PHA - Chapter 11 - Times Have Changed, Alice
Zauna was stunned. The old man following Zauna was also stunned.
Looking at the bewildered faces of the two people in front of her, Alice immediately understood what was going through their minds. After all, the sign had already stated that "Only the Hero can pull out this sword." Not to mention, looking at all the footprints in front of the metal platform, there were probably many people who would try to pull out the sword every day but failed to do so. This only served to further increase the sign's reliability. Meanwhile, now that Alice had turned the sword into garbage with her right hand and drew it out of the platform, Zauna and the old man must be thinking that she was the Hero.
"W-Wait! Let me explain!"
Alice panicked when she thought of the possibility that she might be forced to fight the Demon King. After all, she felt that the way she drew the Hero's Sword was no different than cheating.
Previously, when Alice tried drawing the sword using her left hand, the sealing magic in the sword was still effective against her. This proved that the sword didn't recognize her as the Hero. The only reason she managed to draw the sword now was that her right hand had turned it into actual garbage, which also removed the mana and sealing magic within the sword.
While speaking, Alice hurriedly tried to insert the Hero's Sword back to the metal platform. Before Zauna and that white-robed elder managed to react, the sword had already returned to the empty slot in the platform, perfectly filling it in. Then, as soon as Alice released her grip over the sword, boundless mana instantly returned to the sword. Simultaneously, the sword's sealing magic also started functioning once more.
Alice breathed out a sigh of relief at this sight. Now, all she needed to do was say that this was an accident. If Zauna and the old man insisted that she try to draw the sword again, she would use her left hand to draw it.
After returning the Hero's Sword to its metallic home, Alice turned around to look at Zauna and the old man. However, just as Alice was about to open her mouth to say something, she suddenly felt something moving behind her. It was also at this time that she remembered that she had been carrying an unconscious Milu Rabbit on her back.
Before Alice could take any actions, the Milu Rabbit struggled free from its loose bindings and hopped down from Alice's back. When the Milu Rabbit looked up and saw Alice, it immediately revealed a horrified expression and ran head-first into the Hero's Sword nearby. Then…it lost consciousness once more.
Goddammit, what is this awkward situation…
The words Alice had initially thought of saying disappeared from her head along with the Milu Rabbit's actions. She also couldn't help but curse at the rabbit's impeccable timing. After all, this was already the second time the Milu Rabbit had interrupted her attempt to speak to other people with its illogical actions.
Afterward, Alice hurriedly crouched down and picked up the unconscious rabbit. Then, she stuffed it into her leather sack that was filled with "weapons."
While Alice was busy stuffing the Milu Rabbit into her handcrafted sack, the white-robed elder finally came back to his senses. Then, at a speed that an old man shouldn't be capable of, the white-robed elder ran up to Alice, knelt on one knee, lowered his head, and piously said, "L-Lord Hero, you've finally appeared!"
"No, you're mistaken. I'm not the Hero." Alice hurriedly shook her head. Then, she pointed at the Hero's Sword and explained, "I wasn't the one who pulled out the sword. By the time I saw it, it was already lying on the ground. So, I thought of picking it up and inserting it back in. If you don't believe me, I can try drawing it out. It definitely won't come out."
Zauna frowned a little when she heard Alice's explanation, trying to recall the state of the Hero's Sword when she brought Alice to the church. However, as she frequently saw the Hero's Sword when visiting the church, she didn't pay much attention to it when walking past it this time. So, she couldn't be sure if the sword had already been drawn when she arrived at the church.
"Is that so?"
The white-robed elder looked at Alice suspiciously. Though, he believed Alice's words to a certain extent. After all, almost everyone in this world felt that it was an honor to become a Hero. Even knight novels constantly described the strength and glory of the Hero. So, the old man found it hard to imagine anyone refusing to become the Hero.
Afterward, the white-robed elder stood up from his kneeling position and observed Alice for a moment. Then, he walked up to the Hero's Sword, reached out to the sword's hilt, and tried drawing it. And sure enough, the Hero's Sword did not budge, just like all the times he tried drawing it before.
"Then, young lady, you are called Alice, right?"
After verifying that the Hero's Sword's seal was still in place, the old man turned to Alice and opened a path for her. To Alice's surprise, even though she had just denied being the Hero, the old man still treated her politely. He didn't suddenly turn disrespectful like the clergymen described in novels.
"Please try drawing the sword again. If you can't get it out, it might mean that the Hero had come here before but left after pulling out the sword," the white-robed elder said.
Alice nodded in response and stepped forward. Then, she grabbed the sword's hilt with her left hand and pulled on it. The white-robed elder could also see that Alice's left hand was indeed exerting force to draw the sword. Unfortunately, the Hero's Sword still did not budge.
Seeing this, the white-robed elder sighed in disappointment. Then, he said, "Alright, then. I'm sorry to have troubled you, Miss Alice. I have verified that you are not the Hero… What a pity. It would seem that the Hero has already visited the church and pulled out the sword but, for some reason, chose not to tell us."
However, although the old man believed Alice's words, Zauna still felt that something was amiss. After all, she had previously witnessed Alice summoning an entire mountain just to kill a wolf king. Now, the Hero's Sword had even been conveniently drawn and left in front of Alice. No matter how Zauna looked at it, this didn't seem like a simple coincidence.
However, since Alice refused to acknowledge herself as the Hero, Zauna had no way to force the issue. Not to mention, Alice had indeed proven that she was incapable of drawing the Hero's Sword. It was fortunate for Alice that Zauna and the old man weren't familiar with her and failed to notice that she had tried drawing the sword with her left hand. And even if they did notice it, they would never have thought that there would be a difference between Alice's right hand and left hand.
Hence, Alice managed to deceive them for the moment.
Just when Alice was about to sigh in relief thinking that she wouldn't have to carry the Hero's title and be forced to fight against the Demon King, the white-robed elder suddenly added, "But no matter. Our church just upgraded to a new high-definition surveillance system recently. We'll know who the Hero is once we look at the surveillance footage."
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