The mixture of the bright, warm, cold, dim, and neon lights was only an ordinary scene every single night on the downtown of the city of Nacht. No skyscrapers are ever seen upon a look-up on the sky of inconsistent system of weather, yet tonight, there was not even a haze.
An ordinary scene… an ordinary night…
Under the moonlight, the city persists to function until late with a myriad of jobs and businesses keeping the life left from daylight to sundown. May they be normal jobs or ones that has never met with the illumination of the sun, the lives of every single individual continue on.
An abundance of heavy footsteps meets the ears, the sirens of the police peaks at the high frequencies, the very seldom gunshots echoed from quite afar.
But asunder to the halting shrieks of the police, another pursuit was transpiring.
"Where did she go?! It's too dark in here…! Give us some light!"
"Agh…! Let's separate for now! She couldn't have gotten far!"
"Was she able to learn the Stealth Ability?!"
"Is she really so desperate to escape that she had to become a Clandestine?!"
"We really do not have any choice… If needed we have to take her back by force…
But still, we have to realize that that woman may only be a potential subject and not the one.
Anyway, let's move."
They are humans, and only humans. A legend of them tells that these individuals are capable of beyond normal mobility especially on the darkest shadows of the night. But in reality, they are people who took tutelage on a maestro to master the ways of stealth.
Upon completing and stepping away from his teaches, Clandestines are free to do what they wish for. Be a criminal, a prowler, an unknown identity, the maestro holds no responsibility. It was not his objective to teach his students morals, but only the lessons they need.
Thus, among those who chose to freely do so, one—just like anyone—chose the path of never ending escape and hide-and-seek.
"Hahh… I finally lost them…"
On her huffs, the certain Clandestine hopped down from a very short protrusion of a building and emerged from the shadows, blending in to the crowd.
The life of one that hides day and night was ultimately a struggle. It was not only a matter of being able to see the surroundings omnidirectionally, but also being able to leave no trace of one's existence.
On her silent footsteps, she arrived in an apartment building and nonchalantly took the stairs until she was in front of an apartment room on the third floor of the six-story apartment.
Her hearing immediately caught even on the slightest movements of the doorknob on the room right of her. Steadily, a woman on a tracksuit that is in her mid-twenties came out of the room and gave the Clandestine a sweet smile.
"Good evening, Ms. Vanta. I suppose you came home from a work meeting?"
"Yes, Ms. Jade. How was your teaching today?"
"It's always so-so. As always, they are noisy and they still keep talking about the disappearance of the princess.
Speaking of… it has already been a seven months since she went missing… the whole country is really worried…"
"Y-Yes… I was really heartbroken when they told us that she suddenly disappeared."
"Well, I hope that she is safe somewhere. This place is too dangerous for her."
"I agree… well then, I shall go."
"Oh, have a nice rest."
An input on a passcode lock and a scan on a fingerprint sensor later, seven clacks sounded from within the door and such she twisted the doorknob of her apartment room. On wobbly and exhausted steps, she landed on her bed facedown and let out yet another enormous sigh.
My name is Althea Vanta.
I am a 22 year-old remote employee that solely works at the comfort of my home for a certain technological company that is based here on the city of Nacht, within this country called Inchiostro.
Surprisingly, we are the only nation in this world that is still maintaining the system of monarchy, even on the period of technological revolution.
But that being said, the country is in the midst of crisis.
"We are once again living and ending another day without a trace of the only princess, Aiumina Azure and the country continues to remain in distress.
As we have always done, we would like to ask for your help on searching for the princess on any other ways."
The news has always been like this for the most of the seven months on the television ever since then. Again, this nation is still under the system of monarchy, heavily at that. The only remaining royal blood is the family under the name of "Azure," and is keeping the peace of this country until the incident that had happened.
But even so, it does not stop me from continuing from my work on the development and advertising side of my company. Amidst of the things going sideways in this place, the love for the things I do has never waned down. Even though I am in utter avoidance of chase, I am very glad that I am able to achieve the very small dream I have always wished for.
There is no point beating around the bush. I am the reason why Princess Aiumina Azure has not yet emerged until today… because Althea Vanta is the same person as her.
I am a coward. I have always wanted to run away from my responsibilities. At such a young age, I have gotten exposed to the system of governing the entire nation. But I was suffocated. I never wanted a life where the only thing that I will do has already been dictated.
Then I had a servant that taught me a lot of things about the world… as I was one that has always been caged inside the compound of the royal family in the royal capital. She was never an unruly one, she does not tolerate the times when I laze around, but in spite of that, she has always told me stories about the world outside. She helped me search for the things I love and the things I want to dream of. Because of her, I found my great interest on creating something in my own way. Indeed people have their own intelligence and skills, and it just so happened that I found my passion for a proficiency called programming.
I wanted to be a normal girl. I wanted to become a child that has friends I can play with. I wanted to go to a school just like any other children. I wanted to learn together with them, I wanted to understand what the feeling of love is with friends. I wanted to fall in love just like any other person.
But then I was born as a princess—with blue blood and an aquatic hair that only the nobles inherit.
It was not that I didn't love my family, if anything, it is the opposite. What I disliked was the life I have, and the lack of freedom to decide for my own which I should have had.
My only hope was my servant, which I later then considered as an older sister of mine. But I was awoken to a cruel chance of events. She had contracted to an incurable illness and I was not even able to hear the last words on her deathbed.
It was at that moment where I have completely and finally gotten sick of this life I had. I loved her as a family, and I couldn't imagine how I could live without her in that cage. And so, being the coward that I am, I ran away.
I sought for guidance from the maestro of stealth within the Clandestines and found myself residing in the lively city of Nacht. I then strove to continue the path of my dreams regardless of not having academic records. I made them face that an uneducated like me can prove something in the society. I changed my name and the color of my hair to black, got a job, rented a small apartment, and finally achieved the life I wanted.
Things were going fine until the men of the king, my father, began to mobilize in search for the missing princess. On their own ways, they managed to narrow down potential individuals that could be her. But one thing that they did not know about this city is that most of the citizens here are nimble people that would not submit to pursuits that does not have apparent bases.
For the most part, I was able to move forward in this life full of risks peacefully aside from the close calls where I was almost identified. To be honest, there were times where I was once again visited by the thought that I am getting sick of this life of being chased. Truly, I have come to be very exhausted, but I swore to never return to that confinement.
~ ~ ~
But soon, I found a call center agency that aims to hear out the sentiments of those that have suffered in this admittedly miserable world. Amidst the risk of being outside, I presented myself to that agency for a tour and to verify its credibility, and they did not disappoint.
At one certain time, I inputted their hotline from my dial pad and the call was immediately answered after a few rings.
"Hello, this is 'Other' Agency graciously hearing out to your voices; how may I help you?"
"I just want your advice…"
"Then I would like to hear it."
"It's just… I love my job and the things I do… but I just don't want the life I have right now. As time goes on, my life is becoming less and less peaceful. I want to know of the means… I want to know if there is any way for me to start over a new life peacefully and happily without being put to danger. Is such a thing… possible for someone like me…?"
"I personally understand your sentiments, ma'am. There are indeed many people that wanted to start a new life although they seem to be doing well. Perhaps it goes by the same principle of having money but not happiness. I am not presuming that it is your circumstance, but was it any near from that?"
"I suppose so…"
"Thank you for your honest response.
We believe that there is a possibility to start a brand new life, especially if this is what you truly meant from your heart and mind. Our actions require for a person to be sincere to the decision that they had made and that they also are accepting of being able to move on."
"I… I would like to hear more of that. If possible… I really want to start over sooner than later. Please… I really need your help."
"We humbly apologize that a very immediate response is not possible, but we can act in such a way that would not take very long. If you would give us enough time, we can do something to help you."
"I will be willing to wait…"
"I see. Once we have sorted out the things on our side, we would get back to you immediately. But can we please have a copy of your information ranging from your name, age, and occupation?
We will assure you that your information will never leave our premises, according to Law No. 965 regarding the right of the citizen's privacy.
Once again, we would get back to you once our side has been settled."
"Thank you… Thank you…"
▪ ▪ ▪
With all the things that has been said and done, reality is never kind to those that did the wrong thing, in the end.
I was a coward, I fled from my responsibilities, I chose the life where the whole country is going to lose trust on me, all because I am a selfish child. If only did my life as a leader of this country did not feel like my existence has been decided from the moment I was born to the time I die, I would not have ran away. Or perhaps… maybe I will still have.
I have become very aware that even my "older sister" would definitely dislike my actions, yet I still acted upon them.
It felt like I have been punished… as the cruel reality does not forgive.
The hopes and great delight were seen on the many faces that ultimately surrounded mine standstill on the middle of the still young day. The cheering of the crowd was loud and clear, in unison, without even a failure within their rhythm.
But somewhere deep inside that the people will never get to see, it felt like I was being persecuted. My breathing drastically shortened, my head became so light, my ears began to hurt, and my eyes began to tear up from the face that has been unmasked in front of this very nation.
I was starting to lose my mind.
If this is how everything is going to end… THEN I MIGHT AS WELL JUST DIE…!!!!"
I was too weak to even hear the echoes of the screech that made the crowd dead mute in an instant. On my blurring sight, I saw only disheveled expressions and on my dying ears, I heard absolutely nothing.
Amid the fading consciousness, I was not able to realize the things that were about to happen. Something was loud, and something was visible, but I was not able to feel anything as my eyes closed.
~ ~ ~
"Oh, oh, finally awake, Ms. Vanta."
I woke up inside of some kind of a vehicle. It was indeed a car, but its layout is very much different from the ones I have known. Even from the inside, I could immediately tell that it is very wide. The windscreen was almost flat and almost upright, and with the wideness of the vehicle it felt like I could see anything in front of us, and I was taken aback by how high we are from the ground even with the guarantee that we are not hovering from the ground.
"Wow, really. I did not expect this place to be so familiar from the system, technology, infrastructures, and to the lands. But still, this place is waaaayyy more environmentally maintained than I imagined."
"W-Who are you…"
"Before that… may I please verify that you are indeed Ms. Althea Vanta, age 22, and an information systems associate and a member of the advertising department to boot under Softhave? Well, not like I actually know that company."
"Y-Yes… they are correct…"
"Then that's settled. My name is Hitoyoshi Vecker, a driver employed by Other Agency. I was oriented with your circumstances, and it was decided that I will be your agent for the moment until all the processes have been finished. We believe that we have found the solution to your problem."
On a better look at this person behind the wheel, it felt deep within that something was off or unusual with him. His appearance is something I have not seen anywhere. He still appears to be a human, but I have never seen a race with an appearance the same as him.
"Take a turn left on Codis Rd."
"Haaahh, thankfully there is also GPS here…"
My attention was caught for an entirely different reason when I looked at his phone. To my great surprise, the screen of his smartphone was literally bordering the edges of its footprint. I for one have never seen a device like that. Even I know that the most expensive phones in this day and age have a screen that only houses the center with less than inch of a bezel on the top and bottom. If I may speak of complex words, I have never seen a phone screen that is not in a 16:9 aspect ratio.
But for me to even care more about it was too much of a stretch.
"Please settle down for a bit, Ms. Vanta. We're arriving very soon to our destination."
~ ~ ~
The vehicle stopped inside a well-lit warehouse with not a lot of people in it. I hopped down from probably more than a foot of elevation as I stepped down, and immediately saw the exact size of the vehicle I was inside. It was hard to describe, but the shape of the vehicle was very rectangular and flat on its surfaces. There were three wheels on each side that were almost as tall as my knees, and there is a large metallic container.
"W-What is this vehicle, Mr. Vecker…"
"That's what you'd call a box truck," he proudly uttered with his hands on his hips.
"S-So… what exactly is going on…?"
"In my world, there is a trope where getting hit by a truck, presumably dying, will lead a person to be transported to another world."
"But in this case, you have clearly told your sentiments to the call center, and here we are now. I just said that trope, but what would happen isn't something like that. Basically, the solution that we arrived at is sending you to a different world."
There is only one world… and even I have never heard of such fiction…"
"Well, I have read and watched so many of that trope. But what it is most commonly known is "isekai" from another language in my world. It roughly means another world.
I'm sure that you're sick and tired of this place so I would like to ask you once and for all. Even if you don't believe me, you will definitely be transported to another world where you are going to be able to start a new life that you really wished for and-"
He was interrupted by the sound of the news from the television.
"In this unfortunate day, Princess Aiumina Azure has been identified to be residing in downtown Nacht and was able to be found by the royal guards, but in an unexpected turn of events, an unknown vehicle has taken the princess and is still not able to be tracked as we speak."
"So you are a princess that has escaped. Well, anyway, I'm not from this world so I don't care. Continuing… if that is the case, then no one will be able to track you down and be a princess in that world. You will live your life as a normal person there and choose how you want to live.
If you truly want to leave this place… we would like to know right here and right now."
Mr. Vecker led me to a table with a lone paper work on it.
"Apparently there is a power that you generally call an 'Ability' that is being brought out by a 'force' inside your body. This is basically a contract in which you agree to be transported to a different world. In this printed circle, apparently you have to press your thumb and channel a bit of your force and it will disappear.
Also, sorry to say, but my people on our world does not have any kind of ability including myself.
So, have you made up your mind, Ms. Vanta?"
I am incredibly tired to even make a speech inside my head, and all this exhaustion has led me to this place that doesn't even feel real. My escape has finally led to me apparently leaving this world to another one.
I am not a good person, I chose my selfishness over the wellness of this place. I left relentlessly without trying to reconsider of returning back to my old life.
At this point… the last thing I would want to do is regret this haphazard decision.
I strongly pressed my thumb on the paper like there was no tomorrow and felt that a little bit of my force left my body. In an instant, the paper lit up and disintegrated to nothingness.
I was then startled by loud whirring sound from my behind, and found that the "truck's" engine has started and the headlights turned on.
"For people like you who have wanted refuge from the sufferings, we made the process simple for you. Please hop inside of the van at the back while I am driving. If you need anything, you can call me from there."
"Well then… the duration of our travel will be six hours. At some point, you will fall asleep as it is intended to be, but it looks like you are already very tired so have that opportunity to rest."
What I assume were the agents of Other opened the van for me and revealed a living space that is even better-looking than my apartment. Who would even expect that such an industrial-looking cargo on the outside will actually look like this on the inside?
I have just judged a book by its cover…
Then from the inner side of the room, a heard a knock and slid the opaque window open and saw the cabin where Mr. Vecker has already mounted in.
"Are we ready to leave, Ms. Vanta."
"Do you want to say goodbye to this world while you still can?"
When I am by myself," I smiled politely and slid the window shut.
I felt that the vehicle started to move but then I was able to get used to the micro movements. After settling down, I first checked if there is something I can wear for a change of clothes, which there is.
The curiosity also got the better of me and so I checked the bed and pressed down my hand on it which immediately sank due to its softness that retracts back as if nothing happened. But I tried not to act spoiled and went to the bathroom to take a warm, quiet, and comfortable bath that I have not experienced in a while. Day and night, I have always worried of my surroundings. I always checked if I am being tracked, I have always avoided cameras, and even people I think that are suspicious. But unconsciously, I let go of those concerns after sinking on the hot bath.
I have expected that the clothes provided here were minutely baggy for me, after all. But even so, it felt like forever when I felt so cozy. Even the room is air conditioned and is adequately furnished. The fridge also had beverages and ready-made food that only requires heating up.
But even before I act hysterically on the spectacle I am in, I slowly and silently approached the neatly prepared bed and disturbed its tranquility as I leaped straight down and sank on it.
"Waaaahhh… This feels like I am on a cloud…"
Five minutes after and before I even doze off, I decided to fill my rumbling stomach with the food in the fridge that I then placed on a microwave. What do you know, I was expecting a cheaply made meal, but what I got was a very delicious and nutritionally balanced meal.
Then I stumbled upon a bookshelf containing books that exudes of leisure and entertainment. But there was one book that totally piqued my interest.
I thought that books only contained words, but this book is different. Along with the words that convey a story, there were also precisely drawn images that describe the story.
"M-M-Mr. Vecker, what kind of book is this?!"
"Oh… that's what you would call a manga. If you're confused, you are supposed to read the boxes from right to left. And it seems you can read English?"
"E-Engleeks…? What is that… this is Evian language."
"Hmm, whatever. But I like reading that kind of books. I hope you enjoy them too."
Surprisingly, it was as though what Mr. Vecker said was starting to align itself. I realized that the book that I was holding was not the first volume, and so to respect the literature, I took my time to find the first volume. I may have hated being a princess, but I did not dislike my time reading a lot books in that time.
I decided to only read the very first chapter of this book called a "manga," but the words of Mr. Vecker immediately resembled the narrative of the book.
The protagonist was a teenage student that seems to be having a regular life, but in unfortunate chances, he was hit by a truck and immediately died. But he found himself waking up in an unknown field of lush grass, still remembering the tragedy he experienced. He realized that he developed some kind of a power that is akin to my Force and Ability. It appeared that he was transported in some kind of a fantasy world that disrupts all conventions of his old world. Be that as it may, he accepted the fact the he has no way to return to his original world and accepted his new life.
In many ways… it was definitely identical to what they said and what I imagined upon being told of that thought.
It was finally sinking in. I chose this path where I will not be able to see my family or even my original world anymore. Because of my selfishness, I am now apparently being transported to another world to start a new life that is different to my old one. If there is even a time for me to grieve and regret, I also ought to think about how I will accept this very tall thought.
Slowly… very slowly, the credibility of the events in the earlier moments is now converging to reality. I knew that I was extremely tired, but something was forcefully making me close my eyes and lose my consciousness to a slumber.
"…At some point, you will fall asleep as it is intended to be, but it looks like you are already very tired so have that opportunity to rest."
If I can recall… there were still five more hours remaining.
▪ ▪ ▪
By the time I came to, I heard a continuous knocking from the outside of the van.
"Finally awake, Ms. Vanta? We have arrived, although you overslept for half an hour," Mr. Vecker's voice resonated from outside.
"I-I'm sorry… Please let me freshen up first…"
"Take your time, then~
By the way, we're here in our exact destination so this is where I will drop and see you off."
My eyes were still very dry and so was my throat. My limbs have not yet shifted from its listlessness as they still want to go back to that soft bed. But nevertheless, I went to a sink to wash my face…
And I even thought that I saw a ghost in front of the mirror.
I was so startled that I fell on my backside upon seeing a woman with the same face as mine but with the combination of blue hair and dark gray eyes.
I do not remember removing the black dye from my hair as I was sure that all I did for the remainder of the travel was sleep. But here it was, my appearance returned back to normal, and so I opened the door of the cargo van and saw a morning scene.
I stepped outside to a place where the sun has only rose for three hours. The road was adequately wide compared to the ones in Nacht; and it was also very quiet. There were no towering buildings, only residential houses and buildings only going up to five floors. I figured, the building in front of me looked similar in a sense to where I was living at. The concept of apartment buildings also exist here, and very similarly at that.
"Uh, well… with all the commotion that happened, you really don't have any belongings with you so you can take the clothes you saw inside the van.
Aside from that, may I know the name of your old world and your former location?"
"It's Hogenhaft… and I live in Nacht City. Our country is called Inchiostro."
Then Ms. Vanta… I welcome you to my world where reside in.
Welcome to this world called 'Earth.'"
"Earth… you mean like the Evian word?"
"Yeah, I guess, if that's how you want to roll.
This country is called Orio, and this is considered as an Eastern country. Currently, we are in a province called Hitoretsu which is the very North of the country. A few kilometers from here, and you will see the beach which is literally the very end of Orio's shore.
We are currently speaking English, and please refrain from calling it Evian from now on. But rest assured, our mother tongue is very easy to understand. In a few months, you will be able to master it. Anyway, there is actually a person waiting for you in your new living space.
And speaking of your house, this may look like an apartment building but the rooms are actually for sale. We took the liberty and purchased the room for you so you wouldn't worry about rent. I'll help you bring out the clothes so please let me accompany you. Your place is in Room 405."
"Please lead the way."
I feel extremely conflicted. From the outside, this world looks almost like Hogenhaft. The way the houses are designed—their architecture and the engineering are very much same. It feels strange that it appears like this is still my world, but I don't recall any place like this. And the ambiance, the surroundings, and the mood is different. Even the temperature and the humidity puts me slightly off.
But putting that aside, we reached the fourth floor of the building and the door with "405" on it. Mr. Vecker rang the doorbell and a man immediately opened the door.
"Mr. Vecker! Congratulations on a safe trip!"
"Yeah, thanks for the great work too. Anyway, this here is our client, Althea Vanta."
"Ah, then I'm Kyo Uchizawa. I know you came from a tiring trip so please come in immediately. It is quite hot outside."
Once again, I am stunned. The entire room was exactly how I would describe interiors in my former world. But granted, this place is entirely bigger than the apartment room I was living at. This is a house already. It is completely furnished in the living room, complete with appliances in the kitchen, and there are separate rooms. Truly, this is basically a house on its own.
Only a literal minute of being sat on one of the couches in the living room and Mr. Uchizawa immediately served a hot drink from a fancy-looking cup. But soon enough, I realized that he has a very dark brown hair and dark, lime-like eyes.
"Alright, that's all of your things. My work's done now that you two have met. Kyo will tell you the things you don't know so don't hesitate to ask away.
Well then, cheers."
"Good work today, Mr. Vecker."
"I'll leave the rest to you!"
"Is it fine to just let him leave like that…?"
"It is. He does his own things at his pace after all. But he's probably tired too."
"Well… is there tea in your world?"
"That's the first time I'm hearing that."
"I hope that you would try it. I'm quite confident with how I make them."
Upon raising the cup to my face, a very fragrant and soothing smell immediately wafted on my nose. Then I took upon his offer and took a sip.
It was beyond great, and my astonishment showed on my face.
"I'm glad that you liked it."
Right after that, he explained some things to me regarding this world and the transition I had to go through without going away from his polite tone. He revealed that he is the housekeeper that is now tending to the recently purchased room and spruced up the place. But then as he hesitated to mention something, he suddenly felt down or somewhat anxious.
"I-I'm sorry about announcing this so suddenly and it seems that Mr. Vecker didn't tell you…
But as part of taking care of this house, I am also living here…"
My eyes widened in great surprise, needless to say. I don't know about this world’s concept of etiquette and morals, but it seems that my answer was already showing on his face. I questioned it strongly in my mind; to be honest, I can't imagine myself living with a man that is probably the same age as me under a roof. But upon further reflection, I do not have all the rights to complain while I still have some. I am not familiar in this world, Other granted my wish and even accommodated me. And there is also this man who set up the whole place on his own to look very homely.
And thus I started.
"I… I am honestly concerned about this… but I'm not really in a position to answer vigorously. All of you made the trouble to consider my selfish request, so if anything… I am the one who really should be thankful that I am here with a place to settle in…"
Then I would like you to wait while I make you something to eat."
"N-N-N-No! You don't have to! I can cook my own meals so you really don't have to mind me."
"Umm…" he looked genuinely confused, "but isn't it the housekeeper's duty to do this…?"
Somehow, he sounded like an idiot there.
"But even so, I would feel really bad if you are the only one doing the work."
"I understand that, b-but…"
"You may have been told but I was a sheltered princess until I escaped several months ago. Because I had no choice to live by myself, I finally learned the essentials without the help of a servant or a maid. So in reality, I actually find doing chores fun."
After listening, his shoulders suddenly drooped down and he took a deep breath.
"Are you going to be fine without an apron?"
"And now he just gave up and accepted it?!"
There was suddenly a boiling feeling in my chest and my face warmed up so much after hearing the words "it's great" in complete exclamation and delight.
All those months of hiding, it felt like I was a lost animal in an unknown place. I was all alone, eating the food I make without anyone in front or beside me on a table. I would be lying if I said that I did not want my father and mother to taste my own cooking, but now it felt so much more different… as I have resolved to never return there.
But in the midst of that, this man showed me the expression that I would want my parents to have. Without almost realizing it, it felt like I suddenly saw them.
"Ms. Vanta? You suddenly stopped eating."
Afterwards, Mr. Uchizawa prompted to discuss some more important matters.
"Firstly it is about your name. Do you wish to continue using your current name here?"
"…To be honest… I really like this name but I think I should use it less in this country."
"But frankly, it's a very fitting name in this country, and it's beautiful."
It made me happy so suddenly that the name I thought up for myself was praised.
"That being said, it is my name that sounds quite foreign here. That may be contradicted by the fact that 60% of the population has a name that came entirely from a neighboring country, but it is not of this country's origin."
"Still, I would want to have a new name here. And while we're at it, can we please drop the formal speech and call each other on our names? If we are going to be residing here and all, it would feel weird for me."
"Is that so… I'll keep that in mind."
But even if you said all that… I don't really know what name could work. Can you think of something for me?"
"That will be difficult…"
For a moment, he sat silently with a serious look on his face, and then suddenly looked at me briefly.
Sora… Sora Ao… Ao… Aoba…? Ao… Aobana…?
I was confused, the name did not make sense at all… but somehow I did not hate it.
"Then I guess that will be my name from now on…
"Mhm, yes. It is nice to meet you, Sora.
It was going well and all but suddenly his troubled expression returned.
"Actually… should I call you Althea instead of Sora? You said you liked it so I suppose it wouldn't hurt to at least remember it."
"Really…?! Thank you, thank you!! I'm so proud and I really loved that name so please do so…!"
Before even knowing it, I found myself acting very strung up and embarrassed myself.
"Not at all. You seem to be nervous for the most part so it's nice that you are getting used here.
Also, since we're on the topic, the agency actually got your bank account from your world converted to the banks here, but I very much apologize on behalf of the agency for not telling something so important. They indeed had access to your account but now it doesn't exist in your former world," then he pulled out his phone, "Currently, it is in the process of being processed for transfer. All that is needed is your information and how you will personalize… your…"
All of a sudden, he stopped and put his phone right on his face.
"I'm sorry again for looking at your account, but what was your job before coming here…?"
"That? I don't know if it is known here, but I work as some kind of a programmer."
"You mean… coding, algorithms, and such…?"
"Can you actually earn six million Laxes in just a few months…?"
~ ~ ~
It seems that sorting out a bank account was harder here than in my home world, or it is probably because I apparently had "a lot" of money that needs to be processed on their system all in one go. I however know that my wage is above average… but I didn't know that it would be such a large cost here.
After a withdrawal of a sum, Kyo suggested to accompany me on getting some essential things as I literally came to this world emptyhanded. So we went to a mall to get me some clothes and the like.
And apparently, Kyo has a friend that works on a clothing store and recognized him.
"It's been a month!" the man exclaimed on a language I do not understand.
"Yeah, it is."
"Are you still doing part time work-
Found yourself a girlfriend, I guess?"
"Ah, no, no. She's an old friend that came from London."
"London, huuuhhh. Can she speak our language?"
"She can only speak English, but she plans to learn the language."
"I see, then if she's buying clothes, want me to recommend something for her?"
"Sure. Your suggestions are always on point anyways."
"Glad to hear that!"
Clothes acquired. And to no surprise, they are once again similar to the ones in my old world. Truly, these two worlds are very same, yet still very different.
"Say… in this world, are there people with hair in various colors?" I asked promptly as my curiosity only kicked in after getting home.
"Yes, it's common to have hair that has a striking color, but they still come from genes. What's very rare to find people that have white or gray hair upon birth.
If you still have questions, I will gladly answer them."
It felt like I was troubling him a lot at this point, but I still have more questions than answers, and one there was one thing that I missed to ask.
"Actually, what is the calendar system here?"
"Umm… I don't really know the specific… but a year here encompasses 12 months from January to December."
"So it's also the same… May I know what the date is today?"
"It is March 29 today. Ah, we are in year 2019."
"2019?! We were like in year 1026 in my old world…!"
"O-Oh…? That even sounds more surprising since you already have a modern technology in a thousand years…"
He once again stared at the calendar and suddenly flinched.
"I haven't shown your room to you, haven't I?!"
"A-Ah, that's right."
It may have been because there is a calendar hanged on the wall in between two doors that made him realize that, and therefore I assumed that those two rooms are our rooms.
My former apartment was basically one room only where the kitchen and bedroom are in one place. It was really a small place, but it was reasonable if I am one that actually did not know anyone outside of the royal capital. Even though this room—although only the bedroom—is a little smaller than that place, it still somehow reminds me of it.
There is only one window and the bed itself is right next to it and a closet beside, while there is an empty desk and a swivel chair for me to use.
"Kyo? How much does it actually cost to buy a computer here?"
"I don't really know an exact price, but the computer itself, not yet including the peripherals, will cost around 30 to 50 thousand Laxes considering your work."
"Also, we still don't know if your current phone will be supported here so I would suggest you to also buy a new one. If you want, I will accompany you again to familiarize yourself in the town."
"Is it okay if we go out again?"
"No, no, I should be asking you that, Ms.- I mean, Althea. It will be summer in the next month but it is already quite hot today. Are you going to be okay?"
"Well, the mall you went with me is quite close to here, so if we're going back there, I wouldn't mind. I don't easily give in to the heat."
"If that is the case… then we should be off."
~ ~ ~
A late lunch, a new phone that blew my mind, a new SIM card, and computer parts that I personally chose to build later, we finally concluded the shopping. I don't really know the currency conversion, but in my mind, it sounded like the computer I got which is considerably more powerful on paper than the one I left is actually extremely cheap. But if I was to say that, then I would definitely have embarrassed myself.
"I guess it's a Friday today, huh… So today's the last day for school."
What caught Kyo's attention was young people that seems to look like students seeing that they are wearing what I think is a school uniform."
"Are they… high school students?"
"They are from a nearby school that is around the town."
"High school, huh…"
Now that I saw and realized it, it seems that in this world, my appearance is rather young for my age. It looks like I am only a year or two older than them assuming that they are 16 to 18. In the end, I am still technically older than four years…
But if possible…
"Do you want to explore the beach, Althea?"
"R-Really?! We can?!"
"Yes, yes. The afternoon isn't as young anymore but the breeze on the beach isn't as warm."
"Uwaaahhhh…!! This is actually going to be my first time on a beach and the sea! I hated only seeing them in books so this feels like a dream come true!"
"It seems you had it rough."
It was truly my first time seeing the sea. Standing barefoot with rolled up jeans, I stared on a horizon that I have never seen before. Right now, it suddenly feels like the world is vast unlike seeing the world inside a cage. It felt so amazing that beyond the vanishing point I could not see any land and only the peaceful waves of the ocean. I was already overjoyed to be able to see one of the places I wished I could have come to, but there was also the fact that right now, I am standing at the very end of this country.
As I walked forwards to the water, it immediately felt like I am really just a speck on this big world.
"This world is amazing…"
A shout instinctively made me turn my head around once the sound entered my ears, and what came about was the falling of scaffoldings from a building. However, there were two girls that has the same school uniform as the one we saw before.
So much has happened on a great deal of hours that I almost forgot what I have become from the final months in my old world.
I immediately reacted to it and ran at full speed but I was taken aback to see Kyo on equal pace while he might not realize.
Thankfully, we were able to get the girls away from the danger. For some moments, they lost the strength on their body after being put to so much stress, but then they left with immense gratitude to Kyo.
But while they were expressing their thanks, he stared at me confusedly while I only stood literally beside him, still catching my breath.
The one last thing I would what in a new world is for me to stand out. Hence, I activated my Stealth Ability.
I have already accepted that my Force may soon disappear permanently in a new environment, but it seems that it is still being replenished naturally, just like back in Hogenhaft.
Be that as it may, I still decided to keep my Abilities to myself, even though I have indirectly revealed myself to have immense mobility to Kyo.
~ ~ ~
Once again, we were back home.
Kyo immediately contacted the technical store to have my parts delivered at our doorstep, as even the two of us would not be able to bring them all at once. Thus, we had them delivered from one box which immediately came seeing as we are very close to the mall.
Full of excitement, I immediately got them unboxed, wore an insulated footwear, held a metal doorknob for some moments, and asked Kyo for a screwdriver.
"Ahahaha…" out of the blue, he chuckled.
"I'm sorry, I just thought that you're amazing to know these kind of things even when you haven't been here for a day. It seems that you are knowledgeable about tools."
"I only put up with the princess thing for so long, but in reality, I don't really act very feminine. I like moving around rather than just sitting on a desk idly with work I really don't like to do.
How about you?"
"It depends. On cold days, I just want to laze around and have something warm, but naturally, I have been a very agile person."
Once more, our conversation abruptly ended with only the sound of the hardware snapping into places. But instead of having another awkward time, it prompted me to start a new topic.
"Are you… Are you actually working for Other, Kyo?"
"That… It's not that I am officially employed, but I do work with them, just like right now. My duty is to accompany you while you still are not familiar with this world. I basically act as an intermediary between you and the agency with processes that needs to be done."
"Then if possible…"
"If it is possible…
I want to go to a high school… as I have never experienced it even once."
I had to repeat to myself again that I have ultimately left my origin world. I arrived in this new world in search of a new life where I am not a princess or a person of authority, but only as an ordinary person.
There were so many things that I did not experience. The royal lineage is only a minority of the population. I wanted to experience what normal child had, but it is too late for that. At least, however, the thought of me coming to school even for a single year seems feasible on my mind.
I have relinquished the name Auimina Azure. I still clung desperately to the name Althea Vanta. But now my name is Sora Aobana.
Dear world… please replace these regrets of mine with happiness and memories.
That concludes the oneshot of Level Zero!
First of all, I would like to apologize for the great delay. This was supposed to be published last week, but, yeah, typhoon.
This is the first time I am writing an isekai and fantasy story; and well, I might have failed a few notches, seeing that the feeling of slice of life is still very much apparent. But hey, isekai has trucks!
As some might have noticed, the country named Orio is present, which was the setting in my just recently ended story "Normal in Parenthesis." But this story is not canon to that. If anything, this actually has a hint of minor spoilers because some ideas here came from NoFutsuu's sequel!
And speaking of that, Normal in Parenthesis's follow-up will still be released, and in Wednesday to make up for the delays.
As for this oneshot, I am still very unsure if I will make this a continuing story but my brain is telling me its potential!
Thank you very much for reading Level Zero!