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.”
“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?”
“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, 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.”
“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.”
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.”
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?”
“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.”
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.
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