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Rise Of The Bow Hero

Chapter Text


In another place, in another time, four people were summoned into a different world, a different reality, with one sole purpose to save it from complete annihilation… These people were called the four legendary heroes.

But among them, one shined far more than the others… This Hero carried no weapon. Unlike the other three he wielded a shield, something that could hardly be called a weapon... After all the only thing that a shield was good for was to protect, and protect he did… He, who was hated more than anyone, who was despised simply for being chosen by fate, who was entrusted with an impossible mission, and tasked with facing immeasurable odds, rose to the challenge... That was the rise of the shield hero… and this, is not that story…

Because in another place, in another time, instead of the bow hero being someone, who's sense of justice and pride blind him from his duty, another was chosen… Someone that by all rights should never have been picked… Someone who as far as he was concerned - things like multi-universe theory were just that, a theory, and concepts like reincarnation were better left to those who believe in them… This person, who in his life hardly ever wielded a weapon, was picked to wield one. With a complete average fate before him, was chosen for something greater… Summoned to be the hero he never wanted or was meant to be… His name was Takuma Ryou, who for better or for worse would herald the tides of change… This was the rise of the bow hero… And this is his story…

Another day, different events but the same monotony of life for the past one and half year… These, were the thoughts that echoed inside Ryou's head, as he laid in bed listening to music. Some opening from an anime that he couldn't be bother to remember. Long, were the days where his music library was composed of only metal, and rock now-a-days the only thing in his smart phone were anime music: openings, endings or just some original sound track.

Turning his head to look at the clock that was on the bedside table, it showed that it was a quarter to seven.

"'Five hours and fifteen minutes till the end of my day off, huh" He commented with annoyance. It had come and gone in a blink of an eye, without doing anything productive as most of his off days tend to go, not like his working days were any better, if he were to be completely honest with himself. But he did have stuff to do, like calling his sister to see how she was doing, and he did have to go outside, since his cigarette pack was on its last legs, and no amount of godly intervention would make him get up from bed earlier then he had to, just to buy tobacco before work. Besides, at the time that he normally got up the sun would still be a couple of hours from showing, and that would mean a twenty minutes' drive to the nearest gas station, the only place open at that hour and very much in the opposite direction from his work.

With strength he hardly had, Ryou finally heaved himself into a sitting position, picking his smart-phone, finger scrolling down his contact list, far too long in comparison to the numbers he actually used not counting birthday, and Christmas messages that he sent once a year. Finally stopping on the contact he wanted, with two light taps the call was underway. The phone ringed a couple of times, while he fought to pick everything he needed and stuff it in his side bag. Finally, a voice greeted from the other side.

"Helloes!" The receiver said with excitement oozing from her voice.

"Sup shrimp?" Ryou questioned, while searching his desktop desk trying to find the infernal house keys, that had a habit of disappearing into another dimension whenever they left his hand.

"Hi Big Brother! You will never guess what happen?!" His younger sister asked, and he could almost picture his sister hooping from one leg into the other. Finally, after raising the keyboard, the infernal keys were found, and after stuffing them in the bag he was out of his room.

"What happen?" The older Brother questioned, while he fumbled with the keys in one hand to lock the door.

"We are going on vacation next weekend! To Canada for two weeks." She exclaimed, and he finally understood the reason behind her excitement, she, like himself, had never left the country and the few vacations that they had, back when they lived in the same house, where always to the countryside, far away to be called vacations, but close enough that the trip could be made in a couple of hours.

"Well that is pretty cool, but be careful not to be eaten by a bear even if you don't have much to offer in terms of sustenance, being all skin and bones!" Ryou teased, knowing full well that statement was more than enough to set her off, and exactly has predicted the response was less then kind.

"You are one to talk, you stupid, fat, ugly, idiot of a brother!" She snapped, and had anyone else been hearing their conversation, they might have thought that she had really been angry, but knowing her, Ryou knew, at the very worst, she was just annoyed.

"I find it quite ironic that you can call me both skinny, and fat in the same sentence." He joked, that was something she had begun to call him a few years back for whatever reason, and like many other things about is sister, had no logic to it. Finally, coming to the street, he noted that there were a lot of people out and about, truly the sign that summer was upon them, since in any other season there were far less people who would leave the house, unless strictly necessary, the temperature would have seen to that.

"Yeah, well you are so stupid that you can be both fat, and skinny at the same time." Once again, his sister made no sense what-so-ever. The sun was already more then halfway in the sky, orange hues starting to appear on the horizon. Crossing the street, he continued his trip to the coffee shop, hoping to finally get the source of one of his addictions.

"But seriously now, be careful and listen to our aunt... You can be quite the airhead, and don't bother denying it." He warned, since he knew full well how she could be sometimes, getting lost in her thoughts, just like Ryou himself.

"Okay, okay, don't worry or your hair will be all grey before you hit thirty." Now was his sister turn to joke, but he knew the message had been received. Taking another turn at the end of the street, the coffee shop, the only one near that was open on a Sunday, finally came into view.

"Believe it or not, I actually take some of my duties as an older brother semi-seriously, and that includes worrying about you." Ryou said, in a mocking tone, even if he did worry about her, she was his last true direct family after all, even if he knew his sister was well looked after.

"Pfff semi-seriously, righttt…" She laughed, and that put a small smile on his face, knowing that she was doing well, probably much better than he was.

"I will come to see you Thursday after work, maybe get some dinner or late lunch okay?" He questioned. He did want to see his sister before she left on vacation, and it had been a while since he actually spent time with her.

"Okay, I will let aunt know, and is everything alright with you? Any news to share like a girlfriend or something?" She asked, and although the question had been asked offhandedly, he knew that now was her turn to worry about him, young she may be at fourteen, but stupid his sister, definitely was not.

"No, nothing new, everything is the same, work, work, and some more work, and no there is no new girl just like the last five times you asked." Wondering why was it, that his sister who as far as he knew, had never been in a relationship, was now so worried about is love life, or lack of it, off all the things. Entering the coffee shop, that contrary to the amount of people outside might indicate, was quite empty. Ryou quickly walked to the counter, and made is request for the cigarette pack, and for a coffee. Caffeine, is other addiction that he could not live without.

"Be careful, if you keep this up people might assume other things about you, brother." She teased with a laugh.

"Let people assume what they want, its not like I care." Was his slightly annoyed reply, not at people assuming whatever, but at her for saying it. Paying for the expense, he picked his coffee and made his way outside, sitting on the first free table he could see, so that he could smoke the last cigarette on is old pack.

"Yeah, you never really did care about what other people thought of you, did you." That had been a statement, not a question, made on a more somber tone after a slight pause. He knew she was not talking about his previous response, she had been referring to something else in the past, but this, almost threaded into territory that he had no wish to revisit, so he quickly attempted to steer the conversation away from that topic.

"Yeah, I'm that kind of guy after all." He joked, though his tone had clearly force, and he wondered, if is sister had picked up on his uneasiness through the phone.

"Yup, you are. So, Thursday after-noonish...?" And it had been apparent that she had, since his sister had let the topic drop. Lightning the cigarette, he breath it in, letting the relaxing sensation fill his body before replying.

"Yeah, I will call you before I leave, so you can get ready." Before taking a few more sips of his coffee.

"Okay, see you Thursday then, take care!" Her high-pitch voice went back to normal, so things were good.

"Yeah, you take care of yourself too shrimp." And that was that, with a light tap of his finger the call was over, and he finally took notice of the group of teens that were sitting across from him. Quite noisy teens he added, as an after thought. Not wanting to spend more time than necessary, listening to the world ending woes of a group of teenagers, his sister had a free pass, she was family, these guys not so much. So, he quickly finished the coffee, put on his ear-buds, and went on his way back home.

At the sound of music, he began to wonder what would he have for dinner, but rapidly made his decision to settle for the barbecue pizza still in is fridge, that would be both, quick and wouldn't involve much work. After that he could go watch some anime, there was still the third season of Sword Art Online to see, that had been on is watch list for a while, same for Steins Gate 0.

So entrenched was he in his thoughts, that he forgot to take out one of his ear buds as he reached the crosswalk, and that, might have prevented the sequence of events that would come to pass next.

The sun had been low, so any driver coming would have a hard time seeing anyone on the street, of course that had been no excuse to drive above the speed limit in such conditions, but Ryou hadn't even bothered to look, and that had been his second mistake, he would later consider.

The only warnings that he had, came as a flash of something on the corner of his vision, and a slightly familiar sensation of dread that locked is body in place. Having only time to turn his head a little, since what he knew, was coming, was already on top of him. The only thoughts he had, before darkness claimed him, were that it was bigger than last time, and was coming way to fast, the sound of something heavy hitting another thing, did reach his ears, but by then, he might has well been on the other end of a pitch black tunnel.

The first thing that Ryou realized, was that it was dark, far darker than any place he had ever been before, that, and the fact that he couldn't feel anything besides his own thoughts.

It took a little bit to re-collect himself, and to understand that he had in fact, for the second time in his life, been hit by a car or whatever it was that had hit him, it might have been a Jeep or a Truck for all that he saw of it, and he was pretty sure that the first time that it did happen, he had passed out after his head become intimate with the ground. There was no recollection in is memory of being able to think while unconscious, so whatever "this" was, it was definitely new. So he was either in a coma, or worse, and since as far as he was aware, coma patients, didn't have conscious thoughts, like the ones he was having right now, there was no option but to acknowledge the worst-case scenario.

I'm dead… He thought, numbly. And that was the most likely scenario, or rather the only possible scenario. Although, that didn't make any sense, since the process of thinking was done in the brain, and if he was in fact dead, why was he able to think?

Can souls think..? Not that he particularly believed in souls, reincarnation, paradise or any of that crap. His family had been mostly catholic, believing in a 'benevolent', higher power or being, but he himself believed in science, sure he could give the benefit of the doubt to this, higher power, but calling it 'Benevolent', 'Kind' or whatever attribute people like to associate with it, was crap. If anything, it was a neutral observer, very much like watching fishes in a fish bowl, seeing what they are doing, but very rarely interacting with them. This was of course, coming from the conclusion that creation hadn't spawn from nowhere, there had to be someone or something that had started it all.

Besides, believing in God didn't save either my parents or grandmother… He thought bitterly, and perhaps his distaste, and dismissal of the notion that God was, 'Kind', and 'Benevolent', might come partly from there, after all if he was that good, why had his parents and grandmother faced such a horrible end...? Not even questioning how many people starve to death daily in the world.

Thinking about his parents, was something that he, unfortunately did quite often when alone, even if only two and half years had passed since that horrible day, thinking about them always came with all the agonizing pain he felt during that time, and eventually, it would lead his thoughts into everything that he did wrong in is short life. Lots of what-ifs, some small, some great, but at the end of the day, might have changed that outcome. That was probably something everyone thought daily, the what-ifs, the regrets of doing or not doing something. Regret was after-all, a companion he knew, something that prevented him from moving forward with his live because after everything where was he supposed to go from there? After his parents died, his life had almost stopped, and he keep on living but hardly putting one foot in front of the other.

Now that he was most likely dead, Ryou did wonder if his parents had come here to this dark place, where there was nothing but one's own thoughts. That though, did made it a slightly less bitter pill to swallow for some reason.

Not sure why, it's not like I was doing anything with my life anyway... He considered, and that was reality. Every day was the same, waking up, going to work (a shitty one at that), even if the pay was enough for him to live more or less comfortably, yet he never had the motivation to go back to college and finish his degree, instead he spent his free time watching anime, and reading manga, the very few things that still motivate him.

Looking back, I probably should have invested a little bit in my mental health He thought with some amusement. His sister had in fact called him boring quite a few times, and from boring to depressed was a very small jump, in this context at least. Thinking about his sister, brought yet another saddening thought.

She is probably going to cry Ryou thought sadly. He had never wanted to cause his little sister more pain, their parent's fate had been enough, and even if she was doing better now-a-days, he knew from personal experience, how bad it had hit her.

She would cry, yes, and morn but hopefully she would pick herself back up, keep moving and eventually be happy. His aunt, and uncle would continue to look after her like they did after his parents had died, and if he was being honest, between the two of them she had always been the strong one, and that, he thought, was the best he could hope for.

It was after a while, alone with is thoughts, that he began to hear something or maybe he was feeling it, he couldn't really tell. A soft humming that was definitely not there a moment ago. Wondering about the strange sound or vibration, Ryou definitely notice it was getting louder. That, wasn't the only change to his current situation, it was definitely getting brighter, a mystery on itself, since he was pretty sure that those who were dead, had no eyes. Maybe rather then seeing it, he might have been feeling it.

After a few moments, the humming got so loud Ryou might has well been standing in the engine room of some ship. Eventually, both the humming, and the brightness got so intense that he couldn't even hear himself thinking, and at last he lost all sense of self, engulfed in both a immeasurable light, and a deafening rumbling.

When he finally regained his senses, he felt like he was floating. Opening his eyes Ryou noted, a myriad of golden lights streaking all around him, and finally coming to the conclusion that, he did have a body 'again' one in a far better condition than he had been expecting.

Turning his body downward, to get a better understanding of what this place was, he had about half a second to close his eyes, as his face planted itself, in a rather spectacular way.

"Ouch! Fuck, that hurt!" He hissed with his hand reaching for his face, until the realization hit him.

Pain...? Yup, definitely in pain, it hurts... Does this mean I'm not dead...? He wondered, and unfortunately whatever next revelation Ryou was going to reach didn't happen, because a voice that must certainly wasn't his, interrupted those thoughts.

"We… We did it? Success!" The voice shouted, in what appear to be both equal measure of delight, and excitement. After blinking away the pain, Ryou realized that there was something very wrong with what he was seeing. First, were the green lights all around him, next was the strange pentagram or whatever that thing was that was glowing under him, and finally, looking towards where he thought he heard the voice, eyes squinting, he finally was able to see several blurry figures before him, beyond the lights.

The owner of the voice that had spoken before, continue to shout in excitement,"Oh! The summoning was a success."

Finally being able to focus his vision enough, Ryou was able to get a good look at what lay before him. It was a group of people, some looking in awe in is direction, others had their eyes closed and their hands clapped in a praying position, there were some with hoods obscuring their faces, and in front of them stood a man with a tiara or crown in his head, all of them where wearing long green robes with golden trimming.

What...? Was honestly the only thing Ryou could think, extremely confused as he raised himself into a standing position.

"Where am I?" Another voice questioned, and this one, happen to be nearer. Looking down he found the owner rubbing his head, most likely having suffered as gracious as a fall as he had. The person in question appeared to be in is late teens, most likely around the same age as Ryou himself. Hair as long as his own, and wearing a green shirt. The most peculiar thing however, would be what he had attached to his arm, a pentagon made of metal, with a round shining green jewel in the middle.

That, looks familiar… But before he could take a closer look, the owner of the previous voice spoke, now identifying the voice with the men with a tiara.

"Ohh brave Legendary Heroes, please save our world." The man plead clapping his hands in a prayer position. Ryou for his part, could only look stupefied to what lay in front of him, that being some form of witchcraft pentagram that somehow shined and emitted green lights, some random kid with a metal pentagon on is arm, and finally some cultists talking about a summoning. Dry swallowing, he finally found his voice and what came out was…

"What in the name of the holy fuck is going on? Legendary what!?"

In hindsight, Ryou would later realize, that, hadn't been the best way to start a conversation, cultists or not.

Chapter Text


"What in the name of the holy fuck is going on? Legendary what!?"

Ryou shouted and the people or cultists, or whatever they were, hesitated on what they were going to say next, looking in his direction with wide eyes.

"Excuse me, but like this guy said what the hell is this?" A voice asked from behind him. Ryou turned around, and he saw the owner of the voice. He was tall, taller then Ryou was - another young man, this one with blond hair dressed in a red shirt, face scrunched in confusion. In his grasp, was a staff or a spear… A familiar round jewel engraved in it, only instead of green, like the one in the other young man's object, this one was red.

"I would also like to know that as well." Ryou looked to the side, another person was there, around his height, with black hair, more or less the same size has his own, and that of the young man on the floor. This one was dressed in a blue sport jacket with brown pants. In is hand lay another weapon, this one was clearly a sword with a very identical jewel in it, blue this time. Ryou was about to kindly ask who the hell these guys were, and why were they wielding such weapons, when his brain actually registered that he was grasping something.

It look made of wood, yet felt like metal. Curved and in a pale yellow or stained white color, a string connected both ends that suspiciously looked like small sculpted wings, and the front had a ornamental piece with a now common jewel, this one yellow. It was a bow, he reflected.

I'm loosing it... The now bow wielder thought incredulously, because how had he not noticed until now that in his hand was a weapon, and thinking about it where the hell had it come from.

"I know this must all be very confusing, but please heroes, listen to our story." Once again Ryou focused on the man slash cultist with the tiara on his head. Deciding that listening was the best way to make heads and tails of whatever was going on. The other weapon wielders made their way to his side, including the guy that had been laying on the ground in front of him.

"We used an ancient Ritual to summon you, the four Legendary Heroes to this world." The man explained, and for his part, Ryou could only look incredulously after listening to what had come out of the mans mouth. Either the man was on drugs or bat-shit crazy, or maybe Ryou himself was the crazy one.

"Our world lies on the brink of destruction, please we beg you, help us!" They finished with a bow. Shaking his head in disbelief, because this almost sounded like some RPG introduction, Ryou made a move to call them out on there bullshit, or whatever very bad trip they were having, but was interrupted by the young man standing besides him.

"Well, I guess we could hear you out, at least." Looking to the side, eyebrows raising into his forehead, Ryou had to question the other young man sanity if he was buying this crap.

"I refuse." Came from his other side, followed by another equal statement from the last weapon wielder. At least the other two could see reason, seeing that this whatever it was, had to be nothing more then a bunch of crap made by either,drug addicts, or people that belong in the mental ward.

"We can go back to our own world, right? We can talk after you send us back." The blond man continued.

Going back to their world..? These guys were actually buying this..? Sure there was the lights, and the weapon that had come out of nowhere. But summoned to another world? What was this, some kind of mainstream manga? Lowering his fingers he pinched his leg. The pain bloomed from the spot where he had pinched himself, and it was easy to conclude that this wasn't a dream, not that he had actually thought it was, it was far to real and detailed.

"Don't you guys feel any guilt? Kidnapping us to this place without our consent?" The others were still going with the same notion. They were taking it in stride, and accepting it like it was normal.

"How will you reward us for our hard work? We cant be working for free here..." And that did it, they were all high on something, that had to be it

"Are you guys actually buying all this crap? About summoning, and what-not, why don't we talk about magic while we are on the subject?" Ryou ended with a heavy trace of sarcasm. Because why not magic? It was on par with what they were discussing, was it not? Maybe throw a few unicorns, and talking mushroom in the mix . The others just looked at him, confusion apparent on their faces, like what he had just said had been crazy.

But before he could explode, the main speaker among the crazy, spoke, his voice has shaky has the smile on his face.

"We would like for you heroes to meet is highness, the king of our country Melromarc, however he is currently on another meeting, but he will want an audience with you tomorrow. He will most surely spare no expense in rewarding you heroes for your hard work, be that monetary or knowledge in the ways of magic." The last part was accompanied with a look in his direction. Apparently sarcasm was lost to these people. It was then, that something the man had said registered in his mind.

Melromarc… He had known a place named like that. Both a familiar, and a feeling of dread filled him, has he took a look at his bow. Melromarc… Four Legendary Heroes…

Turning his head sharply to his right, inclining himself to take another look at the 'pentagon' that was strapped to is companion's forearm.

Suspicion turned into something real the moment he realized the 'pentagon', was in fact a shield. But that couldn't be, it just couldn't. This was the kind of thing that only happen in the stupid manga, and anime that he spent way too much time on. Looking up, he noticed that the shield wielder was now looking down at him perplexed, and Ryou could only swallow on his own saliva an ask.

"H-Hey, whats your name?" Voice cracked, and he swallowed again, feeling every hair on his arms standing. The young man in question just pointed at himself, and responded.

"Me? I'm Iwatani Naofumi, what about you?" And the sensation of dread, nearly tripled in sized covering every inch of his body, and fear took hold of is being.

The only thought crossing is mind was...

No, no, no, no, no fucking way is this real! Even as he answered the question, tone hollow, and distant.

"Ryou Takuma"

Looking in front of the mirror in the personal bathroom, that connect to the room he was suppose to stay this night, Ryou stared in a state of shock. His entire body had been numb, his brain unable to make heads or tails of his current situation, only accepting denial over it all. Amaki Ren, and Kitamura Motoyasu, the Sword and Spear hero respectively. They had introduced themselves after Naofumi, even if it hadn't been needed, as far as he was concerned, he knew their names the moment Naofumi had introduced himself.

He had follow the others until he reach his designated room, barely paying attention to his surroundings. The only thing that he had payed attention to, had been the window that they had come across. Outside the window stood a view that he would never find in his world. Something strait out of fantasy. Medieval buildings stood far into the distance, and beyond them, green plains took over. Mountains he couldn't even begin to identify were painted across the horizon. But even the fantastical view failed to drive reality home.

It couldn't be true. Stuff like this just doesn't happen. How had it happen? Searching his memories he remembered something about the legendary weapons choosing their wielders, choosing them to be heroes.

Him? A hero? The thought was hilarious….so much so, that a slightly hysterical laugh left his mouth gaining in strength until he was doubled over grabbing his sides, tears streaming down his eyes, although if they had been over laughing so much, or the situation itself he couldn't tell.

Cleaning his eyes, he opened the faucet and splash water on his face.

Okay, okay, so you somehow in the space of a day, more or less went from being an average human being with an average life, to getting run over by a car for the second time, most likely dying in the process, then revived and summoned to fight in some otherworldly fantasy war, that might involve demons and other creatures. Ryou thought, making an incredulous mental summary of what had happen.

"Well that seems about right… Hahaha." That thought had come out loud, followed by a small laugh cut short by his still hurting sides.

Leaving the bathroom, he finally took a look around his room, it was big, almost half the size of his whole house had been, red curtains embroiled in gold were the first thing that he noticed, after the great size of the room. They covered the bed, exactly what one would expect from the middle-ages, there were a couple of arm chairs surrounding a round wooden table. All in all a completely medieval room, like the ones students would see on school trips if they were to visit old palaces or castles, like the one he was currently in.

Reaching the bed, Ryou laid down adjusting himself with one arm covering his eyes, but he didn't get to delve in his thoughts for more then a second, because the door to his room opened in a grandiose fashion followed by a annoying sound, that Ryou had begun to associate with Motoyasu's voice.

"So, you okay now? You seemed really out of it on the way."

Lifting himself on his elbows, Ryou took in the sight in front of him before responding that yes he had just felt slightly sick. It was Ren that continue, since Motoyasu had seemed to accept his answer, and begun the process of examine every inch of his room.

"Yeah, that tends to happen when you dive in VRMMO for the first time." Shifting his attention towards the sword hero, he couldn't stop is incredulity from showing both on his face and voice.

"You think this is a game?" Now sitting he couldn't help but to think that they couldn't be as dense here, as they had been in the story, after all reality and fiction were very different things.

"Of course it is a game, it as stats, skills and everything what else could it be?" It wasn't the swordsmen that answered now seating in one of the chairs, but Motoyasu. That made him pause, because saying that this was some other world where they had been sent slash reincarnated, didn't sound that much more believable. He was still, after all, trying to wrap his head around everything.

"I honestly don't know…." That had been the honest truth. Having laid back in bed with his arm once again over his eyes.

"Don't worry, its a game, so you just need to increase your level, and your golden." Holding a snort, he couldn't help but to feel amused. That line of thinking had been exactly what caused them to fall behind Naofumi in canon.

"Its not that simple, skill matters just as much." That had been Ren his tone flat, and cold.

"Aren't items, and gear also important in this type of game." He had honestly, not even seen Naofumi entering the room, but that beg the question, why were they camping in his room specifically? Reaching the conclusion that it wasn't something worth pondering on, since he had much more important things to worry about, Ryou decided to ignore their chatter.

This is real… He had read somewhere, that reality was what you perceive it as... If something exists and you can feel and interact with it, then that's most likely real. Those were Ryou thoughts while he lay in a bed that was probably worth more money then he made in a month.

Congratulations Braniacs… He thought sarcastically, with a mental clap towards every single physicist in his old world. Because multi-universe theory was apparently no longer just a theory, and Inter-universe travel was also a thing - one that could apparently be achieved without suffering any damage. His understanding of physics wasn't the best, but he was pretty sure that there was bound to be some very bad consequences if one was to travel between universes, like being shredded to bits, or something among those lines.

Either that, or reincarnation in some form is a thing, and that… He decided was where he draw the line. Because honestly, he had been hit by a car or whatever had hit him, and at the speed it had been traveling, his survival chances had probably been pretty bad. With that in mind either the Legendary Bow had revive him, and taking what he knew into consideration, they wielded no such power, or a more plausible explanation would be that, it had intervened right before is death, and after that, healed is body back to health, before sending him on is way, though even in is head that sounded absurd, but that had been a common theme around a lot of stories, that something could save anyone as long as they weren't actually dead.

Turning his head to the mentioned weapon, it was still where he had put it, against the wall, gleaming. The legendary weapon hadn't been the culprit behind his summon, that fault rested with the wizards that had cast the ritual. Or maybe they had only started the ritual, and the weapons themselves did the rest, they did after all appear to have some kind of semi-sentience. But how was he suppose to make any sense of anything that occurred, since most of the absolute laws that ruled his previous existence, had been torn apart and apparently rendered useless before the awesome power of magic.

Stephen Hawkings, would have jumped in joy no pun intended, if he could see this cluster-fuck now... Thinking about cluster fuck, he turn his attention towards his guests.

Motoyasu, had yet to stop his inspection of the room, everything in is body speaking of excitement, not all that different from a child that had just gotten a new toy to play with. Ren on the other hand was in his own world, seating in the same chair, eyes darting in different directions, the only indication that he was in fact playing around with the status window. If he were to be honest he had been avoiding looking into it. Not only was it unnatural, but it would change his perception of the world, another stake driving his very being deeper, into the reality of his new existence.

Putting aside those thoughts, he looked at the last occupant of his room, who like Ren was playing with the interface. He probably had figured it out how to use it, or one of the heroes had pointed it out for him, after all from what he remembered, Naofumi had been pretty hopeless in the beginning. If things where to go down like in canon, the poor bastard would very soon be going through a ton of shit. Ryou did feel a small amount of pity, but he wasn't righteous enough to interfere with that particular can of worms, for more then a couple of reasons.

Among them, the fact that what had happen in the story didn't necessarily translate into this reality, and if it did, Naofumi for all the shit that had been tossed is way, had almost single handed carried the story forward. For sure his reasons had been to protect people, and before that, survival, Ryou could relate to the last one at least. After all, he had to find ways to fight, and survive in this new world, and that would include not setting off any 'red flags', and remain low, no matter how selfish that sounded.

The rest of the time until evening, went flying. They had been offered dinner that chances were, was exactly the type of feast one would see in a royal party. Far too much food for the four of them to reasonably eat, but that actually was on par with his knowledge of noble's mentality. Nobles always had to show their power in whatever form, and that included the amount of food offered.

The rest of the evening passed with some small talk between the four. Strangely enough, there had been no jokes made at Naofumi's weapon expense, but Ryou had written it off has a natural consequence of his presence instead of Itsuki's. After that, they had all returned to their rooms, trying to find some form of rest from the tiring events that had occurred.

Now, sleepless hours later on his bed, Ryou could not help but miss the idle chatter of the others. While initially annoying, the nonsensical conversation had take him away from his thoughts, and given him a small sense of normalcy. Now alone, those very dreaded thoughts had returned with impunity. From the waves that would not allow him to run even if that was what he wanted to do, to a world full of creatures that defiled all laws of nature. and it would get even worse. An image of a women wielding fans as her weapon appeared in his head…

Glass… She would come, hopefully she wouldn't, but he couldn't bet his life on it. A woman, that even Naofumi at his very best up until that point, hadn't been able to touch. In the story the Shield Hero had be forced to retreat or perish. And after that, the Spirit Turtle... A being that might has well be this world equivalent to one of the Nine-tailed beasts from Naruto, capable of razing entire villages to the ground. What else would he have to face even if he could survive until then, what other horrors would await him…

Launching himself off the bed he got up, he had to get away, the walls that surround him were stealing his ability to breathe properly. He needed somewhere to clear his head, to get a breath of fresh air.

Closing the door of his room, he found a maid suspiciously standing just a few meters away from his door. When she heard the door closing, and noticed him, the maid was by his side in moments, bowing.

"Is there anything you desire Yuusha-sama?" Small miracle that she was bowing and had not seen Ryou flinching at the mention of his new official title. Such a thing was repulsive... Everywhere he looked, everything he heard, all of it seem intent on making him accept his fate. No wonder he felt like he was suffocating.

"Hmm yeah, I couldn't sleep you see, so I was wondering if there was some place I could get some fresh air." It was awkward, for him to be addressed and to address someone who was showing so much respect for him. The maid had never met his person, and yet just based on some legend she was bowing and treating him like he was some foreign Noble.

"His Majesty, as requested that the heroes should not leave the Castle before there audience for their own safety." Of course he would, no way would the king, name forgotten at the moment, would let his precious heroes out and about, especially before he could negotiate with them. The maid seem to ponder something before apparently coming to a conclusion, and continuing..

"If its just some fresh air, then Melty-sama's personal garden is just down the stairs through the right, although I urge you Yuusha-sama from doing something that would damage it, her highness takes great pride, and loves her garden." That made sense, Melty was after all the crown princess, having a personal garden was just fitting.

Reassuring the maid yet again, that he would only go stretch his legs, and had no intention of damaging the garden in any way, he was on his way in a fast pace. He wondered if she was expecting him to start throwing magic around the Crown's princess garden. Even if he could he wouldn't. Pissing off Melty, of all people by making a mess of her garden on his first night, sounded like an horrible idea.

After explaining the situation again, to a pair of guards that were most likely doing rounds around the Castle, he reached his destination.

Taking a deep breath of the night air, his eyes explored his surroundings. It was a inner garden like he had expected vases and flower beds everywhere along with at least a couple of tree's . During the day it would most likely be a breathtaking sight, but now he had a difficult time identifying the different colors. All in all it was more of a botanical garden then an inner one.

Finally spotting what looked like a bench, Ryou decided it would be as good as any place to sit and enjoy the light breeze. Half away he was forced to stop by the sudden appearance of a bright yellow light in his arm. Spooked he could only cover his face with an arm while shaking the other shining one. After a few moments the light died down, Ryou lowered his arm, and took notice of the new accessory in his wrist. It was a golden bracelet, something he would never be caught dead wearing, but the most ominous thing about it, was the familiar Yellow round jewel still shining, encroached in it.

Chapter Text


After a few moments the light died down, Ryou, lowered his arm, and took notice of the new accessory in his wrist. It was a golden bracelet, something he would never be caught dead wearing, but the most ominous thing about it, was the familiar Yellow round gem still shining, encroached in it.

Looking at the bracelet in his arm, now that the initial shock had wear off, Ryou couldn't help but to narrow his eyes at the sight, face twisting into a frown.

Where had the bracelet come from, and why did it have a jewel, identical to the one on the Legendary Bow?

After pondering on this new mystery, a idea crossed his mind, and he took a seat on the bench intent on testing his new theory.

Eyes aimed on the dreaded icon, that had been annoyingly present in the corner of his vision, Ryou finally opened the Status window.

It was a weird sensation, he could see through it, and it was certainly distracting, but besides that, the window looked just like what you would find in a standard RPG.

Displayed, was all the information he had been expecting and more. From his name and current profession, to a diversified assortment of menus, it even presented a picture of himself, and of course his attributes, though Ryou noted a big emphasis on both his agility and attack, his defenses on the other hand showed far lower values. The Bow Hero, didn't have anything to compare too, but he was sure that his Health Points were also on the lower end of the spectrum. The markings of a glass canon, a very dangerous classification to have, in what may very well be a real life hardcore game.

He could easily see why the other heroes had thought that they were in a game, the interface itself, seemed like something that had been pulled out of a virtual reality role playing game. Ryou would also be inclined to agree, but thanks to his foreknowledge he knew better.

Opening the menu that was conveniently named equipment, he took a look at the items named there. A snort escaped him, since his clothes had been classified as Off-World ShirtPants, and Shoes of all things.

Apparently sneakers aren't a thing here Obviously they didn't offer any bonus stats, not that he had expected anything, a shirt certainly wasn't going to protect him from a slashing sword or claw.

Resting his eyes on the weapon slot, a small proud smile did appear on his face. His theory had been proved correct. In the weapon slot his bow was equipped followed by the word sealed. It made sense, after all Naofumi hadn't been able to get rid of his shield, the cursed thing was strap to him, he could move it around but that was it. However, the other heroes had no such restrictions, their weapons weren't physically attached to them, but they worked in a similar fashion, they would teleport to the user after a certain limited distance, and the bracelet from what he could gather was indeed the sealed form of his bow.

"Now the big question, how to unseal you?" Ryou questioned out loud. It probably didn't need a secret word or incantation, considering that it was a weapon, and that would be impractical in the heat of battle. As he had been about to open the help menu, the answer to his current dilemma came, and sent him crashing into the ground in fright.

"Try willing it to become unsealed."

Ryou had been spooked out of his mind, but was on his feet in an instant, eyes locked on the culprit responsible for his second, less than gracious fall in this new world.

Cloaked in a dark hood, the person that was now occupying the bench he had been seating on, was female, if the voice was to be of any indication. Wearing a white mask, that one would associate with either a Masquerade ball, or someone who was entertaining some interesting fetishes, she sat there, legs crossed with a small amused smile on her face.

"Who the hell are you?!" Ryou barked, posture going completely rigid, with a glare in his eyes. The woman had come out of nowhere, he only noticed her when she had made herself known, but for how long had she been seating right next to him?

She inclined her head a little at being addressed. "Someone, who's mistress as a great interest in the Heroes, and their well being." It clicked then. The stealth she had demonstrated, the outfit that made her look like a night vigilante, the woman was one of the shadows, the group of spy's slash ninjas from this world.

"Yeah, I'll bet your mistress is just one of many that as a vast interest in us, right?" The question came heavy with sarcasm, and treading on slippery grounds. For some reason though she seemed even more amused now, crossing her legs on the opposite direction, she raised her hands palms upwards, as if showing she had nothing to hide.

"Ah, but Yuusha-sama, I can guarantee that my mistress intentions are benign."

Raising an eyebrow at that, he had to ask, "Isn't that something you would say, even if she had less then pure intentions?" Because in the end, if a stranger came out stating they were trust worthy, the normal reaction would be suspicion.

Thankfully, it had been a few hours since night had settled in, and silence was all around them, or Ryou might have imagined the cough that had come out to mask the small laugh from the female Shadow.

The fact that she had mentioned a mistress, probably meant her boss, was in fact the Queen of Melromarc. But if so, why make contact so soon and with him of all the people? He very much doubted that Itsuki had come for a night walk in canon, and there had been no indication of him meting one of the Shadows so soon. Actually thinking about it the Shadows had only started to show themselves after the first wave, and were a more prominent presence when Melty joined Naofumi's party.

Confusion must have been clear on his face, because she seemed to have read his mind.

"You are wise Yuusha-sama, more so than your companions, you don't give your trust easily either." Well that answered nothing, and how had she come to that conclusion anyway? Had he given that much away during this little encounter, or had she been spying on him?

Well when in doubt just go for it... If the woman had the desire to harm him, he wouldn't be breathing right now anyway.

"So who are you anyway, and what do you want, approaching me alone in the middle of the night like this?" Better to play dumb to avoid suspicion, she already had enough on him as it was.

"Me? I'm a simple envoy of my lady, and as for what I want? I simply want to issue a warning, and to help the heroes to the best of my abilities, although regretfully, I can offer very little besides information." Head taking a slight dip, she did look apologetic. The reason behind it must have likely been that the queen didn't want to tip off the pope to the fact that even far away, she was still keeping a close eye on the events in her country. If he remembered correctly the queen had been away during the summon of the heroes, made behind her back, action that had tied her for a long period of time, but even away the woman had plotted the fall of her country's religion. Ryou had to give it to the woman, they had only been summoned a few hours ago, and she had not only been made aware, but had already taken steps to reach out to them. Or maybe she had predicted the situation before it happen, and left standing orders for her Shadows to approach if possible. Either way he had severely underestimated the foresight of the Queen, if she had in fact foreseen all of this then she was a far more dangerous woman then he had previously thought.

"Yes, although I'm sure you have already realized it, I will speak bluntly. There are many eyes on you Heroes... You are symbols, Yuusha-sama... Symbols of power you see… And there are many who would love to wield that power for their benefit." Her tone had taken a far more serious note, a complete contrast to her previous soft demeanor, and Ryou for his part, decided to take the warning seriously and for what it was,

The other heroes had been playthings easily controlled in the beginning, especially Motoyasu. Even Naofumi had fell for Malty's charm. That woman Malty, The King, and probably most of the nobles were in league with the church, even if the church worshiped the three heroes, him being one of those, the Pope who ruled the religion had no problems getting rid of the heroes if that benefited him.

"All that aside, Yuusha-sama, you have still to release your weapon from its sealed state." His contemplation were interrupted with that. Throwing a annoyed look in her direction, Ryou decided to entertain her request. Raising his arm so the bracelet was at eye level, he gave it a try.

I order you to become unsealed… That amounted to nothing.

Reveal yourself! Still nothing…

Please..? And the bracelet remained unchanged. Now getting frustrated both with the situation and the fact that he was talking to a bracelet, Ryou decided to take a different approach.

Okay here is the deal, you turn back into a bow, and I wont throw you into the nearest river, how is that you little shit?! As one might expect the bracelet remained exactly the same, thankfully the Shadow woman decided to intervene with a cough, before Ryou could continue with a far more interesting choice of words. Moving his attention from the bracelet towards the woman, she was smiling, and Ryou was sure she was finding his frustrations pretty amusing.

"Your asking… Don't ask… Will it to change form."

With a sigh he looked back towards the bracelet, wondering how did one use their willpower to force something to happen. He decided the best way would be to imagine it becoming a bow again.

The result was instantaneous, in a flash of yellow light, the bow was standing in front of his hand defying gravity. Ryou grabbed it by the grip, and the moment his hand made contact, gravity began to work again, and he could feel the weight of the bow.

Raising his other hand, Ryou smacked it against his forehead, and groaned, "This stupid thing makes zero sense". It defied the laws of gravity, could instantaneously move between locations, and could change both form and matter with nothing but a thought of its wielder.

"Its one of the Four Legendary Weapons Yuusha-sama." That statement explained nothing, but by the way the Shadow woman had stated it, Ryou had the impression that she believed it did.

Taking another look at his weapon, Ryou couldn't contain the look of disdain that cross his face.

"Its full of bullshit, that's what it is." He concluded with certainty.

"The Legendary Bow can change between forms, you only have to will it, that goes for the sealed and unsealed state, as well as any other forms you unlock." She pause in her explanation, hands coming to rest on her lap, before continuing.

"It will also follow its wielder as you observed earlier, but if needed you can just call upon it, and it will come to you." That in particular had been very useful information that he didn't had before, useful and practical, since he could actually drop his weapon, and will it back to him if needed. Ryou off the top of his head, couldn't picture a situation where something like that would be needed, but it could come in use in the future.

"You know, for someone so suspicious, you are pretty forthcoming with information." She had explained all that on her own without any need to ask, and although he might had eventually figured most of that out, it had been helpful.

"As someone living in this world, its important to me that its defenders have the best chance to succeed possible, even if this information only raises that chance by a indiscernible amount, it would still be worth it." She paused and raised her head upwards, eyes on the starts above before continuing. "And just because I'm giving out information, doesn't mean that I'm not collecting it at the same time." She finished, looking back at him, the same infuriating smile once again present on her face.

Face morphing in surprise, Ryou couldn't help but to think on how bluntly she had laid the cards on the table. She had all but confessed that while it might be beneficial to him, she had also been collecting information, seeing what made him tick. After a few seconds Ryou did come to the conclusion that it hardly mattered, he had been at a disadvantage since the beginning, so there really was no point in stopping now.

"Okay, fair is fair, since we reach this point let me ask you, the wizards or whatever they were, said the world needed to be saved, but they didn't actually explained what was threatening it, what exactly am I going to have to face?"

Ryou knew about the waves of course, but he had to be sure that his knowledge matched with this reality.

"The Waves of Calamity… Nobody is sure how they started or why they happen, what we do know however is that its a cyclic event, happens every few hundred years, and that it as been happening for a long, long time now, according to our oldest records that is… " The shadow said with a somber tone crossing her arms.

"As the name implies they are waves, waves of monsters that is. Multiple ones, although the exact number is unknown they need to be cleared, and for that we need you heroes, after every wave there is a small period of peace before the next one comes."

That matched with what he knew about the waves, but he couldn't decide if it was good or bad to have confirmation.

Hand in front of his mouth, one finger scratching his cheek, Ryou fired his next round of questions in quick succession.

"And how do you clear it? Do we have to kill all the monsters, or is there something else we need to do, and if so what happens to the monsters after it? On that note, how big is the interval between waves, and is there a way to know where they are going to happen? " Ryou closed his eyes, and had to take a deep breath, after a few seconds they opened, and looked at the woman expectantly.

The Shadow for her part had her mouth slightly open, before closing it and recollecting herself. "Well.." She begun, "As far as clearing the waves, you don't need to worry about killing all the monsters, you have to kill a very specific one, the strongest usually, it should be clear what it his when you see it. The first couple of waves can be endured, and they will eventually closed by themselves, but after that, they will only end when you kill the strongest monsters, although any remaining monster will stay after it, even now almost three months later we are still dealing with remnants of the first wave." She took another breath before answering the rest of his questions.

"As for the location, you don't need to worry, the four cardinal heroes will be sent automatically to the wave. As far as the time of peace between the waves, its hard to pinpoint, but it can go from two to four months."

He had missed it at first, she had mentioned three months after the first wave, and a normal period between the waves of two to four months.

That can't be right… Ryou thought, while the time between the waves had been somewhat random, from what he remembered, it had been at a maximum one an half months, not two at the minimum. That kind of fundamental change couldn't be attributed to his existence.

"Two to four months, so the next wave will be in one month?" He had to clarify.

"Yes, the last wave did happen almost three months ago, even if it was decided right after that the heroes would indeed be needed, the summon itself was something easier said then done, so it took this long to prepare, One month to get stronger is not much, I know, it is what you have to work with though". She did looked truly sorry, more so then the Wizards slash 'cultists' that had summoned him here, at least.

He didn't have a choice but to be ready, it was either that, or death, the wave would see to that, there would be no running from it, not while being a hero. The time interval, that was something different, so he couldn't help but wonder, if the rest of the canon would actually stay the same, or if his foreknowledge, the only weapon at his disposal right now, had been rendered useless right on the first day. That couldn't be it, there was no doubt that this was Melromarc, the one he had read about in the manga, there were some differences, but some events would come to pass.

They have to, they just have to ….

"Its unfortunate Yuusha-sama, but I will have to take my leave now, I will come to you in the future and hopefully able to help you in a more direct form, in exchange, I urge you to keep this meting a secret." The statement brought Ryou out of his grim musings. She raised herself from the bench, and took two steps before turning around, the same small smile on her face, with one finger touching her lower lip.

"Ohh, and please don't play around with your bow here, or Melty-sama will get angry." Ryou opened his mouth, intent on making it quite explicit once again, that he was not going to damage Melty's garden, but she disappeared, like she had never been there, no movement, no sound, just gone.

He should have been ashamed of himself, since it actually took a little while before his brain, caught on with what the Shadow had said, and when it did, his chin would have hit the ground if possible.

Wait, the god damned maid?! Seriously.?! How had he, not recognized her... And how the hell had she managed to not only change her hair style, but also put on her outfit, and made her way to the inner garden, all in under five minutes or so?

Taking a seat on the now vacant bench, Ryou had come to the conclusion that he himself, had found her suspicious the first time his eyes had rested upon her form, she had been standing outside of his room for no apparent reason after all. She had also been able to draw comparisons between him and the other heroes, that indicated some spying on her part, and what better way to do so, then in plain sight.

She really had me at a disadvantage right from the beginning didn't she..? With a sigh, he released a breath, and guided his thoughts to the conversation with her instead.

Most of the information she had released matched what he knew, and he had learned more about his weapon. The time difference between the waves, might influence a lot of things, but in the long run it could turn out to be a good thing, he did need all the time he could feasibly get, and even that might not be enough. He really doubted that any amount of time, would prepare him for what lay ahead.

But the biggest, and foremost question on his mind, was the one Ryou didn't have a answer for….

What now..? And that was truly the million dollar question wasn't it…

Chapter Text

What now..? And that, was truly the million dollar question, wasn 't it…

After waking up from a short sleep, on what had been a mostly sleepless night, Ryou lay in bed collecting his thoughts. The night before he had the strange encounter with the Shadow Maid, after what had been an enlightening conversation, he had returned to his room intent on laying down some goals. He had always worked better when he had a goal in sight, or at least some guidelines to follow, not that he couldn't improvise, he would still be for the most part, flying by the seat of his pants of course.

First thing first, he had to survive that was obvious, and to do that he had to get stronger, even if he had no idea how to go about it.

Of all Legendary Weapons, he had been given the bow, probably the hardest to master, or at least the hardest to use right off the bat. He had been a pretty decent shot in his previous world, if you could count two times as any indicator of proficiency. But there existed a colossal difference between shooting a large standing target, and a small moving one, worst yet, one month was all he had to get at least the basics down. One month before the wave. Using a bow with any mastery would take years, if he even had any talent for it. After the wave, there would only be a few months before the situation got worse, much worse.

He had to figure it out on the way, that would be the only solution as far as his weapon was concerned.

The second important thing was laying low. There were potential threats everywhere, but that realization also brought with it another problem, like everything else in this world. The heroes had everyone looking at them even Naofumi, although that one would be for different reasons. They had, according to the canon enough people with them to form a football team at all times, Ren had actually decided to use a system similar to a guild to manage everyone.

Ryou, had pondered about that particular subject for a while, there existed a very high chance that some of the adventurers were spy's in disguise, and would report the heroes movements to the King, or worse yet, to the Pope. Having experience warriors at his side would most certainly be a boon, especially since at present he was mostly useless in battle, but did that safety net outweigh the fact that his actions would be monitored?

It was a short term solution, that could bring long term problems, maybe even fatal ones.

If the events from canon were to take place, it would become inevitable that the heroes would come to trade blows with the Church of the Three Heroes, and the Pope himself. Letting those members of the Church, and the Pope have access to every bit of information about the abilities, and skills he might acquire, seemed in hindsight like a very bad idea.

There was also another fact, although this one being much less important. Ryou had never been a people's person. At one point he had a circle of friends, that would go out for drinks or just spend the night hanging out, but after his parent's incident he had stop meeting them, and eventually they had also moved on with their own lives.

He, was not so arrogant to think that he could face what was coming alone, but he also needed to learn how to survive in this world, and that wouldn't happen if he allowed himself to be pampered and cuddle, the same thing that would most likely happen to both Motoyasu and Ren.

Sure he was afraid, very much so, terrified even, this world was littered with impossible creatures that shouldn't exist, but it was something that he had to do, there would be no other choice, that much he had concluded the previous night. The wave would call for him, and if he wasn't ready by then, death would follow, and not a painless one.

So after considering everything, a decision had been made, he would go out alone into the world, he would learn, take one step at the time, and hopefully get strong enough to survive. A different choice, from what the canon Bow Hero had made, but it wasn't like he could follow Itsuki steps, since the story had mostly focused on Naofumi. Either way the story wouldn't stay the same, that was a fact, his presence alone would see to that, so it was better to focus on living.

After being summoned for breakfast, Ryou, and the others were taken to a ball room, once again the meal had far too much food, enough to feed a big family at least.

During the meal the four Heroes made small talk with each other, now that Ryou, had his head in the game he began to pay attention to the other heroes, and came up with a few observations.

Naofumi, was far too optimistic, and naive, believing in fantasy, that nothing could go wrong, a stark contrast to what his personality would become. He was basically what Ryou had been expecting at this point.

Motoyasu, was to put it simply an idiot, but a good guy overall, Ryou would venture to guess that in his world he would be the center of any party. Although the Spear Hero made no attempt to hide his lewd tendencies. Ryou himself, might have taken a couple of subtle looks towards the maids that had served them, he was only a man, and the maids were quite attractive, but subtle was something that didn't exist in Motoyasu's dictionary. He also was quite the amusing guy. All in all, Ryou wouldn't have a problem dealing with Motoyasu.

Ren... Ren had been another story altogether, he had not paid much attention to the Sword Hero the day prior. But now he had, and he also tried to give him a freebie being five years his junior. It didn't work, the teen was condescending beyond belief to everyone, the type of person, Ryou had taken great strides in avoiding in his old world, and with good reason, because otherwise he wouldn't have resisted the temptation of strangling them on spot. Sure, that unlike the other two, Ren was the most collected and rational, but it was his holier-than-thou tone, present in every single statement, like everyone was beneath him, and that, Ryou couldn't stand. So the best way to deal with it was to ignore the teen, he would be out of his hair soon enough.

After reaching these conclusions, he decided to continue his plotting on how to throw the king off his back, without suspicion hopefully.

When they finished their meal, the servants had escorted them to the throne room, taking what appeared to be the scenic route, indent on showing every little thing, or at least what they had been allowed to see in Ryou opinion. By the time they reach their destination, Ryou had an half baked plan, hoping it would be enough. If the King pushed hard enough, he wouldn't be able to reject the party without arousing suspicion, and that was exactly what he wanted to avoid at all costs.

The throne room, was enormous capable of holding a couple hundred people easily, with marble white floor, walls and sculpt pillars, the other predominant colors being red and gold, the colors of Royalty. Soldiers were lined up on either side of the room, and in the throne, seated, was the King himself. On one side of the King were the wizards slash cultists that had summoned them to this world. On the other side, also lined up were a group of people, and from their clothing, they were most likely nobles.

Lining up besides Motoyasu, Ryou took a good look at the King, as he introduced himself, his voice suave yet strong. King of Melromarc, Aultcray Melromarc XXXII, or Aultcray, and Ryou finally had the name on the man behind is unofficial kidnap. He certainly looked the part, grey long hair, and beard, face full of wrinkles, dressed in one of the most fanciful grabs he had ever seen anyone the crown with the purple jewel on his head, had been the mark that clearly separated him from the rest, that, and the fact the he was the one on a throne obviously.

"Heroes, name yourselves." Ryou had to take a deep breath, that had been an order, not a question. The only people that got to order him around were his parents when they were alive, for obvious reasons, even his boss knew how to asked something politely he might add, that would always be the sign of good leadership skills. But he had to reign himself, there was an obvious cultural gap here, and he had to take that into consideration.

Taking his sword in both hands, Ren went first, "Amaki Ren, sixteen years old, high school student."

Stepping forward, spear against his shoulder, Motoyasu went next, "I'm Kitamura Motoyasu. Twenty-one, and a college student."

Realizing he was next, Ryou introduced himself, griping his bow slightly harder, "Ryou Takuma, Twenty-one years old, and soon to be unemployed I think." The truth, he didn't knew if returning to his world, would even be possible and if it was, he would be unemployed when he returned for sure, that was if time flowed the same in both worlds.

"And, Lastly my name is…" Naofumi went to introduced himself but the King cut him off.

"Ren, Motoyasu and Ryou is it?" Ryou's eyes narrowed at the obvious interruption, that had been a glaring sign of what was to come.

So those events will come to pass after all

Naofumi, took two steps forward pointing to himself, "Hey King, aren't you forgetting me?" Ryou had to look down in order to hide the smile and hold in the snort that had threaten to escape.

Screw the cultural gap right, Naofumi He couldn't help but to think with amusement.

The King for his part apologized, looking anything but sorry and allowed Naofumi to continue.

"My name is Iwatani Naofumi. I'm twenty, and a college student." So not counting Ren, they were all around the same age, Ryou thought. He had that suspicion, but it was interesting to know for sure, that they were all in the same age bracket.

"Now then… I suppose, I owe you an explanation…" The King continued without delay, and Naofumi looked crestfallen at the treatment. Ryou, couldn't help but to think that the Shield Hero should have been suspicious of the whole situation right there, he was after all being singled out.

The King, proceed to explained the motivations behind their summoning. It all had been knowledge that Ryou already possessed both from canon, and from the Shadow Maid.

"We underestimated how terrible the waves were, and only realized it after we experienced one, that only the four heroes could save this world." Furrowing his eyebrows in though, Ryou had to wonder, if that had really been the case. The first wave had hit Raphtalia's village, and from what he understood the village had been mostly composed of Demi-humans, given Aultcray's hatred towards the species, he probably had considered it a blessing in disguise.

"And so we followed the legend, and summoned you four." Behind your wife's back you mean, what a great man you are… Ryou, couldn't help but to add mentally, even if the atmosphere in the room was one of complete seriousness.

"We understand what is going on now. But you can't expect us to save your world for free." Ryou had to question the thought process of the Sword Hero, just because they were herald has saviors, in reality their power at the moment was a very flimsily thing, yet he had been ready to make demands on the spot.

"Of course, after you defeat the waves, you shall all be rewarded most generously." The man that had been standing besides Aultcray, most likely some form of adviser, confirmed.

"Will we now? Well if we have your word then, I'm good." Motoyasu concluded, and Ryou had to once again question his 'comrades' thought process, before remembering that they believed that this world was in fact a game, and then their demands made a lot more sense. The only reason to take on a quest, was the reward, normally.

"We'll work with you people, but don't think for a second that you can control us." More than you already will be, you mean..? Okay, so maybe, just maybe, Ryou might had taken a slightly antagonistically approach where Ren was concerned, but it was deserved, in his mind.

"We have an agreement then." The King declared.

"Well yes, but we are all level one, we can't really fight like this can we?" Motoyasu questioned, and it was apparent the the Spear Hero actually had a brain.

Well he had let the others take the lead, but this was has good of a opening has any, "We need to go out into the world, and get stronger right?" Ryou questioned.

"Indeed Yuusha-sama…" the adviser confirmed, before continuing, " must all leave on a adventure, this will allow you to develop the legendary weapons in your possession." That brought up another thing, that Ryou hadn't thought about. The upgrade system for the Legendary weapons. They had been different for each one, but later Naofumi discovered that they could all be used. There had been the one, where one gave the weapon monsters loot to unlock other weapons, there had also been the one that allowed to copy other identical weapons, he couldn't remember the others .

Another thing to look into I suppose… Ryou added mentally to the ongoing list of things he had to figure out.

"So they aren't maxed out right now?" Naofumi questioned, scratching his head. His statement made no sense at all, if they all thought that this was a game, what kind of games had they been playing, that allowed the beginners weapon, legendary or not, to come maxed out right off the bat…

"Besides mine isn't even what you would call a weapon, so shouldn't we all form a party". The shield hero proposed, but the adviser shot the idea down immediately.

"I'm sorry Yuusha-sama, but each and every one of you will have to recruit, and adventure separately from each other. The legendary weapons repel each other when in close proximity."

A pop-up window appeared in front of Ryou's face explaining, exactly that. When in close proximity the weapons would incur a penalty in the experience gained, depending on the distance it would even nullify experience gained altogether. Ryou had to question the logic behind that, sure that system had been meant to incentive the heroes to develop separately, and learn things by themselves without having the others influencing one another, but on the other hand, wouldn't it be beneficial for them to be allowed to work together? That would call for teamwork, and that had been something plaguing the story from moment one. There was probably a greater purpose for that system, but for the life of him, Ryou couldn't figure it out.

"Its almost noon now, go wait, and after lunch you will come back too meet the adventurers that I chose yesterday to join you on your travels".

Well here we go… "Excuse me your Highness, but if possible, I would like to travel alone." This made everyone in the room look at him in confusion, besides Aultcray who looked only slightly surprised by his request.

"Why would you request something like that? I guarantee that the people chosen are battle proved warriors of this country, the best of the best, they will not hinder you in any way." Aultcray affirmed, and Ryou forced a small smile on his face trying to look has apologetic has he could even though his fists were slightly clenched.

"And, I believe your words your Highness, but that is the problem. Am I not suppose to be a hero? If that is so, then I should go out into the world and experience it for myself, see it with my own eyes, and learn. Unless I experience the adversities it as to offer, I wont be able to perform my role adequately." That had been Ryou's game plan, to use his position has hero, and to question his efficiency. These people would want their heroes has strong as possible, that would raise the chances of actually surviving the waves.

"And do you believe, having strong comrades will stop you from experiencing these adversities?" The King questioned, and Ryou had detect a small amount of mockery in the man's words, most likely questioning his naivety. Ryou, had to restrain his anger before continuing. It rang true, after all it would be naive to think that just because you had help, that the world would be nice enough not throw shit at you. But Ryou knew that personally, the world would always throw crap at you, from the moment you were born, until the moment you died.

"Stop them? No, but make them less troubling? Then yes, the adventurers that your Highness chose, have experience about this world, and its ways that I, do not yet possess. I want to learn for myself, and then choose my comrades accordingly. I acknowledge, that this course of action, might be a mistake on my part, and if that comes to pass, I will swallow my pride, and properly apologize for my arrogance." Ryou claimed, bowing for good measure. That might had been going over board, but throwing a little humbleness would probably make him seem manageable, and easier to control.

"When that time comes, we will still be extending our hand to you, Yuusha-sama, you are after all one the Legendary Heroes, but if this is your wish, so be it". The King finally declared, and Ryou had to hold in the breath of relief that threaten to come out, even if the man had taken his return as a certainty.

Not on your life, you condescending prick

Come what may, this had been his choice, his first true own choice, since arriving on this world, and he would live with it, even if it turned out to be a mistake. The king had allowed it far too easily, and that most likely meant his spy theory was out.

"You… You, are one of those crazy hardcore players aren't you?" His musings were interrupted, and Ryou couldn't stop the small laugh that escaped his mouth, both at Motoyasu's question, and at the irony.

Even if the context was different, Motoyasu had nailed it without even trying. Back in his teen years, when he still played a lot of video games, mostly RPG's, if the game had hardcore mode, he would play on it, the thrill of risk versus reward was a real addiction at the time. The irony was that now, Ryou would be playing the biggest, and scariest hardcore game ever, with the highest of risks, and the reward being the chance to live.

"You do realize that its far more efficient to level in a party... Right?" Ren, more stated then questioned, throwing a sideways glance at him.

And cue the condescending one

"I was always a solo kind of player, so..." Ryou explained, Ren for his part just tsked before…

"Don't fall to much behind then, or we will have to pick up the slack." Ryou, decided that it would be for the best, to ignore that one entirely.

"Hey, you know that there might be some cute girls in those groups right? Are you alright with losing that opportunity?" Motoyasu asked, in what could hardly be called a whisper.

Goddammit Motoyasu, is that everything you think about Ryou thought with a sigh.

"He is right you know? There might be a really cute one!" That statement prompted Ryou, to send a look of disbelief towards the speaker.

Really Naofumi!? Really..! But unfortunately Ryou, couldn't actually voice his disbelief, however...

"Be careful not to get wrapped around a cute one's finger, some woman are nothing but trouble." Ryou replied in a low voice, and that, had been as far has he had been willing to go for his fellow hero, not that it would change much if anything, but there had been a need to say something at least.

"Pfff that's blasphemy speech right there Ryou!" And Motoyasu voice was back to is standard volume, for all the world to hear, but before the mentioned Hero could share a couple of less than nice words, Aultcray spoke.

"You will at the very least, stay for the meeting after lunch, there are also other things that I want to bestow upon you heroes." Again with the ordering, but Ryou couldn't exactly refuse that, he had gotten his way after all.

"Of course your Highness, and I thank you for your generosity". Another slight bow, and there it was, at last, a small pleased smile on Aultcray's face.

Haaa, the joys of fake pleasantries Ryou thought, also with a small smile, it had been something that had served him well, when asking something of his superiors in his old world.

A few moments later, they had been guided to another new room, smaller then the previous one, but still needlessly big, filled with tables, most likely one of the rooms used for the Royal Feasts. Soon enough the room had been filled with other people, and they weren't alone anymore.

From the clothes they were wearing, with vivacious colors, and far too elaborated details, the new arrivals were nobles. They conglomerated in groups of various size, speaking among themselves, but not even one approaching them. That suited Ryou just fine, he had no intention nor desire to entertain them.

Once again during the meal, Motoyasu, had questioned his choice of not taking anyone along, even offering one of his own members with the condition that Ryou couldn't pick a cute one. The Spear hero, had started fantasizing about his own party, full of cute girls, his very own personal harem, and unfortunately, if reality, and canon aligned that would actually come to be a thing.

After the feast, they were yet again escorted to the throne room, where the adventurers were already lined up in front of the King.

Ryou surveyed them with curiosity, until his eyes came to rest on the most interesting one.


There had been no doubt in his mind to who she was once his eyes had found her, and he had to give up on some of his doubts about Naofumi, and Motoyasu's naivety, because his fellow heroes never stood a chance to begging with. She was attractive, very much so, with crimson red hair, emerald green eyes, and proportions to match the rest of her beauty, she truly was a sight to behold. A pleasant smile present on her face, and there was really nothing pointing to her true motives. If he didn't had his foreknowledge Ryou had to admit between her looks, and pleasant demeanor she would have fooled him too.

So entrenched was he, in his thoughts, that he didn't noticed he had been staring until her eyes meet his own, her smile growing a fraction, and then she winked at him.

Quickly adverting his eyes, Ryou felt a shiver, starting at the root of his hair, and ending on his toes, and not the good kind, the kind one would feel when on the receiving end of such a gesture from a beautiful woman.

Ohh hell no! Don 't even think about it you witch!

He knew she would pick Naofumi, she would… But history had already some discrepancies, what was stopping it from changing even further?

The gesture had probably meant less then nothing, probably aimed to catch his attention, she would flirt with anything with two legs, as long as it suit her, but even that knowledge hadn't stop the feeling of horror, and dread he felt. If she decided to come with him for whatever reason... If fate decided to screw with him in such a horrible way, Ryou would make a run for it.

Screw the presents or whatever, no amount of money is worth this particular headache

Fortunately, it was Aultcray that put an end to his fears.

"These are the warriors chosen by me, to accompany you on your journey, unfortunately Yumi no Yuusha-sama has decided to start on his own, and I shall respect that decision." Aultcray declared.

As expected, the adventurers came forward dividing themselves between Motoyasu and Ren, leaving Naofumi completely alone.

"Hey King!" Naofumi had realized what happen, and spoke with apprehension.

"I have to admit, this is something I was not expecting." Aultcray commented tone flat, and the Nobles perch on the second floor started whispering among themselves.

My ass you weren't… Ryou thought, clinking his tongue, softly.

A man came up, and whispered something in Aultcray's ear prompting Motoyasu to speak, "Did something happen?"

Frown forming on his face, Aultcray answered, "Hmm, it appears that rumors have spread around town, that the Tate no Yuusha is ignorant about most things in this world."

So rumors have spread over night, across the entire town, that Naofumi possesses no knowledge about this world..? Ryou thought with disbelief, that would have been impossible, for a town has big as Castle Town, unless someone had access to a lot of manpower, and the power to order them to very deliberately spread those rumors.

And its not like there is someone that meets those particular qualities right here in this room, right..? Taking a good look at the King Ryou couldn't help but to notice, the man actually looked more bored then worried.

It was happening just like it had in canon, a very well planned scheme to bring down Naofumi before he could rise, or rather the Shield Hero. The fact that it had been Naofumi had no weight here. Any other guy would take the fall, so long that he possessed the Legendary Shield.

I'm sorry Naofumi, and this might make me a prick, but all things considered I'm actually glad I'm not in your shoes… Ryou decided, with a glance at the shield hero.

"Huh? What does that even mean?" Naofumi asked, indignation present on both his voice, and posture.

"Legend says, that the Heroes are always summoned with deep knowledge about this world, and apparently everyone seems to think that this is knowledge he doesn't possess." The King explained, with tone, and posture equal to someone commenting on the weather.

"Maybe someone heard our chat last night." That was Motoyasu, and although that had been true, he had it wrong, the one who had eavesdropped on their conversation wouldn't have spread those kinds of rumors, however the conversation during dinner, where Naofumi had asked questions about the games that they used to play had been heard by all the maids that had served them.

"Seriously?! Motoyasu? Ren! You guys don't need that many, lend me one at least?" Naofumi was shouting in slight desperation, and Ryou felt bad for his fellow hero, but maybe it would have been better if he had been alone from the start.

"I'm kind of a loner like Ryou, even if its rational to level in a party, those that can't keep up might as well join you." And every single adventurer behind Ren got a step closer to him, intent quite clear.

Naofumi turned to Motoyasu, and he was scratching his head looking slightly embarrassed, "Well, I'm actually surprised too, my party is full of girls, weird huh?"

That brought a thought to Ryou's head, they were all pretty cute too it almost seemed like they had heard their conversation during lunch, and moved accordingly. If that had been the case, then Ryou's paranoia hadn't been as out there as he had thought.

It was both amazing, and terrifying the true extent these people went too to set Naofumi up. Until the last moment, they had moved to screw him over, the entirety of the town, and only because he had the amazing stroke of luck to be picked by the Legendary Shield. He had done nothing wrong at all, only a twist of fate, and he had been set to fall.

There is no way, I will ever be able to trust these people

"So you are telling me to go alone!? Ryou might get away with it, he actually as a weapon, but me, I only have this shield!" Naofumi questioned steaming.

"Yuusha-sama, would you allow me to join the Tate no Yuusha-sama?" A voice broke from the crowd of adventurers, prompting everyone to look at her. Malty had a friendly posture with a smile on her face.

"You sure?" Motoyasu asked, slightly annoyed or maybe jealous, Ryou observed

Don 't worry... She will be your problem soon enough, Motoyasu, not that you'll care, I'm sure you will have quite the added benefits…

"Yes!" She looked all to happy with that answer, her smile widening even more.

"Are there any other who want to join Tate no Yuusha-sama's party?" Aultcray questioned, and nobody moved so with a sigh he continued moments later.

"It can't be helped, you will have to recruit more for yourself, in compensation your payment will be higher then the rest of the heroes, same goes for Yumi no Yuusha-sama."

Ryou was very pleased to hear that, he had a few things that he absolutely needed to buy, and it would be good to have a bigger margin in monetary terms.

"Every month we will provide the heroes with war funds, to help you in your task, and here they are." Four servants came forward with bags in there hands, they proceed to deposit those on the heroes hands.

Ryou weighted the pouch in his hand with curiosity, it was heavy, and had the metallic sound of coins clashing with each other.

"Naofumi-sama will receive eight hundred silver coins, and Ryou-sama will have access to one thousand silver coins since he will be leaving alone, the others will be awarded with six hundred each"

A pleasant surprise, a thousand silver coins sounded like a lot, but he had no clue how economics in Melromarc worked. There had been a few prices thrown around in the story, but he could only remember how much Raphtalia had cost, and that would hardly be a good indicator on how much anything was worth, being this world's equivalent to human traffic, and all.

"Use these funds on equipment, and other necessities, and set out in your journey!" Aultcray declared.

"Yes sir!" They all confirmed before leaving the confines of the castle, and out into the world.

With his face set in grave determination, Ryou couldn't help but to think... And so it begins

Chapter Text

"Yes sir!", They all confirmed before leaving the confines of the castle, and out into the world.

With his face set in grave determination, Ryou couldn't help but to think... And so it begins

Castle Town was truly a breathtaking sight, even if it didn't possess an equal amazing name. The castle had been built on top of the highest hill in the region, brilliant from a strategic point of view, not so much as far as safety was concerned, after all Ryou, could almost bet that if an earthquake high enough on the Richter Scale occurred, it would bring the entire structure down on the residents below.

The town itself, appeared to have been built in layers around the castle, it continued downhill, and far beyond. For a town from the medieval ages it was enormous, but it made sense since it served has the capital for the entire country.

It was a great view, one that Ryou, was taking his time to enjoy now that he was out of the Castle's Main Gate.

As far as the start of a journey, it had been very lackluster so far, basically walk out, bid goodbye to the other heroes, and stop to take in the sights for a little bit. One would expect for all the hype the heroes had, there would have been fireworks, and parades, but nothing of the sort happened.

Well … I'll will take this over a flock of murderous Spearows trying to peck me to death under a thunderstorm…

That had been a pretty epic starting scene when watched on TV, probably not so much for Ash, and taking in consideration the weapon sealed in his wrist, a Universe full of Pokemon would certainly be within the realm of possibilities.

Shaking his head of thoughts about alternative reality's, Ryou had a lot of things he had to get done before going out in a monster hunting expedition. He pushed that back to the very last thing on the list, because he needed to cover all his bases, not because he might be slightly scared of a creature that defied imagination jumping out of the bushes.

First was obvious. He had to explore the town, and familiarize himself with it. Finding a Inn, and someplace to get his meals would be a good start. Next would be getting some understanding of the economics of this world. A thousand silver sounded like a lot, but without any idea on the cost of anything, he could very easily be swindled.

Walking down what he assumed was the main street, since it lead from the castle all the way to the entrance gate, Ryou spotted some guards doing rounds, or just talking between themselves, it wasn't until a couple minutes walking, that he noticed a particular guard on a secluded area. The man was slouching, with a hand moving in front of his face to cover the yawn that escaped him, apparently bored of his mind. That gave Ryou an idea, that might just solve most of his initial problems.

Well lets see if this Hero status thing is worth as much here, as it is in canon… With a simple thought, the bracelet turned back into bow form, and with it firmly in grasp he made his way towards the guard in question.

It took him to be within a couple of meters from his target, for the guard to finally notice his approach. The guard sweep him with his eyes, suspicion quite present in them, until they came to rest on his weapon. Couple of seconds passed, before the realization hit the man, and he went from slouching to ramrod straight in record time, addressing him in a shaky tone.

"Yuusha-sama, what is it that you require?" The man had even thrown in a salute, and Ryou, couldn't really stop the grin from forming.

"Good afternoon sir, I couldn't help but to notice that you seemed a little bored, and thought that maybe you wouldn't mind helping me with a small problem." Ryou questioned, and it might be because of the temperature, or because the man had a full suit of armor on, but there were more then a couple of liquid drops running down his face.

"Of course, anything you desire Yuusha-sama!" The man appeared to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown, though Ryou couldn't identify if the reason, had been his own sudden appearance, or the fact that he had caught the guard quite clearly avoiding his duties.

So this Hero Status thing still maintains its advantages after all

"Well that was what I was hoping to hear, so here's the thing…"

For the next hour Ryou, proceeded to question the poor guard in all matter of things.

It had been a very beneficial hour. He found out that the layers forming Castle Town were not just for show. The layer closest to the Castle accommodated all the higher ranking nobles, along with the most loyal, and distinguished knights. After that the ranking of the nobles went down along the layers until it reached one of the main streets that circled the town, from there it was the start of the commercial zone, or unofficially known has the peasant area, the street forming an invisible barrier between the two worlds. Most of the stores were obviously located in the lower levels, with the exception of high-end restaurants, and vanity stores.

Thankfully the guard had also given him the approximate location of countless stores, and other services. From restaurants, taverns, to inns, and even a couple of blacksmiths, he had difficulty memorizing everything, choosing to at the very least keep the Inns location in mind. The man had even thrown a couple of brothel's in the mix, not that he had any intention what-so-ever of visiting such places, but the guard apparently had thought it would be valuable information.

After that he had inquired about the average price of an assortment of things. It was in that moment, that it became apparent that one thousand silver corresponded to a small fortune. The scaling of money in this World was divided in three tiers, cooper for the lowest, and one hundred cooper coins were equal to one silver coin, silver, and cooper were your standard currency for most part. The last tier was gold coins, where one gold coin was equal in value to one hundred silver coins, all in all it was an easy, and practical system.

Also according to the guard, a simple meal could go from two to ten cooper coins depending on the place, and on what you wanted to eat, of course if one were to go to an high end establishment the price would skyrocket, very much like a gourmet restaurant. He had also given the average pricing for general equipment, potions, and Inn rooms.

It had also been shocking to discover that a pair of good quality gauntlets, where worth nearly twice as much as a young child's life, shocking, and disgusting.

He did feel a weight in his chest when he thought about Raphtalia, and what she was probably going through at that very moment, far more pity then he felt for her eventual Master. For all the machinations arrayed against Naofumi, a small part of the blame had been on him. Sure there was little one could do when an entire country was against you, but Naofumi had made their job even easier, trusted to easily, taking everything with optimism that border lined on being naive, and would very soon pay the price.

Raphtalia on the other hand… If things had taken place just like in the story, then what she had went through, could be considered both monstrous, and sick. She barely reached double digits in age, yet she had already seen, and lived through some of the worst the world could throw at you.

He really did hate the fact that he couldn't do anything for her at the moment, but that was a can of worms he didn't dare mess with. For one, she would eventually be Naofumi moral support for most part. He didn't knew if things would play out exactly has they had before, but she was essential as Naofumi's Sword, there was no other way, the alternative could very well doom them all.

It took a while to reach the commercial area of Castle Town, for a straight street it had been awfully long. But it had been obvious that he had reach it, there were stalls all over the place along with the random merchant here, and there with a assortment of goods, some he couldn't even begin to identify.

Making his way in the direction, where one of the Inns was suppose to be, Ryou couldn't help but be amazed by how lively this part of town was when compared to the higher levels.

It was during his observations that Ryou spotted something that made him come to a complete stop. Both the manga, and the Anime had showed them, but there was a stark difference between something animated or in paper, and reality. It was a girl, a little girl probably no older then ten, wearing a pink dress, a little girl with a pair of ears… Bunny ears… Blinking a couple of times at the sight to clear away his astonishment he continued to stare.

The girl, had her attention focused on a small tree before her, the corner of her mouth turned down, and was biting on her lip. Following her line of sight, Ryou quickly identified the problem. There, on the lowest branch, was a ball not unlike the one Naofumi had bought for Raphtalia.

Isn 't this like the most cliche setting ever? Boy meets girl, saves her ball from the mean tree, next thing you know she's following you everywhere, calling you Onii-chan, and the whole thing will become very awkward, very fast…

With a sigh, Ryou accepted his fate, maybe some good karma would come out of it, god knew he desperately needed it.

Reaching up on his toes, thankfully the branch was within reach, and so was the ball, after a couple of tries the ball was safely in his hand. Ryou, brought it down to the little girl's eye level, who had been looking at his actions with apprehension.

"Here you go little lady, this is what you wanted right?" Ryou offered with a small smile. The small girl took the ball, hugging the thing to her chest, apprehension completely gone, now that her precious possession was safely in her arms.

"Thank you mister!" She was all smiles, her excitement contagious.

"Just be careful where you play with it, I might not be around to save it from the mean tree, okay?" Wide smile still in place, she confirmed bopping her head up, and down in agreement.

"Rasha, what have I told you about bothering others." A far deeper voice came from behind. Ryou turned around to take a look at the owner. It was a man, clearly part of nobility if the garments where anything to go by. He had at least a few centimeters on Ryou, light brown hair with some grey's, and a few wrinkles.

She looked slightly ashamed, before springing back trying to explain her actions.

"Haaa Raid-Sama! I'm sorry, the ball got stuck on the tree again, and this mister got it for me." The mans eyes shifted towards Ryou before scratching his chin.

"Is that so?" The man was clearly evaluating him, looking him up ,and down maybe to see if he had less than honorable intentions, a few moments he seemed to reach some sort of conclusion with his eyes narrowing.

"You are one of the Heroes." It hadn't been a question, but rather stating a fact, like the sky was blue, and Ryou found himself scratching his neck nervously.

"So everyone says." Ryou more or less confirmed, and the man broke into a small smile before tilting his head slightly.

"Yuusha-sama, you don't consider yourself a hero?" The man asked in what seemed genuine curiosity.

Snorting Ryou took on a crocked smile. "Sir, the most heroic thing I have done since getting here, was saving this little lady's ball from the tree, hardly proper qualifications for a hero, no?" Gesturing towards the tree in question. The man if anything looked even more amused then before.

"Haa, but its not the magnitude of gesture itself that counts, its the intention behind it."

Ryou, looked taken aback before replying with a small frown, "I don't think that's how it works, if it was, everyone would be a Hero, just for doing one good deed."

The man still possessing the same smile, continued unabated, " Then why don't you take Rasha's opinion in consideration." The man said patting the little girl in the head, who had been watching the exchange in curiosity, "After all, at least to her, you are certainly a hero who saved her ball from the mean tree, right?" He asked the girl, Ryou felt his ears getting slightly warmer, the man had heard that particular statement.

That question however, seemed to spark something in the little girl, since she was now looking at him with wide eyes. "You are a hero? Like the four legendary heroes? Which one?" The little girl, who he now knew the name, Rasha, asked in a voice filled with what could only be described as awe.

"I'm the Bow one, Rasha was it?" She nodded slowly, face completely mesmerized like she couldn't believe he was really there, before another thought seemed to pop in her mind.

"Do you know the Tate no Yuusha-sama?" She questioned, and he looked confuse before replying.

"Yeah I know him, why?" What could possibly have been her interest in Naofumi. She looked down before replying in a small voice.

"Well it says in the legends, that the Tate no Yuusha-sama is always really nice to demi-humans, so…"

Ohh, right, that was a thing.., Remembered Ryou, it wasn't Naofumi himself, but the Shield Heroes from the past had always treated demi-humans with decency, and in a country that discriminated against them, meeting him was probably like a dream come true.

Even then for some reason this is irking me

Hardly a couple of hours had passed since he left the castle, and he was already second place to Naofumi as far as a little girl was concerned. In the great scheme of things, especially with the perils that lay ahead, this was mostly meaningless, and yet…

"Haha, but you know, the Tate no Yuusha isn't known for rescuing balls from the mean trees, that's the Yumi no Yuusha's job you know?" Had it been petty? Yes, extremely so, but he felt the need of approval, even if it came from a ten year old child, he had his pride after all, perils of the future or not. He certainly did not miss the amused cough that came from behind him, but he ignored it. Rasha for her part seem to ponder this before coming too a conclusion.

"Yeah Yumi Onii-chan is really nice too." He was taken aback by that statement, and it had been follow by an almost but not quite, shout that came from behind

"Rasha, you cant treat one of the Heroes so casually!"

The noble was rubbing the bridge of his nose, but Ryou waved him off, "Its fine don't worry, I don't mind." He didn't mind it, not really, with everyone throwing his title everywhere, it was nice to have someone from this world that would speak with him casually, a breath of fresh air actually, even if it came from a little girl.

"Hey, hey Yumi Onii-chan, can you sign my ball? Then I can show everyone in the village that I met you!" She extended the ball in his direction, and Ryou scratched his cheek.

"Sorry Rasha... I don't have anything to write with…" He was then interrupted by an object that appeared in front of him.

"Ahem here you go Yuusha-sama, after all the lack of a pen should not be an obstacle for the Yuusha-sama who is so superior to the Tate no Yuusha-sama, right?"

Opps he caught that one… Thought Ryou with embarrassment, he hadn't been subtle in the slightest, and it had come out of nowhere, but the thought of being second place to Naofumi… Naive, idiotic, Naofumi right off the bat, didn't seat well with him.

Picking up the pen, one of the old ones that he never had the opportunity to wield in his old world, he couldn't help but take a second to marvel it. It was most likely made of gold with beautiful engravings all around it,. Grabbing the ball he scrawled his signature in it, before giving it back to Rasha. She took it, looking at the signature before reading, and mostly butchering his name.

"Ryou… Takuma?" He laughed a little at her pronunciation nodding.

"Yup that's me." Rasha, repeated it a couple of times before a wide smile was in place.

"Thank you Yumi Onii-chan." She knows my name, and is still going with that... Well whatever Ryou thought with amusement.

"I don't mean to interrupt the moment, but we really need to leave, we still have to make the trip back to our village." The noble said, and Rasha, accepted it with good grace even if her smile did diminish a little.

"Okay, will I see you again Yumi Onii-chan?" Rasha asked, and with a smile Ryou patted her on the head.

"I'm sure you will Rasha." She seemed delighted, both at his answer, and at the pats.

"Until next time Yuusha-sama, and the best of luck, for all of our sakes..." The noble conveyed with a drop of seriousness, the meaning not lost to Ryou, who nodded firmly.

Waving the pair goodbye one last time, Ryou continued on his way towards the inn, though his thoughts still lingered on them. From what he could recall demi-humans in Melromarc, were mostly, if not exclusively slaves, and taking in consideration that the man had been a noble, it would made sense that he 'owned' Rasha, yet she did not possess any signs of abuse, or of being mistreated, she appeared like a completely normal, and happy child, their relationship looked more like daughter, and father than anything else.

Who would have thought, not all nobles in this world are scum, faith in humanity, slightly restored

However that had been the exception not the rule, there were a lot of demi-humans out there that weren't nearly as lucky…

A picture of another small girl this one with raccoon features, suspended in the air, with her wrists cuffed, while being whipped appeared in his mind, and Ryou couldn't help clutching his arm with a frown on his face.

Finding the Inn had been a rather shameful affair he would admit, it had taken two entire trips up, and down the same street, before getting tired, and asking for directions, although in his defense the Inn had no signs signaling it as such, it looked just like any other house the only difference being the door slightly opened.

The rental of the room had been another struggle altogether, it turned out that reservations were not a thing in Melromarc, that particular fact had left both himself, and the clerk confused, without being able to understand one another. Thankfully the manager had come to their rescue, and after some explaining he understood what Ryou wanted.

The way Inn's worked in Melromarc were among the lines of - One could only rent a room for the night, and had to vacate the next day, if someone wanted to spend two nights, he had to talk to the manager for approval. A very retarded system or so Ryou thought at the time. However while not common practice, his status as Hero had once again shined through, and the manager had reserved a room for his personal usage for the next five days. Having one of the Heroes as a semi-permanent guest would probably be very good marketing, if you weren't Naofumi that was.

The room itself had the most basic of features, those being a bed, one bedside table, and a wardrobe, it did however possess its own private bathroom so there was that.

Ryou, had also spotted a couple of taverns on the other side of the street, and the Inn also served simple meals, yet they were on a schedule, but that solved his food problem.

Now with a place to call a temporary base, it was time to plan the next step. Exploring the rest of the town would be a must, he had to visit a Blacksmith, and Apothecary. Come what may, he wouldn't set foot outside the town without some armor, and a hefty supply of health potions.

This had also been the perfect time to explore the help menu for more information that he didn't already have, something that took a fair amount of time, and testing, but all in all had proved to be very rewarding.

Amount a plethora of information Ryou had discovered how his stats actually worked. The attack attribute had been self explanatory, it related to how much damage he would be able to deal, it also loosely translated to his own physical strength. Both defense, and magic defense were also easy to understand, basically it meant a reduction on the damage he would suffer if hit, it also included pain resistance, something that made him swear out loud since his defense attribute was the lowest one he had by far. Magic was directly related to both the power of his spells, and the ability to cast them, he had no idea how to even go about it, so it would be another thing to explore.

Agility however had been interesting to read about. It was the highest of his attributes right next to attack, and from what he could gather it related to his overall speed, and nimbleness. That meant that he could get faster, probably much more then the average human could move. It would be his biggest defense mechanism, essentially if you weren't Naofumi who would eventually be able to just stand there, and tank hit after hit, your best bet would obviously be not getting hit in the first place.

The idea of getting in an out of combat in a blur, or simply vanishing was a very interesting one indeed. It also brought another idea to the table, a cheesy little thing called kiting. If he could achieve good enough values on agility, and if it did indeed translate to what he was thinking, he could stay ahead of whatever monster he happen to come across, as long has the creature didn't have the means to attack him at long range.

There had also been another couple of interesting discovery's, that he tested. The first had been the existence of something called Navigation Ability, and as to what that was, it was simply a GPS like map that he could open from the menu, infinitely helpful, even if it wasn't the most detailed of maps, showing just the outline of the buildings around him, but it also came with the ability to place bookmarks. Ryou had been positive, that such a thing didn't existed in canon, another divergence from the story most likely, or maybe the weapon had come to his help, and created a new type of ability. Either way he would no longer need to memorize places, although it would have been useful to know about it sooner, especially during his questioning session with the guard.

The second had been the discovery or semi discovery of his own personal pocket-dimension. He also had his doubts if it had been something that existed in canon, since he could remember, that Naofumi had Raphtalia carry a back pack with their camping equipment. In all honesty he had no idea what-so-ever on how the bloody thing worked, and why it came with a weight limit, since the weapon apparently had the power to teleport people across dimensions, or universes, even able to change matter, form, and defeating gravity, but they couldn't be bothered to carry more then one hundred, and fifty kilos. At least he had a safe place to put his money where no one else could reach it.

All-in-all things were looking up slightly.

Making his mind, and since he still had plenty of day light to burn, Ryou decided to hit the streets once again.

After leaving the inn, Ryou decided to take his time surveying everything around him, bookmarking the most relevant, or interesting places. It was during his trip that he found the medical store by chance, even if he had more or less been looking for it. Unlike the Inn, the Medical store was advertised has such, or at least Ryou thought so, since it had huge letters above the door, now if only he could have understood their meaning.

The owner was an old man, with a strict no nonsense attitude, and apparently cared very little for his Hero status. He had been helpful though answering any question that Ryou had.

In essence there were far to many potions, and concoctions to count. From high regenerating ones, to slower regeneration but larger duration ones, and that was not even counting antidotes, medicine, or MP, and SP restoration potions, there was a option for every situation, and for every need.

Ryou, had chosen to take a dozen of low to medium quality ones, enough to heal anything from a light scratch to rather deep wounds, and able to stop bleeding. He had also been wrong in his assumptions. Initially he had thought that Healing potions just increased the speed of regeneration of the human body, but that had been a wrong assumption. The principal was the same, only that the potion created new cells to repair the damage, out of itself apparently. The science behind it was lost to Ryou if there had been any to begin with.

He had also bought a high quality all-purposes healing potion, and that one alone had cost him one gold coin, expensive yes, but according to the old man it could heal anything besides lost members, and vital organs. He had no intention of ever being in a situation where he needed to use it, but it was better to be safer then sorry. There existed only a couple of medicines stronger, with one being something of a legend, made from the sap of some divine tree.

Ryou wanted nothing to do with a divine tree, after all the last mention of a divine tree came from another manga in his old world, and that particular one came attached with a murderous goddess hell bent on ruling the world, while turning every human into sapling mutants in the process, so that had been a very big no in his opinion, the current potion in his possession would have to do. Messing with deities always ended up causing all sorts of problems…

The last place to visit would be the blacksmith, there was one that he vaguely remembered the location, the one the guard had personally recommended.

He did eventually reach the blacksmith after bugging a few of the villagers for directions, his GPS didn't came with pre-marked locations unfortunately.

Once again he couldn't even begin to understand the letters on the tablet next to the door, but Ryou knew eventually he would have to sit down, and learn how to read the language of Melromarc. At least he had came to the right place, if the emblem of a shield with what looked like a buster sword in it was anything to go by.

Opening the door, he took a peek inside, the lighting inside the store was dim, but his eyes did see an assortment of weapons, and suits of armor.

"Excuse me…" Ryou exclaimed, before going through the door.

His sight did zero in on the swords displayed, even if those weren't the reason for his visit. He would never be able to wield one, but they still had the awesome factor of being swords. Maybe he did feel a tiny bit of jealousy towards Ren.

"Well what can I do for you kid?" A jovial voice asked from the door in the back.

"Excuse me I was…." Ryou begun, but stopped the moment he took in the owner. The man was tall, taller then he was, shaved hair, with a brown rough beard ,and a scar under his eye, a small friendly smile on his face.

In front of him was the very same blacksmith that had helped Naofumi on multiple occasions, Erhard.

"What's the matter, cat got your tongue?" He asked in jest, and Ryou couldn't stop the small smile that appeared on his lips.

Well now... Would you look at that, he really is the most sought out blacksmith in Castle Town...

Chapter Text

"What's the matter, cat got your tongue?" He ask in jest, and Ryou couldn't stop the small smile that appeared on his lips.

Well now... Would you look at that, he really is the most sought out blacksmith in Castle Town...

Erhard continued to look expectantly towards him, and Ryou stopped his musings, of admiring the sheer coincidence.

"Yeah, sorry about that, you just reminded me of someone, that's all." Ryou, deflected awkwardly.

Erhard shrugged. "Well you would be hard pressed to find someone like me...Name's Erhard by the way."

A large rugged hand was extended towards him, and Ryou took it before replying. "Nice to meet you, name's Ryou, Ryou Takuma"

Confusion appeared on the mans face. "That's a weird name you have there."

"Yeah, I'm not from around here." Ryou confirmed with a small smile, prompting the other man to look at him curiously, while crossing his larger arms over his chest.

"Yeah, it shows, with that name, and those clothes you're wearing... Actually they do look familiar." Brown eyes studied, the young man in front of him.

Deciding there was no point in hiding it, Ryou materialized the Legendary weapon, before continuing. "Yeah, if my clothes are familiar, then you probably had a costumer with a weapon that had a jewel just like this one, it could have been a shield too." Ryou finished, pointing at the yellow jewel on his bow.

Erhard, looked surprised for a couple of seconds before bursting out in a roar of laughter.

"Would you look at that, my little shop is getting really popular, having two of the Legendary Heroes drop by in the same day!" He exclaimed after calming down, and Ryou felt amused at the man, he was exactly the same as in canon.

"Well, I'm looking for protective gear, and apparently your craft speaks for itself if so many people are recommending it." The compliment brought a grin to the blacksmith's face.

"Damn straight it does, all my gear is top notch, and don't you forget it, kid!" An identical grin appeared in Ryou's face as he turned the weapon into a bracelet again.

"It better be, I would like to avoid having to drag myself here, half dead, asking for my money back." Ryou challenged, and the grin on the blacksmith's face grew wider.

"Kid, if you get yourself hurt while wearing my equipment, you only got yourself to blame."

With a shrug Ryou continued the Banter. "What kind of justification is that, isn't normal policy that the costumer is always right?"

"Of course, until I have his money, that is…" Erhard replied now in a serious tone. The reply brought out a genuine laugh from Ryou. The seriousness in which the man had stated it, and the honesty that had been present, confirmed that the blacksmith's personality was an exact copy of the one in the Story.

"You! I like you! You're my kind of guy alright!" Ryou declared, after getting his laugh under control. It had actually been the first time he had laughed like that since coming into this world, probably a good while even before that.

"So now that the pre-purchase banter is done, what exactly are you looking for kid?" Erhard asked bending over the counter, crossing his arms over it.

"Well, the main thing I'm looking for is something that will protect me, without sacrificing mobility" If his attributes behaved like a game, then the one that would show the biggest development would probably be Agility. Agility, meant speed, and he didn't want to hinder himself, especially if the plan was to avoid attacks.

Erhard scratched his beard, pondering before explaining. "Well if you want just slight protection, without sacrificing any mobility then Chain Mail might be your thing. Other then that, the only thing I can think of, is Leather Armor, it might take a while to get used to it, but you wont sacrifice much mobility, and it will offer some serious defense."

Ryou took in the explanation, bouncing the two possibilities in his head. Chain Mail had little weight compared to normal armor, but it offered little protection from his small understanding, especially since most monsters likely packed quite the punch. Leather Armor on the other hand would be heavier, and he would loose some degree of mobility, but would offer a lot more in terms of protection. Eventually the need to feel safer, won over the more nimbler option, even if it slightly contradicted the overall plan.

"Okay, show me what you have in terms of Leather Armor, and I will go from there, something around the three hundred silver."

What happen next, would have made his sister call him an hypocrite, since it was literally the biggest clothing tryout session he had ever endured, normally he would run out of patience after fifteen minutes, this one had taken forty-five. It certainly took a while before he had something that satisfied him, after all even if Leather Armor looked reasonable, he still felt ridiculous in it, not even worth mentioning that it wasn't all that comfortable.

In the end he picked a Leather Armor set ,minus the helm, and gauntlets. The chest piece was a reddish brown color, with a double layer of leather. the shoulders were strapped on the chest, also in layers, ending with black leather adornments. The rest of the set, was much the same, from the skirt to the arm armor. Ryou couldn't get over how ridiculous the helm looked. and it actually blocked a little of his peripheral vision, and the gauntlets made it hard to fire the bow. He also chose to pick a few sets of 'local' clothing, they also felt weird, but he couldn't exactly use his shirt under the armor, on the positive side, he could now fit in with the locals, even if it made him look like a country bumpkin. At least they also came in black.

Finally out of the small dressing room, Ryou checked from his perspective how it looked, bow in hand. He still felt slightly embarrassed, even if he now had clothing on par with his new 'job'.

"Out of curiosity kid, but do you even know how to use that thing?" Erhard asked, pointing towards the weapon in his hand.

Ryou closed his eyes briefly before frowning. "More or less, tending heavily into the less part at this point, I mean... I know the basics, but that's it."

Upon hearing that the blacksmith had also developed a frown on his face. " A Legendary Hero not knowing how to wield his weapon? Isn't that a sad thing… You know, I can let you practice in the back, thats where I test most of my weapons, bows included, it would be better to try it here, then out there, right?" Erhard proposed. Hearing the proposition, Ryou couldn't help but to feel slightly suspicious. No matter how much he acted like canon, there was always a catch.

"Do you offer the same treatment to the rest of your costumers old man, or am I just special?" Erhard only looked slightly confused, before responding honestly.

"Well, you can't buy my gear if you're dead. Besides I have a feeling that you will be a big costumer in the future." Well I can't really argue with that logic... Ryou thought to himself before deciding to accept the offer, it had also rung true that getting a little practice in a safe environment would be in his best interest.

"Okay. I'll take you up on that offer. Who knows, maybe some practice will actually help me come back, so you can bleed me dry of my hard earned money." Another laugh escaped Erhard, before the man slapped him on the back with enough force that he almost kissed the floor, throwing a glare towards the man Ryou followed him into the back.

The back, as Erhard had said turned out to be a small back alley kind of area. It had a few tables most likely where the blacksmith worked on his craft, and what could only be a forge.

After a few minutes of rummaging through a pile of materials, and other tools, Erhard had finally found the target. A standard target if Ryou had ever saw one, white, round with a small red circle in the middle, three wooden legs supporting it.

After the target had been set, Erhard moved to lean against the wall, slightly behind Ryou. Ryou for his part moved into position, raising his bow.

So I know I don't need to carry arrows, but how exactly does it work..?

After a few moments of visualizing Ituski's usage of the bow, Ryou moved his free hand against the jewel, and pulled. Nothing happened, He tried again, this time with two fingers bent inward as if grabbing an invisible arrow before pulling. This time the result had been different, slowly the fletching appeared from inside the jewel, the rest of the arrow followed until Ryou had the full thing in his grip

Looking at the bow, and arrow, Ryou could only feel a slight bit of disgruntlement. You are just going to keep bending the law's of reality left, and right, aren't you..?

Finally, eyes fixed on the target Ryou leveled the bow with it. Taking a deep breath he waited for a moment, before releasing the arrow.



Ryou blinked a couple of times, at what had just happened.

"Pretty good, for a first shot from a beginner." Erhard complemented from behind. The arrow had hit the target, right in the middle of the red circle.

Shaking his head slightly, Ryou once again took aim, and after a few moments released another arrow.


Eyebrows raising into his hairline Ryou took in the sight before him. A couple of millimeters at most from his first arrow, was the second one, still very much in the center of the target. Taking aim once more at the target, Ryou quickly release a third arrow.


"Remind me again, how many times did you say you shot a bow before?" Came the voice from behind him, and Ryou could easily detect an hint of skepticism in it.

"Err two?" Ryou answered with both confusion, and hesitation, almost sounding like a question. Three arrows were stuck in the middle of the target.

Taking position yet again, eyes narrowing at the target, Ryou let the arrows fly in quick succession.


What the actual fuck … One or two I can buy it! But six?! There's no way I have this good of an aim.

Looking down Ryou decided to raise the challenge up a notch, picking a small piece of concrete, he hurled it into the sky. Taking aim quickly he felt it, the moment before he released the arrow, an unknown force pushed his bow down slightly.


The piece of concrete shattered on impact making little stones, and dust, fall on them. Eyes widen, and mouth wide open, Ryou looked down at his weapon with disbelief.

Ohh ….My…God…Don't tell me…

A window popped up in front of him, and there displayed in large letters, it read…

[Divine Protection of the Bow - Passive Skill]

Looking below Ryou read the description…

[The Legendary Bow bestows upon the wielder amazing marksmanship, in addition the bow will always correct the trajectory in order to hit a target.]

Ohhh …My…Fucking…God…

He couldn't really help himself, he threw his arms upwards shouting in pure happiness.

"Yes!Yes!Fucking Yes! You stupid, magical, piece of shit! I love you so much right now!" Ryou proceeded to kiss the mentioned weapon, his thoughts moving at miles per hour.

This thing comes with a auto-aim bot installed! That released an enormous burden from his shoulders, Ryou had after all been terrified over his ability to fight from nearly the beginning. His goal from the moment he realized the situation, had always been to survive. However if he couldn't even fight, what hope did he have. And after all those agonizing thoughts, it turned out his ability to fight had never been a problem in the first place.

I can fight now, I can shoot stuff now!

"Kid… are you alright?" Erhard asked hesitantly, and Ryou turned around with one of the biggest grins he had ever made in his life .

"Dude did you see that?" Ryou asked, excitement oozing from his entire body. Erhard on the other hand only raised an eyebrow.

"What, the fact that you are some kind of archery prodigy?"

Ryou shook his head, before replying. "No dude, that's not…" and stopped. In his euphoria he hadn't thought about it, but in reality how many people knew about his new-found ability, especially if he had only just discovered it? For all intents an purposes it might very well be a secret. Erhard had all but proved to be every bit of a good guy as his canon counterpart, but still..

Isn't this the entire reason I choose to adventure alone in the first place

"Yeah lets go with that…" Ryou concluded, and Erhard, already raised eyebrow moved a little bit upwards but he didn't offer any more commentary.

Thinking about it Ryou couldn't help but to realize that his new ability was the literal definition of cheating, how many years of practice would it take to pull off those kind of shots. He had read somewhere, some random forum or something that Itsuki's ability to shoot had been attributed to some psychic power. Ryou was pretty sure that he didn't possessed that kind of ability in either worlds.

Is it possible that, since I don't possess that psychic ability, the Legendary Bow went ahead, and granted me the Divine Protection to compensate for it..? Looking back at his weapon he couldn't help the smirk that formed on his face.

You sneaky little shit

After making the most amazing of discovery's so far, Ryou went ahead and paid for his new gear, that now also included a long black hooded cloak. He decided that it did look cool, and more then that it went with his new ability, most rangers wore a hooded cloak after all. Maybe there had also been a small part of his brain that would always associate a long cloak to bad ass characters, that had been a troupe in a lot of anime's. When someone wearing a cloak appeared he just knew the the character was most likely going to be a bad-ass.

Although lets be honest here, nobody can pull out cool while wearing a cloak like anime characters can...

The total of Ryou expenditure had come to be around two hundred, and ninety silver, more than a quarter of his saving, but at least his defense had all but tripled, even if he had been pretty sure that Naofumi had more than that at level one.

After promising Erhard, that he would definitely come back, before leaving, Ryou now faced a new dilemma. The new discovery about his bow had left him with a feeling of anticipation. He wanted to try it out some more, and he still had a couple of hours of daylight. On the other hand he still felt quite nervous about the idea of setting foot outside of town.

It took a little to measure the pros, against the cons, but eventually he decided that he had to do it. Between his new gear, ability, and a stock of potions he couldn't be more prepared, besides the wave would certainly not wait for him to get mentally ready, and he couldn't afford to lose anymore time.

A small expedition outside for now, would be enough to get his feet wet.

With the gates of Castle Town behind him, Ryou couldn't help but to feel a little ashamed. He had actually hesitated to cross that border for a few seconds, and now that he had done so, there existed no difference, no gigantic monster ready to devour him. Beyond the gates were instead of gigantic monsters, farms with farmers out, and about. The fact that there were civilians out here, most likely meant that the monsters were not has threatening as he had thought.

With his bow now in hand, Ryou began the trek beyond the farmlands, into the small hills that composed most of the scenery before him. Eyes scanning for any signs of danger, it hadn't been until his third hill that he finally saw something unnatural.

On the end of a slope, unlike what the anime had portrait, the creature in his sight was not completely round, more like pumpkin shaped with bright luminous orange eyes, and a small mouth full of serrated indentations that looked like sharp teeth. On closer inspection it looked a lot more like a jack-o-lantern then an actual balloon.

The orange creature hadn't spotted him yet, so Ryou got himself into position, taking aim at the orange monstrosity before him, and holding his breath for a moment he finally released his arrow feeling the bow correcting his aim.

With an echoing popping sound the creature burst into small weightless orange remains. The sound of the experience window appearing startled Ryou a little, however the feeling of adrenaline, quickly went away.

That… Ryou thought after a moment. …was really underwhelming…

The orange balloon had definitely looked menacing, more so because he had never seen a monster in real life, but Ryou had expected some sort of fight.

A fight from a monster Naofumi used has a punching bag to vent his frustrations A traitorous part of his brain reminded him.

And once again he thought about it, the monsters here couldn't be that threatening if farmers were living so close by. And on the off chance that anything more dangerous actually came out, the knights, and adventurers would probably take care of it within the hour. In hindsight his apprehension on stepping out of the town might have been slightly exaggerated.

Moving towards the mortal remains of the Balloon he had just killed, Ryou picked one piece up, his fingers feeling the thin, and rubbery texture.

How in biology's name do these things even work? Actually how the hell, do they float..? And like most things in his new world he had no idea.

He brought the piece close to the jewel on his bow, After a while it began to shine in a yellow light, and Ryou felt the air being sucked like a vacuum before the orange piece in his hand disappeared into it.

So it works exactly like Naofumi's… Another window opened in his vision showing what appeared to be a colossal skill tree, with far to many icons to count, hundreds probably thousands of them, especially since the window while zoomed out still had a lot more to scroll both horizontally, and vertically. One particular icon was shining, and focusing his vision there, it zoomed in, showing a new bow with the very original name of Orange Bow.

Seriously who the hell design this, at least have some creativity Because, Orange balloons unlocking a Orange Bow seemed like some serious lazy naming.

Looking around the new window, it show cased the stats were actually lower then his original bow, however on the equipment bonus tab there was a measly plus two on agility, it had no skills though, and it hadn't even been unlocked yet. The requirements showed that he had one out of three Orange balloon remains needed to unlock it.

So the system isn't that easy... thought Ryou. It appeared that multiple remains would be needed in order to unlock the bow, and it was probable that there would be bows that needed different items altogether.

Picking up another piece of the Orange Balloon, Ryou feed it to the jewel, before looking around for more. After scavenging the immediate area he found out that the monster had only dropped two remains, so he set out too find more Balloons.

It hadn't actually been that long, before Ryou found more Balloons, and for something that floated in the air, they could move very fast, thankfully they were also very easy to spot even at a distance, not even counting the red arrow that the creatures had above their head. Thankfully despite their speed, he had the Divine Protection, and could deal with them in one shot, before they came anywhere near him, although there still existed the danger of one sneaking up.

After popping eight orange monstrosities he had increased his experience by a small amount, but it would take some time before he reached level two. At least he had enough materials to unlock his new bow.

Finally grabbing the final orange remain, now that there was no more balloons in sight, Ryou gave it to his bow, a warning window appeared that read: unlocked.

Like he had noticed before his new bow actually decreased his stats, however he was curious about the equipment bonus.

Reading through all the information provided, and related help windows, Ryou had discovered that his bow possessed a mastery bar that would increase with usage, when mastered it would give him permanent access the the equipment bonus even while wielding other bows.

Ryou couldn't honestly remember if that particular information had been shown in canon, but either way he couldn't help but to think how overpowered that was.

Is this why Naofumi even at lower levels could keep up with the other Heroes, and eventually left them in the dust..?

It couldn't have been just that... Ryou thought, unless the other heroes had focused only on the strongest weapons they could find. Sure the strongest weapons probably provided amazing bonus, but in the long run it would be completely inefficient. Like wielding a level sixty weapon at level one, it would probably be amazing for a while, but eventually the monsters level would rise, and they would have a really hard time keeping up. After all if Motoyasu had a weapon that gave him three hundred defense, and Naofumi had one hundred shields that gave him three defense, in the long run Naofumi would have the advantage, because the attributes would be part of him no matter what shield he used. That would actually make him a walking tank.

And that actually happen didn't it..? Ryou thought, before shaking his head. So either the other heroes upgrading system didn't possessed a stacking element to it, or it did, but they had chosen to ignored it for how small it was. In any case, mastering all the bows he could get his hands on, definitely sounded like the way to go.

"Orange bow!" Extending his arm, he watched has his Legendary Weapon changed form, into a Orange version of itself the only difference being instead of the wings like ornaments, there were now serrated indentations similar to the balloons teeth.

Deciding to test the boost Ryou broke into a short dash, taking sharp turns, and trying out all kinds of rapid movement. After a bit, Ryou realized that he couldn't in fact feel any difference. Logically thinking, the two extra point in agility accounted for less then a five percent increase, so it only made sense that the difference wasn't notable. Maybe if it added twenty points, instead of two the difference might have been notable. Either way he would get those points, and far more through leveling and mastering more forms of his Legendary Weapon.

By the time Ryou decided to call quits on his so called Hunting Expedition, the orange colors on the sky were already fading, and a few stars could be seen.

He had made good progress, with a few more kills under his belt, and of different variations. Balloons came in different colors although their behavior stayed the same. Besides the far more common orange ones, he had killed a yellow one, and a couple of red ones, their drops consequently unlocked bows of their respective colors, however much like the Orange Bow, the equipment bonus, were mostly the same.

The mastery bar on his new bow, had hardly made any progress, less then a tenth had been filled. Apparently the progress was tied to the bow in usage, although that had begged the question, since everything died on one shot, Ryou couldn't be certain if it was on a kill basis, or hit based, what he could tell however was that he had to hit a monster for there to be any progress. It would have been nice if he could just unlock a ton of bows, and then spend the reminder of his time shooting some random tree for mastery progress.

That would have been nice, and very easy to exploit

Castle Town was as lively in the evening as it was during the day, with merchants still conducting business, and adventurers going on and about. It might have been because of the appearance of the Waves, everyone was trying to get has strong as possible in order to survive, not just the Heroes.

Feeling his stomach rumbling in protest reminded Ryou of the need to acquire, and consume food. He had spent most of the day running around, and then hunting, with his last meal being the lunch he had at the Castle. It would probably be a good idea to stock up on food the next time he went out, and about, he had his own personal moving storage after all.

Scanning his surroundings, he found a tavern that seemed as good as a place as any. The process of ordering had been mostly normal, if not for the eyes, and murmurs that followed him every single step after he had entered the establishment. He didn't even had his bow out, and yet everyone still recognized him.

This was something that truly bothered him, he was used to be by himself, and do his own thing.

Unlike the food served at the Castle, the one served at the tavern was a lot less glamorous but it had a homely taste, and feeling to it. Still with all eyes on him it had been uncomfortable to eat like that.

After paying for his meal, Ryou quickly made his way back to the Inn, the attention getting to him, thankfully no one had come forward, and started a conversation.

Finally calling it a day, he laid in bed contemplating everything.

I made very good progress, and things are finally looking slightly up, especially thanks to that cheat code of a skill that I have Ryou thought with some relief, though it quickly turned more somber when an image of a fan wielding woman came to mind…

I could leave it to Naofumi, but I can't be sure things will play out exactly has they should, so I have to get stronger, much, much stronger, or Glass might just put an end to my life Unlike monsters, the fan wielding women, was human, and that made her far more dangerous, not even counting the overwhelming power she had... Those were Ryou's thoughts before falling asleep.

It was the harsh knocking on his door, followed by someone shouting for him that arose Ryou from his slumber. Rubbing his eyes, quickly rising from the bed, far more than a little angry, Ryou made his way to the door, his anger present on every corner of his being. The act of interrupting his sleep was a more then tested method to piss him off, it had been something that extended towards most of his family his father excluded, the man had always been a morning person.

"Yeah what the hell is it?!" He snapped the moment he opened the door, and the guard on the other side paused, arm raised in the air, looking in apprehension before replying.

"I'm sorry to disturb you, Yuusha-sama, but his Highness called for an emergency meeting." The guard explained, arm lowering to be parallel to his body.

Ryou had to resist the urge to tell the guard, that the King could go do himself, before calming down.

"And what is this meeting about?"

The guard look nervously from one side, to the other. "Well... I only heard rumors, but apparently the Shield Hero his being brought in, on the charges of sexual assault."

Here we go... "If Naofumi is truly guilty, there is no reason for me to be present? Right?" The guard seemed taken aback at hearing his question. Ryou honestly just wanted to avoid participating in the shit show that would unfold.

"But his Highness has requested that all Heroes have to be present…" And of course the king would want all Heroes present. He wanted the maximum exposure possible, making absolute sure there existed no doubt in anyone's mind to what a terrible 'monster' Naofumi was.

"Yeahhh, I politely decline, tell his highness that if the Shield Hero is really guilty, then I shall conform to the Kings judgment, and punishment, there's no need for me to be there..." And Ryou proceeded to close the door in the guards face, not even allowing the man to finish whatever objection he had been about to raise.

Ryou did pity his fellow hero for the injustice that had befall on him, however there had been nothing for him to do. Even if Ryou took to Naofumi's defense, he had no prove, it would be both of their voices against that of an entire country. The only thing that would happen would be a lot of closing doors, plus a target on his back that he wanted to avoid at any cost.

I'm sorry Naofumi, I really am, but like you, I also want to live, and that means that for the time being... Its every man for himself Even if Ryou couldn't subdue the guilt that emerged from that decision.

Chapter Text

I'm sorry Naofumi, I really am, but like you, I also want to live, and that means that for the time being... Its every man for himself… Even if Ryou couldn't subdue the guilt that emerged from that decision.

After getting ready for the day, Ryou decided to hit the forest beyond the hills, intent on making has much progress has he could, and if possible to take his head off the situation that was most likely happening right now.

Going for supplies, mostly food for the day, although he had also bought a few miscellaneous items, like a small knife, a Wood Axe, a Pickaxe, a shovel, and even some cooking utensils. All the things a new explorer should have with him, before going on an adventure. After that he decided to go out through the eastern gate. His reason for that was simple, Naofumi, had meet Erhard in canon, before going into the forest in an effort to vent his frustrations. Erhard store was located in the western part of Castle town, a hundred meters or so from the gate. This would put him on the opposite direction from the shield hero. Ryou had no intention of meeting Naofumi right now, much less with the wound still so raw.

Starting his second monster hunting session, he decided to make is way slowly into the forest, he still needed to unlock the rest of the colored balloon bows.

It took most of the morning to get enough remains, but after nearly forty balloons he had done it. Hunting balloons was an easy affair, although some came particular close to him, and one had actually sneaked on him from behind, lodging itself in his sides. Even with the thing munching on him, it didn't hurt, because of the armor, but the sight spooked him a little. Having a Jack-o-lantern wannabe monster trying to sink his teeth on his belly was disconcerting to say the least

One interesting discovery, was the appearance of a new bow after he had unlock all three colored ones. After questioning its appearance, Ryou had reach the conclusion that it was a special bow unlocked after completing the entire series. This one, was simply called Balloon Bow, and while the stats on it were much better then on any of his other bows, the requirements were pretty steep. Not only did it need another ten remains of each balloon, but it also came with a level twenty restriction. On the other side it offered an ability, called monster encyclopedia. After playing so many RPG's it was easy to understand what it was, it was a bestiary. A very nifty thing, that Ryou definitely wanted to unlock down the line. For now, though, it would have to wait, level twenty was a goal he doubted he could reach before the wave.

It was after a quick break for lunch, that Ryou made is first true error in judgment.

He had made his way into a clearing in the forest, a small open area surrounded by tree's, and bushes, Taking a look around, he quickly spotted the three balloons on the other side of the clearing. Easy prey, Ryou thought, and with that in mind he took aim. One had been killed instantly, after the first shot. By the time he had ready himself to kill the second, they were already halfway through the clearing. After the second one was dead, Ryou, measured there would be no time to kill the third one, so he threw himself to the side to avoid it, or tried to at least. The moment he tried to avoid the creature, he almost got whip lashed, and landed on his rear, by the time he had regained his bearings the balloon was inches away from his face, startled, Ryou put his arm in front of his face to protect himself.

Pain was the first thing that registered... Not as much as unbearable, but it had been so unexpected that he gritted his teeth. Looking towards the end of his arm he saw the cause. The orange monstrosity had sunk its teeth on his hand. Trying to shake the thing amounted to nothing, the creature had no intention of letting go of his hand.

"Motherfucker, let go!" Roared Ryou, before grabbing the accursed thing, ripping it from his hand, and throwing it towards the other end of the clearing.

The aggressor righted itself, and hopped twice before an arrow exterminated its existence.

Breathing hard, Ryou lowered his bow before inspecting the damage. Four small puncture wounds on the back, and front of his hand, deep enough to draw blood but not much else.

Taking a look behind him, Ryou saw what had caused this particular bad encounter. His cloak was entangled in a thorn bush, one that he had neither seen, nor felt.

Are you fucking kidding It took a moment for everything to sink in, and when it did Ryou placed his palm over his face.

He had carefully thought every one of his steps, taking all precautions he could think of. Rationalized every little thing. But apparently he had forgotten the most basic of things... common sense.

Because bringing a long hooded cloak to a dense forested area is such an amazing idea, right..? Ryou thought sarcastically.

The bloody thing had look cool, that had been the biggest motivator for buying it, not even taking a second to think about it logically. And now, he couldn't help but to feel a spark of anger towards himself, out of sheer stupidity.

The cause for his anger hadn't been the damage to the cloak nor the damage to his hand, the true reason being what the mistake trully represented. He had made a mistake in judgment, a very easy one to overlook, and the price had been paid. It was pure luck that the enemy had been a balloon, but if it had been anything more dangerous, then that small error could have sent him to an early grave. Why? Because the bloody cloak looked cool, nothing more.

Calming himself, and taking a seat he looked at his hand again. The bleeding had mostly stopped, leaving only a faint trail of red in his hand where the blood had leaked. Looking at it carefully another thought crossed his mind, one far more solemn, and grim.

In the exaltation of discovering his ability, and spending hours pretty much one-shooting everything, he had made another mistake. The very same mistake that had been responsible for the death of every single one of his characters back when he played games in hardcore... Arrogance. He had developed a false sense of security, one attributed to the small amount of power he now wielded. That false sense of security had put in his brain, the assumption that because one arrow was enough to kill everything so far, there existed no danger. The wound on his hand would be a reminder, a reminder that no matter what kind of power he wielded, his existence would always be that of a mortal, and that wouldn't change even if he had one hundred levels.

If the balloon had been just a little faster, it could have sunk its teeth in his face, and he could have lost an eye. He had to remember that he wasn't Naofumi, he couldn't afford to tank hits… Ryou had come to that conclusion the day before, but apparently it hadn't been enough for it to sink in.

This really isn't a game … No matter how many times I have told myself that, somewhere in my mind I still assumed it was, on some level at least…

He had to be even more careful, and mindful of everything not just what lay in front of him, or he wouldn't survive for long.

With those thoughts in mind Ryou shoved his tattered cloak inside his inventory.

The rest of the grind had come, and gone in a flash. Ryou, continued to level up, although far more carefully this time, taking into consideration both the monsters, and the environment, not wanting to repeat his latest blunter.

Collecting an assortment of plants, remains, and other materials, had Ryou unlocking bow after bow, some of them giving a passive increase in stats, others just non-combat abilities, very much like Naofumi's shields in canon, but he was using the Shield Hero's upgrading method so it only made sense that his own progress was similiar to his.

The process of utilizing his new bought tools was an interesting one. He already knew that wielding anything else besides his bow would result in a nasty shock. A fact that had come true when he tried to cut a small tree. So after thinking about it, and remembering that Naofumi had been able to more or less use a pickaxe he decided to absorb the small woodcutting axe, not sure what to expect.

[Woodcutting Bow - Equipment Bonus - +1 to Woodcutting Technique, Serrated Shot]

The description on the new bow was quite weird. The new skill, had the name 'Serrated Shot', yet it suffered a penalty on damage, making it less efficient then his normal arrows. What it allowed, was for his arrows to cut down trees, and wood. Interested on how it worked, Ryou released his new skill on the small tree, watching as the arrow impacted with the trunk, and downed the whole thing, with a loud crashing sound. Upon closer inspection he could see an almost perfect cut on the remaining stump.

So it can cut a tree perfectly, yet it has a penalty against monsters..? Once again, the system behind his own legendary weapon was a confusing blend of real life, and video game logic. It made no sense, realistically, yet in a weird way it made sense if you were in a video game - gathering skills, where never used against mobs.

I think its this kind of crap, that makes the others believe this is a game

Leaving those thoughts behind, Ryou unleashed his arrows on the trunk of the tree, watching has each one went through, and trimmed it perfectly, until he was left with nothing but planks of different sizes. While an interesting ability, that might be handy to have down the line, right now it was mostly useless to him. Picking a small plank he let his Bow do its thing.

[Woodwork Bow - Equipment Bonus - +1 to Woodworking Technique]

Carpenters all-around the world, cry in despair, for your Nemesis has arrived... Ryou thought in amusement before releasing a snort. It would be a good ability if he ever decided to buy a house, and furnish it. Other then that he doubted that making wood furniture would be a good choice for money making.

Ryou then repeated the process with both the pickaxe, and the shovel for similar effects.

[Mining Bow - Equipment Bonus - +1 to Mining Technique, Drilling Shot]

[Digging Bow - Equipment Bonus - +1 to Digging Technique, Tunneling Shot]

After a few tests of his new weapons, Ryou came to the conclusion they worked in the same manner as, the previous bow. While not particularly useful, he was sure that having the ability to dig things out, and mining ores would definitely be a boon somewhere down the line.

After that he had resumed his grinding session, taking upon himself to switch between bows every time he mastered one, trying to master has many as he could. This process had the benefit of raising his stats, though the one that increased the most by far had been agility. He had also gain access to abilities like gathering, butchering, fishing, and blending.

He had entertained the thought of dipping into the blending ability, there were certain benefits to be able to make potions of all kinds, although after a while he decided to leave it for now, after all the only potions he actually used were health restoring ones, and they were not that expensive.

It had actually come has a surprise that he could easily break even, just by killing low level monsters. Balloon remains went from one to three cooper each, depending on the color with Orange being the cheapest. and most common, however Usapil pelts for instances, could go from twenty to fifty cooper depending on the quality, and condition. Honestly the first one he had killed had left his stomach quite queasy, Usapils unlike Balloons actually bled, and sometimes survived the first arrow which resulted in a bloody mess, not even counting the whole butchering process.

After spending the great majority of his day hunting, Ryou had returned to town, dropping by one of the monster materials merchant to sell the surplus of remains, and other materials.

It was during this trip that Ryou realized something, at every single corner almost everyone had been gossiping. It had only been a day, and apparently everyone already knew what Naofumi had supposedly done. Like every piece of gossip ever, especially on a medieval era like town, the facts where already being stretched out beyond normal proportions. One variation that he heard from two old ladies that had not been regulating their volume, detailed how the other heroes had been called to detain Naofumi, himself included. That had been an interesting story... Especially since he had not laid eyes on the Shield Hero after leaving the Castle, although in part he had made an effort to avoid the said hero.

If they could convert gossip into experience points, there would have been no need to summon us, in Melromarc... Even the common civilian would have been able to one-shot anything the waves could have thrown at them…

Although once again, he could almost bet the reason behind the rumors, having spread as far, and as fast has they had, could be attributed to his Majesty, the king of douchery, Aultcray.

On a slightly more positive note he had been able to level up, from level one to five in one day. Honestly that was more progress then he had expected, and even more impressive was the boost to his attributes, especially since almost all of the bows that gave passive attribute bonus, focused on agility. The biggest improvement from leveling besides agility, had been on attack, obviously, and surprisingly enough on his health points. Ryou had yet to figure out how the health points system worked. The Balloon that bit him hadn't inflicted any damage, so… How did it work exactly?

One possibility would be that only life threatening wounds counted, or maybe it didn't need to be a life threatening one, a grave wound would suffice. Or a third possibility was, the damage had been so small it didn't even registered.

No matter what theory rung true, Ryou had no hurry to test them, even if he knew that it would happen sooner, rather than later.

Laying on his bed, arms crossed behind his head, Ryou found himself skipping through the help menu. So far the menu had been a well of information that hadn't been explained in canon, He had to question why the others hadn't bothered reading it. Motoyasu, and Ren were one thing, they both thought the whole thing had been a game, so maybe they were afraid of the 'noob' stigma that came from using it, or maybe they just hadn't cared enough. But, Naofumi, he had actually been showed looking at it, and yet he had failed to grasp things like the teleportation system between others.

It was partly due to these deep musings, that Ryou suffered his third, less then gracious fall, since arriving in Melromarc.

"You seem to be doing well Yuusha-sama…" The voice broke through the silence of his room, Spooked Ryou made a move to raise himself, the problem came when instead of his hand meeting the bed it met nothing but air, and the result of such action send him tumbling into the ground.

"A word of advice if you allow me, Yuusha-sama, you really need to work on your landings." The now familiar voice held a tone of amusement that put a glare on Ryou's eyes. Raising his head he took in the familiar mask of the woman, that had also send him tumbling into the ground on his first night in Melromarc.

The 'Shadow Maid', he had started to call her that, at least mentally, had taken a seat on his now opened window. How had she been able to not only open the window from the outside, but done so without him noticing he honestly had no clue.

"And who, exactly, is it, that has made it a hobby, of making sure, I end up on the ground, every time she makes an appearance?" Ryou growled out, now moving to take a seat on the bed. The Shadow Maid still had the same small smile on her face that almost looked mocking.

"Your faults, are you're own Yuusha-sama, I simply thought prudent to finally announce my presence, it was you who failed to correctly measure the size of the bed." Although that actually rung somewhat true, Ryou couldn't help the urge that arose from within, a urge that told him to send the woman to a very nasty place, before calming himself.

"If you are going to keep popping in like this, at least have the decency of warning a guy beforehand." And Ryou most definitely heard a less then ladylike snort, that came from her direction.

"I'll take that into consideration next time..." So there would be a next time, Ryou contemplated before launching a question.

"So why exactly have you come? A lady climbing up to a man's window in the middle of the night, is pretty suspicious, and one might get the wrong idea..." If the woman had the intent of screwing with him at every chance, then he would pay back in kind.

"Well if you, Yuusha-sama had the decency of paying me dinner first... Then perhaps that wrong idea, might turn into a correct one…" The Shadow maid answered, with a coy tone, that left Ryou gaping at how easily she had turn the tables. He expected a woman from the medieval times to not be used to such a direct approach, and become flustered, but not only had she taken it in stride she had turned the tables on him, she knew how to play the game, probably way better then he did.

"Interesting propositions aside, tell me, Yuusha-sama, what is your opinion on Naofumi-sama's crime?" She asked offhandedly.

"Why do you want to know?" Ryou barked, and he couldn't help but to curse mentally, the defensiveness had come out as a reflex. He took a deep breath, and closed his eyes momentarily.

"Simple curiosity, I would like to know the thoughts of my preferred Hero, that's all." The fact that she admitted to have favorites, actually surprised him.

"So we are playing favorites now, are we?" Even in the darkness he saw her shrug clearly.

"I never went out of my way to hide that fact, actually its quite obvious, really... And you... Yuusha-sama are deflecting." The Shadow Maid had easily seen through it. Out of everyone he had personally met on this world, she was by far the sharpest one, and that also made her dangerous, very dangerous. Reflecting, he decided the best approach would be an half-truth.

"Okay fine, since you are so interested in it, here's what I think…" Ryou, interlaced his fingers on top of his lap, before continuing… "Naofumi... He didn't really struck me as someone who would do something like that, however we didn't spent that much time together, so while I have my doubts, I can't discount the possibility that he, actually did what rumors say." The woman just hummed in thought, before interjecting.

"No doubt that someone has observant has you Yuusha-sama, as already realized that our esteemed king holds no love for Naofumi-sama…" She stated, almost offhandedly.

"I might have noticed... A bit of concealed hostility..." Ryou conceded while a myriad of thoughts crossed his mind.

"It won't remained concealed for much longer I'm afraid, our Majesty as, lets say, a distaste towards the Shield Hero, and he's certainly not the only one."

Ryou closed his eyes momentarily, he had a small inkling of what the maid had been trying to point out, and he decided to take a leap of faith, and meet her half way.

"Are you, implying that the charges on Naofumi might have been fabricated?" Ryou questioned tone slightly more heavy.

"Perhaps they were, perhaps they weren't, I'm sure you will eventually find out which one is it." That almost forced a groan out of him.

"Will you ever give me a straight answer?" He asked in exasperation, the Shadow Maid actually had the nerve to released a small laugh.

"Yuusha-sama, next thing you know, you will be asking me to fight the waves for you. I cant do your job for you, now, can I?" Meaning he probably would never get a straight answer out of her, however…

"You know what... That idea actually has merit." Ryou stated in a joking manner, although, given the skills she possessed, the Maid would probably make a very nice party member.

She let out another laugh, before swinging her legs to the outside of the window.

"Unfortunately, I have other equally pressing duties to attend, for example I still have a report to make…" She trailed off, and Ryou released a sound of amusement.

"To that mysterious mistress of yours?"

"Indeed, but before I take my leave…" she paused, and turned her head in his direction before continuing, "Here's a little piece of interesting trivia, although his Majesty might be making some very questionable decisions as of late, he's still the King of Melromarc, that fact hasn't changed... He will never stand for people who profit from the fear, and devastation brought about by the waves... He might have turned a blind eye to it in the past, especially if it helped in his crusade, but he won't risk angering my mistress anymore than he already did, on that front at least." She finished, and Ryou could only stand there confused.

"That…" he begun "…is completely random information, how the hell is that even useful?" The only thing he could gather from that statement, was that the maid pretty much confirmed who her mistress was, if even the king threaded lightly around her.

"Just something to keep in mind, I'm sure this little piece of knowledge will be useful to you in the future. Well until next time Yuusha-sama, and don't die out there... You are my favorite after all." And the accursed woman actually had the nerve to send him a flying kiss before disappearing.

After she left, Ryou couldn't help but to mutter, "What actually was the point of that..?"

Following what had been another sleepless night for the most part, Ryou continued to lay in bed. His thoughts throughout the entire night were focused on the Shadow Maid, and their second encounter. The woman once again came, and went like the wind, leaving more questions then answers.

One of those questions pertained to Naofumi, he already knew that the charges against the Shield Hero had been a set up. The woman however hadn't been aware of that fact, so she appeared to try, and point him towards the right direction, perhaps in hopes he would give Naofumi a helping hand.

The Queen knew for sure that her husband, and the church had quite the hate for the shield hero. In the original canon, if he could remember correctly, she actually went has far has to send Melty to remind the King that he should play nice with Naofumi. But if the Maid, and the Queen by extension knew what kind of person he was, then they should also know, that Ryou wouldn't throw himself into the fire to help Naofumi. It didn't matter if the people at large thought he was a hero, Ryou was far from being that righteous, so what had been the point of that? Had she just done it to plant the seed of doubt in him..? Was that her aim all along..?

Another question had been the complete random piece of information she had left him with. The only thing he could collect from it at first, had been the fact she pretty much confirmed his suspicions about her mistress being the queen. The woman had after all confirmed that even the king was wary of her mistress, had that been her goal? To point him out that the true power in Melromarc rested with her mistress?

That fact made no sense, since it hadn't been a secret that the country worked on an Absolute Matriarchy.

Or maybe it was... Ryou, contemplated, after thinking deeply about it. That fact wasn't exposed until Melty herself stated it.

Before that, there had never even been a mention of a queen. Perhaps the King, and the Church of The Three Heroes, moved to suppress that particular piece of information, while the Queen had been out, and about in the other countries. That actually made some sense, because they couldn't have the other Heroes question the King's authority, Naofumi most of all. After all if he found out before hand, about the existence of someone, who possessed more power in the country then the King, then he might have become desperate enough to take his chances with that person. Knowing Naofumi the probability of that happening would be pretty low, with his trust issues, and general distaste for nobles, but the King would never allow such a thing to pass.

Besides that there was the last piece of the random message. '…He will never stand for people who profit from the fear, and devastation brought about by the waves...He might have turned a blind eye to it in the past, especially if it helped in his crusade...'

What about Raphtalia's village..? How had that benefited his crusade? Had that happened because the demi-humans worshiped the shield hero, and the king decided to turn a blind eye, like the maid had mentioned... If that was the case it made a little bit of sense... After the wave, the knights themselves laid waste to the rest of the village, and sold the inhabitants into slavery. Sure the orders might have come down from some other noble, they did appear to have some amount of power over the military forces of Melromarc. But even if the orders for such a thing, came from someone else, like that bastard of a noble that had owned Raphtalia, and her childhood friends, that kind of actions reached the king's ears for sure, and he took no action at all as far as Ryou had been aware.

The only conclusion that he could make would be that taking out the village would cut some support towards the Shield Hero, and that definitely helped the king in his anti-shield hero movement.

All of that destruction, and suffering... For what..? Ryou didn't actually knew the reason behind Aultcray's hatred towards the Shield Hero, he had no recollection of it being explained in the Story.

Not that it actually matters, the man will continue with his hatred even when he is forcibly brought down to his knees Something that had actually happen in canon.

Well there's no point in speculating, for now that has nothing to do with me, even if I wanted to help, I hardly have any power to do so... The only thing that truly matters for now is getting stronger, and surviving…

With that though Ryou got up from bed, it would be another day of Monster Hunting after all…

Chapter Text

Well there's no point in speculating, for now that has nothing to do with me, even if I wanted to help, I hardly have any power to do so... The only thing that truly matters for now is getting stronger, and surviving…

With that thought Ryou got up from bed, it would be another day of Monster Hunting after all…

A funny, and embarrassing detail that Ryou had completely forgotten, embarrassing because of how long it had taken him to realize it, had been the following - back on his original world, Ryou used contact lens. It took him three whole days before realizing they weren't in his eyes, and apparently he didn't need them anymore.

After getting hit, and subsequently summoned to this world, if he were to go with his theory, then the legendary weapon had healed apparently also extended towards his bad sight, and more. In hindsight a bow hero with bad eyesight would have made a very pitiful, and hilarious thing indeed. He had also been able to easily get up in the morning, and spend the entire day without an headache - no doubt he no longer had a need for caffeine, the healing effect also extended towards his smoking addiction. All in all the legendary weapon had the ability to pull out even more extreme 'miracles' then he thought possible.

Getting ready, Ryou still had to take care of some other business before he could restart his grind.

Going out into the streets, it had been obvious what the topic of nearly every conversation in the air was. Naofumi had gone from notorious, to pretty much the most hated person in town in the span of two days. There were also rumors how he had threatened some merchants into buying items from him. Hearing that one had made Ryou's lips twitch a little, an ingenious use of balloons, one that only Naofumi could put in practice, since for the average Joe, balloons could be quite dangerous even to another hero - he knew that much now.

The one thing he wanted to do before going out, was getting a hold of some protective hand gear, he had discarded the idea of using gauntlets because inhibited his ability to shoot arrows, and it was far too cumbersome to shoot in rapid succession. Some gloves were in order, leather ones, if he had a pair he might have avoided the accident from the day before.

Making his way into Erhard's store, Ryou wasted no time in making his presence known.

"Hey Old man! Your favorite customer has arrived!" Ryou shouted since the man was nowhere in sight. It only took a couple of moments before Erhard's voice shouted from the back.

"Whoever told you that you were my favorite customer?" Finally appearing from the door, cleaning his hands with a dirty rug, most likely from whatever work Ryou had interrupted.

With a pointed look towards the blacksmith Ryou couldn't help to respond, "Are you saying I'm not? And here I thought we had something special…"

"The only thing special about a brat like you is your money, and that thing on your wrist!" The blacksmith returned without missing a beat.

Ouch... even if its not particularly incorrect

Eyes taking on a more challenging glare, slightly turning his body Ryou pointed towards the door with his thumb. "Then maybe I should take my money somewhere else, if that's how I'm going to be treated…"

Raising his hands in surrender, Erhard was quick in trying to defuse the situation.

"Okay! Okay! So maybe I do favor you more then most of my other customers, so much so, that I might be willing to give you a slight discount! How is that?"

Turning back, and coming towards the Blacksmith, grin present in his face, Ryou crossed his arms over the counter, "Now we're talking, I knew we had something special."

Looking relived, yet releasing an huffing sound Erhard also bended on the counter. "Yeah... Yeah... So what do you need brat?"

"Well... It turns out, I need something to protect my hands after all…"

Erhard scratched his beard, "I showed you the gauntlets that made part of that set, and you refused them... Had a change of heart?"

Laying his face on his arms Ryou replied, "Not really, they were awkward to use... I was thinking something among the lines of leather gloves..."

Erhard hummed in contemplation, "Well I have all kinds of those, just let me get them, and you can pick the ones you like the most..." Erhard made a move towards the cabinet at the corner, when the sound of the door opening reached both of their ears.

Turning his head, Ryou could only think about how bad his luck had to be, when he took in the new costumer.

Are you kidding me?! The one person I wanted to avoid..! I knew this was bound to happen but seriously?!

For his part the new guest had actually realized who was also in the store, eyes narrowing, and frown deepening.

"Ryou…" Naofumi snarled between clenched teeth. That shook Ryou out of his reverie before, he too narrowed his eyes, before taking a breath to calm himself, and nodded towards the Shield Hero.

"Naofumi…" He greeted, his tone bland. The Shield hero dismissed it with a scuff, before making his way into the counter, passing Ryou, and placing six silver coins on the table.

"Old man, I need a weapon she can use. Keep it under six silver." He pretty much ordered, and that was when Ryou noticed the small figure next to Naofumi.

Brown hair, with a small pair of fluffy looking ears popping out of her head, she was really a scrawny thing to look at, but her eyes were the worst, Ryou noted - in them existed no happiness, there was nothing at all in there.

Raphtalia… God's she looks like a zombie, for a child to have eyes like that... This world really is fucked up… She was nothing but a child, but she looked like she no longer had a will to live, no one that young should look so defeated.

"Kid... You…" Erhard trailed off, before releasing a sigh, and moving to the corner. After picking a small dagger the blacksmith threw in some other gear, and handled it to the small girl before gently pushing her towards the dressing room.

The blacksmith turned to look at the shield hero, who had leaned against a corner with his arms, crossed and eyes closed, intent on ignoring everyone. With another sigh the man went back to his resting position on the corner.

Ryou had finally taken his eyes off the dressing room, they had followed the small demi-human since he had seen her. With a cough in his fist he broke the silence.

"Well... Since the little one his getting ready, now would be a good time for you to show me what you got...". Erhard just looked confuse, most likely forgetting about his request, after what had unfolded.

"Ohh yeah! Right! Let me get that for you..." Erhard, snapped his fingers, before moving towards the cabinet once again, and after picking a few pairs he laid them out on the counter.

Ryou proceeded to try out the gloves, although he noted that they mostly felt the same.

"So... What brought this sudden need for gloves?" Apparently the Blacksmith needed to break the awkward silence, that had fallen once more.

Ryou who was in the middle of trying out another pair of gloves, took on a pinched expression,"Lets just say I had a run with a fellow that decided my hand would make a nice chewing toy, and leave it at that." A snort came from the corner, and Ryou's face twitched in a bad way.

Fine... Have it your way, Naofumi

"And you know old man, unlike the ones that have the title of Tate no Yuusha... Who can just stand there tanking hit after hit, us normal folk actually have to buy defensive gear." Ryou finished hands raised in the air in a 'what can you do' fashion.

"Tchh, your talking pretty high, and mighty, for someone who actually has a weapon. Don't talk like having a shield is a good thing, You don't know what this is like..."

Ryou actually straightened himself, and was about to send a not so amicable reply towards the other hero, when the curtain from the dresser room opened.

"Master... I'm done.." The small demi-human murmured looking down at the ground.

Naofumi took a couple of steps uncrossing his arms before stopping at the center of the room.

"Took you long enough." he snapped followed by an apology from the small girl.

"Whatever... Raphtalia draw your sword!" he ordered before pushing his cloak away revealing a balloon very much lodged on his sides. Raphtalia, stepped back with a shriek at the sight, before falling backwards.

"I want you to stab it!" Naofumi ordered again, grabbing the Orange monstrosity between his hands, and holding it in front of himself.

"N-no!" Raphtalia, refused in panic, before bending, and whimpering in pain as purple lightning arched around her.

It had been one thing to see it in a screen, it was a completely different one to watch in real life, Ryou clenched his teeth at the sight.

This is just wrong...

"You're just hurting yourself... Do it!" He ordered once more, and the lightning stopped has the little girl followed through, clenching the dagger between her hands,she darted forward with a shout. The dagger got caught between the balloon's teeth.

"That's not gonna work! Put some back into it!" Naofumi shouted, pushing the balloon back, and Raphtalia who had been pulling her dagger almost fell again. Righting herself she darted forward once more and this time her dagger hit true, the balloon popping from existence.

The experience window appeared in Naofumi field of view, and has he started conversing with Erhard, Ryou turned his attention towards the small girl who was now once again on the ground.

"You okay little one?" Ryou asked gently extending his hand towards her. Raphtalia for her part only looked surprised at being addressed before nodding, and hesitantly grabbing his hand. With a small heave she was back on her feet, and not a moment too soon since Naofumi decided to address her.

"From here on out, I expect you to kill monsters for me, and in exchange I'll protect you!" He declared, and Raphtalia's expression changed from afraid to confused during Naofumi's declaration.

"Kid, you're not going to die a painless death…" Erhard remarked after observing the whole thing.

Naofumi actually looked pleased at hearing that, "I'll take that has a compliment."

"I'm pretty sure it wasn't one." Ryou said in aggravation, sure the entire thing had happen in the story, and was needed, yet there were other ways to motivate the small girl into fighting.

"This isn't any of your business Ryou so don't butt in." Naofumi seethed before turning back, and going towards the door.

If Ryou's patience had been low before, the dismissal just now had made it reach dangerous levels, and he had to close his eyes while taking a deep breath to calm himself before, he did something he would regret. It only took a couple of moments before he addressed Naofumi who was at the door now.

"Naofumi…" Ryou called out making the shield hero stop in his tracks, "...look your right... It isn't any of my business, and a shield isn't even a weapon so you need someone to fight for you... I do get that. Just…" Ryou paused before taking another breath, and continuing, "...just take into consideration that she's still a child, and since she's a slave, chances are that she had it even worse than you." Ryou pleaded to the shield hero, who looked perplexed before his face changed into a snarl.

"You don't get anything at all! You haven't the slightest idea of what, I have to go through daily, so don't talk like you do!" Naofumi snarled, his body shaking in barely suppressed rage.

Taking another breath, Ryou looked directly into Naofumi's eyes that almost burned with anger. "Once again your right, but let me tell you something. Right now everyone hates you, but you know what? They aren't going to win in the long run, because for better, or for worse you are the Shield Hero, and they need you, maybe not now, but eventually they will have no choice but to rely on you to save their asses… However, if you start lashing out everywhere, you will bring down not only yourself, but also everyone that might have sticked with you… Think about that…" Ryou finished, and something from what he said appeared to have reached the Shield Hero since his expression turned sullen, his anger deflating like a balloon, before he turned around, and walked out.

"Lets go Raphtalia…" Ryou heard Naofumi mutter, and with that they were both gone.

Erhard let out an huffing sound, before commenting, "That kid... I don't know if he just got corrupted, or if its the entire country that's in the wrong…"

Ryou looked down, his eyes found the floor, yet his mind was somewhere far away, "You know went you look at this world from the surface, it looks amazing with Heroes, Dragons, and Magic... My old world had nothing like it, so for most people this looks just like a dream come true...However if you stop, and peak beneath the rocks, you will see that this world is as rotten as my old one, if not more so…" Ryou commented, with what he now knew was the truth.

"The world you came from didn't have magic, and yet you are saying its just bad has this one? I find that hard to believe, if your people didn't have the power to enforce their will on others, how did it ended as bad as this one?" Erhard asked in slight disbelief, however Ryou found a small humorless laugh escaping him.

"You think magic is the problem? No, just no, Erhard... Humans are the problem... We don't need magic, or special powers to be absolute bastards towards each other. This is true, in this world, my old world, or any other world were humans exist..." Ryou finished. At the end of the day, the entire of history as he knew it relating to his old world, was full of blood, and discrimination. It took thousands of years for some order to establish itself, and even then…

"Yeah... I get where you are coming from, I suppose.." Erhard conceded, before regaining some of his habitual exuberance, "But that aside, that was quite the speech you gave to the Shield Bro! Someone been practicing his hero charisma in front of the mirror." The blacksmith teased lightly.

That brought out another laugh from Ryou, but this one actually had meaning, and he shook his head in denial, "Not even close. I honestly don't know where that came from.. I guess, I just felt the need to say something…" trailing off Ryou looked towards the celling before continuing

"Naofumi isn't a bad guy... He just got dealt a bad hand, however if you only focus on the bad, eventually you will come to understand that while you were to busy hating fate, you might have lost all the other good things that you had, and when that happens, you will look back, and only find regret…" Ryou's voice sounded very far away in Erhard's hears.

"Kid, you're way too young to be sounding like an old man, talking about regrets, and what not…" And that put a small smile on Ryou's lips

"I suppose you are right, I'm still here after all, better make the most of it." Now was the blacksmith turn to laugh while he patted Ryou on the shoulder with a little too much enthusiasm.

"Now that's the spirit! So you can start living your utmost by paying for those gloves! After all, for me, money equals happiness, and I for one, love to be swimming in happiness!" Ryou released an actual laugh of mirth.

Honestly this guy is really too much … Thanks Erhard…

The forest beyond the hills was home to a lot of creatures, strange was the fact that every single one of them was extremely aggressive towards humans.

Even things like the Usapils, were herbivores from what Ryou had seen, yet had no problem sinking there teeth in anything human, on sight.

It was during these contemplation's, that Ryou came across a clearing, similar to the rest he had come across. A wide space, surrounded by tree's, and bushes, however there was something different about this particular one... The moment he stepped in it, all of the hairs on his arm stood up, and a feeling of dread coursed through his body for no discern reason. Taking a look around, trying to find what was it, that was freaking his instincts out, Ryou noticed something shining in the bushes, reflecting some of the sun light that peered through.

Narrowing his eyes, Ryou slowly made his way towards the shinning object, looking from side to side, yet not seeing anything out of the ordinary besides the feeling of dread. His feet steeping in the dry grass with a crunching sound that echoed across the clearing, finally he saw it, the blade of what was most likely a sword peaking out of the bush, part of the blade shined, the other part was dirty with a dark brown layer encroached in it.

Is that blood..?

Crouching near the bush, Ryou looked a it for a couple of seconds before carefully grabbing the blade on the clean side, and pulling it out. It was definitely a sword, but what came with it made him fall on his rear with a startled gasp!

"Gahhh!" His gasp echoed in the trees. Eyes widen, in both surprise, and disgust he took in the sight before him. Attached to the handle of the blade still partly griping it, was a hand, or what was left of it, since it was mangled almost beyond recognition.

If before only the hairs on his arm had been standing up, now every single one on his body was pointing upwards, and he could hear his heart beating in his ears.

Shit! I saw enough movies like Jurassic park to know were this is going..!

No sooner had he come to his conclusion, a sound of twigs crunching reach him. With wide eyes he took a look in the direction of the sound, and all color drained from his face.

"Grrrrrrrr..." The thing growled, grey, and brown fur covered its body, standing on all four of its legs, lips pulled back in a snarl showing a rows of very sharp teeth, blueish slitted eyes locked on his being. Ryou's eyes narrowed in focus, an his dominant hand formed a semi-close fist, getting ready to call upon his weapon,

The thing that now could vaguely be identified has a wolf, move slowly in his direction, and another crunching sound came from the right.

Ryou refused to take his eyes of the monstrous wolf in front of him, for fear of springing it into action, but his mind did registered the sound.

There's more then one

Relaxing his hand, he put it flat on the ground, hesitating for a fraction of a second, before pooling all of his strength into his legs. He bolt backwards towards where he came, running has fast as he could, not even daring to look behind, where he heard something crash, more then likely in the spot he had been previously, followed by a snarl.

Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! That is not a wolf! That thing is the size of a freaking Mastiff!

Ryou keep running, far faster then he had been able to in his past life, jumping, and dodging all manner of obstacles from trees to boulders. Vaulting over a big root, that extended itself above the ground, blood pumping everywhere in his body, he heard the sound of paws hitting the ground behind him along with multiple snarls, yelps, and barks.

How many are there!? He still didn't dare to look back, afraid to take his eyes off the path. The forest was almost a blur. After weaving around a tree, he saw an obstacle in front of him, but not even that was enough to make him slow down.

Shit! I'll never make it to the other side, but to hell with it… In front of Ryou was a opening where a river flowed rapidly from the mountain, and made his way to Castle Town.

Ryou had no idea how deep the thing was, but it probably wouldn't matter with how fast the water was flowing, either way the river had to be a better alternative then the monstrous wolves behind him.

He broke through the trees, and in a blink he ran towards a boulder on the riverbank half sunk in the water. Stepping on it without losing any speed he leaped, and to his very short astonishment he hit the ground on the other side a moment later, before rolling into himself. He was up in a fraction of a second, not even registering the few scratches on the side of his face.

One by one, they came out of the woods, five in total, far too big to be considered normal wolves, they stood snarling from a distance, stalking the riverbank. Ryou released his bow, and took aim before lowering it slightly, his eyes widening, and his face palling even more, a small shiver running through his body.

My god… From the trees emerged a sixth creature, grey, and brown also covered his fur, but this one had patches missing, however there was a crucial difference between this one, and the rest. it was bigger, much bigger then the rest of the wolves.

It's the size of an horse Ryou couldn't help but to make the comparison.

It came to a stop slightly behind the others, but instead of snarling, it just stood there, has if observing its prey.

Is it the pack leader..?

Ryou gritted his teeth, and raised his bow once more, big or not, the river made the perfect obstacle, they apparently couldn't fight from a distance, but he could. Taking aim, beyond the river at the middle one, he opened fire, releasing an arrow


It hit near the shoulder, and the wolf flinched back with a whimper, red painting the green grass of the river bank.


The second arrow hit it in the now exposed side, another whimper, Ryou took aim this time for the head, and released what would for sure be the killing shot.


What?! Ryou looked in disbelief at what he had just seen, he had fired the arrow intent on finishing the wolf he had aimed at, but moments before that arrow connected, another wolf at put himself in the way, and took the hit for his wounded companion.

He didn't had the time to think about it anymore, because a piercing sound, rung across the open area, the biggest wolf had released an howl, and Ryou winced almost covering his ears at the sound. The effect had been instantaneous, the other wolves scrambled back into the forest, the wounded one limping behind until only the Leader remained alone, observing Ryou, then after a few moments, it too disappeared into the forest.

Ryou just stood there trying to pull himself together, looking at his hand he took note that it was shaking. He had been incredibly lucky to be alive, good thing he had decided against fighting back, with those numbers he would have been torn to shreds.

Snapping himself out of trying to understand the last few moments, Ryou turned around making his way back into the forest, in the general direction of Castle Town, determined to put as much distance as he could from this place.

He covered about three meters, when he heard a loud splashing sound, and water rained down on him, turning around in a flash, Ryou surveyed the river noting something being pulled by the strong current. A flash of movement had him turn his eyes towards the forest beyond the river. Out of it came one of the wolves, quickly crossing the distance, and jumping across the river. The monster hit his of the riverbank side with its front paws, trying desperately to climb out of the water. The moment one of his hind paws made contact with the earth, an arrow hit it in the neck, and the wolf fell into the water.

Ryou had reacted on instinct, before he noticed on the other side all three of the remaining smaller ones breaking through the tree line. Ryou sealed his bow as he turned, and once again dashed away as fast as he possibly could, his ears picking up another splash,

"You can't be serious!" Ryou finally screamed, in a mix of astonishment, and fear while running at top speed. The god damned things just didn't know when to actually give up. He ignored the experience window that popped up on the corner of his vision, that he would later realize had been enough for a level up.

After a few moments the snarls returned, but he could finally see the hills, a few moments later he was out of the forest, his eyes taking in the glorious vision of Castle Town in the distance, yet a sound that sounded like voices reached him, and he quickly turned his head in that direction.

This just keeps getting better! Ryou screamed in his head sarcastically, before making a split decision, slightly changing direction, and running. He reached his target grabbing it by the waist, yet ignoring the startled noise the figure made, and moved it on to his shoulder like a sack of potatoes, before dashing once again.

"What?! Ryou?! What the hell are you doing?! Ryou!" Naofumi shouted indignantly.

"Naofumi! Run!" Ryou screamed, and something on his voice must have showed how serious the situation was to the Shield hero, because he took a look behind himself, before breaking into a mad dash, teeth clench, and face pale white.

"Ahhhhhh!" Came a terrified scream from the bundle in his shoulder that had started squirming. No doubt Raphtalia had finally noticed what exactly was behind them.

"Raphtalia, stop squirming or you'll fall off!" Ryou shouted trying to keep his grip on her.

They crossed the hills in record time, Castle Town now quite in view, almost shining.

"Ryou stop! They aren't behind us anymore!" Naofumi shouted, and Ryou looked back confirming it, but not slowing down in the slightest.

Fooling me twice, these things are not..! Ryou thought before responding. "They did this before! Don't stop!"

And he kept going until he reached the crossing bridge leading to the gate, the few farmers, and soldiers looking in curiosity yet he paid them no mind. After stooping Ryou set the Demi-human girl down, and hunched over, hands on his knees gasping for breath. It took a while to get his breathing under control but when he did, he took a look at Raphtalia. The little girl had her eyes wide opened looking into nothing, lip quivering, and shaking like a leaf.

Poor thing she's spooked out of her mind...Ohh… Ryou thought in pity before coming to the realization, wolves were similar to dogs, and she still had her trauma.

"Hey its okay, they aren't chasing us any...Gah!" Ryou started gently before something forced him around, hands grabbing the collar of his armor, he saw Naofumi right in his face, eyes narrowed in rage, and lips peeled back in a snarl.

"What the fuck was that Ryou!? Is everything else not enough for you people, now you are trying to get me killed?!"

Chapter Text

" What the fuck was that Ryou!? Is everything else not enough for you people, now you are trying to get me killed?!"

In the total sum of his short life, Ryou had only been grabbed by the collar twice, and both times ended badly… The first for the other guy, the second, Ryou, and the other guy ended making a mess out of each other's face. This once, Ryou tried to resist the knee jerk reaction for a slight moment, however he failed miserably. Later he could have blamed the adrenaline still running in his system, yet that would be a lie… In reality this was something that had been brewing inside him since coming to this world, Naofumi's crap being the push that broke through the last wall. The sound of flesh hitting flesh echoed in the bridge, yet instead of hitting someones face, Ryou felt like he had just punched a concrete wall. However it had the desired effect, because the Shield Hero was forced to let him go, taking a few steps back almost falling backwards, immediately his hand flew to touch the abused cheek, now sporting a lovely red hue.

Ryou had honestly expect the Shield Hero to follow through, and launch himself at him, yet Naofumi just stood there looking at him in complete disbelief, as if he couldn't believe what had happened. Whether the disbelief was from the punch, or the fact that it hurt, Ryou didn't know, but at the moment he also didn't care.

"The fuck is wrong with you?! I just saved both your life, and Raphtalia's, yet the first thing you do is accuse me of trying to get you killed?!" Ryou snarled at the Shield Hero. Naofumi finally broke out of his reverie, throwing a nasty glare at Ryou, rubbing his cheek.

"It wouldn't be the first time you people try to screw me over!" He hissed, voice laced with venom.

Ryou straightened himself, and glared back. "Get the fuck over yourself Naofumi! I know this world is set in the Medieval Age, yet, I bet they have already found out that the sun doesn't rotate around the earth, but apparently you missed that one!"

"The hell is that suppose to mean?!" Naofumi demanded, taking a step towards Ryou.

Ryou also took a step towards Naofumi hardly intimidated, before deciding to elucidate the Shield Hero, firing back with the same amount of heat, "It means, that not everything is about you, you egocentric bastard! And guess what? Not everyone is out to make your life miserable, I for one have far to many things on my plate to even entertain the idea of screwing with you! Do you honestly think if, I wanted the both of you dead, I would have grabbed Raphtalia, and warned you?" Hearing that appeared to take at least some of the aggression from Naofumi, though he maintained the glare, and after a second he let out a sound of disdain.

"Even if that's the case, we were making quite the bit of progress, and you ruined it!" He complained still with a bit of heat.

"Ohh for god sake's, now you're just grasping at straws… Cry me a river, or two while you're at it will you. However if that's the problem, then excuse me, if the fact that, I was running for my life, ruined you're perfect day!" Now was Ryou's turn to scoff, finishing with heavy sarcasm. Naofumi apparently just wanted to be a douche for the sake of being one, and honestly Ryou was already at wits end, with the whole 'the world is bad, so I have the right to be a bastard to everyone's', routine.

"Why were you running in the first place? Aren't you one of the great three heroes?" Naofumi questioned after a second or two, with a mocking tone.

This guy! Ryou though bristling, before answering.

"Last I checked I'm not part of any secret group called the three great heroes, even calling us four Legendary heroes is a stretch as it is… So don't associate me with random things just to feed your martyrdom… But that aside, from my point of view you were also running quite fast weren't you?" Ryou fired back at the Shield Hero who looked indignant hearing the accusation.

"You stole the only thing, I have as a weapon you idiot!" Ryou gaped looking completely incredulous, and both his hands went flying to cover his face, before 'exploding'.

"Ohh my god… Are you actually listening to yourself! You're the idiot! Your weapon is a waist high little girl with a pocket knife! And just look at her! She's shaking more than a tree in the middle of a Hurricane! If you had stayed back there the both of you would have been turned to shreds!" Ryou shouted, and the poor demi-human girl was still very much afraid, although she had moved to stand at her master's side.

"Well perhaps it would have been better to stay back there! At least I wouldn't have to look at your stupid face, and listen to some half baked excuses!" Naofumi shouted back, and Ryou clench his fists, and teeth's.

Calm down Ryou, deep breaths... Take deep breaths, if you kill him, you will only screw yourself Ryou thought, and after a few deep breaths he tried to forced his body to relax.

"You know what? Screw it! I can tell that the only thing you want to do here is vent your frustrations… Anything I say to you falls on deaf ears. But don't worry Naofumi next time something like this happens, I'll just grab Raphtalia, and leave you to be wolf food." Ryou finished, before turning his back, and walking away. Honestly he had actually liked Naofumi as a character, however his real counterpart was just as stupid as the other heroes, or even more so at this point. Just because the world was screwing with you, didn't gave you the right to be an ass to everyone.

"Excuse me Yuusha-sama…" The man that approached him was a guard, in a full suit of armor, just like all the others, yet the most defining characteristic was the absurd amount of facial hair he had. Honestly if you were going to work in the 'military' the least they could do was look the part, although the idea behind it was probably to look rugged, and intimidating.

"Yes..?" Ryou almost drawled, far to tired to deal with anymore drama.

"I couldn't help but to have overheard your "conversation", if you can call it that, however you mentioned wolves, did I hear that correctly?" The man almost seemed amused by the entire thing, before turning slightly more serious.

"Yes, you heard correctly we were chased by a pack of 'big ass' wolves, you can ask that idiot he also saw them." Ryou replied waving towards Naofumi. The guard sent a scathing look at the shield hero before coughing in his fist.

"Hmm well yes, but, I don't think I can take his testimony into consideration…" The knight said emphasizing Naofumi, who for some reason had approach him yet again, and was in hearing range if the murderous look towards the knight was anything to go by. It was probably shitty from Ryou to feel slightly satisfied hearing that, but at the moment at least in his mind, Naofumi deserved it.

"Yeah well than take mine in consideration, it was multiple wolves, 'big' ones..." Ryou emphasized the word big, because he was one hundred percent sure there wasn't anything like that in his old world.

"Hmm... That sounds like Mountain Dire Wolves, but that's impossible… In all my years as a knight, I never saw them coming down from the mountains, much less coming this close to town…" The knight explained, a hint of skepticism present that made Ryou huff in annoyance, the day had been a goddamn emotional roller coaster.

"Okay fine… I don't know if they were Dire Wolves, or whatever but here's what happened…" Ryou recounted the events from hunting in the forest, to the point where he reached the clearing where he found the blade.

"...and they came out of everywhere, from every side besides the direction, I had come from…"

"A trap?" Naofumi wondered out loud, and Ryou came to a stop. He hadn't connected it, but now that Naofumi had mentioned it, it did made sense, however…

" You accused me of telling 'half baked excuses' just a moment ago... So answer me this... Why are you still here, Naofumi?" The said hero just crossed his arms, before explaining himself.

"The wolves are still out there, and I want to know what I'm dealing with…" With a completely unimpressed look Ryou let a moment pass, before supplying.

"How prudent of you…" Ignoring the glare, that at this point might has well be permanent on Naofumi's face, Ryou looked slightly down in thought.

There was no other sound … Just silence, like everything nearby had been scared away…

The silence should have tipped him off, after all his gut had told him there was something wrong, yet Ryou ignored it, and then realization hit him. The wolves had been there from the start, they had laid a trap, and he felt for it.

"Since you mentioned it, it sounds plausible, the hand, the waiting, and then the ambush from all sides... They were hunting, and I was the prey…" Ryou concluded, realizing how lucky he had been, though his survival could also be credited to his agility, thinking back he had never been able to run that fast in his old world.

"I know wolves sometimes hunt in packs, but these ones sound a lot smarter... I didn't think they could mount such an elaborated trap…" Naofumi commented.

The knight took another side look at Naofumi, eyes narrowing again. "Yes, but the way you're describing it, it sounds like they were working together, Mountain Dire Wolves are solitary creatures from what, I heard…"

Ryou contemplated that, hand reaching for his chin, "Well they had a leader... I think…"

"A leader?" The knight asked incredulously.

"Well yeah, the normal ones reached up to my chest, but there was another one, on four legs he was taller than me…" Ryou explained suppressing a shiver, the goddamn monster had been honestly terrifying, like staring at a lion in the face, or muzzle.

Only difference was, this one was bigger then a lion, and was not in a cage...

"That sounds like a Great Dire Wolf, Yuusha-sama, but that only makes your story sound even more unbelievable, you see Great Dire Wolves are even worse than normal ones, they are far more vicious, even experienced adventurers would thread carefully around such a beast, and they would sooner eat the smaller ones, then hunt together, much less act as a leader..."

"Well, it was only for an instant, but it looked like it gave an order, and the others obeyed it..." Ryou implied, before recounting the rest of the events, from the strange protective behavior between them, to the wolves leading him into thinking he had been in the clear, to meeting Naofumi, and Raphtalia along with their mad dash to the gate.

"That's not like any other monsters I have seen, you're saying one of the wolves took the hit for another..?" Naofumi asked in clarification, and Ryou gave a nod.

"Yes, like it knew, I was going to finish it off, and got in the way to prevent it…" Ryou hesitated slightly, because the entire thing was still tripping him off.

"That, doesn't even sound like animal intelligence, it sounds like it moved to protect his pack mate, but with that, the trap, and making you think the left before attacking the moment you turn your back, that sounds like primates levels of intelligence, or worse…" Naofumi trailed off hesitating to finish his reasoning but Ryou had reached the same conclusion.

Almost like humans And wasn't that a terrifying thought…But he couldn't measure this world by the same standards of his old one … Fitoria, and Filo had been monsters, yet they had also been quite human…

"It all sounds too unbelievable, but if its Yuusha-sama's word, then I have no option but to believe it." The knight stated ,nodding his head as if agreeing with himself.

How reasonable of you Ryou thought in distaste. If it had been anyone else, reporting these events besides a noble, or the three heroes, the knight would have written it off as a fabricated story.

"Well, in any case, I will contact the adventurers guild, and the rest of the guards to see if anyone has gone missing in the area... I will also issue some patrols to search the forest, if they are this close to town, then it will be dangerous for merchants, and civilians to be out, and about. I bid you farewell Yuusha-sama, and thank you for your report, it will certainly help save a lot of lives... " The Knight finished with a bow, completely ignoring Naofumi.

"Well that's enough excitement for the day, lets go Raphtalia." The demi-human moved to follow her master, and was thankfully back to normal.

Ryou watched them go, before following in a slower pace. He had done his job, the rest was up to the knights, crossing paths with Naofumi, and Raphtalia had been an unexpected accident, so had been the following argument.

The four heroes have to work together... Fitoria's words, whispered in his mind. He couldn't remember all the details of her conversation with Naofumi in the story, but the message was clear... Things would only get worse, much worse probably beyond even what he knew was coming… Ryou already knew that much. If they were to have any chance of making it through the waves, they had to stand together, even if the other heroes, (Naofumi not included) would turn out useless for the most part, or in Motoyasu's case, just make things worse. However from his understanding the four legendary heroes were the beings in this world with the biggest amount of raw potential, so there was that. In the depths of his mind he also knew he would have to work together with Naofumi, and that included playing nice. But he had a very hard time following through.

He knew what had happened, and was still happening at this moment... Ryou had an idea of how much Naofumi suffered daily... He knew all of that, but there was just something aggravating about the Shield Hero. Not only was Naofumi condescending, he just refused to listen, preferring to lash out at everyone.

Ryou tried... He really did.. But every five seconds in his presence, the Shield Hero did something to piss him off, and he would go back to fighting the urge to strangle Naofumi, or at least introduce him to his fist once more.

Naofumi is fated to be the most competent of those three idiots, so eventually we will have to work together but that day won 't be anytime soon, that's for sure…

Ryou would love nothing more than to stand on the side-lines, and let all the drama unfold without getting mixed in it, however that was just a pipe dream. This world wouldn't allow him that for sure, and if he had to pick a side, well...

There really isn't a choice is there... Hopefully with time Naofumi will chill a little, just like he's counterpart...

With that Ryou made his way into Castle Town surveying an establishment where he could get some food, lunch hour had long since pass after all…

After eating, and taking a breather, Ryou decided it was finally time to hit the magic store. Magic while it was something that made no scientific sense what-so-ever, still existed, and was a fundamental part of this world, as such it was something worth exploring. His recent brush with death had taught him something… His normal arrows were not going to cut it, and since he had yet to unlock anything resembling a combat ability, there was no other alternative but to look into magic to widen his arsenal.

Unfortunately his trip to the magic store, while informative, had proven to be almost useless in terms of acquiring new abilities. He had already theorized it, but it still brought his spirits down a little... Magic simply wasn't something he could chant, and 'bam', instant fireballs.

The way the old witch, owner of the store had explained magic was that it worked, by pulling on his own magic power or also known as MP, and make it do what you wanted. The process of making it do what you wanted, was made easier by using an incantation. He had potential to use magic, he knew that, both the fact that Naofumi had been able to cast spells in the story, and the fact that the old woman could sense it in him proved it. The main problem was something different…

How do I pull on something, I never knew existed Ryou thought with annoyance.

Apparently someone attuned to magic, could feel it inside someone else, but Ryou had been pretty hopeless in that regard. The advice of the old woman had been for him to spend time with a magic user, and eventually he would develop a sense for it. However Ryou didn't knew anyone in Castle Town that could use magic, or at least no one he wanted to be involved with...The old woman had the store to run so she couldn't help him, and he wouldn't go to Aultcray to ask for a favor, the less he owed the man the better.

So it was a dead end in that regard, not even mentioning that, besides his lack of magical sense, most of the spells, and theory involving them were locked behind another wall… letters, and the alphabet… Most knowledge had been recorded in books written in Melromarc's language. There were apparently some items that allowed to cast spells, without needing any understanding, although from what the owner had explained, those would cast nothing more then a 'water-downed' version of the real thing, but as luck would have it they were sold out.

The only positive thing had been the fact that he learned his own affinities. The old witch had tested him, and turned out he had a strong affinity for lightning magic, with a small one for support magic. But even that had a downside to it... Lightning magic would be the hardest to learn, only second to illusion, and healing magic.

Departing from the magic shop, Ryou had been so deep in thought, he actually missed the figure standing a few meters away until it spoke.

"Hey it's Ryou! Still going solo, I see!" The annoying loud voice almost echoed in the streets, and Ryou couldn't stop the tired sign that came out.

First Naofumi … Then I almost get turned into shreds… Then Naofumi yet again… And now this… It's definitely one of those days, isn't it..?

Turning around he saw him, clad in red metallic armor, blond hair still in its ponytail with a wide smile, and spear on his shoulder.

"Motoyasu…" Ryou greeted inclining his head.

"Haven't seen you in a while Ryou, what have you been up too these few days?" The Spear Hero asked, and Ryou noted that he still carried his harem around, Malty included who was standing quite inside Motoyasu's personal space, if the guy even knew the definition of such a thing.

"Been around killing monsters, leveling up, getting gear, almost getting eaten by a wolf, things like that…" Ryou answered with a shrug, he decided to omit his meting with Naofumi for obvious reasons, one of those being the present company.

Motoyasu raised an eyebrow at that. "Almost getting eaten by a wolf? That's kind of lame isn't it..?" Ryou felt his face twitch in a bad way.

"In my defense it was bigger than you…" The eyes of the Spear Hero actually widened at that piece of additional information, before relenting.

"Okay slightly less lame… Actually never mind that, why didn't you come to the emergency meeting?! I know that you were informed of what Naofumi did!" Motoyasu demanded, and Ryou shrug again before turning to the side.

"Had better things to do, what Naofumi does, or doesn't do as nothing to do with me. He committed a crime, and the King handled it, my presence was hardly required." Ryou finished, and Motoyasu was looking like he couldn't believe what he was hearing, before gesturing towards Malty.

"He committed sexual assault! And your acting like it has nothing to do with you! Do you know what kind of horrors Myne suffered at his hand?"

No…But I do have an idea to what kind of horrors that idiot would love to inflict on her… Ryou thought with dark amusement looking at the mentioned woman. Up until that moment she had the same pleasant smile on her face, but the moment Motoyasu had mentioned the incident she immediately hugged her body, closing her eyes with lips quivering, and started shaking like a leaf.

Weren't you just the happy bee a few seconds ago, now you're a terribly traumatized victim? You my lady, would make a fortune in Hollywood

"Motoyasu here's reality, this world isn't going to save itself. I'm suppose to be a hero, or whatever, not a jury or judge, I'll leave that to those who have the qualifications for it, they will do their job, and I'll do mine." Ryou answered, however most of his attention was on the first princess… How desperate could Motoyasu be to not notice this...? Ryou didn't even need his foreknowledge to be suspicious of her, just a little thinking, and observing had been enough.

Are… Are those actually tears in the corner of her eyes..? Ryou questioned not really believing what he was seeing. And indeed after hearing his response she actually started forming tears in her eyes.

"That's really cold of you Ryou…" Motoyasu commented disappointed.

"Sorry, but, I really didn't think my presence would have helped with anything…" Was his answer trying appear apologetic. There was no reason to get on Motoyasu's bad side, annoying, and a idiot he might be, but Ryou had no need for another enemy… There were already enough in the shadows as it was.

"I suppose you are right… Even so, as heroes we have to show our support to the people, and even if Naofumi's horrible actions were his own, we have to take responsibility if another hero screws up!" The Spear Hero exclaimed clenching his fist in front of himself.

Ryou almost choked in laughter, doubling over, even then an ugly snort escaped him. Ohh my god! The irony is just too much! The fact that Motoyasu actually said that, and truly believed it, only made the entire thing funnier.

"What?! Why are you laughing?!" Motoyasu demanded, and Ryou who had already cover his face with an arm, shook his head, and waved his hand.

"Its.. Its just... You really sounded like a hero just now..." Small miracle he had been able to keep a more or less straight tone while saying it. Motoyasu at least looked appeased, a smile returning to his face.

"Well of course! I am the Legendary Spear Hero you know!" Motoyasu declared proudly, slamming the bottom end of his spear into the ground to emphasize it.

More like the Legendary Idiot This made his day slightly better, Motoyasu really was an air headed simpleton, there was no escaping that fate either in the story, or here it seemed.

"Motoyasu-sama… I don't feel so good, let's leave this place… It's giving me bad memories…" Malty finally made her voice heard, a whimper, and she actually looked distressed.

Motoyasu looked down at her with a worried look on his face, every inch of him the portrait of a knight in shining armor, he was just missing his horse.

Well there's Filo, but she's much more likely to send him flying then to let him ride her for sure… Oh Shit... Well that sounded really bad in his head… Horrible, and very disturbing. Shaking his head of anymore disgusting thoughts, before he traumatized himself with a mental image Ryou focused on the conversation before him.

"...that guy, one day he will have what's coming to him, mark my words Myne!" They were back to bad-mouthing Naofumi, so nothing of value was lost. Motoyasu looked at Ryou, his mouth set in a more serious frown.

"Sorry Ryou but we have to go…" He apologized, and Ryou inclined his head.

"Of course... I don't want Myne to feel any worse…" I should also pursue a career in acting one of these days Even if his voice had come out far too sympathetic, completely forced, if one had been paying close attention.

The first princess took a peek at him, batting her eyelashes a small smile on her face, "Ahh, Ryou-sama is an understanding man after all…" She stated softly, voice honeyed, that almost made Ryou recoil, but he managed to send her a small shaky smile, and a nod.

Gahh! Don't praise me! I don't want your praise! I don't want your anything! What I want is you far, far away from me! Ryou shouted inside his head.

"Yeah even if he's slightly cold, and a bit weird, Ryou is a good guy, unlike that bastard.." The last part had a hint of venom in it but with that they finally bid each other goodbye.

When they were finally out of hearing range, Ryou released a snort, Motoyasu was an idiot but a really amusing guy. Ryou had thought, a reunion with one of his fellow heroes would degrade into an argument, like what had happen with Naofumi, yet the whole thing had been reasonably pleasant, lifting his mood a little

"Ahh... I'm surrounded by idiots on all sides, it seems…" Ryou commented out loud, earning him a few curious glances from the passing villagers.

Looking up at the sky, Ryou took a deep breath. He was still wary after his encounter with the Dire Wolves, but he couldn't let fear control him, he had to get out of his comfort zone, and go out there again, and again, or he wouldn't be able to survive.

With that in mind he decided to take the western exit this time, that would put him at least a few kilometers from where he had met the wolves.

The gates had been mostly deserted, something that he found strange, and decided to approach the stationed guard. Apparently according to the guard, the knight had done his job. Most of the other guards, and knights were scouting the eastern side, both hills, and forest in search of the wolves. Word had also gone out that a party of three adventurers had gone missing for two days now, their fate was now common knowledge thanks to Ryou's testimony, most of the other adventurers in town were also out there, hoping to avenge their fellow comrades.

That problem had really been taken from Ryou's hands, between the adventurers, and the knights, the wolves would be hunted down. He could go back to hunt monsters that were actually smaller than him. One day soon he would go against bigger, and far more dangerous things. Today however he would only take on monsters that couldn't tear off his head in a single bite.

A positive note, Ryou discovered, had been a level up, probably thanks to the monsters jumping into the river. He didn't realize it back then, far too busy running for his life.

Another positive point had been the increase in overall agility, that didn't just increased is movement speed. The help menu had explained it, however truly feeling it was a different story. Agility increased everything, he could now take aim, and fire faster, not an amazing difference but definitely noticeable. Even his reaction speed had increased.

The problem with leveling so close to Castle town was that killing Balloons was quickly outgrowing its efficiency, even when adding Usapils, and Mushes to the mix. Perhaps a trip to Lute village was in need, there were stronger monsters around, and not as deadly has the wolves… Well as long has he stayed clear from the mines that was.

Ryou had been ready to call it a day, after finishing another group of mushes. Looking up he saw ugly clouds gathering in the sky, and the wind was picking up, no doubt a storm in forming stages. Ryou didn't want to be caught in a storm while in the forest, not when he had a cozy Inn to take refuge in.

Making his way in the direction he thought Melromarc's Capital was located, he climbed a slope that stretched higher then the trees just to make sure he was in the right direction. His Mini-Map ability was amazing inside Castle Town, especially with the ability to bookmark stuff… Out in the wilderness however, it was completely useless having a very limited zoom out option, it hardly showed any details

At the very least it could have the bookmarks on the borders of the map … That would help…

After getting to the top that ended in an almost straight decline, he saw Castle town in the distance, covered in shadows because of the clouds. Looking at Castle Town Ryou thoughts begun to wonder.

I really should look into getting a party member Honestly, now that Naofumi had Raphtalia with him it would be mostly safe to go to Slave Owner. The foremost reason Ryou avoided the place, was Raphtalia, herself… He couldn't trust himself not to grab her on sight…

With Naofumi being a dick, and with the way he treats her, maybe it would have been kinder Well what was done was done. There was another reason however… Almost nobody would bat an eye, if he had a slave with him, but Motoyasu was sure to throw an hissy fit if he knew…

Besides what are the chances that I would even get one, half as good as Raphtalia anyway Ryou was under no illusion that any slave he got would be as strong, and as loyal has the raccoon girl…

And I can 't even begin to imagine myself forcing that loyalty into them… Especially if they are children... Waves or not, there are limits one should not cross...

A small drop of water hit his nose, startling Ryou, who raised his hand, watching the small drops hitting his glove, however something else on the corner of his vision caught his attention. Looking into the mini-map, eyes narrowing slightly, he saw a big red dot appearing near the border of the map, slowly getting closer to his position.

Turning around, Ryou's body froze almost in middle movement, mouth opening, and eyes widening in shock, he took in the sight before him.

At the base of the incline, slitted blue eyes were locked on his person, and a snarl could be heard over the sound of the rain that was rapidly turning into a storm. The colossal wolf gave one step forward, and Ryou gave one backwards, but caught himself in time, his foot meting the end of the slope. Looking down, it was almost a straight fall, deep enough that if it didn't kill him it would certainly break a lot of bones.

The creature had now advanced a couple of meters, slowly making its way towards him, and Ryou could only look almost frozen solid at almost literal death given a physical form, that was inevitably coming for him.

Chapter Text

At the base of the incline, slitted blue eyes were locked on his person, and a snarl could be heard over the rain that was rapidly turning into a storm. The colossal wolf gave one step forward, and Ryou backwards but caught himself in time, his foot meting the end of a slope. Looking down, it was a almost straight fall, deep enough that if it didn 't kill him, it would certainly break a lot of bones.

The creature had now advanced a couple of meters, slowly making its way towards him, and Ryou could only look almost frozen solid at the almost literal death given physical form, that was inevitably making its way towards him.

The rain continued to fall, and the wind gained strength, yet the tremor that run through Ryou had nothing to do with either.

There's no way … It's a few kilometers from the other side, and that's through Castle Town! How the hell did they not only made their way past the scouts, but manage to track me down so quickly?!

The Great Dire Wolf, was now one fourth into the slope, and as it gave another slow step, Ryou almost stepped back again, until his brain remembered there was no back. If the fall didn't kill him, the wolf would finish the job for sure…

Can I escape..? As if fate heard him, being the bitch it was, behind the Great Wolf from the bushes emerged two other Dire Wolves.

I'm going to die here... Ryou thought body going numb with the realization. Why had he been summoned then? To this fantasy world he enjoyed reading, and later watching, only to die to some mob… Not to the wave, not to Glass, not to the Spirit Turtle… But to a overgrown door mat…

No! I'm not going to lose my second chance here! Despair gave way to another feeling, anger, and Ryou grabbed on to it like a life line… Anger at being summoned...Anger at wasting his past life...Anger at having no choice but to fight…Anger at the other heroes for their naivety, and stupidity…But most of all anger at the monsters in front of him that wanted nothing more but to end his life.. Because after coming to the realization of what had been wasted, and spending years not caring about life, now that he had been given a second chance…

I want to live! That thought opened the way to clarity… Gritting his teeth, Ryou planted his foot down in defiance, and raised his bow taking aim at the wolf, now almost halfway in the slope.

"You want a fight?! Well you got one!" Ryou screamed over the rain and wind, his fingers releasing an arrow aimed at the great wolf.

He had aimed for the head, but the wolf shifted his body, and the arrow hit its shoulder. The Great Dire Wolf flinched, giving Ryou enough time for a second shot, the arrow cut through the rain, and missed… The wolf had darted left at the last second, before picking up speed.

I missed?! No he dodged it Ryou thought in both anger, and disbelief, before an idea, a very stupid idea based on what he had just witnessed, made its existence known, and Ryou was acting on it before even considering how stupid it was.

Breaking into a run down the slope, bow raised, and arrow pulled Ryou went directly towards the wolf who was now coming towards him at far greater speed.

Releasing the arrow a second later towards the wolf, the monster lunged, jumping towards Ryou, and avoiding the arrow.

Ryou went low, the inclination, and the now wet grass offering little resistance while sliding. In a true cheap movie fashion, not even having time to believe the stunt had actually worked, Ryou slid right beneath the jumping wolf, grey fur passing over his head.

After passing under the wolf, there was movement in front of him, Ryou looked at the new imminent threat, the other two smaller Dire Wolves were coming towards him, one coming straight up the slope, and the other parallel near the edge, trying to cut him from the side.

Eyes aimed at the forehead of the one in front, an arrow cut through both wind, and the drops of water, before finding its resting place in the middle of the creatures head, who had no time to dodge. Shifting his attention towards the other one, Ryou saw it coming from the side, far to quickly, and almost on him, so he did the only thing he could in that instant, planting a hand in the ground, he threw himself off the ledge.

The world blurred for a moment before he hit the ground almost curled up. Ryou rolled twice, before coming to a stop, moving slightly sent a sharp pain through his sides. Teeth clenched, Ryou tried to raise himself into a standing position, however some ungodly force hit him in the back, forcing him into the ground once more, and he felt something scrape him on the top of his head.

Rolling sideways trying to put some distance between himself, and whatever had hit him, He finally regain some visibility, and realized that his action had just save his life, Where his head had been just a moment ago, was a maw full of very sharp teeth.

Snarling from its failed attempt, the wolf turned his head towards Ryou, before lunging again, laying on the ground, vision tinted red, and without anyway to dodge Ryou did the only thing he could to protect himself. Pain erupted from the arm he had used to protect his neck, the target of the bite. With a paw pushing him down, and the blinding pain, Ryou tried to push the wolf away but to no avail, while it was biting away at his arm. Without any other options, the Bow Hero clenched his other hand, and swung his fist. With far more force than he thought he had, he hit the wolf in the muzzle, its head snapping to the side.

It quickly regained its bearings, and came down for a second attack, but Ryou planted his feet on the monster's chest, before sending the creature tumbling backwards.

Not even pausing to question both amazing feats of strength, Ryou pulled an arrow back, ignoring the pain that spread from that action across his arm, even when he felt something coming up to his throat. He released it, and it sunk into the creatures neck, another, and another, after the fourth one the wolf, lay gurgling, and growling, before another arrow made its way into his head stopping any more movement.

Breathing deep, Ryou clutched his wounded arm, blinking away the redness in his right eye, no doubt from a gash somewhere in his head.

That's two …But…

"Grrrrrrr….."The growl sent shivers down his spine. Looking towards the curve that lead into the slope, the Great Dire Wolf had made its way down, and was now standing a couple of meters from Ryou as if observing him.

I can hardly move my arm anymore, I can only run, and hope that it can't track me down with this rain… Ryou concluded, eyes locked on the monstrous wolf, before a flash of white blinded him, followed by a thunderous Boom, so loud, and bright that he almost lost his sense of self, blinking away the spots, he hardly had seconds before throwing himself backwards. The tree between him, and the wolf tumbled, covered in flames, missing Ryou by centimeters, enough that he could feel the heat.

Ryou raised himself once again into standing position, another intake of air at the sharp pain in his side, and he looked forward towards the front with a grave frown, at the flames in front of him, only for his eyes to widen a few moments later. From the flames burst a gigantic shadow, snarling in his direction, landing next to him, and lashing with a paw in his direction. Ryou jumped back with difficulty, watching the paw pass millimeters from his face, however the wolf continued with the momentum almost spinning, and Ryou couldn't dodge the second blow that came in the form of a tail whip slamming against his midsection.

All the air in his lungs escaped him, and the world almost stopped, then he was flying through the air, everything blurring, before crashing into the trunk of a tree… He felt something in his back crack, followed by the back of his head hitting the trunk, now turning dizzy with his vision blurring, Ryou still caught the Great wolf turning into his direction, and preparing himself to lunge one final time. Ryou tried to move, to get back on his feet, but agony erupted in his back, and from his mouth in the form of a scream.

Blinking away the tears of pain, Ryou could only look at death in the eye, unable to move anymore. In a last effort of defiance he tried to pull on an arrow, yet his arm refused to move anymore. The wolf lunged, and everything slowed down… Strangely…. instead of feeling fear, Ryou could only keep his grip on the anger he felt, and at the burning sensation that was coming from his bow, his vision slowly fading to black, yet completely tinted red now, although neither things had anything to do with the damage suffered. If Ryou had the ability to see himself at the moment, he would see a peculiar if dreadful sight staring back, his eyes had gained an ominous red shine, an faint red lines spread across his face, and down his body.

Finally even the Great Dire Wolf, who was moving to finish him off disappear from his sight, everything turning black, and all sound ceased. After a moment in that pitch black darkness, Ryou heard a disembodied voice, 'it' appeared to be asking him something but the Bow Hero couldn't make out what it was saying, and over the voice another sound was heard… A scream… An high pitched scream, that sounded, so very far away… Female, and yet he couldn't help but to find it oddly familiar for some reason…

A green, and shining light appeared at the edge of the darkness, and a metal screeching sound echoed in it, followed by a loud clang, eerily reminiscent of when he had been hit by a car.

"Ryou..!" A voice… A very familiar voice shouted, and blinking, the darkness around Ryou was banished. It took him a moment to take everything in, and when he did, Ryou couldn't believe what he was seeing.

"Naofumi..?" Ryou asked voice shaking… The how, and why, remained unanswered in his head. True to both the title, and weapon he wielded, Naofumi tried to stand his ground, with both paws of the wolf pressing down on his shoulders, and his shield shoved inside the creatures mouth, preventing it from biting his head off.

"I can hold it off forever, finish it!" That broke Ryou of any erratic thought, and he could actually see what was going on. When everything truly registered, Ryou tried once more to move his arm, but it wouldn't respond.

Falling on one knee, the Shield Hero could hardly stand against the monumental force against him, arms shaking from exertion, and teeth clenched, saliva falling on his face from the open mouth above his head.

"Ryou!" This time there was an hint of panic mixed in it, and in answer to that, in an act of complete desperation, the mentioned hero brought the bow close to his mouth, and clenched his teeth praying it would work. The end of the arrow materialized between clench teeth, and Ryou released it. The arrow flew, hitting the monster in his eye. That got the creature off Naofumi, scratching at its head to get rid of the intrusion. Ryou released arrow after arrow through clench teeth.

Arrows kept flying, hitting the Wolf anywhere he could think of, that would deal serious damage… Head… Neck… Even between its ribs... All the while Naofumi kept harassing the beast, intent on keeping its attention on himself.

Ryou only thoughts between the pain he was feeling were filled with rage. Die!Die!Die! Fucking die already!

Eventually the creature went down, it still tried to raise itself twice, but more arrows pelted it. Even when it stopped moving, Ryou still released two more arrows followed by a short pause, and another one to make sure.

Gasping breaths were the only sound that could be heard, besides the pitter-patter of the rain, and the crackling of the dying embers from the tree.

With only one eye open, Ryou focused his vision, in the corner, bringing up the status menu. His own health bar had only a quarter of his Health points left, and they were very slowly decreasing. Eye trailing upward, he could see a blurry flashing icon besides his name, a square yellow icon, with what appeared to be a red drop.

Bleeding huh It was the obvious conclusion…

His focus turned to his arm, between the shredded armor, and the blood he couldn't survey the damage, however if what was leaking down his arm was of any indication, then the Dire Wolf had punctured something important there. That wasn't all, his chest hurt, his back was pure agony, his legs hurt, his head was throbbing like someone had hit it with a baseball bat several times, he could hardly keep his eye opened with the blood flowing down from his head, his vision was blurry, and his arm was burning like a damn furnace..

I'm a mess… But I'm alive...Still alive… Ryou concluded, opening his inventory, he reached with his good, and still functioning hand into it, feeling the bottle in it. He pulled the potion out, and with his thumb he popped the thing open, dropping the liquid content on his mouth. Ryou retched, the potion had been disgusting, like a really bitter medicine without the chemical taste it usually had, and yet it still managed to taste worse. Forcing it down his throat, he managed to finish the whole thing, the effects making themselves known almost immediately. The pain in his body, arm included had numbed a bit, his headache had all but disappeared, and his vision was returning to normal.

Looking at his health again he realized that his health points had reached more than three quarters, and he apparently was not bleeding to death anymore.

Shifting his eyes from the status window, to his savior… Naofumi was leaning against a tree, his hair hiding his face from view.

Guess my body wasn't the only thing almost shredded to bits during this fight… His pride had all but been torn apart… Ryou was saved by the last person he wanted, or expected to come to his rescue, and yet…

My pride can take the hit, if it means living, I suppose Ryou thought before making his voice heard, it was almost a murmur yet it reach Naofumi.

"What are you doing here Naofumi?" Ryou asked, with a small slur. The shield hero, didn't even bother to raise his head.

"Saving your ass apparently…" Even though Naofumi was giving him the same old treatment, and he should have expected it, Ryou couldn't help himself.

"Suppose, you expect a thank you then?" His brain almost didn't caught up with the callous question he threw to the person that saved him, yet to his great surprise Naofumi didn't took offense to it, he only let out a small chuckle, that sounded far more tired than his age would indicate, at least in Ryou's ears.

After a few moments with only the sound of rain, Naofumi voice his own thoughts, "The only thing, I expect from people nowadays is a stab in the back…"

You say that, yet you still came, and put yourself in danger to save me For the life of him Ryou, couldn't get a clear picture of the Shield Hero…

"…Besides if you want to show your gratitude, then thank Raphtalia, she was the one who heard you…" Ryou, turned his head, and standing a few meters to the right, was the little demi-human who looked more like an apparition then a small cute child, her ears flat against her head, shaking although if it was from the rain or from the entire ordeal, that remained unanswered.

Face softening, Ryou beckon her to come closer, with a hand. Raphtalia, gave one step, and hesitated for a moment before making her way to him, stopping right next to Ryou.

Ryou raised his hand, and the poor thing lowered her head, and her body stiffened. He gently let it rest on top of her head, between the ears, rubbing them, in an effort to comfort both her, and himself, the warm that emanated serving as the final proof that he was still in the realm of the living.

"Guess these ears aren't just there to look fluffy, huh? You really saved me back there Raphtalia, thank you." Ryou murmured, and Raphtalia bless her heart, raised her head with a worried frown on her face, and launched a question that almost melted his heart, her voice soft.

"Ryou-sama... You're not going to die, right?" Hearing that Ryou's eyes widen a little before softening, a small smile blooming.

Even after every horrible thing that happen to you, you still have such a good heart

"No, not today… Thanks to you." He patted her head twice, and she looked down embarrassed. Ryou released a small chuckle, before looking towards the Shield hero, a small half smile, half grimace forming in his face, before he released a sigh.

"This is awkward since, I kinda punched you a few hours ago, and believe me, I wanted to do far more then that… But I'm not ,'that' ungrateful so… Thanks Naofumi, you really saved my ass back there…" The Shield hero finally raised his head, eyes widening in complete disbelief, before his face, contorted in a series of expressions Ryou couldn't even keep track, finally it stopped on looking mostly passive, before crossing his arms, and he closed his eyes.

"You weren't there…" He started "…but the trash king told us, that if a hero dies, the waves will get much harder… That's the reason he gave at least, for not putting my neck under a guillotine. I haven't even seen a wave, But I know, I don't want them any harder then they have to be… That's the reason why I saved you, don't misunderstand…" He finished a satisfied smug grin in his face, and he even nodded three times at his own logic.

That brought something out of Ryou, something other than anger.

" Pfff… Pffffff… Ahahahahahahahahahahaha…. Ouch… My sides… Goddammit Naofumi, don't just suddenly turn into a tsundere, and make me laugh like that, I'm still in a lot of pain you know..." Ryou laughed, clutching his side, although he noticed Raphtalia looking worried, and slightly raising her hands, has if wanting to help but unsure how to do so.

"Call me tsundere again, and you will be in a lot more pain…" Naofumi hissed through clenched teeth.

That only served to make Ryou laugh harder, followed by hisses of pain…

I guess, I was wrong about him, even if he is still a massive pain in the ass

Interesting thing about health potions, even if they healed most of the damage, they couldn't heal stamina, and exhaustion, so Ryou still needed help making his way to the Inn, an experience neither heroes would want to repeat, or mention ever again. Thankfully with the rain, the streets were mostly empty.

Before leaving the forest, Ryou had asked Naofumi to collect the loot from the wolves, and after a little prodding the shield hero had agreed to take half of the total spoils.

All in all Ryou had unlocked a total of six new bows, from the two different types of wolves.

[Wolf Meat Bow - Equipment Bonus - +1 to Dismantling Technique]

[Great Wolf Meat Bow - Equipment Bonus - +2 Dismantling Technique]

From the meat, he unlocked the Wolf Meat Bow, and the Great Wolf Meat Bow, both bows giving him access to the dismantling techniques. Those abilities would allow him to dismantle monsters with chances of getting more loot.

The bows unlocked by the pelts had been a surprise…

[Dire Furry Bow - Equipment Bonus - + 6 Agility]

[Great Furry Bow - Equipment Bonus - + 10 Agility, Fire Resistance Bonus (Small) ]

The Dire Furry Bow, and Great Furry Bow, excellent naming sense aside, offered plus six, and plus ten in agility. The both of them, when mastered would provide more agility then what he would gain from a level. However those numbers made Ryou consider if the Great Dire Wolf, was something among the lines of a mini-boss, or a Elite monster. At least the fire resistance made sense… Animals were naturally afraid of fire, yet the monster had jumped through the fire just to eat him. However when he absorbed the final materials, he concluded that indeed the Great Dire Wolf was not a normal mob at all.

The fangs unlocked the real surprise… Looking at them, left a bittersweet feeling in Ryou, and he couldn't help but to think that at that point the world was just bullying him, or at least his legendary weapon was trolling him very, very hard.

[Wolf Fang Bow - Equipment Bonus - + +6 Attack, Attack Speed Bonus (Small) ]

[Great Fang Bow - Equipment Bonus - + 12 Attack, Rapid Shot - Special Effect - Attack Speed Bonus (Medium) ]

The Wolf Fanged Bow was his first pure offensive bow, giving him a plus six to his attack, and a small bonus to attack speed. A very nice upgrade, but the other… The Great Fanged Bow, not only gave him plus twelve to attack, and an even bigger bonus to attack speed on use, but also gave him a skill called Rapid Shot… All this time looking for an offensive skill, even trying his hand in magic, and the first truly offensive ability had been unlocked, after he had defeated a monster where that specific skill would have worked wonders.

He didn't found out what shields Naofumi had unlocked, but from his pleased expression it had been worth it.

The both of them had hardly traded any more words after leaving the forest, the awkwardness of the situation still around them, but there had been another feeling… A small sense of comradeship between them, in those empty, dark, and wet streets with Raphtalia trailing slightly behind.

After dropping him off in front of his room, Naofumi still true to himself, threw another parting shot, something among the lines of "Don't get in over your head again, or I might not be there to save you next time…" and Ryou let the Shield Hero have that one, far to tired to even try to argue.

Stumbling towards his bed, Ryou was dead to the world the moment his head touched the pillow.

Light came into the room from the window, and Ryou scrunched his face, bringing an arm to protect himself from the intruder. That simple action brought a groan out of him.

Did I get hit by another car..? He wondered, his whole body felt heavy, and stiff. Opening his eyes, and blinking away the sleep, he noticed he was in his room, and that he was still wearing armor.

The events from the previous day coming to him, and he couldn't help but to lay there looking at the ceiling in wonder.

I'm actually alive

He had decided to fight… In that moment he had decided to fight, and live. Now he was alive, because he had fought against fate, and to a miraculous intervention from both Naofumi, and Raphtalia.

It had been a miracle he had come out alive, but this time instead of pondering on his mistakes, and what-ifs he just felt relief… Happy to be alive, and empowered if tired.

Slowly raising himself he took in his condition, his armor had to much red, and brown staining it, and the bed looked even worse.

Oops… I might have to pay for that… The bed sheets were most likely beyond saving at this point. Looking towards his arm, he took out his now shredded arm armor, and, besides being coated in a dark brown, and sensible to touch, there was no other evidence that it was used as a chewing toy the night before, he could even move it, albeit it felt a little numb.

I also need to give my thanks to Erhard for this Ryou didn't knew what kind of force a wolf could apply in a bite, but for sure they had enough to break bones, and the one he had faced had been far bigger than normal, so the fact that he still had an arm was nothing short of another miracle, that - and having a very good armor on him.

This thing was worth every piece of silver, I payed for it

After taking his armor off, Ryou went for a bath scrubbing all the blood, and dirt off him, the bath also did wonders for his very sore body.

While in the bath ,Ryou decided that he would take one day off from monster grinding, to fully recover, since he wouldn't make any progress, he still had a little trouble moving around, and his armor was damaged. He had to pay Erhard a visit however, both to show is appreciation, and to repair his armor.

The rest of the day passed with Ryou mostly resting, with a small, and slow trip to the blacksmith. He told Erhard of his fight, and how Naofumi had actually saved him, after the blacksmith had asked how the armor suffered so much damage in so little time.

Apparently even with the rain, and being dark, someone had seen them because rumors were already flying around, on how the merciless Shield Hero had ambushed Ryou, and proceed to violently beat him up, in revenge, before dropping him in his room.

Ryou didn't know if he should laugh at that, or slam his face on the counter, so he just went with what was normal for him, and released a sigh of exasperation at how stupid people could be… There really was no winning against these people...

Erhard at least had promised to diffuse such rumors where he could, mostly in his circle of merchants, and clients. It wouldn't amount to much in the great scheme of things, but it would be a start.

The following day, Ryou awoke as a man reborn, one hundred times better than the day before, although the credit for that could be attributed both to health potions, and his status as hero, most likely boosting his healing, and recovering ability to far higher levels then normal humans.

After picking his armor from Erhard, and promising the man that he would be more careful, Ryou set out to hit the forest once again.

Passing through the gate, he had stopped to inform the guards that the wolf problem had been solved, and apparently thanks to that he had a reward to collect at the adventurers guild. The guild itself had posted a bounty on the wolves. One thousand silver, the same he had received from Aultcray at the beginning of his journey.

After half an hour of trekking, he finally found something worth hunting, a pack of six balloon's.

With a mental command Ryou willed… Change bow: Great Fanged Bow..!

His bow changed, from its normal form, into a dirty white color, both of the limbs changed from smooth, to irregular indentations, similar to the teeth of the wolves, and the weapon was larger then his other bows, maybe by twenty percent…

Ryou lips formed a grin at the sight, his first true offensive weapon, one that would probably become his, to go weapon, for a while.

Okay, so how does this work..? Do I just shout the name of the skill..? Ryou question mentally, he had read the skill effect, and obviously wanted to try it.

Taking aim, and pulling an arrow Ryou shouted, gaining the Balloon's attention.

"Rapid Shot!" An arrow fired, followed by two others in the next instant, even if Ryou had only fired one.




Three balloon's met their end right there, and then, the grin in Ryou's face might had spread into a slightly maniacal smile.

Taking aim again he repeated the action, and the rest of the balloon's popped out of existence, far to slow to take advantage of the weakness in his Divine Protection...

That had been something, Ryou had figured out in his fight with the Great Dire Wolf… His Divine Protection had a weakness… It would always insure he hit the target, but the ability couldn't predict actions taken after the bow was fired. That had never been a problem before, no monster had tried to avoid his arrows, so they had never changed direction after he shot. The wolves however were smarter, and could actually avoid his arrows with enough time, although it had also been thanks to that capability, that Ryou had been able to trick, and execute his movie like escape, from the Great Dire Wolf.

But now… Now he had a new ability. The skill repeated his last shot twice, right after releasing an arrow, and targeted anything he wanted to hit in his field of vision.

With that in mind, the next course of action should have been obvious had anyone been present…

Taking aim at a big tree, Ryou couldn't really resist, not that he tried anyway…

"Muhahahahahaha!" With maniacal laughter Ryou begun unleashing his skill with a mental command over, and over again on the poor tree, emulating the Medieval equivalent of a machine gun.

"This is awesome!" Ryou almost gushed, filled with excitement. There was almost no down time between the shots, and the skill had no cool down so he could keep on firing until his SP reached zero. The skill only used a measly five points, so he could more or less spam the skill all around, at least while firing normal arrows.

Okay! Okay… It's an awesome skill, but don't forget you are still as fragile today as you were two days ago, Ryou… He pointed out to himself, bringing down his excitement to manageable levels.

However this new skill, greatly increased his offensive power. The situation he had been before had been eye opening, however in hindsight if he had the Rapid Shot during the fight, he could have ended the fight before they got within sniffing distance… Probably...

Ryou had also tried to imagine how the other heroes would have fared, if they had been in his situation, alone. He had come to the conclusion that either Motoyasu, or Ren would have dealt with it much better than he had, they were the perfect balance between offensive, and defensive power. Naofumi at this point would have been in as bad of a situation as Ryou had been or even worse. His only weapon as per his own words, Raphtalia, had yet to grow enough to be able to take on such foes, in a few weeks it would be a completely different story though.

Ryou game plan had not changed, however it was in need of a revision. Focusing on speed for defense was all well, and good, but it only worked if he could out speed his opponent, and if he had enough space to actually maneuver. These two had failed them last time, he had been only slightly faster than the wolves, and the slope had greatly reduced his maneuverability. When he actually had space to maneuver, he could hardly move anymore.

The rapid shot was definitely a good start, but something like Naofumi's Air Shield Strike, was now what he needed, something dynamic that could be used in different ways, from offense to defense, and even to maneuver.

Maybe he should follow the Shield Hero steps, and go to Lute village, he might be able to find something useful there.

With that final thought, Ryou decided to continue his grind, with his new ability he would probably make great strides.

After calling it a day, Ryou had the errand thought that he really needed to start practicing his camping skills, it would be much more efficient that way. But for today he actually had a good reason to return to town.

Visiting the adventures guild, the place that existed in every mainstream manga with a fantasy setting. True to that notion, it was everything he had expected, and more. From groups of what he could only guess were adventurers, clad in all forms of defensive, and magical gear, it even had a counter with the most attractive woman this side of of Melromarc had to offer.

Is that a Quest Posting Board..? Ryou thought wondering how much more cliche you could get, deciding to take a look at it, yet he couldn't stop the weird twitch his face was making.

Well, these look like quests, but I can't read any of them...Ryou though dejectedly, hopefully some time later he would be able to actually read them, or have a party member who could.

Going for the counter, Ryou addressed the woman intent on collecting his bounty, and if anyone ever asked, no, he absolutely did not let his eyes wander a little below the neck line. After producing the few spoils from the wolves he still had, he silently thanked whoever was hearing at the time, for not selling them beforehand, they served as proof here.

When the woman went towards the back to collect his reward, Ryou decided he should probably keep the spoils instead of selling them, maybe down the line they could come in use. Erhard could probably make some armor, or at least upgrade his current one. During his musings a conversation picked his interest, and he turned his attention towards the table where it was happening.

"If it keeps going like this our village is finished…" One man stated depressingly, and from his clothes he looked like your regular civilian.

"Even if we post our request, who knows how long it will take before anyone will take it…" The other, slightly older man stated, looking in contemplation towards his glass that was filled with a maroon liquid, most likely wine.

Some village is in trouble hmm? Now if, I was Itsuki, I would be all over it, unfortunately for you guys I'm not, so get someone else…I have enough problems has it is… Ryou thought, and he would later in hindsight, curse himself for jinxing it right there, and then.

"Yuusha-sama, here is your reward." The lady on the counter offered, holding a pouch filled with lots of coins. Taking the pouch, Ryou opened it, and verifying that those were indeed silver coins he closed it again. There probably was no point in counting it.

Who would be stupid enough to steal from one of the Four Heroes anyway? Well besides Naofumi, but even stealing from him would be pretty stupid... The guy carries monsters with him everywhere… Speaking of Naofumi, I should probably share this with him, its only fair after all… Throwing the bag up, he caught it by the drawstring, sending a thankful smile towards the woman.

"Thank you, I'll take my leave now." Turning around Ryou gave exactly three steps before someone touched his shoulder.

"Excuse me, are you one of the Heroes of Legend?" Ryou almost groaned. The two men that had been talking about their village problems were now looking at him with slightly hopeful looks on their faces.

"Yes..?" Ryou half stated, half asked, already having a pretty good idea where this was going.

True too his prediction, both man bowed, before begging, "Please Yuusha-sama, listen to our request!" And this time Ryou did groaned out loud.

What 's with this side quest situation...

Chapter Text

Another small bump. His rear was already quite sore from the trip. The carriage obviously didn't possess the best of hydraulic systems, so he could feel every rock, and hole that they come across on the road, especially since the road was nothing more then a track of dirt.

For what was probably the tenth time since the beginning of this trip, Ryou wondered why he had accepted this particular request with little more then three weeks to the wave yet he couldn't come up with just one single explanation. It could have been the reward even if he wasn't particularly hurting for money. It could have been the opportunity to hunt new monsters, and unlock new bows. It could have been just his adventurer spirit wanting to see more of this new world. It could even have been his own bleeding heart, though he put far less weight on that particular option.

Throwing an annoyed glance at the villager beside him, he asked in slight exasperation,"Remind me again Old man, why exactly do you need my help?"

The old man in question, the one that hired him, looked nervously in his direction before explaining.

"Yuusha-sama our village is being sieged by misfortune…" the old man explained sadly.

With a sigh Ryou had to ask, "You already mention that, but what exactly is this 'misfortune' you speak off?"

The old man clapped his hands before looking towards the floor of the carriage. "It can only be the work of an evil spirit… Diseased crops, cattle appearing mutilated or just disappearing altogether, fences and barns broken or just completely destroyed, burglary is everywhere! Even rumors have spread around, and because of that merchants avoid the town like the plague, and those that don't just disappear altogether after leaving, never to be seen again. It's the work of an evil spirit, I tell you!" At the end of the explanation the old man was almost bellowing with tears in his eyes.

Ryou released another breath in annoyance, but patted the old man on the shoulder as he cried.

The old Ryou, would have instantly called bullshit, and that there had to be a logical explanation for everything. On the off chance of it truly being the work of an evil spirit, instead of a hero they should have called the pope himself, maybe that shitty fanatic would actually do something worthwhile with his life.

The current Ryou, was still inclined to call it bullshit, however he couldn't discount the possibility, that it was actually the work of a paranormal force. The old him would have called magic bullshit too, and now he was more or less using it, his weapon powers were based on the concept.

If it truly was the work of an evil spirit like the man had declared, Ryou had no idea how to deal with it at all. Wolves were one thing, they had been alive to begin with, so they could be killed. A paranormal entity though?

I don't know if my arrows can actually damage such a thing, and I'm not really in a hurry to find out… Ryou pondered, it wasn't that he was afraid of the paranormal, no… His fears were a lot more down to earth, and much more boring than that.

Whatever the case there are far too many unfortunate events to be a coincidence, that's for sure

"What about the neighboring villages?" Ryou asked, crossing his leg, even when another bump made him shift a little.

Rubbing his eyes the old man answered, "The farms around the village are suffering the same fate, but I haven't heard anything from the other villages…"

So it's only happening in this particular village

It was a localized event then, and taking into account the increase in crime, there existed the possibility that a bandit group had made the village their headquarters. It would explain almost everything, except maybe the diseased crops, although that could be attributed too magic. They could be using intimidation tactics like the mob.

"Old man, do you know if some of the criminals are extorting money from the villagers…Like, offering protection from the events if you pay a toll, or something along those lines?" Ryou asked. If that had been the case he could lay the whole "evil spirit" theory to rest, although that kind of thing only happened in movies.

"Huh, no, from what I know they only steal from people, or kill them if they resist... If we knew who they were, we would have stopped them ourselves…" The old man explained with an angry frown.

Well there goes that theory

So it could still be the work of the paranormal, but Ryou decided to leave that one on the bottom of the list, there wasn't much more he could get just from thinking about it. It would be better to wait until he arrived, and gathered more information.

One thing that Ryou couldn't help but to notice was that Melromarc had a very low population density. It made sense since it was mostly a Middle Age Kingdom, yet now that he actually went beyond the outskirts of Castle Town it became much clearer. In one entire week they had passed through the astonishing amount of two villages, and Ryou had been able to spot another one in the distance a few days ago. Besides that most of landscape was either great forests, or open fields so one couldn't help but to compare the Melromarc, with a European country, even the climate was for the most part a Mediterranean one.

The journey had taken a full week, only stopping to sleep and, taking some breaks or for the random monster on the road, that Ryou had easily dispatched, along with those that weren't even on the road. With his divine protection he could snipe even monsters that were far away. Since the carriage wasn't that fast to begin with, Ryou could actually jump off, gather what he needed, and return before it got to far.

All-in-all he had encountered an assortment of monsters from porcupines, poison frogs and even a couple of wolves, normal sized ones.

The porcupines, gave him access to the Spiked Bow, that besides increasing his defense by plus four, it also hurt anything that touched the outside of the bow. The poison frogs, had given him access to the Poison Frog Bow, that besides four points in agility, and a small resistance against poison, gave him a new offensive skill, the Poison Shot and as the name implied, in the description it stated what one would expect. It would fire an arrow, and if it hit, the enemy would be poisoned suffering from damage over time. In reality however, he had hit a wolf with it, and the canine fell on his side, instantaneously convulsing and frothing from its mouth. At that moment Ryou decided that he would only use that particular skill against monsters or in life threatening situations.

The rest of what the weapons he had unlocked were mostly stats boosting bows, while nice they didn't offer anything particularly new.

He had also tried his luck shooting down a wyvern, or at least that was what Ryou classified it has, unfortunately the flying lizards were far to quick, and smart to be taken down by arrows from such distances, and the poison arrow had no effect on them, on the rare occasion he actually got a hit.

One day you flying purses, I'll make a new bow out of you…Ryou vowed back then, he had the feeling that wyverns would actually unlock something nice, unfortunately he would have to wait until he had the means to actually take one down.

After finally arriving, Ryou took in the sights. Fortified by a wooden wall, the village was a far cry when compared to Castle town, it probably had around a hundred houses, and that was counting the farms on the outskirts.

Deciding that was better to go around, and start gathering information, Ryou did just that, after asking the old man for the Inn's location. He doubted that he could solve the situation in half a day.

A few hours later, Ryou was having dinner while his thoughts went to the information he had gathered.

Walking around the village, and the outskirts asking questions had confirmed what the old farmer had said. Burned or diseased crops, missing, and mutilated livestock, even destroyed property. There was also a scarcity of products, and equipment apparently far less merchants came to the land since the first wave had hit...That particular fact made no sense to him, since has far has his geographic knowledge went, the first wave had hit the other side of the country.

On a side note he found out, that technically speaking he wasn't in Melromarc anymore. The Northern Territories, were actually a different country, while still falling under Melromarc's jurisdiction. A Vassal country, or colony of sorts. Not only that, but apparently, he was closer to another superpower of this world then he realized, one villager explained to him, that beyond the mountain range in the very far distance was Faubley, the mountain serving as a natural boarder between the two countries.

Taking another bite of his bread, still warm from the oven, Ryou shifted his thoughts towards the current problem. He had at least confirmed his initial theory. There had been far too many events to be a coincidence, someone or something was targeting this village.

But for what purpose..?

Maybe it had been someone with power that wished for revenge, hoping to bring the village down, or maybe someone had been benefiting from the damage. Another conversation with the old farmer was needed, maybe he had forgotten something. Right now Ryou only had a lot of unfortunate events, and nothing pointing towards a source.

The following day Ryou had to curse himself, for not asking for the old man's address. Thankfully the village was quite small, but he had still wasted most of the morning searching.

Reaching the farm, Ryou couldn't help but to draw parallels between this one, and the farms around his grandmother's village. If he ignored the style of the building, the rest of the farm was a carbon copy of the ones in his old world.

Walking around he finally saw the figure of a man, digging into the soil in the fields, with a straw hat on his head.

"Hey, Old man..." Ryou raised a hand in greeting.

The old man wiped the sweat from his forehead, before dropping the hoe, and turning towards Ryou.

"Ahh, Yuusha-sama, have you dealt with the Evil Spirit already?" The man asked with a little bit of glee. Ryou for his part only sigh before scratching his neck.

"Yeahhh, I don't buy into that Evil Spirit theory of yours, I think something else is going on, but I still haven't figured it out… Can you remember anything else out of the ordinary, besides these unfortunate events? Anything at all even if its just a small thing..," Ryou old man, seemed to be thinking about it, scrunching his eyes before shaking his head.

"No, I apologize Yuusha-sama, but besides all these despicable events, our village has always been peaceful... If someone broke an arm, everyone would know within the hour…"

Another dead end hmm...Where am I supposed to look, then..? Ryou thought before remembering a forgotten fact.

"Hey old man, who's the leader of your village?"

"Leader..?" Shaking his head Ryou expanded on it.

"Yeah, isn't this village, or region ruled by a Lord?" And that finally seemed to click on the old farmer's head.

"Ahh, that would be Lord Almond... He is the lord in charge of this village." The bow hero inclined his head slightly before shifting his weight onto the other leg.

"This Lord Almond, what has he done in response to this crisis?" The old man looked a little crestfallen after hearing the question.

"Lord Almond is a man of hard work you see, he believes we should solve our problems ourselves, but he always had the best interests of the village in mind, or so we thought…" The old man trailed off, and Ryou was on it like a hound on a trail.

"What does that mean? As he given you a reason to believe otherwise?" Looking to the side, the old farmer scratched his mostly bald head.

"Well these are only rumors, people talk a lot around here… But apparently when our misfortune began, the lord of the neighboring village came here to offer help... Nobody knows exactly what went on in that meeting, there's only speculation, but the results speak for themselves... Lord Almond denied any help, it makes sense given the type of man he is, but still…" The old man looked even more defeated.

If the situation is this bad, what reason could this Lord Almond have to refuse a helping hand..? Is he just too stubborn, and prideful or is there something else...

"I doubt the help would have been for free, do you have any idea on what the other lord could have asked in return?" Ryou questioned. Nobles were for the most part greedy, it was stereotyping on his part, but it didn't make it any less true…

"Well no but…" the old man trailed off, before copping his hand in front of his mouth, and Ryou raised an eyebrow."...This isn't particularly secret information but...The neighboring lord as shown a passing interest in courting Lord Almonds daughter... Perhaps that's what he asked for, and why Lord Almond refused, but like I said this is mostly speculation from an old man." The lines were finally starting to resemble a painting, with that information… Yet at the same time Ryou couldn't help but to think.

I'm pretty sure all of that counted as important information old man … Very important if I'm painting the right picture here...

If Ryou's hypothesis was correct, then everything connected, however it was just a theory, and he needed proof.

"Hey Old man, do you fancy a trip to the neighboring village?" Ryou questioned with a small grin, and the old man just released a confused, "Huh?"

Reaching the gates of the Neighboring Village, that went by the name of Gentlewood, Ryou, and the farmer were stopped by the guard at the gate. The man looked more like a thug then a guard, wearing simple leather armor with an axe on his back, and having a scruff appearance.

"Halt! All visitors must pay the toll!" The guard exclaimed, before moving near the carriage, and extending his hand.

With a sigh Ryou asked, "How much?" The guard responded non paused.

"Thirty silver." The amount stopped Ryou in his tracks, turning towards the farmer he had to ask.

"Hey old man, what's the average price on a toll to enter a village in Melromarc?" The old man turned to look at Ryou before responding.

"Between five cooper and one silver coin, one silver coin being the average price imposed by his Majesty, however even that amount varies depending on the village…" Ryou hummed before turning to face the guard again.

"Your toll is thirty times the price imposed by the crown, a little high don't you think?" The guard just frowned before replying.

"It is what it is, so either pay or turn around boy." Ryou released his bow after a moment, before inquiring with smile on his face.

"I'm sure we can bargain…" The guard took a step back at the sight of his bow.

"You! You are one of the Legendary Heroes… It matters not! You could be his Highness, and you still had to pay, those are my orders, so like I said before, either pay or turn around Hero Boy…" The guard stated like the fact he was in the presence of a Legendary Hero meant nothing. Ryou finally relented silently giving some credit to the man. There was no way around it, he had to get into the village. Opening his inventory window he withdraw the money, before dropping it in the guards hand.

"Here you go…" Ryou replied while the guard counted the money, before narrowing his eyes, and looking back at the Bow Hero.

"There's forty silver here…" Ryou only smiled pleasantly.

"That's ten more, in exchange for your discretion, after-all the Yumi-no Yuusha, is in Castle Town, as far as everyone is aware you see .." The guard, that Ryou was almost one hundred percent sure was anything but, just grinned a yellow smile.

"You know how things work around here, Hero boy... Well as far has anyone asks, the last I heard of the four Legendary heroes, they were all in Castle Town…" The Guard agreed, and that was that.

If the picture I'm painting is true, I would rather not have this village Lord aware of my presence here yet … Though I hate to take a card out of Itsuki's book, with the whole hidden vigilante thing…

The first impressions of Gentlewood was that it definitely eclipsed the Northern village as far as size went, and that someone had a very ironic naming sense, or at least that was what Ryou had thought when exploring the village. The people looked like corpses, not even living, but just surviving. Unlike Castle town, where everyone was lively, Gentlewood felt like death was hovering over the village, yet none of the misfortune from the Northern village had reach here, and Ryou couldn't help but to question the reason for it.

The look in these people 's eyes are almost identical to Raphtalia…

After almost an hour exploration Ryou found a good target, exactly what he had been looking for, a very dubious looking merchant near an Alley. With what had been a little prodding in the form of some silver, the merchant's tongue had gone quite loose, and what a well of information the men had been.

The lord of Gentlewood was, to put it in simple terms a scumbag that fancy himself as the kingpin of the region. The man, had filled his pockets with money from the toll, and accepted all kinds of bribes. Not only that but he had also 'cautioned' any merchant to not take their business to the Northern Village, and by 'cautioned', the merchant had explained that if they were to do business there, he would not be hold responsible for any misfortune that could happen. The final nail in his coffin, had been the fact that he had his own personal group of attack dogs, that the merchant had been sure were just normal bandits. The very few who were courageous, or stupid enough to open their mouth despise everything would be silenced almost immediately.

And we have our culprit … Not the work of an Evil Spirit, but the greed of an Evil Asshole…

Now the big question on Ryou's mind, was how to go about it. The easiest way would be to return to Castle town, and talk to Aultcray even if he hated the idea. However, Ryou was sure he could come back with an army behind him or at least a few squads of knights. Hero's privileges, and all that.

The thought of confronting the Lord alone crossed his mind, but he preferred when the odds were completely in his favor. The man had bodyguards with him so things could turn slightly ugly. Not only that, but the only thing he had on the Noble, was the fact that the man was corrupt, hardly something that would make anyone lose their sleep, most nobles had dirt on them after all.

Truly the best way would be to return to Lord Almond's Village, and spend the night there, especially since the Inn's in Gentlewood's Village cost a small fortune. He would then start his trip back to Castle Town the following day, after registering the Northern Village as a teleportation location. Ryou's teleportation Ability while usefully came with sever limitations, not only did it had a forty-eight hours cooldown, but he could only register three places at any given time .

Its like those teleportation skills MMORPG's have at the beginning, a free teleport but with sever limitations, and a pretty big cooldown… Ryou theorized, it had been a common mechanic across a lot of games, however normally as one leveled up he would unlock better, and more complex transportation systems, so maybe the same applied in this world…

With those thoughts, Ryou went on his way back, he had everything he needed from this village anyway.

The following morning Ryou was. for the second time since arriving in Melromarc, forcefully awaken from his slumber by shouting, and loud knocks on his door.

"Yuusha-sama, Yuusha-sama, come quickly, it's terrible!" The voice that he recognized as the old man that had hired him shouted in panic. Ryou quickly made his way towards the door, before opening it.

"What's wrong?" The old man had sweat running down his head, and was slightly wheezing.

"Its...Its Lord Almond's daughter! She has been kidnapped!" The old man exclaimed, still with his hands on his knees.

"What?!" Ryou exclaimed, eyes narrowing in anger. There had been no doubt in his mind who was behind the event, all evidenced that he had collected the day prior, pointed towards the scummy lord, from Gentlewood's Village.

"It's terrible, Lord Almond tried to stop those monsters from taking his daughter, but they overpowered him, and now even our Lord as been hurt." That was enough to spring Ryou into action. Going back inside, he put on his armor before ordering.

"Take me to him!"

Is this pure coincidence, or there's something more going on here..? Ryou questioned making his way out of the Inn.

Unlike what Ryou had expected, Lord Almond didn't live in a mansion or a palace like most nobles. His family house was a farm, a big farm, and at the sight Ryou's respect for the man went up a notch. He was someone who understood hard work alright if the house was off any indication.

Entering what looked like a living room, completely made of wood, with a fireplace, and a average dining table, Ryou made his way to a couch where a man, who he was sure was Lord Almond lay.

The man was had brown hair, with yellow greenish eyes, on his abdomen was a rag, that had in times been white, however now it was mostly stained in red. The man was gritting his teeth, but took in the new arrival.

"Who are you?" The man asked voice strained from the pain, and Ryou opened his inventory taking out an health potion.

"Never mind that now, here drink this, it should help a little at least…" Ryou offered, extending the potion into Almond's reach. The man, took one suspicious look at the bottle, before looking at the old man who nodded. Reaching he grabbed it, and drank it in one gulp, grimacing only a little at the horrible flavor. Almost immediately the wound closed, and it became apparent it hadn't hit anything vital.

The man look shocked for a moment before his face became dead serious.

"Thank you" Ryou nodded slightly before stating.

"I heard your daughter was kidnapped…" The man inclined his head clenching his teeth, before exclaiming.

"Yes, she was… I tried to stop them, but they were too many..." Almond trailed off, then he turned his eyes towards the old farmer.

"Round up everyone in the village, were going to look for my daughter, organize in search parties I want no rock left unchecked in the forest!" He ordered, and the old man contrary to what his age might indicate, vanished out of the room in a blink of an eye.

Almond proceed to move towards the table his fist slamming on it a moment later." Dammit! If only I hadn't gone so many times against Aultcray, I would still have his ear, and could ask for reinforcements to help search!" The Noble almost roared.

"Maybe I can help with that..." Ryou offered, and Almond turned to look at him.

"You?! I'm thankful for your assistance, but unless you can convince his Majesty to lend us his knights, I don't see how you can help..." Ryou held a sigh. At the rate he had been sighing now a days, he would have grey hairs before long.

"Right... I haven't introduced myself, I'm Ryou Takuma, and I am the Yumi no Yuusha." Ryou stated with a slight grimace, stating his official title still left a bad taste in his mouth. Almond's eyes widened considerably after hearing the introduction.

"One of the Four Legendary Heroes? What is one such as you doing here?" The Noble questioned.

"I was hired to deal with your 'misfortune', and this also seems to fit the bill…" Ryou responded with a shrug.

"Who hired you, because I sure didn't…"

"That farmer did… Why?" Confusion clear on his face, and voice. The village was in a bad state, what was so surprising about hiring a hero?

"You heroes must be running charity these days… Never mind that, Yuusha-sama, I beg you, please help me find my daughter! If its you then Aultcray will surely hear you." The man implored, and it was fantastic the way most people would sing a different tune the moment they knew who he was.

"I was already going to speak with him. I'm pretty sure the one who ordered the kidnapping of your daughter is the same person behind all the misfortune that as fallen on your village." After that statement Almond's eyes almost burst in flames, a snarl formed on his face.

"Who?!" Finally, Ryou revealed his suspicions.

"The Lord of Gentlewood's village." Almond's face took on a look of surprise before it turned red.

"That Slime!" He spat before continuing, "I should have known! He already asked for Rishia once before, and now he even went as far as to kidnapped her?! If he so much as touches a hair on her head, I'll slaughter him." Almond's threatened fists white with rage.

However Ryou came to a very, very sudden stop, freezing completely while his brain processed that statement.

"Wait, wait, wait! Run that by me again? What's your daughter's name?" Almond calmed himself before replying.

"Rishia, Rishia Ivyred… Why?" Ryou covered his eyes with his palms.

"Are you fucking kidding me?!" He screamed at the ceiling, and to the sky's above in frustration.

Rishia had been the clumsy, green haired, shy girl on Itsuki's party. Some stuff that Ryou couldn't remember happened, and she had been kicked out because of it, she then went on to join Naofumi's party.

Why?! What are the fucking odds that I, happen to come across the same situation as Itsuki without even trying!

Ryou screamed again in frustration, because now his hand had been forced! He couldn't leave the poor girl by herself. He had access to the teleportation ability, however being the dumb ass that he was, he had forgotten to register Castle Town, the most important place, as a teleportation location. So now instead of two to three days counting the cooldown on his teleport, it would take at least seven to come back with reinforcements. That wasn't a problem before, the village would endure until he came back, even if it was after the wave... But with this? Who knew what such a scumbag would do to Rishia in that amount off time.

If he 's been interested in her for so long, then I know what he might do, and he deserves a new hole in his head for it…

"Shit…" Ryou muttered finally calming down. He would be forced to take action, no doubt about it.

"What's wrong Ryou-sama, do you know my daughter?" Rishia's father asked, and Ryou remembered he wasn't the only one in the room.

"No, that's not it, I just remembered, it will take me almost seven, maybe eight days to return with reinforcements, and we can't wait that long… Who knows what he will do to your daughter in the meantime..." And if possible the man became even angrier then before, although now there was a small touch of desperation in his voice.

"Can't you use your authority as a hero to bring him down?!" Ryou had to stop himself from cursing in frustration.

"I probably could if I had something more to pin on him... But right now the only thing that, I have is that he is a corrupt bastard, he might not even bat an eye at that, a lot of nobles are... If I went to Aultcray with that the King would certainly move, if nothing else just to appease me but it will take too long…" Ryou ended, cursing his own luck, he would try to bluff his way, but it would probably come down to a fight. He couldn't leave a kind-hearted girl like Rishia to her fate. Ryou didn't knew Rishia personally, that much was obvious, but he had known of her. There was something there, he wouldn't use the word 'bond', because she had been nothing more then an image on a screen. In this world though, she was a living, and breathing human being, his feelings towards the girl were more or less the same as with Raphtalia.

"That god damned swine! The only reason he has this much power is because of the accursed wave! Bastard using that fear to keep people under his heel!" Almond lamented.

"Right… This all started after the first wave hit, but that happened on the other side of the country so what's the connection here?" Ryou questioned, because that had made no sense to him.

"It wasn't really the wave itself, but the idea or concept of it. People... Civilians, and low-lives are terrorized by the idea of the wave, and after the first one hit, it became a very real fear. Being a noble gave that slime the upper hand, and he convinced people that if the calamity came, he could save them by calling on the heroes. Some didn't believe him, but the fear was too real to discount the possibility of it being true. With that power, he bought himself even more power, the crooks wont betray him for the sake of that protection, and the civilians hardly raise against him for the same reason.

Well that's a twisted way of using fear but it actually might make my life a little bit easier... I can try to bullshit my way out of fighting the bodyguards at least... Ryou considered, however that still left the noble himself. No matter if he was one of the legendary heroes or not,Ryou wouldn't pick a fight with Malty at this stage, she could probably run circles around him, despise being a princess... Even Melty could probably floor him if given the chance, so Nobles could still be a problem...

"Is that bastard any strong..? Physically or with magic?" Ryou need to know what exactly he was getting into...

"That midget? He isn't strong at all! That's the reason he as been hiring thugs, he probably knows how to wave a sword around but that's it..." Almond commented, and Ryou almost felt relieved hearing that.

So if I get pass the bodyguards, I should be in the clear… However I might not even have to take them on... However his train of thought was interrupted by Almond

"That bastard going about it in such a way... He has no right ruling using such tactics! That slime is really profiting quite well from people's fears." Almond finished with a hint of disgust.

That last part brought another memory to the surface…


"Indeed, but before I take my leave …" she paused, and turned her head in his direction before continuing, "Here's a little piece of interesting trivia, although his Majesty might be making some very questionable decisions as of late, he's still the King of Melromarc, that fact hasn't changed... He will never stand for people who profit from the fear, and devastation brought about by the waves... He might have turned a blind eye to it in the past, especially if it helped in his crusade, but he won't risk angering my mistress anymore than he already did, on that front at least." She finished, and Ryou could only stand there confused.

"That …" he begun "…is completely random information, how the hell is that even useful?" The only thing he could gather from that statement, was that the maid pretty much confirmed who her mistress was, if even the king threaded lightly around her.

"Just something to keep in mind, I'm sure this little piece of knowledge will be useful to you in the future. Well until next time Yuusha-sama, and don't die out there... You are my favorite after all." And the accursed woman actually had the nerve to send him a flying kiss before disappearing.

After she left, Ryou couldn't help but to mutter, "What was the actual point in all of that..?"

End of Flashback

"That might just be it…" Ryou murmured, snapping his fingers. He had another thing to pin on the bastard, and with everything else Ryou might just be able to pull this off.

Right she said that, and it might just be one the key's that I need Ryou thought, before reaching another conclusion…

She gave me that piece of complete random information, and stated that it might come in use, and now it actually came be one of the key's towards solving this problem …Not only that but the timing of the kidnapping… Its just coincidence after coincidence… That Manipulative bitch…

Ryou didn't knew how the woman had pulled it off, but it was too big of a coincidence. The Shadow Maid, had somehow pulled enough strings, in such a way, that made this entire scenario possible, and had left him with one of the keys to solve it.

After I 'm done with this I'm going to have some words with that old man… And next time I meet that witch, I'm going to strangle some answers out of her..!

It wasn't even because of the situation itself, he would help Rishia either way... The problem was he had been played in order to do something for the Shadow Maid, and without his consent or knowledge. If there was one thing Ryou hated it was people who tried to manipulate him.

But that comes later … Since so many people like to stick that stupid title on me, I might as well start doing something Heroic, and as cliche as it is, saving a damsel in distress definitely fits the bill….

Next Chapter - The Hero and The Maiden With Poor Luck

Chapter Text

But that comes later … Since so many people like to stick that stupid title on me, I might as well start doing something Heroic, and as cliche as it is, saving a damsel in distress definitely fits the bill….

Taking a deep breath Ryou analyzed his priorities... Saving Rishia came first and foremost, and since sneaking around Gentlewood Lord's mansion would be all but impossible, a direct confrontation would be the only the only way to make his plan work.

"Yuusha-sama have you thought of something?" Almond questioned hopefully.

"Yeah, you actually made me remember something that might help, with everything I have now, I might be able to save Rishia, and put that man out of commission," Ryou stated. His mind whirling with thoughts before articulating them.

"Here's the thing, I don't know if I can solve this with just my authority as hero, even with all the proof, I might not be able to bluff him into submission, however this is the best I could come up with." The whole Hero authority thing was in reality nothing more then an illusion of power - power that only existed in peoples minds. The question now was if Ryou could keep the illusion from shattering.

"Well let's hear this plan of yours Yuusha-sama…" Almond requested, and Ryou elaborated.

After the plan was explained Almond looked at the young hero in a new light.

"For someone so young you are quite shrewd Ryou-sama." Ryou shook his head after hearing the praise.

"That's not true, this plan as far to many what-ifs for my taste. Honestly its either hit or miss. If we had more time, I might have been able to come up with something better, but right now this is the only one I have." It would have to work because if it didn't both him, and Rishia would be in a lot of trouble.

"Is there anything, I can help with?" Almond asked almost as a plea. No doubt the man wanted to increase the chances of rescuing his daughter by any means possible.

Ryou took a minute to think about all the scenarios before nodding, "Yes there is. I want you to fortify the village, and arm the villagers. If the plan fails, I'll get your daughter out somehow but I doubt they will let us leave just like that. That scumbag might just decide to cut his losses, and come after us. If that happens we will come here, and you should be ready for a battle."

Ryou truly hoped it wouldn't come to that, but better to be ready for any scenario, even the worse case ones.

"Very well Yuusha-sama, I hate to be so powerless but I have no choice but to trust you with the safety of my daughter. I will get this village ready for battle, and we will fight if it comes down to it," Almond declared determined, pressing his fist against his chest.

"Hopefully it won't come to that…" Ryou mumbled, moving towards the door.

"The best of luck! I will pray for your safe return, both yours, and my daughter's." Ryou turned his face towards the man, and nodded before going on his way.

After getting the carriage ready, Ryou went on his way towards Gentlewood Village again. Unfortunately the carriage driver was not the same old man that had hired him, he had been busy running around, however Ryou vowed he would get to the bottom of this situation later, one way or another.

The trip wouldn't take that long, but it gave Ryou some more time to think. Itsuki had been able to bring the lord down, but Ryou wasn't sure if the previous bow hero had done so this soon, the time line was already messed up and it would probably only get worse. Even still Itsuki had a party with him at the time, and Ryou would be going alone with only his wits, hopefully it would be enough, because if the plan didn't work…

If it turns into a battle… Someone is going to die… Ryou thought grimly. Killing monsters even if they bleed was one thing, killing humans however was a line he wasn't sure he could cross. Pass values ingrained into him since birth, made such a thing an unacceptable act. Nevertheless if it came down to a choice between himself, and them, Ryou would fight first, and deal with the consequences later.

Nobles are almost all the same, aren't they..? Ryou questioned internally observing the mansion before him, or a small palace he really couldn't tell.

Approaching the guards at the gate, they immediately frown at the sight of him.

"Halt! What do you think you are doing here boy?!" One of the two guards demanded, and as far as first impressions went, these people were certainly lacking in hospitality.

Pointing at himself Ryou answered, "Me? I'm the going to meet with the Lord, you will find that he wants to see me." The guard surveyed Ryou with his eyes, before turning to look at the other guard who just shrugged.

"Yeah, I don't think so! Nobody told us to expect visits and, I doubt that Lord Gentlewood will want to meet with a kid like you." The guard crossed his arms at the end of that statement, frowning even deeper when Ryou coughed in his hand.

Gentlewood..! The village is named after him!? Irony, my lady, I saw what you did here! Ryou had to mask the snort that had come out, with very bad timing he might add, but he hadn't been able to help himself. After recollecting himself, he crossed his arms just like the guard.

"Well I'm sure that your Lord will make time to meet with the Yumi-no Yuusha right?" Ryou even punctuated that with a raised eyebrow.

Both guards turned flabbergasted at the announcement before the one that had been silent, spoke with incredulity, "You?! You are one of the Legendary Heroes?!" With a twist of his wrist, the Legendary bow materialized in his hand. The guards once again shared a silent look, then the one who had spoken before replied.

"Please follow me Yuusha-sama, I'll take you to Lord Gentlewood." The guard made a hand motion for him to follow, and Ryou did so keeping his bow unsealed.

They entered through the main hall after crossing a big lavish garden. Inside maids could be seen roaming around, some looked at him in curiosity but no comment was made on the new guest. It took Ryou two full minutes to realize they were taking the scenic route.

The other one probably went to inform his master of my arrival This also worked in Ryou's favor. He would be able to get a basic layout of the mansion if things took a turn for the worse.

It was when he reached a intersection that led to a set of stairs that Ryou came to a curious if suspicious sight. Half way on the corridor that intersected with the one he was currently on, there was a door with two guards on each side. Ryou took a curious look, at the sight for a couple of seconds however the guard that was serving as guide interrupted his thoughts.

"This way Yuusha-sama." The man had a frown on his face, and was pointing towards the stairs. Ryou followed but the suspicious feeling remained.

Well aren 't you in a hurry all of the sudden, and two thugs guarding a random door..?

There was a good chance Ryou had just come across the place where Rishia was being held captive, and as much as he wanted to get the poor girl out, he needed to play his cards right.

Climbing the stairs, he was escorted to a double set of doors. The guard stopped before knocking, it took a few moments before a wheezy voice came, through the other side.

"Come in." The guard opened the door and motioned Ryou to step inside. Ryou griped his bow slightly harder, before stepping inside.

Its show time

The room most prominent colors were white and red, with all manners of decorations from monster skulls to emblems. Two red couches lay in front of a small glass table with a desk at the end of the room, behind it stood a tapestry also red with golden embroilment covering the entire far wall.

Ryou's eyes finally set on the figure seated on the couch, and right then he decided that fate was screwing with him yet again.

First his name and now this?! This guy looks just like the Gollum only chubbier! Ryou thought with equal measure of incredulity, and hilariously. The man look to be around fifty, small but probably weighing more than Ryou. His face pale with big blue eyes, a few grey hairs were still present in a mostly bald head, and sporting a pair of ears that would make him the perfect target for bullies in Ryou's old high school.

Pushing the amusing thoughts aside, and putting his head back into the game Ryou inclined his head in greeting, "Hello, you must be Lord Gentlewood, yes?"

The small noble, clapped his hands a pleasant smile forming on his face,"Yes, that's me and let me tell you this is a unexpected but marvelous surprise! To think that one of the Legendary Heroes would visit not only my town, but also my person, this is such an honor!" The man exclaimed joyously, and Ryou had to compare the man to the slave trader in Melromarc, or at least what he expected the man to act like.

"Indeed, and I have to say Lord Gentlewood, that your town certainly has a 'unique' flavor to it, as does your mansion." Ryou praised back. He also knew how to play that game, it was the same he played with Aultcray.

"I certainly hope so, I worked very hard to make it grow into what it is now, and of course to keep the peace, and stability." Ryou decided right there that among other qualities, Gentlewood loved to hear his own voice, and praise himself.

"The qualities of a true leader." Ryou allowed inclining his head. And with a wave of Gentlewood's hand he took a seat on the couch, however Ryou laid the bow in his lap, one hand just an inch away from the grip.

"Your praise, honors me Yuusha-sama! However, and excuse my curiosity, but what is the reason that brought you to our town?" The Noble questioned, his pudgy hands still clapped together.

"Well you see, I was requested to investigate the unfortunate events that have befallen on Lord Almond's Village, and I had to be sure it wasn't affecting your own village." The name had been thrown on purpose, and Ryou took note at the slight twitch on the man's smile when he heard the name, before his face turned bleak.

"Ahh yes…Truly a horrible set of unfortunate events as you say, we were spared as you can see, but alas that's not completely unexpected…" Gentlewood trailed off, and Ryou narrowed his eyes slightly hearing the statement.

"What do you mean not completely unexpected?" The man begun to tap his knuckles with the fingers on his other hand, before explaining.

"Lord Almond his a great man, truly a person worthy of respect, although some of his decisions are…" The noble paused for a moment before finishing," …questionable at best." Ryou's thoughts were running at a mile per hour trying to figure out what the point of this was, but he decided to bite the bait, that Gentlewood was leaving, and see were he was going.

"Are you saying that the events are Lord Almond's fault?" Ryou questioned, and the question carried a little bit more weight in it. The noble waved his hands trying to diffuse that line of thinking.

"No! No! At least not directly, but you see Yuusha-sama, Almond is not very favored among the rest of nobility. Like I said his decisions are questionable sometimes, and unfortunately it shows, ruling a village takes qualities that not everyone possesses…" The noble was laying breadcrumbs, and Ryou continued to play along although he was beginning to see where the man was going with this.

"Ah, so perhaps if another, wiser leader was chosen, then the village would become more stable, is that what you mean?" Ryou, inquired crossing his arms.

Gentlewood for his part, developed another smile, almost apologetic clapping his hands once again, "Well, I hate to badmouth my old friend Almond, but I must think of the people, and what's better for them."

So it wasn't only Rishia that you were after, it was the whole region... It wasn't a bad plan, if Ryou hadn't done his investigation prior, and if he was a brain dead idiot, although with the trend the other three were setting up it was easy to see how Gentlewood thought he could be easily manipulated. Naofumi had been played like a flute, Motoyasu would do everything requested of him as long as it came from a pretty face, and Ren was far more then willing to fall in line as long as he was allowed to do what he pleased. With those thoughts in mind Gentlewood planned to accuse Almond of incompetence, and use Ryou as a mean to get authority over the entire region. Not only would he get what he wanted, but he would also solidify his position when the unfortunate events stopped altogether. Rishia would most likely be reported dead, and since the word would come from such a competent leader nobody would question it.

What a piece of work this guy is. Wonder if he came with this plan mostly on the fly, or if someone tipped him off before hand … Well it really doesn't mater at this point…

"Yes maybe the solution to this problem would be a new leader. I see it now, and given your strong leadership, I should definitely mention you to our Majesty. Of course I understand if you decline, it would be much more work for you after all…" Ryou probed, and the Noble eyes widen before shaking his head.

"No, not at all! No amount of work is too great for the betterment of any village, and I would be honored to take on such a privilege! I'm sure his Highness will see it too when you bring it up to him." And Ryou hummed, before raising himself.

"I'm sure he will. I'm also sure that he will be over the moon when he finds out that one of his nobles is as corrupt, and vile has they come…" Ryou actually manage to throw the accusation out with no emotion besides sending the noble a pointed look.

The noble frowned, looking confused, and also raising himself, "I'm not sure what you mean, Yuusha-sama…"

Ryou finally smiled in his direction, but there was hardly any humor in it, "No? Allow me to elucidate you then. Let's start with a toll thirty times the crown's tax, or maybe bribing, and threatening merchants. Let's not forget the act of terrorizing a neighboring village, and while we are at it how about we add kidnapping to the list." With every accusation the Noble's face became angrier, and flushed until at last he was gritting his teeth.

"Baseless accusations with no proof! I expected better from you Yuusha-sama, and I am deeply offended by them!" The man actually sounded terribly offended, but that was probably do to the anger of having been discovered.

"Feel free to feel as offended as you want, but I have all the proof I will ever need. I just have to step outside, and ask the first merchant I find, they have quite the loose lips with the right incentive you see. I only need to grab one, teleport to Castle town, and be back with a few squadrons of Knights within the hour. Face it, you're finished Gentlewood." Ryou declared with a glare. The other man was sweating, but still managed to form a grin.

"I think you are overestimating yourself Yuusha-sama... Most nobles are corrupt, heck even Aultcray himself! How do you think he ascended to the throne? He won't even bat an eye at such accusation, and even if he does, the worse he will do is a slap on the wrist!" The final part was stated with fake confidence, something that made Ryou smile widely, finally ready to lay down all the cards.

"Yeah your right about that, but he would still imprison you just to satisfy me at the very least, I'm one of the Legendary Heroes after all. But unfortunately for you, your situation is far worse than that. Let me tell you exactly how much you fucked up in comparison to the other corrupt nobles. Right now the entire continent is in a state of cold war. Because of the appearance of the waves, tensions are higher than ever. So, what do you think will happen if it reaches the other countries that a noble in charge of a region under Melromarc's jurisdiction was, not only using the fear of the waves as means to control people, but also spreading false information about them..?"

Gentlewood was sweating rivers by now, but he still managed to talk even if his voice came out shakier then before. "Why would that even matter?!"

"Well it matters because, it will start a war… The situation is so fragile that such information will be more then enough to spark the powder keg. The King, you see, is quite aware of the current political situation. You said he won't care about the fact that you are corrupt... But what if your actions start a war? I can guarantee you right here, right now that your head won't be on your shoulders by the end of this day." Ryou stated with a glare towards the man, although his voice echoed with confidence, inside it was everything but.

Come on, take the bait

"Well... That will only happen if the information makes it to his Highness..." The noble muttered, his eyes shifting towards the door.


Ryou had the bow ready, and arrow pulled within a second, turning around he leveled it with the guard, that now had a sword in his hand, although the man seemed hesitant.

"If I were you, I would think very carefully about this big guy, do you really want to side with this lying piece of shit…" Ryou warned inclining his head towards the noble "...or with one of the only people between this world and the wave, remember when it comes, an it will, I might be the one saving your ass…" The guard eyes darted between the two a few times before closing them briefly. Letting a huff he stashed his sword in the scabbard, and stepped back towards the door.

"What are you doing! I payed you, I gave you protection in this town and this is how you repay me?!" Gentlewood screamed in outrage. However the bodyguard send him a crooked grin.

"Sorry boss, but you don't get to survive long in this business if you don't know when to pick the winning side, and right now you aren't it." The man finished with a what-can-you.-do shurg.

And that, as they say, is Game Over Ryou thought victorious.

"You ungrateful piece of...Eekk!" Gentlewood shrieked the moment an arrow passed right next to his ear, and fell down on his rear, eyes wide opened in fear.

"That's quite enough Lord Gentlewood! Now here's how this is going to go. You are going to get off your ass, get on that desk and write an official document, where you surrender everything that you own including ownership of this village to Lord Almond. After that your going to leave this place, keep your head low, never show your face again, and maybe just maybe at the end of this day you will still get to keep it above your shoulders." Ryou ordered.

"I cant! I'll be ruined!" The old noble pleaded in desperation, inciting Ryou to take a step in his direction slowly.

"Well then, its off to see the King with you, lets see what happens then…" Ryou took another step, and the noble scrambled backwards until he hit the table.

"No, not that! Anything but that! I'll do it, I'll do it!" The man screamed in panic, and if it didn't broke his theater Ryou would have sign in relief.

"Well on with it then, and make sure its authentic, I don't want to have to track you down." Ryou warned. The man crawled hastily around his desk, climbed on his chair, and begun to rake through his desk and drawers.

The bow hero turned his head slightly towards the bodyguard, a small smile on his face. "Hey mate, you mind doing me a favor?" The bodyguard also looked nervous, and seemed hesitant.

"Yes?" Ryou took another look at Gentlewood who had begun to scribe on a fancy parchment, before his eyes returned towards the Bodyguard.

"Can you go get Lord Almond's daughter for me? I'm pretty sure you know where she is. Bring her here, and be gentle with the lady." The Man hesitated for a second before agreeing, and leaving the room.

Ryou focused on the noble then, the man was shaking and sweating probably not used to being the one on the other side of a gun.

All in all, this actually worked, I was sure it wouldn't, it was mostly bluff after bluff

After a couple of minutes the door opened and Ryou looked in its direction. Coming through was a girl, but the color of her hair immediately gave her away. Green hair tied into two braids, she was a few centimeters short of his own height. Her clothing was rather plain with a green colored sleeveless dress, along with a cream colored shirt, and with what might be leggings under the dress. If Ryou didn't know before hand of her lineage he would have ruled her as a normal civilian. Although it was her eyes that held most of his attention, they were a beautiful lime tone, that shined far more then her father's, although they were both tinged with a slight redness and puffy, adding to that was the fact that she still had tears running down her face, and it became easy to see, that she had been crying her soul out. However besides that, she looked more or less alright so that seemed to be a good sign.

Putting on what he hoped was a reassuring smile, eyes softening slightly he addressed the girl.

"Hi, you're Rishia right?" Shaking slightly, she nodded.

"Okay, name's Ryou Takuma, and I'm here on your father's behalf to liberate you. I just have to finish cleaning up this mess and I'll take you to him. okay?" Rishia raised her head after she heard the proclamation, even if there was a trace of disbelief in her face.

"Fuee…. R-really?" She asked sniffling very lightly.

"Yeah, you don't have to worry anymore, your safe now." Ryou assured, and the green haired girl started crying again, but Ryou could almost bet this time it was from relief.

After Gentlewood, finished writing the document, Ryou picked it up, and looking at it he remembered something.

Right, I can't read squat of what's written in here much less confirm if it's even legitimate… Ryou thought face scrunching up. before his eyes fell on the new guest in the room.

She is also a noble, and is pretty smart has far as I can remember...

"Hey Rishia, can you check to see if this is a legitimate document?" Ryou asked, and the girl gave a small jump at being addressed, before grabbing the document hesitantly. cleaning her eyes with her sleeve, she began surveying the document after a moment her face morphed into disbelief.

"T-This is… this is a document passing all of Lord Gentlewood's possessions to father, i-including lordship over Gentlewood Village…" Rishia exclaimed amazed, holding the parchment with shaking hands.

"Is it authentic?" Ryou inquired, and the girl nodded half minded.

"Good, then let's get out of here." Ryou exclaimed, before pulling another arrow and pointing at the Noble, making Rishia gasp, and the Old noble blanch.

"You, move it!" The order was punctuated with a head tilt towards the door, and the noble quickly followed it, Ryou trailing behind both him, and the Bodyguard, with Rishia two steps behind the Bow Hero.

After walking for a minute Ryou realized that the entire mansion was now free of thugs, only the maids remained. He spared the bodyguard a small look, as realization hit him.

He probably warned the others of what was going on, and they made a run for it … Guess there's still loyalty between thief's…

Reaching the Main door Ryou kicked the Noble out, before signaling towards the gate.

"Start running, and never come back, my threat still stands, pull something remotely nefarious again, and there's no country you can hide where I wont find you, got it? "

Gentlewood nodded rapidly before taking off sprinting as fast has his legs allowed him, which wasn't all that fast to begin with.

This might come back to bite me in the ass, but he is powerless now, and he 'll be hunted down the moment I tell Aultcray about this, I'll clean my hands off of him now…

Ryou thought watching the men running. Eyes shifting he noticed the bodyguard was squirming a little in place.

"Listen... Since you were such a good sport, I'll let you leave. So get out of here." The bodyguard sent him a thankful grin, and turned to leave but stopped after a couple of steps.

"I'm sorry, but this is really bothering me. If you knew that the boss was corrupt from the start, why did you let the entire thing drag on, as you did?" Ryou eyed the bodyguard for a few moments, pondering whether to answer that or not, before deciding there was no harm in it.

"Because people's motivations are important, even for a piece of shit like him. For example I came here only knowing that he was after Rishia, but after that little theater, I found out he was actually after the whole region." Ryou confined in the bodyguard, who nodded in understanding.

"I see now, you are one of those scary plotting types…" A snort was heard, because the phrasing almost appeared to make Ryou the villain in the whole situation.

"Get out of here." The bodyguard took the Hero's advice, and bolted far faster then Gentlewood did.

Finally mostly alone Ryou allowed himself to relax slightly. He had achieved what he had set out to do, and that was saving the girl now standing behind him.

"Ready to return home?" Ryou asked, with a small lazy smile.

"Fuee! Yes, please…"

After arriving at Northern village, they had been greeted to a fortress, with villagers armed with everything from swords to pitch forks, thankfully there had been no need for it. The tearful meeting between Father and Daughter, had brought a soft smile to Ryou's face, along with another feeling he couldn't even begin to identify.

"Yuusha-sama, thank you! I don't know how I could ever repay you!" Almond exclaimed, bowing to Ryou, who looked, and felt embarrassed rubbing the back of his neck.

"Fuee! Yuusha-sama?" Rishia questioned, her eyes going wide.

"Yes?" Ryou questioned with a tilt of his head.

Rishia's eyes almost fell out with how wide they opened, her mouth forming a small 'o', before she snapped out of whatever was in her mind, waving her hands in front of her.

"Yuusha-sama, you are one of the Four legendary Heroes?" Ryou, tilted his head to the other side before nodding

"Something like that, yeah…" Face flushing she began to tap her fingers, before Almond decided to intervene.

"Rishia, this young man that saved you, is Ryou-sama, the Yumi no Yuusha!" Almond proclaimed.

Rishia for her part, still looked flushed, hands clasping in front of her, and stared at him in awe. Ryou couldn't help but to feel slightly nervous at how much worship was in those eyes.

What's up with that look she's giving me..? The Bow hero wondered if this was what it felt like to be under a spotlight, like a rock star or famous football player.

Reporting to Lord Almond, that he was now not only, hundreds of times wealthier, but also lord of two villages, was met with disbelief, although those doubts were mostly dispelled since he had the document to support it. There were still some fears concerning the King's reaction, though Ryou promised to soothe any waves that would arise from it, even if he hated the idea of having to meet with Aultcray, it was still a better alternative then finishing this in an half-assed manner, and having to live with the mortification of Naofumi cleaning up after him.

He had also been invited for dinner with the Ivyred's, as well as to spend the night, this took some persuading from Almond for Ryou to accept, however his wallet spoke higher in the end.

Dinner had been interesting to say the least. They had fleshed out some details about Almond's new duties along with the retelling of how he had brought Gentlewood down.

Ryou had also gotten to know Rishia a little better during the meal. Apparently the shy young woman, had studied in Faubley, and showed great proficiency in the magic department, unfortunately she eventually had to drop off school when her father's authority begun to shrink. Aultcray had chipped away their status as nobility, and almost outright cut ties with them because Almond had questioned some of the rules regarding Demi-humans. The bow hero had also questioned Rishia about her mother, noting her absence in all of this, and apparently the women was one of the Queens aids, and was out of the country with the Ruler who was no doubt trying to solve the mess her husband had made.

The following morning, Ryou had gotten out of bed early, intent on making his way back to Castle town has fast as possible, there was little time before the wave, and he wanted to make as much progress as possible.

Unfortunately, his hosts had once again extended the invitation to join them for breakfast, and he couldn't find a good excuse to avoid it, especially since Rishia among other qualities had a very good hand when it came to cooking, maybe even better then he did.

It was during said breakfast, that another bomb was dropped on his lap, one that would forever change his fate. Rishia had come down from her room a nervous wreck, for some reason he couldn't identify. She spent the entirety of the time fidgeting, eyes taking peeks at him every now and them, but refused to met his questioning gaze every time..

It wasn't until the end of the meal that Almond decided to put an end to it, after wiping his mouth.

"Ryou-sama, Rishia has something she would like to ask you." The lord sent his daughter a pointed looked, one she responded like she had suffered the biggest of betrayals, face flushing pink, before she started stuttering like crazy while waving her hands vigorously.

"Rishia deep breaths, I can't understand word of what you're saying." Ryou almost begged kindly, because the girl looked like she was one step away from having a nervous breakdown.

"R-Ryou-sama, I-I would like to j-join your party!" She begun muttering, still stuttering but ended in a high pitch. Ryou for his part was floored with the request.

What? Sure originally Rishia had joined Itsuki's party, and later joined Naofumi's party. But the biggest question was the one he found stating.

"Why?" He was completely confused. Why would she want to join on what would soon turn to be a very real war, It made no sense to him.

"R-Ryou-sama, me. and the r-rest of my family owe you a d-debt we will n-never be able to r-repay. So even if i-im not strong, I want to b-be of use in any way I can!" She stuttered and was fidgeting, but there was something more in her eyes, they had resolution in them. Still Ryou was not having any of it.

"You don't owe me anything, I didn't save you expecting a reward, I did it because I wanted too. You have no idea what you're sacrificing with such a request. I'm happy, really I am, but I can't accept such a thing. The waves are terrible things, and I won't let you get subjected to that, not when you have both a choice, and your entire life ahead of you." Ryou stated completely serious. He didn't had a choice when it came to fighting, but Rishia did.

She looked down, clenching her hands tightly, before she met his eyes with her own, looking even more resolute now.

"B-but I do owe you! I owe you m-my life, and most likely my family's! Also I'm offering this of my own free will!" She exclaimed, beginning a battle of wills, with both staring at each other even if the girl was squirming slightly. Finally after a few moments they were interrupted by a polite cough.

"Ryou-sama, I understand where you are coming from, as a father I completely disavow this decision. However Rishia is my heir, and she's already old enough to make her own decisions in life. Having said that, as head of the Ivyred family, I couldn't be more proud if she were to join your party." Once again Ryou was floored. Even her father who had been so worried about her safety the day before was condoning this.

She as her entire future in front of her, and yet she wants to go fight a war? Thats insane! I know she 's not weak, but still…

According to his memories, and observations, she was smart, very much so, being responsible for Naofumi's victory in the fourth wave. She also had amazing talent in magic. If Ryou was to be honest with himself, he was in dire need of a party member, that had been something on his mind since the battle with the wolves.

I was thinking of someone to take care of melee range, not magic. Although she can probably be considered support too, and with her talent and smarts, she could probably teach me how to use magic easily … But even so…

"Rishia, I'm going to tell you again, the waves aren't a game, even with the four legendary heroes we might not win, that's how bad they will be. I can throw comforting words around, like I'll protect you, or I'll look after you, but they will only amount to so much. I can't guarantee your safety, nor that you will return after everything is done." Ryou explained patiently, but with all the seriousness such a topic deserved, but to his surprise instead of backing down the girl in front of him smiled, a small sad smile.

"Ryou-sama, you said it yourself, the waves will be t-terrible, so there's no doubt they will e-eventually reach this village. If such a thing happens, t-then my fate will be the same either way...At least this w-way I can try to protect what little I can…" She declared in a soft tone but filled with conviction. Ryou could not find any fault in that kind of logic even if he wanted too.

This would change things yet again, because if he agree to it he wouldn't be kicking her out of the party, Ryou knew he had a crappy personality, but he wasn't that big of a douche, so she would never join Naofumi's party.

Although things were bound to change anyway, and she would be a very nice addition. No doubt she possessed amazing potential, everyone in Naofumi's party did...

This girl He thought with exasperation resigning himself, after that heartfelt, and logical argument he had already come to a decision.

"Just so you know, I'm still against this, but since I have a feeling you won't back down I'll agree to it." Ryou finally relented, letting his head drop slightly, and his new party member let out a breath in relief.

"Fuee… It seems my lucky star finally shined through." She exclaimed.

Ryou raised his eyebrows. "Lucky star? What?"

It was Almond however that answered, after a snort,"You see Yuusha-sama, my daughter believes she carries misfortune with her wherever she goes, a idiotic notion if you ask me…" the noble commented with amusement.

Misfortune? Were completely screwed, aren't we..? Ryou contemplated with a little bit of apprehension while turning his head towards Rishia slowly, almost mechanically.

"Rishia, I seriously hope that's an exaggeration, because if it's true between your bad luck, and mine, this might be a disaster waiting to happen…" He lamented, and she looked horror stricken.

"Fuee! Ryou-sama forgive me! I'll try my very best not to let my bad luck be a burden to you!" She pledge in panic, waving her hands. Ryou just raised his hands apart in front of himself palms up, in a calm-down fashion now completely confused by her logic.

"Rishia that makes absolutely zero sense!"

She continued to apologize even with Ryou trying to calm her, and explain that she couldn't control things like luck or fate. Between them Almond just chortled…

I think these two will be just fine… You made the right choice Rishia, and by yourself too... As your father I couldn't be prouder of you...

Next Chapter: Return, and Final Preparations