The Consequence of Saving the World
The leaking pipe drips to the rhythm of its own design.
It was the only sound filling the vacant walls of this abandoned factory. Just as how the droplets of water from the pipe corroded the unused piece of machinery beneath it, the lively atmosphere of the production area corroded with every passing second.
“That’s him, right?”
The voice of a male teenager bounced around the old cement walls. Unmatching his young voice was the folds appearing on his forehead as his brows furrowed in fury. He sat on top of a large hollow container, looking down on the rest of his fellow delinquents.
The other students hanging around the old production area turned to face the person in question. What was previously relaxed chatter and easygoing “bro talk” has turned into vigilance. They gripped harder on the baseball bats in their hands, unbeknownst that their sweat would soon loosen it up moments later.
At the other side of the large space, across the rows and rows of empty production lines. The fishy smell of sardines still lingered faintly across the conveyor belts even after all these years.
“Oi, Masaru! That’s the chuuni kid from your class who was talking smack, right?”
The boy named Masaru wiped his specs with his uniform to take a better look at the student who just walked in.
“Y-Yes! That’s him, Hanasuke Ryojima! B-Be careful, though. He actually practises kenjutsu.”
From amongst the group of eight delinquents spread across the production area, one of them pointed out:
“Well, I don’t see a bokuto anywhere on him. He just came to us bare-handed!”
The boys began laughing at the fool that was Hanasuke. He waltzed right into danger without so much as a weapon or a friend. Truly, some high schoolers like him must still be stuck in middle school, dreaming that they were some kind of dumb hero.
However, the laughter was the least of Hanasuke’s concerns. The young boy slowly raised his hands which quaked and shook violently.
“Look! Don’t tell me he came all this way to surrender?! Hahahah!”
The laughter from the mob grew louder, but they weren’t the reason why Hanasuke was trembling. His pupils began to expand as he looked at his hands.
Not a single scratch or scar was on them. His palms and his fingers weren’t worn out at all. These were the hands of an ordinary high schooler—a sight which he had long forgotten.
“Is it really over?”
Hanasuke’s soft question was completely drowned out by the laughter from the delinquents. Their leader, who sat atop the container, noticed that their prey’s mouth was moving.
“Shut up! He’s trying to say something!”
Immediately, the other delinquents tried their best to stifle their laughter. Tiny squeaks and wheezes were still able to escape their covered mouths.
“Yo, Hana! I’m Ryo, a friend of Masaru’s.”
As he leapt down from the container, Ryo yanked a baseball bat from one of his lackeys.
“I had trouble hearing you just now, so could you speak up?”
“Is it really over?”
The same question left Hanasuke’s expressionless countenance. For a brief moment, Ryo and his gang were completely confused. It was as if a genuinely lost individual had stumbled across them by complete accident. They were expecting a desperate fight, not a clueless idiot.
“No. It has only just begun.”
A smirk formed on Ryo’s face. He felt like a badass saying that. However, he knew that he had to back his ego up with action, so he followed through with the original plan.
“Hey, Goro! You’re up.”
The door behind Ryo swung open with a loud slam. A large morbidly obese high schooler waddled into the production area. His fleshing hands were gripping tightly onto the wrist of a petite female student, struggling to free herself from his grasp.
“Let me go, you—”
As she fought to pry herself from Goro’s clamp-like hold, her gaze landed on Hanasuke.
“Hana you idiot! I told you not to come here!”
Even after being insulted, Hanasuke’s response was at a snail’s pace. It was as if the boy was completely absorbed in a world of his own, failing to comprehend the gravity of the situation in front of him.
His gaze gradually shifted from his hands and onto the girl who was just brought out. Suddenly, he felt everything fall in place.
That girl—the one who called him an idiot—was none other than Himari Miyatani, his childhood friend and long-time crush.
Hanasuke was experiencing déjà vu. He had witnessed this scene unfold ten years ago and many times thereafter in his dreams. Moments after this, he would be beaten to a pulp and left for dead.
Then, he would wake up in a fantasy world.
The memories and the experiences were starting to flow into his mind. Failing to save Himari tortured him even in the new world he was transported to.
After ten gruelling years of killing and bloodshed, he had finally made it back to Japan.
He was finally home.
“Hanasuke, you just gonna stand there and watch your girl cry, or what?”
The returned reincarnator had to contain his joy. He was elated to finally see Himari again, but that had to wait.
Hanasuke looked around him, eyeballing the delinquents who were excited to knock him senseless. He felt odd. He had been fighting demons for so long that he was hesitating on how he should deal with high schoolers armed with baseball bats.
Hanasuke took a few steps forward, before stumbling.
“He’s so scared, he can’t even walk properly!”
Quite the contrary. He simply wasn’t used to his smaller, actual self. In the other world, he had grown into a twenty-eight-year-old man named Evansmith Mattheld—a person hailed for saving the world.
Hanasuke looked down at his school shoes as he recovered from the stumble. His mind was computing his exact height and reach, even calculating exactly how much he had to compensate for this weaker body. In the past, he had synthesised a skill that accelerated his thought process and handled this for him, but he had to rely purely on experience now.
The sound of footsteps from a charging delinquent stimulated his hearing. As the sound felt nearer and nearer, the baseball bat from his opponent came into full view.
A sloppy, horizontal swing. No form, no balance. Doomed to fail.
There were a million ways he could punish that wild blow, but he had to choose the least lethal ones. Hanasuke reminded himself that he no longer had the superhuman strength and stamina from before. He only needed to disable—not kill.
Bending his knees slightly was all that was needed to avoid that pathetic attack. As the assailant overextended and ran past him, a swift chop to the back of the neck sent the student to bed early.
The other delinquents couldn’t believe their eyes. It was as if they had seen something straight from a movie. It didn’t take long before doubt turned into instinct. Like a stampede triggered from a single zebra, another charging student resulted in a chain reaction, causing the other students to swarm Hanasuke like flies.
Like a boxer coming out of retirement, it was all coming back to Hanasuke. The muscle memory and sensation of surviving countless battles were spreading across his body like wildfire. Every strike that was sent his way, he felt as if he had seen them a million times.
He slid under a conveyor belt, burning his pants and knees from the friction. Experience was telling him to isolate and take down the weakest link. In this case, Masaru.
Separated from the rest of his friends, Masaru started panicking. His glasses were getting fogged up as Hanasuke approached him. Even though he had a baseball bat in his hand while his opponent had nothing, Hanasuke’s empty, uncaring face paralysed him in fear.
The former hero understood how Masaru felt. Being frozen in fear was an emotion he saw countless times in large-scale battles. This almost certainly guaranteed death, but luckily for the new baseball club member, a quick uppercut to the liver took him out of the fight but kept his life intact.
The rest of them knew that they had to force themselves to move if they didn’t want to end up like Masaru. Two delinquents leapt over the conveyor belt and came in swinging, but their bats completely missed their mark as their target acrobatically flipped onto the top of the machinery.
The students were trying to process what exactly happened, but Hanasuke offered them no liberty. Like a falcon, the boy dove into one of the delinquents' faces knee-first, sending him straight to the floor. His friend beside him quickly fell as well as his feet were caught by a wide leg sweep. An elbow driven right into the sternum sucked the consciousness away from him.
Hanasuke saw a shadow cast over him. He didn’t need to look to know that Goro was about to use his large body to pin him down. Grabbing the fat student by his collar, Hanasuke shifted his weight. Using his hips as a fulcrum, he let gravity do the work as Goro tumbled down like a domino nose-first.
Just as he was getting into the groove, a powerful swing blasted the side of Hanasuke’s forehead.
“How do you like that, freak?!”
Ryo screamed at Hanasuke. If his head was a baseball, that would’ve been a home run. Unfortunately for the school’s cleanup hitter, the devastating blow only caused his victim’s head to recoil slightly and not drop on the floor as he expected.
When the sight of fresh blood began to ooze from Hanasuke’s head, Ryo calmed down slightly. “The fool got what he deserved”, or so the delinquents thought.
Casually, the bleeding student touched the blood leaking near his scalp. He seemed almost mesmerised by it, unfazed by the injury.
Hanasuke miscalculated the sharpness of his senses. In the other world, he would see a sneak attack like that coming from a mile away. A mistake was made, but it was a fruitful learning experience as he had learned something important:
It was a sensation that he had seemingly forgotten. It was the catalyst that drove him to the peak of all humanity. Experiencing the pain once again ignited the embers of his heart. It started to beat faster and faster. The thrill of the fight etched itself into a sadistic smile across his face.
Ryo and his lackeys were at a loss for words. This guy actually enjoyed it?!
Ryo’s mouth was zipped shut by a wicked roundhouse kick to his face. One moment, he saw a stream of black from Hanasuke’s trousers. In the next, his world was black.
Hanasuke wasted no time as he snatched Roy’s falling bat and launched it like a missile into the face of the furthest delinquent, instantly neutralising him. He saw the total fear in the eyes of the remaining two combatants, sending him into a frenzy as he pounced at the nearer one like a ferocious tiger.
Before this, Hanasuke relied on his unreliable human senses. This time, he let instinct take over. His movements were completely different, almost as if he had turned into the demons that he had slain time and time again.
While the further delinquent ran, Hanasuke’s target swung at him repeatedly like a madman. The former hero caught the baseball bat with his hand midswing. It didn’t matter if his palm was bruised, it could easily be healed.
Without a weapon, the student felt defenceless as the knob of his baseball bat found its way right in between his eyes. There was only one enemy left.
While trying to run away, the last delinquent tripped over an empty can. He fell forwards painfully, but adrenaline stopped him from feeling it. He quickly tried to get up, but he felt a piece of wood on top of his head. Shaken, he turned around, only to see the figure of Hanasuke towering over him with a baseball bat pointed right at his face.
Hanasuke lifted his weapon up with both hands, ready to throw a violent overhead swing. One swing and everything would be over.
An inhuman voice suddenly roared. A shocked Hanasuke saw the crippled body of the Demon Lord below him.
He was no longer holding a baseball bat. In his hands was the Holy Sword Trimegaia, its shine had long been replaced by the juices of many a demon.
“What are you waiting for? Kill me! Do your job, Hero Evansmith. You’ve washed your hands in the blood of demons long enough. End me, and our suffering would be over.
Was this a memory? A dream?
Hanasuke raced to find an answer. He was back in the body of Evansmith Mattheld, near the end of the final battle.
He remembered fighting tooth and nail against the Demon Lord, unleashing all of his might to end humanity’s suffering once and for all. This was destiny.
Before he could drive his sword into the Demon Lord, he knew that there was more to be done. He wanted to stop this cycle of summoning humans from earth into this wretched world.
Even if he slew the Demon Lord, Hanasuke knew that he had ruined Evansmith’s life forever. This vessel of his was chosen simply because of how compatible it is with his original self in Japan. Once he returned home, Evansmith’s dormant soul would take over and would be thrust into uncertainty.
It was fate that a soul from earth would always take over a similar body from this world and be designated as the Hero. In order to prevent it, Hanasuke had synthesised a skill that would tamper with the very fabric of reality—a Concept.
In order to develop this specific Concept, he needed the help of the Demon Lord.
“This is not how I want to end it.”
He cast aside his weapon.
The baseball bat bounced momentarily with muffled thuds.
The frightened delinquent quickly got up and ran, thanking the lucky stars in his heart that he escaped unscathed.
Hanasuke looked at his empty hand once more, only this time, it wasn’t shaking. He had achieved what he set out to do.
Peeking out from the empty container was none other than—
The boy quickly rushed over to her side. He held her shoulders firmly, still in disbelief that he could actually hold her.
“You’re NOT okay. Let’s get the hell out of here!”
Himari dragged the stunned teenager out of the building. The two eventually settled down on a bench in a nearby park. The evening sun was beginning to fade, offering the last of its light for the two.
The entire time, Hanasuke was silent. Himari couldn’t understand her childhood friend. At one point, he was moving like a kung fu action star. The next, he had turned into an unresponsive statue.
While she had a lot of questions and frustrations in her mind, she tended to the wound on his forehead first. Dabbing it with her handkerchief, it was the least she could do for the one who saved her life.
“How are you feeling?”
Hanasuke’s mouth opened slightly, but no words came out of it. Before he was transported to the other world, he promised that he would confess how he felt to Himari once he saved her.
Ten years later, he had accomplished that. However, he wasn’t able to fulfil that. The entire time they left the abandoned factory, his brain had been working to come up with the right words to say. It wasn’t, “I love you.” It was:
Tears started to fall from his eyes. His breathing became unsteady.
It was painful. It was traumatising. It was a nightmare that lasted ten years.
At the end of all that, he could finally see the one he loved in the world he once called home. He had nothing to say, except his thanks.
Thank you for finally giving me the chance to see Himari again.
He remembered the friends, enemies and sacrifices he made. It was an arduous journey, but if it weren’t for them, he would have never been able to return to his world. He would have never been able to soldier through and reunite with her.
As Hanasuke started to break down into ugly crying, Himari couldn’t help but think of how much of a pain he was. Normally, she would scold him, but this time, it was different.
Even though those were tears of joy, she sensed the pain in his tears. He wasn’t crying because he got hit by a baseball, he was crying because he finally overcame something extremely painful. Something that she would never understand.
That was why, all she could do in a time like this, was to bring him closer to her shoulders and let him cry it out.
In her hug, Hanasuke cried his heart out. It was truly, finally over. He didn’t get to confess his feelings, but it didn’t matter. That could be a story for another day.
After he settled down, Himari walked him back home. The two childhood friends stayed right next to each other, which made things very convenient.
“Go and wash up. And no more crying, okay? You can tell me about it some other time.”
She wished she could talk more with him, but he was probably thirsty from all that crying.
“See you tomorrow at school! Oh, and I’m not going to wake you up if you oversleep!”
All Hanasuke could muster was a weak wave goodbye. He watched to make sure she entered her house safely, before he entered his own.
As he opened his front door, he was greeted by the once familiar sight of his cosy abode. This was where he truly belonged.
Hey everyone! Harmonica here >_<
It's great to see Honeyfeed abuzz with so many new faces!
Totally not the reason why I'm posting this new chapter xD
First things first, The Consequence of Saving the World VOLUME 3 will be coming out June 1st. Stay tuned to the new chapters and upload schedule! Also, in order to be more LN-ish, I may be posting side stories/chapters for Hanasuke and Himari in the prologue you just read, separate from the main story of Evan. Let me know if prefer just sticking to the main story, or if you'd like to read side chapters regarding the isekai-ed soul who returned home!
Now, real talk.
1) STAKES. Stakes, stakes, stakes. I cannot stress this enough. When what's at stake is clearly presented and carries weight, it becomes a lot easier to get the reader engaged, even if your actual writing ability is subpar. Try to make it clear what your protagonist risks losing or what will happen if they DON'T move forward with the story. One of my favourite films of all time, Children of Heaven, is 90-minute movie about a child who does everything he can to get a pair of shoes for his sister. Sure, it's not the world at stake, but for the child, it's basically HIS WORLD that's at stake. Regardless of what your protagonist wants to do (get laid, go about their daily job, etc.) it's what's at risk when they FAIL to do it that's infinitely more engaging.
2) Plan your characters as if they've "video game characters who've just beaten the game". Kratos in the first God of War is rather generic, but the same Kratos in God of War (2022) feels super well written. They don't need to be someone who just committed genocide and regretted it, but I find it a lot easier to portray characters as well-written when there's history to them. Rather than trying to think what's "this character's personality" or "what this character looks like", think of what happened in their past first.
Personally, even before I envision what my characters even look like, I think of what they've done or has happened to them in the past, then design their looks and personality around it. Rather than "this is a typical high school bully", think about what led them to be a bully in the first place. You'll find your characters to be a lot more engaging and original when there's established history to them, BEFORE you design their personality and appearance.
3) Imagery/Money shots. Winning the contest doesn't guarantee adaptation. As per the poster on the website, "MAY be eligible to be published in Japan by Kodansha". So with that in mind, if your goal is to be one of the pioneers of overseas-written LN/Manga in Japan instead of some dude who just has an extra 3 gran in their pocket, you also have to bear in mind the adaptability of your work. Catering to Japanese tastes aside, one thing you can do is to be aware of your imagery.
In Hollywood, almost all directors plan their money shots. It's that one (or a few) cool or impactful scene(s) that usually gets in the trailer. Why? Because it hooks people in and gets their money. Try to imagine a few of your scenes that way—to be so vital, impactful or mesmerizing that when it gets adapted, it'll make the audience's jaw drop. Hey, even if it doesn't get adapted, you've just wrote a powerful scene, congrats!
4) Title + Cover. For this, you want to stand out as much as possible. How? Go look at the majority of novel titles here/other places, and choose something that feels different. That's why I went with the thesis-sounding "The Consequence of Saving the World" because it makes people do a double-take like "eh? that sounds heavy for a light novel." Your title should be evocative. Meaningful. And incite curiosity in people. At the end of the day, your novel title isn't going to fix your writing ability, but every bit of advantage when it comes to standing out should be taken.
As for the cover, unless you're a skilled artist, commission an artist. If price is your concern, you can search for Malaysian and Indonesian art commission groups on Facebook. Due to the exchange rate, I find it a lot better in terms of value, esp when compared with Fiverr. It pains me to say this as a Malaysian, but the Indonesian artists in the FB groups are a lot better with their work compared to ours (to be fair, kalian ada 9x populasi kami, ok?!). Support us, the SEA gang, we need the money lol.
5) It's not the end of the world. Last year, out of 800+ submissions, only 3 won. Statistically, 99% of you are going to lose, but it's not the end.
Heck, unlike last year, you guys are luckier than us. Why? Because Hivemind Literary Agency, that's why. Even if you don't win, if Honeyfeed/Hivemind sees that your novel is likely to succeed in the Japanese market, you might get represented and sent for deliberation to Kodansha/other JP publishers right away.
We didn't have Hivemind last year, but now we do! As someone who's represented by them, I can assure you, they're extremely professional and timely in what they do. Unless you're the long lost child of some Japanese publishing house's CEO, they're not just the best, they're your ONLY bet to get published in Japan. Let's get more novels on the publishing journey—it doesn't just benefit my chances, it benefits the entire OELN (Overseas English Light Novel) community as a whole.
So yeah, these are some tips from me. These are just my thoughts, btw—I'm by no means telling this message on behalf of the judges/jury/MAL/HF/Hivemind. I just want my novel to get published faster in Japan lel, so having better stories from this contest that can add pressure to Japanese publishing houses and tell them that we're a force to be reckoned with, which also works in my favour.
Anyways, tl;dr - win the contest. Also, check out vol 3 of The Consequence of Saving the World on June 1st!