Chapter 20 – Wave of Calamity
We arrived right on time as the demons overflowing from the wave started to wreak havoc within the village.
The adventurers and soldiers stationed there were barely able to defend against the horde's onslaught. They were greatly outnumbered...
... and the line of defense was about to break.
"Raphtalia, please evacuate the villagers."
"Huh? What about Naofumi-sama..?"
"I will aggro the enemy!"
I flung myself into the frontline and bashed my shield against a group of locust-looking monsters.
Obviously, the sound of metal colliding was there but the damage wasn't.
However, I was able to grab their attention.
It was the same as what I had always done with Raphtalia.
The herd of tiny locust-like monsters charged at my direction. Moving on, I immediately decided on my next targets: the ghouls and the swarm of wasps.
Bang! Bang! Bang!
Was it thanks to the barbarian's armor, or was it the shield? Either way I received zero damage as usual.
"Ah, right... You guys go and reorganize yourselves while I hold them back!"
I saw a lot of familiar faces within the Riyuto village bunch.
Fortunately, even though I was the only one on the frontline, no one was fatally wounded among the survivors.
What was that thought just now? How unpleasant.
While I was dazed, the monsters attempted to knock me out of commission with their claw, fang, and needle attacks.
Even though there were the sweet sounds of impact, I didn't feel any pain, only a bit of an itch. However, the feeling of them crawling all over my body was beyond disgusting.
Hence I beat the crap out of the mobs.
Damn it, didn't any of the inhabitants of this world know how to leave people alone?
But I guess it couldn't be helped since the wave of great calamity was happening and all that.
Behind me, the innkeeper whom I was indebted to was being attacked by a monster.
Right before the innkeeper got decapitated by the monster's claw, I shouted:
"Air Strike Shield!"
I casted the skill, and a life-saving shield was immediately summoned and saved the innkeeper.
The innkeeper was surprised at the sudden appearance of the shield then looked towards my direction.
"Run for it!"
"... Ooh, thank you."
After he bowed from his waist and voiced his gratitude, the innkeeper left the scene along with his family.
A stereotypical, ear-deafening shriek.
It was the sight of a damsel in distress fleeing away with a gang of pursuing monsters.
I approached the vicinity.
I called forth a box of shields to surround and protect the damsel.
With the sudden appearance of the shields, the monsters switched their target to me.
That's good. Come over here. I'm very delicious.
I lured the monsters away before the duration time of the Shield Prison expired and returned to the frontline.
My body steadily became heavier with the increasing number of monsters.
Then, a rain of fire poured down.
Behind the horde of monsters, I could spot the knight squadron's arrival. The magic users among their ranks were shooting our their magic; this was the cause of the rain of fire.
"DUDES! There are allies over here!"
Although there was only me.
The monsters quickly ignited and turned into cinders.
Since there were a lot of insects they burned nicely.
Apparently, not only was my physical defense high but also my magical defense too.
The front line was burning brightly with a crimson red as anger swelled up from within me, questioning the motive behind this friendly fire; I glared and approached the knight squadron from the middle of the mayhem while my cloak fluttered, scattering the flames.
"Hmph, so that is the Shield Hero... He's surprisingly resilient."
What appeared to be the knight commander threw me a glance and spat on the ground as he uttered those words.
Then a shadow dashed at him, brandishing a sword.
And with a loud 'Klang!', the knight commander quickly unsheathed his own sword and locked blades with his attacker.
"What was the meaning of your actions against Naofumi-sama?! I will cut you down depending on your answer!"
Raphtalia declared with great bloodlust.
"A companion of the Shield Hero, huh?"
"Correct, I am Naofumi-sama's blade! I shall not forgive any act of disrespect!"
"... How dare a demi-human try to speak on the same level as us knights?"
"You have neglected your duties of protecting civilians and attacked your own allies, specifically Naofumi-sama whom you tried burning along with all the monsters using your magic. For those reasons you people are unfit to be call knights!"
"Isn't it fine since he's still safe and sound over there?"
"No it's not!"
Raphtalia passionately continued arguing with the knight commander while the others began to surround her.
"Damn, you basta――"
I confined the encircling knights with my shields and stared down at the knights who tried to usurp my hard work.
"... Aren't the real enemies here the monsters spawned from the wave? Don't mix up your objectives!"
Ashen-faced, the knights turned their heads away after my rebuttal.
"A criminal Hero doesn't have the right to say such crap."
"Oh well... I'm fine with anything. So I guess it's safe to say that you guys want to make an enemy out of me?"
The frontline was brimming with fire blazing monsters who were crawling all over my face, with more and more from the wave joining the fray.
Looking at me withstanding all of that, the knights' faces turned completely blue.
After all, I was the Shield Hero. 'Do not mess with this guy' or other line of reasoning was there.
"Raphtalia, did you finish with the evacuation?"
"No... it's not done yet. I believe that it will take a little bit more time."
"Understood, then hurry up and evacuate the civilians."
"Though our allies rained fire on me, it wasn't even painful or ticklish. It just... left a feeling of being licked on my arms and legs."
I patted Raphtalia's shoulder and followed with a glare at the knights.
"... I will definitely kill you, no matter what it will take. I'll lure the worst monsters to you and abandon you for example, and all that other fun stuff too."
My threat was effective; the knights stopped chanting magic and gasped.
"Now then, Raphtalia. The fight's already started; let us remove the damsels away from the heat of battle. Wow, look, there are a bunch of enemies. Yes, let's do just that."
Unexpectedly, since the knights seemed to be able to carry their own weight... it should be alright to ditch them here.
Upon my orders, Raphtalia rushed back to the village.
"Shit! Putting on airs even though you're just a criminal Hero."
The knight commander bellowed at me like an idiot right when the Shield Prison's duration time expired.
"Alright, so you... want to die?"
Monsters began to stir towards me.
The idiot shuts up, knowing what would happen if I were to abandon them and only protect myself.
Geez, I couldn't seem to find a decent person amongst all of these people.
These guys were the type that thought that I wouldn't be able to do anything other than protect others since I was nothing but a Shield Hero. Who the hell would ever help others for the fun of it?
Afterwards, the cleanup of the stranded monsters from the wave was completed to some extent.
Once she was done with evacuating the damsels in distress, Raphtalia returned to the frontline, that was when I commenced my retaliation.
Using the knight squadron as our human shield, we finished off the monsters by baiting them into our ready formation. And a few hours had passed in no time at all.
"Alright, I guess that's the end."
"Seems like it, this boss was a cakewalk."
"Yep, at this rate, the next wave will also be a cinch."
Our bravely fought heroes were simply chatting at the heart of the frontline; where the corpse of a Chimera, the wave Boss, laid.
It was as if the job of evacuating civilians were only the adventurers and knights' responsibility...
Even though a month had already passed, these folks still think that all of this is nothing but a game.
It was quite a hassle for me to ignore these shitty heroes, but I was relieved that I managed to survive this wave.
The sky's color was still pitch black. Although it was only a matter of time before it would be dyed orange by the setting sun.
With this, I should be able to stay alive for at least another month.
... Although I didn't receive any damage, that was probably due to the wave being weak: for now. I honestly don't know if I can endure the next one.
Sooner or later I'll be unable to withstand their attacks... what in the world would happen to me then?
"A job well done, oh brave heroes. The king has properly readied a feast in celebration for your achievements. We humbly invite you to join in since we will also be giving your rewards there."
I naturally didn't want to participate. However, I had no more money. So I'll bless them with my presence. Let us depart together!
Indeed, it was expected of them to prepare tributes for us equals for our efforts in every wave.
500 silver coins. That was quite a sum of money for me at the moment.
The Riyuto villagers saw me and came over to talk.
"Thank you very much. We would all be dead if you weren't here."
"It would be the same if I wasn't around."
Another villager refused my comment.
"It was thanks to you being there that we were able to survive."
"If you think so, then just do whatever you want."
The villagers bowed to me and went back.
Their village was violently raided. I suppose that it would be quite a hassle to reconstruct it afterwards.
They only expressed their gratitude for their life savior, and they usually despise me... what a calculating bunch.
After the long battle, a muddy, sweaty and smiling Raphtalia came running over to me.
"We really did it! Everyone is expressing their gratitude."
"... I guess."
"With this, there will be nobody who'll end up like me. It was all thanks to Naofumi-sama!"
So this was what they called a post-war bliss, famous throughout the history of my birthplace; Raphtalia was moved to tears.
"I too... tried my best."
"Right, you did well."
I praise her while patting her head.
That's right. Raphtalia had followed my orders and fought devotedly.
It would be a folly of mine to falsely evaluate that.
"I defeated a bunch of monsters."
"Haha, that certainly saved me."
I felt a bit uncomfortable with Raphtalia laughing so blissfully like this, dood; we headed towards the castle.
"Well well! As expected of our heroes. I cannot contain my surprise after seeing the difference between the casualties from this battle and the last."
Once the sun had gone down and the night sky had taken over, the king declared loudly to his grandiose banquet held within the castle.
On that note, I had no idea what the casualty count was before, but this time the casualties were within the single digits.
... Though I had no intention of taking credit for that.
I didn't resent that bunch of muscle-headed heroes at all for charging in and beating the crap out of the monsters while leaving me behind to do all the cleanup.
However, I thought to myself that we'll eventually be left in a sorry state at this rate.
We were lucky this time, but who knew what would have happened if the knights didn't arrive on time. It was thanks to the sand hourglass for sending us close to them.
This was such a heavy subject...
Cry out for help, and aid shall come.
It was about the battle against the wave.
Mobilizing knights to accompany us when we got teleported by the hourglass was a valid possibility.
But didn't the knights get left behind after we were teleported the last time?
Must have been their attitude! Those people didn't want to acknowledge me as a hero that's why they weren't teleported!
But... didn't those shitty heroes' people get teleported too?
Just, how the hell?
This kind of setting was weird as hell if this was a game.
... Anyways, aren't we in big trouble? This is the part where they will drop their guard just because aid arrived.
In short, it's complicated stuff.
I ate my share in an appropriate-looking corner while the banquet was being held.
"This is such a feast!"
Raphtalia stared at the mountain of food which she normally couldn't get a chance to eat with eyes shining like star dots.
"Go and eat whatever you want."
I don't usually give her a lot of good food to eat... so it would be wise to let her eat whatever she desired here. Once she ate her fill, she would be an even better war asset.
"Ah... But, I'll gain weight if I eat too much."
"You didn't even hit your growth spurt yet, right?"
For some reason Raphtalia was making a very troubled expression.
"It's fine to eat whatever you want."
"Do you prefer fat girls, Naofumi-sama?"
What was she saying?
"Not at all."
Just thinking about women would only make me imagine that bitch. A lot of unpleasant feelings would also pop up.
To begin with, that woman was a life form that was repulsive to the mind...
"I suppose that's right. That's just like the usual Naofumi-sama."
She said as if giving up on whatever was on her mind.
"Naofumi-sama, this is so good."
Hmm... This banquet was such a waste of time. Just when will I get my reward?
This place was like a cesspool of garbage, just looking around made my anger boil.
... Thinking back, it was quite possible that the rewards would be handed out tomorrow.
Then this was a fool's errand? No, since the food was good I'll let it fly.
It's not the same for normal people since Raphtalia was in the middle of her growth spurt! By no means I am a fool to pass this chance up.
"I wonder if they have something like a container in order to bring food home."
One should always think about tomorrow and never waste money.
... I'll have ask them to let me have the rest and re-cook the food later. Anything that can be considered 'food' will be fine.
Among the crowd, a raging Motoyasu was pushing his way through the crowd, heading towards our direction.
Really, just what the hell is wrong today?
Since it looked like a pain in the ass, the crowd split apart and made way for that trash, Motoyasu, as he glared at me with intense hatred.
He removed the glove on one of his hands and threw it at me.
If I was right, that guy wanted to challenge me to a duel.
The crowd was stirred into motion by his following statement.
"Duel with me!"
"Just what are you talking about here?"
Did his brain finally fry?
You'll turn into an idiot if you kept on thinking about games all day long.
God damned spear hero who charged in to kill the boss like a madman, ditching all the innocents that he should have defended.
"I know it all! Raptalia-chan was only tagging along with you just because she's your slave!"
He was burning with fighting spirit as he pointed at me and denounced.
The person in question was feasting upon her piled up delicacies.
"So, what about it?"
" 'So, what about it?'... you say?! Did you just seriously say that!?"
What's wrong with possessing a slave?
There was nobody that was willing to fight along my side. Hence, I bought and used a slave.
And this country didn't have a ban on slavery anyway.
So, for what reason did he go on a rampage for?
"She's my slave. What's it to you?"
"It's... it's not the enslavement that's wrong! It's because we're heroes with different worldly ethics than the people here which makes your actions wrong!"
"Isn't that a bit too late... there were plenty of slaves back in our world, right?"
I didn't know anything about Motoyasu's world. But it was literally impossible for mankind's history to be without the existence of slavery.
A different way of interpreting it would be: members of society are slaves to the higher corporations.
"Unforgivable? Are you even using your head? Think with that goddamn brain of yours!"
Forcing others to follow their own biased beliefs... This guy's mind has problems.
"But it's such a shame that this is a different world. Slaves exist here. And what's the problem with me using them?"
Gritting his teeth, Motoyasu swung his fist at me.
"Duel with me! If I win, release Raphtalia-chan!"
"Why would I have to accept this challenge to begin with? What's in it for me anyways?"
"You can do whatever you desire with Raphtalia-chan! Just like now."
"Are you retarded?"
I attempted to ignore Motoyasu and leave, since this duel had nothing to offer me.
"I have heard Motoyasu-dono's story."
The excited crowd made room for the king to pass through.
"I heard that one of the heroes was using slaves... although only as a rumor. If you refuse Motoyasu-dono's proposal then I shall order it. Duel!"
"My ass. Just hand over the wave's reward already. I have no time to waste in a place like this!"
The king sighed and twitched his fingers.
The soldiers appeared out of nowhere and began to surround me.
When I looked over at Raphtalia, she was detained by the soldiers.
"... Are you threatening me?"
I said while staring him down with all the force I could muster.
This guy, he didn't believe what I said at all.
So that's the case, didn't know that I was intruding here.
"If you're in this country then my word is absolute! I can even forcibly confiscate the Shield Hero's slave if it comes down to that."
Things like solving the curse placed upon a slave, the court magicians probably knew about such techniques.
In order words, to preserve my connection with Raphtalia, I have to fight.
Don't fuck with me! I barely even got any return from my purchase on this slave!
Whose money and time do you think was invested on her?
"This match is meaningless! I am――uuuuurg!"
A piece of cloth was rolled up and stuffed into Raphtalia's mouth so that she wouldn't be able to say anything.
"The owner has the power to strengthen the punishing curse of the inflicted individual. Therefore, let us stop this slave from speaking any further."
"... You just did that so that I would have to participate in the duel."
"Aren't we simply granting you the participation prize?"
"What! You bas――"
"Well then, the duel shall be held in the castle's garden!"
That asshole of a king interrupted my complaint and declared the duel location.
Shit, don't you people see that I have no attack power? This is like a gimped race!