Chapter 20:

The Birth of the Hero (Part 1)

Death's Rhapsody

—Roughly around 300 years into the past.

The sound of a sword swung strongly in the air repeatedly. A black-haired boy at the age of 12 swung the sword rigorously, every swing paired with heavy breaths while he maintained his pose tight.


The sun was at its peak. Sweat ran down from his cheeks as he felt the heat both from the scorching sun and from the activity that he calls training. Despite the uncomfortability he felt, he continued. His eyes were serious, taking care not to make any unnecessary movements.

It had been hours since he started his training for the day.

Despite his age, he grew up without a mother. Since he was born, he was raised alone by his father. Because of that he had been trying to help out in all sorts of things in order to lessen the burden on the family, even just a little bit.

However, with his young age, he could only do so little. Still, his father didn’t blame him for that. His father was kind and strong. Even though he lost his wife, he never gave in to the sadness. Instead, he was able to carry on, raising the child he was left with.

The boy admired his father. Because of that, it pained him to see his father carrying all the burden alone. He wanted to help. Which is why he thought that he should start training. He wanted to be strong and perhaps one day, his father would rely on him.

Before he realized, he had grabbed the wooden sword he found lying on an empty shed behind their house. Apparently, his family came from a line of swordsmen. His father was one as well until he retired shortly after starting a family.

Ever since, he started training with the sword. When his father found out, he would sometimes teach him how to properly wield the sword but since he was always out for work, the boy mostly trained on his own.

At first, he struggled, enough that it almost made him quit. Without the proper guide or knowledge, all he could do was recklessly swing the sword. However, that didn’t stop him. He continued to swing the sword despite the difficulty and numerous mistakes. He did it everyday to the point that it had naturally been beaten down to his core. In the end, he managed to swing the sword properly for once.

From then on, he found himself swinging his sword outside the house regularly. He moved his sword from point to point while he went through different forms several times. He made it his daily goal and routine in order to ingrain the feeling into himself.


Just then, he heard the rustling sound of the leaves. The boy looked in the direction of the bushes. A silky black-straight hair stuck out from the bushes. The boy tilted his head to the side, curiously.

“Shhhh… I told you to be quiet or he’ll notice us!”

“It’s you who needs to be quiet! You’re moving around too much...!”

The two mysterious figures hid behind the bushes as they argued quietly to each other. They didn’t know, the one they were watching had suddenly vanished. They looked around to find the missing person, in panic.

“Huh? Where did he go... “

“He suddenly disappeared... “

“What are you doing?” the boy was already behind their backs without them noticing.

The two mysterious persons—a boy and a girl with identical hair color and faces—jolted in surprise. They turned around and saw the boy they had been searching for.



The two screamed hysterically and tumbled. They both fell out of the bushes, panicked and flustered. Their outburst also surprised the boy who had found them and made him open his mouth awkwardly.

“Umm... “ the boy tried to talk with the two people lying around the ground.

“I-it’s not what you think!”

“Y-yes, it’s this person’s idea, I just followed him!” the girl pointed at the boy beside her, flustered.

“H-huh?! You... don’t just put all the blame on me!”

“But, it’s clearly your fault, we got found out!”

“No matter how you look at it, it’s your fault! Your head is too big!”

The girl pouted then burst out with a shrill voice.

“H-huh?! My head is not big! Hmph!”

They bickered around so much that they had forgotten the boy who was standing in front of them, dumbfounded.

What am I watching exactly…?

The boy tried to call out to them again.

“Umm... What are you two doing here?” he asked awkwardly.

“Ah.” the two of them voiced in unison. The boy faintly twitched his cheeks as he watched their reaction. The two looked at each other and blinked. After a while, they stood up and finally explained why they were watching him.

“Erm... We were just walking around and we happened to pass by. Yes, that’s what happened!” the girl said with confidence.

The boy stared at them with an expression full of doubts. The place where they’re in is behind the house which was clearly surrounded by nothing but rocks and trees. The main road was located at the front of the house. It’s suspicious enough to think that they were just passing by behind the house.

Why were they hiding there? The boy had many doubts and didn't know how to react to this situation.

The other boy who was beside the girl, held his head and sighed tiredly.

“My name is Aron. This girl right here is my little sister.”

“Hey! Don’t just introduce me as ‘this girl’!” she fumed. “And you’re only older by 14 minutes!”

“Exactly. Which means I’m the big brother.”

“Ugh... “

Yet again, the boy was left out while he watched the two of them with a weary smile. Why are they arguing again...

“Right, right.” the boy said mockingly. “Anyway, introduce yourself already.”

The girl was about to say something but then realized that she hadn’t properly introduced herself yet. She cleared her throat in a cute manner and proceeded to introduce herself.

“My name is Rui. Nice to meet you, uhm... “

Rui was about to call him his name but then forgot that he hadn’t actually asked the boy’s name yet. Aron also realized this and waited patiently for the boy to state his name.

Perhaps he also forgot due to many reasons, the boy was taken aback by the stares he gave. He then realized that he also hadn’t introduced himself yet.

“Uhm... My name is Leo.” he replied awkwardly.

Rui repeated the name softly. “Leo... “ she muttered then smiled towards Leo. “Nice to meet you, Leo!”

The boy—named Leo, tilted his head to the side curiously. Leo was still not sure what to make of the situation and wanted to ask them what was really going on. When he was about to say something, Aron interrupted him.

“We live close to this house, said Aron. “Actually, our parents and your father know each other and we heard them talking a lot everytime he passed by.”

Leo was surprised to hear that they know his father.

“We overheard them talking about you sometimes too.”

Aron smiled while Rui cheerfully nodded along. Seeing that, Leo was a bit embarrassed that he had been a topic for conversation without him ever knowing. What did they talk about... Leo was curious about the topic but held himself back and continued listening while scratching his cheeks.

“We asked our parents about it and they said that you were about our age so we got curious. Well, a certain someone is overly excited about it though.” Aron took a brief glance towards Rui who happened to notice.

“What? You’re also curious about him, though?!”

“That’s true but... “ Aron looked to the side almost like he was hesitant to say something. Leo wondered about his sudden strange behavior and asked.

“What’s wrong?”

“Erm... you see, actually, we have been watching you uhm... training? Ah, but please don’t get the wrong idea, we don’t have any bad motives or anything.” Aron shook his hands in front of his face.

Hm…? How long was that?

Curious, Leo hesitantly asked what was on his mind.

“If I may ask, how long have you been watching?”

Aron hesitated for a moment before answering.

“...Two days ago.”

“Eh?!” Leo was taken aback. Two days ago... Which means, they had been watching him do his sword training for two days. If he includes today, that would be three days... Just thinking about how someone watched him during his daily routine had made him anxious.

That’s just embarrassing.

Leo’s face faintly turned red thinking about the past day scenarios.

“May I ask the reason why?” Why were they watching? If they were curious about him, they should’ve asked him directly when they first arrived...

“Well, you see, when we first arrived, we were knocking on the front door but no one answered... “ said Aron while scratching his head.

Ah. That was when Leo realized. Most of the time, Leo was left alone at the house due to his father’s daily work. Based on the sound of it, they must’ve arrived at the time Leo was doing his daily routine. Because of that, he hadn’t noticed someone arriving at the front door since he was at the back, focused on his sword swinging session.

“We heard something behind the house so we thought someone was home. But since there was no one answering, we thought they might be busy so I thought about just going back another day when a certain someone sneaks around the house without permission... “ Aron once again glanced at Rui who quickly looked away when she heard her name mentioned.

“Huh... “ Leo was confused.

“Well, I got curious, that's all... “ Rui softly muttered.

Leo then asked.

“Why didn’t you just call out to me when you knew I was there?”

“That’s because, when we saw you doing that with a serious look on your face, we just couldn’t make ourselves call out to you... “

“You were so cool!” Rui voiced out with excitement.

Leo was embarrassed once more.

“Thank you?”

Realizing what she just said, Rui shyly looked away, embarrassed as well.

“We planned on calling out to you the next day, but you were also busy. You probably could tell by now but we were also unable to call out to you earlier. That is until you noticed. Well, I guess it’s also a good thing we got found out which mean we won’t have to hide anymore than we do now... “

There were things Leo was unsure about but he managed to understand the situation in the end.

“What do you plan on doing now? Do you want to go inside?” Leo offered. Ignoring all other things that had happened, they were still guests. He had to offer some kind of hospitality to them at least.

“Really? Can we?” Aron asked curiously. Rui also waited for Leo’s response in anticipation.


The two beamed in excitement. “Thank you very much. As we told you earlier, we were actually curious about you. Since there weren’t people around our age that much in this village.”

“Is that so?”

Now that he thought about it, he didn’t really go outside that much. Other than when he needs something from outside or running an errand for his father, he mostly stays inside the house. Because of that, he hadn’t made that much contact with other people, much less friends.

The only one he was actually close with was his father.

Perhaps it was the reason why he was surprised and confused at how to react when he encountered someone of his age

“Nee, uhm, can I call you Leo?” Rui asked.

Leo nodded. “That’s fine by me. You don’t have to add any honorifics, in fact, I would prefer you call me just Leo.”

Rui chukled. “Then, you may also call me just Rui!”

“Me as well. You can just call me Aron.”

Leo hesitated for a bit then he spoke their names.

“Uhm, Rui and Aron.”

“Right. Once again, it’s nice to meet you Leo.” Rui offered her hand. Leo stared at her hand for a bit before realizing what she meant. Leo also held out her hand and shook hands with her.

Aron then suddenly put his arm around Leo’s back with a friendly smile. Leo was surprised, not knowing what to do.

“Now we're friends!”