[33rd Round] What do we have in common?
“She’s a really weird woman, Drug Hero. Fantasy is an amazing world! I don’t get why she’s making such a fuss about it.”
“I’m well aware of that.”
I couldn’t even ignore this ordeal and pretend it was none of my business since I was the victim here!
As the President of Fantasy, I felt a sense of duty to ensure there would no longer be any more victims like me.
⤷ Tony: I know what you mean, but I like this place.
⤷ Mario: For me, who spent days of backbreaking labor in my home planet, this is absolute heaven.
⤷ Sera: She’s quite the strange lady. There are a lot of handsome men all over this world. What is she still complaining about?
⤷ Mir: Don’t treat normal people like psychopaths! If you don’t like it here, ask the Goddess to send you away.
⤷ Sieg: Don’t you dare insult Fantasy like that!
Becoming a joke in the mollanphone community, the Hero took her eyes off her mollanphone in confusion.
“What is this?! Have they been put under mass hypnosis?”
“Do I look like I can do that right now?”
“Don’t you think it’s too rude of you to keep sulking despite being approached by Senior A, who happens to be passing by?”
Within spine-grabbing distance from me was a female student around 18 years old.
As soon as I saw her, I knew.
External beauty wasn’t everything, but it indeed provided quite a comfortable life, both in school and in society.
And she seemed to be fully enjoying its benefits.
In Fantasy, she just looked like Village Girl A.
On Earth, however, she could be an actress.
“What’s wrong with my manners? Anyone would be surprised if someone suddenly talks to them from their blind spot. Also, have you seen yourself? You look really scary.”
“Go find some other girl to irritate. I’m not interested in you.”
“No. You seem to have misunderstood me. Here, look. These are pictures of my wives. I also have quite a few children. If you thought I was talking to you because of your humble appearance…”
“Why are you looking at me with such a pitiful gaze?! Even married men desire me, you know!”
“There are a lot of women here who’s just as beautiful or even more beautiful than you.”
As her lips tightly shut, she tried to get out of the crowded square of the starting city, her expression clearly stating she hated the current situation.
I quietly followed her.
“She’s so strange, Drug Hero. She even fears the looks of Fantasy’s most handsome being.”
“Unfortunately, she doesn’t have the vision necessary to see my spine.”
I couldn’t help but agree that the girl was difficult to understand.
In this spirit’s eyes, she probably looked no better than an ugly stone.
Like I was in my first round.
That was why I couldn’t just leave her alone.
“Why do you keep following me, self-proclaimed senior? There are a lot of pretty natives around, aren’t there?”
“I want to ask you something.”
“I don’t want to answer. I refuse to talk to a pervert with a naked fairy sitting on top of his head.”
“Ah. She’s not a fairy. She’s a spirit, and she’s not exactly a female. Neutral-gendered would be a more appropriate term. if you look closely, she doesn’t have any genitals.”
“But her breasts are… I don’t care! Don’t talk to me!”
I nevertheless continued trailing after her.
“Woah! He’s so dreamy…”
“Oh my God…”
I couldn’t help but hear the whispers of the female Fantasy locals as they stared at me in admiration.
From the moment I was born as a cute emperor, I was already popular, but now that there were only six dimensions left, I was known as an extremely handsome man.
Perhaps because she could also hear them, she immediately corrected herself.
“I really did have a misunderstanding,” She said, her tone extremely cold.
“Do you believe me now?”
“You must be delighted for falling into a world where you’re seen as handsome.”
“What about you?”
“The credit card my parents gave me has been rendered useless, leaving me penniless. Even worse than that, for the first time in my life, I’m being treated like I’m just an average woman, which I apparently am according to your words.”
“Don’t laugh. I was originally going to ignore you, but you’re the only person to tell me the truth, so I’ve decided to hang out with you a little.”
“You don’t even have money.”
“Of course. I can’t possibly do ridiculous jobs like finding a cat for a small reward. The same goes for hunting monsters. Fighting monsters can cause injury and death in severe cases, but people go out of the city so calmly.”
“Aren’t you hungry?”
“You’re like an old man who’s never been in a proper relationship before.”
“You’re not wrong. I don’t have much dating experience. I got tied up too early by a cowardly demon who follows me around because she’s too obsessed with me.”
I was still sad about it.
My wife and father-in-law blew all of my MAX-rank youth.
“I just ate at the Hero Support Center a while ago.”
“How did it taste? That place provides free service for Heroes who can’t adapt to the local cuisine or don’t have money like you.”
“Honestly, it wasn’t that great.”
“Think about it. If it tasted amazing, would the Heroes even try to adapt to the food here at all?”
“Even so, there’s bound to be some who can endure through it like you. Should I suggest making it a little worse?”
“Don’t do that, you devil!”
The Hero Support Center was a public facility I devised, the idea of which came to me because I received no support from the Dumpling Kingdom in my first round.
It provided three necessities for survival here in Fantasy: Information, meals, and accommodation.
In theory, one could live without working for the rest of their life since they could just keep relying on it indefinitely, but I purposely equipped it with poor amenities to discourage staying in it for a long time.
And by deliberately lowering the prices of nearby restaurants and inns, I induced the Heroes to leave the center voluntarily.
“How long have you been here?”
“I’ve been living here since before flush toilets were even introduced. It was such a terrible era.”
“Oh, I can’t even imagine the hardships you had to go through. How could anyone survive such a place?”
“I lived simply because I couldn’t die.”
I led my junior to a decent restaurant.
“Isn’t this a bar? I’m still a minor…”
“Here, if you’re over fifteen years old, you’re already an adult.”
“It’s at that age that men begin to have wet dreams and that women get their periods.”
“… I can’t believe you used words carefully uttered even in sex education classes so casually.”
“Would you rather I explain it the same way adults tell children they were delivered to their parents by cranes?”
“… No.” She pouted.
Leading my junior inside, I immediately greeted the bartender.
“Do I know you?”
“That’s going too far!”
“Hahaha! Han Soo, my favorite Hero! I take it you’re going to order the lamb and black dragon again this time?”
Tony, a former assassin and my spiritual mentor.
This was our first time seeing each other again after our last meeting in my 2nd round two hundred years ago.
Now that infinite regression had been discontinued, he too would someday grow old and leave my side forever.
But that was okay.
That gave meaning to life.
If they lived forever, this long-awaited meeting of ours wouldn’t be precious at all.
“So you remember the food you recommended to me when I couldn’t get used to this world’s local cuisine.”
“I don’t drink alcohol…” My junior complained.
“Don’t worry. I guarantee you that with this drink, whatever you eat will taste delicious.”
The delicacy’s taste wouldn’t really matter since it would turn it into a side dish.
Tony smiled sweetly.
“Do you still remember what I taught you?”
Likewise, I replied with the Righteous Hero’s smile.
“Wait. Is the lady next to you in a similar situation? I haven’t used my skills in a long time.”
As soon as Tony left, his other guests began to turn their attention to me.
“Isn’t that Han Soo?”
“Oh! Now that I’ve taken a closer look, you’re right!”
“Are you going to keep pretending that you only know Tony and not us?”
“That would be very upsetting!”
“Oh! Cutie Han Soo. You’ve become so much more handsome since the last time we met that I didn’t even recognize you!”
“Cutie? He did nothing but complain!”
“Right, he did! Hahaha!”
Tony’s bar was only ever frequently visited by black-market customers and his regulars.
That was why they were all related to my first round.
I answered them one by one.
“It may not have been long for you, but it’s been 200 years for me, Grid. And what do you mean by ‘complain’, Mr. Teybus? Who do you think is the person you consulted about your complaints the most? Akasha’s words are the best among everyone here. I am indeed quite cute. Hahaha!”
“Wow! Han Soo is so shameless.”
“It’s better than being timid.”
“You have grown quite a lot, our Han Soo!”
“You consider yourself handsome? Ha!”
While reminiscing with the bar patrons over snacks, Tony came out with a plate of food.
“It’s Tony’s set meal.”
“The menu changes every day because the set meal is made with leftover ingredients.”
“Don’t talk, just eat. It doesn’t matter what means one uses for as long as the food tastes good.”
This former assassin used to word it differently.
‘It doesn’t matter what means one uses for as long as you can kill your target.’
I learned how to live in Fantasy, which was ruled by savages, from him.
I missed those times.
… But I didn’t want to return to it.
“You’re the only one having fun.”
“Ah! I’m sorry.”
I apologized to my pouting junior, whom the group had completely alienated.
There was a reason I came here, though I didn’t know if she had noticed already.
“Based on your conversation… It seems you had the same predicament 200 years ago as I do now.”
“I had it worse.”
At the time, there was no mollanphone community, so I had to suffer alone.
“How did you overcome it?”
“With the determination to go back to my home planet where my parents were waiting for me.”
“The same thing won’t happen to you, so don’t worry. The world is a lot better now. I’m sure you were given a choice to leave right after you were summoned. I didn’t have that choice back in my time.”
There was something I couldn’t understand about her, though.
When I was still an active Hero, I was forced to defeat the Demon Lord to leave this place.
Students who didn’t want to be here were immediately returned to their home planets.
Yet this particular junior of mine chose otherwise.
“Because I wanted to leave too.”
“Did you want to know what it feels like to run away from home?”
“Ugh… You make me sound extremely childish.”
“I was just asking.”
Tony’s set meal was so good nobody would suspect it was an improvised dish made of leftover ingredients.
That was made evident by how engrossed my junior was in eating it.
“Is it because of regret that you haven’t returned yet?”
“I was deceived.”
“Have you read romantic fantasy novels?”
“My wife has.”
“That’s what Fantasy was supposed to be for me. I thought I would be the only beautiful woman in a world filled with mediocre ladies.”
“Only to find out it was the other way around.”
“It’s not the other way around! Stop saying things that hurt my feelings and bones already, senior!”
“Huh? How did you know I could hit your spine?”
“Ah, seriously! If you hadn’t bought me food, I would have kicked your shin already.”
“Won’t that just make your feet hurt more?”
“I hate you!”
She started drinking alcohol, which she was initially reluctant to since she was still a minor according to Earth’s standards.
Still, she was quite good at drinking even though she hated it.
Ah! To avoid misunderstandings, I clarified she was drinking alcohol I ordered for myself.
“Did you really live for 200 years?”
“You’ve become a sly snake. Whoo!”
“I’m so proud of you, Han Soo.”
The people around me continued to incite and fabricate, but it didn’t seem to matter to my junior, who was already drunk.
“I postponed my departure thinking I’d be able to enjoy a few days of being an actual princess in a romantic fantasy world, but when I came out… It was the exact opposite of what I had been hoping for. As you said, there are a lot of women here prettier than I am.”
“I guess so.”
Regardless of their genes, Fantasy natives were born with beautiful spines because of their ability correction.
They had no choice but to become attractive.
“But what’s even stranger than that is this.”
She took out her mollanphone from her school uniform skirt’s pocket.
“Have you already read what I sent in there?”
“Not really. I just thought it must be related to it since you took out your phone.”
I couldn’t openly confirm her words.
Only faculty members could see the Heroes’ personal information, after all.
Fortunately, she didn’t doubt me.
“I see… Well, let me ask you this. How come people refuse to return to their homes and instead defend their kidnappers?” She asked with a serious and stern expression.
That was a great question!
Having lived in Fantasy for over 200 years, I had already found the answer to that.
“Because our lives in our home planets aren’t as satisfying as our lives here.”
“I’m not sure.”
I was also curious about that, considering I still had no idea why I was brought here.
The only reason I was given was that I was summoned after being deemed a ‘suitable person.’
“This world does not kidnap people randomly. It only chooses those with appropriate talents.”
“I know that, too.”
Well, since she did, this conversation should flow more smoothly.
I revealed the purpose of my visit aside from my wife’s misunderstanding.
“What do you think you were summoned?”
Perhaps I’d find the clue in this disgruntled junior of mine.