TWEM Vol. 2 Chapter 9

 

Chapter 9 – Promotion Ceremony

 

The following day was the scheduled date for the promotion ceremony.

Finne and I, wearing our usual clothes, ate breakfast in the inn.

I expected to feel nervous but was actually pretty relaxed, maybe thanks to my usual attire.

Jayn and Sofia then approached us.

“We’re going to see the ceremony too, Haruto.”

“We decided to close the inn until the evening, actually.”

Both of them had proud smiles on their faces.

“Really, thank you…but is that really all right to close the inn?”

“No problem, we’ll open again in the evening, after the ceremony ends.”

“All the other guests are going to the ceremony anyway, so there won’t be anyone around during the day.”

The other guests in the cafeteria nodded at Sofia’s words.

“An S rank promotion ceremony is not something you see every day, after all. It’s like a festival here in the capital.”

I was honestly surprised by what Jayn said. I didn’t think it would be that big of a deal…

Jayn then continued.

“I’m really curious about what second name they’ll give you, though.”

“Not that I really want one, though…”

“Oh, don’t say that. The second name is like an S rank adventurer’s symbol, everyone wants to know it. The three S rankers who came yesterday each have one too.”

I guess that was true…

I didn’t know Ranze’s second name, now that I thought about it. It had to have something to do with his nudist habits, though.

“I’ve heard rumors about sinister names like ‘Demon King’ and ‘Annihilator’…anyway, we can’t wait to find out.”

Jayn blew up my idle thoughts with this bombshell of information.

…was I really going to be assigned one of those names…?

“Ah, yeah, look forward to it…”

Finne smiled wryly at my utter lack of energy.

Well, even in this situation, at least I could see her smile…

~

After breakfast, we rode on the carriage that came to pick us up and headed toward the square in front of the royal castle.

It was usually used when the king addressed the population or for official ceremonies and events.

The promotion ceremony was going to be held on a stage built in that square.

The carriage proceeded smoothly, leading us to a side entrance protected by tight security.

We got down from the carriage and found Claire waiting for us.

“Good morning, sir Haruto, miss Finne.”

“Morning.”

“Good morning, miss Claire.”

I saw a bunch of people moving around busily behind Claire.

“Allow me to guide you to your waiting room, then. Follow me, please.”

We walked behind Claire for about five minutes before arriving at the waiting room. The distance from the entrance showed how large the place was.

I chatted with Finne and Claire, waiting for the other participants to be ready and preparations to be complete.

We killed time like that for about an hour, then heard someone knock at the door and Claire stood up.

“Well then, sir Haruto, I will guide you to the stage entrance when the time comes. I will accompany miss Finne to the special guest seats.”

The seats reserved for the guild Garguin mentioned, right.

“Got it, thank you. See you later, Finne.”

“Yes, see you later.”

“Let us go then, miss Finne.”

I looked at them leave, then looked around the waiting room.

There was nothing flashy or gorgeous, but all the furniture and objects seemed of pretty good quality to me.

Since this place was used for official events, they surely paid attention to details like these.

There was nothing of particular interest in the room, however, so I quickly ran out of things to look at.

After about 15 minutes of spacing out, I heard a knock on the door and Claire came in.

“I apologize for the wait. Preparations are complete, if you will please follow me.”

After a few more minutes of walking, we arrived at the stage entrance.

The square was completely packed: I could feel the audience’s excitement fill the air.

Garguin and His Majesty, king Dillan, were already standing on the stage.

The ceremony was going to start soon.

During our chat in the waiting room, Claire explained that Garguin would act as master of ceremonies.

Dillan would officially announce my promotion and my new rank, then give me my new adventurer card. This made the promotion official: they would then give me a special reward for protecting the capital. Finally, I had to say a few words to the crowd.

I was mentally reviewing the flow of the ceremony, when Garguin spoke up.

“ — we shall now commence the promotion ceremony of Haruto the adventurer. I, Garguin, guildmaster of the Perdis adventurers’ guild, in the honored presence of His Majesty King Dillan Arclaidh Perdis, hereby announce that this ceremony is held on the behalf of the Kingdom of Perdis.”

Garguin’s introduction was followed by loud cheering from the crowd.

I thought it was strange of Garguin’s voice could reach the whole square, and used Appraisal on a peculiar stone he was carrying: as it turned out, it was a Magic Tool imbued with the Wind magic spell Echo. Something like a microphone, basically.

The crowd eventually quieted down and Dillan started speaking.

“Let us welcome today’s guest of honor, Haruto the adventurer!”

As Dillan announced my name, thunderous applause shook the whole venue.

The applause continued to shower the square as I walked towards the stage.

As we had discussed beforehand, I walked to the center of the stage and knelt before Dillan.

“Raise your head.”

“Yes, Your Majesty.”

Dillan waited for me to raise my head, then continued.

“ — adventurer Haruto. On behalf of the Kingdom of Perdis, I recognize and commend your feats of exterminating the Dragon Wyvern dwelling on the western mountains, as well as the ten thousand-strong monster horde that threatened our capital. In recognition of such admirable exploits, I hereby promote you from rank A to rank S, and from rank S to its superior rank of EX!”

“…wha?”

I couldn’t help but react out loud.

I glanced at Garguin, who was standing behind Dillan, but he looked away.

Why didn’t he tell me anything about this!?

The audience seemed to be surprised too: I could hear it buzz loudly.

Dillan probably noticed the confusion, as he started to explain.

“All of you present here today surely heard this ceremony was going to be a promotion to rank S. Most, if not all, of you are surely surprised to hear about a ‘rank EX’, a rank you have never even heard about before. I ask of you, however, to look at this.”

Dillan then took out a crystal-shaped Magic Tool.

The king poured his magic power into the crystal, and something appeared on its surface.

The crystal projected a visual recording of me fighting against the monster horde at the frontlines, the magic I used, and the destruction it caused. The recording stopped abruptly the instant Meteo Impact landed.

“The fall of this meteor created a massive cloud, which many of you may have seen, as it was easily visible even from the capital. This man has saved the capital with his overwhelming abilities, as the recording showed. After showing this footage to the other rulers during the conference about the S rank promotion, we discussed and ultimately established a new rank, ‘EX’. If anyone has objections concerning the rank or Haruto’s promotion, raise your hand. You will be heard.”

The king’s sudden question sent the crowd buzzing again.

No hands were raised, however. Everyone seemed to be convinced that creating the new EX rank was more than justified.

Dillan looked over at the crowd and probably had the same realization, as he nodded to himself, pleased.

“It appears there are no contrary opinions. Let us thus proceed with — hm? Haruto, is something the matter?”

Dillan finally realized that I had raised my hand, so he asked me to speak.

“No, well, nothing is the matter, but…I was not told about this EX rank before the ceremony, and was wondering why.”

“Oh, about that. We did not announce it publicly to avoid unnecessary confusion. S rank promotions are rare events, but not completely unheard of. If it became known that we established a new rank, however, people seeking more information could exhibit extreme behavior. The reason why we chose not to tell you was— ”

Dillan paused for a moment and glanced at Garguin.

“ — you never know where information could leak to, after all…we wanted the information to be as secure as possible, that’s all.”

…he’s definitely lying. He definitely kept quiet to pull a fast one on me…

It was pointless to say that here, though…oh well.

I sighed quietly, and Dillan started speaking again.

“Let us explain more in detail about the new EX rank. First of all, Haruto has won an overwhelming victory against S rank adventurers “Dyne the Lightning Speed Crazed Blade” and “Norverne the Twin Fists of Searing Fury” in a mock battle. He has then taken and passed the promotion exam to rank S, successfully defeating the Dragon Wyvern dwelling on the western mountains.”

Dillan took a moment to breathe and looked around at the crowd.

“Furthermore, as we have seen in the recording, he has exterminated a horde of ten thousand monsters. A monster horde reported to contain dozens of disaster class monsters. The three S rank adventurers who witnessed the battle have testified thus: “we couldn’t beat him even three on one”. In other words, Haruto’s abilities surpass the current rank S: it would hardly be enough for him to be categorized by it. I have shared such information with the other rulers of the Three Great States, and there were no objections to the establishment of a new rank.”

Dillan looked down at me again.

“Haruto, can you accept it now?”

“Yes, I have no objections.”

Not that I could say anything, even if I had…

I didn’t know if my feelings reached Dillan or not: he turned towards Garguin, who nodded, took out something wrapped in cloth, and handed it to Dillan.

“ — o adventurer Haruto.”

Dillan unwrapped the cloth bundle and called my name, so I bowed my head again.

“I hereby grant, for the first time and possibly last time in history, you the adventurer rank of EX.”

I raised my head and extended my hands, to receive a new adventurer card.

“I am deeply grateful for this honor, Your Majesty.”

The following cheer from the crowd was loud enough to rattle the whole venue.

The EX rank adventurer card was jet black, but it reflected the light and shone to an almost disturbing degree. It was made in Orichalcum, apparently.

I put it into my breast pocket and Dillan raised his right hand, to silence the crowd.

“Let us now bestow adventurer Haruto with his second name. Your second name shall be — ‘Demon King’.”

<<New title acquired: Demon King>>

…eh? No, wait…are you really going to give me this one!?!

Dillan spoke up again, addressing the hushed crowd.

“Demon King might sound like an ominous second name. It is the name commonly used by the leader of the demon race, the enemies of humanity, after all. But the name we give to Haruto stems from his mastery of magic, which was always considered as the realm of demons!”

Dillan paused for a moment, then resumed his explanation.

“As the recording shows, Haruto is proficient in all sorts of magic. I doubt there are any other humans with such mastery of magic alive at present. Another second name we considered was ‘Annihilator’, but we ultimately chose a name that would inspire both respect and fear: ‘Demon King’*.”

<<New title acquired: Annihilator>>

Eh? I’m getting the “Annihilator” title anyway…? I didn’t ask for it, honestly…

In stark contrast with my confusion, the crowd broke into a loud “Demon King!” “Demon King!” cheer.

This is way too embarrassing, someone make them stop…!

My prayers were miraculously answered: Dillan motioned for the crowd to be silent and continued.

“Sir Haruto. We wish to offer you a reward for saving our kingdom of Perdis, other than this promotion. You may ask for any sum or rank, or anything you wish.”

Dillan said the same thing when I saved Iris, if I recalled correctly.

My principles hadn’t changed since then, though.

“Your Majesty, with all due respect, I am an adventurer that values freedom above everything else. I do not need money or rank. This unprecedented EX rank I have been granted is an honor I could never hope to receive.”

I bowed my head after speaking. Dillan probably knew I was going to say something like that, as he didn’t insist.

“Hm, I expected to hear such words from you. We cannot send away our savior empty-handed, however. I wish to give you an apt reward at a later time, will you accept it?.”

“Understood. I shall accept it with gratitude.”

Dillan nodded vigorously to my reply.

“Lastly, Sir Haruto, please deliver your words.”

“Certainly. With your permission, sire.”

I stood up and turned my back to Dillan, facing the crowd. After clearing my throat, I started my “speech”.

“I am sure most of you have seen me in person for the first time today. As you have heard from His Majesty, I am Haruto, adventurer newly appointed with the EX rank. I thought this was going to be my S rank promotion ceremony, they really got me good!”

I chuckled and the crowd laughed together with me.

“It might be strange for me to say this, but my registration in the adventurers’ guild and rise in the ranks was extremely quick. Furthermore — as His Majesty mentioned before — I am confident I could easily defeat Dyne, Norverne, and Ranze in combat, even all three at the same time. The reason why I achieved this level of strength is that in this world, might makes right. Protecting others is impossible without strength. So I became strong.”

I finished the sentence and took a moment to look over at the crowd.

“There is one thing I wish for you all to know: what I want to protect is not the country, a title, reputation, or anything like that, but just the people I hold dear. I’m not going to serve any country, and if anyone lays a finger on the people close to me, I’m going to crush them without mercy. I have enough strength to be able to do that even if the aggressor is a whole kingdom.”

After saying those words, I shot a light Intimidation to everyone in the venue, with the exception of Finne and Dillan, queen Amalia, and Iris, who were watching from the royal stands, Dyne, and the other people I knew.

“…well, I have many acquaintances in this country, and I believe His Majesty to be a just ruler. More than anything, I think this is a good place…but I’m not going to serve under it, so if anything happens, I am not afraid to act accordingly. That goes for any other country too, of course.”

Dillan probably realized that I had used Intimidation: his expression seemed conflicted, but I hoped he would forgive me this one time.

I had to send a warning to the people from other countries in the crowd, as well as the nobles or anyone else who planned to use me.

“That is all I wanted to say. I apologize if I have scared any of you.”

After saying that, I gathered magic power of all elemental magic I possessed — Fire, Water, Wind, Earth, Lightning, Ice, Darkness, and Light — and released it towards the sky.

Eight colorful explosions followed: the ceremony ended as the crowd enjoyed the light show.

*T/L Note: 魔王 Demon King – Haruto’s second name and new title. (Another unfortunate play of words impossible to translate. 魔王, the common name for evil bosses in RPGs, usually translated as demon king, literally means “Evil King”, but the 魔 (evil) is also in 魔法 (magic), which literally means “Evil Arts”. Claire explained that they gave Haruto this title because of his mastery of magic, but it still seems dangerous and weird to me, since a Demon King (written with the same characters as Haruto’s title) exists in this world…anyway, the “Demon King” meaning is present in Japanese too, so even translated like that it’s not wrong, but we lose a bit of the nuance.

 

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