Chapter 0:

Miyahira Kazuki's Lamentation

The Ethereal Wanderers

It's actually funny how your life can go upside down instantly. Without expecting it, without knowledge of what's ahead, and without preparation, you'll just lose the normal life you had. I'm presently 19 years old, and a college student. I've been living with my mom all this time, and life was decent. I never met my dad, and mom always refused to talk about him. I don't know why.

Anyway, I'm also working a part-time job to add to mom's salary. It was a decent life, and one that I found solace in despite it being just the two of us. I did have a few friends, but wasn't so close with them that we'd always contact each other. They were more of acquaintances, I suppose?

If I had to describe myself, then features of me that I'd like to highlight would be my overall intellect and my physical stature. I'm also well-versed in self-defense techniques, which I only learned as insurance. Though, it's unlikely for a crime to happen here. No one would want to commit a crime when everyone has a decent life, and a family they're living for.

I had good grades all throughout the school years, and in just a few years’ time, I'll also be able to finish college.

At least—

that's how it was supposed to be.

Mom died due to a car accident, and even when the doctors tried everything they can, it wasn't enough to bring her back. And so, I'm now by myself.

Life just proved to be more difficult for me. It was hard to accept the reality that just a week ago, I was still living contentedly. I do have my part-time job right now, but it won't be enough to sustain my needs in the long run. Due to the stress, it was also becoming arduous to keep up with studying. I still performed well, but it'll eventually exhaust me sooner or later.

Aside from this house, my only inheritance had been the last bit of money mom left. I could probably live for a year without problems, along with the salary I get from my part-time job. After that, I don't know. I'll just have to find a way to make more money by that time, I guess.

Going along with the flow, I'll still probably be able to secure my livelihood in the future. Hey, I'm smart, too. It's not like something like this would bring me down just like that. I don't really have any relatives, and mom refused to talk about them likewise. It didn't really bother me one bit, because we were fine living with just the two of us. But well, given my current situation, I think I should've persisted to ask.

Aside from the priest, the person who caused the accident and his family attended the funeral. It was a rainy weather during that time, as if expressing my lamentation. How frightening it was indeed, to have the life you maintained disappear in the blink of an eye. The family kept apologizing to me, but it won't bring back what was lost. In any case, I did feel a bit of hatred, but I didn't really blame them. I guess, it was simply inevitable for it to go that way. The Red Line of Fate, so to say.

Another day, the same routine. That's how my life progressed before. Right now, it's still the same, but it was a routine enunciating my life's deterioration instead.

"I'm lonely," I muttered to myself.

Spending time to talk with people who barely care about me was senseless, so I kept muttering that phrase over and over, slapping myself with it.

I'm losing the motivation to live. There's no one around me, and I don't really care if I can have a self-sustained life. Especially since, this solitude is slowly eating me up.

It was just like any other day. I woke up, went to the university, then headed straight to my part-time job. I was exhausted already, and the ever passing days that gnawed on my energy made me feel that I was suffocating.

It eventually became night time, and the streetlights that illuminated the path guided me until I made my way home. Our house was located on a street alongside a lot of houses, and was fairly spacious despite being a one-story building.

"I'm home," I said after I got inside the house.

There wasn't really anyone else here besides me, so it was weird of me to say it. At first, I only did it to pretend that mom was still here, but it ultimately ended up sticking unto me like a habit.

As I removed my shoes, a quick lightning surged onto my senses, alerting me of something. I stopped moving and held my breath to thoroughly analyze what was in front of me. It was a pair of sandals that weren't mine. I don't recall ever putting out any of mom's things. That meant this doesn't belong to her. If so, whose sandals were this? Was someone here right now?

I started to feel nervous and anxious about this sudden turn of events. Crimes were incredibly low given that one could be sentenced to death from it. I never assumed someone would be so bold to actually commit one. I could already feel myself sweating already. I'm usually prepared for any danger like accidents, but not for something like this. With my present weak state of mind, moreover.

I did feel startled, but I didn't panic. I'm certain that this is our house, but even if we're in an apartment block, someone mistakenly barging into another person's apartment wouldn't happen. Each apartment had a different key card, after all.

However, this was a house by itself. If so, who might this person be? The house wasn't ransacked, and there weren't any suspicious vehicles outside, so assuming this was a robbery might be off the point already.

Assassination? I don't even think I'm worthy enough for someone to waste their time ogling over when and why to kill me.

The lights were all turned on throughout the house from the automatic lighting system, so I couldn't make any assumptions as to whether this person tamped with any of it.

I proceeded to make my way towards the different corners of the house, going to the living room first. No one was there, and as I earlier said, nothing was ransacked here either.

I made my way to the dining room next; cautiously walked and took hushed steps towards it.

There, I saw a crimson-haired girl, someone who looked of similar age as me, eating on the dining table.

She was wearing something like a military uniform, had a figure like that of a model, and her pristine face reminded me of the snowy season.

Perceiving my presence, she startled. Her eyes widened, and she almost choked on her food before she gulped down a glass of water to relieve herself.

"Sorry about this! Don't worry, I didn't steal anything. I brought my own food! It's just that, I was hungry already!" the girl exclaimed.

Uh, I don't care if you stole food or whatever. I'm more hung up as to what concern you have with me.

"Ah, wait a minute. I'll just finish eating this real quick!"

Her expression was harmless, and just looking at it almost made me forget that she was a total stranger who just barged in here.

She swiftly gulped down her food and chugged down a glass of water before she cleared her throat, and turned her attention to me.

Her face's expression took a quick turnaround as she proved to look menacing.


With a tone unlike that of earlier, she continued.

"-do you want to become a Wanderer?"

At the time, I had no idea that meeting this stranger would bring an inexplicable change to my life, and that I would end up breaking out of this society's system to learn the entirety of this world.

It was a question that changed the fate I envisioned myself in.

Joe Gold