A person with nothing
There is a concept of levels in this world.
All living beings begin at level 1, and can level up by gaining experience points called ‘Spheres’ which are obtained by defeating the monsters that inhabit this world. However, these monsters are very dangerous, and not everyone has the capability of defeating them. Only warriors who possessed strong attack skills could destroy these monsters.
Skills are special gifts given by God to people when they are born. Each person has at least one of these gifts, and live by using their powers. As such, those who possessed stronger skills are said to be chosen by God.
This was what my deceased father told me.
The skill that I had been given was “Gluttony”. It is a troublesome skill that only gives me a feeling of constant hunger. In the village where I had been born and raised, I was told that I was good-for-nothing, and was frequently bullied as a result. I am a useless person in this world ― I have nothing.
Thanks to this pointless skill, I was kicked out of the village after my father, who was my only family and support, passed away from an illness. I then travelled to the Seyfert Capital, thinking that in such a large city, surely there would be something that even I could do. I held this hope close to my heart.
Despite this, I could not find a decent job and ended up being employed as a gatekeeper for the castle. Whether the weather was rainy, windy, or snowy, I was not allowed to move away from the front gate. Yet, compared to amount of hard work for this job, the wage was very low.
Originally, this was not a job that a commoner like me could do. This was something reserved for the Holy Knights who served the castle. However, because of the 3K; “severe”, “dirty” and “dangerous”, the higher-up authorities employed daily labourers like me to be their substitutes. (TLN: Severe, dirty and dangerous are all words that start with ‘k’ in Japanese, “kitsui”, “kitanai” and “kiken”, hence the term ‘3K’.)
“Oi, have you been guarding the gate well as our substitute today?”
The voice belonged to a young Holy Knight wearing brightly shining armor. He was my employer, one of the three siblings of the Breric family, a member of the five noble lineages of the kingdom. The one who spoke to me with such arrogance was the eldest son, Rafal. Next to him stood Hado, the second son, and behind them both was their younger sister, Mimil. The three siblings all had icy blue coloured hair, and all of them were superior Holy Knights.
A Holy Knight is someone who has especially outstanding skills, even amongst the warriors. It is an honourable title given to those who are acknowledged by the kingdom to have a great talent. In this world, levelling up stronger skills leads to an increase in one’s status. Therefore, Holy Knights who fought demons with their holy attribute skills and levelled up were in a completely different dimension to people like me. If I were to anger them, who knows what they would do.
“Yes, Rafal Breric-sama.”
I kneeled down and bowed my head at them, even if they were irritating jerks.
“Here, your wage for today.”
Rafal threw several copper coins at my feet. The other two smirked in disdain.
“Pick them up. If you don’t hurry, I’ll decrease your wage.”
Even if he had not said that, those coins were important money for my living expenses. I quickly began to pick them up, but just I was about to retrieve the last piece, Rafal stepped on my hand.
“Oops, my bad. There’s a hand there? It’s so dirty that I didn’t see.”
He laughed hard while stepping down. Obviously it was on purpose.
“Don’t forget, we’re the ones who gave a job to scum like you. We can replace you as many times as we want. Do you understand? Is this too hard for someone as stupid as you?”
“Oh yeah, it seems like you’ve been slacking off lately. We gave you an honorable job to do for us. Normally this job isn’t even paid, so you should be grateful that we’re paying you so generously. Shouldn’t you be picking them up more carefully?”
“It’s just as my older brothers said. Your failure will inconvenience us. I’d feel bad if I executed you.”
This was their educational guidance to me by firmly reminding me of my position. Telling me how lowly I am and emphasizing that they were the ones keeping me alive, this was what they drilled down to my bones. If I refused to listen to him obediently, he would not let me pick up the last coin. If I defied him, I’d lose my job and possibly be killed since they would see it as a rebellion.
Damn it. I have already lived as their slave for five years, with no change in sight. If I decided to quit, Rafal and his siblings would surely be enraged and accuse me of false charges. He’s that kind of person.
I felt the irritation accumulated in these five years start to build up inside, angry at why I must obey them and resenting my own uselessness. And only at such a time does my “Gluttony” skill awaken, making my stomach rumble loudly.
Rafal seemed to think I could never eat enough and started berating me sternly.
“How pitiful. Even though you’re doing such a poor job of being a gatekeeper, we are still feeding you! Stop embarrassing the Breric Family!”
He kicked me in the stomach as I was still kneeling. Even though he did not kick hard, the difference between a Holy Knight’s status and a commoner like me was like heaven and earth. The impact of the kick was strong enough to feel as though my internal organs might just jump out of my mouth. Vomiting repeatedly, I lost my breath and fell to the ground.
“What’s this? You’re like a maggot. Smelly and dirty.”
In the midst of my consciousness, I heard what sounded like Mimil’s voice.
“Oi, hurry and get up. If you aren’t doing your job properly as a gatekeeper, we’ll get blamed by the other Knights!”
Rafal was now stepping on my face and pressing it to the ground.
“Get up already!”
As if I can get up. Unless he took his tough leg away, there was no way I could stand up with the overwhelming power difference between us. Rafal knew that of course. He seemed to enjoy watching me struggle and writhe under his feet.
He stepped down harder and I felt a severe pain as if my head was about to crack. Just as I thought I was about to die, I was saved by a dignified voice.
“Rafal, stop that at once! He’ll die if you continue. Your actions towards the people we are meant to be protecting are improper for a Holy Knight!”
“Tsk… Today’s shift change is Roxy Heart, huh?”
The person who saved me was Roxy Heart, someone who believed in using strength to assist the weak and was therefore a rarity amongst the Holy Knights. Her dazzling golden hair reflected her courageous personality.
The Heart Family was also one of the five noble lineages, and they believed strongly in honoring justice. Hence, they were adored by the public, and of course I was her fan too.
At Roxy’s glare, Rafal and his siblings left with a string of curses. As they did so, Rafal looked back at Roxy with a defiant smirk. I knew that expression well. After all, Rafal was a revengeful person. It was likely that he resented Roxy for shaming him and was already thinking of a way to retaliate.
Roxy paid him no heed and taking my hand, she helped me up. With her handkerchief, she wiped the blood that flowed from my forehead.
“Are you alright?”
“Yes, it always happens. Thank you very much for your help, Roxy-sama.”
“Not at all, we are gatekeeper comrades after all so it’s only natural that I should do this. Anyway, let’s change places.”
I bowed deeply and handed Roxy the spear adorned with a flag that had Royal Family emblem embroidered on it. This spear was the symbol of the gatekeeper. Unlike the other Holy Knights, Roxy was a respectable Knight who did her job as a gatekeeper properly. She glanced worriedly at me as I released her hand.
“If something like that happens again, I’ll―”
“No, I cannot cause trouble for Roxy-sama. I’m okay, so I’ll be on my way now. Please excuse me.”
Although it seemed like Roxy had something else that she wanted to say, I quickly ran off. I did not want her to concern herself with the Breric Family because of me anymore. With their personalities, who knows what kinds of dirty tricks they would use. There was no greater despair to me than just the thought that she may end up being treated cruelly like the way they dealt with me. I wanted Roxy to be able to keep walking her path without hesitation. It would definitely be better this way and bring happiness to the people of the kingdom.
Feeling gloomy, I headed towards my usual drinking bar and as the moon rose high into the sky, I entered. Late at night was when it was the busiest. Merchants, prostitutes, travellers and many others sat down and drank until their faces turned red.
Sitting down at the counter in what could be called my designated seat, the bartender placed a glass of red wine in front of me without a word. This was the cheapest wine in the store and was not delicious in the slightest, being rather sour. Its sole purpose was to serve as my distraction.
“Master, bread and soup.”
Bread that had been baked for so long it that became burnt. Tasteless soup leftover from boiling vegetables for other dishes. This was my dinner. I had not eaten meat for more than five years. The last time I tasted it was from a small piece of dried meat.
I’ve already forgotten what meat tasted like.
Due to my “Gluttony” skill, I was always hungry yet I never had enough money to satisfy my appetite. Consequently, I ate the meal in front of me very slowly in the attempt to lessen my hunger just a little. While I ate the burnt bread and drank the wine bit by bit, the bar owner struck up a conversation.
“How was your day working as a gatekeeper?”
“It was pretty hard.”
“I see… I hope you won’t end up like your predecessor.”
I gave no reply. I had heard that my predecessor employed by the Breric Family had died from being overworked. He status was the same as mine, having been relentlessly tormented while working severe hours. He had gradually become thinner until like a thread snapping, he suddenly fell down and died.
And then, the bar owner had witnessed the dead body being kicked and stomped upon by the Breric Family, as he had died while on guard duty and was no longer of any use to them. Even now, it was a miserable scene that had been burned bright into his eyes, unable to be forgotten.