Chapter 2:

Anyone Can Reunite With Old Friends!

Anyone Can Write A Light Novel!


Mikaboshi Secondhand Bookstore. I only go to this shop once in a blue moon to procure rare novels I wouldn’t find anywhere else. Even then, it’s a big gamble whether they’ll have it or not. This year, all the books I’ve bought came from this place. I don’t have enough money to buy them wholesale anymore.Bookmark here

But I’m not here to look for a masterpiece worthy of my time. No, I’m here to dumpster dive. Thankfully, there’s so many disposable Light Novels that there isn’t an end to them in this shop. They release these things by the truckloads. It’s no wonder at least a couple dozen titles end up in a trash can like this shop.Bookmark here

And… Haha, just as I expected, Blade Reincarnation Phantasia is here. Just one volume though. Volume three at that. It still proves a point that someone out there has taste and discarded this garbage where it belongs. But I’ll claim it. This is the only place I’m willing it claim it. Because no way am I sparing a penny for Sawamura Aki.Bookmark here

Suppose I could pick out another book or two. It’s cutting in close to my food budget, but it should be worth it to have lots of picks from the litter. Helps me understand this industry that Aki monopolized. Three fourths of these have the word reincarnation in the title, and almost all of them have titles that run on like a full sentence. Like…Bookmark here

I Moved In With My Stepfamily, But They Were All My Chilldhood Friends?!Bookmark here

Or maybe…Bookmark here

Reincarnated Into Another World As The Strongest… Fairy?!Bookmark here

It’s like they think everyone in their target audience has such a low attention span that they need to fit the entire plot in the title alone. What’s the point of having a summary at that point? But, thinking on it clearly, this is that Aki’s audience we’re talking about. They probably really are that tasteless.Bookmark here

I’ll show them. A title should be compact. It should be tell you everything you need to know about the world and the story in four words max. Or maybe, even more vicariously if they’re daring… One. Like… This book on this shelf that does not belong here…Bookmark here

RuneBookmark here

Ohohoho… Even the name gives me goosebumps. The legendary sci-fi fantasy franchise written fifty years ago by a renowned American ecologist. Truly a revolutionary work that changed the course of sci-fi as we know it. And it only needed one word to carry it, one word that echoes such mystique and intrigue. The word itself describes so much of the setting if you know what it’s about. It’s also foreshadowing the later developments within the franchise.Bookmark here

What the hell is such an amazing book doing in these dumps? Don’t worry, Rune, I’ll rescue you—Bookmark here

Whoah! 5000 yen?! I can’t afford that! Why would you charge so much for a book in a secondhand shop? Evil!Bookmark here

I’m sorry, Rune. I couldn’t save you from these clutches. But know that you stand far and above the garbage that plagues these shelves. I will put you on the highest point imaginable, where you deserve to stand, like a king above these lowly peons.Bookmark here

With three books purchased, I step out the shop giving one last knowing nod at the legendary Rune. One day, a fellow connoisseur will rescue you from this dump. One day.Bookmark here

~~~~~Bookmark here

My shifts had changed to the midnight hours. The incident from the other day made it difficult to justify a noon shift, so the manager changed it without telling me. There was no point objecting. I felt that it was better I did not have to deal with idiots like that geezer anymore. Plus, it gave me time to go through my reference material.Bookmark here

Sun Tzu once said, know the enemy and know yourself. Right now, that Aki is my enemy. So I’ll read up on how his piddling talents have held up over these past ten years. Let’s see what kind of work Blade Reincarnation Phantasia is.Bookmark here

Pfft.Bookmark here

Just the first page alone and what is this prose? There’s barely narration. It’s all dialogue after dialogue. If you were going to slap so many quotation marks, you should have ventured into scriptwriting instead. It’s so minimalistic. He barely describes any scene that he’s in. You can’t paint a picture of this world because there are no words, no brushes. Is that why he has to rely on images so people can have some semblance of an idea of the world he‘s trying to convey?Bookmark here

Don’t get me started on this Kazuha. He’s insufferable. Every time he narrates, he acts like he’s the smartest, most amazing person to ever grace this world. Every time one of these girls does something stupid, he just sighs and somehow they fall head over heels for that. That Aki really has never talked to a human being, ever.Bookmark here

At no point, at no point, has Kazuha ever spent a word to describe himself. If it weren’t for the illustrations, I’d imagine he’d have a clown face! Seriously, how do you expect people to be engaged in your main character if you’ve never once painted a picture of him in your work?Bookmark here

Talentless. That’s all I can say about the work I am presented with. He lacks nuance, vision and most especially, care for the world he’s created. His worldview is so limited that the moustache-twirling villain he made for this book is an abomination named Dragonov.Bookmark here

Tsk tsk. An egotistical swordsman that dwarfs Kazuha in raw ability and talent who takes every chance to put him down, no matter how petty it is. He attempts to ostracize Kazuha from the kingdom by forming circles within the aristocracy. Thus, he ensures none of them approve of Kazuha’s achievements. In the end, Kazuha triumphs over Dragonov through his sheer tenacity and proves his worth to everyone who ever doubted him.Bookmark here

Are you kidding me, Sawamura Aki? Do you actually believe someone like this seriously exists in this world? You really need to stop watching so much anime.Bookmark here

It took me a mere two hours to finish the book. The prose is so simple and light, that I could scan through each page within seconds. By the end, I was left feeling… Unchallenged. If this ‘book’ if you can even call it that is what I am up against, then I’ll easily devour that Aki whole.Bookmark here

But, sigh, I do believe a second read is always a necessity so that one may enjoy the careful threads woven by the author. There was nothing so curious in this book, Sawamura Aki lacks the talent to carefully plan out his stories, but I have a rule to always read a book twice.Bookmark here

As I begin my second read-through, I hear the doorbell go off once more as some flashy woman walks in with a luggage rolling behind. Perhaps a tourist of sorts. I pay her no mind but lower my book in case she needs my attention.Bookmark here

But I notice as soon as she turned to my direction, she stops right as the doors slid shut. She straightens her rollout luggage as she utters,Bookmark here

“Ito Ryuji?”Bookmark here

How does she know my name? Naturally, I’ve prepared myself to having to greet strangers I’ve never met. I was set to become that famous after all… But I haven’t published anything at all so there’s no way she’d have ever read anything I’ve written.Bookmark here

A stalker, maybe? Wouldn’t doubt it. I think I’ve got some sway and I make sure to exercise regularly. But if she was a stalker, she wouldn’t walk up in front of me and call out to me like this.Bookmark here

Pedicured nails, dyed brown hair given a perm from a salon, a one-piece sweater with open shoulders and a ton of gaudy accessories… If this was a chick flick, I’d imagine she’d be the main antagonist. Hm, yes. I have no idea who this is.Bookmark here

“Hey, are you actually checking me out? I know I look good, but gross.”Bookmark here

She moves closer and leans over the counter. I’m just wondering who this woman is and why she’s acting like she knows me. Even in the deepest recesses of my mind, I cannot make out the image of this woman in any of my memories at all.Bookmark here

“Uh, have we met before?” I ask.Bookmark here

She grimaces as if she had picked up the stench of rotting flesh.Bookmark here

“Are you picking me up? What is wrong with you?!”Bookmark here

“No, what? I—“Bookmark here

“I can’t believe you’re actually doing this!”Bookmark here

“I don’t think we’re having the same conversation here!”Bookmark here

“Trying to get with her best friend, just because you broke up with Mana—”Bookmark here

Slam!Bookmark here

My body moved before my mind. My head was empty at the time my fist slammed against the counter. The lollipops and candies tremble from the force and the silence broke in before slowly mellowing out behind the songs of the radio. I couldn’t bring my head up to look at the woman. My brain felt like a fork had been stuck in it and spun about like it was spaghetti. All from hearing one name.Bookmark here

I hear a sigh. Neither a disappointed sigh nor an irritated sigh. It felt more like it was understanding of my circumstances. I hear her voice go off again, this time gentler than it was before.Bookmark here

“You’re still not over it, are you?”Bookmark here

I still couldn’t process myself. Worst still, I couldn’t remember this woman at all. Why would a flashy woman like this know Mana? She’s way too daintily and proper to spend her time with this cheap woman. Bookmark here

At this point, being around this stranger is eating up at me. I decide for the sake of my own mentality, I will disassociate myself from her.Bookmark here

“Welcome to Dawson, how may I help you?”Bookmark here

Her green eyes narrow as her lips curl into a frown. “You really don’t remember me, do you?”Bookmark here

“We don’t provide that service here in Dawson, but may I entertain you to a cup of coffee at this late hour?”Bookmark here

She bends forward and starts poking me at the chest. “Listen here, Ryuji, I get that I made an oopsie but that doesn’t mean you can go around treating me like this.”Bookmark here

“We have a privacy policy to separate customer relations from personal relations.”Bookmark here

“Ugh, really? You’re actually throwing a tantrum like this? How pathetic could you get?”Bookmark here

“If you haven’t any more business here, you may proceed to checkout.”Bookmark here

She groans loudly, rolling her eyes. “By the way, you still live alone, don’t you?”Bookmark here

“Employee personal information cannot be disclosed, thank you.”Bookmark here

“I’ll take that as a yes. Great. When does your shift end? 6 am? 7 am?”Bookmark here

“Working hours are divided between the morning shift and night shift. If you would like to apply as an employee of Dawson, I will bring in the manager.”Bookmark here

“That’s a yes.” She looks over her shoulder to the sitting area by the windowsill. “I’ll be taking a nap over there. If anyone tries to wake me up, tell ‘em to bugger off. Alright?”Bookmark here

“The resting area is for customer’s use when they want to enjoy a bowl of our hot oden or one of our twenty-seven food items in a comfortable environment.”Bookmark here

She flips a coin at me. “Then hook me up with some of that coffee. When your shift’s over, wake me up, okay? I want to talk about something with you.” She pushes a fist to her hip with a bit of a gesture. “I’m serious, y’know? If you walk out on me, I’m telling—”Bookmark here

“Thank you for your patronage!”Bookmark here

She lets out a disgruntled growl but pays it no mind and heads to seats. Like no one’s business, not even waiting for me to deliver the coffee, she falls flat on the tabletop, as if she lives here. Ten minutes in, and she’s already snoring. Does she have any shame, sleeping so loud in a public place like this? I would’ve hauled her out of here if she wasn’t acquainted with my ex.Bookmark here

My shift ends in five hours. She can’t possibly plan to sleep in the whole way. Right?Bookmark here

~~~~~Bookmark here

An hour passes. Then two. Then three… She’s really sleeping there. Snoring all the way. I was so focused on her makeup the whole time, I didn’t notice at the time that her eyebags were sore. Customers come and go, paying her short glances before marking it off as not their problem.Bookmark here

The doorbells go off once more, and this time I spot a familiar face entering this time. His eyes are hidden by the reflection of light on his spectacles, but I remember him for his long bangs that reach his eyes. But moreover, he never fails to show up to work in his casual wear which always consists of a merchandised T-shirt of some anime girl. I don’t know how he’s able to go around in public flaunting that he’s an otaku. Bookmark here

When his attention is caught by the sleeping woman, he reveals his crooked teeth as his index finger aims at her. “What is that?!”Bookmark here

“A woman.”Bookmark here

“I know it’s a woman! What is a woman like that doing in our sacred sanctum? This is sacrilege! Sacrilege, I say! Let’s chase her out!”Bookmark here

She’ll get mad at me if I let him do things his way. “Calm down. She’s not bothering anyone.” She lets out another horrifyingly loud snore. “At least, not at this hour.”Bookmark here

He raises his wheezy voice. “Her existence is bothering me! A 3D gyaru woman like that goes around spreading rumors of you! And they only ever talk to you when they want something from you, but they make fun of you behind your back! It’s women like her who embody everything wrong with 3D girls! They’re dirty, manipulative and they only care about themselves! That’s why 2D girls are always better!”Bookmark here

I honestly have no idea what this guy is talking about. What in the world are 3D girls and 2D girls? Don’t all women exist in three dimensions? Or is he talking about a woman who exists as a flat pancake without any depth? It’s so hard to parse. Guys like these don’t tend to socialize much at all… Hold on, that’s a good place to start.Bookmark here

“If you want to chase her out, do it yourself.”Bookmark here

All of the energy he had when he was ranting fades in an instant. He scratches the back of his greasy hair as he laughs it off. “Y-You don’t expect me to go talk to her alone, do you?”Bookmark here

“I don’t really care about her. If you don’t like what she’s doing, settle it yourself.”Bookmark here

He bites his lip, his entire body trembling. “F-Fine. I’ll let this go. But I will not forget! If that vile woman dares intrude on my sanctum once more, I will banish her from this plane! And you shall assist me! Right?! … Right?”Bookmark here

I thought he’s a bit of a weirdo, I didn’t think he was this weird. Still, I work with the guy, so I have to pretend I can tolerate him.Bookmark here

“Sure…”Bookmark here

“Heh. I’m different from all those guys back in school. I’ve awakened to the fact that all 3D women are nothing but pigs! If there were a girl like that back in my school, every boy would be all over her. But they’re tasteless, I—“Bookmark here

His words echo in my ears.Bookmark here

If there were a girl like that back in my school, every boy would be all over her.Bookmark here

It was like a flash of inspiration. A lightning bolt from the rain. My halcyon days of youth played back in my head before my very eyes.Bookmark here

RexxDrink
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Sujin 崇神
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Bookmarked
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