Chapter 175: Phantom of the Hero
The sword that once defeated countless people completely collapsed scattering black dust everywhere. Oliver bent down and picked up the gemstone on top of the powder. He clenched it tightly in the palm of his hand, as if trying to calm the burning pain.
Godwin was expressionless. He stared at Oliver intently— His emerald eyes were like dead leaves, hopelessly praying that the other side would take back what he had said, but Oliver just stood there, looking at him with the kind of eyes he disliked the most. There was no hatred, contempt, pity or arrogance. Oliver Ramon looked calm, and even a little sad.
The gray mist gradually dissipated. Sunlight leaked down from the edge of the huge dragon breath stone orb, turning the sky blue again.
"Countless people have challenged this sword." Godwin resisted the exhaustion and emptiness that swarmed up and stood shakily. "Countless people, countless powerful people. It must have some undiscovered secrets; It can’t just be like this…"
"Even if people all over the world agree, a lie is still a lie. As far as I know, dad had personally beheaded at least an innocent man with his own hands, the father of a little girl. I don’t think he has ever forgotten about it, and I have confirmed that regret. If that curse is correct, it’s impossible for him not to feel pain."
"My father… My father never doubted the nobility of Flint Lopez. My father firmly believed that he was just eroded by something, and it stuck with him, therefore he left the world behind. Until then, Flint Lopez was an unblemished hero. There’s no doubt about this."
There were heroes in this world, at least there have been. Warm, unclouded, sunny heroes. Godwin desperately believed so. They would always have a smile on their faces, and they could still rise from the mud without frustration or hesitation. Those legendary heroes struggled from the ashes, living like a cluster of flames.
Noble and pure.
But he would still be troubled by the pain of unknown origin deep in his heart. He wasn’t open-minded enough nor firm enough.
He wasn’t good… enough.
Flint Lopez was the legend closest to him. He had read the letters Flint sent to his father and heard his father describe everything Flint had done. The legend of the Tin Soldiers spread all over the continent. Even if that glory was eventually destroyed by reality and tarnished by rumors, he believed like his father that Flint Lopez was a perfect hero.
However, if what Oliver Ramon said was true. Was Flint holding such a sword in his hand when he wrote those warm and happy letters home? Godwin suddenly wanted to laugh. He tried everything he could to become as good as a person like Flint Lopez once was, and even wanted to surpass him, but now it seems that his shadow, his signpost, may be a phantom that never existed.
"No flaws? No." Oliver shook his head decisively. "It’s not what you think. When my father drinks too much, he would yell at the neighbor’s dog, throw his dirty clothes everywhere, start messing with the bookkeeping, and he would always forget to return the books to the library on time. He occasionally gambles with people in taverns, or pretends to be a bard, helps people sing love songs to girls, and even got splashed by a few pots of foot wash because of this. I’m more inclined to think that he… has always been like this. When it comes to defects, I can list a hundred for you. At least I don’t think any blow can force him to put honey on a bard’s stool."
"He has made many mistakes, and he laughs embarrassingly when he makes them. He’s willful, scatterbrained, and impatient." Oliver pursed his lips. "…and cruel enough to let his own son kill him without even bothering to explain anything. This is the Flint Lopez I’m familiar with, the owner of this sword."
Godwin was in a daze.
The wound caused from the battle was still bleeding, but he was oblivious to it. For the first time, the leader of Horizon forgot to straighten his back. He fell down crumbling, half kneeling on the ground scattered with ashes.
"You don’t understand. He must be a hero. If even he’s not…" He inserted the Breaking Dawn into the cracked stone platform and braced his tepid body. His voice was full of bitterness.
"Hey, Godwin." Oliver squatted down in front of his only remaining blood relatives. His voice very soft. "Why are you fighting?"
"In order to save the weak and protect humanity. Isn’t this obvious?"
"Do you like it?"
"It’s not a question of whether you like it or not. It’s the right thing to do. This is the obligation of those who have power."
"Then what do you like?"
"I have been saved by people, by a lot of people. To be honest, their ‘power’ level are terrible, but they did save me, so I sometimes think, maybe it has nothing to do with strength. They are my heroes, and I won’t ignore this because they suck or is weak. They didn’t choose to stand by because they weren’t strong enough… at that time."
"So why is it an ‘obligation’? Isn’t it strange to ask for sacrifice and devotion from others and think it’s a matter of fact because they are good or strong? If one has received a favor, then it’s perfectly understandable to return the kindness, but that’s not the case with you."
"I don’t think I’ve done anything wrong." Godwin gritted his teeth. "Even if it’s an innate power, there’s a corresponding responsibility. I must save those…"
"I respect your thoughts," Oliver whispered, "but I personally think… it’s not such a complicated thing."
Oliver was indeed able to understand his thoughts. He thought the same way a long time ago. Naturally believe in all the information given by the outside world, put yourself into the existing power definition, and think that that was the truth of the world.
But unlike Godwin, who was fighting in the bloody rain, when he was barely as tall as a broomstick, he only beat up two little bastards who lifted a little girl’s skirt.
His nose was raised high, he held a branch and rushed home shouting "I’m an upright knight" in his mouth. After being blocked by his father who was washing cabbages, the young Oliver poked his father in the back with a branch.
"Oh?" After listening to his son brag about his glorious deed, his father just shook the water from his hand, then patted him on the head. He wasn’t sure if his father was praising him or simply using him to dry his hands. "Good job."
"Upright knight!" Oliver insisted.
"Why do you say that?" Flint raised his eyebrows.
"Because I was strong. I protected a weak princess from the mob. This is chivalry. Everyone says so."
"What are you going to call yourself if some unlucky kid gets his pants pulled down, Ollie?" Flint looked at his son amusingly.
"Oh, well, I have to see." Oliver didn’t think much about it. "A man should stand up and fight back. If that guy looks strong, I’m not going to just help—"
"Well, if you switch places with this ‘princess’ today, then it’s okay for her to pretend she didn’t see it? Even if she could have helped you, do you think it’s really okay?"
"Let me change the question again. If it wasn’t you who passed by today, and a different young man didn’t lend a helping hand to the girl, would you think he was morally corrupt?"
"Even if he’s sick and thin and his strength isn’t as good as a girl?"
Oliver didn’t say a word. He was completely confused at that time.
"That’s why I told you to stay away from those bards, brat. Dad’s not saying you did anything wrong. It was a beautiful thing you did, but compared to things like chivalry, I hope you can understand the basics."
"Aside from gender, strength, and class," Flint continued to wash the cabbage in the water basin, "don’t think too much about it. If you just don’t want to see your compatriots in pain, then reach out. Of course, do what you can. Don’t listen to those bastards bragging about princesses and knights, and messy destiny. Hey, where have you been spying. I know you went to eavesdrop again."
Oliver shrank his neck. "But doesn’t everyone say that? Powerful people always have to, uh, hold up a piece of the world…"
"You listen to what others say? Wait until you understand the meaning of "powerful" before talking about this. Don’t say ‘can fight’ or you’ll wash the rest of the cabbage."
"I don’t understand."
"Seeing other people in pain, you want to help, right?"
"Then remember this mood. Don’t think about ‘what others think should happen’ or ‘how others define this behavior’. It’s so easy to pay attention to useless drivel. It’s enough to remember this kind of ‘want to help’ mood."
"But it has to have a name. I mean, it has to be some kind of spirit…"
"My statement only represents my own understanding." The father in memory pondered for a few seconds before he showed a smile. "The rules are set by others; your true heart is not. Compared to a knight who adheres to a ‘code of justice’—"
"I prefer you to be a ‘gentle’ man, son."
But Emanuel Lopez picked up those guidelines and bind his biological son to them.
Those "choices" that were supposed to give kindness and warmth were twisted into obligation. Godwin had been chasing these, chasing a perfect person who couldn’t possibly exist among humans. Someday, long after, Godwin may be remembered as a perfect hero, but no one would know the pain and emptiness in his eyes.
"Yes, I don’t think it’s such a complicated thing," Oliver repeated looking firmly into the other person’s eyes. "You did nothing wrong. I just think… although it’s a good thing to demand more from yourself, how can I put it, you may be a bit too demanding. Look at the rumors of my dad compared to the real him. I think it’ll be fine if you relax a little."
"You could do nothing. It’s not a sin, at least that’s what I think. And you’re willing to stand up and help, which is already amazing. Although I still don’t agree with your style of doing things, let’s take a step back."
Godwin looked more confused. The sun had sank below the horizon and the sun chaser had nowhere to go.
"I don’t want to tell you what’s right. I’m not qualified to preach to you." Oliver lowered his gaze. "If you want to save everything so much, how about saving yourself first? You look… like you’re in a lot of pain. If you feel that power is a responsibility, then you can hate me before you hate yourself. I’m stronger than you, but I don’t plan to take on those ‘responsibilities’."
"I’m a weak and selfish guy. I won’t think about how the world should be. If I can help what’s in front of me, I’ll be satisfied."
Godwin stood up. His face was still filled with doubts and dissatisfaction. Oliver also stood up and patted his armor uncomfortably. He tried to give the other person a hug, but he changed his mind in front of the cold air from Godwin’s body.
"Oh, I have one more thing to add." Before turning around and walking towards his companion, Oliver suddenly spoke. "You have done a great job, Godwin. Better than anyone I have ever met."
Godwin sighed and slowly smiled— A bitter, sad but gentle smile.
"Thank you," he said softly.
Although awkward and reluctant, Oliver was familiar with that smile. He had seen it on his father’s face many times.
Perhaps Godwin was closer to Flint Lopez than he thought.
"I also have one more thing to say." Godwin put the sword back into its scabbard. "…What the hell is going on between you and Nemo Light?"
Oliver’s emotion disappeared in an instant—
The leader of Tumbleweed raised his feet and ran away.
The author has something to say：
Brotherhood can’t be restored immediately, but it will get better xD
Cousin who he met for the first time: What’s the matter with this man? Not very good.
Current cousin: Ah… Ramon seems to have a good side too.
Cousin who learned the truth a long time later: What’s wrong with this guy! What’s going on—!!!
Aww I hope they become good siblings in the future. Godwin still needs to find out that it was Ollie who gave him that apple tart!
I really like the lessons Oliver’s dad teaches him. He doesn’t have to be a "hero". He shouldn’t save people and help others because that’s "the rules" or "how other people think it should be". It should come from himself and his "kindness" and "wants" to save people.
Oliver: It’s enough for me to help that granny get her cat out of a tree. I don’t need and want to save the world. (Plot twist, the cat’s name Nemo).