Italy, somewhere. The youth was visiting the vineyard of a particular farm in a remote area of Italy. While walking forwards, the youth — Holy Spear wielder Cao Cao, entered the view of an old man who was working on the farm. The old man’s farm clothes and straw hat suited him very well, and he also had an impressive build. At first glance from afar, one would think that the old man had previously served in the military or had some kind of athletic training. However, this old man wasn’t just any ordinary kind. Although the old man had detected Cao Cao’s presence a while ago, he opened his mouth to speak without even looking in his direction.
“Holy relic, this is the first time I’ve encountered such an aura.”
The old man wore a gentle smile on his wrinkled face.
“Buongiorno1 Holy Spear wielder, welcome to this farm.”
The old man wearing a hat greeted him — no, it should be the Vatican’s Cardinal Priest Vasco Strada. Just the other day, he was a major person of the Church who led many of the rebellious Church warriors. Defeated in battle against the anti-terrorist group [DxD], he accepted the judgement of Heaven without any resistance. Having reported everything without a lie to Heaven, this old Cardinal was now held in this farm. There was even a strong barrier which had been erected around a radius of several kilometres of the farm. It would not be an easy nor simple task to escape; this was a so-called prison barrier. For God, and for the faith that he devoted most of his life to; in his attempt to realise the feelings of the Church warriors, the former wielder of Durandal was stripped of his position, and confined within what could be called a rather relaxed prison. Indeed guilty, judging from the scale of the incident which he brought on, not only should he have been stripped of his position, it was also possible that he would have had to use his life as punishment for his crimes. —However, considering his past achievements, beliefs, and the pleas of many of the Church’s warriors, he was eventually sent to this farm.
“This is the land where I originally grew up. Sometimes, I used to come here to plant trees…it looks like I’ll have to earnestly work hard here in the future.”
Strada said as he stroked the bark of a tree.
“This is the first time we’ve met, Your Eminence. I’m Indra’s vanguard.”
The wielder of the Holy Spear introduced himself and Strada then spoke while he used a towel to wipe the sweat off his face.
“I see, a Pagan God2 wants to ask this old man something, isn’t that right?”
The old Cardinal thought that Cao Cao’s visit was because Indra had a message for him. But, Cao Cao shook his head.
“No, you don’t seem to think that I can also come to visit solely on a personal basis.”
Hearing Cao Cao’s words, Strada laughed with fascination.
“…Hoho, this is truly quite unexpected. —Well then, after coming all the way to such a remote place, what did you want to ask me?”
Cao Cao, hearing Strada’s question, opened his mouth to reply but was silent for a moment, before finally asking
“……Being a hero, what do you think of it, Your Eminence?”
Perhaps because it exceeded his initial expectations of a question, Strada was initially surprised, but then rubbed his chin as he thought.
“…Hmm, this really is a strange question, young man.”
Cao Cao looked down and continued
“…I was born as the inheritor of a certain hero’s blood. On top of that, I was chosen by the Holy Spear. I used to believe that…these so-called [Heroes] were at the zenith of humanity, being able to defeat powerful otherworldly existences, I so wished, so thought, and so lived.”
He raised his head to look up at the sky, and then said
“…But, I lost to a certain young reincarnated Devil. My way of life was completely taken away from me right in front of my eyes by him. …Perhaps he never considered it, but that defeat became my opportunity to review and change my way of life. … Your Eminence who is admired by people as a hero, I certainly want you to tell me what a hero is.”
For the one who not only inherited the blood of a hero, yet by chance also the Holy Spear, being born as a genius, this was the first time that he had encountered a ‘wall’. He naturally inherited his ancestor’s lineage when he was born, and by fate, he wielded the strongest spear which could even defeat a God. Originally, he was an existence incompatible with humans — hunting the occult3, defeating the occult, punishing the occult, as a way of life, and pursuing strength as a reason to exist. —But in front of the Red Dragon and the White Dragon, even the spear which he held in his hand denied him.
You’re weak, you’re just a kid who obtained the power of the strongest spear, that was said.
Hearing Cao Cao’s question, Strada smiled.
Towards the surprised Cao Cao, the old holy man said
“This is simply disrespectful. —But, you’re too young. You are simply too young. Although you look about twenty years old, compared to me, you’re no different from a little baby. Ever since you called yourself a hero, you’ve been mistaken.”
“—Those who determine heroes are the people without power. Because they do not possess power, they will yearn for power, and so they will seek heroes, and decide who heroes are. Wielder of the Holy Spear, are you playing the role of the people’s Hero?”
Cao Cao was speechless. …He was not chosen by anyone. Simply because he was descended from one, he thought that it should be so. It should be so, which was why he took for granted the blood which flowed through his veins, and the spear which he possessed. Strada bent down and sat on a wooden box which was placed in the farm then continued
“Not pursued by the people, claiming to be a hero or something, that’s nothing but a child’s game of pretence. Precisely because of this, you’re no match for the Sekiryuutei kid who courageously walks his own path.”
The old man’s words completely denied the existence of the Hero Faction itself. It was just as he said, and Cao Cao was unable to refute it.
…That’s right, it was just as Strada said, him, that man, courageously faced me head on, and bravely defeated me. Whether it was as the Sekiryuutei, or as a Devil, for his own goals, for the people he protected, he courageously fought with everything he had.My existence had been denied, and I was even defeated by him—. …Looking at myself now, what would the people who once followed and admired me think?
Strada was silent for a while, then faced Cao Cao and said
“You’re just a mere human. And just a young man at that. Your ancestors may have been heroes —in fact, your ancestors were but ordinary humans. Thus you are still a human. Don’t these so-called heroes praise those who advance forward courageously?”
…The Sekiryuutei as well, the citizens of the Underworld began to respect him because he always charged straight towards the front. Did he ever think of becoming a hero from the beginning? Of course, the answer was — no.
The old Cardinal smiled as he said
“Although I was called a hero, even at this age I don’t consider myself to be a hero. —But as long as there are people who look up to me, I will continue to be called a hero. I am simply a human. I live like any other human, and I will die like any other human. That is enough. If people respected me as a hero, then that’s fine.”
For a moment, the old man’s figure and the Sekiryuutei seemed to overlap.
…I was afraid that he would say that.
The old man laughed
as he put on his hat and stood up.
“Ah, I’m old now, so I speak long-windedly…. Originally, you already had a vague idea of this answer.”
“…That might have been so. Ever since I lost to him, I—”
Without thinking about this concept of a ‘so-called hero’, he became an ordinary challenger.
“Your Eminence, am I able to defeat that man?”
The youth who used to pretend being a hero then asked. The old man smiled as he eloquently said
“—Go and love something. Whether it be yourself. Or even something intangible. Love, if you don’t have a heart which loves something, then you won’t be able to reach someone who has love. The object that you love will appear in front of you, and at that time, you will — have ‘power’ within your body.”
After Strada said that, he returned to his farming work.
“First, you should continue to chase that Sekiryuutei kid. Because he is at the mercy of love, he lives with love. Compared to these old bones4, you’re of a similar age to him yet his presence is more than ten thousand times that of yours.”
The Sekiryuutei Hyoudou Issei who lives because of love— Because of those words, Cao Cao recalled the previous times when he encountered Hyoudou Issei in his mind.
…That’s right, not only was that man loved by others, he loved others, which was why he fought against me face to face. That was the foundation of the Sekiryuutei, Hyoudou Issei—.
Cao Cao smiled as he looked at his spear.
“Will the you that is remembered by this spear also pursue that ‘love’?”