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KENS Chapter 14

Chapter 14 Hero and the City of Magicians (3)

While hearing the sound of crackling bonfire, I yawned.

Ah, it’s a nostalgic dream.

A black night with no street lights. We always spent the nights awake while sitting around the bonfire.

The children instantly slept due to the fatigue from travelling and only us who were above 20 kept awake while drinking.

Me, Utano-san, Toudou, Kuuki. Just us 4 adults. Rest were all young children but even then, those guys were more energetic and more hardworking than us adults.

We worked hard so that we can support them with all we had.

Utano-san with the knowledge she gained from the Goddess, Toudou with his cooking, Kuuki with his shield.

But, yeah, I remember.

On that day—-

“Renji-san, thank you for today.”

“ah, no, in fact I should be the one to thank you.”

Aya who was usually unsociable gave her thanks to me.

Who were our opponents…………an Ogre and a Cyclops, I think. I only remember that they were giant-type monsters.

For the first time, I used Ermenhilde’s powers—–many of the covenants were cleared and I had taken down a large monster.

I was desperate so I don’t remember it properly though.

At that time, Aya had an image of an always angry girl who kept on quarrelling with Souichi.

Well, it’d be weird to be calm even after something weird like getting summoned to another world happened though. In fact, I myself had been wary of my surroundings for a week after getting summoned. I simply couldn’t calm down.

That’s why, I could understand Aya flaring up at not just me but everyone.

And that Aya had unusually come to apologise to me alone, and we had talked a lot through the night.

About each other, about this world, about what to do from here on.

The others, probably being considerate, had quickly gone inside the tent to sleep. They’re probably listening us closely though.

That’s the kind of people they are. Privacy was at minimum, but because they were such guys, I could get along with them.

While thinking that, I threw a dry stick into the fire.

When the conversation stopped, only silence remained. The sound wood cracking and the sound of trees rustling due to wind were the only sounds that remained.

Normally, I would be drinking along with others while planning what to do next right now but I can’t really make a minor drink now, can I?

While I troubled myself over what to do, Aya would be considerate and bring up a new topic.

………I really am a pathetic adult.

“I think Renji-san is amazing.”(aya)

“I’m just desperate. From my point of view, Aya-chan or Souichi, you guys seem much more amazing.”

And it was true as well.

15yrs old. Souichi’s sister Yayoi-chan was only 14yrs old.

But even then, they were travelling to save the world. Normally, they’d be in middle school right about now.

They are much more amazing than me. If I was in their place, I might have been whining and complaining. After all, they were 15yrs old. They’re not a protagonist of a movie or game, to be able to even say that they’ll save the world is amazing I think.

“There’s no such thing. It’s because Renji-san and Yuuko-san stay with us, we feel safe and nor insecure……..”

“I see.”

I threw another piece of dry wood into the fire.

At this moment, I think I was happy, no, I was definitely happy.

I worked hard, desperately, so that I don’t become a burden to the kids, so that I can help them when they get stuck somewhere.

In our original world, just working hard alone wasn’t valued.

Results were everything. And I had nor produced any kind of result in this world.

My skill with the sword was average. My cheat wasn’t especially amazing. And my personality wasn’t really great either. If I had to say, I was simply going with the flow.

But at this moment, on being told so by Aya,……..I was really happy. Even someone like me was able to reduce the anxieties of these children, even if only slightly.

No matter in what form, I was happy that I had been of use.

“You finally smiled.”(aya)

“Eh?”

“You were always making a serious face till now. Renji-san, your expression can be scary.”

Was I really making such a face? I may have been thinking about something too much which might have led to that.

Just the fact that I was the eldest, just that had become a heavy pressure on me.

“Is that so?”(renji)

“Yeah. You don’t seem too energetic and only talk much with Yuuko-san and the others…..”

After that, Aya pointed out all of my major shortcomings on her fingers.

In the end, she ran out of fingers and laughed while telling me to fix these things.

That I don’t talk much, always have a sour look, always go out too much in front against monsters, and always end up with many injuries.

I can’t help that. After all, I am the eldest here. I was the senior-most person here.——Just because I’m weak doesn’t mean I’ll hide behind children.

When I think about it now, I really was reckless.

And this time, Aya threw a piece of dry wood into the fire. Her face that shone from the light of the fire was, smiling.

But, I thought.

If she and others can smile like that, I don’t mind staying reckless. I thought that way. As a result, I almost died so many times though.

The smiles of my comrades and my life. If I were to place them on a scale, which would be heavier——-I didn’t even have to think. But the me of that time was really an idiot, I think.

.

.

.

“My magic is too strong.”(aya)

“Yeah, that’s true.”

The scene changes.

We’re still in front of a fire but the places we’re sitting at are different.

That time, we sat while facing each other but now, Aya was sitting beside me.

Her expression was smiling so I think she’s happy.

I wonder what time does this memory belonged to——-

“When it becomes a melee, I end up dragging everyone in it as well and if I start paying mind to that, I start having troubles with a single Orc.”(aya)

“Well, Aya-chan blows her fuse whenever you get backed to a corner.”

“……..was there a need to say that to my face directly?”

“Aya-chan sure is weak when you get cornered.”

When I said that, Aya puffed her cheeks and got angry. After talking to her for a few times I understood but it’s really fun to tease Aya. She gets angry but she doesn’t hit me like she does with Souichi. She simply puffs her cheek and starts sulking.

Because that’s too cute, I end up teasing her more. And as I kept on teasing her like that, I started to feel as if she were my younger sister. I don’t really have a younger sister but if I had I might have talked to her like I did with Aya, I think.

It’s weird if I say so myself but after talking to Aya like this I became better at conversing with the other youths as well.

My feelings to protect them since I am their elder still remain but I started to fight together with them or rather, I depend on them sometimes. Anyway, I feel that I became to fight alongside them rather than simply go away alone to the front.

I wonder what kind of change of heart this is.

“…..Aya ‘chan’ again.”

“You’re younger than me after all.”

“mouu.”

Seeing her expression that suits her age and not some stiff title like Hero or Godslayer, even I feel happier.

As I laughed, she got angry at me again. Puffing her cheeks she glared at me strongly.

She won’t attack me like with Souichi but her expression is clear.

But since that seemed even more amusing, I ended up laughing more. Even though she’s a magician at a level that I could never reach, her actions show that she’s definitely younger than me.

“Isn’t it because you’re too focused on flashy magics?”(renji)

“That may be so but……since my magical energy is too great, even with a little imagination, it turns into something excessive.”

“Oh right, you consulted with Utano-san as well right?”

“Yes.”

Utano-san. A person who wished to be able to use all kinds of magic.

Certainly, she’s also a magician but almost everything else is different from Aya.

In contrast to the magic of this world that comes from imagination, Utano-san can simply use any magic directly as long it is recognised as an [existing] magic.

Basically, it’s similar to the magic in games, RPGs, ADVs, and STGs. (T/N: I have no idea what ADV or STG is. Adv is probably short for ’Adventure’ but I’m not sure.)

And Aya’s magic is like this worlds, using imagination and magical energy to manifest it.

Rather just being of different types, they are two completely different things.

Even though both are magicians, there’s not just a wall or gap between them but a whole cliff.

“Then how about manifesting it in some other form rather than just flames or lightning?”(renji)

“Like rocks or something? Then, I’ll probably make giant rocks rain.”

“……..What the hell, that’s scary.”

“I still am working hard everyday you know?”

As expected of the magician that possess the highest level of firepower amongst us. The vector of working hard is so completely different, I ended up sighing.

Even though, here I am still getting desperate when killing a single monster.

“No, how about imagining something more simple? Not just flames, ice or rocks.”(renji)

“What should I imagine then? Even if I imagine a kamaitachi it’ll turn into a tornado, you know?”(T/N: google kamaitachi if you don’t know what it is. It’s basically a sharp wind.)

“Like I said, why is it always something so violent………no, something even simpler.”

“More simpler?”

As she threw dry wood into the fire, her black hair shone crimson from the fire.

Finding that magically beautiful, I averted my eyes.

What the hell am I thinking about a child who’s almost half my age.

“Something like a pitfall, or using vines or plants to restrict the opponents like in the movies.”(renji)

“…….that, in the end, wouldn’t defeat the monster.”

“It’s fine like that. If Aya-chan stopped the enemy’s movements, we’ll deal the finishing blow.”

With one of the branches, I drew a shitty goblin on the ground.

And after completing it, I slashed it with a diagonal line.

“Magic isn’t simply to defeat monsters. Stopping and constraining the enemy is also a perfect strategy.”(renji)

Well, this girl has no shred of strategy and simply has brute power to crush all enemies though.

Completely different from me who’s trying hard everyday just to not fall behind others.

I feel envious at the same time feel relieved as well.

I don’t want such kids to travel while feeling the danger for their lives like me. Well, everything is simply me reaping what I sowed.

The wish to the goddess. The weapon to kill God. It can definitely kill a god, but that’s all it does.

It’s a weapon only effective against Gods. It was nothing more than a normal weapon against other monsters, weak……..that’s why, I was the natural enemy of the Demon God though. The demons would attack me, hate me, as if I killed their parents. Thanks to that, my life was in danger the whole time we were in the Demon continent.

I always regretted that I should I have wished for something more generic/all purpose power.

No use crying over spilt milk. They truly are great words.

“Un…….I guess that I should be able to easily imagine that.”(aya)

Without realizing my inner thoughts, Aya was thinking about how to make my idea work.

She’s fast to hit but I think she’s a serious and diligent girl. Her way of thinking is flexible and will create a magic which will far surpass what I originally imagined.

Grand Magus. She really is a genius that doesn’t shame that title. This Girl, Fuyou Aya.

“Also, do you really feel no reluctance when…….killing living beings?”(renji)

“——-“

As she heard that, her smile stiffened and looked up to me with surprise as if she was choking on breath.

I must have asked something I shouldn’t have. It’s an unnecessary emotion in this trip to kill the Demon God.

It could be said that it’ll only be a hindrance, a useless emotion.

But that was only if nobody said or talked about it.

15yrs old. It’s a sensitive time, in my opinion.

At such an age, even if it was to save the world, even if the enemy weren’t humans, even if the monsters were the enemies of humans, it’ll be painful to take away the life of another, I think.

It’s something I was meaning to ask Souichi and the others sooner or later as well.

It was simply because we started talking together more that I asked Aya first.

“But, it’s to save this world……”

“Yeah.”

It’s a nostalgic memory.

I can’t hear anything other than the crackling sound of fire and the buzzing of insects.

Even the sleeping breaths of my comrades, I couldn’t hear them. The next morning, I remember being teased.

“——–“

To kill a living being. To steal away life.

It’s much more heavier than what it sounds like.

That doesn’t change even if you have the excuse that you are doing it to save the world. For us who have only seen such things on TV, it was far too heavy.

But even so, Aya’s words averted away from that fact. The duty to save the world.

If we don’t kill the monsters, demons, and the Demon God, this other world will end. Countless people will die. That’s why, kill. That’s why we fight, that’s the reason why we can fight.

The pressure was too heavy but Souichi and the others still took on that duty and continued journeying. Even though I worried about it everyday, my hands tremble everytime, and kept guard every night without sleeping.

For someone, for something, for the world, for comrades.

For me the pressure that came with the title of a Hero felt ridiculous.

I felt envious and jealous of them so much that I felt like averting my eyes——-Everyone was so bright and honest.

“Renji-san……will we able to return back to our world?”

“Un.”

“Will we able to return together?”

“We will.”

——after we kill the Demon God.

We were summoned to save this world. In novels and fairy tales, it’s something prestigious. Something that’d make your heart race, that’d make you excited and happy.

But in reality……..lifestyle was inconvenient, the food was terrible, your butt will hurt after riding horses, you legs would hurt if you walk. You still feel fatigued if you sleep outdoors. And even the beds at inns are hard.

It’s filled with such inconveniences. There’s no hope or dreams in another world. Especially for me.

Compared to others, my cheat was very weak. My physical abilities have been increased from what they were in my world but even then, compared to others, I’ll run out of breath the earliest, my reflexes are dull. I don’t even have magical energy to use magic.

That’s why I desperately became stronger.

I had no choice but to accept that I, the eldest, was the biggest burden in the group.

And to travel with them while accepting that, I had no choice but to become stronger. Doing something like leaving everything to kids who have barely lived half my own life, I simply could not do.

I requested the people from the Knight Orders to teach me about sword fighting. I learnt reading and writing  with the help of Utano-san and a famous researcher. I even tried to learn negotiating skills to be able to become more of use.

The [God Slaying Weapon] I wished for was simply a weapon and its user, me, was an amateur. I couldn’t let monsters take advantage of that.

I might be able to fight against the Demon God but at the start of our journey, there were only small fry monsters that we’d face so I could only be desperate.

Everyone else was able to become stronger than me with only half of the effort.

It’s amazing I didn’t become depressed. Really.

“Will everyone be able to return…..alive?”(aya)

“We will.”

Nobody’s strong.

Cheats, sword skills, unequalled magical energy, all are nothing more than a pebble at the side of the road.

We came to this world without any kind of resolve. The exaggerated over-the-top goal of saving the world was hiding the reality in front of us. Even though death is right beside us, we have simply become unable to see it.

That’s why.

“I promise. All of us will return safe and sound together.”(renji)

In the end, after everything was over, all of us decided to stay in this world though.

Even though it’s a world where death is always beside you. But that’s why……we had people we could trust that were even closer to us than death in this world.

“If I was in danger……will you protect me again?”(aya)

“If anyone was in danger, I’d definitely protect them.”(renji)

That was an extremely embarrassing thing to say.

Me, who was the weakest was proclaiming that he’d protect his comrades who were the strongest in the world.

The word [definitely] was something only meant for the use of protagonists and should not be used by someone like me who was Villager C.

To protect someone, you have to constantly put your life on the line.

Even if you are close to death, even when you’re full of wounds, even when your spirit is on the verge of breaking, even when you’re  in front of an extremely strong enemy.

You have to stand back up. You have to keep on holding on to your weapon.

You have to speak sharply. You cannot give up.

………now that I think back, it really was a miracle I lived through that all.

Even though everyone around me could be carefree even when I’d end up all bloody.

.

.

.

As I opened my eyes, I ended up frowning due to the sunlight shining from within the curtains.

[Finally woke up, sleepyhead?]

“n, yeah…….right now………”

[It’s almost afternoon, seriously.]

I ended up getting sighed at just because I took a nap.

Well, even I think that I slept a bit too much for some reason even though I didn’t even drink.

“Say, Ermenhilde.”

[Hm?]

“……..nevermind.”

[Wake up already. Get to work, sleepyhead.]

I got scolded.

While hearing that voice inside my head, I got up from my bed.

A nostalgic dream. From when I had been journeying with my comrades, a dream with Aya. After that, Aya worked hard as a hole digging magician.

In fact, rather than using unequalled magic, it was easier for us when she trapped monsters in her pitfalls. After all, we didn’t have to get dragged into her normal magic anymore. Well, we only depended on that magic when sweeping away a group of monsters that had accumulated.

Against large armies of monsters, she did make rocks and fire rain from afar to win before the enemy could even reach us.

Against small number of enemies or in close combat, even a fireball would turn into friendly fire so it was troublesome. Even overpowered cheats have their own merits and demerits.

“Ermenhilde.”

[……what now?]

“Do you think Aya’s still digging holes?”

[Yeah, she should be .]

Immediate reply.

Well, it’s normal since it is a great tactic I guess.

While thinking that, I changed my clothes.

[She probably believes that if she keeps on doing that, Renji will keep on protecting her I guess.]

“In fact, I want to be protected by her instead though.”

[It can’t be helped. You wished for that, and did promise her that after all.]

That’s true.

I wished the Goddess that I want to protect someone. If it gets dangerous, I promised I’ll protect her.

………..that’s why, I could only sigh. I wished and I promised. I cannot change the past.

“Or rather, shouldn’t she have forgotten that already? It’s been almost 2 years.”

[I doubt she would forget that.]

For some reason, Ermenhilde’s voice held some sort of confidence.

It was such a dangerous journey. I doubt she’d remember such trivial words. That too, it’s been 2 years from then. It’s already a thing of the past.

At least, if I was Aya, I would’ve forgotten it. What kind of credibility would those words have if spoken by someone weaker than you?

The only reason I remember it is because it was fricking embarrassing for me and a part of my dark history(shameful past).

[Women are such creatures.]

“No, you’re a medal.”

[Tch.]

It clicked its tongue. What a terrible partner to do that during a conversation.

Sighing at such an Ermenhilde, I stretched my body a bit. Stretching my stiffened body, it felt really nice.

“Today as well, I’ll seriously do jobs.”

[Please do. Don’t show your pathetic side, you’re an adult right?]

“I get the feeling that I have already done that way too many times though.”

How many times was I saved by kids?

How many times did I attack only through surprise attacks and not frontal ones?

How many times did I bow my head to people?

How many times did I mourn not being able to protect someone?

How many, how many, how many………….

[Is that so?]

“Yeah, that is so.”

Changing my clothes, I fixed my appearance at bare minimum.

While thinking about what kind of job should I pick today.

Well, I guess I’ll pick something like collecting herbs, though. It’s easy, and safe.

After washing my face, I was wondering about what to do of my beard———

[I only have memories of Renji looking cool though.]

“………you, really say extremely embarrassing things sometimes, don’t you?”

[No such thing.]

I, looking cool?

I thought about my past but couldn’t think of a single one.

Probably the coolest one is when I faced the Demon God one-on-one, I guess. I almost died though.

Talking sharply like an idiot and then almost getting killed, I can only think of that as pathetic though. Also, the fact that that was the coolest moment, I really can’t help it at all.

“For example?”

So I decided to ask instead.

I also want to know these cool moments my partner speaks of.

And, then I’ll explain the reality of that scene as well. Even I think my reasons are truly ridiculous sometimes.

[Not stepping back even once against the Demon Lord. You kept on swinging me against the Demon God at the very front. You kept on fighting in front of those heroes you could call the strongest……..no matter how many times you fell, you always stood back up.]

“Well, I was desperate after all.”

What the heck’s that?

If I didn’t do that, I would’ve died. I wouldn’t have come out of it alive if I didn’t do that. And above all—- I was always full of injuries. If I had not been protected by my comrades, I would’ve died countless times.

That’s why I did not step back. That’s why I never let go of Ermenhilde. That’s why I stood back up. If I didn’t do at least that much, I wouldn’t have been able to stand alongside my comrades.

And above all—— when children were fighting with their lives on the line, I couldn’t be the one to retire first.

“I didn’t want to die that’s why I fought so hard. That’s why I killed. It’s something very normal, Emenhilde.”

[Yeah, that’s right. It’s normal.]

Because I don’t want to die, I want to live, I don’t want to look pathetic.

That was something totally normal and very obvious, and something anyone would do.

Cool? That isn’t it. It wasn’t something so great.

I was simply scared of looking pathetic and being abandoned by them. I was afraid of being left alone. I was afraid of losing all of my comrades in this other world.

No matter how many words you pile up, the answer will be the same. I was afraid of getting hated by my comrades so I fought desperately.

Not for the world, not for someone, not for something. Even if I say I want to protect, in the end I was worried the most about my own self.

“It’s something anyone can do, Ermenhilde.”

For myself—-not for some random stranger, one becomes desperate for himself.

It something anyone can think of. Something anyone can do. To live, to not die——it’s obvious that anyone can do it.

[Not everyone can do it, Yamada Renji.]

But my partner’s answer was the opposite so I could only feel slightly happy.

The power granted to me by the Goddess, Ermenhilde. It has been watching me from the sides all the time.

It became my sword, my spear, my bow—-my weapon, no matter what the time was and fought alongside me.

And, is always trying to make me into a hero…….even now, it is with me. Even though, I’m just a normal man who could be found anywhere.

[I don’t think like that.]

Putting on my mantle, I set the iron knife to my waist.

I picked up Ermenhilde that was lying beside my pillow.

[It’s because it was Renji, you could do such things.]

“I see.”

*ping* I flicked Ermenhilde.

That voice seemed boastful and proud and somehow made me feel really embarrassed.

That’s why, to hide my embarrassment, I flicked Ermenhilde like it was usual.

It was, Tails.

“haah. Guess I’ll have to work hard today as well.”

[Only half of the day is left though.]

With just that, we returned to our usual relationship.

User and his weapon. Partners. That kind of relationship.

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