Who Killed the Hero? Volume 1 Chapter 1 Part 4

After a while, a rumor started spreading about Ares.
That he was infatuated with Maria Lauren of the cleric class, and confessed to her many times.
(That can’t be true.)
I laughed it off.
Maria was certainly beautiful. She was called a saint, and her abilities as a cleric were outstanding.
I had been interested in her before as a candidate for my future party, and talked to her. But she just spouted pretty words, and I couldn’t tell what she was really thinking at all.
Her words praising God sounded insincere, as if she didn’t actually feel God’s presence. Completely untrustworthy. I couldn’t believe a woman like that would captivate Ares.

Then, a few months later, I heard that Ares was learning magic from Solon Berkeley.
“What a fool. To actually believe a hero can use magic,”
my classmates ridiculed him.
That was probably true. Magic is a kind of talent. Those who can use it and those who can’t are decided from the moment they are born.
However, there certainly were legends of heroes who could use magic. Was Ares trying to learn magic because he took that seriously?
If so, contacting Maria may have been an attempt to learn recovery magic. A complete waste of time. He kept doing utterly pointless things.

Before I realized, I had brought out the magic books from home into my room, and was reading them secretly so no one would notice. I couldn’t understand the writing at all since it was in ancient script. Still, I slowly progressed, looking up words in a dictionary.
Studying was never my weak point. It was important to read various books and gain knowledge in order to manage my territory in the future.
But magic books were on another level. First I couldn’t read them. Even if I could, the grammar was different from modern language, making it very difficult to understand.
I was glad I didn’t join the magic user class.
And after a month, I stopped reading the magic books.
No matter how you look at it, it was too much of an ordeal. Deciphering incomprehensible letters, carefully reading and grasping the meaning of the sentences, and even after somehow understanding the incantations and trying them out, there was absolutely no reaction at all. No changes occurred. I found it impossible to keep doing this.
(Is Ares continuing this?)
It was simply insane. If a person with no talent for magic was doing this, I could only think there was something wrong with their head.
(Even someone like him couldn’t do this.)
Ares was basically incompetent. There’s no way a guy like that could become able to use magic, I told myself.

When we advanced to the third year, rumors spread that Ares had become able to use recovery and attack magic.
Everyone scorned the idea that it would have no significant effect, but their expressions were mixed with awe.
It seems the level wasn’t very high. But he had accomplished what I could not. His efforts were unimaginable.
It was the same with the sword. By this time, Ares had clearly become stronger than our warrior class classmates. To be honest, it wasn’t as much progress as his efforts warranted, but he had certainly gained strength.
And so, even in the third year, Ares continued to challenge me in mock battles.


Before me stood Ares, with a perfect straight-line stance, efficient and with just the right amount of power.
The straight-line stance was a fundamental one, but in one-on-one combat, it was inherently the most secure.
In contrast, I adopted a half-body stance, holding my sword with one hand, pointed towards my opponent. There was no longer any choice but to keep my stance against Ares.
We continued to size each other up. The tension in the air was palpable.
Ares subtly lowered his posture and launched a thrust that flowed smoothly. His preparatory movements were minimal, and there were no openings. This attack could serve as both a feint and a serious strike.
I evaded to the side and delivered a strike aimed at his flank, but Ares immediately returned to his original stance and effectively countered the attack. Of course, I didn’t stop at that one strike and followed up with a series of slashes.
Mixing in feints, I launched relentless attacks, but Ares defended with precision and minimal movements.
People can change drastically. Among the warrior class, Ares had probably made the most significant progress. Considering he was the worst at the beginning, it was only natural. That’s why coming to this academy had meaning for him.
Compared to that, what had I gained from my school life?
I trained diligently every day without slackening. But that was all.
If I aimed higher, I should have sought a different path rather than easily entering the academy, right?
I could have gone to the front lines with my uncle. There would still have been many things to learn on the battlefield. If the front lines were impossible, there was also the option of subjugating the magical beasts rampaging within the country. I could have honed my skills and contributed to the country.
Despite having the title [Sword Saint], I entered Pharme Academy as usual out of convention.
Despite thinking I was the only one considering the country, perhaps I wasn’t actually thinking about anything?
Watching Ares desperately receive my attacks, for some reason I was filled with regret.
—At least, I can’t lose to the likes of him—.
I could see Ares’ intention. He planned to endure my attacks then counterattack with his stored up power.
I deliberately showed an opening by retreating for a moment.
Not missing that chance, Ares immediately closed the distance and slashed down from above.
An honest swing honed from swinging thousands of times every day. It lacked flashiness but had a feel of accumulated effort.
But it was predictable. I moved to the side to dodge then landed a strike to Ares’ torso while slipping past him.
I felt the impact. Two years ago he would have fallen from that. But Ares remained standing. His posture was unchanged. His face was twisted in pain but he still wanted to fight.
After that I overwhelmed him, but Ares never admitted defeat until the end, standing up again no matter how many times he fell. No one laughed that off as foolish anymore.
Heroes are supposed to make the impossible possible. Perhaps I had just been doing what was possible all this time.

At the end of summer, word arrived that my uncle who was commanding the frontier against the Demon King’s army had died in battle. He had fought against a demon general and died a heroic death.
He was a strong yet kind man. I believed there was no way he could fall behind the likes of demons.
My cousin acted stoic even at her father’s death.
“To die on the battlefield is the way of the warrior household. It was Father’s deepest wish,”
Then what does it mean for my father, the head of house, to still be living without taking to the battlefield?
Why am I, the [Sword Saint], not on the battlefield?
Looking at her, I realized my own powerlessness.

My uncle’s death as frontier commander indicated just how bad the situation was.
“Withdraw from being a hero candidate,”
I was told by my father. It was too dangerous, that was the reason. They couldn’t let the heir of a noble house die fighting monsters.
A typical noble justification. But then what would happen to this country? To this world? Isn’t it a noble’s duty to protect them? What did my uncle die for?
I went to see Ares. It was the first time we properly talked.

“It’s okay because I’m the one that become the hero,”
he clearly answered after hearing my doubts. It was no different from when we first enrolled.
But then I realized it.
I had unconsciously tried to push the duty of hero onto Ares by coming here.
Just being told to stop by my father was enough to easily shake my resolve.
Even though Ares had always thought I was more suited to be the hero, he kept striving to become the hero himself. He had walked that harsh path alone all this time.
Oh, so that’s how people should be.
It’s not about being able or unable, but about doing what you must.
I will follow that example then. Even if I lose, I should keep struggling to the end.
Even if I can’t become the hero, I will devote all my strength to the world.
The hero needs companions.

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