There was once a hero. A great hero who killed a dragon.
A prince of the Netherlands, he was brave and noble, and everyone praised his majestic appearance and extoled his glory.
All men hastened to become his subordinates, and all women pushed their earnest affections onto him.
The hero also lived up to their expectations.
With rarely any time for rest, he only sought battle. No, it wasn’t that he sought battle, but rather, battle would never let him and his great power escape.
His famous sword Balmung, which he received from the tribe of the fog, the Nibelung. His body of steel, which was bathed in the blood of the evil dragon Fafnir, whom he slayed.
An invincible sword and an invincible body. It was only logical that many battles sought him out. Untouched until his death, his life was simply dazzling.
But he was a hero—too much so. When someone made a request of him, he answered it. When someone kneeled before him and begged his help, he firmly grasped their proffered hand.
When asked to slay a dragon, he slayed it. When asked for help in sleeping with a peerless beautiful maiden whom none could satisfy, he wracked his brains over a way to do so. His actions were neither good nor bad. His way of life was just like that of a wish-granting machine. He thought that it was fine that way. After all, good and evil were merely a matter of where you stood.
When officials who took advantage of their position complained that their families had been killed, he took revenge for them.
Since people suffering in poverty simply didn’t wish for anything, he abandoned them.
Because if he didn’t do so, it would never end. It’s impossible to carry everything in the world in a single person’s arms. So he decided to only respond to requests that were asked of him.
He did not act according to his own will. He did not fight because he liked it. As he was doing so, the hero suddenly realized. He did not know what he himself wished for at all. He had no wishes or dreams. He couldn’t even imagine the future. Even though there were those who called the hero an ideal being, the hero in question had lost sight of his own ideal.
—What a fraud. The gears did not mesh at all. If he responded to any and all requests, it was only natural that he would end up not knowing what he himself wanted.
He had lost sight of his path and wandered aimlessly, but even so—he believed that there lay something at the end. He believed that there lay something at the end of this way of life. The hero could only continue to fight.
He was never defeated. Such a thing was impossible. As long as others requested victory of him, he grasped victory no matter how much suffering and despair he trod on.
Victory, victory, he only knew victory. “Please kill that monster”, “Please save our village”, “Please defeat our enemies”, “Please get me that mountain”, “Please get me that beautiful maiden”, “Please get me that country”—the number of wishes equaled the number of people, and the amount of those he granted equaled the amount of those that were requested of him.
He was already a mere [System]—a [Holy Grail] that bore the name ‘hero’.
Even so, it’s fine, the hero thought.
After all, being thanked by someone was not a bad feeling.
It was only natural that his heart would be moved when people requested his help with desperate expressions.
So he continued without faltering—and in the end, he even managed to slay a dragon. But there was a hole somewhere in his heart. There was nothing at the bottom of the hole, merely an empty black space within him.
Even though he loved humans.
Even though he loved the world.
He never managed to fill that emptiness no matter what he did.
The hero’s name was—
END OF PROLOGUE