Translated and Edited by: luccayn.
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“Noel was the most convenient for us due to his Darkness attribute. I mean, we could just cut him out at any point!”
Though heavy, his words came out of his mouth like casual banter. Upon hearing them, my confusion hit its peak and I crumpled to the floor.
Huh? Bren, what… What does he…? Cut me out?
“Ah, Bren! Now you’re talking! If we had people with other attributes, like Fire or Wind, they would definitely resist when we’d try to kick ’em out!” Pallad snapped his fingers.
“That’s it! After all, we are members of the Hero of Light’s party—heroes with the achievement of defeating a demon king! The country already promised us rewards, so any other attribute would try to cling to us no matter what. And besides, there are eyes watching us wherever we go. If rumor spread that we tried to kick, say, a Fire user out, there would be absurd rumors of us being ruthless and disposing of people with no regard,” Maria added with a gleam in her eye.
As if piling on my confusion, both of Bren’s party members added their interpretations to it. It was like cruel salt to my wound.
“Yup, both of you. But that’s when I thought, what about someone with that disgusting attribute, eh? Like Noel over here?”
“Heh! No one would care if he’s disposed of! Besides, just the fact we let him breathe the same air as us, having that disgusting Darkness attribute, is already exceptional treatment!” Pallad guffawed.
“Yes, indeed. None would listen to a single word coming from a despicable user of Darkness. Even if he caused a commotion, he’d only be seen as crazy and would be isolated even more.”
“Ah!” The newcomer Stea perked up as soon as it clicked for her. “So that’s why you had the Darkness user with you all along! I never would have thought there was something profound behind it! Oh, the Hero of Light’s party is truly amazing!”
Bren’s sentiment was echoed wholeheartedly by everyone else. They agreed unanimously that someone with my attribute had only one end: to be discarded.
W-why are you all…? G-guys? I couldn’t muster the strength to utter a word.
In hindsight, was I just a fill-in until they managed to find someone with an attribute of Light? Then… what was the purpose of me even joining the party?
Before I could ask anything, Bren stood up from his seat, walked around the table, and looked down at me with a cold glare.
“Noel. Even someone as dense as you should’ve understood by now, hm? From the moment we met, you were merely fodder—filler for the last member of Light we had yet to find. We’ve never recognized you as a member of the party. I mean, you have that disgusting attribute, don’t you?”
His words dripped vitriol, and every syllable was spat in my face.
“You’re inferior, and you should live as such. Scorned, shunned like the monsters you’re kin to. You should live condemned to stay in the dark where the sun never shines. That’s what you scum are all good for. You’re the complete opposite of us, who bear the marvelous attribute of Light. We’ve been destined from birth to walk the shining path!”
He paused for a moment, tousling his smooth blue hair back.
“Well, I’ll give you credit for being somewhat strong, considering you’ve come from a well-known assassin clan in the underworld. But, when it comes to battling monsters with resistance to Darkness, you have and always will be a burden!”
Bren pointed his disgusting finger at me before turning to the newcomer.
“That’s where Stea, our new member, is different. Since she has the same beautiful attribute as us, she has a strong offensive against monsters with your sick attribute. She’s the companion we’ve been waiting for! With her on our team, we’ll finally rid the land of the demons!” He raised his arms to the heavens. “We’re worthy of shining brightly as the hope of humanity! Unlike you, sick freak.”
Finally, he leaned his handsome closer to my crumpled, dirty form, and whispered close to my ear.
“Goodbye, Noel Reiss the Assassin. It’s time for children to wake up from their dreams. Now, freak of the dark, be true to your nature, and return to the filth from whence you came.”
With that, he turned away and returned to his seat, laughing with a charming expression, just like when he’d invited me to join the party.
From that moment on, the four completely ignored my presence and the fact I was still crumbled to the floor. Without sparing a single glance, they chatted amongst themselves like close friends.
Staggering and swaying, I desperately clawed myself up and managed to stand despite my spinning head. Lost, I lurched my way to the tavern’s entrance.
On the way, I heard Bren’s voice echoing from behind, “Alright! Everyone gathered in this tavern, won’t you join me in a toast? To the day the Hero of Light’s party defeated the Demon King and met our last true companion of Light! To the day the party that will become humanity’s hope was born!”
From the laden corners of my eye, I saw the people in the tavern respond enthusiastically to his toasts, raising glasses of their own in glee.
“Cheers to the Heroes of Light! Cheers to Humanity’s new hope! Cheers to the new Hero’s party!”
As I finally put my shaky feet out the door, all I could hear was the faint yet enthusiastic celebrations from whichever room they were in. I looked back for a moment, then continued outward.
That was the day I was expelled and lost my companions, even though I’d spent nearly a year fighting alongside them.
…No. Such a thing as ‘companionship’ never existed in the first place.
It was only a dream that I, alone, had been dreaming.
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