Chapter 1: A Tale from Long Ago
I’m going to tell you a story from my childhood.
Everyone in this world receives a skill when they reach the age of 15.
My parents were well-known adventurers.
So I never doubted that I, too, would be endowed with an adventurer’s skill.
I’m going to be a better adventurer than my parents. That is my ambition.
I began learning swordsmanship at a young age.
When I was ten,
With a scream, my sword brought down an Aura Bear.
“I’ve won! Come on, Tina! You’re fine!”
A girl with long blond hair and lovely eyes appears from the trees.
Martina is, therefore, Tina. She’s what I refer to as a childhood friend.
“You beat it?! Ash is really good, and he hasn’t even learned a skill yet… “
“Well, I think the real work starts when you’re 15 and you develop your skills, but it’s good to practice them now, right?”
“But you’re being too reckless; I was worried Ash would get hurt!”
Tina was a little tearful.
She appeared and sounded like a strong woman, but in reality she was a worrier and a crybaby.
“You’ll get used to it; we’ll be adventurers when we’re fifteen, and we’ll be doing this a lot.”
I patted Tina on the head.
“Uh-huh. I’ll follow you as hard as I can! So when you become great adventurers like aunt and uncle… like you… I mean… please make me your wife!”
“Please don’t say it so loudly, it’s embarrassing…!”
“What’s so embarrassing about it? It’s our future! Do you understand? If you don’t, I won’t make you lunch any longer!”
“I know, I know… I promise. Tina says that too often.”
“Fufufu. Ash is strong and handsome, but I’m afraid if he doesn’t hear it at least once a month, he’ll catch bad insects.”
Tina giggled mischievously.
Looking back, I believe I was innocent at the time.
Then I turned 15 years old.
We went through the ceremony to get our skills.
Tina was the first to go.
“Oh, congratulations! Your skill is [Holy Warrior], I haven’t seen an S-ranked skill in ages!”
The priest in charge shouts, his face beaming.
This is a skill worth celebrating.
You can learn to use the sword, spear, axe, and club.
Light magic can be learned.
Special weapons and magic effects have been improved.
You have access to divinely blessed holy weapons.
Arm Strength: 7(7)
Physical strength: 7(7)
The numbers in parentheses show how much of a bonus you get for each level of skill.
It is a skill that combines various weapon specialties with holy magic.
The status bonus you receive when you master a skill is also the highest.
A person’s ultimate strength is determined by his or her own status as well as the value of their skill.
However, the human basic stats are only about 20 at best.
The value of the correction provided by high-ranking skills will far outweigh his or her own stats.
The [Holy Warrior] status bonus is self-evident.
If their power level is increased by two or three, they are already in the superhuman category.
When it comes to fighting power, the skills you learn are the most important thing, and Tina has all the tools she needs to be a great adventurer.
“Wow…! Me?! This is fantastic! I can now follow Ash!”
“That’s great, Tina!”
“Then it’s your turn.”
And my skill are―
“Oh, this is…”
The Priestess’s face twisted.
“Is there something wrong?”
“No, no… Your skill is [storage].”
Storage allows you to keep items in a hidden item box.
The item box menu displays a list of stored items and their percentages.
The item box’s capacity grows as your skill level grows.
Status Bonus: None
I couldn’t stop screaming.
It has F-ranked outlier capabilities.
The effect is that you can store items in invisible space.
The more proficient you become at this skill, the more storage space you will have.
If that’s all there is to it, it’s a good effect, but there’s a catch.
There are already magic bags that perform the same function.
A magical item created through [Alchemy].
This skill has no special benefits because it can be replaced with an storage item.
And you get no status bonus from your proficiency in the [Storage] skill.
There is no special benefit or status boost. That is why it is rated an F.
“Wait a minute! There must be a mistake that Ash has such a skill! Please check it out again! Ash has always wanted to be a great adventurer…!”
“… I’m afraid there’s no mistake; everything is in God’s hands and beyond our control.”
We left the ritual temple because we had nothing to say.
“…Ash, I mean…”
“What are you doing, Tina? Let’s go.”
“? Where are we going?”
“The Guild of Adventurers! I’m not going down without a fight just because I’ve got the short end of the stick! I’ll find a way! Let’s go!”
“T-That’s right! Ash won’t be daunted!”
Tina laughed along with me.
I pretended to be strong in front of Tina, but the truth was that I was stunned.
I might have cried if I had been alone.
Then we became adventurers and embarked on numerous quests together.
Tina’s strength quickly surpassed mine as we gained experience.
The gap between us widened over time until it became hopelessly inequitable.
By the time we were both 20,
Tina had risen to the rank of S adventurer and was widely regarded as the guild’s best.
While I worked my way to the very edge and achieved D rank.
From the outside, I resemble a goldfish who is always clinging to Tina for some reason.
Many are envious of this and get involved at every opportunity.
When they see me and Tina back at the Adventurer’s Guild, they immediately call out to us.
“Tina…how long are you going to keep that piece of garbage with you? Join our party. We’re an S and A-ranked party. You can do a better job here, right?”
Barbas, the guild’s second best adventurer after Tina, says.
“I refuse; it’s none of your business, and don’t call me Tina; my name is Martina, and only Ash is allowed to call me Tina.”
Tina responds with no change in her expression.
“Damn! You’re the reason Tina’s abilities aren’t being used to their full potential! Get out of here or go back to the countryside! It’s for the sake of the world and the people!
“If you want, I can break both of your arms right now and make a comeback impossible!”
“…Shut up. If you say another word, I’ll dismember you right now.”
Tina’s sharp gaze causes Barbas and the others to gasp.
She exudes a frightening, murderous intent.
Even though I wasn’t directly facing her, the intensity of her gaze sent shivers down my spine.
I could tell there was a big difference between Tina and me right now.
“Let’s go, Ash. We have a lot to look forward to today.”
Tina’s face changes, she becomes excited, and she pulls my hand away.
That’s right. Something gave me a strange feeling today.
It’s similar to when I was 15 and learned my skill.
It’s extremely rare, but some people are said to pick up new skills later in life.
It’s called double-skilling, and it happens once in a few tens of thousands.
Regardless of how much the [Storage] skill is improved, no status bonus is generated.
My proficiency level had already reached 95, which is close to the upper limit, but the loading capacity of items has only been increased.
So all I could do was hope for a miracle and acquire a powerful skill.
Maybe it’s finally here.
The results of my repeated training would reveal themselves today.
I came here with a glimmer of hope to have my status appraised.
“I’m sorry, but we need an appraisal of our status. I’ll go first.”
Tina addressed the guild staff.
Tina was also experiencing the same strange sensation.
It is entirely possible that we are both right.
“So, let’s get you looked at… Huh…? Oh, what’s that?! This is incredible…!”
“What did you see?”
“It’s a dual skill! In addition to her original [Holy Warrior], she now has [Great Sage]!
“””Whaaaaaaat? Two S-ranked skills?!”””
The entire guild was in a frenzy of exclamation.
This is completely absurd.
I was astounded as well. How great can Tina be?!
This lady is a genius. She might be in the class of heroes who will go down in history.
“T-That’s amazing…! Congratulations, Tina…! “
Ash… No I…Thank you. It’s now Ash’s turn! If you feel the same way I do, you must be as well!”
“Y-Yeah. Then it’s my turn.”
“Okay, well…Oh Ash-san seems to be double-skilled too!
“””What the hell?”””
Onlookers watching the scene raised their voices.
“What’s Ash’s second skill?!”
Tina is more enthusiastic than I am.
No, that’s not true.
I was just too nervous and excited to speak.
I’m hoping that all of my hard work and effort has paid off.
I don’t want to be seen as Tina’s sidekick any longer.
I want to travel around the world on equal footing, shoulder to shoulder.
“What’s so funny?!”
“No, my apologies… It’s simply too… No offense intended.”
“Just tell me what Ash’s new skill is right away!
“I-It was [Genius].”
It accelerates the growth and performance of the holder’s other skills.
As one’s proficiency grows, so does one’s effectiveness.
Status Bonus: None
This is the result.
In other words, [Genius] is a supporting skill that works in tandem with the other skill.
It would have been fantastic if I had gotten something like Tina’s [Holy Warrior] as my first skill.
But if I have [storage]…
Moreover, the proficiency level of [storage] itself is already over 90.
Increasing the growth rate now is almost pointless.
It only increases its load capacity.
In other words, if I want to be a strong adventurer, this is a big no-no.
Just when I thought I’d miraculously become double-skilled… and now this…!
The anticipation almost blinded me for a moment.
Is this the end of my options?
“D-Dang it…! How is this even possible…”
I couldn’t stop myself from dropping a tear for a split second.
“Oh, Ash… you know―.”
But Tina’s words were drowned out by loud laughter in the background.
“This is a masterpiece! The loser has drawn a loser again!”
“No, no, [Genius] is good in and of itself! But the holder is not!”
“Squandering valuable dual-skills! Aren’t you a [genius] at wasting?!”
“Or you’re a laughingstock [genius]!”
“They are both!”
Cut through the laughter, the painful sounds, and the crashing.
Tina punched Barbas, who was laughing the hardest.
“I will not forgive you, I will kill you…!”
Tina went on a rampage at the Adventurers’ Guild that day, and she was temporarily banned.
Being banned from the Adventurer’s Guild, we supplemented our income by doing business directly outside of the guild or by joining mercenary armies temporarily organized by our country or state lords.
Tina is a tremendous asset wherever she goes. She almost single-handedly cleared out a herd of demons the other day, which must have surprised the bigwigs.
As always, I’m still Tina’s little sop.
On my own, I was at the level of having to struggle with the lowest ranking member of the demon tribe.
So that day, when we were having dinner in the inn’s first floor dining room―.
Tina banged on the table so hard that she stood up.
“What do you mean, Ash?! Did I do something wrong?! I know I was kicked out of the guild for a while, but please! I’m sorry!”
“No, that’s refreshing for me as well, so I don’t mind.”
“Then why?! You don’t like me anymore?”
That can’t be true.
You’ve been with me this whole time, even though I’m such a failure and a wretch.
I owe you nothing but gratitude, and… I have feelings for you.
“Of course not; I didn’t forget about our promise.”
“I-Is that right …?”
“But, Tina, didn’t the King ask you to serve him the other day?”
“Yes, he said he’d give me command of the knight’s regiment…”
That’s an extraordinary offer for an adventurer from a commoner’s background.
“I believe you should accept it.”
“Eh?! W-Well, sure, I won’t be getting any guild quests for a while, and the conditions were favorable, but… how am I supposed to support Ash?! Ash and I can form a household…”
“No, no, I’ll stay an adventurer because I haven’t reached my [storage] skill limit yet.”
Since then, my [storage] skill proficiency has reached the 99/99 mark―.
When I appraised it, it’s supposed to turn blue if it’s at the limit, but it didn’t.
This seems to be because the limit for [appraisal] is 99, which means there are more than 100 levels of my [storage] skill.
I’m not sure what the maximum level of my [storage] skill is, but the blue letters indicate that you have reached your mastery. There is still a lot of work to be done.
When will I reach my limit?
But I wanted to achieve the goal in the right order before giving up altogether.
“I don’t want to do that! I just want to be with Ash! I can’t be the only one!”
“There are a lot of people who need Tina’s strength; there’s been a lot of talk recently about the Demon Tribe becoming more active and the Demon King’s impending return, right? Wouldn’t it be good to work with them a little?”
It is the concept that we should use our power for the greater good of the world.
At that time―I felt bad about tying up a genius like Tina to take care of me.
Or perhaps it’s more than that; it simply became too difficult to stay by Tina’s side without strength.
I couldn’t stand the stark contrast she demonstrated day after day.
“I’ll catch up with you so I can be right next to Tina. So you go ahead first.”
Tina still refused to go, so I spent a lot of time trying to persuade her.
“…Alright. But you don’t have to try to line up with me; I don’t mind how you do it as long as Ash comes to get me when you’re done, okay?”
Tina finally agreed with a nod.
“Yeah, I promise.”
Tina seems to have seen right through me.
Tina, too, may have struggled with being too far out.
But at that time, Tina definitely believed what I said.
There is no doubt about it in retrospect.
In any case, we decided to part ways.
I’m now 75 years old.
This old man was still the same.