Editors: ASplashofMusic, Katie_WanderingFujoshi
After sending off the Master Swordsman, I returned to the room set aside for receiving guests.
I felt pensive as I gazed at the plumes of smoke slowly rising from my pipe.
In spite of my attempts to calm down, my heart was overturned by waves, as the memories that I had sealed suddenly resurfaced. On that fateful day sixteen years ago…
The stifling air perfused with the stench of blood and acrid smoke.
The immensely sorrowful wails of a young boy, and… the serene expression on the body of a child gone too soon.
As I immersed myself in reminiscence, intense pain still gripped my heart for those pitiful boys, however old those memories were.
“I’m Allen and he’s Riley. Uncle, what are you doing in a place like this?” asked the brunet, his brown eyes filled with vigilance.
He was a mere ten-year-old dressed in shabby clothes and only came up to my chest. A sorry figure compared to me, a hulking man decked in full armor. Nevertheless, he stared straight into my eyes and boldly questioned me.
Hearing his name surprised me. Could he be the ‘Hero Allen’ that we were looking for? However, I remembered respecting Allen as a person, regardless of his probable status as the ‘hero’.
Despite being a small child, he staunchly shielded his childhood friend behind his thin back. Look at that, he was already acting like a knight. And I’d say this probably wasn’t the first time. That boy’s beauty was sure to attract many dangers.
Inferring all this in the few moments after being ‘questioned’, I decided to explain myself in a gentle manner.
I knelt on one knee so that I was at eye-level with them. “We received a prophecy from an oracle that there’s a hero here. Can you try pulling this sword out for us?”
Those brown eyes stared at me for a while. Then he nodded as if convinced.
After encouraging Riley and Allen to perform the test, I watched attentively as the blonde boy picked up the Holy Sword.
The blade slipped out of its scabbard without any resistance whatsoever, shining so much that it dazzled my eyes.
“Your hand isn’t burning?” I asked, wanting to confirm his legitimacy via the Holy Sword.
“Hmm? No?” Riley tilted his head, seeming to be confused as to why holding a sword could burn someone.
In contrast, Allen accused, “Uncle, you made him hold a sword that could burn him?”
For some reason, I felt a little guilty. I elaborated, “I was only verifying when I asked him to hold the sword. This sword chooses its wielder. For example, I’m someone who was not chosen. Pay attention to what happens when I wield it.”
The moment I touched the hilt of the holy sword, sparks flew out and burned my hand.
Enduring the sharp pain, I raised my hand and showed them the wound.
Allen narrowed his brown eyes in doubt. He reached for the holy sword to test it himself.
“Allen!” Riley interjected, worried that he would also hurt his palm.
“…It doesn’t really hurt,” said Allen, trying to comfort Riley. He turned to me. “Is this some kind of magic trick? Uncle, did you do something to it?”
Feeling helpless at his attempt at deceiving me, I said, “That means the sword would’ve chosen you too. If you don’t believe me, I can ask the other knights to try it.”
He shook his head. “No need.” Then he glanced at Riley.
The next moment, warm light gathered in Riley’s palms and Allen’s burn was completely healed.
Riley had just used high-level healing magic. And without a chant even.
As I was stunned to silence, unable to let out even a sound of surprise, the boys laughed without a care.
The lively Allen and the quiet Riley.
Both hero candidates had grown in quite remarkable ways.
Riley, despite his outstanding talent in swordsmanship and magic, lacked the motivation to fight.
Allen, despite his lack of magic power, brandished his sword without fear.
As Allen attacked with his sword, Riley assisted him from the back. Their coordination never failed to surprise me. They truly were close childhood friends.
At that time, I had thought, the moniker ‘Hero Allen’ should be a nickname pertaining to both of them, right?
After all, they complimented each other. Only when these two fought together could they display their full power.
We’re sorry for MTLers or people who like using reading mode, but our translations keep getting stolen by aggregators so we’re going to bring back the copy protection. If you need to MTL please retype the gibberish parts.
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On that day, I wasn’t in the village. I had to travel to the nearby town on horseback to give my monthly report. After listening to the updates about the state of the Demon King’s army, I set back to the village, taking my usual route.
However, on my way back, I felt a tremendous torrent of magic. Very wild and explosive.
I urged my horse to go faster. What had happened in the village?
When my horse refused to go any further from fright, I simply jumped down and ran the rest of the way.
Smoke rose in the direction of the village. I could also sense sporadic bursts of magic, different from the earlier surge. As I was still too far away to have a proper view, my imagination began to run wild.
When I finally reached the village, its ravaged state shocked me.
The fire had already burned all the houses to ash. Mixed with the smell of smoke was the heavy stench of blood.
All of the corpses I saw suffered multiple deep cuts. Upon examining their state of their bodies, I realized that this was an unmitigated attack.
And judging from the scars on their bodies, this was probably an one-man crime.
As to who could be powerful enough to single-handedly exterminate a village of this size, only demons came to mind.
It must’ve come to annihilate the hero.
But just how did they learn about him? How did the information leak? Only the military forces knew about the existence of the hero.
One possibility was that there was a spy in the military. Or, the scope of the Demon King’s influence could be larger than what we humans had estimated.
Feeling unpleasant sweat on my back, I rushed to the collapsing orphanage.
No matter how many times I shouted, nobody answered me. Everywhere I looked, there were only mutilated corpses scattered on the ground.
Riley’s magic had also dissipated on my way here. Subconsciously, I didn’t want to think of some grim reasons as to why it disappeared, but… it was my duty to confirm what had happened to Riley and Allen.
I ran around the village streets. Shouted until my throat became hoarse.
Nobody responded, but there were chances that some of the villagers had only lost consciousness.
Holding onto such an unrealistic hope, I went to the burned down chapel.
I felt a presence near the cross, which was the only thing that survived the fire. Sure enough, right underneath the cross, the back of Riley’s squatting figure could be seen.
He was also holding another person in his arms.
“Riley, what a relief. Allen tooー”
As I stepped towards them, a splash sounded from underneath my feet. When I looked down, the color red filled my field of view.
Only the Holy Sword, which was lying in the pool of blood under the darkening sky, emitted an ill-matched light amidst the red.
Taking another step closer, I could see Allen… with his body full of cuts.
A large hole in his chest. And hollow eyes. Both indications of death.
Riley’s fingers, now dyed red, repeatedly traced Allen’s cheek, attempting to cast healing magic on him.
Riley’s grief-stricken back was a heart-wrenching sight. And yet, all I could do at that moment was stand aghast, not speaking a word.
Eventually, I couldn’t take it anymore. So after muttering a poor excuse, I went to clear up the rubble around the cross and then set up a camping site.
I used my portable food supplies and water to create a simple meal. I made a bonfire for the purpose of burning scrap wood, but its calming effect didn’t hurt.
How could something like this happen?
With my mind filled with unanswered questions, I looked for survivors and food during the day, burying every dead villager I spotted one by one. At night, I crouched by the bonfire.
The days seemed to fly by in this unaffected fashion since then. I no longer even knew what day it was.
Riley, who hadn’t moved an inch for a long time, suddenly headed to a big tree while carrying Allen.
Riley dug a hole near the tree with earth magic. All while keeping a tight hold on Allen’s body.
After digging deep enough, he entered the hole himself. A gloomy silence seemed to hang over the village once again.
When he came out, only a handful of Allen’s hair remained in his grip.
Then with his small palms, he carefully covered the hole with soil.
Riley would occasionally stroke Allen’s cheek with his dirty fingertips, doubt flashing across his face. However, after a moment’s hesitation, he would slowly cover him with soil again.
My heart felt like it was tearing apart at this silent lament, but I found myself unable to look away.
Eventually, Riley finished burying Allen and turned to me with a pale face.
Was this boy still Riley?
Extreme sadness seemed to change people.
His shy smile and gentle atmosphere were nowhere in sight. Only a frozen, expressionless face and a sharp aura remained. It was like he became a completely different person.
It was impossible for eye colors to change. But his previously bright pomegranate-red eyes, when shrouded in sadness, seemed to turn into a murky blood color.
“I’ve abandoned that name. From now on, call me… Allen.”
As soon as I heard that, the long forgotten words of the oracle quickly came to mind.
“The blonde, red-eyed Hero Allen is at the orphanage in Tobol Village.”
I now realized what the oracle had meant. And I felt an overwhelming urge to vomit.
Was the oracle saying that this terrible situation was a part of God’s plan?
Did God really plan this for the lively Allen and gentle Riley?
Even though they never wished to become the ‘hero.’
For You to shape Riley into the hero who would eventually defeat the Demon King…
Just what… What ordeals would this boy have to endure?
Was this the price of becoming a ‘hero?’
When I heard that the Master Swordsman came again, I felt strangely nervous.
We only just met each other yesterday. I couldn’t fathom any reason for him to visit me again the very next day.
But from yesterday’s conversation, I knew that something unexpected had happened.
A third party who somehow knew Riley and Allen’s names.
The only bits of knowledge I have about him was from what the Master Swordsman had told me. And I didn’t understand why it affected him this much.
The number of people who knew their names wasn’t a lot.
There were only me, the top-ranking officials at that time, and the two platoons that headed to Tobol.
I didn’t think any of them would spread any information about it. Moreover, the events that transpired that day was a truth that was hard to speak about.
Even so, the public had the right to know the parts that they were allowed to know.
At best, the hero would become a popular protagonist in books or plays.
That wasn’t Riley’s real intention, but it wasn’t something that the Master Swordsman should make too much of a fuss about.
However, upon seeing the young boy accompanying the Master Swordsman, I grew astonished.
He was quite similar to Allen. Too similar, to be honest.
Hair color. Eye color. Aura. All the same.
It was as if the boy who had his time stopped when he was twelve had grown a little…
“It’s been a long time, Mister Kenneth. Or is it better to call you ‘uncle’?”
I stiffened. Even his grin was a carbon copy of that person. This was too much for me to take.
At that moment, I called God’s name for the first time in sixteen years.
“Are you surprised?” said the boy, a mischievous smile plastered on his face. His name was Ilya.
Upon closer inspection, I finally noticed that some of his features were different from Allen.
Their faces were similar, but his eyes were slightly droopy. And for a sixteen-year-old boy, his figure was rather slender.
Most importantly, Allen had already died sixteen years ago. Even if he had somehow lived, he would be twenty-eight now. He wouldn’t be such a young boy.
“I’m sorry for coming by so suddenly. I just felt like I should meet you before going to Tobol.”
“Are you… Allen?” I asked hesitantly, still in a bit of a daze from this surprise.
To which, the cheeky boy replied, “Yeah. Do you want to check, uncle?”
He then smoothly started to talk about the past.
For example, the name of the orphanage’s old priest and the olive tree near the orphanage.
The wooden sticks we used for training.
The mortifying incident when he and Riley caught me off guard during a spar, inadvertently causing me to lose.
The unadulterated joy he felt to receive my souvenirs every time I came back from the city after submitting my regular reports.
The commonplace things that made the past particularly more memorable.
And finally, he told me how he had looked forward to the sweets I’d bring back, as was usual, on that calamitous day.
“So, you have memories of that day too?” I asked, unsure as to whether such a ghastly memory should be retained in his mind.
“I do. Ah, but rest assured, I don’t remember the pain. I was desperate at that time. And besides, isn’t it easy to forget painful memories?” The boy laughed, brushing away his appalling death as if it was nothing. Once again, I felt like I was looking at Allen’s clone.
His mischievous, smiling face and his habit of tilting his neck slightly were very similar to Allen.
…No, he was certainly Allen.
I had never imagined that God would call Allen’s spirit and return him to this world. But without a doubt, this must be a gift from God.
God brought Allen back for the miserable Riley.
“Allen, I…” For some reason, I found it hard to express how much I regretted not being there to protect him when he needed me the most. “I don’t know what to say to you…”
Ilya interrupted me and bluntly said, “I don’t want any apology. I was content to have protected Riley… And I don’t think Mister Kenneth’s presence would have made a difference.”
To support Ilya’s claim, the Master Swordsman also added, “Sorry for butting into the conversation, but if you’re talking about that demon that exterminated the villagers, then what Ilya said is true. That was the Demon King’s right-hand man.”
‘Look, what did I say!’ That’s what Allen’s face was blithely telling me.
At last, Allen, now Ilya, showed a more serious expression and broached the main subject that he came to discuss with me. “Mister Kenneth. Please tell me what happened after I died.”
Ilya straightened his back, staring at me with his brown eyes full of anticipation. The same as those bold, challenging eyes of Allen’s when he first met me.
I remembered that Allen always had this kind of gaze whenever he was protecting Riley with all of his might.
The gaze that should’ve been lost forever in this world was now directed at me.
My eyes felt hot. And for a while, it felt like a lump was stuck in my throat.
[The setting of some vague terms (Be warned of the depressing setting.)]
The tremendous torrent of magic that Kenneth first felt = Riley’s magic rampage.
The sporadic bursts of magic = Riley’s healing magic.
Riley tried to cure Allen using his healing magic over and over again.
In his mind, he knew that Allen had died, but his heart couldn’t understand it just like now, and he tried to heal him repeatedly.
The reason for the dissipated magic power was because Riley’s magic power had depleted.
It was too depressing so I blurred it.
(((my editor Katie told me to preserve the April Fools ch, so I’ll do that,,, I’m too embarrassed to even read the comments, the t/n is just filled with my frustration and anger to reposters and life ahaha…….. remind mii not to ever write again yo /untilnextyearAprilFoolsmuahahaha)))
also ouch Sir Kenneth… QAQ /patsyou
Support the author! Let’s give our thanks to Momose Wasabi-sensei for creating such a sweet heartbreaking story! Here’s the tutorial made by “Shido Within” on how to buy digital books at CMOA. The tutorial specifies on how to buy digital manga, but I think it should work for novels too. After registering, you can click here to go to Icy’s CMOA page. Apparently, you can also buy this book at Bookwalker Japan! You’ll need to create a Bookwalker Global account first, then connect to VPN before clicking here to go to Icy’s Bookwalker page (or you can go there from the RAW Page on Icy’s ToC!). Here’s the guide on how to purchase books on Bookwalker JP Store! After purchasing, you can turn of the VPN and download to read the book on any device! (Thank you Shadow-san for telling me about this! ˭̡̞(◞⁎˃ᆺ˂)◞*✰) The difference is that if you’re using CMOA, you need to pay using your credit card, but with Bookwalker, you can pay using PayPal! Very efficient!
Support the translator! How about buying this translator a cup of bubble tea to boost her motivation and power (to defeat the wall of text!)? As a small thank you, you can read one advanced draft chapter of Icy ahead from schedule! Next chapter is from Ilya’s POV! They’re finally starting their jouney to Tobol village…!