The gaudily armored man in front of us had just announced to us that he was the ruler of this country. Given how easily people allowed him to pass and how everything seemed to be dictated by his pace, I shouldn’t have been surprised by this outcome. Nonetheless, we were all stunned by how casual he had acted in front of us. This was a man that appeared to be unbound by the rules and customs of this world. We had no way of knowing how to react in the face of such a king.
Koujiro took off his helmet and placed it on the throne. Underneath it was the face of a normal Japanese man, who looked old enough to have been part of the working population. His face and neck were thin, suggesting that he was not the warrior type, despite the other armor he had on. I guess it didn’t matter what your body was like in this world as stats determined everything here.
“Allow me to re-introduce myself. I am Lightning Koujiro, the champion king of the country of Macali, strongest man around. And given by your reactions, probably… the strongest in the world,” he exclaimed with a smug expression.
As if on cue, seven young ladies filed into the audience room. They stopped just before the throne and kneeled with bowed heads; their right arm was placed across their chest.
The girls appeared to be in their late teens or early twenties, but each one of them possessed different characteristics that would tickle a man’s heart depending on his preferences. Wearing armor that flaunted their bodies, it left little to the imagination of their three sizes. Equipped with different weapon types, they appeared to be fighters of their own right.
Somehow, I felt like I had just walked into a warring-ages dating sim game. Since they were standing in front of us, I didn’t know where to look. The two girls next to me were red in the face, apparently embarrassed by the sight of them. Looking at this scene, I suddenly regretted that I had given Eryn something similarly scandalous months ago.
The one that stood in the center, a tall, busty woman with flowing red hair and carrying a spear, was the first to speak.
“I, Liruru, bow before our king!”
Another stepped up next, a petite girl with green hair wielding claws.
“I, Merona, show allegiance to our king!”
One by one, the girls announced their respect for the man sitting on the throne.
“I, Firion, give thanks to our king!” A short, orange-haired tomboyish girl holding a saber said.
“I, Relia, fight for our king!” An aqua-haired magician with a staff exclaimed.
“I, Lyucel, praise our king!” A black-haired and tanned thief girl, equipped with twin knives, said with a wide smile.
“I, Harlett, honor our king!” A lavender-haired girl with a bust that was threatening to spill out exclaimed, holding a mace.
“I, Lailah, give my love to our king!” The last girl, one with mahogany hair and a lustful expression, blew him a kiss. She held a menacing scythe in her hand.
I wondered if they had to do that chorus every time, like some kind of ritual. Certainly, that would get annoying to me after the first time.
I was a bit bothered that each of them seemed to embody a particular archetype standard for a harem series, but I just swept that thought aside for the moment. There was no way someone’s tastes would be that broad. Still, they had all been equipped with weapons and armor that looked just as expensive and eye-catching as Koujiro had. No doubt that they held positions close to the king. Seeing as there were seven of them, they were likely the representatives that Koujiro had referred to.
“Welcome, my lovely wives!”
Scratch that, this guy was scum.
“W-Wives! All of them?!” Eryn blurted out as she heard that.
Eryn, and even Katalina, gawked openly at that. While it was not unheard of to take an extra wife or mistress, especially in the case for nobility, seven seemed rather excessive.
“Why yes, these girls are the representatives of each of the islands of Macali. As the king ruling over the entire country, would it not be appropriate to wed them all?” Koujiro said, not even noticing how odd his statement was to us.
A harem – a concept that some men, especially lonely otakus, had dreamed of. Fueled by the many sources of gratuitous fanservice and moe character designs that served to flip our switches, it was no doubt a desire that was hammered into many people of my generation. However, I had seriously questioned if such a thing were possible in real life. I looked back at my relationship with Eryn and thought that my hands were tied dealing with just this one girl.
The three of us outsiders looked at Koujiro and his girls questionably. None of the girls appeared to show any sign of being coerced into the situation, but it still made us a bit wary of Koujiro. Having picked up the chilly atmosphere that had developed between us, he pressed on to convince us.
“Does a man as powerful as I, a hero summoned to this world, not deserve something in return for protecting the country? I have defeated all who have challenged me, shielded the citizens from dangerous beasts, and gathered power that likely no other country could compare to. All I ask in return is for them to fulfill some of my ‘requests’.”
The girls nodded in agreement as he said those words. Relia took a step towards us.
“It is our wish to serve our king, the one that unites us all. Each one of us has decided to follow this man. We are all under his care. Even if it were to be ‘nighttime duties’, we have pledged our vows.” She placed her hand over her heart, having long accepted this outcome.
I sighed at the scene in front of me. It seemed like the girls were obligated to follow their roles. Was it really okay for them to accept being ‘wives’, which in this case appeared to be glorified trophies? Having come to truly care for someone, this kind of display felt rather shallow. Yet, they exuded a determination to see through their decisions. It was not our place to judge them and impress our beliefs onto them.
I did briefly wonder if I would’ve chosen the same route if such an option had been offered to me at the beginning, but it was pointless to think about it. The current me had changed from my easily influenced otaku self from a year ago. I was getting a headache, so it was probably better for us to move on and continue our business.
I looked over to Katalina and gave her a nudge. Snapping back to reality, she momentarily flailed before remembering the reason for us being here.
“King of Macali, I have come here as an offering to promote good relationships with the Kingdom of Sistina. I believe that you have been notified by our king of such an arrangement. If such a simple act could foster a healthy relationship between our countries, then I would be happy to offer myself to someone of your country. From what I can tell, we would benefit greatly from this alliance.”
“I’ll take you,” Koujiro replied almost immediately. “You’re not exactly my type, but you’re interesting. I wouldn’t mind adding you to my harem.”
I gritted my teeth at that statement, wanting to yell at him for his insensitive comments. Though she was the Princess, I couldn’t help but see her as a friend, so being treated as a casual object didn’t sit well with me.
Eryn had also flashed a look of disgust at the man’s comments. The hand on her bundled sword gripped tightly at the fabric. Before we could say anything, Katalina pressed on.
“Then, you will take me as one of your wives? With that, you’ll partner with-“
Koujiro held his hand up and interrupted her, catching her off-guard. His face and voice shifted suddenly. No longer did he look at us with a cordial face, but one that was laced with contempt. His voice boomed with a commanding tone.
“I said that I’ll take you, but I never agreed to any kind of relationship with your country. In the first place, what could you even offer us? Just look around, we are far more technologically advanced than you. Even though Sistina is a kingdom that dwarfs the others in size, did you think that you could walk up to a small nation like ours and casually ask us to join you? I smell ulterior motives.”
“No! That was not our intention! We are-,“ Katalina pleaded with him.
“A vast kingdom coming to invade the country of the hero, huh? Like the setting of every damned RPG that I’ve ever played! Throwing an act of good faith only to mislead us and lower our guard. I’ll take your offering, but don’t expect me to bow down to anyone!” Koujiro stood up, seemingly getting ticked off by the minute.
The situation had suddenly gotten quite bad. In the presence of a powerful man, paranoid that we were here to marginalize his power, there was no hope anymore for us to reach a favorable agreement. I had neither the experience nor the tact to deal with something touchy like this.
Eryn placed an arm in front of Katalina to defend her. She had gotten fed up with his one-sided accusations.
“So, you say that opening your borders to us is an act of aggression? Yet, you expect us to just let you have the Princess without any compromise on your part? There’s no merchant that would accept a one-sided deal such as that!”
“Why not? A hero gives his all to right the world. I’d just be ‘saving’ her in the process.”
Being a merchant herself, Eryn had tried to show him the flaw of his logic, but it didn’t look like he was having it. Something seemed to have flipped his switch, and he wasn’t going to be backing down from it.
“Hey, I think we should just go. I don’t think we are getting anywhere with this arrangement. Maybe, we should just drop it and return home,” I said to my two companions.
“Return home?” Koujiro laughed at my statement. “You think you can just return home after coming here? Especially the princess who has the ability to analyze our technology with magic? I think not. There’s no way that I can let you all leave now. You’re going to remain here for the rest of your days. Now, the question is… will you work for me, or will it be the dungeon?”
The champion king had made his declaration.