THIS CHAPTER HAS BEEN EDITED! DO NOT READ THE OTHER CHAPTERS IF THEY DO NOT HAVE THIS WARNING, FOR THERE ARE MISSING PLOT ELEMENTS I AM RE-EDITING INTO! THERE IS EDITING IN PROGRESS FOR ALL CHAPTERS! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
I do not own Rising of the Shield Hero.
The dunes of white sands were blown by the harsh scorching winds, across endless miles of nothing but sand. The blistering heat near the horizon's edge can make one's vision distort and blur, as the endless stretch of desert sunlight gave no mercy to any unfortunate being who could not reside in its harsher environments. The probability of an animal unsuited for living in a desert, much less a human, is close to zilch...
But the famous saying goes: 'There's always that one person...'
Within a discreet cavern, deep within the desert, therein lies a man sleeping on the floor. Long-growing black hair flowed down, not as a smooth, royal mane like a lion, but like a unkempt nest for pigs. His clothes were the definition of weathered until it was no more: badly tattered tank top shirt that used to be a two-layered sweater, ripped discoloured baggy pants the length of short shorts, and boots that would be mistaken for sandals. In his sleep, he mumbled and grumbled, until he felt the hot air and grains of sand brush his face. His internal clock forcing him awake, the messy man slowly got up and stretched, getting all the knots and cracks out of his body. Standing up on his two feet, he finished up the stretching from the cave grounds he was resting in. Walking to the nearby cavern oasis he was residing inside, he leaned over, cupped his hands, and taken a big sweet slurp of its refreshing water.
"Auhhhhh..." His throat moisturized once more, the man did a few more last minute stretches, his body trying to regain his posture from sleeping on the ground. Thankfully, he was used to it for the longest time, with no bad cramps to last him a lifetime. Looking at his makeshift camping area, the man only stared at it in a despondent manner. It was kind of like a home, made for bums, but that was how he had to survive for the longest time, and he sadly did not have the time to change that.
"Another day to train, another way to occupy my time…" He declared to himself, the same thing he has been declaring to himself for the longest time. With that said, he began to strut out into the light, his hands brushing against the wall. All over the wall were countless tallies, marking how many days has he been in this desert (he lost count after reaching the thousands). Packing himself his supplies, like water, a carved walking stick made of ironwood, and a cloak, he began to venture out into the white-hot desert, breathing in the same scorching air that has filled his lungs for years, seeing the same environments, and fighting the same mobs that were at least numerous levels higher than his was.
Yep, same ol' routine for Naofumi Iwatani in the infamous Desert Prison, where one can lose their way for all eternity. In other words: a slow and painful death.
The desert heat was second nature to his unaffected skin, as he trudged through with no problem. Despite his aloof and eyes trained forward, he was quite alert, listening hard, feeling the shifting sands gently moving around his feet like a sea of sand. The footsteps behind him disappeared behind him, the sand gliding in the wind filling the spots. It wasn't very long, before he felt a shift and a rumble, but he wasn't panicking. In fact, he smirked, expecting the company, as he readied his stick.
A slight rumble later, an explosion of sand erupted around Naofumi, who smirked even wider as teeth appeared all around the man from the sand. Soon, the jaw snapped shut, with the man inside, as a giant sand worm launched itself out into the air, satisfied with the prey it has captured… until it felt abhorring pain within its system. Suddenly, its neck was sliced off, and blood and worm innards gushed out of both sliced ends, with a blood-covered Naofumi jumping out of its mile-high body. The stick he was holding glowed, as he was holding it like a blade, and then disappeared when Naofumi landed on his two feet.
"Gotta try harder than that! I've slain so many of your brethren, it's easier to kill you than breathe!" He laughed, rolling his neck, almost like it was a game to him. The worm, of course, did not respond, as it just flopped to the ground, unmoving. Sniffing the rancid blood, the man smirked, feeling the earth quake underneath him. "Here they come!" From the smell of blood, many more monsters came out from the sand, or galloped their way towards the slaughter, from sandworms, gryphons, giant scorpions to even ancient golems the size of kaiju monsters. All of them looked at the little Naofumi, who smiled viciously at the game that rushed in. His stick manifested into a white flaming shape of a sword, much like a Swordsman. "COME AT ME!"
The worms came at him first, all of them jumping him all at once, and a resounding crash and explosion of sand appeared. Their target was not in their grasp however, as Naofumi was in the air, creating an even bigger collision on the sandworms, resulting in a large shower of blood erupting. Some of the worms had various cuts appeared on them, but many others were simply sliced up into dead meat. Their bodies falling onto the ground, their titanic sizes causing massive dust clouds to form.
Landing on one of their corpses, Naofumi noticed the air shifting as a giant foot of stone appeared, ready to stomp on the man. Shaking his head, the man began to wind up his 'sword' swing by spinning it around, but suddenly, his 'sword' began to change shape into a Warrior's 'two-handed axe', held in one hand. Right as the golem's ginormous foot landed on the man, he gripped his 'axe' and swung The golems looked up and brought their arms together, firing ancient runic magic towards him, but the man dashed left and right in the air, before bringing the axe down. Immediately, the golem was cleaved in two after a second of momentary silence. "CMON!" He made a battle cry as he dashed from golem to golem, spinning like a hurricane of steel, cutting up his stony opposition into dust.
Suddenly, a scorpion appeared from underneath the sand, gripping him with his claws. Many more brought their tails up before stabbing where Naofumi was in a frenzy… until they realized that they were hitting on essentially nothing except sand. Hearing the wind shift in the west, the scorpions turned west, seeing Naofumi shaking his head in disappointment.
"Come on. You guys were much more of a dangerous opponent the day before." The man belittled from the other sand dune. Apparently, he disappeared through an afterimage. The Warrior's 'axe' disappeared, and instead a 'shamanistic warding wand' formed in his hands. "If you're done, you can have a taste of your own poison." Blue runes appeared around the man, as he chanted an incantation to a spell. "A drop of insanity, a pinch of malaise! Upon thy verge of death shall bringeth a hellish landscape! Blight!" With two hands, he stabbed the ground with his 'wand' stick, and the sand began to change and transform. The sand became a bloody red swamp, leaking the foulest poisons, with the scorpions mindlessly charging through the swamp. The moment they touched the enlarging toxic fen, the poisonous liquids began to take effect, as the putrid and befouling sludge sank into their carapaces. Soon, they slowed down more and more, and suddenly stopped, as their shells and flesh melting away into nothingness. Still, Naofumi had to give them credit for their determination: they valiantly tried to reach for him even on the verge of death. The giant scorpion corpses finally disintegrated from the poison eating them up into nothing, with the caster smirking at his work. Pulling out his staff from the same, the swamp disappeared, leaving on the rest of the monsters afraid of the man who has taken care of many of their numbers without breaking a sweat. However, Naofumi wasn't having their fright take effect.
"What's wrong?!" Naofumi taunted them, his 'staff' now transforming back to a regular stick. "Aren't you gonna try to claim this prey?! Afraid of a little man?!" He continued emphasizing the 'little'. Taunt was one of his many skills after all. The little Taunt seemed to take effect as the other monsters roared in response, angered at their prey for even evading them for so long.
A resounding crash was heard from his back, but the man did not even faze, flinch or get knocked about. He only smiled. A gryphon, the size of a house, tried to dive him beak-first, as fast as a jet plane breaking the sound barrier, yet it was like hitting an unmoving diamond wall. Repelled, the gryphon cawed in pain, its beak and other possible head bones as it was blown back a hundred metres away.
"Didn't they teach you manners in monster school?" The young man taunted, as the wind propelled his cloak upward to reveal a light metal shield, with a cracked red jewel, on his back.
"I'm the Shield Hero, and I never die." Indeed, his health has not gone down one point, due to his defenses being so astronomically high. His stick transformed into the shape of a Machinist's 'gun'. Taking aim at the gryphon, he fired one single bullet, destroying the gryphon into a bloody carcass in one shot. A giant hole, where the head and torso used to be, was present from where the bullet went through. The rest of the desert kaiju-sized animals, now fully falling for the Taunt, all charged towards the man, now hungry for more. "CMON!" His battle cry resonated, as he brought out his stick into the fight of the ages once more.
"Occultist class, finally mastered." Naofumi stated, taking a deep breath from the smell of blood and dead animal rotting the air. Fires were burning the bodies away like nothing ever happened the next day. Cycling through his stats on a HUD menu on his shield, he glanced and smirked at his achievement. "Heh, I guess that's every class truly mastered to its fullest. I'm glad I broke through my own Shield that day." Naofumi commented to himself, seeing his own stats and the amount of 9s he has gotten, almost like a rich snob's checkbook.
Naofumi Iwatani; Shield Hero Lv Max
Indeed, his level didn't have a number. It just said Max. He didn't know how long ago he got to Max Level before... or maybe he was already Max Level when he entered the desert. Smiling at his achievements, from his maxed out stats, his perfect skill setup and his list of all the known jobs with stars on them, it felt good that he got this far. How he got those 'jobs' you may ask?
Simple. Break the game.
"Damn you! Damn you all!" Naofumi screamed into the air, slamming his fists onto the sand. The deed against him was done. He now had nothing. No more friends. No more livelihood... Everything has been taken away by traitors. All he had with him now was the clothes on his back, a walking stick and his... Legendary Shield. The man continued to scream in despair, even when nobody was nearby in the middle of a scorching desert. He can only scream for so long, before he began to beg for water and his own survival. Picking up from himself, he hobbled across the desert, in a vain search for water.
It took him at least a day, but one could consider him the luckiest man alive, circumstances before notwithstanding, as he reached a dark cool cave, with an oasis with clean fresh water. The man drank from the oasis like a starved pig, then laid on the wall of the cavern, trying to get his head back into gear, with little success.
"Why... Why them of all people...?" His mind shifting into their last meeting with each other. All he remembered was a scream, a sighting of someone dead, the killers hovering over her and taunting him... and then nothing. The pain he had suffered was unbearable, with reality not easing his heart. The man could only cry once more... and look at his own Shield with anger.
"You... It's all your fault..." The man snarled out, his breathing becoming more laboured. Grabbing a lone rock, the man bashed the rock onto the Shield, continuously, specifically at the green gem fixed into the slot.
And he did it again.
"Stupid Shield!" He yelled, slamming the rock harder and harder on it. Tears rolled down the man's eyes. "It's all YOUR FAULT!" The man continued to slam his own Shield. There was no visible damage, but slowly the damage was starting to show.
"If it wasn't for you...!"
The metal had a small dent.
"...they would have been reformed!"
The gem began to form a small crack.
"If it wasn't for you...!"
The gem shook once more.
"...She would have been still alive!"
One final smash on the Shield, and the gem cracked once more. Suddenly, Naofumi's eyes widened as eldritch light and ancient powers escaped out...
When he woke up, all he knew was that he felt... different. He felt a lot more lighter on his feet, while the Shield had a different coloured gem. Didn't help that there was a crack on it, but long story short, by shifting through his HUD, Naofumi realized that he had, what the new Shield calls, the Job System, which allows him to access different jobs, like a Swordsman, a Warrior, or anything that can be conjured up, and it all came with different stats, abilities and the ability to use weapons. Using his walking stick, he can transform it into different weapons, learn different skills and transform on the fly, incredibly useful in combat.
Granted, it was not easy at first. While he did transform into a Swordsman, he was much more frailer, as the Shield Hero was now a separate class. Which means he was a lot more vulnerable now, especially against these malformed beasts that roamed the desert. The first kill he got took an incredibly long time, but it was definitely worth it (EXP and all for that separate class). And soon, as time passed, the man trained multiple jobs, acquired after either reaching a certain threshold of levels (there was another way, but the HUD blurred it out for some reason), leveled them up to a level where he could be considered a master, and learned many different types and styles of combat.
A shame that only he could enjoy it, and nobody else, but it at least took his mind off of what was ailing him right now.
Naofumi's smile dropped, heavy feelings of despondency ran deep inside of his heart. Sure, he could feel proud of himself, but for once, he wished that someone would feel proud of him. He hasn't had companionship for a long time... and it really was a long time for him. Resting inside of the desert cave, the man reflected on how his life came to be. How his family started, how it disappeared, and how his future plans crumbled into dust. The status disappeared, not mattering to him anymore. Naofumi then took out an old rugged photo, sighing and smiling at it in a melancholic fashion. What was shown was a campfire, with him smiling with his party of best friends and loved ones, most of them consisting of humans with animal traits called demi-humans, or full-on anthropomorphic beasts called beastmen. All of them had a happy time...
"If only you were here to enjoy those accomplishments… if only I didn't lose you all years ago..."
He could hear their jovial laughter deep in his memory. Sure, he hasn't seen them in a long time, but he still remembered all of their names, along with the circumstances on how they met. Those days... he wished he could re-experience them again...
The sun completely set, the world now in perpetual darkness. The coolness of night finally kicked in, as Naofumi wrapped himself in the cloak, and falling into a deep-...
He saw light. Naofumi stood up, alert at what he saw, as green runes appearing underneath him. The man shook his head: something like this never happened before. As he tried to step back, he felt an invisible wall appear, with no escape from stepping on the rune. "W-What...?!" Naofumi looked about, realizing what kind of spell it is:
Suddenly, a huge aching pain erupted on his arm, as if the Shield itself weighed a ton. Dropping the Shield, along with his arm surgically attached to it, he could feel his strength leaving him, almost like a starved leech. Widening his eyes, he could see all the power he has obtained, from the EXP to even all the Job System, collapse and be absorbed into the jewel of the Legendary Shield. Everything he has achieved in his solitude, years or even decades of hard work are now down the drain. "W-What the hell?! What are you doing, damned Shield?!" The man shouted, but it fell on deaf ears as the gem seemed to fix the crack by itself, along with the dents and scratches on the metal. The light began to spiral, as the rune consumed the man, his last words being: "WWAAHHH! WHAT'S GOING OOOOOON?!"
And soon, the Shield Hero vanished without a trace against his will.
That's right, I'm editing this story heavily. Not gonna lie, I actually starting to not like my writing style, especially the early chapters. It was mainly due to not having a good identity on what I wanted to write about. I mean, we all had that kind of problem: We know how the beginning and end will go, but not the middle? Yeah. So this time, now that I established an identity on this Naofumi (because I have no beta-reader, cuz I'm a shy man but plz hit me up if you are a beta-reader), I can reorganize and reintegrate some elements and remove some that are dumb.
This will take a long time, no doubt, which means that the next chapter will have to be held for another time. Thank you for your patience.
AGAIN, THIS CHAPTER HAS BEEN EDITED! DO NOT READ THE OTHER CHAPTERS IF THEY DO NOT HAVE THIS WARNING, FOR THERE ARE MISSING PLOT ELEMENTS I AM RE-EDITING INTO! THERE IS EDITING IN PROGRESS FOR ALL CHAPTERS! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!