first time, the class is actually useful.”

“I think, it might be a very useful class, after you get the hang of it.”

Kyou-san dislikes the [Healer]-class. She took it back then, because she thought, it includes magical healing, but it’s basically only compounding and physical treatment. However, crafting classes can be very powerful, as long as you know what you have to do.

“Name one thing, which can’t be replaced by magic.”

Uh, hard. Having consumables around is practical, but considering Kyou-san’s personality, she will refuse to accept the gamer’s kind of reasoning. Is there something else?

I take a look on Kyou-san, who’s furrowing her brows. Is me looking at you directly so bad!? Seriously! But looking at her brows, my look wanders to her black hair and I got an idea.

“Couldn’t you try to compound shampoo?”

“!”

She’s actually interested. Hair washes are hard to get, even in the inn I used only a kind of soap, but in the end, my hair is still not as smooth and clean as it should be by Japanese standard. Even though I didn’t care much about hygiene back home, after months even I feel the desire of modern cosmetics. And Kyou-san, as a girl, is most likely much worse off than I.

“It’s not as easy than you might think! I don’t have an idea where to start.” Ah, she resists my idea.

“But your [Compounding]-ability should help there. The basics for shampoos are easy, first select your tensides and cotensides, alkylsulphate is a common tenside. Then-”

“Wait! How do you even know about this?!”

“It’s only chemistry.” We might not had this exactly in class, but I picked it up in some self-study. Good grades for more playtime, without nagging parents. Kyou-san, shouldn’t you, who most likely don’t play games, study more instead?

“…I totally forgot, that your grades aren’t bad.”

“…hey!” Actually I’m rank 19 in school! Remember that! I’m second best in class!

“Keep going, but make it simple.”

“Erm… you have the [Herbal Lore]-skill, this shows which substances are in herbs, right?”

“Yes.”

“If you look for alkylsulphate there, you have the basic for a shampoo. Afterwards I guess, you need to rely on your [Compound]-ability.”

“Great advise, model student.”

“I only read about it! It’s pure theory with few actual examples and we’re in a fantasy-world!”

However, I guess we’ll try it at some point. At least it’s better than nothing, I guess. But there is still one topic I’d like to discuss: “Why did you lied to the king and chancellor? About us fighting the patriarch together?”

“Didn’t we?” She tilts her head in wonder.

“Don’t even try.”

“You used my backpack, so it counts as-” After seeing my face, Kyou-san corrects herself: “It was a quick way to shorten the story, since I didn’t want to go into the details. You need to feed some in a deception to make it interesting and plausible enough, so I wanted to make the impression, that we more or less run through the city together.”

“And you wanted to show off.”

“Yes, but I don’t expect you to understand. I have my own issues as well.” Come to think of it, she complained a lot about the chancellor, when we met again in Esse.

“You’re owing me for that one.”

“Yes, yes.”

She’s so not serious. “Phew.” I’ll let it slide for now, since it’s too much of a pain in the ass. But I’ll remember it.

Another question: How long is this journey supposed to take? I mean, the idea of traveling with Kyou-san isn’t that bad in itself anymore, but we already ran dry of topics to talk about. I never really got the feeling before, that I have to talk to anyone, as long I have my games. Hey that’s it, let’s talk about games!

“Kyou-san, did you play games back at home?”

“…” She was looking at me, as if I have presented a turf right under her nose. Maybe this was a bad idea. “Some. My younger brother have a Wee2, so sometimes I play with him. He’s twelve and a brat, but cute enough.”

“Then sport games?” Since she plays with her brother, these seems to be more likely.

“Racing, Guiseppe Kart, some titles I don’t know.”

Like I mentioned before, I mostly play RPGs. I do care about story or customization, so a good classic one on a console is as good as a modern MMORPG. But these games didn’t seem to be Kyou-san’s forte and gaming itself didn’t seem to interest her one bit. Although this opens another topic. A nasty streak hit me, I wanted to paint Kyou-san in my colors. In a way.

“You asked me to teach you about the hero-system, but at the time, there was only time to explain you some specific tactics, so since we got some time with nothing to do, let’s finally go through the basics to how I got so strong!” Time to talk about MMORPG-theory.

―○●○―

The most important thing you need for MMORPGs is endurance. If you’re not able to play the hell out of it, you won’t get anywhere. The second most important thing is understanding of the system. If you’re able to discern what strategies and builds are working and which are not, you should be able to make your character strong enough, that your actual gaming skills won’t have too much of an effect. If you build a perfect MMORPG-character, even a monkey should be able to play it.

For us heroes, there are a lot of similarities to MMORPGs, but there are differences as well. Like no online-guides, who would help you through trap-builds and gives you the basic understanding of the system. And so far, there is no indication, that monsters or non-heroes have stats, they just… are. So how do our powers interact with those without a status? It’s still a mystery.

But for now we can say, that we heroes have these MMORPG-elements, and one of the weaknesses as well: You can miss-skill yourself. If we look at Kyou-san, she already fell into a trap, since she chose already all her classes. Each hero can have up to 4 classes, but the [Student]-class is mandatory. Without a guide, she couldn’t know, that the [Healer]-class didn’t include magical healing.

We do have a manual, but it’s lacking a lot of specifics. There are class mentioned, for example, but nothing tells you, what these classes do. Now Kyou-san hit the class-cap and have to make the best out of it,

And the main-difference between a game and this world plus hero-system, is the fact, that this world is real. If we die here, we will stay dead. So the first thing you have to realize within this system is, that one dead is game over, so you have to invest in survivability. And there are a lot of things to think about,

It’s not only the amount of Health Points, but food, a place to sleep and means to get clothing, equipment and other stuff.

This is the reason, why I tried to get the [Hunter]-class, even though I ended up with [Scout]. With this, I get [Stealth] to avoid getting seen and to keep an edge on battles, the means to hunt my food and sell its fur and other drop items.

My most important mean of surviving is being able to run away and only attacking targets, after observing their strengths and waiting for a moment, to test out a single one.

“So first, check out your escape routes.”

“I thought your ‘strategies’ would be less… cowardly.” Kyou-san quenched her eyes.

“Being a coward is the best way to conquer any game safely. Using traps, ambushes and such will enhance your chances to defeat your enemy, especially the unknown ones or give you time to run away. And within your safety margin you can try different strategies, to make the killing the least difficult, to decrease time without bringing too much risk into it. And after you get all these down it comes to…”

“Comes to?”

“Farming.”

“…What?”

“Farming for XP and items. Defeating monster and monster and monster and getting their stuff and increasing your level at the same time.”

“Ken, you realize, that we were doing this the whole time? How should this be a new tactic?”

“I did it for at least twelve hours per day. A lot of kills.”

“Tw… twelve hours? This is insane?”

“This is nothing. Sometimes I even spent eighteen hours a day farming. Well, back in the day, since monster doesn’t respawn in this world-”

“Re-what?

“Respawn. Well, the monsters won’t magically reappear after some time, when you kill them. So instead of farming in one spot and singling out a specific type of monster, I fought everything I could. Within my safety margin. This is the reason, why I got my [Perception] this high, so I can perceive the enemy before contact and decide, if this is an encounter worth fighting. And [Track] of the [Survival]-ability, to find new mobs.”

“So all you say is: Be careful and kill a lot of stuff?”

“If you are soloing, this is the way it goes, yes. [Perception] and [Stealth] for survivability and my combat abilities for the kill.”

“I have neither… wait a minute, if you did so much ‘farming’, why isn’t your equipment much better? I think, I saw much better equipment in the stores in Esse.” She just checked the stats of my equipment, the fact that we are able to see each other statuses can be very annoying.

“Didn’t you realize it while sorting our inventory? Pots and consumables. A lot of them.”

“Pots? And what?”

“Potions, since I can’t heal myself magically, I used pots. And consumables are bombs and hunting traps, for example, everything which you can use only a limited amount of times. I practically invested most of my earnings in them, while saving some on the side. This is a dangerous strategy, but the consumables are much cheaper than equipment. And as long I can kill with my current gear, there is no need to change it. If I can farm twelve hours, because I got enough items to restore or avoid damage, it’s worth the cost.”

In fact, the hero-system can be merciless in terms of HP, but it’s rather forgiving for Stamina Points. As long I have SP, I can somehow manage it, as long I got no bad conditions, and since I have my non-[Student]-classes, I’m fine. Less chances for muscle strains, headaches or sickness, even if I overdo it a bit. And even if I stay for hours at the same spot while scouting, I recover quickly from bad ailments.

“Basically,” Kyou-san poundered: “Instead of building a good basic, you rushed in terms of killing monsters, since you can restore stamina and health, as long as you know how to run away?”

“Yes, and sometimes I sneaked into lairs to skip the combat and get some treasures, so I can maintain the status quo.”

Kyou-san facepalmed. “Somehow I think I will never be able to do this. This is wrong on so many levels.”

“Well, for you, the bus is still the way to go.” Her face already said, that she had no idea, what I’m talking about. “Partner up with a high level character. Under normal circumstances, you just need to get the kill, like we did before. But now you’re riding the Katsuragi Kenta bus all the time for some healing in exchange.” Actually, she’s currently more of an XP-leech.

Since we are both under this strange curse, we share our XP 50/50, no matter who get the actual kill. This is actually very beneficial for Kyou-san and since I’d get many disadvantages without being ‘married’ to Kyou-san, it’s better than nothing for me. But much worse than being not cursed!

“Can’t I just drive that bus over a cliff?” Why is she smiling innocently, while saying some cruel words?

“Erm… how about this: Just use the blessings and ignore the bad things?”

“So I should ignore you?”

Uh… I feel like I lost all but 1 HP. Why am I the only one trying to make this work? Should I just throw her out the carriage? But what happens, if I do that? Will the curse reactivate and would it be possible to get a dormant again? I don’t know and I don’t want to risk anything for now. Just keep up with it, until we got this princess, Kenta!

“Don’t worry, Ken. It’s a joke.” Her voice is hollow and I can clearly hear her lie. “Just go on.”

…Whatever. Considering the fact, how useless Kyou-san is most of the time, I’ll get enough chances to get revenge. “Then we should go to the roles. We can adapt our strategy a bit, now that I’m fully back to action and you got some levels.”

“No need. You kill, I watch.”

“…fine. It’s not like you would do any good either.” In some regards it might be better. It could affect combat negatively if I try to rely on her, since she sucks at it. Better to make it work by myself. “But actually I wanted to talk about party-roles.”

“You mean classes?”

“Not exactly. Generally, in RPGs with parties, every character have some strengths and weaknesses, special skills and such. In MMORPGs it’s often determined by their classes, but even though, there are general party-roles, and often several classes can be categorized in one of those roles.”

“…examples?”

Ouch, how do you explain party-roles to a person, who doesn’t have any experiences at all? “There are a lot of roles, depending on the game, but let’s go with 4 archetypes. First is the tank, more or less a knight, who attract enemies and endure their attacks thanks to their great defenses. When a tank does its job, the overall damage is reduced and everyone can act like they want to. Then there is the damage dealer, a character who can deal a lot of damage, mostly to single targets, so that key enemies are taken down quickly and efficiently. I would fall most likely with my [Pikeman]-class in this role. Then we’d have your role, a supporter. Often a character which heals and buffs… strengthen the party with spells. Finally, the crowd control, who is able to give enemies bad ailments and can take them out of combat for a time, so the party can concentrate on few enemies first. Might be a mage. This would be the basic four roles, even though there are a lot of different ways to discriminate.”

“Why having these roles?”

“Because it’s easier to concentrate in one needed area and being a specialist, while getting your weaknesses covered by your other party-members. And to encourage teamplay.”

“And why exactly are you telling me this?”

“Classes in the hero-system are similar. All have strengths and weaknesses and we need to cover the most important things. You and the other students started out with these thoughts, right?”

Uh, Kyou-san looks like I broke her pencil, just after lending it. “Yes, and it’s bad!”

“…Yes and no? Please?” She’s still not hurting me, even though her stare makes me feel uncomfortable. “While it was bad in your case, the general idea isn’t bad at all. Only the hero-system, since it doesn’t allow parties and sharing XP. Since we are an actual party, I’d like to put you to work a bit, since I have to cover up a lot by myself and was specialized in soloing before. So can I count on some healing, if needed and without questioning and waiting?” We’re going to the border and I can’t simply run away, as long as I have to watch over Kyou-san, I need to be able to endure a lot of pressure by enemies.

“…All right. But I’m only doing this healer-role.”

I called it supporter, but now Kyou-san might get a bit more active as well. Like back then, in the chasm. Somehow this is relieving and pleasant. Strange.

―○●○―

We arrived at the Wächter-fort, one of the strongholds at the border of Feuerberg-kingdom. This was the place, where the princess originally worked in the organization department.

The carriage-ride was very uneventful and mostly about strange silence, since Kyou-san and I just can’t find a common topic to talk about longer than a few minutes. Especially since my sole hobby is gaming and we both didn’t enjoy school as such.

Actually, I’m surprised that we can even talk about things for some minutes and didn’t give up trying to find a common topic. At least now I know that Kyou-san likes movies, TV-dramas and girl magazines, while she keeps her fashion-knowledge only up to date. She enjoys just talking with her friends about a lot of different topics, which I translate into: Wasting her time.

But back to topic.

The Wächter-fort is an old one, which is mostly useless nowadays, because the border was extended and new watchtowers were built. But it’s the ideal place to do border-related work without being too near at the actual war-zone.

“Hey, isn’t it class rep?”

A familiar voice shouted out and I saw someone from my class. I think. At least it’s a Japanese juvenile, so chances are high. I have to take a good look again. Even though I try to remember his name, I already forgot his face.

No, no chance. But I guess I saw him in class. It’s a good thing we wear gloves to hide our cursed rings. It would be pretty uncomfortable to answer questions regarding the matching rings.

Kyou-san nails his name. “Tetsukawa-kun! Long time no see.”

So this is Teshizawa-san. He is clad in light armor and have a regular sword on his waist, he seems to be like a soldier. Most likely one of the first to die, since I have the feeling, that I’ll forget his existence the moment he leaves. Just like an extra.

“Wait, isn’t it Katsuragi-kun?” Hey, why did he ‘-kun’ed me? I don’t even know him! “I couldn’t recognize you at first, even though I was sitting right next to him back in class. Talking about embarrassment.” He laughs like an idiot.

“Don’t worry, Teshizawa-san, I can hardly recognize you either.”

“You didn’t even get the name right, even though I just called him by it.”, Kyou-san rebutted.

“Don’t worry, it’s Katsuragi-kun.” Why does this Teshizawa talk about me, like I’m some kind of joke?

“More importantly: Tetsukawa-kun, are other of our classmates here?”

“Everyone.” Oh god, my day just worsened. “After we receive the king’s call, we all came here to hear the specifics.”

“Just like us, even though we were in the capital. But since the princess was stationed at the Wächter-fort they thought, we might learn more here.”

“The captain said, we will begin when everyone is here and ready. Maybe we’re waiting for you two?”

“This might be the case… Ken? Where are you going?”

“Ken?” Teshizawa-san wonders.

Not that I care. “To the woods. It’s time to eat lunch and I won’t go into that fort, unless it’s for information. And I’m sure, an hour will be fine, tell the captain that I’m back by then, Teshizawa-san.”

“Erm… OK? Are you sure? And class rep, why do you call Katsuragi-kun ‘Ken’?”

“…stuff happened. And I have to join him, I suppose, since said stuff… Please don’t tell anybody about my involvement with him, right?” Kyou-san winks at Teshizawa-san apologizing and joined me on my way to the woods.”

Teshizawa-san turns back and into the fort. Kyou-san catches up with me and I dart a glance at her. “Didn’t you want to rejoin our classmates and talk about old times?”

“Are you crazy? Like I could face them properly while being… that with you. The less we talk, the better.”

“I see.”

“But seriously, lunch in the woods? This is so… stupid!”

“I don’t go into the woods to eat lunch.” Even I could tell, that I have an evil grin on my face, while saying this.

―○●○―

One hour later we are in a conference hall, waiting for the captain to give us details about the runaway princess. This is the first time in a while I actually see my classmates and everyone somehow adapted to this new world. It was the whole combat-group, all 20 students in one festival hall. Everyone swapped the school uniform for different clothes and armor, we had some robed wizard-types, the light armored soldier-types and the heavily armored warrior types.

No one except me seemed to have a non-military and non-wizardly equipment, I guess my [Scout]-class stands out, even though it might be military-related, too.

But it’s still the same like before. It’s a herd of mindless goats, without any outstanding personality, except their few alphas. And the one who is the alpha of alpha is still Inoue Masahiko, he wears semi-heavy armor and two swords on his back. And of course he comes to us.

“Kyou! Glad to see you, are you alright?”

“Yes, Masahiko-kun. Glad to see you, too.”

For someone who don’t want to face her former friends, Kyou-san really seems to be happy to see Mr. Handsome McFake. All his glorious personality has to be a front to hide his actually vile character. He’s like a male Kyou-san, only with even less honesty!

“How are you, Kyou? I was so sorry to leave you behind, but at the end I was only thinking about you. Are you sure, you can partake in this? What is your level?”

“Don’t worry, it’s 20.”

“Great! I knew, you’ll catch up! You’re ten times smarter than me, so I was sure, you figure a way to level up quickly! Now you can rejoin us!”

“Erm… No, Masahiko. Not now.”

“Why?” Look at his face, full of concern! It almost looks like he’s really disappointed! This man should receive his acting award!

“Well, you see… I…” And Kyou-san isn’t looking Inoue into his eyes, she seems to be embarrassed. “I have temporary obligations.”

“What kind?”

“This one.” Without even asking me, she pulls me by my sleeve right into Inoues field of view, while I was actually avoiding it until now.

“Isn’t it… Katsuragi-kun?” Why does everyone ‘-kun’ me? “Long time no see! I was worried you might be killed, all alone out there. I’m so glad, that you’re still alive! And look at you, you look really great!”

OK, let’s translate these lines.

‘Long time no see’ means ‘Oh, you’re still here?’

‘I was worried you might be killed, all alone out there’ means ‘You’re so helpless, that you need someone to watch over you, since you can’t survive society!’

‘I’m so glad, that you’re still alive!’ means ‘Now I can continue to laugh at you inwardly!’

‘And look at you, you look really great!’ means ‘You were so fat, that this artificial slim-down due your class makes you look human again!’

I want to kill that bastard!

“Katsuragi-kun? You… well, I guess it’s good, that you didn’t change that much.” Inoue seems to be a bit unsure what to say after looking at my face, but he smiled nonetheless and turns toward Kyou-san again. “You’re working together for now?”

“Yes, temporarily. I thought at first, I can rehabilitate him a bit, but… come on, don’t look at me like that, Ken!”

“Oh, you grew closer?” Inoue’s wondering. Most likely because Kyou-san is calling me ‘Ken’. “I didn’t think that you two could ever become friends.”

“It’s just part of the rehabilitation. We aren’t friends, just classmates and well… he did help me out a bit.”

“Ah, I see. Katsuragi-kun is a gamer, after all. Of course he might know a thing or two, which can be helpful.”

“Yes. And he’s very good at tracking people! He even found the tracks of the princess already!”

“Kyou-san!” She’s really giving him the details! Without holding back, she tells Inoue the position of the tracks and the direction they’re going to.

“They may be a few days old, but this and the information we got from the chancellor in the capital beforehand means…”

“This… Kyou, this is great! Katsuragi-kun, you’re great! With this, we might cut some time!” Look at his face, not showing the greedy grin he surely have! “Better you tell it to everyone!”

“It’ll be good to see everyone- look!” The door opened and the captain entered the room.

“Ah, I need to go back to the others. We’ll see each other after the meeting?”

“Maybe, Ken is very keen on the reward, so I guess I have no choice but to leave as early as possible.”

“Ah, I see. Let’s have a fair competition.”

“We will.” Smiling, Kyou-san sees Inoue off. And the captain began the meeting.

―○●○―

The meeting was about an hour long and was about the personality and skills of the princess and her last known whereabouts. Occasionally she returned to the Wächter-fort to deliver some bandits and leaves before the guards could organize themselves, every time in another direction.

Inoue Masahiko thinks that this girl is a headache. But since Kyou and Katsuragi-kun already found her newest tracks, he and his group already has an advantage.

His party contains his old clique from school except Kyou. There is Yamauchi Daichi, a former judo-club member, who became an axe-wielding mountain of armor, the [Warrior]-class. Kita Katsuo, who was a kyudou-member, is naturally an [Archer] now. Inoue’s childhood friend, Akiyama Eri, was able to learn the [Wizard]-class, an offensive spellcaster. Her good friend, Kurosawa Teruko, wields a spear with the [Soldier]-class to support from the rear. And there is Inoue himself, of course, who got into dual-sword wielding with the [Fighter]-class.

They are the largest and highest level party of the four groups, well, five if you count Kyou and Katsuragi-kun in. Inoue is level 28, but since he sees himself as the leader, it’s natural, that he has to be a good example for everyone.

After the meeting ended, Inoue was looking for Kyou and Katsuragi-kun, still hoping to get Kyou on board again. But they already left. Maybe Kyou will rejoin them, if Inoue’s party get the princess back, even though the princess seems to be a bit of a wildcat.

“Let’s go, everyone! Naturally, we won’t lose to any of our classmates!”

““““Yes!””””

“And I already know where to look for Katarine-hime’s newest tracks! We just need to be faster than her and everyone else!”

Inoue lead his group in the direction Kyou was giving him, right into the woods. They were able to find the track Kyou mentioned and follow it. But suddenly Eri vanishes with a loud scream!

“Eri?!”

“Eri-chan?!”

““Eri-san?!””

“I’m OK!” Her voice is above! She’s hanging upside-down on a tree, in a sling-snare!

“Wait, I’ll help you!” And after two steps, Inoue feels how the ground under his feet collapsed. A covered trap hole?! He falls hard on his butt, it hurts and in the trap are thorns! He’s covered in several minor cuts now, which stings like hell! What is going on here?!

―○●○―

“Sorry Masahiko, it’s for the reward. And vengeance. Sweet, sweet vengeance!”

“Kyou-san, why are you monologing?”

“I just got the feeling, that Masahiko’s group fell into your traps. You’re really bad, for even thinking about preparing those beforehand.”

“You were the one, who wanted to led them right in and upgraded the traps with thorns, spikes and stones.”

“Ken, could it be, that we’re actually the worst?”

Kyou-san and I are laughing. It might be on the lowest level, but we’re getting along just fine now. We’re united in our hate for our classmates. Or something like that.

 

=======================================================================

You gain 1 WP.

You might be the worst, but you actually do things together. But seriously, rethink your behavior.

=======================================================================

“See, even the damn curse is thinking, we’re going too far!” Kyou-san’s honest laughter is full of glee. And somehow charming.

Kyou-san was able to use her [Persuasion] on the captain before, convincing him, that it’d be better to hear about the princess’ recent whereabouts before everyone else, since we both already know most of the basics from the chancellor.

There was only one more piece of information, the fact that the princess did delivered some mountain bandits two days ago and afterwards slipped away again. Most likely she returned to the mountains, I already found her tracks the hour before, when I prepared the traps. This information only confirmed our clue.

We slipped out right after the meeting began, since there would be nothing new and got a head-start. Most likely the others will follow quickly, if they have the [Track]-skill as well, but for now they have the traps to worry about.

Now, let’s catch this princess, get the reward and undo the curse!

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