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Prologue of Tanya the Hero

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After my untimely demise, I found myself in a familiar world. I was reborn in the body of Tanya Degtyaryov, a little girl who’d been abandoned in an old port city in southern Thailand.

In this world, supernatural abilities existed. This created a huge divide between those who had these so called ‘quirks’ and those that did not. It didn’t help that Roanapur was a den of crime and corruption where prostitutes, drug-addicts, mercenaries, killers, and psychopaths of all nationalities gathered, so any have-nots that lived there were all but fated to have a miserable life. In that city of villains, I feared that it would be impossible for a poor, quirkless little girl to survive. Fortunately, that all changed when I was sold to a group of witches.

‘Witchcraft’ is a quirk that allows the user to cast spells and enchant objects. It uses a limited resource called mana, one that is renewed by praying to the goddess Lilith, inducing rush of euphoria and a temporary loss of reason. When the quirk is used on people, it usually gives them enhanced abilities in exchange for obedience. Rarely, however, a woman would permanently acquire the quirk itself, as I did.

At that point, some would have tried to run away, but I knew enough about quirks to know that this power was unheard of. I figured these witches were obligated to train me, if not to keep it a secret then to get their money’s worth. I was right, and for the next four years I mastered my quirk and even made a little name for myself, though in hindsight I was a bit too successful.

At the age of eight, the coven attacked by an army of villains, where I was captured and taken to Japan. The last surviving witch managed to catch up, the ensuing fight between us, the villains, and the responding heroes earned her the villain name ‘Terror Witch’. Regardless, it was all in vain. She was killed, and I was brought before the ruler of the Japanese underworld.

Shigaraki-sensei was well known in Roanapur; the city made it their business to know the competition. So, when the supervillain known as ‘All For One’ introduced himself and had me call him ‘Sensei’, I obliged, if only to appease his delusions of grandeur. I didn’t mind. It wasn’t long before the heroes I’d contacted showed up.

When the raid began, I made my escape using an enchanted umbrella, and I would’ve gotten away with it if wasn’t for the boss himself. I fought back, but I was no match for the 200-year old villain. He toyed with me for the most part, said he’d liked the look in my eyes. I encouraged him, giving All Might, Japan’s number one hero, enough time to show up. Unfortunately, I couldn’t avoid being used as a hostage, eventually causing the hero to be severely injured. Instead of finishing him off, however, Shigaraki-sensei started to gloat — and made the mistake of trying to steal my quirk. To our surprise, my quirk fought back, giving All Might the opening he needed to deal the killing blow.

When it was all over, I was taken in by child protective services. With the way they were treating me, and given my association with the Terror Witch and All For One, I assumed that they had labeled me as a high risk for villainy. After having them believe I was pursuing the life of a hero, they were much more encouraging.

I didn’t look forward to life in Japan. With few exceptions, quirk use was reserved for government-funded pro-heroes, and a good Samaritan could be deemed a villain in this country. Not to mention that, while All Might did recover from his injuries, the so called ‘Symbol of Peace’ won’t be around forever, and there was nothing to replace him with. I found this to be unsustainable and authoritarian, meaning it’s inherently intolerable, and I hated the idea of limiting my own potential. Still, I knew if I could graduate from a world-renowned hero school, a prosperous future in a more liberal country would be assured.