Chapter 23:

Words That Cut

The Consequence of Saving the World


They said that words were like knives.Bookmark here

Words could cut deeper than knives. Whereas the scars left by knives would fade over time, the scars left behind by words could last for a lifetime.Bookmark here

What was it then, that caused the Heroes to have such resentment, pointing these knives at each other's throat on this table?Bookmark here

With the exception of Uriah, were these not Hanasuke’s companions who laughed and bled together with him as they faced down countless hordes of demons? And yet, two of them, The Reaper of Darkmist and Timon Taze if I recall, weren’t even present.Bookmark here

The rest of them who were barely resembled that of a Hero’s party. Why was it that discussions pertaining to the fate of the world rested on these people’s shoulders? Do the kings and emissaries not see the problem at hand here?Bookmark here

I would not even trust these people to build a sandcastle together, much less come up with anything legally binding!Bookmark here

But now, the last knife on the table belonged to me. I had to point it at either side in order for this stupid debate to end.Bookmark here

I was here in the first place because Sereya needed my help. I assumed that what Melyeze meant by that was for me to end the deadlock in the voting by siding with Sereya.Bookmark here

What infuriated me and made it extremely difficult was her siding with Remus. Of all people, she had to stand on the same ground as Remus. Bookmark here

Remus is right.”Bookmark here

Her exact words stuck in my head like a spider on its web, refusing to move. Bookmark here

Why Sereya? Why would you agree with a murderer? I thought you were better than this.Bookmark here

“...this motion restricts us in such a way that we become nothing more than puppets.”Bookmark here

Puppets? Of whom?Bookmark here

It honestly felt like it was the other way round, Sereya. Remus was rocking on his chair and resting his legs on top of the table when His Majesty was speaking. Yet, nobody called him out! If anything, King Graven seemed more like a puppet to Remus than the other way round.Bookmark here

Also, the Seven Heroes had too much power; power that made ordinary people fear them. Lord Eustace was supposed to be the presiding officer, but what could he do? Stop Azelia from interjecting? Her familiar would burn him alive.Bookmark here

I barely had a grasp of the underlying problems in this summit, but the evidence presented before me was as clear as the sky. Bookmark here

Human Rights Before Heroes.Bookmark here

The very name of this motion itself implied that people did not see us as humans. As if we were some higher beings, unfettered by the limitations of mortal men. This motion was a cry for help, a sort of prayer offered to us so that we do not abuse our powers on them.Bookmark here

At the end of the day, the demons were gone. The world was saved. Did they really need seven Heroes—no, five Heroes and two absentees to decide on worldly affairs?Bookmark here

My mind was set. Yet, my heart wasn’t.Bookmark here

Sereya was my pillar of strength. She was the person whom I trusted more than anyone else in my current state.Bookmark here

Everything she did so far was for my sake. Her decisions, her actions—she inconvenienced herself just so that I was ready to shoulder the burden of being a Hero.Bookmark here

Which was a shame.Bookmark here

Maybe I was still upset, deep down, that in her honest feelings, she prioritised her duties as a Hero over her feelings for me.Bookmark here

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

Yeah, but in doing so, people didn’t really see you as human, anymore, you know? It is okay to be selfish at times. Bookmark here

If you truly loved me, maybe I would have the strength to overlook the walking pile of garbage that was Remus and side with you.Bookmark here

But as it stands, since you taught me what being a Hero was all about, the only thing I could do was to respond in kind.Bookmark here

“Are we Heroes not human as well?”Bookmark here

My question was met with total silence. The only reply was the confused looks on everyone’s face.Bookmark here

“Has it come to the point that Heroes and normal people must be treated so drastically different, that different sets of rights and rules applied to them?Bookmark here

We fought off the demons so that all men would be free. Right now, all I could see is that some of us are more free than others.Bookmark here

We gave peace throughout the land. It is time to give peace back to the people’s minds. Bookmark here

Human Rights Before Heroes is a terrible name, but for what it stands for, it has my full support.”Bookmark here

For the first time in that hall, I saw smiles amongst the emissaries. Slowly, those smiles were joined by applause. Eventually, the applause turned into cheering. Bookmark here

“As there is now a simple majority amongst the Heroes in favour of the motion, the Seven Heroes are now forbidden from taking the lives of unarmed civilians. Breaking this law results in death at the hands of his or her fellow Heroes.”Bookmark here

Even after Lord Eustace made that declaration, the hall was still in a celebratory mood.Bookmark here

“Since this was the last item to discuss, Your Majesty, may you do the honours?”Bookmark here

“Thank you, Lord Eustace, and everyone present here today. I now call this Seven Heroes Summit to an end.”Bookmark here

It was finally over.Bookmark here

The chatting and conversations between the emissaries filled the hall with life. It was the opposite at our table of supposed companions, however.Bookmark here

Sereya stood up from her seat, pushed the chair back in, and walked off.Bookmark here

I felt bad that we didn’t agree with each other, but I only did what was right. Still, Sereya was my ally.Bookmark here

“Sereya.”Bookmark here

I called out to her, but she didn’t respond. She kept walking up the stairs to the exit.Bookmark here

“Sereya!”Bookmark here

I thought that maybe it was the chatter in the hall that drowned out my voice, but that wasn’t the case. Sereya did not even turn around. My gut feeling was telling me that she was ignoring me.Bookmark here

Before I could even get up from my chair to catch up to her, Remus placed his hand on my shoulder, using me as support as he stood up.Bookmark here

“Kid,” he looked at me with a solemn expression, “you’ve changed, y’know that?”Bookmark here

His grasp on my shoulder was light. The vigour in his eyes was not there anymore. I hated him, but seeing him like this didn’t make me feel happy at all.Bookmark here

“Still, I respect your decision. I always will, kid. The next time we see each other, let’s have a drink, aye?”Bookmark here

With his hands now in his pockets, Remus also made his way to the exit.Bookmark here

“Evan, I must say, I was impressed.”Bookmark here

The words from Azelia’s familiar pulled my attention away from Remus.Bookmark here

“Since when were you so impassioned with your words? You always struck me as the more stoic type.”Bookmark here

“I agree. Master Evansmith, I hope to one day be as inspiring as you!”Bookmark here

I would love to talk to Azelia and Uriah and learn more about them, but I needed to chase after Sereya.Bookmark here

“Thank you. I’ll be making a move fi—”Bookmark here

“Wait,” the familiar flew towards me, blocking my sights towards the exit as it hovered in place, “you still haven’t told me your secret.”Bookmark here

Huh? What now?Bookmark here

“How did you hide your magical energy so perfectly? I wasn’t able to detect you at all. You must tell me.”Bookmark here

“Sorry Azelia, I’ll tell you next time. I need to go.”Bookmark here

I gently brushed the large bird aside as I quickly made my way up the staircase.Bookmark here

“H-Hey, don’t ignore me!”Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

I finally reached the exit of the palace, but there was no sign of Sereya.Bookmark here

Luckily, reaching the exit wasn’t as hard as navigating in the palace. I just followed the stream of people leaving. Bookmark here

I would much rather get lost than not being able to find Sereya, though.Bookmark here

It was strange. I thought I would feel more relieved now that the Summit was over, but the pressure of losing my partner was mounting on me. Bookmark here

For the first time, I pointed a knife made of words at her. I hoped she merely saw it as me doing my duty as Hero instead of taking it personally.Bookmark here

I asked the guards in front of the palace if they saw her, but it was fruitless. I couldn’t really blame them, though. They probably couldn’t even see how many fingers I raise in front of them with those tiny eye slits on their helmets.Bookmark here

Without any other option, I headed back to our inn, silently praying to The Goddess that she was there. I hoped she was there, sitting on her bed with her arms folded and a pout on her face, but I knew this wouldn’t be as simple.Bookmark here

It was already evening by the time I reached the inn. My fears came true, she was nowhere to be found. Bookmark here

On the plus side, her belongings were still in her room, meaning that she hasn’t left the city yet.Bookmark here

Maybe I was underestimating Sereya. Sure, she acted like a kid at times, but she was a mature adult. She probably got over it after some time and decided to have dinner or something.Bookmark here

The only place I could think of was the bar that she brought me to when we first reached Allantheim. It was probably their happy hour at this time, though. I hoped she didn’t go and drink too much, or worse—steal a table knife!Bookmark here

As I reached the bar, I could feel the sweat all over my face. I have been walking around nonstop the whole day and before that, I was fighting for my dear life. Even if Sereya wasn’t there, a drink would probably be nice.Bookmark here

I never drank liquor before, but a sip should be fine right?Bookmark here

“Hey kid!”Bookmark here

Confound my luck. For the third time today, I bumped into the worst person imaginable—Remus Whiteaxe.Bookmark here

“Come o’er here and join me, will ‘ya?”Bookmark here

Bookmarked
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