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28. Ah, Is That So? (Part 1)

In a display of my versatility as Shuttle and an astute observer, I stealthily approached the Hero and vanquished the villains encircling him.

-Current villains, you say?

-Well, their outfits couldn’t scream “villains” any louder.

Undeniably, they were clad in the quintessential villain attire.

From head to toe, black garments engulfed them, even their swords coated in darkness. They were unmistakably villains.

“You’re too into the villain look.”

Certainly, it may be natural for nocturnal villains to don all black attire, but…

“You’re too fixated on stereotypes.”

Embracing unpredictability would be wiser than parading around in suspicious garb.

For instance, dressing in all white. Who would suspect a villain then?

People might even mistake you for a saintly figure.

-Mistaken for a saintly figure? Preposterous.

-I mean, haven’t you seen professors who have that saintly aura?

If you walk alongside a saint on the left and a Hero on the right, no one will question you.

Huh? That’s actually a pretty good idea.

Well, for that to work,

“Ma, Master?”

“There shouldn’t be anyone else nearby, right?”

Prioritizing the hero’s safety, I inquired.

“How did you find your way here?”

“I confirmed your location with the god of nature and came to find you.”

“Of course….”

Looking at the Hero’s face filled with deep despair, it seemed like he had realized his fate.

-Isn’t it pitiful?

-He was the one who started it.

I did tell him to go away, but it was the Hero who tenaciously clung to me.

If only he hadn’t chased after me when I ran away.

I ended up in this mess because he followed me, believing he was fulfilling a divine order.

-But even if you were the master, wouldn’t he have stuck around anyway? Is it because of your mood?

-Hmm… It’s probably not because of my mood.

– Ha! How wicked!

Wicked, indeed. Humans do their utmost to survive. I’m merely striving to live.

And the hero is not entirely blameless either.

The plan I’ve devised is to maximize our chances of survival in the current situation.

If he hadn’t been around, I would have employed a different approach instead of relying on the hero.

– Are you sure?

– I can’t be more certain. If he had escaped, Shuttle would have done the same, and then I would have had no way to find him.

– That’s true.

It’s all about killing two birds with one stone.

“Why… have you come?”

And it seemed like the hero realized that too, as he sighed deeply and asked.

“I have something to do.”

“What is it?”

At the hero’s question, I hesitated for a moment.

How should I explain what I’m thinking right now?

Hmm… ah, there it is.

“Become a hero.”

“What?”

The most appropriate phrase to explain the strategy I’ve come up with was “Become a hero.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Become a hero.”

“But I’m already a hero?”

That’s a well-known fact.

Lyna Rael Ironbat, the hero chosen by the gods!

Not many people know his full name, but there are probably few on the continent who don’t know the name “Hero Ironbat.”

The dragon slayer who took down a dragon and the mightiest hero of the current continent!

The more the demon king roamed the world, the higher his reputation soared.

As I said before, humans are creatures who do their best to survive!

– What do you mean?

– Just like I’m using him to survive, other people support him to survive as well.

All they can do is pray.

Commoners who lack the strength and courage to take matters into their own hands pray to the gods, waiting for the hero to defeat the demon king.

“And for those citizens, you must become the hero of heroes.”

“Commander…”

After finishing my perfect explanation, the hero remained silent.

“Are you telling me to fight the demon king?”

“That’s right.”

“Do you think I can do that alone?”

“I never said you have to fight alone. Mira’s Imperial Army is sweeping away the demon king, so you just have to pick up the pieces.”

“What do you mean?”

Shuttle began to explain eagerly to the perplexed hero.

“Naran faced the Empire’s forces in pursuit and clashed with the army of malevolent spirits, resulting in a decisive victory for the Empire.”

While in Naran’s captivity, the Hero had not received any information, leaving him unaware of the unexpected turn of events.

As Shuttle continued her explanation, the Hero’s astonished expression turned into disbelief when he heard that not a single casualty occurred among the Empire’s troops.

“Is that even possible?”

“It is possible, and that’s why they need you.”

Even if the balance had been somewhat equal, there would have been no need to find this guy.

Those who had lost their comrades and were filled with anger would have done their best to defeat the Demon Lord, and after the battle with the Demon Lord’s forces, the exhausted Princess’s forces would have retreated to the mainland, and everything would have been over.

“Damn! Why are they so powerful…?”

“That’s true.”

It was a perfect plan, but thanks to the Empire’s troops, who turned out to be even stronger than expected, both the Hero and I had become exhausted.

“Hero, isn’t it a good thing that the Empire’s forces are strong?”

“No, it’s not.”

Seeing me and the Hero sigh, Hill raised an eyebrow.

“What on earth is the problem?”

There are many problems. Too many.

There has not been a single place on the continent where the forces of malevolent spirits have been stopped.

As soon as the Demon Lord was born, he wiped out one country and advanced, destroying countless cities along the way to the mainland.

Even the Rubella City Union, with one of the strongest military forces on the continent, had been annihilated by the Demon Lord and his forces.

Many people would have been discouraged.

According to Shuttle, even other Heroes were unable to stop the forces of malevolent spirits and were dying.

What would happen when news spread that the Empire’s army had overwhelmingly defeated the enemy?

“They will praise the Empire’s army.”

“And then what?”

“Well… Oops! Right.”

“That’s right. In weak countries, they will start calling on the Empire’s army. Then, the Empire’s army will have a legitimate reason to travel to other countries.”

Having defeated the forces of malevolent spirits without any losses.

At the moment, only a few people know about it, but soon this news will spread throughout the continent. And many countries that have allied with the Empire will probably request aid.

Is that all?

Not only allied countries but even non-allied kingdoms will seek help from the Empire’s army, offering various concessions in exchange.

Rather than becoming a destitute and helpless person who was defeated by malevolent spirits, it would be wiser to hand over oneself to the Empire, a fellow human.

“The princess won’t miss such an opportunity. She will use it as an excuse to gain military power, using it to oppose the malevolent spirits, and will even use the military forces of those kingdoms to capture me.”

The entire continent is after me. It is even more dreadful than being pursued by the Demon Lord.

“That’s why this guy needs to step up.”

That’s why a Hero is needed. This guy needs to make a name for himself across the continent.

“Will anything change if the Hero steps up?”

“It will. It means there is still hope.”

“Hope?”

“That’s right. The opponent is the Karan Empire. That name represents the strongest, but at the same time, the worst name.”

The Karan Empire. The country that emerged victorious in the previous war and the only hegemonic power on the continent.

“The Karan Empire is strong. No one can deny that.”

“Yes.”

“And as strong as they are, the enemies are equally numerous.”

No country on the continent would dare to engage in a fight against the Karan Empire.

Even if they considered only the two countries belonging to the Karan Empire, they were evaluated to possess a military strength stronger than that of the average kingdom.

Analyses suggested that at least five or more kingdoms would need to unite their forces to barely stand a chance in battle.

At most, it was said that all the kingdoms on the continent, except for the Karan Empire, would have to join forces to face it.

That’s how powerful the Karan Empire was, and from the perspective of other nations, it was a place that should not be allowed to grow even stronger. For if the Karan Empire were to become stronger, the continent might be unified under the name “Karan.”

“A country that shouldn’t become any stronger, that’s the Karan Empire. Even the countries that were once allies with the Karan Empire wouldn’t wish for its growth.”

“But now that the forces of evil have appeared, there’s no choice.”

“Right. Currently, the only existence that can stand against the forces of evil is the Karan Empire.”

“But if the hero can-“

“They’ll seek help from someone other than the Karan Empire.”

While officially, this individual’s birthplace was also within the Karan Empire, not many people knew that. Many simply regarded him as a Hero from the Order of Nature.

Someone who shouldn’t be allowed to grow stronger, the Karan Empire, and the hero, an excellent pawn. If they can both defeat the forces of evil, it’s obvious which choice the other kingdoms will make.

“But the hero has to defeat the forces of evil for this to be possible.”

“That’s right.”

“Isn’t it impossible?”

“Given the current situation.”

No matter how powerful the hero may be, he is still just one person.

Shuttle cannot be sent out to do the job, as he must be brought along, and the other companion, the elf Selena, fled long ago.

Copywriting Editing:

“So, ‘You have to become a hero.'”

“What?”

“You have to become the greatest hero.”

Thus, the decision was made to assemble new companions for this heroic journey.

#1 Their Circumstances: The Circumstances of Certain Heroes

“Cough…”

“Fesche! H-Hang in there!”

“Just hold on a little longer!”

“No… I was wrong…”

As I gazed at my comrade, who was smiling through coughs of blood, I noticed the wounds he had endured for our sake.

“Laria… There’s nothing you could have done.”

“I’m sorry… I’m so sorry.”

Laria, the priestess capable of healing within our party, sobbed as she apologized.

“Laria… Don’t make that face.”

“No, it’s not your fault.”

“No. If only I had been more devoted… If my faith in the Nature God had been high enough to be chosen as a saint!”

“No, your faith is more than sufficient. Nature God knows that too.”

“Don’t smile like that! Just tell me you’re in pain!”

“Hahaha! It’s already too late.”

“No, it’s not too late! Act like your usual dramatic self! Why are you laughing at a time like this?”

This guy, who would always beg Laria to heal even the slightest scratch, was now coughing up blood but still smiling.

Both Laria and I knew. We were already too late.

But we couldn’t give up. He was a precious comrade to us.

“Heryl, leave me behind.”

“Shut up.”

“I was wrong. You know that, right?”

“Shut up.”

“Soon, the forces of evil will come after us. If we stay like this, both you and Laria will die.”

“We can just die.”

“Hey, don’t say that. Isn’t it unfair to die out of pity?”

“Why are you bringing that up!”

Taken aback by the sudden outburst, she fell silent.

Fesche, looking at her like that, chuckled.

“You’re feeling sorry for me too…”

“Huh? No, I’m not!”

“What, what?”

“I’ve already had a passionate night with the beautiful lady from the inn.”

“What on earth are both of you talking about!”

Blushing, Laria shouted while continuously using healing magic on Fesche’s wounds.

Having lived in the temple since childhood, she was not accustomed to such stories.

“After all the treatment is done, both of you will get married.”

“But I didn’t do anything wrong…”

“And I was wrong to begin with…”

“Both of you just stop it.”

With her lips tightly shut, Laria glared at Fesche with teary eyes.

“I-If you’re going to get married, Fesche, you must stay alive.”

Taking a deep breath, Fesche sighed.

“Dying isn’t that easy.”

“Of course not. You still owe me money, don’t you?”

“Is that so?”

“Yeah, you do.”

So don’t die.

Drawing the holy sword bestowed upon him by the Nature God, he stepped forward.

In the distance, hundreds of armies were approaching.

They were the demons who plunged the world into crisis and some of the forces who followed them.

Each one possessed combat power far beyond that of ordinary monsters, and their numbers were in the hundreds.

“Is this the end?”

If he abandoned Fesche now, he could return to life with Laria.

But…

“I am a hero.”

He was a formal hero chosen by the Nature God.

Death scared him, but abandoning his comrades was even scarier.

“Come, bring it on!”

Drawing his sword and infusing it with magic power.

At the moment he swung the golden sword, hundreds of sword energies struck the demon army!

“Huh?”

Everything came to a halt for a moment.

Hundreds? Was I that strong?

“Not leaving my comrades behind, you’re a good one.”

“W-Who are you?”

As soon as she realized that the handsome man had appeared next to her, she nodded.

“You want to save your comrade, right?”

“Yes?”

“I can save that guy, do you want me to?”

As soon as she realized he was referring to Fesche, she nodded again.

“He may be pitiful, but I can save him.”

At the wave of his hand, Fesche’s screams could be heard in the distance.

“H-How?”

“He’s being treated. You know that sometimes what’s good for the body can be painful.”

It was a phrase she had never heard before.