Chapter 1 – A New Emissary
The doorway of the Kenzaki house was dyed in the deep color of sunset. A girl was bowing deeply to everyone present, while holding a slightly threadbare bag.
“Thank you so much for all that you’ve done for me.”
The tears in her eyes caught the light of the setting sun and gave off a radiance that looked like real gold. The girl who possessed such a level of beauty held a well-used bag in her hands, bit her lip, and once again faced all the members of the Kenzaki family who had gathered near the front door of their house.
“I’ve caused you nothing but trouble, and yet you’ve done so much for me that I can never hope to pay you back…”
“I’ve hardly done anything for you, Diana-chan.”
Diana’s hair was shining with a golden color. The person who called out to her was the central pillar of the Kenzaki family, Kenzaki Hideo.
“Please don’t say that. This was all caused by my lack of judgement.”
Diana closed her eyes with long eyelashes and shook her head in response to what Hideo said.
“No, it wasn’t your fault…!”
The eldest son of the Kenzaki family, Yasuo, couldn’t hold himself back and blurted that out.
However, his mother, Madoka, spoke up to restrain him.
“Don’t say things like that which will weaken Diana-chan’s resolve.”
Yasuo still looked unwilling to give up, and the person who stepped in to firmly scold him was his sister, Nodoka.
“If you detain Diana-san here any longer, she’s the one who will get hurt. Can’t you understand that? Diana-san has already made her decision.”
Yasuo’s feelings of shame were condensed into the sound that leaked from his mouth as he ground his teeth.
After giving Yasuo a look filled with sadness, Diana spoke decisively.
“It’s time for me to leave.”
Hideo accepted her words, then Diana raised her head slightly and spoke with lips the color of cherry blossoms.
“Yasuo, I believe that you are a splendid man who will not lose, no matter what kind of trouble comes your way. Please, harden your heart and face your trials.”
Yasuo’s voice lacked energy as he replied to Diana’s encouragement.
“Diana… I’m sorry, I…”
Yasuo was unable to lift his head.
However, Diana smiled and turned away, as if she had seen the anguish and determination that lay in the depths of Yasuo’s expression.
“Well then, I will take my leave.”
Diana didn’t look back as she passed through the door that had been resurrected using the money from fire insurance. She took a step into the streets of Japan, which to her, was an alternate world.
Although it looked like she was reluctant to leave, her posture also showed her iron determination to part ways with the Kenzaki family. It was a complicated feeling.
Dianaze Krone, Magitech Knight of Ante Lande and ex-occupant of the house belonging to The Hero of Salvation, Hideo Kenzaki, walked over to the Marigold Hills Tokorozawa Apartment Building that was located diagonally to the right on the opposite side of the street, opened the door of Room Number 101, and disappeared inside.
After Diana had left, Nodoka’s voice attacked Yasuo’s eardrums like spiked cudgels.
“Really, Onii-chan. What the hell are you doing?”
“I have no excuse…”
“Now, Nodoka. We’ve already talked about this a lot so why don’t you go easy on him.”
His father tried to block the spiked cudgels out of pity, but,
“Dad, you’re the one who should actually be scolding him proactively. You’re the parent, after all.”
“Well, about that…”
He retreated surprisingly quickly.
“Calm down, Nodoka. This was going to happen eventually in any case. We just had to do it a little sooner, that’s all. But it’s true, there’s no excuse for the mess Yasuo has created.”
His mother’s words struck Yasuo like an assassin’s dagger, and he let out a moan.
“I know, right? It should have been Onii-chan leaving the house, not Diana-san.”
“No, that would be pretty strange as well. And if that had happened, Diana-chan would have felt even worse.”
Even though his sister’s verbal abuse had crossed the line a long time ago, Yasuo was unable to retaliate at all.
And then, Nodoka said those decisive words.
“Not being able to concentrate on your studies because of the Hero training and living with Diana-san and failing three subjects in your midterm exams, seriously, what the hell!? This is beyond the level of not having enough resolve as both a Hero and a student facing exams.”
Yasuo felt like someone was relentlessly pounding on his glass heart with a hammer, and he crumpled to the floor near the doorway.
Kenzaki Yasuo, who lived a 『very ordinary life』 with his 『typical Japanese family』, had just begun the spring of his third year as a high school student, when his life and the lives of his family members underwent a dramatic change due to the appearance of a visitor from another world.
A girl suddenly appeared in the middle of his peaceful family, and declared that she was Dianaze Krone, a Magitech Knight from a different world known as Ante Lande.
She revealed that Yasuo’s father, Hideo, and his mother, Madoka, were respectively the Hero and Great Magician who had saved Ante Lande during its crisis in the past, and explained that she had come to request their help once more in saving their world from a danger that had befallen it.
However, the children of that Hero and Great Magician, Yasuo and Nodoka, had not been told anything of their parents’ past until Dianaze Krone had appeared.
Their father was a salaryman, and their mother was a housewife.
The siblings thought that it was enough for their parents to just retain those identities.
There was no way they would not be confused after hearing 『We used to fight with swords and magic in the past』 from their parents who were about to enter their 50s.
When his father said that he would quit his job in response to the summons for aid, Yasuo used the fact that he and his sister were at an important stage in life as an excuse, and tried to reject the existence of the 『different world, Ante Lande』 itself.
However, Yasuo was forced to reconsider his feelings after seeing the existence of Diana, who was a messenger from that world, the legendary sword that resided within his father’s body, the magic used by his mother, and more than anything else, the appearance of dark monsters from the other world, which took the appearance of people who had already died.
His sister, Nodoka, began to accept their parents’ strange past sooner than him, and even after understanding everything, she was still reluctant to send her father to his death, and so she gently rejected Diana and the other world as well.
Diana herself had reservations about the fact that her homeworld needed to cling to a hero who had saved them thirty years ago, and so she assumed that the negotiations would end in failure. However, they were attacked by a Shii that bore the appearance of Diana’s dead father, Alexei Krone, and a mysterious man named 『William Bareig』, who had the ability to control the Shii.
William appeared to be targeting Yasuo and Nodoka, and so Diana attempted to fight against him. However, neither her sorcery nor her Techno Weapons had any effect on him, and she was about to suffer a complete defeat.
Luckily, Hideo arrived in the nick of time and drove William away, but neither the Kenzaki family nor Ante Lande could deny the new threat posed by the Shii any longer.
And so, Yasuo, who had realized his desire to 『protect the people important to me』 after the battles with Alexei=Shii and William, declared his intent to become the new Hero to replace his father who had become old.
Three days before Diana left the Kanzaki family house.
Yasuo was unable to rise from his seat in his classroom after receiving a ruthless verdict of three red cards.
In the first midterm exams of his third year, Yasuo received scores of 33 in English Reading, 34 in Classical Literature, and 34 in Social Studies. He received a failing score in English, Classical Literature, and Social Studies, which were the three main pillars of the humanities course to which he belonged.
Moreover, they were not just regular failing scores, all three were just on the border of failing, which made it all the more difficult to bear. The students of Takeoka High School were given grades out of ten, and anything less than or equal to three would be recorded as a failing grade.
Based on this system, a score of 34 would get grade 3, and 35 would get grade 4.
So basically, if Yasuo had answered even one more question correctly on these three exams, he could have avoided the worst case scenario.
If his rating for the whole year was less than 『4』, it would be considered a failing grade and he would have to repeat the year.
Of course, this was just the result of his first semester, and he had more than enough time to recover over the course of the year. However, failing three subjects was no small matter for a third year high school student who was aiming to go to college.
This unexpected situation even prompted a summons from his homeroom teacher, and Yasuo headed towards the staff room after school, feeling like a condemned criminal who was heading towards the gallows.
“Ah, Yasu. Are you okay?”
Upon returning to his classroom 30 minutes later with a haggard expression, Yasuo’s classmate, Aioi Aoto, greeted him with a serious expression on his face.
“Well, you did get three failing grades at this point in time, so…”
Both the homeroom teacher and the teacher who was in charge of the curriculum could not ignore the fact that Yasuo, a third year student at a high-level private school, failed English, Classical Literature, and Social Studies, which were the main subjects that would determine his results in the final exams.
Thankfully, they didn’t summon him to reprimand him, but instead to decide on how to deal with his grades. However, that didn’t change how pathetic he felt about himself.
“Did they give you some kind of assignment?”
“I have to write a report for Social Studies. For English and Classical Literature, I need to take a make-up test sometime next week.”
To deal with his failing grades, Yasuo had to take make-up tests for English and Classical Literature, and write a report for Social Studies.
He was actually supposed to take a make-up test for Social Studies as well. However, Social Studies was relatively less important as an examination topic compared to the other subjects, and when the teacher in charge of the curriculum heard that he had to take make-up tests for English and Classical Literature as well, he said, 『Adding another test will be too much of a burden, so just think of it as practice for essay-writing and do your best』, and changed it to a report submission instead.
The theme of the report was, “Should the age of majority be reduced in accordance with the reduction in voting age? ”
“…Taking a make-up test sounds easier.”
“You think so too?”
He wasn’t pressed for time, but writing a properly organized essay is no easy task. Moreover, he also had to do something about the English and Classical Literature make-up tests as well.
Aoto shot a concerned look at Yasuo, who had collapsed in his seat while hanging his head.
“So make-up tests for routine exams are actually a thing?”
“This is a first for me as well, so it feels weird on top of making me nervous.”
It wasn’t strange for Aoto to say that.
If Yasuo kept on the other side of the 35-mark failing line for the remaining routine exams and managed to get a rating of 5 even once, that would be more than enough to cover for this one failure and he would be able to graduate.
Even if a student only studied hard on the night before for the remaining exams, it was definitely possible to achieve that. For that reason, students would not usually get called to the staff room and be forced to take make-up tests for just failing a routine exam. At the most, they would just feel bad when getting the results of the exam back and during the parent-teacher conference.
However, things were different this time.
Although Yasuo was never one of the top students in the school, he had never scored below average until now.
Neither his homeroom teacher nor the teacher in charge of the curriculum scolded him for not studying. Instead, they were worried if there was some major problem at home or at school which was the root cause.
To be fair, the teachers were not wrong.
Except that his problems lay in a different direction to what they were thinking of.
“Well, I understand why they’re anxious. Yasu, you’ve lost a lot of weight in the last half-month.”
Yasuo was surprised at this unexpected comment from Aoto.
“Maybe you haven’t realized it yourself, but you have a terrible complexion as well.”
“It’s that bad?”
Yasuo hurriedly put his hands on his face, but of course he would not be able to tell how he looked by doing that.
“There were many days when you had dark circles underneath your eyes, and even during the exams, I thought you looked like you were going to faint on the first day.”
At this point, his classmates Igarashi and Hino also came over and started talking, perhaps because they had overheard the previous conversation.
“I understand what Aoto means. Kenzaki, you weren’t the kind of guy who’d sleep during class before.”
Igarashi said that while grinning.
“Yeah. I was wondering if you were ill or something. You were losing weight and your complexion was terrible, but you were still still scarfing down your lunch.”
Hino made a face and nodded along with Igarashi.
“It was pretty obvious that something was different. Although I don’t know if the teachers were watching you that closely.”
“S-Sorry, I seem to have made you guys worry about me. I didn’t mean for that to happen at all.”
It was quite rare for boys in high school to notice so much about the health of one of their peers. It just showed how much he had changed in recent times.
“Besides, you’ve started acting strangely recently. You asked me about my Dad’s work and stuff. That’s around when you started acting strangely, so I wondered if you had some issues like your father losing his job, or your parents getting divorced…. Ah… it’s nothing like that, right?”
Aoto meant to say that as a joke, but maybe he felt that it was not impossible halfway through, so he ended his sentence with a question while looking like he had brought up a touchy subject.
“N-No, it’s nothing like that. I was just, you know, a little depressed before exams started. I had the opportunity to hear about my Dad’s past from someone else, and I began to seriously feel anxious about my own path in life, that’s all.”
Aoto looked relieved at having avoided touching upon a delicate topic, and Yasuo felt relieved as well.
“I-I see. Still, if you have something on your mind, you can talk to me, you know? I don’t know if I’ll be able to help, though. I’ve heard that just speaking your worries out loud to someone else can make you feel a lot better.”
Aoto’s selfless display of friendship was far too dazzling.
No, it wasn’t just Aoto. Igarashi and Hino were the same, as were the teachers who noticed the change in him and were worried about him.
Yasuo realized that he was blessed with wonderful people around him and felt his eyes get hotter, but that was precisely the reason why he couldn’t tell any of them about his issues.
He was so enthusiastic about Hero training that he wasn’t able to concentrate on his studies.
Who on earth would accept that statement at face value?
The friendship and dedication he saw around him now might turn into twisted, forced smiles. Yasuo was well aware of that, so he had no choice but to insist that he had just become careless.
However, he was not able to hide the truth from the instructor of the Hero training herself.
The Hero training that Yasuo was undertaking under Diana’s guidance was actually an emulation of the Magitech Knight training that Diana had undergone herself.
Theoretical classes, physical training, and sorcery training were the three main pillars of the course, and right now they were in the middle of a lesson on the most basic level of sorcery training, 『Foundations of Sorcery』.
That magical energy that had been passing between his hands snapped back violently, causing his hands to turn red and throb as though they were frostbitten.
Foundations of Sorcery was a basic course that increased the amount of magical energy that a person could call upon. This was achieved by emitting the magical energy in the body from the hands and continuously passing it between both hands. It was similar to jogging.
In the ten minutes since the lesson started, Yasuo had allowed the magic to slip through his fingers three times, causing it to break apart.
This was like falling down thrice after just jogging for ten minutes.
“Yasuo, is there something you’re worried about?”
Dianaze Krone, the visitor from another world and a person similar to Yasuo in the sense that she too had parents who were counted as heroes in her country, quickly realized that Yasuo’s movements during training were even more lackluster than usual.
Even though Yasuo was a beginner at using sorcery, he hadn’t been this bad even on the day when he had first managed to release magical energy from his hands. Seeing this, Diana immediately interrupted Yasuo’s practice.
“Eh!? No! It’s nothing!”
Yasuo replied immediately while nursing his aching hands, but…
From Diana’s glowering expression and pursed lips, it was easy to understand that rather than blaming him, she was feeling sad as if she was thinking “Why are you telling such a transparent lie?”
After being glared at, Yasuo yielded to the beautiful Magitech Knight’s sullen expression and confessed the truth.
After seeing Diana’s gorgeous and delicate features, anyone who didn’t know her would assume that she was a sheltered, high-class young lady who would wear dresses and drink tea.
In fact, the high-class young lady part was undeniably true, but that was only because of the family she was born into. Both of her parents were full-time soldiers, and Diana herself was also a soldier.
What’s more, with Diana’s physical abilities and the mental strength that she had acquired during her training as a Magitech Knight in the other world, she would not lose even if she was up against a thousand opponents who were at Yasuo’s current level.
In her eyes, Yasuo’s hastily made-up lie probably appeared to to be more shallow than the lies told by a child.
“I received a failing grade on my midterm tests, so I have to take make-up tests.”
Yasuo gave up on trying to hide it and confessed the shameful truth.
“Tests? Failing grade…. Make-up tests!?”
As she processed the unfamiliar Japanese words in her head, Diana’s complexion went from bad to worse.
If anything, she looked even more worried than Yasuo himself, and leaned forward while sitting on her knees, putting her face close to Yasuo’s own; he had been sitting cross-legged while attempting to meditate.
“Could that perhaps be something really, really bad!?”
Yasuo felt that the current distance between their faces was actually quite bad instead, but he managed to reply,
“Well, it’s just midterms, so I can resolve it with make-up tests and homework…”
He was trying to make light of the situation.
True, he had been quite shocked when he first found out about the failing grades, but he later started to feel that there was no point agonizing about it now, and it would be fine so long as he completed the homework and make-up tests properly.
However, Diana said that while almost screaming.
“Yasuo, you volunteered to become the new hero, but before that you’re still a student of Takeoka! That should be your highest priority right now!”
“Eeh!? Now, I mean—”
“I know that you’ve been staying awake late at night everyday to work on your sorcery training so that you can improve as fast as possible, Yasuo.”
“No, I wasn’t really…”
Yasuo had indeed been practicing the Foundations of Sorcery training in his room after the rest of his family had gone to bed. Part of the reason was that he wanted to become strong and improve quickly to become someone who was worthy of receiving training from Diana, but the main reason was that he simply found it to be very enjoyable.
It was magic, after all. Real magic. According to Diana, what he was currently learning was called “Sorcery,” but to be honest he really didn’t understand the difference between the two, and such trivial things really didn’t matter at this point.
In the current day, there were probably no boys of his age who had never imitated the techniques of characters from manga, anime, or games at least once in their lives. Everyone probably went through the age where they swung their wet umbrellas on their way back from school on rainy days, and pretended that the flying droplets of water were energy blasts from some deadly technique.
Of course, as they got older, the boys would be forced to accept that humans cannot fly through the air or fire explosive blasts from their hands. However the fact that there were things like 『Magic Shows』 and talk of『Supernatural Abilities』 showed that people never really got over their yearning for the 『Paranormal』 even after becoming adults.
And then, Yasuo managed to find 『Real Magic』.
The series of events that led to him finding that magic were serious and very grave, but in spite of that, there was no way that he wouldn’t be elated at the prospect of causing paranormal phenomena with his own powers.
And so it was that he ended up putting more effort into his Sorcery training that was not going well, and although he had not entirely neglected his test preparation, it could not be said that he had correctly prepared for them either.
As Yasuo was not in good shape, the Sorcery training drained his physical and mental strength to a great degree, and ended up reducing the amount of time he could put aside to prepare for his tests.
In short, Yasuo was entirely at fault because he had focused more on having fun, but apparently Diana didn’t feel the same way.
“I’m so sorry! I was taking advantage of your strong spirit! The Hero Training should have been something you undertook in addition to correctly living your daily life, but I ended up forcing you into a state where you compromised your own position for the sake of Ante Lande…”
“Eh!? Ehh!? Ehhh!?”
“I’ve made my decision. I’ve been thinking for some time now that I cannot keep living like this while taking advantage of the Kenzaki family’s generosity. This is a good opportunity, so let me speak to Hideo about what we should do from now on once he comes back from work tonight! In any case, we’re done with training for today! Please work hard at your studies to recover from your current situation! Go on. Right now!!”
And so, Diana convened a meeting of the Hero’s family that evening, and Yasuo felt like he was made to sit on a bed of nails.
Diana told everyone that Yasuo was unable to concentrate on the tests that should have originally been his main priority because of herself and Ante Lande.
However, unlike Diana, who saw every action of Yasuo’s in a positive light, his family immediately understood what had caused the issue and looked at him with cold gazes.
“So basically, you were on cloud nine about becoming capable of using magic, put all your energy into that, and ended up not studying for your tests, is that it?”
There is probably no younger sister on the planet who would hold back at a time like this.
“It’s not Diana-san’s fault at all, is it?”
Yasuo was perfectly aware of that. And his family should have been aware of the fact that Yasuo was aware of it.
“Yes, it’s all my fault.”
So the only thing he could do was meekly admit to the fact, but,
“No, it’s my fault for forcing him to do something of such a high level. If not for that, I don’t think Yasuo would have faced so much difficulty with his tests.”
“Stop spoiling him, Diana-san! Don’t take all that responsibility on yourself. Onii-chan is the one who acted all cool and declared that he would become a Hero! In that case, whether he fails his tests or has to repeat a grade, it’s all his fault!”
“Still, the root cause of the matter is the fact that we came here asking for help, so it’s our responsibility…!”
“Since he said that he would do it, it’s his own responsibility!”
Even though Yasuo fully understood that he was in the wrong, Diana and Nodoka continued to assault him from their completely opposite viewpoints, so Yasuo was gradually growing more and more depressed.
“Hmm. That’s enough, both of you.”
Unable to bear watching that anymore, Hideo interrupted their conversation.
“True, getting a failing grade is nothing to be proud about, but I understand why Yasuo felt the way he did. Besides, it’s not like those grades will make him repeat a year for sure, right?”
“O-Of course not.”
“Then it should be fine. Yasuo just has to properly repent for this actions this time and work hard for his next test.”
Yasuo also felt the same way, so it would have been good if the conversation ended there, but the situation took a turn for the worse because of the unnecessary things his father said after that.
“Even I did all sorts of crazy stuff right after I was sent to Ande Lande because I was suddenly given such incredible powers. So, I kind of understand how Yasuo feels. Dear, do you remember that time when I caused an avalanche by blasting off too much wind magic……”
He was probably just trying to lighten the atmosphere.
However, his wife didn’t feel the same way about what he thought of as fond memories from the past.
“Dear, how is that related to the current situation?”
“We’re talking about Yasuo’s lack of discipline right now, so why are you bringing up old stories?”
“Eh, umm… That is…”
“Besides, do you have any idea how many problems you caused for Erize and me with your wild stunts?”
“Uh, I mean… That is…”
Not to mention, the attack vector had changed to him at some point, so even Hideo was flustered.
After confirming that Hideo had fallen silent after understanding that he was unnecessarily bringing trouble upon himself, Madoka turned to face Diana.
“In any case, that’s how it is. Diana-chan, you haven’t done anything wrong.”
“That’s right! If anything, Onii-chan is a failure because he’s still stuck that the preparatory phase even after failing his tests, in spite of you staying in the same house and giving him constant attention.”
The attacks increased in intensity because of his father’s unnecessary words, but Diana once again spoke up.
“Actually, about that 『Staying in the same house and giving him constant attention』 part…”
Nodoka even aimed her hostility at Diana, but even she was forced to take a sharp breath at Diana’s next words.
“I would like to take this opportunity to temporarily leave the Kenzaki house.”
Saying that, she looked at Yasuo with a slightly sorry gaze.
This is what Diana said.
Not only had she brought her own problems to the family, it was a fact that she was also completely relying on the Kenzaki family for the things she needed to live in Japan.
What’s more, Madoka had lost access to her room because Diana was staying there, and Hideo and Yasuo gave her higher priority for things like using the shower and eating.
It was clear that she was causing many difficulties for the Kenzaki family, and relying too much on their goodwill.
Due to that, she would continue to do her job as a guard and Yasuo’s Magitech Knight trainer, but she wanted to move of of the Kenzaki house.
“Saying that is one thing, but what are you going to do about money?”
“I am carrying several items that can be sold for a high value even in Japan. My mother also strictly told me that I must not become a burden to the Kenzaki family in case my stay in Japan is extended for a longer period of time. I might end up causing you trouble again with the process of obtaining a proof of identity, buying and selling the necessary items, and the rental contract, but please…”
“No, but that is…”
“Really, I don’t think that will work…”
They understood why Diana felt that way, but Hideo and Madoka felt that Diana was just as important to them as their own children, so they thought she didn’t have to worry about it so much. In addition, they knew that there were unavoidable reasons why Diana was in this situation.
At that point, Nodoka spoke up.
“Isn’t there that small apartment nearby?”
“Eh? The one next to Tayama-san’s place?”
“Yeah, that’s the place. It’s very close to our house, it’s in pretty decent condition, and the sign saying that it’s up for rent has been there for so long that it is rusting, so the rent has probably come down quite a bit too.”
“No, but even so, Diana-chan is also a girl. It might be close by and cheap to rent, but it’s been empty for so long that you don’t know what kind of unpleasant things you might find there…”
Hideo stated his disapproval after remembering the apartment in question. However, Nodoka shook her head.
“What are you talking about? I was saying Onii-chan should move there, not Diana-san.”
At that statement, both Yasuo and Diana raised their voices at the same time.
“I understand why Diana-san feels bad for staying in our house for so long, but she has done nothing wrong, so if she leaves it’s like we’re kicking her out for no reason. On the other hand, Onii-chan caused this mess, so isn’t it only right that he should be the one to leave the house?”
Why are the existences called little sisters so bitter towards their older brothers in this world?
“That’s because you’re completely useless, Onii-chan.”
Nodoka glared at Yasuo and said that as if reading his mind.
“Umm, Nodoka, I think that would be defeating the purpose…”
“I’m pretty serious about this, you know.”
“That’s true, she’s still a young lady of marriageable age who has spent her precious youth training this dunce from our family, kicking her out now would be too much.”
“Umm, I definitely didn’t mean to say anything of that sort!”
Although she had intended to be the one to leave, the topic of the conversation had turned towards Yasuo being kicked out of his own house, so Diana started to panic.
Even if Diana took back her words now, Nodoka would probably not agree.
Yasuo realized that since the current situation came about due to his own lack of effort, anything he said would just make matters worse, so he elected to sit quietly.
“Everyone, calm down. We’re getting off topic.”
Hideo once again spoke up because it looked like neither side would be willing to back down at this rate.
“Dear, the conversation is getting needlessly complicated because both you and Nodoka are talking about who should be kicked out and who should remain. Let’s look at the problems we face with the five of us living together and prioritize them.”
After confirming that he had the attention of all the people in the room, Hideo continued to speak.
“The highest priority is ensuring that Yasuo and Nodoka are safe until we get a response from Resteria regarding the case with William and Alex’s Shii. After that comes the matter of Diana-chan’s living space. Regarding the matter of Yasuo’s behavior, it will be fine as long as he reflects on his actions and takes the necessary steps. Remember what you you said to us the other day, and don’t make the people around you worry any more. Understood?”
“Yes… I’m sorry.”
As it had been some time since Yasuo spoke, his reply stuck in his throat.
“Next, it’s true that our house is a bit cramped, and we haven’t been able to properly accommodate Diana-chan.”
It is a fact that accommodating another adult in the house of a regular salaryman whose children are already grown up is very difficult.
“Even though she only uses it to sleep, staying in your mother’s room must be quite cramped. Both from the perspective of wanting to care for the daughter of my best friend, and from the perspective of allowing Diana-chan to carry out her mission properly, there is a need to improve her current living arrangements. For personal reasons, as well as for the sake of her mission, there will be times when she needs her space. So…”
Hideo looked at Diana and spoke.
“Let’s go look at the apartment Nodoka mentioned. If it’s not in too bad a condition, Diana-chan, you will be moving your base of operations over there.”
“Y-Yes, it would be very helpful if you let me do that.”
Diana looked relieved, and Nodoka looked like she was displeased, but the next sentence decided the issue.
“In any case, you will need a guarantor for getting a rental lease, so you won’t be able to enter into a contract alone, Diana-chan. So I’ll pay for the initial costs of moving into the apartment, furnishing it with the minimum required appliances and furniture, and half of the monthly rent, and you will pay for your food, items you need for your daily life, and the other half of the rent. This should allow us to keep the balance.”
And so, Diana moved out of the Kenzaki house today, three days after Yasuo received his failing grades.
Diana’s new base of operations was Room Number 101 of the Marigold Hills Tokorozawa Apartment Building, which was located very close by and could be seen from the window of Yasuo’s room.
Although it was surprising that she was able to move in just three days after they had thought of the idea, according to his father, the apartment was available immediately after they completed inspecting the premises. It was probably a stroke of good luck.
It was an ordinary apartment building, and you would probably find hundreds of similar-looking buildings even within Tokorozawa City. It had two floors, with a total of four western-style one-room apartments. This building with the exaggerated name of 『Marigold Hills』 was where Diana would be staying from now on.
On paper, the person who was renting the apartment was Kenzaki Hideo, and the rent, including administrative charges, was 50,000 Yen. The building was being managed by a nearby real estate agency and the floor plan of the building wasn’t available on the internet, so Yasuo couldn’t tell if this was cheap or expensive.
In any case, after going to purchase the minimum necessities that Diana would need for living alone, the four members of the Kenzaki family and Diana were planning to go out for dinner today to celebrate Diana’s moving into a new apartment.
“My highest priority, huh?”
Yasuo looked at the three exam answer sheets marked with a failing grade that were on top of his desk and sighed.
He hadn’t intended to take his studies lightly.
However, he couldn’t deny that the Hero training had come to occupy a position of importance in his heart once he had decided to become a Hero, making the time when he had been fiercely opposed to Diana and his father’s decision seem like a lie.
His feelings about the matter definitely did not come from just wanting to experience a fantasy world.
『Just because a child can fire a gun, that doesn’t mean he can defeat a trained soldier.』
In his mind, he could still hear those humiliating words.
Yasuo could only remember a few scattered details about his fight with that man, even though it had been an important event that changed his views about his life and the world he lived in.
The battle had just been that desperate and pushed him to his limits.
In spite of the the fact that William had been about to harm Nodoka and Diana, all Yasuo had been able to do against him was a clumsy response that was similar to a child tattling to his parents after throwing a temper tantrum.
He had apparently fired Diana’s Techno Weapon, Pollux, several times. However, he could not remember how he had ended up holding Pollux, and there were large gaps in his memory in the time between when he fired Pollux and the time his father appeared to save him.
However, he could clearly remember the confrontation with that creature called William, the terror his voice inspired, which almost made him pee his pants, and the humiliation that came along with it.
Even though Diana had done a great job at keeping the otherworld monsters, the Shii, away from them, she had been unable to land a single blow on William.
Yasuo had been the only person there who was able to hit William, although the damage was negligible. And then, William had told him that it could not even be considered a fight unless Yasuo could become at least as strong as Diana.
It was obvious that the differences between Diana, who had been raised by parents who were hailed as saviors in a world where Magitech Knights were considered common, and Yasuo, who didn’t know anything about his parents’ past until a few days ago, were more than just a difference in the time spent training.
Even Yasuo didn’t think for a second that he’d be able to catch up to Diana by training for one year in addition to studying for university exams.
In the first place, Yasuo’s proposed plan of taking a temporary break from studies and going to Resteria after passing university exams in a year’s time was lacking feasibility and was overly optimistic.
However, because he had already stated his resolution, he had thought that he should become stronger even if only by a tiny amount.
“There’s no point in making excuses to myself.”
In the end, the fact remained that Yasuo had thought that the Hero training was more important than his school studies.
And so, he had ended up not studying hard for his tests.
That was inexcusable.
“I need to get full marks on the make-up tests… and maintain a high score until I finish the final exams, or I can’t say that I’ve completely recovered from this.”
Yasuo thought that this was in some ways more difficult for his current self than even the Hero training, but,
“I should do my best…. At least at getting my emotions in order.”
He never wanted to sit on such a bed of nails ever again.
Yasuo picked up the three answer sheets and took a roll of tape out of the drawer of his desk.
“Over here should be good.”
Instead of putting the sheets where he could see them when at his desk, he attached the sheets to the wall at a level where they would be clearly visible when he was sitting on his bed and practicing his beginner-level magic.
“I won’t mistake the order of importance again. This is to remind me of that.”
Yasuo let out a large sigh and tried to turn his thoughts to positive things, but,
Yasuo noticed that there was a mark on the wall where he had attached the sheet; it looked like something had been pinned there with a thumb tack at some point.
Looking at the three answer sheets attached to the wall, he also had a feeling that he had seen something similar before.
He finally remembered something that was better off forgotten.
It had happened during his first year of middle school.
Contrary to elementary school where it was easy to score full marks without even studying, Yasuo had been exposed to a baptism of fire in the form of 『Regular Tests』.
Yasuo scored in the 60s and 50s in many subjects, a disgraceful result that had never happened before. And so, Yasuo had taken the three worst scores, Home Economics, Social Studies, and Science, and pinned them to the wall so that he would see them before going to sleep, to remind him to do whatever it took to avoid repeating that experience.
He also remembered being scolded by his mother for damaging the wall by pinning the answer sheets to it with thick thumbtacks, and besides, the answer sheets had barely stayed up for a month before they fell off the wall and into the space between the wall and his bed, and had gotten all dusty.
“I haven’t improved at all!!”
He had intended to inspire himself to work harder, but ended up receiving an unexpected attack from his past. Yasuo held his head in his hands and seriously doubted if he would be able to become a hero in just a year’s time.
Even so, Yasuo had to deal with the reality of make-up tests being just around the corner, so he peeled two of the three answer sheets off the wall and started reviewing their contents.
The teachers didn’t have that much free time, after all. He had been informed in advance that the questions for Classical Literature and English Reading would be variations of the questions that appeared on the original tests.
Especially for reading comprehension, the exact same passage would appear on the test again. So long as he reviewed the contents properly, there was no reason why he should not be able to score good marks.
Incidentally, he would need a score of 80 or above out of 100 to pass. If he managed to pass, his grade would be increased from 3 (failing) to 4 (passing).
“Dammit… I need to read such a long sentence from end to end….”
One of the questions for English Reading was to decipher a long paragraph of text using an English-Japanese dictionary. The text in question was a speech called 『The Various Experiences of a Japanese High School Student on His First Trip Abroad』.
It would have made sense for a high school student to go some place like New Zealand for language studies, but for some reason, the subject of the text, “Hiroshi,” had gone to Hawaii.
He had apparently discovered many wonders of Hawaii that he previously only saw as a major tourist destination.
Apparently, what he found especially surprising was that there was an increase in the number of Japanese tourists; Japanese companies had advanced further into the Hawaiian market, which meant that there were many places where people understood Japanese, and that the tour guides were available for Japanese.
“Why the heck are you talking about this stuff in English even after returning to Japan, Hiroshi!?”
Ignoring his own shortcomings, Yasuo slandered Hiroshi instead.
However, there could be no comparison between Hiroshi, who was capable of giving a speech in English, and Yasuo, who had failed his test. For this reason, the only thing he achieved by slandering Hiroshi was making him feel worse about himself.
After getting an overall idea of what Hiroshi’s speech was about, Yasuo wondered.
“If I’m going to Ante Lande, do I need to learn the language used there?”
Diana spoke perfect Japanese. Thinking back, William had been speaking Japanese as well, and even Alex’s Shii had spoken Japanese, even if the only thing he said was “Hideo the Hero.”
“Maybe Japanese is used quite a bit there because of the influence of Dad and Mom? No, maybe it’s just Diana’s family who are fluent… but William doesn’t have anything to do with them, right? What’s that about?”
Even foreign talent stars who had lived in Japan for over a decade and who could make jokes with Japanese celebrities on TV would have a manner of speech influenced by their mother tongue, and many of them still had the so-called 『Foreigner’s Accent』. Considering this, it was quite miraculous that Diana, who was from a different world, spoke Japanese that was indistinguishable from that of a native.
“Speaking of which, it seems like Dad and Mom were immediately able to communicate with the people there after being sent to Ante Lande, was there some convenient magical phenomenon where they could just speak in Japanese and the people there would understand… or is it that the people of Ante Lande also spoke Japanese…?”
“What are you muttering to yourself over there? It’s time to go.”
“I could hear you from even outside your room. Weren’t you supposed to be studying?”
At some point, his Mother had opened the door of his room and was standing there with a dumbfounded expression.
“I was!! Also, at least knock before opening the door!”
“I did. Maybe you just didn’t hear it. Didn’t we already talk this morning about going out for dinner after buying Diana-chan’s daily necessities? It’s time to go. The restaurant will be crowded if we go any later.”
“Eeh? Ah, it’s already this late. Got it, I’ll be down in a minute.”
Looking at the clock on his Slimphone, Yasuo saw that it was already a little past five in the evening.
“Looks like you’ve been working hard, Yasuo.”
Yasuo was not at all surprised to see Diana waiting in the living room after heading downstairs with his mother. He had already become used to seeing Diana there as a part of his daily life.
He thought that there was no reason for her to leave their house, but he was not insensitive enough to say that out loud.
“Sorry to keep you waiting.”
After he just said that, Hideo and Nodoka started preparing to leave as well.
The area around the western exit of Tokorozawa Station was a compact and yet typical shopping district.
The bus terminal in front of the station was surrounded by banks and department stores, and the SEIYU store adjacent to the station was an indispensable part of the shopping infrastructure for the people who commuted to and from Tokorozawa Station.
Prope Street, which would be on your right hand side after exiting the station, had a variety of shops that served food and drink, ranging from chain cafes that even students would feel comfortable entering, to shops that served Japanese cuisine that catered to more specific tastes. In addition, there were game centers, pachinko shops, and karaoke centers, making the street a place where people of all genders and ages could have fun.
After exiting Prope Street, you would find the Ozone Tokorozawa Shopping Center.
The Magitech Knight from another world, Diana, stood in a daze before that magnificent edifice.
“S-So this is one of the legendary department stores that I have heard about!”
“Diana-san, calm down. I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Diana was overwhelmed by the giant commercial establishment that they arrived at after exiting Prope Street, which was still lively and crowded at night.
It had been a while since Diana had come to Japan, but her activities so far had been restricted to the area immediately around the Kenzaki residence, and the places near Nodoka and Yasuo’s schools.
Yasuo’s prep school was also near the western exit of Tokorozawa Station, but as it was on the other side of the station from Prope Street, Diana had never come this way before even though she had been curious.
Diana drank in the sights that both Yasuo and Nodoka had gotten used to as they had lived here since their early childhood.
And apparently, this Ozone Tokorozawa Shopping Center was the best sight of them all.
“I’ve heard about this from my mother. She told me that Japan has three-dimensional markets that are ensconced in buildings the size of castles. This is one of those, isn’t it!? A department store!”
“Three-dimensional markets… If you’re talking about size, that high-rise apartment building over there is much taller, and besides, Ozone is not a department store, is it? Come to think of it, what’s the difference between a shopping center and a department store?”
“It’s the price range of the products sold and the targeted customer demographic. The difference between shopping centers and department stores has blurred in recent times, but speaking frankly, department stores sell high-class products, and the other stores sell products for the masses. Ante Lande doesn’t have any multi-level commercial establishments like this, so it’s only natural that Diana-chan finds it so interesting.”
“Oh, really? Why doesn’t Ante Lande have any?”
After hearing her father’s explanation, Nodoka, who was keeping a firm grip on Diana’s clothes to keep her from running off, turned back and asked another question.
“Why? Let’s see, this is just a guess, but I think it’s because of problems with taxes, and they have a distance limit when attracting customers. It’s not that they can’t build them, I just think no one would want to.”
“Distance limit in attracting customers?”
“Yeah. For example, do you think we would have come here today if our car hadn’t been destroyed in the fighting that happened back then?”
“Ah. We might have gone to the Ozone near the suburbs. We would have probably gone to a different store further away for buying the electrical appliances as well.”
“In a world without trains and cars, such places would actually be too far away. For example, there’s an outlet park in Iruma, right?”
Their father took the example of an outlet park in the outskirts of the neighboring Iruma City, alongside Route 16 of the national highway.
The outlet park was adjacent to an American-funded, membership-only supermarket , and it was a well known shopping spot close to Tokorozawa City. Yasuo and Nodoka had gone there several times.
“How many people do you think live within walking distance of that outlet park?”
“Within walking distance? I don’t think there would be many people living that close.”
“No, considering that location, it’s safe to say the number is close to nil.”
Yasuo joined the conversation as well.
“Right? Even for this place, we don’t have a problem coming here because we live in Tokorozawa, but if we lived in, say, Kotesashi, you wouldn’t think of just walking over here on a whim.”
Kotesashi is one of the terminus stations on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line that lies in the direction of Hannou City, two stops down from Tokorozawa Station.
There might be a few people willing to walk the distance between two stations, but it is certainly not common.
“Well, Kotesashi has a SEIYU as well.”
“That’s not what I’m talking about.”
Their father gave a bitter smile, but both Yasuo and Nodoka understood what their father was trying to say. Ante Lande did not have any readily available means of long-distance transport like trains, automobiles, and bicycles.
A natural result of that was that shops could only attract customers from a fairly confined area, and if the total number of customers was small, building a large commercial center would be pointless as it would soon go out of business.
The very idea of taking a quick hop by train or car to go shopping did not exist in Ante Lande.
“Hang on, Diana can fly, right? Does the distance really matter if you are capable of flying?”
“I can fly, but my baggage can’t fly with me.”
Diana, who had started listening to the conversation halfway through, nodded in affirmation.
“We do have magic that is used to transport large cargo by air, but the amount of money and magical energy needed for that is so high that it is far more cost effective to transport the cargo by land in a cart, and even that is not so cheap that you would consider using it for a long distance shopping trip. Even Magitech Knights can’t fly for very long distances, and besides, you need to pay a toll when entering another city. All the important cities in the world have soldiers stationed on the city walls who are tasked with surveillance of the skies, so you can’t really fly around on a whim to go on a sightseeing trip.”
“You need to pay a toll even though you’re flying?”
Although it sounded like a joke, it was only natural that there would be such measures put in place to maintain social order in a society where the ability of flight was commonplace.
“But flying in the sky is not like following a road or a waterway, right? Shouldn’t it be relatively simple to escape by flying?”
Diana made a stern expression at Nodoka’s question and shook her head.
“Crossing over into the territory of a city by air without permission is a serious crime. In any part of the world, the soldiers who are given the task of guarding the skies are all elites, and their Sorcery Divisions receive a large budget. A couple of Magitech Knights attempting to sneak in would be detected right away, and the large countries have large scale Techo Weapon turrets mounted on the walls that automatically shoot down any flying object infringing on their territorial airspace.”
“Oh yeah, I remember those things that looked like anti-aircraft guns.”
Their father spoke some dangerous-sounding words while walking onto the first floor of the shopping center where the fancy shops were located.
“They have anti-aircraft guns, but no department stores?”
Yasuo felt that the other world was quite strange.
“Leave that for another time, Diana-chan’s shopping is more important now.”
At Madoka’s urging, the group of people went up to the upper levels of the Ozone shopping center.
As they went from shop to shop, they used the escalators to get around. It was then that Yasuo remembered that Diana had used escalators before, but hadn’t been fazed by them one bit.
They had gone through the Tokorozawa Station building on the way back home from prep school, and he seemed to remember Diana smoothly getting on and off the escalator as if she was used to it.
“Hey, Diana. Do you have escalators in Resteria?”
“Yes, we do.”
He received a very unexpected response.
“They are not as prevalent as in Japan, but they are present in the royal palace, cathedrals, and the mansions of aristocrats. There are also similar mechanisms called magic stairs in cities that have a large social welfare budget.”
Of course, it was improbable that even this was caused by the influence of his father and mother, but Yasuo realized that he knew barely anything about Resteria.
He was able to understand why Diana was so fascinated by department stores.
Once his make-up tests were done, he would have to study more about the lifestyle of people in Resteria, their cultures and customs, and most importantly, he had to do something about the language barrier.
“Say, Dad. When you went to Ante Lande…”
He started to talk to his father when they stepped off the escalator, but,
“Alright, Nodoka, I’ll leave that area to you. The two of us will go and look at the household appliances.”
“Thank you, I will leave that to you.”
“Yasuo, you can at least carry their bags, right? Anyways, I’ll contact you about an hour.”
“Eh? Eh? Eh?”
His mother and father went up on the escalator to the floor where household appliances were sold, and Nodoka and Diana went down towards the general merchandise section.
“Ah, hey, wait for me!”
His instinct as a third year male high school student caused him to chase after the two girls instead of his parents… but looking at the end result, it could only be said that it was a mistake in more ways than one.
Diana looked like she was having a lot of fun as she went around shopping with Nodoka, and they seemed to be enjoying their conversation as well.
Yasuo couldn’t hear what they were saying as he was sitting on a bench near the escalator, which was a little distance away from the shop.
On one side of him, there was a pile of things Diana had bought per Nodoka’s advice.
There were no items that were so large that they would need to use the home delivery service, but the cups and dishware had to be carried carefully, on top of being heavy. Towelkets and sheets weren’t heavy, but they were bulky, and he hadn’t thought that cosmetics would be this heavy either.
Diana had originally refused point blank to relegate Yasuo to the role of carrying her bags, but Yasuo had been the one who convinced her to let him do it.
It wasn’t because he felt responsible for Diana starting to live alone. He was just blown away by how long it took for girls to finish their shopping, and he realized that he would be better off working as a push cart with hands and legs.
To go into detail of what exactly blew him away, first they took ages to select the items to consider, then took even longer to eliminate the ones they didn’t want to buy. They would ask for his opinion but showed no signs of taking it into consideration, and finally, they would leave the shop without buying anything. This sort of thing happened several times.
Looking at Nodoka and Diana, Yasuo thought that this trait was shared by all girls, irrespective of the world and dimension they came from.
After seeing Nodoka and Diana spend over ten minutes scrutinizing indoor slippers and finally not buying any of them, Yasuo, who typically had no such problems shopping for himself, inadvertently blurted out “They’re just slippers, won’t anything do?” This earned him a glare from Nodoka and an apologetic look from Diana, and since then, he had decided to maintain silence.
There were many times when he thought, “I’d just pick any random one,” but then he realized that comparing his shopping method to that of the girls was as pointless as comparing the hunting methods of a lion and an anglerfish and trying to decide which one was better.
Their mother had said that they should meet up after an hour, but it had taken them nearly that much time to just buy the tableware, sheets, and cosmetics.
The three of them were currently on the floor that sold clothing, but Yasuo had no idea on how to judge girls’ clothing, and since they had to buy underwear as well, he was ordered to wait here on the bench.
Yasuo could see the cashiers from where he was sitting, but couldn’t see Nodoka or Diana anywhere near them, so he assumed they were still somewhere inside the shop.
Yasuo opened up the free messaging application, ROPE, on his smartphone and was about to send the message 「It looks like we’ll need some more time」 in his family’s group chat, when a shadow fell across him.
Yasuo lifted his head to see who was there, and received a shock.
“Hey there, Yasu-kun. Why are you acting so surprised?”
Yasuo’s classmate in middle school and current fellow student at prep school, Tatewaki Shouko, was standing there with a shopping bag hanging from her arm.
“Are you here for shopping?”
“Eh? Ah, yeah. I’m not the one shopping, though.”
“I can see that. I can see tableware from a fancy shop, and those look like cosmetics.”
Yasuo tried to make an excuse, but Shouko just looked at the mountain of shopping bags on the bench next to Yasuo and gave a bitter smile.
“So you’re in charge of carrying the bags?”
“Well, something like that. What about you, Tatewaki-san?”
“I have to go to prep school, but there was some stuff I wanted to buy before going there.”
Looking at Shouko’s bag, Yasuo saw that it was from a bookstore that was located inside the Ozone Shopping Center.
Maybe because she noticed Yasuo’s gaze, Shouko held out the bag for him to see.
“A new volume of a manga I am reading was released, so I bought it for myself as a gift for working hard all this week.”
“You’re pretty open about this.”
“It’s a gift for my hard work, after all. Ah—by the way, Yasu-kun.”
Shouko had been talking to him normally until now, but she suddenly started fidgeting and once again looked at the shopping bags next to Yasuo.
“Umm, are you… with family?”
“Hmm? What about my family?”
“I mean, the shopping… Are you here with your family?”
“Eh? Ah… Yeah, I am. What about it?”
“Nothing, you just looked very surprised when I called out to you, so I was wondering if you didn’t want to be seen here. This place is a clothing store for women, and the things you’ve bought look they’re meant for girls too.”
Looking around, it was true that there were many things around him that had no relation to his daily life.
Another thing that he realized was that he was in a precarious position right now.
Yasuo had assumed so far that Shouko had already gotten over that issue, but back when Diana was still new to Japan, she had threatened Shouko in a back alley at night.
That had happened to due to certain unavoidable circumstances, and Shouko had not pressed Yasuo for more details after that. However, Diana had not apologized to Shouko directly.
Yasuo didn’t think that Shouko would make an issue out of it at prep school after all this time, but since it was “his side” that had behaved inappropriately, he wanted to avoid having Shouko and Diana meet again accidently. This was both for the purpose of avoiding problems with interpersonal relationships in the future, as well as avoiding the spread of information related to Ante Lande any further.
However, the myriad deities residing in the land of Japan did not fulfill Yasuo’s wish.
“Sorry to keep you waiting, Yasuo. We’ve finished buying everything we need for now, so let’s meet up… oh?”
She had probably felt sorry for keeping him waiting.
Diana had walked over to him quickly while holding a large bag in her hands. It would have been better if she had taken the time to observe the situation before coming over.
However, it was already too late to be thinking about things like that.
If only Nodoka had also come back along with her. What was that sister of his doing? She’s not at the cashiers either, where on earth did she disappear to?
Diana had a blank expression upon seeing Shouko who was talking to Yasuo, and Shouko in turn was looking at Diana with a shocked expression.
Yasuo decided to stop thinking of unnecessary things.
There was no choice but to get out of this situation using his extremely low ability to ad-lib while talking to the opposite sex.
“Umm, is she a friend of yours, Yasuo?”
Diana’s question seemed to timidly pass through the space in between Yasuo and Shouko.
This was a very Japanese way of calling out to someone. Yasuo thought that it would have been better if she was less talented at the nuances of using Japanese, as he now had no choice but to answer.
“Ah, yes. This is Tatewaki Shouko-san. She’s a friend from prep school. Tatewaki-san, as I mentioned to you before, this is Dianaze Krone. She’s an acquaintance of my Dad’s.”
This was undoubtedly the first time in Yasuo’s life that he had found himself caught between two women and forced to make introductions.
Since he had already been nervous to begin with, it couldn’t be denied that he was speaking very quickly.
After Yasuo finished speaking, neither Diana nor Shouko replied for a few seconds and instead observed each other’s faces. And then,
They both let out a small shout at the same time.
“You’re that person who was saying stuff about Yasu-kun’s enemies or whatever the other day!”
“I’m really so sorry for what happened back then!”
Shouko slightly changed her posture, and Diana bowed down with so much force that it was surprising her upper body was still attached.
“Umm, I was really lacking knowledge about many things related to Japan back then. I had no idea that you were a friend of Yasuo’s from school. I have been thinking for a long time that I should apologize for being rude to you. I’m really very sorry.”
The fight went out of Shouko and she scratched her head as she watched Diana bob her head up and down several times while apologizing.
“Ah, well… I was surprised, but I’ve already heard about your circumstances, so it’s okay. You don’t have to apologize so much, please raise your head.”
“Thank you so much!”
Diana straightened her posture with a bright red face, but still bowed down one last time to Shouko.
“H-Hey, Diana, you’re spilling stuff out of your bag.”
“A-Ah, Yasuo! I’m so sorry!”
Looking at the relieved expression on Diana’s face, it could be seen that the matter had been weighing heavily on her heart.
Because of her non-stop bowing, the seal on her bag that was stuffed with clothes came loose, and Diana once again apologized to Yasuo as he picked up the various items that had fallen out.
Seeing this, Shouko let out a sigh.
“Well, there’s nothing I can do about this.”
Did the atmosphere around Shouko change slightly, or was that just Yasuo’s imagination?
Shouko turned towards Diana and introduced herself again in a soft tone.
“My name is Tatewaki Shouko. I graduated from the same middle school as Kenzaki-kun. As he said earlier, we are currently attending the same prep school, although we only found out about that recently. I just happened to run into him here earlier, so I called out to him.”
“Oh, I see.”
“Yes. Umm, Krone-san? Are you here shopping with Kenzaki-kun?”
“With Yasuo? I don’t know if I can call it that, as he has regrettably just been carrying the bags.”
Shouko smiled, but it was a smile that was strangely devoid of emotion.
“Well, I have a lesson now, so I should be going. I don’t want to get in your way.”
“Hmm? Ah… Hmm?”
Didn’t Shouko say something strange just now?
“Hey, Kenzaki-kun. I understand how you feel, but you should at least walk around with her and help her pick out the clothes. Make sure you do that next time.”
As he thought, something was strange.
“Goodbye, Kenzaki-kun. Let’s talk again if we meet in prep school.”
“Ah… okay. See you later.”
Shouko left right away without letting Yasuo say anything meaningful.
Diana saw her off while bowing her head once again, but Yasuo, assailed by an indescribable sense of unease, could do nothing but awkwardly wave his hand.
“Looks like she’s got the completely wrong idea.”
Nodoka had appeared beside Diana at some point without either of them noticing, and had her arms crossed with a smug expression on her face.
“Onii-chan, that person was calling you 『Yasu-kun』 in the beginning but suddenly switched to calling you 『Kenzaki-kun』. Didn’t you notice that?”
“Now that you mention it… More importantly, how long have you been listening!? Where were you!?”
“I did say ‘In the beginning,’ didn’t I? I went to the restroom after we finished shopping.”
“So you were just eavesdropping like it was the natural thing to do…”
“Well, that aside, that person definitely has the wrong idea.”
“Huh? About what?”
“Huh? Onii-chan, are you seriously asking me that?”
Nodoka looked between her brother’s and Diana’s faces, but both of them had a blank expression.
“Haaaaaa…… What’s wrong with these two people, they’re supposed to be older than me… ”
Nodoka, the younger sister, let her shoulders droop forcefully.
“N-N-N-N-No way, she thought I and Yasuo were g-g-g-g-going out!?”
They were on their way back home after finishing dinner in celebration of Diana moving into a new house. Diana had once again asked Nodoka what her exchange with Shouko earlier meant.
“Eh? You really don’t know? That person called Tatewaki-san, she thinks you and Onii-chan are going out.”
Diana got back such an unbelievable answer.
Seeing her brother looking honestly shocked as well, Nodoka made an expression like she was giving up and shook her head.
“That’s why she suddenly changed the way she called you and became all polite. Moreover, she’s the person that Diana-san called an enemy once before, right?”
“B-But… I didn’t mean it in that way…”
“No, but still, would it make her think like that?”
“Of course. Even I would try and put my guard up if I saw something like that without knowing the circumstances.”
“What do you mean by ‘something like that?’ And ‘putting your guard up?’”
“Diana-san is partially to blame for saying stuff that could easily be misconstrued. Onii-chan, make sure you don’t get any strange ideas as well, okay?”
“W-What do you mean, strange ideas…!”
“Ah… Don’t you think the taste of that curry place has changed from before?”
“It looks like they got a new cook. The naans were larger than before, though.”
Looking at the children talking from behind, their mother and father pretended not to hear as they discussed the food from the Indian restaurant that they had eaten at earlier.
“W-What do you think I should do? Assuming she really does have the wrong idea?”
“Eh? I don’t think there’s anything you can do about it.”
“I mean, if Tatewaki-san doesn’t really care who you go out with, bringing up the topic again and saying that Diana-san is not your girlfriend will just make you look overly self-conscious. Although it’s different if you’re interested in Tatewaki-san, Onii-chan.”
“You really haven’t been holding anything back since earlier…!”
“I’m just telling you the truth. Also, in the one in a million chance that Tatewaki-san likes you, it might be a good idea clear up the misunderstanding, but you only met her recently after not seeing her for a long time, right? So that idea is pretty much impossible, so the only thing you can do is to let it be.”
“L-Let it be… but…”
“I mean, what other choice do you have? I mean, even elementary school kids are talking about dating these days, how can you be so flustered even though you’re in the third year of high school?”
The eighteen-year-old boy had no response to this far too casual opinion of the fourteen-year-old girl.
Nodoka glanced back at Diana, who was looking downwards and blushing to the tips of her ears.
“Well, if it’s really bothering you, why not just tell her that she has the wrong idea the next time you meet, or send her a message on ROPE? I don’t know what sort of impression Tatewaki-san has about you, Onii-chan, but I’m pretty sure doing that will make the atmosphere really uncomfortable, though.”
“That’s not helpful at all…”
Yasuo regretted his own lack of experience as he could do nothing to refute his little sister’s words.
“Umm, I’m sorry. Because of my thoughtlessness, people are seeing you in such a light with someone like me……”
Yasuo felt his blood pressure fall again after hearing Diana apologize in a depressed voice.
Depending on the viewpoint, Yasuo realized that his words so far could be construed as Diana getting in the way of his interpersonal relationships.
“N-No, I didn’t mean it like that. How do I put it, I just want people to properly understand my circumstances, it’s not like I don’t think you’re attractive or that I don’t see you as a girl… Ah, but I don’t mean this in a weird way either, umm… I don’t know how to explain it…”
“Digging. Yourself. Deeper.”
Nodoka said as she watched her brother try and come up with excuses, while looking like she was enjoying it.
“Mom, Dad, what’s wrong?”
Yasuo suddenly realized that his parents had stopped walking and were standing still.
Before they could reply,
“Yasuo, Nodoka, please bend down a little.”
Diana had been blushing a deep red until just earlier, but she suddenly looked like a different person as she looked at his parents with a strong gaze.
They were already close to their house. It was a dark residential district where the only things they could see were the streetlights and the lights from the houses.
The Kenzaki house was within sight, just on the other side of the road.
“Madoka, take care of the kids. Diana-chan, I’ll leave the rear to you.”
“There are three of them. Please leave this area to me.”
Diana dropped her shopping bags at her feet and formed a sword of light in her left hand from the otherworld Techno Weapon, Pollux, that she had pulled out from somewhere.
It was originally a weapon that was supposed to be used along with Castor that was wielded in the right hand, but that particular weapon had been broken in the fight during the incident with William and was left at home.
“D-Don’t tell me…”
Nodoka went pale and looked around at the surroundings. Yasuo realized that his heart rate had increased due to nervousness, but somehow managed to withstand it and tried to get a handle on the situation.
There were three in the direction his father was facing. Similarly, there were three more in the direction Diana was facing.
They were the monsters from the other world, Shii.
They were wrapped in dark flames that looked like the darkness of the night itself had been condensed, and from within glowed ominous red eyes.
“There are still people on the streets at this time. Let’s finish it quickly.”
“Yasuo, Nodoka, don’t move from that spot.”
An orange-colored light was released from Madoka’s hand, and it formed a dome around Yasuo, Nodoka, and the shopping bags that Madoka and Diana had dropped.
There was no need to confirm it. It was definitely a magical defence that their mother had erected, a barrier of sorts.
Nodoka slightly relaxed under the slightly warm light of the barrier, but Yasuo had his sight fixed on Diana’s and his father’s fights.
His father was up against three Shii that stood across the road as if to block their way.
They appeared to be fairly large, but his father, who was dressed like an ordinary salaryman on his day off, did not hesitate at all as he faced them.
Something appeared to have been emitted from his fist as he stuck it out, as the pressure of his punch instantly decapitated the Shii. One of the Shii had lightning run throughout its body, and another Shii was blasted into the sky by a whirlwind, black flames and all.
All of this happened in a mere ten seconds.
His father had not even used his Holy Sword, and he looked like it was no big deal.
Looking over at Diana.
This time, there were three Shii that had appeared separately, one each on a different rooftop.
All three of them jumped towards Diana at the same time, but Diana shot one of them down with a magic bullet from Pollux.
The attacks of the other two faltered as they landed and Diana calmly avoided them. As they turned around, Diana stabbed one of them right in the middle of its chest with the blade of light.
Seeing her empty handed, the remaining Shii pulled out something that looked like a sword wrapped in dark flames and jumped at her from behind, but Diana didn’t even bother looking back.
“Wheel of flame that sleeps beneath the earth, open the door to wisdom with the furrows of your passing!”
Along with that short incantation, she stamped upon the ground strongly with her right foot.
In the next instant, the Shii that had been closing in on Diana from behind was trapped in a number of flame pillars that rose from the asphalt surface of the street, and after the flames disappeared, they could see that the Shii had lost its strength and was crumbling from the feet upwards.
“Haa… I-Is it over…?”
“Probably. Are you okay, Nodoka?”
“Y-Yeah I am.”
In terms of time, it hadn’t taken even 30 seconds overall. Thankfully, no one had seen them.
Nodoka was sitting down on the ground and patting herself on the chest, but Yasuo had a complicated expression on his face after seeing his father’s overpowering strength and Diana’s superhuman actions.
This was the first time that Shii had appeared around them since the incident with William.
Maybe because of that, Yasuo was not able to relax even though all the enemies had been put down.
The appearance of the Shii was definitely not a coincidence.
At the very least, two of the previous attacks had been caused by William’s influence, and targeted Hideo the Hero and his family.
That is why, Yasuo was convinced: the Shii that appeared in Japan were not like random mobs that were encountered in a game field, instead they were sent here by someone with malicious intent.
Also, there was no 『Leader-type』 Shii among these six, similar to Alexei’s Shii.
“Diana! On the roof!”
Everyone looked up in shock after hearing Yasuo shout, and saw that a new Shii was just about to jump on top of Diana.
It was a small-sized Shii.
Compared to the Shii from earlier, it was definitely one size smaller.
However, it moved so fast that Diana had no choice but to evade.
The small Shii landed on all fours, stretched its twisted joints, and leaped straight at Diana.
Diana was taken by surprise and managed to block the attack with Pollux, but her stance was broken by the Shii’s full-body tackle.
Diana’s physical strength was superhuman, partly due to her magical abilities.
No matter how heavy that last attack was physically, was it really enough to destroy to her stance to that extent with just a tackle?
“Are you okay?”
Hideo rushed in to support Diana, and the small Shii stopped attacking after noticing that.
“So this guy is the leader this time.”
“Yes, that’s probably the case. Its attack was strangely heavy. Please be careful.”
As Diana urged Hideo to be careful, Yasuo suddenly looked backwards.
The three Shii that his father had defeated were lying on the ground. However the black flames were still smoldering and giving off soot.
“That’s right, we need to send them off or they’ll just come back. Hmm….”
This was the only thing that he knew that even he was capable of, having already done it once before.
The requiem from Ante Lande.
Yasuo had already memorized the song that soothed the flames of the Shii and send them to Heaven.
『Oh, wide sky, please welcome him. Oh, wide ocean, please welcome him.』
Yasuo’s song reached them even through the barrier that his mother had set up, and the flames of the three Shii that his father had defeated came undone. The remnants of the Shii were swept into the air like the ashes of a wood fire, and they disappeared without a trace.
“Good thing last time wasn’t a fluke.”
Nodoka teased Yasuo after seeing the Shii vanish.
“Shut up. Alright, now for the ones over…”
He still had to deal with the three Shii that Diana had defeated.
Looking around, Yasuo saw something strange.
The small Shii was standing on its hind legs.
It had been dashing around at high speed and overpowered Diana with a powerful attack earlier, but now it was standing still, and even Yasuo could tell that it was full of openings to attack.
“W-What’s wrong? Both of you, hurry up and kill it—”
Both Hideo and Diana looked like they had lost interest in taking it down for some reason, but Yasuo couldn’t tell why they were waiting.
“Well, I’ll send off the three over there as well for now. So hurry up and take it down, okay?”
It may have been making some strange movements, but that was no reason to not take down a Shii.
He was sure that it would be okay to leave it to his father and Diana, and tried to sing the requiem again to send off the remaining three Shii, but,
For some reason, even the small Shii seemed to be affected by the requiem and its flames started to disappear.
The effect was not as strong as it was against the three that had already been defeated.
However, the phenomenon was similar to when the Shii were sent off, the flames of the small Shii were slowly being wiped away.
Diana’s eyes were wide in surprise as she looked at that situation. The three defeated Shii disappeared into the sky, and the small Shii was backing away as if overwhelmed by the song.
Was it possible that the Shii could be purified just with this?
Yasuo had almost reached the end of the requiem and prepared to start it from the beginning again. In the next instant,
The Shii suddenly gave a ferocious roar and jumped up high.
A loud sound was released from the area where the Shii had been until an instant ago, and both Diana and Hideo suddenly tensed their bodies.
As if someone was sniping at it from afar, a strong sound reverberated from the street and chased the Shii that was attempting to escape.
“This attack is…!”
As Diana looked around, attempting to identify the position of the sniper, the source of the attack suddenly descended in between Diana and the Shii.
“What are you waiting for!? Major Krone!”
A strict, female voice chased after the small Shii.
“What kind of fool hesitates to attack when faced with a Shii!?”
The hair that was illuminated by the street lights was silver in color.
The figure landed without a sound and immediately closed the distance with the small Shii in a single, fluid jump. Looking at her from behind, her clothing appeared to be the uniform of Resteria’s Magitech Knights.
Brandishing the long, staff-like weapon in her hands, she attempted to deliver the final strike on the small Shii, but,
The attack missed by a hair.
That was because the Shii’s body rapidly withered, turned into a pillar of dark flame, and disappeared into the ground.
So that’s how Shii escaped if they were not sent off properly.
Even if you thought a Shii was defeated, if it was not sent off properly with the requiem, it would escape into the ground like that and appear again elsewhere.
The new Magitech Knight clicked her tongue at not being able to deliver the final strike to the Shii, but immediately recovered her poise and rested the staff-shaped weapon against the ground.
After separating the staff into two segments at the middle, the Magitech Knight put them into holsters at her waist like a pair of pistols and finally turned around to face Yasuo and the others.
Silver hair and blue eyes.
She gave off a cold impression, but her clothing was the same as what Diana was wearing when Yasuo saw her for the first time, light armor worn by the Magitech Knights of Resteria.
The cross-shaped decoration on her chest was gold-colored unlike Diana’s, which was deep blue, and there were bangles shaped like snakes around both of her wrists. On her forehead was a circlet with a deep-orange colored stone embedded in it.
Seeing the face of the person who had appeared under the streetlights, Diana corrected her posture and raised her right hand.
After seeing the new Magitech Knight do the same, Yasuo understood that it was a salute.
“Good work on your mission, Major Krone.”
“Thank you, Colonel Welleger.”
As he had thought, it was a Magitech Knight from Resteria. What’s more, she was Diana’s superior.
Perhaps it was to be expected, but she was speaking fluent Japanese as well.
Both his father and mother had not yet let down their guard and were watching the new person, but the person whom Diana had called Colonel Welleger unhesitatingly turned towards Hideo.
“I assume you are the Hero, Hideo Kenzaki.”
“…It’s been a very long time since I was known by that title.”
“It is an honor to meet you.”
After confirming the identity of his father, she saluted once again and introduced herself.
“I am Colonel Khalija Welleger of Resteria Kingdom’s Magitech Knights. I have been deployed here by the orders of His Majesty, Borad IX. I am pleased to make your acquaintance.”