Who Killed the Hero? Volume 1 Chapter 6 part 2

 
The first thing to catch my eye was the giant goddess statue, sculpted so finely it seemed almost alive.
 
And in front of the altar of that goddess statue stood a person wrapped in white clothes like a lifeless statue.
 
“Mother…”
 
A groaning voice escaped me. While her appearance overlapped with my memories, the elegance beloved by all was lost, leaving an impression of deep emptiness.
 
“Alexia, I know why you have come here. And that Solon put you up to it.”
 
Her gaze at me was cold, and I felt no warmth in her words.
 
“You know about Solon?”
 
Why did she know I had been in contact with Solon in this place isolated from the outside world?
 
“I know him well. That boy was a little too smart, somewhat difficult to handle.”
 
“That boy? Were you close with Solon, mother?”
 
Solon has been famed as a prodigy since childhood, but he shouldn’t have much involvement with the royal family.
 
“What did Solon tell you that made you come here?”
 
Rather than answering, she returned the question.
 
“…..That you are the prophet.”
 
“That is the truth.”
 
She readily admitted it without even changing her expression.
 
“Huh?”
 
“I am the prophet, the follower of this country’s god closest to him. And you are one of them as well.”
 
I felt a sensation like vertigo. While I had been prepared, hearing it said outright still shocked me.
 
“…..Why?”
 
That was about all I could get out.
 
“This is the destiny of my lineage, an inescapable fate. You might even call it the curse of god.”
 
As she said that, mother briefly glanced behind at the goddess statue.
 
“How did Solon say the prophet guides the hero? “
 
“He didn’t know the method…”
 
“I see. Solon didn’t know that much back then either.
 
…Very well. I shall teach the secrets of our lineage to you as my successor.”
 
Mother made a cruel smile as if mocking herself.
 
“I cannot die.”
 
“Huh?”
 
I did not understand right away what she was saying.
 
“When I die, the world will end, and time rewinds to when the cause of my death can be averted.”
 
“What does that…”
 
“You asked if I was close with Solon, right? Solon was also once a hero I guided. His wisdom and magical power were unrivaled in the age, and aside from Zack, he was the hero who came closest to the demon king. That was when he saw through the prophet’s true identity as well. Though of course Solon no longer remembers that now, or rather, it’s as if it never happened to begin with.”
 
As if reminiscing about that time, mother closed her eyes as she spoke. Did I imagine a hint of sorrow in her expression?

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“It wasn’t just Solon. Leon and Maria also became heroes I guided, perishing mid-way. Solon and the others were certainly gifted humans, but they had a tendency to rely too much on themselves and look down on others, and so could not become true heroes. There were several other hero candidates as well, but none of them worked out.
 
For me…for the prophet, I had no way of knowing who the hero was. I simply repeated the endless flow of time until a person capable of defeating the demon king appeared.”
 
My voice wouldn’t come out. My mind refused to comprehend even if I understood.
 
Then just how many times had mother repeated time over the span of a thousand years?
 
“It takes close to ten years from guiding one hero to reaching an outcome. I repeated that span of time over a hundred times.”
 
“Then over a thousand…”
 
It was an unimaginably long period of time. Could a person live through such time?
 
“Yes, over a thousand years of journeying I finally found Zack. Though the first person I tried guiding was Ares. Having heard of an excellent youth in a remote village, I guided Ares with a sliver of hope. Ares was a boy with astounding talent, and I had high expectations, but he perished before even reaching the capital. I immediately considered suicide and restarting, but for some reason Zack who was with Ares caught my interest.”
 
“…..Suicide?”
 
That was not a word I could ignore.
 
“When you’ve lived through over a hundred lifetimes, your own death is trivial. My first death was at the hands of a demon. At that time the demon king’s army attacked and captured the royal castle, massacring all the humans inside. If I had to repeat that tragedy, I would not hesitate to choose suicide.”
 
So over the span of a thousand years, she had taken her own life countless times. That was just too…
 

“Do you pity me, Alexia? But that is all in the past now. A boy with no talent, no expectations, brought an end to this long journey. His determination to defeat the demon king was stronger than any person I had seen, and he had an indomitable spirit that could withstand any humiliation or adversity. He was truly worthy of the title hero.”
 
The hero was a person who the prophet had spent a long time searching for. There was no destiny or miracle involved – the one who ended up defeating the demon king would be given that title. I was stunned for a moment, but there was one thing that bothered me. It was about a certain possibility.
 
“…Mother, um…couldn’t Ares and Zack, I mean, if Ares had lived, couldn’t Ares and Zack have joined forces to defeat the demon king? I met Ares’ mother, Sherra, in Talis village. She was deeply grieved over losing Ares. She was also like a foster parent to Zack. I felt so sorry for her…”
 
From what I heard, Ares was a person of exceptional talent. If that’s the case, couldn’t they have kept Ares alive and had him and Zack defeat the demon king together?
 
“Zack’s strength comes from the grim determination to think of Ares and his mother Sherra. Without that, defeating the demon king would not have been possible. While Zack’s feat of defeating the demon king was admirable, it was built upon a slender possibility, like threading a needle. There is no guarantee it can be reproduced again. Also, Alexia, are you suggesting I should die in order to try that possibility?”
 
…She was right – asking my mother to go that far would be cruel.
 
“I have witnessed countless tragedies and atrocities. In light of that, Sherra’s sorrow is just another common tragedy.”
 
“But Mother, wasn’t it you who chose Ares? Neither Ares nor Zack wanted to be the hero. Sherra didn’t wish for it either.”
 
“Let’s acknowledge that. While I didn’t directly intervene, it is true that I chose him and left him to die. Yes…
 

 
“I killed the hero Ares.”
 

 
While admitting her wrongs, Mother showed no sign of remorse over it. I was certain the mother I knew wasn’t that kind of person.
 
“But do you understand, Alexia? I never wished to become the prophet either. Do you know what I thought, repeating through these cycles of time?
 
“I did not want to be born a royal”
 
That was my own thought from time to time.
 
[Why me?] That’s what. I resented and cursed the fact that the demon king’s invasion happened during my lifetime, over and over. If only it had happened during my mother’s time, during my child’s time – why must I be the one to suffer so terribly? The demon king likely won’t be reborn for another hundred years. You will be able to live your whole life without experiencing this. Let me make this clear. I envy you. Being born into the prophet lineage yet able to finish your life without using almost any of its power…”
 
“Surely not…”
 
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I felt it was unfair, yet I understood my mother’s feelings to some degree. The thousand-year journey must have been so arduous and harsh that it transformed someone as kind as her into this cold person, enough that she wanted to push it onto others.
 
“Do you understand now? I find even looking at you unpleasant. I know why you came here. You want to know Zack’s whereabouts, no? He is in the village of Letin in the old Malica Kingdom, where your father was from. Go there if you want to meet him.”
 
The Malica Kingdom was a country near the demon king’s territory that was destroyed first when the demon king invaded. It was also where Zack’s parents lost their lives.
 
“Our conversation ends here. I forbid you from entering my shrine as long as I live. Leave this place at once.”
 
When she finished speaking, Mother closed her eyes, as if to say there was nothing more to discuss.
 
Not expecting to be so hated, I bowed my head in sorrow and turned to leave through the door. But I stopped and looked back at Mother one more time.
 
“Mother!”
 
My call elicited no reaction from Mother.
 
“Thank you for everything! Thanks to you, Mother, the world has been saved! No matter how much you may hate me, I will always be proud to be your daughter! I’m glad to have been born as the daughter of such a strong mother like you!”
 
Tears spilled down my cheeks unbidden.
 
In my blurry vision, it seemed Mother’s expression moved ever so slightly. Was that just my wishful thinking?
 
“I love you, Mother! I will love you until the day I die! Please, if nothing else, remember that!”
 
After giving Mother a deep bow, I left the place, feeling like my hair was being pulled from behind.

 


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