Some Gifts for the Shield Hero
Chapter One – Outside Intervention
It all started when a book fell from a shelf.
Like any decent book browser, he picked it up without a care. "Hmm… The weapons of the four saints?" He turned the book over in his hands, examining the ragged cover. "What's a novel doing with the manga?"
The book looked decades old, slightly dusty, and the colors of the book's cover were more than a little faded. The fact that such a downtrodden book could be found in a university library was kind of rare. "Jeez. Don't they take care of books in this place?" he muttered. The cover looked interesting enough to take a peek. It wasn't like he had anything better to do. Besides, the mystic looking symbols on the front looked sort-of neat.
"Is it a fantasy novel?" The first pages were an introduction to a typical fantasy setting. "It's the kind that starts out by talking about the end of the world..." he tried not to sound disappointed, and failed. "It might have been a neat premise when it was published, but that is so overused now."
The book spouted the usual cliché lines about summoning heroes, how the heroes had to be from another world, and how each hero got their own special legendary weapon. It even had the usual special four items. In this case a sword, spear, bow, and shield. "A Shield?" He pondered, "Shields aren't exactly weapons..." It seemed a nice enough idea for an introduction. Simple, easy to follow. Browsing a few pages of the book couldn't hurt…
And so he read, "So the weapons follow game logic? That's kinda overused too." And read, "Wow, its been a while since I've seen a character get the deck stacked against him so badly in the first few chapters..."
But right as he got to the pages of the Hero awakening to the guards accusing the Shield hero of rape, the pages became an irritating white. All of them blank as if they had been freshly made. It irked him fiercely.
"Oh come on!" He protested, "it was just getting interesting! No wonder this book was treated so poorly. It's a botched print!" He flipped ahead, hoping that maybe the story continued, and that there was only the one missing chapter.
To his frustration, the rest of the pages were just as disappointingly empty. It was enough to bring on a blinding headache.
A very blinding headache.
"Why… is it blank?"
He fell forwards, expecting to feel the rough library carpet smack him in the face.
What he felt instead was a sudden tug on the back of his collar before being yanked into a void of white.
He blinked, perplexed by the change in scenery. A room of white expanding around him almost infinitely, "Uh, Hello?" he called out awkwardly.
He turned, to see a Man sitting behind a large oak desk. To his left were dozens of little purse like pouches, to his right were dozens of files. The man was perusing a file. "Ah welcome," the man greeted. "Please take a seat." A chair, made of the same oak as the desk appeared. Left with little option, and more than a little confused, he took the offered seat. Never looking away from the man behind the desk.
The man behind the desk placed the file down haphazardly and looked at him, "Now dear boy, I'm sorry to say this, but you've been Isekai-ed."
He blinked again, the headache was coming back. "Ise...kai-ed?"
The man behind the desk nodded, "Yup. Seems like some force of imagination slated you to be picked for some otherworldly shenanigans."
"But why me?"
"My personal theory is unrealized sadism," The man behind the desk explained, "or it could always be the self-insert thing that all creators seem to do at some point."
A little bit of otaku lifestyle slipped out, "So are you going to give me superpowers and stuff before sending me on my way?"
The Man behind the desk grinned. "In a way, but not because of why you're thinking. I'm not the one who picked you either. I'm here… more as a deliveryman."
The confusion came back. "What?" he asked intelligently.
The man behind the desk leaned back in his chair. The hard wood flexing and reshaping until it looked more like a wooden recliner. "So, what was supposed to happen was you get transported, then you get fucked over. Royally. Like, risking execution or a cursed existence. Whatever." The man behind the desk pointed at the pouches. "So my Makers decided that they didn't like the way your story was supposed to go. Thus they sent me to find you first."
"So do I pick one of these bags then?"
"Nope, first you tell me your name. Then I give you the bag my makers chose for you."
He frowned, "Shouldn't you know my name already?"
The man behind the desk glared slightly. "Kid do you have any idea how many people across the universes get Isekai-ed on a monthly basis? Thousands. Tens of thousands to be more accurate. Most of which fade away from existence before their story is finished because the deities that screwed with them got bored or forgot about them."
"Forgot about them?"
"Even the Makers have limited brain space. If they forget their creations, they either stay forgotten or stay frozen in time. The story stays unfinished if you will. Understand?"
"I think so?" In truth, he really didn't.
"Good, now, your name?" The man behind the desk demanded.
"Naofumi… Iwatani Naofumi!" He stated.
"Iwatani is the family name right? I hate getting that mixed up..." The man behind the desk shuffled around the folders in front of him for a few moments before pulling out a file labeled 'Rising of the Shield Hero'. "Here you are, pouch model number two-twenty-four. The Ten Rings set." A pouch was softly tossed to the Isekai victim.
Naofumi caught the pouch before it would have landed in his lap. "So what is this?"
The man behind the desk leaned back again, "If I remember right, ten rings ripped from another world. I think they were mostly suited for defense. I know one of them is supposed to make you wiser."
Naofumi looked at the bag in his hand. "Wiser? Not smarter?"
"Smart guys can still make stupid mistakes because they don't understand why what they did was wrong."
"But why give me a ring that makes me wiser?" His head tilted to one side.
"Because my Makers believe that most people who get Isekai-ed are people without a drop of sense or awareness."
"Oh..." Naofumi sat in silence for a moment, trying to not feel insulted. "So what now?"
"Well you have two options. First is to open the bag, read the note inside, and put on the rings before I finish shipping you off to your future home. Second option is that you decide to ignore the hint I just gave you, and I drop you into your new life with no boost from the start."
Not thick enough to ignore the advice, Naofumi pulled open the bag and poured the rings out, swiftly slipping them on his fingers. The note was unfolded just as fast. He read it three times, confusion growing with each reading.
Ring of Virtuous Good
Ring of Universal Energy Immunity
Ring of Weaponbreaking
Ring of Rapid Healing
Ring of Regeneration
Ring of Freedom of Movement
Ring of Sustenance
Ring of Force Shield
Ring of Telekinesis
Ring of Epic Wisdom
Naofumi blinked at the list. "Wait… This is just a bunch of names? This doesn't tell me anything." he looked back to the man behind the desk, who was looking up.
Naofumi looked up. He didn't see the chair beneath him vanish, but he certainly felt it.
The blinding headache was back, the white room was gone and so was everything in it.
Naofumi now found himself on his back in a room made of stone, lit by torches, and filled with people in armor and robes. Most of whom were talking excitedly to themselves.
One man in robes stepped forward, a band of gold around his head and his hands clasped in prayer. "O' Four Saint Heroes of old!" He beseeched, "please help save our world!"
Naofumi looked at the shield that was now locked onto his left arm, the ten rings on his fingers, and the note crumpled in his hand.
"Oh fuck me. I'm the Shield Hero."