Chapter 2: White Fox with a Death Wish
My eighth birthday. A day I could never forget.
It was on this day which my misfortune began.
During a family trip, my family and I were attacked by bandits and my parents and my sister were killed. No matter how much I cried and struggled it didn't matter. I was powerless to do anything.
I survived due to the Hero of Darkness coincidently passing by and defeating the bandits, I was empty inside, like my soul had departed with my family.
A lot of things happened after that, and I became the Hero of Darkness's disciple. Apparently, I had talent for it, and I inherited the position of Hero of Darkness at the age of twelve, and have lived as a hero until today, at the age of twenty-five.
Not all things were bad.
There were times where I found happiness.
But for some reason, it always slipped from my fingers like sand.
I can't help but feel foolish for thinking that I've finally grasped my happiness after meeting the three girls.
If fate was real, I must have been born under a bad star.
A dim, humid forest covered my line of sight. A spooky bird cry sounded, but I didn't bother checking my surroundings and sat down.
I only felt emptiness.
"It's always like this, isn't it…?"
Loving someone, just to have them depart before me, and trusting someone, just to have them betray me. Over and over. I was desperate, thinking that maybe if I become strong and save the world, something would change.
But the single thread that kept me going deep inside my heart had completely snapped.
I set the mask that was the symbol of the Hero of Darkness onto the ground. I wasn't a hero anymore since I lost my ring.
The memories with my party members crossed my mind.
The three years - scenes where the four of us were laughing kept coming up.
It was fun… If that was all a lie, I can't trust people anymore.
My wails didn't stop.
I cried like a child.
The dark, creepy forest like this one suited a betrayed hero like me very well.
Once I calmed down, I weakly stood up. My mind became a bit clearer after crying.
I walked around the forest with no weapon or equipment. If this was indeed the Dark Forest, I was on a different continent.
"Spread, 'Dark Wings'"
It was a technique that gave a pair of pitch-black wings, but only one spread out on my back. It must be because my strength was taken.
I can't fly, but I can use it for combat, huh.
After walking for five minutes, an ogre appeared in front of me. In fact, it was a high ogre, a high rank species.
"Hm, a strong one."
The red hair mixed between all the white hair was its characteristic. Stumbling across something like this, I guess this is indeed the Dark Forest.
'stomp stomp stomp'
It started a ferocious charge. It was an impressive sight. But too straightforward.
I spread my wing and shot black feathers at it.
As soon as the feathers hit the high ogre, the places where they were stuck immediately started to rot. One or two was still survivable, but over ten was death. The high ogre rotted away without reaching me.
It can't be something like this.
Ending my life with a monster without even the slightest trace of dignity is pathetic.
This time it was a three-eyed fighting bull. It was a species I've never seen before.
It started charging so I shot black feathers at it just like I did to the high ogre, but they were reflected right before they hit.
"A physical barrier…?"
I was surprised that it was intelligent. But why does it continue to charge with the barrier up? But then what were those horns for?
My question was answered. It removed the barrier right before it hit.
"It creates a barrier when I gain distance, huh. Pretty sharp. But then again."
I sunk into my own shadow and rose from my opponent's. It's called 'shadow bind'.
I punched the monster's head. It died instantly.
My speed decreased, and my punch didn't have much force behind it. I was weakened quite a bit.
In my current state, I might be able to fight with all my strength and lose.
My expectation came true.
A few hours after the fight with the bull, my instincts reacted to a white fox that slowly appeared before me.
There are fights which are decided before they even start. This was one of them. If I was at full strength I would win but with only ten percent of my strength left, that would be impossible.
It was larger and more beautiful than a normal fox. It was covered in fluffy, snowy white fur, and its face had an air of intelligence to it as well.
"Can you understand words?"
"You have good pronunciation."
'I've played with some humans who entered the forest before.'
"You're going to eat me, right?"
'Of course, I'm not.'
He had no hostility towards me whatsoever. This is troublesome.
A moment of silence followed.
As I opened my mouth, the fox did so too at the same time.
"-Can you kill me?"
'-Can you kill me please?'
The white fox looked dumbfounded, but I probably have the same expression he does.
"Did you just ask me to kill you?"
'Yes. Did you just…'
"Yeah I did."
'What a coincidence.'
It sounded just like the old man that lived next door a long time ago, so I unexpectedly burst out laughing.
'Aaah, why did you laugh?'
"My bad. You're really like a human. You look smart too."
'Even a fox can get embarrassed, you know?'
The way it swung his tail from side to side was quite lovely. I wonder if its nature is closer to a dog than a fox.
"I want to talk with you a bit. Is that alright?"
'Same here. In any case, let me burn that real quick.'
Right after it gently said that, the white fox widened his eyes. It was immediately followed by a disgusting cry behind me. A very small species of goblin burned to the ground by the sudden flames that erupted.
"I was so focused on you, I didn't notice it…"
'Chibilins are good at getting behind your back.'
'Now, let's go somewhere we can relax. Follow me.'
The white fox turned its back to me. Is it really okay with getting killed?
We're in the same boat. Since I'm following it without being alert at all.
We moved to a place where it was relatively easier to scan our surroundings.
The white fox sat down like a dog and started to speak.
'My name is Hakuko. You can call me Haku. I'm a male.'
"Shion. I'm a former hero, if you understand what that is."
'Of course. I have quite a bit of human knowledge. I've lived for over three hundred years, after all.'
He's got quite a cheerful personality.
It makes me wonder even more why he wants to die.
'Is it alright if I talk about my life story first?'
"Please tell me."
'I used to travel all over the place with my family, and we settled in this forest. We lived peacefully for a while…but my parents eventually passed away. The fox I loved died as well. So have my children. Eventually, my grandchildren died as well.'
"Were they killed by monsters?"
'No, they lived through their lifespan. I'm a variant species.'
Variants were monsters who underwent sudden change, and often had longer lifespans.
'A white fox's average lifespan is around fifty years. But I've lived three hundred and I'm still full of life. I don't want to be lonely anymore. Watching the ones you love die is, huh? Why are you crying Shion?'
"Sniff…I-I'm not c-crying."
'You're crying so much!? The tears are just rolling down your face!'
"It's, s-salt water…"
"Eww, I've never heard someone make that excuse.'
How many times is a grown man like me going to cry in one day. This is so disappointing. But I couldn't help but empathize.
"I understand how you feel. I lost my family, and the person I loved…"
'Oh, I see. Let me hear your story this time.'
"Where should I start - "
Before I became the Hero of Darkness. After I became him. All that happened until this day. I told him everything. Haku was sobbing. He was sobbing since I was talking about my childhood.
"What part of my childhood was the saddest?"
'The part where the old man living next to you who talks like me dies!'
'Well, you've had a hard time as well. What cruel heroes they are…Aren't you going to take revenge?'
I shook my head at the question.
"I don't care anymore. I don't want to live anymore."
'I see. Then…do you want to die…together?'
"If you're fine with it."
'I'll be more than welcome to. Two people dying together is better than dying alone. Well, I'm not a person, though. He he he.'
"You've got a weird laugh."
But Haku's character makes me at ease. Now that I think about it, this was the first time I've been able to talk about my past this smoothly.
'So, do you think it's about time we died?'
"I'm always ready."
We stood up and faced each other.
I took a deep breath and exhaled, calming my heart.
I didn't imagine I would end this way.
Surprisingly, this doesn't feel too bad -
Hey guys Kaoto here.
Dang I just hate SFX and laughs and things like that.
It’s just so awkward because I’m not familiar at all with English SFX 😦
Got midterms and a final next week so with me luck 🙂
To be honest I’m not sure if I’ll do that good 😦