As a child, Alec had allowed his abilities to blossom into fruition, so nowadays, his swordsmanship and magical powers are at a terrifying level. Ruth, who had memories of his previous life, could understand that that natural talent was enough to be thought of as a protagonist’s cheat, so if one were to say that Alec had the markings of a hero, Ruth would definitely agree.
"... But why did it turn out this way? Up until now, there wasn't anything about being a hero…"
“I don’t know. But I’ve heard about the heroes in the past from Father. They were... the ones who saved the world a hundred years ago. Father said that it seems conflicts have arisen from all over the world, and it should be about time for a new hero to appear and accept the divine oracle.”
“So you heard that from Father?”
Since Ruth was usually with Alec whenever Father had to talk to him, Alec must have heard about this when he was alone. Based on that, Father’s actions seemed to have been intentional. Could it be that he had already seen Alec’s potential to be a hero before all this?
“Then, suddenly, those guys who came from the royal capital came to the village chief’s place this evening… I got called over, and when I touched the crystal they were holding, it just broke all of a sudden. After that, they started to call me a hero…”
So that’s what happened after Marianne called Alec over that evening.
After that, the village chief and the men from the capital proceeded through the conversation as they pleased. They decided that Alec was to leave the village and head towards the royal capital tomorrow, at the crack of dawn. Everyone was told to keep this to themselves. When Alec tried to resist, he was put under house arrest.
In that case, that commotion outside was probably coming from the village chief, his supporters, and the people from the royal capital all searching for the escaped Alec.
"Those guys went too far. They ignored what I wanted. ‘You’re the hero, so of course you have to go off and save the people. World peace!’ What are you saying? I have my own stuff I want to do! Who cares about being a hero? If I can live on as myself, as 'Alec', then that's more than enough."
At Ruth’s agreement, Alec hugged him tighter. Alec’s unexpected rush of emotions stopped, but his heavy breathing had yet to settle. Ruth stroked Alec’s back to calm him down, and, slowly, Alec’s grip on Ruth began to weaken. However, it didn’t seem like he had any intentions of letting Ruth go yet. At that child-like behavior, Ruth gave Alec a bitter smile and thought back to their conversation from earlier.
(It’s true that the whole hero matter was a complete shock to Alec. Suddenly having to bear the burden of people’s lives and to go save the world-- it’s understandable that he would want to just say, “Who cares?”... But…)
But the Ruth who played games in his previous life knew how important the hero was to the world. A sword that could only be wielded by the hero, a door that could only be opened by the hero, a tribe that only recognizes the hero-- that was the standard in video games.
Of course, since this world wasn’t a game, it was obviously different from what Ruth knew. Despite that, Ruth sensed that Alec had a special presence. Perhaps it was because the village was slightly far away from the royal capital, but because he never heard much about other countries and villages, Ruth wasn’t aware of the state of the world. However, the only reason for the men from the capital to have come to this remote mountain village to pick up Alec must’ve been what Alec had heard from Father-- The world needed a hero.
(But… but even so, to go save the world and the people… I can’t say that…)
Ruth is only the son of an innkeeper in a small village after all. The heavy feelings Alec harbored, as a hero, is something that Ruth would never understand. Whatever Ruth says will never be anything other than words from someone who didn't know about anything. Because of that, even Ruth, who believed that his own trivial opinions had no place in this situation, didn't know what he should say to Alec.
"I get what you mean… So? What do you want to do, Alec?"
At Ruth’s question, Alec, who’d had his face buried in Ruth’s shoulders, finally lifted his head. Gone was his usual air of toughness. Instead, his expression was that of bewilderment. Their faces were close enough for their noses to touch, but Ruth didn’t turn his head away. Now wasn’t the time to get embarrassed.
"You said you didn't want to be a hero, right? So do you want to run away?"
"If you want to run away and live in peace, then I’ll do everything in my power to help you. I would never betray you."
"But I want you to know something, Alec."
"What is it?"
"There’s no one else in the world but you who can be called a hero. I honestly believe that only you hold that sort of power. Do you understand?"
Ruth couldn’t stop Alec from running away. After all, the mere son of an innkeeper could never take Alec’s place to become a hero.
But despite that, there was one thing that Ruth was sure about. There was a reason why Alec was called a hero. His powers were gifted at birth to bear the weight of the world as a hero. He might think that they were unnecessary, but Alec became who he was today thanks to those powers. Surely, if he had never had them, then Alec’s fate would have been completely different.
For this reason, Ruth wanted Alec to be fully aware of his decision to run away while holding the powers that he was gifted upon. But more than anything, Ruth doesn’t want Alec to regret anything later, when he witnesses a world that had to change because there weren’t any heroes.
“... I understand. I know that heroes aren’t just found anywhere. But… Me? A hero? …Am I fit for it?”
Alec looked down, unsure of himself, as he said that. An unimaginable level of discomposure emanated from the usually confident Alec.
Even Alec was just an ordinary village boy up until yesterday. His expectations for the future probably consisted of getting married, finding a job, and raising children. Their trifling everyday life would continue in the meantime. Then, suddenly, he learns that he has to become a hero. There was no way he would agree so easily. Alec’s reaction was understandable, thinking about it like that. After all, Alec wasn’t a video game character.
“Alec, just because you’re a hero doesn’t mean you have to carry all this burden by yourself. You should make some friends and getting through it together. And…”
“I’m here for you too, right? An innkeeper's son can’t help the hero, but if it’s for ‘Alec’s’ sake, I’ll do whatever I can. You can come back whenever you’re tired, and I’ll always be here to listen if you want to complain. Plus, you can stay over at our inn for free with the hero discount!”
Ruth gave Alec a toothy grin to reassure him. It felt like he’d just said something extremely cheesy, but, in times like these, it’s important to say this sort of thing without being getting embarrassed, or else the meaning won’t be properly conveyed. This was something Ruth understood from his 50 years of life experience-- 30 years in his previous life plus 19 years in this life.
Overcome with emotion, Alec’s face turned bright red and started to tremble. He choked up as if something was stuck in his throat and released his hands from where they’d been around Ruth’s back. He pressed his right hand to his heart and looked down.
"H-Hey Alec, are you okay?"
"I… I'm fine… It just hurts a little…"
Ruth stroked the Alec’s back. He didn’t look fine at all, but Alec quickly used his free hand that wasn’t pressed to his chest to grab Ruth’s hand. While thinking if he should just leave his hand like that or clasp both of his hands around Alec’s hand to cheer him on, Alec tightly squeezes his hand back in response. It seems this was already enough.
MARY: Hello everyone! Thank you for waiting and here is the second part. If y'all see any mistakes then please let me know!