I visibly reacted to what the mayor said.
“That means… If the seal ends up breaking, then there’ll be no point in offering sacrifices.”
“When will it break?”
“I do not know. What I do know is that in the time I’ve lived so far, the time between sacrifices has been rapidly shrinking from every 5 years to every 2 years. Maybe it’ll break in another 5, 10, or 30 years… However, I doubt it’ll last for 50…”
In the not-so-far future, the Hydra will be set free.
A monstrous, mountain-sized dragon with 9 heads that spews poison so deadly a mere whiff will spell certain death.
If that thing were to descend upon these lands, the Luminous territory would be in dire straits.
The seal was already losing its effectiveness.
I thought back to the sacrificial woman, who shed tears and cried out in delight in her newfound life.
If it comes to this, then—
Quietly resolving myself, I called out to the mayor.
“…When will it break?”
The mayor’s mouth hung open in confusion.
“Like I said, it’ll be around 50 years at the longest—”
“That’s not what I mean.”
I shook my head.
“I’m talking about the day the Hydra will revive in the event that we don’t sacrifice that woman.”
Laura and the mayor widened their eyes in shock.
“W-… What do you mean by that? Are you saying you want to… purposely undo the seal?”
“It’ll end up breaking anyway, right? Just let it happen at this point.”
I didn’t have the courage to tell that woman to die again.
In that case, there was no harm in giving it a shot.
…I’ve come to know that apparently, this Magic Arrow of mine is strong enough to help other people.
“I’ll defeat the Hydra.”
The room went dead silent.
Laura spoke up in a panicked voice.
“…B-But Albert! You’ll die just by getting near the Hydra’s poison, you know!? How will you—!?”
“Did you forget, Laura? The firing range of my Magic Arrow is—”
I’ve already said the same thing twice toda—
“Ah, it’s 13 kilometers! I guess we’re in the clear!”
I was cut off by Laura.
I guess this means she finally memorized it.
“According to the legends, the seal weakens with each new moon. Therefore, the Hydra will awaken on the following new moon—in other words, three days from now.”
“…If you want to offer the sacrifice and stall the awakening, please make your decision by the morning of the final day.”
Laura and I finished our talks with the mayor and went to the vacant house that was provided to us.
After we left our luggage in our rooms and took a short breather, I spoke to Laura.
“What is it?”
“…Am I making a mistake…?”
I was attempting to take an absurdly risky gamble. Even someone as dim-witted as myself understood that.
Although the seal was on the verge of breaking at any moment, at the very least, it was still being maintained. Preserving it would probably bring a momentary peace to the Luminous territory.
And here I am, throwing all of that away and deciding to challenge the Hydra.
“It’ll be fine if I win, but—what’ll happen if I lose?”
The Hydra would overrun this village—no, it would probably bring ruin to every inch of the Luminous territory.
This journey hammered it into me: Thousands upon thousands of people lived in this territory.
—Albert! At least eat before you go!
I knew the villagers who welcomed me with smiles on their faces.
There were people who called these lands home and lived their lives to the fullest. They spent their days finding their happiness in the small things.
If I were to lose, everything—including their livelihoods—would be smashed to bits. They would all perish along with their poison-ridden hometowns.
Did I have the right to deliver such a devastating blow to their peaceful day-to-day lives?
“Is offering the sacrifice the correct thing to do?”
At least then we could preserve this transient moment of tranquility.
In the end, all it would take was the life of one—just one—girl.
It was a minuscule price to pay for several years of peace.
Anyone who governed anything was duty-bound to say these words:
Die for the rest of us.
That was the resolve carried by those who govern a territory.
“But I can’t do such a thing.”
It still lingered in my ears.
The voice and tears of joy of the woman I saved after she was freed from the fear of death.
I couldn’t tell her to die.
I couldn’t tell her to die for the Luminous people.
I couldn’t just forget about the happiness I felt when I saved her back then.
That’s why I thought to myself.
I’ll save the woman.
I’ll protect everybody in the Luminous territory.
Defeat the Hydra.
However, my opponent held the name of the Hydra. I didn’t know if I could really win or not.
“Am I unfit to be the next family head? Did I really make the right decision?”
I was scared.
When I think of the countless lives that weighed upon this decision…
When I realize just how heavy of a burden that really was…
Laura, who had been listening to me with an earnest expression, momentarily fell into thought and muttered.
“…I don’t know. But…”
“I believe telling that woman to die is the easy way out of this. All you’d be doing is using the life of a single person and forgetting about it until the next time. That doesn’t solve anything. It doesn’t change the fact that the Hydra will eventually reawaken, and countless women will be offered as sacrifices.”
That’s right. Nothing will change.
The perpetual tragedy from bygone days won’t change.
Nor will the tragedy that’s in store for future generations.
“You thought that was horrible, right? You thought you wanted to save them from that fate, right? You thought you wanted to change things for the better, right?”
That’s exactly why I set out on this journey in the first place.
When I saw people resign themselves to an unjust death brought about by the helplessness of their situation, I wanted to tell them that they didn’t need to die.
I wanted to tell them that they didn’t need to cry anymore.
“You’re trying to help the people in trouble! I think that sentiment is praiseworthy! You try to save even a single person! You put in the effort to achieve that goal! I never once wanted to laugh off those feelings of yours as stupid!”
Laura’s words resonated with me.
They gave me courage and lit a fire within me.
“All you have to do is win! That’s all, just win! Ancient dragon or not, I don’t care! You can beat it!”
“After all, you’ve always turned despair into hope!”
I’ve done what I could and managed up until now.
I have to do my best.
I have to do something about this situation.
Laura encouraged me every step of the way to this moment.
The words she said echoed in my ears.
—I believe Albert is more of a hero than anyone else!
Ever since that day, I continued to take the steps to become the hero I wanted to be for Laura.
If Laura believed in me, then—
“I believe in you! I believe that you’ll win! I believe you’ll beat that dragon without a hitch and come back safely! And I want you to become a feudal lord that’ll save everybody—without leaving a single person behind!”
Laura finished speaking.
A silence descended like a drop curtain.
My heart became clear. Each and every word she said slowly made their way into my heart and drove away the clouds of doubt inside me.
A weakling like myself might not be up to the task, but Laura’s hero surely wouldn’t crumble under something like this.
“Thank you, Laura.”
Laura’s hero should say something like this:
“I’ll win. Then, I’ll save everybody.”
Laura smiled from ear to ear and nodded.
“Yes! Albert can do it!”
Today’s chap. I know I’m being pretty inconsistent with my schedule but I could only manage 1 chap today, so I apologize for that. I’ll post 1 chap of recreator tomorrow, and if I can, I’ll try and post the chap I missed today. Anyway that’s all, see you guys tmrw.