Chapter 9:

Hero Kicks Things Up a Notch

It’s My First Time Working Late Nights at a Convenience Store, and If I Keep Getting Demon Lords, Kappa and Other Oddballs as Customers, I’m Giving My Two-Weeks’ Notice

“Ah.”Bookmark here

“Huh?”Bookmark here

“Wait, you’re...”Bookmark here

The demon lord, elf-maid, and that lousy excuse for a hero freeze in place, staring at each other.Bookmark here

The shitty influencer raises a shaking hand, pointing at the demonic pair just as they point their fingers at him.Bookmark here

“AAAAAHHH!!!”Bookmark here

“AAAAAHHH!!!”Bookmark here

“AAAAAHHH!!!” Bookmark here

Great. All three of them are shouting in unison. As if they weren’t loud enough already. Bookmark here

“Hey! You! Yeah, y’sorry pain in the ass! What’re you doing here?!” Bookmark here

Huh. Once a pain in the ass, always a pain in the ass. Bookmark here

“Aw, don’t be like that! People dig my heroic persona!” Bookmark here

Dude, the only “heroic” thing you could do is step down from any online platforms. Bookmark here

“You’re the one who went around town claimin’ that you ‘defeated the Demon Lord by flipping him a majestic double bird,’ ain’t’cha? ‘When he turned away in shock, I struck him down with an epic swing of my kick-ass sword!’ That’s bull! He’s never lost a fight.” Bookmark here

“Surely, that can’t have happened. I’m certain that I would have recalled as much.” Bookmark here

The demon lord blinks, puzzled, and I struggle to hold back a fit of laughter.Bookmark here

“Wha-...! N-Nope! Of course not! I was just, uh, trying to flex in front of the townspeople. Y’know, for... clout.” Bookmark here

“Who’d put their trust in a punk-ass hero who lies through his teeth? Tch, you could learn a thing or two from the homeless folks, like our Demon Lord here has been. So? What stupid shit are you up to now?” Bookmark here

The elf-maid deserves a standing ovation for not straight-up punching this loser in the face. Bookmark here

“...‘Homeless’? Ooh, wait. I’ve seen those guys on TV before... That’s rough, man. Uh, where are you guys hanging out now?”Bookmark here

“We’ve got a tent set up in a park not too far from here.” Bookmark here

“Cool, cool... I’ve been living it up here in the human realm. I’m, uh, a Viewtuber now.”Bookmark here

“A yew...tuber? What a delicious title.”Bookmark here

Given that the demon lord’s been spending his days picking up empty cans to exchange for cash, this is probably the first time anyone’s mentioned the video streaming platform around him. I wonder if he’d ever consider starting his own channel?Bookmark here

“It’s, y’know, a gig where you make your own videos and post them online. If a whole bunch of people watch them, then you can make some cash off of the ads on the site. And, since I’m a pretty bitchin’ adventurer, I’ve been just kind of shooting the shit, pulling pranks, doing product placements, unboxings, hero reaction videos... People here just eat that stuff up.” Bookmark here

Honestly, that’s a pretty fair way of putting it (but with maybe too much slang). The elf-maid, however, is less than impressed, her reply ice-cold.Bookmark here

“So, you’re goin’ around and lyin’ to even more people — only this time, for money.”Bookmark here

“It’s not like that!!”Bookmark here

The hero throws his hands up, dragging them down his face in frustration.Bookmark here

Well. She’s not wrong, though.Bookmark here

“...Hero. I have a question to ask of you.”Bookmark here

The demon lord stares down at the hero with his usual oppressive silence.Bookmark here

“What, so you can bad-mouth me, too?”Bookmark here

“No, nothing of the sort. I wanted to know...why you aren’t gathering empty cans to exchange for funds, like so many others in this realm.”Bookmark here

“Huh?”Bookmark here

“That is, how are you acquiring money?”Bookmark here

“Wait, you think picking up trash is the only job people can have here? Ha ha! No way, man! Th—”Bookmark here

The elf-maid disappears without warning, reappearing just as quickly behind the hero — to press a (previously hidden) knife against his throat.Bookmark here

Those are the moves of a trained killer. Bookmark here

“Whoa! Hey! Could you guys maybe try and not draw blood in the store?!” Bookmark here

I spring into action before I even realize I’m moving.Bookmark here

But, when I get close to the elf-maid...Bookmark here

“Say one more word, and I’ll end ya. The Demon Lord wouldn’t ever get hired for a regular job, not with his whole look. I’ve been lookin’ after him, and I’m gonna keep doin’ it. So, don’t you dare give ‘im any strange ideas.”Bookmark here

I can hear the low threat she whispers in the hero’s ear, nice and clear.Bookmark here

“...Please don’t kill me.”Bookmark here

The hero’s voice quivers, and he sounds like he’s about to cry.Bookmark here

Yeah, that’s definitely not a guy who’s raised his middle finger to anyone. Bookmark here

“So, then. ‘Yew-tubers’ are...?” Bookmark here

“That’s...uh...nothing! It’s just my side hustle! I’m all for picking up cans! It’s great!” Bookmark here

His stuttering should be a dead giveaway that it’s not nothing, but the demon lord doesn’t notice.Bookmark here

“Good, I knew that we must have similar occupations. My most recent record was seventy-six yen in a single day. Impressive, is it not? How much do you typically earn in a day, Hero?” Bookmark here

“Uh...well, I...make an impressive three...yen a day. Yep. Three whole yen.” Bookmark here

Sure, the demon lord might not know any better, but isn’t that taking things a bit too far?Bookmark here

I get that he’s trying to be nice, but come on! Would it have killed him to bump it up to, say, fifty yen?Bookmark here

Also, he keeps looking at me, like he wants me to bail him out. Dude, could you not? Bookmark here

“Say, uh...whatever happened to that other maid who was always with you guys?”Bookmark here

He asks the question in an overly cheerful way, to try and take some of the pressure off himself.Bookmark here

And it works. The elf-maid finally lets the knife drop, and the hero rubs his chest with a sigh of relief. Bookmark here

“Are you referring to Chronoa? We got separated not long after we arrived here.” Bookmark here

Hold up. This guy’s got another maid at his beck and call?Bookmark here

“Oh, she’ll be fine. She’s a stupidly capable woman, after all. Still...she’s probably gone’n found herself a couple’a fresh victims by now. Y’know how she is.” Bookmark here

Did she just say “victims”? After seeing the elf-maid’s professional-grade killing techniques, I’m pretty sure that can only mean one thing. Bookmark here

“Y-You mean...she’s an assassin?!” Bookmark here

I can’t help but blurt it out, and the fantasy trio glances over at me.Bookmark here

The elf-maid flashes me a wry, possibly apologetic, smile. Bookmark here

“Nah, not in that sense. Chronoa’s got skills, sure, but she’s also single handedly responsible for the downfall of more unsuspecting chumps than anyone who ever came before her. Take our Demon Lord here, f’example. Back in the demon realm, he was doin’ whatever he pleased, becomin’ a proper jerk— ‘cause she was more than happy to grant his every wish.” Bookmark here

“Sheri, did you just insult me?” Bookmark here

Huh. Yeah, if I had someone like that at my beck and call, I’d probably become a lazy bum, too. Bookmark here

Completely ignoring the demon lord’s interjection, the elf-maid presses on.Bookmark here

“Chronoa’s favorite kind of guy is someone who’s dripping with self-confidence, and oozes entitlement. Someone who’s got a whole bunch’a faithful followers who genuinely like ‘em — and a fancy title, too. But once she gets her claws into someone, they’re goners. Then, anyone who thought Chronoa was all that and a bag of chips changes their tune reeeeeal quick.” Bookmark here

“Not like that’ll be a problem for you, Mr. Convenience Store Cashier. Uh, not that she’s ever hit on me, either.”Bookmark here

Like I needed to hear that from you. I swear, everything sounds worse when that jerk says it.Bookmark here

“And what of your companions, Hero? What became of your merry band?” Bookmark here

“We got split up, too. I thought the four of us had all crossed over together, but I ended up on my own. Eh, I’m sure they’re doing alright.”Bookmark here

Wait, you’re telling me this knucklehead has three people who willingly hang out with him?Bookmark here

“Oh, yeah! Yo, Cashier! If my pals show up here, could you let me know? I’ll give you my deets, so you can just drop me a text or something.”Bookmark here

The hero holds out his fist, waiting for me to bump it.Bookmark here

“Uh...” Bookmark here

“C’mon, man! Don’t leave me hanging! I’ll even let you star in my next vid!”Bookmark here

“Yeeeeah, thanks, but no thanks.” Bookmark here

Honestly, appearing in a video with this guy’s the last thing I’d ever want to do. I mean, I’d never live it down. (The shame, that is.) Bookmark here

“Harsh. Okay, cool. You give me a call, and I won’t ask you to shoot anything.” Bookmark here

“That’s not much of a fair trade, but... Well, what do they look like?” Bookmark here

I reach into my back pocket, pulling out the notepad and pen that I keep on me to jot down anything I need to ask my manager about at the end of my shifts.  Bookmark here

“Right, so there’s Iris, our tank — she’s a Red Knight. Has the armor to match. Then there’s Claire, who’s with the Black Order of the Odd-Eye Sisterhood. She’s got one green eye, and one gold one. Wears a habit. And, last but not least — our witch, Sacco. She’s drop-dead gorgeous, and pink from head to toe. You can’t miss her.” Bookmark here

...They’re all girls?!Bookmark here

No way. This loser has a legit harem?! Bookmark here

“Right, got it. If any of them stop by, I’ll let you know. But, I’m going to have to punch you first. Y’know, as collateral.” Bookmark here

“Seriously, man?! What’d I ever do to you?!”Bookmark here

I shift, loosening up my shoulders...and the hero starts to slowly back away. A safe (well, safer) distance away, he turns his back to the three of us.Bookmark here

“Okay, so, yeah! That’s how it is! Thanks, bruh! Uh, be seein’ you!” Bookmark here

I swear, the only thing he ever does quickly is run away. Bookmark here

“Sheri, it’s high time we departed. Lad, Chronoa is a precious member of my household. It would be best if we found her soon. Should she happen to stop by this establishment, I would appreciate it if you informed me.” Bookmark here

“Yeah, sure. I’ll...keep an eye out for her.” Bookmark here

“She’s got short black hair, and her eyes are even darker. You’ll know her when you see her, ‘cause she ain’t like anyone normal.” Bookmark here

The elf-maid quickly cuts in with her own description, before the demon lord can get a word in edgewise. He doesn’t say anything, but the silence that follows is an awkward one.Bookmark here

The demon lord readjusts the bag of pork cutlet sandwiches in his arms, taking care not to crush them.Bookmark here

“I would be most grateful for your assistance, lad.”Bookmark here

With those as his parting words, he takes his leave.Bookmark here

Scooching closer to me, the elf-maid uses that chance to give me some last words of advice. Bookmark here

“And I’d really appreciate it if you didn’t ever cross paths with her. For his sake. He’s been pampered since the day we first met, with his fluffy bed and his servants and his big ol’ mansion. I like our Demon Lord a whole bunch more as he is now. He’s makin’ his own decisions, and learnin’ how to stand on his own two feet. Back home...I never woulda thought he’d have it in him to change. That’s why...even though we’re homeless, I’m glad we’re where we are.” Bookmark here

She rests her hand on her chest, and I can’t help but smile at her outpouring of motherly love. Seriously, did we get another batch of onion-cutting ninjas in here, or...?Bookmark here

“You’re awfully kind. Anyways, I’ll catch’ya again when I’ve gotten paid, ‘kay?” Bookmark here

The elf-maid flashes me a quick smile before racing off after the demon lord.Bookmark here

I flick my notebook closed, shove it back into my pocket, then head back to my usual spot — behind the register.Bookmark here

Glancing out at the empty store, it hits me.Bookmark here

I forgot to get the hero’s number.Bookmark here

...Oh, well. Too late now.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

Look, I was bored, so don’t go reading too much into this.Bookmark here

But, after some poking around on Viewtube, I found that loser’s channel. Bookmark here

“Viewtuber Mac’s Heroic Issekai Vlog”Bookmark here

Clicking around in the uploads section reveals all the videos he’s made so far.Bookmark here

Out of the almost endless lists, one of them catches my eye.Bookmark here

“Go Big or Go Home! Let’s Find Out: What Happens When You Buy All the Tickets in Another World’s Convenience Store Lottery!”Bookmark here

“So, you’re the one who’s been buying up all the lottery tickets! Stop wasting your money, kid!” Bookmark here

Honestly, the number of views is pretty damn impressive.Bookmark here

Scrolling down to the comments section uncovers such gems as: Bookmark here

“ROFL lamest hero i’ve ever seen”Bookmark here

“mac’s full of sh*t”Bookmark here

Aw, buddy. Making it as a Viewtuber in this world’s only earned you the same notoriety as the realm you came from.Bookmark here

Keeping that retort to myself, I click the “Subscribe” button. Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.