The Hero of Regression – The Talentless Boy Vows to Protect His Childhood Friend, the Female Hero, This Time Around – Chapter 35

𝐀 𝐖𝐨𝐫𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐆𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐬 𝐂𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐚𝐠𝐞

𝐀 𝐖𝐨𝐫𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐆𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐬 𝐂𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐚𝐠𝐞 

“Allan. . . . . . .”

Noticing me, Stella lifts her head, her face a mix of joy and awkwardness.

I casually sat down next to her.

“Thought you might’ve gotten a bit more humble since we last met. . . . . .Still, you’re as stubborn as ever, refusing to show your weaknesses when it matters.”

“Ah, um.”

I roughly tousle Stella’s hair.

If she had snapped like on the first day of our journey, that would’ve meant she still had some room to breathe. . . . . . . But it seems like she’s really holding back this time.

Seeing that, I change from being rough to gently stroking her hair.

“I’m not trying to act tough or anything. . . . . .”

“Then what are you saying? You’re sitting here alone, hugging your knees. . . . . .You were scared, weren’t you?”

“Uh. . . . . .”

Seems like I hit the nail on the head. Stella buries her face in her knees again.

Seriously, this girl.

She’s just so good at putting on a brave face.

Yes.

Stella was scared of fighting Dragburn.

It’s only natural.

Whether we have the power of heroes or not, who wouldn’t be afraid of that monster?

Myself, Auntie Elle, and Blade have been through life-or-death situations, so we were probably prepared.

As for Rin, it’s hard to say, but if she was supporting from a distance, the mental burden should have been lighter.

But Stella is different.

From what I’ve heard, she’s been taken to battlefields as part of her training, but she hasn’t had much experience facing overwhelmingly powerful monsters in life-or-death situations.

It’s understandable because they can’t afford to crush the hope of humanity during training.

Yet, in that condition, Stella faced off against that monster.

Even I, who’ve seen more than my fair share of formidable foes, felt chills down my spine. And she fought it head-on.

She was just a village girl until five years ago.

How scared must she have been?

How much courage did she muster?

Still, she didn’t show any weakness in front of everyone.

Just like that time in the dream when she first fought demons.

Back then, I couldn’t see through Stella’s bravado.

As a result, I recklessly cheered her on and sent her alone into the battle with the Demon King.

That was the beginning of all the tragedies.

If I had been watching Stella closely,

If I had supported her weaknesses,

That tragedy might not have occurred.

Even if I didn’t have the strength back then, I should have trained myself desperately like I did now, and I would’ve been of some help to Stella.

I won’t make the same mistake as in the dream.

I never want to cause such a tragedy again.

So now, I tell Stella this.

“If you were scared, just say it. If it was tough, just say it. Then, I will definitely help you.”

“. . . . . .Yeah.”

Stella nods, her voice tinged with tears and joy, and starts crying quietly.

I continued to stroke Stella’s head.

Crying is not a shame.

Even Eltrait-san needed time to cry.

If being a hero doesn’t allow her to cry, then I will allow it.

To me, you’re a cherished childhood friend before you’re a hero.

What’s wrong with comforting a childhood friend?

Nothing is wrong.

There can be nothing wrong.

So, feel free to cry your heart out in front of me.

Thinking that, I continue to stroke Stella’s head.

Eventually, she starts to calm down and begins to open up.

“It’s not like I was scared of the monster itself, you know.”

“Oh? Says the one who was scared of thunder and crawled into my bed, peeing herself and causing a mess when we were stranded in a storm.”

“That was when I was like 4 or 5! Just forget it!”

Trying to tease her, I got a good reaction.

It seems she’s significantly better now.

“So? You’re saying you weren’t scared of Dragburn?”

“. . . . . .Exactly as I said. I wasn’t scared of that monster.

Sure, I was a bit scared. . . . . .but what scared me even more was thinking that everyone, that Allan said might get killed by it.”

“. . . . . .I see.”

Not afraid of her own death, but of her comrades dying, huh.

I get it; the thought of Stella dying is a hundred times scarier to me than my own death.

But,

“This is war. It is impossible to win without sacrifices.

As long as the battle continues, someone will inevitably die.

That someone may be a total stranger, or it may be someone you know well.

Perhaps it could even be a comrade you were laughing with just yesterday.”

“. . . . . .Yeah.”

I deliberately spoke the harsh reality.

There’s no point in talking about optimistic hopes here.

If you can’t endure this reality, you’re not fit to fight.

It’s even better if you run away with me at that point.

“So, will you still choose to fight even though it’s going to be a tough battle?”

“Yes. That’s the one thing I won’t compromise on. I think everyone will die if I run away.”

“I see.”

Stubborn, isn’t she.

But then again, I can’t really argue because what Stella is saying isn’t entirely wrong.

Man, being a hero is really a pain.

But I’ve decided to protect her.

So, there’s only one thing I can say.

“Then, don’t be consumed by fear, and look ahead.

I’m not saying to forget the fear, but overcome it.

If you’re prepared, then muster the courage and fight with grit.

. . . . . .Of course, it’ll be tough to do that right away, so just remember this for now.”

Saying that, I gave Stella’s back a hearty thump.

Turning to a flinching Stella, I said,

“It’s okay. I’m with you.”

That single phrase encompasses everything I wanted to convey.

“No matter how hard it gets, no matter how strong the enemy is, I’ll always be on your side. I will protect you to the end.”

Might die along the way?

Who cares.

This is my resolve.

I’ve staked my entire life on this and I vow to see it through to the end.

I’ll twist fate if I have to, to fulfill this promise.

“I promised Uncle, too.

Anyway, no matter what happens, I’ll be by your side until the end.

So, did that encourage you a bit?”

When I asked her that, Stella, for some reason blushing to her ears, buried her face in her knees again.

I could barely hear her, but she was mumbling things like “That’s cheating. . . . . .” and “He’s oblivious again. . . . . .”

What’s she doing?

“Stella?”

“. . . . . .Yeah, it really encouraged me. I’ve gained a lot of courage. Thank you.”

Contrary to her words, for some reason Stella started glaring at me with a flushed face.

And then, after hesitating for a few seconds, she took an unexpected action.

The next moment, a small smooching sound resonated, and something soft touched my cheek.

“?!”

What?! 

Who is this?!

“What, thank you for comforting me, thanks! There’s nothing more or less than that!”

With just those words as if leaving them behind, Stella raced away at a speed I couldn’t catch up to.

Or rather, she fled.

. . . . . .I’m glad she seems to be feeling better, but she did something outrageous in the end.

“That girl. . . . . .”

While spewing words, I touched my own cheek.

Even if I tried to shake it off, that sensation wouldn’t disappear from my mind.

No, even before that, with my whole body engulfed in some inexplicable sense of happiness, I might be in various ways messed up.

My cheek felt extremely hot when I touched it, and I felt a strange heat transfer to my fingertips.


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