Chapter 24:

Remus Whiteaxe

The Consequence of Saving the World

“I swear, when I grow up, I want to be one of the Seven Heroes, just like my dad!”Bookmark here

“What? Your dad is one of the Seven Heroes?”Bookmark here

“No. He also wants to be one of the Seven Heroes.”Bookmark here

I was worried for a second when I heard that, but I guessed something like that was a common thing to hear in a bar full of people getting sloshed. Still, the conversations and even the patrons were a lot wilder than when I was here.Bookmark here

The saying, ‘liquor loosens lips’ was on full display in the bar. As a person with far too many secrets to keep, it was a no-brainer that I should turn down Remus’s invitation. Besides, I wasn’t so magnanimous that I would share drinks with my enemy.Bookmark here

I turned around and left. Sereya was probably back at the inn by now.Bookmark here

Remus was the bar’s problem, not mine. Besides, he cannot harm unarmed civilians anymore, so—Bookmark here

“Kid.”Bookmark here

Great. I couldn’t even take more than twenty steps away from the bar before Remus caught up to me.Bookmark here

“Sorry, I’m busy.”Bookmark here

“You’re looking for the princess, ain’t cha?“ Bookmark here

Even though his gloved hand was on my shoulder, it felt as if he was clutching my heart instead. How the hell did he know?!Bookmark here

My body was rebelling against me. Sweat, paleness, panicked breathing—these were the natural human reactions that I was trying everything in my power to suppress. Remus must not discover any sign of weakness from me.Bookmark here

Still, what tormented my mind the most was the thought that something bad might have happened to her. I knew Sereya was unbeatable, but against another one of the Seven Heroes, I wasn’t so sure anymore.Bookmark here

Calm down, Evan. Don’t let your emotions get the better of you. Bookmark here

“I could tell the moment you entered the bar, it was written all o’er yer face. Lovers’ quarrels. Ah, if only I was younger again.”Bookmark here

When his hand wrapped around my other shoulder, I resisted the urge to squirm. His repulsive stench was transferring to me. This creep was just too close—his damned armpit was rubbing its sweat on my shoulder!Bookmark here

“Where is she?”Bookmark here

“Join me for a few rounds, and I’ll tell ya. Don’t worry, it’ll be on me, aye?”Bookmark here

Honestly, that was one of the last things I wanted, but my concern for Sereya was too great. Bookmark here

The trek back to the bar was utter torture. Having to hide my urge to elbow him right in the nose was bad enough, but having to walk back with his filthy arm around my shoulder was pushing it.Bookmark here

The bar’s door swung open before Remus even reached it.Bookmark here

“Sir, please don’t run off without paying!”Bookmark here

The cheerful waitress who served her customers with a smile had a panicked look on her face.Bookmark here

“No no! I wasn’t running away! I brought you another customer! Hahahaha!”Bookmark here

“O-Oh! We hope you have a great time!”Bookmark here

With a bow, her smile returned to her face. Just like that, she was off, blending in with the jolly atmosphere once more.Bookmark here

Since there wasn’t really much space in the bar, Remus finally let go of my shoulder. As he went back to his seat at the bar counter, I finally let out a sigh of relief. My shoulders no longer feel violated.Bookmark here

Squeezing my way to the counter, I sat on the stool next to the ageing drunkard. It was pretty much just the two of us. The nearest person to us was the barkeep who was too absorbed with setting up the next keg.Bookmark here

On the counter in front of me, there were already seven mugs, three of which were already empty.Bookmark here

“Just take whichever you want, they’re all mead. More are on the way.”Bookmark here

Seriously, how big of a boozer must he be to order so many mugs in advance? Bookmark here

I took the mug closest to me, the condensation on its handle mildly jolted my hand from its cold. Looking down into my cup, the liquid was clear. I guessed mead didn’t have the same frothy surface as beer, huh?Bookmark here

“Cheers kid.”Bookmark here

Remus raised his cup, beckoning me to clink our drinks together. Bookmark here

Reluctantly, our mugs met with a muted ‘ding’, the sound of a hollow, one-sided friendship.Bookmark here

The table behind me was getting rowdy. Two adventurers were hopping in circles, their arms locked between each other elbow to elbow. All the while, they were giving toasts, thanking the Seven Heroes for ushering an age of peace.Bookmark here

It seemed ironic to me, that two of those Heroes were right behind them, trapped in a sour mood over drinks. The two of us sitting at that bar counter were probably the least heroic to be Heroes.Bookmark here

“Kid, you still owe me sake.”Bookmark here

The hell was Remus making up?Bookmark here

“Sa-kay?”Bookmark here

“Heh, you ain’t wiggling yourself outta this one! You promised to let me have a taste of that ‘Japanese rice wine’ of yours, so cough it up.”Bookmark here

Oh, so Remus was that friendly with Hanasuke. I was getting more and more disappointed at this otherworlder for being so close to him.Bookmark here

“Sorry, I didn’t have time to make it.”Bookmark here

“Meh, figures. Some other time then. Being a dad is tough business, huh?”Bookmark here

Wait, I had no idea where this conversation was going at all. Was this an age gap thing?Bookmark here

“Excuse me?”Bookmark here

Remus stared blankly at me, took a gulp of mead, and resumed staring.Bookmark here

“Gahahahahaha!”Bookmark here

“What?”Bookmark here

“You haven’t made any moves on the princess yet! Ahaha—ah, my liver.”Bookmark here

Part of me wished he died instead of suffering an ache from laughing too hard.Bookmark here

“So you two hid away in the middle of nowhere, and for five months, you guys didn’t even do anything?! Kid, was this some of your weird training or somethin’? Here I was, thinkin’ that you two were planning to pop out Super Hero babies or somethin’! Bwahahahaha!”Bookmark here

“What about you? What have you been doing these past five months?”Bookmark here

I threw the ball back to him, just in time before he caused my vein to burst. A few sips of my drink did little to calm me down. It was surprisingly sweet—almost like honey. Bookmark here

“Damn, it’s already been five months since the big battle, eh?”Bookmark here

He took another big swig before continuing.Bookmark here

“Felt like years, kid. I ain’t sure if it’s ‘cause of age, but I just don’t have that energy anymore. Business has been crap. Barely anyone wants to hire mercenaries these days. Even my men have been leaving one by one. Bookmark here

And now, thanks to that cursed count in Ostura, those that were still with me were dead.”Bookmark here

Just like the innocent lives you took.Bookmark here

“Like I said, I don’t really blame ya. I did lose my temper when the count used my crew as a scapegoat to fake the death of some princeling. Trashed the whole town. By the time I calmed down, all that’s left was blood and rubble.Bookmark here

I felt empty. I thought I’ll feel happy or liberated, but I felt nothin’.Bookmark here

Part of me wished we were back as a party, y’know? Going around hunting demons and saving lives was fun. But I knew from the start I wasn’t Hero material. I just tagged along for the excitement, but today I realised, that ain’t gonna happen again.Bookmark here

It ain’t just you, we all changed.”Bookmark here

Damn it.Bookmark here

I hated the fact that I was able to understand him. He was still a murderer, but seeing his human side—the side of him yearning for things to be like how they were—was something that I completely agreed with.Bookmark here

I wanted my old life back. Being annoyed by Eveline, getting nagged my mum, pouring my heart out to the cows—things were so, so much simpler.Bookmark here

“How ‘bout you, kid? Besides failing to nail the princess, anything else happened?”Bookmark here

“Nothing special, really. There was nothing to do back in the forest. You wanna tell me where Sereya is now?”Bookmark here

“Kid, don’t be too sad, alright?”Bookmark here

I steeled myself. Please Goddess, just let her be okay.Bookmark here

“Our princess is in another castle. Bwahahahahahha!”Bookmark here

Eh? Why is he laughing?Bookmark here

“Which castle?”Bookmark here

“Kid, lighten up, will ya? That’s the joke you told me back then. I got it right, right?”Bookmark here

Hanasuke had a bizarre sense of humour.Bookmark here

“No, I’m serious. Where is Sereya?”Bookmark here

“The hell if I know?”Bookmark here

So this bastard was lying to me the whole time?! I felt like an idiot, wasting my time getting the stench of alcohol on my clothes for nothing.Bookmark here

“Drink, kid, drink! No point mopin’ around just for one woman. There’s definitely a line of ladies queuing up for you if you told them you killed the Demon Lord!”Bookmark here

This had nothing to do with that sort of relationship. I was just concerned for my companion.Bookmark here

Also, I didn’t want anything to do with this damned liar any further. Bookmark here

“No thanks. I’m taking my leave now. Thanks for the drinks.”Bookmark here

“Nah kid, you’re stayin’ with me.”Bookmark here

I got up from my seat, but the sudden change in height immediately sent my butt back to the stool again. My head weighed like a tonne; it was difficult to keep it upright.Bookmark here

Was I drunk? No way, I didn’t even finish half of my mug.Bookmark here

It was strange. Hearing the other customers sing and cheer with so much life and vigour as my consciousness slipped away.Bookmark here

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