Who Killed the Hero? Volume 1 Chapter 7

Hero’s Chapter
 

 
Two years after traveling, I arrived at the place where the perished Kingdom of Malica used to be. The village of Letin, my father’s hometown, was the tentative destination of my journey.
 
Since the Kingdom of Malica was the country closest to the Demon Lord’s territory, it remained devastated even two years after the Demon Lord was defeated, with barely any human presence.
 
(There may be nothing left to find there)
 
My late father always said he wanted me to meet my grandfather who lives in the village of Letin. That’s why I came here, but at this rate, the village itself may be gone.
 
With neither my father nor mother, if my grandfather is also gone, where in the world would I go?
 

 
I lived to defeat the Demon Lord in place of Ares.
 
After accomplishing that, to be honest, I didn’t know what to do. As I traveled, I did things that imitated adventurers. I helped rebuild villages and towns, and defeated monsters when requested. When people thanked me, I felt a little fulfilled.
 
My life has always been too late. I wanted to save my father and mother but as a child I had no power. I trained with Ares in swordsmanship and magic but could not get any of it down. Despite being my father’s child I could not become good with a sword. Despite being my mother’s child I could not use magic.
 
Therefore, I could not be the power for Ares as the hero. I let him die.
 
By entering Pharme Academy as Ares, I somehow learned sword skills and magic, but even that is nothing great. I know that best of all.
 
Even though I worked hard to become the hero, I could only defeat the Demon Lord because Leon, Maria, and Solon were there. It was by no means my own power.
 
If I had asked the prophet, there might have been a world where Ares was still alive.
 
But I could not do that. I thought that was something I must not do.
 
My life has been full of things not going well, I could save no one I wanted to save, but still I tried my best, and did not want to invalidate what I have done.
 
But… in the end I have nothing left. Going back as Zack, parting with my three friends, traveling alone felt empty.
 
I wanted to see Princess Alexia. She told me “Don’t die! You don’t have to defeat the Demon Lord! Just stay alive!” Those words made me happy. She worried for me not as the hero Ares, but as an individual human. She looked my way, not the hero’s way.
 
However, I cannot return to the royal capital. If I did, it would ruin everything.
 


 
Based on the map I made from information gathered from Malican refugees escaped to other countries, I should be arriving at the location of Letin village soon. That is, if the village is still there.
 
In the distance sky I saw white smoke. Someone is there. My feet walking forward gained a little strength.
 

 
Ahead where I walked was something like a village. The buildings were dilapidated but there were people.
 
As I simply walked over, an old man approached from the village. His attire was not very neat. I could see the hardship of his life.
 
“I am the village chief of Letin here. Could you perhaps be a relative of Vince?”
 
The old man said. Vince is the name of my grandfather.
 
“I am his grandson, my name is Zack. My father is Luke.”
 
“Luke…what nostalgia. Is that guy doing well?”
 
“He died fighting the Demon Lord’s army.”
 
“I see…”
 
The old man closed his eyes and lowered his head a little. As if mourning the departed.
 
“Many people also died in this village. Vince as well.”
 
As I thought, my grandfather had passed away. I was not expecting much but it was still a bit shocking.
 
“You look a lot like Vince. That’s how I knew. Come, I will guide you to his grave.”
 
Saying that, the old man started walking. I follow after him.
 
On the way I met some villagers, but when the old man explained,
 
“He is Vince’s grandson.”
 
Everyone wanted to shake my hand.
 
“Your grandfather saved us.”
 

 
I was led to a dilapidated house on the outskirts near the mountain. From there you could see an overview of Letin village. Next to it was a small gravestone.
 
“This is the house where Vince lived. Luke was also born here. I made this gravestone first thing when I returned to this village. The body is not actually here. Just my feelings.”
 
The old man put his hands together in front of his chest and prayed. I imitated him.
 
“What kind of person was my grandfather?”
 
From my father I always heard “The person I respect most in the world.” From the villagers’ reactions I could also tell he was an admirable person.
 
“He was a clumsy guy.”
 
The old man laughed. It was an unexpected reply.
 
“Vince and I were childhood friends. Ever since we were little playing together, I was better than him at everything, he had no talent.”
 
It sounded just like the story of me and Ares.
 
“But you know, in the end I think I lost to Vince. I would not continue once I got good at something, but that guy would tenaciously keep at it until he got it down, so it became firmly part of his body. With just talent, you can’t beat someone like that.”
 
The old man talked happily. For some reason it felt like I was the one being praised.
 
“I heard my grandfather was a hunter. But he also did adventurer-like things?”
 
These were fragments I heard from my father when I was little.

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“He was born into a hunter’s family so became a hunter himself. When he first started hunting he was useless, and scolded by his dad a lot.”
 
“So he tenaciously kept at it?”
 
“It’s not about tenacity. When he couldn’t catch prey, he would seclude himself in the mountain and not come back. Not just a day or two. Many days. Even his dad got worried and went to bring him back. Both his lack of talent and perseverance may have been the worst in the world, that’s what I thought.”
 
I was starting to chuckle a little. Maybe I resembled my grandfather.
 
“Eventually his hunting improved and he got a wife. His wife passed away early but she was a beautiful and capable woman. Luke took after his mother. But Luke was also close with Vince.”
 
I didn’t know much about my grandmother. Since she passed away when my father was little, he didn’t remember her well either.
 
“As for me, born into the village chief’s family, I worked the fields and took care of the village as well. Then at one point monsters started appearing. This was trouble. As a small village we had no money to hire adventurers. So I turned to Vince for help. [Can you hunt the monsters?] I asked.”
 
…That’s an unreasonable request. The danger levels of animals and monsters are incomparable. If hunters could hunt monsters, who needs adventurers?
 
Noticing my incredulous gaze, the old man hurriedly continued.
 
“I knew it was unreasonable. I had no intention to force him. But Vince accepted it. Of course I paid him reward comparable to his hunting, though far smaller than adventurer pay.”
 
My grandfather seemed to be quite the soft touch.
 
“Naturally he was useless at first. But we all knew Vince, so expected he would somehow manage it if given time. Bad as he was at things, we all loved and relied on him anyway.”
 
“So did he become able to hunt monsters?”
 
“Yes, after maybe a year he was able to defeat monsters carefully and steadily by improving weapons and traps. We were saved thanks to him. However, the rumors spread and other villages also asked him for monster extermination. He accepted withoutcomplaint. As he steadily completed each monster subjugation, he got known as the [Frontier Hero].”
 
“Hero…?”
 
That was news to me.
 
“Well, that’s how much we appreciated him. The true hero defeated the Demon Lord and saved the world, but for us, if the nearby monsters weren’t defeated we literally had no tomorrow. Luke admired and aspired to be like his father the hero rather than follow his hunter father.”
 
“I see.”
 
My father said “I became an adventurer to help people.” That must have been my grandfather’s influence.
 
“Luke left the village to become an adventurer, but planned to eventually return and take over your grandfather’s monster subjugations. However, before that the Demon Lord appeared and started invading this country.”
 
The Demon Lord started invading Malica when I was six years old if I remember right.
 
“The first one to notice was Vince. One day he said [The monsters are acting strangely]. He deduced it from the increase and activity changes. Vince warned me. [The village should flee far away] he said.”
 
“….What did you do?”
 
I could imagine the answer.
 
“I believed him but the villagers did not. Or rather, they could not flee. Fleeing to a nearby village would be the same, they had no connections to faraway places. Everyone could not abandon their current lives to go elsewhere. They hoped Vince’s unfortunate prediction would prove wrong, and that would be the end of it.”
 
Just as I imagined. People only consider convenient possibilities. They don’t think calmly but cannot abandon the wish that things will turn out as they want. But that may be unavoidable.
 
“In the end, he was right. One day Vince reported a horde of monsters approaching the village. Even then the villagers refused to believe it until they saw the monsters themselves. By then it was too late of course.”
 
“So what happened?”
 
“Vince and I had been preparing to flee, just the two of us. What to bring, which path to take, who to rescue, various things. According to that plan we got the villagers to flee. I led everyone, he was rearguard. His job was to hold the monsters back with traps prepared in advance.”
 
“Then my grandfather…”
 
“Yes, he died then. Seems he kept fighting the monsters to the end to get as many villagers to safety as possible. Some villagers died too. But many more survived thanks to him.”
 
My father and mother also died fighting for others. My grandfather died fighting for others in the same way.
 
“The path Vince prepared led to the neighboring country. Though Malica was destroyed, the Letin villagers who fled thanks to him survived. The village now recovering with villagers returning is thanks to Vince.”
 
The old man’s eyes moistened.
 
“Actually, a few days before the monster attacked, I told Vince [Let’s flee together] – my family and Vince. No need to remain for the villagers who wouldn’t listen. But he didn’t nod. [I will remain here] he said. I still don’t understand why. I didn’t want him to die. Didn’t want to lose him. Yet the result…”
 
The old man stroked the gravestone as if consoling his dead friend.
 
“He was a hero. We villagers killed that hero. Because the hero fights for weak humans like us. But did we have enough value for him to risk his life? If we were a little stronger, a little smarter, he could have survived right? He wouldn’t have needed to sacrifice himself right? Yet why did he choose to remain…I still don’t understand.”
 
The old man regretted his best friend’s death. As someone who lost Ares, I empathized deeply with those feelings.
 
But…
 
“I feel like I can kind of understand how my grandfather felt.”
 
“His feelings?”
 
I looked at Letin village spread below. It was neither big nor with wounds fully healed. But the villagers worked hard, clearly intent on recovering properly.
 
It was not just this village. Such scenery could probably be seen everywhere in the world. An ordinary everyday life you might say. But it is precious.
 
“There were still things he wanted to protect.”
 
The things my grandfather wanted to protect surely remained.
 
Even I who thought I had nothing left had things remaining to me.
 
At last, I felt I could be proud of myself.
 

That day I stayed at the old man’s house.
 
And starting the next day, I decided to help rebuild this village protected by my grandfather.


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