TWEM Vol. 1 Side Story Part 1
Side Story – Meanwhile, The Heroes…
— In order not to become a burden for his “Hero” classmates, Yuki Haruto decided to leave the royal castle.
So stated Mariana, first princess of the Glicente kingdom, when she returned to the hall where Haruto and his classmates first checked their status.
The three students who frequently picked on Haruto (Mitsurugi Kento, Suruga Hayato, Matsuba Ryo) were quite happy to hear the news and started whispering among themselves.
“Heard that? He’s out, guys. Feels pretty good, huh?”
“Damn straight, no need for useless baggage.”
“We got to build our harem anyway! Hehehe…”
They thought they were whispering, but they were actually pretty loud, though they didn’t notice how they attracted the attention of the people around them.
The classmates who heard them looked at them with nothing but contempt in their eyes.
On the other hand, Tendo Koji, while he couldn’t believe that what Mariana said really happened, felt deep in his heart that it was a plausible outcome.
Haruto often showed consideration to others in his words and actions, so it wasn’t too strange for him to have gone out on his own.
Ichinomiya Suzuno could not accept it, however, and tried to press princess Mariana about it, but her childhood friend Asakura Natsuki eventually managed to calm her down.
In the end, the gathering was concluded like that and all classmates were led to their rooms.
That evening, the heroes’ party was assembled in a certain room in the royal castle.
Mariana had called them, as she had to talk about something very important.
When Mariana finally arrived, with guards in tow, she had a very grave expression on her face.
“…I apologize for making you wait.”
“Princess Mariana, why have we been gathered here?”
Tendo spoke on behalf of the group, and Mariana answered.
“…unfortunately, I bring sad news. We have received a report that today, around noon, Sir Haruto has been found unconscious in a forest near the royal capital.”
A cold shiver ran through the group.
Tendo, his childhood friends, and Usami, the teacher, were particularly shocked.
Tendo, however, immediately asked what became of their classmate.
“Where is Haruto now? Here? Is he alright?”
Mariana shook her head, a sorrowful expression on her face.
“I am truly sorry…when the knights found him, he was still breathing, but…when they tried carrying him back to the capital to be healed, a class A monster suddenly appeared and…the knights realized they could not defeat it and retreated…so…”
Mariana appeared unable to finish her sentence.
Tendo, however, decided they had to know exactly what happened.
“So Haruto is…”
“…we have not dispatched anyone to confirm, so I cannot say with certainty, but…I’m afraid that there is a high possibility he died.”
The classmates shook once again.
“It can’t be…right…?”
These and similar comments could be heard in the group when Ichinomiya Suzuno fell to her knees and broke down crying, as her childhood friends Asakura Natsuki and Shinonome Aoi consoled her.
Ichinomiya Suzuno actually had a crush on Haruto.
Despite the persistent bullying he suffered at the hands of Mitsurugi and his lackeys, he never asked Tendo or Ichinomiya for help.
One time, she asked Haruto why he never asked for help.
What he said in reply was “because I don’t want to trouble you guys”.
Despite the fact that he was suffering, he put others ahead of himself: it was the first time for Ichinomiya to learn of Haruto’s kindness.
Sometime after that episode, Ichinomiya was caught by a group of thugs in town, and Haruto saved her.
The thugs beat Haruto up without mercy, but he never responded in kind and just continued apologizing.
When the thugs got bored and left, Haruto was hurt and bloody everywhere, but the first thing he said was “Are you okay, Ichinomiya?”
His smile, his kindness, his concern for others before himself made her fall for him completely.
If it became known that she liked him Haruto might end up being harassed even more, though.
Ichinomiya realized this, so she kept her crush hidden from even Asakura and Shinonome, her closest friends.
Hearing that he was likely to be dead, however, brought her down to tears.
All other classmates, with the exception of Mitsurugi and his cohorts, went pale as well.
They couldn’t accept the reality that one of their classmates could be dead just like that.
Usami, the teacher in charge of the class, especially blamed herself for failing to protect one of her students, although she had been in a state of confusion.
Tendo was the one to break the somber mood, trying to give courage to his classmates.
“Everyone, hear me out! I want to believe that Haruto is still alive. After the knights retreated, someone else might have saved him, right?”
Ichinomiya raised her head after hearing Tendo’s words, surprise, and hope on her expression. The other students too looked intently at him, waiting for his next words.
“I’m thinking of going to look for him one day. To find him and go back to earth together! To do this too…we have to defeat the demon king. Let’s train, conquer dungeons, and go on the journey to take down the demon king. Hearing what happened to Haruto, maybe some of you will feel unable to fight…so I don’t want to force you. But I want us to fight together…! Everyone, please lend me your strength! Let’s defeat the demon king!”
After Tendo finished his powerful plea, Mariana looked at the group.
“Training starts tomorrow morning in the castle’s training grounds. The captain of our kingdom’s knights, Sir Glifas will instruct you, so please nurture your powers.”
With a small bow, Mariana left the room, escorted by her guards.
The next morning, all heroes gathered in the training grounds.
Mitsurugi and his lackeys didn’t have the slightest interest in saving Haruto, but they came in order to become stronger.
Tendo looked at his classmates and bowed to them.
“Thank you so much for coming, guys…thank you too, Ms. Usami.”
Ms. Usami shook her head.
“No…as your teacher, I should be the one to lead you, and yet I can barely take care of myself…I’m really sorry. I’m really glad you’re here with us, Tendo…I will do my best to support you all.”
Tendo nodded to Ms. Usami.
“I could stand before everyone only because you’re here, Ms. Usami…okay everyone, let’s work together and do our best!”
Mogami Shinya, one of Tendo’s childhood friends, was the first to answer his call.
“Yeah, of course!! I’m with you till the end, man! We aren’t friends for nothing!”
Tendo smiled, then Ichinomiya spoke too.
“I’ll do my best too! I can’t let you do everything, Koji!”
Ichinomiya’s eyes were puffy and red: it was clear that she had spent the previous night crying.
She tried to appear as cheerful as ever, though, believing that Haruto was still alive somewhere.
The other classmates too said their piece, bringing the excitement in the training grounds to its peak.
Just then, a man’s voice called them.
“Simply wonderful. Powerful stats and such friendship. With training, you’ll shine even more.”
The group turned towards the voice and found a gentleman in his forties, clad in full knight armor.
“Er…sir, you are…?”
The man replied to Tendo and introduced himself.
“My name is Glifas, I am the captain of this kingdom’s knights. As the princess explained to you, I will be in charge of your training. Pleased to meet you.”
Glifas was not aware that some of his subordinates had been secretly sent by the princess to kill Haruto: he had in fact received the same false report that Tendo and the others heard.
Glifas had sworn his loyalty to the royal house, but he was a man of honor. If he learned the truth, he would surely speak earnestly about it to the king and princess, thus risk creating a commotion: the knights thus took care not to let him know anything.
After Glifas introduced himself and bowed to the group, they did so in turn.
“Pleased to meet you, sir!!!”
“Hahaha, you have the energy to spare, don’t you. Let us start, then!”
Glifas nodded, pleased, and started explaining about the training.
“ —No! That’s not the way to swing a sword.”
The training started with those already in possession of martial skills practicing with their respective weapons, while others practiced with swords.
The objective was for martial skill users to get used to their respective weapons, while the others could learn to use at least the sword to defend themselves in times of need. Building everyone’s physical abilities was another objective too.
Most classmates started by moving clumsily, with the exception of Tendo, Ichinomiya, Mogami, Orihara, and Asakura.
The reason was that one of their childhood friends, Shinonome, was born in a dojo that taught the art of the sword.
All their families often gathered together since they were small, so all of them frequented the dojo — though they started at different ages — and were relatively used to wielding a sword.
Naturally, Shinonome herself was the most proficient.
She was used to the katana, so using a sword felt a bit awkward, but she still was skilled enough to be crowned champion in national tournaments, so even Glifas praised her swordplay.
The group thus practiced swinging a sword the whole morning, following Glifas’ teachings.
Thanks to the intensive training, the whole group moved much better when the training was over.
Glifas, satisfied with their results, announced the training was over.
“Very good, very good, you all improved noticeably! We’ll do something else tomorrow…this afternoon you will practice magic, with a different instructor. But we’ll have your energy and stomachs refilled first!!”
Hearing the word magic, the whole group cheered.
Glifas motioned to the group to follow him and led them to the dining hall inside the castle.
In the afternoon, the heroes returned to the training hall.
The ones who cheered at the prospect of using magic were visibly excited.
“Awesome!! Magic!! Magic!!”
The most excited student was Asakura, one of Tendo’s childhood friends.
She was a big fan of manga, anime, and similar media: she often talked with Haruto about anime and novels with passion.
Tendo was perplexed by her excitement, though.
“Why are you so happy?”
Asakura started talking, with stars in her eyes.
“What? Koji, are you serious!? We’re going to learn magic, real magic!! We can make things go flash or go boom!! Destroy hordes of monsters with a single spell!! Awesome spells like the ones you see in fantasy novels!!”
“Hm, hmm, yeah, I don’t get it…”
Some classmates nodded at Tendo with empathy, as if they understood very well what he was thinking.
A female voice then called for the group’s attention.
“Oh my, you wish to learn explosion magic? Depending on what element you can use, once your level is high enough you’ll be able to create wonderful explosions, that’s for sure.”
“Really!? W-wait, who are you!?”
Asakura turned towards the voice.
The blond woman wearing a robe seemed a bit uncomfortable because of Asakura’s impetus.
“Y-yes…my name is Marvelle, I am this country’s chief royal magician and your magic instructor, heroes.”
As the name said, the royal magician was a magic user in the service of the royal family. The country’s most skilled magic users were scouted or recommended for the position. Marvelle, as the chief royal magician, was thus the greatest magic user in the Glicente kingdom.
After introducing herself, Marvelle gathered the heroes and started explaining about what kind of training they were going to do.
“Today you will be going through training meant to increase your control of magic. Take a set quantity of the magic power inside yourself and diffuse it throughout your body, something like that. If you can master this skill you won’t waste magic power when activating spells and your casting speed and power will increase too. Normally it takes two or three hours to learn to control magic power, so we’ll switch to elemental magic after that — let me tell you what you’re going to actually do, then.”
All members of the group sat on the ground, in the way they found most comfortable, and started practicing how to control their magic power.
They weren’t used to it, naturally, so at first, they couldn’t keep the magic power at a fixed quantity or lost control over it, but after about one hour all of them had gained proper control.
…incidentally, Haruto had unconsciously gained control over his magic power when he acquired the Magic Power Manipulation skill. Before that, he activated magic spells by only relying on his massive magic power, but because of the quantity of his magic power, he hadn’t noticed that he wasted a lot of it when activating spells.
Haruto was different from the norm in many ways, however: in this world, learning to control one’s own magic power in just one hour was nothing short of exceptional.
“To think that you all completed the training so early…! As expected of heroes, I should say!”
Marvelle was surprised and impressed but moved immediately to the next phase of training.
The heroes would practice the magic elements they could use, by trying to actually cast magic spells. As they did, Marvelle gave them advice regarding their respective elements and how to use them.
After a few hours, most of the heroes had run out of magic power and were lying down, exhausted. The joy and thrill of having used magic for the first time shone on their faces, though.
Under the advanced instructions of the captain of the knights and the chief court magician, the heroes thus learned how to do battle and use magic.
After about two weeks, the heroes were called to an audience with the king.
“As I have told you the day you were summoned to this kingdom, it is time for you to face a maze. The first location is close to this royal capital.”
“Your Majesty, what kind of place is this “maze” you speak of?”
The king nodded to Tendo, then replied.
“Mazes, or ‘dungeons’ as they are commonly called, are locations populated by monsters. Each one has a varying number of floors: some only five, others up to fifty. The deeper you go, the stronger the monsters will become. If you can defeat the monsters in the deepest floor, you will have cleared the dungeon…the one you will be going to this time has fifteen floors. The main objectives are for you to become used to actual fighting and level up, but you will have to clear it one day. Do your very best, I have high hopes for you all.”
Hearing the king’s explanation, the heroes felt nervous and excited at the idea of their first experience of actual fighting.
Tendo motioned at them to calm down and bowed his head.
“Thank you for your explanation, sire. We will do our utmost to fulfill your expectations.”
“Very well, you are free to go and conduct the necessary preparations…ah, but before you enter the dungeon, create small groups, or parties, among yourselves.”
Tendo and the other heroes bowed again, then left the audience hall.
They then headed to one of the open rooms they could use and discussed how to organize the parties.
The next day, the heroes were assembled in front of the dungeon.
They were not by themselves, however: Glifas, Marvelle, several of their subordinates, knights, and magicians, had joined the heroes in this first dungeon exploration as instructors.
Glifas looked at the heroes gathered in front of the dungeon, then spoke.
“This dungeon is under the direct management of the royal capital’s adventurers’ guild. The monsters inside are periodically culled so they won’t increase over a set quantity, and the ones in the bottom floor will resurrect, a set time after they are defeated. You will also be able to instantly go to any floor you have visited once via the device on the first floor…does anyone have any questions?”
Seeing that the heroes were silent, Glifas resumed his explanation.
“Your final objective is to clear this dungeon in the time period until the end of this month. If you clear it before the time limit, you are free to explore it as much as you like in the remaining time. Use this time to adapt to fight as a party.”
The heroes cheered to Glifas’ words.
“We’re finally fighting for real!!”
“Our party will be the first to clear the dungeon, I just know it!”
“Hah! You need real skills to clear a dungeon!!”
Glifas, however, proceeded to cool down their rising excitement.
“Dungeons aren’t as easy as you think. One second of hesitation can be deadly: drill it into your heads.”
Marvelle then followed.
“You will need to cooperate with your party to clear the dungeon. For magic users, how to use your magic to support the party members on the frontlines will be key during the exploration. Make sure you don’t focus too much on support and fail to defend yourself against enemy attacks, obviously.”
Tendo and the others replied with a serious “Yes ma’am!” to Marvelle’s advice.
The heroes then split into the smaller parties they had formed.
The day before, Tendo and Ms. Usami had directed the formation of the parties: the classmates were split based on how well they got along with each other, while also keeping a good balance between front-line and rear-guard members.
As a result, eight parties were formed, each one ranging from four to six members.
Tendo’s five-member party was formed by his childhood friends: Tendo, Ichinomiya, Mogami, Asakura, and Shinonome.
Another one of their childhood friends, Orihara, joined Ms. Usami’s party as a support role. The other five knew that he wasn’t going to change his mind once he decided on something, so they let him go.
Each one of the eight parties was going to be accompanied by a knight or court magician as an instructor: Glifas and Marvelle joined Tendo’s party.
The heroes thus stepped foot into their first dungeon.