Chapter 3:

The Journey Had Ended, But Villains Still Exist...!

An Adventure Beyond Greatness!

Everyone knows the typical Hero's Journey.Bookmark here

You have your familiar world, your really unfamiliar world, a mentor of some sorts that helps everyone get used to the unfamiliarity of the 'new world' the Epic Hero uncovered, and your world saving quest.Bookmark here

It's simplistic and straightforward, because...Bookmark here

Everyone wants to save the world, don't they? Who wouldn't? The world is where we live, after all! Bookmark here

That's also what Alex first believed when reincarnated into the 'unfamiliar world' of Gaia after being killed in his 'familiar world' of Earth. Though the results weren't really as good as he thought...Bookmark here

In the end of the day: Heroes tend to fade in obscurity if the 'great evil' they face doesn't go around showcasing their strength, killing whenever they can, and wearing 'evil' like it's in style. Bookmark here

They usually showcase that they could INDEED cause a large catastrophe even after they Hero had saved everyone. They are expressive and bold, but also flawed in a way clear for everything to see.Bookmark here

Without that, the worth of a 'Epic Hero' drops, and even if the 'innocent' bystanders DO really respect you, no one actually needs to thank you if you had taken the task upon yourself without prompting.Bookmark here

Reality is sometimes stranger than fiction...Bookmark here

But fiction, is something that can only be admired when contrasting it to the lens of the 'real world'.Bookmark here

Heroes are constructs of the mind. It's giving worth to the actions done by someone holding power.Bookmark here

Epic Heroes in particular construct a grand narrative, which usually means a 'grand' nemesis.Bookmark here

A story most applicable to fictional works...Bookmark here

After all, no one really has such tall tales in retrospect. It's all just exaggerated by the speaker.Bookmark here

Kinda sad, when speaking about it honestly...Bookmark here

Anyway, my point is that it's best not to think that a normal person is 'responsible' for saving the world.Bookmark here

And Alex had learned this the hard way...Bookmark here

In his SECOND youth, after his quest to 'saving the world' was taken offensively by the Luminous Church; who seemed to have dibs on who exactly is the one who saves it, he was too optimistic...Bookmark here

His strong beliefs caused him immense suffering.Bookmark here

That's why he unknowingly experienced firsthand how generally horrifying it is to be a 'genuine hero'.Bookmark here

In fact, the figure who gained greater fame and popularity after this young lad beat down that psychotic group of Cultists... was actually a very famous Leader of a band of Holy Knights...Bookmark here

It was the figure who wasn't even present when innocents started dying horrifically by 'Crazies'...Bookmark here

Appreciation was given to THIS clean freak instead!Bookmark here

To give the man some due credit, he DID act as the scholarly youth's Mentor figure. He wasn't all bad.Bookmark here

That 'master of all trades' gave him a lot of advice throughout their journey to fight and survive against the forces of evil. But where are the mentor figures when they're actually needed in the finale?Bookmark here

The terrible end to the scholarly youth's journey mostly had to do with his lack of screen presence.Bookmark here

He had to fight a Cult Leader with only his friend.Bookmark here

Though I guess he'd be thankful if he knew of 'the meta'. This fictional reality could've done worse...Bookmark here

Mentor figures would normally end up dead (most the time) to add more of a reason why they had to beat the baddy and act as fodder, or maybe even act as the igniter for a heroic power booster.Bookmark here

Either way, mentors never really had the optimistic fates when it came to how their lives ended.Bookmark here

He should also be glad that Arthur also survived that final encounter in the past... since best friends are best tragedy fuel. The sadness of losing someone would normally empower an 'Epic Hero'.Bookmark here

Their deaths could also activate a 'Heroic Second Wind' Trope if the Final Boss is way too powerful.Bookmark here

Even though that kinda gave mixed messages to you readers. After all, wasn't death a bad thing?Bookmark here

Why was someone dying always so 'helpful'?Bookmark here

Damn, he's seriously one helluva lucky guy...!Bookmark here

But if the lack of fame and popularity was the only problem with doing selfless acts of heroism, then he wouldn't really mind much. His father already drilled heroic virtues into him from his past life.Bookmark here

The REAL reason he hung his quite obvious 'chosen one' status and called it a day was because he... ended up making enemies with a bunch of crazy psychos as a result of his 'journey'... Bookmark here

They were vermin who wouldn't let him go until he changed how he looked and stopped standing out like wannabe hero. Responsibilities had to be taken for offending the 'bad guys' of this fantasy world.Bookmark here

Because there were already certified 'Heroes' in this world of swords and magic, maybe taking their job wasn't the best choice... Alex and his friend wouldn't have went through much in retrospect.Bookmark here

The random Cult members scattered across the globe gave both him and Arthur a headache back in the heydays of their great adventure. Well, that's if you can call running for your life everyday from remnants left behind of the Cult an 'adventure'...Bookmark here

Being a Wannabe Hero really sucked...!Bookmark here

Now, let's get back to the main plot. Let's see how our protagonist dealt with the situation at hand.Bookmark here

How could he get his friends out of there...?Bookmark here

'I guess it's time bring out my secret weapon!' Alex thought in front of the open restaurant. He made a few gestures with his hands, then used his finger to draw upon the energies of the world around him.Bookmark here

A black Rune formed of the Dark Attribute appeared on the palm of his hand... before being replaced with fresh, meaty, succulent, deluxe chicken curry that smelled unbelievably tasty! Bookmark here

Even the scholarly young man himself drooled a little upon seeing it appear from his own 'space'...Bookmark here

'3, 2, 1...' He counted in his head.Bookmark here

The young figure clad in light leather armour shot out of the restaurant like a cannon bullet and grabbed the little pot in his hand. His jacked waved and let out a scent of food having stained it before.Bookmark here

His mannerisms were crude and inelegant to me...Bookmark here

The brawny youth didn't even give his old friend in front him a glance. His gaze fixed on the meal...Bookmark here

The childhood friend of Alex first decided to gulp the entire meat pot in a singular swift motion. Bookmark here

The scholar of magic was once again shocked by his friend's 'magic' of being able to make food instantly disappear upon making contact with his mouth... It was a sort of special ability only he had.Bookmark here

"Bro!!! How have you been?! You look skinnier than before... D'ya know what, man? I found a great place that sells the best, nicest, tastiest deserts in the kingdom! You should come in with me!" Arthur returned the pot back before speaking loudly in excitement. His eyes were on fire just like his personality, which was as spicy as ghost peppers.Bookmark here

As the scholarly youth expected... his good buddy was the same goddamn knucklehead as ever~!Bookmark here

"That place is run by 'crazies'." Alex spoke while returning the empty pot to his 'Portable Space'.Bookmark here

"Say what...?" His friend did a double-take.Bookmark here

"I just checked their 'stats'."Bookmark here

"My luck can't be that bad, right...?"Bookmark here

"It is." The scholarly youth had interpreted this situation as a possible threat about to unfold.Bookmark here

[Silver Art- Arcane Fingers!]Bookmark here

He 'set' a Dark Rune on his hand before any dangers occurred. This was a shortcut to him.Bookmark here

The only reason he didn't have it on all the time was because it made him have to split his focus.Bookmark here

"You've gotta be kidding me...!" Like now, when focusing on Arthur and his hand simultaneously.Bookmark here

His mind was on full alert...Bookmark here

"This is no joke... Though they seem to be more docile than before, that doesn't change the fact that they've killed a bunch of people. We should alert the authorities about this secret base of th-"Bookmark here

"Hold up!" Arthur raised his hand to stop him before continuing with a stern expression:Bookmark here

"Let's fight them and make a name for ourselves! We will just blow them up like we did years ago...!"Bookmark here

"You want me to become an arsonist? The Church still won't get off my back about accidentally blowing up one of their Medicine Sanctuaries, and YOU want me to have charges pressed against me for blowing up a restaurant? Did our 'adventure' teach you nothing!?" Alex asked him rhetorically.Bookmark here

"Then I'll blow them up myself!" His big friend then decided NOT to ask for help of any way, shape or form. It was as if his anger manifested itself to a fiery aura around him. His eyes burned with fury.Bookmark here

This was unlike how Alex had envisioned his brawny buddy, who should've mellowed by now.Bookmark here

...Or was recklessness part of his core values?Bookmark here

This made Alex have that look again: ( º _ º)Bookmark here

The one where he watched on for a few seconds in utter speechlessness at that dominating presence.Bookmark here

"Arthur!" The scholarly young man finally displayed his fangs. His eyes narrowed towards his buddy while his whole body started glowing in a mystical, runic radiance. One that was smaller in scale.Bookmark here

It wasn't as explosive and bombastic as the brawny youth's presence, but it had much more depth to it.Bookmark here

A mystique of ancient magic...Bookmark here

But in the end, Alex became shocked after realising that his childhood friend seemed to be overflowing with boundless magical power. So much that it made his own presence seem tiny in comparison.Bookmark here

The size of his presence so large that the regular citizen couldn't sense it. The power was far too beyond their scope to understand. An amount that shouldn't be possible for a mere 'Gaia Human'...!Bookmark here

He was glad that it was only his vision that could see this beastly strength hidden within Arthur.Bookmark here

If not, there would've been mass panic...Bookmark here

In this world called Gaia, the standard Magic System everyone knew about was simplistic to the point that even a child could understand its intricacies. Which was why literally everyone knew.Bookmark here

The power of a 'Common Rank' individual would only have the base natural magical power that really anybody would be capable of producing. It was the staple Rank for a citizen of any kingdoms.Bookmark here

Conversely, those above the 'common' level of strength who were considered that of the 'Noble Rank'. They each had an extremely small number of exclusive super-moves called 'Spell Slots'.Bookmark here

They were something Alex was always envious of...Bookmark here

A Spell Slot was as the name suggested: It was an individual's own personal Stores Magic that was consolidated into a formless power that could only be used once a day... This 'Slot' was kinda like having a 'Special Skill' on any online, action-oriented role-playing game on Earth. This was different from a mere small-scale 'Magic Skill'.Bookmark here

Skills can be used by anyone, but Spell Slots were unique to those who had 'achieved' something.Bookmark here

It was only Alex who downgraded to using 'Arts' of even smaller scale because of a physical disability.Bookmark here

Otherwise, life would've been more simple to him.Bookmark here

'Spells' were medals that the world imparted onto individuals who done a great deed in their life.Bookmark here

It was a culmination of one's experiences that could only be gained through both an abnormal amount of hard work, and fortune... so how could Alex believe his eyes when he 'saw' Arthur's abilities using his unique, inborn Class Skill?Bookmark here

What he read above his buddy was the following:Bookmark here

{Body Slots: 5 (Wind Magic- Hurricane Cleaver, Water Magic- Sea Splitter, Earth Magic- Mountain Breaker, Fire Magic- Inferno Slicer, Lightning Magic- Storm Dicer) Spell Slots: 2 (Dark Magic- Doomsday Draw, Blood Magic- Draining Slash) Innate Skill: (Light Magic- Nature Imbue)}Bookmark here

A total of SEVEN Spell Slots!!! Bookmark here

One has to know that the absolute limit of the Noble Rankings was that of a 5th Level called the 'Duke Rank', meaning he was two levels higher than even the strongest of nobility to ever exist!Bookmark here

Arthur could probably gain a great title and his own personal land if he was to join Lancia's nobility...Bookmark here

You lovely readers are most likely wondering what I'm going on and on about, right? That's easy: I'm talking about how one's 'Rank' in the Power System of this world also decided how one would be treated by their kingdom. 'Nobles' with Spell Slots were considered to be great assets to the kingdom and helped the people feel safe.Bookmark here

That's why it was crucial for people to have enough strength if they wanted to obtain greater influence within the kingdom. Someone like his best friend, who had great power but no backing, could be considered an individual everyone would vie for.Bookmark here

"Y-you... What happened to you while I was gone?"Bookmark here

"..." All of a sudden, the flames of determination in Arthur died down. They were misted by sadness...Bookmark here

He seemed to be hiding something.Bookmark here

"You're not calm anymore. I feel like your personality switched as soon as I brought those crazies up. What happened? Although you never liked them before, this is my first time seeing you actively want to beat them up like I once did. Bookmark here

You're definitely hiding something important from me right now, are you?" Alex decided that now wasn't the best time to talk about his increase of power. He instead opted to learning about why Arthur wanted to fight them in the first place.Bookmark here

It was better to get a complete picture of why his friend seemed like he was losing his sanity first...Bookmark here

Where did this obsession originate?Bookmark here

"And so what if I am? ...Mind your own business." A dark expression appeared on Arthur's face as he turned towards the restaurant. His eyes hiding away something that seemed to fill his heart with with greater malice towards these 'evil' Cultists.Bookmark here

"Don't go." A hand grabbed the brown youth's shoulder before he straight up charged in there.Bookmark here

"Don't try to stop me...!"Bookmark here

"I don't know why you want to beat them up so badly, but I'll help you out. I'm your best friend, after all. So tell me this, what's your plan of action now that you have a goal to obtain?" Alex inquired. Bookmark here

He needed to know what his friend was thinking.Bookmark here

Alex wouldn't let this dumb Warrior fight by himself. That's why... he'd join in as well!Bookmark here

"I want to destroy that Cult once and for all."Bookmark here

"And how will you do that? By randomly going around and destroying each of their hidden bases? I knew you weren't much of a thinker, but this plan of yours is too stupid to ever work out. You'll end up endlessly fighting without any hope of winning."Bookmark here

"I'm strong enough to fight them all myself!"Bookmark here

"You're not. Even seven Spell Slots doesn't mean you're invincible. When we first fought these crazy guys, we never outright raided their base or 'fairly' fought them while appearing in public. Bookmark here

The only reason we're living peacefully right now is because we now look older and 'cleaner' compared to those times we'd run around with mucky clothes in the Dark Forest to get them off our backs.Bookmark here

If you are suicidal enough to once again throw us into an abyss of no return, then you can go right on ahead... Don't blame me for not warning you." Alex knew persuasion wouldn't work unless it hit hard.Bookmark here

Thus, he 'beat his friend up' with facts and logic based on their previous experiences together.Bookmark here

"Then what do you expect me to do?! I will never stop until that damned Mirror Cult is destroyed!"Bookmark here

"Let me give you some advice."Bookmark here

"What advice...?"Bookmark here

"Destroy the core of their power. Everything else will fall into place once their leader is defeated."Bookmark here

"Oh...? You mean like we tried before? You want us to go on a wild goose chase only to find a fake leader... dressed like the biggest villain just to act as a trap for us... It's like last time, right?" Arthur only shook his head in refusal and asked spitefully.Bookmark here

It was only after speaking those words did he realise this was just his anger venting onto his best friend and covered his mouth, but he couldn't bring himself to apologise. He didn't feel at fault.Bookmark here

That's why Arthur stood there emotionally...Bookmark here

Not apologising, not changing the subject with great social skills. Only keeping his mouth shut.Bookmark here

He was unaware of Alex's own thoughts...Bookmark here

"Then what about this: For now, we'll just see what those Crazies up to and work our way up from there..." The scholarly youth frowned as he remembered the 'ending' of their last adventure. Bookmark here

If he could, he really wished he could go back and avoid coming into contact with the Mirror Cult...Bookmark here

However, just as they were about to stop bickering in front of their enemy's headquarters, a kind voice of that seemed oddly familiar to them entered their ears. Alex couldn't help but tremble uncontrollably as he turned to see a man advertising close to him.Bookmark here

"Hear me, ladies and gentlemen who wish for peace, tranquility, and the serenity of fortune! Bookmark here

The Radiant Sword Mirror Religion invites new members to join us to bring paradise to this world! Bookmark here

Those who join now will be given a free Spell Slot upon becoming part of our grand circle of friends and acquaintances!" A mysterious yet familiar man with the overall look of a gentleman spoke loudly.Bookmark here

The Priest peacefully handed out leaflets to the citizens who were curiously hanging around to see what was up, which boggled Alex's mind. There was no way he wouldn't recognise a 'Senior Crazy'.Bookmark here

Why were they publicising themselves like they were doing a pyramid scheme? Had they all gone crazy? No, he already believed them to be bonkers anyway. There was no point thinking any deeper.Bookmark here

Most of Lancia's citizens were uninterested in joining another religion other than the Luminous Church. However, there were a few who seemed to be moved by the last part of the man's words. Bookmark here

After all, a Spell Slot wasn't something easy to get ahold of for those without a combat related profession or a unique Class. It was bestowed to them by Royalty or achieved through greatness.Bookmark here

Those who gained Spell Slots despite not having a combat Class were as rare as Phoenix feathers and Dragon scales. It was way more convenient to get one by joining the Radiant Sword Mirror ReligionBookmark here

That, or becoming a Holy Knight that worked for the Luminous Church. Which was for 'fanatics'.Bookmark here

Not everyone likes difficult routes in life...Bookmark here

It was why a free Spell Slot was so tempting.Bookmark here

Arthur's eyes started turning red. He also recognised the voice of the priestly-looking man who was advertising a new 'Religion' to the common folk crowded on the streets. Bookmark here

It was then that the scholarly youth got ahold of himself pulled his brawny friend behind his body. Bookmark here

He didn't want him to alert the Cult that had been chasing them for years by frightening him off. Bookmark here

Truthfully, the young man treated this priest like weak prey, rather than a force to be reckoned with.Bookmark here

"Stop it...! Don't be an idiot and do something you'll regret. I'll handle this matter." This time, it was Alex who had a dark look in his eyes, but unlike the brawny youth beside him, he had put on a fake expression on his face. One full of amazement.Bookmark here

He headed towards the man in question with a casual strife. His figure looked like one of the curious onlookers who had no clue of who the man was. His presence blended in seamlessly.Bookmark here

"Excuse me." He spoke in a calm yet puzzled tone to the gentlemanly priest handing out leaflets.Bookmark here

"Do you wish to join our religion?" A beaming smile appeared on the cultist's face after hearing him.Bookmark here

"Maybe... But before I make a decision: I'm curious about a few things. May I ask some questions?"Bookmark here

"Please go right ahead~! All are welcome into the new Sanctuaries that will be made in the Northern District of the kingdom. Anyone is free to come there anytime to pray talk to our Priests for advice of any kind regarding the problems they face."Bookmark here

"Sure." Alex ignored the man's answer inwardly, but outwardly displayed a look of understanding.Bookmark here

"Okay, to start off with: Aren't you aware that the Luminous Church considers all religions apart from their own heresy. They even see any of those who follow 'foreign teachings' to be clear heretics...Bookmark here

Aren't you afraid of repercussions for just being here to spread a new religion?" The sincerity in his tone seemed so real that even Arthur might have believed he was asking out of concern, rather than to venomously scare potential believers away.Bookmark here

"There is no reason to worry~! Though the Luminous Church may be the most widely spread and ancient religion of humanity, what we have is the approval of the His Highness, Drake Lancelot.Bookmark here

With the Crown Prince of the Human Empire's one and only Ruling Kingdom, we are certified enough to build our own Sanctuaries. We are even allowed to spread our teachings wherever we wish. Bookmark here

I even have a Royal Seal on me to prove the authenticity of my words!" The gentlemanly man pulled out a golden badge that had the insignia of the Royal Family embedded onto it, shining a distinct gold glow. His words seemed sincere...Bookmark here

Alex's eyes went wide...Bookmark here

He studied the Royal Seal in the priest's hand thoroughly and inspected it with all his might, yet was unable to believe his eyes. Then realised that the familiar Cultist before him was telling the truth. Bookmark here

The special metal that made the badge in the man's hand couldn't be reproduced, nor was it easy to parade around a fake symbol of authority without being found out... He really got permission.Bookmark here

But how?!Bookmark here

'Unbelievable...!' The story took a strange turn for the worst as he realised the implications of the man's words. Had Lancia already fallen into their hands? This question made him shiver in fright.Bookmark here

Was the world in danger again despite the previous arduous journey they went through? If so, then wouldn't that mean a fifth- no, all of humanity was about to be brainwashed by these evil Cultists?Bookmark here

This was called the 'Ruling Kingdom of the Human Empire' for a reason, influence here spread wide...Bookmark here

The scholarly young man's eyes clouded...Bookmark here

He realised that his previous conjectures on the Cult's overall influence had been entirely wrong.Bookmark here

Alex still had the mind to hold up his facade; about turn and talk to Arthur about what to do next.Bookmark here

It was at that moment that the gentlemanly man smiled at them in a different way than before.Bookmark here

It was a scheming and cunning smile...Bookmark here

"Surprising, isn't it? Alex Stuman and Arthur Rainglow, I guess the tables have turned~" The gentlemanly man's last whisper lingered in his ears and caused Alex to convulse in fear once more. Bookmark here

Though his stiffed up face betrayed none of these emotions though. The young man backed away quickly while readying his finger to draw Runes once again if he needed to escape with Arthur.Bookmark here

There was already on type of Rune already set...Bookmark here

"Please don't be alarmed. 'We' are not here to pursue the matters of the past anymore. Bookmark here

'We' merely want to have a chat with the mysterious magical prodigy who once blew up many of our Sanctuaries." A sharp glint appeared in the gentlemanly priest's eyes. It seemed like he had been aware of their true identities all along. Bookmark here

The words from the Cultist didn't calm Alex down though. He drew closer to Arthur with a sharp look.Bookmark here

What awaits them after their worst enemy initiated contact with them? Even Gaia didn't know...!Bookmark here

Perhaps only the Author could comment on this...Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.