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Episode 67: Power
I forcibly pushed the executioner’s ax and twirled my spear, sending the ax flying in the air.
The executioner only realized what just happened after his ax landed back on the ground. He took 2, 3 steps back in a daze.
Meanwhile, I was already freeing Asna from the wooden execution table and helped her to stand up. Her teary eyes never left me in the process.
[Rhode…forgive me…forgive me…!]
I had no idea what had happened.
But from a single glance, it’s obvious that she’s been through a lot.
She still had her blonde hair styled in her familiar twin tails, but it’s now dirty and rather unkempt.
She must’ve suffered for quite a while… judging from her thin cheeks and dirty clothes.
I wished that I could talk to her immediately, but the crowd wouldn’t allow it just like that.
We were already surrounded by armed soldiers.
This is where the problem begins.
His Majesty Celt King would not be arriving here any time soon… so I have to manage until then somehow.
The people had been leering and jeering at us since a while ago.
Glancing at them, they were shouting and cursing wildly.
[Fuck off] or [Kill them already] or [The incompetent is unforgivable] or many other cusses drummed in my ears.
The curse of hate is at work… Adding to that is crowd psychology.
This is bad… it could turn into a riot if left alone.
[Asna, tell me this one thing. Did you… really hit anyone?]
To my question, Asna shook her head weakly.
I see… then I can do something about it.
In the meantime, a man who was dressed a bit different from the rest of the soldiers, probably a captain or commander, approached us whilst keeping the soldier at bay with vocal commands.
[Rhode, is it? So what are you going to do? I hope that I can help….. But with the people acting like this, there’s also very little I can do.]
I was a bit taken aback since I didn’t expect him to offer us help.
Then could this person be…
[His Majesty Celt King is on his way here. And I am here at the behest of His command to stop this execution. Here is the proof.]
[What, His Majesty!? Th, that’s… His Majesty’s prized dagger…! I don’t know what happened… but I’m the Celt knight captain Eddie. This kind of hatred is unusual… I’m not sure if His Majesty can stop it even if He’s here.]
So this person is the knight captain that the King mentioned?
Perhaps his eyes can really see something that others couldn’t.
Otherwise, how else would he want to help Asna despite the world’s anomaly?
The curse probably dispersed when he started doubting the nature of matters.
In other words, the curse of abnormal hatred toward the incompetents that are plaguing the people can probably be dispelled by making them “aware” of the anomaly.
[I’ve heard from His Majesty. Eddie-san’s special power… the people of this country are also aware of that, yes?]
[Y, yes. It’s quite well known… if I were to say something in this situation…]
[Hand me that magic stone. I will create a foundation for you to speak in. After that, we’ll have to manage until His Majesty arrives…]
I entrusted Asuna to him and received the magic stone, then I faced the people who filled the plaza.
The air trembled due to the terrible angry words and swearing and it was in a state where anything could happen at any time.
Asna was arrested about 12 days ago.
The Hero’s party and Asna left the village around the same time I chose to end my life… that was one and a half months ago.
I didn’t know how she got to Celt, but it seems to me she’s been spending time as an incompetent in this city for a while.
Which means that many of the city folks already knew about her.
Otherwise, they wouldn’t act like this.
I took out the giant club and bow from the black notebook, then promptly materialized them. Heracles’ huge figure immediately appeared before us.
The people were perturbed by Heracles’ appearance but otherwise continued to shout and jeer at Asna.
[Heracles, I need everyone here to hear me out. Can you calm them down a notch?]
Seeing me covering my ears after saying so, Heracles grinned knowingly.
[Then hold tight… for I am going to do my best.]
Heracles took a deep breath.
I used all my strength to seal my ears.
The air seemingly shook.
The execution table rattled from the vibration of her voice, and I was about to be knocked away given that my position was the nearest to Heracles.
N, nothing less from Heracles…!
Everyone was stunned by such a loud voice that the plaza, which had been previously noisy with cursing words and angry shouts, was quickly wrapped in silence.
Heracles paused for a while before continuing.
[My apology for surprising you! I know everyone must have a lot of things on their mind! But I want you all to listen to my Wielder! Please!]
That said, Heracles bowed her head.
[What… It was easy.]
Replying to Heracles’ soft laugh with a smile, I raised the magic stone to my mouth and inserted some magic power into it.
『Everyone… my name is Rhode Irvine, from Ist town in Nibelugh.』
When I said that, the square began to rustle.
They probably realized that Rhode, who was Asna, wanted to apologize to me.
Other than that, some might recognize me from the Nibelugh adventurer tournament.
After all, the king of Celt himself was aware of the matter.
I took a deep breath and exhaled.
I have to break my promise.
『I… I was once an incompetent.』
Thus I explained what happened to me up until now.
Naturally, I excluded some important points, such as my Materialization magic, Crown-san, and the temple’s involvement.
I would just raise more suspicion if I mentioned all that.
It’s better to convey it as simply as possible right now.
『Someone created the concept of Incompetent, and instilled hatred for these people into humanity…..this influence was at a global scale, that nobody noticed it. But I was an incompetent once. Being on the receiving end once before, only made me realize how abnormal the hatred is. But after I’ve come to understand my power, and came to terms with it. however…..I still wish to erase this concept.』
Of course, I knew that they wouldn’t understand right away.
It would be good as long as the people get the gist of it, as it can become the groundwork for the next thing to come as well as calming them down.
『Asna was Ist’s best mage once. I don’t know why she lost her power… but I believe it’s only temporary.』
I’m really sure of it myself, but I have to say it.
The people were still quite noisy, but at least they’re no longer angrily shouting and throwing curses.
All of them were not aware of what actually happened so they didn’t know how to proceed.
『I know it’s hard to believe this story immediately, and I understand the anxiety and confusion, However, I want all of you to know that these people you refer to as the incompetent… they are also trying to live the best they can…I know I did. Asna, too…desperately! So what makes the difference? We can laugh or cry, feeling anger and joy, …the same way as everyone else. It’s because incompetents are not objects. We are human, just like everyone else. And as humans, we have feelings and will…! Treated inhumanly just because we didn’t have magic…that’s just too sad…！』
Everyone… I understand that this is maybe your first time to ever consider how the incompetent feels.
Therefore I couldn’t help but worry… if they can’t take it.
Because what we are talking about is something they’ve unquestioningly hated up until now…but yet revealed to have feelings and will just like them.
At that point, I felt someone tapping my shoulder. It was the knight captain Eddie.
[Thank you, Rhode-kun… leave the rest to me.]
He received back the magic stone from me and faced the crowd.
Apparently… There’s no more hesitation now.
I could see it in his eyes.
『Everyone, please listen to me. Everyone knows that I have a special power to identify evildoers. I was aware of this. That this girl is innocent…..but forgive me for not being able to do anything.』
I’m sure it was agonizing for him as well.
It was featured in the newspaper.
That a stranger caused an incident in the capital of Celt… The news became so big that Eddie couldn’t stop it in time.
His late involvement and most likely the king’s illness caused the re-investigation request to not be approved.
Everyone started buzzing again at his remarks.
But Eddie raised his hand again to maintain the crowd then continued to speak.
『I myself, previously felt that incompetent is an object of disgust. I thought that the stronger our power, the more correct we are. But after hearing her and Rhode… I came to notice my stupidity and immatureness. As I recall, she never tried to defend herself by saying things like “I didn’t hit them” or something similar. I would’ve desperately tried to explain myself if I were in the same situation. Nobody wants to die after all. But she accepted everything. Even the accusation that she used force when in actuality she didn’t go all the way even if she still ended up frightening the family…. but it was only because she felt guilty over what she did to Rhode……that she’s willing to make it up with her death by standing on this execution table now! She apologized without fearing death! I think…..she is truly strong in her own way….！I think the belief that we can treat others badly just〝because he or she is an incompetent…must be changed!』
Good… it seems that we manage to buy enough time.
When the King of Celt appeared with a magic stone in his hand, everybody promptly knelt.
I also followed suit.
The King approached me and put his hand on my shoulder with a smile.
[It was Rhode who convinced me. Otherwise, Celt would’ve… Thank you]
The strongest King turned around, showing his back to me.
I don’t know why, but looking at his back made me feel like… I was wrapped in something warm.
Then he began to speak to the people with a powerful and gentle voice.
『Everyone, please raise your face. And please listen. Until recently… I was dying from Magic Syndrome.』
The plaza became noisy at once.
The King already expected this, thus continued speaking.
『I remained silent so as not to worry anyone…..Forgive me. Besides, I won’t lose to this illness….or so I thought. However, I’m still nothing more than a human, and my life was nearing its end….if not for Rhode’s aid. And while talking to him, I became aware of this matter regarding the incompetent. True, it is hard to believe at first. However, everyone here should be aware of it already. Do you have a good reason to hate Asna now?』
The crowd became quiet.
Nodding to this, the King continued on.
『Asna here may have attempted to hit the kid. She may have frightened him because of it, and of course, she needed to be punished for it. But I believe that she has been punished enough….. is there any objection?』
Everyone in the plaza remained quiet, still waiting for the King to continue on.
『I’m aware of how the attacked family felt. But pardon me, can’t we stop this execution? ….and let’s move on.』
The King bowed his head while saying all that.
It’s obvious that the people were taken aback by this.
He’s the great King that everyone respects and recognizes, therefore the act became even more profound.
The King finally raised his head and continued.
『I was supposed to die today. But I was dragged away from the afterlife instead. I believe this is destiny. Therefore I want everyone to rethink. Are those considered as incompetent truly evil? We of Celt are proud and brave people…..I believe that seeking and reaching out to the truth is also a sign of strength…Indeed it is. I also believe that there is true courage and a strong soul within each one of us. So now, please remember that pride. Our hands…..are meant to save lives.』
Everyone closed their eyes and put their hands on their chests.
The King’s words echoed quietly and warmly wrapped people’s hearts… even I could feel it.