1 – Odysseus Gambit
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A naked woman stood in front of me. She was a calm Oriental beauty with pristine white skin and silky black hair that fell to her waist. Before long, she changed into a seductive Western beauty with curled golden hair that hung just over her shoulders and a curvaceous body with a generous chest. After that, her form kept changing to other ideal beauties, never showing the same appearance twice.

What was going on, and who was she?

“Hm.” The beautiful woman spoke, a voice that harmonized a chorus of melodies as one. “You’re quite the strange one, aren’t you?” She placed a finger on her ruby lips and stared at me with eyes that shimmered with every hue imaginable. “Most of those I see usually have an ideal beauty in mind when they meet me, but you… you’re different.”

Her words didn’t help me. I was still just as confused as I was before she started speaking.

“That’s understandable.” The beautiful woman nodded. “It probably doesn’t help that you still can’t see me as anything other than ‘a beautiful woman’… Let’s see. This form should serve well enough.”

A blinding white light covered the beautiful woman’s body. When it faded, the beautiful woman was gone, replaced by a teenage girl. Her face lacked a fair bit in comparison to the other beauties, but it carried the adorable charm of youth instead. Short brown hair framed her face, styled in bangs and a bobbed haircut, and her light blue eyes shone with mischief. In addition to her new appearance, the teenage girl finally wore clothes: a plain white blouse with a red tie, a navy blue pleated skirt, and black penny loafers with knee-high white socks.

“There we go.” The teenage girl nodded and said, “Now we can start.” She waved her hand. Suddenly, we were seated across from each other at a wooden table in the middle of an empty void.

I blinked, and the pieces began to fit together in my mind.

The teenage girl- no, the Goddess smiled. “That’s right. To put it in your words… you’re going to experience an Isekai.”

I remained silent and carefully contemplated her words.

Isekai. From what I remembered, it was a Japanese word that literally meant ‘another world’, but it typically referred to a sub-genre of stories and anime where the main character managed to arrive at another world through some way or another. That new world was usually fantasy-based, one filled with magic, mythical creatures, and almost assuredly a Demon Lord or two.

And now I was going to experience that?

“How interesting.” The Goddess placed her elbows on the table and laced her fingers together. “Most of the people I’ve transported from this world have been either excited or terrified. But you… you’re quite composed, aren’t you?”

From her words, I wasn’t the first. Then… what happened to the others? And were people brought over dead? Alive? Or a state in between?

“Most of the people I bring over have already met their end, but I’ve transported a few who were still alive before.”

I stopped thinking and stared at the Goddess.

She smiled.

It was probably intended to be calming. It probably was, to most people. But to me, there was no way that could be true.

“It’s rude to read minds.”

The Goddess waved her right hand and said, “Sorry, sorry. I couldn’t resist.”

“Try.”

The Goddess’s smile widened and she nodded. “Very well. I, Goddess Serena of Asifant, will not read your mind from this point forward.”

A white light flared before quickly fading away.

It was supposed to be assuring. From her words, and from the display, the Goddess appeared to be under oath to fulfill her words. But I had no assurances.

I stopped thinking.

“Now,” the Goddess said. “Shall we get down to business?”

I nodded.

The Goddess’s eyes twinkled and she said, “You’re quite the cautious type, aren’t you? I wouldn’t have thought that from how I saw you act in your daily life, but I suppose you only know a guy after they’ve died… Oh right. You died, by the way.”

I closed my eyes and sighed.

“It was really unexpected,” the Goddess said. “Really, you can only blame your death on bad luck. It just so happened that your apartment complex collapsed on you when you were sleeping. Since you lived on the ground floor, you instantly died when the rubble landed on you.”

“…How did it collapse?”

The Goddess shook her head. “Even I’m astounded. In all the years I’ve existed, I’ve never seen such a convoluted chain of events.”

I stared at the Goddess and waited for her to continue.

The Goddess stared at my face for a few seconds and then sighed. “Fine. I can see that you’re not amused. But it was really interesting, you know?”

“Interesting?”

The Goddess nodded. “Yep! Basically, everyone in the building moved in opposing directions at the exact same time. The force caused just enough strain for the old support beams in the building to crack. That would have been fine, but it was a reaaally windy day and they just…” The Goddess snapped her fingers. “…like that! And everything came tumbling down, turning you into a human pancake.”

I mulled over the Goddess’s words, but didn’t respond.

The Goddess kept talking. “That’s why I’m here.” She frowned. “To be honest, I was planning to head over to Japan and grab another few of those highschoolers, but your karma was just too interesting to pass up.” She smirked and said, “With you around, my world should get a lot more interesting. So, what do you think? Do you want to come to my world? Or would you rather get reincarnated back here, in this world?”

I contemplated the Goddess’s words, and then said, “Why?”

“Hm?” The Goddess tilted her head. “What is it?”

“Why do you need to transport souls to your world?”

“Oh, that?” The Goddess waved her hand. “I’m just bored.”

“…You’re bored. That’s why?”

“Yep.” The Goddess shrugged. “It’s fun and all making a world and having your creations fight it out, but that gets pretty boring pretty quick. After that, it’s kind of fun popping in to help random people now and then, but that gets boring pretty quick too.” She sighed. “There’s only so much a goddess can take, you know?”

I blinked and then said, “That’s… it? You go out of your way to transport souls to your world… just to amuse yourself? Because you’re bored? Not any other reason?”

“Yep! And your world’s God is really lenient on me transporting people too! As long as you want to go, there aren’t any problems. And if you feel like coming back after you die in my world, that’s fine too. It’s an eternal guarantee made and personally enforced by your God. The guy might be a bit quiet, but he’s really protective of you guys, you know? The last time someone tried stealing an Earthling’s soul against their will, he personally stepped in and wiped out that entire universe. Scary stuff.”

I had no reason to believe the Goddess’s words, but I also had no reason to refute them.

I remained silent and thought about my response.

The Goddess leaned forward and said, “Any other questions?”

“What other souls have you transported to your world?”

The Goddess leaned back and placed a finger on her chin. “Hm… well, pretty much every author of an Isekai story in your world is a person I’ve transported that decided to reincarnate back to your world. As for people there right now… it’s mostly the usual setup. A group of brave heroes, the Demon Lord… you know, the works.” She turned to look at me and said, “I was thinking about sending in another hero or two to stir things up, but if it’s you… well, it’ll be fun, don’t you think?”

I frowned.

The Goddess stared at me, smiling.

“…Alright,” I said. “Since I’m dead anyway, I’ll go along with you.”

“Great!” The Goddess clapped her hand together and said, “Now, I usually give each person I transport a special gift to spice things up… Alright, alright. You don’t need to give me the stink eye. It’s just a gift from your God that I repackage to the form you want.”

The Goddess snapped her fingers, causing a glowing white orb to appear before her, twinkling like a star. “You can call it the ‘infinite potential of humanity’. It’s the magnum opus of your God and something to be given to everyone from your world who decides to leave.” The Goddess stared at the orb and muttered, “Really, that guy’s too awesome. If I had even a fraction of his skill, maybe I-“ The Goddess shook her head and then tossed me the orb.

I caught it with two hands.

The orb emitted a comfortable heat and felt pleasant to hold. Not smooth, not rough, its texture felt like something in between. Squishing it made the light pulse and the orb distort, but it retained its shape as soon as I stopped applying force.

“Anyway, that there is your ticket to whatever superpower you want. Time travel, teleportation, immortality… well, I say that, but it’s not like anyone’s ever actually picked those. Maybe it’s just the Japanese, but everyone I’ve transported from there seems to just pick an element or something boring like that. It’s gotten to the point where I usually just let the orb take on whatever power it thinks would suit the person best and hand-wave it away with an excuse.”

I let the Goddess ramble on while I stared at the orb and pondered on what to choose.

After talking for a while, the Goddess must have noticed I wasn’t listening as she said, “You’re really something else, huh?” She narrowed her eyes. “Being so impertinent, being so cautious…” The Goddess relaxed her expression and sighed. “Well, I guess that’s just part of what makes you interesting. Oh, fun fact for you. I usually don’t tell people this much before sending them off, you know? But since you’ve been so amusing, I couldn’t help but give you a little reward.”

Amusing, huh? Right, to the Goddess, that was all that mattered.

Because of that, and if her words about the orb containing the infinite potential of humanity were true, there was only one power I needed.

“Memory.”

The Goddess blinked. “Excuse me?”

I looked at the Goddess and said, “I want the power of memory. The power to store every experience I have, the power to recollect everything I experience, and the power to maintain those experiences as long as I want, no matter how much time passes. An Absolute Memory. That is what I want.”


Serena stared at the young man before her.

Although the young man lived across the world from Japan, he had similar characteristics to the ones Serena usually transported. Black hair and dark, almond-shaped eyes. An average build and height. His physical features were the same, but his personality was completely different.

Was it due to the differences in culture? Although he might look like it, the young man wasn’t Japanese. But then, a simple difference in culture couldn’t explain his strange and tangled karma.

After thinking for a bit, Serena said, “An ‘Absolute Memory’? That’s what you want?”

The young man nodded.

Serena couldn’t understand him. What could an Absolute Memory even do for him? Sure, learning things like the language, history, and spell incantations might go faster, but that wouldn’t help the fact that his body lacked the ability and talent to wield much magic. Wouldn’t something like ‘All Elemental Magic’ or even ‘Enhanced Skill Acquisition’ be better?

The young man stared at Serena, quiet but resolved.

Serena sighed. “Alright. If that’s what you want, I’ll make it happen.” She thought that it was a waste, but maybe the young man could surprise her like he did with their conversation. “Just close your eyes for a bit and I’ll finish things off for you over here.”

“Understood.” The young man nodded and closed his eyes.

“One last thing,” Serena said. “Is there anywhere in specific you want to appear? Or anyone you want to be? I can reincarnate you with your memories in a new body, or just send you somewhere with your old one. I’d recommend a village on the frontier of the Northern Empire, but you’re free to choose wherever you want.”

As expected, the young man remained silent. But then he said, “Send me to the most dangerous place possible.”


I gauged the Goddess’s reaction to my decision.

For a while, she didn’t say anything.

I considered changing my request.

Suddenly, the Goddess broke out into laughter and said, “Of course! The most dangerous place possible… why not?” She wiped away a tear from the corner of her eye and said, “I don’t know what you have planned, but it’s definitely going to be fun to watch.”

The ground shuddered. I opened my eyes and saw that a vortex swirling with energy and light emerged beneath me.

The Goddess smiled and waved at me. “Good luck!”

The ground shuddered again and the vortex began rising. In a few moments, it would completely envelop me.

“Ah,” the Goddess said. “Come to think of it, I still haven’t heard your name.”

I paused, contemplated for a moment, and then said, “Nowun.”

With that final word, the vortex consumed me and the Goddess vanished from view.


Status Screen

Name: Nowun
Gender: Male
Age: ??
Race: Human
HP: 100
MP: 10

Skills
Absolute Memory LVL ?? – A unique unranked skill granted to Nowun by the Goddess Serena through the infinite human potential gifted by Earth’s Creator. Grants the concept of ‘Absolute Memory’ to the user.

Information Concealment LVL ?? – A unique unranked skill subconsciously recognized by Goddess Serena due to the user’s ability to withhold and conceal information even from her all-seeing eye. Grants the concept of ‘Information Concealment’ and the ability to hide from even transcendent beings.

Titles
The Nameless – Obtained by giving a pseudonym to the Goddess Serena and refusing to present one’s true name. Due to this, the original name is discarded and one’s true nature becomes indistinct.

Otherworlder – Obtained by all those transported by Goddess Serena to Asifant. Grants language translation and basic knowledge of the world.

Karmic Anomaly – The title granted to one whose karma cannot be discerned. Effects are unknown.

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