Ch 2: Feigning Ignorance
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Fujimoto, why must you disgrace me so?

The process was formulaic and simple. I did my part of the exchange, and you didn’t stick to the script! It was so painfully clear that you didn’t give a care about any of the previous people, yet you stick to me? It had to be my name. I was stupid enough to believe that “Ren” wouldn’t be questioned by anyone. Of course, Fujimoto remembered my first name, he had the entire class at his fingertips. He probably knew too much about everyone. I really should have just come up with an alias. Cursing myself, I answered the best I could.

“Y-yes milord, my name is Ren.”

I hated that I needed to address him that way.

“Is that so?”

“Y-yes, it is. D-did you n-need something?”

Did he really need a double confirmation?

“No, move forward, I hope we work well together.”

“Yes s-sir.”

I immediately retreated to my corner of the room. That interaction left me on edge. I couldn’t be sure if Fujimoto could see through me, but it felt like his gaze pierced the very core of my soul. I didn’t know he could be like that, when did he change? It made me wonder how long it must have been since I was my old self in this world.

Not bothering to pay attention to the other introductions, I creeped over to a guard and asked him when the first heroes prevailed against the Demon King. He gave me a glare like he didn’t want to be bothered but answered anyway.

“It was about half a year ago, miss.”

I hadn’t really processed it before but being called “miss” was unnerving. Agnes had called me it too, and that dusty beanpole of a pope had referred to me as a “young lady”. I was still me, I still felt like I was a man, and so that disparity irked me. I was simply stuck in an inconvenient place for a bit. It would all be fixed within time if things went right.

Regarding the guard’s answer, it seemed like I was shifted by about 2 to 3 months. I left around 4 months after the subjugation of the Demon King, as I assisted with cleanup and recovery from the battle that had took place. It was all I could do. Most of the Heroes were out celebrating, and going by today, climbing their way up the royal ladder. I couldn’t believe I was in that void for that long. What the heck happened in there? I remember excruciating pain, but it lasted a few seconds, and then bam, I was here again. So much changed within that time…

It was also such a time frame that probably contributed to my interaction with Fujimoto. I wonder what would have happened if I arrived here, say 10 years later. Would he still have recognized my name?

Before I knew it, introductions were over. The First Heroes had already left, and the Second Batch was left in the room to socialize. I guess I needed to introduce myself to my supposed comrades. I saw the people in the room gravitate towards one another, beginning to form groups and start to socialize. I hesitated, but eventually found myself approaching the businessman who was always checking his watch.

“E-excuse me?”

“Hmm?”

“Ah, I was wondering if we should i-introduce ourselves…”

My voice trailed off into mumbles as I looked at him.

Still donning his suit, it was all black, and he sported the same color tie. He had a white button-up shirt underneath his blazer, and said blazer had a pin with a logo on it. His belt and shoes were shiny and black, with no blemishes. This outfit only suited his natural features. He was tall and slender with combed black hair and a shaven face. His eyes were a piercing green, magnified by his black rectangular glasses. He looked at his watch, which, surprise-surprise, was also black, as I approached. His aura was rigid and strict.

If I were to compare it to others mentioned, Daigo was like a little dog trying to be aggressive, Fujimoto a proud wolf, but him a panther. Looking at him made me wonder how his introduction went, as well as Daigo’s.

“That is reasonable.”

“T-then, you can just call me Ren.”

“Miss Ren, I am Kaneki, you can refer to me as so.”

“Nice to m-meet you, Kaneki.”

Kaneki checked his watched once more and muttered something about a schedule. I feel bad for him, he must have been in the middle of a workday. My impression of him was that he was blunt, but diligent. Regardless of my view on him, that introduction actually went well! I didn’t have any problems with it, and it was short and sweet. The joy of success pushed me to go and introduce myself to everyone else, and so I did.

The cast this time was certainly colorful, and I kept on talking to people, from a boxer, to a gyaru, to a middle school girl who had a bit too much to say about how I conducted myself…

Being called shabby and unbefitting of a woman when I didn’t even consider myself one was annoying. Sorry if I felt uncomfortable in a body that wasn’t mine, but what was I supposed to do? I couldn’t stop myself from shrinking in embarrassment sometimes or murmuring due to my new voice. Did it even matter what I looked like? We were here to fight, not for fashion! I was (hopefully) presentable and was trying to be courteous, and I got shot down. This is why I like my solitude, where there’s no need for any of this hassle.

I didn’t even bother to try to remember her name.

That interaction was almost entirely demotivating, but I had already resolved myself to talk to everyone, and so I continued.

The elderly lady ended up calming the three toddlers down and I went to go talk to them. She went by Burnet, and she was apparently an experienced nanny. The kids themselves started to play around the room once they calmed down. She really worked her magic, didn’t she?

As I continued talking, I found myself stuttering less as I got used to my new voice. I could more easily control it the way I wanted to, and so I gradually started to return to my own demeanor. However, all those interactions left me drained, it was too much. Especially since I kept being referred to by my body. Ah, it really is annoying. I wish I could tell everyone, “Oh, I’m actually not in my own body”, but no one would believe me. I sighed. I didn’t know how I was going to make it past the dinner tonight.

Though, going around, I wonder how the heck this set of people were going to be any sort of competent at all. Unlike last time, not all were not in the prime of their youth, and as such, couldn’t fight on the battlefield. The Second Batch had kids, a pregnant woman, older people, and one with a damaged foot. The Church expected these people to go all out on the battlefield? That doesn’t even factor in last time, when we were all part of one class. We had some sort of initial knowledge of how our comrades were, and so could team up together in ways that we saw fit. Sure, I didn’t participate in that aspect, but that’s beside the point.

And, if this Elf threat was worse than last time, supposedly causing the summoning of more Heroes, then less Heroes summoned was not the way to go. The First Heroes had greater numbers and were still more than competent. There is absolutely no way that someone was going to tell me that Fujimoto couldn’t still slay a dragon, or Hisoka, our class president, couldn’t drop a flame the size of the sun with her magic. The people I had to introduce myself to were so amazingly powerful that any resistance could be easily swayed. What was going on behind the scenes? I needed to figure out the gravity of the situation.

Finally, I sat back down in my corner. Just as I thought I would receive some respite from all this, Daigo walked up to me.

“Heya Ren.”

“…Hello.”

“I just wanna apologize for earlier. Didn’t wanna pressure ya like that.”

“It’s fine, it wasn’t your fault. I simply had to collect myself and get used to the situation.”

“You good? Ya seem a bit woozy.”

No, I was not good. I was on the verge of dying from mental exhaustion, and it was only halfway through the day, but I answered otherwise.

“Yeah, I’m just waiting until something else happens.”

We ended up talking about this situation we were in. I had to feign ignorance and avoid talking too much about myself. Daigo seemed excited about the whole venture, while the general gist I got from the others was confusion and anger. Maybe he can be the next Fujimoto, rallying the others to fight, at least the ones who can. I just hope Daigo wouldn’t let this all get to him; I don’t need to see another person fall.

--

We were stuck in the room until a person in a cloak entered. The cloak was all white, and there was no way to see their face or any of their features. Recognizing such an outfit I realized it was time to get our class. The guards had us line up again, as the cloaked figure looked at us one by one and said our class in the most neutral voice I’ve ever heard.

“Ranger.”

“Spellsword.”

“Warrior.”

And then they landed on me. For once they hesitated. The presence looked at me intently. Great, what is it now? Please, just say my class and let me go from this deadlock.

“Rogue, with a subclass of mage.”

Oh, so I got a Rogue again. That actually worked in my favor, as I knew lots of skills and could relearn them easily. I would just need to train this body to adapt to such a class. …Wait, did they say I had a subclass? Specifically, mage? What in the world was that about? Before I could properly question what exactly that meant, the figure went on to the next person, leaving me to think about it to myself.

None of the First Heroes had a subclass, and no one I met on my journey last time had a subclass either. This probably meant that the existence of a person with a subclass was pretty rare. Which would attract attention to the prospect of such a thing. Which would attract attention to me. I would need to keep this quiet. How did I even get a subclass anyway? I did spend a great deal of my free time reading books in the Tower Library, maybe that was it? Perhaps it was Xenomyr’s magic affecting me multiple times. Or was it a result of my consciousness, that being a rogue, being placed into a body that was suitable for a class such as the mage? Honestly, there was numerous possibilities.

One thing I did notice is that this entire process was held with much less fanfare. Last time, we were all brought to a bigger hall, with our classes announced in front of an audience of nobles. I’m not going to lie; I preferred this seclusion way more. My only theory on it was that since we were supposedly up against Elves, the Church wished to keep us a military secret. The demons we fought were mostly unintelligent, gnarly creatures that screeched at the presence of an opponent. There were apparently some humanoid ones with distinctive personalities and language, such as the Nine Generals and the King himself, but that wasn’t enough for concealment it seems. I can’t really verify those claims, as I never saw any of them myself.

In any case, we were dismissed, and I quickly found Agnes outside the hall waiting for me. She informed me that I had free time until dinner. I asked her for help in reaching my room, and quickly memorized my place in the castle. The room I had was a simple one. A twin-size bed against the wall, a washroom at the opposite wall, and a window to look out from. It seems I am stationed at the 4th floor of the castle. I looked out it to see the sun traveling towards the west, signifying the later part of the afternoon. I looked out for a bit, trying oh so very much to ignore the feeling that I had been experiencing for a little while now.

Unfortunately, this body needed to head to the restroom, and I was quite hesitant in granting its wish. If I went into that restroom, I would be losing a part of my past self. Sure, I would get it back when I returned home, but I really didn’t want to experience such a thing. I took deep breaths and decided I just had to go and get it over with, and so I did. I freed myself from that room with shaking hands. I hope this wouldn’t become a common thing.

Still unstable, I peeked out of my bedroom to see Agnes standing diligently by the door. Curious, I decided to test her.

“Agnes, you don’t need to stand there.”

“Miss, I am obligated to stand by you for when you need my assistance.”

“…Not to be rude, I’m simply curious, but would you do so if I ordered you away?”

“I would remain here, Miss.”

“Please, call me Ren. I’m uncomfortable with the ‘Miss.’”

“If you desire it, I shall call you Miss Ren.”

“Aaah, no ‘Miss’, please. If you need to grant me a title just call me Hero.”

“As you wish, Miss Hero.”

Sometimes dutifulness like that could be tough to work with. Sensing I couldn’t change her way of addressing me, I dropped the subject. In that sense, she once again reminded me of Sebastion. Since I was already talking to her, I asked for something that had been swirling in my mind, though a bit reluctant due to the nature of the subject.

“So… uh, Agnes, this may come as a weird request…”

“Go on, Miss Ren.”

“If you don’t mind… I would like a binder for my chest…”

“A binder?”

“Yes… if I’m going to be battling, then I’ll need it…”

My face was probably redder than a tomato.

“I shall secure one for you by tomorrow morning.”

“Thank you.”

I retreated back into my room to let myself recover a bit from that. After I calmed down, I figured I could spend some time productively, and so I exited my room and told Agnes that I would spend my time looking around. I acted oblivious until I was out of her sight, and then shifted my focus onto my goal. Obviously, I was not going to look around, I had a mission that I needed to work on. I needed to get to Xenomyr, and I needed to fix this mess.

The first thing I planned to do was to get my body into optimal condition. I would physically train it until it was suitable to be combat ready. However, today would not be that day. All the commotion left me with no motivation to start running around this city of a castle, and so instead, I turned to magic.

Magic is something that is an entirely new experience to me in this world. I was a rogue previously, and well, I guess again now. I wielded a shortsword with a supplementary pair of daggers that I would dual-wield. It wasn’t the most spectacular thing out there, but it worked. To enhance my moveset, I would acquire skills that helped me sneak around and end foes in one strike. I also learned some basic smithing and lockpicking techniques. Again, I wasn’t anything too extraordinary, but it worked. However, I now had the chance to add magic to my battle style. Learning magic would allow for an easier time in reaching my current goal, and if I could use it correctly, I might be able to stop the spread of news about my subclass.

After walking for a decent while I arrived at my destination. The Southwest Tower, also known as the Library Tower. It was in a part of Castle Grawden that was closest to the curve of the mountains that it was perched on. Thus, most views outside the windows were of rocky, bushy nature. The Tower had 7 floors to its name, an entrance at each one. Despite being called the Library Tower, it was not the only one in the castle. Castle Grawden sported a grand Royal Library on the second and third floors near the entrance. I had once gone to that library, but it was much too crowded for my liking. It didn’t help that some meetings were held in parts of it as well.

The Tower Library was much less crowded. Maybe one or two people would be present on each floor. It being a tower, it was circular in nature, and the books were placed upon closed shelves. The stairs curved up in a spiral, tracing the circumference of the walls. Walking in, one would catch the lingering scent of must, along with ink and paper. The Library itself was decorated with faded crimson rugs that were etched with gold fabric, and most of the assets were made out of wood. The lighting was dark, with only candles, instead of magical lightbulbs, being used to light the place up. The first floor was more open to allow for a small group to gather. There were tables at the sides to read or write, and towards one side there was a place to check out books. There was always staff behind those desks, even in the depths of the night. Floors 2 through 6 were very much similar to one another. They consisted of bookshelves surrounding the floor in three sets of circles. One lining the walls, and then two gradually smaller circles inwards to create aisles. In the middle of each floor was a set of tables, and there was always one by the window to take a peek at the mountainside.

The seventh floor was absolutely beautiful at night. It was a glass dome that was reinforced with magic, and it had a magic-telescope to take a peek at the stars when the night was clear. I’ve only ever seen one other person in there, and I’m sure they appreciate that room much more than I ever could, but I still find it enjoyable.

Not only was the Tower Library more suitable to my tastes, the content in its books were much better than what the Royal Library had. The Royal Library held books on the history of Entrendei and Castle Grawden, and the books glorified the actions of this country too much. In here were scholarly and unbiased takes on such things, as well as access to the type of book a came here for. Tomes. Tomes could be used to learn types of magic and were essentially like a how-to book. In rare cases, one would use the book itself to enhance their magic, but the Library didn’t hold some.

The first thing I needed to do was to find a tome on mana regulation. Magic required one to shift the mana inside their body, and I needed to figure out how to do that. Finding a tome by the name of “The Essentials to Mana Regulation and Direction” I sat down and started to read.

As I was reading, I practiced the concepts inside the tome. I had to feel and become aware of every part in my body, which admittedly was hard, since I’ve only been in this body for a few hours. I eventually felt some sort of force traveling through me, and I decided to will it to flow to my feet. Gathering it there, I started to walk around, and noticed that I could do it much faster. Interesting. I would need to test this. I may have just performed some sort of body enhancing technique.

I sat back down and practiced directing it everywhere. My head, my hands, my arms, my legs. It was a weird feeling, but I did get used to it eventually. Though, the flow of the mana itself felt off. Perhaps that was just me as an inexperienced magic user.

Next, I would try to use elemental magic. This involved the current that was my mana, yes, but the tome I was reading also stated to think about what exactly you wanted to cast. It seemed there were affinities for types of elements, but that would only strengthen said element, and everyone could use every element. That was a relief to me, for I did not know my affinity, and didn’t want to make a fool of myself due to a miscast.

I decided to try a fire spell and so directed my mana to the tip of my right index finger. Holding it up like I was some know-it-all I willed a flame small enough to light a candle. To my surprise, it appeared, and I almost burned the tome out of joy. I decided to light a candle with it. Curious to see just how stable my mana was, I kept the flame burning atop my finger, though it flickered out after a few seconds. I was not surprised. My mana was nowhere near developed enough to perform complicated or extended tasks, but I was satisfied. In just a few hours, I managed to control my mana flow and perform a basic spell. I feel if I had gone to the training grounds with other people, it would have taken longer. I like to read and learn, not watch. By interpreting the fundamental concepts of something, I can go at my own pace in order to get the results I desire.

Glancing through the 6th floor window, I see the orange glow of the sunset. Oh no. The dinner must be soon, and Agnes would come looking for me. I needed to get over the other side of this castle quickly. I returned the tomes I was reading and tried to rush out, but I had bumped into a person right outside the Library, nearly knocking them on the floor. I stopped myself. I hated when his happened. I had no idea how to act when unintentionally confronting someone. I panicked.

“Ah! I’m sorry, I’m sorry!”

“No worri-“

“Sorry sorry sorry! I’m Ren, find me and I’ll pay you back, but I have a place to be!”

And I ran away, putting mana into my steps to speed up. Hopefully they’ll seek me out later. I would usually do this when such a thing happened. By being in a calm state, I can rationalize my thinking and figure out what I need to say before I say it. If people were to have a genuine conversation with me, my responses would take a bit. I need to think on what I’m going to say before I say it and gather my thoughts. If I can’t, then the conversation starts to crumble.

With ragged breath, I reached my room. Agnes looked at me with concern.

“Miss Ren, are you alright? I was wondering where you were.”

“Y-yes, *huff* I just didn’t want to be late to the dinner. I got lost.”

I lied to protect the fact that I knew where I was going. As for my huffing, this body really needed to be trained. Running that distance would’ve been easy, and the mana that sped me up depleted in under half a minute. And… there was the fact that my body’s breasts were not contained. I must have looked so stupid. I felt bad for the women who had to deal with such a thing their entire lives. Though, I guess I could now relate. What’s the use of these lumps besides milk anyway? Just get it from a cow!

My face was red from both the exertion and the embarrassment. Agnes looked at me with a glare that somehow displayed concern, yet also questioned me at the same time.

“I see. Please, allow me to help fix you up.”

“T-that would be nice, thank you”.

Agnes followed me into the room to prepare for dinner.

Hello! I'd just like to thank you all for showing any ounce of interest in my writing. It's my first real venture in sharing anything, and so I decided to work with a simple Isekai story to get a feel for my own writing style, and to fix up any faults I may have as a writer. I realize this story is a bit slow, but I plan to speed it up in the coming chapters. If you have any critiques or suggestions, please feel free to let me know, it is greatly appreciated. Just seeing a view motivates me to go forward.

Speaking of moving forward, I was considering alternate viewpoints as a bonus chapter. They would be from:

Daigo, Fujimoto, Agnes, and one other character.

The chapter itself wouldn't be that long, and would be cut into snippets, but I'm curious if you all would enjoy that. And if you are interested, would you like it to be after Ch. 3, or at the end of the arc? I realize that switching views so early, even if it is just a bonus, can affect people's enjoyment for the story. I'll leave a poll, so vote if you feel the need to.

I'll stop rambling now.

Thanks!

Would you rather have the bonus after Ch. 3, or at the end of the arc?
  • After Ch. 3 Votes: 68 35.2%
  • At the end of the arc Votes: 125 64.8%
Total voters: 193
71