Chapter 21:

An Unheroic Reunion

The Consequence of Saving the World

I could feel it. Bookmark here

In this large circular hall, with a ceiling that stretched high into the sky, time was moving slower and slower, until it finally stopped.Bookmark here

Yet, for some reason, my heart felt like it was about to explode. My breaths were getting shorter. My jaw started to hurt from how hard my teeth were biting into each other.Bookmark here

Remus Whiteaxe, the man who killed my sister, was one of the Seven Heroes.Bookmark here

The lines on his forehead, the slight greying of his red hair; this man has aged since I last saw him, but I would never mistake his face.Bookmark here

And that warped smile of his, gazing at me like he had not seen a friend in a long time—Bookmark here

This monster kills his own friends!Bookmark here

Yet, he was standing there, next to Sereya, in front of Fallcross’s leaders being looked up to as a Hero.Bookmark here

What kind of sick joke was this? Huh? A psychopathic, double-crossing, lowlife scum like him was a Hero?Bookmark here

NO!Bookmark here

It wasn’t just my fists, my whole body was tensing up.Bookmark here

The urge to run up to him and implant my knuckle into his face was overwhelming. Bookmark here

My body still remembered. After all, it was probably less than an hour ago when I chewed off the back of his neck. I wanted nothing more than to go there and finish the job.Bookmark here

I wanted nothing more than this man to be dead.Bookmark here

So what if my Memory Dive failed and showed a past that did not happen? That did not change the fact that if I called him out, he would still be a mass murderer. Bookmark here

How could the world rely on a Hero with such an unsound mind?Bookmark here

This animal was the one the nations needed to rely on to maintain peace? Bookmark here

Madness.Bookmark here

“Kid, you seem awfully excited to see me. You itchin’ for a fight?” Bookmark here

He still had a smile on his face, asking me that question with a jovial tone.Bookmark here

I knew I stood no chance, but that did not change the fact that I would gladly tear into his flesh.Bookmark here

“Evan!”Bookmark here

I didn’t realise how tightly pulled my eyebrows were until I heard Sereya’s voice. For a brief moment, I felt that some of the anger building up in me dissipated. Bookmark here

I was still upset, but I didn’t want to show my ugly side to her. Bookmark here

She brushed past Remus's imposing figure and briskly walked up the stairs in my direction.Bookmark here

As she stopped before me, she whispered to my ear. However, instead of the gentle, lulling voice I was used to, her tone was stark:Bookmark here

“Stop projecting your bloodlust.”Bookmark here

So that was why Remus asked me if I wanted a fight. Not just him, but all the Heroes definitely sensed my emotions.Bookmark here

The man with the long black hair and the burning bird beside him—their gaze was fixated on me, too.Bookmark here

It was creepy; I felt like I was just seen through. Bookmark here

My mind was racing, desperately trying to figure out how to calm my ragged breathing. Bookmark here

“I don’t know why you’re angry, but if anyone else in this hall finds out you’re weak, Fallcross is doomed.”Bookmark here

Sereya’s words, even though they were conveyed to me in a soft whisper, smacked me with a hard slap of reality.Bookmark here

She was absolutely right.Bookmark here

I was carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. My hatred towards Remus had to be buried in the backyard. Dragging down innocent lives over my own personal interests would make me no different from him.Bookmark here

In this war between logic and emotion, my thoughts were finally gaining the upper hand.Bookmark here

My shoulders eased up, as with the grip in my fists. My face didn’t feel like a statue anymore from how hard I was tensing up. Bookmark here

Time began to flow normally for me again. Thanks to Sereya, I was able to manage both my anger and my breathing.Bookmark here

“Hey princess, don’t hog your boyfriend all to yourself! We miss him too, y’know?”Bookmark here

Just like how Sereya didn’t respond to Remus’s provocation, I too kept a stone-cold face. We walked down the stairs towards the middle of the assembly hall.Bookmark here

As I got closer, I was attacked by a foul, noxious odour. It was the smell of alcohol, and I didn’t need a dog’s nose to tell who it came from.Bookmark here

I tried my level best to ignore it. Heck, I was trying to ignore Remus altogether. I didn’t want to accidentally start strangling him if he were to give me a weird look or something.Bookmark here

“Your seat is here.”Bookmark here

Sereya whispered to me one last time before returning to her seat. Bookmark here

All I could do was curse my luck. On my left was the large bird, its feathers made of fire. It was certainly disturbing, but not as disturbing as the fact that Remus Whiteaxe was on my right.Bookmark here

The round table in front of me was unnecessarily large, roughly the size of the fountain right outside the palace. There were seven seats at this table, spaced out evenly from each other. Two of them were empty. Yet, all five of us who were present did not have an empty chair between us.Bookmark here

This strange bird was on my left, while the rest of the Heroes were seated on my right, starting from Remus, then Sereya, followed by the man with long hair.Bookmark here

This man seemed young, younger than Sereya even. I have never seen clothes like his before. He had a vest that was made of colourful beads. Was this the traditional attire of a foreign country?Bookmark here

“Hero Evansmith.”Bookmark here

Just as I was about to take my seat, I lifted my head up slightly to look at the source of the loud, bellowing voice. It belonged to a man seated in the tier immediately above us. Bookmark here

The jewelled crown on his head told me all that I needed to know about him. Some of the paintings in Allantheim Palace had his face on them.Bookmark here

That was King Graven.Bookmark here

Once again, I was frozen. I had no clue what the etiquette was when it came to talking with royals! What should I say?Bookmark here

“On behalf of the Kingdom of Adradia and all the representatives in this summit, thank you.”Bookmark here

As the king said his piece, he stood up from his seat. Everyone else in the assembly hall copied him and stood up. Bookmark here

Almost like it was rehearsed, they all bowed their heads down?! For me?!Bookmark here

Chills travelled down my spine. The silence in the hall was made louder thanks to the unexpected gesture directed towards me from around forty to fifty bigshots. Bookmark here

My hands were on the table to keep me upright. I could already feel my legs buckling from the pressure. Was it okay for me to sit down?Bookmark here

I looked to Sereya for help. She did a quick nod which I understood as sitting down was fine. I did just that, but the cold hard surface of the chair did little to pacify the unrest in my legs.Bookmark here

King Graven and the others lifted their heads. As everyone returned to their seats, the king continued speaking.Bookmark here

“Like always, your timing is as impeccable as ever. Your wisdom and knowledge will be most valued in the matter at hand. Before we proceed, I believe you have not met some of the faces on this table, yes?”Bookmark here

Eh? What did he mean? These people who were sitting at the table with me, weren’t they the Seven Heroes? Shouldn’t Hanasuke already be familiar with them?Bookmark here

“That is correct.”Bookmark here

The bird on my left spoke! Bookmark here

Its voice sounded like that of a young girl, which was really bizarre because of how intimidating it looked. Standing on the seat of the chair, its height matched mine sitting down. If it were to spread its wings, each wing was probably around my size. Bookmark here

The most uncanny feature of this animal was that it was burning! Yet, the wooden chair it was on remained perfectly unscathed. Smoke was also completely absent. I didn’t even feel any heat from it.Bookmark here

“Evan, feast your eyes on my majestic form!”Bookmark here

My suspicions were true. With its wings outstretched, it was slightly shorter than the length of this table.Bookmark here

I was more surprised by how proud this bird was, though. This was one of the Seven Heroes?Bookmark here

“Stop playing around, Azelia. You should at least come in person instead of sending one of your familiars.”Bookmark here

Another strange sight. Sereya was clearly annoyed.Bookmark here

“That’s one of the benefits of magic, Sereya. Perhaps if you attended one of our lessons instead of swinging your sword all the time, you’ll also realise that. Oh wait, you have no affinity whatsoever! Hahahaha!”Bookmark here

Sheesh, the attitude on this bird! Bookmark here

“So, Evan, as a fellow appreciator of the magical arts, what do you think? It’s okay to feel jealous, you know.”Bookmark here

Uh…Bookmark here

“Looking at your pet bird makes me feel hungry, witch. Is it edible?”Bookmark here

“By all means, take a bite, Remus. You will be so cooked, you are the one who becomes edible!”Bookmark here

Okay, this was getting out of hand. Bookmark here

“Excuse me,” perhaps sensing the same thing, the young man on Sereya’s right got up, “it is an honour to finally meet you, Hero Evansmith.Bookmark here

I am Uriah, son of Urstix the Giant. I am here on behalf of my father today who is currently in the former demon la—.”Bookmark here

“Nobody asked, pretty boy.” Bookmark here

Remus was behaving like the animal he was.Bookmark here

“Exactly, children shouldn’t interrupt when adults are speaking.”Bookmark here

And Azelia was behaving like the animal she was in.Bookmark here

Uriah however, merely sat back down without complaint. He seemed completely indifferent.Bookmark here

“Ahem,” King Graven coughed, drawing my attention back to him.Bookmark here

“Now then, shall we begin?”Bookmark here

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