“Work hard. I will cheer for you,” Zich said and lifted his drink.
“Um…” Lyla hesitantly responded like she wanted to request something. Without her saying it aloud, Zich could easily tell what she wanted to ask.
“You want us to look for ruins from now on?” he asked.
Lyla nodded. The ruin that seemed like it belonged to the Ancient Empire probably had some connections to Lyla; thus, other ruins could also contain something that could hint at Lyla’s identity and help her recall her memories.
‘I guess she thinks she’s completely in our group now.’
Right after she joined the group, she would have immediately gone to explore the ruin by herself.
‘Well, she probably needs some help too.’
If a monster like today were in another ruin, it would be difficult for Lyla to manage it by herself.
“That’s fine.” Without thinking too much about it, Zich nodded. Since he didn’t have many businesses to attend to, it wasn’t difficult to add ruin exploration to their schedule.
Lyla felt relieved and she smiled at Zich. “Thank you.”
At that moment, Zich realized that her smile was truly not of this world.
The next day, they departed the ruins. The waterfall poured refreshingly like usual, and the blue sky greeted them back.
“Do you have a destination in mind, sir?” Hans asked.
Zich met Lyla’s eyes and said, “We are going to Violuwin.”
It was the city where they had found Windur and Estellade—and if nobody had taken it, where Tornium still existed. Previously, they had gone to the city to look for Tornium, but this time, their target was the ruin itself.
* * *
Violuwin recovered from most of the damage, and the tourists that they had lost to the monster invasion began to increase again. The plan to spread stories of the city’s heroes successfully brought in more tourists. The city square was now called the Hero’s Square. There, four statues were set up in one place. With their fine details, the statues looked like they would come to life.
A strong set of ropes supported the statues from the bottom and pushed them up. While shouting in unison, laborers gradually pulled the statues up. Spectators in the surroundings whistled and shouted.
Bam! The first statue stood upright. People clapped and cheered happily. To see the appearance of the hero who saved the city, people fought to gather in front of the statue. Yet at the end of the square, there was a figure standing under a building with a different mood. The man was glaring at the process of the statues’ completion with very spiteful eyes.
“You were here, Zenard.” A woman approached him. She was a beauty with her red hair tied tightly back. However, the sword hanging from her shoulder to her waist indicated that she wasn’t just beautiful.
“Hm? What are you looking at?” She turned around to see what Glen was looking at. “Are they the heroes who saved this city?”
Hero—when Glen heard that word, the corner of his lips twitched. However, the lady didn’t seem to notice Glen’s feelings and continued, “They got such ridiculous nicknames, but I guess it’s understandable since they saved their homes.” Her tone made it seem like she didn’t admire the heroes, and she spoke as if it was a common thing that all victims looked up to their saviors as heroes.
“What were their nicknames again? They were…” She shuffled through her mind and pointed. “Ah, they were Earth Hero, Magic Hero, Strength Hero, and…” She spat out the last nickname, “The Sun Hero.”
Crunch! She heard Glen gnashing his teeth and glanced at him in surprise.
“What? What’s wrong?”
“No,” Glen spat. As if it had never happened, Glen’s face was peaceful and soft.
“I’m just angry that I couldn’t be here at that time. Then I would’ve been able to save one more innocent life.”
“That’s not true, Zenard.” The lady shook her head. “I know that you are just and noble, but you can’t do everything by yourself. Even a noble‘s ideal can be poisonous if it’s too grand.”
“…That’s true. You are right, Browning. I can’t keep tormenting myself over something I can’t control.” Glen made a slight smile. With his clearly sculpted features and handsome face, it almost seemed like his face was shining. The lady named Browning blushed a bit and turned her head.
“Hm! Hm! I am glad you understood. Are you going to continue to watch?”
“No, let’s go back to our lodging. We have a business to attend to tomorrow.”
“Are you planning to go to that ruin?”
“Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve had a break, so I plan to cool my head while touring famous sites.”
“Good choice. A break for a knight is important.”
As the two conversed, they walked away from the square. Glen glanced back, and his eyes landed on the statue of the ‘Sun Hero’ that began to be stationed upright. Deep bloodlust lingered around his eyes for a moment, but Glen quickly masked his expression and turned his head back again to talk to Browning.
* * *
When Zich and his companions went back to Violuwin, the city was full of vitality again. Since Zich’s companions knew what the city was like when the monsters stormed in, they were a bit surprised. But Zich was used to this. Even in the Era of Demon People where Demon People caused chaos everywhere, many humans persevered and went on with their lives. On the other hand, there was another matter that Zich was surprised about.
It was dark in the night when they first arrived at Violuwin. Everyone showed different expressions as they gathered in the lodging. Hans and Snoc looked overjoyed. Hans stroked Estellade for no reason, and Snoc picked up Nowem and began talking about random topics. Leona, who had followed them to explore other ruins, also looked at Zich and his companions with awe and admiration.
Lyla’s expression looked a bit complicated—her mouth quivered as if she was going to burst out laughing at any moment. Even though Lyla had been feeling down recently, she looked cheerful for the first time in a while. At the same time, she also looked embarrassed.
And the long-awaited Zich—
Although he was usually calm and rarely made any negative expressions, his face was crumpled up to the extreme. This was a very surprising occurrence since he didn’t make a face like that even when he lost to Glen Zenard.
Leona asked, “So according to the rumors, you guys are the heroes of this city?”
“Well, it is…”
Even though Hans wanted to brag about it, he couldn’t because of Zich’s expression. However, Hans’ answer was enough for Leona.
“You are the Sun Hero,” Leona said as she stared at Hans. Even though Hans was embarrassed, he couldn’t hide his proud expression.
“You are the Earth Hero.”
Snoc rubbed Nowem, and Nowem cried out “Koo!” as affirmation.
“You are the Magic Hero.”
Trying her hardest to control her expression, Lyla turned her head. Her face turned bright red in embarrassment. After saying each of their nicknames out loud, Leona finally turned to Zich. He glared at Leona for her to stop talking, but Leona, who was excited about their story as heroes, could not be stopped. Like Hans and Snoc, she romanticized heroes, but unlike them, she didn’t pay attention to Zich’s expressions.
“And you are the Strength Hero.”
“Pwff! Haaaaah!” Lyla could no longer contain her laughter.
She grabbed the table in front of her and put her head down. Her shoulders heaved up and down, and the sound of laughter seeped out of her mouth. But there was a limit to suppressing her laughter; her resistance had crumbled.
“Hahahahah! Aha! Ahahahahahhah!”
Her body moved more violently than before. Her waist was bent like a shrimp’s back, and she laughed out loud like crazy; it almost seemed as if she was going to fall off her chair. However, she still did not stop laughing. No, she could not stop.
“The great, amazing Zich! Is a hero! A Strength Hero! Ahahahhahahah!” Lyla could not stop laughing because she knew about Zich’s future and how much he hated the word ‘hero’.
“Tch!” Zich clicked his tongue. At his reaction, Lyla laughed even harder. After laughing for a while, Lyla stopped laughing; she had laughed so much that her face was bright red.
“Why are you making such a long face? You were even given such an honorable title as hero.”
Zich did not say anything. The situation was completely flipped from usual; Zich was the one who usually teased Lyla and made her mad.
“I’m shocked. Do you hate being called a hero that much?”
“More than you can believe.” It was unbelievable that people dared to call Zich, who used to be a Demon Lord, a title such as hero.
Zich’s whole body shook from the disgust he felt. “Ungrateful bastards. I saved their lives and they call me by such a disgusting name?”
“What do you mean by a disgusting name? Other people can’t get that title no matter how hard they try.”
“Yeah, and those people are out of their minds.”
Zich seemed to have received quite a shock; it was rare for him to deny something so passionately. Lyla tried to repress another burst of laughter coming out of her mouth. Despite everything, Zich had done a lot for her.
“As you said, it was a good idea for us to come quietly into the city. If people found us, there would have been a loud commotion.”
Zich and his companions had secretly snuck into the city to avoid getting recognized. They had jumped over the city’s walls and reserved their lodging through Leona. They did this just to be safe, but it turned out to have been a very convenient move. If people had recognized them, it would have not just ended with a small disturbance but a very loud commotion.
As she looked at Hans and Snoc, Lyla said, “You guys must feel a bit regretful.”
Lyla also did not really like being called a hero. To be more precise, she felt more positive than negative emotions about it, but she thought it was more bothersome than what it was worth. However, Hans and Snoc were different—they had always admired heroes.
Hans replied, “Miss, it’s all right. I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. I’m just happy that a lot of people viewed my actions in a positive light.”
“I feel a bit regretful actually, but I don’t want to create a situation where the two of you would be uncomfortable.”
“You guys are so kind.” Lyla turned around to Zich. “How could such nice guys be under a guy like that?”
“It’s all thanks to my teaching.” Zich felt a certain amount of pride in teaching Hans and Snoc, so he straightened his chest. However, Lyla whispered ‘hero’, and he scrunched his face again.
“…If I become a disciple under Zich, could I also be called a hero?”
“…Damn it! Because of you, she’s getting weird thoughts!” Zich complained while looking at Leona’s sparkling eyes, and Lyla burst into laughter once again.Previous Chapter Next Chapter