The throne room is solemn and filled with silence.
On his throne, King Armand looks at us.
"Well done, you have defeated the Demon King. With this, the world will remain peaceful for the next hundred years. I thank you on behalf of all my people and all nations."
"I just did what I wanted to do."
The king smiled and nodded at my words.
"I would also like to thank you for bringing back the traitor Sain. That man, of all people living and gone, attacked the capital of Balseille, killing and plundering the king and many others. The kingdom of Balseille had demanded that he be delivered alive."
"I dared to hide this information to prioritize the Demon King's death. Sain was also a hero, and I thought it would be difficult to capture him, but now that title no longer belongs to him, Manyu Brigade?"
He leaned slightly toward me.
I guess he was apologizing for keeping an important report from me.
I was certainly surprised, but not that surprised.
Although it was my country, I lived in a small town in the countryside.
The attack on the capital seemed like a story from a distant land.
I never met the late King Balseille.
"What will happen to Sain?"
"He will be tried and punished. He will probably be sentenced to death, but he will probably not be killed easily. The inhabitants of Balseille are currently experiencing great discontent. Sain will be used to alleviate the pain of the people."
You are pathetic, Sain.
If you hadn't strayed from the path, it could have been you here.
"Now that you have successfully defeated the Demon King, what do you want? I will give you any reward you desire."
"So, I want to return this."
I took off my bracelet.
The king raised the corner of his mouth slightly as if to say, "I knew it!"
"It's not for me. The hero title is too heavy for us. I don't want a reward, so I'd like to give it back."
"Do you want to be released from your role as a hero?"
"Yes. With the demon king defeated, the demon race needs time to recover. There is no need for a hero to exist at this time."
"But countries have already recognized the Manyu Brigade as heroes and heroines of our nations. You can't give it back once it's been given to you."
"I know. That's why the Manyu Brigade will break up."
The room filled with commotion and everyone started talking to each other.
But the king did not change his expression and only raised an eyebrow.
Perhaps they had already anticipated this event.
As proof of this, a box had already been prepared to hold the bracelet.
I put the bracelet in the box held by one of the gentlemen.
From this moment on, we are no longer heroes.
"I will accept your request. But don't think that means you can be completely free, everyone in the kingdoms will remember that you were the real heroes. Including us, the kings."
"I know. That is why I will always be ready to help you in any situation where you need me."
He nodded in satisfaction.
Apparently, an agreement had been reached.
Now I am no longer a hero.
I'm just Toru. A simple warrior.
With deep gratitude to His Majesty the King, I left the audience hall.
On the way back to my village, we stopped in the capital of Balseille.
There was a wall of people on the main street.
Many curses could be heard in the air, and a shower of stones fell on a carriage that was in motion.
In the back of the carriage was Sain in a cage.
"No, no! And I'm the hero. Aaagh! I order you to stop! I'll kill you all!"
Stones thrown by people did not seem to work in Sain, probably due to their high level.
Still, he seems to have a lot of psychological damage.
He was already exhausted to the point that his clothes were in tatters.
But this seems to be the beginning of many punishments to come for Sain.
According to what I heard, he will be beheaded after being sentenced to a thousand blows with a variety of weapons and sharp objects. He will be punished by drowning with water, he will be stabbed with needles all over his body, and he will be branded with metal objects set on fire. All this will be done in front of the crowd.
I have no intention of seeing the end of it.
That man I knew named Sain died in that castle. This guy who is receiving such humiliation is just an empty shell.
When I think that, I feel an emptiness in my chest.
I thought I had finally filled this pain.
"Master, are you all right?"
"Thank you for your concern, Kaede."
I stroked the head of Kaede who was beside me.
He closes his eyes and looks very happy.
His tail wagged and his fox ears drooped.
"This is very raw to watch. Although I'm surprised I didn't get a single hit from all those stones."
Frau, who is on top of Panda, observes Sain from a little higher up.
Maybe Sain still thinks somewhere in his heart that he can be saved.
In the past, it would be impossible for the hero to be beheaded.
But now things are different. The people want to see his head roll.
"Cut out his tongue!"
"Yes, do that!"
"Not only her tongue, but also the thing hanging between her legs."
People's voices cheered to see more than just his head roll.
"What are you talking about?! You can't do that! Uuugh! Hey, that rock really hurt!"
Sain begins to get impatient.
Suddenly he began to feel pain from the stones his body was receiving.
A nobleman riding through the crowd says;
"I understand everyone's anger. So let's cut up your frankfurter tonight. Oh boy, I made a size mistake. It was a small Wiener sausage, this is embarrassing."
The aristocrat's jokes made everyone present laugh out loud.
Sain was trembling with his bright red face.
Let's leave this place.
"Is that the master's house?
"It's a small town, like any other. But Frau likes it."
I returned to my hometown.
As Frau says, it's a small, mediocre town in the middle of nowhere.
However, it is a quiet and peaceful town.
There is a fence on the gravel road and small flowers bloom on one side.
River fish swam in the stream that flowed through the center of town, and smoke rose from the chimneys of the scattered houses.
It is already dark, and the children with tree branches are crossing the bridge over the river and returning to their homes.
Nothing has changed.
Everything has remained the same since I left town.
"Where is the master's house?"
"There it is."
There was a large house in the village.
That's where I was born and raised.
I was showing them around town as we headed back to my house.
I met Nei, who was carrying a mulberry tree in her arms.
She has changed a lot since I last saw her, and now she is wearing overalls and has mud on her face and hands.
He seems to be doing what he said he would do. Helping his parents in the field.
Nei dropped everything in her arms and pounced on my chest.
"You are safe! I was so surprised when I heard you were a hero."
"I see you were worried."
"Yes! I ate only half as much as I should have, and there was one night a week when I couldn't sleep."
"You didn't have to go to such extremes."
I hugged her and apologize for worrying her.
I am also relieved.
I was relieved to see that I was back in town.
Nei looks up and asks, "Is it over?"
"It's all over. So much like Lisa and Sain.
"Yes, I was the demon king. I did what I should do as a hero."
"You're not that surprised."
Nei turns away from me and gathers her things.
"It was pretty obvious that she didn't like Toru."
"Hey, that's the first time I've heard that."
"I had my reasons for not saying it. Toru was madly in love with Lisa. And I didn't want to say anything that could damage our relationship without any proof."
Nei's argument is justified.
At that moment, Lisa completely fooled me.
I'm sure I wouldn't have listened to her even if I had received the advice.
I am really fed up with my stupidity.
"And Sain will be sentenced to death in the not too distant future."
"That's good to hear."
He said that and started walking.
I think he was on his way home, but he followed Kaede, Frau and me.
I opened the door of my house and Nei entered the place in high spirits.
Come to think of it, she always came to my house like that.
Nei and Soara were almost like my sisters when we were kids.
The hallway is clean, as if it had been cleaned.
"Clean this place up from time to time so Toru would always have a place to come back to."
"This is the birthplace of the master. It's beautiful."
"Wow, it's bigger than I thought. It smells good and the ambiance is to Frau's liking. I'm sure Panda would agree."
Kaede smiles stroking the scratches on the stair railing.
Frau and Panda quickly flew upstairs.
"You're going to stay in town for a while, aren't you?"
"That's the plan. I'm home at last."
Nei smiled before leaving the house.
"Master, may I borrow your kitchen to prepare dinner?
"You can use it however you want."
*pat pat pat pat
He ran to the kitchen.
I couldn't help but relax when I saw Kaede's happy face.