Retrograde Hero～The Unskilled Boy Protects His Childhood Friend, The Female Hero, This Time～ - Chapter 0
Humanity was on the brink of extinction. Half of the world was already under the rule of the ‘Demons’ that crossed over from another world. In this world, there was also a girl chosen as ‘Hero’. She drove the demons away and saved the lives of the people.
She was the ‘Hero’, a special being chosen by God himself. It was said that she was born with an immense well of power along with a spirit strong enough to wield it. She was the absolute symbol of hope.
What a load of crap.
She was just an ordinary girl. An everyday ordinary girl who just happened to be chosen by God and was granted special power at birth. Sure, she was determined to use her power in fighting against those terrifying demons.
However, she wasn’t the perfect all-powerful superhuman that everyone thinks she is. It must have been difficult, battling for the fate of mankind while shouldering all those expectations.
Those were my thoughts when I found out about her fate later. I finally realized how much she must have cried and suffered, how scared she must have been and how hard she must have fought while clenched her teeth, in a faraway place that couldn’t be seen by these innocent people.
The Hero was the hope of mankind. Never allowed to show any type of weaknesses.
Always expected to succeed and never gives up. Not allowed to shed tears even when their comrades died. Because otherwise, people would feel unsafe. That’s too much weight for just one person to bear!
Even so, she pushed forward and continued to fight. She won against the large ‘Demon King’s Army’ and was able to slay the ‘Four Demon Lords’.
However, the Hero━━ was defeated and killed by the Demon King in the final battle.
At that point, she had lost all of her comrades in the previous battles, and she had sustained serious injuries. But she still recklessly challenged the Demon King into battle, determined to take him down even if it meant dying. I was shocked when I heard the news in my hometown far away.
I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t want to believe it. So I left my hometown and set out on a journey to find proof that she was still alive somewhere.
However, the things that I saw during my journey convinced me of her death. The once suppressed Demon King’s Army has been revived and is now wreaking havoc in towns and villages. I also learned the other side of the Hero’s journey that wasn’t mentioned in the newspapers.
A great number of people died in battles.
The fact that even the holy warriors, the Hero’s companions, died one by one in each battle against the Four Demon Lords.
I was disoriented.
I felt as if the entire world was being turned upside down.
I was nauseous.
I thought of the unimaginable suffering that she must have been going through while I was peacefully training in my hometown.
I was full of regret.
That day, when her fate was forever changed, I wondered why I hadn’t pushed myself to follow her rather than stay in my hometown.
We were childhood friends and grew up in the same village in the countryside.
It was a peaceful, but boring village.
Because it was a small village and there were very few people, we were the only two kids our age. And we played together all the time.
When we were little, we both admired the heroes mentioned in the songs sung by the minstrels who stopped by our village. We promised each other that one day we would leave the village and become adventurers together. We even did some training for it. Even then, she was ridiculously strong. Now that I think about it, that might have been a glimpse of the power of a Hero.
I would get angry and frustrated for always losing against her. And she was proud of winning. So I would train harder, challenge her, and get beaten by her again and again. But somehow, we bonded through it. I thought that one day we would grow stronger through our repeated training and become adventurers together.
But our days of training were suddenly interrupted.
When we were ten years old, our village was attacked by demons. They were probably strays separated from the main demon army on the battlefield. Now that I think about it, they were pretty small fry among the demons. But still, demons are demons.
The soldiers were busy battling real monsters on the battlefield. Even though these demons were only small fry demons, there was no way the villagers could defeat such a thing even when they were armed. And the village was destroyed… without any help.
At that time, she fought back against the demons. Unlike me, who was pathetic and petrified. She somehow summoned up the courage to face the demons in order to save her family and friends.
She pulled out a Namakura1, and swung. Even though the sword was still too big for a child’s body. It was a reckless fight.
A normal kid would have died for sure.
In fact, I’m confident that if I had fought instead of her, I would have died in less than a second.
But that girl won.
I’ll never forget that moment.
Was it because she confronted the demons who are the enemy of mankind, or was it because her survival instincts exploded when her life was in danger?
Or maybe it was because she was brave and determined to save people’s lives.
At the last minute, she awakened the power of the Hero that had been lying dormant inside of her and cut down the demons with her blazing sword.
It was incredible.
She was so cool.
I was so proud of her as my childhood friend and training partner. I was so relieved and thankful that not even jealousy could not cloud my eyes. I believed no demon could defeat her. She was the bright light of hope for mankind.
I realize what a mistake that was now.
A few days later, a man from the city visited our village. It seems that he sensed the birth of the Hero by some vision from the Gods and came to welcome her who had awakened. I’ve always regretted the words I said to her at that time.
“Go ahead. I’ll make sure to keep the place safe for you to come back!”
It was meant to be a pep talk.
But, I was ready.
I knew that if something happened to the village again, I would be strong enough to protect it this time.
I was determined to protect the place where she could come back.
But that’s not the case anymore.
Instead, the words I should have said at that time…
“…All right. I’ll leave the village to you! So leave the Demon King to me!”
That’s what she told me.
If I looked closer, I would have realized that she was just trying to be tough.
And yet, because of the power of the Hero and the sense of security that I felt at that moment, I couldn’t see it.
But I should have seen it.
I’m sure I saw the way her knees trembled when she stood up to the demons.
The overwhelming strength that I saw afterward masked the weakness that she had shown and it slipped from my stupid mind.
Then she set out as the Hero.
I remained in my hometown and continued training to keep my promise. Occasionally I would go to the city to follow her journey in the newspaper.
She saved a country, defeated a huge army of demons, and defeated the Four Demon Lords.
When I saw an article like that, I would think to myself, ” That’s my rival!”. I wanted to die in shame.
When I saw that the last of the Four Demon Lords had been defeated and only the Demon King remained, I was looking forward to seeing her again.
Then I saw the article about her death. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
And so, I set out on a journey and followed her path. I was devastated when I realized how much she had endured. Regret gnawed at my heart and I cried out in rage at my own foolishness.
Finally, ━━I felt a wave of inexplicable anger and hatred towards the Demon King.
Those dark emotions help me move forward.
I vowed to avenge her even if it cost the rest of my life. I trained day and night. I strived to become stronger than anyone else and defeat the Demon King. I trained like hell, pushing beyond my limits. Unlike the way that I had trained back in my hometown.
But it was no use. I didn’t have any special skills. Even if I worked ten times harder than those people with special skills, I couldn’t catch up to them. Even after reaching my strongest limit, I couldn’t come close to those special beings like heroes and holy warriors.
So I changed my strategy. Instead of trying to be the strongest, I tried to find ways to kill the strong even while I’m still weak.
I trained like hell; challenging labyrinths, endlessly fighting against demons and monsters, challenging opponents stronger than myself. I honed my skills in killing the strong.
How many years has it been since I had existed like this?
Ten years? Twenty?
I don’t count anymore. I don’t remember.
Even after all these years of training myself, I still couldn’t imagine myself defeating the Demon King.
However, my body would start deteriorating if I took any longer. So I attacked the Demons King’s Castle intending to take the Demon King with me even if I died.
“Damn it! I finally defeated the hero! Yet against a small fish like you who doesn’t even have a common blessing, in a place like this….”
At the end of the deadly battle, the Demon King collapsed spitting curses.
The Demon King was now dead.
“I… I won…”
I guess I was lucky.
Rather, 90% of this was thanks to her.
The cut made by the power of the holy sword in the last battle with her still hadn’t completely healed. Both of his arms were missing. Instead, he was forcing himself to use the arms of some demons. Both of his eyes had been knocked out of their sockets and he also had a gaping hole in his stomach. He couldn’t even cast a spell because of the intense burning pain from his wounds. This was the damage she inflicted, in exchange for her life.
The Demon King’s army itself would have been considerably weakened by losing so many demons including the Four Demon Lords, which means that she was really a hero.
But I’m not completely fine either.
Despite his wounds, the Demon King managed to inflict some serious injuries.
One of my arms had been torn off. One of my legs was bent at an odd angle. A deep claw was piercing my chest and half of my face had been gouged out. These were serious enough injuries to die from. Or maybe, it would have been a different story if the world’s best healer was here.
All of my strength had been used up and I collapsed on the floor of the Demon King’s castle, which had been destroyed in the aftermath of the deadly battle.
Maybe she died here, too.
I got my revenge, and I can die in the same place as her.
It’s what I wanted.
My desire though…
“…It’s in vain.”
I couldn’t help but utter those words.
Even if I got my revenge, she would not come back.
I’ve only been chasing after revenge.
Now that I’ve got it, there’s nothing left for me to do.
“If you had lived… if I could have protected you… we could have had a happy ending…”
I died, with a heart filled with such wishful thoughts.
“Well done for defeating the Demon King.”
I heard a very beautiful voice.
It was a woman’s voice.
“I didn’t think that you, an incompetent person who doesn’t even have the common blessings, would be able to defeat the Demon King. Even the Hero couldn’t do it.”
My mind became hazy.
While feeling as if I was about to fall asleep, I listened to the beautiful woman’s voice.
“You are the savior of this world, you have defeated the Demon King and saved the world. As a thank you, I’ll grant you one wish. If you have defeated the Demon King without receiving my blessing of protection, you are eligible to receive a divine miracle as a replacement blessing. But only within the limits of my power and restrictions.”
Can she make my wish come true…?
If so, I want to see her again.
I want to protect her this time.
I want to stay next to her and support her this time.
“I understand. Then let’s send your soul to the past. You can start over there and branch the world lines as you wish… I hope your wishes come true.”
The woman’s words were drowned out by my hazy consciousness, the words faded away from my memory.
But I felt that she had said something that made me very happy.
The next moment, a gentle warmth enveloped me, and I fell asleep feeling as safe as a child sleeping in the arms of a parent.
“Oiiー. Are you alive?”
When I woke up, I felt something poking my head and heard a familiar voice above me.
It was an annoying voice, but a voice I loved very much.
It was the voice of a childhood friend that I had lost a long time ago.
The voice of the girl I thought was my best friend.
The moment I realized this, I got up immediately.
Apparently, I was lying on the ground in the grass.
And I bumped my forehead with the girl who was leaning down to look at me.
“Ouch!”, we both exclaimed at the same time.
I stared at her, holding back the intense pain I felt in my forehead. I felt as if I was hit by a rock.
It was a blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl with an incredibly pretty face.
A very familiar face.
It was the face of someone I used to see every day.
It was the face of the childhood friend that I will never forget, no matter how many decades passed, it’ll forever be etched in my memory.
“It hurts! Don’t hit me with a headbutt in your sleep! You’re a bad sleeper!”
Ah, and the way you scold me is just like old times.
Was it really… you?
“What is it? Why are you suddenly calling my name…?”
When reality sets in, I was hugging her.
It was Stella.
I’m pretty sure it was Stella.
Stella, the ‘Hero’.
The great Hero, who died a horrible death to save the world.
My precious childhood friend that I lost.
I’m very happy.
It’s so good to see her again!
“W-w-w-w-what are you doing!? T-this kind of thing can be done when you’re more mature. …I mean, what’s with you all of a sudden?!”
I hugged Stella as hard as I could.
It’s fine, she’s strong.
She’s the future ‘Hero’.
I’m sure she could handle it even if I hugged her with crushing force.
“Hey, seriously, what’s wrong with you?! Did you hit your head and go crazy?”
“I… hit my head…?”
Speaking of which, I seem to have a bit of a headache.
Ah, no, I’m starting to remember.
A minstrel stopped by the village today.
He sang a song for us.
The song was about a heroic adventurer who conquered the Great Labyrinth by slaying vicious demons.
That got us both excited…
“I’ve decided! I’m going to be an adventurer one day!”
“I’m going to be one too! Then I’ll train to be even stronger!”
After a conversation like that, she started hitting me with a tree branch.
I was so surprised by her unexpected strength that I got a good hit and passed out.
So…, was that all a dream?
After Stella became the Hero and was killed by the Demon King, I set out to avenge her. Then died with regrets.
Was that a dream?
“…You might be right. I’ve been having some really scary dreams because you hit my head.”
“What? A dream? Is that why you’re hugging me?”
“…Hee~! You were so scared that you hugged me~! Alan-kun is so scared that he is quivering~!”
Damn, she’s so annoying!
She’s trying to tease me.
But I won’t leave her.
If I let go, I’m afraid I’ll lose her all over again.
“Wait. Are you really okay? I can’t believe you’re shaking like this and didn’t argue back… What the hell did you dream about?”
“I dreamt that you became the Hero and died. It was very realistic.”
“What the hell is that?! I don’t get it!”
I know, right? It doesn’t make sense to me either. But I couldn’t believe that it was just a dream. For some reason, I had a terrible conviction that it would turn out to be real.
“If that happens, I will definitely protect you. I promise. Absolutely.”
As I hugged Stella tightly, I made up my mind that I will fulfill my wishes that I couldn’t fulfill in my dreams.
No matter what happens in the future, I’m determined to protect this idiot until the very end.
T/N: Thank you for reading. It was a long chapter but finally done. The story got me interested, because the setting is more likely in Taishō era (just my guess). That’s why I hope someone pick this up!
Thanks for @Quinny making this more beautiful. 😘😘
Please anyone, pick this up, or if anyone want to pick this lmk 🤗😉Thank you and have a nice day! 💙🍦