Under the dazzling, incessant sunlight, Yulifalet Lila Schtorenvihein wiped off the sweat from his forehead with a towel hanging on his shoulder. The weather today was all perfect again. His heart was naturally exhilarated at the blue sky, not a single cloud visible. It truly was the ideal weather for farming.
Humming, he raised the hoe overhead before ploughing the rich, fertile soil. ‘When it comes to grip, I really do prefer hoes to swords,’ Yulifalet earnestly thought, feeling the earth as he used the hoe. He might be a lesser aristocrat of the countryside, but he would rather choose the hoe over the sword that was one of the accomplishments of other noblemen.
If other people heard that, they’d sigh and call it shameful. But even so, Yulifalet had gotten much more familiar with the hoe over the sword, and his hand was very used to it. Happily receiving vegetables grown from a field he’d ploughed himself had always made him much more happier than winning a sword fight. It was just more meaningful. That’s precisely why he thought he was happy from the bottom of his heart now, to be able to relax and plough the field.
When the ground had been ploughed to a certain extent, he put the hoe aside and crouched down. He planted a vegetable seedling he’d just received from his neighbors. The still young seedling lively reached out its leaves to the sky. Yulifalet tenderly, softly caressed those leaves, smiling in content.
「All right, now you grow big.」
Yulifalet stood up after planting all of them, stretching widely. His back muscles had been rounded from crouching, and the sensation of them stretching felt pleasant. Well now, he could take a break at this point so perhaps it was time to rest.
Wiping the sweat off his forehead for the second time, he sat down in the shade of a tree that grew beside the field. He quenched his thirst with water from his bottle. It was just then that a voice called out to Yulifalet, as if cancelling out the chirping of the birds in the trees.
「Yuuuli! Yulifalet! You have mail, and presents!」
He raised his head at the familiar voice, looking over there. On a side road of the field in front of him stood a girl with chestnut-colored hair, vigorously waving one hand. In her other hand was a larger basket she carried. Yulifalet had a slight hunch this was something bad. Before he realized it he’d drank up the remaining bottle from his water, furrowing his brows and standing up at the same time.
「How come you’re bringing the mail, Marie?」
「I met the mailman earlier over there. Looked like he was just about to bring this to you, so I took it in your place for you.」
Yulifalet carefully walked to where the girl called 「Marie」 stood, making sure not to step on the young seedlings he’d just planted. She smiled sweetly, pushing the basket into Yulifalet’s gloved hands.
「Here you go. Apparently it’s all from the royal capital.」
「The capital? Not again…….」
His voice instantly turned exasperated. It felt like the basket had suddenly become heavier right as he heard 「from the capital」. As he looked inside, there were indeed things that looked like presents as Marie had said. Sandwiches and letters that were far too lavishly decorated, a parcel decorated with a big ribbon on it – there were all sorts of things packed into the basket.
The girl, Yulifalet’s childhood friend, cackled in amusement at how his previously normal face was now cramped.
「You’re so popular, as always. Right, Sir – He – ro?」
This time, Yulifalet truly grimaced with all his might at those teasing words. This was no laughing matter.
「Stop that, Marie. It feels so creepy to be called that even by you.」
「Oh, come on. What does that mean?」
「I mean what I said.」
They had played together since they were children, covered in mud, unconcerned about anything like social status. It really didn’t please him at all to be called so highly by someone like that after so long. In fact, it felt uncomfortable, if anything. Because a title like 『Sir Hero』 wasn’t something he wanted.
「Even if they say I’m the hero that defeated the demon king, it’s not like he was defeated by just me.」
「It’s not like that. You can say this and that, but that doesn’t change the fact that 『the demon king was defeated by the hero.』」
「Is that right?」
「Yep. So how about you try acting more proud?」
「No. I’m going to be more careful.」
「……You really are so……」
Marie sighed, looking like she was completely dumbfounded. Yulifalet gave her a wry smile. There was nothing he could do besides that.
Yulifalet Lila Schtorenvihein. There was probably no one left in this country that didn’t know his name already. Yulifalet, the hero that had killed the revived demon king of old with the holy sword. One of the great heroes that saved the kingdom – no, the world.
Yulifalet, who was once nothing more than a mere heir of a countryside aristocrat family. That Yulifalet had been chosen by the holy sword, and by defeating the demon king, had become a real hero.
「It’s been so many months, and yet……」
He muttered that without thinking. What replayed in his mind was the sight of the royal capital, so prosperous and flourishing it couldn’t be compared to this field.
After the triumphant return to the capital, he stayed for a short while in a certain mansion there. But in the end, Yulifalet returned to the remote countryside he was used to – namely, the Schtorenvihein family’s grounds. There were many of those that were reluctant to let Yulifalet return home, but he shook them all off and went back. What he really wanted was to escape from those people afterall.
When he returned to his beloved hometown, overflowing with greenery and so completely different from the city, he couldn’t help being moved to tears.
Several months had passed since then, but there were still various news or presents sent from the capital to him. If those gifts were just letters or items of genuine gratitude towards him, it wouldn’t be so bad. But what bothered him was that there would also be pictures of people for marriage proposals, or money that he could clearly tell was bribery.
The only value he had as a marriage partner was, to put it clearly, him being a 『hero』 and nothing more. That was what Yulifalet thought. If not for that, there couldn’t possibly be anyone that wanted to marry the son of a feudal lord from a small plot in the remote countryside, who willingly ploughed the fields with his hoe.
The same went for the money and goods that were sent to him. He could plainly see their intentions were for him, a 『hero』, to build connections with the higher-ups.
And so, the portraits for marriage proposals and the money that couldn’t be anything but bribery, were all humbly sent back. But it seemed there were still some people bad at giving up out there.
「They should just give up…」
「That’s the price of fame! Can’t help just this, right?」
「Don’t say that…….」
Along with his tired voice, he dropped his shoulders and lowered his head. He felt a light tapping on his back so he looked up, only to see Marie pointing repeatedly to the shade of the tree he’d just been sitting under.
「For now, wanna have lunch? I get a share of those presents too, you know.」
「Oh, yeah, sure. That’s right.」
He pulled himself together at Marie’s words. This time, the two of them sat down side by side in the shade of the tree. The chirping birds and the rustling grass were pleasant to the ear, raising his down spirits. With a sandwich in one hand, he looked through the letters one by one. The senders ranged from names he was seeing for the first time to names he’d seen countless times.
Biting into the sandwich and swallowing, he let out a deep sigh. He couldn’t help but just feeling depressed at these letters. The ones that looked like young children had sent them did heal his heart, but he wanted to just frown at the ones clearly full of bad intentions from aristocrats or wealthy merchants.
The mail was full of letters like that today too, and in the end, even the taste of his sandwich was ruined.
Yulifalet brought out a letter from the basket of mail. Amidst the letters so decorated as if asserting themselves, ‘read me!’ and small parcels, a very simple, pure white letter stood out. As he picked it up and looked at it, he realized that although it looked simple, it was actually written on high quality paper.
Written on the front was Yulifalet’s name and address in a flowing script. When he turned it around, on the other side was a red wax seal. The names of the two senders written there were.
「Yuli? What are you smiling out of nowhere for?」
「Nothing, it’s just this letter…」
「……What’s with that letter? Who is it from?」
Marie sulked just slightly, making a slightly worried face when Yulifalet didn’t say everything. But Yulifalet didn’t notice, gently caressing the senders’ names with his finger.
Agedilus Von Lancent. Filmina Von Lancent. That was what was written there. Those were the names of one of his companions who saved the world with him, and his wife.
「——I wonder if they’re doing alright?」
That moody, beautiful wizard, and her beside him, smiling gently. As he wondered what they might be doing right now, he cut the seal of the letter without a moment’s hesitation.