The overall aim of this fanfic is for Naofumi to be anchored more by the people around him and for that to keep him from being angry all the time. This is done by some early story changes that leave Naofumi more open to others when he buys Raphtalia. For Naofumi and Raphtalia to get together earlier on. For Naofumi to fill out most of his team with monsters (Filo included) and for him to treat those monsters like his kids, while they treat him as their father and Raphtalia as their mother. I am changing things as I see fit, but the overall goal is a Naofumi that gains access to the wrath shield, but also gains the strength of character not to rely on it. He is still angry in a big way, but anger will be far from his only way of reacting to situations. And a surrogate family to be an emotional anchor.
[Status Magic or other reference to a system or power]
Japan, modern day
Naofumi found himself passing time in a library. He'd been trying to find something that could catch his attention and burn some time. Eventually his eyes (then hands) came to rest on a large book. It seemed old, the once deep red now but a rust color. Far too old to be carried in this modern library. He tried his best to handle it with care, afraid that it could simply fall to pieces. He read the title 'The four cardinal heroes'.
"A simple name and an old book... perhaps this is an old fairy tale of sorts", he thought.
He opened the book and began to skim through it, not really finding anything of interest. In fact, it was downright generic. The first few pages were about something called 'Waves' and some Princess. "No reason to read about lore until I know I'll care".
As he skipped to the second chapter, it began to cover the heroes that were the book's namesake. The Bow hero had a strong sense of justice, the spear hero trusted his friends with all his heart and the sword hero was the mightiest of them, fighting all foes by himself. He then turned the page to see just a heading titled 'Shield Hero', but the page was blank. He turned the page again and again, but all further pages were blank.
Just then a bright light began to radiate from the book as wind gathered from seemingly nowhere.
"Wha-what? What's happening?"
He felt like he was being lifted by some unseen force. For a moment he let go of the book, but instinctively grabbed it before it fell out of reach. The light continued to brighten as the wind raged. He couldn't tell what was up and what was down. Somehow, he made it on the floor, but even still his world was spinning.
"That doesn't even make sense!" he pleaded to no one in particular.
Definitely not japan
"O brave heroes please save our world and our people!"
Naofumi shot up. The brightness was gone and he was finally in one place. First, he noticed the robbed men surrounding him, then he noticed the 3 other heroes. The tall blond man of an athletic build, the well-kept young boy and a surprisingly calm boy with dark straight hair. However, what gave him pause was that they each held a weapon in their hands. He looked down in doubt. In one hand he held the damned book that did this and in the other was a small pointed shield.
"There is no way that- wait..." His head couldn't keep up with itself. "Was any of this real? Where was he? How in the hell is a shield a weapon?"
"What do you mean by that? Save your world? From what?" The youngest with the bow said. Naofumi looked over and saw he was the only one that hadn't stood yet. He got to his feet as he answered, cutting off the robed man.
"It wouldn't be the waves of catastrophe, would it?" He sounded very unsure of himself.
"Y-yes! those dreadful waves will be our end." As he confirmed Naofumi's inquiry, he immediately opened the book and found where the waves are mentioned.
"What waves? Like a tsunami? like a natural disaster?" This time the black-haired boy asked.
"No no, I bet he means like waves of enemies, right!?" That was the blond who seemed too excited by the idea of fighting and killing swarms of enemies.
"O brave cardinal heroes, please. these waves will bury us without your aid!" The robed man was quickly becoming desperate and Naofumi felt stupid it took him a moment to figure out why.
"None of us have given him a positive response..."
He closed the book and quickly placed it in his modern backpack, then took a step forward.
"I'm willing to help in whatever way I can..., but I kinda only have a shield right now." The robed man was slightly relieved by this, but for some reason a few of the other robed men seemed like they did not like that.
"Wait? Your weapon is a shield? Dude, that's not even a weapon, that's armor." The blond spoke loudly. It sounded like he felt pity for him more than trying to insult him.
"I for one refuse" came the bow hero proudly.
"Likewise" came the sword hero quietly.
"Yeah, you two may have the right of it. Hey! Send me back." the spear hero said brazenly
"P-Please! Our world teeters on the edge of collapse!" The robed man argued letting just enough anger slip to let Naofumi know he was probably very angry, but just hiding it.
"Oi, don't you feel bad about kidnapping us? We never agreed to this" The sword hero actually pointed his sword at the man. Naofumi didn't have a side in this, but pointing the weapon they gave you at them seemed... dickish.
"And if you just send us back as soon as we solve all your problems, we'll have worked for nothing." The bow hero started standing more emboldened than he was already.
Naofumi had to admit, maybe he was being too nice. I mean he could die? To risk his very life and ask for nothing in return certainly sounds all noble, but it was unrealistic.
The spear hero leapt at the opening the bow hero made. "How are you willing to accommodate us? depending on your answer, we may become your enemies".
No. They were not reasonable at all; they've definitely crossed the line. Threatening people that were begging for help?
"Was I wrong? Are we not to be heroes?"
Naofumi was about to try and fix things. While he was an Otaku, he was quite social. He played MMOs that required great cooperation and managed as a guild leader for years. Surely, he could convince them to help.
"Oh, is that all?" The robed man felt relieved. "Of course, we will compensate you! You are the four cardinal heroes. It is only right that we reward you for what is to come..."
He took a breath, "However I cannot make you these promises. The king of this great country is the one with the power and resources to reward you, not I. Please let me lead you to him, his majesty is most eager to meet you."
He motioned with his hands as he led them out of the room.
There was a brief moment.
"I guess" the sword hero murmured.
"Well, we can at least see what they offer" The bow hero sounded like he thought the whole world should be grateful for his indifference.
"King or no, our demands will be high. No amount of talking will change that" the spear hero sounded like that stubbornness was a good thing.
For his part Naofumi looked at the robed man who had done the talking and gave him a sympathetic look, which the robed man seemed to receive.
"Social queues and language seem to be the same here? It was odd for these people who seem to be similar to medieval Europe speak Japanese with all its cultural intricacies. That makes no sense at all. So how do I understand them? And they, me?"
[Legendary weapons translate the spoken word between the wielder and others]
"Okay what? This was like a video game screen. 'Spoken' word only. Wait, does that translate for animals too?"
They all began following the robed man down hallways and upstairs. This place was huge. "How on earth did they clean ceilings that high up... oh wait, not on earth" he allowed a small smirk as he followed behind interacting with this interface
[Notice] [Help Menu]
[This screen is called status magic]
[Legendary weapons do not inherently translate the written word]
[Legendary weapons translate speech belonging to a language. noises made with intent is not within the scope of this ability]
Naofumi was very pleased. The shield actually answered his questions. "wait 'not inherently' as in there is a way? same with the other one 'not within the scope of this ability' is there a different ability that can?"
[Notice] [Help Menu]
[Unable to answer]
Naofumi sighed. Not too deterred. That he received any answer at all was more than he expected. He thought it better to search through this menu at another time and looked up. He saw a long row of windows showing off the capital city. Naofumi was blown away. While the architecture was simple, the scope of this city was surprising. Games often said their cities were big, but weren't actually. With max 20 buildings and not even all of them had interiors...
"Wait, what? Of course, this would be more realistic. It's real duh."
Naofumi felt mighty foolish for having actually mistaken real life for a game simply due to aesthetics.
As the four heroes and their guide approached a set of large doors leading to the largest section of the castle, they all knew what was ahead. The robed man turned to them. "Beyond this door lies our king, please try to show some respect" Once again that was said as a plea not an order. As the doors opened and they began to enter, a booming voice announced them.
"Now entering, the four cardinal heroes!" As they entered, they eyed the large room.
There were many more people here than Naofumi thought there would be. Obviously, there would be knights to guard the king. He looked at them. all men of tall and strong build and all wearing armor from head to toe... No. a few were women. Not completely generic then. Yet despite their armor and build they didn't give him the impression of being very strong. Stronger than himself? Absolutely. But... just not as impressive as he'd imagined they should be.
"I mean they're guarding a king here."
Though a few seemed more intimidating. Weird that some seemed radically weaker than others, yet stood side by side like that.
Then Naofumi eyed the unexpected audience. They all seemed very rich with layered extravagant clothing paired with more jewelry than would seem practical... not that jewelry was practical in the first place. Oddest of all is that they seemed to go from happy to upset very quickly, whispering to each other blocking their mouths with their hands or fans. Naofumi assumed these were nobles. Meaning this country had local lords who governed provinces or states that collected taxes and handled more local issues while giving some tax to the royalty as well as provide military support. He might have got a few things wrong, but this was close to the truth, he could tell.
Finally, his eyes rested on the king. He definitely looked the part. Wearing finer clothes than the nobles, large rings upon each finger, a bulky thick crown atop his head. Yeah, this was almost stereotypical. though... He looked very stressed, but hid it well. He was also quite old and overweight.
"It must be these waves. He was probably a king at peace time, not used to wartime governing?"
Naofumi was quite wrong on his assessment, not that he'd known for some time.
As the four heroes made it to the spot their guide showed them, the king began.
"Ah so these are to be our heroes..." The king glanced at them for a moment. "I am King Aultcray Melromarc XXXII, the King of our glorious country of Melromarc... now heroes name yourselves".
He spoke slowly and with much authority. Nothing like the robed man who seemed to only plead and beg.
The first hero said "Amaki Ren, 16, highschooler" as he held his sword with both hands.
Naofumi wondered why he kept it out...
"Oh no sheath, I know the first thing he's buying."
The tallest went next. Taking a step forward and placing his thumb to his heart. "I'm kitamura Motoyasu, 21, college student"
Naofumi noticed his boisterous attitude, "Yeah, pretty appropriate for a spear user."
The one with the bow went next.
He raised his bow inspecting it as he spoke, "Guess I'm next, huh? Kawasume Itsuki, 17, highschooler"
Now seeing him better, this Itsuki had on a uniform that looked like it belonged to a private school.
"Rich kid, eh?"
Naofumi realized that the other 3 boys all seemed better looking than him. He'd pout about being the least desirable hero, but it was his turn. Naofumi tried to put on his friendly air again, wanting to make a good first impression.
"Hello, my name is Nao-"
"Hmm, I see. Ren... Motoyasu... and Itsuki..." The king had completely ignored him.
Naofumi thought that maybe his friendliness was being mistaken for weakness. Maybe try being a little more assertive?
Naofumi tried not to sound too loud or too quiet "Excuse me, King Aultcray" Saying his name like this should show the right combination of respect and familiarity "I believe you've skipped over me?"
The King looked at him for a single instant before looking elsewhere, "Ah forgive me..." Naofumi felt weird. It wasn't that the king had looked away, but that in the moment that he looked at Naofumi, he noticed that was the only instant the king was looking at him. Almost like the king was pretending he wasn't there.
He decided to drop anything unnecessary "Iwatani Naofumi, 20, college student"
"What? he's treating my introduction as an annoyance, but he asked us to introduce ourselves?"
"-My country of Melromarc is in grave danger of a threat known as the waves."
He gave a description not unlike what Naofumi had read in his book. They could happen anywhere at any time, lasting for multiple hours or until the boss is killed. During that time monsters would continue to pour out of the wave and even after it stopped, any monster already here would remain until slain.
All the heroes listen respectfully. Naofumi out of politeness, the other three due to not knowing all the details about the wave. They were told that the first wave had already occurred, apparently the local guards and adventurers at the time were enough to stop that wave. Before any of the heroes could speak the king knew what they were going to ask.
"As to why we were able to defend from that wave, but now feel we needed to summon you... The waves are said to become stronger over time. They last longer, the wave bosses and all under them will be stronger. There are even written accounts of waves with more than one wave boss..."
He gave a glance at the first three heroes "It is best to summon you now, when the waves are weak to give you time to strengthen yourselves to stay ahead of the waves' growing threat".
"Strengthen ourselves? Are we not legendary heroes? are these not legendary weapons?" Ren spoke, which seemed off to Naofumi. Ren didn't seem to speak much and when he did, he kept it short.
"Ah, yes" The king responded "You are legendary heroes and those weapons are the 4 greatest weapons in this world..., but not right now" They all looked at him confused, Naofumi included.
"Each weapon has its own strengthening method. It gains strength alongside you heroes, as for you yourselves, could you activate your status magic?"
Immediately Ren had activated his menu, Naofumi shortly followed. "Um what? status?" Motoyasu breathed.
Ren sighed heavily "it's simple, it's your menu dude. Either touch the menu icon or focus on it".
Both Motoyasu and Itsuki found their menu icon right after that, with slight embarrassment. All four grew silent though.
[Name: Naofumi Iwatani]
[Class: Shield Hero]
[Legendary shield (locked)]
They all stared at their stats, but Naofumi was quietly losing his mind.
"What the hell? 1 attack? can that even hurt anything?" He tried to work around this. "Well... my magic is much better. Guess I'll have to go a wizard route... but wizard have traditional terrible defense, does that mean I'd be the exception to the rule or would doing that lower my best stats over time?"
"This is worse than I thought..." Ren was thinking out loud.
"I know right? Level 1?" Motoyasu was losing motivation.
"This will be a lot of work and we've confirmed no rewards still..." Damn Itsuki reminding those other 2 'heroes'.
"Yeah, that's right! Do you expect us to do this for free? Surely not?" Motoyasu was sounding more disrespectful the more he spoke.
A man to the king's right took a step forward. "Of course, you will be rewarded handsomely and not just at the end, but after every wave we will reward you heroes. Every step of the way."
The three other heroes looked at themselves proudly as if they attained some great victory.
"Don't think this can tame us" one said, "Can't have you looking down on us" another said.
Naofumi was rightly getting nervous. These idiots were pushing their luck and his along with it. The king seemed unfazed by this oddly enough. Naofumi was finding it harder and harder to read the room. Sometimes someone would look angry or happy and switch between them for seemingly no reason. There had to be something else going on.
Naofumi tried once more to add some friendliness to the room. "Well even if we're level 1, there are 4 of us. If we form a party-"
"Excuse me, but that won't do at all." The man beside the king spoke up again and yet again Naofumi was cut off.
"Due to the unique qualities of the holy weapons, none of you can gain experience while near one another."
[Notice] [Help Menu]
[The four holy weapons dampen one another's power while within close quarters. Distance advised whenever possible]
Naofumi was now a little annoyed " then how-"
"You must form parties separately. Gather strength then fight the waves together". Naofumi had another question, but was tired of being cut off.
"Would that not mean that we won't receive any experience during waves?" Ren asked, sounding a little firmer. Naofumi assumed he asked his question so firmly as not to be cut off like he was. So, were they seeing this too?
"Unfortunately, yes... the waves will have numerous enemies that you can't receive experience for slaying, but you can harvest your prey to still gain power".
Naofumi had to bite, but kept it too short to cut off "elaborate."
"You should see this within your status magic, but it is said that the holy weapons can feed upon the fallen to gain new powers and forms"
[Notice] [Help Menu]
[The cardinal shield can absorb objects to unlock new forms, new forms provide stat increases, as well as abilities. Fully mastering a shield provides its bonuses permanently and allows most skills to be used with another shield form in use]
"Not just prey, but 'objects' as a whole? I'll just try shoving everything into it."
"Heroes you can ask us questions all day; however, your status magic should be a great aid. Please refer to it tonight." The king motioned to several servants.
"For now, please rest and adjust to these trying circumstances. Tomorrow I will introduce you to adventures who have agreed to aid you in your difficult quest. Between your status magic and seasoned adventures by your side, most questions you have will be answered soon enough".
The servants motioned to the heroes to follow. Naofumi noticed that only they left. all the nobles, knights, and the king stayed where they were.
"I guess they'll hold court now, no need for us to stay and bog down matters of state."
They followed the servant into a large room. The room had 4 large beds, one in each corner and a table and 4 chairs at the center of the room.
"Heroes. Are any of you hungry? If not, food will be served in a few hours." All four declined. She walked to just outside the room, bowed, then closed the door.
"Our maid was kinda hot, right?" Motoyasu said the moment the door had shut.
"He realizes she can probably hear us, right?"
That night was a long one. The four of them discussed many things. First the game they thought this was, then they all found out they came from different japans. They discussed their worry that Naofumi would be a 'worthless shielder' as they kept saying. However, they got quiet whenever Naofumi asked them a question.
"What the hell? Why can't you just answer? We need to know where the best grinding spots are right?" They seemed less than cooperative.
"Listen." Ren raised a finger as if pointing out what seemed like the obvious. "Game knowledge is to be acquired and used by those who learned it, not handed out to noobs" Ren said like it was common sense.
Motoyasu and Itsuki nodded in agreement.
"...besides, with your defense you'll be safe enough from danger as you find your way." Naofumi noticed the way Ren spoke and how he refused to meet his eyes.
"Either he's pretending to act all cold or he's pretending to care..."
Naofumi decided to use their underestimation of him against them. "But I already have this huge handicap of being 'a useless shielder'. Even if all 3 of you gave me the best advice you could I'd still easily be the weakest here!" They didn't budge an inch. "Thanks for the help" he said sarcastically.
"It's like that king guy said. Between our help menus and our party members, we have plenty of info to start with." Motoyasu said. Naofumi couldn't help, but noticed this idiot seemed to already forget the king's name, despite him being the one handing out the rewards he was so demanding of.
They talked on and off for a few hours between navigating their menus. After food was brought, 3 of the four went to bed early that night. Naofumi however took this time to read the book that got him into this mess. It went over the waves in more or less the same detail as they were told earlier..., but the book said they were worldwide, not just this country. Naofumi rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "That actually makes a lot of sense. If it's a natural disaster and if it can end the world, then of course it'd happen everywhere."
He read further about these giant hour glasses. They seem to track the waves. However, they seem to do a lot of things. They let heroes and their parties teleport to the waves the moment they start. They seemed to be used for something called 'class upgrade' "whatever that is" and... "The hell?". They were used to reset someone's level. "Why would you ever do that? Does it give better starting stats and growth rate? is there a way to 'build' yourself wrong?". The last sentence also struck him as odd and honestly a little creepy. 'No one knows who built them, when, why, how, or even how many there are'.
Turning the page, he found what he was looking for. Lore.
The Lore was... well 'sweeping' was the word for it. It was vague and made a lot of generalizations. It did say a few things that stood out. Dragons exist and can grant powerful magic to those of their choosing. There are monsters known as 'royals'. These rare classes of monsters are better in every way and can command their lesser kin. There exists multiple sentient species in this world. broadly referred to as humans, fairfolk, and truefolk.
"Ah" He allowed to escape as he read onward. This country of Melromarc... not very much. Just that it's a matriarchy and that they use the other races as slaves.
"I don't like that, but it's not like I can stop it... yet... wait. What? Matriarchy? Then why was it only the king that they met? I'm sure he was holding court after we left... but the real ruler wasn't even there?"
Naofumi just kept that as yet another question to ask someone more... He looked over to each of the 3 other heroes 'generous'.
The book did however contain something he did not expect at all. A fifth character. One who seemed nearly as important as the four heroes. A princess said to be a traitor and deceiver.
"So, she's the main villain? or just the only villain called out by this book..."
He took careful note of this information. She was attractive, hair was red..., but that was about it. The stylized portrayed wasn't very detailed.
He read the whole book cover to cover. As soon as Naofumi was done, he went to place his book back in his bag, however...
"I don't really need the book now... I'm not sharing it with these guys, that's for sure."
He decided to try and feed it to his shield. He placed the book up against the green gem. It gave a faint glow as the book faded into dust. Dust that was swallowed whole by his shield's gem.
+1 mag, + 2 mdef
Mana efficiency (small)
+5 def, +5 mdef
[Ability: Prophecy] Alerts the user to danger. Does not reveal the nature of the danger however.
Naofumi was quite happy about this. 2 shields unlocked by 1 item? And 1 of them is literally just 'a book'. How many shields is he going to unlock? Naofumi switched to his new [Prophecy Shield]. It was similar to the shield from the book's illustration. After a moment of poking through the menu he found mastery happened passively over time. So, sleeping with new shields seemed ideal.
As he went to retire for the night, he pulled out his cellphone. "of course, no service"
He went through his photos and saw a few photos of his family. His brother and his parents. It had just hit him that he would not see them for a long time, if ever again. That they'd freak out at him disappearing without a trace. That they'd likely have 'moved on' by the time he'd return to them. Naofumi was now noticing the tears and told himself that he needed to stop. He went to put his cellphone away, but stopped.
"This phone is already on low battery. It's not like I'll be able to look at these photos again..." He allowed his shield to devour his phone.
+1 mag, +1 mdef, +2 agi
[Ability: Second Hand] All positive effects induced by or to self, last 10% longer
[Clock Shield ll] (locked: Higher level required)
+1 mag, +1 def, +3 agi
[Ability: Minute Hand] All abilities with a cooldown have it reduced by 5 seconds to a minimum of 10 seconds.
[Satellite Shield] (locked: Higher level required)
+4 mag, + 2 Mdef
[Unique Ability: Tele-communications] Allows voiced communication between party members.
+5 mag, +1 def, + 1mdef
[Ability: Menu Plus] Status magic is now enhanced. Allowing generally better information, as well as having more answers for its wielder.
[Ability: Calculator] Can do simple calculations upon request.
+3 mp, +1 mdef
Additional defense against lightning affinity +2
[Ability: Universal Battery] Gain an amount of energy per day equal to the level you possess. May use as SP, Mp, or stamina.
[Battery Shield ll] (locked: Higher level required)
+10 mp, + 2 mdef
Additional defense against lightning affinity +5
[Ability: Rechargeable Battery] Gain some energy to 'Universal Battery' whenever an attack made by Sp or Mp is fully blocked. Amount gained based on amount used in fully blocked attack. Cannot exceed the maximum capacity.
+ 1 def, + 1 mdef
Additional defense against dark affinity +2
[Ability: Photograph] Capture images and save them. Can save 5 photos for each level you possess.
[Camera Shield ll] (locked: Higher level required)
+ 1 def, + 1 mdef
Additional defense against dark affinity +5
[Ability: Recorder] Record up to 1 minute of video and audio for each level you possess.
[Glass Lens Shield]
[Ability: Inspect] Gain information on a given target. Information includes: Level, Stats, Class, Name, Weight, Value, Rarity, etc. If a target has a higher level than yourself less information will be revealed, with even less information given based on the difference in level.
[Map Shield l]
[Unique Ability: World Map] Can display a map revealing all terrain and structure data that the user has already explored. Can place down a location flag for each level you possess.
[Ability: Minimap] Continuous status magic that adds a minimap of 10 meters around the user. Can be manually toggled off and on.
"... ... ...That's a lot of shields".
Naofumi wanted to stay up even more now, but knew doing so could lead to problems. He paused. He switched to [Glass Lens Shield] and inspected each of the 3 sleeping heroes. Their information matched what was expected, except...
"What the hell?"
The [inspect] skill had one piece of outlandish information that he'd have never guessed. Itsuki's race said [Human ESPer].
"That means he's psychic, right? Could he read minds or more objects? That's one hell of a trump card."
He stopped thinking, he grew more tired by the minute and had to surrender to this mounting exhaustion. He switched back to [Prophecy Shield]. The moment his head hit the pillow he was unconscious.
[Alert! Danger Imminent!]
Naofumi shot up from his bed.
"Ehh!" came from the maid that began backing away from him.
"Sorry to wake you hero... It was not my intention." Naofumi came to full attention. He eyed her suspiciously.
"Prophecy alerted me, meaning there was danger of some kind".
"Then what was your intention?" Naofumi noticed her arms behind her, but she also held her hands behind her back while she guided them to their room.
They were both silent for a moment.
"N-nothing perverted like that. I-I'll just go..." The insinuation knocked Naofumi off his game with embarrassment long enough for the maid to excuse herself.
Naofumi only realized afterward what happened. He wondered what her intentions were.
"Was she going to assassinate me then? steal my belongings? M-maybe she really was doing something perverted..."
Either way his [Prophecy] just proved he could sleep without worry.
Naofumi eventually drifted back to sleep
He awoke the following morning. Naofumi took notice that the person who awoke him was able to shake him awake without [Prophecy] activating.
"So that proves it doesn't just activate from anything... what would she have done last night..."
He was told they would bring them breakfast in a few moments and after that, they'd meet the king again. Naofumi would see what kind of people he'd be traveling with. While not as open about it as Motoyasu, he too hoped for at least 1 beautiful female companion.
As they ate breakfast Itsuki noticed Naofumi's shields appearance.
"Huh? Hey Naofumi. How did you already get a new shield? We haven't had a chance to do anything yet, but you already have a power-up?" The other 2 heroes also leaned in, awaiting an answer.
Naofumi simply smirked and did his best to mock Ren from the day prior. "Game knowledge is to be acquired and used by those who learned it, not handed out to noobs".
Both Motoyasu and Itsuki seemed to get visibly mad at this, but Ren seemed like he was about to laugh at himself.
"At least he can take it as much as he deals it out."
As they made their way back to that large throne room from yesterday, they all seemed to want to slow down a bit. Being slingshot from one place to another with no deviation was starting to get to them, but their freedom to take on this new world as heroes of legend was less than an hour away. Naofumi wondered who was slowing down in annoyance and who was slowing down due to anxiousness. Even for himself, he had no answer.
As the large doors caved to their presence, the light of the formidable room invaded them in turn. The room seemed vastly different. There were only a few nobles in attendance now, making the already large room feel even larger. The four heroes came to rest in the same places they stood, but a day ago. The king seemed in better spirits today than the day prior, at least Naofumi thought so. The king spoke with a voice that would have been well enough without the now mostly empty room to echo to further enhance it.
"Thank you for answering my summons brave heroes! Yesterday I promised that I'd provide you with talented and experienced adventures, allies willing to face the waves beside you and help answer any questions you will no doubt have in this world you now find yourselves in. I would now like to show you that as king I stand by my promises. Enter!"
As the doors behind the kind on both sides opened and several people filed into the room, Naofumi was analyzing the king.
"To assure those 3 of your promises? No. To display to onlookers that he is true to his word."
Naofumi was suddenly pulled out of his thoughts when he noticed a lot of people looking his way. He realized in a moment. No one stood with him.
Motoyasu had 4 women every which was a 10/10.
"Damn. leave some for the rest of us!"
Itsuki had three members, each looking like they focused on different things.
"He has a good balance I guess"
Ren had five members, among them was a man with rather fancy clothes, probably of noble birth and the second was a man wearing more armor than all the other adventurers in the room combined.
"Five members! and one looks rich and another has to have more defense than me and that's all I'm good for!"
"Why wasn't it 3 per hero!"
"Ah, this was unexpected..." Even the king was showing a little sympathy for Naofumi's plight. "It seems those 2 factors have led to this".
Naofumi had to know "What factors?... um your majesty" He was still trying to be courteous even with the ongoing situation.
The king answered, still without looking at Naofumi, "This seems to be the result of our decision and a rumor floating around... It was decided that these brave adventurers should be allowed to choose the hero they follow. After all it is those heroes that will lead them to victory or death. It's only fair. The rumors though, were simply that you seemed ignorant of this world and it's inner workings, while the other 3 heroes all seem to hold special knowledge that even most of us living within the world don't know"
So, they were being spied on... Well even if it were true that they knew more yesterday, the playing field is less unbalanced now, having read that book.
"I respect their decisions for the reasons you gave, but... how am I to contest the waves under these conditions!?"
The king seemed to consider this before the man to his side took a step forward.
"Might I make a suggestion, sire?" the king nodded.
"What if we were to give the shield hero an elevated allowance? We could allow him extra money. If he can provide the capital surely, could he find some assistance? Perhaps from the guild hall?"
"More money isn't bad, but it's far from ideal. I'd likely have to help them acquire equipment from the start more than wiping out my slightly elevated funds... but still I'll take what I can get."
The king met Naofumi's eyes for the second time "A fine idea... would this be an acceptable shield hero?".
Naofumi wanted to say something, but he thought for a moment about how the king worded that...
"If you think it is for the best." Was all he said in response.
Naofumi figured the purpose of the question was meant to serve in a similar manner to the king's announcement earlier. He wants to seem fair. If he just outright agreed, it would display that the king reached a fair compromise. With Naofumi responding nebulously like that, clear satisfaction can't be shown. meaning...
"Then it is decided. Sir Motoyasu, Sir Ren, and Sir Itsuki shall receive 600 silver each. While the shield hero will receive 1000 silver, as to compensate for our inability to provide him any party members at this time".
Naofumi wanted to be happy. As he thought, the king would give him quite a bit more to display fairness... At least to others. Naofumi however caught the king. Having heard their names once, the king already remembered the other heroes' names and even spoke their names with honorifics..., but Naofumi was just 'the shield hero'.
"Umm" The red headed beauty in Motoyasu's party raised her hand. "Sir shield hero. If you are in such need, I would be willing to join you."
Naofumi was going to be very agreeable to that, however-
[Alert! Danger Imminent!]
I've heavily edited this first chapter to closer match my current formatting. This is my first fanfic and I feel I improve as I got further along. Really hitting my stride by chapter 6-7. I hope those that read the first chapter like it well enough. I plan on heavily redoing the first 5 chapters at some point.
And yes, I do better proofreading later on, that will also be fixed later. Probably after the pope fight.
Please leave a review!