A black haired boy gave chase to the girl in front of him, but such a feat proved to be too much for a normal human like him.
While she ran full speed without breaking a sweat, he was having trouble breathing.
“We are going to lose her! Damn it, just how fast is she?”
When his legs finally gave up, he fell to his knees. Sometime later, a pair of brown haired teenagers caught up with him. They were a boy and a girl. There were certain similarities in their faces, so they were probably related.
The brown haired boy was the first one to speak.
“Wow, making a fool of yourself this soon? What’s the hurry?”
The black haired boy got up from the ground, shook off the dirt from his pants and adjusted his navy blue cap. Then he turned his head to the voice he just heard.
“Didn’t you hear Nero? We have to follow that wolf girl to reach the town where-“
Now the sole girl of the group spoke up.
“Kaito, I think you are the one who didn’t listen.”
“What do you mean?”
For just a second, the button in Kaito’s cap emitted a faint light. Someone was attempting to contact him with magic. Suddenly, a voice entered his head.
“(You know, things would be simpler if you just let me finish when I talk, boy.)”
The brown haired girl reached for her pocket and took out a small, silver object. It was a pocket watch, which also gave off a faint light for just an instant. At the same time, the boy who seemed to be related to her, put his hand on the black wristwatch he was wearing. Just like the silver watch, it also glowed for a second.
The disembodied voice continued talking.
“(Like I was saying, from here on, it’s a straight path to town, so you just have to walk in the same direction that wolf girl headed. Once you get there, you just have to ask around until you find the Heroine.)”
The brown haired boy focused on his wristwatch, and thought:
“(Wait, you haven’t told us her name yet.)
“(Oh, right, my apologies, boy. Her name is…)”
- - -
Somewhere else, a young girl was clashing weapons with someone.
“How about this!”
The young girl took a fighting stance, and started channeling magic into her spear, which made her auburn-colored hair dance in the air with soft motions.
“Goddess of Light, lend me your power! Turn this spear of mine into a ‘Thunder of Justice’!”
The young, blond man she was confronting just walked up to her and slightly hit her head with his shield.
“You were too slow. You have to be aware of your surroundings while chanting.” the man replied.
“But you told me to focus on the chant!”
“Yes, I said that, but if no one is covering you, you also have to be aware of what is happening around you. That’s why most people tend to focus on either physical combat or magic, not many have the concentration to properly pull off both at the same time.”
“What am I supposed to do then, Leo?”
“Improve your concentration, simple as that.”
“It’s easy for you to say that, you were trained as a knight since you were a kid,” the girl said, then with a big grin on her face, she added “but I spent my childhood actually having fun, you know?”
She was Raquel Rubellite.
The heroine destined to protect the world.
However, she still lacked training. That’s why the blond man was teaching her how to fight.
“Let’s try one more time, OK?”
“Fine, I’m going to win this time!”
The blond man, Leo Luxford, recalled the time when he started training Raquel, one year ago.
As a knight belonging to the Order of Light, he was amongst the group sent to this small town in the Duchy of Eridier with an important mission: training the heroine Raquel Rubellite.
After half a year, Raquel improved just enough that the Church of Light decided to leave Leo as her sole teacher. This, in part, was because her best friend thought Raquel was overwhelmed by the fighting lessons, so she decided to train Raquel by herself. The Church agreed on the condition that someone remained to check on the heroine’s progress and reported it regularly.
A determined voice interrupted Leo’s thoughts.
“Ok, let’s get started!”
Raquel started her chant once again: “Goddess of Light, lend me your power!”
Leo tried approaching her, but he stopped on his tracks. He looked at Raquel, whose skin was sparkling because of the sweat. Her hair was a bit disheveled, and she started breathing faster.
One of the reasons Leo chose to remain as the heroine’s teacher was his sense of duty. The other reason was…
“(Damn, it’s getting harder to control myself.)
In the year since arriving here, he fell in love with Raquel. However, he decided to hold in these feelings. He thought they would get in the way of his mission.
While Leo was ogling the auburn haired girl, she had finished her magic spell and now headed toward the knight. In the nick of time, Leo moved to the side and evaded that attack.
Raquel let go of her spear and turned around. Without wasting time, she formed a fist with her right hand and took a deep breath. Power was gathering at her fist, but it wasn’t the magical power required to cast spells. This was something different.
Leo blocked the attack with his wooden shield, but it wasn’t enough. The shield broke in pieces right after taking that blow.
“Haha, I did it!”
“Don’t get too cocky. I was distracted, that’s all.”
“What happened to all that talk about being focused?”
“I apologize. It’s just that… you…”
Before he finished, a familiar voice was heard.
“Sorry! I overslept!”
“Oh, Arc is here!”
A girl with dark gray hair, and wolf ears, approached Leo and Raquel.
“Good morning, Raquel! How’s your training going?” she asked.
“Morning, Arc! Guess what? I broke Leo’s shield!”
The wolf girl attempted to look at Leo’s face, but he turned around and cleared his throat before talking.
“Yes, but it took her a year to reach that point.”
“Well, if you people hadn’t neglected to tell her she was the Heroine, I could have trained her earlier.”
Meanwhile, three teenagers were approaching a town’s entrance.
“Is it okay to just walk in? I mean, our clothes will probably make us stand out. What if they think we are suspicious? ”
“Don’t worry, Reiji. If we explain our situation, maybe…”
“I don’t think that will work, Mayu. They have no reason to believe a word of what we say. We can’t just say ‘Hi, I come from another world. Can I meet the Heroine? I want to train her.’”
Kaito pondered for a while. What his friend Reiji said made sense, but, on the other hand, he felt compelled to take his girlfriend’s side. If he did that, though, he risked being chased off town, or worse.
“If what Nero said is true, mentioning his name won’t benefit us, so maybe we should just act like tourists from a far away town who want to meet the famed Heroine.”
Reiji looked at his wristwatch and groaned.
“How bothersome, to think so much could happen in one hour. Is this what you meant when you told us this would be ‘the trip of our lives’, Kaito?”
Come to think of it, how did those three end up in this situation?
They looked like normal high school students, so why did they end up far away from home? Why did they want to meet this ‘Heroine’? Who was this ‘Nero’ guy with whom they talked telepathically?
The answer lies in the events that occurred just a couple of hours ago.
- - -
At a small apartment somewhere in Japan, Reiji Hiiragi and his twin sister Mayu were getting ready to leave. Outside, there was a black-haired boy their age waiting for them. He was wearing a cap and carried a large sports bag.
“Good morning, guys. Are you ready for the trip of our lives?”
“Mornin’, Kaito!” said Mayu, who threw herself at Kaito as soon a she saw him.
“Getting lovey-dovey this early in the morning, huh? And what was that? ‘the trip of our lives’, seriously?”
“Well, Mr. Virgin here barely leaves his apartment, so it is a big deal, I think”
“Sorry, am I supposed to be the third wheel in your dates with Mayu?”
"Is that your excuse now? So I take it you are no longer ‘sensible to sunlight’. Oh, and to answer your question, no, what you are supposed to do is going out go make more friends, and maybe even get a girlfriend.”
“Why do I still hang out with you after all these years? Especially since the fact that I am the ‘Mr. Virgin’ of the group implies you-“
Since things were already getting hostile before even leaving, Mayu decided to subtly change the subject.
“Did you guys know that the whole ‘10% percent of our brain’ is a load of bull-“
“Of course I do!”
“Of course I do!”
"That’s good! Now, let’s get going.”
Mayu replied in a happy manner after putting together her hands, and without removing her smile from her face, said “and no more fighting, or I will bury you in the forest.”
The three friends walked to the nearest bus stop. Their bus arrived just one minute later. Their destination was forest near their city. They planned to go camping, but in truth, this was just a plot by Mayu and Kaito to force Reiji out of his room.
After taking their seats, Reiji checked his phone. After scrolling through a news website, something picked his interest.
“People are still talking about that?”
“You mean the mysterious truck accident?”
Kaito was also checking his phone, and he spoke without looking away from the screen. Mayu, who was sitting next to him, glanced at his phone.
“Oh, you mean that.”
The topic was an accident that happened some weeks ago. A truck driver lost control of his vehicle and almost hit a young girl, but at the last moment, she was saved by young man, who lost his life in the process.
But what made this accident noteworthy were the circumstances surrounding it: the driver wasn’t dozing off or anything like that, and an inspection of the truck showed there was nothing wrong with the vehicle. And last, but not least, the young man who sacrificed his life to save the small girl was dressed like a tokusatsu hero. He wasn’t some random cosplayer, though. He was a “local hero”, a character created to represent his city. Apparently, he just finished performing at a stage show minutes before the accident. Why he was still in-costume is anyone’s guess.
“Yeah, it’s been weeks since that accident, but you can still find someone talking about it while channel-surfing, and people at SNS are still speculating about what caused the truck driver to lost control. Some foreign message boards even joked that the truck itself was out for blood, and the “local hero” became a real hero of justice in a fantasy world.”
“That would be cool. Right, Reiji? ” said Mayu to her twin brother. However, he didn’t seem to share her level of excitement.
“Things don’t work like that in the real world. You probably think some mysterious force controlled the truck, and that guy was reborn in a fantasy world. But, do you really think some looser who got himself killed trying to look cool, would be rewarded with an exciting life in another world?”
Kaito interrupted the siblings’ conversation.
“Oh boy, there he goes.”
Roughly an hour went by, and their destination was already on sight, when the trio heard a familiar noise. That, of course, came from their stomachs, since none of them had breakfast that morning.
“Since we are almost there, should we wait to-” Kaito asked, but before finishing his sentence, he noticed the siblings were already searching in their bags for something to eat.
“Right, you guys can’t go on for too long without food, and you are probably going to pull the same thing from your bags: chocolate cookies and vanilla-flavored milk.”
At that very moment, Kaito prophecy came true, and you could tell from his face that he really wanted to say: “See? I told you.”
“I love them, so what else would I bring?”
“I love them, so what else would I bring?”
“Wow, I thought only identical twins did that. Are all twins like this, then?"
- - -
Somewhere else,, a mysterious figure was thinking aloud.
“Still no luck, huh? Maybe this island they call Japan is too big for me alone to cover by foot.”
He was interrupted by a voice in his head, no, it was more like that voice was nowhere and everywhere, beyond what a human could comprehend, but, at the same time, it felt quite human and familiar.
“(You haven’t finished your experiment yet?)” said a feminine voice.
“No. I think I bit more than I can chew. Even though their influence can’t reach me here, it seems I’m destined to fail. I guess I’ll have to bet everything on him.”
“(Don’t be so hard on yourself, dear.)”
“Sorry, sorry. I will head back soon, so you j- wait, I think I felt something.”
The figure turned around.
“Yeah, I think there’s two of them, I’ll follow their trace right now.”
That shadowy figure hurried to the source of that, and after a while, he arrived. There, he became witness to an accident.
There was no time to think.
Something had to be done. Quick.
“But I thought there were only two? Whatever, here goes!”
That summer morning, those four souls vanished from this world.
- - -
Hiiragi Reiji opened his eyes. What he saw made him worried, or rather, the fact the he couldn’t see anything is what worried him.
It was like floating inside a pool, but he couldn’t see anything in front of him. He slowly turned his head to the left, and saw a familliar figure lying on the nothingness that surrounded them. The black haired boy lying there wore a navy baseball cap with a peculiar button on the front. He could recognize it anywhere.
“Is that Kaito? So, where is-“
Reiji turned his head to the other side, and there she was. A girl with shoulder-length brown hair, and a face similar to his own. A girl who was born 18 minutes after him.
“Ah, there she is. Neither of them look hurt, so what about me?”
The boy looked down and started checking his body.
“Nothing hurts, everything seems to be in its place. Good, that only leaves a problem: What in the hell just happened? Where are we?”
“I count two problems there, boy.”
Nothing was in front of him, and since his left and right sides were already accounted for, that meant the pedantic reply he just heard came from behind.
“Rejoice, young one! For you three have been chosen to-“
“Hey, you! What the hell did you do?” asked Reiji to the mysterious figure, not even paying attention to what he was about to say.
The figure cleared his throat before speaking.
“I would appreciate if you let me finish, and my name is not ‘you’, you may call me…”
“Who is that?” said the baseball cap boy who was unconscious just a while ago.
“Uh… what’s with this nothingness? Did we die?” asked a girl who was just waking up.
“Oh, so you woke up. Good, it’s better to explain everything to all three of you at the same time, but no more interruptions, okay? First of all, I am what you could call a guardian entity, or a ‘god’. You can call me, huh, ‘Nero’, yeah, that sounds good. You are alive, but I’m afraid you are no longer in your world.”
The three friends exchanged glances, and said with perfect synchronization:
“From what little I could see, your people are familiar with stories of people being sent to another world, so just let me tell you something: I don’t expect you to defeat an evil overlord and save my world.”
“You don’t expect me to do anything, then? That’s good, now send us back.” said Reiji, relieved to learn that he doesn’t have to do something bothersome like becoming a hero and fighting demons.
“I’m afraid I can’t. You see, my powers are limited, and after saving your lives, I don’t have enough to send you back, not yet, at least.”
“Then what do you want us to do?” asked Kaito.
“I’m getting there, boy. Since my powers are limited, I can’t really help my world in the way I want, and that’s where you come in. My world already has someone destined to protect it, but due to certain circumstances, she started her training kind of late, and I worry that she won’t be ready for what is about to happen.”
“Do you want us to train her or something?,” Mayu asked after connecting the dots, “since we are familiar with stories set in another world, you want us to put that knowledge to use and turn this heroine into a min-maxed powerhouse?”
“Uhm, well, It is true that I chose you three for a reason. actually, I only felt two but-“
“So, is there a third wheel here?” asked Reiji, as if he already knew what was Nero was going to say, “You only wanted two people for the job, but saw the three of us in danger and transported the three of us to your world.”
“You two are really quick to understand,” said the god-like entity called Nero, “I wonder if you two are what I felt.”
This time it was Kaito who ignored the god’s request to stop interrupting.
“Wait, you don’t know?”
Nero closed what seemed to be his eyes for a moment, and said “Even now, I can’t tell who it was that I felt, so I’ll have to ask the three of you: Until I regain enough power to send you back to your world, won’t you help me turn a naive but well-meaning girl into the savior of my world?”