The Beginning of an End
“P-Please release me.”
At the foot of the Barlude mountain where the Demon King’s castle is located, the hero Greed, who was walking around the town of Melma, stopped.
“Hey. It was you who bumped into us, Miss.”
“That’s right. Do you think you can just bump into a person?”
Greed turned to look at the source of the noise and discovered that a woman was surrounded by three people who seems to be the town’s ruffians. The mid-twenties-looking ruffians have tattoos in their arms and wore tattered clothes.
Although Greed could not make out the appearance of the woman that was obscured by the bodies of the ruffians, he can somehow see that one of them has caught the arms of the woman and she was struggling to free herself.
“Even if you claim that I bumped into you, I just touched you a bit, didn’t I?”
“Shut up! When I said you bumped on me, you bumped on me! How do you think you can compensate me? HUH??”
“Then there’s no other way but to pay it with your body. Hey, that’s what you guys also think, right?”
“You have a nice body and nice hips. It is a nice idea. If you comfort us, we will forgive you.”
“You know what, they are the ruffians who are making a lot of trouble in this town.”
The spirit of the wind near Greed came to him and explained the situation.
“They wanted to sleep with her from the start so they bumped on her on purpose. It’s their usual technique. They would drag someone into trouble, take that person somewhere and use violence. They have hurt everyone until now. But the townspeople are afraid of them so they pretended not to see.”
Looking around when he heard those words, the townspeople were indeed watching the three ruffians and the woman from a distance. Some of them left the place as soon as possible so that they will not get involved. The travelers who just happened to pass by chance seem to be hesitating to put their hands on those bad guys.
So, what to do? Greed deliberated. He thought that this case is also a part of a hero’s job so he will try to help in the meantime.
By nature, a hero is someone who fights the Demon King and the demons. Since he exists to eliminate the demons and bring balance to the world, it is not a part of his job to beat ruffians.
However, as what his friends told him, people seek the hero not just to fight the demons but also to be an ally of the weak. It is rude for the hero to ignore those people who come to ask for his help. So as much as possible, whenever he encounters such situations, his friends told him to help. But then, no matter how scarce his emotions are, he is not that cold as to not to do anything when someone is being assaulted in front of him.
Besides, Greed belonged to a vigilante group in the village of Langrea where he was born and raised before he was chosen to become a hero. It was their job to protect the villagers from demonic beasts who destroy the crops and attack the villagers and from the bad travelers and adventurers who visit the village. So if there is a human that is being attacked, he can feel the need to help.
―Rather, that feeling is deeply imprinted within him.
However, it was not easy for him to lend a helping hand in today’s situation. That is because they had already planned to depart from this town tomorrow to defeat the Demon King and rescue Princess Louise.
It is important not to let the demons and the reporters of the “Hero Times” know of their activities. That’s why in order to shake off the demons and the reporters who are monitoring their activities, they came to this town at once using a magic circle. However, although the reporters were mentioned in the same way as the demons, in truth they are more cumbersome to the hero’s party. They always keep an eye in every town and every village to monitor the activities of the hero’s party.
Greed and the others frequently use the magic circle to shake off the reporters, and used the so-called “human-wave tactics” as a way to deal with them. They deployed a number of people who posted caricatures of the hero’s party in various places so that they could track their activities no matter when and where they will appear.
Unfortunately, Greed and the other members of his party have conspicuous appearances so from the beginning, they are easy to spot. Because of that, they were quickly found out and were followed around. Their persistence were frustrating but they can tolerate them in the past. However this time, they can’t be discovered. It is because the top brass demons who developed intelligence may also keep an eye on the articles of the “Hero Times”.
So from the moment Greed and the others entered this town, each of them used a camouflage spell. It is a technique that slightly shifts the focus of others and make their eye-catching form invisible. This way, they became unnoticeable, enabling them to make preparations for their journey to the mountains tomorrow, buy provisions in the town and collect information. However, no matter how much they cast the camouflage spell, they’d be noticed even if they help people in public.
So, what to do? Greed contemplated while he looked at them, when he realized that it was impossible to use the power of the spirits.
“Hey, come here!”
When one of the ruffians forcefully pulled the woman’s hand towards him, he saw the appearance of the woman between the gap of the men.
The moment the brown hair of the woman caught his eyes―Greed moved.
Without a sound, he approached the man from behind. Then, he tightly grasped the wrist of the tattooed man who was trying to pull the woman. Rather, he squeezed it. The crumbling sound of bones vibrated in his palms.
……Is my strength adjustment wrong? Greed thought at the back of his mind. However, it was just for a moment.
The man who was grabbed must have not understood what happened. Since his wrist bones were suddenly crushed by a stranger. Naturally, the distal limb of the man, who can’t hold the woman anymore, was dangling. Greed turned the man’s hand behind, without restraint or without going easy on him.
That’s the first person. While thinking so, Greed released the man’s arm.
“Wh-What are you doing?!”
It seems that the other ruffians were stunned by the misfortune that suddenly hit their companion. But one of them had already noticed and tried to grab Greed from behind.
Greed raised his leg and threw the approaching man a roundhouse kick at an unstoppable speed. The next moment, the man’s big body floated in the sky, flying as far as four to five akbar , and landed at the feet of the surrounding bystanders who were watching the heated exchange of the woman and the ruffians. [T/N: Akbar – a unit of measure. There’s no information yet on what is it’s equivalent in English/Metric system.]
That was the second person.
The body of the ruffian who was pinned under the feet of the several people they have tormented is not moving one bit. He is completely unconscious. But he is somewhat better than the first man. The man who grabbed the woman could not faint due to the severe pain, because he is still writhing and moaning right now. However, Greed did not take a look at those men anymore.
“W-Who are you―”
The remaining man blanched at the miserable state of his friends, and without letting him finish his words, Greed quickly jumped in front of him and rammed his fist on the man’s belly.
The man’s body shook violently, lurched forward and sank in place without uttering a word.
The third man.
The man’s body crouching at Greed’s feet sis not move a twitch. Perhaps the people nearby might have heard it. The moment Greed hit him, a bad sound was heard from a man’s body. Several ribs were probably broken.
The people around the street were stunned. They eyed him with suspicion. The ruffians who are troubling the town were nearly killed in a blink of an eye by a fine young man.
However, despite their surprise, Greed quickly turned on his heel and started walking.
“Eh? Ah, ah, please wait! I want to thank…..!”
He heard the woman call him in a loud voice but he ignored her completely. He decided not to listen.
The woman and some of the townspeople who returned tried to follow Greed. But when a sudden gust of wind blew violently in front of them, they couldn’t open their eyes―and when they opened their eyes when the wind stopped, the figure of the young man who beat the ruffians could no longer be seen.
Greed, who was walking around the town as if nothing happened, stopped when he heard a familiar voice. Looking at the person who called out to him, a beautiful woman wearing an armor, who just came out of the bakery, was standing holding a large cloth bag. It was the female warrior Farah, who is one of his companions.
Like Greed, Farah is also using a camouflage spell but it is ineffective to those who have a certain amount of magical powers and those who knew they are using it. That’s why Farah looks the same to Greed, and vice versa.
“Farah. You went shopping?”
Greed looked at the big bag she was holding and inquired.
“Yes. Since we’ll be in the mountains for quite some time starting tomorrow. By the way, the owner of the bakery was gossiping today……”
Farah said, looking meaningfully at Greed.
“It seems that a while ago, there was a commotion somewhere in town. A blonde young man has beaten the ruffians and rescued the maiden who is going to be violated by them. However, he suddenly disappeared and that woman was looking for him because she wants to thank him…… Greed, are you aware that there was such commotion?”
“……Oh, I didn’t know.”
Greed shook his head a little. However looking at Greed’s indifferent expression, a small smile appeared on Farah’s face.
“The maiden seems to have a brown―chestnut hair? Just like that of a certain maid somewhere.”
It was Greed’s words. His expression should have changed a little. But, whether she detected something in in that expressionless face, Farah continued, smiling deeply.
“Well, fine. It’s just a rumor in town. You don’t know. I don’t know either. Right?”
Greed nodded while thinking about the rumor Farah described.
“So that was really the case. She has the same color as that maid, so he helped her. Fufufu, so you can be this cute, Greed.”
Without a doubt, that was what she really wanted to say while persistently asking. But Farah did not pursue. She does not step beyond what is necessary and surprisingly, can read the atmosphere. Even though she still wanted to keep prying, she considered Greed’s feelings and stopped teasing him.
Originally, they must not cause a disturbance just before the capture of the Demon King’s castle.
―That was certainly imprudent…… Greed thought.
It was not necessary for him to reveal himself to the public. It was something that can be solved peacefully by using the powers of the spirits. And yet, as soon as he saw the color of the hair of the woman who was being seized by the ruffians, his body just moved.
Even if he knew that it wasn’t “her”.
It was the first time. Purely driven by emotion, he lost his composure to judge calmly. If it was his usual calm self, his former self the top brass demons have dubbed as “cold-blooded puppet”, it would have been impossible.
―I guess I am slowly changing.
Whether it is good or bad, Greed did not dislike it. It is because it is one aspect of himself that he was able to discover for first time by becoming acquainted with her.
“I think it’s good.”
Farah suddenly said. Greed, who did not understand what she meant, peered down at her as if to ask.
“Jumping in without thinking about the consequences, it was not a bad thing.”
Farah said with a smile. So she was referring about him beating the ruffians a while ago.
“You acting for her sake, you are no longer a puppet.”
“You’re right. But now it is different…… Because I have her.”
The feeling of seeking for a person, the desire to be with that person, the feeling of jealousy―she gave it all to him. The moment she went leaped into his bosom, the color of the world changed.
There used to be nothing in the world for Greed. Nothing existed. Neither the people, the spirit nor himself. But she appeared in such a world. As an existence that is completely different from himself.
The word “ordinary” is always attached whenever they are talking about her. She has no magical powers. Her social status is a viscount’s daughter from a small country. She is a woman without distinction, just having an occupation of being the princess’s lady-in-waiting. Although she herself doesn’t know, it can be said that what made her different from usual was the label “Hero’s Special Someone” attached to her. But for the goddess Refelia, the creator and the supervisor of this word, it is still too small to the point that she is totally invisible. Her existence is too small for the world to recognize it.
Mob. The word she frequently uses is exactly right. A human being whose existence value is low in the world―the mob is the existence that the goddess does not need to recognize.
On the contrary, some people’s fates were imposed by the goddess from the time they were born.
It began with Greed who became the hero, his party, the elves, the priests, the royalty of each country, those with enormous magical powers, and those who received the “Spirit Protection”. Their existence is uniformly high and the goddess can easily see them. No, they were labelled to be easily visible to the goddess. They are human beings that the goddess has recognized and are the pieces necessary for understanding and managing the trend of the human world. To become special in this world, for the world to be at peace, one should have a high utility value to the goddess.
Instead of receiving favor from the goddess because of being “ordinary”, a mob is free.
Being “special” in the eyes of the goddess, a human being receives her favor and is being controlled and monitored.
……So, which one of them is happier?
“Perhaps at present, I am a lady-in waiting. Totally a mob. But that’s fine. That’s great. Hurray, I’m a mob!”
Such side of Aria seemed like strength to Greed.
Everyone wants to think they are special. If someone is not special, the more they want to be. Greed have traveled and until now, he had met these kinds of people. People who lust for power, people who crave for the limelight, such kinds of people. A person who wants to show he is special in this world is instinctively aware that he is not special if it turns the other way and becomes afraid.
I want to become special in the world. That is what most people think. However, she said she was fine to be one of the ordinary people. That’s what she seriously thought. It was neither self-depreciation nor self-denial. She just accepted the fate given to her without complaints―and enjoyed it.
Isn’t that strength, Greed thought. And her strength is dazzling.
He was treated as special since the time he was born. However, his emotions are scarce, and just like a doll, he did not feel anything about being special. In fact, he found out the meaning of living as a special person. First, it was being a pair with the Demon King and now, with her. People call him the strongest hero. But that’s only on the surface. It’s the people who have a strong heart like her who is really the strongest. She is different from Greed who is not clinging onto something.
That’s right. She is is different from him. Everything―is different. And because she is different, perhaps he is too much attracted.
……No, it really does not matter why. Anyway, he wanted to be by her side. He always wants to see her and wants himself to be the only one reflected in her eyes. The strength of those feeling is almost scaring him.
The existence that brings the feeling of “fear” to him who was called the strongest hero. The only person for Greed.
The one he is yearning for with his body and soul. To the point of pain, to the point of agony. Even though he remembered that this feeling was born when he first met her, she is still dear to him. Unlike those empty days, various emotions that emerged have overflowed. Those are the things that only she can give.
From that day they first met, the meaning of “protecting the world” changed to Greed. He honestly thought that his power is the power to protect her and her environment. For the first time, Greed was able to affirm himself.
Aria――My world became meaningful for the first time because I have you. That’s why don’t cry. Please smile. Because I will definitely bring back your precious master safely.
The world where you can laugh without worries is the world I want to protect―
Greed’s gaze turned towards the faraway Barlude mountains. The Demon King’s castle is in that mountain. It is deep into the forest and is surrounded by fog.
“The Demon King’s castle, huh……”
Farah followed his gaze and said.
“The King of the demons is there…… I wonder if we can win.”
The words she said was not a nervous remark, just a verification statement.
Greed answered. It was not a bluff but merely words of conviction.
They were asked by the King of Schwarze “to rescue Princess Louise”. That’s why the request can be completed without defeating the Demon King. However, Greed does not intend to let this chance to slip by. Obsessed with the princess, the Demon King will surely aim to do it again even if they save the princess. And there’s no guarantee that she, the first lady-in-waiting of the princess, will not get involved. It was almost a miracle that she was still alive after witnessing the Demon King at a close range.
The Demon King destroyed the castle’s barrier and destroyed the protective magic that was cast on the princess, and because he consumed a lot of energy, he got away before the magicians of the castle could catch him so she was safe. Otherwise, she would have been no longer alive.
When Greed thought about that, he felt his hand tremble for the first time in his life. He was afraid about losing.
There shouldn’t be a next time―absolutely.
From that moment, Greed decided to consign the Demon King into oblivion. Not because he is the hero, not for the sake of the world and the populace, but only for the sake of one woman.
“I will definitely defeat the Demon King.”
Greed quietly declared, keeping his line of sight on the Barlude mountains.
―Aria, for no one else but your sake.
* * *
“Goodbye, Demon King. You are not needed. In this world, to me―”
While saying that, Greed faced the Demon King.
And the Demon King disappeared from this world. The big body of the Demon King that was pinned by the holy sword on the wall lost its shape and crumbled. The core that maintains the condition of the body of the demons lost its magical power was fated to disintegrate and vanish. The Demon King’s body became like a sand and then melted and vanished into the sky.
“CURSE YOU, HUMANS…… CURSE YOU, GODDESS…… THE WORLD……”
Leaving behind those cursing that only Greed can hear―
Greed pulled out the holy sword from the wall and put it back into its sheath. Then, he slowly lowered himself on the ground and turned his gaze at the empty throne.
―A throne without a king.
The person who sat on that seat has disappeared from the world just now. The greatest victim of the system which protects the world created by the goddess and the other deities.
―Mysteriously, his heart is calm.
In Greed’s eyes that were staring at the throne, there’s no pleasure in his victory or pity for the loser. In fact, he feels nothing towards the person who occupied that seat. In the first place, pity is just a sentiment of those people who look down on others. That’s why Greed, who neither esteem nor condemn the Demon King and the demons, could not have such sentiments.
If Greed would describe it, he won the game against eliminating either the humans or the demons. That’s all.
With this, the peace was preserved until the next breeding season of demons. The people will be drunk with the victory of the hero, will be grateful for the kindness of the goddess towards humans, and will also revere her.
Greed does not think that this world is kind in the first place.
Of course, humans are more favored than the demons. Greed was indeed chosen by the goddess to be the hero and was given power to defeat the demons. However, it is only for the convenience of the goddess so that the demons will increase no further. It was also supported by the humans. Compared to demons, humans are more compatible with the world and spirits and are easier to control. For the goddess and the other deities who are both the creator and the supervisor of the world, between uncontrollable beings and controllable beings, it is natural for them to exert their influence on the controllable beings. But it was never for the sake of the human beings.
The world was never kind. To the demons and to humans.
Rufaga suddenly asked Greed, who is still eyeing the throne with indifference.
“What is your impression as the hero who defeated his pair, the Demon King, Greed?”
“Nothing in particular……”
Greed secretly concealed his eyes and replied.
“I don’t feel anything. Neither strong feelings nor a sense of accomplishment.”
Yes. I feel nothing.
……Just recently, I thought that defeating the Demon King was the sole reason why I was born.
That day, for Greed, the existence of the Demon King changed from “the opponent he needs to defeat as a hero” to “just someone he has to eliminate for her safety”.
He is only thinking about one thing.
“It’s just…… I want to see her so bad.”
The moment the Demon King was defeated, the destiny was decided.
―That was what the 【Divine Revelation】 has revealed.
A beloved person will be caught up in the fate of the “regulator of the world”, the hero. *A destiny that is impossible for a mob.
*[T/N: Original text: “モブではいられなくなる運命を。” I’ll put it here because I am not sure with my translation.]
But Greed accepted it. Destiny had even made him crazy to make her his.
Perhaps she might bear a grudge against him for involving her. Perhaps she’ll hate him. However, he still wanted her to be by his side. He wanted to himself to be reflected in her eyes.
―Because at that moment, Greed’s life had meaning.
“Then, if she knew the real truth of the world and desperately wanted the ‘destruction of this world’, Greed, what would you do?”
Rufaga asked. Greed detected the strange tension in the indifferent expression of the guide elf.
Ah. He understood. At the same time he realized what Rufaga feared. “It is not the Demon King but the hero might destroy the world this time” is what Rufaga is afraid of. And the key to that is “her” that’s why he asked.
If she becomes involved with the fate of the hero, she will become related to the truth of the world. One day she will definitely know. The reality of this twisted world.
―Aria. Greed thought of his beloved. If you knew the real appearance of this world, what would you think? Would you despair? Laugh it off? Hate the world? Or―would you wish for the destruction of the world?
Yes, perhaps that’s better.
Greed smiled a bit as he thought about it. He did not intend to smile. A natural smile formed on his lips.
―Aria, this is also what you gave me.
“Of course, if she wants it……”
If you want the destruction of this world, if you think you’ll despair so much that you will not be able to laugh in such a world. . .
“I will destroy this world.”
I―will destroy everything.
This twisted world.