Chapter 0:

Hero from Another World

Former Isekai Hero was Corrupted by His Over-Poweredness, and Now the People Need Me, a Prince of this World, to Defeat Him and Save Our Land

I stood in the antechamber of the Demon King's Tower­­—a spacious chamber of dark stone that resided atop a great tower of 278 grueling floors—taking this moment to reflect upon my journey so far.

It had been a long and challenging journey. When I first came to this world, no one believed in me. They all saw me as some unremarkable pansy. And maybe I was, but not anymore, not after what I'd been through.

I felt the touch of a hand and turned to see my three companions smiling at me. Silva, whose hand was resting gently on my shoulder; Gertrude, who was clutching her magic staff with both hands for dear life; and Heide, who gave me a slight wave to assure me that she was confident in me. I didn't need her reassurance. I was proud of the work I'd done. All the hours of grinding and stat building were about to pay off. And my party proved to be a great asset during my extensive training. They were my loyal companions. But it felt like something was missing.

Oh well. If it were important, I'd remember sooner or later.

"All right, it's time to show them what we're made of!" I said. I stepped forward, and with a showy flourish of my cape, I pulled out my Great Buster Blade that I had bought for 5,000,000G. With that, we proceeded through the chamber to the grand stairs that led to the throne room where the Demon King resided. As we walked, I could hear my party panting behind me. They were undoubtedly exhausted; those lower floors had been a rough go.

For them.

I, on the other hand, was still raring to go. I didn't know whether that was because of my over 7,000 stamina or my deep resolve to finish the quest I was tasked with when I was brought to this world by that goddess. I knew I was ready to be done and reap my reward.

I reached the top of the stairs and pushed the large wooden doors open. Well, "push" was a bit of an understatement because when I pressed my palm to the wood, the door exploded forward, ripping itself off its hinges, and flew across the throne room with a series of cacophonous bangs. I guess that's what happens when you max out your strength stat. We stepped into the chamber.

"Holy—! What the hell is wrong with you?!" I'd often heard that deep, booming voice taunting me in my dreams. Though it was shrill with surprise and fear.

There, on his throne, was the Demon King. A giant of a man with a face like a lion and twin horns as tall as I was protruding from his forehead. His hair was long and black, and he had flames for eyes. He'd look cool, except he had thrown his claw-like hands to protect his face, and his great, hooved legs were twisted like he was trying to stop his pee from escaping. But I didn't let his indignity deter me.

"Demon King, it is time for your reign to end!"

The Demon King shifted his hands slightly to look at my party and me properly. "Oh, it's you. Sorry, you just caught me off guard. Didn't expect you for a few more days. Give me a second." He brushed the dust off his bare, furry chest with a few swipes of his massive hands, then shifted himself so that he sat properly on his ornate throne, his hands placed on the armrest as he fixed me with a fiery glare. "So, you have come at last, hero. And broken a perfectly good Faunt tree door." His voice was as deep as ever, with an intensity that made up for his earlier display of wimpiness.

"Oh, I've broken much more than that!" I said, matching his intensity. There was a proper way to do things, So I was glad to be back on track. "All your generals are dead by my hands!"

The Demon King stiffened. "What? Even Ostvig? Dang it, I liked that guy. A real go-getter. I was going to give him a raise." Then he seemed to shake himself, "Sorry, I seem to be off my game." He coughed, then stood. "You did well to reach this far, hero. But this is where your journey ends." He pulled a pair of swords from thin air. And took an offensive stance.

He was ready, and so was I. I could hear my companions ready themselves as well. But there was no need. Not when I had the secret attack I'd been developing for the past few days.

I took my sword in both hands and channeled all my strength into it. Then I leaped forward at full speed and slashed horizontally at my enemy's side. I felt my attack strike true as I blasted past the Demon King, skidding to a halt behind him. I turned to look at him as I sheathed my sword at my waist.

For his part, the demon king was frantically patting his body, checking for any wounds. When he found none, he turned to me and laughed mockingly.

"Oh, look at you, thinking you can stand against my power with that puny attack. I am the Demon King! I am morning and night! My power is vaster than that of the sun itself, a drop of water like you can't even imagine the intensity of which the sun burns! I am the—"

Then his body burst into ribbons—thousands of them—which quickly evaporated into black wisps of smoke. And then he was gone.

I smirked. Too easy. Honestly, I wish he had been more of a challenge. But whatever, I guess that's what happens when you over-level.

My moment of celebration was cut short as a chorus of shrieks rang out. And then I was assaulted with hugs from my companions, soft bodies squeezing into me like six suffocating pillows.

"You did it, my love," said Heide, burying her face into my right arm, "It's over."

"How'd you do it?" said Gertrude looking up at me from my chest, "That last attack was so cool!"

"Now, now girls, don't crowd him," said Silva, stepping back, her composure regained—though I could feel a slight tugging of my sleeve as she maintained a firm claim of my left arm.

The other two stepped back enough to let me breathe, yet they all looked up at me expectantly.

"Well?" said Silva.

"Well, what?" I asked, looking from Silva's gold hair and green eyes, to Gertrude's violet hair and yellow eyes, and to Heide's blue hair and blue eyes. I didn't think vibrant hair colors like these existed in the real world. They didn't in my world, but here, they were commonplace. I liked it. But I was still confused about what the girls were waiting for.

"Don't tell me you've forgotten your promise!" Gertrude puffed her cheeks out angrily, "You did! You forgot you bully!"

"Uh…" I wracked my brain, trying to remember. I'd been so focused on getting through the Demon King's tower that I couldn't remember much before or during. "Can you remind me?"

None of the girls looked happy. Heide especially, which was a surprise as her face usually bore a serene smile. But now she was glaring at me, hands on hips, all serenity forgotten. "You said once you defeated the demon king, you'd finally decide which of us you would marry!"

Oh, right! "I-I did say that, didn't I." They had rejected my proposal of sharing with fiery wrath! As I let my silence linger, the girls grew angrier, even stoic Silva. One by one, they turned their back on me.

It was so hard to choose. They were all wonderful. Silva with her warrior spirit, Gertrude with her bubbly optimism, Heide with her tranquil grace, and—

"Wait," I said, feeling a sense of relief wash over me. "Where's Lina?" I knew I'd forgotten something. Or someone. And thank the gods, I did! Because it gave me an out!

The girls looked back at me in surprise and then looked around the throne room.

"I can only decide once all of you are here, right? That wouldn't be fair to Lina."

The girls' search became more desperate. Silva even ran through the doors to look down into the antechamber. When she returned, she said, "I can't find her! When was the last time any saw her?!"

The other two closed their eyes and touched their chins as they tried to remember. "I think…" started Heide, "the last time we talked, she said we were running short on food."

"That was at the entrance to the tower!" said Silva, mouth agape, "She's been gone since we started our climb."

"That was four days ago!" said Gertrude, "And with Lina's sense of direction, she could be anywheeeere!"

I refrained from letting out a sigh of relief. I wouldn't have to choose today. That was the worst, like when I had to choose between my favorite PriCure figurines back home. I could only afford one, but I bit the bullet and decided to go without food for a few days and bought them all. Cure Red was nothing without Cure Yellow and Blue. It had to be all or none.

"Well, you'd better go find her if you want me to make my decision," I said as I glanced at the Demon King's throne. "In the meantime, I think I'll stay here for a while."

I climbed the three steps that led to the chair. It was a bit of a struggle as the step came up to my knees, but I managed it and sat on the throne triumphantly. Now that the Demon King was gone, I was free to do whatever I wanted.

I watched as the girls ran out of the throne room, searching for Lina. I couldn't help but sneer. Now that the Demon King was gone… Now that I was the most powerful warrior in the land. Nobody could even hope to match the strength I'd acquired. Maybe I'd show them why they should have treated me better.

It was about time I reaped my reward on the people of this world.