Naturally, the look on Vulcan’s face also hardened.
Actually, Elcane’s level was high enough that he would not be treated as a newbie.
On average, those that enter Act 2 had levels around low 500 when they started. In comparison, Elcane’s level was 699, which was substantially higher.
However, because Vulcan rapidly grew and reached a new height while he was in the Underground Graveyard, Vulcan possessed the strength of someone at level 700. Because Vulcan was thinking of himself as a newbie, he also figured Elcane, someone with similar strength as himself, was a newbie.
‘Still, I shouldn’t fight him.’
Vulcan didn’t have to worry about the situation leading to the worst possible scenario even if Elcane picked a fight with him. It was because Vulcan had the protective blessing from a manager.
Still, if Vulcan reacted to every time a situation like this came up, it could put his future life in jeopardy.
‘If I did, I could die under pile of grudges ten years later. I should keep things smooth.’
Still, it could not be helped that the situation was seriously spoiling Vulcan’s mood.
Ignoring Elcane, Vulcan looked at others.
The most eye-catching one of them all was a man lying down on the floor in middle of the airship.
He was wearing a loose pants that was convenient for movements, and he was not wearing anything on the top. The man was packed with muscles on top of muscles. They looked solid as if they were mixed with iron.
[Toolkas, a demi-god, son of Mumnus]
‘He is almost at the level of Act 1 managers.’
The way he was all stretched out and napping didn’t give off that kind of vibe, but the scan told him otherwise.
Vulcan turned his head and looked at the other one remaining.
He had a decorative circlet with magnificent looking wings. Along with cool leather armor and red cape, the man had the look of an architype heroic warrior.
[Phantaero, Hegatus’ Brave Hero]
Phantaero was also looking at Vulcan. Unlike Elcane, the man had an amicable smile. Phantaero said,
“It’s nice to meet you. It seems like you have a business at the western island.”
“How do you do? Yes, I do have a small business there.”
“Haha. It’s a little dangerous for a newbie to go there… Well, I’m sure you know how to take care of yourself.”
The man casually walked toward Vulcan and told Vulcan his name,
“Even meeting like this is fate. Let’s introduce ourselves at least. My name is Phantaero.”
“I see. Vulcan, you seem to be a human as well… Is that right?”
Vulcan nodded. Phantaero whispered to Vulcan with a smile on his face.
“I see. Ignore that dark elf. Actually, only the demi-gods are good toward humans. Everyone else are bastards that just don’t care.”
“Is that so?”
“That’s right. Also, monsters often come to attack an airship while it is on the air. You could probably understand that others would feel uneasy about having a newbie in a situation like this.”
Vulcan nodded and thought about what he just said.
Although he heard rough explanation from Filder and knew about it, it seemed the beings in this world looked down on humans.
‘Well, even Beruneru said humans are the least trustworthy bastards in Act 2.’
Remembering The Six’s warning, Vulcan made a bitter smile.
However, Vulcan couldn’t just push away Phantaero who was being friendly toward Vulcan.
Also, Vulcan had no intention of hanging out with Elcane, who made a bad first impression.
“Vulcan, let’s at least chat while we are on the way.”
“Yes, Mr. Phantaero.”
There were two humans on the airship who naturally came to speaking terms.
* * *
The airship speeded across the blue sky.
The ship’s open deck felt like being inside of a room because of an invisible layer shielding the passengers from the wind.
The demi-god was still sleeping in middle of the deck while snoring loudly. Elcane the dark elf occasionally shot arrow to the outside of the airship as if he was doing practice.
‘It looks like the invisible layer does not block attacks coming from inside of the ship. Is it because this is a ship made by a god?’
While listening to Phantaero’s words, Vulcan thought about something else for a moment. Vulcan was losing interest because he was talking about things that Vulcan already knew. However, when Phantaero got to an important part, Vulcan started to listen carefully again.
“… So, they are bad mouthed about a lot. When it comes to humans, out of a 100 humans, about 30 of them could be considered evil. On the other hand, other beings essentially don’t have anyone evil to begin with.”
“It’s that bad?”
Vulcan asked as he cringed.
“That’s right. The other beings may appear arrogant because they have strong pride, but they are saints in comparison to humans. When it comes to beings other than humans, perhaps one in a 100 may harm others… Ah, the beastmen are exceptions. They have such a strong battle instinct, so…”
The Six told Vulcan similar things.
According to them, Act 2 would be a significantly safer place than Act 1 if it wasn’t for humans.
Vulcan thought The Six were being a little harsh, but now that Vulcan was hearing Phantaero repeating several times to emphasize that Vulcan should be wary of humans, Vulcan was even starting to think that perhaps The Six was being nice about it.
“Still, not everyone will be like that. There are humans who are brave heroes…”
“Um? By any chance, did you know that I’m a brave hero?”
“Yes. You are wearing clothes that I imagined a brave hero would wear.”
“Haha. Actually, people that I have met for the first time roughly figured it out too.”
Breaking into a laughter, he continued.
“I thought you already have struggled for a few years in Act 2, but it seems like you have not been here for even a month?”
In silence, Vulcan looked at Phantaero.
Vulcan wondered if he said something unusual that made Phantaero say that.
Watching Vulcan worrying a little, Phantaero said in a little more serious voice unlike before.
“When someone mentions a brave hero, there are images that people think about. Selflessness, sacrificing oneself for the sake of others, being people’s only hope. There are many who open up to a brave hero because of they hold such beliefs about brave heroes. However, you should be careful.”
Phantaero took a moment of pause and said with a strong emphasis,
“If necessary, brave heroes can become more selfish than anyone. Their altruistic attitude toward others is… limited to those that are in their own worlds.”
Although it was only a little bit, Vulcan was surprised by what Phantaero said.
It was a good advice that was a wake-up call for a newbie.
However, Vulcan could also feel a sense of self-hatred from Phantaero that could not be hidden.
Vulcan was agonizing over what to say to Phantaero, but he said with his face full of laughter.
“Haha! Well, why are you taking it so seriously? It’s just an overly cautious advice meant for newbies. People who meet a brave hero for the first time usually have fantasized expectations, and they get disappointed too.”
“That’s right. It gets uncomfortable when people have such expectations from me. I feel like I have to act like a saint. So, please treat me like everyone else instead.”
Vulcan nodded. Phantaero shrugged his shoulder and said,
“Gosh. I’m usually not this friendly, but for some odd reason, I find you to be quite amicable. Are you from Hegatus by any chance? Or… It can’t be that… you are also a brave hero?”
Having heard the question, Vulcan worried a little.
On the surface, Vulcan was just a Player. However, given the circumstance, there wasn’t anyone else that fitted the bill of a ‘brave hero’ than Vulcan.
“In a way, I am close to being a brave hero. I don’t have the power of a brave hero though.”
“Hm. I don’t quite understand you. We have a lot of time, so why don’t you tell me your story?”
Phantaero literally took a stance to prepare himself to hear a long story from Vulcan.
Facing him, Vulcan slowly started to tell the story.
It wasn’t like telling him the story was going to create a weakness for Vulcan. Also, Vulcan wanted to share the story and his frustration with someone who was in a similar situation as himself.
The story was told smoothly.
Vulcan already have told the story to Filder, and it went smoothly also because the person hearing the story was a brave hero who could understand the situation easily.
“… That’s what happened.”
With a little bit of a feeling of relief, Vulcan ended the explanation.
The heavy burden of knowing that the fate of his world is on his hands, the burden was heavy even for those with great mental fortitude.
The burden was so heavy that the suffocation from it would have drove to madness if Vulcan could not tell it all to someone like this once in a while.
Breathing slowly, Vulcan looked at Phantaero.
He could see Phantaero shedding thick tears like chicken poo. [Translator’s note: The chicken poo-like tears is an old expression in Korea. It means that the situation is so desperate, hopeless, or sad that the tears are very thick. There’s more to this, but this explains at least a part of the meaning.]
‘I think his reaction is a little too much.’
Phantaero was a giant, a mountain of a man, yet he was crying like an innocent little girl. It was not a pretty sight.
“Excuse me… Please calm down.”
“Kuk… Kuhup… To think that you are carrying such a heavy burden… Kup. I never knew. Your world is already destroyed by demon force… How could such a tragedy…”
“Aren’t you in a similar situation as me?”
“Not quite. You are in a much more difficult situation than I. My world has not yet been invaded by the demon force. I just need to find the holy sword and go back… You need to clear Act 2 in order to restore your broken world. That is…”
Phantaero didn’t finish his sentence.
However, Vulcan had a pretty good idea of what he was going to say.
‘As I thought. He must be thinking that it is impossible for a human being to clear Act 2.’
It was an obvious thought.
Although Vulcan didn’t know exactly how long Asgard existed, it must had been at least 10,000 years. In those long years, not a single human ever cleared the Act 2. Phantaero’s concern was well justified.
‘However, that doesn’t mean I can’t do it.’
Vulcan possessed talents that was acknowledged by Filder, the strongest of all humans in the history.
Because Vulcan was confident enough about it, he didn’t mind much about Phantaero’s pessimistic reaction.
“Haha. Still, there is a chance. That should mean a lot. If that doesn’t work out, I can at least become as strong as possible and return so I can stop the next invasion.”
“I see… You also have the cross-dimensional teleportation skill.”
“By the way, a while ago, you said the holy sword. What is that?”
Phantaero stared at Vulcan with an odd look on his eyes. As if he just realized something, Phantaero said,
“Ah, right. You are not a brave hero. It is just that you are the only one who can fight the demon lord. That’s what you said, right?”
“That must be why you don’t know about it. You can think of the holy sword as a weapon that only brave heroes can use. It can be used by other people, but it won’t be as effective as when brave heroes use it. A holy sword is incredibly effective against demons in particular. Practically all brave heroes wondering around Act 2 are desperately looking for a holy sword.”
‘So there was something like that…’
It was something that Vulcan didn’t hear from even The Six. It seemed that they didn’t tell Vulcan because it was not something he could use anyway.
‘Also, even if I had something like a holy sword, it is not like I could bring back my dead family with it.’
Vulcan got rid of his interest in the holy sword and asked about something else.
Most of it was to confirm if the guidebook that he made was accurate. Although Phantaero just told Vulcan that brave heroes are selfish, Phantaero spared no information.
Most of the information were the same as what Vulcan already knew, so they were not much of help. However, Phantaero’s good intention was making Vulcan feel better.
‘I doubt there will be many here that would tell me all this without getting anything in return…’
Of course, it was not like Phantaero gave Vulcan special information that others don’t know about. However, it was enough to make a good first impression.
Having heard most of what he wanted to confirm, Vulcan suddenly did a proper bow toward Phantaero.
“Why are you doing that all of sudden?”
“I just wanted to thank you for your good-will.”
“It’s fine. The information was not anything special. You would have gotten to know them all after wondering around Act 2 for two to three years anyway.”
Phantaero seemed a little embarrassed by Vulcan’s gesture, and Vulcan thanked him with a sincere face.
Glancing at the two, Elcane quietly mumbled,
“What a load of bullcrap.”
* * *
About a day had gone by since Vulcan got on the airship.
It was going to take about three days to get to the west island, so that meant Vulcan had about two days left.
With a little surprised look, Vulcan was looking at Elcane.
The arrows were being launched in stealth without any sound.
It felt significantly more fearsome than destructive and violent techniques that Vulcan saw often in Asgard.
It felt like a silent sniper.
After saying a few words to express how impressive it was, Vulcan said to Phantaero,
“That dark elf is quite skilled.”
“Gosh. You are just a newbie who had been here only for a month. You do realize you are not in position to judge the strength of anyone, right?”
Phantaero scolded Vulcan, and then said to Vulcan using telepathic communication,
- Also, elves have exceptionally good hearing, so watch what you say. Look. He is glaring at you.
- I’ll be careful from now on. Still, I praised him, yet his reaction is quite negative.
- You are beneath his height. Also, you are a human. There wouldn’t be any elves that would feel great about being judged by such a human. Also, we made it this far thanks to his diligent work. You were being rude.
With a dumbfounded face, Vulcan said,
- What do you mean? What did he do for us? When?
- Perhaps you didn’t feel it because you are not at his height yet, but he had been hunting down monsters all this time ever since we departed. He hunted down the monsters that were along the path of the airship, and also the ones that were approaching the airship.
- If it was like any other day, we would have been pestered by monsters coming close to the airship. Dealing with them is quite a bother. As expected, having a skilled archer is allowing us to fly through without any trouble. Huh? What are you doing?
Vulcan had a blank look on his face. Noticing this, Phantaero tried to talk to him.
However, Vulcan could not respond.
With a shocked face, Vulcan looked at Elcane.
‘He is at level 699…. Yet, he is at a greater height than me?