Kaito scratched the right side of his head. “If I understood correctly, you just want us to turn your Heroine into someone competent, right?”
“Yes, that’s it,” Nero was quick to reply. “You just have to befriend her, and help her become someone capable of saving my world. In the meantime, I will try to recover enough power to send you back to your world. Since our worlds’ time aren’t in sync, no one in your world will notice your absence.”
“How are we supposed to help her?,” Reiji asked, “if you think we can somehow turn her into a unstoppable ally of justice, you are wasting your time.”
Mayu turned her face toward her brother. “Come on, don’t be like that. He saved us, it’s the least we can do to pay him back. Besides, we can’t go back to our world yet.”
“Is there no other way to go back?”
“Technically, there are other ways, but…” Nero started explaining, but he hesitated to finish that sentence. Feeling like he had no other choice, he changed the subject. “First, I should explain a bit about my world, don’t you think?”.
There were eight gods in total, each one was associated with a color.
Nero, the black god, was associated with darkness, shadows, and evil, so he wasn’t very liked among the population of his world. However, he was far from being an evil god. He was always worrying about the mortals’ well being. But Nero wasn’t rewarded for his altruistic nature, far from it. Most people refused to admit their flaws, and would blame the gods for all things bad. Since the gods’ power came from the faith the people had in them, they chose Nero to carry the burden of being the ‘evil god’.
Using their influence in the world, they gave him the reputation of an useless god who only caused bad things to happen. Since, save for a few lunatics, no one was willing to follow such a god, Nero’s power as a god was reduced greatly.
Fortunately, he wasn’t alone.
The White goddess, associated with light and justice, and the one with the most followers, loved him more than anything in the world, which is probably one of the reasons Nero was unpopular with the other gods. However, the two of them couldn’t overturn the actions of the other gods.
Until they realized something. Nero can’t influence his world too much.
What about other worlds?
It was then that Nero planned to summon someone to his world and influence the world through that person.
Reiji interrupted once again. “You said something about saving the world before, but why does it need saving in the first place?”
“Also, there are eight gods in total, so even if your options are limited, what about the other seven? Do they not care about what happens to their followers?”
“Now, now. Calm down, boy. Allow me to answer your first question. Throughout history, evil people have threatened peace. That’s why once in a while, the White goddess bestows a person with a fraction of her power. He or she is then granted the title of Hero or Heroine. This time, a human girl was chosen, but…”
Mayu chimed in. “No one bothered to tell her she was the chosen one because thing were peaceful, right?”
“Exactly,” said Nero, then he continued explaining, “but some individuals in the Demon continent have been gathering too much power, and it’s clear they are up to no good, that’s why about a year ago, the Church of the White goddess contacted the Heroine. Sadly, I don’t think she will be ready in time, so I decided to lend her a hand. And that’s where you come in.”
Kaito joined the conversation. “But Reiji doesn’t want to befriend her, so we are going to stand around watching that world being destroyed by war,” he then faced Reiji with a mocking smile. “By the time Nero recovers enough power to send us back, we will be dead.”
Reiji closed his eyes and took a long breath. “How about this, you guys befriend her, and I stay out of your way. What do you think?”
The god of darkness ignored what he hoped was a joke, and hurried up to finish his explanation. “As for Reiji’s second question, turning into a god does a number on your mind, so the other gods either don’t care too much about world peace, or foolishly think mortals will be able to solve thing by themselves. That’s why only I can help the White goddess. By the way, other than lending her power to a Hero or Heroine, there is not much she can do to interfere with the world, so she can’t send you back to your world.”
“Wait, ‘Turn into a god’? So you were born as mortals?”
“Sorry, time’s running out. Quick, give me something you hold dear. I’ll give it back in a second.”
“Just do it!”
Kaito gave him the button on his sport cap. It was a gift he got from Mayu; a button featuring his favorite character from a Magical Girl anime.
Mayu held out a silver pocket watch. It was as dazzling as the day she got it from her grandfather, five years ago.
Reiji removed his black wristwatch. He looked at it for a couple of seconds, as if trying to peer into the past recorded in the scratches that covered it.
Nero held these three objects for a couple of seconds, and then he returned them.
“Done. I’ll contact you through those, they will also serve as translators, so keep them with you at all times. Having to learn my world’s languages would take you too long, after all. Now then, have a nice trip.”
With a finger snap, those three teens appeared in an open field. There was grass in every direction, and some trees could be seen in the distance.
After getting used to the sudden change of scenery, Reiji looked at his watch.
“Hey, Nero! Are you there?”
Suddenly, the watch flashed for a second, and the god’s voice invaded his mind.
“(No need to scream, boy. People will look weird at you. Just talk to me with your thoughts.)”
“(Good. Listen, I know you still have a lot of questions, but first, head in the direction the girl you are about to encounter is going. She is heading to the town where the Heroine lives. I will explain the rest later. See you!)”
“(Wait, what girl?)”
A girl with long, dark-gray hair was running through a field of grass. “Damn! I was supposed to train with Raquel before noon!”
She saw three humans in front of her, but there was no time to stop. So…
She just jumped over them.
“Wait, that girl…”
Mayu focused on the running girl’s head.
“Animal ears! Yay!”
“Hey, you! Wait a moment!”
“Sorry! I’m going to be late!”
Kaito noticed his bag on the ground, picked it up and followed the girl who leapt over them. Without stopping, he turned his head back. “Come on, guys! We have to follow her!”
After failing to keep up with that wolf girl, reaching the town’s entrance, and deciding their course of action, the three finally entered the Heroine’s hometown.
Just like what you would expect from a world of swords and magic, most houses were built from wood, with some stone buildings there and there.
Reiji looked around. Fortunately, not many people were surprised by the sudden arrival of three teenagers in weird clothes. However, that in itself was a bit worrying.
“(No wonder they didn’t bother training their Heroine earlier. They are too used to their peaceful lifestyle.)”
At that moment, a middle aged man approached the trio. “Welcome, travelers! This is the town of Valdreed, home of the-“
Reiji didn’t feel like striking up a conversation with this man, so he went straight to the point. “This is the Heroine’s hometown, right? Where is she?”
The middle aged man gave out a hearty laugh.
“I figured that’s what brought you here. It’s not like there’s much to see in this town! Miss Rubellite lives in that big house over there. She should be training right now, though. Sir Luxford insists that we don’t interrupt her, so in the meantime, why don’t you pass by the Inn?”
“Sure, sure, we will do that.”
Having said that, Reiji and co. headed to the big house the man mentioned. Of course, he didn’t have any money on him, so visiting the Inn wasn’t an option just yet. After thanking the middle aged man for the information, Kaito and Mayu followed after Reiji.
Blond-haired knight Leo Luxford was outside the Rubellite residence. Lately, travelers had been arriving at Valdreed with the intention of meeting the Heroine. Unfortunately for him, most of those travelers wanted to see her in action, so they would try to take a peek at her training sessions. The Rubellite family increased the number of guards at their residence, but sometimes Leo would join them. He claimed it was his responsibility as a knight of the Order of Light, but the truth was that when Raquel and Arc trained together, Leo couldn’t keep his eyes off Raquel, so he would make excuses to leave them alone.
Just then, the knight saw three strangers walking towards him. Not only were they wearing strange clothes, they also gave off a weird aura.
One of them, a boy wearing an unfamiliar hat, got closer to the knight and spoke. “Excuse me, sir. Is this Raquel Rubellite’s home?”
Leo narrowed his eyes and put his hand on the hilt of the sword he carried on his hip. “My name is Leo Luxford, knight of the Order of Light. Who are you, and what business do you have with the Heroine?”
The girl of the group smiled and spoke “Sorry for bothering you, Sir Luxford. My name is Mayu Hiiragi.
“Oh, sorry. Where are my manners?,” The boy next to her removed his hat and introduced himself, “My name is Kaito Nishiyama.”
Without changing his bored expression, the boy in the back only said, “Reiji Hiiragi.”
The girl named Mayu continued talking. “You see, the reason we are looking for the Heroine is… we come from a parallel world.”
Arc and Raquel were sitting on the ground with their eyes closed. They took deep breaths for a while, then Arc opened her eyes and spoke. “Raquel, what do you think of Leo?”
“I think he is a great teacher.”
“You know that’s not what I meant. Have you ever seen him in a romantic way?”
“Huh? Why are you asking? Could it be…”
Before Raquel could finish, Arc spoke “No, I’m not interested in him. He is interested in you.”
Raquel blinked three times, tilted her head a bit and stared at Arc with a bewildered look.
“Have you noticed how Leo rarely stays to see our training?
“Hmm, now that you mention it…”
“He makes excuses to leave because if he were to stay and watch, I would notice how he ogles you. That’s probably why you landed a hit on him earlier, the dude is infatuated with you. How will you answer to his feelings?”
Just as Raquel opened her mouth, Arc sensed someone coming and turned her head. The man they were talking about was heading their way, along with three stranger.
“We can talk about this later. Looks like more travelers came to see you, Miss Heroine.”