Chapter 20:

The Beginning

The Hero Who Returned Remains Traumatized in the Modern World

Silence.Bookmark here

Complete and utter silence.Bookmark here

No matter what sounds may have been entering through my ears, I couldn’t hear a single thing.Bookmark here

The world around me had been reduced to complete and utter silence.Bookmark here

I could make out my hands, thrusted out in front of me, and I could feel the force being constantly exerted within them.Bookmark here

I was grabbing something; pressing against it.Bookmark here

But I couldn’t really understand what I was doing.Bookmark here

I couldn’t understand a thing.Bookmark here

It was as if something within my head had snapped completely; rendered no longer useful, and tossed aside in favor of something else on hand.Bookmark here

Like a broken rubber band.Bookmark here

I was like a broken rubber band at that moment.Bookmark here

And what had taken over in place of me, was my uncontrollable, unbridled rage which not even I could quite understand.Bookmark here

My hands were on a man’s throat. I had to squeeze it as tightly as I could, and press my thumb down on the center of his windpipe with all my might.Bookmark here

Tighter.Bookmark here

Tighter.Bookmark here

TIGHTER.Bookmark here

There was some reason why I had to stop him from breathing.Bookmark here

Some reason why I needed to take away his air.Bookmark here

It was air that he didn’t deserve to breathe; air that didn’t belong to him.Bookmark here

He was already dead; in another place, in another time, I had already taken his life away for the atrocities that he had committed.Bookmark here

So to do it again; it was only natural, right? He was just a walking corpse, after all.Bookmark here

I was only forcing him to come to terms with his own death.Bookmark here

There were other sensations that I could feel, poking at the back of my mind.Bookmark here

Something else was hitting against me; likely his limbs, in a futile effort to escape my grip.Bookmark here

A pulling sensation came from behind; perhaps another person? Another party?Bookmark here

It didn’t matter.Bookmark here

All I needed to do was take this man’s life from him, like I had already done once before. Then it would all be over.Bookmark here

Everything.Bookmark here

Everything would be over.Bookmark here

Once the light in this man’s eyes finally went out.Bookmark here

Suddenly, the man ceased to struggle. And I had found myself in a familiar place.Bookmark here

It wasn’t a real place, but a place within my head. Somewhere I went during my darkest hours; in the midst of my most unpleasant thoughts.Bookmark here

I was in the throne room of the Demon Lord.Bookmark here

There he was; a skeletal face, and rotting flesh, but just enough of a neck left for me to hold onto, and continue to squeeze with all of my might.Bookmark here

It wasn’t enough. I had to keep going.Bookmark here

Tighter.Bookmark here

Tighter.Bookmark here

Tighter.Bookmark here

I was in the same position as back then. Kneeling over him, with my hands down toward his body. Had I cried back then? How did I feel, as I struck his heart with holy mythril?Bookmark here

Because right now, all I felt was fear.Bookmark here

The silence was overwhelming. I was losing touch with everything, and that the moment I let go of the villain in front of me, It’d all disappear in an instant.Bookmark here

I’d lose it all.Bookmark here

Ah.Bookmark here

So that’s why I couldn’t let go.Bookmark here

Because I was holding on to him for my dear life.Bookmark here

“GET OFF OF HIM! HE’S GONNA DIE!”Bookmark here

A disruptive, high-pitched yell slowly came into my perception, and suddenly the gears in my head began to turn again.Bookmark here

The man in front of me had long passed out, but my hands were still tightly wrapped around his neck with the intent to kill.Bookmark here

I screamed out to myself and jumped back, as a few others began to open their doors to see the spectacle I had made.Bookmark here

Beside me, the girl named Suki was bawling as if she had just lost a loved one.Bookmark here

She seemed to really care about him.Bookmark here

Actually, I was crying too.Bookmark here

♙♙♙♙♙Bookmark here

The Demon Lord, a.k.a. Hiniku Furukawa, had decided not to press charges on me. He explained to the authorities that he himself provoked me, and of course, would be resigning from his job as a result of bringing one of his students to harm. We both knew the truth of the matter, and of course, the student body seemed to think that I was the one at fault as well.Bookmark here

Apparently, he was a well liked health counselor, and I wasn’t the only one who had gone to him for advice about my mental health. But according to Suki, the faculty didn’t like the way he handled students’ problems, nor the advice that he gave them, so they had been looking for a reason to get him fired from the very beginning.Bookmark here

In fact, she told me many other things about him as well, which helped my understanding of his situation.Bookmark here

The two of them had been together since high school, but apparently Furukawa never wanted to get married or have any children. He told her often that being able to live peacefully with her, as he did, was enough.Bookmark here

There had been much of his past that she also didn’t know, nor did she ask him. Especially in the case of his isekai experience, she had absolutely no clue. But what she understood very clearly was that he knew that he had once done horrible things in the past, which while he didn’t resent himself for them, he figured that it was only natural that others would.Bookmark here

It was something he had expressed to her on many occasions, feeling that their bond could only grow so close before she would eventually have to learn, and eventually have to hate him. So as long as he kept her at an arm’s length, he could be content.Bookmark here

Not happy, but content.Bookmark here

But no matter how many times she tried to tell him, Furukawa failed to understand that she couldn’t care even slightly about his past, and she only fell in love with him more and more every day.Bookmark here

The only reason that Furukawa couldn’t obtain the fulfillment he wanted, was because he himself was too ignorant to realise that he already had it.Bookmark here

It wasn’t a fitting end for the Demon Lord; I still resented him with my entire being, and I still wanted him dead; I doubted that would ever change.Bookmark here

But it was quite appropriate for Hiniku Furukawa, the high school health counselor.Bookmark here

So even if only slightly, I was able to gain a little bit of closure.Bookmark here

Just a tiny bit.Bookmark here

Among other things, Furukawa had applied at that school as a health counselor because he wanted to find a safe way to enter my life, as well as hold a proper sanctuary where he could watch over both Hope and I. My entering that school, as well as Hope’s, was all part of his orchestration, allegedly.Bookmark here

So by extension, Kaori; He knew about her from the start as well.Bookmark here

Now that I knew he was the Demon Lord, Suki said that his job was finished, and that he never planned to see me or talk to me again.Bookmark here

In his words,Bookmark here

“My portion of your story has concluded, and I’ve no intention of being slain by you again. Don’t look for me.”Bookmark here

And his final message to me, which held most everything that I still didn’t understand, resided in the form of a singular book. It was his own journal, that he had been keeping ever since he met Suki.Bookmark here

She was a bit jealous of me, that I was allowed to read it, and she wasn’t. But she gave it to me, nonetheless.Bookmark here

And on the first page, which I read aloud to myself after everything had settled, began with a foreword, written just for me.Bookmark here

“This is just your beginning, Jiro.Bookmark here

“My end, and your beginning.”Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.