Who Killed the Hero? Volume 1 Chapter 2 Part 3

Fragment 2

I think I was around three years old when my mother took me to church and I asked her,
“Mother, why is everyone praying?”
“To make requests of God,” she said.
“So that everyone can become happy.”

But God wasn’t looking this way…

From when I first became self-aware, I could sense God’s existence.
Yes, just his existence.
My devout parents and those around me called it a miracle and said I must be a saint.
But to me, it didn’t seem like a miracle at all.
Because God had absolutely no interest in us humans.
Even though my father, mother, and all the faithful were earnestly offering up their prayers, God was turning his back on them. It was such a cruel scene, and yet also comical.
It was like humans were one-sidedly harboring unrequited love for God.
I didn’t want to become like that. So I just thought about how to make good use of God’s power, and used God’s miracles – healing magic – without any real faith.
There was no sincerity there at all. Because it would have been pointless.

I initially thought all the clerics must feel the same way.
Meaningless prayers don’t have much significance, so I assumed everyone understood that and was just going through the motions.
But I was wrong. The clerics were also somehow clinging to God’s power through their prayers and performing miracles. That’s no different than casting magic spells.
They seem to vaguely sense God’s presence, like a faint fog, but can’t grasp it clearly. And that very vagueness makes them see God as something great.
I was a clever child, so I didn’t deny their faith. On the contrary, I just played along on the surface, so they would praise me as a “saint” and “child of God” for being able to use God’s power and perform miracles despite not really having faith. That suited my parents as well.
So it became a habit for me to act that way from a young age.
I didn’t find it painful. But the more I acted that way, the more distance I felt between myself and those around me.
The only exception was a boy my age named Solon.
Even as a child he was called a prodigy for his intelligence, but for that very reason he seemed to doubt God.
“If God was on man’s side, evil creatures like demons would not exist. The fact that demons exist proves God is not on man’s side. Or perhaps this world was not created by God,” he nonchalantly claimed.
So even though he was considered a prodigy, people kept their distance because of statements like that.
I knew he was the only one speaking the truth, so I felt a sense of affinity and started talking with him a little. But I kept a certain distance to avoid being seen as strange myself.

Even as a small child I was often praised for my looks, and combined with my supposed miracles, I came to be called a saint. But that was simply because my parents were attractive people – God had nothing to do with it.
Still, as I grew up, it was clear from people’s reactions that I was becoming more and more beautiful. I received many courtship offers, but those men were only seeing me as the saint, not the real me, so I had no desire to associate with them.
Sometimes aristocrats would even arrogantly demand my hand in marriage. My family were low-ranking nobles, so refusing would normally have been difficult, but since I was publicly pronounced a [saint] who would enter the church in the future, I cleverly dodged them by claiming the authority of the church as a shield. My parents also wished for that.
And so at the age of fifteen I entered Pharme Academy.
No one in the country, student or teacher, could use healing magic better than I could, so there was no real meaning in attending. But there is a proper order and decorum to things, so I had no choice but to enroll. For appearances, I acted deferential to the teachers and passed my school days as a model student.
Meanwhile, Solon who was also in the sorcerer class openly voiced his discontent, and didn’t seem to get along well with the others. He’s poor at personal relationships… No, he has a truly pure heart.

My academy life was tranquil. The teachers respected me, and my classmates revered me even more than the teachers.
The lessons were boring, but my life had always been that way, so I didn’t think much of it.


Then Ares appeared.
He suddenly wandered into the cleric class and abruptly asked me,
“Could you teach me healing magic?”
Even I was shocked. First of all, he was of common birth. I am a noble, even if only of lower rank. He had no business speaking to me so familiarly. And I’d never heard of a warrior learning recovery magic.
Could he be trying to court me by making such an absurd request?
I talked with him a little to try to figure out his motives, and it seems he is seriously aiming to become a hero. Moreover, his ideal image of a hero is a warrior who can use both attack magic and healing magic.
What is he thinking? Does he still believe in such a legendary, fictional character?
As far as I can see, he has absolutely no affinity with God. There is no chance of success. It would not be an overstatement to call it impossible.
…Yet his eyes were serious. Unlike others just blindly following common sense and living out their days driven by those around them, he was different.
(This could be interesting!)
For the first time, I felt an emotion sprouting within me.
I wasn’t sure what it was, but I decided to hear him out.

From that day forth, my academy life began to take on color.
(How can I get someone with no talent to learn healing magic?)
I seriously contemplated the question. According to Ares, he had received some guidance on healing magic from the priest in his hometown, but he hadn’t felt anything at all.
This was hopeless. Through normal means there was absolutely no way he would ever succeed at healing magic.
No, through normal means.
God already has no interest in people to begin with, so lightly saying some prayers certainly won’t make him look your way. Ares would need to take some very amusing… no, attention-grabbing action that would catch God’s interest.
As I was thinking about this, I started to feel hungry. Bread – yes, having Ares buy and bring back bread would be good. Searching for bread while seeking out God’s presence would make a great trial. Surely he would find delicious bread. I immediately went looking for Ares and told him to go buy bread and bring it back.

…The first trial’s result: Ares ordinarily bought bread from the academy store and brought it back. How disappointing. Doesn’t he lack the determination to earnestly sense God’s presence?
I tried eating it just in case, but it was ordinary.
This won’t do. I need to impose stricter trials. Yes, these trials are all for Ares’s benefit.
But what is this feeling welling up so vigorously within me?
Could this possibly be love? My heart won’t stop pounding. Next I’ll have him search for a rock on the river bottom.

After imposing many trials on Ares, the bread and sweets he brought back gradually became more delicious.
Coming up with trials for Ares’s benefit me every day, making him overcome the unreasonable trials with reckless abandon once a week – my life is filled with joy.
For the first time, I thanked God.
(Thank you, God. For giving me such a wonderful person.)
As for whether Ares was actually sensing God’s presence, to be frank, I had no idea. After all, I know of no precedent where God suddenly granted someone favor.
I explained to Ares – right from the start, it was an unreasonable request. Whether one can sense God’s presence or not is decided at birth.
If you have talent, it becomes easy to use. If there’s even a little promise, with just a small trigger it becomes usable. But Ares didn’t even have that little promise. Pulling this off would be nothing short of a miracle.
Even understanding that, he did not give up. I don’t know what drove him, but without ever succumbing to defeat, he would surmount the unreasonable trials…the trials I imposed, displaying indomitable will.
Looking back, ever since I started these trials, I had been showing him my true unvarnished self. Yet he accepted me, not as the saint but as myself, and kept taking on the trials.
I found myself wishing for Ares to sense God’s existence. At the same time, I also feared this sweet time coming to an end.
Watching his relentless determination as he took on the trials was both comical and made me sense the beauty of humanity.

And then that day arrived suddenly.
“Thank you, Maria! I can use healing magic now!”
Ares was beaming. It was clear his words did not contain the slightest falsehood.
“Are you serious?”
I unconsciously let indelicate words slip out in my shock.
For the first time in my life I had witnessed a miracle.
And not a miracle granted by God, but one accomplished by human hands.

I did not believe in the existence called Heroes.
I thought they were nothing more than figment of fantacy.
Yet now, right before my eyes, stood a Hero.

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