Thinking back, there was an era where fantasies of the protagonist suddenly getting sent off to another world flooded the market, but—each time I read that type of story, there was something that bothered me.
It was the protagonist’s family.
The protagonist should, naturally, have a family in their original world.
Abruptly flown away on the wings of some incomprehensible power, the main character gains an accurate grasp of their situation, and adjusts to this other world at a surprising speed, but what about the family they left behind?
The family that lost a precious member without knowing a thing?
There’s no way they’d be able to adapt as easily as the main character.
Perhaps they pushed through night after night to search for them. Perhaps they shook in anxiety, their hearts forever plagued. Perhaps they cursed the police, whose investigations showed no developments.
“Of all the stories overflowing the world, there must always exist a ‘Focal Point’. The point the spotlight shines down on becomes the point more important than anything. The public only holds interest in the stage lit by the spotlight… the main story.”
That childhood friend of mine said, once upon a time.
“Maybe police dramas are a good example? In police dramas, you could call it almost a guarantee that a murder takes place, but there’s no officer who has the time to be saddened by each and every one of them. There are even idiots who begin their investigation complaining, and I was supposed to be on a date. Yet once a single comrade dies, it becomes a huge ruckus like, this is the time to show them what we’re made of. They shed tears, burn in anger as everyone plunges into the greatest heated climax. When human life is supposed to be equal, that’s quite the distinction.”
In the end, that’s how it works.
The part that’s depicted as the most important point largely changes the components of the story. The depictions centered around the protagonist who crossed to another world are far more flashy, cool, and comfortable to watch. What interest was there to be had in watching a grieving family?
Interesting or not… what exists still exists.
Take Kurisu-chan’s beloved ‘Kuria’s Grand Adventure’ for instance; I heard it was a so-called otherworldly summons fantasy, yet who could say if that work ever depicted such uninteresting, unexcited scenes…
“Good morning, Kagoshima-senpai.”
Three days passed without any particular happenings.
I had gotten largely accustomed to living with a member of the opposite sex. When I got up in the morning, the shock brought by the fact there was a girl in my house had considerably faded.
“Wait a bit. I’ll make breakfast now.”
She said, putting on an apron and making for the kitchen. When I sat at the table and waited, around thirty minutes later, breakfast was ready. Made with domestic prowess I might fall for.
I had seen Kurisu-chan’s cooking form a few months ago, but it looked like her skills had risen exceptionally from that point. We sat across the table from one another, “Thank you for the meal,” we put our hands together.
“When we’re like this, it’s almost like we’re newlyweds.”
When I casually threw it out, Kurisu-chan did a spit take with her miso.
“A-are you okay”
Hac, hac, she coughed as, “I-I’m fine…” she replied.
“I-I mean, you said something strange…”
“That we’re like n-newlyweds, and stuff…”
“Yeah? I was just wondering if this is what it would be like if I got married to you.”
On my normal answer, Kurisu-chan’s hung her bright-red face.
“Ah, Kurisu-chan, there’s miso coming from your nose.”
She leaped up, pulled a number of tissues from the box in the living room, wiped up her nose and returned.
“E-even if you notice, please don’t mention that sort of thing!”
“Eh? But wouldn’t you hate it more if I noticed yet kept silent?”
“Urk… i-in that case, can’t you, you know, more nonchalantly…”
“Ah, Kurisu-chan, now there’s CO2 coming out of your nose…”
Kurisu-chan tried to jump up again, likely to make off for tissues once more, but it did seem she noticed along the way, twisting her body to rapidly approach me.
“Of course there’s CO2 coming out of my nose! I’m human.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right. But you were quite late to notice.”
“Ahaha. Sorry, sorry, don’t be so down.”
Kurisu-chan really is fun to tease.
With that enjoyable breakfast over, the two of us cleaned up.
“Ah, that’s right, Kagoshima-senpai.”
Kurisu-chan said, rinsing down tableware in the sink.
“I think I’ll go to Nobuko-san’s house today.”
My hands stopped in the midst of wiping a plate dry. I ended up turning towards her, only to find she was still washing without pause. Her eyes focused in on her hands, she wouldn’t look at me.
I responded as I could. Three days had gone by since we met Nobuko-san, but in those three days of living together, we never brought her up. Kurisu-chan never talked about it and I hesitated to mention it in conversation. There was little doubt that Nobuko-san was Kurisu-chan’s grandmother. Not that we confirmed it, but I was convinced.
While I was often evaluated as dull, even I could hazard the guess.
But just knowing didn’t mean I could do something about it.
This was Kurisu-chan’s private matter. I couldn’t stick my head in with half-baked emotion.
“Should I bring her some sort of present? … wait, I don’t have my wallet. Ahaha.”
A cheerful laugh.
Was she putting on a firm act, or did she really think so? I was unable to make a call.
Today, Kurisu-chan had finally said she would go to Nobuko-san’s house. She didn’t have any plans, so if she really wanted to, she could’ve gone the day after we met her.
I’m sure she thought, and thought, and finally reached her conclusion; in which case, there was nothing for me to say.
“Alright, got it. Have fun.”
“If you’ve got time, do you want to come with me?”
“Yeaaah. I’ll have to decline. I’ve got an appointment in the afternoon.”
“I have to play with a kid in the neighborhood. He’s a kid nicknamed Gri–”
el-kun, I was about to continue when the phone in my pocket began to shake. When I looked at the screen, I saw it display a number I’d never seen before. I hesitated a moment before pressing the answer button.
‘Hello. Is this Kagoshima Akira-san?’
Came a bright voice that was somewhat familiar.
“That’s right, umm, who might this be?”
‘It’s me. Saijou Mutsuki, been a while.’
“Sorry for calling you out all of a sudden.”
As I took my seat, Saijou-kun smiled a sociable smile and lightly lowered his head.
The place I was called to was the terrace of the Italian restaurant in front of the station.
“It might not make up for it, but this will be my treat. I did heavily insist. Order whatever you want.”
“Oh no… I don’t really mind. It wouldn’t be cool to let a younger kid treat me.”
“Is that so? Then I won’t.”
No, isn’t that supposed to be where you say, “No, I insist”?
That’s how the Japanese do it. While I truly didn’t intend to be treated by my junior, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t feel conflicted if he pulled back so easily.
“Don’t make such a conflicted face.”
Saijou-kun corrected the position of his glasses with a merry laugh.
“In that case how about we compromise and let me treat you on just the drinks. You won’t mind that much, right?”
As he smiled at me, I gave an ambiguous nod.
How should I put it, he hasn’t changed, I thought. When his words were polite and his demeanor soft, I didn’t feel the slightest respect towards me. More so, I felt he was mocking me: In short, I was being made light of.
… I’ve always been easily made light of by my juniors. I think Griel-kun was totally mocking me.
“So what’s your business today.”
I spoke up after calling the waiter and placing an order.
“You had something you needed from me, right?”
This was the second time I met Saijou-kun. Saijou-kun was a member of the movie club Orino-san was affiliated with, and I got to know him through Orino-san’s little sister Oshiri-chan.
Ever since then, we hadn’t particularly been in touch, so it had been quite a while since we exchanged words.
“I don’t have any particular business. I just wanted to meet you and talk. Or could it be I’m not supposed to call you if I don’t have any business?”
Why is he saying the sort of thing that would make my heart skip a beat if it was said by a girl I was close to? Hearing it from a man doesn’t make me happy at all.
To be frank, I don’t think we’re that close, you know? I don’t hate you, but that doesn’t mean I particularly like you.
“Ahaha. Please don’t make such a blatantly displeased face. It’s a joke, I tell you. I have some proper business.”
Saijou-kun lightly shrugged his shoulders.
“Well, it’s nothing important. More a report than anything else.”
As I responded, the food was brought to our table. Two servings of pasta, and the drink Saijou-kun said he’d treat me to (I got orange juice). The talk’s continuation would have to be over a meal.
“I’m going to go on a trip with the movie club members in the near future.”
“Right now, I’m acting as coordinator, and setting up this and that. Well, it’s not a particularly large event. Just a long outing with a few close members.”
“Hmmm. Sounds fun.”
You often hear people using summer vacation for a trip. That sort of recreational event does sound very club-like.
“But you’re the coordinator? I heard you were on the younger side in the club.”
“I’m the one who brought it up, I can’t avoid a level of trouble. Even if it takes some time and effort, I wanted to go on a trip with the members I knew I could trust.”
That’s a strange way to put it. That makes it sound like there are members of the movie club he can’t trust.
“I get what you’re saying, but was that something you had to come out and report to me?”
“Orino-san’s included in the trip members. That’s why I thought I’d give you notice, for what it’s worth.”
“Huh? Weren’t the two of you going out?”
“We’re not, just friends.”
That’s why, even if Orino-san goes on a trip with someone I don’t know, I don’t have the qualifications to stop her. Rather, I’d plainly want her to have fun.
“Tell her to bring back something cool.”
“Got it,” Saijou-kun gave a small laugh.
“By the way, what’s the destination? Domestic? International?”
“I guess you could say it’s outside the nation. We are going to be leaving Japan.”
“That’s amazing. What country?”
“You won’t know it even if I say it. It’s a country you’ve never heard of.”
Saying that with an air of importance, Saijou-kun set down his fork. After a sip of water, he formed a smile that seemed to hold hidden implication.
“Coming in contact with other worlds will surely be a worthwhile venture.”
“You’re right about that,” I nodded.
By other world, another planet that closely resembles the one we live in… of course wasn’t what he meant, and he was referring to a country with a different culture.
I mean… there’s no way other worlds exist.
“It seems a bigshot from that world is currently somewhere in town. They’re searching for something… If I can use him to secure a means of transportation, there’s a high probability even we will be able to go to that country.”
“… Is it the sort of country where you have to go through such a troublesome procedure?”
“Unfortunately, yes. And it brings with it considerable risk, but those parts included are the fun of an adventure.”
“In that case, couldn’t you just go somewhere easier? Is there some reason it has to be that country?”
Saijou-kun nodded without hesitation.
“The founder of our movie circle is currently taking a stay at our destination point.”
Come to think of it, Saijou-kun did mention it before.
That he had to meet the founder of the organization he was affiliated with.
“Meaning you’re going to meet that person?”
“Though I say that, I haven’t sent notice. I’m thinking to suddenly barge in and shock them.”
“I see, so it’s a surprise.”
“… Pff. Ahahah.”
My aimless remark caused Saijou-kun to burst into laughter, and jovially raise his voice.
“Haha. I see, it’s a surprise. That’s a good way to put it. Kukuku.”
I didn’t know what was so interesting, but he continued his merry laugh.
Once he had laughed himself out, he muttered to himself.
“I’ll lay the finest of surprises. The sort that will make our founder whose name and face I don’t know to go weak at the knees…”
I felt a chill run down my spine.
When the contents of the conversation were playfully childish, and he made the innocent smile of a kid who thought up some mischief—his eyes alone weren’t laughing in the slightest.
I picked up a strong will and a faint dark emotion. Behind his composed conduct, the sort of tension that only clads a person driven into a corner.
From there, we exchanged a few more words before I finished lunch and left the shop, but they weren’t on anything important.
In the end, Saijou-kun only wanted to talk about his trip.
As if in regards to me… he wanted to prove his resolve.
“I attack with ‘Rocket Warrior’. Alright, it’s my win.”
“… Gnnnn. Ugaaaah!”
Griel-kun cried out as he lurched towards the heavens, throwing up the cards in his hand.
“Ah, hey. Don’t throw someone’s cards. We’re not in a house, you’ll get them dirty.”
“… Why. Why can’t I win against the likes of you.”
“I think this time was close. You got my lifepoints down quite a bit.”
“Kuh. You think you can take pity on me!?”
My tact had the opposite effect. Good grief, this kid is a pain.
He glared at me like an old foe, but with his baby-face and boy’s soprano, it wasn’t scary. I stood from my seat and collected the cards he scattered.
I parted from Saijou-kun at just the right time, so I made straight for Asahi Park. Griel-kun arrived even sooner than me, what’s more, he was already sitting at the table, showing ample motivation
His eyes lorded over me.
“Hmph. You’ve done well, daring to appear before me again. I’ll praise you for that.” He was considerably stuck up, but once the duel began, the tables immediately turned.
Five consecutive wins for me.
“Dangit. One more, Kagoshima. We’re dueling again!”
“I’ll just say it, but if you intentionally hold back as you did before, your life is forfeit.”
“I understand. Real sorry.”
The truth is, a moment ago, I bent my pride as a duelist to try letting Griel-kun hold the trophy, but for some reason, he instantly saw through it and snapped.
According to Griel-kun, he could see through the instant I stayed my hand.
… What sort of seasoned warrior is he supposed to be? Or so it felt, but whatever the case, I now knew I couldn’t go easy on Griel-kun.
The pride to not let your opponents hold back isn’t a bad thing, and I did respect it. But when I fought at full force, the result was—
“Okay, I win again.”
I might sound stuck up, but I am strong. I was always the type who invested quite a bit into this sort of game, and I never lost among friends.
“Dang… I really should have removed this card, and put in that one…”
Recovering from the disgrace of defeat, Griel-kun started a staring contest with his cards, he began rebuilding his deck. The way he tried his absolute best was a bit charming to watch over.
As he gazed into the cards like a tasty meal, Griel-kun suddenly raised his face as if he remembered something.
“Come to think of it, The day before last, I went to the Adaterra Hye School education institution you attend, but no one was there. What is the meaning of this?”
“I mean, it’s summer vacation.”
“Summer vacation…? Ah, I see, a seasonal holiday period.”
“Do you have some business at our high school?”
“Nothing worth mentioning. I simply thought Creastia might be there. But no matter how I sharpen my senses, I cannot feel her presence. Has she already left this town behind…?”
“You’re quite attached to this girl, I see.”
“Hmph. She’s just an aside. That woman isn’t even worth my attention.”
He annoyingly rung his nose. Despite that, I get the feeling he’s moving quite assertively
“Hey, what sort of girl is that Creastia?”
When I asked out of curiosity, “She’s… just a genius,” Griel-kun gave a curt reply.
“An exceedingly talented individual who strongly inherited the blood of her renowned mother. Short for her age, childish, with facial features on the cute side. She’s still a student, but she has secured superior scores in both the classroom and practicals, some have their hopes on her future.”
“Hmm. She sounds amazing.”
“For a time, I attended the same school as Creastia. Though we barely ever exchanged words. Her friends there called her Crea.”
Crea… Kuria was Kurisu-chan’s first name.
Kurisu Crimson Kuria.
With a strong sense that a foreign name was forcefully converted into kanji, a name befitting a mixed blood. Could it be the person Griel-kun is searching for is Kurisu-chan?
Could it be that Kurisu-chan’s real name was actually that Creastia something something long piece, but that would be a pain here, so she shortened it?
Small-built and cute facial features did describe her perfectly.
“It’s just… I couldn’t stand her. Terribly unsociable, she rarely ever smiled in front of anyone. In practicals, her independent action stood out, and her own ability… it was often that she took action as if to show off her own genius. As if to sneer at the commoners learning through repeated effort, she easily overcame any difficulty unphased.”
Hearing that, I was convinced my own inference was off the mark.
There was no way the woman Griel-kun was searching for could be Kurisu-chan.
The woman he spoke of was far too removed from the girl I knew.
Kurisu-chan was honest, a hard worker, always smiling… she was definitely not the cynical girl he wanted.
“Creastia was stationed in this town alone as a special exception. I heard her independent action was permitted by her own personal wishes, but I’m sure she largely thought she was better off without anyone to drag her down. She really is a detestable woman.”
“From what I can tell, she doesn’t sound very charming.”
“Yeah, my thoughts exactly. She really is an uncharming woman. Ah, of course…”
Griel-kun lifted the corners of his mouth into a smile
“—You could say she’s her most charming while they’re still calling her a genius.”
It was a somewhat self-deriding, somewhat self-harming smile.
“Now then, the small talk ends there.”
Finishing up the conversation, he placed his deck on the table. He had finally completed it, it seems.
“Let the battle begin.”
Griel-kun said full of confidence. When he had already suffered twenty consecutive losses, just where was this confidence coming from.
“Yeah, yeah. But Griel-kun, are you sure you waste your time like this? Besides finding that Creastia girl, didn’t you have some other business?”
“Might you be referring to the Philosopher’s stone?”
“Right, right, that one.”
“Kagoshima, don’t misunderstand. My objective is, to the end, the philosopher’s stone, and Creastia is, to the end, a side note.”
“Personally I don’t care either way.”
“Hmph. Well, come so far, perhaps you could say Creastia has become the main. For–”
In a slightly lively voice, Griel-kun spoke in high spirits.
“I have already obtained the philosopher’s stone.”
“Hmm, I see. Good for you.”
I’m sure he just declared some random rock the philosopher’s stone, I thought as I arbitrarily nodded. I wasn’t the sort to poke at every detail of a child’s fun.
“But I never thought ‘that’ of all things would be the philosopher’s stone. Well, it’s still something of a raw ore. To draw out more effect than its base components, I’ll have to spend my time tempering it.”
“The philosopher’s stone, huh. Why don’t you bring it to school as your summer research project? Back in elementary school, I gathered strange-shaped rocks by the river-side and presented them.”
“Hmph. The hard-headed dimwits at the education institution would never be able to make use of this legendary-class piece.”
“Hey, hey, Griel-kun. You shouldn’t say bad things about your school teachers.”
“Fufu, you have a point. It was immature of me. As long as I complete this stone, I can finally surpass that one’s calibre… I’ll obtain such power it would become idiotic to compare myself to the masses… Fwahahahah.”
Like that, we carried a dubiously unmeshing conversation as we placed our decks in the right position and drew five cards each.
And we raised the declaration of war.
The duels continued until the sunset, but never once did I lose.
When it came to that, the sore loser Griel-kun couldn’t keep silent, and challenged me to a rematch at the same time tomorrow. Don’t tell me this is going to continue until he wins, I thought, somewhat disconcerted, but honestly, I didn’t particularly hate it.
It was fun to be able to play card games after so long, and it was fun to see how Griel-kun grew.
Additionally… no matter the difference in skill, card games are something of a game of luck. More than checkers or chess, they were closer to trump. If repeated enough times, there will come a time where the less-skilled one will win. I doubted the day Griel-kun beat me was too far away, and in that case, I thought it would be fine to keep him company.
“That sounds like you, Kagoshima-senpai.”
The living room of my house. Once she’d heard my tale of martial victory, Kurisu-chan leaked a giggle.
“You look like you’d be good at playing with kids.”
“… By that you mean, I have an exceedingly high big-brother constitution, so I’m good at looking after small children- in a good sense, right?”
You don’t mean my mental age is at a child’s level, right?
“Now who can say?”
Kurisu-chan gave a mischievous laugh, dodging the question.
Yeaaah. I kinda get the feeling she’s making fun of me. Not that I really hate it.
“By the way,”
I tried asking as casually as physically possible.
“How were things on your side?”
“Yes. It was fun. Nobuko-san taught me all sorts of games apart from cat’s cradle as well. Like tops, and juggling, and hanafuda cards.”
What I got back was, in short, a normal answer.
You could go as far as to call it exemplary.
“I see. That’s good.”
I couldn’t ask anymore.
Kurisu-chan likely noticed… that I had noticed the relationship she had with Nobuko-san. On top of noticing, she didn’t touch on it. As if to show a firm rejection, she didn’t raise the topic. To her, this was… a problem she didn’t want me to step into. She really did draw the line after all.
As per usual, she wouldn’t rely on me.
Did I lack the strength for Kurisu-chan to lean on?
“Eh? Did you say something?”
“No, I was just wondering what strength is.”
“? What’s wrong, all of a sudden..”
“Nah… it’s nothing.” I forcefully changed the topic. “Come to think of it, who’s the strongest character in Kuria’s grand adventure?”
“The strongest character, is it?”
“Right, right. You always get one or two of them in any manga, right? Oy, oy, how the hell are you supposed to top that, that sort of strongest character. Well, in the end, those folks are defeated surprisingly easy by the protagonist, I get that.”
“… Let’s see.”
Kurisu-chan folded her arms in thought.
“The leader of the holy congregation, Captain Greiz is extremely strong, and in pure magical power, the sage of the west, Zol-Xien is currently top in the continent… ah, but if you’re not restricting it to humans, they say there’s no magician of the modern era who can best the Goddragon Zeanos who lives in the Azalier Mountain range… if you want to restrict it to the current generation, then the one formerly hailed as the hero of Rhulein…”
It was a light question, but Kurisu-chan began seriously thinking about it.
“Ah, you don’t have to get so serious about it.”
“Y-you’re right. Umm… aah. This might be different than strongest, but there’s a kid with a far-too prodigious future ahead of him.”
“Far too prodigious?”
“A kid who continues leaving records as the youngest to perform any and every feat. National qualifications, subjugation records, development of new techniques and the like.”
“Now that’s amazing. One of those genius characters.”
“… No. Genius, and talent… it’s not on that level anymore.”
Her cheerful voice sunk a bit.
“Even wonder child is too light a term for that boy. He… is called the Devil’s child.”
The Devil’s child.
What a terrible title. Even in manga terms, it put a damper on the spirit.
“I… no, I mean, the protagonist attended the same school as him for a short while, but he skipped grades in no time and graduated. After graduation, he joined the holy congregation for a short while, but quit before long, and is currently of whereabouts unknown. Rumor has it he’s been sticking his hands into dangerous research.”
“Ah, I see. So one of those okay, I wrote him, but how am I supposed to deal with him? Sort of strongest characters. You get them from time to time, that sort of, ‘So in the end, what was he’ character.”
“U-umm, well, something like that.”
Kurisu-chan gave a vague nod.
“His name is… Griestark D’Ifa Licuio Soel. He was a talent they said would rebuild the fallen noble Soel House in one generation, but just where could he be, and what is he doing…”
The Devil’s child’s name was exceptionally long, so I ignored it left to right. I didn’t feel up to remembering the name of a character in a manga I wasn’t even going to read.
But to remember all of that lengthy name, Kurisu-chan must really like ‘Kuria’s Grand Adventure’, I thought when Beebeep, beebeep, the washing machine’s tone that signaled its finished dry cycle reached the living room.
“Ah, looks like the laundry’s done. I’ll go get it.”
“Don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of it.”
“It’s fine. Just take it easy, Kagoshima-senpai. You’re letting me stay, so you could let me do this much.”
“It’s not just because I don’t want your hands on my undergarments or anything. Don’t worry.”
“… Hm, emphasizing the point to contrarily hurt the opponent even further, what a high-level technique.”
It kinda felt like the sort of feelings a girl in puberty has towards her father.
“Well I’ll be. You don’t have to worry. I’m not the sort of pervert who gets excited over a woman’s undergarments. I’m not like those underwear thieves.”
“Oh, you sound a bit manly.”
“I mean, what’s the fun in touching underwear after it’s already been washed?”
“The underwear thieves of the world, in most cases, knab them when they’ve been put out to dry, but what could be so fun about that? Detergent’s a powerful force nowadays, so an undergarment that’s been washed doesn’t retain the slightest womanly component of its owner.”
“Seriously, those underwear thieves sure are idiots… wait, what?”
By the time I noticed it, Kurisu-chan had disappeared.
How strange, I’m sure I haven’t said anything wrong, yet…
Did she run out of patience? Or did she think the laundry would crease if she didn’t hurry up?
… I’m sure it was the latter. That’s why I’ll believe. Those who believe shall be saved.
With no conversation partner, I glanced at the TV that had been left on for a while.
The evening news was playing on the screen.
‘Our next story,’ the anchor lady familiarly read off the news. ‘Late last night, in Nasu City of the Tochigi Prefecture, a portion of the tourist site next to Nasu’s Yumoto Onsen, the volcanic stone was stolen. The crime was noticed when a tourist–’
“… A stone thief?”
That was even harder to comprehend than an underwear thief.
What does stealing a stone get you?
Are they a rock collector like Ojarumaru’s Kazuma?
‘The stolen rock was a volcanic stone called the Sesshouseki, and as multiple stones were carried off in one night, the police are investigating under the assumption of multiple culprits–’
The toxic stone the fair-faced gold pelted nine tailed fox Tamamo no Mae changed into on her death. In a sense, the fox’s remains, and her grave.
That Sesshouseki had been stolen by someone’s hand…
“… Well, not that youkai exist in reality.”
The tv soon shifted to the next headline. The television station only treated stolen Sesshouseki as a peculiar occurrence, it seems.
It was just a rock, so that sounded about right.
Come to think of it, Griel-kun also said something about a stone.
Was there an unprecedented rock craze breaking out somewhere I didn’t know?