Chapter 05 – The world outside

07/07/2022PC

The moment I placed my hands on the gate…

“Theo, is that you?”

…someone called me form behind.
When I turned around, I found the townspeople staring at me from a distance.
The ogres were screaming quite a bit until now, they might have come to see what it was all about.
I wanted to slip out while they were focused on the fire, but I guess I created too much of a racket for that.

“It is you, Theo.”

The one at the head of the townspeople was my friend Thor.
His gaze was moving to and fro between me and the ogres’ bodies.
He probably saw me fighting them, so there is no point in trying to hide it now.

“Yeah, it’s me.”, I nodded slightly in reply.

“Why… Why was a human able to defeat a monster? And so easily too…”

“My Level increased, that’s why.”, I said shortly and showed him the back of my hand.

The crest engraved there was clearly different from how it looked when I was Level 1.

“My current Level is… 15.”

“There… There’s no way!! Why has your Level increased?!”

“That is humanity’s Gift.”

“Eh…?”

Gift.
That is a singular race specific power granted along with Level at the time of birth.

“But… But humans aren’t supposed to possess a gift.”

“We have one, to Level Up when we kill monsters.
A gift that can transform us from the weakest race to the strongest.”

Having said that, I turned away form Thor and towards the gate.
The gate that towered above us all, and penned us inside the town like livestock.
I couldn’t overcome it at Level 1, but it’s different now.
I lightly made a fist and…

“Body Strengthening”

…punched the gate while reinforcing my fist to the maximum. Gakiiinnnn!! The metal screamed and the gate reverberated as my fist sunk into it like a battering ram.
The hinges that supported the gate broke free.
And then…

Zuuuuuuuunn!

The solid iron gate began to slant and fall outward.
The entire town shook with the quake caused by the gate when it slammed into the ground.

“…………”

Everyone was dumbstruck because the gate that confined them for all their lives was destroyed so easily.
In front of us was, for the first time, the town’s entrance without any obstruction.
The light from the outside world that was wished for many long years filled the passage below the town wall.
I turned around once more to face the townspeople as if I carried the light itself on my back.

“This is the ability of humans.”, I told the dumbstruck townspeople.
“We are not a race who are only meant to be eaten.
In fact, once there was a time when humans hunted monsters.
As the only ones capable of raising our Level, humans have the potential to become the mightiest of all the races.”, I declared fiercely.
And then, I asked Thor once again,

“Shall we get out of this town together?”

“Eh…?”

Thor widened his eyes in surprise.
The proposition caught him completely off guard.
It wasn’t grounded in logic even from my perspective .
When thinking in terms of pros and cons, there should be no merit in taking along other humans.
I guess at some point, without noticing, I began to feel sympathetically towards them.
I believed that I had erased all sympathy for people who lived in fear not knowing when they would be eaten.
It goes to show long these 18 years have been in this town.

“Is that really fine with you? I… I betrayed you”

“The one who induced you to betrayal was me.
That was convenient for me too.
That’s why, it’s not like I resent you for it.”

“Ha ha ha… So I was dancing in your palm huh?”, laughed Thor drily.
“You’re amazing Theo.
If I went with you, I feel like I could be truly free.”

“Then…”

“I’m sorry, but that’s impossible for me.”

I was flatly refused.

“Why? Even if you remain in this town, wouldn’t other monsters come here soon enough?”

“Despite that, I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“It’s terrifying.
Adventuring is impossible for me.
Unlike you, I don’t have the strength or courage to face monsters.”

“…………”

I finally realised.
Despite the fact that the gate that confined them was broken, not a single person in this town tried to leave.

Learned helplessness1 huh…

It reminded me of the things I saw in my previous life.
When humans are confined and abused for a long time, they can’t escape even when the door to their prison cell is wide open.
The begin believe that they are completely powerless and that there is no hope in trying to do anything.
If they try something they think that they would be subjected to even worse abuse.

“Even if I go with you, I would just be a hindrance right?”

“Yeah, you’re right.
My chances of survival will skyrocket if I’m alone.”

“Ha ha, you never mince words.”

“Just that, I still find the situation to be regrettable.”

I know that there is little I can do.
It would be one thing if he were able to fight to a certain extent.
It was foolish to try and take an amateur who would only be a hindrance.
Right now, I am only able to fight and protect myself.
This world is not so kind that it would allow me to protect someone else at this Level.
However, in that case…

“Then, sit tight.”

“Eh?”

“I will Level Up even further from now and become the strongest.
And then one day, I will subjugate every last monster in this world and free all of humanity.”

“…… Ha, ha.”

Thor stared for a while and then smiled wryly.
(T/N: and I cringed.)

“Seriously… You always spout such crazy words.
It’s insane because you seem like you would actually try to do it.”

“Not seem like, I will.
That’s a promise.” (T/N: Stop! you’re killing me!)

“I know.
You’re that kind of a guy after all.”

Our conversation broke off there.
If I want to leave the town, I can’t stand around talking here all day.
Thor understood that too.

“Leave already.
You’re not the kind to be shut in this cage for any longer are you?”

“Yeah”

I shook off any lingering regret and turned away form Thor.

“……Don’t get eaten, Theo”

To the words of farewell uttered to my back, I replied without turning around,

“You don’t too, Thor.”

And then one man walked down the road leading to the exit.
With every step the light from outside grew in intensity until it became dazzling, and then burst apart.

“….Aaa”

I inadvertently let a contented sigh escape.
Spread in front of me was the wide ocean lit by the setting sun.
Right before of me was a rock cliff jutting over the ocean.
Opposite it was a red horizon that seem to stretch till the ends of the world.
It’s a sight I’d grown tired of seeing in my past life, but now it makes my chest tighten and my feet stop in awe.

I’ve finally set foot in the outside world huh?

I felt the salty breeze on my cheek.
The sudden cold wind felt good on my flushed skin.
I could feel each breath renewing my lungs, like a stagnant backwater fed by a fresh stream.

I wonder when was the last time I felt that the wind was so fresh.

Since I reincarnated the sky was always boxed by the huge town walls.
That’s why I’d forgotten.
The sky has no boundaries and the world is truly free.
Now I can go anywhere I want in this world.
For some reason I felt the same exaltation I’d felt while setting out for my first adventure.
I could stare at this beautiful scenery forever, but…

…I can’t afford to come to a stop here.

The price for such a scenery is never cheap.
A pursuer might come behind me at any time.
I then looked around and found some stairs that were gouged into the cliff’s side.
Below them was a wooden pier where a small boat was docked.
I suppose it was used to bring in supplies.
That works out perfectly for me, setting sail is the best way to start a new adventure.

“Well then, let’s go.”

I voiced it out to give myself a push.
I stepped forward towards the world beyond and began my first adventure.
And then…

“…Ha?”

Without any warning, it felt like the flow of every natural phenomenon was disrupted by a discontinuity and the entire world pulsed.
Simultaneously, the air around me changed in quality like I’d suddenly stepped into the spirit world.
And then out of the corner of my eye, I noticed flaming feathers fluttering about.

“—- —- This is quite strange.”

I suddenly heard a girl’s voice.

“I came around to see what was burning, but why is there a human fallen over here?”

A voice as beautiful as the call of a songbird.
It had a disparate tonality compared to a human’s voice.
The difference was so stark that it could no longer be called a “voice” but a “timbre”2.
I slowly turned towards that voice.
It was the same scenery I’d started at all this while.
In front of that scenery, it was there.
For just how long has she been there? At some point3 a girl had appeared in front of me.

T/N Notes:

It’s a psychological term apparently. I don’t get it either.
Think of it as a high and melodic opera like voice, that’s how I imagined it.
Well maybe not opera…think tenor.
Why didn’t I use melody instead of timbre? It felt like that’s not what the author was getting at so I went with timbre. The entire world shook and you still can’t figure out when she appeared?

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