Arifureta From Commonplace to World’s Strongest compete edition
The Monster of the Abyss
Hajime, whod covered his eyes with both hands and kept them tightly shut, slowly
realized that the people around him were muttering something and he timidly opened
his eyes. He was struck dumb at the sight of his surroundings.
The first thing his eyes registered was a massive mural. The mural, which stretched
ten meters long, depicted a faintly smiling figure, whose gender seemed
indeterminable, wreathed in a halo, their blond hair flowing freely behind them.
Behind them in the background were plains, lakes, and mountains. The figure had both
arms spread wide as if trying to grab hold of all of it. It was a truly beautiful, aweinspiring work of art. But for some reason, Hajime felt chills run down his spine as he
gazed upon it, and he quickly averted his eyes.
As he examined the rest of his surroundings, he quickly realized that he was in a vast
chamber. The entire room was constructed of a gleaming white stone that seemed
smooth to the touch. Marble, possibly. Massive pillars with sculptures carved into
them rose up to the towering domed ceiling. The room resembled some sort of grand
Hajime and the others were standing atop a type of plinth located in the deepest
recesses of the room. They were raised above their immediate surroundings. Hajimes
classmates were all looking around dumbfounded, just like him. It looks like whatever
happened had affected the entire class.
Hajime turned around, looking to see what lay behind him. As hed expected, Kaori
was slumped on the ground. She didn seem to have any injuries, so Hajime breathed
a sigh of relief.
After confirming her safety, Hajime returned his gaze to the crowd of people
surrounding him, who he assumed would be the ones to provide an explanation for
their current situation.
Indeed, Hajime and his classmates were not the only occupants of the room. Around
thirty or so people were standing before the plinth Hajime and the others were on. It
looked as if they were all praying, their hands crossed about their chests.
They were all clad in white robes decorated with gold embroidery. At their sides were
something resembling a bishops stave. The tips of their staves opened up into a fan
shape, and instead of rings, several flat discs hung from the ends.
Eventually, one of the priests stepped forward. He was an old man in his seventies,
dressed even more lavishly than his peers, with a richly decorated monks cap that
stood about thirty centimeters tall. Old was perhaps not the best word to describe
him. If not for his deeply wrinkled face and aged eyes, one might think him a man in
his early fifties.
His staff jingled as he walked, clear soothing notes reverberating throughout the halls
all the while. Finally, he opened his mouth and said,
”Welcome to Tortus, brave heroes. It is our pleasure to welcome you here. I am the
pope of the Holy Church, Ishtar Langbard. It is an honor to make your acquaintances. ”
The old man, who called himself Ishtar, broke out into a good-natured smile. He then
led the still confused group of students into another room that was furnished with
numerous chairs and long tables, saying it would be easier to speak calmly there.
The new room hed guided the students to was just as lavishly built as the first. The
exemplary craftsmanship of the furniture and the tapestries hanging on the walls was
evident even to the students untrained eyes. The layout of the room implied that it
was some manner of banquet hall. Aiko Hatayama and Koukis group of four all
claimed seats at the head of their respective tables, and their followers all arranged
themselves around them. Hajime ended up at the very end of his table.
The reason no one had made a fuss so far was because everyone was still too busy
processing what had just happened. Besides, Ishtar had just said he would explain
what had happened and Kouki, with his max-level charisma, had managed to calm
everyone down. Aiko-sensei had tears in her eyes as she watched a student do what
should have been the teachers job.
The moment everyone had finished seating themselves, a number of carts entered the
room, pushed along by a retinue of maids. Actual maids, to boot! Not those sham maids
found in a certain electronics holy land, nor those old, plump maids that could still be
found in various European countries. They were bona-fide maids, the kind every man
dreamed of meeting!
Even in such an incomprehensible situation, their insatiable curiosity and libido drove
most of the boys to gaze longingly at the beautiful maids. When the girls saw how they
melted over the maids, they glared at the boys in a manner cold enough to freeze hell
Hajime was also just about ready to ogle the maid whod started serving him a drink,
but he felt a glacial stare piercing his back and decided to keep his gaze fixed straight
ahead. After a moment, he risked a glance back in the direction hed felt the stare from,
only to see Kaori beaming happily at him. He decided to pretend hed never felt
Ishtar finally began talking once everyone had been served their refreshments.
”Now then, I am certain you all must be feeling very confused about the situation
youve found yourselves in. I shall explain everything, starting from the beginning. All
I ask is that you hear me out until the end. ” Ishtars explanation was so generic and
unreasonable that it seemed as if itd come out of a fantasy book template.
In short, this was what he said— First, that this world was called Tortus. Within Tortus
lived three different races: humans, demons, and demi-humans. Humans resided in
the northern half of the continent, demons on the southern half, and demi-humans far
to the east within a massive forest.
Humans and demons had a strained relationship, having been at war for hundreds of
years. Though demons lacked the sheer numbers humans possessed, their individual
strength far surpassed that of most humans, balancing out the difference nicely. Both
sides were currently locked in a stalemate, and a major battle hadn broken out in
decades. However, there had been disturbing movements among the demons as of
late. Namely the fact that they had managed to tame monsters.
Monsters were supposedly wild animals that had undergone a magical
metamorphosis after having mana poured into them. Though it seemed that humans
had yet to fully understand the biology of monsters, so they weren quite sure. They
were apparently very powerful and even capable of using magic, which made them an
extremely dangerous threat.
Up until that point, very few people had been able to tame such ferocious beasts. And
even those who could were unable to handle more than one or two at a time. However,
the situation had changed. Which meant that the only advantage the humans had over
the demons, numbers, had been eliminated. As such, humans faced an unprecedented
crisis that threatened the existence of their very race.
”The one who summoned you all here was the blessed lord, Ehit. He is the guardian
deity of us humans, and the one true god of the Holy Church. The supreme ruler who
created the world itself. I suspect Lord Ehit grew aware of our plight. He realized that
humanity was doomed to annihilation, so he summoned you here in order to prevent
such a disaster. You heroes are humans from a world greater than ours, and therefore
carry within you strength that surpasses the humans of this world. ”
Ishtar paused for a moment before continuing hesitantly. ”Or at least, that is what was
shown to me in a divine revelation. ”
”Regardless, I implore you all to do as Lord Ehit has willed you. Please, defeat the
demons and save the human race from destruction. ” He seemed almost in a trance as
he said that. He had to have been remembering the time he received that divine
According to Ishtar, over 90% of humans revered the creator god Ehit, and those who
received his divine visions were without exception given high-ranking positions in the
Holy Church. As Hajime was mulling over how twisted a world must be for people to
happily believe in ”the will of god ” without question, and how dangerous such a belief
was, someone stood up and began hotly protesting Ishtars words. That someone was
the teacher Aiko.
”You can possibly be serious! You
e telling these children to go fight in a war!? Thats
absolutely unacceptable! As a teacher, I cannot allow it! Send us back right this instant!
These kids all have families back home who must be worried sick! You can just
kidnap them like this! ”
Each of her words dripped with rather evident anger. Aiko, the mid-twenties social
studies teacher, was very popular with the kids. She stood only 140 centimeters tall,
with a baby face and her hair kept in a neat bob cut. Her childlike appearance, and her
tendency to run around doing everything she could for the sake of her students,
though most of her efforts were for naught, had endeared her to many. The gap
between how hard she tried and how helpful she actually ended up being had made
most of the students see her as a kid that needed to be protected more than an adult
to be respected.
Many of them had taken to calling her by the nickname Ai-chan, though she always
grew angry when they did. Since she was aiming to be a respected teacher, she disliked
being called by familiar nicknames.
This time too, she flared up at Ishtar to protest the unreasonable forced summoning
in order to look like a proper teacher. Unfortunately, the students regarded her the
same as always, thinking something to the effect of ”Look, Ai-chans at it again. Always
trying so hard, ” as she tore into Ishtar. However, Ishtars next words froze everyones
”I understand your feelings, however… I am unable to return you to your world at
Silence filled the room. The oppressive atmosphere was felt by everyone present. They
all stared at Ishtar blankly, unable to properly process what he had just said.
”Wh-What do you mean… you
e unable!? If you called us here, you should be able to
send us back, shouldn you!? ” Aiko-sensei screamed loudly.
”As I stated earlier, it is Lord Ehit who summoned you here. The only reason we were
in that room at all was to greet you heroes, and to offer up our prayers to Lord Ehit.
We humans do not possess the power to interfere with other worlds, so whether or
not you can return also depends on His will. ”
”N-No way… ”
Aiko slumped back into her chair, all the strength drained out of her. The other
students all started yelling as the truth of Ishtars words sank in.
”Youve gotta be kidding me? What do you mean we can go back!? ”
”You can do this! Please, just send us back somehow! ”
”A war!? You can be serious! Take us the ** back right now! ”
”This can be happening, this can be happening, this can be happening… ”
The entire class fell into a panic. Hajime was shaken by this development as well, but
because he was an otaku, he had at least seen countless books and games that had the
same premise. Which was why he was able to determine that it was not the worst
possible scenario, and that was the reason he was at least somewhat calmer than the
other students. For reference, the worst case scenario he was imagining was the one
in which they all got summoned as slaves.
Ishtar said nothing and silently watched on as all of the students panicked. Though
Ishtar was silent, Hajime thought he could see contempt hidden within the depths of
the old mans eyes. Hajime presumed he was thinking ”These people were chosen by
god, why are they not rejoicing? ” or something along those lines.
Kouki stood up amidst the hysterical group of students and slammed his fist down
onto the table with a bang. That managed to get the attention of most of the kids. Once
he had confirmed that everyones eyes were on him, Kouki began speaking.
”Everyone, theres no point in complaining to Ishtar. Theres nothing he can do about
it now. And… And I, at least, have decided to stand and fight. These people are about
to be annihilated. Knowing that, how can I possibly leave them to such a tragic fate?
And besides, if weve been summoned here to save humanity, its possible well be
allowed to go back once weve saved them… Well, Ishtar-san? Do you think thats
”It is as you say. Lord Ehit is not so unkind that he would ignore a request from his
chosen heroes. ”
”And weve all gained some amazing powers, right? Ever since I arrived here, its felt
like Ive somehow grown way stronger. ”
”Yes, that is correct. It would be safe to assume that each of you have the equivalent
strength of anywhere from a few to few dozen regular men. ”
”Alright, then we should be fine. Im going to fight. If we save everyone, then we can go
home. So just you watch! Im going to save everyone, including us! ” Kouki clenches his
fists tightly as he proclaimed his noble intentions, flashing an almost sickeningly
dazzling smile at the end.
At the same time, his overwhelming charisma started taking effect. Students who were
despairing mere moments ago began to regain their sense of composure. They all
looked at Kouki with wonder, as if they were staring at hope itself. Most of the female
students had adoration mixed into their gaze as well.
”Heh, knew youd say that. Still, Id be worried letting you go off on your own… Which
is why Im coming with you. ”
”Looks like thats the only choice we have right now. It pisses me off that we don get
any real say in the matter, but… Ill help too. ”
”I-If Shizuku-chans going to fight, then I will too! ”
The usual group of friends all chimed in their support for Kouki. Swept along by the
flow, the rest of the students naturally all agreed to fight as well. Aiko-sensei was in
tears as she ran between her students, imploring them to stop. However, she was
ultimately powerless, completely unable to keep Koukis charisma from infecting the
rest of the class.
In the end, everyone agreed to help fight in the worlds war. However, most students
probably had no idea what war was really like, nor did they even want to fathom it. In
a sense, they might have just been trying to escape from reality to preserve their own
Hajime was considering all of those factors as he observed Ishtar out of the corner of
his eye. Ishtar had a rather satisfied smile on his face, something which Hajime took
Ishtar had been discreetly monitoring Kouki as he had given his speech, mentally
jotting down how he reacted to which words. Kouki, who had always had a strong
sense of justice, had reacted quickly when Ishtar spoke of the tragedy that had befallen
the human race. And Ishtar had made sure to emphasize the cruelty and brutality of
the demons when he saw Koukis reaction to his words.
After all, it was obvious that Ishtar had seen right through Koukis personality. He had
realized who among their group held the most influence.
Hajime supposed that as the top leader of a global religious institution, it stood to
reason that Ishtar would be so discerning, but he still mentally filed him away as
someone to watch out for.
Regardless, since they had chosen to assist the humans in their war, they now needed
to learn how to fight. No matter how amazing their newfound powers were, they were
still high school students that had been living in the peaceful country of Japan. It
wouldve been impossible for them to just start fighting against demons and monsters
without any training.
However, it seemed Ishtar had prepared for that eventuality as well, since he explained
to the students that there were people ready to receive them in the Heiligh Kingdom.
Said kingdom was apparently at the foot of the divine mountain, and the temple they
were currently in was the head temple of the Holy Church that stood at its summit.
The kingdom had very close ties with the Holy Church—according to legend, one of
Ehits progeny, Sharam Vaan, had founded the kingdom. Of all the human kingdoms, it
was apparently the one with the richest history. The fact that the Churchs most sacred
temple was in the kingdoms backyard spoke volumes about how deep their
Hajime and the others headed for the temples front gate. They were about to embark
on their journey to the kingdom below. As they walked through the grand triumphal
arcs that comprised the main gate of the temple, they were greeted by an endless sea
of clouds. Because no one had suffered from altitude sickness, they hadn realized
theyd been up so high up. Hajime assumed that magic had something to do with
making the environment around the temple habitable. They all stood in wonder as
they stared at the clear blue sky and the waves of clouds sparkling in the sunlight.
Ishtar looked on proudly as everyone gawked, before urging them onward. As they
made their way forward, they came upon a massive white circular pedestal that was
surrounded by a fence. They walked through a lavish hallway made of the same white
stone as the cathedral and stepped up onto the pedestal.
Engraved within the stone of the pedestal was a large magic circle. On the other side
of the fence lay a steep drop to the clouds below, so most students huddled as close to
the center of the pedestal as they could. But they were unable to restrain their
curiosity, and timidly glanced around their surroundings despite their fear. As they
were looking around, Ishtar began to chant,
”Faith is the key that opens the road to heaven—Celestial Path. ”
The magic circle began emitting a blinding light as he finished chanting. The entire
pedestal began gliding down toward the ground, as if attached to some invisible cable.
It appeared that Ishtars chant had been an activation signal of sorts. It functioned
exactly like a fantasy cable car. The students all started clamoring excitedly as they
saw their first display of magic. There was quite the ruckus when they passed through
the sea of clouds too.
Once on the other side, the students could finally make out the ground below. Directly
below them was a huge city, or rather a small kingdom. A huge castle that looked as if
it were jutting out of the mountainside lay at its center, with the rest of the city
spreading outward in a circle. The capital city of Heiligh. The magical cable car
seemingly ran from the Holy Church down to the roof of one of the castles towers via
some aerial pathway.
Hajime smiled sardonically at the extravagant theatrics. The entire journey had clearly
been crafted to resemble ”Gods disciples descending down from heaven, ” or some
such feat. It was quite likely that with a display so ostentatious, some of the more
ardent believers would come to worship not just Hajime and his companions, but the
priests of the order who had escorted them down as well.
Hajime recalled what he had read in history books about pre-war Japan. A time when
religion and politics were very closely tied to each other. And it was those very ties
that had brought about a great tragedy. In the end, it was quite possible that this world
was even more twisted than ancient Japan was. After all, this was a world in which a
supernatural being powerful enough to interfere with other worlds existed. It
wouldn have been surprising at all if the whole world literally revolved around Gods
This entire world, including everyones chances of returning home, all rested in the
palm of Gods hand. As the outline of the capital grew more detailed, Hajime felt an
inexplicable sense of unease well up inside him. He shook away the oppressive
thoughts and reminded himself that he had to focus on doing what he could for the
The moment they landed atop the royal palace, Hajime and the others were escorted
to the throne room. The hallways they passed on their way were every bit as
ostentatious as the temple had been. Along the way they passed by knights, servants,
maids, and government officials. Everyone who passed gazed at the students with a
mixture of awe and wonder. It seemed that most people were aware of who the
Hajimes sense of unease continued to increase, and he furtively followed behind
everyone at the end of the procession.
Ishtar and the party of heroes finally found themselves standing before a pair of
massive double doors, into which numerous beautiful designs had been engraved.
Two guards were standing at attention on either side of the door, and they loudly
announced the groups arrival to whomever was waiting within. Then, without waiting
for a reply, they swung the doors open.
Ishtar leisurely passed through the entrance, clearly at ease. All of the students timidly
followed behind him, with the exception of Kouki and his friends, who were seemingly
unaffected by the splendor surrounding them.
Within the room stretched a long red carpet that ended at the far wall. At its end lay a
magnificent chair—or rather throne. Standing in front of the throne was a middleaged man who radiated an aura of solemn dignity.
Next to him was presumably the queen, and next to her were a boy and a girl, both
with blond hair and striking blue eyes. The boy, who was the younger of the two,
seemed no more than ten years old, while the girl must have been around fourteen or
fifteen. On the left side of the carpet was a line of soldiers, all clad in armor and
uniform. On the right, a line of civil officers. Altogether, there were probably around
thirty people waiting in the room.
Once they were directly before the throne, Ishtar left the students and went to stand
beside the king. He then proffered his hand to the king, who took it reverently and
kissed it with the slightest brush of his lips. It looked like the pope was even more
important than the king. Hajime sighed inwardly, as he was now certain that ”God ” ran
A flurry of self-introductions followed after that. The kings name was Eliheid S. B.
Heiligh, and his wife the queen was called Luluaria. The blond boy was the prince
Lundel, and the girl the princess Liliana.
Then came introductions for the knight captain, the prime minister, and other
important dignitaries. As an aside, the fact that the young princes eyes were glued
onto Kaori the whole time made it clear that her charm worked on the men of this
world as well.
Once the introductions had finished, a huge feast was laid out and the students were
able to enjoy the dishes of a parallel world. Though, for the most part, it wasn very
different from western food back on earth. The pink sauce and rainbow-colored drink
that they sometimes brought out was especially delicious.
Prince Lundel spent most of the meal talking with Kaori, and all the other boys stared
on at them worriedly. Hajime secretly hoped the brunt of their jealousy would move
away from him and onto the prince instead. Though he didn really expect a ten-yearold boy to have much of a chance with Kaori.
After they finished their meal, Hajime and the others were introduced to the
instructors they would be training with in return for being clothed and fed by the
palace. Their instructors had been chosen from the ranks of active duty knights and
court magicians. The king probably wanted to strengthen the relationship between
the students and his kingdom for the inevitable war to come.
Once dinner and introductions were finished, everyone was led to their own
individual rooms. Hajime was certain he wasn the only one who was dumbstruck by
the huge canopy bed he found in his room. The room was so luxurious that he couldn
fully relax, but hed already experienced quite the hectic day, so he was tired. He
flopped down on his bed and fell asleep almost instantly as the tension drained out of
Training began bright and early the next morning. Everyone was handed a twelve
centimeter by seven centimeter silver plate. As the students stared at those strange
plates, the knight captain, Meld Loggins, began explaining their function.
Hajime wondered if it was really alright to have the knight captain be the one to watch
over their training, but he supposed that it would be bad for both their image and lives
if the kingdom left the party of heroes training in the hands of some amateur.
Captain Meld himself seemed to be quite happy to oversee their training, as he laughed
heartily and said, ”Besides, this gives me a reason to push all the boring paperwork
onto my vice-captain! ” It seemed the captain was perfectly content with his role,
though the poor vice-captain probably was not.
”Alright, you kids all got your plates? We call them status plates. As their name
suggests, they take various parameters and quantify them for you. They also make for
great identification cards. So long as youve got these, youll be fine even if you get lost
somewhere, so hang onto them tight, you hear? ” The knight captain had a very
informal way of speaking. When asked about it, he had simply said, ”Well be comrades
fighting together on the battlefield, so no point in being so stiff with each other! ” and
even urged them to speak casually with all the other knights.
Hajime and the others found his friendly attitude pleasant. They would have found it
awkward to have people far older than them showing them respect anyways.
”Youll see that one side of the plate has a magic circle inscribed on it. Use the needles
I passed out to prick your finger and drip some blood onto the circle. That will identify
you as the owner of the plate. Then, if you say Open Status, youll see your current
stats displayed on the plate. Oh, and don bother asking me how it works. Ive got no
clue. These things are artifacts left over from ancient times. ”
”Artifacts? ” Kouki asked, stumbling over the unfamiliar word.
”Artifacts refer to powerful magical items that we no longer have the technology to
reproduce. They were supposedly all made during the age of the gods when the
creators descendants still walked the earth. The status plates you all hold are all
artifacts from that era as well, but they
e the only artifacts that still see widespread
use to this day. Most other artifacts are coveted national treasures, but there are
enough of these plates that even average citizens own one. Its helpful since they make
for very reliable identification. ”
It seemed that the artifact that produced these status plates still existed as well, and
every year new plates were produced under the strict supervision and control of the
The students all nodded in affirmation as they listened to his explanation. Once it was
finished, they all gingerly pricked their fingers and rubbed the blood that welled up
onto the magic circle of their plates. The magic circles flared briefly as the blood
touched them. Hajime, too, rubbed some blood onto his plate.
His status plate flared up briefly as well, and like ink spreading through wool, his plate
was slowly dyed a sky blue. Hajime was taken aback. The other students also looked
on in surprise as their plates changed color.
Captain Meld continued his explanation of the plates after that. Apparently each
person had their own distinct color of mana, and when their information was entered
into their plates, the plates changed color to match it. The reason they were able to
serve as such reliable identification cards was because their color and the color of
their owners mana were always the same.
So wait, my manas light blue? Or I guess closer to sky blue? Its real pretty.
Glad that his mana wasn pitch black or anything along those lines, Hajime looked
around and saw that everyone else was also busy staring at their own colors. Koukis
was predictably pure white. Ryutarous was dark green, Kaoris a very light purple,
and Shizukus the deep blue of lapis lazuli.
”I realize you
e all impressed, but don forget to check your stats, okay? ” Captain
Meld smiled wryly as he reminded the students to confirm their stats. His voice
brought them all back to their sense and they gave Meld a brief look before hurriedly
checking their stats.
Hajime returned his own gaze back down to his status plate. On it, he found written—
Hajime Nagumo Age: 17 Male Level: 1
Magic Defense: 10
Skills: Transmute — Language Comprehension
—the above information. Hajime felt that hed almost turned into some kind of video
game character as he looked at his stats. Everyone else was also absorbed in reading
their plates. Seeing that, Captain Meld began explaining the different stats.
”Everyone got a good look their stats? Alright, let me explain them from the top. First,
we have your level. See it? That number grows as your other stats grow. The highest
level is 100, and when youve reached that you
e at your limits as a human being. In
other words, ones current level shows how much of their full potential theyve
realized. Reaching 100 means unlocking all of your latent potential, and is a cap
beyond which you cannot grow. Very few people manage to make it to level 100,
So it wasn exactly like a game, since raising your stats increased your level and not
the other way around.
”Your stats will naturally increase as you train, and you can also use magic or magicimbued items to raise your stats. Also, those with a high magic stat will naturally grow
faster than others. No one knows exactly why, but we assume its because a persons
mana assists in the growth of other stats. Later on youll all get to choose equipment
that corresponds to your individual stats. The items in our treasury will be yours for
the taking! You
e the heroes who are going to save our kingdom after all! ” Judging by
Captain Melds explanation, defeating a monster wouldn magically increase ones
stats. Everyone just had to train the old fashioned way.
”Next up, do you all see that little box that says job in it? Put simply, that refers to your
natural aptitude. Its directly linked to the skills box in the bottom, and your job
determines the kind of skills you can learn. Few people possess a job. Jobs are split
into combat-based and non-combat-based disciplines. Combat jobs are exceedingly
rare. Only one in every thousand, or ten thousand depending on the job, people have
a combat-based job. Non-combat jobs are technically rare too, but… well, one in every
hundred people has one. Some of them are even common enough that one in every ten
people has one, actually. Theres a lot of people who have non-combat production
related jobs. ”
Hajime looked back down at his status plate. His job was ”Synergist. ” Which meant his
talents had to do with synergizing, whatever that was supposed to be.
Ishtar had said that Hajime and the others came from a world superior to their own,
and that they possessed better abilities than the humans of Tortus due to that fact.
Then its only natural that I have a job, thought Hajime as his lips curled up into a smile.
There was no person who wouldn be happy to be told they were gifted with a special
However, at Captain Melds next words, Hajimes smile vanished and was replaced by
a cold sweat.
”Next… well, your stats are simply what they say they are. The average for most stats
at level 1 is around 10. But you
e all heroes, so you surely have far higher stats than
that! Man Im so jealous of you guys! Oh yes, don forget to report your stats to me. Ill
need to know them to decide how to best train you guys. ” The average stats for
someone at level 1 were around 10. And each and every one of Hajimes stats were a
perfect 10. His mind raced furiously as cold sweat poured down his back.
Huh? Doesn that mean that my stats are totally average… like completely and utterly
mediocre? I don have any godlike cheat powers? My power level isn over 9000? WhWhat about everyone else? Maybe everyones just like this at the start… Hajime clung
onto this last sliver of hope as he furtively glanced around at the other students.
Everyones eyes were sparkling as they looked at their stats. Not a single one of them
was breaking out in a cold sweat like Hajime.
Kouki was the first to step up and show his stats to Captain Meld. His stats were as
Kouki Amanogawa Age: 17 Male Level: 1
Magic Defense: 100
Skills: Elemental affinity — Elemental Resistance — Physical Resistance — Advanced
Sorcery — Swordsmanship — Superhuman Strength — Armor Proficiency —
Foresight — Increased Mana Recovery — Detect Presence — Detect Magic — Limit
Break — Language Comprehension
The guy was a living personification of cheat skills.
”Whoa, you really are a hero. You already have stats in the triple digits at level 1! And
most people normally only get two or three skills! You
e way beyond normal. What a
reliable hero! ”
”Well, you know how it is… Ahaha… ” Kouki blushed and scratched his head as Captain
Meld praised him.
As an aside, Captain Meld was level 62. His stats were all within the 300 range, and he
was one of the strongest humans alive. But at just level 1, Kouki was already a third of
the way to his strength. If his growth rates were just as high, hed overtake the captain
in no time.
In addition, it seemed as if your skills were basically the innate talents you were born
with, so there was no way to increase them. The exception being derivative skills.
Those were skills that were acquired by spending a lifetime polishing ones talents,
something one acquired by surpassing their limits in a certain field. Put simply, it was
when someone suddenly discovered the trick to doing something theyd always
struggled to before, and rapidly increased their proficiency with it.
Hajime had hoped Kouki was just somehow special, but everyone else also had
overpowered abilities, though none quite matched up to Koukis. And it looked like
everyone else had a combat-based job without exception.
Hajime stared at the word Synergist that filled his job box. From the name alone, he
found it hard to imagine it was a combat-based job. He only had two skills too. To make
matters worse, one of them was Language Comprehension, which every summoned
being had. In other words, he effectively only had one skill. Even Hajimes stiff smile
began vanishing from his face. Finally, it was his turn to show his stats, so he presented
his plate to Captain Meld.
Captain Meld was ecstatic after having seen how ridiculous everyones stats had been.
He was probably elated to have so many overpowered allies. But his smile froze in
place when he saw Hajimes plate. He muttered ”Did I just misread it? ” and began
rapping the plate with his knuckles, then shone some light on it. After staring at it for
a long time, he finally returned the plate to Hajime with a complicated expression.
”Umm, well, you see… A Synergist is basically a blacksmith of sorts. It might come in
handy if you plan on opening a smithy, but otherwise… ” Captain Meld muttered out a
poor explanation of Hajimes class.
Hajime was certain the boys in his class who all hated him would jump at this new
chance to belittle him. A blacksmithing class was clearly not a combat-based job. The
rest of his classmates all had combat-based jobs, and he highly doubted his particular
job would be of much use in battle.
Daisuke Hiyama grinned wickedly as he hollered out to Hajime,
”Hey Nagumo. Don tell me you seriously got a non-combat job? Hows a blacksmith
gonna fight monsters? Hey Meld, is this Synergist or whatever a rare job? ”
”No, not particularly. One in every ten people has the class. In fact, all of the craftsmen
the kingdom employs have the job. ”
”Gimme a break, Nagumo. You
e gonna fight with something like that? ” Hiyama folded
his arms provocatively as he said those words. As Hajime looked around, he could see
that most of his classmates, the boys especially, were all laughing at him.
”Who knows. You never know until you try. ”
”Show us your stats then, if you
e so confident. They better be way high to make up
for your shitty job. ”
Hiyama had most likely already guessed Hajimes stats from Captain Melds
expression, but he simply wanted an excuse to bully Hajime some more. He possessed
quite a nasty personality. His three flunkies all jeered at Hajime as well. They were the
kind of stereotypical thugs that bullied the weak and groveled before the mighty. Their
actions were so clearly malicious that Kaori and Shizuku both glared at them, eyes full
Despite how smitten they were with her, none of them seemed to realize she disliked
such bullying. Hajime lazily handed his plate over to Hiyama.
When he saw the stats engraved on it, Hiyama burst out laughing. He passed the plate
down to his other underlings and they all sneered or laughed at Hajime as well.
”Bwahahaha… What the hell, man! You
e like totally average! Actually, 10s exactly
average, so I bet there are even some babies out there stronger than you! ”
”Hyahahaha, youve gotta be kidding me! This guys not even gonna last ten minutes!
Hed die so fast that you couldn even use him as a meat shield! ”
Unable to stand it any longer, Kaori opened her mouth to give them a piece of her mind.
But before she could get out a single word, someone else began yelling at them. That
someone was Aiko-sensei.
”Hey! Stop laughing at him! I won allow anyone to laugh at their classmates on my
watch! As a teacher, I absolutely will not condone it! Now return Nagumo-kuns plate
this instant! ”
The boys were all taken aback by how much anger was visible in Aiko-senseis small
frame. They hurriedly returned Hajimes plate in order to avoid her wrath. Aiko-sensei
turned to Hajime and gave him an encouraging pat on the shoulder.
”Nagumo-kun, don worry about your job! Look, I got a non-combat job too! And aside
from my job, most of my stats are pretty average too! You
e not alone! ”
Aiko-sensei then showed her pink colored plate to Hajime with a ”Here, look! ”
Hatayama Aiko Age: 25 Female Level: 1
Magic Defense: 10
Skills: Soil Management — Soil Restoration — Large-scale Cultivation — Enhanced
Fertilization — Selective Breeding — Plant Appraisal — Fertilizer Production —
Mixed Breeding — Auto Harvesting — Fermentation Proficiency — Wide-area
Temperature Control — Farming Barrier — Fertile Rain — Language Comprehension.
Hajimes eyes resembled a dead fishs once he finished reading Aikos plate.
”Huh? Whats wrong, Nagumo-kun!? ” Aiko asked as she shook Hajime back and forth.
It was true that her overall stats were low, and that she did not possess a combat class,
but her exceptional magic stat and large number of skills meant that she would reach
the level of other heroes with just a little training. And lest everyone forget, an army
marches on its stomach. Aiko-senseis job was nothing like Hajimes. His was so
commonplace that there were myriad others who were more proficient in it. In other
words, even Aiko-sensei was plenty overpowered.
Hajime felt doubly betrayed for getting his hopes up even a little.
”Oh my, Ai-chan, that was the final nail in the coffin… ”
”N-Nagumo-kun! Are you alright!? ”
Shizuku smiled sadly as she watched Hajime shut down, while Kaori worriedly ran
over to him. Aiko-sensei tilted her head in confusion. As always, she tried her best, but
ended up being completely unhelpful. The students smiled at her unchanging
ditziness. Aiko-sensei had managed to achieve her initial goal of preventing Hajimes
bullying, but he still smiled emptily as he thought of the difficulties that lay ahead, and
the treatment he would definitely receive.
Two weeks had passed since Hajime was labeled the weakest and most useless
member of the class. He was currently in the library using the break time he had
between training sessions to investigate something. In his hands was a book labeled
”Monsters of the Northern Continent, a Picture Book. ” As its name suggested, it was a
picture book about monsters.
As for why he was reading such a book, that was because he had not grown at all after
two weeks of training. In fact, the past two weeks had only served to highlight how
pathetically weak he was. Hoping to cover his physical deficiencies with knowledge,
Hajime spent most of his free time in the library.
He perused the picture book for a while before suddenly breathing out a sigh and
throwing it down on the desk. The librarian happened to be passing by right as he did
that, so Hajime was met with a glowering stare.
Hajime jumped, as he was clearly startled, and hurriedly apologized. The librarians
angry glare implied that he wouldn tolerate it happening a second time. What on
earth am I doing? Hajime thought with a sigh.
Hajime suddenly took out his status plate and stared at it, his hands resting on his
Hajime Nagumo Age: 17 Male Level: 2
Magic Defense: 12
Skills: Transmute — Language Comprehension
That was all the growth he had to show after two weeks of harsh training. I can even
say Ive gotten much stronger! Hajime screamed internally. For comparison, Koukis
stats had grown at an astronomical rate.
Kouki Amanogawa Age: 17 Male Level: 10
Magic Defense: 200
Skills: Elemental Affinity — Elemental Resistance — Physical Resistance — Advanced
Sorcery — Swordsmanship — Superhuman Strength — Armor Proficiency —
Foresight — Increased Mana Recovery — Detect Presence — Detect Magic — Limit
Break — Language Comprehension
His growth rate was roughly five times as fast as Hajimes. And to make matters worse,
Hajime had discovered he had no real affinity for magic.
What exactly did having no magical affinity mean? Well, it had to do with how magic
functioned in this world. In the world of Tortus, magic functioned in a very specific
manner. By chanting an incantation, one could transfer their mana into a magic circle,
and the spell inscribed within that circle would activate, thus casting magic. It was
impossible for anyone to directly manipulate their mana, so each spell needed its own
corresponding magic circle.
Additionally, the length of an incantation was directly proportional to how much mana
one could pour into a magic circle, so the effectiveness of a spell was directly
proportional to the amount of mana used to cast it. And the more complicated a spell
was, or the larger an area of effect it had, the more inscriptions needed in the magic
circle to complete the spell. Which naturally meant that the magic circle itself needed
to be larger too.
For comparison, the standard fireball spell that appeared in most RPGs and the like
normally required a magic circle about ten centimeters in diameter. Every spell
needed the basic inscriptions for the element, strength, range, span, and magic
absorption (the amount of mana someone needed to provide the magic circle in order
to activate the spell). If one wanted to add additional parameters such as length the
spell is maintained, then extra inscriptions were needed for that as well.
There was, however, an exception to this rule. And that exception was magical affinity.
Magical affinity was basically a measure of how well ones natural constitution
allowed them to shorten inscriptions. For example, someone with an affinity for the
fire element would no longer need to add the element portion of the inscription to
their spell as long as it was a fire-based one. People with an aptitude for something
were able to use a mental image to take the place of the inscription. They didn need
to carve the inscription anywhere into the magic circle. By simply imagining flames
while chanting the spell, they were capable of adding the fire element to it.
Most people had some level of magical affinity, which meant that the above mentioned
ten centimeter magic circle would generally be smaller. However, Hajime had
absolutely no affinity for magic whatsoever, meaning that on top of inscriptions for
the basic five properties, he had to include inscriptions for the trajectory, spread, and
even conclusion for each of his spells. For him, the standard fireball spell required a
magic circle two meters in diameter, making magic completely impractical in combat.
On a somewhat related topic, magic circles came in two different types. The more
common of the two were magic circles drawn onto a special kind of disposable paper.
The other type were magic circles carved into specific minerals. The former allowed
for many different variations of spells, but they burned out after one use and their
power was generally on the low side. On the other hand, the latter were bulky and
limited in the spells they could cast, but they were reusable and far more powerful
than their paper counterparts. The staves Ishtar and the other priests carried all had
mineral-type magic circles engraved into them.
Because of his low stats, close combat was impossible, and because of his lack of
magical affinity, he could not rely on magic either. The only skill his job had provided
him, Transmute, simply allowed him to transform the shape of various ores, or forge
them together into alloys. It was effectively useless. He was also told there were no
useful artifacts for Synergists, and was simply given a pair of gloves with related magic
circles inscribed into it.
After a lot of training, he was finally able to make pitfalls and protrusions in the
ground, and the more he trained, the larger he was able to make their sizes, but… he
had to be in direct contact with the target to activate them. Running up in front of an
enemy and then squatting down to put his hands on the ground was no better than
suicide, so even those skills were of no real help to him in combat.
Over the past two weeks, Hajime had come to be treated as a complete waste of space
by his classmates. He had attempted to increase his knowledge as a last ditch attempt
to somehow become useful, but even that prospect seemed to have dim hopes, so he
sighed more and more frequently as time went on.
If Im going to be useless around here, I might as well just go out on a journey or
something, Hajime thought as he stared out the library window. He had reached the
end of his rope. Hajime had spent the last two weeks devoting himself more than
anyone else to the lectures they were being given about the world, spending all his
time thinking of where to go.
Im thinking the land of demi-humans would probably be best… I can really say Ive
been to another world if I haven even seen a single pair of animal ears. But supposedly
their territory is really deep within the sea of trees. And they
e apparently discriminated
against everywhere, so aside from a few slaves, you don really see many of them outside
According to what Hajime had learned so far, the demi-humans were harshly
discriminated against, so they lived deep within the Haltina Woods to avoid contact
with other people. They were supposedly discriminated against because they didn
possess any mana.
Legend stated that starting with Ehit, each of the gods shaped the very foundations of
the world with magic. The magic everyone used now was supposedly a deteriorated
version of the power the gods once held. For that reason, it was common belief that
magic itself was a gift from the gods. Of course, said belief was strengthened by the
fact that the Holy Church preached it as the truth. Because of that, demi-humans, who
didn possess mana and were unable to use magic, were seen as wicked creatures
whod been abandoned by the gods.
This had naturally led Hajime to question, ”But what about monsters? ” However, it
seemed that monsters were simply thought of as natural disasters, so no one
considered them creatures who had received ”Gods blessing ” or anything along those
lines, and they were seen as nothing more than wild beasts. What a convenient
interpretation, Hajime thought, clearly disgusted.
Even worse, though the demons all worshiped a god different from the humans ”Lord
Ehit, ” they too discriminated against the demi-humans.
Demons supposedly had a far higher magical affinity than humans, so they were able
to cast spells with much shorter incantations and smaller magic circles than them.
They resided in the center of the southern continent, in the demon kingdom of
Garland. Though few in number, it seemed that even children in the kingdom were
capable of wielding powerful offensive magic. So, in a way, every single citizen of the
kingdom was a soldier.
The humans of this world saw the demons who worshiped a different god as their
mortal foes, thanks to the teachings of the Holy Church, and despised the demihumans as godless vermin. And apparently the demons were no better. Though he
couldn be sure, Hajime guessed the demi-humans just wanted to be left alone. It
made sense considering how exclusive the other two groups seemed to be.
Hmm, if navigating the huge sea of trees seems impossible, then maybe I should try for
the western ocean instead? If Im remembering right, theres a city called Erisen that sits
by the sea. If I can get my fill of animal ears, then I at least want to see some mermaids.
Fantasy creatures like those are every mans dream. Plus, I want to see what the
seafoods like in this world.
The coastal city of Erisen was home to a group of demi-humans known as seamen, and
rested on the shores of the western ocean. They were the only group of demi-humans
that the kingdom sheltered. The reason being that the city produced about 80% of the
kingdoms seafood. Such a practical reason.
What happened to them being a godless race? Hajime had thought sarcastically when
he had first heard about them.
But in order to get to the western sea from his location, one first had to cross the Gruen
Desert. Two important locations that were used as waypoint markers for traders in
the desert were the oasis Dukedom of Ankaji and the Grand Gruen Volcano. And the
Grand Gruen Volcano was one of the seven labyrinths of the world.
The seven labyrinths referred to the seven highly dangerous locations scattered
throughout the world. To the southwest of the Heiligh Kingdom, between the capital
and the Gruen Desert, lay another one of them, the Great Orcus Labyrinth. The
previously mentioned Haltina Woods was also another one of these labyrinths.
Though they were called the seven labyrinths, in truth, only three of them had ever
been documented. The rest were places that were believed to exist due to evidence
provided in ancient books and other such manuscripts.
Though their existence had not been confirmed, theyd still been provisionally marked
on maps. The Reisen Gorge that divided the northern and southern continents was
one such place, while the Frost Caverns that lay in the Schnee Snow Fields was another
I probably won be able to make it across that desert… In that case, the only way Ill ever
get to see demi-humans is if I go to the empire and see the slaves they have, but Im not
sure I could bear to see those poor animal ears suffering as slaves. The empire hed
referred to was the Hoelscher Empire. It was a country that had been formed three
hundred years ago, during one of the larger wars between the humans and demons. It
had been formed by a certain mercenary group, and was a militaristic country that
boasted a large population of adventurers and mercenaries. They held to the doctrine
that might makes right, and were a country of rather unsavory repute.
Its citizens believed in using everything they could to further their own ends, whether
that meant demi-human slaves or anything else, so the slave trade flourished there.
The empire lay to the east of the kingdom, and sandwiched between them was the
independent merchant republic, Fuhren. As the name suggested, they were a neutral
city that didn rely on either country for support. Being a merchant republic, they
boasted a vast amount of wealth, and the flow of money played heavily into their
politics. It was also what allowed them to remain neutral. It was said that anything
ones heart desired could be bought in that city, such was its economic clout.
Haaah, but if I ever want to get back home, I can just run away… Wait, crap, its almost
time for training! Realizing that he was simply trying to avert his eyes from reality,
Hajime shook his head and quickly left the library so as to not be late for training. It
was only a short distance from the library to the palace, but the bustle of the capital
could be seen even in such a short trek. The voices of merchants hawking their wares
mingled with the happy laughter of playing children and the angry scolding of their
parents. The capital was a quaint, peaceful city.
Since it doesn look like a wars going to break out anytime soon, maybe I can just
convince them to send me back… Hajime dreamed of the impossible as he walked back
to the palace. Hed just wanted to avoid thinking about the despair that awaited him
once he arrived.
When he arrived at the training grounds, Hajime found a few other students already
there, chatting with each other or getting some early practice in. It looked like he had
arrived surprisingly early. Hajime decided to pass the time doing a bit of practice of
his own, so he took out the slender longsword hed been given.
As he did, he felt a sudden impact hit him square in the back and he stumbled a few
steps forward. He managed to avoid falling, but chills ran down his spine as he saw
how close he had been to impaling himself on a drawn sword. He frowned as he turned
back and saw the usual group of four all wearing the same obnoxious expression.
As always, Daisuke Hiyama was standing behind him, together with the rest of the
Petty Four, as Hajime liked to call them. Ever since theyd started training, the four of
them had taken every opportunity they could to bully Hajime. They were half the
reason he found training so depressing, with the other half being how pathetic his
”Yo, Nagumo. What are you doing? You know that swords totally useless in your hands
anyway, right? I mean, come on, you
e a total weakling! ”
”Hey man, thats going too far. I mean, you
e totally right though, Hiyama… Gyahaha! ”
”Why do you even bother coming to training every day? Id be way too embarrassed if
I were you! ”
”Hey, Daisuke. Hes just so pitiful… Don you think we should help him out with his
training a little? ” Hiyama and the others laughed hysterically, as if Shinji had actually
said something funny.
”Huh? Come on, Shinji, don you think you
e being a bit too nice to him? Well, Im a
nice guy too, so I guess I don mind helping out. ”
”Yeah, that sounds like a great idea. Im also a super nice guy, so Ill pitch in. Man, you
better thank us, Nagumo. We
e taking out some of our precious time to help out a
weakling like you. ” They put their arms around Hajimes shoulders in a false gesture
of kindness and dragged him away to an inconspicuous location. Most of his
classmates noticed, but they pretended not to see anything.
”Oh no, Im fine by myself. You don have to waste your time on me. ” Hajime tried to
refuse, though he knew it was pointless.
”Huh!? Here I am going out of my way to train your sorry ass and this is what I get? I
can believe you! You should be on your knees thanking me! ”
As he said that, Hiyama punched Hajime in the side, hard. Hajime groaned in pain as
he felt Hiyamas fist sink into his soft flank. Hiyamas group had steadily been getting
more and more violent with him as of late. While it mightve been natural for
hormone-driven boys in puberty to go mad with power once they got their hands on
some, that made it no easier for the one who had to bear the brunt of their lapse in
sanity. Though it was not as if there was anything Hajime could do to fight back. All he
could do was grit his teeth and try to bear it.
Eventually, they brought him all the way to a secluded corner of the training grounds
that couldn be easily seen, then Hiyama thrust Hajime down to the ground.
”Come on, get up. Its time for some fun training. ” Hiyama, Nakano, Saitou, and Kondou
all surrounded Hajime at those words. Hajime bit his lip in frustration as he stood up.
He felt something crash into his back as soon as he rose to his feet. Saitou had hit him
with the sheath of his sword. He flew forward, groaning in pain, and was met with
”Hey now, you can sleep there. Youll get burned if you do! Incinerate all that stands
in my path — Fireball. ”
Nakano unleashed a fireball at Hajime. As the impact hed just received made it
impossible for him to get back up right away, Hajime frantically rolled to the side,
barely avoiding the incoming fireball. However, Saitou had predicted Hajime would
dodge, so hed cast another spell in his direction.
”Rend my foes O wind — Wind Sphere. ” The clod of hardened wind hit Hajime just as
he was getting up, which made him double over in pain as he was blown back. He
collapsed to the ground once more, throwing up.
The magic they had cast were all low-level spells with simple incantations. But even
weak magic like that hit as hard as a pro boxers punch. The reason even their weak
spells hit so hard was because of their magical affinities combined with the rare
artifacts they had received from the king.
”Tch, I can believe you
e so weak. Are you even trying, Nagumo? ” Hiyama lazily
kicked Hajime in the stomach as he said that. Hajime desperately tried to keep his
stomach from emptying itself entirely.
The lynching disguised as ”training ” continued for a while longer. Hajime bit his lip,
cursing his own powerlessness. Maybe he should have fought back, even if he knew
he was too weak to truly achieve anything.
But Hajime had always been averse to violence. He even had trouble really hating
people. Hed always folded when cornered into a situation that seemed as if it might
devolve into a fight. Always believing that it would end eventually as long as he could
put up with it. And that bearing it was always better than fighting back. Some people
thought him kind for it, while others simply saw him as a loser. Hajime himself wasn
sure which he was.
Around the time the pain had grown nearly unbearable, Hajime suddenly heard a girls
”What do you think you
e doing!? ”
Hiyama and the others paled when they heard that voice. It was only natural. After all,
it belonged to the girl they were all smitten with, Kaori. And not just her. Shizuku,
Kouki, and Ryutarou were all with her.
”Umm, please don misunderstand anything. We were just helping Hajime with his
Kaori ignored Hiyamas excuses and ran over to Hajime, who was huddled on the
ground, coughing. Hiyama and the others had ceased to matter at all to Kaori when
she saw the state Hajime was in.
”Training, huh? Wouldn you say that was a bit too one-sided to be called training? ”
Shizuku uttered those words in an icy tone.
”We were just… ”
”Save your breath. No matter how unfit for battle Nagumo-kun may be, hes still our
classmate. Make sure you don do it again, ” Kouki calmly interjected.
”If youve got time to be messing around, then work on your own damn skills instead! ”
Hiyama and everyone else started giving different excuses as they smiled awkwardly
and beat a hasty retreat. Kaori cast some healing magic on Hajime, and he gradually
felt the pain recede.
”Th-Thank you, Shirasaki-san. You saved me. ”
Hajime smiled painfully and Kaori shook her head at his words, her eyes filled with
”Do they always do things like that to you? If so, Ill… ” Kaori glared angrily in the
direction Hiyama and the others ran off to, but Hajime hurriedly stopped her.
”No, no, its not always this bad! Im fine, really, so please don mind me! ”
Kaori didn seem fully convinced, so Hajime smiled and said, ”Im fine, really. ” At those
words, Kaori reluctantly gave in.
”Nagumo-kun, if anything else happens, please, for Kaoris sake too, tell us right away. ”
Shizuku said that with a sidelong glance at Kaori, a strained expression on her face all
the while. Hajime was about to thank her for her concern, but the resident hero had
to go and ruin the mood.
”But you know, Nagumo, you need to put in some effort of your own. Youll never grow
strong if you keep using your weakness as an excuse. Ive been hearing that you
spending all your time in the library when we
e not training. If I was in your shoes,
Id spend every spare moment training to get stronger. I really think you need to start
taking this more seriously, Nagumo. Don you think Hiyama and the others might have
done this because they were trying to fix that frivolous attitude of yours? ”
No matter what Hajime did, Kouki always interpreted it like that. Hajime was
dumbstruck for a moment before he remembered that Amanogawa-kun was the kind
of person who believed that all people were inherently good, and filtered everything
he saw through that world view.
To Kouki, it was actually unthinkable on a fundamental level that humans could be so
cruel. If that was how he saw everything, then it stood to reason that he believed there
was a proper reason behind all cruel acts. ”Maybe the problem was with the person
they were attacking! ” was a natural conclusion to draw with that kind of mindset.
Koukis words contained no real ill will. His warnings toward Hajime were actually
sincere, in fact. That was why Hajime no longer possessed the strength to even try and
correct Kouki. Besides, it was pointless to say anything to someone so convinced of
their own righteousness.
Shizuku knew that as well, so she put a hand over her mouth to stifle a sigh before
apologizing to Hajime.
”Sorry about that. Kouki at least means well. ”
”Ahaha, yeah, I know. Don worry about it. ” Hajime smiled and replied with the same
reassuring words he always did. He slowly stood up, brushing the dust off his clothes.
”Anyway, its almost time for training to start. Shall we head back? ” They all walked
back to the training grounds together at Hajimes insistence. Kaori kept shooting him
worried glances, but Hajime pretended not to notice. As a man, it felt somewhat wrong
to let himself be doted on by a girl the same age.
As they returned to the training grounds, Hajime breathed a sigh for the umpteenth
time that day. The road ahead certainly looked grim for him.
Normally the students were given free time after training until dinner, but Captain
Meld held them back after training had ended on that day. The students all looked at
him curiously, and once he had their attention, he proclaimed loudly,
”Tomorrow, as part of your practical training, we will be going on an expedition to the
Great Orcus Labyrinth. Ill prepare all the necessary equipment you guys will need, but
don think this is going to be anything like the monster hunts youve been going on
outside the capital! You guys better prepare yourselves! Get as much rest as possible
tonight so you
e ready! Thats all, dismissed! ” He kept his announcement brief, then
left right after he had delivered it.
Hajime stood at the end of the line of chattering students and looked up at the sky.
Very grim indeed.
The Great Orcus Labyrinth. It was a massive dungeon said to span a hundred floors.
As it was one of the seven great labyrinths, the deeper one went, the stronger the
monsters they faced. Despite the dangers, it was a very popular training spot for
adventurers, mercenaries, and new troops alike. The main reasons for that were
because it was easy enough to measure the relative strength of the monsters one
would have to face based on the floor they were on, and that the mana crystals
contained within the monsters were of a higher quality than the ones harvested from
monsters on the surface.
A mana crystal was the core of a monster; it was what made a monster a monster. The
more powerful a monster, the bigger and purer a mana crystal it held inside. Mana
crystals were an important component in magic circles. A magic circle only needed to
be drawn to be able to cast the spell inscribed within, but it would have reduced
effectiveness without powdered mana crystals used in the engraving of the circle. In
fact, it would only be one third as powerful.
Mana crystals allowed for more efficient transferal of mana, which was why they
improved effectiveness so much. In addition, most commonplace magical tools used
mana crystals as a power source. Because they were used by the common folk and not
just the military, mana crystals were always in rather high demand.
However, monsters that possessed high quality mana crystals were also capable of
using powerful specialized magic. It was specialized because while they had large
quantities of mana, monsters were incapable of using magic circles or chants, meaning
that they could only ever use a single type of spell. Still, being able to unleash that spell
without needing a magic circle or incantation was a powerful asset. It was the number
one reason one could never let their guard down when fighting a monster.
Hajime and the others arrived in the outpost town of Horaud, together with Captain
Meld and a few of his knights. It was a small town that primarily existed to service the
adventurers who traveled there wishing to challenge the Great Orcus Labyrinth. As
the labyrinth was also used as a training arena for new soldiers, the kingdom
maintained a state-run inn at the town, which was where the students were all staying.
Hajime was glad to see a normal room for once, and happily dived into his bed with a
relieved sigh. Every other room had at least two people in it, but Hajime had one all
”Wow, lucky me, ” Hajime muttered, somewhat disappointed. He did feel a little lonely
being in a room alone, after all.
Tomorrow they would all enter the labyrinth. The plan was to go no further than floor
twenty, which according to Captain Meld was still high enough that the knights would
be able to protect him. All Hajime could say in response were apologies for how much
of a burden he was. He honestly wouldve preferred if they left him behind and went
on by themselves… but he didn have the courage to say that to Captain Meld,
considering the atmosphere and all.
Hajime started reading the picture book he had borrowed that described some of the
monsters that inhabited the lower levels of the dungeon. After a while, however, he
decided he would need as much rest as he could get, so he planted himself down in
bed despite the early hour. The skills hed developed in school to allow him to sleep in
any situation still worked even in another world.
But just as he was dozing off, he heard a knock on his door that broke him out of his
stupor. Though he had mentioned it was still a little early, that had meant early for
him, who was used to pulling back to back all-nighters. It was actually quite late for
the people of Tortus. Suspecting the unexpected late night visitor might be Hiyama
and the others, Hajime tensed up. However, his fears vanished when he heard the voice
on the other side of the door.
”Nagumo-kun, are you awake? Its me, Shirasaki. Can we talk for a bit? ”
What on earth? Hajime stiffened up for a second before hurriedly rushing over to the
door. He quickly unbolted and opened his door. Standing on the other side was Kaori,
wearing nothing but a cardigan over her pure white negligee.
”…What in tarnation? ”
”Huh? ” Hajime was so shocked that he unintentionally slipped into an odd accent for
a moment there. Kaori looked at him blankly, so she must not have heard him right.
Hajime composed himself as best he could and asked what she wanted while trying to
avoid looking at her as much as possible. As much of a 2D advocate as he mightve
been, Hajime was still a teenage boy. Kaoris appearance was a bit too stimulating for
”Ah, umm, its nothing. Anyway, whats up? Do you have a message for me or
”No. I was hoping we could talk for a bit, Nagumo-kun… But I guess Im being a bother,
aren I? ”
”…Come on in. ” Hajime asked what he thought was the most likely reason for Kaoris
appearance, but she bluntly refused and gave a most unexpected reply. And she had
asked him with such pleading puppy dog eyes too. The combination was super
effective! Before he knew it, Hajime had already thrown the door wide and invited
”Thanks! ” Kaori happily stepped inside without any hesitation, then sat down at the
table by the window.
Still somewhat confused, Hajime began reflexively brewing her some tea. Brewing
might have been a bit of an overstatement, however, as it was just some crappy black
tea he made by dumping some teabags into a pot of water. He made enough tea for the
both of them and offered Kaori a cup. Once the tea had been served, he sat down across
”Thank you. ” Despite the terrible quality of the tea, Kaori still accepted it graciously.
She gently brought the cup to her lips, and the moonlight illuminated her figure as she
did. Her black hair glowed faintly in the silver light, wreathing her in a halo. She looked
almost like an angel.
Hajime stared, captivated in a purely platonic manner by her mysterious aura. He
finally returned to his senses after Kaori put the cup down with a clink. In an attempt
to calm himself down, Hajime downed his cup of crappy black tea in one big gulp. He
choked a little as the deluge of liquid poured down his throat. Well, that was rather
Kaori chuckled as she saw him sputter. In order to distract himself from the
embarrassment, Hajime quickly started talking.
”So, what was it you wanted to talk to me about? The dungeon trip tomorrow? ” Kaori
nodded in affirmation, and her smile was replaced by an unbelievably grave
”I want you… to stay here when we go to the labyrinth tomorrow. Ill convince the
instructors and the rest of our classmates, so please, don go! ” Kaori grew more and
more heated as she spoke, and by the end she was leaning forward into Hajime,
pleading with him.
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