In the morning Keith woke up in the soldiers’ lodging house that had been assigned to him.
Usually the feeling of waking up wasn’t something that bad, but in today’s particular case, Keith’s mood was the worst.
Yesterday the hundred soldiers of the Principality’s army under Keith were ordered to receive training for a month on the parade ground. There they met the male adventurer who called himself Renya.
Normally Keith and the others, who are soldiers, don’t think about expressing their dissatisfaction towards an order handed down from above in the first place, but the man, who was there, wasn’t someone related to the military but a simple commoner.
Usually it’s not allowed for commoners to enter military facilities.
However, despite this, that man stood there with an expression as if it would be very natural for him to be there.
From the soldiers’ viewpoint, who harbour pride to serve as part of the army, even if it’s limited to only that, seeing how the man behaved they end up judging him as lowly outsider. But the strangest thing of all was that they were being told to train under that man for a month.
Even the soldiers, who rarely voice out their discontent with such things, bluntly expressed their complaints to Keith.
After pacifying them, since their superiors might have brought along a reasonably high-ranking adventurer, he tried to ask that man, but the words he got in return were identifying him as the lowest rank even among adventurers.
The lowest rank of adventurers is something everyone can achieve by simply registering.
Upon that Keith was pushed by his subordinates in order to let this idiot called Renya learn his own position in the world by sacking him once.
Believing that, Keith opposed Renya, but he ended up regretting that decision right away.
Of all things, Renya himself suggested to physically talk it out with all the soldiers.
No matter how much confidence he had in his own abilities, what he proposed was totally different from being swarmed by goblins or kobolds.
He said that he alone would fight against hundred soldiers who trained to the extent of being recognised as soldiers of the Principality’s army.
If one considers that logically, Renya’s proposal was a suicidal act.
Renya made a careless proposition to Keith and the soldiers where one can clearly understand that the outcome will be him getting discarded after a heavy beating.
Moreover, due to his attitude of bluntly declaring that he won’t use weapons or sorcery, the soldiers’ anger exceeded the boiling point.
Keith sighs while heading to the dining hall, where he always takes his breakfast, after clothing himself.
That was a terrible mistake.
Something like their pride as soldiers was crushed into little pieces due to their choice.
Against a single adventurer and even after receiving the handicap of him not using weapons or sorcery, they were forced to completely yield.
It’s not like they were just defeated.
It was an utter annihilation, seeing as he went even easy on them in order to avoid a greater number of wounded.
“We might already be useless…” (Keith)
Faint-hearted words unintentionally leave his mouth.
Certainly the news of our unsightly defeat will spread among the other soldiers in a flash.
And, Keith and the others will be told by the other soldiers,
“You have stained the honour of the Prinicipality’s army.”
“You are incompetent soldiers that got beaten up without being able to put up a decent resistance by an unarmed opponent.”
Even more than worrying about his own situation, Keith feels like running away when considering his subordinates’ feelings.
However, those words are the truth.
If we had gathered more information about the adventurer called Renya and if we had asked him to teach in a more modest way, we at least wouldn’t have been branded as incompetents, but now… all of that is too late.
Even so, he couldn’t choose the option of skipping the training or of running away.
The one who selected us is none other than Her Highness Mayria who will become the next archduchess.
An escape will bring disgrace to Her Highness.
Even if we can’t avoid being recognized as incompetents, an act similar to putting Her Highness Mayria to shame on top of it cannot be allowed.
What’s left is to continue while gritting our teeth and enduring, while persuading himself with that, Keith opened the door to the dining hall and instantly wondered whether he had gone to the wrong place, due to the scene that spread out in front of him.
The dining hall, where many eat their meals, was a room with quite the size.
Long and narrow tables should be densely lined up and the figures of the soldiers that usually eat their meals at said tables should line up in rows, but currently there are only several oblong tables set up in the middle of the room.
In a place that’s equivalent to the seat of honour, sat that completely black-clothed man he saw on the parade ground yesterday.
Renya has his arms and legs crossed while sitting on a chair. He’s lightly entrusting his weight to the chair’s back.
What happened? Keith surveys the dining hall.
Originally the dining hall had a scale allowing around 300 people to take their meals at the same time, but what’s currently before his eyes are only five tables where ten people sit on either side.
And, next to the entrance, Keith’s subordinates, who apparently arrived here before him, are standing stock-still with pale faces.
Once he turns his sight to the dining hall’s wall, he sees table debris, which had been shattered into very small pieces.
As if blending in with the debris, a mountain of countless bodies had been created.
It might turn into such spectacle if the mountain was created by something capable of churning humans and tables into a gigantic vortex, Keith feels in a corner of his mind that his emotions had somehow become hollow.
Renya, who recognized him, called out to Keith while sitting on his chair.
“Yaa, good morning, were you able to sleep well? Today will be harsher than yesterday, you know? Eat your breakfast promptly and head to the parade ground.” (Renya)
“What’s wrong, Soldier Leader Keith-sama? Are you still asleep? Should I wake you up?” (Renya)
“No, please cut it out… the attaching of -sama and the waking up part, that is.” (Keith)
I suffered that much of a miserable defeat.
To be called with -sama goes beyond sarcasm, it’s close to mental torture, Keith judges.
“Really? -sama or such is not needed? Then it’s fine, but hey, get your food quickly and eat.” (Renya)
“No… yes, well…” (Keith)
Keith heads to the counter that separates the dining hall from the kitchen while getting urged on by Renya.
On the way he passed next to the mountain of table debris and people, but that mountain had been thoroughly destroyed to the extent of him ending up wrecking his brain just what the hell happened for it to turn into such a situation.
No matter how you look at it, the arms and legs are twisted in totally wrong directions.
Through the table debris, the soldiers’ skin can be seen peeking out from within, showing traces of a relentless beating and filled with bruises that are painful to look at.
At the same time, when seeing the broken table pieces, Keith ends up asking himself does he possibly have some grudge against tables as well?
While reciting inside his mouth “don’t pay attention to it, don’t pay attention to it”, Keith arrives at the counter.
On the other side were the faces of the people preparing the food with whom he had become acquainted, but all of them had teary eyes.
Just tell me what the heck happened before I came in here.
While screaming so within his heart, Keith places his breakfast on a tray and returns to the table where Renya is waiting.
On his way back Keith commands his subordinates, who have frozen and haven’t moved from the hall’s entrance, with his eyes to eat their breakfast swiftly.
While watching them start running to the counter in a hurry, Keith sat down at one of the remaining tables that was slightly apart from Renya.
Brown bread, meat and potato salad and in addition bean soup. Looking at his meal consisting of that, Renya absent-mindedly said,
“The quantity is insufficient and it doesn’t look overly appetizing either.” (Renya)
Not knowing how to best reply to Renya’s statement, Keith bites into his bread.
Compared to the hard bread often bought by adventurers, it has a softness that is still less objectionable, but as a hard bread is something hard nevertheless, he tears off a piece by freely using the power of his jaw and hands, and eats it while washing it down with the soup.
“Probably it’s best if I improve the meal quality as well, I suppose? They will after all carry out very intense training. I will try discussing it with Mayria. It won’t be any good if I don’t think of a place either. I’m pretty sure they won’t be able to eat here with a calm mind.” (Renya)
“Aren’t you the reason for this?” (Keith)
What’s this guy saying, Keith reflexively interrupted Renya’s monologue.
Although he immediately pins down his mouth while thinking Oh shit!, Renya asked Keith back without looking as if he overly minds.
“You mean the reason how it has turned out like that? Or the reason how it would turn out like that?” (Renya)
“Is there any difference in that?” (Keith)
“The reason why it came to this is because you guys lost unsightly to me. In other words, you guys are the reason.” (Renya)
Renya says while pointing at the mountain of rubble and people.
Keith frowns but doesn’t object.
“In short, the reason why it became like this is…” (Keith)
“That’s because of me, I suppose. As there were some fellows in the dining hall who used your defeat in order to sneer at you without even knowing the circumstances, I offered them to try experiencing it themselves once if they find it that funny. The outcome is as you can see.” (Renya)
“Aah, that means they were unlucky…” (Keith)
Keith prayed for the fallen soldiers’ happiness in the next world.
Though he thought they probably haven’t died yet.
“The Trident Principality is a military state, right? Considering that, isn’t the quality of the soldiers too low?” (Renya)
Damn, you don’t measure your words, do you? Keith thinks, but there’s no point in refuting him.
We were easily defeated yesterday. Even the other soldiers are being treated as trash that goes well with broken tables.
Under these circumstances claiming that we are actually quite the elite soldiers won’t serve as anything but a bad joke.
“I think that you are just too far outside the norm.” (Keith)
Dragging out a somewhat safe reply from within his mind, Keith ended up with his eyes wide open due to Renya’s next words.
“That outside-the-norm-guy is in charge of your training, thus I plan to have you guys get disconnected from that norm quite a bit too though?” (Renya)
“At the very least I intend for you to reach the point at which you’ll be able to do at least this.” (Renya)
Keith unintentionally stands up due to Renya pointing at the mountain of trash with his gaze.
Renya looks up at Keith while still seated.
“Don’t be unreasonable! There’s no way that we will become able to do that, right!?” (Keith)
“Why? You are humans as well, no?” (Renya)
“We are different from you!” (Keith)
“You’re the type of boring guy that replies to each and every little thing, aren’t you?” (Renya)
Even though Renya looked at Keith from below, who raised his voice fussing over how they would become able to do something like that, Renya’s gaze without a doubt looked down on Keith.
After urging Keith, who ends up lost for words, to sit down on his chair, Renya said,
“Seeing that you guys told me that you won’t ask me to teach you, I don’t have any obligation to do so, but…” (Renya)
“Can’t you forgive us anytime soon? I feel ashamed for our ignorance. As you see, I have apologized, thus…” (Keith)
Keith bows while secretly thinking he’s the type that holds a grudge, isn’t he?
After staring at Keith for a while, Renya started to talk.
“… Oh well, it’s fine. But why do you arbitrarily decide that it’s impossible? Did you try already? At least you guys shouldn’t have received the same training I did. So why have you guys selfishly decide on that result?” (Renya)
“That is…” (Keith)
“I won’t tell you to become like me. Even for me there were various circumstances after all. But, even without becoming like me, won’t it be possible for you to achieve at least this much?” (Renya)
Unfolding the arms he had crossed, Renya places them on the table, bends himself forward and fixedly looks at Keith.
As if being wrapped up and captured by his stare, Keith is unable to remove his eyes from Renya’s face who is intently looking at him.
“Even though I’m telling you that you will be able to do so, you say you can’t and that it’s impossible. Why can you guys, who have only knowledge and ability to the degree of losing unsightly to me alone, deny what I tell you without hesitation?” (Renya)
“… Mixing in slander here and there, you…” (Keith)
“Even though I’m telling you that I will bestow power upon you, you don’t want it? Even if it won’t go as far as you becoming matchless warriors, don’t you feel the wish to possess power that allows a unit of 100 soldiers to match 10.000?” (Renya)
“That is…” (Keith)
Even Keith is a human that tries to make a living out of fighting.
If he’s asked whether he wants power or not, he will accept it without hesitation.
Moreover, Keith and the others are soldiers protecting their country.
Obtaining power meant increasing the possibility of being able to protect the things they want to protect.
Because they are able to understand that, Renya’s temptation seemed like very sweet words for Keith and the soldiers in the surroundings who were listening to their conversation.
“It’s fine if you don’t want it. But is that the truth? You really don’t want a combat strength that cannot be compared to the other soldiers, a power that will simply allow you to protect your country even without relying on something like a hero and a strength to simply cut down beings that try to steal something from you?” (Renya)
“… Isn…Isn’t it obvious that I want that?!” (Keith)
“Then obey me.” (Renya)
Renya’s voice became cold all of a sudden.
The consciousness of the soldiers, who seemed enthralled about it in the middle of Renya’s temptation, cool down with a single sentence.
And they were forced to realize.
This guy in front of us is serious.
“Don’t harbour any distrust and train as I tell you to. Do as you are told. And, during that time steal the things you can steal from me. If you don’t know what’s good to steal… let me teach you, seeing as I received your apology just a while ago. But do know, taught techniques are no match for stolen techniques, got it?” (Renya)
“Understood, instructor-dono.” (Keith)
Once Keith answers curtly, his subordinates nod as well.
Watching that with a satisfied expression, Renya pushed back the chair and stood up.
“In that case, it’s alright. Soldier Leader, can you give the detailed instructions to those guys who aren’t here?” (Renya)
“Yes, instructor-dono.” (Keith)
“I will go ahead and wait at the parade ground. Make sure that everyone attends once they’ve finished eating breakfast and put on their gear.” (Renya)
“Yes, instructor-dono.” (Keith)
“Continue with your breakfast then.” (Renya)
Leaving those words behind, Renya leaves the dining hall.
Keith and his subordinates, who saw Renya off, follow his back with their eyes until he vanishes from their sight after passing through the dining hall’s entrance. Once they couldn’t see him anymore, they released a very deep sigh.
They don’t know how much of it was the truth.
But since a person with that much of a skill has said it that seriously, there probably won’t be any loss in obeying him, they judge.
“I will talk with the guys who aren’t here.” (Keith)
When Keith says so, one of his subordinates speaks up.
“Soldier Leader Keith… what should we do about that mountain?”
“Leave it alone… for us there’s nothing we can do about it.” (Keith)
Keith, who has no intention to concern himself with the clean-up, decided to intentionally neglect it.
I’m sure that once the guys from the same unit as the soldiers who are forming that mountain of trash, discover them, they will take responsibility for the rescue recovery and the cleaning.
What worried him was the point of whether they, who were messed with, won’t try to settle the scores with Renya or if they’ll let it be.
If that happens, no other future but that of a mass production of similar mountains awaits us.
While forcibly stuffing the breakfast that had lost almost all of its flavour for some reason into his stomach, Keith prayed “Please spare me from that alone.”