To Hell With Being a Hero!

로유진 - Ro Yu-jin

Chapter 52: Consequences of One's Choices and Actions (8)

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Chapter 52: Consequences of One’s Choices and Actions (8)

A shadow enveloped Chi-Woo from behind.

“Um…Sir hero.” It was a familiar voice. Chi-Woo looked up with a sense of relief. A middle-aged man was standing awkwardly in front of him; he was the one who had spied on Chi-Woo, threatened him with his sword, and went to the ranch with him.

“Is…” the middle-aged man asked carefully, “Is there really no other way this time…?”

Chi-Woo closed his eyes. He had been expecting this. He knew someone would soon approach him, only to have their hope crushed.

‘This is why…’ It was unfair that he had to feel pressured and guilty by people’s expectations that he had no control over. ‘I….’ Chi-Woo suddenly recalled Giant Fist’s words.

[However, you returned as a hero.]

[So you have to be a hero, sir.]

Chi-Woo sighed. “…Yes…” He hung his head low. The greater the hope, the greater the disappointment—someone who had their hope shattered often ended up despairing; they gave up on everything and became enraged. Chi-Woo knew this better than anyone else since he had gone through an endless cycle of hope and despair.

“I don’t know about the broken ones, but…the mutated cursed ones are beyond…” Chi-Woo couldn’t bear to look at the villager as the man fell into despair and became enraged. He squeezed his eyes shut even harder and said, “I’m sorry.”

The air between them grew heavy.

“I see… I understand,” the middle-aged man said with a surprising lack of disappointment or anger in his voice. “If you say so, sir, there must be no other options…But.” The hero grabbed Chi-Woo’s shoulders and clutched them tightly. “Look at yourself right now.” The man forcefully brought Chi-Woo to his feet. “How long are you going to stay kneeling for? You are a hero, young man. Don’t look so pitiful.”

The middle-aged man’s reaction caught Chi-Woo completely off guard. He didn’t despair nor become enraged; instead, he had calmly accepted everything.

“Aren’t you the hero who saved us from becoming livestock? Stand upright with your chest puffed out. Stand proud and confident.”

Chi-Woo blinked. He couldn’t understand what was going on. When the man saw how fl.u.s.tered Chi-Woo looked, he said, “A few days ago…after we went to that ranch, I had a dream.” That day, the man had spied on Chi-Woo, threatened him with a sword, and followed him to the ranch. When he returned home after the ordeal, all lightheaded and happy, he slept and dreamed. “I had a dream that I was visiting a nearby village to play while holding my wife’s and daughter’s hands… It was a sweet dream that I hadn’t had for a long time. But sir, that dream was too sweet, so sweet that it was the only thing I could think about for a while.” Even after he woke up, he was still dazed by it. “And it made me want to make my dream a reality,” the man finished.

It made him dig deep into his heart and find whatever hope he had left in him. Before, he had never dared to wish for a day when the sun would s.h.i.+ne; he was simply an animal who lived day by day only because he couldn’t die. He lived like a soulless ghoul without any will to live. Witnessing Chi-Woo’s feat, however, changed his life completely.

An emotional person by nature, the man couldn’t help being moved and impressed by Chi-Woo despite his distrust and anger for the hero in the past. He had become an ardent follower of Chi-Woo who was more pa.s.sionate than anyone else and lauded Chi-Woo’s achievements wherever he went until his lips dried. He persuaded the remaining skeptics among the natives, saying that this particular hero was different from all the heroes before him.

A belief had bloomed inside him. He thought about everything Chi-Woo had done—how Chi-Woo hadn’t stolen his sword, how Chi-Woo had told him to stay even when Eshnunna had ordered him to leave, and how Chi-Woo had declared that he would act like he had fallen for their ploy. They all meant something. He had considered Chi-Woo some crazy lad who had been hiding some tricks up his sleeves, but the truth couldn’t be further than that. He simply wanted Eshnunna to believe in him and give him a chance.

Chi-Woo used the opportunity given to him splendidly, and as a result of that, the middle-aged man began to believe in him. His change in att.i.tude was dramatic—he felt guilty, but moreover, grateful; and these feelings translated into a desire to help. He wanted to do something for the hero who had changed his life. And now, there was something he could do.

“Even though this is where we end up…” The man trailed off. Of course, he did feel regretful that he had to leave the world when he had just begun to have hope. Still, he believed in Chi-Woo despite everything. “My father told me that the future only opens for those who dream.”

The middle-aged man wouldn’t have been able to dream if not for Chi-Woo. “I only began to learn the meaning behind his words after meeting you.” Thus, the man was now entrusting the dream he couldn’t achieve to someone he believed in.

His faith in Chi-Woo wasn’t only founded on the fact that Chi-Woo had saved many in the ranch. Even now, even when Chi-Woo was staring blankly at him with a pale face, his lips cracked from being nibbled on too many times, his presence a.s.sured the man. On that destined night, Chi-Woo had apologized pa.s.sionately for failing to save those who had died.

[…I am sorry..]

With those three words, Chi-Woo had eased him and convinced him that Chi-Woo was someone beyond just a simple hero, that Chi-Woo was a person with a good heart. He believed Chi-Woo would open up a future that everyone dreamed of. He wasn’t planning to simply rely on Chi-Woo alone without doing anything, of course. The man knew he had to do his share so that he could make a request to Chi-Woo.

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“…I have a daughter at the central base.” The middle-aged man’s eyes became red as he looked far into the distance. “The moment she was born, I knew I would give up my life for her.” The tip of his nose reddened. Sniff. The middle-aged man brushed the edges of his eyes with his palms. Then he tightened the belt around his waist and said, “Thank you for making it possible for me to die in a way I can be proud of as a parent. Thank you very much.”

At that moment, someone shouted, “The statue…!”

The worn-out stone statue was s.h.i.+ning. A halo had emerged, glowing brightly as sparkling dust swirled around the statue. Shahnaz swung the holy tree branch in her hand with force. “We beseech you to save us from evil!” she shouted with all her might at the sky. “Since Shahnaz’s eternal glory is with the last King…” Then she slowly lowered the holy tree branch and quickly chanted, “…Shakhnaz, Majad La Nihayat Lah.”

Whoos.h.!.+

A circular light formed around the stone statue as if it was responding to Hawa’s prayer. The light quickly grew until it encompa.s.sed the whole area before shrinking and converging around the statue again.

Whoos.h.!.+ Whoos.h.!.+ Whoos.h.!.+

The ring of light expanded and constricted, expanded and constricted until there was another wave of beastly growls, but no one was able to hear it this time. A mysterious s.p.a.ce had formed around the statue, the magnificent sound it emitted prevented everyone from hearing anything else.

Ru Amuh looked at his hands and exclaimed, “This feeling…”

Ru Amuh wasn’t the only one who felt the change; all the heroes had felt it as well. How could they forget it? It was the sensation that they had experienced countless times and had constantly missed and sought after since they arrived at Liber. A wind suddenly blew in the area. It was not just a pa.s.sing wind, but a fierce torrent that swept by like a storm. The dead expressed their sincere faith, and the G.o.d had responded to their faith by coming down to Liber. After expanding and constricting as many times as the number of sacrifices there were, the ring of light finally exploded.

Flas.h.!.+

Swiiiiis.h.!.+

The dazzling glow illuminated the air. Some parts of the glow seemed to have scattered from the statue, but they gathered together like dots. Then the dots were connected by lines, and the lines expanded and formed a shape. The shape formed a figure from a past so long ago that legends about her weren’t even being pa.s.sed down anymore; a figure who had swept across Liber like a storm and unified the whole continent. The G.o.ddess of Shahnaz, the queen of conquest, and the first human to become a G.o.d after such great achievements, was revived.

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