Chapter 1:

To What Lies Beyond

The Ethereal Wanderers

“Do you want to become a Wanderer?”

The girl in front of Kazuki posed the question with a crystal-clear tone.

"Ah, actually no. It should be You'll become a wanderer," she then followed as she scratched her head.

Until now, Kazuki still hadn’t processed the fact that this stranger of a beauty barged into his home and was eating at their dining table. However, along with her sudden change in expression, Kazuki felt the aura around him turn eerie.

“Wanderer?” Kazuki asked back.

Instead of answering Kazuki’s question, the girl just followed up with another.

“Say, what do you think of this world?” she rested her chin on her palm, and with her crimson eyes, she gazed at Kazuki.

“This world?”

“Yes, this world.”

He didn’t really know how to answer it yet, but before he could even utter a single word, the girl continued.

“Does this world feel natural to you? Does it seem too peaceful? Does it seem so tranquil that one would think it’s irregular? A world free of major conflicts, a world where one can co-exist with another peacefully, and a world where one would label those who question those things a misfit for this world.”

“A ‘misfit’?” Kazuki was still confused with what this girl in front of him was saying.

“Let me ask you now, Miyahira Kazuki, what do you currently feel?”

Rather than asking how she knew his complete name, Kazuki was only able to focus on the question. He pondered for a few seconds, before finally glancing back at the crimson haired girl seated in front of him.

"Feel? I wish I could answer that easily like I would before if this was asked. Right now, I'm not entirely sure how to answer it anymore. Do I feel lonely from being alone? Do I feel contempt for being put in this situation? Sure, I can still live like I would usually do, but it just isn't the same anymore. I don't have any attachments with anyone except my mother, so with her gone, it's like I don't have a purpose here anymore. Moreover, people here are just bland, and I don't understand them. It's as if the realization came in after mom died. The realization that this world doesn't have an essence of its own."

After Kazuki's lengthy remark, the girl smiled.

“What you’ve just displayed is proof that you are a misfit, you know?”

Kazuki felt slightly agitated from not being given a clear answer since earlier.

“I don’t know who you are, and what you’re here for, but if you’re just gonna play around, then I won’t pay attention to you anymore.”

Part of his agitation was from the fact that he’s exhausted for the day, and given that it’s night time, he should be resting by this time already. Kazuki started to walk away, headed towards his room. He closed his eyes to rub it for a second, then after he blinked it open, the girl was immediately in front of him, as if she teleported.

“Wha?!” Kazuki felt something between being frightened and shocked.

The girl dipped in his vision and stared closely at his face that it looked like she was going to kiss him.

“Hmm… You do have such clear and determined eyes.”

Kazuki couldn’t hide feeling scared at this point, given the peculiar ability this girl displayed. He wasn’t even sure if this was reality anymore. “Did she just teleport? Or was I just half-asleep?” he thought. The girl was only there seated at the dining table a second ago, and now she was suddenly in front of Kazuki.

“W-what are you doing?!” exclaimed Kazuki as he pushed her away.

The girl didn’t seem fazed at all, and just stood upright in front of Kazuki.

“I did ask you earlier, but I guess I never made things clear, so I’ll ask again. Do you want to become a Wanderer?

Kazuki stared at her in silence, with his brows furrowed.

“Simply put, you’re a misfit in this society. One who was now enlightened or perhaps awakened and currently aware of the peculiarities of this world as a whole. Actually, even if you don’t, given the time you’ll spend here being miserable, you’ll know it eventually. By that time, you’ll be a detriment to this tranquil society, and you’re someone who’ll break the system. You’re a misfit, and so, you must be eliminated. Well, that’s what the bureau’s mother said.”

The girl paused for awhile, but seeing Kazuki’s face inept to comprehend what she said, she began to speak again.

“I’m a Wanderer. I’m not really from this world, but you could say that I’m a misfit as well. I’ll never fit in here given what I know and with what I’ve been through. I’m not ignorant as the people here, and with your current state, you’re the same. Your mother was your only attachment to this world since you never blended in with the people well, and now that the attachment is gone, you’re struggling to find a reason to continue.”

“Here’s a fact, however. There’s no turning back anymore. That’s the main reason why I’m here in the first place. Your only path remaining is to be a Wanderer like us, or drown yourself in a road of despair in this world, and be killed. Actually, both choices are just filled with despair, so maybe it doesn’t matter what you choose.”

The girl went to the dining table and cleared up the wrappers she brought from when she was eating earlier. The biggest shock to Kazuki, however, was what happened next.

A purple aura emanated from the crimson-haired girl, turning the overall dining room into a glowing void. Her crimson eyes glowed with an eerie purple as well, and as she moved her hand, a rift opened. It was as if she tore through the very fabric of space, and just opened a new dimension only she could control.

The girl placed her things inside this rift, and afterwards closed it. The room’s atmosphere turned back to normal, and the purple aura that she donned disappeared.

Kazuki was left staring at her, filled with much awe that he couldn’t even move a muscle.

“I’ll give you a day to decide, at least. We will honor what choice you will come up with. For now, I shall take my leave, Miyahira Kazuki.”


Before the girl could walk away, Kazuki interrupted her.

“What do you mean when you said ‘killed’? Will I be killed just because I would stay here? And how am I a misfit just because of my current situation? I don’t understand.”

The girl turned back to meet Kazuki’s gaze, and with a cold expression like she displayed earlier, she stated—

“I guess it would be difficult for you to digest it all instantaneously. That’s obvious enough. To answer your question, it’s just the conclusion of the system that deemed you a misfit. You’re not one who’ll accept the society as it is right now, and it won’t accept you as well. We won’t kill you, but you’ll be killed by the system. That’s all I can say. Everything will come into clarity once you understand more of the world. That is, if you become a Wanderer.”

The girl wore the sandals she left just before the entrance, and left through the front door of the house. Kazuki immediately followed her steps to see where she was going, but the moment he opened the door, all he could see was the street lights that illuminated the sidewalks, and the lights coming from the neighbors. The girl was nowhere to be found. It’s as if she disappeared into thin air.

The night passed with Kazuki thinking about the conversation they had, and the supernatural power the girl exhibited. Despite wanting to feign ignorance on the level of what just transpired, it wasn’t something he could avert his eyes from, and more importantly, just forget.

Joe Gold