”You of all people don have the right to judge me! ” Bang! Hajime fired angrily at the

Alraune wannabe. Green goop splattered everywhere as it lost its head. Its limbs

spasmed momentarily before the whole thing crumpled to the ground.

”Are you alright, Yue? You don feel weird anywhere, do you? ” Hajime casually walked

up to Yue. However, Yue glared angrily at Hajime while continuing to flatten down her


”…You really shot me. ”

”Huh? I mean, yeah, you told me to. ”

”…You didn even hesitate… ”

”Well yeah, I was planning on shooting from the start. I have confidence in my skills,

but I figured youd get mad if I just shot without warning. I was just being considerate

by waiting for you to say something first. ”

”…You grazed… my head… ”

”Itll heal up right away though, won it? So there shouldn be any problem. ”

”Ughhh… ”

Her expression screamed ”So what! ” as she beat on his chest with her fists.

It was true that she was the one that told him to shoot, and that she would have

preferred that to continuing to get in his way. But Yue was still a girl. She had dreams

too. Shed hoped Hajime would have hesitated at least a little. She was mad at how

lightly hed taken her resolve.

For his part, once Hajime had realized the Alraune wannabe couldn control Yue well

enough to use more advanced magic, he had thought there was no longer any reason

to worry. There weren many attacks that could overcome her immortality.

Despite that, he had hesitated, the greatest taboo of fighting, until Yue had given him

a signal that it was okay. He couldn understand why she was still so mad after, in his

mind, he had given her the ultimate amount of consideration. She got even angrier

when she heard his explanation, and sulkily turned her back to him.

Hajime sighed to himself and started thinking on how he could improve her mood.

Something that proved to be infinitely harder than defeating the Alraune wannabe.

It was a few days after theyd defeated the Alraune wannabe and Hajime had soured

Yues mood. Shed nearly sucked him dry before she forgave him. But it had been worth

it to make her happy again. Once Hajime had recovered from near-death blood loss,

the two of them went back to exploring the labyrinth.

The next floor would mark the hundredth from the one Hajime had started in.

Before they delved into it, he decided to make sure his supplies were in perfect order.

As always, Yue watched him work with unbridled enthusiasm. Though it was perhaps

more accurate to say she was more interested in watching Hajime work than in

watching his work itself. Today, too, she was sitting right next to Hajime, watching his

hand and his face as he worked. Her expression was far too relaxed for how dangerous

a place they were in.

Having lost all track of time, Hajime had no way of knowing how many days had passed

since hed first met Yue, but shed been showing him that relaxed expression quite

often recently. Shed clearly gotten used to being around him.

Especially when they were resting in his temporary bases, she always stuck to him like

glue. When they were sleeping she clung to his arm as they slept, and when they were

sitting she always hugged him from behind. And when she was sucking his blood shed

just hug him from the front. Even when she finished shed cling to him for a long time

after. She particularly enjoyed burying her face in his chest and rubbing against him.

But see, the problem was, Hajime was still a guy.

Fortunately, Yues childish appearance made her look more cute than sexy, but the fact

remained that she was actually quite old. He normally couldn tell due to the way she

acted, but the few times her age shone through she looked so alluring that he had a

hard time holding himself back. He was able to control himself only because he was

aware of the constant danger that surrounded them at all times, but he wasn

confident hed be able to withstand her temptation once they got back to the surface

and they could relax for a bit. If he was honest with himself, he wasn even sure he

wanted to withstand it…

”Hajime… You
e being even more careful than usual. ”

”Hm? Yeah, cause the next floors going to be the hundredth one. I just get the feeling

theres going to be something big waiting for us. They say most of the labyrinths are

only supposed to go one hundred floors deep too, so… Well, theres no harm in taking

precautions. ”

Though in Hajimes case, he had traversed a further eighty floors after falling past

dozens more from a floor that already was most likely deeper than the twentieth. He

had long since passed the point where the standard depth of the Great Orcus

Labyrinth was thought to come to an end. Considering how much deeper he had

delved after already falling into the depths of hell, even he could tell he was far deeper

than the endpoint of the ”normal ” Great Orcus Labyrinth.

Marksmanship, physical abilities, specialized magic, weaponry, and finally

transmutation. Hajime had polished his skills in each field to the utmost. His strength

was quite formidable as well. However, the truly scary thing about this labyrinth was

that even with his strength, it might still throw something at him that could kill him

without breaking a sweat. Which was why he made as many preparations as he could

before descending. For reference on just how strong hed become, his current stats

looked something like this.

Hajime Nagumo Age: 17 Male Level: 76

Job: Synergist

Strength: 1980

Vitality: 2090

Defense: 2070

Agility: 2450

Magic: 1780

Magic Defense: 1780

Skills: Transmute [+Ore Appraisal] [+Precision Transmutation] [+Ore Perception]

[+Ore Desynthesis] [+Ore Synthesis] [+Duplicate Transmutation] — Mana

Manipulation [+Mana Discharge] [+Mana Compression] [+Remote Manipulation] —

Iron Stomach — Lightning Field — Air Dance [+Aerodynamic] [+Supersonic Step]

[+Steel Legs] — Gale Claw — Night Vision — Far Sight — Sense Presence — Detect

Magic — Sense Heat — Hide Presence — Poison Resistance — Paralysis Resistance —

Petrification Resistance — Diamond Skin — Intimidate — Telepathy — Language


Though he received new skills with each monster he consumed, he obtained new

magic less and less frequently. Boss-level monsters still gave him new magic, but the

standard ones loitering around each floor had stopped granting him new spells. He

hypothesized that was because he was becoming more and more monster-like in

constitution every time his body strengthened itself from eating monster meat. After

all, monsters didn obtain the magic of the prey they killed and ate.

With their preparations finally complete, Hajime and Yue descended the stairs to the

floor below.

The bottom of the staircase opened up into a massive open room, empty save for the

pillars that dotted the area. Each pillar had a spiral pattern engraved into its stone

face. It gave off the impression that each pillar was a massive tree with vines entwined

around its trunk. The pillars were all spaced evenly apart from each other, and

extended all the way to the ceiling thirty meters above. The ground was unnaturally

smooth, as if it had been paved. All in all, it was a very majestic room.

Hajime and Yue took a step forward as they marveled at the rooms design. The

moment they stepped inside, the pillars in front of them began glowing faintly. The

two of them instantly returned to their senses and warily observed their

surroundings. Starting from the pillars nearest to them, each set began glowing one

after the other.

Hajime and Yue both instantly raised their guard, but after a while nothing more

happened, so they carefully continued forward. Both of them were on alert for any

sign of enemies.

After about two hundred meters of walking, they found themselves staring at the

opposite wall. Set within it was a massive set of doors. The ten-meter-tall pair of

double doors also had something engraved into them. There was a heptagon carved

into each, with a peculiar pattern adorning each vertex of the shape.

”Well, thats quite the impressive entrance. Do you think this is… ”

”…Where the maverick lives? ” Yue responded.

It really looked like the kind of room thatd have a last boss in it. Though none of his

perception skills were picking up on anything, Hajimes instincts were screaming at

him nonetheless. ”Its dangerous to go any further, ” they told him. Yue felt it as well,

and cold sweat beaded on her forehead.

”Well, if it is, thats just perfect. That means weve finally made it to our goal. ” Hajime

pushed down his instincts and put on his usual fearless smile. No matter what was

ahead, they had no choice but to move forward.

”…Yeah! ” Yue glared resolutely at the double doors.

They stepped forward simultaneously, walking past the last pair of pillars. The

moment they cleared them… a massive, thirty meter large magic circle appeared in

the air between them and the door. It pulsed malignantly as it shot out gouts of dark

red light.

This kind of magic circle was very familiar to Hajime. He could never forget the magic

circle that was responsible for trapping his class on the bridge and ultimately sending

Hajime hurtling down into the abyss. However, this one was three times the size of the

one that had summoned the behemoth, and the inscriptions on it were far more

complex and precise.

”Crap, that size is no joke. We
e seriously up against this places last boss? ”

”Don worry… we won lose. ”

Hajimes smile understandably faltered a little, but Yues determined expression

remained unshaken, and she tightly squeezed Hajimes arm. He nodded in response,

and smiled wryly as he watched the magic circle finish its summoning.

Finally, it let out one last incandescent burst of light. Yue and Hajime both covered

their eyes to preserve their sight. Once the illumination dimmed, they got their first

glimpse of their foe. What stood before them was a monster thirty meters in length. It

had six heads attached to very long necks, each of which had a different-colored

pattern engraved into its head and a pair of dark red eyes. It resembled the mythical


”Graaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! ” It let out a peculiar howl and focused all six pairs of eyes on

Hajime and Yue. Determined to pass judgment on the foolish intruders, the Hydra

unleashed a wave of bloodlust so powerful it would have stopped a normal persons

heart on the spot.

At the same time, the red-patterned head opened its jaw and unleashed a torrent of

flames. A veritable wall of fire raced toward them.

Hajime and Yue both dove in different directions, and instantly began firing off

counterattacks. Hajime pulled Donners trigger, and a small spark ignited the blastrock

inside the bullet, which passed through an electrically charged barrel and accelerated

toward the red-patterned head. The bullet slammed into the Hydra, blowing the red

head clean off.

As he struck a triumphant pose, the white head let out a long screech, and white light

began enveloping the destroyed red head. Then, like a tape rewinding, the red head

flew back through the air and reattached itself to the Hydras neck. So the white heads

the healer.

Seconds later, Yues ice spears sheared the green head off, but the white head restored

that one too.

Hajime clicked his tongue and contacted Yue with Telepathy.

”Yue, aim for the white one! Thisll never end if it keeps healing! ”

”Got it! ” The blue head opened its mouth next, firing a spray of ice pebbles at both of

them. They nimbly dodged the barrage and took aim at the white head.

Bang! ”Crimson Javelin! ” A burning spear and speeding bullet raced toward the white


But just before they hit their target, the yellow head put itself in the line of fire and

reared like a cobra. It took both Hajimes bullet and Yues Crimson Javelin head on. It

survived both the impact of a bullet and the heat of the explosion completely

unscathed, and gazed coldly down at the two creatures below it.

”Tch! It has a tank too? Quite the balanced party its got there. ” Hajime pulled an

incendiary grenade out of his pack and threw it at the heads. He then fired a barrage

of full power rounds at the white head. Yue fired a salvo of Crimson Javelins to match

him. If she uses her Azure Blaze, she can probably take the yellow and white heads out

at once, but itll be risky since shell be exhausted afterward. Shell recover right away if

she sucks my blood, but I doubt the other heads will give us that much time. There was

also the possibility they were tough enough to withstand Yues strongest spell.

Therefore, Hajime decided it would be too dangerous for Yue to use her strongest

spells until at least half the heads were dealt with.

The yellow head managed to perfectly block their barrage of attacks. However, even it

couldn come out of such a bombardment unscathed, and it was clearly wounded in


”Graaaaaaaah! ” But the white head began healing the yellow one almost instantly. It

was disgustingly proficient at healing magic.

However, right as it finished healing the yellow head, the grenade exploded directly

above it. A deluge of burning tar fell upon the Hydras heads. Some of it landed on the

white head too, which made it screech in pain.

Hajime activated his telepathy to inform Yue not to let this chance slip by. But before

he could say anything, a bloodcurdling scream reached his ears.

Yues scream.

”Aaaaaaaaaaah!!! ”

”Yue!? ”

Hajime tried to rush over to Yue, but the red and green heads unleashed a torrent of

flame and wind to block his path. Yues screams continued, and Hajime gritted his

teeth in worry as he tried to piece together what was happening. It was then that he

remembered the black head had yet to make a move.

No wait, maybe it already has made its move! Hajime frantically dodged with

Aerodynamic and Supersonic Step while he fired Donner at the black head. A hyperaccelerated bullet slammed into the black head, knocking its gaze off of Yue. At the

same time, Yue slumped to the ground. He could tell she was pale even from his distant


The blue head opened its jaw wide, and rushed toward Yue, intending to eat her.

”Don you dareeeeeeeeeeeee! ” Heedless of the damage it might do to his own body,

he used Supersonic Step to dash right through the storm of fire and wind.

He used Donner and Gale Claw to deflect any fatal blows while ignoring the rest, and

just barely made it to Yue before the blue head did. He had no time to mount a

counterattack, so he used Diamond Skin to make himself a human shield. When

Diamond Skin was active, Hajime couldn move. That was why he hadn used it


A layer of diamond-hard mana enveloped him seconds before the blue heads jaws

sunk into him.

”Grrrrr! ”

”Guh! ”

With a low growl, the blue head tried to swallow Hajime whole. However, he held his

ground and used his back and feet to keep it from closing its jaws on him. He quickly

pushed Donner up against its upper jaw and fired.

With a bang, the top part of its head popped off like a jack-in-the-box. The strength

vanished from its jaws and Hajime kicked the remnants of its head away with his Steel

Legs. He then pulled out a flash grenade and sound grenade and kicked them over to

the Hydra.

The sound grenade was a new addition he had picked up from a monster on the 80th

floor that used ultrasonic waves to fight. He had harvested the organ the monster used

to produce those sounds and incorporated it into his arsenal. It hadn provided him

with any new magic, but the organ had been apparently classified as an ore, so he was

able to transmute it into a sound grenade.

The combination of light and sound disoriented the Hydra. With the few seconds hed

managed to buy them, Hajime scooped up Yue and hid behind one of the pillars.

”Hey! Yue! Say something! ”

”…… ”

She didn respond to Hajimes voice at all and simply sat in his arm, pale and


”How dare that black bastard do this! ” Hajime cursed and started lightly slapping Yues

cheeks. He tried calling out to her with Telepathy too, and even gave her a vial of

Ambrosia. After a while, Yues eyes finally began to regain their former glimmer.

”Yue! ”

”…Hajime? ”

”Yep, its me. How are you feeling? Just what happened back there? ”

After blinking confusedly for a few more seconds, Yue gently stroked Hajimes cheek,

as if making sure he was really there. Once she was sure he really was, she breathed a

small, relieved sigh. There were tears welling up in her eyes.

”Im so glad… I thought Id been… abandoned again. Alone in the darkness… ”

”Huh? What on earth are you talking about? ”

Hajime asked, bewildered. Apparently Yue had suddenly been assailed by visions of

being abandoned by Hajime and sealed once more in the darkness. The absolute terror

of something like that happening to her had paralyzed her thoughts and stopped her

from moving.

”Tch! So the black ones a debuffer? Looks like it inflicts a fear status on people. Shit,

this monster really is a perfectly balanced party! ”

”…Hajime. ”

Yue looked worriedly up at Hajime, who was busy insulting the Hydra. It must have

been quite the terrifying sight for her, being abandoned by Hajime.

From Yues point of view, Hajime was the man who had risked his life to save her from

her three hundred year old prison. On top of that, even after learning she was a

vampire, he hadn shunned her. In fact, hed happily let her suck his blood every day.

The thought that he had abandoned her had stricken her to her very core.

Hajimes side was the only place she had left to return to. She was happy beyond words

when he had offered to take her home with him. And the thought of being alone again

scared her just as much.

The seeds of fear the head had planted in her mind had begun to sprout, and they were

eating away at her even now. Hajime didn have the time to console her though, as the

Hydra had recovered from the flashbang. He rose, intending to return to the fray, but

was stopped by Yue, who clutched tightly to his shirt.

”…I… ” She was still trembling, and it looked as if she would burst into tears at any

moment. Hajime was able to more or less figure out what was going through her mind

based on the nightmare shed just had. And from the way she always acted around

him, he could guess what she was feeling too. Regardless, he had promised hed bring

her to Japan with him. He could hardly ignore her plight.

That being said, there was no time to comfort her. Trying to give her any half-assed

words of consolation would just make things worse if the black head attacked her

again. It was even possible the head would target Hajime, so he needed Yue in perfect

mental condition to follow up in case he got hit.

But in the end, he knew he was just trying to make excuses for himself. Hajime

awkwardly scratched his head and squatted down in front of Yue. She tilted her head,

puzzled, as he looked her in the eyes. And…

”…Ah!? ” He kissed her on the lips.

It was more of a peck than a kiss, and Hajimes lips barely touched hers, but it took her

completely by surprise. Her eyes opened wide as she stared blankly at him.

Embarrassed, he broke eye contact and pulled Yue to her feet.

e gonna kill that bastard. We
e gonna make it out of here alive and go home…

Together. ” Yue was still staring at Hajime in a daze, but her usually empty expression

was gone. In its place was the most radiant smile hed ever seen.

”Yeah! ” Hajime awkwardly cleared his throat and switched gears back to battle mode

as he outlined his plan.

”Yue, Im going to bring out Schlagen. It can fire consecutive shots, so Im going to

need you to cover me. ”

”Leave it to me! ” There was more enthusiasm in Yues voice than usual. Normally, she

just mumbled listlessly, but her reply this time was filled with emotion. It looked like

shed been freed from all her old fears. And from the looks of it, her inhibitions. When

he recalled just how dependent she was on him, he realized he might have been a bit

hasty. The futures going to be pretty rocky, he thought as he smiled wryly.

Tired of their lovers skit, the Hydra roared angrily, reminding the two of its presence

with a barrage of wind, fire, and ice. The two of them leaped out from behind the pillar,

then began their counterattack.

”Crimson Javelin! Force Lasher! Glacial Sleet! ” Yue unleashed spell after spell. Spears

of fire, spiraling whirlwinds created from the force of a vacuum, and needles of ice

assailed the Hydra one after another.

She had aimed for the moment right after the heads had finished their attack, when

they were at their most vulnerable. A barrage of magic rained down on the red, blue,

and green heads. The yellow tried to cover them, but then noticed Hajime was firing

on the white, and roared angrily as it was forced back to protect their healer.

”Graaaaaaaaaaah! ” It slammed into a nearby pillar, transforming the stone into an

impromptu shield. It appeared the yellow head had an ability similar to the scorpions.

Though it was nowhere near as powerful.

The first of Yues spells pulverized the shield, allowing the latter two to rain down on

the unprotected Hydra heads.

”Graaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! ” The three heads all screamed in unison. The black

head turned to Yue the moment her spells subsided and cast its fear magic on her


She could feel the same fear and unease creeping up on her. But this time, the memory

of Hajimes kiss reassured her. The fear was blown away and replaced by something

warm as it tried to take hold of her.

”That won work on me anymore! ” Since her current job was to just cover Hajime, she

focused more on bombarding the Hydra continually with spells, not worrying too

much about their strength. The red, green, and blue heads all recovered and started

attacking again, but Yue was able to take all three on at once. She neutralized their

barrage with her own magic and often had enough time to slip in an attack too.

Hajime closed in on the Hydra while the three attacking heads were busy with Yue. He

couldn afford to let them block his first shot, since that was likely all he was going to


Realizing its fear magic wasn working on Yue, the black head turned to Hajime. Fear

and unease began to well up in his chest, and visions of his early days in hell floated

up in his mind. He recalled the pain and starvation he had suffered when he had first

fallen into the abyss. However…

”So what! ” That was a past he had long since overcome. He had suffered enough that

such pain meant nothing to him anymore. He nonchalantly blew the black head off

with Donner.

The white head began healing again, but before it could finish restoring the black head,

Hajime jumped up to it with a combination of Aerodynamic and Supersonic Step. After

that, he pulled Schlagen off his back and nestled it within his armpit.

The yellow head moved to block Hajime, but he had already predicted that effort.

”Ill just get you both, then! ” He activated his Lightning Field, and there was brief red

spark as the bullet ignited. This specialized bullet was a full metal jacket, made with a

taur core and coated with the same material that composed the scorpions shell, shtar.

Since shtar hardened with magic, the Lightning Field further powered up its

destructive force. His rifle bullets had far more blastrock packed into them as well, and

there was a mini-explosion as the bullet rocketed forward.

Boom! There was the sound of a cannon firing, and his special red bullet rocketed

through the 1.5-meter-long barrel, picking up speed as it passed. The electrically

accelerated bullet was easily four to five times as powerful as a full-power shot from

Donner. That tiny bullet packed more force than a battleship round. The creation of

such a fearsome weapon was only possible because of his special magic and the superhard minerals found in this other world.

The only thing that could compare would be a very powerful laser. The bullet scorched

the very air as it passed, heading straight for the yellow head.

The yellow head had its own powered up version of Hajimes Diamond Skin, but the

bullet still blasted through it as if it were nothing more than paper. It pierced through

the yellow head, pierced through the white one behind it, and exploded against the

wall behind it. The entire dungeon floor shook from the impact.

Once the dust cleared, all that remained were the remnants of the two melted heads,

which had somehow fused together, and a hole drilled so deep into the wall Hajime

couldn see where it ended.

The remaining three heads momentarily forgot to keep fighting and stared in slackjawed amazement at what had happened to their comrades.

Hajime landed lightly onto the ground and ejected the spent shell from Schlagen. The

empty casing fell to the ground with a clink, and the three heads suddenly

remembered the predicament they were in. They all glared hatefully at Hajime, but

the opponent they had been engaged with until just now was not one they could afford

to take their eyes off of.

”Thunderlords Judgment. ” Ribbons of gold mana flew wildly around the regal vampire

princess. Hajime bore witness to the overpowering strength her family had feared so

much that theyd sealed her away. Her magic rained down on them like judgment from


Six spheres of lightning surrounded the remaining three heads. They hung there in the

air for a moment before shooting bolts into each other, connecting the six spheres into

one huge ring of lightning. A new sphere formed at the rings center, larger than all the


It hung there, like a Parthenon made of lightning, shining brighter than the sun. The

blazing temple of lightning unleashed its power with the force of a thousand suns.

Crackle! The middle lightning sphere pulsed, and everything encased within the

temple was blasted with millions of volts of lightning. The three remaining heads

desperately tried to escape, but the outer ring acted as a prison, trapping them in their

lightning hell. A huge flash was followed by a thunderous boom, and it was as if Gods

wrath itself had come down on them.

Within seconds, Yues spell burnt the remaining heads to cinders. They died screaming

in agony, unable to do anything to resist.

Yue slumped onto the ground like she always did after casting a powerful spell. She

was panting heavily and had returned to her usual deadpan expression, but her eyes

glowed with satisfaction. She gave Hajime a thumbs-up. Smiling, he returned the

gesture. He fixed his grip on Schlagen, then started walking over to Yue.

However, an instant later—

”Hajime! ” He heard her panicked shout. Sensing the urgency in her voice, he turned

around to see what she was looking at, and saw that a seventh head had grown out of

the remnants of the Hydras body. It was glaring right at Hajime. He reflexively

stiffened up.

The seventh head, which had a silver pattern carved into its forehead, shifted its gaze

from Hajime to Yue, and without warning, fired an aurora of rainbow colored light at

her. The aurora ate up the distance between it and Yue at an alarming rate. She had

exhausted all her mana and wouldn be able to dodge in time.

Hajime shifted his gaze from the head to Yue, and chills ran down his spine. Without

thinking, he leaped forward.

Just like when he had rushed to save her from the blue head. Hajime managed to reach

her before the aurora could wipe her off the face of the earth.

However, things didn end as fortuitously as they had with the blue head. The light

swallowed Hajime whole. Even after he absorbed most of the attack, the shockwaves

were enough to bowl Yue backward.

After the light subsided, Yue forced her aching body to get up. She frantically looked

around, searching for Hajime.

She saw him standing in the same spot he had been in before the attack hit. He stood

there defiantly, smoke rising from his body. The burnt husk of Schlagen slipped from

his fingers, and fell to the ground. The bottom part had already fused with the floor


”H-Hajime? ”

”…… ”

There was no reply. Then suddenly, he pitched forward onto the ground.

”Hajime! ” Ignoring her bodys protests, Yue desperately tried to run over to Hajime.

However, her exhausted body couldn keep up, so she tripped. She curbed her

impatience and forced herself to drink a vial of Ambrosia. The moment she felt an

ounce of her strength return, she stood back up and rushed over to Hajime.

He was lying face-down on the ground, blood pooling beneath him. His Diamond Skin

hadn been able to protect him completely. Had he not used Schlagen, which was

made of the scorpions shell, as a shield, he most likely would have died instantly.

She gently rolled him over onto his back, then gasped when she saw his injuries. His

fingers, shoulders, and armpit had all been burnt to a crisp, and white bone was

peeking out from the charred remains of skin and muscle. The entire right side of his

face had been scorched too, and blood was dripping from his burnt right eye socket.

The only thing that had saved his legs from suffering the same fate was probably the

angle of the attack.

Yue hurriedly tried to force some Ambrosia down his throat, but the Hydra was

already readying its next attack. This time it fired off a barrage of ten centimeter wide

balls of light. It was like some kind of rainbow-colored Gatling gun.

Yue picked up Hajime and, squeezing out every last ounce of her strength, managed to

carry him to safety behind one of the pillars. Light balls slammed into the pillar one

after another. It likely wouldn last even a minute longer. Each of the balls contained

a frightening amount of force.

Yue quickly poured Ambrosia all over his wounds and pulled out a second vial,

intending to feed it to him. However, he didn even have the strength left to swallow,

so he weakly choked it back out. Yue filled her own mouth with Ambrosia, then

plugged his mouth with her own, forcing it down his throat.

However, while the Ambrosia stopped any more blood from seeping out, it was unable

to fully heal Hajimes wounds. Normally it would start healing them right away, but it

seemed something was obstructing it from working properly.

”Why!? ” Yue was practically in a state of panic at that point. She began pulling out all

the Ambrosia vials Hajime had on him.

The reason things were progressing slowly was because the Hydras light actually

contained a poison that melted flesh as well. By all rights, it should have already

finished melting Hajimes body.

The fact that it hadn , in and of itself, showed just how powerful the Ambrosia was.

While not by much, it had managed to overcome the poison, and was slowly healing

Hajimes wounds. Though it was taking longer than usual, the Ambrosias effects

coupled with Hajimes naturally strong half-monster body meant he would eventually

heal. However, his right eye had already dissolved beyond all repair, and even the

Ambrosia wouldn be able to bring it back.

The pillar was on its last legs too, and would most likely be destroyed before Hajime

recovered enough to move. Yue looked down at him, a determined expression on her

face, and kissed him. Then, after taking Donner from its holster, she stood up.

”…Its my turn to save you this time… ” she whispered softly, before dashing out from

behind the pillar.

She had very little mana remaining and no more Ambrosia. The only things she could

rely on were her body strengthening magic, her natural abilities as a vampire, her

unreliable self-regeneration, and Donner.

The Hydra reared its silver-crested head as Yue ran into its sight, and fired another

barrage of light balls. Yue didn have the mana left to shoot them down with magic

and, lacking Hajimes skill with firearms, didn have the confidence to shoot them all

down with Donner, so she opted to run. But physical strength had always been Yues

one weakness. She was backed into a corner almost instantly.

Finally, one of them hit her on the shoulder.

”Aguu!? ” Even as she screamed in pain, she used the impact of the attack to roll back

on her feet and resume running. She knew the moment she stopped from the pain, itd

be all over for her.

Her automatic regeneration took longer than usual to kick in. The melting properties

of the Hydras head were effective against her self-healing as well. And so, she lost

even more mana by healing herself. At the rate things were going, she wouldn even

have enough mana to keep her body strengthening up.

Every time she tried to get closer, a barrage of light balls drove her back. But she

needed to close the gap somehow. She wasn confident shed be able to hit the Hydra

with Donner from so far back. She needed to create an opening somehow. However,

she was unable to find any way to do so, and all too soon she was cornered again.

Desperate, she fired Donner in the hopes of forcing a way out of her predicament.

Though she couldn use Lightning Field, she was proficient enough with thunder

magic that she managed to accelerate the bullet. In a stroke of beginners luck, the

bullet weaved neatly between the barrage of light balls and hit the Hydra right in the


Unfortunately, however…

”Huh? ” Yue let out an involuntary mewl of surprise.

Even if she hadn gotten the hang of accelerating it yet, shed still added quite a bit of

force to the bullet. Despite that, the silver-crested head had only a tiny scratch on it.

Despair began coloring her expression. But if she let herself be defeated, Hajime would

die. Yue gritted her teeth and continued dodging.

Still, she wouldn be able to keep it up forever. The silver-crested head reared back

and fired a second aurora. The spread of bullets restricted her evasive routes until,

finally, she was forced to let a ball blow her back to keep her from getting devoured

entirely by the auroras light.

The ball she was forced to take as compensation for dodging the aurora hit her square

in the stomach and sent her sprawling to the ground.

”Ugh… Ghh… ” Her body refused to move. She knew if she didn get up shed be

devoured by a barrage of light balls. But no matter how she struggled, her muscles

refused to listen. Her auto-regeneration was taking even longer than last time to kick


Before she knew it, there were tears rolling down her face. They were tears of

frustration. Frustration at her inability to protect Hajime even after hed protected her

so many times.

The Hydra took a moment to let out a victorious ”Graaaaaaah! ” before firing the next

barrage of light balls.

Yues death drew closer in the form of rainbow colored light. She refused to close her

eyes. If nothing else, she wasn going to be defeated in spirit. She glared right at the

silver-crested head, determined to go down fighting.

Eventually, the balls filled her vision and she couldn even see the Hydra anymore.

They were going to hit her. She would die. Inside her head she apologized to Hajime

for dying before him. For not being able to protect him. But suddenly… a gust of wind

flew by.

”Eh? ” By the time shed grasped what was going on, Yue was in someones arms and

the light balls were passing by to her side. Her expression filled with utter disbelief,

she looked up at the person holding her.

It was, of course, none other than Hajime. His body was still covered in wounds, he

was panting heavily, and his right eyelid was tightly shut.

”Don cry, Yue. You won this fight. ”

”Hajime! ”

Overcome with emotion, she hugged him tight. His wounds had barely begun to heal.

In reality, he was standing on willpower alone.

But he still glared angrily at the Hydras silver head. It was looking condescendingly

down on the both of them as it fired yet another barrage of light balls. It looked as if it

was saying something like ”What can a half-dead ape like you do? ”

”Too slow. ” Hajime waited until the last minute before dodging with unsteady


The silver head narrowed its eyes in anger and fired another salvo.

”Hajime, run! ” Yue shouted frantically, but Hajime seemed utterly unconcerned. With

Yue still held tight in his arm, he spun and danced around the Hydras attacks. Though

at times he stumbled, he never failed to dodge. In fact, it looked more as if the balls

were dodging him than the other way around. And Yue watched it all, her eyes full of


”Yue, drink my blood. ” He spoke quietly, his silent gaze inviting her. For once, she

hesitated. He had lost so much blood already. He dodged with tottering steps, but he

still pushed Yues face closer to his neck.

”Your magic is our only hope, Yue… So do it. Hurry up, and win this for us! ”

”…Okay! ”

Yue acquiesced to Hajimes powerful words, and nodded. She chose to trust in him and

buried her face in his neck. Her body healed rapidly as his blood flowed into her. They

danced a dance of death, the two of them, as they weaved their way through a storm

of bullets.

For a moment, everything lost all sense of color for Hajime. He was whirling his way

through a world of black and white, while everything around him moved in slow

motion. Only his movements remained sharp.

He had seen it all. While he had been struggling to remain conscious, he had watched

as Yue had fought all on her own. He watched as she desperately fought with his gun,

until finally she was backed into a corner. He watched as she was thrown to the floor

and bombarded with light.

It was at that moment that a seething anger had welled up. Anger at himself. What the

hell are you doing!? How long do you plan to lie here sleeping!? Are you going to let your

partner get killed right under your nose!? You
e going to give in to that shitty excuse of

a monster!? No! No I won ! Anything that threatens my—that threatens our survival is

an enemy! And enemies are to be…

”Killed! ” Hajime had felt a tingling run through his body, and suddenly he had awoken

to a new skill. He had acquired the final derivative skill of Air Dance, Riftwalk. By

focusing all five of his senses to the utmost limits, his other Air Dance derivatives grew

that much stronger. The extremes of his situation had forced him to surpass his limits

once more.

It was that ability that had allowed Hajime to instantly teleport to Yues side, and it

was that ability that was currently allowing him to dodge the Hydras attacks.

Yue finished drinking his blood, her strength fully restored.

”Yue, hit him with Azure Blaze when I give the signal. Until I do, just focus on dodging. ”

”Okay… But what about you, Hajime? ”

”Ill be laying the groundwork for your finisher. ”

He let Yue down behind one of the pillars and then charged the Hydra.

He dodged each of the light balls by a hairs breadth using Supersonic Step, and then

fired Donner once he got close enough. Annoyed by the fact that the last shot had still

managed to scratch him, the silver head dodged this one. The bullet passed harmlessly

through the air and bored a small hole into the ceiling above. Unconcerned, Hajime

continued firing as he ran. Sadly, each of his bullets only served to put more holes in

the ceiling.

The silver head scoffed at Hajime as it effortlessly dodged. Yue was a little worried

about Hajimes uncharacteristically sloppy shooting, but she chose to believe in him

and wait.

Once he exhausted a chambers worth of bullets, Hajime took to the air with

Aerodynamic. His leaps had grown more precise and he freely flew through the air,

sticking close to the ceiling.

Tired of being toyed with, the silver head began firing auroras off at random. Hajime

grinned as he dodged them with ease. He was reading the Hydra like an open book.

And he had noticed it had to stop moving to recharge every time it fired.

”This is for hurting Yue. I hope you like it. ” He finished reloading Donner and fired all

six bullets at once, each in a slightly different direction.

Six small explosions dotted the ceiling, and after a moment of silence, a section of it

came crumbling down. Ten tons of rock hurtled toward the Hydra. And the Hydra was

unable to escape in time as it rained down on its head.

”Graaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!? ” The beast screamed in both surprise and pain. Hajimes

timing had been perfect. He had aimed for the moment it stiffened up after firing an

aurora to make sure it wouldn be able to escape.

He had missed originally on purpose, and then had run around the ceiling transmuting

it to weaken the foundations while also setting up grenades in various locations. His

six shots had been to set off the grenades.

But he didn stop there. He hadn done all that just to drop a giant rock on it. He closed

the distance to the trapped Hydra in a single Supersonic Step, then began transmuting

the rubble around it to make a perfect prison. He transmuted the area around its head

specifically to make something like a blast furnace.

He then threw his whole pouch of grenades into the blast furnace and shouted the


”Now, Yue! ”

”Okay! Azure Blaze! ”

A burning blue sun appeared within the blast furnace, consigning the trapped Hydra

to hell. His grenades all exploded at once when the blast hit, dealing a considerable

amount of damage to the silver head.

”Graaaaaaaaaaaaah! ” The silver head screamed in pain. It started firing light balls

everywhere, desperately looking to free itself. But whenever it managed to break one

of the walls, Hajime simply transmuted it back in place. It had just fired an aurora too,

so it wasn able to pull out another right away. Slowly but surely, the blue sun sank

deeper into the furnace, purging the monster with a fire hotter than hell.

Sense Presence told him the Hydra was now well and truly dead. Once he was sure it

was gone for good, Hajime collapsed on the spot.

”Hajime! ” Yue tried to rush over to him, but her body was exhausted too, so she was

forced to crawl instead.

”You pushed yourself… too hard… ” Yue somehow managed to crawl over to Hajime. He

could feel her hugging him as he slipped into unconsciousness.

Meanwhile, as Hajime and Yue were fighting with the Hydra, the party of heroes was

taking a short break from their dungeon expedition and were resting in the capital.

The increased strength of the monsters they faced combined with the strain of

scouting out an unmapped floor had of course taken its toll on the students, but that

wasn the only reason they had chosen to take a break. There was apparently also

someone waiting at the palace to meet them. The Hoelscher Empire, which had shown

no interest in the heroes thus far, had suddenly sent an envoy to greet them.

Kouki and the others were naturally wondering why they would send someone after

all this time.

The reason there hadn been any representative from the Hoelscher Empire, which

was allied with the Heiligh Kingdom, when the heroes were first summoned was that

there had been very little time since the oracles message from Ehit and the

summoning itself. That being said, the king had assumed even if they had managed to

get a message to the Empire in time they wouldn have bothered to send an envoy.

The main reason being that ever since its founding at the hands of a famous mercenary

300 years ago, the Empire has been a strength-based meritocracy. Adventurers and

mercenaries of all kinds called that holy land their home precisely because they could

make a name for themselves with the strength of their sword arm alone.

People like them wouldn accept some summoned humans as their new leaders just

like that. While the Holy Church did have a presence there, and most of its citizens

were technically believers, they weren nearly as devout as the citizens of the

Kingdom. Since even the merchants and officials generally came from a mercenary or

adventurer background, almost all of the citizens valued coin over religion. That

having been said, they were still believers even if they weren as devout.

However, it was quite likely that they wouldve spurned the heroes had they met them

when they were first summoned. That was why it was fortunate that Hoelschers

emperor had seemingly shown no interest in the heroes until now.

Their sudden change of heart had come about when they had heard the reports that

Koukis party had cleared the sixty-fifth floor of the Great Orcus Labyrinth, something

no one else had managed to do before. When news of the historic breakthrough had

reached the Empires ears, they had immediately dispatched a messenger to the

kingdom informing them that they wished to meet these new heroes. Both the king

and the Holy Church agreed that it was probably the best time to let them meet the


Captain Meld relayed all of this information at length to Kouki and the others on their

return trip to the capital.

As the students were getting off their carriages, a single boy came running toward

them from the palace. He was around ten years old, with blond hair and blue eyes. He

resembled Kouki in many ways, though he was more of a rambunctious little kid. He

was, of course, the prince of Heiligh, Lundel S. B. Heiligh.

The young prince resembled a puppy welcoming home its owner as he ran up to one

of the girls and started shouting at her.

”Kaori! You
e finally back! I was waiting for you! ” Of course, it wasn just Kaori who

had returned. All the other students on the expedition had also come back with her.

Most of them were clearly annoyed that Prince Lundel basically ignored their


Lundel had been infatuated with Kaori since the day she was summoned. But of

course, he was still only ten years old. Kaori simply thought of him as a little kid who

had grown attached to her. She had no reason to suspect his feelings ran any deeper

than that. And since she was naturally inclined to look after others, she simply treated

him like a cute little brother.

”Prince Lundel, Its nice to see you again. ” Even Kaori thought he resembled a puppy

with the way he craved her attention as she smiled kindly at him. Lundel blushed

bright red, but he still tried to look as manly as possible in front of his crush.

”Yeah, I haven seen you in ages! Everything felt so boring while you were gone. You

not hurt, are you? If only I was stronger, you wouldn have to fight for us… ” Lundel bit

his lip unhappily. Kaori no longer held any desire to sit back and let others protect her,

but she still smiled at the boys childish resolve.

”Im truly happy you
e so concerned about me, but theres really no need to worry.

Im fighting because I want to. ”

”No, fighting doesn suit you, Kaori. Th-There has to be some kind of safer job you can

do. ”

”Like? ” Kaori tilted her head slightly. Lundel somehow managed to blush even

brighter. Shizuku watched the entire exchange from the sidelines, smiling as she

watched the princes clumsy attempts to woo Kaori.

”W-Well, How about being a maid? I could even make you my personal maid so you

don have to work too much. ”

”A maid? Sorry, but I can accept your offer. Im a priest, so… ”

”Then how about working at the hospital? Theres no need to expose yourself to

danger and fight at the front lines in the labyrinth, is there? ”

The kingdom had a state-run hospital in the capital. It was located right next to the

palace. It was quite obvious that he wasn really worried about Kaoris safety. Lundel

merely wanted to keep her close to him. Unfortunately, Kaori was too dense to realize


”Im sorry, but its only at the front lines that I can heal the injured right away. Im truly

grateful you
e so worried about me, but Im going to keep fighting. ”

”Hmph… ” Lundel pouted a little as he realized he would be unable to change Kaoris

mind no matter what he said. It was then that the thickheaded bundle of justice

decided to butt in and pour oil on the flames.

”Your Highness, Kaoris a very dear childhood friend of mine. I promise I won let any

harm come to her, ” Kouki said with a grin, intending to assuage the young boys

worries. Unfortunately, he didn realize that only made matters worse. To the smitten

Lundel, it sounded like he was saying ”Don you dare lay a hand on my woman. As

long as Im around, I won let anyone else have Kaori! ” The hero and the healer. They

really did seem like a dream couple.

Lundel glared hatefully at Kouki, as if he were staring at his mortal enemy. To his young

mind, it seemed as if Kouki and Kaori were already lovers.

”How can you call yourself a man when you take Kaori to such dangerous places with

you?! I won lose! Ill show you that Kaoris better off with me! ”

”Umm… ” Kaori stared at Lundel, puzzled by his sudden outburst as Kouki just stared

at him blankly. And Shizuku, having watched the entire exchange, just sighed at

Koukis dense attitude.

Lundel ground his teeth angrily, and Kouki opened his mouth to try and smooth the

situation over. But before he could make matters worse, a sharp voice rang out across

the courtyard.

”Lundel, stop acting like a child. You
e bothering Kaori and Kouki. ”

”S-Sister…!? B-But— ”

”No buts. Everyones working so hard for our sake, but you
e completely ignoring

their feelings and trying to keep Kaori here… Don you think you
e being immature? ”

”Aww… B-But… ”

”Lundel? ”

”I-I just remembered something I have to do! Excuse me! ”

Unwilling to admit his own mistake, Lundel turned around and ran off. Princess

Liliana sighed exasperatedly as she watched him go.

”Kaori, Kouki, I apologize on my brothers behalf. He must have caused you a great

deal of trouble. ” She bowed deeply as she apologized to them, and her long blonde hair

fell gracefully over her shoulders.

”Theres no need to apologize, Lili. Im sure Lundel was just worried about me. ”

”Exactly. Im not sure why he was so angry, but… if I said anything that offended him,

its me who should be apologizing. ”

Liliana simply smiled awkwardly. She sympathized a little with her little brother. The

target of his affections wasn interested in him in the least. Worse, his self-proclaimed

love rival didn even care that he was around.

There had actually been quite the commotion when Kouki and Lundel had first met,

but… that was a story for another time.

Liliana was currently fourteen years old. Her beautiful appearance and flowing blonde

hair made her popular both within the palace and among the common folk. She was

serious about her duties, gentle, and not too uptight about social standing. Despite her

station, she was kind to the servants and maids, and got along well with people of all


She was actually deeply troubled by Kouki and the other students situation. Not only

in her capacity as a princess, but on a personal level as well. She felt extremely guilty

about getting a group of unrelated children embroiled in her countrys problems.

It took her no time at all to get friendly with most of the summoned students. In fact,

she got along especially well with Kaori and Shizuku, and before long they had

dropped formal titles and were calling each other by nicknames.

”Theres no need for that, Kouki. Lundels just a bit wild, so don mind him. More

importantly, welcome back everyone. Im glad you all returned safe and sound. ” Liliana

smiled warmly at the students. Even though they were used to seeing beauties like

Kaori and Shizuku in their class, the guys were still utterly charmed by her friendly

smile. Lilianas beauty was accentuated by the refined air of royalty, something that

few other people could hope to match.

The members of Hiyama and Nagayamas groups were both beet red, and even some

of the girls were blushing slightly. The students were all overwhelmed by the fact that

they were speaking directly to royalty, something they would never have gotten the

chance to do in their own world. To them, it was strange that Kaori and Shizuku were

able to talk to her like she was just another one of their friends.

”Thanks, Lili. Your smile alone is enough to blow all our exhaustion away. Im happy

to see you again too, ” Kouki replied, with his usual set of cliched lines accompanied by

his trademark smile. However, to reiterate, Kouki had no ulterior motives hidden in

his words. He truly was just happy to come back alive and see his friend once more. In

reality, he was completely clueless about the effects his words and conduct had on


”Eh, r-really? U-Umm… ” Since she was a princess, Liliana had gotten used to receiving

compliments from all sorts of people. Nobles, foreign dignitaries, messengers, and

even commoners praised her beauty or her intelligence at every turn. Hence why she

had mastered the art of discerning peoples true intentions.

And that was precisely why she was able to tell Kouki sincerely meant every word he

uttered. The only other people that complimented her sincerely were her family, so

she wasn used to wholehearted praise. She blushed a deep crimson as she scrambled

to formulate some kind of reply. That easily flustered side of her was also part of the

reason she was so popular.

Kouki just stood there, grinning happily, once again utterly unaware of the effects his

words had caused. As always, Shizuku sighed tiredly behind him. It was because she

knew him so well that she understood that, even if someone tried to tell him, he

wouldn get it.

”Umm, anyway, thank you so much for everything you
e doing for us. Theres a warm

meal and hot baths waiting for everyone, so please take some time to relax. The

Hoelscher Empires envoy isn due to arrive for a few days, so theres no need to rush. ”

Liliana managed to compose herself and give a princess-like response.

The students all began winding down, and slowly eased away the exhaustion theyd

built up during their labyrinth excursion. They told their classmates who stayed

behind that theyd defeated the Behemoth, and shouts of joy could be heard echoing

throughout the palace halls. The good news convinced more of them to return to the

front lines, and the labyrinth partys numbers quickly swelled. The ones whod been

away also learned from the ones who stayed behind that Aiko-sensei was being called

the Harvest Goddess by the citizens because of how amazing her agricultural skills

were. Aiko herself was embarrassed by the nickname, and didn particularly want

anyone calling her by it. While most of the students were glad to finally have a break,

Kaori alone wished they were still down there fighting.

Three days after the students return, the Hoelscher Empires envoys arrived. Five

dignitaries were currently standing on the throne rooms red carpet. The students

who had all gone on the labyrinth expedition, all the important nobles, and Ishtars

posse of priests were, of course, all there to receive them.

”Welcome, envoys. You are free to appraise our kingdoms saviors at your leisure. ”

”Your Majesty, we are truly grateful that you have granted us this audience at such

short notice. Pardon my abruptness, but which among them is the hero we have heard

so much about? ”

”Allow me to introduce him. Sir Kouki, if you would be so kind as to step forward. ”

”As you wish. ”

With the necessary formalities out of the way, it was finally time for Koukis

introduction. He stepped forward as requested. Though scarcely two months had

passed since his summoning, Koukis build and expression had both become much


Had any of the maids, nobles daughters, or members of Koukis fan club been present

in the hall at the time, they would have wet their panties at the sight of his dashing

figure. There were dozens of noble ladies that had approached Kouki already, but his

dense mind simply thought they were all nice people who wanted nothing more than

to chat with him. He was the very incarnation of a dense harem protagonist.

e quite young. Forgive me for being so forward, but have you really cleared the

sixty-fifth floor? If I recall correctly, a vicious monster known as a Behemoth guards

the exit to that floor. ” The envoy that spoke watched Kouki carefully. He couldn be too

overt with Ishtars eyes on him, but he was clearly suspicious of Koukis abilities. One

of his guards sized up Kouki, as if he were evaluating a piece of merchandise.

Kouki found the mans gaze disquieting, but he still answered their questions.

”Umm, would you believe me if I explained how we beat it? Or would it be better to

show you the partial map we have of the sixty-sixth floor? ” Kouki threw out a number

of suggestions, but the envoy grinned boyishly and shook his head to deny them all.

”No, words won convince me. Theres a much faster and more efficient way of making

sure, don you think? How about you have a mock battle with one of my guards here.

Thatll show us the fullest extent of your skills, Sir Hero. ”

”Well, I don mind, but… ”

Kouki seemed somewhat unsure and turned to look back at King Eliheid. King Eliheid,

in turn, looked to Ishtar for confirmation, who nodded solemnly. It wouldn have been

difficult to invoke Ehits name and use the force of religion to get the Hoelscher Empire

to accept Kouki as the leader of the human resistance, but having them fight him was

the fastest way to clear up any doubts about his abilities.

”Very well. Sir Kouki, please demonstrate your strength to our guests. ”

”Then its decided. Could you please prepare a suitable location for our bout? ”

Once the match was decided, all of the members present shuffled out of the throne

room and onto the venue of the fight.

Koukis opponent looked average in every way. Average height, average looks, average

build. He was someone that would instantly disappear in a crowd of people. At a

glance, he didn seem all that strong either. The envoys bodyguard drew his sword

lazily and let it hang limply at his side. He didn bother to take any kind of stance.

Anger started to build within Kouki at being underestimated so blatantly. He started

off more vigorously than he had initially intended, thinking a powerful attack would

make his opponent take the fight seriously.

”Here I come! ” Kouki moved like the wind. With the power of his Supersonic Step, he

closed the distance to his opponent in an instant and swung down with his bamboo

practice blade.

An average warrior would have had trouble just following his movements. Kouki

planned on stopping just before actually hitting his foe. But it seemed such

consideration was unnecessary. The one who had been underestimating their

opponent was in fact Kouki.

”Ah!? ” He let out a surprised cry as he was blown backward.

The bodyguard was simply standing there, glaring at Kouki with his sword half-raised.

The instant Kouki had let the strength drain from his arms to pull the swing short, the

bodyguard had flicked his sword up and flung Kouki back.

Kouki slid across the ground for a few seconds before somehow managing to recover

his stance. After that, he stared at the bodyguard in open-faced shock. Even if he had

been focusing his attention on controlling his power, the fact that he hadn been able

to see the guards attack at all was unbelievable.

The bodyguard lowered his raised sword and returned to his original defenseless

stance. I see. The reason I couldn follow that attack was because it was so natural and

harmless that my body didn feel any danger from it, Kouki suddenly thought.

”…Hey, Hero. You don come from a fighting background, do you? ” Kouki squinted his

eyes suspiciously, still somewhat physically and mentally rattled from that last

exchange. The bodyguard was regarding him with a ponderous expression as he

haughtily asked that question. Though he stumbled over his words, Kouki managed to

get out a reply.

”Eh? Umm, no, I don . I was originally just a student. ”

”…And now you
e Ehits chosen hero, huh? ”

He scoffed contemptuously and shot a quick glance over at Ishtar and his priests.

Then, with those same unnaturally natural movements, he began closing in on Kouki.

”Prepare yourself, Hero. If you hold back again… ” Goosebumps coated Koukis arms.

The bodyguards tone of voice clearly conveyed what awaited him if he held back.

There was a sudden surge of bloodlust, which made Koukis instincts start screaming

at him. He quickly raised his sword over his head, which was the only thing that

prevented him from being decapitated right then and there.

”Ugh!? ” There was the loud thump of sword against sword as their weapons met. The

force of the mans unrefined swing sent Kouki to his knees, and he gazed up into the

bodyguards eyes, his thoughts paralyzed by shock. How on earth did he get to me so


The bloodlust coming off the bodyguard was dense enough to be palpable.

”Ah… Uwaaaaaaaah!!! ” Kouki let out an incoherent roar and suddenly large gouts of

mana began pouring from his body.

The force of his mana alone was enough to push the bodyguard back, breaking his

stance. Kouki took advantage of that opening and thrust forward with his Holy Sword.

But milliseconds before it pierced through the mans skin, Koukis sword suddenly

slowed. It had nothing to do with the fact that he was trying to hold back. The slowing

of his sword had been due to something more instinctive. The bodyguard suddenly

narrowed his eyes. Then…

”Lets stop here, ” he muttered coldly. At the same time, he recovered his stance almost

instantly, and blocked Koukis desperate attack with a lazy flick of his sword. Following

that, he jumped back and sheathed his weapon.

”Eh? Huh? ” Kouki gazed at him blankly, and the bodyguard simply stared at him coldly.

”Hey, do you realize what it is you
e going to be going up against? ”

”U-Umm, well be fighting monsters and demons and stuff… The ones who are making

all these people suffer. ”

”Monsters and demons and stuff, huh? And you think you can handle that with such

cowardly attacks? Doesn seem like it to me. You
e supposed to be the one wholl lead

us in battle? Don make me laugh. ” The man threw Koukis words back in his face and

criticized his shortcomings with neither an ounce of scorn or ridicule in his voice. He

spoke mechanically, stating the simple truth. Even Kouki couldn take this much abuse

lying down.

”Don you think its rude to call my attacks cowardly? Im serious about— ”

”A kid whos afraid to get hurt or hurt others can do anything. Don go running your

mouth when you won even come at me with the intent to kill. You can claim you

serious with that half-assed resolve of yours. ”

Kouki shut his mouth, suddenly at a loss for words. He recovered quickly enough and

was about to retort with something like, ”Im not afraid! ” but the bodyguard had

already turned around and was walking back.

The king and the priests suddenly started shouting, saying things like, ”How dare you

act so rudely toward our hero! ” and, ”How can you call the battle over when he hasn

even had a chance to show you his skills! ” and so forth. Bolstered by the support, Kouki

was about to begin protesting again, but before he could, Ishtar soothed the crowd

with his aged voice.

”As you can see, our hero is still in the midst of his growth. Its unfortunate, but he

simply does not have enough experience yet. I do not expect your nation to come to a

conclusion right away. I shall assume the words you directed at our esteemed hero

were for his own sake. I hope we can leave it at that. If not, as the pope of the Holy

Church, I may have to sanction an inquisition against you. You understand what that

would mean, correct, Emperor of Hoelscher, Gahard? ”

”…Tch, so you figured it out. What a shrewd old geezer. ”

The bodyguard kept his voice low, so no one could hear his blasphemy. Then, he turned

around and removed the earring on his right ear. As he did so, he was surrounded by

a thick gray mist. When it cleared, a completely different person was standing in his


The emperor was a savage-looking man in his mid-forties. He had silver hair that he

kept cropped short, and piercing blue eyes that reminded one of a wolfs. He was

passably handsome and possessed rippling muscles that corded the entire length of

his body. The entire room broke out in an uproar.

”L-Lord Gahard!? ”

”The Emperor himself!? ”

The man Kouki had fought was none other than Gahard D. Hoelscher, the emperor of

Hoelscher. Eliheid massaged his temples as he asked a question, seeming nonplussed.

”What on earth are you doing, Lord Gahard? ”

”Well well, if it isn His Highness Eliheid. I apologize for not greeting you earlier. I

apologize also for this disguise. I simply wished to ascertain this heros strength with

my own eyes. After all, his existence will play a vital role in our battles to come. Do

please forgive my insolence. ”

Though he apologized profusely, Gahard didn seem all that sorry for what he had

done. Eliheid simply sighed and shook his head as he said ”Forget it ” in response to

the man. Kouki and the other students were utterly confused. Even putting aside the

emperors incredible footwork and combat skills, everyone was treating his surprise

appearance like it was an everyday occurrence.

”Ishtar, Your Holiness. As you so wisely discerned, my words were nothing more than

advice for our young hero. I would never dream of belittling Ehits chosen warrior. I

apologize if I seemed too brusque; its simply a bad habit I picked up from my

countrymen. ”

Gahards reply was so insincere that it could hardly even be considered an apology.

Still, Ishtars calm expression never faltered, and he bowed his head ponderously.

”As long as you understand, ” was the only response he uttered.

The whole event was then smoothed over, and the two rulers began discussing the

affairs of state. Eliheid managed to extract at least a flimsy promise from Gahard that

they would support the new hero ”based on the promise hed shown, ” thus concluding

the main reason for his visit.

Later that evening, in his private quarters, Gahard told his subordinates what he really


”Man, that brats no good. Hes barely out of his diapers. The way he talks, its clear he

really believes all that bullshit he spouts about ideals and justice. Whats worse is that

he has just enough strength and charisma for people to believe him, too. Hes the kind

of person thatd kill without hesitation for the sake of his ideals. ”

”Agreed. I can believe he honestly put demons and monsters together on the same

level. If it had been a conscious decision, then it wouldn have been so bad, but… ”

”Yeah, he clearly wasn thinking at all when he said that. In fact, hes the type that

probably thinks ignorance is bliss. Im amazed hes managed to live so long with that

mindset. Maybe his original world was just one where that was acceptable, or maybe

his strength has just carried him until now. Either way, hes nothing but trouble.

Unfortunately, we can speak out against him because hes Ehits chosen warrior. For

now, we have no choice but to go along with that brats whims. ” As far as the emperor

was concerned, Kouki was no hero at all. Gahard shrugged his shoulders, but when he

thought back on how strong Kouki had been despite only learning how to fight a few

months ago, he reasoned there might have been some potential in him yet.

”Well, maybe hell live up to his name after hes fought a few demons. We can make

our final evaluations then. For now, we just have to make sure we don get caught up

in those damn priests machinations. Be wary of that crafty pope. ”

”Yes, my lord. ”

Unaware of the true evaluation hed received, Kouki stood outside the palace gates

along with the others to see off the emperor the next day. It seemed like he was leaving

right away since hed finished what hed come for. He really was one spry ruler.

As an aside, it appeared that the emperor had run into Shizuku during her morning

training and had grown quite smitten with her. He had even invited her to be his

mistress. Shizuku had politely declined, to which the emperor had simply laughed and

said, ”Well, just think about it. ” It hadn blown up into a serious issue, but Kouki had

also been there to witness the event. When the emperor caught sight of him, he had

just laughed scornfully. It was then that everyone present had realized those two

would never get along.

Needless to say, Shizuku simply sighed.

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