Chapter 13:

Hanasuke Ryojima

The Consequence of Saving the World

“Sereya.”Bookmark here

Gently, I approached her. I didn’t feel that nervous, strangely. Her angry stare was somewhat neutralised by her puffy cheeks. Unlike yesterday, where she was utterly heartbroken when I said I didn’t know her, it seemed more like she needed affection.Bookmark here

If anything, this entire episode felt like how Eveline would throw a temper tantrum whenever I refused to play with her. It was weird seeing this behaviour from an adult, but I shouldn’t call the kettle black.Bookmark here

“You’re such a child, Evan. I don’t even know why I wasted my potion on you. GOSH, you’re such a child!”Bookmark here

Oh, hello, irony! You didn’t need to say it twice, you know.Bookmark here

I continued walking towards the bed.Bookmark here

“Go away, Evan. Are you done mocking me already? Leave me alone!”Bookmark here

“Mock? Where—I didn’t mock you!”Bookmark here

Hey, throwing false accusations was pushing it, you know?Bookmark here

“What kind of guy runs away with his tail tucked between his legs when a girl offers herself to him?!”Bookmark here

It was a good thing that I closed the door earlier. I didn’t want the other tenants to listen to this humiliation.Bookmark here

“No, Sereya, tha—”Bookmark here

“It’s my arm, isn’t it?”Bookmark here

Huh? Stop jumping to conclusions!Bookmark here

“Sure, you say you don’t mind and all, but when it comes down to it, doing it with someone who only has one arm creeps you out, right?!”Bookmark here

HARR?Bookmark here

“Still, I’m quite confident with my looks, you know? And my boobs are pretty big. I know you look at them from time to time, and that makes me happy, but is missing one arm such a big deal? I can still make you feel as good, no, better than any normal woman can!”Bookmark here

“Sereya, ENOUGH!” I had to stop her before she said anything weirder.Bookmark here

“Look, your arm had nothing to do with this! I’m sorry for running away, I didn’t know how to respond, but it wasn’t because I found you unattractive! You’re beautiful, you know how to cook, you can defeat a whole bandit army by yourself, you’re the most perfect wife any guy could even dream of!Bookmark here

I know you’ve known me for years, but I’ve only known you for a day. This is all happening too fast, can’t we take it slowly?”Bookmark here

“T-T-Take it s-slowly?” Sereya stuttered as she looked for confirmation.Bookmark here

Thankfully, my words appeared to be taking effect. The red on her face, which was previously from anger, now seemed to take on a more pink hue, likely from the embarrassment. Bookmark here

“Y-Yeah, we should take it slowly.”Bookmark here

“By it, you mean c-c-courtship, correct?”Bookmark here

“I mean, let’s not rush into things. If you’re okay with it, I’d like to take you to Breven and introduce you to my mum. Once all of our business is done here, of course.”Bookmark here

“Really?!?!” her reaction was bigger than I expected, “So, I just need to impress your mum and we can get married, right!?”Bookmark here

“Sereya, relax! What about your parents? You can’t just decide to get married on your own.”Bookmark here

“Well, my parents, err,” her enthusiasm trickled away, “you’ve already met them.”Bookmark here

“Huh? I did?”Bookmark here

Oh, so past me already knew Sereya’s family, huh.Bookmark here

“And, let’s just say, you didn’t exactly leave a good impression. Oh, and I’m not exactly on talking terms with my parents, too, so, oops?”Bookmark here

Anyways, this topic diverted way off tangent! I just wanted to sort things out with Sereya, not discuss betrothment.Bookmark here

“But, before all we even get to all that, I need to get to know you better first, Sereya.”Bookmark here

She nodded violently. Her pouty, pissy attitude was no more, driven out by the joy written all over her face. I was starting to worry about her attending the Seven Heroes Summit. Frankly speaking, she was way too easily persuaded.Bookmark here

“Go ahead, ask me anything you’d like!” she puffed her chest out proudly.Bookmark here

Good, she calmed down.Bookmark here

Alright, Evan—the moment of truth. Please, if you’re so keen on marriage, then answer this question honestly, Sereya.Bookmark here

“Sereya, the person who fought with you on the frontlines and killed the Demon Lord—the person whom you actually love, is Hanasuke Ryojima.Bookmark here

Aren’t you confusing me for him? We might have the same body, but based on what I’ve learned yesterday, we’re completely different people. Why are you still so interested in me? It doesn’t make sense.”Bookmark here

I could see her reaction change the moment I uttered his name. She wasn’t angry or happy, but strangely calm. Bookmark here

“Well, I guess I should come clean now. Maybe you can call me cheap, or desperate, but I’m fine with it, I guess. I’ve waited so long for a proper response or an answer to my confession, but all this while, you, sorry—Hanasuke, just played it off.Bookmark here

Last night, I offered you my body. I hoped that you’d join with me in flesh and spirit, so that even if Ordis somehow manages to bring Hanasuke back, I’ll be satisfied. Pathetic, right?”Bookmark here

She walked towards the mirror in her room and gazed at her own reflection, her words still hung heavily on my mind.Bookmark here

“So, to be completely honest, no. The person whom I love is not you. You do not share his aloof, yet dependable attitude. You like completely different food. You don’t even hold a candle to his strength nor his intelligence.”Bookmark here

I kinda already guessed that, but hearing that still hurt like a punch to the gut.Bookmark here

“The cruelest thing about all this is how both of you share the same appearance—the same skin, but completely different people. You don’t just magically go, ‘whoops, the person I love is gone now. Goodbye.’Bookmark here

Looking at you, the face that I’ve grown to love over the years, still makes my heart beat fast. Yesterday, I uncovered so many new sides to you, I felt like I was back in my teens again. I found myself wanting to impress you, wanting to show off, wanting to win you over.Bookmark here

And judging from your proposal to meet your parents earlier, I guess it paid off.”Bookmark here

It was weird. Listening to her say all this filled me with relief, but why did my chest hurt? Was I...was I the only one who stupidly fell for her just from hanging out for one day?Bookmark here

“Then, why do all this? Why go so far for someone you don’t love?”Bookmark here

“That’s what being a Hero is all about, isn’t it? Bookmark here

My feelings for Hanasuke aside, the person I’m talking to right now is still the saviour of the world, even if he didn’t remember killing the Demon Lord. The world needs you, whether you like it or not.Bookmark here

I know it’s not fair to you, having to shoulder all this burden even though it was Hanasuke who decided to run away and hide in the forest. But eventually, whether it’s you or Hanasuke, the past will catch up to you.”Bookmark here

“So, you’re doing all this solely because it’s your duty as one of the Seven Heroes?”Bookmark here

Perhaps she sensed the crack in my voice. She turned around to face me, enveloping me in a warm, gentle smile.Bookmark here

“To say it’s purely business and not pleasure is also a lie. When you said I can meet your mum, I am taking your offer very seriously, you know? If I was younger, I’d just use you and be done with it.Bookmark here

But I’m not. In a few years, I’m going to be thirty soon. Who’s gonna marry a one-handed female warrior like me? All the other men are looking for youthful, obedient, and ladylike wives. Yet, you said I’m the perfect wife. You’re weird, you know?”Bookmark here

“But surely, there are many men after your hand in marriage? You’re Sereya the Merciful Blade!”Bookmark here

“Probably. But you see, they like me because I’m Sereya the Merciful Blade. You like me because I’m just Sereya. Who do you think I’ll fancy more? Hmmmm?”Bookmark here

I turned towards the mirror in Sereya’s room. The reflection on that mirror was the answer to her question, but still, it felt like it wasn’t me at the same time.Bookmark here

“So even if you don’t love me, you’re fine with getting married to me just because you’re getting old?”Bookmark here

Sereya sighed.Bookmark here

“Whether Hanasuke comes back or never returns, I’ve already come to terms that he’ll never respond to my feelings.Bookmark here

So to put it bluntly, you’re now the second best option for me. I still like you a lot, you know? You say things that come up from your mind. You’re sensitive to others, and you have the passion of a real Hero, unlike Hanasuke.Bookmark here

At the end of the day, women like me can’t afford to be picky anymore. So, Evan, are you still certain of letting me meet your mum, even after learning all this about me?”Bookmark here

I felt like a fool. I was arrogant.Bookmark here

I thought that because Sereya had feelings for me, a lot of my actions were safe and justified. In the end, even though my face is that of a twenty-something man, I was still an inexperienced eighteen-year-old at heart.Bookmark here

I was the one who fell for Sereya, not the other way round. To her, I was just someone who conveniently looked like the person whom she had unrequited love for.Bookmark here

Out of my mouth left a sigh of defeat.Bookmark here

“Well, I’ll just leave it to my mum to see if you’re the right person for me.”Bookmark here

“Then, I’ll be sure to blow her expectations away,” she bowed her head slightly, “Anyways, I’ll answer any other questions about me some other time. We have to give our old pal Ordis a visit.”Bookmark here

I nodded. My relationship with Sereya aside, I needed my powers as a Hero back more than ever.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.