The Hero Who Was Like A Flower
I was contacted by Fuma Kotaro several days later.
He had sent word to the castle by hawk.
I removed the letter from the bird and read it.
It was written in simple letters that might have come out of a machine.
‘Yuri the Hero is captured. I will bring him back alive.’
The message said it would take several days, but Fuma Kotara ultimately returned in just one day.
And when he did, he was in the form of a man.
Really, what was his true form? I wanted to ask. But the more pressing matter was my meeting with the Hero.
I had Eve prepare a mask for me to wear.
It wasn’t just that I didn’t want the Hero to see me. Perhaps I also felt a little shame.
Yuri was dragged in by the intelligence kobolds.
He was tied up in ropes.
Still, he was unharmed from what I could see. Fuma Kotara had not been too rough with him.
That was somewhat comforting.
But now, I was to announce his death.
I opened my mouth as if to read the inscription on his tombstone.
“Yuri the Hero. Do you know why you were brought here?”
“I do. It appears that I am a Hero. Sir Kotaro informed me of this fact.”
“…Indeed. Boy, you have an ability that would work against me. And so I must offer you death.”
“Then I cannot complain. After all, Demon King Astharoth, I am your mortal enemy.”
“Oh? You do not feel hostility?”
“Not now. But if I am a Hero, then I would surely awaken to my calling one day.”
He continued to explain.
Several days ago, an old man with white hair who claimed to be a prophet had come to him. This man told him it was his fate to save the world. And he had received training.
Yuri had become stronger after this. And now realized that he was no ordinary human. And so him being brought here was not surprising to him.
He seemed carefree.
I had not expected a child to react like this.
But in a way, it made things harder for me.
It was almost as if his attitude was more effective than if he had wailed and begged for his life.
Still, I wasn’t going to change my mind here.
A long time ago, there was a warrior called Taira no Kiyomori in Japan.
He came from a poor family who were not permitted to enter the Emperor’s palace up to his grandfather’s generation. It was only during his father’s life that things turned around for them.
He used his skills and insight to raise his position during the civil war. And eventually, Kiyomori rose to the position of one of the most powerful subjects. As a Grand Minister, he was the first warrior to reach such heights.
However, even this now great house would eventually fall.
“People who aren’t from the Taira house are not people at all!”
They used to say, but one mistake was all it took to bring them down.
And that mistake was that he did not kill a child. A mortal enemy.
After a long, bloody war, he had refused to kill Minamoto no Yoritomo, who was the eldest son of the Minamoto clan.
Kiyomori had killed his own uncle before, but this was the one person he did not kill.
His own stepmother had begged him not to, and so he banished him to the south instead.
Well, the rest was history.
After that, there were revolts against their house, and Minamoto raised troops against them.
Before his death, Kiyomori fell ill from a high fever, but he left these words before his death.
“Put Yoritomo’s head upon my grave!”
It was a curse against the east who had betrayed him, and Yoritomo, who had forgotten the debt.
Well, I wasn’t going to make the same mistake.
It wouldn’t be like me to die while cursing the name of my enemy.
There was one person who had done the opposite thing.
It was Tokugawa Ieyasu.
He had killed Toyotomi Hideyori, the heir that Hideyoshi had entrusted to him.
After winning the battle of Sekigahara, when he had complete domination, he took power from his lord and killed him.
He attacked Osaka castle, where Hideyori resided in.
He could have chosen to let him live.
However, Ieyasu was afraid that people would still harbor respect for him.
And one day, his descendants would pose a threat to his clan.
Ultimately, his dynasty lasted for two-hundred and fifty years.
I had to learn from that.
The choice was obvious.
And so I closed my eyes and sentenced Yuri the Hero to death.
My final words to him were these:
“…I am sorry. The road of a Demon King is covered with blood. One day, I may pay for what I’ve done, but you will have to wait.”
The gates of hell were open for Demon Kings like me.
Yuri replied quietly.
It seemed that he now knew who I was.
“…No, Mister Ashta. As I said, I will not hold a grudge. I know that you are a good person. You treated me well when I just an insignificant Adventurer. I was happy. Besides, Mister Kotaro showed me some of the town here. I was very surprised. Demon, humans, and demi-humans live together. There is no other place like this in this world.”
If the king who built this place wills it, I will die.
“I hope I will be reborn as something other than a Hero. And I hope that I will be able to live in a nice place like his.”
He said. And then the Kobolds took him away.