I, the “false hero” expelled the “true hero” Volume 1 Chapter 2 Part 8

“Oh my. How unsophisticated. To think the esteemed [Hero] would resort to fleeing. Disappointing.”
 
Some time later after the landslide subsided.
 
The three demons were unharmed, having used ice walls conjured by [Ice Fog] Suuey to shelter themselves from the landslide.
 
Ice that had shielded them as barricades collapses with clinking sounds.
 
As Suuey and Torden brush off dust, Beshtor Leven stands silently pondering my previous words.
 
[My defeat won’t be by your hands]
 
(Those words…)
 
“Tch, with those kinda injuries he couldn’t have run far. Imma hunt him down right now and kill his ass! Yo bitches. Stop spacing out and get moving!”
 
“Enough.”
 
“Haaah!? You defying the Demon Lord’s orders!?”
 
“Mood’s spoiled.”
 
Saying only that, Beshtor Leven leaves the area.
 
“Then shall we take our leave as well?”
 
” Nothing else to gain here it seems. They aren’t even enviable foes.”
 
“Goddammit! Oi, wait up bastard! Forget it!! Imma finish up here myself!!”
 
“Oh my. He left rather readily despite his attitude. Unexpected earnestness from him.”
 
clicking his tongue at his departing comrades, Torden dashes off lightning-quick to search for me.
 
However. He would not find me and my companions again.
 


 
Somewhere quite near the site of our battle with Beshtor Leven’s group.
 
We advance through a cave, having taken shelter here to avoid detection above ground.
 
“So you used…smoke bombs huh.”
 
Fiiling relief at their lack of pursuit. With our current condition we stand no chance battling them again. We barely scraped through by the skin of our teeth back there.
 
I also never anticipated the Demon Lord would send three Warmongers of such caliber just for us. Looks like we bothered them more than I realized. Going rather far against some imposters huh.
 
“Kh…My arm…My arm…!”
 
“Unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable. This undignified result is not suitable for me. Not suitable. Not suitable. Not suitable…”
 
The two have been muttering similar things repeatedly since earlier. Their bodies shake, and their eyes are devoid of sanity. They must have completely broken down.
 
Even if we return alive, it might be impossible to continue as a hero party.
 
“That’s right, exactly! Why was a Demon Lord army officer there in the first place? That common soldier, make sure to scout properly. When you get back, I’ll definitely punish you!”
 
“Damn it, damn it, damn it, damn it, damn it!!! Why do I have to go through this! I’m the best [Swordsman] in the country! I am Gladius, the champion of the Lion King Festival!”
 
“That’s right, Gladius! What was that display? Being the best swordsman in the country was too much for you! You’re at best a second-rate! “
 
“What!? Even you couldn’t do anything against that wizard! The notorious witch was still better!”
 
“Don’t equate me with such a commoner! Disgusting! Indeed, you’re just a commoner who rose up through sword skills! “
 
“What did you say!”
 
The two are blaming each other. They refuse to acknowledge, probably don’t want to acknowledge. Their high pride can’t accept the fact of defeat.
 
(We… are weak)
 
The huge gap utterly laid bare and imposed upon us.
 
I grit my teeth at that fact as I walk, one hand bracing my injured body, listening to those two bickering loudly.
 
After traveling for days we finally return to town, Knights fully armed coming to greet us.
 
At their lead strides the Captain of this town’s Knight Order.

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“Welcome back Sir Hero. How was the village?”
 
“Ah, apologies. By the time we arrived the village was already razed. Moreover we encountered the Eight Warmongers of the Demon Lord’s Army and were routed by them. Inform command immediately.”
 
“The Eight Warmongers you say? This is serious. We must notify the top brass at once.”
 
“Yeah. No idea what they’re scheming but it surely bodes ill.”
 
“Of course, Sir Hero.”
 
“More importantly! Get us inside quickly now! And bring out the scouts! It’s their fault we lost!”
 
“……”
 
The Captain shows no indication of heeding Mary’s words. Strange. He wasn’t like that when we left town.
 
Wait…something feels off. Why do they look guarded yet hostile…?
 
“So Sir Hero. Have you anything to say to us?”
 
“Huh? Failed to slay the Warmongers, that’s regrettable.”
 
“No, not that Sir.”
 
“Don’t understand your question…what do you mean?”
 
“Still confused? Then let me make this clear. –Quite the deception you pulled, False Hero! “
 
In unison, the Knights ready their weapons and point them at me.
 
“W-What is the meaning of this!?”
 
“How insolent! Such outrageous disrespect towards us, the Hero’s party!”
 
Gladius and Mary voice their dismay. The Knights’ eyes around us harbor hatred.
 
Among them however, I felt relieved at his words labeling me a ‘False Hero’. Because that means–
 
“The Church has received a [Divine Revelation]. Declaring the coming of [The True Hero], named Yuu Protagonist! The boy you drove out! Moreover–Foil Austin! You are branded an imposter!”
 
–at last, this time has arrived.
 
When he said that, I was smiling.
 


 
Having narrowly fled from that standoff, orders were issued throughout all nations organizing a search and elimination of me.
 
The crimes being impersonation of the [Hero] and theft of the Holy Sword Arianrhod.
 
Assailing Knights and Soldiers hunting me down in droves.
 
And taking revenge for the tyranny I committed using the hero name, mobs of citizens with hatred and anger dwell in their hearts.
 
We got separated from Gladius and Mary midway. Their parting words were “Liar!”.
 
I caught wind of their gruesome final fates by rumor.
 
Gladius lost his hand in the battle against Thunder of the Eight Generals, unable to unleash his original strength, restrained by force of numbers, and in the end killed by weaker people than himself who had lost family members to him, or so I heard from the rumor mill.
 
Mary was protected for a time as nobility, but continued living without caring for the people, not even trying to hide her contempt for the masses. Furthermore, after a poor parent and child were run over by her carriage, with her remark that followed, she incurred the wrath of the populace, leading to an uprising. Unsurprisingly, she lost protection and her household was dismantled with Mary herself sent to the guillotine and executed, or so I heard.
 
Well, such is the way of things. The Hero party were the hope and joy of the people.
 
Lose the support of the people, and they crumble. Those two failed to realize something so simple. In the end, even I was unable to change their values and ways. That is my sole regret.
 
I was already gradually losing the power of the Holy Sword, struggling against even mere monsters, losing the trust of country and citizens.
 
However, so long as we bore the title of the Hero party, we were still allowed to act with impunity. But that too is now a thing of the past.
 
With the recent revelation that I am a “False Hero”, our reputation has hit rock bottom. So this outcome is only natural.
 
But, you know…
 
While they weren’t good people, as a result I’ve dragged them down with me.
 
In regards to that, I cannot deny their accusations that I’m a liar.
 
And just as they received retribution for their selfish actions, that retribution will surely come for me as well.
 
“Haah…haah…hahaha! How the mighty have fallen! This is quite the predicament, isn’t it?”
 
On a certain cliff with an excellent view…
 
Gripping the jet-black Holy Sword in one hand, having repelled the pursuing soldiers without killing a single one of them, I struggle to remain standing,fighting the urge to fall to my knees.
 
“And yet, even monsters have come for me. I wonder who leaked my location? I hope the surrounding townspeople don’t suffer any harm…”
 
How long did I continue fighting? Half a month? A whole month? I’ve lost all sense of time now.
 
I kept on fighting without pause. Assassins from the Church. Pursuers from the country. Demons after the Holy Sword. I repelled them all. While I understand why the country would be after me, I have no idea why even the demons were able to pinpoint my exact location, but I suppose it hardly matters at this point.
 
I look up at the sky to catch my ragged breath.
 
“Is that a bird up there? Hah, are you here to feast on my corpse?”
 
Glancing skywards, I spot a bird-like shape flying freely through the sky.
 
The bird flies freely through the endless sky. For some reason, the sight makes me feel intensely envious.
 
“Haah, haah… Hm?”
 
Just as I’m about to collapse from exhaustion, I stop short at the sight before me.
 
“Ah, so you’ve finally arrived. Kept me waiting, didn’t ya? Honestly…”
 
In the distance, heading towards me, I spot a familiar figure.
 
The one person I wanted to see most – my childhood friend, Yuu.
 
“….Yuu”
 
“….Foil”
 
A reunion after a year’s separation. Behind him was Mei, looking even more beautiful than a year ago, along with several men and women I don’t recognize – likely Yuu’s companions.
 
Under normal circumstances, I would have been overjoyed to see him. But with both our circumstances drastically changed, we simply call out each other’s names before lapsing into silence.
 
“….You look impressive – you’ve really grown this past year. Your outfit, your muscle tone, your whole air about you…I hardly recognize you.”
 
“It’s true. A lot has happened since you kicked me out of the party. I shut myself away for a time. But Mei snapped me out of it, Christina said I was the Hero, my companions supported me…Without them, I would have gone back to the village after all that.”
 
Yuu smiles, and I spot a firm resolve in his eyes that wasn’t there before.


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