I was only twelve when I enlisted.
I joined the dream legion.
While I wasn’t the one to cast judgment, I think I was a first-rate soldier.
The symptoms began in a first year’s head. It lasted close to three years.
Games, light novels, comics, I remember being hooked on them from around fifth grade. Up to then, it was the normal soccer, games, manga, TV. My parents wouldn’t buy me many manga or games, they carefully restrained me from overdose, but for some reason, light novels alone slipped under my parents’ radar. I’m sure it was because they were novels. If their fifth-grade son was hooked on reading, any parent would loosen the strings on their wallet. After junior novels, I’m sure they wanted me to shift into Natsume Souseki or Ishikawa Takuboku or Izuki Kyouko, but that never happened. With the support of an environment that would endlessly fuel my novel fever, like a flaming crop, it continued to burn and spread.
I was hooked on ‘Mu’ on the side. ‘Mu’ was a mystery magazine that supported a young man’s dreams. With its claim to be an academic publication, I also got it through my parents’ checks. Along with the Mu columnist, I prayed for the existence of the Mongolian deathworm.
I read, I festered, I yearned—
I read of warriors with settings that were far too cool.
Like freely manipulating katanas that were taller than they were, emitting all sorts of destructive energies, concealing special abilities, modern magic, various powers awakening in the midst of battle, wearing a coat right over bare skin.
It was inevitable that I longed for the day one would be reborn, slip into, escape to, lose their memory in, or charge recklessly onto the stage of modern Japan.
Just like that, in the spring of my first year of middle school, the delusion of the strongest swordsman from another world was born.
Bearing a harsh past, he held the power to (I remember the exaltation I felt when I wrote the line) annihilate an entire army. Both his sword arm and his magic were super first rate. He had a deep familial love for his sickly younger sister.
… I produced the settings in bulk. I put them together in notebooks. Ten volumes in total. I wrote out chronologies, I determined enemies, I let my feelings rage on for a distant lover. I mulled over a little sister’s forbidden love. When I was nothing more than some scraggly-haired middle schooler.
At first, I was just supposed to be imagining.
And yet, it didn’t take too long for delusions to overtake reality.
The ‘true name’ I had given myself.
Right, an otherworldly soldier’s name was always something like Mushanokouki Furea or Ootori Raisen or Hazama Kira. My mentality to give the character I created the greatest name ever spurred on such an overblown designation.
If it was just the name, that would be fine.
In various aspects of my school life, I began acting like a swordsman.
Like Suzuki Osamu and the others.
For example, I could never neglect a knight’s duty to report to the prestigious Maryuiin house. When the regulation time came, even if I was in class, I would speak to the magic stone embedded in my right arm (so the story went) to establish contact with the other world. The magic stone was a translator, a transmitter, it could even dispel the enemy’s brainwashing magic, Gildiem.
“Is this the main house? This is Light Fang. As of the present time, I have failed to detect the divine dragon’s aura.”
That Light Fang which resounded colder than a Siberian blizzard was a code name. If anyone out there has a time machine, please go right ahead and kill that version of me. Take a load off my shoulders.
My teachers yelled at me, my classmates were creeped out. But I wasn’t moved. I never thought it was bad. I was drunk on delusion. The reactions I could easily imagine now, I could never anticipate back then. More so, I even thought that displaying true-to-life soldier pride would elicit respect from my surroundings.
I would cut down unseen enemies with my aura blade, protecting my classmates from invisible attacks, at times even suffering serious injury. I interacted with the soul of the evergreen growing in the schoolyard. In morning assemble, there was even a time I held a hand over a girl in my class and said, “You’ve been brainwashed. Rest at ease. I’ll dispel that Gildiem right now.” She cried. I was hit. I was called (to the staff room). By the way, I liked that girl.
Constantly repeating such acts where everyone could see, I was a complete outside existence.
Even so, there were still people who would hang out with me. The class naughties.
They would kick me down, strip me naked, grab me by the ankles, drag me down the hall (while naked), and finally throw me into the toilet. Good, do it more. Just end me. Even in the midst of that, “I can’t use my powers on a student!” I would ceaselessly spew in place of a scream. What a nostalgic memory. I was so homesick, I thought I might flip the suicide switch.
For three long years, I lived a soldier’s life, but naturally, the end had to come.
The chosen one hailing from another world, having disguised himself as a modern person, I harbored a tragic past of my true parents being killed by the Divine Dragon Astaloy. My transient parents were no more than a false family. My ties to them only superficial. The day came when- compelled by my deep sorrow- I placed those thoughts down on paper addressed to my beloved Princess Erina, who had remained in the other world. And that letter.
I placed in the post.
By the setting listed out in volume seven, to deliver a letter to the other world, you merely have to write a nonexistent address and drop it into a rift in time. But I submitted a real envelope marked with the Maryu Seal (a ward so people couldn’t arbitrarily open it), in a real post box.
The letter returned due to unknown destination. My parents read it without delay. Both my father and mother hit me and cried. In the end, we reached the stage where I was to undergo a brain scan, and I was sobbing too as I was made to confess to the garbage delusions birthed by my own hubris. The shock remedy forced me to escape from my fantasist spiral. The Gildiem was dispelled.
Like that, I managed to return from Maryuin Koga back to Satou Ichirou.
Satou Ichirou, a plain name. I didn’t have any verbose middle name like ‘Fenrir’ or ‘Odin’, or any cool moniker like ‘of the lightning’ or ‘heaven enforcer’. Just Satou, normal Ichirou. Three cheers.
There was much lost in my life as a soldier.
The sense of distance to my family wouldn’t go away. Even now, I was like a tumor in the house. While our relations were peaceful on the surface, both my father and mother handled me gingerly.
My relationship with the big sister I’d gotten along so well with in elementary school was thoroughly destroyed. While I was a dream soldier, she directed terrible abuse. I was kicked, I was punched, I was threatened. My eardrum was ruptured right after the letter incident. After the devil had left me, my sister started taking distance. I could only talk to her cordially.
Delusions break reality. Even if I’d completely recovered from the sickness, my past folly wouldn’t go away. Many of my classmates would use me as the butt of the joke, they would scoff, they would pull out their phones. I’d feel all special and show myself off to all the folks with their newest model cell phones. Whenever the lights flashed, the flowers of laughter would bloom from all over. What a convenient app. The Maryuin Koga photo collection.
And some way or another, Ooshima Yumina had obtained it.