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Set Forth on the Hero’s Journey

Last Wall fortress, a mountain transformed into a bastion city. It was a symbol of conviction in the face of evil.

Here, Ruti the Hero first encountered Theodora the Crusader. This was the church’s headquarters, the leaders of the sole religion.

In one corner of the city, hiding in a room decked out in expensive fabrics, there was a painting depicting the scene of a previous Hero fighting the demon lord on the wall. Two people occupied this chamber.

“That is the last of my report,” Bishop Shien of Zoltan concluded.

He spoke to a large man, easily over two meters tall, who sat behind a desk.

Cardinal Ljubo wore a mild-mannered smile on his large face as he set the report down on the table and looked at Bishop Shien.

“Very well. It is a blessing that things were resolved without issue. The College of Cardinals will withdraw our proposed declaration of war on the Kingdom of Veronia.”

“Thank you very much, Your Grace!”

Bishop Shien patted his chest in relief. A war between fellow humans had been avoided. He’d succeeded in a mission that was far too great for the cleric of a small little backwater like Zoltan.

“You look quite haggard. I suppose it is understandable considering the duty you have undertaken. It would surely be difficult for you to travel all the way to Zoltan in your present state. Perhaps it would be better for you to recuperate here at Last Wall fortress first?”

“I am grateful for your consideration, Your Grace. However, I would like to return to Zoltan as swiftly as possible to provide succor to those of my flock who are troubled from the recent conflict.”

“You are a model bishop. It is almost a waste for one of your talents to be out on the frontier. Very well. You may set out tomorrow. I shall have whatever you require for your journey prepared for you.”

“My deepest gratitude for your kind consideration for one such as I.”

Bishop Shien bowed deeply and left the room.


The smile quickly disappeared from the cardinal’s face. He yanked open a drawer, pulled out a Veronian cigar, and lit it.


Cardinal Ljubo was a huge man. So large that it was rumored one of his ancestors was a giant.

The cardinal exhaled lungfuls of smoke, clouding the room.

“Just one step away.”

A war with Veronia had been averted.

Even Cardinal Ljubo, with all the power he’d accumulated, could not afford to push a conflict without a proper justification. He smoked his cigar with a bitter look on his face. Then came a knock on his door.

“Your Grace.”

“Ah, Van. I was waiting for you. Come in.”

A boy in his mid-teens entered.

He was wearing blue armor with the red crest of the Hero engraved in it.

The sword at his hip was a replica of the Hero’s sword, the Holy Demon Slayer. Although only a re-creation, it had been forged using the greatest swords preserved by the church. It was the newest holy sword made by man, and bore a powerful resemblance to the blade held by the Hero in the painting on the wall.

“The war with Veronia has been avoided. The beginning of your Hero’s journey has been delayed,” the cardinal explained as he snuffed the cigar in an ashtray.

“I see!”

“You seem quite happy about it.”

The boy hurriedly explained himself. “Apologies. But I just thought it was good that the situation could be resolved without people having to fight each other.”

Ljubo smiled bitterly at the young man’s simple earnestness. That was how he had to be. The Hero could not be permitted to be corrupted.

“But of course. It is an inconvenience that the plan to have you set out on the Hero’s journey was wasted, but you are correct that it is a joyous result for humanity.”

“Yes, sir!” The boy nodded. “People warring with each other while the demon lord spreads evil is sloth.”

“War is sloth, you say?”

“Yes, sloth, sir. And sloth is a sin. People’s lives should only be spent for the sake of fighting the demon lord. Any other death or way of living is not only slothful, but meaningless and without value. Such is the will of our Lord Demis!”

There was not a trace of doubt in his eyes as he declared that.

The cardinal nodded in satisfaction.

“You are truly the Hero.”

Van was the second Hero Cardinal Ljubo had discovered.

As a devout, he never doubted the teachings of the church, and he would risk his life and others for the sake of Almighty Demis’s teachings without hesitation.

At the sight of the boy’s radiant eyes, the cardinal broke into a heartfelt smile over the wonderful tool he’d found.

“Umm, Your Grace?”

“What is it?”

“If there is not to be a war with Veronia, then should I not make my way to the front lines of the battle with the demon lord’s army and fulfill the role of the Hero?”

“You mustn’t get ahead of yourself. You must train, that you might gain a strength befitting the Hero first.”

“…Yes, sir…”

“I had thought that the Veronian soldiers would be perfect for raising your level, but that’s no longer an option.”

The cardinal’s plan was to have Van accompany the church’s holy knights into battle so that he might increase his blessing’s level and garner fame as the Hero.

“But this, too, is merely the will of Demis.”

The cardinal smiled when he saw the look of unease on Van’s face.

“Still, you are ready to move beyond fighting monsters to raise your blessing level. I have a new mission for you.”

“You do?!”

“All of the fuss with Veronia has provided an unexpected opportunity. This, too, is surely the divine guidance of Demis.”

“The will of Demis… What should we do?”

The cardinal pulled a map out of a drawer and spread it on the table.

“This is the location.”


“Yes, the Republic of Zoltan. The small little country that fought Veronia.”

“But it’s on the other side of the continent from the front lines.”

“The demon lord’s ship that the King of Veronia stole from the dark continent decades ago is currently grounded there.”

“The demon lord’s vessel?! The boat powered by coal that you told me of?!”

The boy’s eyes shone at the thought of the unknown technology.

“That’s correct. Claim it for yourself. A steel warship will surely raise our soldiers’ morale.”

“But if it is grounded…”

“To deal with that, you will first need to defeat the behemoth that inhabits the jungles of the south and acquire the Behemoth Ring. And to navigate the jungle, you must search for a fey to guide you through the jungle. So the journey’s first step will be to head for the trade city Saint Enrique to gather information.”

Van’s face lit up, and his heart raced at the thought of adventures in lands he’d never seen as the cardinal outlined the route.

“Amazing! I can’t wait!”

“I’m pleased you are excited. However, my subordinates who have accompanied you thus far will not be able to follow you on this adventure.”

“Is this my farewell from everyone, then…?”

To help Van increase his level, Ljubo had provided his most powerful subordinates, Holy Knights and High Priests, all. However, three of them had already been lost in all the fighting.

Van’s opponents had been a series of high-level monsters fought over an incredibly short period. Unfortunately, even a cardinal as influential as Ljubo could not afford to lose more of the church’s fighting power without weakening his own standing.

That was why he’d chosen to hire a mercenary instead. He rang a bell, and a woman entered the room.

She had long, flowing black hair, but her face was hidden behind a mask.

“Van the Hero, my name is Escarlata, a wandering knight who will accompany you on your journey. Please call me Esta.”

Van was shocked when he heard her name.

“Lady Esta! As in the masked knight who defeated Altra of the Water?!”

Escarlata had suddenly joined the fray against the demon lord’s forces. She was a mercenary of unknown origin, yet on a battlefield with heroes from all around the continent gathered, she had produced the most outstanding results of all. She’d heavily wounded Altra, general in command of the demon lord’s army, forcing him to retreat.

It was said that lords from various nations had tried to recruit her, but she refused them all, choosing to fight as a lone mercenary.

“I have no need for honorifics. I am but a simple knight errant… Out of curiosity, Sir Van, are you perhaps the Kingdom of Flamberge’s…?”

“You know of me?! Yes, I am the eighth prince, Van of Flamberge.”

The Kingdom of Flamberge was located on the western coast of the continent, and was one of the first countries destroyed by the demon lord’s invasion. Van was the last surviving member of the royal family. He’d escaped the tragedy because he’d been studying in a monastery away from Flamberge at the time.

“The prince of a fallen country becoming Hero. It is surely all the Lord’s will. The Lord’s love is a thing of marvel, even to a man of the cloth such as I.” Cardinal Ljubo stood. “Now, let us begin the preparations for this journey. Hero, knight, and priest…the same party the previous generation’s Hero set out with.”


“Of course, I will be joining you as well,” the cardinal said with a smile.

“You are?!”

“Ha-ha, I fought many evils as an inquisitor long ago. I am sure I will be of some use.”

“It is truly reassuring to have you accompanying us!”

Van the Hero took Cardinal Ljubo’s and Knight Esta’s hands and beamed.

The Hero of a lost country who did not doubt Demis’s righteous justice for a moment. A cardinal who burned with ambition. A knight who concealed her face in the presence of others.

Dear me, this has become problematic.

Beneath her mask, Esta was secretly very troubled.

Esta made it up the steep alley and returned alone to her lodge.

The structure was built at a slant, and at a glance, it looked small and dingy, but it was actually a place that catered to inquisitors and had powerful counter-magic measures.

It was not a well-known location, but Esta was quite familiar with it, having grown up in Last Wall fortress.

Esta exchanged a simple greeting with the gruff keeper and returned to her room.

“Welcome back, Esta. How was the cardinal?”

A swordsman with a prosthetic hand was waiting in the room—Albert the Champion.

“The information turned out to be true. He’s grooming a Hero and intends to set out for Zoltan.”


Esta crossed her arms and furrowed her brow.

“If Sir Van were to encounter Lady Ruti, then this will only be the beginning. I’d rather avoid that, if possible. For both their sakes.”


“Sorry, Albert, but could you head to Zoltan ahead of us? I’d like you to inform Sir Red of the situation. With the pretense of accompanying Bishop Shien as a guard on his return, there won’t be any suspicions if we move separately. I will accompany Sir Van, as we discussed.”

“Understood.” Albert nodded. “Does Van really have the Hero blessing?”

“I don’t know. Unlike Sir Ares, I don’t have the Appraisal skill, nor do I have Sir Red’s incredible insight and knowledge.”

Red could guess someone’s blessing and level just by watching their movements, but that sort of trick was impossible for anyone else.

“But…he is strong.”

“Even from your perspective?”

“Cardinal Ljubo of all people is backing the claim that he’s the Hero. I sparred a little bit with Van…and I could absolutely believe he truly did slay a full-grown dragon.”

“Then he’s well into the domain of heroes, isn’t he? Why has he never fought against the demon lord’s army before?”

“It seems the cardinal has been having him fight monsters to raise his level. I suppose there’s no telling who or what you might end up fighting on the battlefield.”

“…That seems different from the sort of Hero I imagined.”

“Cardinal Ljubo’s goal isn’t to help the Hero save the world. It’s to be one of the people who helped the Hero save the world. His aim is the route that most optimally leads to the Hero successfully defeating the demon lord rather than the path that saves the most people along the way. It’s just another way of approaching the issue.”

“Building the Hero’s story instead of letting it play out, then?”

“It hasn’t even been half a year since Van was recognized as the Hero. His training period has been short, yet in terms of development speed, he’s grown faster than Lady Ruti.”

There was no easy comparison between Ruti, who’d raised her blessing level by fighting the demon lord’s army, and Van, who’d been provided the optimal sorts of adventures to grow. Still, there was no denying the boy had developed swiftly.

“Lady Ruti’s strength was fully formed before I met her. As strong as Van is, his mentality and his technique are still developing. It is frightening to consider what awaits him.”

If they fought now, Esta would still win, but…

“He will surpass me eventually. That was the feeling I had when I sparred with him.”

“Then he really is the Hero?” Albert questioned.

“Perhaps. Yet in terms of mentality, he is completely different from Lady Ruti. There was a part of her that was always isolated from people. However, Van is a fanatical devotee of Demis. There is something about that difference that worries me.”

Even having traveled with Ruti for so long, Esta still knew nothing about the Hero blessing.

“There are no records or legends of two Hero blessings existing at the same time. I wonder what would happen if they encountered each other.”

Esta prayed that Ruti would be able to live peacefully. Regretfully…

“Demis surely wouldn’t lend his strength to such a prayer. So the only choice is to take action.”

“Indeed. Though I am ill-suited for the role, I will do all I can.”

“Thank you, Albert. Having you is a great help.”

It would be some time before Van the Hero arrived in Zoltan, but that day would surely come.

Because this world filled with fighting still required the Hero.

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