The Hero of Regression – The Talentless Boy Vows to Protect His Childhood Friend, the Female Hero, This Time Around – Chapter 101

𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐃𝐞𝐦𝐨𝐧 𝐊𝐢𝐧𝐠

『Command the demons. Invade another world. Rule over that world.』

From the moment of his birth, such thoughts were imprinted into the soul of the Demon King.

These thoughts were constantly imparted into him before his ego was established, much like the education a parent imparts onto their child or akin to brainwashing.

Blessed with wisdom and power under the guise of divine protection, he was able to establish his ego and gain a heart within a few days after his birth.

Faced with these thoughts that screamed loudly within him, the Demon King had this to say:

(Absolutely not.)

The majority of past Demon Kings unquestioningly adhered to their guiding principle: the will of their parents.

The current Demon King, on the other hand, regarded it as nothing but an annoyance.

There are several reasons that can be considered.

Firstly, he was a demon with a blend of human and beast blood, but his human lineage was particularly prominent.

His appearance was completely human, lacking even vampiric fangs, claws, or wings.

For that reason, he was the type to prioritize human emotions over beastly instincts.

Next, within the few days it took for his ego to establish, he had already encountered multiple demons.

All of which led to battles.

Given that he couldn’t even understand the meaning of thoughts in his infancy, the Demon King killed all the demons he was supposed to command.

They attacked him, so he fought back instinctively and consumed them.

Then, upon establishing his ego over their corpses and while feasting on demons, he came to understand the meaning of the thoughts and had this to ponder:

(What’s the point of commanding these?)

He remembered.

The faces of the demons that attacked him before his ego was established.

Despite their supposed intelligence, they attacked him like ugly beasts, full of malice and hunger.

He felt nothing but disgust towards that.

They are not humans.

They are merely beasts that became slightly wiser.

God may wish for him to lead such demons, but as far as he’s concerned, he wants nothing to do with them.

It was only natural for him to push them away.

However, his thoughts do not forgive him and constantly assert themselves loudly in his mind.

He resolutely ignored them.

To fulfill the significant role of the Demon King, he possessed knowledge far beyond that granted to other demons.

God could implant thoughts like this, but couldn’t completely control the demons.

To be precise, it is not impossible, but doing so would further distort the creatures known as demons.

God had already greatly distorted the creatures known as monsters through excessive interference in the past, and demons were further warped by bestowing wisdom and power through divine protection.

If demons, already distorted beings, were further warped, their souls or bodies would not withstand it.

If that happened, they would no longer serve as pawns, so God cannot forcibly control him.

. . . . . .That said, if he were to be tormented by such thoughts forever, his mental limits would eventually be reached, and he’d likely give in just to find some peace.

Even so, he planned to resist until the very brink.

It was akin to a child’s rebellious phase.

In such a state, he traveled throughout the Demon Realm.

Or rather, he repeatedly moved to find food, as he also disliked the idea of dying from hunger.

Along the way, he encountered demons many times.

And every demon he met was ugly to him.

Those who honestly run away, sensing the difference in power due to divine protection, are at least sensible.

However, demons born with a power far greater than the average often go many years undefeated within their small territories, becoming increasingly arrogant.

Those who have never even struggled in battle start to lose the ability to imagine their own defeat.

They become convinced that they can’t lose.

Their pride inflates, making them believe they are the strongest.

When such individuals encounter a Demon King adorned with immense divine protection, an entity clearly stronger than themselves,

they refuse to face reality, letting their cheap pride get in the way. They recklessly attack the Demon King to prove their own strength.

Perhaps understanding the power dynamics rationally, they usually don’t confront directly, but use all sorts of underhanded methods.

He started to despise demons even more.

He cursed the gods for not brainwashing demons to serve him if they insist he should command them.

Well, he understood that unlike him, who was born with a sturdy body and soul that could withstand the divine protection of the Demon King, other demons were at their mental capacity just following the command to 『invade other worlds』.

The journey continues.

He saw even more demons along the way.

Prideful fools clashed and cannibalized each other.

The cunning deceived the muscleheads and stabbed them in the back when they let their guard down.

The deceivers, emboldened, even tried to cozy up to the Demon King and attack him in his sleep.

Those who had been deceived before attacked without listening to any explanations.

It was grotesque.

It became unbearable to watch.

Yet, wherever he went, such people were all he found.

He wanted to live quietly in a place where no one was around, but in the Demon Realm, such places were synonymous with areas without food. If you didn’t want to starve, you had no choice but to be where monsters are.

And as long as demons are born from these monsters, they will be everywhere.

He envied those monsters that could survive without eating from the bottom of his heart.

The journey continues.

A journey where he only meets either unintelligent monsters or demons who are more vile and grotesque due to their half-baked intelligence.

With everywhere in the Demon Realm laid to waste, there was no scenery to enjoy.

(Empty)

After years of travel, such feelings completely filled the heart of the Demon King.

Alone, he found no value in a life that consisted of nothing but observing ugliness.

Although he had been propelled by a rebellious spirit against these thoughts to continue his journey, he was gradually getting tired.

If it’s a life of equally little value, he started thinking that living as his thoughts directed might be less of a headache.

It was then.

That he met a certain demon.

“Uh, ugh. . . . . .”

It was a fallen demon child.

It was the first time he had seen a demon child alone.

Demons are born as the children of monsters, and in their vulnerable childhood, they are often under the protection of their parents.

Demons with beast blood grow rapidly, and as soon as they mature, they become stronger than their parents. And since they alone possess intelligence, they stop seeing their parents as equals and either eat them or make them serve.

There are circumstances where they are separated from their parents before maturing, but in this harsh Demon Realm, a young and weak demon left alone would soon die.

For these reasons, it was the first time he had ever seen a demon child.

He had seen several adults who only looked like children, but the demon in front of him had a weak divine protection power, evidence that its physical body was still immature.

And that child was on the verge of death.

She was probably starving.

Her emaciated frame made it obvious.

Moreover, a monster, seeing the child as prey, had opened its large mouth and was about to attack.

If left alone, the child would die in a few seconds.

His actions at that moment were reflexive.

Perhaps he felt a sense of affinity because the child’s form was humanoid, similar to his own.

Even though all the humanoids he had seen so far had been ugly, this child didn’t give off the same rotten feeling.

In any case, he defeated the monster that was about to attack and saved the child.

“Hey, are you okay?”

He reached out to the fallen child, and realizing that the child didn’t have the strength even to take his hand, he lifted her up and fed her the flesh of the defeated monster.

The child, initially frozen in place as if she didn’t understand what was happening, ate the meat eagerly when it was offered.

She ate, and ate, and ate, tears streaming down her face.

Just before she lost consciousness, drained of what little energy she had, she said with a barely audible voice.

“Thank you. . . . . .”

Those were words of gratitude.

Pure words, without any ulterior motive.

They were the first 『words without malice』 that he had ever heard.

“Thank you, huh. . . . . .”

At that moment, for the first time in his life, he felt a strange emotion in his heart, neither disgust nor emptiness.

He realized that a feeling of not disliking had arisen.

The journey continued.

It was no longer a solitary journey, but a journey of two.

Fezard, the young demon girl he had rescued, had joined him on his journey.

The journey with the two of them was entirely different from when he was alone.

The events they encountered hadn’t changed fundamentally.

The demons they still encountered were an unsightly bunch, and the scenery remained an unchanging wilderness.

However, he had come to no longer feel empty.

He adjusted his pace to accommodate Fezard, who had to trot to keep up due to the difference in their strides.

Every time Fezard tried to fight the monsters and demons they encountered as if she were a scout, he felt a shiver of fear.

Fezard, who wanted to become stronger in return, seemed radiant.

To make Fezard, who was by no means strong by nature, stronger as she wished, he searched for ways among the knowledge given to him and taught her swordsmanship.

They aimed for ancient ruins to obtain the necessary weapons for swordsmanship.

Before long, a purpose was born in their journey, and it was enjoyable to walk alongside Fezard to achieve that purpose.

She was different from the other demons.

Her efforts to support the Demon King at various points in their journey were endearing, and her habit of cuddling up when she was lonely or trying hard to become stronger for repayment was beautiful.

The days with Fezard were much more colorful than the ones he had spent alone, and they were genuinely enjoyable.

Come to think of it, what had made his life feel most empty was loneliness.

Even as the Demon King, he couldn’t be consumed by the instincts of a beast, and it was painful to be alone in such a hell while maintaining his sanity.

He was lonely.

That’s why he had instinctively saved Fezard, on the verge of death.

As an innocent child, she didn’t seem to harbor any malicious schemes, and somewhere in his heart, he hoped that she would just stay by his side without any ill intentions.

Fezard claimed that he had saved her, but it was the same for the Demon King.

The two demons helped and supported each other and became more like 『people』.

Therefore. . . . . .

“Command the demons. Invade another world. Rule that world.”

The intrusive thoughts that disturbed these days had become unbearable.

The persistent thoughts that had reached their limit were constantly giving him a severe headache.

He had tried to conceal it for a while, but eventually, the headaches became so severe that he couldn’t hide them anymore.

With a worried expression and a face that seemed about to cry, Fezard asked, “Don’t you really have any idea about the cause. . . . . . ?!”

Even the mightiest Demon King couldn’t withstand a woman’s tears.

And then, after hearing the circumstances, Fezard. . . . . .

“Let’s do it. If it means freeing the Demon King from suffering, I. . . . . . !”

I’ll do anything.

Fezard’s words spoke eloquently.

Upon seeing that, the Demon King felt deeply saddened.

To think that someone who cared for him so much was willing to step into such a futile battle, all because of him being the pawn in God’s game.

A battle as barren as it gets, where losing means death and winning brings joy only to the gods.

No, even if his own thoughts were to disappear, the divine will to conquer other worlds is already ingrained in Fezard.

Decades later, just before the gates open, the same kind of suffering will likely assail Fezard.

It’s a suffering that even the Demon King couldn’t endure.

If there’s anyone who could resist this, it’s perhaps only a child whose body and soul haven’t fully integrated with divine protection yet.

Fezard is no longer a child.

In other words, the battle is inevitable.

The Demon King cursed their own fate.

And at the same time, thought this:

An inevitable battle filled with despair.

Harbored a single hope for the future that may await beyond it.

(This child, Fezard, wants a world where we can live in peace)

That was the initial reason why the current Demon King decided to battle humanity of his own volition.

The journey changed its purpose.

Work began on subduing demons and monsters in various lands with Fezard, and reluctantly making them subordinates.

Around this time, what enraged and simultaneously terrified the Demon King the most was that his subordinate demons actively tried to harm Fezard.

A petty thought of venting their frustration on Fezard because they can’t win against the Demon King.

Naturally, such individuals were executed without exception, made into examples for the rest, but the same thing keeps happening as more subordinates are added.

However, it was Fezard who resolved this issue, not the Demon King.

Despite being born weak, not even an upper-class demon,

Through immense effort, Fezard achieved the second strongest position in the Demon King’s Army and effectively gained the status of the Demon King’s right hand.

Fezard single-handedly defeated those who dared to attack him, firmly establishing the hierarchy.

At that time, apart from the Demon King, Dragburn, who was hailed as the strongest in the Demon Realm, and Vampneel, the vampire with a lineage of immense power, were both made to submit.

Although there was some concern as the Demon King that he didn’t want Fezard to take unnecessary risks,

As someone who knew Fezard’s dedication and effort better than anyone else, he trusted and entrusted her.

Thus, as the number of subordinates grew and the current Demon King’s Army expanded, they began to encounter various types of demons.

Even demons they hadn’t noticed before because they had avoided them during previous journeys.

The existence of some of these demons changed the Demon King’s values.

The initial catalyst was Asgard.

A demon born as a subspecies of Gargoyles, a monster that uses magic.

A demon who could live without eating.

His body made of rock, so other demons wouldn’t even attempt to consume him.

In other words, in this Demon Realm where one must fight to survive, Asgard can survive without fighting.

He was empty.

Doing nothing, feeling nothing, he had been sitting on the mountainside like a mere object until the Demon King found him.

Surely, if the Demon King hadn’t found him, he would have truly done nothing until the gates opened and he was compelled by thoughts.

Although Asgard was such an empty mass. . . . . .However, he wasn’t ugly like other demons.

At the very least, he wasn’t constantly scheming nefarious plots to target Fezard.

And another catalyst was children of demonkind who were similar to Fezard when they first met.

While not all of them, more than half of the children raised in places within the Demon King’s reach grew up to be decent 『people』, just like Fezard.

It’s not that they swear heartfelt loyalty like Fezard does, but they can engage in tasks without overly demeaning or harming others.

That alone is sufficient.

They are not merely somewhat intelligent beasts.

They were proper individuals.

Seeing this, the Demon King gains conviction.

Something he had faintly suspected ever since he started traveling with Fezard.

(Was the ugliness of demonkind a product of their environment . . . . . . ?)

In a way, it’s a natural thought.

Calmly considering, it’s impossible to nurture stable emotions in such a hellish environment.

I had Fezard.

That’s why I could remain a person.

But what about them?

Alone in hell, they continue to prey on others for survival, unable even to recognize fellow demons as anything other than food.

Their wickedness is honed only for the sake of killing and eating powerful enemies, making it impossible to build anything like trust.

The vast majority of demonkind know only such a pitiful way of living.

Some, like Dragburn, manage to embrace a relatively better direction, but they are the extreme minority.

Thinking this way, the demons I had found ugly until now suddenly appear pitiable.

Would demons change if the environment changes?

If indeed they could gain a world that even the gods prompt us to seize, would all of demonkind eventually return to being decent people?

At this moment, the Demon King found one more reason to fight.

For decades, he continued to amass followers.

Finally, the gate to another world opened.

The Demon King left children, who had inherited his ideals, in the Demon Realm. Accompanied by his subordinates, led by Fezard, he arrived in this world.

“Oh. . . . . .”

I remember being deeply moved when I first saw this world.

The pouring sunlight, clear air, abundant greenery, and plentiful water sources.

All things that don’t exist in the Demon Realm.

I knew of their existence through imprinted knowledge, but seeing them in person almost brought me to tears due to their magnificence.

In this bountiful world, perhaps demons could truly change.

If they consumed the blessings of the forest and sea, there would be no need to cannibalize each other.

If there was no reason to fight, their aggressiveness might wane, and they could perhaps lead a respectable life.

Fezard and I might even be able to live peacefully.

Such a wonderful world—and the Demon King trampled it down with his own power.

It’s not as if it can’t be helped.

The command imprinted upon the Demon King, upon the demons, is to seize this world.

To acquire it, it must be taken from its original inhabitants.

The Demon King’s Army reigned over this land by attacking humanity, who had been living peacefully in this wonderful world, crushing their happiness underfoot.

I felt nauseated.

Deeply nauseated by our own deeds.

Crushing with our own hands the people who embody the ideals we aspired to have.

It felt as if I was smashing something precious to myself into pieces.

I really don’t understand why we have to do such things.

Instead of taking, isn’t it just a matter of bowing our heads and asking for a little blessing?

From what I can see, humanity hasn’t exhausted all the vast lands of this world.

Before the hatred of humanity towards demons arose, if the very first Demon King had chosen negotiation over invasion, perhaps we could have been allowed to dwell in untamed lands.

Still, the imprinted thoughts force us to seize.

Ah, I know, I understand.

Settling in blessed lands is not an option.

That would only save the demons, not the God of the Demon Realm.

The God of the Demon Realm will disappear along with the realm’s collapse in the not-so-distant future.

That’s why he is using demons to destroy humanity and conquer this world, to seize the throne of the God of this world.

In the end, it’s all for the convenience of the gods.

I don’t even want to understand such logic.

Yet, I can’t go against it.

The divine thoughts intensify as prey is within sight, not allowing the Demon King to stop.

And so, the Demon King continued to fight without stopping.

Trying to minimize the casualties as much as possible, and above all, to secure a future for Fezard, he fought on with resolute beliefs.

This is the outcome.

“Ah. . . . . .”

The slashes of light and darkness tear through the Demon King’s body.

No doubt about it.

A fatal wound.

In a matter of seconds, the life of the Demon King will end.

(I’ve lost.)

I’ve been thoroughly defeated.

Losing my most beloved subordinate, I tried to at least accomplish the salvation of the demons whom she supported. Mustering my heart trembling in sorrow, I faced the final battle. . . . . .and I couldn’t win.

(What could be the reason for my defeat. . . . . .)

I thought I gave it my all, as if I was a puppet of God, but it wasn’t enough.

I shouldn’t have been lacking in terms of skill.

The Demon King, who has worked hard to improve his skills alongside Fezard, is stronger than a hero who has unleashed the Holy Sword in a one-on-one battle.

Even with everyone in this room combined, the Demon King still has the upper hand.

Yet, I lost.

(Ah, I see.)

Looking at the two people in front of me, crossing blades of light and darkness.

Looking at the two people who somehow resemble Fezard and myself.

The Demon King realized the cause of his defeat.

“Fezard. . . . . .”

(I should have fought alongside you. . . . . .)

The two people in front of me fight side by side, while I fought alone.

That is the reason for the Demon King’s defeat.

I won’t say it was a mistake.

In the final battle at the Demon King’s Castle, had I not sent Fezard to intercept forces other than the hero, more Holy Warriors would have likely joined the battle against me.

Fezard is strong.

Against scattered Holy Warriors, she would almost certainly not lose.

However, her durability is below average for a demon.

If she were to join the battle against the Hero, she might suffer fatal wounds from attacks beyond her guard.

Moreover, the damage inflicted by the Holy Sword, even when the Demon King applies Healing Magic, cannot be healed.

She couldn’t even heal the wounds inflicted by the two Sword Saints in the past, nor could she regain her right eye.

Strategically, placing her where she can perform best rather than in a dangerous location is not a mistake.

Yet, it’s not about logic.

No matter how perilous it may be, I should have trusted Fezard and left my side to her.

Just like the Hero who trusted a partner even more precarious than Fezard and lacking divine protection.

“I acknowledge you, Hero.”

While hearing the sound of his body being destroyed from within due to the power of the Holy Sword and his own power, the Demon King said this at the end.

“You win.”

The Demon King’s body starts to disintegrate.

His soul begins to detach from his body.

At that moment,

“!”

A gust of wind caresses the Demon King’s cheek.

A wind as warm as the spring breeze.

The same kind of wind that Fezard used to create unconsciously when she ran towards him as a child.

(Fezard.)

The Demon King thinks.

For the last time, not as the king of demons, but as a man, he thinks about the woman he loves the most.

(If wishes could come true.

If there is a next life or an afterworld.

Without the burden of being destined to fight, without being constrained by the stifling titles like Demon King and his subordinate)

He closes his eyes.

The image of her clearly appears on the inside of his eyelids.

(As a single life, beside you. . . . . .)

And so, the Demon King,

The strongest of the demons,

Unable to withstand the immense power that had been thrust into him, shattered without a trace.

Just like the woman he loved the most, he died without having his remains desecrated.

Thus, the current battle between humanity and the demons came to an end.

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