The Hero of Regression – The Talentless Boy Vows to Protect His Childhood Friend, the Female Hero, This Time Around – Chapter 24

𝐐𝐮𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐒𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐀𝐧𝐞𝐰

𝐐𝐮𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐒𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐀𝐧𝐞𝐰

During Stella’s departure ceremony, I made a grand entrance, causing a commotion, and in the end, started a duel with an old knight right then and there.

I have no regrets.

That was my intention from the start.

Though, I can’t deny that I impulsively jumped in when I saw Stella’s pained expression.

Honestly, I don’t really like the masses.

They pile unrealistic expectations on Stella in their dreams, burdening her with responsibilities and yet criticize her for not defeating the Demon King, as if it’s all her fault that their lives are miserable, while they do nothing themselves. I wouldn’t mind if such scum were eradicated.

Well, that’s only a part of the trash, to be fair.

But the part where they put all the pressure on Stella without doing anything themselves overlaps with the me in my dreams, and I can’t help but dislike them.

It’s what they call tribal hatred.

Setting that aside.

In the case of the Hero’s departure ceremony, one would expect the best available forces to be mobilized for their protection, except for those who can’t move due to fighting against the Demon King’s Army and monsters from various places.

Although it’s unlikely, it would be disastrous if the Hero were to be assassinated for some reason.

By straightforwardly defeating that threat, it would be a good opportunity to show how strong I am.

Once, the old knight said,

To become a companion of Stella, showing strength greater than that of a Holy Warrior is the minimum requirement.

In other words, there were other issues that I had to clear.

However, most of those issues can be resolved by 『gaining acceptance』.

If I can start a duel in a place that could even be said to be the focus of all mankind, everyone will witness the outcome.

Kings, citizens, and knights alike will have no way to deny the undeniable “result”.

If I win here, they’ll have no choice but to acknowledge it.

That I’m stronger than a Holy Warrior.

I won’t allow any petty objections like not recognizing me because they didn’t see the duel.

I’ll make it clear here.

“Keep the people at a distance and be their shield. Do not allow the aftershocks of the duel to pass.”

“””Ha!”””

While I was contemplating, the old knight had prepared the field for the duel.

The knights moved the crowd back, and stood in front of them with shields, lined up.

A place where we could fight was quickly made, almost like an improvised arena.

I’m really grateful for this person accepting the duel and for everything else.

To repay that favor, I vow to meet his expectations and surpass him.

“Well, let me say it’s been a while, young man.

You’ve grown so much, and have made it this far.

I respect you from the bottom of my heart.”

“Thank you.”

I was able to thank him honestly.

In a way, I owe it to this old knight that I’ve come this far.

Back then, he handed me a complete defeat and pointed me towards a realm that I needed to surpass; that’s why I’ve been able to work so hard to reach it.

Just like the me in my dreams, this man was a clear goal and a standard for me.

After hearing my words of gratitude, the old knight briefly widened his eyes in surprise, then smiled warmly.

However, that expression quickly turned serious.

The face of a swordsman focused on the opponent he must fight.

“But, I am 『Sword Saint』 Ruberto・Valkyrias.

As a Sword Saint, as one of humanity’s protectors, and above all, as the one who discovered you.

It’s my duty to personally verify whether you are truly worthy to be Hero-sama’s companion, whether you have that power or not.”

With that, the old knight drew his sword.

“I won’t hold back. I’ll go all out. If you want to stand beside Hero-sama. . . . . . defeat me first!”

An even stronger aura, one that surpasses even killing intent, bursts forth from the body of the old knight.

This is the spirit of an active Holy Warrior. . . . . .

Aside from the Demon King I encountered in my dreams, he is undoubtedly the strongest being I’ve ever met.

Feeling his overwhelming presence, I. . . . . .smiled.

“Excellent. . . . . .”

He is worth challenging.

He is worth defeating.

My only goal, now and in the past, is to protect Stella at all costs.

To achieve that, I need enough power to stand against the great enemies Stella will eventually face—the top executives of the Demon King’s Army, the Four Heavenly Kings, and even the Demon King in his prime.

The Demon King is the strongest being in the world.

Even the Four Heavenly Kings are said to be monsters that can’t be defeated even when Holy Warriors and heroes join forces.

If I can’t even defeat a single aged Sword Saint, I have no right to stand beside Stella and challenge those enemies.

Alright, Sword Saint.

I’ll defeat you and earn that right.

The right to stand at the starting line to protect the one I care for.

I won’t hold back.

I’ll give it everything I’ve got!

“Go for it, Allan!”

At that moment, I heard words of encouragement from Stella.

. . . . . .Come to think of it, I saw her face for the first time in a while earlier. She has grown incredibly beautiful.

It’s strange, I’ve never seen her matured appearance, even in my dreams.

Perhaps because I’ve lived a long life in my dreams, I’ve always somewhat seen Stella as a child, but that perception has been shattered.

It’s a strange feeling.

In any case, this is a rare, honest cheer from my usually annoying childhood friend.

I’m genuinely happy, and my mouth loosens into a smile.

So, I responded in kind.

“Sure! Leave it to me!”

Ah, what is this feeling?

My smile won’t fade.

Something other than fighting spirit is filling my chest, energizing me.

It’s not that I underestimate the old knight, but somehow, I just can’t see myself losing.

I sheathed Onryomaru, the sword I had been using to subdue the knights, and drew Kurotenmaru, my serious-mode sword, into a ready stance.

“Heh. You look even better than before. The face of a man backed by the woman he loves.”

“. . . . . .That’s not what this is about.”

“Heh heh. Well, let’s just say it is for now.”

Something warm caught my eye amid the old knight’s intense aura, but I ignored it for now.

The old knight, too, returned his aura to 100% pure fighting spirit in an instant.

“Alright, let’s begin. When this coin hits the ground, the duel will start. Is that acceptable?”

“Yes, that’s fine.”

The old knight pulled a coin from his pocket and showed it to me, then flicked it into the air with his thumb.

The coin spun in the air, pausing for a moment at its peak, before falling back down.

And then—the coin hit the ground, signaling the start of the duel with a high-pitched ring.

The battle begins.

“This is the first test.”

Muttering softly, the old knight made a familiar move.

I see, so that’s how it’s going to be.

“Here I come. ━━『Instant Slash』!”

In that instant, the old knight vanished from my field of vision.

That move.

Unforgettable.

Five years ago, I was defeated without a chance to resist in the face of this technique.

An attack so fast it allowed no response, a godlike flash.

Again, the move attacked me, and when I noticed, the old knight stood behind me, having already finished his attack.

And then the old knight. . . . . .

“Very impressive.”

He spoke words of praise.

In that fleeting moment of crossing blades, I had taken no damage, whereas the old knight had suffered minor injuries.

Yes, I had countered his Instant Slash.

I didn’t have the luxury to land a Flowing Blade, but with Distortion, I altered the trajectory of the Instant Slash and positioned the blade in the space where the old knight was passing through.

Instant Slash.

It was a terrifying technique as always, and I couldn’t keep track of it with my eyes this time either.

But, I could anticipate it.

With the training I’ve gone through, I can now accurately grasp the flow of power; just seeing the initial movements tells me how the opponent will move next.

No matter how fast the attack, if I know exactly when and where it will land, dealing with it becomes easy.

As long as I have the minimum required physical ability, at least.

My trained body has met that minimum criterion.

I can now fully fight against this old knight.

I will not be instantly defeated anymore.

Finally, I have reached the point where I can stand my ground in a match against the Holy Warrior, who possesses overwhelming power.

“It’s my turn now.”

“Ah! Come at me!”

Channeling strength into my legs, I charged at the old knight.

I’ve overcome the defeat of that fateful day, and I move forward.

And so, the final trial to stand beside Stella began.


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