Chapter 5:

Chapter 5. Reflection and Resolution

Zero to Hero

The day began with a rude awakening - quite literally. A sharp slap against my face pulled me from slumber, bringing forth an annoyed visage belonging to none other than Tina, the beastman girl.

“How much longer are you going to sleep? I had to let your wolf out when she whined at the door.”

"Morning, Tina. I'm exhausted from sparring with your dad yesterday. It’s been forever since I went all out," I greeted her, reminiscing about the strenuous day I had spent training with the chieftain.

The simple act of getting out of bed proved challenging; my entire body ached from exertion for the first time in five years. Tina's disapproving stare only intensified the morning's discomfort.

"I can’t believe you wasted five entire years in some dumpy hut instead of training and getting stronger. How will you ever catch up to those blessed individuals if you can’t even beat my father after all this time?" Tina's tone was tinged with disappointment.

"What's the point in training or getting stronger? I won’t ever be a match against the top tier anyways. Doubt I could ever catch up to those who are blessed either. The chieftain is so strong yet Zeev overcame him in only a few years? No way I could compete with those people with my lowly abilities," I replied, overwhelmed by self-doubt.


"You really have changed. Candace is right about you! What a sorry excuse you’ve become! I feel sorry for my sister for still loving you!" Tina’s exasperation was palpable after she smacked my head, as we entered the dining room.

"Morning, everyone," I uttered as Keev rushed over cheerfully to greet me, interrupting the escalating tension between me and Tina.

“Morning Ken! Hope you slept well even if I wasn’t there.” Candace replied as the fairy girl stopped her cheerful chattery with Ruth to greet me warmly.

"Stop trying to flirt with my sister’s man!" Tina snapped at Candace, indicating that their relationship might not be as good as I had assumed.

"I will flirt with whomever I want! Besides, who even knows if your sister still loves him after witnessing the mess he’s become," Candace replied with evident pride as the pair started bickering, totally ignoring the fact that I could hear all the insults that’s throwing my way.

"Candace, are you genuinely interested in me? I'm starting to doubt your intentions considering all I hear are insults directed at me."

"I'm not trying to insult you; I'm merely stating the truth. It's apparent to anyone that you're a shadow of your former self. But don’t worry! I see your potential and what you can regain," Candace expressed optimistically, displaying more confidence in my abilities than I currently have in myself.

"How much longer will you laze around here before looking for my sister?" Tina inquired as we gathered for breakfast prepared by Mrs. Wulric.

"I was thinking about leaving today, but after yesterday's sparring, my body isn't ready for travel. Without a teleport artifact, it will take us months on foot. Yami isn't fully grown to carry me yet, and I'm still trying to understand how her magic works. So I’m thinking we will be leaving first thing tomorrow," I explained while feeding my wolf pup.

"Already? Don’t go!" Keev protested, showing his disapproval at my departure plan.

"Keev, Ken’s going to find your dad and bring him back. You want to see your daddy, right?" Ruth tried to console the boy.

"Come with me, my boy. Let's hunt for some game and have a feast tonight," the chieftain invited me after breakfast. Despite my sore muscles, I followed without complaint. The moment we left the village, the freezing forest greeted us once again as we ventured forth.

"What a loser! Look at you shivering from a little wintery weather," Tina’s mocking voice cut through as we navigated the woods.

"Are you tagging along?" I inquired.

"You wish! It’s a competition! Since my dad doesn't trust me with anything, I’ll show you just how capable I am," Tina confidently declared before vanishing into the forest.

“She’s turned into quite a feisty one hasn’t she.”

"Tina has endured a lot over the past five years. She always admired Lovetta, and when her sister left for Dragonspire, Tina sought solace in her brother.

“Zeev was an excellent brother and son. Although he didn't possess the same potential for combat as Lovetta, he dedicated himself to training, earning the trust of the villagers. I envisioned entrusting the village to him as the future chieftain.

“When Lovetta returned from school during breaks, you were the primary subject of her conversations, and Tina started to idolize you as she did with Lovetta. Your sudden disappearance, Zeev’s gradual change, and now Lovetta's absence have been challenging for Tina," the chieftain explained casually as we hurried through the forest in search of prey for the feast.

Listening quietly, guilt and regret resurfaced within me. Living in the same forest for five years and yet I lacked the courage to visit; those people who cared for me greatly had suffered due to my cowardice.

"You're a good kid, Ken. A bit of a womanizer, but you loved those girls. You were young, confident, and had the potential to become the greatest of all time. I know things happened and you felt responsible and scared but when you get to my age, you will realize that there are many things in life that you just can’t control," the chieftain reminded me, noticing my sense of guilt.

"What am I supposed to do when the things I can’t control will take my life? I don’t want to give someone hope and end up hurting them more," I confessed, hoping for some guidance from the chieftain.

"Come on, my boy. Didn’t you always do that? You dragged my daughter along with how many other girls while having the most powerful king after your life. Did you just roll over and give up? No. You did the impossible and became the youngest in history to reach holy level," the chieftain pointed out, attempting to uplift my spirits.

What changed? How did I become like this? Once upon a time, I full heartedly believed that I would one day become the strongest person in history, and become the hero that will continue to keep this world at peace. What made me become this pathetic loser? I lamented.

"Zishell Yelvaris. Even after I reached holy level, I couldn't match him in the final tournament I entered. I was already having doubts after the tournament, not sure what I could do to ever overtake him but when he fought me seriously on that day, I was able to realize that I could never beat him.

“If I could never beat Zishell then, how am I going to ever beat him now or someone even stronger? If I was going to die in 20 years, how am I supposed to continue living like nothing is wrong?" I expressed my doubts and fears.


"Snap out of it, my boy," the chieftain urged, patting my back with the force that could easily kill a full grown bear.

"Not to be a downer, but knowing that Zeev overtook you in a few years and there are ten thousand others like him, what could I possibly do?" I questioned, feeling dejected.

"Zeev trained hard and had a great foundation. The blessing shattered his natural ceiling, allowing his hard work to bear fruit. You, on the other hand, are nowhere near your ceiling. A ceiling of unknown heights. Lovetta mentioned the rigorous training sessions with Osmar. If you had just continued, you would’ve surpassed me long ago," the chieftain reassured.

"What good would it be if I became the 1000th strongest? Or 100th or even 10th? I have to get stronger than the person who created our entire world!" I exclaimed, feeling helpless.

"You know, Ken. When I first met you during your initial visit with Lovetta, I encountered a young man who seemed inexperienced but exuded unwavering self-confidence. Honestly, I was skeptical.

“I thought you might be all talk, capable only of spinning stories to captivate naive girls like my daughter with your fantasies. However, you surprised everyone with your incredible growth and actually lived up to those grand claims.

“Lovetta mentioned how you pushed yourself to the limit, driven by the desire to meet the expectations of those who believed in you. I understand it wasn't easy; the pressure to constantly improve must have been immense.

“But now, looking back, after your success, did you experience the same regret you're feeling now?" The chieftain questioned.

Growing up as an orphan, I was grateful to the woman who took in me and my siblings. But it wasn't until I crossed paths with figures like the chieftain, Calidon, Fintan and Osmar that I truly grasped the essence of having a fatherly presence. "Thank you, chief. Living with regrets is undoubtedly more taxing than the pain endured from giving everything I had."


"Now that’s the spirit! Let’s get this hunting competition going. We got 1000 villagers to feed!" The chieftain's enthusiasm lifted my spirits as we dashed through the forest.

Arriving back at the village with a bountiful catch, Tina was less than pleased with the outcome of our contest.

"Is that thing you brought back even edible?" Tina's voice boomed.

"Absolutely. Don't be a sore loser just because you didn't win," I retorted as Tina's irritation flared.

The creature I'd managed to hunt down, despite its outward appearance resembling that of a moose, was undeniably aggressive and robust—a clear indicator of a creature corrupted during the awakening.

"Nice catch, my boy! I doubt anyone except me could bring down this beast alone!" The chieftain praised me while examining the massive creature.

With the meat piling up, the villagers joined forces, preparing for a grand feast, with Mrs. Wulric leading the charge as the head chef.

Older kids took on the responsibility of watching over the younger ones, while people began to haul out tables and chairs from their homes.

As the entire village gathered and engaged in cheerful conversation, the aroma of cooked meat gradually filled the air, signaling the start of the feast.

"Give Zeev a good smack for abandoning my daughter and grandson once you see him!" Ruth's father yelled loudly at me, his face redder than an apple from the copious amount of alcohol he'd consumed.

"Dad, you've had enough!" Ruth intervened, guiding her wobbling, inebriated father away with the help of her mother.

"Sorry about that, Ken. Dad's had a bit too much to drink. Usually, he wouldn't dare complain about Zeev, especially not in front of the chieftain."

"I'll do my best to knock some sense into him, although he's probably way stronger than I am now," I replied with a smile.

"Tell him his family misses him. Even if he's seeking that big city life, he should at least keep his family informed. The same goes for you, Ken. Lovetta might seem strong in front of the family, but not knowing your whereabouts or if you were even alive all those years was definitely weighing on her. Apologize and make it right when you two meet up," Ruth advised, her son rushing over to join us.

"Thank you, Ruth. I know I've disappointed a lot of people, and I doubt I could ever go back to who I used to be. But after my conversation with the chieftain today, I've realized that instead of dwelling on the past, I should live in the present and strive to make things right."

After bidding Ruth and Keev goodnight, they headed home as the party gradually quieted down, with more villagers saying their farewells and returning to their houses.

"You seemed a little less depressed," Candace noted as we exchanged banter.

"Yep, trying my best not to be such a loser. Are you enjoying yourself?" I asked.

"Sure did! Everyone here, except for Tina, is so kind! We should definitely come and visit often after you take care of those golems in my village," Candace proposed.

"I will definitely be visiting after making up with Lovetta. Not sure how you will fit into the picture, though," I teased.

After some more light-hearted banter, the charming fairy bid her goodnight and headed towards Ruth’s house, preparing for the upcoming journey.


“Stop flirting with her!” Tina exclaimed annoyingly, delivering a sharp smack to the back of my head. Gazing at the irked girl, I couldn’t suppress a smile.

“Why are you grinning at me? So gross!”

“You know, you're nothing like your sister. She was so shy and quiet, and you’re the complete opposite.”

“And because she was timid, you ended up flirting with a bunch of girls, and look at how things turned out. If she were more assertive, maybe none of this would have happened.”


“WHY did you flick my forehead!”

“I'll take the blame. No one can change the past, Tina, not even the girl who shaped this world into what it is. I have regrets, I’m anxious about the future, but I know dwelling on 'what if' is pointless.”


Without another word, Tina stormed off and vanished into the darkness. As the feast naturally wound down and villagers returned to their homes for the night, I stayed behind, assisting Mrs. Wulric and the chieftain with the cleanup.

“Good night, Mrs. Wulric, Chief,” I bid the couple farewell before retiring to Lovetta’s room with Yami.

Replete with delicious food and buoyed by the chieftain's uplifting conversation, sleep enveloped me swiftly, granting one last night of warmth in a cozy bed before venturing into the unknown.