Chapter 4:

Chapter 4: Replicated Fragments

Code Reader Kagami (LitRPG)


The small little village was silent. It reminded him of his home a long long time ago. He came from the small suburbs, a small little village that no one ever hears about. He probably could not even pull it up on google maps if he wanted to. A town of only 700 people, everyone knew each other. Everyone knew each other’s stories. Thus, even when his family died, he was raised very well by everyone there. Bookmark here

But alas, a town like that was not a place where one can move forward. Besides, when he became enamored with the first girl from the big city, he was instantly hooked and reeled away from his old life. A town like that could not produce another one of her. He was certain she was the one. Her smile, her laugh, her soft voice, he was certain. Yet, she eventually left. An unfathomable thing for her to do. She left without so much as a notice. Bookmark here

As he walked through the empty cobble stoned streets, and many tattered wooden sheds and buildings, he came upon a realization. He hadn’t the slightest clue where he was going. “Where… would the house be…” He put a hand to his chin as he stopped in the middle of the crossroads. A lantern in one of the houses opened up and a young child stepped outside of the building. “Oiiii! Kagami! Is that you?!”Bookmark here

This voice was met by many others telling the kid to shut up. It’s almost 3am, everyones taking their time sleeping. “What are you doing up this late kid?”Bookmark here

“Heh! I was just practicing my sword! You used to do it just like this when you were younger. Did you want to see?”Bookmark here

The child seemed completely unperturbed by the noise. Kagami politely nodded and watched the child enthusiastically pull his hand to the side of the building. His eyes scanned the child. He could gleam only excitement from the kid. The only emotion he was showing was excitement. In fact, it clouded over his entire brain. At something like that, he couldn’t help but agree and watch.Bookmark here

In his small little yard, he had a wooden doll he made. Upon looking at the composition of it, he almost smiled. It reminded him of a character from one of his favorite games, MokuJin. The tree it had stood upon was slowly carved over time to cement a standing figure of a badly proportioned wooden man. Bookmark here

On the elbows, the arms, the neck, the knees, and even the head, there were red ribbons placed onto each pivotal part. The kid immediately began to work away at the doll he had carved. The blade he held in his hand was also wooden. Bookmark here

“Hah!” He struck down over the shoulder, a very quick and light strike angled right at the neck, but long before he could put any force into it, he quickly withdrew the sword and changed its trajectory to the under side of the arm, also clothed in red. This strike was much more furious however and his wooden sword broke upon the impact.Bookmark here

There was instantly a tinge of embarrassment that rushed through the child. He scratched his head and laughed nervously. “Heh- ehm… s-sorry. I got carried away. It’s usually not like this.”Bookmark here

Kagami laughed. “You were excited. That’s understandable.” Watching him reminded Kagami of all the times he would watch Owa play some of her favorite games. There were games she was truly good at. Yet, whenever she would excitedly rush him over to watch her, she would fail tremendously. Bookmark here

“I can tell you’re pretty skilled. You truly know what you’re doing.”Bookmark here

“No, I promise, I’m actually much better!” He nervously shifted around looking at the broken sword. “I can make another one tomorrow. It’s… well.. If you’ll still be here then.” Bookmark here

Kagami eyed the doll up and down. “Where did you get this training doll?”Bookmark here

“I-it was an old family tree, you see. I cut it down and formed it myself!” Bookmark here

“Then… is there a specific reason for all the ribbons you’ve placed on them?” Kagami knew the answer to that. Well… in a different way. When he first learned animation, there were certain nodes around the human body. Joints, if you will. These were the things that had definitive movements to them, or their movement was necessary for other parts to move as well. Bookmark here

“Well, those are the parts necessary for movement.” Kagami was shocked. “How old are ya kid?” Bookmark here

He grinned, his one missing tooth shining for all to see. “12! I’ve been practicing for 4 years now.”Bookmark here

“So is that why you directed all your hardest attacks at those points?” Bookmark here

He nodded. “If I was to face another person, always assume his armor is stronger than your sword. So-- I gotta go for the parts that can’t have armor.” Bookmark here

Kagami nodded. The kid puffed his chest out proudly at his approval. “Otherwise, if they cover these parts, they can’t move at all.” Bookmark here

So that’s why the first hit just above the shoulder blade was lighter and immediately drawn back upon contact. He was imagining an actual opponent. Upon landing his hit, he imagined the enemy lurching forward to block it, only to instantly pull back and attack under the exposed armpit. That was the strike that had his full force.Bookmark here

“Who taught you all that, kid?”Bookmark here

“Eh??....” he stopped suddenly. “Well.. y-you… you did actually. 4 years ago, it was something you said to me.”Bookmark here

Kagami paused. “Oh is that right? Well, I’m not the best of teachers, so I’m surprised you remembered a lesson from someone like me.”Bookmark here

“Someone like you?” The kid dropped his wooden sword. “Kagami… you’re the greatest thing to come out of this city. There’s one thing that you gave us all when you left.”Bookmark here

Kagami looked. The kid was quite eloquent to be honest. Even the genius he was, growing up, he rarely saw someone that talked as grown as him. Upon seeing his slight look of confusion on Kagami’s face, the child finally answered. Bookmark here

“Hope.”Bookmark here

He picked up the sword again. “Everyone wants to be like you. This small little village… noone gets anywhere. But we started thinking… if Kagami-sama can do it… if we could all just be like Kagami-sama… then… then maybe we could also make something of ourselves.” He smiled as he dusted off the wooden blade he had. Bookmark here

“.....” Kagami wasn’t quite sure what to say of this. “Kid… don't be mistaken... me leaving and doing things on my own..” He recalled the day he first left his small little village town. “That was never me who inspired it.. I was just simply chasin the outside world. So don’t go thanking me for chasing the same thing.”Bookmark here

Tsk tsk. He wasn’t sure where that came from. But at least maybe he’s getting the old Kagami’s speech pattern down. Even if that did sound a bit too wise.Bookmark here

The kid nodded and smiled. “Then. I’ll thank you for showing me there’s nothing to be afraid of chasing the outside. I’m kind of glad, it was you who took up the mission. I’m sure there are many great adventurers out there in this world. But… if it's you, I feel pretty well knowing that the village is in good hands.”Bookmark here

Kagami nodded. “What’s your name kid?” Bookmark here

“Azul.” Bookmark here

“Alright Azul. I gotta get going.” There was a sad youthful look in his eyes. The kind when you meet your idol and aren’t acknowledged. “How about this. After we take care of the beast tomorrow, I’ll let you swing my sword. You can show me exactly what you’ve been practicing.”Bookmark here

Almost like an eruption, the explosion of energy could be seen all over his body. His face, glew up with excitement, and his eyes glistened, even under the daunting red moon. Bookmark here

Kagami quickly put a shhh noise before the child could make another ruckus screaming out. “Get yourself some rest, and relax. You better show a little more skill tomorrow.”Bookmark here

“Of course… if I can find my way out of this world by then, perhaps it is bold of me to make such a promise. After-all perhaps once I fall asleep, I’ll wake up out of this crazy situation.” That was too much to hope for. He knew this felt much different than a dream. Bookmark here

The sanguine night began to remind him of something. He could faintly hear the sounds of tires screeching and the moon shining just like this. Yet, he couldn’t remember where such a memory had come from. Bookmark here

As he got maybe a couple steps away, he stopped. “Oi… kid, real quickly.”Bookmark here

“Yes, Kagami-sama?” Bookmark here

“I’m pretty drunk right now actually… would you happen to know where my house is?”Bookmark here

Seeing this the kid started laughing. “Hahah, so the stories are true. To think even you could get this bad.”Bookmark here

“Oiii, I’m serious herree, I may just end up sleeping on the street.”Bookmark here

“It's past the markets. If you go to the town square and take the left fork from here, it should be the last house… 400 erm… 4.. Something.”Bookmark here

“Got it. Thank you. Get some sleep now.”Bookmark here

With that, Kagami roamed the empty streets. The sounds of crickets could be heard illuminating the night. Bookmark here

He tried to think back to what happened. The last thing he remembered was finishing his patch-up of his game before launch. Perhaps the launch had already happened and now he’s trying another person’s world.Bookmark here

No… not possible. This was much too detailed. The dialogue options were much too open. AI? The amount of sheer data this would take, there wasn’t a system yet that could pull this off. Most importantly, SIMUgames did not include sensory aside from vibration from impact. Yet, right now, he could feel the temperatures of the wind. He could smell the alcohol at the bar. And most importantly the cigarettes Skitt was smoking. Bookmark here

If anything, this was indeed a dream. He should wake up tomorrow. He only needs to put himself to rest. Bookmark here

He continued walking around various houses. The night was almost dying. “… which one of these would be it..”Bookmark here

He couldn’t very well just waltz up to any random house looking for his own. Of course, he could simply do that, but that would only lead to complications. “Wait… why am I worried about complications anyways? This is just a game after-all..”Bookmark here

“No… it can’t be... “ Bookmark here

These thoughts clashed in his head continuously. There was something about all of this that felt off. He sighed…”I wonder what Owa is doing right now…” Bookmark here

How far had he been walking? This village was much too small to have much more to it. He looked at the house to his left, 408. Everything stopped.Bookmark here

So he had been found out after-all. He rushed forward, running to hurriedly make it to his home. “415… if he gave me those numbers… if this is my home, then, he knows.” As he rushed down the block, he finally found it. This smallest house in the village, just big enough for maybe 2 people to live comfortably. Bookmark here

Without thinking of even how to verify, he pushed open the door and the dim light in the room turned on instantly. “F- father? You are here after-all. I had merely assumed they were rumors.”Bookmark here

Kagami swallowed hard. “W-...w-..” His breath began to grow more ragged. He wasn’t tired from the run at all. Yet, the one thing he saw in the house had instantly knocked all the air out of his lungs.Bookmark here

This… this can’t be a joke. This was actually too cruel if it was… much too cruel. Bookmark here

The girl that sat there before him, a young child maybe 2 years older than Owa herself. Seated on the small little wooden rocking chair, with a thick book in her hands. “Are you okay?” Bookmark here

‘The voice… the hair, the eyes…. Everything.’Bookmark here

His voice stuck in his throat. “W-w…..” With his breathing getting harder and harder, he dropped to his knees.Bookmark here

“Are you okay, father??? Father?!” She dropped the book to the side and ran over to him as fast as she could. A sense of urgency as she immediately picked the young Kagami. She placed an arm over her shoulder and struggled to pick him up over her small frame. A second light came on and a young woman stood next to him. “Is everything alr- Oh! Kagami!! Everything alright?”Bookmark here

“Kagami???” Bookmark here

“Kagami!”Bookmark here

They both ran over to him and placed him on the couch. “His breathing has calmed down for now… yet, his expression doesn’t seem to be changing.” Owa spoke. Bookmark here

“Kagami-san… are you alright?” The lady sat in front of him. She had never seen anything like this before. Though, with all her household experience, medical attention was never one of them, it was still entirely strange to see someone like this. Bookmark here

Sweat ran down Kagami’s forehead as he sat, elbows propped onto his knees. It seemed as if he had enough strength to at least hold himself, so there was no danger as of yet. Bookmark here

Owa checked his temperature and placed a wet cloth over his forehead. He noticed that his eyes were still open. The man probably had not blinked in over a couple of minutes. She opened one of his eyelids further, inspecting the pupils for dilation. The eyes that looked back at her seemed so lost and hollow.Bookmark here

Finally, he opened his mouth to speak. “O-..” There was a direct pause as those lenses stared his daughter right in the eye. Undoubtedly, he was staring into the same iris’s as he had always. “wa...Owa...what’s going..” Bookmark here

Owa immediately hugged him. “Don’t scare me like that father! We were worried you got injured during your adventure or something.” She instantly wrapped both of her hands around the frozen man and let out several warm tears onto his collar. “Welcome home, father.. I’m glad you’re okay… I really am.”Bookmark here

There was one thing that was for sure. No game alive could replicate what he was just now seeing.Bookmark here

Yuumei
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