Chapter 4:

Playing the Hero

The Consequence of Saving the World

“Ye—”Bookmark here

“Can we save the introductions for later?” Sereya interjected, “These woods are ill-suited for a chat, don’t you think?”Bookmark here

Flashing her gentle, yet feminine smile, she disarmed the girl who asked if I was the hero just moments ago.Bookmark here

“A-Ah you’re right! I’m sorry, and thanks so much for rescuing me!”Bookmark here

“Yeah, no problem,” I grinned, a first for me in my unfamiliar body, “Just follow us and we’ll show you the way out.”Bookmark here

Led by Sereya, the three of us carried on walking. I would frequently take quick glances behind me, partly because it would be bad if the girl got lost again, and also partly because I was wholly mesmerised by her unusual eyes. Bookmark here

Besides her left eye which was blue and her right eye which was yellow, she seemed surprisingly young, probably in her early teens. Her amber hair was tied into a ponytail. Below the neck, she wore a breastplate and other pieces of armour along her arms and legs over her clothes. Just like Sereya, she too, had a sword by her hip.Bookmark here

Fortunately, she didn’t seem to notice me as her attention was etched onto the surroundings. Was she trying to keep track of what she saw? With spatial magic involved, there was no point to that, though.Bookmark here

“I wouldn’t bother with the surroundings, it’s—”Bookmark here

A light, but startling pain shot up my chest. Sereya elbowed me while giving me a mean glare. Why was she so intent on keeping me quiet? Ever since we agreed to help this girl out, she had been behaving very strangely.Bookmark here

Could I really trust her?Bookmark here

“It’s?” the girl asked, curious as to why I stopped mid-sentence. Before I could come up with a reply, Sereya answered on my behalf.Bookmark here

“It’s the exit, we’re outside!”Bookmark here

“E-E-Ehhhhhh?!”Bookmark here

Both the girl and myself couldn’t help but voice out our bewilderment. Just a second ago, we were in the thick of the woods, with seemingly no end in sight. However, in front of us was definitely a clearing with a wide, stone-paved path.Bookmark here

I turned around, and the forest was gone! The temptation to just backtrack a few steps was there, but I knew that Sereya would probably scold me for doing that, so I ignored it. Bookmark here

Would people from the outside think that we just materialised out of thin air? As I scanned my surroundings, I couldn’t see anyone else other than the two beside me. Questions upon questions popped up in my mind, but my only answer to them was ‘spatial magic is a scary thing’.Bookmark here

“T-That, that was barely even five minutes!” the girl exclaimed in disbelief.Bookmark here

Curious, I said to her, “If you don’t mind me asking, how long did you spend in the forest?”Bookmark here

“Three, three and a half?” she raised her fingers, counting them.Bookmark here

“Hours?”Bookmark here

“Days.”Bookmark here

What?! I could barely even last without a meal, and this girl could survive in the forest for three days?!Bookmark here

“Oh, but don’t worry about me,” perhaps sensing my shock, she quickly brushed it over, “There were berries and other edible plants in the woods, so that helped sustain me.”Bookmark here

Ah, right, but providing nourishment was probably one of the factors that went into the maze’s design. The more someone trusted their senses to navigate around, the more impossible it was to get out.Bookmark here

“We’re heading to the capital, where are you planning to go, err,” my mind came to a screeching halt. I haven’t even asked for her name!Bookmark here

“Melyeze Lloydven, Third of the Four Wings of Ragnarl!” Bookmark here

Her previously timid attitude turned into that of pride and joy. While I had no idea what the Four Wings were, based on how she stuck her chest out, it was clear that it was some position of note.Bookmark here

“Ahem,” Sereya turned away as she let out a cough. A rather weird reaction coming out from her.Bookmark here

“Pardon our manners, Sir Melyeze, we should have introduced ourselves first.”Bookmark here

E-Eh?! Sir?! She looked so young! Are you sure, Serey—Bookmark here

Oh. Sereya was lowering her head. I should as well.Bookmark here

“Err, I would like it if you just called me ‘Melyeze’, though. ’Sir’ makes me sound so old…”Bookmark here

“Alright, Melyeze,” Sereya responded as her shoulders relaxed. Bookmark here

Suddenly, I felt a loud slap from my back. Sereya’s hand landed squarely on my backbone, jolting me into a state of alertness, my muscles taut as a rope. What made this even more uncomfortable was that her hand never retracted—it was still on my spine, with her fingers digging down into my skin. Before I could say anything, Sereya—Bookmark here

“This lad here is Evander M—Mortimer. Just like you, I also found him lost in the forest.”Bookmark here

HUH? Sereya what’s go—Bookmark here

Ouch!Bookmark here

Perhaps she sensed my surprise which led her to twist the skin on my back. Forcing me to play along with her facade, she better had a good explanation for all this.Bookmark here

“Aww, so he’s not Hero Evansmith? And after all I've been through,” Melyeze looked downright dejected. I resisted the urge to pat her on her forehead.Bookmark here

Sereya finally released her grip on my back, which let me breathe again.Bookmark here

“I am Sereya Bl—”Bookmark here

“N-N-N-N-NO WAY!” Bookmark here

Melyeze’s excessive reaction caught both of us off-guard.Bookmark here

“Y-Y-You’re Sereya the Merciful Blade? I’m t-t-talking to THE Sereya?! This is S-S-S-Sereya in the f-f-flesh.”Bookmark here

Melyeze rushed forward, invading Sereya’s personal space as she started to shake her hand rather violently. The young girl’s eyes were gleaming, almost like she had seen a mythical creature in person.Bookmark here

This time, it was Sereya’s turn to be utterly confused. She turned towards me, her puppy eyes communicating that she needed my help to get rid of this bizarre atmosphere.Bookmark here

Too bad. Bookmark here

Unlike her, I didn’t have ‘Merciful” as a nickname. This was revenge for putting me on the spot earlier. Hmph.Bookmark here

“W-Wait,” Melyeze seemed like she came to a realisation in the midst of her frantic handshake with Sereya, “y-you’re missing an arm. The real Sereya only had one arm. That means….you’re really he—”Bookmark here

Melyeze’s eyes rolled back. As her body started to collapse, I quickly grabbed hold of her before she fell on the grass. Sereya couldn’t do much as her hand was still firmly gripped by both of the hands of the unconscious Melyeze.Bookmark here

As we helped bring her limp body over to a shady tree right next to the main road, uncertainty infiltrated my mind. Bookmark here

Remembering Sereya’s words, it seemed that she was indeed a close companion to the Hero who slew the Demon King, fighting for years together on the frontline. If Sereya introducing herself could cause people to faint, I didn’t want to imagine what would happen if I casually told people that I was Hero Evansmith.Bookmark here

Almost as if she read my mind, Sereya clarified:Bookmark here

“This kind of thing happens once in a while, but that’s not the major thing here,” she checked to make extra sure that Melyeze, who was resting on her lap, was really asleep.Bookmark here

“Evan, losing your memories is one thing, but losing your ability to fight is a big problem. No, big is an understatement. If the other nations found out that the Hero, Evansmith Mattheld, has lost all his power, the worst case scenario is war.”Bookmark here

What?Bookmark here

“After the Demons were driven out of Fallcross, the Seven Heroes returned to their respective nations. Each one of us is a deterrent. You could say that having a hero in your country is equivalent to possessing the fighting force of an army.”Bookmark here

Goosebumps made their way to my skin. I was having difficulty processing Sereya’s words. All of this sounded so absurd. Yet, logically, it did make sense.Bookmark here

“Seven? I thought I was the only one?”Bookmark here

“Well, the people usually hold you in higher regard, since you’re the one who dealt the finishing blow to the Demon King. The Seven Heroes is the term used to collectively describe you and your six companions who led the assault on the Demon King’s fortress.”Bookmark here

“And you’re one of them, right? Wouldn’t you still serve as enough of a deterrent against the other nations?” Bookmark here

As I asked her that to confirm my suspicions, surprise was written all over Sereya’s face, before she suddenly started blushing.Bookmark here

“Well, I’m happy you think of me that way, Evan, but I’m nowhere near as strong as I was. While some of the other heroes also sustained permanent injuries in the final battle, I’m afraid that I got the shortest end of the stick.Bookmark here

B-But not that I mind though! It’s partly thanks to this that you let me stay with you.”Bookmark here

Holding what remained of her left arm, she gazed at it with a particular fondness.Bookmark here

“Anyways, we have to get Ordis to take a look at you. Until we find a way to get you back to full, maybe even some of your strength back, be extremely careful not to let people find out about your current situation.”Bookmark here

My body slumped against the tree that I was resting on. It felt like the entire world just dropped a massive weight on my shoulders.Bookmark here

At first, even though I found it hard to believe, being told that I was the one who slew the Demon King made me extremely happy. The dose of reality that Sereya served me with made me feel very, very small. The only thing I could do was to play the Hero, and if I failed…Bookmark here

...I might cause a war.Bookmark here

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