Who Killed the Hero? Volume 1 Chapter 5 part 2

Fragment 1

After the battle in the Great Rozolof Forest, I formed a party with Leon, Maria, and Solon, and was formally recognized as the hero.
When I first visited the castle, I felt a subtle atmosphere.
Everyone was probably thinking “Why this guy instead of Leon’s group?” But since I had the same thought, it didn’t really bother me.
The king did not seem to have high expectations for me personally, but he did seem to have expectations for my competent party members. The war with the demon king’s army was deteriorating, so he had no choice but to expect much from us.
Among such circumstances, the one the king introduced me to was Princess Alexia.
“This is my daughter, Alexia. When you defeat the demon king, I will make you Alexia’s husband and the next king of this country.”
When I first saw her, I thought “What a pretty girl.”
With long, flowing golden hair, and beautiful sapphire eyes full of intellect. Though only twelve years old, she had a dignified beauty unlike Maria’s.
“Sir Hero, please defeat the demon king and save the world. I await your return.”
She smiled with all her might and said this to me.
I thought she was forcing herself. She’s just a twelve year old girl. However conventional it may be, she surely has no desire to marry a man six years her older whom she doesn’t even love. She too is suppressing her true feelings in order to play the role of [princess].
“Princess, I promise. I will definitely defeat the demon king.”
I said to her in a voice only she could hear.
“But I won’t come back here. So please, marry whoever you love.”
Since I’m not the real hero, I can’t marry the princess. Let alone become king, that would be presumptuous.
Besides, I wanted this cute girl before me to decide her own future for herself. I wanted to give her that choice.
Hearing my words, Princess Alexia’s eyes widened in surprise, like she couldn’t believe what she heard.
I was glad to see her real expression.
Thinking I’m fighting to protect the futures of girls like her, I can keep moving forward, even as a fake hero.

At the castle, we were treated to welcoming parties, had our portraits painted, and entertained for several days. We were supplied with practical, high-quality equipment, but I kept using my original sword and only had it maintained. I intended to fight with this sword to the end.
While at the castle, I mainly trained swordsmanship with Leon. My sword skills improved considerably, but I still couldn’t match Leon.
By using attack magic and recovery magic skillfully to fight tenaciously, I was somehow able to match him.
“Your fighting style is as unsophisticated as ever.”
That’s how I was evaluated by Leon, but he didn’t mean ill by it. Leon too understands that such fighting methods are necessary when battling demons.
However, consuming both stamina and mana at once is extremely taxing on the body. When our special training ended, I would collapse where I stood from exhaustion during the sessions.
“I’m going on ahead.”
Meanwhile, Leon still had energy to spare. Our battle was even, but his movements contained no waste, he still had plenty of stamina left.


After Leon left, while I was resting and waiting for my strength to recover, someone came nearby.
It was Princess Alexia.
“I was watching.”
Unlike when we first met, she spoke casually.
“Leon is better with a sword. I’ve had some sword training too, so I can tell. Your fighting style is inelegant, kind of…unsightly.”
As straightforward as she looks. I couldn’t help smiling wryly.
“Um… You’ve got me there. ….. It’s toubling. I don’t know how to speak properly to royalty.”
“I’m not well-versed in etiquette. Dealing with important people like nobles is mainly left to Leon and Maria, so I don’t really understand.”
“Feel free to be yourself. I don’t expect that from a hero.”
She seemed to have a laid-back personality when it came to formalities. It was refreshing, and I found it very likable.
“I’m not that strong. So, I aim to win no matter what, even if it means being messy and unheroic.”
“You’re a hero, and yet you’re not strong? How do you plan to defeat the Demon King then?”
She didn’t seem to look down on me, just genuinely curious.
“How do I do it? Well, I use various methods.”
“For example?”
“Yeah, for example, if the Demon King’s castle looks like it’s about to catch fire, I’d set it on fire and burn the whole castle down.”
“Burning the castle!?!”
Princess Alexia covered her mouth, wearing an expression of disbelief.
“I would use oil, consider the direction and strength of the wind, stuff like that. It would be so much easier if I could do that.”
“Isn’t that something a hero shouldn’t do? Isn’t it cowardly? I mean, I’ve sometimes thought being a hero is a bit like an assassin, but really doing something like that…”
Princess Alexia seemed somewhat perplexed.
“I’m not that strong even if I’m called a hero. I’ll do whatever it takes to defeat the Demon King. After all, if I don’t defeat the Demon King, everyone will be in trouble, right? So, if poison works, I’d use poison, and if I could negotiate with monsters to have them join our side, I would. No matter what people say, I have to get the job done.”
I wasn’t like a typical hero, and in reality, I wasn’t a hero. So, I would fight using any means necessary.
“You’re not just physically unheroic; even your character doesn’t seem like a hero. So, why go to such lengths? Because, if you’re not coming back here, it means you don’t want to be a king, right? What’s your goal?”
She stared at me with eyes filled with curiosity, as if looking at something extraordinary.
“My goal is to defeat the Demon King. I haven’t thought beyond that. I’m willing to give my life if it means defeating the Demon Lord. …… No, maybe it’s better that way.”
If I can defeat the Demon King and end up losing my life in the process, no one would doubt that Ares is the hero. Maybe that’s the future I hope for.
“Absolutely not!”
Princess Alexia blushed with anger and pointed her finger at me.
“Ares-Schmidt. What are you thinking? I’ve never heard of a hero perishing in a mutual strike with the Demon King. An adventure of such a dark hero like that is unthinkable! Got it? A hero’s job is to defeat the Demon King and return to the castle.”
Her way of speaking somehow sounded like that of a twelve-year-old girl, and I couldn’t help but laugh.
“But when I return, you’ll have to marry me, won’t you? Won’t that be a problem?”
Even as I said this, I found myself wanting to see this child grow up into a beautiful woman at the royal castle.
“W-Well, that’s a bit of a problem, but… It’s fine! I’ll figure something out! So, promise me! Promise me you’ll defeat the Demon King and come back alive! This is an order from the princess!”
Despite her slightly troubled expression, she gave me a royal command. It was quite adorable.
“Alright, I promise. I’ll defeat the Demon King and make sure I come back alive.”
I deliberately used “come back alive” instead of “return alive.”
“So, Princess Alexia, you should marry someone you love, too, okay? I’m going to fight to make everyone happy, so I don’t want you to have an unwanted marriage, even though the Demon King is gone.”
“…I understand. If you keep your promise, I’ll keep mine.”
She turned her face away and made that promise..


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