To Hell With Being a Hero!

Chapter 26: Female President (2)

Chapter 25: Female President (1)

Although they were all dried up, the red marks remained clear. It was where Chi-Woo had first met Ru Amuh and the path they had taken together. Chi-Woo walked past the storage room he first found himself in and headed where the vengeful spirit had dragged Ru Amuh to. At the end of the passageway was a spacious area divided into several holes like a rabbit burrow; a pungent odor assaulted his nose. There didnt appear to be another passageway besides the one they just came out of. Thinking that they would find Ru Amuh here, they scanned the area and searched the caves. Eventually, they found Ru Amuh in one of them.

“Ruahu!” As the message indicated, Ru Amuh was still alive. Although the wound inflicted on his stomach was severe, and he suffered significant blood loss, he was still holding onto his life by a thread. While crying, Ru Hiana ripped a cloth into pieces and bandaged him skillfully like she had done it many times before. Chi-Woo wanted to help, but held back in the end. He had no professional knowledge of medical aid. Rather than causing trouble by making mistakes, he knew it was better for him to wait until he was asked to help. Still, he looked around the place to see if there was anything that could be helpful for treatments, but it was futile. He found nothing resembling a reward for clearing thedungeon. All he got were ripped clothes inside an empty cave and black-reddish marks.

“We cant wait any longer! We have to go outside now!” Ru Hiana supported the unconscious Ru Amuh. Before leaving, Chi-Woo turned back to the empty cave again. He wanted to get out of this filthy and smelly cave as fast as possible, but there was something bothering him. He thought about the vengeful spirit, the corpse-like monster that suddenly disappeared after its annihilation, the talisman that didnt work, Ru Amuh who was still alive, and the shredded pieces of cloth as well as the mysterious marks.

‘Why are there several caves? They were probably made to lock up prisoners, and the cave itself appeared like a prison.

‘Why? Who made this, and for what purpose? What happened here? What was this cave— Chi-Woo suddenly heard Ru Hianas voice beyond the entrance. Chi-Woo stopped thinking and picked up a brisk pace. After Chi-Woo and Ru Hiana returned to the place they first arrived at, they took turns carrying Ru Amuh up. They ascended the rock one by one and finally reached the ceiling. Through the open grate, they saw streams of light shining through. The morning sky was completely clear. Chi-Woo raised his head above the entrance and breathed in the fresh air. Then he turned around to see Rawiya waiting for them nervously. She hesitated when she saw them, but then Chi-Woo waved his hand, and she quickly ran up.

“Are you here to help us~?” Chi-Woo said, meeting Rawiyas shocked gaze with a smile. “How about pulling us up?”

* * *

Chi-Woos return after saving Ru Amuh triggered a ruckus in the camp. Rather than simply being overjoyed, many of them were shocked and dumbfounded; that was how unbelievable the story of the pair defeating a vengeful spirit and saving their companion sounded to them. Shakira ran madly towards them, and Chi-Woo returned the statue to her. Then the old seer stopped Chi-Woo from leaving to have him explain what had happened.

“May I visit that place with you once?” Shakira asked, unable to wrap her head around the situation.

“Theres no need for that.” Rawiya returned at just the right time. “Ive checked the place before coming back. Hes telling the truth.”

Rawiya had reacted in the same way after meeting Chi-Woo at the entrance of the pit, saying that she wanted to see the remnants of the monster.

[Lets go down together.]

[You can go alone.]

[Its scary.]

[…]

That was why Chi-Woo had to go down after coming up all the way to the top. Having checked the monsters remains, Rawiya stated that there was something else she wanted to investigate and told Chi-Woo to go ahead. Chi-Woo had then climbed his way back up grumbling all the way and asked another guard to escort them back to the camp.

“Was the monster really there?”

“Yes. I checked multiple times.”

“Was it perhaps…?”

“…Yes.” Rawiya made a bitter smile. “He was the one who got driven crazy by the curse. If my memory serves me right, his name was Kadei. Used to be a farmer.”

Shakira closed her eyes.

“You knew the person?” Zelit soon joined the conversation. “From what I can gather, the being who ambushed us wasnt a jukgwi, but a vengeful spirit –one of those broken and eaten beings. And when the vengeful spirit was defeated, another being appeared. That monster was someone who became crazy from the curse and originally a village person you all knew, right?”

Chi-Woo was impressed by Zelits organizing abilities.

“Its exactly as you say.” Shakira nodded. “But the problem is the cursed one who appeared after you defeated the vengeful spirit.”

The information that Chi-Woo revealed to them was something the original inhabitants of Liber were also hearing for the first time. After all, they had never been able to handle what they calledthe broken and eaten beings before, so it was expected.

“Now that you mention it, didnt you say that those who become crazy from the curse also mutate? Is there a chance this person has mutated?”

“I think theres a possibility, but its simply one among many.”

“I also think the broken beings could have attached themselves to a cursed person,” Zelit said with interest. “Like the girl named Hawa.”

Shakira jerked her head to look at him.

“Isnt that what you said? The broken beings all hate the living.”

“That means…”

“Maybe we can think of these broken beings as unknown creatures who puppeteered those cursed living people.”

‘A living person. Chi-Woo fell into contemplation. That could explain why his talisman had failed to work.

“Of course, its all just hypothetical at the moment,” Zelit said while fixing his glasses. “We need more information. And for that, I hope youll tell us the origin of the curse.”

Shakira fell into a momentary silence at Zelits request before opening her mouth. “I suppose Ill have to explain the reason why the empire became cursed.” After warning them the story could become long, Shakira began.

* * *

The reason for the war was trivial. It might have been a serious matter for the individuals involved, but in the grand scheme of things, it was simply a common occurrence. The empire one-sidedly began the war, because a kingdom had fought against the empires requests, which they thought had crossed a line. The sizeable kingdom gathered all its forces, but it was difficult for them to overcome the vast difference in size between them and the empire. The final troops they had managed to scrape together fell into the empires trap and were captured. Since their supply route had been cut off, they had to surrender without engaging in a proper battle. However, the real problem was the empires treatment of their prisoners.

Even prisoners of war would require resources such as food and manpower to take care of. And there were far too many prisoners from the kingdom. To exacerbate the situation, there had been a great famine a couple years ago, which was part of the reason why the empire started the war. Thus, they had no way of maintaining their captives; if they took in the captives, it would be hard to manage them, and the empire might even collapse with them; if the empire released the captives, though, they would become their enemies and a nuisance one day.

After days of deliberation, the imperial troops finally reached a decision that they couldnt reverse: a burial of the living. Without a single exception, they buried each of their prisoners alive. Hearing what happened, the kingdom burned with rage, and several other countries that had been watching from the sidelines were stunned by the empires atrocities. The empire destroyed one of the countries that condemned them to make an example out of it, but in the end, this action backfired.

Although they feared the empire, the rest of the countries formed an alliance in their anger. At last, there was a war between the empire and the allied forces. All hell broke loose, and a war that was more about revenge than victory was waged, with both sides one-upping the other in the level of viciousness they showed to their enemies. Not only did they buried more people alive, but both forces also dealt with their prisoners of war with extreme cruelty, to the point that throwing captives into a boiling pot of oil became nothing but childs play.

* * *

“Thank you for explaining the history of your planet,” Zelit interrupted. “But how is this story related to our findings today?”

“Goddess Elepthalia rules over all gods on Liber,” Shakira continued. “All gods, including Her and those under Her, exist through faith.”

Chi-Woo rummaged through his memories and recalled Raphael saying something similar aboutfaith.

“Think about it.” Shakiras voice grew lower. “The empire obviously worshipped the master of all gods, and the other kingdoms also served goddess Elepthalia.” The more followers there were and the stronger their faith was, the more powerful the god became. That was how much impact faith had on gods.

“However, an insurmountable number of people got swept into this war and began to loathe each other. What do you think they had been praying to the goddess they worshipped?” Without waiting for an answer, Shakira replied, “As they were buried alive and died suffering, they prayed.” It was obvious they would have resented their enemies and cursed them; and on their descent to death, they would have prayed and hoped for the fall of their enemies. Those venomous wishes and prayers slowly accumulated and poisoned Libers goddess.

“…I cant believe it.” Zelit shook his head. “Even if theyre beings that consume and live on peoples belief, gods are still gods in the end.”

“Since were mortal beings, its difficult to understand the gods, but its not like they dont have their own suffering.” Shakiras voice grew heavy. “Its safe to say that Libers history was built on wars. There had never been a time when there wasnt a war.”

If what Shakira was saying was true, then, it was only natural that the goddess would have suffered from the endless wars, and an infection would have formed from her cuts and scars.

“Youre saying that Libers ruling god died because she wasnt able to endure all those negative beliefs….” Zelit clutched his forehead. It was a story that was hard to accept right away.

“What happened then?” Chi-Woo asked. He had been listening to Shakiras explanation with some curiosity.

Shakira continued her storytelling. After the goddess went crazy, the continent fell into despair. People began to grow crazy. Those who had lost all sense of reason attacked their own people, biting and striking everyone near them. And from among those people, there were some whose whole body had shattered, and others who had gone missing. The few people who remained alive became very ill or died mysteriously. Even then, it was still possible to round up the few survivors and try to reconstruct Liber.

However, after the goddess went crazy, the World of Liber was no longer protected, and its barriers broke down. The result was devastating. Monsters from all over Liber went feral, and for the first time in hundreds of years, the gates to Hell and the Demon World opened at the same time. To make things worse, unimaginable alien lifeforms also invaded Liber and caused chaos. Liber had already been devastated by long wars. It was impossible for the natives to endure the various invasions that took place when there was even an unknown civil war going on.

“…Shit.” Zelit, who had been listening quietly, blurted out without meaning to. He tried not to swear as much as possible, but the curse slipped out despite himself. He couldnt even joke about how Liber had gotten a full combo gift set. Any of the incidents would be difficult to deal with on its own, let alone when all of them had occurred in quick succession.

“Do you know why we cant leave this place?” Shakira bitterly said. In the first place, it was difficult to get out of here, but there was also no point in trying. Even though Shakira did not know what was happening outside, she could make a rough guess—hell probably looked like heaven in comparison. This might be the only safe haven left on Liber. Shakira let out a soft sigh and continued, “Kadei is one of our tribe people who went missing a long time ago. Im sure he was influenced by the curse plaguing all Liber if what Rawiya saw was true.”

“I couldnt find any trace of mutations or evolution,” Rawiya calmly said.

“I have one question,” Chi-Woo said. “Did Lady Hawa also…”

“Hmm. Getting cursed is different from getting attacked by the broken ones,” Shakira said. “Well fully know when she gets up, but I suspect its the latter that happened to her. If she wasnt saved, she would have died, gone crazy, or got broken and eaten.”

Chi-Woo was silent. Even though there was a saying that being alive was better than being dead, he wouldve chosen death out of the three options Shakira presented.

Zelit sighed. “Youre saying that the result will be the same whether we stay here or venture out and get defeated.”

“…”

“Moreover, Liber is getting invaded by all kinds of intruders.” Zelit, a real veteran hero who had saved a world from a stellar-system event, let out an empty laugh and said sarcastically, “What a fantastic world.”

Chi-Woo bit his lips. Giant Fists words suddenly flashed through his mind.

—Of course, well only know once we go there…but…

—We might be getting thrown in the middle of a battle between gods.

The reality was even worse. Gods and all kinds of things were mixed together.

‘This place is fucked. After easily defeating two vengeful spirits, Chi-Woo had thought, ‘Perhaps I can easily solve this matter, but his confidence was crushed immediately. Chi-Woo was sure of this now; he kissed his fantasy dream of receiving a lot of special privileges and going on an exciting adventure goodbye. But it couldnt be helped. There was no use crying over spilled milk. Moreover, it wasnt as if he hadnt received anything. Rather than complaining and despairing, it was better to use the information he received to plan his future actions.

‘And in that sense, it was a mistake for me to step forward this time.

If he stood in the front lines, he would die. That was the kind of place Liber was. There were enemies and dangers everywhere even if he avoided taking a stand and instead stayed away from the thick of things. Attracting attention would do him more harm than good. Rather than living a short and action-packed life, he needed to live a long and boring life. That was what ordinary people should do.

“But…” Shakira looked at Chi-Woo and said, “I didnt think that you would really be able to do it.” Her voice sounded slightly excited.

“Same here. On my way back, I was struck by how warm the sunlight was. Its been a while since I last felt that way.” Rawiya, who had been curt since Chi-Woo first met her, echoed Shakiras sentiment and looked at him favorably. Her gaze also grew a lot warmer. It was understandable as Chi-Woo was able to face the curse of the crazy goddess head-on and come out victorious, something that no one had been able to do before. Moreover, she thought he was a hero who had come here to save this planet. It was only natural that Rawiya would consider Chi-Woo a ray of hope in a world full of despair.

Of course, this was only from their perspective; for Chi-Woo, this whole situation was very burdensome. “Well, its not like I did this by myself. In all honesty, I wouldve been dead if it hadnt been for Ms. Ru Hiana.”

“Is that true?”

“Yes, of course. I wouldnt lie about this. Ms. Ru Hiana is also really amazing. She saved me when I was about to die, and she also finished the monster off. Even though I dont know much, Im sure that shes an amazing hero.”

“Wow…”

In order to gain less attention, Chi-Woo continuously praised Ru Hiana, but he didnt say a single lie. Everything out of his mouth was true.

“Anyway, how is Lady Hawas condition?” Chi-Woo didnt forget to change the topic.

“Shes now much better. She gained her consciousness and was able to eat, even though it wasnt much. I think shell soon recover enough to talk.”

“Thats great. Im glad.”

“Its all thanks to you. I dont know how I can ever repay you.”

“No! Theres nothing to pay me back for.” Chi-Woo frantically tried to stop the conversation from getting back to its original track. “Youve paid me enough by lending me the statue. Theres nothing to be grateful about. Please just forget it.”

“But still, how can we…”

“Would you be able to help Ms. Ru Hiana?” Chi-Woo brought up poor Ru Hianas name again. “I dont think Mr. Ru Amuhs condition is very good. Ill be grateful if you can help him however you can.” Chi-Woo said this in the hopes that they would form stronger ties with Ru Hiana.

However, contrary to his expectations, Shakira looked at him with new wonder, and Rawiya gave him a soft smile; they looked touched. Even Zelit, who had a long face, looked at Chi-Woo and nodded.

Zelit said, “As expected. My eyes havent failed me.”

“?”

“I couldnt help but sigh when I saw the kind of mindset heroes from the past two to three decades have, but fortunately, there are still heroes like you and Ru Amuh. Oh, wait, are you from my generation?”

‘Im not, Chi-Woo murmured inside his mind. ‘And Ive never been a hero.

“It seems that Im not the only one who felt this way,” Rawiya murmured. “If there was even one person like you among the fifth recruits…” She looked regretful with a bitter face.

‘No. Chi-Woo began blinking like crazy. ‘What are they suddenly talking about?

“I got it,” Shakira politely bowed to Chi-Woo again and said. “Well do our very best to take care of him. I promise you with everything I have.”

‘No. Please, you dont have to promise me with everything you have. Chi-Woo smiled in frustration. ‘No, this wasnt it. I didnt mention Ru Hiana for it to turn out like this.

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