Heroic stories always end with the defeat of the great evil. But there is no mention of what happens to the hero afterwards. How does he fall in love with the pretty princess, or how the comrades who have suffered together return to their hometowns and live happily with their childhood friends, or how they die in a distant land without ever being found. But I think that’s okay. This is something I can think about because I saved the world, and I never thought about it when I was just a magic user.
I was rather curious about what happened to the heroes. I couldn’t help but be curious.
Having defeated the Demon Lord together with the hero and my comrades, I received numerous rewards and praise. But gradually, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I’m sure my natural shyness and my researcher tendencies did not allow me to live a flamboyant life. Within a year of my triumphant return, I had thrown away all the positions and titles I had received and set up a cottage in the middle of nowhere.
In this land far away from the capital, there were various creatures and plants unknown to me, they were enough for me to study magic. The days of studying were different from the days spent on the battlefield and in the court, and I felt at ease.
That’s why I was surprised when my former companion suddenly visited me. I was so surprised that I even dropped the glass vial I was using to mix the herbs.
“It’s been a long time, Mage. Or should I say Lisa?”
The man dressed in a fine cloak and vestments decorated with gold and silver threads, helped me clean the shattered vial.
“Yeah. If you’re going to come to this remote area, I’d like to be informed in advance. I haven’t talked to anyone in a week, so I need to be prepared to talk to people.”
“That’s exactly why I came so suddenly. The neighbouring villages have been quite worried. They are saying that a witch appeared from the west a year ago and built a cottage on the cliff and is doing suspicious research. I’ve explained to them multiple times that you’re an excellent person who subdued the Demon King, but you need to interact with the neighbors a little more.”
He shrugged his shoulders and threw the shards he had collected into the trash bin with a wry smile.
“You know I’m a shy person, don’t you. I left the royal capital and came to the frontier because I didn’t want to be around people. And the villagers were not frightened by the witch from the west, but by the demoness from the west. I wonder if it would be a good idea to turn the area around the cottage into a desolate forest by conjuring it up like a demoness.”
I knew that the villagers were afraid of me, calling me a witch. However, I gladly took their fear as a reason not to socialize with them. If they turned on me, I had the strength to push them away, and as long as they were scared, I didn’t have to get involved.
A quiet life instead of notoriety. That’s what I wanted.
“If you know so much, why don’t you give me a proper explanation? I admit that there is no one who can surpass you in the field of magic, but as a petty official of the kingdom, I will have to complain a few times if you keep creating desolate forests all over the continent.”
“Isn’t that good. Did the sage come here to chat with me? I didn’t know the Prime Minister of the Kingdom had a lot of free time on his hands.”
The sage scratched his cheeks when he heard the sarcastic remarks come out from my mouth. It’s a habit that hasn’t changed ever since we were friends. Whenever he feels uncomfortable, he scratches his cheek. I’m not sure what to make of it.
“Mage, no Lisa.”
“If it’s hard to say, you can just call me mage. It can’t be helped since we often called each other through our roles when we were in the party. It was better since we never knew when or which one of our heroic companions would die. Now that I’m suddenly called by name, it feels weird.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. But I don’t think it’s good for us to call each other by our battle positions now that peace has come.”
“I’m sure they were good people, and it wasn’t like we were buddies. I don’t think we called each other by name either. It was more like a cold, professional relationship. I’m not sure I would have been able to be a part of the party otherwise.”
The journey to defeat the Demon Lord was filled with dangers. You could be attacked and eaten alive by demonic beasts, or you could lose your life to a human who had joined the demon tribe. The same people who were close to you yesterday might not be there tomorrow. This was not uncommon, and there is often a vicious cycle of losing more friends because of the death of a friend.
The journey doesn’t end when your companions die. You have to make up for the lack of strength with another person and keep going. The more you do this, the more afraid you become of getting close to people. The more skilled you are, the more you hate talking to others and making friends, because you learn to say goodbye repeatedly.
“Do you have any regrets?”
“……that’s a tough question. Thanks to that trip, I was able to decide to retire comfortably at the age of twenty or so. On the other hand, I lost my only living relative, my younger brother. So it’s hard to say.”
My brother was not particularly gifted. He was not very good with swords or magic. But he wanted to reduce the number of people who were hurt by the Demon Lord and his subordinates. That’s why he went on a journey with us. That’s why I was so sad when my brother died. However, my tears dried up in a flash. That was because there was a priestess next to me.
Her spirit was broken even more than mine due to the loss of her brothers and comrades.
I was able to endure seeing her fall deeper and deeper into despair. It was not out of kindness or friendship. It was simply because seeing someone who was more unhappy than me sprouted a faint superiority within me.
“Come to think of it, the Battle of Parmesan, where we lost countless warriors and knights, that was probably the most dangerous fight.”
The sage stared at the empty wall with distant eyes as if he was remembering something that had happened a long time ago. He was probably remembering what had happened that day in front of his eyes, but he won’t remember the same thing I do. We had witnessed two different things. I remember, I had protected the priestess, who kept calling out to our dead comrades in a raspy voice as if she were suffering from a fever, and my magic power was almost depleted. I was about to run out of strength to wield my staff when I was joined by the sage and the hero. At their feet lay a lump of flesh that appeared to be a fellow warrior or female knight.
She had forcefully supplemented her magical power with the elixirs that were bad for her body. We fought for a day and a night, forcing a mind-altering potion down the priestess’s throat to heal her mind; it was so powerful it almost made her lose her memory.
The battle was finally over when our voice was hoarse and everything under our feet had turned red, it was as if a mesmerizing magic had unveiled itself. The final slash made by a hero in a desperate lunge towards the chief of the demon tribe became the decisive factor for the battle. We didn’t have the strength to kill the demon beasts and demon tribes that lost their chief and they had also run away, we collapsed on the spot after that.
In the midst of all this, only our priestess was rummaging around for something.
At first I had no idea what she was doing. She placed my brother’s torn head on top of his body and cast a healing spell that didn’t work. The dead do not come back to life. That is the first thing you learn when you study the law of magic. And yet, she repeated the same thing over and over again, saying things like “ah” and “why”.
Each time she cast the spell, the unattached head of my brother slipped off his body.
It was a strange scene, like a small child playing with a doll. After a few more times of the same thing, the priestess came to me with a troubled expression and said, “I think my magic has run out.
Do you have any elixir?” I shook my head.
“….he is already dead.”
“No, he’s not! I just don’t have enough strength. Give me elixir, elixir!”
She tugged at my collar as if she was going to rip it off. Her eyes were dangerous, I couldn’t tell if they were looking at me or something else. I just wanted to get away from her, so I handed her the last elixir I had on me. She downed it in one gulp and went back to her work.
I lay on my back and looked up at the sky so I wouldn’t see her, but I could still hear the sound of the head falling to the ground.
“If we hadn’t met you and the other comrades back then, we wouldn’t be alive.”
“It’s the same for us. What would we have done without you?”
With his eyes downcast, did he pray for the souls of his dead comrades? I don’t know if he is feeling ashamed of the fact that there is an honorable and peaceful present beyond their deaths. At least I couldn’t bear their deaths. That’s why I fled from the royal capital, using my shyness as an excuse. The sage led the reconstruction of the ruined cities and villages with his superior knowledge, the calm hero became the symbol of those who fought undaunted against the demon king. And the priestess continued to heal the people with her shattered heart. I’m not sure if I will be able to keep up with them as they continue to serve the people after the battle.
“….I’d like to change the topic.”
Wanting to change the subject, I asked about him, I was feeling guilty. But from the moment I mentioned the hero, the sage seemed terribly confused. He looked at me a few times with stifled emotions in his eyes, and then opened his mouth.
“The hero is dead.”
“What! It’s a lie! It can’t be true. He is the strongest man in the world, he defeated the Demon King, and I have never heard of him getting sick.”
“It’s not a lie. The hero is definitely dead. I was there when he died. The strongest man in the world who was called a saint and saved the lives of many people. He was killed by the priestess who was his lover.”
“If I knew that, I wouldn’t have come all the way here.”
I was sure that the sage suspected me. It was true that I was the closest to the priestess. If she had committed a crime, it would be inevitable that he would think that I had something to do with it.
“You make it sound as if I know why the hero was killed.”
I glared at the sage with displeasure. He smiled and said, “Yes, that’s what I think,” in the same tone as before, but unlike his mouth, his eyes were glaring at me as if he was itching to stab me. I casually reached for my staff, which had long since fallen into disuse, as if nothing had happened.
“A mage from the west who lives on the frontier doesn’t have such long arms that they will reach all the way to the royal capital.”
“Is that so? The trails were well covered, but something was sent from this frontier to the priestess in the capital every month. Isn’t that your long arm?”
Sage is very thorough when he fights. He takes action after making sure of victory. It makes me want to click my tongue. If he is my ally, I would feel relieved, but if he was my lover or my enemy, I would hate him for being so cynical and secretive. I thought about raising my staff and hitting him with it, but the chances of winning looked bleak.
“If you’re talking about herbs and medicines, that’s just what I was sending for the priestess. If you want to know why the hero was killed in the first place, why don’t you ask her yourself?”
“How good would that be? The priestess who killed the hero is on the run, dodging all her pursuers. There is nowhere she can hide, no one would give her shelter. If there is an exception, it would be her former comrade.”
“You think it’s me?”
“Yes. Only the mage would think of her as one of her own.”
I wonder if the priestess even thinks of me as one of her own.
She lost her comrades. I comforted her with my own twisted sentimentality, and she recognized me as one of her own. Does the sage really believe such a sweet thing? If he believed it and then came to me, he has been fooled. If the priestess had killed the hero, why didn’t she kill the sage who was there?
Shouldn’t there be a reason for that?
“sage. Since it’s you, this place must already be surrounded by your own people, isn’t it?”
“Yes, mage. No matter how good your magic is, you will not be able to break through this siege. Now tell me where the priestess is.”
“Who knows where she is.”
The sage took a step forward at my dumbfounded words, “Where is she?” I thought it was a ridiculous question, but as a last good deed, I pointed one finger straight down.
“It’s here. Here. I’m sure I’m the one the priestess wants to kill the most.”
“What do you mean by that? You are both closest comrades.”
It was at the same time that the sage spoke, there was a sticky popping sound as if mud had been sprinkled around the cottage. It was repeated not once, but two times, three times, four times, and the same number of screams reached my ears. When the last sound stopped, a strange silence enveloped us.
If life is noise, then death is silence. I was going to accept the silence. But the sage was different. He jumped out of the cottage, his face twisted in fear, and then he burst into flames. The flames were created by the magic power which uprooted the trees and plants around the cottage and reduced everything into ashes.
Smoke smoldered the blackened ground. She was standing on the other side of it. At her feet lay a number of what had been people in matching armor. They were probably the kingdom’s soldiers that the sage had hidden to capture me. But the priestess didn’t even seem to care about her own feet.
She had a soft smile that seemed to forgive all sins and illuminate them with mercy, a gentle voice that carried purity accompanied that soft smile. The priestess looked at us as if she couldn’t see the sage standing there.
“Lisa. I see you are here.”
“Priestess…. No Mira. I was always here.”
The priestess gives a small nod to my call and begins to slowly make her way through the pitch black earth. The sage looked at her as if he had met the devil himself.
“Why, why did you kill the hero! We have sacrificed so much to finally attain our current glory.”
“Hero? I killed the hero? It can’t be true, can it? I love the hero. I love him so much that I would die for him.”
Mira looked at the sage in disbelief, wondering why he would say such a silly thing.
“Don’t lie to me. I watched you. I saw you kill Hero Eustis. Because of your excessive recovery magic, a series of mouths and eyes formed on the flesh of his face. It was to the point where it was hard to believe he was once a human.”
Recovering magic. The process of recreating lost flesh and bone. But what happens if it becomes too much? It’s simple. Too much flesh and bone will break through the skin and create new wounds, and then more flesh, bone, and organs will be created to heal them. Too much of a good thing is a bad thing, and too much recovery magic can kill.
“Eustis the Hero? That’s your hero?
“……What are you talking about? The only hero we have is Eustis. You were there right? You defeated the demon king and saved the world with us.”
The sage, with a strained expression, nodded several times as if to ask me to agree, but I denied it by simply shaking my head from side to side. It is true that there is only one hero who saved the world. Eustis the Brave. He was an excellent swordsman and his magic was far superior to that of ordinary wizards. I’ve never seen any other person who fit the word ‘all-rounder’ so well.
“Lisa. I can’t find the hero. I’ve been looking for him for a long time. You know him, don’t you?”
As she crossed him, the sage could not do anything. He could only look away in dismay.
“Mira. You are still calling me a comrade.”
“What are you talking about? Hero. Lisa. The dead swordsman. And me. We’re the only four comrades you have.”
I was convinced by Mira’s words. But the sage must have been unconvinced. He glared at the priestess with a flushed face and said, “Why am I not one of you? Do you know how much I have contributed to the defeat of the Demon King by giving you strategies?” But that was a big mistake. Mira’s eyes did not include the sage and the hero from the beginning. No, I don’t know if there was anyone else either.
Doesn’t Mira feel any emotion towards the angry sage? She smiles softly, as a mother would towards a child having a tantrum.
“You have worked hard. God is always watching what you do. Please continue to do your duty as a person who has the goal of saving the world for the people.”
The words could not have been more out of place. The sage, who was treated like a child, shook his shoulders, grasped his staff and unleashed a powerful fire magic on the priestess. Mira made no pretense of avoiding it. The intense heat wave and light robbed her of her vision. The distinctive smell of burning flesh hit my nose. She was barely standing in front of the sage, half of her body was charred to black.
“How’s that? This is the revenge for killing the hero. You might be a priestess, but you’re just a priestess from the frontier. You can’t beat me who dedicated countless hours studying in the royal capital and finally became a strategist!”
Mira’s skin, which was originally pure white and snowy, was burnt, and blood and red flesh was visible between the charred black body of hers. There were only a few places where her original snowy skin still remained intact. She was laughing despite her painful state. It was not a mocking laugh aimed at the sage who had attacked her, nor was it a contemptuous laugh at me who couldn’t save her own companions.
“Lisa. Don’t worry. I can heal this thing easily if I want.”
Before Mira finished her words, the wounds on her body were already being erased as if time itself was being rewinded. She healed her thighs, where skin and flesh had burned to the point her bones could be seen, and her hands, where five long, thin fingers had been scorched to the point of appearing as a single lump. It was as if it had all been an illusion.
It should have been just recovery magic, but it felt like an illusion because it was so fast. If an ordinary priest wanted to heal such an injury, it would normally take three days and three nights. But in Mira’s case, it was over in an instant. It was as if a miracle had taken place. Or like it was the work of the devil.
“I. I have become pretty good right? That’s why I have to help the hero as soon as possible.”
Help. How much better would it be if you could do that?
While I was thinking of a way to respond to Mira, the sage stood in front of her and looked at her as if he was looking at a monster.
“You… What the hell are you…? How can you talk about wanting to save the hero while killing the hero, Eustis?”
“Sage, please don’t interrupt me. I have to find and save the hero. I don’t have time to worry about you.”
The sage responded to the smile, which directed neither no hostility nor favoritism, only kindness, by swinging the staff he was holding. The staff shattered Mira’s left shoulder. However, she stretched her right hand and touched the sage’s head. With a troubled look on her face, Mira said, “You’re confused, sage. I’ll heal you right away,” and then smiled bitterly.
In the next moment, the sage’s head popped off and he fell limp on his back with his empty skull facing us. His eyes were open wide in shock as if to express his confusion over what had just happened, and he wept tears of blood as if he was blaming me.
“Mira. When was the last time you took the medicine I was sending you?
As the sage had found out, I had been sending Mira medicine for a long time. But it was never out of concern for her health. On the contrary, it was for my own sake.
“I wonder when. I’ve been busy lately and haven’t taken it. But that’s not the point. I have to save the hero.”
“Mira. Listen to me carefully. My brother has been dead for over a year now.”
When I opened my mouth, Mira looked at me as if she had no idea what I was talking about. But my brother, whom she loved and adored as a hero, died in battle against the demons. Many young men and women dreamed of becoming heroes and fought to save their country from the demons. Most of them, like my brother, were not strong enough to be called heroes, and many of them died. Among those who died, the one who survived and was called the hero was the hero who defeated the Demon King, Eustis. But behind his glory, there were countless others who could not become a hero.
“It can’t be. The hero defeated the Demon King with us….”
She denied the truth in front of her and placed a hand on her cheek.
“If you have defeated the Demon King, why do you think you have to help my brother?”
“That’s because the hero was killed… by a demon. Why?”
The battle between the demons and humans, known as the Battle of the Parmesan Plains, was fierce. It seemed that there was absolutely no way for me and the priestess to survive after losing my brother and the swordsman. And even more so if there was a priestess who could do nothing but grieve over the death of my brother.
I didn’t want to die.
Even if my brother died. Even if the swordsman who was protecting me died. I wanted to survive no matter what happened to my friend who loved and grieved for my brother. My inexplicable selfishness took a clearer form when I met a sage and a hero who had lost half of their companions, just like us.
They, too, had lost a warrior and a female knight, and were quickly falling into disadvantage. Thinking that I might be able to survive if I could use them to survive. And with a twisted sense of superiority of having not fallen into the abyss of despair, I used Mira, who was grieving, and cast a spell on her. It was a very classic, terribly outrageous, and treacherous method.
Mira had lost the hero she had believed in and loved, and it had left a hole in her heart. So I filled the hole. I loosened her spirit with an uplifting chiropractic potion and manipulated her to think of Eustis, who was also called a hero, as my brother and the hero she loved. In her eyes, Eustis must have looked like my brother. I managed to get Mira to fight, and I was able to survive the battle.
The only thing I didn’t like was how many times she tried to heal ‘my brother’ after a fight.
Her mind must have gone crazy after that. She probably couldn’t stand the juxtaposition of her mind, who could see the hero alive, and her memory, who couldn’t save the hero. But we, who had made a name for ourselves at the Battle of Parmesan, still had to fight. So I continued to drown her in drugs and illusions that were the source of her mind-altering potion.
I never let her come to her senses. I had to make her believe that my brother was still alive.
After defeating the Demon King, Eustis the Brave thought he was in love with the priestess and confessed his love to her. Mira was happy to accept his love. It was only natural, since she couldn’t see Eustis. However, Eustis and my brother had different personalities and behaved differently. The more time they spent together, the more the difference between Eustis and my brother became obvious which made her feel uncomfortable. At first I tried to overcome this by strengthening her medication, but it was impossible.
I left the royal capital, realizing that there was a definite end coming. I kept sending the medicine, hoping that it would slow down the end a little, but now I doubt it had much meaning.
“Did my brother’s neck break?”
“The hero’s neck…. His neck. I have to heal it quickly.”
She looked around in panic, but there was nothing here. But I can see why she overhealed Hero Eustis. Eustis’ head was not severed. But the hero in Mira’s eyes had a severed head. She healed what was not broken. Needless to say, the results were obvious.
“Mira. That’s because your magical power is exhausted.”
“Yes. That’s right. Then, I have to take an elixir quickly.”
Mira rushed to me as if she was on the battlefield a year ago. The expression is definitely that of a woman who is worried about my brother. No one loves my brother as much as she does. Even I, his real relative, don’t love him so much. That’s what I think.
Ah, it’s heavy. I hate it.
“Okay, Mira, here’s the elixir. It doesn’t taste good, so you have to drink it all at once.”
I took out the vial that I had left in the cottage and handed it to her. Mira sipped the vial in her hand without a second glance. She frowned and drank it all down while muttering, “I have to help.” I watched her gulp down the vial, I forgot to even breathe until she finally collapsed and stopped moving completely.
Then, when I was sure she was dead, I took a long breath.
I exhaled and felt relieved that I was still alive. And I was glad that the heroes were dead. There is nothing good about being a hero in the first place. It should all end with the end of the heroic tale. I left the cottage, leaving the bodies of the sage and the priestess untouched, and then lit a fire.
The simple wooden walls and roof of the cottage quickly went up in flames.
It is the light that celebrates my new beginning. All of my friends are dead, and no one knows me. All I have to do is go somewhere far away from here. Where shall I go? It is funny. It is hilarious to be able to be so free.
If anyone saw me now, they would probably call me a witch.
I don’t mind that. It felt so good. Even if I was not forgiven, I’m sure I won’t be punished anymore.
* * * This translation was hosted by Nocturne Translation * * *