Vol. 1 Chapter 5 – HSP

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The Strongest Hero is the Most Unfortunate Hero

 

This world was created by a married couple of gods, Refelia, the goddess of light and Atillard, the god of darkness. They created the new world from the powers of the six kinds of kings of spirits: water, earth, air, fire, light and darkness. The kings of spirits, together with the goddess of light and the G.o.d of darkness, used those powers to create the world. In other words, the kings of spirits were descendants of gods, an existence that make up this world.

These six kinds of forces that form the foundation of the world needs to be spread far and wide, but it seems that it is difficult to distribute the energy with only six kings of spirits. From the fragments of their power, they created subordinates and deployed them throughout the world. That is a spirit.

When the spirits’ power goes around the world and circulated well, the god and goddess of creation created life. The plants and animals and other living things that we know.

The god and goddess, with their children, the kings of spirits, discussed together and concluded to create a life similar to their appearance. That was us human beings.

However, the god of darkness, Atillard, ran out of power during the creation of human beings and succumbed to eternal sleep. The goddess of light, Refelia, grieved about it. From that grief, the demons were born. It is said that the eyes of the demons are red without exception because they were born from tears of mourning.

The demons who existed due to grief became the world’s most disliked beings. And they hated the humans in the world who were born due to blessing—— From that  time on, the conflict between humans and demons began.

 

[The World Creation Myth Told to Children ]

*    *    *

“So it’s been a month since we left here last time ……”

The female thief, Milly, murmured with strong feelings while sitting on the soft sofa.

After the commotion in the hall, a special room was given to the Hero’s party by the King of Schwarze that serves as a private room and living room to rest for a short while. Currently, not all six members are there.

“I never thought that we would defeat the Demon King and then return so soon.”

“Yeah. I also did not imagine such thing when we left here. However, since everyone was upset at that time, one could not think to that extent because of the real situation.”

It was Renas the priest sitting next to Milly who answered. He has a pale green hair and black eyes, the priest who is said to be in a high ranking position with status of “white” among priests, and also the mood maker of the party.

“It was a tiring month in a lot of ways, right?” Remembering about that time, Renas looked at a distance while sighing.

Everyone seemed to sympathize with that impression. All who were present gazed towards the main cause of their tiredness, who was standing by the window. However that culprit Greed, the hero, only watched outside the windows while folding his arms, as if not worrying about those stares.

His face is devoid of any expression. There is only a stoic expression just like a doll. There is not a sweet smile and an expression of someone who is in love like the one he showed in the hall, as if it was just a dream or illusion.

However, this expressionless state is a default for Greed. If Renas and the rest would say, the Greed in the hall is more of a nightmare than a dream. And the nightmare shown to them is equivalent with that one month.

No, instead—

“I feel that the nightmare is still going on……” Renas’ murmurs were the same with what everyone has in their hearts.

The beginning of the nightmare happened a month ago, when Greed fell in love with a certain maid at first sight when they arrived at the Kingdom of Schwarze’s castle. Greed, who did not favor anyone from the opposite s.e.x, and even did not show interest in other people until now. The six people were friends even before becoming a fighting party. Normally, it is a blessing when something pleasant happens to a friend.

However, this is Greed. This generation’s strongest hero and most unfortunate hero, he is . . . in love.

Probably, his first love.

There is the harbinger of natural disaster, they thought. And they can say that the premonition is correct in a sense. Surely, the demons may have not noticed that the fate of the world has been left on the hands of one woman.

They recalled what happened in the past month. Those days were full of shivering, chills and anguish.

“I’m going out for a bit.”

Departing from the castle after rescuing Princess Louise, the party arrived in a big district to the east of the Kingdom of Schwarze called Mifana, and took a room in an intermediate level inn that was neither high class nor shabby. Whether to discuss future policies or to prepare for the journey, Greed, the leader, left alone. That expressionless and unconcerned tone is a usual habit.

Although the remaining members did not have any prior arrangements, they gathered in one corner of the inn’s dining hall. Because it is not yet time to eat, there are few costumers. It is a pa.s.sable place to discuss.

However, no one will clumsily open their mouth. The unconcerned facial expression and H-mood was the usual. Furthermore, everyone looked bewildered.

Actually, they are in the same state up to this point. Or rather, to be more accurate, this is their state since they arrived from the castle of Schwarze.

In front of the king and everyone, they kept up appearances but they were actually confused. No, it is not an exaggeration if they their brain is short-circuiting even now.

They could not believe what their eyes saw earlier. To tell the truth, they can’t still believe it.

Greed smiled at that woman in that way. Simply spoke to her like that. Also hugged her. This is the surprise of all the surprises.

Greed’s behavior is entirely different than the usual. Perhaps or perhaps not—it might be love.

Their minds were full of those thoughts.

Love!! That Greed!? Expressionless, unimpressed. That man who looks like a doll . . . is in love?

…… Their minds refused to think any further.

Besides, they have never heard it from Greed himself. Perhaps, there is some reason. That is what they have concluded, but after travelling out of the castle, they could only glance and peep at Greed even though they want to ask him about the way things are.

“Greed being in love is impossible!”

“But what if that impossible thing is truly happening?”

Everybody thinks about the same thing. And since the cause of the strange tension between the party members have disappeared, they were blessed to finally have the chance to talk regarding the matter in question.

“I wonder if he really fell in love with that woman as it is……” Rufus the magician said with a gloomy expression.

“I cannot believe it but it does not seem to be like it! What was that smile? I thought the end of the world has come.”

When Milly, the female thief, said that, the female warrior, Farah, with brilliant golden hair and a calm shade of gray blue eyes, nodded.

“Yeah. I do not think that it was a drama or a performance. It is unbelievable but… he may have seriously fallen in love.”

“I… Because I don’t want to get involved with troublesome things, I want it to be only a fruit of my imagination.”

It was the elf Ruf.a.ga who said with a heavy sigh.

“Unfortunately—” Renas, the priest, said while looking at the sky. “It seems that Greed  certainly likes her. That’s what the spirits are saying.”

Although her ability for visible and clear communication is not the same as Greed’s, what they say are comprehensible so she is able to work on it when she feels like it. There are particular spirits that are sensitive to the changes Greed’s heart and understands his thoughts; the spirits can be asked.

“Even now, he seems to have gone to order a bracelet for her. There’s a skilled craftsman in this street.”

“Bracelet……”

Shock ran through them.

“He is already aggressively giving a gift?!” exclaimed Rufus.

“I don’t think so, but isn’t it too soon? Haven’t they just met?” Farah said.

“Besides, he only talked a bit with the woman, right?” said Milly while Renas, on the other hand, looked at a distance, expressed a dry laugh, and said, “Thank you. It looks like a pair of bracelet, right?”

“A pair of bracelets!?!”

Everyone exclaimed in harmony. And immediately simultaneously drew back after that.

To the woman who he just met, a pair of bracelets——that is a man making arrangements for an engagement bracelet.

…… Scary. Very scary.

He is throwing away a lot of things! Especially the feelings of his partner!

“So it is already decided ……” Rufaga declares with a tired expression. It seems like he is frightened about something.

Rufaga is an elf. His appearance looks like a beautiful boy with silver hair and eyes with the same color, but he has lived a long life and is older than anyone else here. He is always calm under the role of the watch dog as well as the guide of the Hero’s party.——That’s how it was supposed to be.

Rufaga who does not change his detached attitude has the same expression. The others were shivering.

But it was not due to the fact that Greed fell in love, but because of the part of the nature of Greed that became clear.

Greed was not in a state to be moved by anything. A man who does not attach to anything, who does not have special feelings.

But as soon as he has somebody he harbors special feelings for, his resolution ran out of control.

“Hey, what if she is already married or already has a lover…… what will happen?”

Everyone turns pale at an instant Renas said those words while having a stiff expression.

Whether Greed did not know if there is a husband or a lover, it is certain that this person will disappear and slip into the darkness.

Preparing a bracelet for her meant that he intends to obtain her at all cost. She is pitiful, there is no one here who can stop Greed.

That is because Greed is this generation’s strongest hero.

He is the strongest hero, but at the same time, the most unfortunate hero.

A human who has a high magical power and who received power from the G.o.ddess to become a hero. Moreover, he is the only one who received “Spirit Protection” from all kinds of spirits in the human history.

———He can destroy the world if he felt like it.

“Spirit protection” is particularly dangerous.

Spirits are the embodiment of the power of nature itself that exists everywhere in the world. They control the water, earth, wind, fire, light and darkness and rarely give divine protection to people they like. That is the “spirit protection”. It is a skill where the spirits sometimes lend their powers, which they use to protect themselves, for humans to use.

However, the “Spirit Protection” given to the present day hero Greed is different from an ordinary one. Or rather, it can be said that Greed’s “Spirit Protection” power has evolved. He can use the power of the spirits freely, regardless of intention of the spirit. Also, the spirits entrust their powers to him without reserve.

The spirits are the strength of the world itself. In other words, it is possible to destroy the world depending on how one uses such powers. Stop someone like him?

Impossible, impossible, impossible!

It is impossible, unless it is the goddess and the kings of the spirits. So all they (party members) could do was to try to minimize the damage.

Well……sorry. We’re really sorry.

They apologized to the woman’s partner (the fictitious husband or lover) in their hearts. Imagining future things, they could not stop doing that.

Sorry for such kind of hero.

However, the party who were apologizing for a while now suddenly noticed something particular.

———No one remembered her appearance.

“Errr… She has brown hair, right?” Milly asked while tilting her head.

“The spirits said that the eyes are dark brown in color, it seems,” Renas said, who was looking above as if to confirm something.

“Judging from the height difference when Greed hugged her, she seemed to be petite,” said Rufaga.

“When I was in the hall, I was told that she is the maid Princess Louise.”

Rufus nodded at Farah’s reply. “Yes she is the first maid of the princess. She also saw how the princess get kidnapped. But—” Rufus evasively said. The words that followed “but…” was understood without mentioning them. It was, I do not remember well.

That’s right. Because they were very surprised at the attitude of Greed, no one can clearly recall her appearance. They were neither stupid nor forgetful. Rather, their memory is good. But despite this, no one can clearly recall her appearance.

“A-anyway, she was very ordinary,” said Renas, as cold sweat breaks out.

Even if he tries to remember, he can only imagine a small figure of a woman with brown hair, wearing small maid clothes.

“Yes, yes. Ah, I thought she was an ordinary girl,” said Milly.

“She looks like she was normal and did not have much feature,” said Rufus.

“It’s not that she’s ugly,  it’s only that I think she has an inconspicuous appearance that is neither passable nor impassable.” Rufaga said.

“That’s what I meant. She was too plain that I can’t remember her. I suppose she will remain in my memory even if it is a negative image if there are any features, such as being fat or thin, or a large or small mouth, but she is . . .” Farah continued while scowling.

“That somebody was completely average. Maybe that’s why she did not leave any impression.”

In a sense, perhaps it is an awful thing being not at the end of someone’s memory. However, there’s a big problem with that. They do not remember her face, a person that would eventually become an important person to them.

———Even though she is Greed’s first love.

First love……

At the instant that word entered their mind, was it just their imagination that they received severe emotional damage?

“Greed” and “first love”. How unsuitable those words are. Renas, who is also a childhood friend of the hero, thought rudely. More importantly, he has to find out about the identity of Greed’s sweetheart. She may hold a certain significance on the world’s fate. And yet—

“This is bad. The next time we meet, I don’t know whether to recognize her or not.” Renas said, feeling greatly troubled and Rufus nodded to agree.

“Even if you do it imprudently, you may not recognize her even if you pass by each other.”

Remembering something of the Demon King whom she talked about, that voice was also properly heard. So maybe they can tell by listening to her voice. However……

“Not remembering her face clearly is too difficult. I am going to mistake another person for her.” Farah shrugged her shoulders as she replied.

That’s right. With no extraordinary features, wouldn’t they assume that every town girl around the area is her? Although they were planning to make contact without making it known to Greed, doesn’t this seem likely to come true?

———It was around that time.

One of the spirits who was watching their exchange told Renas while giggling.

“Oh, the wind spirit told me. It seems that her name is Aria. She is unmarried and has no lover…… Thank goodness!”

The group breathed a sigh of relief. With this, there is no need to consign an innocent person into oblivion.

After all, all she needs to do is to get together with Greed.

Ignoring human rights? No, it is for the sake of the world peace. Or rather, for the survival of the whole world.

“First of all, we should get familiarized with the face.”

Everyone nodded in agreement at Rufus’ words.

“Whether Greed himself understands or not, we will commit her face to our memory every time we meet, whatever the circumstances may be.”

Everyone also agreed. It appears like a conversation between a hero’s party members who fear demonic beings because they are really, really serious.

Ruf.a.ga frowned and said, “Even so, every one of us does not remember her. Perhaps she possesses a special skill.”

“[Spy]? Or is it a skill to make her unrecognizable in another form?” Rufus’ expression darkened.

They are knowledgeable with skills, but they do not know everything. Some are very minor. Even this could be an effect of a suspicious skill among the large variety of skills.

“She doesn’t appear to have very good skills but this confusion can’t be explained otherwise. As expected of the person that Greed has chosen……” Farah nodded as if she was convinced.

“Choosing someone not because of her appearance is typical of Greed,” Milly said.

“You’re right. A maid who looks ordinary but is not really ordinary, huh……”

While feeling suspicious at the strange giggling of the spirits, Renas also agreed.

———Have seen her face but did not remember well.

Actually, it is nothing but a characteristic of a mob character, but those who have the role of supporting characters did not know that.

Did they remember the master of the inn where they stayed the other day?

Did they remember the face of the owner of the shop where they bought food?

Did they remember how the woman who served in the dining room look like?

The answer is—NO.

It is because they’ve seen their face only once. It did not remain in their memory. That is because those people are mobs. They, who had never thought about mobs deeply, even those human beings that they “cannot remember even though they have seen their faces”, have not noticed until now.

*          *          *

Another moment of shock after the hero’s marriage proposal.

In the living room of the castle where the party members have gathered, the gentle atmosphere of the room can be felt—it was the spirits.

“Ah, so it seems the newspaper reporters were able to sniff the existence of that maid.”

That “voice” reached both Greed and Renas at the same time but Rufaga, the elf, was the one who spoke the words of the spirit. As an elf who is a descendant of the offspring of king of spirits and a human, he can hear the voice of the spirits.

Renas, the priest, also nodded and explained to the other members in a manner that is easy to understand. “Just now, the wind spirit told us. The newspaper reporters seemed to hear from a servant in the castle about the hero proposing to Aria. It’s just a matter of time before it becomes a scoop.”

“A servant, huh? Are rumors already spreading to such a place?” Rufus the magician scowled.

A royalty himself, he is one of those who have gathered in the hall but he is aware that there were certain people in certain positions. Although it is a small castle, the number of people working is numerous. Outsiders cannot enter the hall. Despite that, as long as the story has already been talked about, the rumors will circulate at a terrible speed.

“Her existence will be known sooner than I thought…… As usual, they are irritating people.” Farah, the female warrior, said and sighed at the same time.

The female thief Milly smiled wryly at what Farah said. “It can’t be helped. That is their work. They are desperate too. They cannot get the detailed information of the Demon King’s subjugation from us anyway.”

“The Demon King’s subjugation……” Renas absentmindedly whispered. “We can’t tell it…… Such a messy thing.”

Everyone agreed to that comment and Greed remained looking outside the window as usual.

This hero took a shortcut and took only about half a month to finally finish what the previous heroes have accomplished in a few months—in some cases, for several years. He ignored all the procedures and theories.

They absolutely cannot reveal such thing. They will never reveal it.

———For the sake of the heroes of the next generation.

[Past]

Originally, the reason why the Hero’s party of the previous generation was not able to immediately go and defeat the Demon King was because, of course, it is necessary to train to become stronger. There is also the existence of the Demon King’s subordinates, and the Demon King’s castle moves into another location after a definite period.

When Princess Louise was kidnapped, the Demon King’s castle happened to be in Schwarze. That’s why this kingdom was able to immediately dispatch soldiers to the castle———although it was a struggle to reach the castle due to the interference of the group of demons. However, the castle moved after they have taken the princess. No one knew where it went. That is why Schwarze had to rely on the hero.

The hero’s party, who received the request, first gathered information including the location of the moving castle through information brokers, adventure guilds and spirits. It turned out that the castle moved to the Barlude mountain range located at the border of the two countries, Lexarida and Mindalk.

But even if they knew the location, there is still a problem.

The Demon King’s castle had many barriers. The barrier was created by the seven major subordinates of the Demon King and it was necessary to defeat all the major subordinates in order to enter the castle. If they do not defeat them, they won’t be able to enter the castle.

However, it is more difficult to find the whereabouts of the major subordinates than to locate the Demon King’s castle. Unlike the huge castle, they can individually and freely move around.

At this point, Greed had defeated four major subordinates. They had to find the other three and defeat them.

However———Greed, the strongest hero, ignored the protocol.

“I cannot wait. I’ll capture the Demon King’s castle now.” Greed declared. “A month has passed since Princess Louise’s abduction. If I keep on detouring, I will not be able to take the princess.”

Although he has stated plausible reasons, in actuality it is obvious that he was not worried about the princess at all.

“Even if I take back an injured princess, she (Aria) will not be delighted.”

———That’s what you really think, right, Greed?

“So I have to rescue her as soon as possible.”

———Isn’t it just because you want to return to her as soon as possible?

Because there is a love rival in the castle!

The party thought so, but no one had the courage to voice an opinion to Greed. Who wants to rush out in front of a charging wild beast while holding out a red cloth?

“Well…… the Demon King is unprepared now, and if the magical powers of the Demon King including all the demons in the castle will vanish, then the world will stabilize considerably.”

The elf Rufaga sighed as he stated his opinion and everyone resolved their selves to accept the situation. Thus, the hero’s party took a shortcut and proceeded to force their way through the castle under the pretext of the Demon King’s subjugation.

———The capture of the Demon King’s castle continued in a very rash and unreasonable manner.

Fortunately, they had been there in the district near the border of Lexarida. So they were able to move easily by using magic. However, from the district, they need to go to the Demon King’s castle in the Barlude Mountain by foot. They can only use the “teleportation magic square” to be able to go to the place the caster of the magic knows and they will be discovered if they use magic near the castle of the Demon King. They followed a steep mountain path but it was not so difficult because an earth spirit taught them a safe shortcut.

———It is the third day after they left the district near the border.

They arrived on a place where they can look out over the Demon King’s castle.

The Demon King’s castle was not on top of the mountain but is instead located deep into the woods of the valley to avoid being seen. Still, whether the trees were blown away during the time the castle transferred or the earth spirits hated the demons, not a green thing could be seen in the castle and its surroundings. It was wide open, hollowed out and exposed.

The Demon King’s castle is not that big. It is as big as the Schwarze’s castle. In contrast to the chalk color of the castle of Schwarze, the Demon King’s castle is dark colored all throughout. A black tree was also used as the door of the main gate and is surrounded by rocks. The appearance gives a creepy and intimidating feeling to humans.

Renas the priest made a sacred barrier around the barrier of the castle that the demons made. It was from the flower of Reelis that the wind spirits scattered around the castle. Reelis is a pale red flower that symbolizes the G.o.ddess Refelia. In addition to being compatible with the sacred magic, the demons hate sacred magic for some reason. Therefore this barrier has a double purpose. By catching the major subordinates of the Demon King under the barrier, they can lock down the demons inside.

“I have to do most of the work after all, huh?” Renas naturally complained.

Renas covered a sacred magic over the barrier around the Demon King’s castle that was put up by the demons, while this hero protected it. Even if they drill a hole in the barrier and the demons notice, the demons cannot rush to the Demon King and will not be able to escape the castle.

The sacred magic was originally developed by elves and this magic specializes on protection rather than attack. However for some reason, the demons became weak. That is because the sacred magic contains chants that disturb the core of their evil powers. It is not an exaggeration to say that demons have a dense evil magical power that is packed into a container called a body. The reason why a container is necessary is that the evil magical powers will dissolve and disappear without it. That is why the demons condense their magical powers into their own nucleus and protects it by forming a body. The fact that the nucleus of the magical power, which can be said as the life itself, is being disrupted, putting their lives at risk.

Therefore, the demons hate the sacred magic.

That is why it was effective to create a barrier with sacred magic and cover the castle.

“Hey, my magical power is almost zero……”

Renas’ face was pale as he continued to erect a huge barrier around the castle.

It was his first time putting up a big barrier. However, because it is a high priest like Renas, he can produce an immense amount of magical powers.

“I will take care of the rest.” Ruf.a.ga the elf patted Renas’ shoulder to comfort him.

They took a sidelong glance at Greed, who was the perpetrator of doing such unreasonable thing, and those with magical powers gazed quietly at the barrier built by the leaders of the demons, which looks like a film of soap bubbles on the surface.

“I will remove the limiter as we attack,” he announced from near the creaking barrier.

“I see. Are you also exerting pressure from the inside of the castle’s barrier using the power of the spirits?” Rufaga stared at Greed and the creaking barrier with a wry smile. It seemed impressive and amazing.

It is unusual for him to have this kind of expression. It is because this barrier breaking is just all about common sense.

———Yes. The one who is irrational is the strongest hero, Greed.

Greed removed the limiter outside the barrier of the Demon King’s castle built by the other surviving leaders and the spirits commenced an attack from the inside of the barrier.

He synchronized his power and the power of the spirits and concentrated to hit onto a single point of the barrier.

The barrier of the Demon King’s castle is in fact anti-human but is ineffective to spirits, and because Greed always synchronizes his powers with the spirits, it was a technique that he could do. The magical powers that Greed possesses are the powers of all kinds of spirits and also the power of the hero that the G.o.ddess bestowed upon him. The three kinds of powers. .h.i.t the barrier of the demons inside and outside on one point and before that force———it vanished quickly. Thinking about the long battle journey of the heroes of the previous generations, it was truly amusing.

[Present]

I wonder if this is alright?

Slowly, everyone except Greed and Rufaga tilted their heads in contemplation.

Moreover, everyone got shocked at the words Rufaga mentioned afterwards.

“At that moment, a tremendous force was concentrated over there that caused the world for a moment to shake. That enduring barrier———vanished.”

However, Renas thought while gazing at the profile of the strongest hero, who stood by the window and not reflecting any emotions.

What was really shocking was the words Greed said after the subjugation of the Demon King.

Perhaps, that was the beginning of everything.

[Present]

“Please excuse me for intruding. I am the Prime Minister of this country, Ruth Hyllingam.”

The hero’s party, who were reminiscing about the Demon King’s subjugation, was visited by a tall glasses guy.

“Thank you very much for rescuing the princess. I cannot do much hospitality, but I will do as much as I can so please do not hesitate to ask me.”

The man who came into the room and gave a gentle smile was young for a prime minister. However, even when discussing with the king in the hall earlier, this man is the one who was always at the side of the king and was managing the place. With unusual eyes and maroon hair, his appearance is on par with the members of the party. His age is probably around mid-30s. However, as expected, his calm countenance is full of quiet force as he does his ministerial duties.

“Thank you very much. We are very grateful to receive your hospitality.”

It was Rufus who responded in behalf of everyone.

Greed, who was looking expressionlessly outside the window until now, turned back and spoke. “Prime minister, I have a request for you.”

The prime minister noticed that the expression he showed to Aria in the hall was quite different, but he didn’t mind and responded while smiling.

“What is it? I wonder if it is something that I can do.”

“I would like to contact her father, but how long does it take riding a fast horse from here to the Viscount Milford’s estate?”

“Oh…. To the Viscount Milford’s estate, is it? Well, if you go there riding a fast horse, it will take you three days; six days if it is a round trip.”

While feeling slightly astonished, the prime minister answered and looked for a while at Greed to observe.

“Forgive me for asking but the reason why you wanted to contact Viscount Milford……?”

“Yes. I heard this from Rufus that in the notability, one must appear before the father to obtain permission to marry. In accordance to that custom, I wanted first to verify her father’s intentions.”

“I see……”

The prime minister’s eyes behind his glasses narrowed, thought of something for a few seconds and then smiled at Greed.

“If that is the case, then I think I can be of assistance. Viscount Milford and I, along with the royal family’s magician Famir, are old friends. Besides———I am her guardian here in the castle.”

“I see. So the quickest way is to talk to you.”

It was the elf Rufaga who spoke and stood from his chair.

Ah! Here it is! Here it is!

The party members except Greed thought the same thing.

Casting a sidelong glance in his surroundings, he drew closer in front of the prime minister and looked up at him.

The elf, whose appearance is that of about a 14 or 15 year old boy, and the tall man with glasses. Their eyes met, staring at each other to gauge the other’s thoughts―――it seems they are thinking about something.

The prime minister suddenly expressed a small smile and said. “It seems this story is better not told to people. Let’s move to a separate room and discuss it.”

“Yes, please.” Rufaga accepted the invitation with a smile. It seems like he found an ideal negotiation opponent.

No, rather than a negotiation opponent…… a collaborator?

The prime minister and the elf went out of the living room together.

“Well then, Hero-dono, I will see you later in regards with the letter.”

After the two went out, the complexion of the rest of the members turned sullen as they saw Greed turning his gaze again outside the window.

It is now the calm before the storm. The Demon King was defeated. The threat to the world should have been removed. That word has disproved it.

―――No, when Greed has found her in this castle, it has already started.

 

*          *          *

[Past]

Although it is true that the difference between the invalidation of barrier of Demon King’s castle and the distortion of the world is paper-thin, they were chosen to be a member of the elite hero’s party.

They instantly nodded to one another and broke into the castle after splitting into teams as they have already planned.

That strategy was―――

“After Renas constructs the barrier with sacred magic, I will make a hole in the barrier of the Demon King’s castle. When we enter the castle, the group that will rescue the princess will head towards the tower where she was imprisoned. Rescuing her is the top priority. Once you have rescued the princess without being chased by the enemy, go outside the barrier and wait…… The meeting place is here, the entrance to the forest in front of the Devil’s castle. Renas, Ruf.a.ga and I will blatantly divert their attention by infiltrating deeper into the castle.”

To put things bluntly, this is only a strategy. After that, they acted spontaneously as usual. In other words, not according to the plan.

I’m sorry to the fans of the hero nationwide but their strategy was always like this.

Princess Louise was, no doubt, in the tallest tower of the Demon King’s castle that they have spotted earlier. There are no watchmen in the area, so you could say that they will follow the established strategy.

However, the hero did not join the group that would rescue the princess. Because his aim is the maid of the princess, not the princess.

Though he cares for the safety of the princess, everything is for her. The princess herself is completely out of consideration.

Moreover, with the abilities of the three who headed towards the tower―――Rufus the magician, Milly, the female thief and Farah, the female warrior―――rescuing should succeed without any problems.

The issue is, aren’t we the ones who will face the Demon King? Renas thought while following Greed, running through the dark and eerie castle.

The hero and the Demon King exist as pairs. Once in hundreds of years, a Demon King is born among demons. Then the world――― the Goddess, rather, selects a hero among humans. It has repeated for thousands of years, for many generations. The demons are basically a tribe that prefers to act independently so it is rare for them to go in groups. Because the number of individuals in the tribe is small, their existences are not that harmful to humans. At least, just enough to be repulsed by humans.

Although it is the demons that possess magical powers which surpass humans far more, most of that magical power is, in fact, spent on the formation and maintenance of the vessels to hold it. However, it was the existence of the Demon King that completely changed the situation.

The breeding season of the demons begins as if to match the Demon King’s birth through mutation. Keeping on breeding and increasing their magical powers―――they start to attack humans according to the command of the Demon King. However, the breeding season of the demons is a threat to human beings, as well as a threat to the natural order of the world. So the world created the hero to eliminate the existence of the Demon King and the demons. When someone among the demons becomes the Demon King, like a pair, the Goddess chooses a hero among the human beings.

In other words, if there is a Demon King, there is a hero.

Just a little while ago, Greed was trying to find out the meaning of his existence. Killing the Demon King―――that is all.

So if the Demon King is killed, then what will happen to Greed afterwards? That was the common fear among the party members except for the hero Greed. Until Greed encountered her. Now, that fear is gone.

―――But, is it really?

“Arrow of light.”

With a faint voice, countless lights exploded frontward. What the hero released was an attack magic.

Without expression, Greed continued after slaughtering the demons with magic and holy sword. Renas was concerned.

To eliminate the existence of the other pair, will it not lose the meaning of the other’s existence?

“It is okay.” Rufaga, who is running beside Renas, said as if reading Renas’ thoughts. “Greed will not be influenced by the Demon King. Rather, I have another concern.”

“Another concern?”

“Yes―Ah, looks like we’ve arrived.”

Suddenly seeing a big black door blocking their way, Renas and Rufaga stopped running. Greed has already stopped in front of the door, staring at the door in front of him. The door is massive and has a sense of intimidation.

Without asking anyone, they can feel that there is someone inside. The closer and closer you get here, it is evident that the number of demons attacking them has increased.

“You are inside, aren’t you――Demon King? I can feel an enormous high-density magical power from inside.” Rufaga said as he looked at the big door.

“Then, let’s finish this quickly.” Greed murmured as he swung the holy sword in a casual way.

“So you came…… the Goddess’―no, the world’s lowest people……”

―――A middle-aged macho.

The one sitting on the throne in the back of the dimly-lit hall and the one who greeted them with a low groaning voice, the three people including Greed, who saw the Demon King, thought it was strange that they were the same person.

Those were the words that Greed’s beloved lady have testified in the hall.

It was not handsome! It has black hair and red eyes――It was a middle-aged macho!

When he heard that, he thought she was lying but that testimony was extremely accurate.

There are large eyebrows on the slightly wrinkly face of the Demon King and each one is oddly thick; he does not look young. In other words, he is a middle-aged man. His physique is bigger and stronger than anyone else. No, rather than being strong, it is better to say that his physique is ridiculous. The clothes on which the black jewel is embedded is luxurious and the arms and chest are likely to burst with muscles. It was absolutely not just their imagination that maybe engaging in hand-to-hand combat is much better than using magic. It’s just they felt uneasy because the leaders of the demons they’ve met so far were all slender-faced and beautiful.

Renas wondered why it was necessary to make such an appearance when they’re beings capable of containing magical powers―that is, they are demons who can freely form their appearance.

Just to be sure, he asked Rufaga.

“Is that. . . really the Demon King? He seems fake……”

However, Rufaga, who is expected to see the flow of magic, replied, “It was the real thing.”

The Demon King glared at them with hatred. “Stupid people. After all, you are no more than a mere chess piece of the Goddess. Just for the purpose of surviving in this hateful world.”

The enemy has not used magic yet. But even with just the malice and hate, it will be a burden for human beings. The major subordinates that they have fought until now did not have this sense of oppression. Certainly, the man in front of them possesses magical powers suitable for a Demon King.

“We only use our magical powers and if it is said to have increased too much, we are killed―that damned widow goddess. I did not realize that we are also included to those who are to be culled. Just crush these average manipulated puppets for survival!”

Hatred, hatred, hatred, and then wrath. From the words of the Demon King, such emotions were bursting as if they were fired from a gun. Except from the hero, the other two think that it is impossible.

The myth, being conveyed on the human realm, was modified to sound nice.

The truth was more harsh and cruel. For demons, and for humans too.

For this reason, people had to cover up the real state of the world, the truth, with a modified myth.

――――For the world to not to despair.

Renas clenched his teeth and Rufaga secretly concealed his eyes. The hero’s party is the “one who knows the truth”.

Being the hero who is the regulator of the balance of the world, he, therefore, informed the truth to his friends, and on top of that, asked them to choose whether to stop despairing or to move forward.

Still, we must live in this world. So we will move forward. That was their answer when they got to know the truth.

That’s why they will not deviate. However, because they know what the root of demon’s hatred was, they were driven by helplessness. Except for the hero.

“I am not interested in the world’s expectation. I do not care whatever happens to the world.”

Due to the removal of the limiter, Greed, while speaking dispassionately with a different tone, pointed the tip of the holy sword towards the Demon King. The holy sword that the hero got has characters engraved in the center with the “power” of Greed. A part of the characters―which were sacred characters of the gods and whose meaning were indecipherable―emitted a faint light.

“But she is in this world. I am in trouble if it got destroyed. . . Rufaga, where is the core of the Demon King?”

Greed asked the elf, while looking at the demon with glass-like eyes that does not show emotion.

“Left chest, forehead, and the right knee.” Rufaga replied as he scrutinized.

Those of the lower classes have only one core, but it was natural for the major subordinates and the Demon King to have several cores of magical powers. They gathered and formed a body. That is the reason why they are strong. Even if they lose one nucleus, they can still fight.

Rufaga, the elf, was able to precisely locate their cores, the ma.s.ses of magical power, even from the outside of the body. And Greed’s sacred sword is a weapon that could release the magical powers and disintegrate them, and return them to the world as they should be.

“Goodbye, Demon King. You are not needed. In this world, to me―” The hero murmured as he faced the Demon King.

―――And then, the Demon King vanished from this world.

[Present]

“No, it was not that easy, right?” It was not a battle that could be described in one word, Renas thought.

“The battle between the hero, who is out of control, and the Demon King, who is beyond expectations, you mean? It was the first time, that one.”

The elf, who has watched over the battle of the heroes for many generations, almost expressed a bitter smile. A fight with the Demon King is a fight using magic. It was like that even now. Therefore, it was supposed to be like that this time as well.

However, the Demon King launched an attack that does not betray his appearance. That is, hand-to-hand combat.

[Past]

While releasing magic, he approached Greed and tried to crush him. With his arm.

Greed barely avoided the approaching armored arm of the Demon King. The wall behind made a roaring sound of wind pressure as it collapsed. Perhaps, even touching a little of that arm, he would have been killed at once no matter how hard he had trained. It was a powerful attack with such a bare hand.

While dodging lightly from the Demon King’s attack, Greed held the sacred sword that is charged with electricity, trying to hit the Demon King very hard. The Demon King avoided it with defense magic.

Advance, retreat. Advance, retreat. That’s how the fight is. With both having magical powers, they can’t land a decisive blow while defending.

Meanwhile, the Demon King shifted. And that was also the moment that Greed was waiting for.

Renas, who was expected to defend the sacred barrier, felt the flickering sparks spreading by his feet. The Demon King, who has been only targeting Greed, has turned his fingers to them. Perhaps he was expecting that Greed will be distracted. The whole magic of powerful flames was called “Infinite Prison of Flames”. Perhaps, he was trying to burn the sacred barrier along with the two of them.

In a moment, Renas and Rufaga were surrounded with flames. However――

“It is stupid to use ‘fire’ in front of Greed.”

Rufaga smiled scornfully while being surrounded with flames. Whether those words have ended or not, Greed, who floated to the sky with flying magic, held the sacred sword while made a shooting action with his other arm towards the sky.

Shortly after that, the flame of the candle that shined on the dark hall suddenly spreads around the surroundings for a moment to cover the room and when the flames fell, the flames also disappeared into the “Infinite Prison of Flame” which was created by the Demon King.

“This is……”

The Demon King was astonished. But with that blunder from the Demon King, something glittery came from behind him. And taking advantage of the blunder, “that thing” penetrated the cores in the left chest and the right knee of the Demon King, respectively.

The arrow of light, and the arrow of darkness.

Greed synchronized his powers and the spirits of light and darkness, and from behind the Demon King, fired those arrows at the same time that decided their victory and defeat.

“Y-y-you!!!”

As the power of the spirits and also the power of the hero flowed into that arrow, the Demon King, whose cores were destroyed, roared.

“Paying no attention to the contempt of the demons to the spirits…… did you forget? What is the ‘power’ that makes up this world? In this world, the flame of the spirit is stronger than the flame produced by the demons and the flame that we produce with magical powers.”

The voice of Rufaga was cold towards the staggering king of the demons.

As if in agreement to those words, Greed’s holy sword emitted an intense light. He held the sword, like a spear―

“The previous heroes possessed only one type of spirit attribute. For that reason, the power of the spirit could not be a threat for the Demon King. Uu­―”

He threw the holy sword at the Demon King. Having lost the cores on the left chest and the right knee, the holy sword penetrated the forehead between the eyebrows―piercing the Demon King on the wall. With the sound of “dogoo~”, the wall was gouged. A cloud of dust rose.

“The cause of your defeat was that you could not see Greed’s power because you despise the power of the spirits.”

Rufaga spoke indifferently to the Demon King severed on the wall of the demon castle with the holy sword piercing the forehead. Whether that voice was heard or not by the Demon King. . . no one knows.

The holy sword emitted light and breaks down the core of demonic power of the Demon King. And the body of the demon king who lost the power―it melted smoothly and eventually disappeared without a trace. Only the holy sword of the hero stuck in the wall was left behind. Pulling it casually and putting it back to its sheathe, Greed descended to the ground lightly and looked at the empty throne. Following him, Renas and Rufaga also advanced towards the throne.

It was a victory of the hero. But there was no joy or exaltation for victory in anyone’s heart. There are only bitter thoughts. Greed was only standing in silence.

No one is currently sitting on the throne made of a drop of obsidian. The magical power was dissolved, and it returned to the world where it should belong. In this distorted world, no one can say that they are the greatest victim.

Suddenly, Rufaga calls out to Greed, who watches the throne with emotionless eyes.

“What is the impression of the hero who defeated his pair, the Demon King, Greed?”

“Nothing…… I don’t feel anything.”

The eyes of Greed which looked like glass unexpectedly lighted with emotion and flickered. Is it yearning, lovesickness. . . or madness in there? But whatever is Greed’s intention, Rufaga kept on asking questions.

“Then, if she knew the truth of the world, and despaired and wanted the ‘destruction of this world’――?”

Renas quickly looked up. Not caring about him, Rufaga asked Greed.

“Greed, what would you do?”

Greed smiled thinly at those words. “Of course―”

That smile is not like the shallow smile he had in the past; they can say that it was his real smile. A genuine smile that he showed to them for the first time.

The strongest but the most unfortunate, the handsome hero slightly smiled as he spoke.

“If she wants it―”

I will destroy this world.

Before they could respond to those words, the ground shook unexpectedly.

“It looks like this castle is going to collapse.” The hero said, who spoke terrifying words just now with a smile and returned to a relaxed expression.

As he looked at the hero, Rufaga’s sigh was that of someone who is giving up, and he nodded his head as if exchanging signals.

“……this thing always happens. Shall we escape?”

It was the major subordinates who were creating the barrier, but it seems that it was the demonic power of the Demon King that supported the castle. The castle that lost its Demon King crumbled with a roaring sound.

While moving to the outside of the castle with the “transportation magic square” created by Rufaga, Renas, with a cold sweat falling down on his back while on their way from the hall, understood the meaning of “having another concern” that the guiding elf had said.

The Demon King was defeated.

But, they know that the world is going to be exposed to another threat―

 

*          *          *

[Present]

After Renas and the prime minister left the living room, Milly, who had been looking at Greed for some time, stood up as she came to a decision.

“Well then, I will go and see Aria. We’re going to have a lively girls’ talk. I also want to see the princess.”

Rufus also stood up from his seat. “I will go and greet the kingdom’s wizard, Famir. I also want to hear about the situation of the restoration of the castle’s barrier.”

Both the female thief and magician left the room. To do whatever they want to do.

“From now on, right?”

Greed responded strangely to Renas’ murmur. “Yes.”

Those words spoken at that time is the beginning of everything.

To prevent the worst, they will take action―for the sake of this world too.

 

 

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