Code Reader Kagami (LitRPG)
“You know, I’ve never once spoken to you, Kagami.” The old man attempted to hold himself up. “I’m 53, now. When I first arrived, I’d hear tales of you all over the village. It was not much different than the stories of my family.”
Kagami continued holding the man up without saying anything back. His focus was on the time that had passed since he had left the group. Surely they were attempting to discard the creature. At the very least, they could not do it as fast as initially. With the interruptions he had done on Flinn, the capacity of his moves were surely lessened.
“I always thought you were different. I thought you were like my family of butchers. An elite family known for what they had done and the legacy they left behind… I can’t truly look up to those types of people. I grew up all around them.”
“Yet… when I first saw you all those years ago, I realized that was what I truly looked up to. Those who carve their path with their own hands. Those whose fingers bleed from the hard work. After-all, the path that lies before them is a result of that hard work.”
“I’m sorry, Harre-san. Please… I cannot talk much. Carrying you is quite the amount of work.. I’m sorry. I have to focus on getting to everyone else.”
“Heh, that’s what I thought you might say… but I have to tell you… don’t waste your time. I’ve always been good at guessing people. I had thought that if it was someone like you, or a greater adventurer, this town would be saved…. But… please… try your hardest to get out of here.”
“What kind of nonsense are you talking about, Harre. We can get everyone to safety.”
“Oh...I don’t know anymore.”
“It was the same now as it was back then.”
“The way your group acted… the village treated me much the same. Thus, the entire bill of this request was put out by me. I knew this wasn’t something an adventurer of your level could handle…. But I just thought… so long as it came from you… it would be alright.”
“Harre? Get some rest please. I will take care of everything.”
“Hmm? Harre?.... Harre?”
The man had already passed into a deep slumber.
As a result it took almost 40 minutes to reach the small village. In the silence of it all, everyone stopped all that they were doing,m dropping everything they were doing to observe the outcome of Kagami’s investigation.
In truth, him returning silently like this with the old man strung over his shoulder had said much more than words could say in an hour. It spelled doom and despair. Before he knew it, as he dragged the old man, with him, villagers had already gathered all around.
He decided the square would have probably been the best place to gather everyone. Like clockwork, there was an expectant look on everyone's faces, but he could also tell the underlying anxiety hidden on the faces of everyone. What kind of reception would he get?
As he pondered about what to tell everyone, he finally realized that all attention was on him. “Everyone…”
“Oi! Kagami!! Where is everyone? Did you slay the beast already?!”
Kagami held his tongue. “Um… everyone-” He couldn’t find a way to say this. He lay the hunter on the ground before him, thinking hard on his next choice of words. “We don’t have much time left.”
That set the precedence for what everyone should be expecting to hear. The eyes that gazed upon him suddenly changed. “Where’s the rest of your gro-?”
“What kind of monster was it?! Is everything alright Kagacchan!?”
“Everyone! I saw the monster on my own. If you saw what I saw, there’s no way we can defeat it! If that thing wakes up… when it wakes up… there’s no way I can save everyone myself. If that thing truly comes out..- this place, every last one of you will die.”
The village elder finally came up to speak with him. He stood at the foot of the crowd with his old cane postured, holding his frail body up. The old man had to at least be 100 years old. Kagami wouldn’t be surprised if the man was older than the village itself.
“Kagacchan. Are you truly certain about this creature?”
“Yes… there’s just no way we could hope of beating it. We need more men. We need more adventurers. This thing… its… it’s - we need more people. We need stronger adventurers. Something- it’s too powerful. I’m not sure how it came to be situated near this forest, but it truly will be the bane of everyone if not taken care of.”
“Ah… I see. So you were right all along, Harre. You will have my and the village’s gratitude for all you’ve tried to avoid this crisis.”
His attention turned back to Kagami. “And for you Kagami… if you hadn’t come here in time, perhaps we would all find our deaths earlier than thought.”
Kagami clenched his teeth at the gratitude. There was nothing to be thanked for. He hadn’t done anything. “No… It’s - not anything to be thankful for. Perhaps my coming here had made things worse even. There’s truly nothing to be thankful for.”
The old man tilted his head. “Is that so?”
“We no longer have much time. My team at the moment is out there trying to provoke the beast… it will emerge in maybe 30 minutes more. After the fact… I’m not too sure we will have much of a chance for escape.”
He could see the faces of the crowd looking back at him. There were looks of disbelief, concern, worry. Who knows what else. “You mean… your team- they’re still alive?”
“Kagami-sama. With all due respect… Why did you not stop them? This isn’t like you at all!” Someone howled from somewhere in the crowd. Kagami internally groaned. This was becoming something gut-wrenching. A feeling of uneasiness started to creep upon him.
The old man then posed a different question to him. “Too emerge… the wraith is still in it’s cocoon state no? Then, do you mean you have not yet faced it in combat?”
Kagami stopped. “No- I-it’s nothing like that. This thing… this creature it’s.. It’s too strong. I’m certain.”
“How is it you can tell, Kaga? You do not have any ocular appraisal abilities. Your Innate Radiance is only for physical contact upon taking hits. If you haven’t faced it in combat, there’s no way you could know its true power.”
“N-no… I know this for certain! That - that thing isn’t normal! While its level is lower at the moment, once it hatches, there’s nothing any one of us can do. There’s nothing anyone of us here can do against a level 6-”
“How do you know that!?” A voice from the crowd yelled.
He scanned the group before him, before finally realizing who it was speaking. The young child from the night before, Azul. His bold and fierce eyes stared back at Kagami with a sense of conviction. “We’re strong Kagami! With you here, your team, and the rest of us, we should be able to drive that beast back!”
A shiver came down Kagami’s back. There were more people reacting to the kid’s statement in agreement.
“NO!” Seeing this burst of courage flowing through the town, his emotion burned rawer than ever. “THERE’S NO WAY ANY OF YOU CAN WIN!!!” His shouting was bordering on the lines of madness. “I’M TELLING YOU ALL!! NO, I’M PLEADING!! TRUST IN MEE! BELIEVE ME WHEN I SAY THIS, YOU ALL MUST GET OUT OF HERE!!”
“Are you telling us to turn tail before we even try?!” Outrageous. He was being contested by a child. A heroic, brave, and stupid child.
His anger stifled for a second as he thought of his next words. “Listen… you all know who I am. You all know me. The Kagami Shima that left this village. The Kagami Shima that pursued his dreams and went far beyond the stretches of the village. The Kagami Shima that holds his blade and brought down constant foes. However… those were all close calls. From the beginning to end. All of my battles were close calls. At the drop of a hat I could lose any single one of them.”
There was silence finally at his current words.
“The scars that riddle my body are a testament to that. The truth is every mission I fight for my life. But this one I’m certain, we’ll all lose. Everyone here will die. That is too much of a burden to place on my conscience. Even if I beat that creature… there’s type of loss is something this village is not worthy of.”
“This isn’t like you Kagami-sama! We should be fighting alongside your team right now.”
“T-that’s right… it’s way too early to give up.”
Several of the men began chanting. “Ka-Ga-Mi!”
What in the world is going on…. This is idiotic. Why is everyone chanting my name.
“Even if my limbs fall off! I will crawl that mountain to its peak!”
“To its peak!”
Kagami took a step back from everything. “What… the hell is going on?”
The old man sighed and tapped his staff. “Don’t you remember, Kagacchan? These are your own words. You see, a long time ago you changed this village greatly. We’ve fought back goblin invasions, we’ve fought kobolds. Sometimes bandit units. All because of your tenacity.”
His eyes were ones that were also filled with the same conviction as everyone else. This wasn’t regular. Something different was going on here. He quickly activated his insight. There, he could only see one thing. An incomprehensible wave of numbers had covered the entirety of the crowd. He could not understand, nor read them, but for everyone, it was the same. His eyesight instantly overloaded and his eyes strained attempting to read what the hell it was he was staring at. He clutched his head and winced.
“Wh-..what the hell is going on?”
“Don’t you see Kagami-sama? Come to your senses. Kagami would never cower like this. With his might with us, and the renown Dragon Head, we can push back more than just a cocoon.”
‘This… is crazy… this isn’t right. Why isn’t anyone hearing what I’m saying? Why can’t they understand what is going on?”
He grimaced at all of this. This was too insane. He was running out of time already. Amidst the crowd who mindlessly chanted his name, he could no longer the see the child in the crowd. Kagami shook his head. This… wasn’t right. “These people… everyone here is too crazy. Not a single one of them felt the fear he did.” He turned away from the crowd and hurried to his domain.
It was time to get out of here. He can’t save any one of them. With the time he has left, he has to escape. Package some food, and take the rest of his items. He ran quickly to his house. This was a race against time. He had left his pouch back there. If there was anything he’d need, it was some money and at least some rations to survive him until he makes it to the next city.
Of course, he could try and hunt, but he had no idea of what this world’s ecology was like. Kagami quickly burst through the door. Hina chan patiently awaited him. “Oh, Kagami-Sama.” She curtsied. Kagami ignored her entirely and frantically looked around the room. There were a couple things he would need. “He instantly grabbed a leather skin flask from the counter and strapped it around his waist.
He observed the blade he had with him and immediately scanned for anything else. There were quite a couple tools he could utilize on his venture. He quickly grabbed several of his knives and tools. A belt also hung from the counter of his room. He quickly grabbed it and placed the garter belt on. The length of the belt stretched all the way down to his ankles, looping around his thighs in a circular manner. Knives quickly filled the entirety of his slots.
“Ehm.. Kagami.. Are you okay?”
Kagami glared at the young maid before him. Of course. She too would probably be under the influence of whatever it was in the square. He ignored her and quickly began looking around. His coin purse was already secured and attached to his belt. A copy of a map also sat on their library counter. There was one more chest as well which he salvaged items from. There, he had a backpack and quickly filled it up from the kitchen.
Most of these would not last for too long anyways. One thing was for certain though, if it remained here it would be useless.
“East… I’d already come from the direction of the empty fields to our north. The most likely place to have people…. It would be east. He couldn’t proceed south. That was the direction where the creature was. Furthermore, most of the tracks left in the direction of East. It would be better to trust in the intuition of the animals.
There was only one last place he had to go. He quickly reached the chest that he had before him. There, several books and entries lay, a dagger, a necklace which looked actually pretty valuable, and an old chainmail. He quickly threw the chainmail within his bag. Should he end up needing a different change in gear, this would be pretty important.
As he shuffled through the chest, he could hear something that made him stop entirely. Sobbing. The voice was too familiar.
“You too… you’re going to leave me too? Aren’t you father….” Even without turning around to see her, There was a string somewhere inside his heart being tugged on. He turned around to see his young daughter, tears dripping down the sides of her face unreservedly. Her pained expression was apparent
On her side was an old doll, tattered, hanging in her hands. “This is just like back then…”
Kagami refused to turn around. Everyone here has been completely strange. Even this daughter of his. They couldn’t possibly be real people. Whatever the case was, everyone was too suspicious. This whole town, no this whole world.
This may not be a game, but people, real people do not have coding to them. That was never how the human body worked. His confusion grew deeper and deeper to the mystery of the whole thing. Even now, he was certain, his daughter would have various numbers and codes all over her.
He turned around with his insight over her frame. But… he could not see the numbers. No. He could see them. Rather, there was something else that took precedent. Seeing her tears and crying.
“Please… *Sniff* Please… don’t- don’t leave me too!”
As his eyes trained on her, he could only think of his real daughter standing before him. The same pained eyes quickly broke down from just tears to outright wailing. “Please-- Father don’t- Don’t leave me too!!” She dropped to her knees unable to stifle the tears that continued to flow with no sign of ending.
“H-hey… “ He got up and outstretched his arms towards her. The feeling of guilt was insurmountable. “Owa--.. Hey..”
“This is happening all over again! Why does this keep happening to me!!”
“I knew it. I knew this was going to happen… ever since you came back. You acted different. It was just like that time..- I had just hoped-- I was hoping I was wrong --ghhh..*sniff*”
“You’re not Father anymore are you…”
Kagami’s blank stare looked back at her brown eyes, glossed red with tears. “This is what I get…. I must have done-”
Kagami immediately pulled her in to a hug. Even if this world was weird… even if these people were counterfeit, even if this was a game, even if she wasn’t truly Owa. “I…’m not gonna leave you, Owa… I could never leave you.” Tears were streaming down his eyes now as she rested over his shoulder.
“B-but…. You’re not Kagami… you’re not father. You don’t have a reason to stay.”
“Was it that obvious? No nevermind. Even so, you will be by my side always. I would never leave you again.” He let go of the sobbing Owa and remained knelt in front of her. He patted her head. “Because even still, to me you are someone important.”
He put out two fingers like he did often with his daughter. Owa looked at the hand in confusion, only to follow his eyes and see the hint he was giving. She copied the same and they interlocked the two fingers. “This is a promise then… I won’t leave you alone as well. In return, promise you’ll grow up to be strong, smart and super successful.”
“N o ~ o~ooo, you have to say it.”
“I- I promise..”
Kagami calmly smirked. He was regaining some of his own self back again it would seem.
“I suppose I could never leave you behind either.” He said to the maid that also stood nearby. Her hands remained on Owa’s shoulder. “I have many questions to ask of you all… but first, we have to get out of here. Immediately. Since you all are coming as well, bring anything important. We will be gone within the next 5 minutes.
Somewhere out in the forests… a sound could be heard. So shrewd was the noise.. So horrifying, that even if there was no one there to hear it, fear filled the skies. This sound was definitely the sound of death.