Just to clarify some points: these short stories I write here have no relation to me. And, I am rather tired today, so I’ll continue with the short story later. I doubt I will finish 121 tomorrow, but maybe. We’ll see. Happy reading.
Chapter 120. Setting Off
Hinata returned from her attack on Tempest–which would later be called the “Templar Captain’s revolt”–having suffered a crushing defeat.
Without a single apology or excuse, Hinata resigned as the head of the imperial guard and cut all ties with the Holy Empire Ruberion.
As such, even the Empire’s representatives, the Seven Celestial Sages could not punish her. Therefore, they simply decided to continue observing the situation.
The Western Saint’s Church, however, could not stay silent.
She selfishly went off on her own and even lost. Losing to monsters is a problem in itself, but she even dared to return alive. And even confirmed that those remaining in Tempest were alive and well.
In other worlds, they came as assassins but were defeated fair and square. That’s not a mistake one can easily recover from.
In fact, had they all died, the Church could have attributed it to monsters’ wicked and cruel nature, rile up all of humanity, and….
For the Church, this is by far the worst outcome.
Even then, Nicholas was happy that Hinata returned.
But that’s a different matter. The problem remains.
And then, to Nicholas, who was holding his head, Hinata so said:
「Just say that I acted on my own. Fooled the knights and acted without the Church’s approval.
Though it will contradict the Church’s dogma that all monsters are evil, but at least it won’t subvert all of it.
After all, the weak need the Church.
We can’t go around losing an organization that is willing to extend the weak a hand, now can we?」
Without any hesitation she proposed to Nicholas.
Just as before, as if looking down upon the world she presented the most logical conclusion.
If necessary, cut away one to save the whole–perfectly pragmatic.
Even if the one to be cut away is she herself, she would not hesitate.
But still, she seems to have changed a bit: no longer are her eyes filled with blind devotion to the creed.
Her face instead carries a smile of nearly divine kindness.
And this was a proposal Nicholas could not refuse.
Though her face now expresses heartfelt kindness, it did not change her nature. Her proposal is well thought out and the Church would suffer minimal damage as the result. Nicholas understood that too well.
「Hinata, did you change a bit…?」
「Have I? Can’t know yourself, now can you? But I do think that I was in too much of a hurry. To save people with my own hands, so I thought. I don’t think I was wrong to sacrifice the few to save the many. I can proudly say that I fought for what I believed in. But… I also don’t think it’s wrong to try to save everyone. I think I was too focused on the big picture and lost something important. I don’t want to save just the majority–I want to save everyone. Feel free to laugh if you think it impossible. I just want to see the world, judge it with my own eyes, and pick the path I truly believe in」
「Is that what the Demon Lord taught you?」
「No, not really. A beloved teacher admonished me, and I recognized the existence of a demon lord」
「Recognized… a demon lord?」
「Yeah. It was not pure evil. Just another soul living quite selfishly」
「Is that so… Well then, I will believe in you Hinata-sama. And the Demon Lord whom you believed in」
Even if she lost, he could not complain if she returned alive.
If the Empire decided to punish Hinata, he fully intended to use the West Saint’s Church to defend her.
This time, however, it was unnecessary because Hinata herself decided to resign from her post.
And disposing of the whole affair as the “Templar Captain’s Revolt,” Hinata became a stray adventurer.
One who gives hope to the weak–a Hero.
The knight who lived by the creed was dead, and instead the hope of the people was born. Nicholas understood this as well.
Thus, he did not oppose her actions. Later, he would come to regret it.
Hinata then assembled the Templars and the Blood Shadows and declared that she steps down from her post.
The Templars were content but the shadows opposed her declaration.
If you clear it you get an audience with the demon lord.
So if you want to “open my eyes,” go clear it first」
The Demon Lord manages it for fun.
But it just might become good practice for them.
Maybe they’ll go mad, but it just might reforge their spirits」
Having faced Demon Lord Rimuru once before she has some trust in him.
There’s also the fact that Arnaud is there and has related enough for her to make her own conjectures.
She also has a good idea as to how to clear that dungeon.
Besides, perhaps only Hinata could, but those shadows would be unable to clear the dungeon.
Blood crazed and seeing nothing but dogma, the labyrinth may only break their spirits.
In fact, later on this became a sort of pilgrimage for forging your spirit.
You would challenge that hell again and again, as long as your spirit doesn’t break.
As Hinata said, it became a place for those weak-willed to gain some mental strength.
And the remaining Blood Shadows returned to the Holy Empire of Ruberion.
Since they were affiliated with the Empire anyways, they simply swore loyalty to the Emperor.
And upon seeing these men again, Hinata
That she noticed one time when she was reporting a matter at the Empire.
She concluded that their journey to the dungeon was the reason for their much to mechanical and artificial movement.
But back to present time,
Excusing herself before the Seven Celestial Sages was a trial in itself.
If she fought would she win or lose? The thing is, they gave off magic power unbecoming of humans.
Why she had not noticed it was a mystery in itself.
(It’s because her “Hero” egg has increased a level allowing her to feel their real presence, but she did not know this at the time.)
She figured that being focused on the whole made her blind to such an obvious fact.
So even though she was not wrong she simply was not right either. And this mistake too would lead to her growth.
The real form was of a city controlled by powerful, demon lord level, monsters.
A monster city undiscovered for many hundreds of years, where human thoughts are manipulated.
Not that they are being brainwashed, but undoing the teachings of the Empire is most likely impossible.
What terrifying foes they are, Hinata thought.
At this point, Hinata could not raise a sword against them.
A monster who does not wish to recognize other monsters? No, not simple lack of recognition, but outright hostility?
Either way, an enemy who hides behind a veil of humility is far more dangerous than one in plain sight.
Before, Hinata would have charged at them demanding a fight. But now she fully thinks through her actions.
Because she wishes to think through things in greater depth.
Not picking the path of least resistance but also considering the longest alternative.
So it’s not like she’s lost right no.w
Hinata left the West Saint’s Church.
Nicholas and the knights follow behind her.
She asked him to make Vice Captain Leonard the Captain and Arnaud remained as his Vice Captain.
「I hear and obey. I will do as you have instructed without delay.
However, Hinata-sama, this is also your home.
Please return to us at any time. We shall await your return」
And at Nicholas’ words, other knights also bowed their heads.
Even recalling this scene now, these words warm her heart.
Though she lived discarding what she had no use for, she was able to acquire truly kind comrades.
For their sake she should not remain there any longer.
「Are you okay?」
That curr (Ranga), was it…
Besides, after talking to them at that banquet, I have realized my own narrowmindedness.
Please take me along with you. Besides,
The West Saints’ Church needs people, so they won’t be able to spare any as your guards.
Well, I probably do for a poor guard, but please let me do it!
We probably would never meet another monster like that curr again!」
Ah! When I said do as you like I didn’t mean you are free to crawl into my bed. That I won’t permit」
「Wha! Who do you think I am?!
I would never dare to touch Hinata-sama!
Besides, I would be crucified by Cardinal Nicholas」
Fritz saw that smile and was immediately at loss for words.
This is bad, he thought, seriously… For a second, I would not have minded being killed…
Feeling a chill, Fritz dispelled these thoughts.
But, that smile blew all these preconceptions away.
This is bad, he thought, didn’t think this post would come with such a side benefit… but if others find out, I’ll have more people to compete against!
Having come down a bit, Fritz tried to order his feelings.
It’s alright, no problem. He steadied his trembling heart and oriented himself towards his normal train of thought.
Completely oblivious to his struggles, Hinata put on her glasses, leaned her head on his shoulder and looked up at him.
And with a weak smile,
And that was the death knell of his reason.
(Cardinal Nicholas, I’m sorry, but it’s open season now!)
This was the moment when Fritz decided to treat her not as a guard captain but as a woman to be protected.
And his feelings towards her were not of loyalty towards a guard captain but of an earnest desire to follow her.
And thus their journey began.
Nearing Kagurazaka Yuuki is dangerous but she had her anti-mind control item equipped. ANd she did not intend to be reckless.
She merely wanted to confirm the situation and rescue the kids if possible.
What relationship stands between Yuuki and Chaos Lord Gazalim is a concern, but she intended to avoid any and all contact with him.
She did not think she would lose, but Shizu-san asked her to avoid him and she intended to keep her promise.
But, Chaos Lord Gazalim.
If he is manipulating Yuuki… she would not allow that to go unpunished.
Having been manipulated for over ten years it isn’t something she can forgive.
In her memories Yuuki was a boy with a wide smile.
(I must confirm if that smile was genuine. And save the kids.)
If there’s a will there’s a way. Thus Hinata decided to act.
She headed out to Ingrasia Kingdom.
The city brainwashed by Yuuki, or perhaps by Gazalim.
Traveling by the magic circle may alert him, should there be spies, so instead she journeyed there on foot.