It was very late at night. I was walking quietly down the street and all the people around me were looking at me with respect.
-Hey, look, it's Douglas-san.
As expected, A-rank adventurers are amazing. He's got good style.
-Douglas-san is a very handsome man, big and strong. I'd like to be hugged by such a man, even once.
-Don't be naive. Just look at the girls he's always surrounded by. They are the most beautiful that can exist.
After all the commotion people were making when they saw me, I couldn't help but feel powerful. Not counting the three beautiful girls with me.
-Nya, Douglas. You're going to sleep with this lovely kitty tonight, aren't you?
-What do you think you're doing, stray cat? I'll be the lucky one Douglas-sama will be sleeping with tonight.
-Oh no, it's my turn tonight. Right? Douglas.
One of the girls with me is a semi-human. She has cute cat ears, a tail and double teeth. The second girl was someone very wise. She has a beautiful body and silver hair. And the last one is a swordswoman. Her hair was black and she always had it in a ponytail. I laughed at the girls' conversation and replied.
-Hahaha, no need to fight about it. Tonight the four of us will sleep together.
The girls screamed with joy and hugged me. These girls are very pretty. But this dreamy scene is gradually covered by a dark fog. Soon, my vision was blurred by total darkness...
Chip-chip-chip-chip-chip. I can hear the birds singing. I woke up in my bed.
It was a small room in a cheap inn. In the dimly lit room, the morning sun shone through a gap in the wooden window. And of course, I was the only one in the room. There was no way a beautiful girl would be sleeping next to me in the same bed.
-...Huh. What a strange dream I had...
I sat up in bed and sighed heavily. My name is Douglas and I am a forty year-old adventurer.
-Adventurer of rank E...
I'm a normal guy, I don't stand out at all. I've been stuck at E rank for the last 20 years of my life. Although, I'm lucky I'm not at F rank, which is the lowest rank of all. What kind of dream was that? To be an A-rank? For God's sake, just because I have fantasies doesn't mean I can be so brazen as to dream that. But I admit that having that rank would be a dream come true for me. Only those who are endowed with natural talent can achieve the rank of a world-class hero... That is, the A rank.
I got out of bed and opened the window wide. A pleasant autumn breeze blew as the sunlight reflected on my face. I slapped my cheeks with both hands at the same time.
-Don't think about stupid things, and concentrate on doing what you have to do.
I put on comfortable training clothes, washed my face with water from the well and started my daily training routine first thing in the morning.
That same night in the tavern.
-Hey, old Douglas, you've got to get out of our party.
The person who spoke was a young man I have been working with for two years, I was astonished at his words, but without losing my composure, I tried to ask for an explanation.
-Wait. I want to know why.
-Huh? There is no reason for this. I'm telling you that you're not good enough and you have no potential either. If you stay in our party any longer, you'll be a nuisance. Do I need to tell you this?
I sighed when I heard those words. This boy is not entirely wrong. He possesses great talent as a swordsman, and his skills have improved rapidly in the two years he has been an adventurer. In the early days of starting this party, he was still a novice. I was a veteran adventurer that supported him in many ways, but now the difference in skills has completely reversed. Thirty years ago when I started as an adventurer, I did not waste the slightest effort, but my lack of talent was a stone in my path. I am nothing compared to this boy, who is a genius with the sword.
-Adela, Cheryl, do you think so?
I turned to the two adventurers behind the young swordsman. One is a priestess, the other a mage. Both are very beautiful girls. Like the young man, I took care of these girls, nurtured them, and watched them grow when they had no skill or strength of any kind. But now they are superior to me in every way.
-Yes, Luke-sama is right. Douglas-san, don't you think it's brazen for a man like you to try to stay in our party?
-That's right. We've allowed you to stay here because of all the time we've known each other, Douglas-san.... No, Douglas. Don't try to keep taking advantage of us like a parasite and get out of our lives now.
That's the way it is now. As children, they tried and failed so many times and I always saved them when their lives were in danger. More than once I had to save them from a cruel fate. Those facts didn't seem to count anymore. Well, I'm going to do them that favor, so that's fine.... But there are better ways to say it.
By the way, both girls seem to be in love with Luke. They tend to have affairs whenever they can, during adventures and holidays. Not that it bothers me that these kids have their romantic lives and do things that only a couple can do. They were already adults. But I am envious because I have not experienced a similar situation in my entire life. After all, the world is for those with good looks and great talent. Right now, I have neither of those things and I'm getting old. Unlike me, those three people have all of those things. They are the kind of people who would be appropriate as heroes in a heroic tale sung by a bard.
-That's all right. There's no reason to go on with you after all you've said. I'm sorry to have been a distraction.
That said, I placed the silver coins for the payment of my drink on the table, and left the tavern.
Several days have passed. It was early in the morning when I returned to the inn after 500 blows with the axe, thirty minutes of jogging and other strength training. In front of the entrance to the inn, three adventurous-looking people were waiting for me.
-Good morning, Douglas-san. I heard those people kicked you out of their party. I'm sorry you had to go through something like that.
It was a man in his thirties wearing a priest's robe. Behind him was a man dressed as a magician of the same age and a beastly girl dressed as a thief much younger than him scowled at me.
-Is this some kind of joke? What do you want? If you've come to mock me, you're too late.
-No, not at all. Our group lost a warrior the other day during an adventure. We're looking for a warrior to take his place.
-So that's why you came to see me.
-Yes, I thought Douglas-san has been a little short of money these past few days.
-Well, you're not wrong.
I went to the back of the inn to get a glass of water and drank it on the spot. Then I returned to the front of the inn and replied to the man in the priest's robes.
-Very well, I will join the party temporarily. But I will decide if I want to join you when I have done my work. Is that clear?
-Yes, no problem. Fufufu, I hope we will have a good relationship.
I saw the way the priest laughed, and I felt it was a face of disgust. In fact, I had vague memories of both the priest and the magician. I have not worked directly with them, but I know they have a very bad reputation. As for the beast girl, I don't know anything about her, maybe she's someone new? No, I think I've seen her somewhere too, but I can't think where. Um... Maybe it's just my imagination. In any case, she's not a person I would normally want to be associated with, especially when there are two other people with bad reputations.
But just as the priest said. My economy is on its last legs, and in order to have some money, I need to be part of a party. I am still not convinced to participate with these people, although I am not in a position to be choosy either. With these circumstances in mind, I decided to accept the invitation. I thought it would be a good idea to work together in the same party once and split up if we didn't get along. That's what I thought at the time...
Later that day, I was assigned to explore some ancient ruins as my first task while being accompanied by the three other adventurers I had joined. It is said that an ancient race developed a magical civilization far superior to that of today. Ancient ruins are the buildings constructed during that time period, and which now in modern times have been found and are being studied to learn more about them. These ruins are highly dangerous, but if you are lucky, you can get huge treasures that you can live with for the rest of your life, being a dungeon where you can make a fortune.
As we went deeper into the ruins, many magical creatures that live in the area attacked us. We were able to defeat them very easily, but that was not our only problem. Countless dangerous traps were in our way as we made our way through, but somehow, we managed to get through them and continue with the exploration. But during that adventure, I did not have a very good impression of the priest and the wizard.
The priest, despite being equipped with chain mail and a mace, was reluctant to go out and fight in the vanguard, and his sacred magic skills were not enough. On the other hand, the wizard refused to use his magic when necessary, causing the whole group to be in danger, although he did not hesitate to use magic when he saw that no one could protect him. To my regret, his skills were also below average.
I complained about their attitude on the road, hoping they would be more cooperative, but it was a losing fight. My complaints only provoked them to click their tongues and glare at me. I'm not going to lie, I don't trust them as partners at all, let alone as people who would have my back. It wasn't all bad though, the only one who did make a good impression on me was the beast girl. She generally has a carefree personality and shows no signs of a serious demeanor. However, when it comes to the job of a thief, she is firm, meticulous, and very committed to her role. She was perfect.
I put my trust in the beast girl called Myna, who looked human, but had the ears and tail of a cat, and at the same time, Myna seemed to put her trust in me. I had a little conversation with her on the way. Unlike the other two subjects, I felt that I could trust this girl as a friend. But then, an incident occurred. We were exploring the ruins when we entered a certain room. I was halfway through when the heavy iron door at the entrance closed by itself with a creaking sound. The first to panic was Myna.
-Nya...? It's a trap!
-Huh...!? What have you been doing, Myna?! It's your job to find the traps! Why do you think you're here!?
-I'm s-sorry! But even the most skilled thief can't find all the traps in these ruins without making a single mistake, I'm doing the best I can!
-I don't want excuses! What are you going to do to get us out of here now? You stupid, useless beast girl!
-Hey! This isn't the best time to argue...!
I interrupted the discussion between Myna and the priest as I pointed ahead. At the back of the room where we were isolated, there was a narrow corridor that permeated the darkness and six eyes glowed in that place. A great demonic beast appeared from the depths of the corridor in a leisurely fashion. It was a monster with the head of a lion, goat and dragon at the same time, its body divided into three parts, the front of a lion, the back of a goat, and the wings of a dragon. The priest and the wizard stared at the creature in dismay.
-It's... It's... A Chimera, a B-ranked monster. This beast is impossible for us...!
-This has got to be a bloody joke...! Hey, beast girl! This is your fault, your responsibility!
-Yes, Myna! You have to take responsibility for this!
-You-you can't blame me for all this...! It's not fair...!
The priest and the mage blamed Myna for the situation we were in, and the beast girl sounded like she was about to cry. She doubted whether it was really all her fault, but she did feel some responsibility for this. It's true that it was Myna's fault, since we fell into the trap because she couldn't detect it, but that's no use now.
I clicked my tongue and dropped my backpack with all my stuff to make myself lighter. And as I took position to intercept the chimera with an axe in my hand, I gave instructions to my companions.
-I'm going to do everything I can to get it! Myna, find a way to open the door! And you two will be my backup! You'll have to use all your magic and power if you want to get out of here alive!
-Yes! Whatever you command, Douglas!
Myna was direct and followed my instructions. But...
-Hey, Douglas-san! Who do you think you are to give me instructions!?
-Exactly! I'm the one who decides how and when to use my magic!
The other two guys are rebelling in vain. Damn it! Even at a time like this they're useless and selfish...!
-Oh yeah? If you have a better idea, tell me! I won't risk my life in vain!
The priest and the wizard fell silent at my words while expressing a sound of pain in unison. Both of them were people who were not experts in their field. They had many shortcomings in using their skills, but there was no other choice, they had to do what I ordered them to do. But I no longer had time to worry about it because the beast that had been slowly approaching from the back of the room was finally rushing towards us.
With my beloved battle axe in hand, I carefully assessed the demonic beast's movements. Then, when the magical beast approached to a certain point....
The dragon head exhaled a large amount of scorching fire.
-I knew you would come...!
I jumped to the side with all the strength I could muster in my legs in an attempt to avoid the flames. But even so, it wasn't enough to avoid it completely. The terrifying magical flames burned from my shoulder to my right arm.
The damage was so bad that my left arm was paralyzed and I couldn't do anything. I don't even want to check the burns. It didn't completely burn my flesh, but I doubt I can withstand another attack. Since I could no longer use my left arm, I changed my attack position from both arms to only my right arm.
-I won't let you fall now...! Healing...!
The priest cast a healing spell on me. There was a slight sensation that the burns on my left arm were healing. But it was not enough for me to be fully recovered given the severity of the burns I had suffered. Still, I am grateful that it is fulfilling its role.
-Don't even think about it...! Firebolt!
The mage also opted to use his abilities. A fireball shot out of his hands and hit the chimera. However, the mage's spell could not match the chimera's fire breath, thus, it was far from actually dealing a great deal of damage, and it all came about due to the fighting spirit membrane enveloping the beast. That was the reason for the minimal attack power.
The chimera is not intimidated by our pathetic attack, and decides to attack us head on again.
I leapt to the side again, this time barely managing to avoid the chimera's reach. No, actually, the claws of the chimera's forelimbs had superficially torn the calf of my right leg, but it didn't turn out to be that bad a wound.
-You bloody monster, are you trying to eat me!
I forced myself to regain my stance and swing my battle axe again with my right hand. I struck the base between the dragon's neck and the lion's neck. But...
- Shit, it's hard...!
I immediately pulled out my axe and pulled hard, then my right arm went numb from the waves I felt after the impact. The axe blade, which I swung with all my might, did not penetrate the chimera's body more than a finger.
This is partly due to the defense power of the beast's skin, but more than anything else it is probably due to the influence of the "fighting spirit". Monsters with great strength are said to contain a power called "fighting spirit" to enhance their fighting ability. It is not only defensive power, but also attack power and agility. Human warriors also wield fighting spirit, but for an ordinary person like me, the amount of fighting spirit in my body is extremely small, and it is also not something I can control.
I don't have a fighting spirit high enough to take on a chimera. It is said that talented warriors have exceptional potential and ability to wield such power. Only those who are skilled in handling fighting spirit can obtain non-human combat skills. I have never been able to develop this ability, no matter how much I trained.
It doesn't matter how much you train, or how much experience you have, or how far you go. An ordinary person is still an ordinary person. That's why people like me have no choice but to do things their own way to try to reach their goals.
The next moment, the Chimera pushes me to the ground. Besides the fact that the axe blow didn't do as much damage as I thought it would, it jumped at me again with surprising agility and I couldn't handle it very well.
-Damn it...! I can't let you kill me so easily...!
I used my right arm, axe and leg as much as I could, and somehow managed to control the three heads that were trying to devour me. If I was careless, even for a second, they could rip my head off in the blink of an eye. I resisted as long as I could so that the Chimera wouldn't kill me.
...But at that moment.
-I found it! Maybe if I do this... Here! It's open!
After the beast girl's shout of joy, I heard the sound of a door opening. It seems Myna had played her part well and secured our escape route. The only thing left to do is to somehow overcome the Chimera above me and escape.
I guess I finally understood why I heard terrifying stories about the power of a Chimera. I used so much strength that I thought every muscle in my body was going to tear, and I managed to push away the giant beast on top of me. I got up with a desperate effort and tried to make my way towards the entrance of the room, but.... I saw something that took my breath away.
-Why are you closing the door!? Douglas is still in there!
-Shut up, you stupid beast girl! He's not going to make it! If we wait for him, he'll eat us all! Aaron, take care of this girl!
-I got it! Shut up you stupid girl!
-W-What are you trying to do to me? Let go! Douglas!
The door was closed again by the priest. Myna, who seemed to be trying to stop him, was last seen being choked by the wizard. I rushed towards the door, but it would not budge in any way, pulling and pushing were futile acts. This door works through a mechanism that only manages to open if it is triggered, and to my bad luck, it is on the other side.
I'm sure there is a contraption somewhere in this room that Myna manipulated to open the door, but...
-Hey, Myna! What do I have to do to open this door!?
-Douglas! You have to... Umm!?
-Beast girl, shut your mouth! Don't tell him what to do!
I tried to ask Myna what to do, but the priest and the wizard kept covering her mouth to avoid telling me what to do. How rotten can anyone be in this life...!? And then...
I had a horrible feeling of danger, and using my reflexes, I jumped sideways from the door. A great flame burned the place where I was a moment ago. The iron door didn't melt despite being hit by the Chimera's flames, but if I had received a direct hit from it, I wouldn't have survived.
-You bastard son of a bitch, I swear I'll come out of here and kill you!
I shouted towards the door and then started running from one place to another. There's only one place left where I can try to escape. And that's the corridor at the back of this room.
-Hahaha! Douglas-san, I'll see you in hell sooner or later!
The priest's voice and that of Myna, who must have been gagged, gradually faded away. That bastard priest knows he's going to hell, but I don't want to go to hell so easily.
As I fled from the Chimera in a desperate attempt to escape, I headed down the dark corridor. Of course, I had no guarantee that I could survive if I went into that fight. Relying only on the hope that there might be a way to survive, I kept running.
Two or three miracles occurred, and each time I managed to dodge each attack of the monster, I was able to get out of the room and ran as fast as I could through the corridor. The monster was still chasing me, but the faint hope that it would stop once I was out of the room vanished. I ran and ran and ran without stopping, it made me stumble a couple of times. My life was in danger so I didn't care and kept running like crazy.
I'm not very agile when it comes to running, and the Chimera, being a quadruped, is naturally faster. On a straight road like this, it would soon catch up with me. I turned around and tried to attack him, but the axe was not in my hand. Where the hell did I throw it?
Anyway, miracles had run out. It seems that my small amount of good luck had come to an end. Just when I was about to give up, something unexpected happened......
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