An Adventure Beyond Greatness!
Another day at school, another girl beating some random skinny kid up 'for being a pushover'.
On the rooftop of the school after class, the weak-looking boy named Alex Stuman felt his fair share of suffering... at the hands of one particularly sadistic girl in his class. How 'great' was that?
A wise philosopher once said that existence supersedes human nature... No matter what your past is, you are not defined by them. These are really 'optimistic' words when taken out of context.
Who can go against their nature? For some, their actions are determined by their past. Just like a certain young girl who had started bullying her classmate after a harsh trauma she endured.
"What are you looking at?" A frown appeared on the girl's lips. She looked down on the frail youth before her in disdain. Did she have a big reason to take her stress out on him? Not at all. Those who think they are 'strong' tend to harass the 'weak'.
It was a mentality formed through practice...
You can't think of another with empathetic lens while also bullying them. It doesn't work that way.
All the mattered was a bully's satisfaction...
"Where AM I supposed to look at if not in your direction?" The youth retorted softly.
This naturally earned him a kick to the stomach. A look of disdain appeared in the girls around him.
He felt anger well up within, yet couldn't retaliate.
After all, he was so weak that any of the girls surrounding him could take his skinny self on...
It was the unfairness of the human body.
The kid just wanted to get through all this without causing a commotion. It wasn't that he couldn't fight, but that punching someone can't stop them from coming back to harass you again later on.
On top of that, picking on girls wasn't in his nature; nor was it something others would overlook. He'd definitely be criticised for 'hitting girls' even if they were the ones who started it. It was just so unfair...!
Meh, I'd spank them if I was in his shoes...
What a big NEERRD!!!
"Why didn't you just listen to me? We could have had that arrogant 'princess' if you just invited her over. You even broke your own phone while struggling... Is it really worth the pain?
That prideful girl won't ever look your way no matter how much you deny it." The violent girl, who lead the other female delinquents, grabbed the frail youth's hair and spoke in a voice of ridicule.
The venom in her heart was leaking out to cover her sharp tongue. Did she get a kick out of this?
I wasn't able to empathise...
"You ask too many questions... I may not be that strong... but I'm a trustworthy guy. By the way, you owe me a new phone." The 'pushover' once again showed no fear while talking back to the female delinquent, earning him another kick in the gut.
He winced in pain and held onto his chest. When she saw how his eyes kept on scanning around like cameras, she felt a bit disgusted. The bully didn't like the way this guy looked at them whatsoever.
I guess it was 'hate at first sight'...?
Alex wasn't bothered though. His father had always taught him to never betray someone's kindness so long as he lived, and as such: He took this lesson to heart. Quite the responsible guy, right? He was a 'perfect' protagonist no matter how you saw him!
Useless, weak, pathetic, yet still stubbornly clinging onto a moral high ground in his defence...
How WASN'T he the template protagonist for a Heroic Journey? There was so much room to grow!
...look at how pathetically he laid: _('ཀ'」∠)_
Alex was holding onto his stomach and kneeling to the ground; feeling most helpless in this situation.
Just from looking at this young lad from an Anime Otaku point of view, you could tell that he was definitely of demon descent. Aren't they all like that? They didn't know it, but it's always a shock.
He had no eyepatch signifying his Magic Eye, nor bandages covering his Dragon Seals, but he was definitely someone who would be sought by an influential master. One who would teach him some kind of amazingly awesome magic... or something.
Anytime now... He is definitely going to awaken his innate power or something special anytime now.
Just give it a few seconds or minutes...
Or hours, or days, or maybe even a few years...
Well, it's either that or he will be transported to another world that he liked more after a bit...?
Hah! What were the odds of that happening~?!
I guess it's better to get back to the point. Ahem...
At school, Alex was considered both a loner and a pushover. An awkward nature was the reason why.
That, and him being a sack of bones...
He couldn't even fight back against the delinquent girls his own age. That was how PATHETIC he was.
However, there was one young girl who took pity in him, and offered her friendship out of the most sincerest kindness of her heart: The school's most pretty and popular beauty, Samantha Turner.
He was a deep and complex character with a lot of things that lead up to him being bullied like today.
But in more simple terms: He was a loser.
The manliest type of loser!
Could he secretly be a Harem Protagonist in disguise? His lack of features and personality being pretty much something you can sum up in a sentence seems pretty reminiscent of them. It's either that or something much more... off-brand.
Was it his fringe that covered his eyes that was appealing? Or was it his lack of defining features?
Just look at that jawline and charisma...! Who cares if his new friend was way, WAY out of his league?
It's not like the so-called 'Winners' in life got anything good out of popularity anyway...
Just look at how Samantha was schemed against by delinquents? 'Popularity' itself was a chain.
Having popularity also meant having the envy of other girls who didn't shy away from trying to take her down a notch, and the sadistic girl in front of him was one of those girls jealous of her popularity.
It didn't take a genius to understand what the girl was planning to do after luring his only friend over to the rooftop. Why else did they gather? It was obviously to do the same to her as with himself.
Alex was already used to getting bullied, so he figured it would be fine if he took a beating instead.
Anything to keep his father's teaching.
One would call this the courage of a 'hero', or being so stubborn that l nothing could persuade him.
The latter would suit him better in this case...
"Martial arts is about cultivating the heart... This is nothing compared to training everyday." He weakly murmured as he felt his head get lighter. The boy knew right away that his consciousness was fading but didn't resist the sweet urge to... 'fall asleep'.
Though the frail youth was left in terrible shape, he felt pride in the fact that no one could make him submit to them. He was unafraid of danger, and had no intention to ever bend his moral standards.
See~! I told you he had the qualities of a great protagonist. An 'Action Hero' seen in movies.
Why else would his actions endanger himself?
'Sam said to smile more and things would definitely get better... But that that really the solution? Do I come off as gloomy?' The weak youngster thought sadly. He was still thinking about his closest friend.
His eyelids grew heavier by the moment. Alex took the sadistic girl, who was currently laughing at him, as nothing but air. To him, the more important thing right now was to change his 'loser' image a little...
In truth, the frail youth really DID have a huge crush on Samantha... Who the heck wouldn't?!
He too was just a regular youngster!
She was kind, smart, adaptive, and very good at keeping the people around her happy... like a social butterfly. It was as if her 'livelihood' stats had broken through the roof! That type of girl...
She knew how to do everything from cooking to mathematics. A dream girl who excelled in whatever she put her mind to! It was to the point that most guys felt they didn't deserve her...
The kid wanted to talk to her and get to know her better... To him, this was just human nature.
How could someone exist on their own?
However, just as he opened his eyes again, he found that he'd awoken in a strange place...
The youth was sure he had never visited before.
It was nicely lit library... with rows of neat and tidy bookshelves that seemed to stretch on endlessly.
Alex rubbed his eyes, but nothing changed at all.
This was definitely reality... but the abruptness of this strange situation all made him stiff in shock...!
Where the hell was he?!!!
'A library...? Am I still at school-? No, this place seems a lot more cleaner...' The young lad thought while checked his body, only to find that his injuries seemed to have disappeared. What happened...?
A tremor ran through his mind. Suddenly, the frail youngster realised that 'world' around him was different from that of Earth. There was no way this kind of absurd place could exist there at all!
There was a sunless purple sky overhead, and yet there was enough luminance to allow him to see the 'outdoor library' clearly. This scenery definitely went against the natural laws of physics!
'I died?' He immediately came to a conclusion. The fact that he was brought here to this strange world after falling unconscious meant that it was either just a dream, or a place in the so-called 'Afterlife'.
Since he had full awareness right now and could even feel pain on the hand he pinched... that meant the only explanation was the second theory he came to: That he died after being beaten too much.
He really didn't know how to react after realising that the bullying towards him lead to his doom...!
"Isn't killing me going overboard?!" The frail youth shouted out in disbelief after fully realising this.
He no longer cared if anyone was watching or not.
Alex grumbled insults at the dumb girls, who'd essentially clobbered his loser self to death...!
Just as he was about to look around for someone to talk to, a reception desk appeared before him...
...along with the mature figure of a regular librarian.
The face and looks was just like his teacher... Or was staff in the afterlife professional these days?
His eyes scanned her up and down, but couldn't find the common sense to explain this situation.
The frail youth looked on a little like this: ( º _ º)
His eyes were blank for a second before they regained their light. The boy shouted out in fear:
"Am I being interviewed here before going to heaven?" He was definitely a good person!
There's no way he was going to hell, alright!?!
"Who said you're going to heaven?" The woman asked back with a smile that didn't match her glaring eyes. This made him feel like a chicken bone got stuck in his throat, chocking air...
"Wait! I don't want to go to Hell! At least let me haunt those bullies who killed me first!" The frail youth- I mean, nice lad, shivered like a deer in Antarctica. He then wailed at the top of his lungs.
Alex didn't want to go to hell!
He was a good lad!!!
There seemed to be a naturalness in the youth's movements. He went from standing up abruptly to preforming a perfect dogeza after a deep bow towards the woman, who seemed to be in-charge.
"You're not going to Hell." The librarian held her head in a dumbfounded manner at his reaction.
"Then am I in Limbo?" He instantly got up and was about to bombard her with multiple questions, but-
"I do not wish to banter." She interrupted his words without giving him time to say more nonsense.
"Let us move on to the main topic... I am Gaia, the World and its 'Will'. As for you, you're the fool who crossed over from another dimension. The one who caused a disaster in my neat and tidy world.
Look at the mess you've made in my library of destiny!" The real reason for the beautiful woman's anger was finally revealed. She angrily pointed at all the colour coded books on the bookshelves.
There was somehow a complicated look in the frail youth's observant eyes... He couldn't help but follow her finger to see how none of these colour-coded books were in their right order anymore...
Oh, so she really WAS a librarian!?
Makes sense~ (NOT!)
"That sounds really bad..." He replied after a pause, all while trying to not convey his anxiety.
"It is." Gaia finally acknowledged his response.
"And also unbelievably META!"
"...What?" The Librarian was distressed with a face that was astounded like this Text Emoji: (￣□￣;)
"This is like one of my Japanese anime!
I mean, everything from the point I woke up sounds like a metaphor. If you're the 'will' of the world, why do you look like a librarian? And on top of that, why are we in a library with colour-coded books of destiny?! It's not like I'm ALSO going to be reincarnated into another world as well, right...?"
"..." He hit the nail on the head. What was she to do about this observant guy who knew the tropes?
"This doesn't even seem real anymore..." Alex sighed deeply. His eyes held an 'Otaku mysticism'.
"You think this is a dream?" The woman smiled dangerously. She then got up off her seat with a clenched fist. The frail youth reacted a beat too late. He was too enamoured to notice her actions.
Though how would he know that she held a grudge against him for something he couldn't remember?
Perhaps he'd learn the truth of this 'event' later on.
"I... Wait! What are-" Once again, he was cut off by this 'librarian', but this time it was by a strong knockout punch to the jaw! He could faintly see a bright red boxing glove appear in Gaia's hand before it landed squarely onto his chin...
'Is this a dream or not!?" He couldn't make sense of things anymore as once again fell unconscious.
It was then his figure faded into the air like mist and joined Gaia's cycle of reincarnation... From the outside, it seemed that he was destined to be the protagonist of his own Isekai story out of pure luck!
(Ahem... I technically called it!)
What Alex didn't know right now is that nothing that happened up to this point, whether it be his crossing to another world... or his meeting with Gaia, was coincidental. This wasn't part of reality.
Everything had a reason and a cause... and he too existed for a purpose. Because he was fictional...
And all fictional main characters had an 'Essence'.
Are things moving too fast? You readers are likely wondering what is with this generic youth... How dare he ruin a perfectly good beginning by saying something so brutally honest! What a scoundrel...!
Being META isn't about slamming it into your reader's face about how 'META' you are being.
Is it too much to ask that he respects the generic tropes without saying them out loud?
A subversion of a subversion is redundancy!
Some might think that I'm using him as a mouthpiece to show how literally every meeting with an Isekai God would happen. This isn't the truth though! I'm trying to narrate a complex story!
Does that sound sarcastic? Take what you will about how serious I'm narrating these words...
Sometimes, stories only start off simple...
Anyway, after being transported to another world without getting any explanation. He had a totally radical survival adventure with his newly acquired Bro (companion) and unique magical abilities.
They'd fought the forces of evil together!
A mysterious plot was uncovered and all those Hero's Journey tropes were straightforwardly done! Though he never 'Returned to the Ordinary World', he DID return to the old lifestyle he had...
It really does sounds like an interesting journey filled of wonder and legendary feats, right?
This story... ISN'T about that. Instead, after the rollercoaster of a beginning, we set years AFTER he had his own adventure in another world. After a great adventure filled with dangers and threats...!
Now let's look at how he is currently doing lately:
"Excuse me, you've arrived at your destination. That will be to two silvers." A lean man, who worked hard to transport people to far places using his carriage, casually woke Alex from his daze.
There was a trace of surprise in the youth's eyes.
He quickly paid the driver of the carriage and followed others to the gate of Lancia Kingdom.
It had been fifteen years after he had been reborn into 'another world', and seven years since finding his place in human society. A lot of his life has been skipped, but he was still the same youth as ever.
The moral, stubborn, and principled youngster.
Alex's scholarly robes and dignified appearance were clear signs showing that he wasn't a penniless vagabond. The young magic user didn't only relied on solely adventuring to fill his stomach.
There was much more to him that met the eyes.
His clothes was a good indicator to that point, as well as his rare hair colour in this world of blondes.
Such an appearance would allow him to blend into the crowd... so long as they didn't pay attention.
Well, that's only because he had so many features that contrasted to that of a regular scholar...
For example: Despite having an outer robe of a scholar that he wore like a jacket, the scholar still wore his own personal brand of shirts and pants underneath the clothing he crafted by himself.
His dazzling hair was even more outrageous...!
It almost seemed similar to the one of the most beautiful rays of moonlight in the darkest night.
A few onlookers, who were sitting on long benches around the central plaza past the main gate he entered through, couldn't help but look at him in interest. This was mostly due to his hair colour.
Though that didn't seem to move Alex. He got used to such things in this magical world called 'Gaia'.
'Arthur... It has been years since we last met. I wonder if he changed? Well, I'm sure I have!' The scholarly youth thought to himself. There was nothing more pleasing than a long awaited reunion.
He toured around in order to find the place both he and that old pal from his first 'adventure' planned to meet up at. There were a lot of shops at each corner and streets, so doing it was a little difficult,
A happy-go-lucky smile appeared on his face.
Alex was in no rush to search for the right building.
There were a few reasons why he came to Lancia after spending years making a name for himself as a scholar in the arts of magic... and one of them just happened to be his curiosity for culture!
He loved observing things intently...
Gaia was a largely peaceful place if you ignored the tensions between Humans and Beasts... In fact, the conflicts these two races had didn't seem to stop the Bards around him from preforming catchy songs on the streets without a care in the world.
"Good job!" He, despite being the scholarly magician that he was, shouted in admiration towards the entertainers scattered around the Southern District of the kingdom.
There wasn't even a hint of hesitation in his movements. It was only on such occasions Alex threw copper coins towards the every entertainer he came across. He wanted to show his gratitude...
The scholarly youth appreciated 'Art'...
"Thank you for your patronage!" The bards thanked him with warm smiles, then they continued singing and dancing with even more vigour. The musical admirer felt rejuvenated by their songs.
Alex walked with the rhythmic tapping of his feet...
He really enjoyed his first impressions of this place after getting to know the entertainment... and fast food on the streets. A meat skewer was in his hands as he put on quite a comical appearance.
'Found it.' His eyes flashed after noticing a popular restaurant that went by the name of 'Silver Spoon'.
It was a place where many customers seemed to be part of the Mercenary Guild judging from their armour and clothing. A change occurred in the youth's eyes as he noticed one particular person with a sword tattoo hidden under his sleeve.
He put the skewer he held into a nearby trash bin and decided not to enter the restaurant hastily.
Alex wasn't confident in wether his conjecture was actually correct, or if he was just imagining things.
His last journey had taught him a lot...
'The 'Radiant Sword Mirror Cult'... There's no way they're alive, right?' The scholarly youth thought inwardly. He vividly remembered the kind of madness the members of that cult displayed when he fought against their members in his childhood.
Back then, he thought they'd disbanded, but it looks like he was far too naive for his own good...
A runic glow arose in his pupils...
He scanned the people inside Silver Spoon's large and busy establishment one by one, without pause.
'This is really serious... but they're not something I can go against by myself. Arthur... You can't be thinking of taking them on again, right? This isn't a joke...! Are you planning on getting us killed?!
You should stop bringing along troubles whenever we meet!' The scholar of magic sighed inwardly.
The runic glow within his two pupils vanished.
In his point of view, he had already retired from his position as some wannabe hero a long time ago.
As Alex was figuring out what to do, the shadow behind the curtains began to move... A stage was being set for the musical theatrical set to shake Lancia at its core! The fates of many started to intertwine even as he was lost in thoughts...!
A wandering warrior, a charming physician, a battle mage, and an abandoned priestess of the Cult would now have their destinies collide... while the person at the centre of would be none other than the otherworldly prodigy of magic, Alex Stuman!
This would be a tale of Hidden Dragon of the Murim fighting against ACTUAL Dragons!
The world was about to be flipped on its head!