The Hero of Regression – The Talentless Boy Vows to Protect His Childhood Friend, the Female Hero, This Time Around – Chapter 64

𝐋𝐨𝐬𝐭 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐏𝐫𝐨𝐭𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐞𝐝

A week after the battle had ended.

Both heroes had safely awakened, and the soldiers had recovered enough to defend the town on their own.

Without further ado, we were gathering in front of the Hero’s Party wagon parked at the barracks, ready to head to our next destination.

Carrying a certain cargo.

“”Ready, set, go!””

Stella and I hoisted the cargo into the wagon together.

Stella alone could’ve easily handled it in terms of strength, but it was a bit awkward to carry due to its size.

This thing is unnecessarily huge.

“Um, could you two handle that a bit more gently. . . . . .”

“Sorry, this is the best we can do. Unconscious people are surprisingly heavy.”

“My apologies, Rin. Allan is just not that strong.”

“You too, you were sloppy because you’re tired.”

What we were hauling was Blade, who had fainted.

He wouldn’t stop training, so we knocked him out during his practice and, just to make sure he wouldn’t act up, bundled him into the wagon like cargo.

Lately, his self-harming behavior under the guise of training has only been getting worse.

Rin tries her best to get him to rest and relax, but he completely ignores her.

If even Lin, who admired Blade, couldn’t get through to him, there’s no way Stella and I, who have known him for a shorter period, could do anything.

Even the body language method we tried during Rest didn’t work; Blade simply wouldn’t listen.

Even the experienced Auntie Elle has given up, saying, “All we can do now is take our time to sort it out.”

As a result, all we could do was knock him out and force him to rest when he overdid it.

Honestly, I can’t help but feel that showing such a difference in strength might only fuel Blade’s impatience, but we have no choice; otherwise, he’d really keep swinging his sword without sleeping.

“Hero-sama and company.”

“Ruberto-san, Doug-san.”

Just as we finished loading Blade, who had turned into cargo, Ruberto-san and Doug-san appeared near the wagon.

Apparently, they came to see us off.

“Ruberto-san, thank you for everything this time.”

“No need to thank an old man who could do nothing.”

Ruberto-san, responding to Stella’s words, clearly looked unwell.

He’s been like that for days.

Clearly, he’s been mentally damaged by recent events.

A few days ago, he suddenly screamed like a young girl, probably waking up from a nightmare.

I understand that pain well, having often woken up from nightmares in my previous world.

Despite that, Ruberto-san did not attempt to firmly allow us into the room when we rushed in, startled by the scream, and he never tried to show his weakness to us.

He’s a strong person.

I was a bit worried that his strength might lead him to endure too much and break, but Auntie Elle said she had a good way to detoxify with a drink, so it should be alright to some extent.

Truly an elder.

I can smoothly handle things even with Stella, who I’m not as close to.

However, it’s strange that Ruberto-san seems to be avoiding Auntie Elle lately.

“. . . . . .I may not be in a position to say this, but please look after Blade.”

Despite my worries about Ruberto-san’s feelings, he bowed his head to Stella, or rather to all of us, and made a request about Blade.

Our gazes naturally turned to Rin.

“Leave it to me! I’ll support Blade-sama wholeheartedly!”

Rin nodded to Ruberto-san’s words, her eyes filled with strong determination.

I genuinely think she’s reliable.

“Well, I’ll do what I can.”

“I’ll give it my best shot too. After all, Blade is our comrade.”

Stella and I might not match Rin’s enthusiasm, but we tell him that we’ll do our best.

As Stella said, Blade is our comrade.

Additionally, we feel the urge to help Blade, especially since we couldn’t save Rest, who was also struggling with his limitations.

At the very least, we have no reason to abandon him.

“It’s fortunate to have such reliable young folks around, right, Ru-boy?”

“. . . . . .Absolutely.”

Ruberto-san closes his eyes, seemingly digesting our words as he nods.

We can’t betray this expectation.

“We, you can leave the matter of Blade-boy to me and these guys. Heck, I could even comfort him just like you, if you want?”

“Please spare me that. My dreams will turn into nightmares for a while if you do.”

“Hohoho, just kidding. No matter how you look at it, I wouldn’t do something like that except for someone I trust a lot.” 

That said, Auntie Elle and Ruberto-san share a laugh over some inside joke we’re not privy to.

Although, Ruberto-san’s smile seems rather forced.

Perhaps Auntie Elle did something.

Still, if Ruberto-san’s expression has softened, then it couldn’t have been that bad.

While Ruberto-san and Auntie Elle are deep in conversation, we talk with another individual who came to see us off.

“Doug-san, we appreciate your help this time.”

“Hmph. No need to thank me. I was merely fulfilling my own duty. . . . . .or trying to.”

Doug-san’s mood drops mid-sentence.

The fact that we couldn’t save Rest has deeply affected him too.

Still, Doug-san remains resolute.

“Anyway, there’s a message from Vanessa and Hubert for Hero-sama and the group.”

Vanessa and Hubert are the ax-wielding woman and middle-aged wizard, respectively.

We’ve heard they regained consciousness, but we haven’t had the chance to speak with them.

A message from them?

What could it be?

“They say they don’t blame Rest. Rather, they express deep respect for his valiant efforts.”

“””!”””

Hearing those words, we catch our breath.

There’s something deeply moving about it.

“They remember being controlled by demons. They felt a powerful force they couldn’t resist. They respect Rest for maintaining his humanity against such a force, and they are grateful for being saved through his efforts and yours. . . . . .that’s what they say.”

“Of course,” Doug-san continues.

“The gratitude isn’t just from the two of them. This is a shared sentiment among all of us knights and soldiers. To make up for the thanks we couldn’t give to Rest, and for the others who couldn’t come here, let me say this on behalf of everyone—Hero-sama and company, thank you very much for saving us!”

Having said that, Doug-san bows deeply.

Seeing his posture and hearing those words of gratitude, I felt somehow rewarded.

I felt not just for us, but most importantly, that Rest’s efforts were also rewarded.

This battle was our loss.

We lost Rest, many lives, and the town will likely decline as people leave.

A defeat leaving nothing gained, only a bitter aftertaste.

Even so, Rest’s efforts were not in vain.

While we lost something, we definitely also protected something.

Feeling that realization, the back of my nose tingles.

Stella and Rin are tearing up, and nearby, even Ruberto-san has the same expression.

Auntie Elle looks at us all with compassionate eyes.

I regret that Blade is unconscious.

He’s the one who needs to hear this conversation the most.

I’ll make sure to tell him once he wakes up.

“Alright, we can’t keep being downcast. Let’s set out!”

At Auntie Elle’s decisive word, we shook off the somber mood and moved forward.

Rin and Auntie Elle climb into the carriage, while Stella and I take our seats on the driver’s bench.

Handling the reins, we set the two magnificent horses of the Hero’s Party in motion.

“Ruberto-san, Doug-san, take care!”

“May fortune favor you, Hero-sama and company.”

“Kid! Make sure you don’t slow down Hero-sama!”

“No need to tell me that.”

After saying our final farewells to the two, we advance the carriage to leave the town of Jamour.

We move through the town, first heading towards the gate.

Along the way, we see people carrying considerable luggage heading towards the gate where public carriages are.

Probably people who got scared staying in this town after what happened, planning to relocate to towns further back.

Their decision is correct.

Even if protected by heroes, it’s not guaranteed something like this won’t happen again.

That’s how strong the Demon King’s Army is.

However, if people disappear, the town will decline.

If this town, which supports the front lines, declines, it will undoubtedly have an impact on the outcome of the war.

It’s important to note that the idea of running away is only relevant on an individual level.

When viewed from the perspective of all of humanity, the story changes.

Still, expecting ordinary people without the will or readiness to fight to do so would be misplaced.

I prioritize Stella over all of humanity, so I have no right to blame them, nor do I intend to.

Nevertheless, it’s frustrating, even though I understand.

Especially if I consider this as the result of our defeat.

Yet, in this somber town atmosphere, suddenly, an oddly cheerful voice rang out.

“Come, come! It’s cheap, it’s cheap!”

It was the voice of a street vendor calling out.

Looking in the direction of the voice, I see a familiar face.

I exchange glances with Stella beside me and bring the wagon to a stop.

“What’s the matter?”

“Sorry, do you mind if we take a small detour?”

“Hmm? I don’t mind.”

With Auntie Elle’s permission, Stella and I step down from the driver’s seat and head toward the street vendor.

There, an Uncle is selling vegetables spiritedly.

It’s the greengrocer uncle we visited during our shopping date.

“Uncle!”

“Uncle!”

“Oh! The couple from last time! Wanna buy some veggies today too?”

Uncle was surprisingly unchanged.

Even after all that had happened.

In fact, I clearly remember seeing him being controlled and losing his sanity.

Yet, here he is, selling vegetables with as much energy as before.

“. . . . . .Is it really okay? You’re not leaving?”

Stella inquired almost impulsively.

In response, uncle chuckled resolutely.

“Heh! I love this town, ya know!”

Uncle said it as if it were no big deal.

Then, uncle’s eyes took on a serious look.

“Besides, not everyone can just up and leave this place. There are plenty who don’t have the means or a place to run to. If folks like me leave, what will happen to those who stay?”

Uncle, are you some kind of saint?

“And if this town gets too deserted, the soldiers who come here on their days off won’t have a pleasant place to relax. Sure, demons are scary. But the heroes and the soldiers have been fighting hard to protect us. Considering all the battles we’ve had, there were surprisingly few casualties. So, it’s only human to give back by working for the good of this town and supporting them. . . . . .Wait, why are you tearing up, young lady?”

“No, I’m just moved. . . . . .”

“What’s this, what’s this! Getting all shy, huh?!”

Although Stella was tearing up, I understand how she feels.

It was here, too.

What Rest risked his life to protect.

His efforts truly weren’t in vain.

Thinking that made the tears come naturally.

“Uncle, you’re not some church operative, are you?”

“You want to call me a saint? Come on! There are others like me. Compliments won’t get you more than a slight discount on vegetables!”

Cheered up by that, we paid Uncle a bit extra this time as a token of our emotional support and bought quite a few apples.

Taking them back to the carriage, we shared the story and the apples with Rin and Auntie Elle.

We even fed some to the horses, considering them part of the team.

It’s all the more regrettable that Blade is still knocked out.

After finishing the apples and regaining a lot of energy, I took up the reins and got the carriage moving again.

The journey is far from over.

Even if we face defeat, even if we bear scars that never fade, as long as our will to fight remains unbroken, we will rise and continue to move forward.

Until we defeat the Demon King and bring about a time of peace.

Now, let’s go.

Carrying the feelings of those who have fallen, and those who support us, into the future.

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