Chapter 1:

The daily routine of a man with many masks

Sekaunmei: The Fate of My World is at You

There is an otaku among the workers.

The incident took place the day X of the month X, at 11:35 am. The eastern corridors of the mart reverberated with an unpleasant music. The singer was identified as a female individual, with an unnaturally high pitch in her voice.

After a long research, we arrived to the conclusion that it was an anime opening that some of the employees uses as ringtone. We know this because at that time, the east hallways were not very crowded, since some employees were organizing the merchandise.

After checking the cameras, the list of suspects was reduced to seven. And our main suspect is Ken (the surname remains secret due to legal reasons). Maybe he looks normal on the outside, but that’s why we suspect of him. Otakus tends to be reserved about their likes. And whenever someone wants to talk with Ken about his hobbies, his answer is always evasive. Also, he is the only one that never talks about relationship, probably because he never had one in his twenty-three years of life. We’ll keep the subject under vigilance.

Of course, nothing of that actually happened. But Ken couldn’t stop thinking about it, ever since he forgot to silence his cellphone and everyone on the mart heard his ringtone. A whole year working there, trying to create a certain image of himself, all ruined by one simple mistake.

He was doing the repetitive job of attending the costumers in the box. Grab a product, pass it below the laser, check the price, calculate the total, get the cash, give the change if necessary. He was doing it with a serious and even almost boring face. That was the image he wanted to create of himself in the job: a quiet and mysterious man who doesn’t talk to anyone because he doesn’t want to, not because he doesn’t know how. A Sigma male, a Chad, like they say in the internet. But of course, having an anime moe song as ringtone completely destroys that image.

The ringtone incident happened just a day before, so he went to work that day with a huge fear. But by far nobody had said anything to him. So at the end of the work, Ken was a little more relaxed. Specially because the next day was finally his free day.

—Good job, everyone —said one of his co-workers when the end of the turn came.

—Good job —responded Ken, with a barely audible voice. He grabbed his stuff and left as fast as possible. However, a hand on his shoulder stopped him.

—Before you leave, Ken… —It was the gerent. He knew it because of the raspy voice of old man. He felt the pressure of that hand on the shoulder like if it was a hydraulic compressor destroying his bones.

“It’s the end” he thought. “He appeared out a nowhere so I couldn’t escape. He’s not going to fire me, of course, but…”

—Y-yes…? —Ken said, turning around and trying to keep the cool image, even when his voice was shaking.

—Tomorrow is your free day, right?

—Yes, it is.

—Oh, ok. —And he left.

“Huh?! You stopped me so dramatically just for that? Well, to be honest, maybe it wasn’t dramatic at all. It was just my imagination.”

He had the awful tendency of overthinking every social interaction. That made him a difficult-to-gain-confidence person. The worst part is that even if he thinks so much, in the middle of the conversation panics, and all the possible answers ends up being the most generic and premade phrases. That turns him into a boring person, or at least that’s the vision he had of himself.

“It’s ok” he repeats in his head. “I can be happy by myself.” But, was that the truth? One part inside of him didn’t believe so.

Of one thing he was sure: nobody should know about it. And that’s the reason why his entire social life was an acting. Meanwhile walking down the street towards the house of his parents, he mentally prepared himself to interpret another character, a completely different one.

—Knock, knock! —screamed while knocking the door. It was a small but beautiful house, especially for the recent renewals: the walls painted with a candid white, the varnishing wood of the porch shining and the grass perfectly cut.

A tiny old woman of sixty years old opened the door and smiled at her son. To her eyes, Ken was a happy and charismatic guy, always doing jokes and never talking serious. That was the strategy Ken decided to use in order to avoid uncomfortable questions like “When are you going to bring a girlfriend?” or “Do you have any friends?”. He couldn’t lie to his mother, but could say the truth in an evasive way.

—Who is it? —Her eyesight was bad, but not so bad that she couldn’t even recognize her son. She was just following the usual joke.


—Ash who?

—Oh, sounds like you have a cold, I better not come any closer! —Ken always cringes so hard when doing that kind of jokes, but her mother laughs out loud. He had a list of knock knock jokes, and memorizes one right before going to her mother’s house. It was part of the acting, but he also enjoyed seeing his mom happy.

—How was the job?

—Great as always, the colleagues are so funny! One of them adopted a parrot and was full of stories about the bird.

—Oh ho ho, I would love to hear some of them with a cup of tea.

—And I will gladly tell you about them, but first…

—Ah, yeah, come in.

The interior was as nostalgic as always. He was fine living alone, but the memories of adolescence strike hard when he comes to his old house. Everything remained as it was when he left, like if the time didn’t pass. The brown ceramics, so clean and polished and the cream walls were really cozy.

Right next to the entrance door was a huge wardrobe covered with plastic.

—So, is this one… —said Ken. It was going to be a hard work.

—I’m sorry for the troubles.

—No problem! After one year going to the gym, this is nothing to me!

He was wrong. Carrying the furniture upstairs was an exhausting task, especially after six hours of job. Anyways, he was optimist because it was a special day. He wanted to go back home as fast as possible, so he drank the tea while talking to his mom, and then immediately excused himself, saying that he had forgotten something important and had to leave. He kissed his mom, promising to come back another day to have a longer talk and quickly left the house.

His heart was racing faster every step he was closer to the bookstore. Finally, the day had come. The new volume of his favorite light novel was released: “The fate of the world is at the edge of my sword”, abbreviated as Sekaunmei because of the original title in Japanese.

Follow the adventures of Mask, the enigmatic legendary hero in the fantastic world of Darmasia, on his journey to retrieve the sacred ether fountain from de evil Council presided by the all-mighty Witch of the Barriers. He will be followed by his pupil, Mirena Von Kalssagliami, an enthusiastic and happy girl always willing for adventures, and the magic humanoid cat, Shishun. Together, they will meet a lot of new characters and defeat fierce villains.”

Maybe the synopsis sounds a little generic, and it was indeed. But still the author, Yoriyuki Yamahito, managed to make it really appealing and unique, making thousands of readers across the world engaged with the story.

The line was pretty long. He waited nervous, looking everywhere. The worst thing that could happen was find some acquainted there. To avoid that, he combed his hair forwards, covering one of his eyes. Usually he has his hair combed to the side, so that should work to hide his identity a little. Just in case.

A lot of different kinds of people were in the line. Some were normal people, waiting patiently looking their phones. Some other were using cosplays; some shameful, other beautiful. Some were alone, others talking with a bunch of people. Ken felt a bit of envy, it would be nice to talk with others about the same tastes and have fun wearing costumes. But in order to do that, you need a strong will to endure the judging glances of the people, and he didn’t have one. He was okay just acting and going unnoticed. He thought it was very ironic: he was the one dressed more normally, but probably the most used to act like another person.

After half an hour wait, finally he was in front of the seller with the 14th volume of Sekaunmei in his hands. That woman worked in the bookstore since a long time ago, so she was the only one that knew his secret. Of course, she had a lot of costumers every day, so she wouldn’t remember someone specific. But still, Ken couldn’t stop having those thoughts.

After that, the only thing left was returning home. During the subway travel, he finally could have a break. Alone, in the public transport, there was no need to act. Or that’s what he thought because:

—Ken? Is that you? —It was a feminine voice he didn’t heard in a long time. But the defense mechanism acted right away! He put his legs together, and both arms in between hiding the bag. Hunched his back a little, and deformed his face to seem a little scared. That was the “good and shy guy” posture.

—M-Mai? —said, looking to the girl standing next to him. Blond and beautiful green eyes, looking towards him. She was a high school classmate whom he had not seen since graduation. And he was fine with that, he didn’t want to meet the old classmates. He didn’t want to act like the shy and good guy, because he wasn’t nice and tame anymore.

—What are you doing here?! —she exclaimed, greatly surprised.

“What, I need your permission to be in a public place?” he thought, but of course, what he said was slightly different.

—I-I’m going home.

—Your home is near? It would be great to have a reunion with the guys of the high school.

“Are you kidding me? Like hell I’m going to see you all again.”

—Yeah, it would be great. Today I’m kinda busy, but any other occasion is okay.

—Great! We will be in contact.

“No, we won’t.”

—Yes, of course.

He managed to avoid that interaction successfully, and reached his home without more incidents. Once he closed the door, he sighed with relief.

—Home sweet home…

It was a tiny place, but it was his place. Just a studio apartment, with all what you expect to be in a house compressed in a single room (except for the bathroom, it was in another room, even tinier). On the right, the fridge and the kitchen. In front, the TV and a window next to some emergency stairs. And on the left, the bed and the wardrobe, next to the door that leaded to the bathroom. If he were in an anime, he could say he was in a four and a half tatamis room. But of course, he wasn’t in an anime.

There was no otaku decoration in sight, just a collection of light novels and mangas hidden in the wardrobe. Rarely someone entered to his apartment, but just in case…

He threw himself on a cushion in front of the TV and sensed the satisfying smell of a new book. The day was over, and he was able to enjoy a quiet and normal evening alone with Mirena and the rest of the cast of Sekaunmei.

Or that was what he thought, without knowing that, starting from that day, any day would be normal anymore.