Chapter 317: The Hero of the Cane
As soon as I awoke, waves of pain shot around my body.
I open my eyes, and raise my body. Raphtalia, who had been asleep in a chair by my side, sprung to life.
“I’m fine.” (Naofumi)
It’s likely that if I didn’t have the Shield, I would be unable to hold a conversation, but the Shield is… even if it isn’t with me in form, it’s still lending me power.
I overcome my pain, and stand up.
I feel the throbbing sensation in my body stabilize a bit.
“Are Ren and the others in the middle of a meeting?” (Naofumi)
“Yes… after that, we were able to escape, but master was…” (Raphtalia)
“I know.” (Naofumi)
Raph-chan appears from under the bed, and leaps at me.
I started patting him, and offering him sweet words.
“Good boy. It’s because of you we were able to get out.” (Naofumi)
“Even when my consciousness was gone, I was able to perceive the outside world through my weapon. I have a general grasp of the situation. The Queen is… already… right?” (Naofumi)
“… Yes. Two days after we left Faubley… the treatment bore no fruits.” (Raphtalia)
“I see.” (Naofumi)
“Right now, Melty-chan and Firo-chan are performing the funeral services.” (Raphtalia)
“What will you do now?” (Raphtalia)
“I’ll awaken the last Hero The Star who refuses to open his eyes.” (Naofumi)
In the country-wide funeral, the populace shed their tears.
Of course, it’s impossible to tell whether those tears were genuine, or not.
But during the events of the past half year, the Queen’s been conducting large scale reform.
From her work, some gained, and some lost.
After the funeral… a single figure stood quietly in front of the equally quiet Queen’s casket.
Behind him, Melty is looking down with red eyes. She’s holding Firo’s hand.
“Ah, Naofumi!” (Melty)
Melty rushes over to me with teary eyes.
“Mother was… she…!” (Melty)
“I’m sorry… I couldn’t protect her.” (Naofumi)
“No… don’t worry about it. Naofumi risked his life to try and protect mother. Firo-chan, Raphtalia-san… a lot of people told me that. And I also saw the extent of your wounds.” (Melty)
“Even so, I failed.” (Naofumi)
Right, I couldn’t protect her.
The Queen put all of her efforts into assisting me.
Without any deception, she lent me her power. She moved the country for my cause.
“Melty, you don’t have to hold back. Since I couldn’t do anything… it’s alright if you hate me.” (Naofumi)
Large teardrops fall from Melty’s eyes, as she begins punching me.
I don’t have the Shield’s protection, so it kinda hurts.
But this is a feeling I have to accept.
Lured in by Melty’s tears, Firo also begins crying.
After a while, I’m able to pacify the two.
“I’m sorry, Naofumi.” (Melty)
“It’s fine. If this made you feel a little better, then I’m fine with it.” (Naofumi)
“… Thank you.” (Melty)
Melty stands up, and moves to leave the church.
“Are you sure you don’t have to stay?” (Naofumi)
“I’ve already finished saying farewell to mother. Right now, I need to help make preparations for war.” (Melty)
“I see… You sure are strong.” (Naofumi)
Melty boarded Firo, and they ran off. They’re probably going to attend the meeting Ren, and the other Heroes, are at.
“Now then…” (Naofumi)
I approach the one frozen in front of the Queen’s coffin… I approach Trash.
The Queen’s face sure is beautiful.
It’s as if she would wake up at any second.
Trash silently stares at the empty shell that was once his wife.
Despite their differences, he loved her. The Legendary Weapon showed me that.
Perhaps he noticed my approach, but he continued to stare at the Queen.
“… Did you come to laugh at me? I, the fool Trash who couldn’t protect anything dear to me?” (Trash)
I place a flower in the Queen’s coffin.
Even though it’s such a simple action, sad feeling flow through my heart.
The Queen would always lend me power.
And that’s why I answered her requests to some extent.
If she hadn’t been there, I would have crossed over to Silt Welt, and instigated them to go to war with Melromark.
But because of the Queen’s continued efforts, Melromark and Silt Welt never went to war.
Now, I understand.
I understand just how hard that must have been.
The nobles of the country, and the religion seems to hate me by principle.
Various negotiations must have been carried out when I wasn’t watching.
Or else, I would have never been able to live the peaceful life I had in that village.
She worked so hard for this country, for the world. But her work was left unrequited.
She tried again, and again to correct her daughter’s behavior. I bet a lot happened even before I got here.
But her daughter’s heart never opened. She should simply continue to kick people to the ground, and laugh at their disgrace.
I understand why she was so desperate to curry my favor, before letting me deal with her family.
If at that time, I were to order their deaths, rumors would have spread across the world, and I would never have gotten to where I am now.
But none of that good will ever came back to her.
Her daughter trampled on her maternal love, and even went as far as to take her life.
Her husband, Trash, was only able to watch as she committed such acts of brutality.
“Hero of the shield. Take care of this country… I cannot fight.” (Trash)
I angrily grab at Trash’s collar.
“Did your wife tell you to leave the country to me!? What the hell did you think she said!? You can’t even understand something as simple as that!?” (Naofumi)
Upon my questions, Trash displayed an expression of anger for a brief moment.
But that quickly vanished, and he averted his gaze.
“Then what do you expect me to do? I am…” (Trash)
“If you stand there moping, will the Queen come back to life? If I keep on praying, will Atlas return? If we all keep wishing for a miracle, do you think the world will be at peace!?” (Naofumi)
“Shut up! What… what do you under-” (Trash)
Trash exposes his anger, and aims a blow.
I easily dodge it, and he glares at me. As if he had found someone to take his anger out on.
“Do you think I’m completely oblivious?” (Naofumi)
I… quietly bring a picture of Atlas up in my mind.
Inside my shield, the girl who constantly clung to me exists. She’s no longer in this world.
In order to protect us, she sacrificed her body.
“I will take revenge for Atlas. I plan to execute your Bitch of a Daughter while I’m at it. She’ll definitely bring harm to this country if we let her go.” (Naofumi)
I’ll just give it to him frankly. See my acting at work.
Spirit of the Cane, if this doesn’t work, I’m abandoning him.
“If that happens, Melromark will become mine. No, even Faubley will fall into my possession, and the world will be mine.” (Naofumi)
“Silt Welt is a country that equates the Hero of the Shield to a god. I’ll bet they’ll happily submit to my rule. Melromark is already mine for the taking, and next is Faubley… I’ll gain control of all the biggest countries, shall I not? Hahaha, this is the establishment of a new empire.” (Naofumi)
“If that happens, Trash, your execution is the first thing on the menu. As a useless Hero. Perhaps I’ll make Melty next. She seems to be under the misinterpretation that I’m some sort of good person, so I think I’ll be able to see quite a scene. Perhaps I’ll even keep her around as a sex slave, just as your wife wished.” (Naofumi)
If Melty heard that, I think she would kill me.
Since I don’t have my Shield, her magic should hurt quite a bit. It’s a good thing she left.
But with this much, Trash should snap.
“I won’t let you do such a thing!” (Trash)
Trash clenches his teeth, and thrusts his fist at me.
I… peacefully take the blow.
I don’t know just how high his level is supposed to be.
Maybe he’s weakened with the passage of time, but I never asked, nor do I care.
Anyways, since the Shield was in hibernation, I began to taste blood in my mouth.
“I am… the one who will protect the Melromark that Mirellia loved! As if I’d let it get taken away by the likes of you!” (Trash)
“… That’s right. This is how it should be. You can do it if you try.” (Naofumi)
Trash falls silent at my reply.
“Let me ask you once more. Did your wife tell you to leave the country to me? The answer is no. She left it to you! The Hero of the Cane, and the King of Wisdom! You… need to honor the will of the woman you loved more than anything!” (Naofumi)
Trash opens his eyes wide, and takes a step back.
And he wipes away his tears.
“That’s right… my eyes had been clouded. I lost myself, and refused to open my eyes, under the pretense of drowning in the grief caused by the loss of a loved one. And you, Shield… Iwatani-dono, I forced my old grudges onto you.” (Trash)
In Trash’e eyes, I see the spark he had when he opposed me before the Queen came… no, something even greater has been born.
“My wife left this country to me. Then my duty is to uphold her will. I won’t ask you to forgive me. But will you fight with me to protect this country? No, please help me fight!” (Trash)
Trash bows down, and pleads to me.
“Raise your head. There’s no need for that now… I’m going to honor my own promise to the Queen. I have no idea what comes after that.” (Naofumi)
The Queen asked me to lend her power to protect the country.
For that purpose, I’ll assist with what I can.
For the Queen, who protected this land to her death, I’ll have to work a bit myself.
Faubley’s become a nest of the garbage of this world. In order to sweep out the true trash, I’ll work with the Trash before me.
“I won’t raise it! When I remember all I’ve done to Iwatani-dono, I know there’s no way that I will be forgiven. By my own incompetence, my wife… There’s no way I can compensate for her loss!” (Trash)
“… That’s right. Even in a situation like this, when I remember what you’ve put me through, I can’t forgive you… but…” (Naofumi)
Like Ren, Motoyasu, and Itsuki changed, and like I changed myself, this man can change as well.
Even if it’s something he can never be forgiven for, he can still redeem himself.
For the Queen’s sake, I’ll at least offer him an opportunity.
“You’re going to change from here on out, right? Then not in words, show it through your actions.” (Naofumi)
“Then what are you doing? Get off your ass, and go save this country!” (Naofumi)
Trash stands up, and with a stiff expression, he saluted.
As if in response to my orders, a shining rod manifested before Trash.
“This is…” (Trash)
“So you finally get it.” (Naofumi)
Yes, the Seven Star Cane was waiting for this moment.
For this rotten Trash… no, for Aultcray Melromark to open his eyes.
Trash grips the cane.
And the light around it fades. He was selected as a Hero once more.
Spirit of the Cane.
I’ve upheld my side of the bargain
“… Let us go, Iwatani-dono.” (Trash)
“Yes, Wise King of Melromark.” (Naofumi)
“No, I was unable to do anything to protect my beloved. For a fool like me, there is no name more appropriate than Trash.” (Trash)
“I am Trash. Everything that has befallen me has been the result of my own actions. Please continue calling me Trash from now on.” (Trash)
It’s as if he’s a completely different person.
It’s been said that nothing good comes out of a guy who calls himself a genius, but what will come out of a man who calls himself Trash?
At the very least, he’s more decent than he was before.
“… Got it. Trash, I leave the plan to you. I have some expectations for the Wise King inside of your head.” (Naofumi)
“Leave it to me. I’ll completely slaughter the enemy with the minimum amount of casualties.” (Trash)
We turned our backs to the Queen’s coffin, and quietly… started walking forward.