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Chapter 21: The Sage Tells the Hero
Over a hundred miasma stakes floated in the air.
They were shooting one after another, from all angles.
The Hero brushed away the approaching stakes with his holy sword.
He had quite the reaction speed.
Quite some time has passed since the battle began, but he was still struggling.
To avoid dying, the Hero was desperately moving about.
However, his entire body was covered with wounds of all sizes, his blood dyeing the grassland red.
As expected, even a Hero was not able to completely deal with my attack.
Occasionally, the Hero would approach me.
He would launch a surprise attack, but I would block it without difficulty.
From there, I would send the stakes flying and counterattack.
If it were back when I was alive, I would have used various defensive magic spells.
I would have made a conscious effort to keep my distance from the Hero.
The current me doesn’t need to be concerned with that.
Her swordsmanship far surpassed that of this Hero.
It was a power she cultivated through tremendous training and fighting demons to the death.
It was not something that could be easily surpassed.
The Hero was struggling against the miasma stakes.
No matter how many he destroyed, they would come back as if nothing had happened.
On the other hand, I still had some extra power left.
After all, there was an irreversible difference in power between the Hero and me.
I formed a spear of miasma in my hand, and fired it with a movement of my finger.
The Hero reacted and turned around, parrying the spear with his holy sword.
The next moment, a stake fired from behind the Hero pierced into his right thigh.
The sharp tip, drenched with blood, broke through his skin and protruded out.
The Hero fell to one knee and grunted.
I fired ten more stakes to corner him.
The Hero forced himself to evade by rolling on the ground.
He used his holy sword to block the ones that seemed like they would hit him.
Even so, a stake went through his flank.
The Hero gritted his teeth and endured it.
Still not dead? He’s quite tenacious.
The pain from miasma flowing through a living body is unbearable.
Normally, the victim would have begun transforming into an undead immediately.
The Hero was resisting with his willpower alone.
With his wounded body, the Hero shouted and rushed towards me.
Blindingly bright light gathered on the holy sword.
He raised it up and sent a slash of light flying.
I expected that much, and set up a defensive spell to receive it.
The slash of light created a crack in the barrier’s surface.
I felt that my defenses were about to be breached in the confrontation against the Hero’s hidden strength.
I used more magic.
Hundreds of vines grew out of the ground, and gathered in front of me to form a wall.
Although the wall of ivy was scorched, it blocked the slash of light.
At that moment, something passed by the edge of my vision.
It was the Hero, who had slipped past the side of the ivy wall.
He had run past while the slash of light created a diversion.
The sharp edge of the holy holy sword was on a trajectory to decapitate me.
I parried it with my keepsake sword, and tried to pierce the Hero’s chest with its tip.
The Hero jumped back, his blood scattering. He had dodged the thrust by a hair’s breadth.
I once again fired a spear of miasma at him.
I also moved multiple stakes at the same time.
The Hero succeeded in brushing off the spear with his holy sword, but could not deal with the stakes.
The rain of stakes that rushed at him showered into his back.
The Hero vomited blood and fell forward.
He sank to the bloodied ground, trembling slightly.
I looked at the Hero from a distance.
“It’s over. The battle is settled.”
The Hero thrust the holy sword into the ground and stood up, blood spilling from his lips.
His face was pale and his eyes, which were staring at me, were unfocused.
He was in a situation where he would die if he was left untreated.
“Give up. It’s pointless to stand up again. There’s no chance you can win.”
I told him, but the Hero shook his head and refused.
He looked up, still shedding blood.
“But if I die… here… the world’s… peace will be…”
Unconsciously, I muttered to myself.
Our goals were the same.
And yet our positions were on opposite extremes.
The Hero approached me, using the Holy Sword as a cane.
“If only…if only I could defeat you…the world will… become peaceful!”
I denied it with a firm tone.
The Hero looked at me in doubt.
It was finally time for me to confirm something I’ve been curious about for some time.
Thinking so, I asked the Hero.
“Claire Burton. Dwight Havelt. Do these two names sound familiar?”
The bloodstained Hero paused.
I guess he couldn’t grasp the intent of my question.
He must be wondering if he should answer it.
Meanwhile, I continued to wait in silence.
After a while, the Hero, who had caught a breath, opened his mouth.
“About ten years ago … they tried to kill the Demon King at that time and take away his power … The fallen heroes. Why do you ask…?”
“It’s a rebuttal to your ideals.”
I fired the miasma stake and stabbed it into one of the Hero’s limbs.
The Hero fell to his knees again.
I drove another stake towards him.
The Hero moved his holy sword in the nick of time and barely defended himself.
Immediately after, his hands hit the ground and he vomited blood.
The blade of the holy sword was losing its light.
“Defeat the Demon Lord and restore peace. It should be an extremely straightforward method. But it was no good.”
“What do you mean…?”
“We tried and failed.”
Many scenes passed through my brain.
Memories of being abused by people at the edge of the Valley of the Dead.
My vision, darkened by the arrow that pierced my eye.
Her expression as she stood at the edge of death.
What we were given in return for saving the world clearly showed the mistake in our choices.
I could still feel a tingle in one eye and in my chest.
It was a part of me that no longer existed.
“O nameless Hero of the holy sword,” I said, “There is nothing wrong with your claim. It is a path I too, once followed.”
Perhaps I was the crazy one.
The Demon Lord, who had exhausted all limits of atrocity, being defeated by the Hero, an apostle of justice, was the righteous rule.
By doing so, people would be saved.
I believed that and followed her, and finally defeated the Demon Lord.
“But, the world is so cruel and full of despair. So much so that your ideals are ridiculed and spat upon.”
The Hero was already at death’s door.
All he could do was move his head and look up at me.
It was a miracle that he was still alive.
The blood that flowed out of his wounds was still dampening the soil.
“Even if you had stepped over my corpse here, you would have eventually experienced deep despair. And then you would know the meaning of my words.”
I walked up to the Hero.
His figure, with stakes embedded all over his body, was pathetic and helpless.
But I couldn’t bring myself to mock him.
He was a young man who carried the burden of being a Hero and struggled for justice.
He wasn’t the one in the wrong.
It was the world, including me, that was wrong.
You cannot live by righteousness alone.
“You are soon going to die. But I shall carry forward your desire for peace. I know that’s not what you want though.”
The Hero did not answer.
He remained on the ground, unmoving.
The pool of blood on the ground spread out.
Has he finally died?
To make sure of it, I tried to wake him up.
A moment later, a bloody hand grabbed my arm.
“How could I… Give uuuuuuuuuuup!?”
The Hero, who was supposed to have wounds all over his body stood up.
Pulling on my arm, he brandished his holy sword, which burned with white flames.
At that moment, I brandished my keepsake sword.
Instantly, the Hero stopped moving.
His torso was slashed open diagonally, and fresh blood quietly gushed out.
Hasr: One more chapter in this arc, and we’re done!