Who Killed the Hero? Volume 1 Chapter 6 part 4

 
There were no direct effects in making someone the hero, but by making them self-aware and giving them the expectations of others, there were indirect effects like motivating them to train even harder or making it easier for them to receive funds and equipment.
 
At a village gathering, I materialized the mirage and declared:
 
“The hero who will defeat the demon king will appear from this village.”
 
The villagers were overjoyed. They knew it – Ares was the hero. And they all looked at him simultaneously. But he…had turned pale.
 
(Ah, what a truly wise child.)
 
I felt a pain in my heart.
 
Ares understood the essence of what it meant to be the hero. That difficult and painful role.
 
But Ares’ cousin Zack, who stood beside him, stared straight at me. As if proclaiming that he himself was the hero.
 
To be honest, Zack wasn’t anything special. He was always with Ares, sparring with him in sword practice and studying magic together, but he didn’t compare to Ares in anything.
 
He was a boy who could never become the hero. Yet, his eyes left a strong impression on me.
 
After looking at Zack, Ares regained his composure and quietly accepted the villagers’ congratulations.
 
After returning home, he discussed it with his parents and made the decision to head for the royal capital. Things were going as I had hoped. In the capital he could hone his skills further and gather companions to form a party. All necessary things for defeating the demon king.
 
Yet seeing Ares swing his sword through the night, unable to sleep after becoming the hero, I felt something tragic in it.
 
Watching Ares’ mother Sherra weep while thinking of her son was painfully relatable to me as a mother myself, even though I had brought this about.
 

 
Once preparations were complete, Ares departed on his journey with Zack as his attendant.
 
And…he lost his life along the way. Demons laying in ambush – it was something I hadn’t anticipated at all.
 
It was far too early a death.
 
“This attempt has ended in failure as well.”
 
I immediately considered dying. Ares showed promise.
 
While he had died, there probably weren’t many others that young who could fight demons as an equal.
 
If I could avoid this tragedy, I thought there might still be hope for him.
 
Yet for some reason, I was bothered by Zack who had traveled with Ares. That boy without any discernible talent or ability.
 
I transferred my mirage to Zack and decided to watch over his course.
 


 
Zack entered Pharme Academy pretending to be Ares and made effort after effort to become the hero. No matter how little the results or how futile the efforts, he kept pushing forward. In him I saw myself reflected.
 
Even if he couldn’t match Leon’s swordsmanship, he still swung my sword silently. Even while Maria subjected him to unreasonable trials, he awakened to the god’s miracles. At the end of long training with Solon, he acquired magic.
 
They were all far from first-rate, but Zack accumulated small miracles.
 
And before I knew it, he had become the hero. Not guided by me. He had won the title by his own power.
 
The weak, shabby, mud-stained hero.
 


 
Zack formed a party with Leon, Maria and Solon and departed on a journey to defeat the demon king.
 
And he harmonized the party well. Rather than trying to use them, he sought to draw out each of their strengths.
 
I too provided Zack with whatever information I had at every opportunity, and he overcame many hardships and trials.
 
“Can Zack defeat the demon king?”
 
My expectations for him grew. But at the same time, one conflict arose within me.
 
It was about Ares. Zack was fighting on behalf of Ares, sacrificing himself to take Ares’ place. That was something I knew best of all.
 
But if he defeated the demon king as things stood, the world would move on with Ares remaining dead.
 
After agonizing over it, I spoke to Zack. It was when they had come within a step of reaching the demon king’s castle.
 

 
“What if you could return to a world where Ares is alive? What would you do?”
 
Zack’s eyes widened.
 
“Return? Not be revived, but go back?”
 
“You wouldn’t come back to life. Just go back to before you died and start over again.”
 
“My memories?”
 
“Wouldn’t remain. Only I would remember. But I could guide things so Ares doesn’t die.”
 
Zack gazed at me for a while in silence before opening his mouth.
 
“What about the demon king? We’ve come this far, but could I make it back here again?”
 
“I…don’t know.”
 
I answered honestly. It seemed like a miracle we had made it this far, and I had no confidence I could reproduce it again.
 
“Then that’s fine.”
 
“Huh?”
 
“It’d be really tough to redo everything again, right? Even if I was told ‘you can live your life over,’ I couldn’t do it. I don’t want to go through such hardship again.”
 
He said with a smile.
 
“But then Ares will…”
 
“It’s too bad about Ares, and of course I’d want him revived if possible, but instead if everything up to now became like it never happened, I think that would be wrong. Not just for me. Everyone’s hard work would become meaningless. So I’ll keep moving forward like this.”
 
“Is it okay?”
 
“Yeah, this is my choice. I watched Ares die.”

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“I killed Ares.”
 

 
“So, you don’t have to make such a pained expression.”
 
Expression? Due to the power of the shrine maiden, my form projected from the temple to the Demon King’s territory is nothing more than an illusion, and it should not even differentiate between young and old or male and female. There’s no way to understand expressions. I can only watch from the temple, and I’m a powerless being.
 
“You couldn’t possibly understand anything about me.”
 
“Somehow, I do. Maybe it’s the vibe? I felt like you resembled Ms. Shera. I thought she might be a kind motherly figure.”
 
Shera… Ares’s mother. She didn’t exactly approve of her son becoming a hero. And who could blame her? Even I wouldn’t want to send my daughter on such a harsh and perilous journey. But I forced it on someone else’s child, and as a result, I let Ares die.
 
“I… I’m not kind.”
 
“Is that so? I don’t think that’s true. The Prophet’s purpose is to defeat the Demon King, right?
 
But even though I’m one step away from achieving that, you’re proposing to start over. You can’t do it without kindness.”
 
“…”
 
“But, if I die without defeating the Demon King, if I have to start over, I want you to guide me to be able to use magic before I set out on the journey again. I’m not very good at it because I’m clumsy, but I’ll be counting on you. Then, next time, I can travel with Ares without letting him die, I think.”
 
As if making a joke, Zack revealed his true wish and concluded the conversation, then left the place.
 
Afterward, Zack and the others defeated the Demon King in a fierce battle, and my thousand-year-long journey came to an end.
 


 
Having finally been freed from the long cycle of reincarnation, I trembled with joy. I could finally meet my end, I could finally die as a human – I thought.
 
But that joy vanished the morning after I awoke from sleep.
 
“The dead won’t come back.”
 
It wasn’t only Ares. So many more people had died because of my choices.
 
In the beginning with [World Revision], I made an effort to save as many lives as I could, but at some point I had neglected to do so. “It’s pointless anyway, meaningless anyway,” I thought.
 
Yet this time I had succeeded in defeating the demon king. When I should have been able to save so many more people.
 
After that, I continued to blame myself. I only wished for my life to end quickly.
 


 
Some years later, the one who appeared before me wishing for death was Alexia.
 
After a long back-and-forth with the temple priests, she forcefully entered the sanctuary.
 
It seems my daughter had come here, coaxed by Solon, to ask about Zack’s whereabouts.
 
Certainly, the prophet’s mirage was still acting as Zack’s doppelganger.
 
However,
 
(What a foolish daughter.)
 
To thoughtlessly enter the sacred domain out of mere curiosity, not knowing my anguish or Zack’s feelings at all.
 
A darkness rose up in my heart. After telling Alexia everything, I offered her the poisoned wine I had been using to commit suicide.
 
“If you are of the oracle lineage as well, show your resolve. If you can overcome your fear of death, I will tell you of Zack’s whereabouts.”
 
It was merely a threat. I thought the pampered girl would go back after hearing that.
 
But Alexia answered,
 
“I understand, Mother.”
 
Then she drank down the poisoned wine.
 
And looking straight at me, without showing a single pained expression, she died with a gentle smile left on her face.
 
Witnessing Alexia’s death, I remembered what I had been performing [World Revision] for.
 
Wasn’t it to save this child? I thought.
 
She had come here with her own resolve. And I had made it an outlet for my own pent-up feelings.
 
I stabbed my own throat with a dagger and collapsed over Alexia’s body, performing one last [World Revision].
 
When I regained consciousness, I felt faint relief and guilt that I had not gone back to before the demon king’s defeat.
 
It seems I had gone back to one day before Alexia came.
 
I instructed the priests that when Alexia came, they should let her through, and I waited for my daughter’s second visit.
 


 
After hearing the door close, I opened my eyes and confirmed Alexia had left.
 
Silence returned to the sanctuary.
 
“Thank you, Alexia. My beloved daughter.”
 
No matter what I did, no matter what happened, each time it repeated, everyone would forget. It was a lonely journey, with no reward.
 
Watching people die because of my guidance, because of my choices,
 
with no words of thanks – I thought it a cursed role.
 
“But I really wanted someone to say it…”
 
Alexia’s words seeped into the depths of my heart.
 
My legs could no longer support me, and I leaned against the altar as tears of mingled joy and sorrow flowed down.
 
I would never meet with that child again –
 
that was the only atonement I had given myself.


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