Who Killed the Hero? Volume 1 Chapter 5 part 1

Alexia’s Chapter
 

“You came.”
 
Solon was sitting in the room I was smoothly led into, as if waiting for me. As always, he wore his purple robes of a sage.
 
It seems he had anticipated that I would come.
 
“Why did you reveal that Ares was not the hero?”
 
“It was bound to be found out eventually.”
 
“I also reviewed the investigation records. When you all said [Ares], you were talking about Ares, but when you said [he] or [him], you were talking about Zack.”
 
Solon did not answer to that, but smiled faintly.
 
“When exactly did Zack become Ares? From my investigation, it seems Zack was already going by the name Ares when he came to the capital…”
 
“On his way to the capital, he was attacked by a demon and Ares died, or so Zack’s story goes.”
 
Solon answered as if to test me. He was suggesting the possibility that Zack had killed Ares.
 
“I believe it. But why reveal it now after all these years?”
 
“Didn’t I tell you? He has no talent. He’s a poor liar. It’s a miracle he kept it secret this long. You didn’t think he was dead either,
 
──── did you, Princess Alexia?”
 
I clammed up at those words.
 
“After we returned to the country, you had many marriage proposals. Chief among them was Leon. But both you and Leon declined. Saying [the fallen hero is the only fiancé for the princess, it is still too soon], and such.”
 
The proposal was not just Leon. Solon was also a candidate, but he too declined. I kept turning down marriage offers that came my way, and Leon and Solon for some reason supported me in doing so. Only Maria kept saying “For the peace of the kingdom, you should marry soon” and urged me to marry.
 
Thanks to Leon and Solon, I still have not married.
 
“But that too has its limits. His Majesty will not keep forgiving you. That’s why you started that project of documenting the hero’s achievements in literature. To try to find him.”
 
That’s right. I proposed documenting the hero’s achievements in literature as a national policy, and started the investigation myself.
 
Believing that he was still alive.
 
But to think he was not Ares…
 
“There are other meddlers too. Leon is using his family’s power as nobles to gather information on where he went. And Maria is making the church investigate with its intelligence network. I too invented some magic spells for searching.”
 
“But he hasn’t been found?”
 
“He went overseas. It’s not so easy to find him.”
 
Solon’s difficult expression softened a little, it seemed to me.
 
“What will you do when you find him?”
 
“Take him back of course. He’s my friend. A life without friends is boring.”
 
He spread his arms in jest.
 
“…Zack does not want to reveal that he is the hero. Will you still bring him back?”
 
That was my concern. Zack wants to maintain the lie he told.
 
“Who was he lying for? If you properly went to Talis village, you should know?”
 
“For Shera-san. He wants to make Ares at least the hero, for her sake.”
 
“That’s right. He is fulfilling his obligation to her, his mother who raised him. He even gave her a painting of himself made to resemble Ares as closely as possible.”
 
When I first saw the painting, I thought he had it idealized a little, but there was a reason for it.
 
“So? Zack won’t come back for his lie. He has the strong will to defeat the demon king. And we can’t very well tell Shera-san the truth either. I don’t want his resolve to go to waste.”
 
“Indeed.”
 
Solon readily agreed.
 
“However. What if Shera knew about the lie from the beginning?”
 
“What if she knew… How would I know!?”
 
“I know. She absolutely knew.”
 
Solon stated categorically.
 
“How can you say that!?”
 
“If you go see Shera again, she’ll tell you herself.”
 
What can this man called the Great Sage see?
 
“You want me to go to Talis village again?”
 
It takes ten days by horse. Not an easy journey.
 
“Oh please. I’ll take you there. I’m not called the Great Sage for nothing.”
 
“Surely not teleportation magic? I heard you were researching it but…”
 
“The spell is complete. Though only I can use it.”
 
He said it lightly, but teleportation magic is a legendary magic said to have existed in the distant past. It’s not so simple.
 
“Well Princess, are you afraid to go by magic?”
 
Solon provoked. Of course I’m scared. To entrust myself to such unseen magic. But,
 
“Very well. I’ll go.”
 
It’s too late to back out now. When I answered that, Solon stood up and led me to a different room.
 
In the depths of that room in the basement of the estate was a large magical circle drawn on the floor.
 
“For now I can only teleport from this room and return to this room.”
 
Though he said it as if it were a defect, it was groundbreaking. Revolutionary even.
 
When Solon and I stood at the center of the magical circle, he began chanting the spell. The magical circle on the floor started glowing pale blue. Then the light intensified, and the moment my vision went completely white with the light, we were in a completely different place.
 
Surrounded by vibrant young trees. Though we should have been in the capital just a moment ago, there was an intense smell of plants.
 
“Where is this?”
 
“A forest near Talis village. I chose a place away from people’s eyes just in case. Still, Shera’s house isn’t too far. Let’s go.”
 
Saying that, Solon briskly started walking. At a glance he looks scholarly, seeming ill-suited for outdoors, but come to think of it he was part of the hero’s party. A walk like this is no trouble at all for him. If anything, he’s fast. I hurried after him.
 

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As Solon said, Sit was not far to the village headman’s house where Sierra lived. Along the way we got curious looks from villagers we passed, but Solon completely ignored their stares.
 
When we arrived at the village chief’s house, prompted by Solon I knocked on the door.
 
“Yes… Oh?”
 
It was Shera who came out.
 
“You’ve come again… I thought you would.”
 
She smiled a little nervously and led us into the house. Though it was around the same time of day as my previous visit, it seems her husband the village chief is often out at this time.
 
“Um… This person is…”
 
“Solon Barkley. They call me the Great Sage.”
 
Before I could introduce him, Solon stated his own name.
 
“The Great Sage… To think someone like you would visit such a place.
 
I am Shera Schmidt. It’s an honor to meet you.”
 
Shera bowed deeply to Solon, then turned to me and knelt down.
 
“You are Princess Alexia, yes? Please forgive my rudeness during your previous visit.”
 
I was found out. Both this time and last time when I came to investigate, I dressed as simply as I could as a civil official. I wore no ornaments, I shouldn’t be identified as royalty.
 
“The dignified and graceful manner you carry yourself with is not so easily concealed. At first glance I did not notice, but from your behavior and speech, I thought it might be so.”
 
As expected of the one who raised Ares and Zack. Shera has a discerning eye for people, able to raise them properly.
 
“Indeed, you are as I thought.”
 
Solon lowered his voice a little. Uncharacteristic for someone who normally speaks frankly.
 
“You also understand why we have come here.”
 
“Yes, about Zack.”
 
She answered with closed eyes.
 
“I understand. The things I should have said to someone sooner or later. No, I should have told that child right then and there…”
 
“You knew from the beginning!?”
 
I couldn’t help raising my voice. I didn’t think she had known so early. Even I only realized after progressing the investigation.
 
“I’m his mother, aren’t I? I can tell when my child is lying. Zack was always an honest boy, bad at lying.”
 
Shera smiled transiently.
 
“When Zack came home, for a moment I thought Ares had come home. But as soon as I saw that kind, sad look in his eyes, I knew it was Zack. Then he said,
 
[Ares defeated the demon king. But Ares was killed by a demon too]
 
And he handed me that sword.”
 
Shera pointed to the sword hanging on the wall.
 
“He cried and said [I’m sorry, I’m the only one who came back, I’m sorry].
 
I asked [Ares defeated the demon king?] My voice must have been shaking.
 
He silently nodded.
 
When I asked [Where have you been and what have you been doing until now?], he answered [I was living and working in the capital]. Strange, isn’t it?”
 
Tears spilled ceaselessly from Shera’s eyes.
 
“Because he had grown so incredibly splendid. His body was trained to a degree I’d never seen, his face sharpened, only his eyes were the same as when he left…
 
There’s no way he could have been working on a farm or in a shop. You don’t become like that working as a soldier either.
 
So, when I asked, “What are you going to do now?” He said, “I’m going to start my journey right away.” I didn’t want him to leave, so I held his hand to try and stop him.
 
Then, I noticed that his hand felt rough and calloused, like he had swung a sword thousands of times. His palm was covered in calluses, and I’m sure he must have wielded a sword countless times. If you looked closely, his skin peeking out from his clothing was covered in an incredible number of scars all over…
 
So I understood. [Ah, this boy defeated the demon king]. [He defeated the demon king for Ares and me]. And then I couldn’t say anything more. I just couldn’t tell that kind child that his gentle lie was [a lie].”
 
My vision blurred with Shera’s story. Solon’s face was hidden by his hood.
 
“It’s not like I wanted either Ares or Zack to become the hero or anything. I just wished they would grow up normally, live happily. That’s no longer possible for Ares, but I at least want Zack to find happiness. And I need to properly hear about Ares’ end from that child’s mouth. That is my duty as their mother. Therefore, Princess Alexia, please find him. Please find Zack.”


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