[TL Note: We took out excess spacing between dialogue that we interpreted as double-spacing, hence the spacing changes.]
[They ignored me because I'm a woman, or they laughed in front of my face. I couldn't believe it. Was it the same for you, mister?]
[I wonder. I don't really remember that kind of thing that well. Rather, regarding the Demon King that emerges on that stage…]
[You're really just ignoring me. You're making me feel bad by just differentiating treatment of the trivial things like your accommodations or your food.]
[I see, so that's how it was. So about that Demon King.]
[Mister, do you know what happened just a moment ago? You see, I…]
* * * * * *
"Warrior, were you truly summoned by yourself?"
I roughly answered the old man's persistent question that he’d been asking me for some time.
So where's the holy sword?
It doesn't look like it's here in this brilliant place.
The conditions for clearing the 26th floor were to acquire the holy sword and defeat the Demon King.
The prerequisites for defeating the Demon King aren't complete just by acquiring the holy sword.
In any case, I need to acquire the holy sword to defeat the Demon King, and then I'll be able to clear the stage.
However, there's been a continuous uproar in the background.
As I look at my surroundings, I saw the flushed faces of the old men on the two ends, asking each other 'what happened'.
They weren't women and they were really old grandpas, yet their faces were so flushed that it wasn't really a good sight for my eyes.
Let's ask them why they're acting like that.
"Even though he's a summoned warrior, to be so rude and flippant…"
"There was definitely an issue with the summoning. If that wasn't the case, there's no way that only one person would be summoned. In fact, he looks like a troublemaker . . ."
Yep. I don't need to hear this.
It would be best if I just ignore them and find the holy sword.
Firstly, it doesn't look like it's in this palace.
I'll disperse a little bit of my mana and see if I can detect the holy sword.
With that thought in mind, I drew out some of my mana.
"Look here, enough of that."
While I was activating my magic circuits, someone to my side spoke to me.
He was was 190 cm tall, had a greatsword tied to his back, and wore armor from head to toe. He also had a great deal of mana in his body.
Considering that he’s also standing atop the carpet like me, he must also be one of the summoned warriors.
"If you recklessly draw out your mana here, then…"
I ignored the man's words and continued to spread my mana, creating an explosive sound from the ground.
A faint, bright magic circle activated but suddenly stopped.
So it seems there was a magic circle drawn on the floor that suppressed the activation of magic.
Though, it was a pretty poor magic circle.
I spread out my mana and waited for a minute, and was able to determine the holy sword's location.
It was located deep beneath the castle, where the palace was located on top of.
The holy sword was easy to find since it not only emitted powerful mana, but I could also feel the distinct presence of a god’s power.
Whatever the case, I succeeded in finding the location of the holy sword.
I felt proud since I could sense improvement in my handling of mana.
I liked that I had achieved my primary objective, but I felt like the surrounding mood had changed a little.
The old men, who had been yelling for some time, all together closed their mouths, and the soldiers on the sides of the carpet put their hands to their swords, and advanced one step forward.
Also, the summoned warriors, who were standing atop the carpet, paled in fear.
All their attention was on me.
What is this?
"Why? What's wrong?"
I asked the man who had warned me just a moment ago.
I had only asked him since he was the closest one to me, but the man shook his head and stepped back.
"No, no, it's nothing."
At the end of his words, a heavy silence dropped onto the palace.
I felt bad because I realized too late that they were silent because I had destroyed the magic circle below my feet.
I was just awkwardly standing there and the old man rose from his throne.
"Warrior, thank you for accepting the empire's summon. I welcome you as the representative of the empire. We had originally intended to summon 25 warriors, but because you were summoned alone, there was a brief error. I apologize for not trusting you immediately. However, in this palace of the sky, the rule is that all use of magic is forbidden. Please refrain from using magic here."
I responded to the old man who had sincerely apologized first.
"Yes. Thank you for welcoming me. I apologize for hastily using magic here. Although it was defective, I destroyed the installed magic circle, so I apologize."
"...There's no way that that magic circle was defective but…" he trailed off and cleared his throat.
The old man put strength in his stomach and began speaking in a resounding voice.
"The five groups of heroes have finally been summoned here, to this Kuranubus. I am this empire's Emperor and as the sole ruler of this continent, I once again, welcome you. Just today, the great god accepted our desperate request from all the citizens of our empire and responded to us here, in the center of the empire, Kuranubus. Not for those barbaric, crafty demons, but for the empire's righteous cause…"
In contrast to his loud voice, he had an odd accent, and spoke very slowly.
Old man…No, the emperor. As I stood still and listened to the emperor, I felt a sense of déjà vu.
"I solemnly declare under the azure sky. The evil demons and the demon (Demon King) that they summoned, will fall to the holy sword which contains the great god's will. This is because the empire's will is the same as the god's will…"
That’s strange. This sounds like something I’ve heard before.
His self-indulgence was written all over his face.
It wasn't any different from a principal's speech.
It seemed like he was talking about something really important, but the contents didn't go into my head, and his speech made me tired for no special reason.
He kept on delivering a list of pointless words.
Instead of continuing to listen to him ramble on, I sent a message to Park Jung Ah.
[Lee Ho Jae, 26th floor: What's up?]
[Park Jung Ah, 47th floor: Clearing now.]
[Park Jung Ah, 47th floor: I'm in the middle of clearing a floor.]
[Lee Ho Jae, 26th floor: Ah, I see. I'll talk to you later then.]
[Park Jung Ah, 47th floor: Ok.]
It looks like she's busy.
Seeing as how she hung up, she might've actually been in the middle of a fight.
If that's truly the case, she didn't really need to respond to my message immediately.
She must be busy with her work with the Order of Vigilance, but Park Jung Ah is also clearing the Tutorial at the same time.
Currently, she's gotten up to the 47th floor.
If we consider the fact that she allots most of her time to her work for the Order of Vigilance, Park Jung Ah and her party member's speed in clearing the Tutorial is on the faster side.
"From the castle in the sky, past the oceans and to the barren desert, all the citizens of the empire who live on this world…"
His speech is still going on.
It's kind of uncomfortable.
Is it because I continually used Time Confinement to train for a few days?
I had trained whilst maintaining a high degree of concentration, yet I had been alone.
There was nothing moving in my surroundings besides me and I pretty much couldn't move either.
But now, since I’ve come to such a bright, populated, and very noisy place, I felt uncomfortable and my attention was scattered.
What's worse is that even if I pay attention, the only thing I can hear is a useless speech.
"Once again, to all the warriors who accepted the empire's summons…”
"If it's the holy sword that contains the great god's power, even that wicked Demon King's plans…”
His speech still didn't end.
So… when exactly are you going to give us the holy sword?
* * * * * *
After the boring speech in the palace, there was an even more tedious declaration ceremony that followed.
The summoned warriors altogether recited their script and repeatedly said how they received the blessing from the god.
The bestowment ceremony was next.
They conferred upon me a weird post and a medal, pointlessly wasting valuable time. Next, I received clothes befitting my new post and was told that I got some territory somewhere on this continent.
After I attentively listened to the long history of that land, they declared that I would be conferred the aforementioned land, and soon it was time to express thanks for the land.
The more-than 100 warriors all finished the conferment ceremony and it quickly became very late in the afternoon.
After the emperor announced the end of the bestowment ceremony, I read my schedule and it said that it was now time for a simple dinner, accompanied by a social party for grandiose events.
Aristocratic-looking people began endlessly pouring into the palace from somewhere, and I got sick and tired of them, so I escaped to the outside of the palace.
I, who had escaped outside, was guided to my lodgings inside of the castle.
It was already late at night, so we would proceed with the rest of the events in my schedule tomorrow.
Would tomorrow's schedule be similar to today's? I felt really anxious.
I was guided to my lodging, a separate three floor building which resided inside the castle.
Perhaps it was meant as a place to stay for the group of 25 warriors, because it was far too big for me to use by myself.
I momentarily stopped in front of the main door.
I don't really like spaces like this that are humongous while also completely empty.
I'd have preferred it if they had given me a small single room instead.
While I thought that, I heard a knock from behind me and the doors opened.
The person who had entered was an armorclad woman.
"Hello, how are you? I am Seregia Cromwell, head of the Kunon Knight Order."
"Yes. I am Lee Ho Jae. Nice to meet you."
"You can speak more comfortably around me, Warrior."
"Yes. Of course."
It would still be kind of strange to speak so informally with her.
She had introduced herself as the head of the knight order, and she looked a few years older than me.
"From now on, our Kunon Knight Order will be responsible for guiding and protecting you, Warrior. Until the day your mission is over, Warrior, we'll work together with you. If you're perhaps curious about something or have something you need, just tell me anytime."
Listening to her, it sounded like she would act like a manager for me.
She would be responsible for both guiding me and protecting me.
It would also double as keeping a close eye on me.
"Then about that Kulon Knight Order."
"It's the Kunon Knight Order, Warrior."
"How many knights of the Kunon Knight Order are responsible for me?"
Just a moment ago, Seregia, the female knight, had introduced herself as the head of the Kunon Knight Order.
So only she, the head of the knight order, is responsible for me?
And of all the things she was assigned to do, she had to clean up after me?
Seregia must've seen doubt on my face so she followed up with an explanation.
"The truth is…The only member of the Kunon Knight Order is me."
So what you're saying is that you're the only member of the Kunon Knight Order and at the same time, you're its leader.
I wondered whether they could really attach the word 'order' to ‘knight’ when there was only one member.
" …Can you still call that an order of knights?"
"Yes, I can."
Seregia replied firmly.
It was a little ridiculous that she responded so confidently.
"I wasn't alone at the beginning. After the previous head of the knight order passed away, the ranks remained empty, that's all."
Wait a minute. Then you’re saying that the entire knight order only consisted of you and the previous head?
So this knight order was a lot more amazing than I thought.
"So how did the previous knight leader die?"
"He passed away from old age."
" …That's unfortunate."
"He was over 90 years old when he died. That's quite the luxury."
"Yes. You're right."
Strangely, it seems like all the knights I've met all have a screw loose somewhere.
Is this a coincidence?
"No, I don’t have a loose screw somewhere.”
Seregia said, clearly and proudly.
So why are you responding so confidently?
I don't understand at all.
Honestly, the fact that she's the only one in the Kunon Knight Order is good news for me.
It means that there's only one piece of baggage that I have to lug around.
"Usually, the number of knights responsible for the group of warriors is at minimum, over 30. However, in your case, Warrior, because you were uniquely summoned alone, it looks like I was assigned to you. Because of you, Warrior, I have gotten my first mission since entering the knight order. It's truly an honor."
What? Did you just say your first mission?
"…Pardon me, but when did you first join the knight order?
"I joined four years ago."
"…If you didn't do anything for four years, it sounds like rather than being a knight, you were closer to being unemployed."
"I think so too."
That was when I started thinking that Seregia might be hurting under all that outward confidence.
I set aside my questions about the solitary knight order that she belonged to and rather, decided to ask her about more important matters.
"Then… For now, please tell me about my future schedule."
"Yes. I understand."
* * * * * *
"So what you're saying is that from now on, for three days continuously, I have pretty much the same schedule as today, and then we start our real work?"
"Yes. Beginning on the fourth day, you will start your mission in earnest. Also, of the ten missions, the Warrior with the highest results will become the representative of the warrior group. They will be preferentially granted the qualification to be able to go through the holy sword's test."
"What's the holy sword's test?"
"Yes. There is a legend that not just anyone can draw the holy sword. Pulling out the sword barehanded is the holy sword's test."
If it's a holy sword, that's naturally the kind of test it would be.
"Then, in order to be tested by the holy sword, what about the missions that we have to carry out?"
"I also do not know the details. Perhaps the missions haven't been decided yet, but it is probably a mission related to the war with the demons, suppressing the monsters in our territory, or perhaps it will be a mission about pursuing the witches' forces.
So, the empire is going to first make us do this and that in order to suck us dry while taking all credit.
If they were to just pick the strongest warrior, there wouldn't be a need to do the inconvenient ten tasks.
They could just use duels or a competition in order to pick the strongest.
I don't like it at all.
You want me to just do as I'm told, but it's too much of a hassle.
Buy us some coffee!