To Hell With Being a Hero!

로유진 - Ro Yu-jin

Chapter 36: Let's Go!

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Chapter 36: Let’s Go!

Eshnunna was stunned. Before she realized it, Chi-Woo had suddenly appeared before her and was reaching out to her. However, she soon regained her composure and placed her hand on the floor, groaning. Instead of taking Chi-Woo’s hand, she pushed herself up. Chi-Woo pulled his hand back awkwardly, while Eshnunna looked away from Chi-Woo and gulped.

“W-when did you…?”

“I heard a scream. When I came, I saw you floundering amid the commotion…”

“Ah.” A wave of relief pa.s.sed through her; he hadn’t heard her conversation with Yohan. “I showed you something unpleasant. How embarra.s.sing.”

“Were you in trouble?”

“No. I wasn’t,” Eshnunna instantly replied and put on a faint smile. “It’s nothing serious…Must have been a nightmare.”

‘Oh. Is she planning to feign ignorance?’ Chi-Woo carefully observed Eshnunna; she looked like she would collapse at any moment. On another note, he supposed it would be weirder if she immediately clutched onto his hand and cried out, ‘Oh my, yes! Please help me!’

‘It doesn’t seem like she is possessed. Was she bewitched?’ He didn’t know exactly, but it was something to dive deeper into. Eshnunna’s usually neat hair was in a wild mess, and she appeared to be extremely nervous.

“I apologize for causing you concern with something so trivial. I know you have other matters to worry about,” Eshnunna said while smoothing her wrinkled clothes. It seemed she was trying to change the subject of the conversation. Before that could happen, though, Chi-Woo scanned the room, and something caught his eye.

“You didn’t finish it.”

“But please don’t worry so…sorry?”

“That.” Chi-Woo pointed at the corner of the desk. There was a small, unopened package lying on top; it was the strawberry cream cracker that Chi-Woo had given her. “I gave it to you because I thought you would like it.”

“Ah, that.”

“Why didn’t you eat it?”

“It was just too tasty, so…"

“Is it because it’s a present from a hero you can’t trust?”

“I was saving it—" Eshnunna started awkwardly and froze. She was usually skilled in acting, but after reaching the peak of mental instability, it seemed she couldn’t hide any of her emotions.

“W-Well…” She opened her eyes widely and stammered. It was clear that she was greatly taken aback. “What…”

“I’m going to repeat myself,” Chi-Woo said more forcefully, “I want to help you, Lady Eshnunna.”

Rather than rea.s.suring her, that only filled Eshnunna’s heart with nervousness again.

“But I can’t help you in this state.” Chi-Woo whirled around. “In order to help you, I have to at least know what you, Lady Salem Eshnunna, has done to this point, as well as the where, when, and why of it.” Chi-Woo’s sharp voice pierced through the silent room. “Only after you tell me what’s going on, can I let you know how I can help you.”

Chi-Woo sat down at the desk and looked over his shoulder at Eshnunna. Then he crossed his arms and lifted his chin. “So, let’s talk.”

Chi-Woo knew, of course, that someone who had tricked and sold heroes off like Eshnunna would be no pushover. Rather than approaching her carelessly, he concluded that it would be better to confront her authoritatively from the beginning. Thus, he acted tough like he already knew everything and wouldn’t let her off the hook. It helped that Chi-Woo was certain of her actions, as the message from the World’s Milestone had proven to him. Nevertheless, he couldn’t show her that message as evidence. Thus he bluffed. Now he simply had to wait and see how Eshnunna would react.

“…Hey!” Chi-Woo glanced at the slightly ajar door and raised his voice. “If there’s anyone outside, come on in and give me a cigarette or something.”

No one replied, but Chi-Woo remained at ease; he waited for a moment and turned back to Eshnunna, meeting her gaze of disbelief. It was then that they heard footsteps, and a figure came into the room. It was a village person, and he was holding an old long sword with both hands. Eshnunna frowned.

“You…!”

“Sorry, but this guy…” The middle-aged village man looked extremely nervous as he placed the long sword against Chi-Woo’s neck. All sorts of thoughts pa.s.sed through Chi-Woo’s head.

‘W-What? There really was someone there?’ Chi-Woo was shocked. He had planned to follow up the question with, ‘Hey, I thought you placed surveillance on me. I guess everyone is asleep at this time.’ Thus, he was seriously surprised that someone had been behind the door the entire time. Of course, he expected Eshnunna to have someone follow him like Zelit and Hawa had suggested, but he didn’t think the person would actually come out when he called out for them. ‘Why are they so responsive to what I said…? No, I have to remain calm.’

While he was surprised by the turn of events, Chi-Woo worked hard to maintain his composure. If he showed fear, he would be pa.s.sing the upper hand to them, and everything would fall apart. Thus, Chi-Woo made a carefree smile like he had predicted all this and said, “Well, can’t you let me have one last smoke before I go? Hmm?”

Of course, Chi-Woo’s words didn’t make the middle-aged man take out a cigarette and light it up for him. Instead, the man pushed the long sword closer to his neck and growled, “Shut up.”

The blade touching Chi-Woo’s skin felt cold. It shook and seemed ready to slice into his neck at any moment, which sent shudders down his body.

“I didn’t know I was found out. I apologize, Your Highness, but we have to kill him now.”

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“…”

“I meant what I said,” Chi-Woo said without a change in his expression. “If you take one step further from where you are, you really won’t be able to turn back. Ms. Eshnunna, you must know it the best.” Chi-Woo noticed Eshnunna clenching her fist. “But now?”

“…”

“You can still turn back.” While talking, Chi-Woo felt the blade on his throat move slightly away from him. The man holding the sword seemed to have done that without realizing it, but he wasn’t the important one here.

“It’s still not too late.” If Eshnunna recognized her mistake and wanted to turn back— “If you want to change your ways, but you’re in a situation where you can’t do so, I’ll help you.” And if she felt that she had gone too far to turn back, Chi-Woo wanted to reach out to her and free her.

Eshnunna didn’t s.h.i.+ft her gaze away from Chi-Woo this time. She tightly clenched her fists and chewed her lower lip. The first sign of her resignation was her drooping shoulders. Soon after, she closed her eyes and lowered her head.

“…Ah…” She let out a sigh as she tipped her head up to look at the ceiling. Then she slowly began talking.

* * *

It wasn’t like this from the beginning.

On the day she met the fifth recruits, Eshnunna became hopeful for the first time in a long while. The heroes had come down from somewhere holy and great to save Liber. Moreover, it was not just one or two heroes, but hundreds of them.

There was a saying that even if the sky collapsed, there was still a way out. To Eshnunna, who had lost her home and had nowhere to go to, the heroes felt like miracles. Everyone was elated, and they welcomed the recruits with open arms. Truthfully, Eshnunna and the natives had no choice but to feel hopeful and look favorably towards the heroes. All the natives knew how disastrous the situation was like on Liber. Putting themselves in the heroes’ shoes, none of them would’ve wanted to come to a world like this. However, these great heroes were willing to take on the terrible odds in order to save them. It was natural that they would feel nothing but grat.i.tude.

Of course, they were slightly disappointed when they found out that the heroes couldn’t utilize their powers since the World in Liber had collapsed. Moreover, after staying with the heroes for a while, the natives found out that many of them were nothing like the righteous heroes from storybooks, and were instead extremely selfish and greedy. Still, the natives didn’t completely lose their faith in the recruits. The hope they discovered in a pit of despair was too sweet to give up on. For that reason, Eshnunna promised the heroes that she’d fulfill their requests whenever they wanted a.s.sistance from the natives.

At first, it felt like they were companions. The recruits made requests, and the natives fulfilled them. However, the two factions' positions began slowly changing. From a certain point, the recruits began wielding their coming to save the world as a weapon. Or to be more precise, the recruits came to consider the natives as their servants, or a useful tool they could use whenever, and for whatever they wanted.

Nevertheless, it was acceptable because they were heroes. They were heroes here to save this world, and they had given back the hope the natives had lost. Even though many days pa.s.sed with the heroes producing little to no results, Eshnunna didn’t try to urge or pressure the heroes. Despite their lack of special powers, the heroes had the experience of saving other worlds. And she considered it a necessary evil when there were complaints from the natives about the recruits monopolizing the food they had secured. The heroes had to be prioritized over everyone else.

Eshnunna had been willing to endure the heroes’ misdeeds even when they began fighting among themselves and created great tension in the camp, and she was tolerant even when they showed annoyance towards the natives who asked the heroes to leave a bit of food for them. In reality, she had tried her best to act as a mediator between the recruits and the natives. In the process, she gradually lost much of her previous goodwill for the heroes, but she persisted. At the end of the day, they were still heroes, weren’t they? And they were the only hope left in this wretched world. She focused on the hope that they might be able to return Liber to how things were and survive.

Thus, Eshnunna had tried her best to endure whatever injustice and unfairness she encountered. She thought that was what she had to do.

…Until she heard those words.

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