HP9 Chapter 19: A Mysterious Old Man

“You bastard, what the Hell are you laughing about?”

“…Oh, I have to apologize. I just couldn’t help but notice how conceited people like you have to be if you really think you can just blackmail me.”

I try, very deliberately, to get a rise out of them. The veins on the delinquents’ heads start to bulge and pop in response.

“Underestimating us, you little…!”

“Looks like yer in dire need of some good old education…!”

One of the men with a more decent sheen of muscle stands in front of me, flaunting his strength by cracking his knuckles. If I were still the same person I’d been as a human, I would have, with absolutely no method of protecting myself, been beaten to a mushy pulp by these ruffians and then been sent on an impromptu trip to the hospital. But I’m not the same person I used to be.

“…Alright then, come here.”

“You asked for it!”

The man’s fist makes contact with my right cheek, resulting in a dull, echoing noise. However, the sound hadn’t come from my cheek. It had come from the man’s fist.

“U… Uaaaaaaaaaargh!”

The man lets out a shriek of agony, his eyes wide open. The man’s hand had been crushed, almost as if he had slammed his fist into a hammer. Large fountains of blood spurted from his hand.

“W-What the…?!”

“What the damn Hell just happened?!”

The other delinquents break out into a bit of a commotion. The Transformation spell might change my appearance, but it doesn’t do much to change the stats I have as a High King. This man had basically just used his bare fist on me, with all my 99,999 points in defense. So yeah, it’s sort of a given that this would happen.

“What’s the matter? Didn’t you want to educate me on something?”

“Y-You little…!”

Another one of the delinquents comes at me, swinging an iron bat into my head. The damage is, of course, zero. The iron bat had, on the other hand, been snapped in two.

“Did that settle your nerves?”

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Just where had that air of authority they’d had gone off to? The face of the delinquents had warped into twisted, fear-filled visages. Runts of this caliber aren’t even worth an incantation.

“Then why don’t I just show you… how you really play the ‘preying on the weak’ game.”

“Ua… Uaaaaaaaaargh!”

The hooligans scatter and run away, barely able to keep themselves on their own two feet. You can change the looks as much as you want, but once a monster, always a monster. I like to think that I’ve taught them a lesson about not judging people on their looks.

Anyway, with that little spat behind me, I finally arrive in front of the general store, not a hair out of place. I’m glad I made it just in time for the interview. From what I can see, the store’s already open. It doesn’t look like the owner would run for the hills like that florist, either.

I make myself a little more presentable, double-checking to see if there’s any blood on my clothes. I’m starting to get a little nervous, even though I hadn’t been back at the florist’s. Maybe it’s because I’m in my human form now.

With the spectacle that had gone down with my first part-time job choice, I’m set on working well and earning my proper pay. I may have gone completely off track from my initial plan of upping the High King’s image, but never mind that! I just have to concentrate on finishing this quest – a part-time job, rather – that’s right in front of me!

Alrighty then, let’s get into the store. I’m not entirely sure how acceptable it is for someone looking to be interviewed to enter through the front door, so I make sure to go through the back again.

“Excuse me. I’m here for the interview.”

This time, I make use of a much more decent word choice to call through the door. But no matter how long I wait, it doesn’t feel like anyone’s coming to the door. There isn’t even a single response.

That’s weird. The store’s still open, so there should definitely be someone. Maybe they’re in the middle of important business they can’t get away from.

“Pardon me.”

Seeing as the door isn’t locked, I decided to try and open it. That’s when I’m greeted with the sight of a lone man pressing his forehead against the ground.

“I’ll give you every little thing I own! So please, I beg you, at least spare my little girl’s life!”


I’m at a loss and have no idea what to do. I awkwardly scratch away at my cheek. Something tells me it’s not been that long ago since I heard a line like that.

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This man has to be the store owner.

“…What the -?!”

Once the man raises his face from the ground, he takes one look at me and falls into a blank stare.

“Um… I heard the High King was supposed to come here for an interview. Just who… might you be?”

The man, who appears to be of a more timid sort, directs this question towards me with more than a little confusion. High King or not, it’s probably for the better if I don’t reveal myself to him.

“My name’s Hamou*, actually. Do you think you just got the two names mixed up?”

I feel as if this is just short of impossible to pull through, but the man seems satisfied with what I had to say.

“Oh, so that’s what that was! And here I was sure that the High King himself would come here to crush this store! The more I think about it, the less likely it seems that the High King would go out of his way to crush this little old general store, huh? I’m so sorry for catching you off guard like that!”

“Haha… Oh, don’t worry about it. It’s actually a pretty common mistake, happens all the time.”

I’m a little curious to see the kind of face he’d make if I undid my Transformation spell, but I think that’s just a little too much mischief from me. Let’s just forget about that.

“So… about the interview…”

“Huh? Oh, who cares about some old interview?! You look like the hard-working type, so… you’re hired!”

“Are you sure you’re fine with that?”

“Really, I’d appreciate the help. We don’t really have enough workers here, and I was getting worried. Looking forward to working with you from now on, Hamou-kun! Oh, I’m the store’s owner, by the way!”

“… Sure. I hope we can get along.”

Thinking to myself that being short on working hands isn’t any wonder if you’re going to recruit with an hourly wage of five pieces of copper, I shake hands with the shopkeeper. Since just the slightest of slip-ups could end up with me crushing his hand, I push myself, giving all I have just to maintain that one handshake.

“So, I’d like to get you started on work right away today. That alright with you?”

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“Sure, I really don’t mind.”

“Okay then, here’s the store uniform. The changing room’s over there, okay?”

I accept the uniform he hands over to me and get changed in the locker room. It consists of a pink apron that had the picture of a cat sewn onto it. It looks so adorable, in fact, that I’m hesitant to try it on. But since this is the store-issued uniform, there’s nothing I can do.

“Let’s get you started with some accounting work. I know it isn’t easy at first, but just do your best until it grows on you.”

“Got it.”

When I turn to face the counter, a man with a muscular build who looks to be somewhere in his thirties enters my field of vision, his arms crossed. He’s wearing the exact same uniform as me, so I can assume that he’s another employee. The pink apron strongly clashes with his appearance, making for an incredibly surreal sight.

“Oh, that’s Khiel-san. If there’s anything you need to know, just ask him about it.”

“I understand.”

I move over to the inner side of the counter and bow my head toward Khiel.

“I’ll be in your care from now on. My name’s Yuu– Hamou. It’s nice to meet you.”

“… New blood, are ya?”

Khiel-san had spoken with a very intimidating voice.

“Listen up, lad. This here, it’s a battlefield. Lose your head for just a second, and you’re done for. Wanna live? Then just watch my back and learn how to survive.”

Wait, isn’t this a general store? Why’s this guy ready to risk his life over a part-time job?

“But still, nothing beats good, hard work. Nothing beats the taste of sake bought with the money your own sweat and tears bring you. Makes you remember you’re alive.”

And now he’s talking again, adding even more on top. Also, I don’t think this is the kind of job that’d make you sweat that much…

“Khiel-san’s pretty much a celebrated veteran of this store. Been working here for fifteen years, you know.”

“Fifteen years?!”

What the shopkeeper just said throws me for a loop. How much work can you even put in for a measly five coppers an hour?!

*Hamou – A pronunciation close to the Japanese term for High King or Supreme Ruler; Haou.