Why I Quit Being the Demon King Chapter 69

Why I Quit Being the Demon King

Chapter 16: The Growth of a Hero (4)

Zieg looked down at his sword. This broken steel blade was like any other that could be purchased in a store. It was not the superiority of the weapon that mattered. It was his skill alone that had allowed him to hunt a G-rank monster.

“Already a G-rank at the age of fourteen. If you keep growing at this rate, by the age of 20… no, considering you’ve already started to broaden your stride, it’s highly likely that you’ll be recognized as a D-rank hero within the next 2-3 years.”

“Cadenza, you’re being too generous.”

“If it’s not that, why else wouldn’t they share the reward with you?”

“Well, there could be an issue with the reward money…”

“They’re scared. If you had been an underperforming C-rank hero, they might have sympathized and decided to share. Even without making any significant contribution, they would have given you a share, a few silver coins at least. But now, you’ve become too powerful. More so than the head of the Hollyoak family who leads the heroes of Jorix Village.”

“Lord Khandin is an extraordinary person.”

“More so than you?”

“Of course.”

“Zieg. Without you, the hundred or so people there would have all died.”

Zieg recalled the recent events.

“Knowing that, Khandin chased you away. But he will soon regret it.”

“Why?”

“Because an ‘Erwig’ is a monster that moves in family units – a pair of adults with their child.”

Zieg turned around in shock.

“If the one that was just killed was the male, we are lucky. But it might have been their child. The rage of parents who have lost their child is not something to be underestimated.”

Zieg started to run, but Cadenza blocked his path.

“Wait.”

“Don’t stop me.”

“What will you fight with? You have neither sword nor shield left.”

“I’ll find a way…”

“An adult Erwig is as strong as a giant. You cannot block it with an ordinary shield that lacks magical energy.”

“Even so, I must go.”

“Why?”

“Because I’m a hero.”

Cadenza smiled.

“Maybe… concepts like lineage don’t mean much to you, do they?”

With this comment, he threw his own full armor at Zieg.

“Here’s my shield. It’s called ‘Juben Elgenubi’.”

It appeared like a rod with two rings, one for the palm and the other for the elbow.

Zieg hesitated before slipping it on his arm, and Cadenza explained further.

“When you infuse magic energy into the handle, it’ll activate. It’s a magic shield utilizing holy power, so it will react as strongly as your abilities. Certainly, it will be tougher than a steel shield.”

“Thank you!”

“In exchange for lending it to you, how about a wager?”

“What kind…”

“Let’s bet on how those heroes underground will treat you after you use this shield to perfectly block the monster. Will they treat you like a hero? Or…”

Cadenza trailed off.

Zieg clenched his lips and bowed his head.

He said nothing in response.

There was no need to explain how ugly humanity could be.

When Zieg returned to the cavern, it was a scene of utter chaos.

As Cadenza feared, the Erwig they had killed earlier was not a parent but their child.

The group of heroes led by Khandin, who had struggled even against a juvenile Erwig, were weak compared to their earlier bluster.

Unfortunately, the worst-case scenario had not happened yet.

Only one adult Erwig had reappeared.

Twice the size of the child Erwig but alone, without its partner – perhaps there was a chance.

Zieg took a deep breath at the entrance of the cavern.

He would be lying if he said he wasn’t afraid.

Just looking at the blood-soaked cave littered with corpses made his body tremble.

But Zieg took a deep breath and ran forward.

Drawing a nearly broken sword and gripping the handle of the shield lent by Cadenza tightly, he felt the magic being drawn into the artifact as he held it.

The full armor emitted light. The thin metal unfolded like a skeleton, forming a shield, and filling the gaps was a milky radiance.

This was the holy power unique to holy warriors.

In Zieg’s fighting style, the sword in his right hand was merely an accessory.

He lunged with his full weight against the Erwig’s torso, shield first.

The creature, some 10 meters long with gigantic pincers, stumbled back at Zieg’s assault.

Pushing through, Zieg forced his way under the beast.

At point-blank range, he jabbed the Erwig’s carapace gaps with his exhausted blade.

The Erwig writhed in pain, and the sword stuck in its cracks snapped.

Zieg quickly rolled back, avoiding the creature’s counter, and raised the shield.

The Erwig jabbed down with its sharp pincers, but the knight’s shield stood firm against the attack.

Desperately feeling around on the ground, Zieg remembered seeing a spear handle that had been broken earlier.

Though it was too short to be useful as a sword, adding half a handle made it an adequate weapon.

He charged into the monster’s embrace.

The creature, turning over its long belly, pinned Zieg down.

The overwhelming pressure pained him, but instead of groaning, he smiled.

He had even fought dragons – he couldn’t let the sound of death escape his lips over a mere insect.

With a shout, Zieg pushed the tommy away and carved once more into the carapace cracks with his spear.

Only then did the Erwig turn and face Zieg directly.

Its dark eyes emitted a terrifying glow as dozens of antennae-like black teeth quivered and chattered.

“Zieg… why did you come back?”

Khandin shouted, relieved by Zieg’s return.

“I heard from Cadenza that Erwigs never wander alone.”

“Is that shield from Sir Hollypitch?”

“Yes.”

The brief exchange ended as the Erwig started to thrash about.

But simultaneously, all present—heroes, knights, soldiers, servants, and even the sewer cleaners—harbored the same emotion.

The hope embodied by the name ‘hero.’

Deus sat in the cavern’s darkness, looking down with a sword and shield, a pair of blue armor in his hands.

He had thought to throw them to Zieg, but missed the timing.

He scratched his head in frustration.

I’m meddling again. No, it’s because that useless Alex left his place and made me come here.

Suppressing his grumbling, he watched the battlefield.

The boy named Zieg was donning an unfamiliar shield.

It wasn’t as resilient as Doomsragoon, but he was holding his own quite well.

Before Zieg’s return, the place had been filled with an alluring scent.

Death.

Fear and despair.

And blood, with the putrescence of bodies.

Everything was mixed, creating an atmosphere like a picturesque hell.

Even with a hero named Khandin present, there was no difference.

He had succumbed to the fear imposed by the Erwig.

Hero Khandin had leaned on a wizard’s magic and a warrior’s power.

But now, everything changed with Zieg’s return.

Forgetting the frailty of the human body. Even that soldier over there with a broken arm – not long ago, he was writhing in pain on the ground, retreating; but now, he gripped a spear shaft firmly with his good arm.

With newfound confidence, they formed ranks and struck at the Erwig’s side.

Humans are social creatures.

In a situation where everyone around is advancing with positive confidence, retreating takes more energy.

Being hit by the creature’s legs is preferable to being alone.

A hero brings hope.

In that sense, Zieg was much stronger than that A-rank hero, Khandin, present there.

Another hero joined the battle.

Cadenza von Hollypitch.

The slender blade of the hero associated with the Holy Azure Order flashed as he dived behind the Erwig, catching Deus’ eye.

With him there, it seemed unlikely Zieg would fall into danger.

Deus, sword and shield in hand, melted back into the darkness.

Khandin and his companions, the captain of the knights, plus several half-blood heroes who had been summoned – all the leading figures in the cavern sighed with relief.

They all knew.

If they hadn’t overcome this crisis, all that would be left here were scores of corpses.

“Sir Cadenza! I can’t even begin to express my gratitude to you!”

Shaking hands, Khandin patted Cadenza on the shoulder several times.

Cadenza was powerful.

After passing the shield to Zieg, he attacked the creature’s flanks with a slender thrusting knife.

As befitting a D-rank hero, the tip of his blade was razor-sharp.

Piercing through armor that even an axe would struggle with, he poured sacred energy into the beast.

“All the credit should go to the heroes of Jorix Castle, who had almost drained the monster of its strength. Rather, I salute the power of the Hollyoak family for hunting two Erwigs.”

The captain of the knights saluted both parties and said,

“Who would question the fact that heroes can save the world? The Hollyoak family has long been the guardian spirit of Jorix Castle. Combining the strength of the Hollyoaks and the Hollypitches, even dragons would not be frightening. Hahaha.”

He emphasized the mention of the two families.

In these conversations, there was no place for Zieg.

They offered empty pleasantries to him like, “You’ve also worked hard,” or “The Hollybitch family is quite impressive,” without truly recognizing him.

Zieg removed the shield from his forearm and returned it to Cadenza.

At that moment, his eyes met Khandin’s. Khandin had much to say about the knight’s shield but asked nothing of Zieg.

He remembered the moment Zieg came back and stood against the Erwig.

Khandin felt as if he had been saved.

His pride was hurt by that fact.

He could have understood if the boy had been from the D-rank family of heroes. If a prodigious young swordsman had emerged from famous families like the Hollypers or the Hollyseders, it would have been conceivable.

The moment they are born, they learn differently. Bearing swords as soon as they can walk and mastering magic.

Depending on where their talents lie, their education is directed, and by the time they enter elementary school, they have completed all basic training.

Countless swordsmen and wizards under the family’s banner take turns training the next generation of heroes.

Unless quite untalented, by the time of middle school graduation, they could surpass A-rank.

To inherit the title of Holly means to be the child of a hero and a saint.

A lack of ability was rarer.

But Zieg was neither.

Not only did he forgo a prodigy’s early education, but he had also struggled with part-time jobs from a young age.

He was a low-ranking student who barely finished elementary school, from a family of dropouts with repeated failures at reaching even E-rank.

Yet he had grown into a hero worthy of supervision by the Holy Azure Order.

Luck.

Khandin felt an envy bordering on hatred as he watched Zieg, who was blessed with an extraordinary stroke of luck.

Such a waste of talent.

If only it had manifested in his own daughter, had luck slightly shifted and come over to the Hollyoak family, by now they would have soared to D-rank!

The jealousy evolved into a sense of deprivation.

Feeling like his fortune had been stolen, his gut seethed with resentment.



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