Once, when I was still young, I asked my mother if heroes were real. I used to watch cartoons where the villain would terrorize cities, by using their giant robots or giant monsters, to topple skyscrapers and bring down bridges. Just when all seemed lost, and the citizens were panicked and frightened, a hero would show up to save the day. "Were they real?" I would ask my mother. "Not in this world," she replied.
I didn't want to believe her.
Not many years after, after my family had built a mountain of debt from various different 'bad idea's - as my mother would call them, I lost her to in a car accident. A car drove onto the pavement and my mother pushed me aside before she was run over. The next day, while I sat in the child services building's lobby, I learned the meaning to the word 'intoxicated'.
I had thought about how there should've been a hero, like on TV, that would jump in front of the car, and stop it, to save my mother. I thought back to the time I had asked my mother about heroes. It turned out that she was right all along.
Jun Long furrowed his brows, determined to do something to help the people in front of him. He remembered his time in the goblin cave, when he faced up against an entire room of the green midgets, and rushed at the walking corpses with the intention to burn them all!
The townspeople trying to find refuge in the Adventurer's Guild despaired, when they found out that the building couldn't take everyone in, scared that they were to be left to fend for themselves against the legion of undead chasing them. The Adventurer's Guild officially had no obligation to save the townspeople, and there were adventurers who had fled the town at the first sign of being overwhelmed, but their reputation as 'strong and brave' reassured the people who knew not of the darker side of living the mercenary life of adventurers.
Who could blame the people for thinking that way? Every day, in every store and food stall, arrogant adventurers would boast of their achievements and conquests - how they could slay the toughest of foes in a matter of seconds. Now that those adventurers were up against a force that overran the entire town in a matter of hours, all these braggarts could do was high-tail it out of the town to save themselves.
Although there were adventurers who stayed, to make sure the townspeople would be safe, the sheer number of skeletons and zombies easily pushed them to desperation! It was quickly turning into a hopeless fight.
Just as another adventurer was about to be dragged off by the zombies, Jun Long's 'Flame' roared and crashed into the front of the zombie and skeleton mob. The fires looked like a wave rushing against a cliffside, spraying mirage inducing heatwaves into the air. The undead paid Jun Long's arrival no mind, but the adventurers, who had been fighting them for what felt like hours, wanted to fall at his feet!
A number of zombies and skeletons had disappeared in the flames, with more quickly replacing them, but Jun Long wasn't finished. He was still unleashing hellfires upon the oncoming monsters of the underworld, watching through his magic monocle, as each of their HP fell to nothing one after another.
As impossible as it sounded for just one person being able to literally exorcise a street full of undead, Jun Long's noble figure stood in front of the crestfallen adventurers and desperate townspeople in their time of need. The bright flames spelled certain doom for the enemies he was facing, instantly turning the tables, and gave a feeling of warmth and hope to those behind him.
"Mister!" a child's voice cried. "They're coming from over there!"
Jun Long was faced with a dilemma: his 'Flame' spell could only face one way! He was keeping the skeletons and zombies in front of him at bay, but more were quickly making their way to them, as though attracted by the smell of food! Jun Long tried alternating the direction in which he shot his flames, hoping that it would be enough to ward off the enemy.
"Young man!" a woman's voice cried, this time. "Now they're coming from this way, too!"
Jun Long looked over his shoulder at the army of skeletons and zombies, as if there wasn't enough already in front of him, making their way toward the Adventurer's Guild building from the other side. "I've only got one hand!" Jun Long complained in his heart. He wasn't given any time to think of a way out of this mess, so he quickly threw his flames into the oncoming undead from this side, too!
With the skeletons and zombies pushing their way toward the Adventurer's Guild building from all sides, Jun Long was quickly finding it harder and harder to keep them at bay with just being able to cast 'Flame' from one hand. In this kind of stressful situation, it felt like even one more skeleton or zombie would really break the camel's back! Before he could even finish cursing these undead beings in his heart, one of the skeletons managed to slip through his flame, it rushed at a young girl who was standing too far out from the rest of the townspeople.
"NO!" Jun Long cried, having just caught sight of the skeleton.
Jun Long's flame was facing the other side, at that moment, and he wouldn't be able to stop the skeleton from slashing at the young girl with its bone sword! In that moment, as though he were enlightened, Jun Long stretched out his other hand and casted a second 'Flame'!
Just before the skeleton's bone sword touched the young girl, Jun Long's second stream of fire shot out at the skeleton, erasing it from the face of the world.
"What was that?" the townspeople gasped. "Did he just use another 'Flame'?"
"It's amazing enough that he's able to keep his 'Flame' spell going for so long! Now he's got a second one?"
"He must be a famous Archmage!"
The townspeople cheered for Jun Long behind him. The one in question was just glad that the young girl wasn't hurt.
A few minutes after Jun Long had used a second 'Flame', having saved an innocent youth from being murder in cold blood, he was able to fight off the rest of the skeletons and zombies. The townspeople had already been ushered into the Adventurer's Guild building, and the battered and exhausted adventurers were also dragged in to be healed and treated.
Jun Long stood alone, in front of the Adventurer's Guild, and breathed a sigh of relief. Before long, Kiko, the manager of the Jovial Town branch of the Adventurer's Guild, stepped out to meet him.
"Mr. Jun," she said, her voice ever-sweet. "How are you feeling? Are you dizzy or lightheaded?"
"Kiko!" Jun Long nearly shouted, happy to see a familiar face. "I'm just fine. How is everyone else?"
"They'll make it," she replied. "Everyone has you to thank for saving their lives, tonight."
"No... I'm grateful to Jovial Town for looking after me since I've been here. This is the least I can do."
"Hehe!" her giggle was intoxicating. "You sure got strong pretty quick. Where did you learn 'Flame'?"
"Oh! It was James who taught me," Jun answered, blushing at being praised. "Have you seen him, by the way?"
"I haven't," she replied, regretful that she was unable to help Jun Long. "I can ask around, if you'd like?"
"If it's not too much trouble, Kiko. Thank you."
Jun Long watched her as she walked back into the Adventurer's Guild building. His eyes were mesmerized by the way her small fox tail swayed from side to side. For some reason, although Jun Long had never really appreciated eroge with kemonomimi themes, seeing it in real life set a fire in his soul!
Standing in front of the Adventurer Guild's entrance, fantasizing about ... certain 'things', the 17 year old closet kemonomimi lover didn't notice a mother-daughter pair walking out. It was the young girl that he had saved, and her mother. The two wore similar looking tunics, though the young girl also had a strip of cloth tied in a ribbon around her waist, and tied their hair in a braid.
"Young hero," the mother addressed Jun Long. "We would like to thank you for saving my daughter's life, just now."
"Mister!" the energetic girl blurted out. "Your magic was amazing!"
"Haha..." Jun Long laughed awkwardly. "I'm just glad you're alright."
"Mm!" the girl nodded. "Kana's just fine!"
"Oh? Is your name 'Kana'?" Jun Long patted her head. "You were pretty brave, back there. Stay safe, alright?"
"Thank you, young hero," the mother said again.
The mother-daughter pair walked back into the Adventurer's Guild. Jun Long smiled as they left.
Half a minute later, Kiko returned to greet Jun Long. She had brought with her an old man who was wearing a dark brown robe that was nearly long enough to touch the floor. Jun Long recognised the robe! This was one of the people who were fighting back against the undead. He was about be dragged away by that one zombie, whose arm had already grabbed onto his sleeve, but was saved by Jun Long's first 'Flame'!
"Mr. Jun," Kiko called to him. "This gentleman says he saw Mr. James running towards the town center."
"Yes, my young friend," the old man said. "I saw someone, fitting the description that Ms. Kiko had given me, sprinting off towards the town center where the bulk of the undead are."
"Really? Thank you for telling me, Mister."
"No," he replied, slowly shaking his head before taking Jun Long's hand into his own. "Thank you, young friend. If it were not for you, I would not be of this world. You have really saved us all."
Jun Long was stunned. It had been so long since he had received such a sincere thank you from anyone. He couldn't help smiling back at the old man. Kiko stood to the side, watching the heart-warming scene, and smiled, too.
In another part of the town, taking advantage of the town's panic and plight, a small group of individuals made their way into a certain important building. Five masked men walked into the mayor's office, with no one around to stop them, and made quick work of ransacking the room. Before long, one of the men found what they were looking for, a rolled up scroll with an official seal was lifted into the air.
"I've found it," the one who raised the scroll to show the others said.
"Mm. Let's go," another said. "We'll meet at Point C."
"I think Point C was overrun by the undead," one of the masked men from the other side of the room said. "I ran past it on my way here."
"Right. Let's use Point D, then."
"Yes!" the other four replied.
The masked men each left the mayor's office, one after the other, with the leader of the group being the last to go. Just as he was about to reach the doorway, he stopped and reached for the the ornamented pick knife strapped to his belt. The knife's handle was made of a compound of crystal and rock, carved to provide an easy grip for the user. At the end of the handle, engraved into it with high precision, was the Mark of the Red Lizard - a criminal organisation notorious for their ability to infiltrate heavily guarded institutions.
With a low grunt, the leader of the masked men stabbed the decorated pick knife into the door frame. He slowly removed his mask, rested his forehead on the end of the knife's handle, and whispered:
"May the Mother of Darkness forever cradle me in Her warm embrace, Her bountiful bosom my goal in death..."
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