There was once a hero. A great hero who killed a dragon.
Flawless and perfect in all aspects, he was an impeccable great hero. A man whom everyone adored, seeking his power and asking requests of him.
I was—happy, the hero thought. That didn’t change until just before he died. He neither yielded to overwhelming power nor lost to despair.
The only thing he received were words and songs of blessing and praise. From the moment he was born till his death. That had never changed, the hero thought.
The very last wish that was asked of the perfect hero, to whom others continued to make requests, was his own death.
A request that he carried out ended up coming back to him as punishment. His brother-in-law loved a certain woman and requested that the hero make her capitulate, and so it was settled by having the hero embrace that woman as his proxy. That may not have been a crime, but it wasn’t behavior that could be praised either.
Due to knowledge of this spreading around, the hero wounded the woman’s honor. He wounded the woman’s pride. And she wasn’t an ordinary woman, but the queen of a country. As a result, he sensed that it would cause a terrible conflict—and so he spoke to the man who he had once called a friend and with whom he should have exchanged cups of brotherhood.
“Ah, the situation is beyond my control. Hagen, I am invincible and so have never once been wounded by you. But even so, if I don’t have you kill me…”
The man who was once his friend granted the hero’s wish. He tenaciously searched and found out the hero’s weak point, crafted a plan knowing fully well that it was a cowardly act, and aimed for the hero’s back as he drank water. Even while knowing that, the hero stopped himself from resisting.
Without leaving behind any unseemly figure or stupidity, the hero died as a tragic hero who received a sneak attack due to trickery. His former friend became widely known as a rare villain who had killed the hero through foul play.
Properly speaking, the story ended here. It should have become a tale where the conflict was resolved and the hero alone died a noble death.
…But it led to the worst of situations that was beyond what the hero had expected.
The woman who was the hero’s wife burned with the flames of revenge and, as a result, many men died.
It was surely because the hero was loved by and befriended everyone. He probably couldn’t truly understand something like a deep-rooted and blind love… a passionate love that repays the murder of one’s loved one with twice the payback.
Or perhaps it was because he repeatedly responded to the requests made of him. Perhaps the woman who loved him thought he wouldn’t do something if it wasn’t requested of him.
As a result, his wish wasn’t granted right until the very end. For the hero who had acted neither to defeat evil nor do good, but instead specialized in simply ‘granting the requests of others’, it was probably an inevitable conclusion.
But, right as he was on the verge of death, the hero had a faint thought. As he was confronted with death, ‘what he wanted to do’ finally became clear to him.
I lived and died as a hero. I have no regrets about that in itself. I can declare that there was not a single disagreeable thing in my life.
Even so, I can’t help but think. If I weren’t a prince, if I were just an ordinary man.
Wouldn’t I have been able to earnestly pursue my own will?
It doesn’t matter if I’m not acknowledged by anyone. I don’t mind if I’m not praised by anyone. I want to acknowledge myself. I want to have pride in myself. There lies what I sought. What I wished for.
I want to stand on the side of what I believe in. If I could do that, then surely—I would be able to live with my chest puffed up proudly.
I won’t fight for the sake of someone else. I won’t fight for my own sake either.
For the sake of the benevolence that I believe in, the justice I believe in, the loyalty I believe in, and the love I believe in. I will take hold of this sword and fight with this body.
That is my dream, my wish.
I——want to be an ally of justice1.
(1) Ally of justice: This is a very familiar term for those who are fans of the original Fate/Stay Night visual novel and its prequel Fate/Zero. You may have seen it translated differently as “hero of justice” or “superhero”, but it all refers to the same term. I personally will be using “ally of justice” since I find that it makes it easier not to confuse with the usual term “hero”.