Nurturing the Hero to Avoid Death
Chapter 0: Prologue

In front of my eyes is a pure-white space, stretching far, far away to who knows where.

There’s nothing else—just an expanse of white. I float about in it. Before me is a woman in pale tones, who is also floating along. She’s wrapped in soft, pure white cloth, her garments fluttering, a twirling design entwining her body. The only spot of color to be found on her body was the subtle pink of her lips, cheeks and eyes.

She’s extremely beautiful, a gentle smile on her face.

However, there’s this one thing: the woman possesses impossible and otherworldly body parts. Sprouting from her back are large white wings. Each time they move, sparkles and beads of light dance through the air.

“…Well.”

What the heck. I wonder if I’m dreaming. No, this is a dream. No doubt about it. Despite this, if I have to say so myself, this dream is weird.

For some reason, the incredibly divine woman narrows her cherry-blossom-toned eyes, tilting her head with a grin. “We finally meet. I am the goddess called Crouture.”

“Huh?!”

It spoke!

That surprises me.

I mean, did this person just refer to herself as a “goddess?’ Wow. You can actually call yourself a goddess. Although I’m of the opinion that role-playing is an individual freedom, that’s some next-level courage right there…

“Excuse me. Hello? Are you listening? I wonder if he heard me… It can’t be helped. Shall we do this again? We finally meet. I am the goddess called Crouture.”

“The goddess, Crouture?”

“Correct.”

Then she smiles, her pale hair swaying slightly.

Goddess?

Are you serious? How so? Though, it’s true that she’s carrying genuine feathers on her back. A lovely symmetrical face. A perfect ethereal body. Not to mention, her inexplicable coloring.

“Ah.”

How curious. I feel as if I had met this self-proclaimed goddess somewhere before. White wings. Long, pale, and fluffy hair. Light pink eyes. White attire coupled with an affectionate smile.

Then it hits me.

That’s right.

That’s it!

In this game that I have been so addicted to, so much so that I’ve played it four times, there’s a goddess character. And she resembles this goddess to a staggering extent.

The title of this game is “Arcadia.

Countless hearts were kindled in this world of sword and magic. Even so, it’s a story-oriented RPG that develops a world view and a heavy plot, the latter which seems to have been kneaded in like clay. The system direction is built intently in a reliable manner, garnering a favorable impression.

As for the level of difficulty, while many games can be cleared without a sweat, this one reigns at the top of its class in how challenging it is. Fighting properly requires considerable thought. If you don’t act, you won’t be able to defeat your opponent, nor will you be able to rescue someone in need of help. Well, the feeling of achievement when I clear a part is great, though.

If I had to summarize the story, it goes like this:

A vagrant boy with nothing but the clothes on his back makes his way to a small, border village. The boy had blond hair, sky-blue eyes, and pale skin. In this country, such traits were rare, whereas tawny hair and brown eyes were commonplace.

Within the tiny village, there was a small orphanage ran solely by an aging nun. There, the nun took care of children who had lost their parents to sickness or war. She accepted the boy without relatives and raised him.

Several years passed.

The boy was now eighteen years old.

There were three large countries on the continent. In order to hold the world in the palm of his hands, the king of one of those countries summoned the Demon King.

However, the summoned Demon King proved to be too strong. His power spread throughout the continent, rousing the surrounding magical beasts from their slumber.

The ferocious monsters began to attack the villages and towns one by one. The demon’s army proceeded to invade the neighboring countries in succession.

Countless people died.

The earth shook.

Then, one day…

…A beautiful young nun arrived at that small village alone. She was dispatched to attend to the aged former nun and study under her. Like that boy, the girl also had blond hair and sky blue eyes.

Using her healing powers freely and extending her arms without distinction, the kindhearted girl became known by everyone as the Holy Maiden.

That small village was at peace, until one night.

At last, a crowd of demons arrived.

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The villagers who lived day to day could not oppose those dreadful demons that grew ever more ferocious.

The villagers were slain one after the other.

That night was a terrible tragedy.

Only the boy and the girl survived that horrific event.

They had received God’s blessing, drawing the blood of the old nation. The two held divine and extraordinary power, battling through the night to protect the village.

However, the demon forces were overwhelming in number.

Even the old nun and the other children she had raised like siblings died. The majority of the villagers were exterminated. Eventually, the whole village was set ablaze. Just about everything burnt to a crisp and the village was no more.

The boy lost everything.

With regret toward everyone locked in his chest and bent on destroying the Demon King, the boy and the girl embarked on a journey—

That’s the heroic and fantasy-like story.

What happens next is as follows: he travels the world gathering comrades, overthrows the king of the evil country, defeats the Demon King, keeps close to the Holy Maiden, and reaches the ending.

What an old-fashioned fantasy! The feeling really hits me.

And then the Hero will, I, will save everyone in the world!

It’s a good thing I don’t have an impatient personality. I watch everything indifferently, watch as the severe reality unfolds. I didn’t go as far as becoming a dark hero, just a hero who was somewhat shady.

I was totally addicted. I even completed all the side quests. Several endings were available. Your actions affected which ending you received.

I was finally able to see the true ending, which was criticized for setting its conditions too strict. The survival of all the characters served as the absolute requirement.

After locating and assembling each of the thirteen goddesses’ individual blessed items, the goddesses would supervise the Great Goddess Trials. Once those were conquered, you would receive the strongest sword to defeat the true final boss. Only then would you pull the true ending.

This was quite arduous.

The enemy who came forward was incredibly strong. As such, even though my level was maxed, I could have still lost if I wasn’t paying attention.

Another problem was that the goddess who appeared from time to time was philosophical and difficult to deal with.

In order to gain the world’s strongest sword, thirteen goddesses must bestow their desired items. However, the conditions to acquire the items were unusual and strict. First, you must speak to an NPC that appeared in whatever place at whatever time. Then you must repeat this with the next NPC on the list. If the items didn’t pop out from any of the NPCs, then that meant you made a mistake. If you made a mistake or if the events were interrupted, you must load a previous save file. A single blunder would call for a total restart.

There were a lot of events that consumed real time, testing my perseverance and endurance. Therefore, the sense of accomplishment and fatigue from clearing were amazing.

“Excuse me… Hello? Excuse me, are you listening?”

I sigh. “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you. Well, what is it?”

The goddess looks at me, sighing in regret. 

“So you were not listening… That is too bad. It cannot be helped. I will say it again, so please listen carefully. Is that okay? I implore you. Please?”

“Ah, yes. Sorry. One more time, please.”

The goddess recovers, clearing her throat in the process. “Well, I will repeat myself: I beseech you. Please save the world.”

I remain silent for several seconds, before saying, “Excuse me?”

I feel as if I had been told something that is quite commonly the start to a lot of games.

Is it just my imagination?

Yeah. That must be it.

Besides, this is all a dream.

“Yeah. I say, I’m watching a strange dream unfold… It’s probably because I stayed up late last night playing games.”

“No. This is not a dream,” she says immediately.

“No no no. It is a dream. It’s impossible no matter how you think about this.”

“That’s why I am saying it is not a dream.”

“Huh? I see. Still, you… Aren’t you the goddess from that game?”

“Wrong! Although it is true I resemble that goddess to a great extent, to say that is kind of…”

“Huh? How could that be? You look just like her.”

“No. We are different. Although she takes after me, we are not the same. I will return to my story. At any rate, I must take the divine promotion exam this time.”

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“Promotion exam?”

…What the heck.

What a sudden development.

I can’t read where this story is going at all. Well, dreams are usually incoherent. I mean, what the heck’s a divine promotion exam? I wonder if it’s similar to a certification examination.

To be required to take tests, even the gods of this world have it hard.

Yeah, yeah.

“The final exam consists of creating one of the first worlds capable of governing itself.”

“Wow.”

“But… creating a world is so, SO hard. My upperclassmen struggle, failing over and over again. Some have failed over a hundred times.”

“One hundred times. That’s a bit too unsuccessful.”

“Agreed. I think so too. And so, I have a deity friend who likes games. She recommended the game titled “Arcadia” to me. It’s one of my favorites.”

Arcadia!

“Ah! That! I also played it! It’s good, isn’t it? It really gives the feeling of ‘this is how kings are made!’”

“Isn’t that right? The game has a good old-fashioned and traditional feeling!”

“Yes! Yes!”

Oh, I actually have a kindred spirit in such a place! I’m happy!

“Because I enjoyed the plot and the world view of “Arcadia” so much, I decided to model a world after it.”

“Ohhhh! That’s great! Sounds good!”

“Indeed, indeed! Surely it will be a wonderful world! Well, that’s what I thought…” The goddess’ expression turns dark and cloudy. “…World creation is truly a challenging miracle. Despite using my full power to create it perfectly… no matter how many times I reset or remake it, the world neither conforms to the events within that game nor does it follow the storyline…”

“Hm.”

“Why is this so…?”

“Well. I don’t understand it either. If the world you create can’t be identical to the one in the game, then it can’t be helped.”

“It cannot be helped, huh?”

“Yep. People’s hearts are complex. Even though their circumstances are identical, they will not necessarily think the same as the characters within the game. Just a trivial thing, something small, can change people’s feelings.”

“Yes… I see. It is as you say. I also feel the same toward the exam. Still, I cannot give up. By all means, I want to guide this lovely world that I have created. I do not want to lose it. I want to protect it. That is why, please, may you provide your assistance? Please, save this world.”

“Save the world.”

Wow.

Such an event is too magnificent. The back of my neck itches. I don’t think I should agree to her demands, though.

Shouldn’t this task be given to someone who’s young and idealistic? Not someone who’s exhausted from job hunting like me. Such a line should be said to an amazing person with charisma. Like, a person who looks powerful. Yes, for example…

A hero, or a savior. Those types of people.

“Hm… Even if you tell me to save you, unfortunately I have no power. I’m just an ordinary person.”

I’m just a guy with no relatives.

When I was in elementary school, my parents got into an accident while traveling, ending up in the netherworld. Afterward, I was brought to my mother’s father’s house, where I grew up. My grandpa reared me, often saying how happy he was to be able to see me enter high school.

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The day after he said those words, I attended the high school’s entrance ceremony. When I returned home, my grandfather had already passed away. It was as if he was relieved.

I have no other relatives. I’ve been living alone since.

Yet, I’m not lonely. Grandpa left me his house and money. Right now, the problem is getting employed.

As humans, if you don’t work, then you don’t eat.

On television, reporters claim the employment rate is high, but in reality that’s not the case.

Ah, yesterday I was notified that one of the companies that gave me a good reception denied me. No, it’s too early to give up. I still haven’t received word from three other companies. It’ll be okay if any one of them accepts me. I’m begging you, accept me. I just need one. Just one, please! Seriously. Please. God. Buddha. Goddess.

“Excuse me. Hello? Are you listening?”

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“Ah! Oh, I’m sorry. Um, what is it?”

“Again… Please listen carefully. I want you to guide and save the world.”

“Well, even if you say this, what should I do? Sadly, I have neither the power nor the energy. Wouldn’t it be better for you to ask someone who can actually save the world?”

I explain this well. Yet, the goddess still shakes her head. “No. I would like to ask you. You can do it just by being yourself.”

“Ehh.”

How stubborn.

Once at a decision, she’s the type of person who doesn’t move on or let go, huh? Ah, no, she’s not a person but a goddess. I’m in trouble. How can I get her to give up?

I want to see this world that is modeled after “Arcadia,” but in order to do so I must save it. That’s something I can’t do.

“No, no. No matter what you say, I am sorry but I can’t do much to help. Besides, I’m busy job hunting right now. I can’t afford to waste time on such a troublesome matter, especially on an adventure that might last for who knows how long.”

“Somehow, your true feelings are leaking out in that last part, but please don’t say such a sad thing! I believe you are like me and love ‘Arcadia’ very much. Such warm sentiments reach my core, resonating strongly in my heart.”

“Huh?”

What the. My thoughts reached your feelings? Sympathy. What a romantic. I don’t dislike it, though.

“Please. I have no choice but to call on you. No matter what I do, I always receive a sad ending. I tried everything I could, but the result was the same. That is why, please. Please guide this world to a better future!”

“No, but, to me…”

“I implore you. Some way or another, please help me!” The goddess hides her face in both hands, bursting into tears.

Ahh. Now it seems like I made you cry and it’s making me feel bad.

“That, please stop crying. Well, if I am able to accomplish your task, then I won’t be reluctant to assist you. I’m unable to do spectacular things, but if your tasks are easy and I can do them, then I will.”

“R-really?” She lifts her face at once, still shedding tears. “T-thank you! As I thought, I didn’t mistake the feeling of those warm, soothing sentiments that flowed to me. You are truly a very, very kind individual. Oh, I’m sure if it’s you…”

“Seriously though, I can’t help you with anything great. I can only perform simple acts, whether or not they benefit you.”

“Yes, yes. That is fine. As long as you follow your feelings, and do what you want, that is already enough by itself.” The goddess wipes away her tears and smiles. She stops crying. However, I still feel bothered.

“So, what do you want me to do?”

“Yes… They say, first impressions are everything.”

“Ah, well that’s correct. I agree. If something’s unlucky in the beginning, things will go downhill from there.”

“Exactly! For that reason, I believe we should try and improve the first stage.”

“Hmmm?”

“I have already done what I can do. If it’s you…”

“Me?”

“Yes. Like throwing pebbles into a stagnant pool of water… as you proceed, other things will move and change…”

“Huh? No matter how I carry myself I doubt anything would change… So, what’s okay for me to do?”

“Yes. Please enter that world modeled after Arcadia and guide the Hero as you will.”

I freeze.

“Y-yes?”

What did she say just now?

Please wait a second.

Give me one moment.

Guide the Hero…

“Wait!! No, that’s not an easy task at all, is it?! Did you even listen properly to what I said?!”

“Then, thank you very much. I know you are busy, so it’ll be fine if you just help in the Starting-Village Arc. Please guide the Hero well.” The goddess crosses both hands on her chest, smiling a beautiful smile.

“H-hold on! Please wait!! You don’t care but I do!! This isn’t easy, not one bit—”

White slowly surrounds my field of vision. The goddess’ figure becomes hazy, until it fades out, swallowed up by the white. She gives a slight yawn. I hear her muttering that she would sleep well tonight.

But I won’t sleep at all!!

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“HEEEEYYYYYYY!!”

At last, everything is enveloped by white.

My consciousness does not escape this.

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