The Hero of Regression – The Talentless Boy Vows to Protect His Childhood Friend, the Female Hero, This Time Around – Chapter 29

𝐖𝐨𝐫𝐥𝐝 𝐒𝐢𝐭𝐮𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐃𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧

𝐖𝐨𝐫𝐥𝐝 𝐒𝐢𝐭𝐮𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐃𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧

“Shall we start with a basic review? Are you familiar with what happened during the era of the previous Demon King?”

“I’ve heard it was a terribly harsh time.”

In the era of the former Demon King.

It is said to be the era in which humanity has been pushed to the brink over the past few hundred years.

However, it should be noted that the former Demon King was defeated long before we were born.

I have never actually witnessed its severity.

However, I’ve heard plenty of stories through word of mouth.

After all, the village we come from was established by people who lost their families in the war against the previous Demon King.

Both my father and mother lost their parents in that war, which makes them my grandparents. The same goes for Stella’s dad and the other villagers.

They often reminisce and talk about those times.

In my dreams, during the journeys I’ve taken, there have been countless such places.

Although I wasn’t particularly interested in the stories because my main focus was on training, visiting so many places meant that I inadvertently picked up some knowledge.

“Do you know how many years ago the previous Demon King was defeated?”

“If I remember correctly. . . . . .about 25 years ago?”

“Exactly. The previous hero defeated the previous Demon King at the cost of his own life just 25 years ago.

And the current Demon King emerged from the gates of the Demon Realm 15 years ago.

That means humanity has had only 10 years to recover.”

Ah, I see where this conversation is heading.

“Countless heroes have fought against the previous Demon King, who terrorized people for almost 90 years.

The scars from those battles still haven’t healed.

Although the exhaustion of the people has somewhat improved due to 10 years of recovery, the most critical issue is the shortage of soldiers.

Especially the lack of heroes with divine protection and Holy Warriors. It’s a fatal situation.

Right now, humanity is fighting against the Demon King’s Army in the worst state of manpower depletion in centuries.”

“. . . . . .I see.”

I nodded solemnly at Auntie Elle’s explanation.

I already knew as much.

I’ve been traveling for quite some time now, long after the days when I was naive before setting out on my journey of revenge.

I have a decent grasp of basic knowledge.

“Very well. It seems you already have a general idea.

So let’s get to the main point.

We’ll discuss the strategy of the current Demon King’s Army, humanity’s countermeasures, and the current state of the world.

Listen carefully.”

“. . . . . .Understood.”

I straightened my posture and waited for Auntie Elle to speak.

Unlike the stories I knew as a traveler, the discussion that would follow would be from the perspective of key historical figures.

And now that I’ve become a member of the Hero’s Party, I’m one of those key figures.

This isn’t something to listen to half-heartedly.

“The current Demon King is unusually cautious and cunning, a rare trait among Demon Kings.

He avoids wasting his limited elite demon forces and prefers to use local monsters.

And he never engages in head-to-head combat.

He strengthens the defenses around the Demon King’s Castle, and as for attacking humans, he deploys a small number of demons and the monsters they lead to various locations.

He targets vulnerable towns and villages without heroes, while keeping an eye on places where heroes are present.

As a result, most heroes and nearly all Holy Warriors are stretched thin just protecting their own areas, unable to move freely.

Thanks to that, we in the Hero’s Party have been barely able to gather the minimum number of members.”

“That’s a rather. . . . . .un-Demon-King-like, underhanded strategy.”

But when I think back, neither Demon Mantis nor Old Witch Demon led any monsters when they appeared in seemingly unremarkable rural areas.

I’ve always wondered why demons showed up in such places, and I guess that explains it.

The only saving grace is that heroes have taken to protecting our hometown with utmost consideration for Stella, so it’s not easy for anyone to mess with it.

Probably the same goes for Rin’s hometown.

“It’s a petty but effective tactic. They’re exploiting the scars left by the previous Demon King to the fullest. . . . . .absolutely infuriating.”

Auntie Elle spat out those words, her cute young face filled with an inappropriate loathing.

It seems she’s really fed up with it all.

“In this way, humanity is gradually, but surely, being worn down, as if slowly strangling us with soft wool, heading toward defeat.

The only way to reverse this situation is by defeating the Demon King through our makeshift guerrilla force.

If we do that, the leaderless demons will become a disorderly mob and will no longer be enemies of humanity.”

“Will things really go that smoothly just by defeating the Demon King?”

That’s a bit of a concern for me.

In my dreams, my goal was to take revenge on the Demon King, and I didn’t care about what happened afterward. But my current goal is to protect Stella’s happiness.

Even if the Demon King is defeated, if a new leader emerges from the remnants, peace will be elusive.

To my anxiety, Auntie Elle confidently asserted,

“It will definitely work. How many years do you think I’ve been observing demons?

Demons are basically a race that thinks only of themselves.

Because each has tremendous power, they lack the concept of working together.

The Demon King’s Army is not a collection of demons gathered under the flag of the Demon King. It’s merely that the Demon King forcefully controls them through his absolute power.

Defeat that absolute ruler, and the Demon King’s army will collapse.

A few remnants rampaging individually can be easily dealt with.”

“Ah, I see.”

I’m still a bit anxious, but for now, I’ll believe her words.

“However, if we can’t defeat the Demon King, everything else is just pie in the sky.

Given that we are the Hero’s Party with only the bare minimum numbers, defeating the Demon King will be quite the perilous journey.

That’s why I’m grateful to you.

The presence of even one Holy Warrior makes a huge difference.”

“I see. Well, I’ll do my best to meet your expectations.”

“Please do.”

I would’ve done it without being told anyway.

The Demon King, who poses the greatest threat to Stella’s life and happiness, will be defeated.

After that, I’ll take Stella back to our village and live freely—whether that means retiring, taking over the family business, or going on a journey.

That’s already decided.

“So, is this the concrete plan to defeat the Demon King?

Initially, the plan was to travel through various regions, defeat the Demon King’s Army, gradually weaken their forces, and liberate heroes and Holy Warriors who were trapped and unable to move due to their attention. This was to bolster our forces for the battle against the Demon King.

However, if the hero takes action, the demons will likely retreat, using monsters as a shield.

Naturally, we don’t intend to let them escape, but eventually, information will reach the Demon King, and the Four Heavenly Kings, who have been lying in wait, will likely start to move.”

So, we had no choice but to continue our journey while somehow repelling them.

If we can lure out the Demon King in the process, all the better.”

“Huh? Why would it be a good thing if the Demon King shows up?”

Logically thinking, it would be desperate if the Four Heavenly Kings teamed up with him.

“If the Demon King comes forth, the true power of the Holy Sword can be unleashed.”

“The true power?”

“That’s right. The Holy Sword is a sword specialized in killing the Demon King.

To be more precise, it’s a sword specialized only in killing the Demon King.

Therefore, until the moment it clashes with the Demon King, the Holy Sword is sealing its true power and storing it.

Against ordinary demons or the Four Heavenly Kings, it wields no greater power than a regular sword.”

“. . . . . . Is that really true?”

I changed the question to Stella, who was casually stirring the pot next to Auntie Elle.

Stella, who apparently hadn’t expected to be suddenly spoken to, had her mouth full of ingredients.

After spending a few seconds chewing, she swallowed and then spoke with a serious expression.

The serious atmosphere was disrupted during those few seconds.

“Well, it’s true. Right now, this Holy Sword is doing its best to wield the minimal leaked power from its seal.

At the moment, it feels like a pretty sharp and absolutely unbreakable normal sword.”

However, Stella herself seemed to think she was maintaining a serious atmosphere and showed no signs of panicking.

Auntie Elle and I decided to elegantly ignore this and continued the conversation.

“In other words, if the Demon King comes with an army to kill Stella, we can somehow delay that army with our forces and the local fighters and confront the Demon King with Stella.

The chances of victory aren’t very high, but by skipping the battles along the way and conserving our strength, we can bring it to a decisive showdown.

Among the expected outcomes, this is a fairly favorable one.”

“. . . I see.”

Honestly, I don’t like the plan of pushing Stella alone against the Demon King, but it’s reasonable.

Rather than charging into the Demon King’s Castle alone, like Stella in my dream, having lost all her allies and suffered a fatal blow, this is a much more promising gamble.

But let me say this.

“If that happens, I will leave the enemies in front of me to go assist Stella.”

With a determined gaze, I declared to Auntie Elle.

I will protect not humanity but Stella.

Even if the enemies I’ve abandoned end up killing many people, I will prioritize helping Stella.

This is non-negotiable.

“I understand, I understand. I’m well aware of your passionate feelings. There’s no need to glare; I have no objections.”

“Good.”

“Ah, truly, to be so loved, Stella.”

“Stop teasing me!”

Auntie Elle suddenly starts teasing Stella with a grin.

Well, there goes the serious mood.

“Anyway, let’s get back to the topic. What we discussed earlier was just a preliminary plan and one possible scenario.

The reality is that the Demon King is unlikely to give up his advantageous position to attack us, and the overall strategy has had to be reevaluated due to drastic changes in the situation over the past few years.

Well, the changes in the situation are good news, at least.”

“Good news?”

Did some hero achieve a great victory or something?

“Yes. Recent developments suggest that the demons who had been holding various bases have been defeated by someone.

While this hasn’t freed up the Holy Warriors who are responsible for large areas, some of the other heroes have gained mobility.

The simple fact that the number of demons has decreased is already a huge relief. I can’t thank them enough.”

“Hmm.”

Someone’s capable of that?

To wipe out demons along with their bases, they’d have to be at least as powerful as someone like Fisto, one of the top-tier heroes.

Possibly even on par with a Holy Warrior.

If such a force is on the move, why not try to recruit them?

“Do you know who it is?”

“No idea, unfortunately.

According to the observers, the demons suddenly started making a commotion one day, and they heard intense battle sounds. A few hours or days later, the demons’ bases were left in a state of carnage.

And the hero responsible didn’t even show their face, let alone identify themselves.

It’s become a hot topic for bards lately.”

“Ah, now that you mention it, I feel like I’ve heard rumors about that.”

Especially when I was in the demon-controlled areas, I think I heard something similar in neighboring towns.

“Personally, I suspect the independent beastfolk who are doing as they please.

Their leader, the Beast King, is said to be one of the strongest Holy Warriors, just like me.

I’d be grateful if they’d cooperate, but I’m glad enough if they just remain the enemy of my enemy.”

“Hmm, I’ve hunted a few demons over the past years but haven’t run into any beastfolk.”

The moment I say that, Auntie Elle freezes.

She suddenly becomes serious and looks at me with unreadable eyes.

What’s going on?

“When did you start hunting demons? When did this all begin?”

“About five years ago. I went to kill them in search of strong training opponents. It also reduces the number of future enemies, so it’s like killing two birds with one stone.”

“. . . . . .Oh.”

“Oh?”

“You!”

“What?!”

Suddenly, Auntie Elle delivers a chop as a retort.

It’s a surprisingly strong blow, given her appearance.

Although I’m no match for someone with divine protection in martial arts, even those of us with magical divine protection have physical abilities high enough to survive tough battles.

If Auntie Elle and I arm-wrestled, I’d probably lose easily.

I deflect her blow effortlessly with my empty hand.

“The true identity of the mysterious hero is you!

I see, if you are indeed the one who overwhelmed Ru, then you can also hunt demons!

Honestly, I made a fool of myself by pretending to know in front of the actual person!

I spoke confidently but made a wrong deduction, didn’t I?!”

Auntie Elle is getting worked up.

Perhaps due to her shame, her face is a bit red.

She looks like a little girl throwing a tantrum.

So, I’m the mysterious hero?

I’ve been targeting demons for training and prioritized training time over gaining recognition, thus leaving without saying anything and moving on to the next challenge.

I see.

If I set aside my own feelings and look at it objectively, I could be considered the mysterious hero.

I guess thinking about recruiting them was a waste.

“Phew. . . . . .My apologies, I got a little worked up.

That being said, you’ve already contributed a lot to humanity, haven’t you?

You’ve achieved so much without any divine protection. It makes sense that Ru-boy would take a liking to you.

After all, you’re the successor to Shizuka’s blade.”

“Shizuka?”

A name I don’t know just came up.

“That’s the original owner of the blade and garment you have.

My comrade when I first joined the Hero’s Party, 『Sword Saint』 Shizuka.

She was the kind to rampage on the battlefield, taking on the Demon King at the time. She alone acted as a decoy, protecting us who were wounded. A sister figure worth of respect.”

Auntie Elle’s eyes narrow with nostalgia.

She must be thinking of the past.

“Where did you get that equipment?”

“I obtained it after defeating a skeleton of a woman in the depths of a certain labyrinth. I had thought she was a former Sword Saint, didn’t know she was such a person.”

“I see. . . . . .”

Auntie Elle lowers her eyes.

She’s probably praying for the soul of her old friend.

Soon, Auntie Elle opens her eyes, looking at me kindly.

“If someone with a strong heart like you inherits it, Shizuka would be pleased. Take good care of that equipment.”

“. . . . . .Alright.”

I nod solemnly.

Sword Saint Skeleton, no, 『Sword Saint』 Shizuka.

Equipment once used by a senior who gave her life fighting the Demon King. . . . . .I’ll continue to use it gratefully.

Also, I apologize for any disrespectful thoughts I had earlier.

“Still, Shizuka turned into a skeleton, huh? . . . . . .Was she strong?”

“She was ridiculously strong. At that time, I had to rely on Rin to patch me up after getting my limbs cut off multiple times.”

“Ah, so you were fighting her when you met me.”

“Yes.”

Then, at that moment, Stella next to me clenches her arm, silently giving me an upward glance.

Her face is a mix of complicated emotions.

As if she wants to scold me for my recklessness but can’t. Her face is a sad mixture of worry, guilt, and various other emotions.

. . . . . .That’s why, it was my choice to do this, you don’t need to worry.

For now, I just pat Stella’s head with a wry smile.

It’s oddly uncomfortable to not be rejected. . . . . .

“Anyway, you never gave up against Shizuka despite losing limbs repeatedly.

That’s commendable. Blade should learn from that. That way, Lord Ru would get mad at him less often.”

“Heh, you’re throwing that on me now?”

Auntie Elle suddenly brings up Blade, and Blade himself reluctantly gets more from the pot.

And something that’s been subtly bothering me—Is this ‘Ru-boy’ that keeps coming up in the conversation Ruberto-san?

To be able to call that old knight so casually, Auntie Elle really must be of an older generation.

Hard to believe given her earlier tantrum.

“Ah. . . . . .Ruberto-sama is strict with Blade-sama, you see.”

“I know, right? Even though I’m stronger now, he still treats me like a kid.”

“For the elderly, young people will always be young people. Also, Ru-boy’s strictness is probably a form of tough love.”

“I think Blade brought it on himself. Even if he claims to be stronger than Ruberto-san, it’s just a matter of overpowering with brute strength. And Blade seems to lack grit.”

“Who lacks grit here, huh?!”

The group of heroes were making a lively fuss.

Looking at this scene, I had a feeling that we would get along well with them.

Those who can laugh in the face of adversity are strong.

Conversely, I know firsthand how dangerous it is to lose one’s composure.

With these guys, we can surely change a future of despair.

“Oops, seems we’ve gotten off track.

Let’s get back to the point. This is about the current roadmap to defeating the Demon King, altered due to changing circumstances.”

Auntie Elle resumed the discussion.

And the final topic of the day was brought up.

“Thanks to Al-boy, the mysterious hero, the number of demons we have to defeat has significantly reduced.

And there’s another change in the situation that we can’t ignore.”

The words that Auntie Elle unleashed were truly astonishing.

At that moment, I definitely felt it.

The future, the destiny, audibly changing.

“Whether they’re annoyed that the demons have been hunted or there’s another reason, I don’t know, but one of the Four Heavenly Kings from the preserved Demon King’s Army has recently appeared near human settlements and has begun to wreak havoc.”

The appearance of the Four Heavenly Kings this early on.

There was no such information in my dreams.

“This could be a trap, but it’s also an opportunity.

If we can defeat one of the Four Heavenly Kings here, the rest will become much easier.

Thanks to Al-boy, the demon hunting that we should have done first has also made significant progress. . . . . .Therefore, we should hurry to the scene and collaborate with the local forces to defeat that one of the Four Heavenly Kings.

That will be the first destination on our journey to defeat the Demon King.”

“The name of that place is. . . . . .” Auntie Elle continued.

“—Elf Village. My hometown, protected by numerous skilled wizards and Divine Tree Protection, is one of the greatest fortresses of humanity.”

Elf Village.

That is the first battlefield we, as the Hero’s Party, will experience.

In that place, we will come to realize.

The immense strength of the enemy.

The unfathomable power and dreadfulness of the Four Heavenly Kings,

We will thoroughly taste.

Meanwhile, all the food in the pot had been eaten while we were having a serious discussion.

I learned the hard way.

Meals in the party are a survival-of-the-fittest, first-come-first-serve world.


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