The Hero Who Returned Remains Traumatized in the Modern World
“Alright Furukawa. You know why you’re here.”
“Because I have not yet turned in my post high school form.”
My home instructor wiped the sweat from his brow. He liked me. When I arrived on Earth, He was one of the few people who were willing to talk to me with an honest voice, as opposed to smiles and apologies. It seemed that even before I came here, there were few that knew how to approach me as if I were a normal human to them. It made things generally easy for me, except in cases like this one.
“You’re already part of the widely popular Historical Literature club, which you created. You’re at the head of your grade in almost all subjects. You helped lead three separate school fundraisers over the last two years. If you keep up this behavior, you could do anything; become anything. You’re already aware of it too, right?”
“I believe that I would be capable of many things, though the way you describe it may be an overstatement.”
“It isn’t an overstatement. This isn’t an easy high school, Furukawa. It’s difficult to test into, and even more of a challenge to continuously attend. Frankly, I wish I was exaggerating too. It’s a little scary, the thought that I’m going to be seeing your name plastered all over the news and magazines in ten years.”
“Thank you, Sensei.”
“It’s not a compliment. It’s irony. The man with the capability to do everything, doesn’t have anything that he wants to do.”
“I suppose it is.”
“You’ve gotten weirder, too. Ever since last month, you’ve seemed a little different. But I guess you were the poker-faced type to begin with, huh.”
“Either way, I need you to write something down. Why won’t you just pick something for now, and decide if that isn’t what you want to do later?”
“If you had talked to me yesterday, I likely would have been willing to do so. But today, I feel a little different.”
“Different, huh? Does that mean you’ve got any ideas?”
“You know, about your ambition. What keeps you going. That’s the whole point of this damned piece of paper anyway. It’s to help prepare you for what’s ahead. You just have to pick a field; any of them. It’s not that hard.”
“So? You’ve got any ideas?”
Something that interests me…
“Perhaps I do.”
“Good. Then get this thing filled out by the end of the week, will you?”
Despite my wishes, Suki Handa appeared before me again. Again, and again, and again. Enough for me to wonder if the idea of “prophecy” that the humans of Requiem spoke of had any kind of merit to it.
But of course, “prophecy” didn’t exist. I had met the god of another world, and she was mischievous; clumsy; plenty capable of fault. It seemed to be the case that all gods operated in such a way. And I had also learned that Earth, the planet which I had returned to, and well as the one I had originally come from, resided in the only realm absent of any kind of divine caretaker. Therefore, a concept like “absolute prophecy” simply couldn’t exist.
Simply put, this girl had deliberately made constant attempts to invade my life. To make matters worse, my human mind was allured to her, somehow. Not sexual, or even platonic interests; such concepts were beyond me. It was simply a draw of curiosity.
It was a feeling that I had nothing to compare to, nor did I know from where it stemmed. Whenever I saw her, it simply occurred to me that I wanted to study her, and know more about her. So with each occurring meeting between the two of us, I found it more and more painfully difficult to pull myself away.
Without any other way to vent my desire to learn, I began to write down my findings. And with how much she seemed to find her way to me, there was no shortage of information that I was able to passively figure out.
First name Suki, last name Handa.
Aged sixteen and a half years.
One hundred and sixty-five centimeters in height.
Attends a private all-female high school which neighbors my own, as a third year student.
Follows the trend of gyaru, but has no deeper interest in it as a method of resistance against cultural norms.
Approximately five times a month, skips her makeup and hair routine due to sleeping past her scheduled wake-up time.
Prefers contacts to eyeglasses, to the point where she will depart for school without the ability to properly see if waking up too late to apply her contacts, rather than simply donning glasses.
She cries often. When she sees any living being die, whether it be a human, a mouse, or even an ant, she will do her best to mourn it in some fashion. I have seen her do it 27 times so far, with 3 of those instances being insects I accidentally killed without a second thought.
Handa doesn’t have the faintest clue how to study. I found her at the public library attempting to memorize mathematical formulas a day before she was to be tested on them, and ended up staying several hours to properly tutor her on the base concepts, so that she could work from there.
Suki prefers her school’s winter uniform over the summer one. According to her, it matches perfectly with her favorite color, which is a very specific shade of yellow. It’s difficult for her to find any other kinds of clothes in said color, so she’s happy when she gets a proper opportunity to wear it. So much so that she had actually slept in it the first night she wore it.
From my observations after visiting her house, she appears to have no siblings. Furthermore, both of her parents are very outwardly kind. They seemed unusually comfortable in their manner of speech when talking to me, and even asked me if they could call me by my first name right off the bat. It made more sense that Suki was so happy-go-lucky, considering those two were the ones who raised her.
She did have a brother once, I found out before leaving her residence. Supposedly he passed away due to reasons relating to poor health or illness. I was asked by her family if I wanted to greet him, which was odd considering he had already passed, as known by the whole family. Supposedly it was a practice in Japanese culture to mourn the dead by addressing them as if they were still alive. I ended up playing along, out of respect for the family’s values and traditions.
I gave Suki the first gift that I’ve ever given out today. It was a “scrunchy”, a fashionable piece used for holding your hair together when you tie it back. I was able to find one colored to her favorite shade of yellow, as previously mentioned, which happened to be far easier than she made it out to be. Allowance from my own family was generous, due to my good grades and high standing within my parents’ minds, so I was able to afford a nicer piece.
Suki gave me a gift in return for hers. While I understood the common practice in this country of giving gifts on the anniversary of a friend’s birth, I didn’t realize that it was also customary to return that gift with your own at the earliest convenience.
As it turns out, it is abnormal for one to give a gift in return for receiving one on your birth date. Suki explained to me that she had chosen to do so simply because she wanted to, and it wasn’t related all to the gift I had given her. She was quite embarrassed while admitting this fact to me, as she had previously affirmed to me that it was customary.
Today, Suki and I talked a lot about magic. She explained to me that there’s no such thing, and that I was nothing short of “hilarious” for considering legitimately that she had possessed such abilities. She spent much of the rest of the day re-hashing the topic, and laughing endlessly about it. Even though I had never once made a joke to her. I eventually brought the topic back up myself, asking her how she was able to manipulate my mind in the way that she had been doing up until now. After that, she suddenly refused to talk about the matter further.
Suki confessed that she held romantic feelings towards me. She asked me to enter a romantic relationship with her, which I had an initial intention of declining. I didn’t understand the idea of romance, and had no desire to. But after hearing her explain herself more thoroughly, the difference between our relationship before and how it would change seemed of little consequence to me, so I accepted her offer to date.
Suki celebrated our new “dating” relationship by treating me to fast food. It was something that she loved to eat, despite my warnings to stay away from the food for the sake of her own health. I learned to stop bringing up the matter of it contributing to her weight, as she often ended up sad or angry when I did. For some reason, causing her negative emotions was something I actively attempted to avoid.
Suki graduated from high school. For myself, there was still one more year until I would follow in her place. She had plans to enroll in a college that was far more challenging to test into than she likely understood, so I had no choice but to help her study, as I always did.
Suki failed to get into her first choice college, and will have to spend the year taking remedial classes. She said “there’s no helping it” as if despite her efforts, she was doomed to fail from the start. I wanted to offer her advice, but I was unable to. She aims to enter a lower grade college next year. It’s the first time I’ve seen her lie about how she feels to me, as I could see very plainly that she was suffering.
When Suki feels certain emotions, they will begin to spread to me as well. In this particular instance, it was sadness that I contracted from her.
It seems that I, too, have romantic feelings for Suki Handa.
I must end our relationship.
That is what I spent all my life missing; what I asked Mellifluus for, and how I was fooled into becoming her cheap screenplay villain. Day after day, I was filled with the insatiable urge to destroy; to pillage; to take. Every negative deed left me feeling satisfied in a way that nothing else could. As long as I could keep committing these acts, I could continue to relish in that positive feeling. It might as well have been a drug. Of course murder was horrible at first, but I got used to it. Fast.
And then we both found out that she had made a mistake; that placing my Earthen essence into a demon’s body had adverse effects. We learned that I had become immortal, and could produce my own mana.
Of course, the gods couldn’t have that. They wouldn’t be alright with somebody who could stand against them and their power. So even though it was cruel for me, of course Mellifluus was planning to exterminate my body. It wasn’t unreasonable for her to try and clean up her own mess before anybody found out.
But there’s nothing interesting about that, now is there?
It was no longer about the chaos for me. No. In fact, I would do exactly the opposite.
I would unite the enemies of humans.
I would gain power and develop my mana.
I would obtain total control over the nations of Alterra.
And eventually, I would overpower Mellifluus.
When then? I don’t know. I didn’t care. I just wanted to entertain myself for a little while, while my mind was slowly going mad coping with the horrible thing that I had become. Ambition was a curse. That’s what it must have been; or at least, I had no choice but to believe such a thing. I wanted chaos, and there was nothing chaotic about working as a god’s pawn to do their underhanded bidding. No, that was maintaining order at its most basic level.
And then, like a fleeting feeling, it disappeared when I came back to Earth. Once again, I was back where I started. No ambitions, and no desires. I would simply go along with whatever came my way.
But that was my mistake to make, as I fell right into the palm of this girl. She had caught my interest. I thought that it was no more than an idle curiosity, but as I learned more about humans and about myself, I had finally come face to face with the answer. The answer which I pushed away with all of my might.
Before I knew it, she had become my ambition.
Such a kind girl of pure compassion and love. She was a perfect human, in a sense. Hardly sane, to the point where she would likely risk her own life to save even a passerby she had never met. In terms of survival instinct, she was doomed to fail. But perhaps that was part of what attracted my new, human self to her. Perhaps that flaw could teach me something about human nature; about how to go against it.
That flaw could teach me about how Andrew Salvus Erit bested me against all odds. How he used the death of his companions to fuel his strength and become stronger than I.
The light of his excalibur gleamed brighter than when it had been held by any other hero, after all.
But the only thing I had learned after staying with her is that we would never understand each other.
Ambition was a curse, after all.
There was a soft breeze at the front gate of her school, where Suki Handa waited in the late evening for me to finish my club activities.
She always waited for me there.
This is where I planned to tell her.
“We have to end our relationship, Suki. No, Handa.”
“Eh? What’re you talking about?”
“I can no longer date you.”
A conversation that brought an unusual feeling to my chest. It was the same sense that I received when Suki would cry over a deceased animal or insect. I finally, for the first time, understood what it was.
“By staying with you, I feel remorse.”
“So, you can’t stay with me because you feel remorseful?”
“Yes. That is correct.”
She laughed aloud, treating my confession as a joke.
Even though I had not been joking.
“This is not a joke, S- Handa. We can no longer be together.”
“Yeah, yeah. I get it.”
She wiped some stray tears from her eyes that had only arisen due to her cackling, before continuing.
“Why do you feel remorseful?”
“You are what is commonly considered a ‘good’ person. So ‘good’ that I simply cannot understand it. I have chosen to stay around you because I wished to understand such a thing, but no matter how much I try, I still cannot.”
“What’s remorseful about that?”
“Because what I have come to understand is that I am commonly known as a ‘bad’ person. I am your antithesis.”
“Are you a bad person? I don’t think so, though.”
“If you were to understand what I’ve done in the past, you would certainly think so.”
“Then can you tell me?”
“Because I’d come to hate you if I knew?”
She seemed to speak under the impression that she already knew me well. It was unfortunate that this girl was only talking to an empty husk. A tragic detail that only I could understand.
Another giggle escaped her.
Even though I had not told a joke.
A smile held on her lips.
Even though I was attempting to break ties with her.
A confidence glistened in her eyes.
Even though I was sure she understood nothing.
I absolutely, truly, could not understand her.
And it infuriated me.
“I don’t understand. Why won’t you listen to me? I will drag you down. I will inevitably destroy you. Do you not care?”
Not a budge in her expression, even after I had said something unintentionally.
Not a budge, and yet tears still began to flow.
“Of course I care… I don’t understand what you’ve done in your past, but if it would make me hate you, then don’t tell me. Or lie about it. But I don’t want anything to do with something that would tear us apart..”
She stepped in close.
I stepped back.
She took another step.
I did too.
She pounced at me, taking my body into her arms. It was unavoidable.
Or perhaps, there was some part of me that did not wish to avoid it.
She was sobbing now. Crying due to my own actions.
“Is it wrong to love somebody that you don’t understand? That may be why you stayed with me, but don’t expect that I stayed for the same reasons, you know?”
“That was a lie.”
“What? What now?”
There was no helping it.
“I have romantic feelings for you. That is why I stayed with you.”
Ah. The truth slipped out.
It only hurt my argument, and yet I unintentionally let it out.
No, I had wanted to tell her from the start.
Without my realizing, my arms had at some point wrapped themselves around her as well.
“Then say that to begin with, stupid!”
There was silence, for a short while. It was the first time I understood it as anything more than a lack of sound. It seemed beautiful to me; that silent moment.
I wondered if Andrew thought that the silence he heard after my last dying breath was beautiful, as well.
“Do you feel remorse for what you did in the past?”
“Is there anything you could do that would make me forgive you if I knew?”
“There isn’t anything.”
She was warm. Unbelievably warm. Of course, I was not talking about anything relating to the physical body heat of a human. No, this was something entirely different. Different, and yet there was no other word I could use to describe it properly.
“Is there anything you could do that would make you forgive yourself?”
Is there anything I could do? Anything that could reverse the destruction that I caused?
Of course not. Though, I never once did feel many emotions towards my past deeds. If there was anything, then…
“There is. There is something that I can do.”
That’s right. There was still one connection I had to that world. One thing I could “fix” persay.
It was those five.
Or more specifically, that one.
If I did that much, perhaps something would change.
Or at the very least, it might allow me to continue living this simple little life.