Chapter 1: The Hero of Darkness, Falling into Darkness
“I’m going to say it…I’ve always loved you Shion! I-if you’re fine with someone like me, can you go out with me?”
On a night of a full moon, my party’s healer Emily confessed to me in the shadow of a rock bed.
“Wha-Umm. Well, I…but…”
Being so flustered as a grown man is quite embarrassing. I’m almost twenty-five, so I do somewhat have immunity to women.
But the reason why I’m shaken is because recently, my party’s magician, Luna, and swordsman, Lamia, had also confessed to me.
“You’re an important friend and party member. But I’m not sure if I think of you like that…”
“Am I…not attractive?”
“That’s not true. You’re clean and pretty. You’re really attractive.”
“Then can you put your answer on hold? Please tell me your answer…after we defeat the Demon Lord!”
As I watched her walk away with a cute, broad smile on her face, my heart was beating so hard it felt like it was going to burst.
What do I do? Now I have three cases on hold…. My face broke into a smile under my mask even as I was lost in thought.
There are three people that love me. There’s no way I wouldn’t be happy.
◇ ◆ ◇
There are always sixteen heroes in this world.
They are divided into two types, ‘Element Heroes’ and ‘Sacred Heroes’. The former is excellent with elements such as fire or light, while the latter have special powers such as divine eye or divine speed.
The day I became the ‘Hero of Darkness’ was thirteen years ago. There were happy times as well as hard times…and after many twists and turns, I’m with my current party.
“―Shion, it’s a poison slime! Leave it to me.”
We face plenty of monsters on our journey to defeat the Demon Lord. Today’s first battle was against a slime that is immune to physical attacks.
Luna, our magician, shot flames from her staff and burned the poison colored slime. It was powerful, but unfortunately the enemy was still lively.
This enemy is annoying to deal with because their weaknesses change depending on the individual.
“…Your weakness isn’t fire, I see. How about this.”
Luna then tried using water and wind, the other types of magic she could use. None of her attacks hit. While Luna was starting to panic, our magic swordsman, Lamia, draped electricity around her sword.
“Stay back Luna. I’ll take care of this.”
“What do you mean? You’re just trying to show off to Shion!”
“Poison slimes are weak to either fire, water, wind, earth, or thunder. Most of the time it’s lightning. Which means it’s difficult for you, since you can’t use thunder element.”
Luna pouted, and Lamia gave me a wink after slashing through the slime.
No, it was ineffective yet again.
“Ugh, don’t tell me its weakness is earth!?”
Lamia looked beaten. None of us had affinity for earth element.
“Wait, let me handle this.”
A black ball appeared in front of my eyes. It’s called ‘Darkness Sphere’ and it’s a skill that absorbs the enemy’s magic.
But its real ability is to stock up the magic it absorbed and activate (reflect) it whenever I want to.
Dirt rose up on both sides of the slime.
They slammed together and killed it instantly
“That’s Shion for you.”
“Good job again today, Shion.”
“I was just lucky. Let’s work hard together again today, all four of us.”
In the past I hated journeying as a hero, but when we formed this party three years ago, every day has been fun. I’m thankful to them from the bottom of my heart that they had changed my life.
We took a break next to the road at noon.
Luna muttered gloomily.
“What…are we. We’re party members, but Shion is so strong, we have nothing to do.”
Lamia and Emily continued painfully.
“I’m no match for Shion, both with the sword and magic. I haven’t saved him even once during battle.”
“I’ve only used healing magic on Shion once. And that was just a scrape too…”
I regret letting them be worried. I don’t mean to brag, but I’m the strongest in this party. But I should’ve relied on them more, since they are my party members…
“Wait, you guys are really helpful when we are facing a lot of enemies at once. Not only during battle, you help me mentally as well.”
Heroes are praised, but there are unpleasant things as well. Even if you go save a village from monsters, people say things like ‘Why couldn’t you come sooner! My dad died, stupid hero!’…
There are also many people who try to make use of me. All these things built up and I couldn’t bring myself to like people anymore, and before I knew it, I was wearing a mask to cover my face.
But the girls’ warm words and attitudes had saved me many times.
“If you guys weren’t with me, I would’ve stopped being a hero long ago. So please, don’t make such faces…”
“S-sorry Shion. I was just kind of nervous.”
“Same here. I’ll train even more and be useful someday.”
“Let’s get through this together.”
“Thanks. Let’s continue our journey!”
The four of us could get through any hardships.
That’s what I believe. We’re the best party, after all―
“Anyways, why don’t we move separately from here? Let’s meet up at the inn in the nearby village.”
“Huh, I’m going alone?”
“Sorry. We’ve got some preparations to make.”
“Fufu, it’s an important preparation. ―To celebrate you, Shion!”
I couldn’t help but grin. I tried not to think about it, but today’s my birthday. It would be a big celebration, just like last year.
“I guess I’ll spend time somewhere and I’ll be back by night!”
“Don’t eat anything. I’ll see you later.”
“Oh yeah. I forgot to tell you.”
It was kind of embarrassing, standing in front of the them, who were looking at me with puzzling expressions, but I tried very hard to get my feelings across.
“Erasing sadness from the world―Thanks so much for not laughing at this inordinate goal of mine and coming with me all this time.”
I bowed my head. When I looked up, I was surprised to see Luna and Lamia with pained expressions, and Emily crying.
“S-sorry for saying a weird thing so suddenly.”
“No, it’s just that something got caught in my eye…Shion, see you later…”
“Yeah, see you guys later.”
I watched the three of them walk away as I though maybe that was a bit too cringy. As I started walking, my tension rose as I imagined what tonight was going to be like.
“C’mon, I’m twenty-five already, stop being so excited.”
I ran down the street with light steps. I couldn’t wait for tonight!
I found a party struggling against a large goblin so I called out to them.
“Do you need help?”
“I don’t know who you are but please! This guy’s too strong.”
Large goblins are taller than five meters, and they are wide as well. They are called obese goblins for a reason.
I pulled out ‘Nether Sword: Arsbite’ and took a swing.
A countless number of slashes flew, and the obese goblin’s body tore apart.
I smiled at the adventurers, who were looking at me with open mouths.
“Well, I’ll be on my way.”
“W-wait!? Are you Shion-sama, by any chance!?”
“That mask, the black clothes, that handsome voice. You’re definitely him, aren’t you.”
“…Yeah, I guess.”
“We’re big fans! We started training and became adventurers because we admire you!”
For some reason, I’m quite popular even among the heroes. I’m not much at all, so I guess the mask might be making me seem mysterious and spreading the rumors.
I started on my way after I shook hands with all of them.
◇ ◆ ◇
My heart is pounding even though I’m taking deep breaths…
Isn’t my heart beating faster than when I was against strong enemies in the demon army?
In any case, it was seven o’clock at night, and I stepped into the inn.
The owner came to me with a business smile on his face and greeted me.
“Welcome. I presume you’re Mr. Axe?”
“The whole place is reserved for you. Ms. Emily and the others will be here soon, so take a seat.”
I took off my mask and sat down at a table. By the way, I go by Axe in public.
Ugh…I’m so nervous.
I saw three beautiful girls walk down the stairs just as I was wondering where they were.
“Sorry for the wait!”
“Whoa, all of you look really pretty.”
All three of them were wearing dresses that revealed their shoulders and had makeup on. They were already beautiful as they were, so their beauty took my breath away.
“I’m so glad you like it. But tonight’s all about you.”
“Happy birthday Shion!”
They handed me gifts along with the words of congratulations. Handmade gloves, a cloth to clean my mask, and a scabbard. My eyes started to tear up as I saw their smiles.
“Wha-why are you crying Shion…”
“I-I’m not crying.”
“You’re so cute Shion. I can’t help but love that part of you…but you can’t be dressed like that on your birthday. Let me take those.”
I handed Lamia my Nether Sword.
I jumped as Emily then tangled her thin fingers in my hand.
“Won’t you take off your rings as well? It’s your birthday, why not forget that you’re a hero, just for today?”
Some of these rings have powerful effects. But the most important one is the one I received from the king, the “Ring of Proof”.
It was a symbol of being a hero, and I handed her this one as well.
“Wait, there’s still more, you know?”
“Oh, this as well, huh.”
I took off my earring as Luna pointed at it. It negates any sort of binding attack, and if you sold it you could probably live off the money for ten lifetimes.
“Hey Shion. We’ve got a surprise, so can you close your eyes?”
I did as Luna said. Last year I had my eyes open a little bit.
This time, I’ll make sure to shut them completely…huh? My strength is fading…
I opened my eyes―and was met with a breathtaking sight.
All three of them, from in front of me and on both sides, were using a ‘Binding Staff’ on me. Threads of light extended from the tips and were wrapped around me tightly.
Usually it wouldn’t affect me, but right now I didn’t have my earring on.
“What are you…”
All three of them were silent. Instead, three other people showed up from behind them and answered.
“Hahaha, you finally fell for it. It took so long.”
“…You…Hero of Fire…”
The Heroes of Wind and Earth were here as well. I’ve met them a few times before, but I don’t like them. Why were they here?
They laughed at my confusion.
“Let me tell you! This was a magnificent plan. One that took three years.”
“Exactly. We joined forces to take you down.”
“The party members you trusted, all of them work for us.”
“Ugh!? You’re…lying…that can’t be true…”
Luna, Lamia, and Emily all looked away. The Hero of Fire laughed again.
“You’re so optimistic. But it’s all thanks to it that our plan worked so well.”
“Why would you do this?”
“It’s because you’re too strong. No one can beat you. Even the Demon Lord got scared and ran away.”
“I’ll admit that I’m jealous. You’re strong. On top of that, you’re the most popular hero.”
“The strongest Element Hero is Axe. All the people agree. Even the Sacred Heroes don’t make light of you.”
They did this for such absurd reasons…this is exactly why I hate you guys…
“Enough talk. Take everything.”
“Yes. This man will break free any time now.”
“No hard feelings, alright?”
The heroes took out ‘Magic Stealing Stones’ and pressed them onto my body. My strength was being sucked away quickly.
All of them broke into several pieces. The amount of magic I had exceeded their capacity limits.
“I think we got around ninety percent.”
“I’m surprised that three wasn’t enough.”
“Hero of Wind. Deal with these.”
The female hero gathered the stones, walked outside, and came back a short time later.
“I used the power of wind to scatter them all over the world. I guess you can try your best to go find all of them.”
Then the Earth Hero pointed a ‘teleport staff’ at me.
“I’ll send you to a dark forest that even heroes nor demon lords enter.”
It was a very dangerous forest, but I didn’t care.
I called out to my party…former party members.
“…Luna…were the words that you said to me when I was feeling down, all lies?”
“…Lamia…the smile you had on your face when we were practicing swords together, was all of that fake?”
“…Emily…you always said we were linked together by bonds. Have you believed that, even a little bit?”
Strong emotion bubbled from the inside of my heart. Whether it was anger or sadness, or maybe both. I forced myself out of my restraints.
“Huh!? How!? We took his strength away!?”
“What is this guy…This is bad, hurry and teleport him!”
“G-give me a second.”
I didn’t care about them.
I kept calling the three who had their heads down.
“Answer me Luna!”
“I-I was just ordered to, so…”
“I…My real party is elsewhere…”
“…I’m sorry. I was just acting on orders…”
They said it so easily.
My head drooped, and I covered my face with the mask that was by my side.
“Hurry! Shoot him!”
The teleportation magic shot from the staff. I could’ve dodged it.
But I didn’t care. I wouldn’t have moved even if that was a magic that could’ve killed me.
Before I disappeared, I tried to look at the faces at the three of them one last time―and stopped myself.
What good was that going to do.
I tried so hard and finally found something important and irreplaceable, but it disappeared in an instant.
My life was always like this.
Hey guys Kaoto here.
This is a series that I’ve been thinking of working on for a while.
Although it has an English title, it sounds pretty weird, so I decided to use one I thought of myself.
It’s called The Mightiest Hero of Black by Seto Meguru.
Might be a bit different from the other things I’m working on, but I enjoy this series as well, so I hope you guys do as well 🙂
Definitely going to try to make the uploads for all three novels as frequently as I can, although I can’t say for sure how often that’s going to be.
I’m shooting for at least one for each every week, but don’t quote me on it 🙂
Hope you enjoy and I’ll see you guys in the next chapter!