Mercenaries. Outlaws who worked for money. It was like an occupation which included all the people in this fantasy world; young boys adoring the Hero of legend, men dreaming of a rise in status, maidens who refused to be a weak woman, princesses who ran from home because they didn’t want a political marriage, Elves branded with the mark of a slave, heroes hiding their identities… It was a gathering of all kinds of people.
The ones who suffered at the barbaric behaviour of mercenaries, who followed the law of the jungle as well as capitalism, were always powerless villagers. Penniless mercenaries were bold and shameless robbers, while mercenaries with power were mobile time bombs—they were viler and greater in number than nobles with filthy personalities.
Just why were these kind of pests being left alone?
▶Troubled: That’s a prejudice. There are good mercenaries too.
‘Good mercenaries? Pft! Miss Trainee Teacher, make sure to introduce one to me if you find one.’
The corpses of the hundred or so mercenaries, who had failed to withstand my holiness and died, were disposed of by the villagers; after stripping them bare of their rather valuable pieces of clothing, armor and such, they were piled up on the village outskirts and roughly cremated. Nobody lamented the deaths of these people. They only dealt with the aftermath.
“Sir Hero, this is compensation that the villagers voluntarily gathered up. Please accept it.
The village chief held out a heavy money bag. Although the sound of copper and silver coins weren’t as nice as that of gold coins, which I could listen to the entire day without getting tired, I didn’t dislike it either. For starters, the weighty sensation pleased my heart.
“Chief. If anyone asks, tell them the Hero did it. And I’ll be taking the lead in disposing of the mercenaries’ items when the next merchant caravan visits this village, so keep them safely gathered in one place.”
While the possibility was slim, there was no guarantee that there was no group cooperating with, or mastermind behind, the mercenary company I had put an end to. If they were to take revenge, then this village would be swept away, and this was also why I was going to sell the articles left by the mercenaries myself; the villagers could be pinned as accomplices if they had a hand in it.
This wasn’t simply an unfounded fear.
My 1st Playthrough experience spoke for itself. Because my companions then hadn’t properly dealt with the aftermath after acting as they pleased, the number of people, villages, cities and countries that had fallen into misfortune weren’t few. Each and every time that had happened, I felt deep in my bones the importance of responsibility.
In any case…
The aged chief made an expression as if he had let go of a worry, a face that had understood my intention.
In the 1st Playthrough, my companions had taken the items of the mercenaries they had killed and naively passed them over to the villagers they had saved saying “Everyone! Use these to recover for the losses!”, and those innocent and ignorant villagers thanked them for it.
About a year later, that village had been reduced to a heap of ashes—far from recovering their losses, they had been outright erased from the world.
▶Depressed: What a sad incident.
‘Miss Trainee Teacher, don’t be too sad. I took clean revenge for them, you see.’
The ever continuing series of adventures that followed me afterwards had even resulted in replacing the master of a country.
After clearing out the items left by the mercenaries through the merchant caravan that periodically visited the village, I secretly handed half of the money made from selling them to the village chief. I didn’t do something like evenly sharing the profit to all the villagers, as that would render my act of laundering money meaningless.
I wouldn’t be able to know if the chief monopolized that money; however, he wouldn’t be so thoughtlessly greedy so long as he wasn’t foolish—the sum was much too great for someone in a shabby village to handle.
I had done all that I could.
“I’ve seen you in a new light, Brother!”
Having tagged along to the outside of the village as if it were only natural to do so, Lanuvel praised me with a broad smile. As for me, I couldn’t help but let out a snort at that.
“Enough with the cheeky nonsense, and lead the way to the pond already instead.”
Although the order of events was somewhat reversed, I would have followed the education curriculum by having seen the ‘mightiest Holy Sword’ at the pond of legend. With this, even the grader wouldn’t be able to say anything later.
Lanuvel briskly proceeded through the forest path. I had been intent on giving her behind a hard kick if she said we went the wrong way in the middle, but something like that didn’t happen.
We smoothly arrived at the pond of legend.
“Hm. It’s nicely decorated to make it seem like there’s something more.”
Various flowers were in full bloom nearby the pond, and the surface of the pond receiving warm sunlight sparkled like a gem.
I slowly advanced with Holy Sword 2 grasped in my right hand, taking a fully ready stance so as to be able to turn the mermaid said to live in the pond into sashimi should she come attacking.
“Brother, aren’t you being too wary?”
Having arrived by the pondside first, Lanuve said this to me in a scolding manner.
“You may say that, yet you’re standing at a good angle for the mermaid to twist or bite your neck from behind.”
Surprised by my words, Lanuvel retreated a step away from the pond.
But it happened immediately afterwards.
Bubbles began to rose from the middle of the pond, and then a mermaid really popped out. She had appeared barely a moment after Lanuvel moved.
“Look, Lanuvel. Didn’t you almost die?”
“I won’t kill her! What do you think a mermaid is?!”
The mermaid thus shrieked.
“What a mermaid is, you ask? A wicked race that hits on innocent men who haven’t held hands with any woman aside from their own mother and wrings them dry. I’ve also seen many lewd mermaids who couldn’t stop control themselves whenever they came across a strong male.”
“Your phrasing is excessively negative?!”
“But I haven’t said anything wrong, no?”
The mermaids’ way of love was disaster to a human. Just imagine: a mermaid, who had been whispering love to you until just a moment ago, switching attitudes like the flip of a tail upon seeing a ‘higher Level male’. That was the limit of a fish-brain.
“Urgh… I did hear several rumors of there being humans that treated mermaids poorly, but it’s shocking to see it in reality.”
“Enough with the idle talk. Bring out the Holy Sword instead, will you.”
I needed to quickly see it and then set off on a journey. I wasn’t so free as to be held back by a dumb fish.
“The Holy Sword can only be possessed by a Hero. I will test whether you are worthy of being one. If you go east from here, you will find a mutant salamander living in that area. If you slay it and cut off its horn to bring it-…”
“Look. It’s a Holy Sword.”
I showed the mermaid Holy Sword 2. The likes of a fish testing me when ‘Hero’ was clearly written as my Job on my Status, to begin with? How truly presumptuous. Moreover, the test itself had no relation to a Hero either. Going up against a mutant salamander and not a demon or angel? It was a worthless mission that could even be given to some Hunter A that was passing by.
“… How did you become a Hero?”
Her eyes wide open like a young goldfish that had witnessed a miracle, the mermaid asked me this in a serious tone. It was a deep question coming from the likes of a fish.
“Whatever the case, I’m a Hero.”
“I-I see. Please wait a moment.”
I had been thinking of killing the mermaid and taking the sword myself if she still refused to give it up, but she immediately dived into the pond.
Lanuvel, who had been quietly watching by the side, played cute by tugging at my sleeve with her fingertips.
“What’s up with you now?”
“I wanted to tell you that the Holy Sword can be changed to another one if the Hero earnestly wishes for it. And Brother, you should respond with a wide smile when your cute little sister calls! You can’t gaze at her like some awfully disgusting food! You’ll receive heavenly punish-… Hey, Brother? Are you listening?”
The mermaid climbed onto the pondside again, and this time she wasn’t just empty-handed and naked; she was carefully hugging onto a sword that made a set with an antique-looking scabbard made of a sea dragon’s blue leather. It was plain to see that much thought had gone into the sword’s design as well.
It was none other than…
“The mightiest Holy Sword!”
The mermaid introduced the Holy Sword in a manner befitting a dumb fish, omitting any kind of explanation—what was the point of just thoughtlessly calling it the mightiest?
“And on what basis is it the mightiest?”
“A very good question! Residing within this Holy Sword is the soul of a beautiful and noble ancient Hero! She sealed her dying self into the Holy Sword for the sake of the next generation of Heroes to come. You can hear her advice and knowledge at any time, and her voice is so sweet that it will melt the hearts of gentlemen, too. Isn’t it really amazing?”
Ego Sword, a sword that contained a soul. I had thought the ‘automatic’ Holy Sword 1 had been moved over here from Snowy Mountain M, but this one seemed to be an altogether new version. The teaching staff had put some thought into it, apparently.
“So what else has it got apart from having a soul?”
“Does it need anything else?”
The mermaid thus answered with a question of her own, creasing her fair forehead.