Translator: Hand of Vecna ✎ Editor: Two More Free Thoughts
"You did it; it was a success!"
The kingdom of swords—Lævateinn.
Its center, the royal capital, was itself centered on the audience hall of the royal castle.
It was normally forbidden to make a fuss in the audience hall of the king. However, that place was currently engulfed by continuous cheers of delight. At the center was a black-haired youth in his mid-teens. He was confused by his current situation.
How did it all begin?
The youth, who lived in Japan, was following his routine after school, participating earnestly in his club activities and then going on his way home. However, his ordinary life was interrupted by a voice calling him to the extraordinary.
"Whoever can hear us. Please help us."
It was a call for help. The caller's identity was unknown. The situation was unknown. Even the kind of help required was unknown. Normally, there was neither duty nor obligation to respond, especially when the voice eerily echoed inside one's mind.
A normal person would feel fear and suspicion more than a sense of justice. He could not be blamed even if he ignored it and ran away. After all, people feared that which was unknown. It wasn't a bad thing even if he was afraid and escaped.
However, he was such a nice guy that he could be considered sick. His screws were loose, or perhaps his hoop was off. He wanted to help whenever someone was in trouble. He wanted to reach out whenever someone was lost. This was virtue and benevolence.
The wish to help others unconditionally and without hesitation, or the spirit to help others without the slightest suspicion, was the quality of a hero. But in terms of his own security, it was a reckless and thoughtless reply. Or rather, he had given up thinking at all. Therefore, the summoning, which required a heartfelt acceptance, was established and he vanished from Japan.
—The hero summoning succeeded.
This news immediately spread throughout the country.
It was a dark place.
No light existed in the darkness, as if the surroundings were completely sealed off. Even so, I could unbelievably see in the darkness. I could see my hands and feet clearly. I walked on without hesitation. So I thought, "Oh. This must be a dream."
As I walked on in the darkness, a familiar room eventually appeared. It was not like what I saw recently in the world of Midgard, but rather it was the room of a house in modern Japan. Surrounded by white walls, this common room was littered with daily items all over the floor, while comic books and light novels lined up on a bookshelf.
Certainly…yes, this was "my" room. The arrangement of the furniture, the computer on the table, everything matched my memory.
Why did I not feel a sense of belonging in this room?
It was not nostalgic. It was not familiar. It was not comforting. I certainly knew this place, yet it was severely discomforting as if I was visiting the room of a stranger.
Strange. I wondered what was going on.
Even though I felt nostalgic when I saw Aries, why did I not feel the same for this place where I lived?
I looked at the computer that was still on.
X-Gate Online…The screen of the game I knew so well was displayed. But it was strangely hazy and odd…as if it was forcefully placed on a completely different game, losing all sense of familiarity.
That was not all.
It was displayed on the window. I was absorbed in it without a doubt. But looking at it again…—
Suddenly, something grabbed my shoulder from behind. There were thin white fingers. The grip was chillingly strong and irresistible. It was too late when I tried to resist.
Time ran out the moment it was discovered. I would just have to wait for the next opportunity.
And so my consciousness was forcefully "pulled up" from the dream.
…And I woke up.
The first to enter my vision was Dina, who was shaking me. Next were Aries and Libra, who were standing by the side.
"Ah. Please get up already, Ruphas-sama. Aren't we going to Vanaheimr?"
"…Oh. That's right."
Hearing Dina's words, my hazy consciousness became clearer.
Oh, right. That was the next destination.
I felt that I was sleeping quite deeply.
"Sorry. I had a strange dream. I apologize for not waking up."
"—What was your dream?"
"…Oh, that…Ah, what was it…Sorry, I can't remember. It seems to be a strangely important dream, but I can't remember it at all."
What the heck. I had an important dream, but I couldn't remember it.
Well, I knew dreams were like that. Humans would forget their dreams in about five and a half minutes after waking up. This dream seemed quite important to me. Then again, it was not really a big dream, so maybe it was nothing to worry about.
Traveling in Tanaka, our destination was my hometown—Vanaheimr.
This was a small nation in the mountains where the flügels, self-proclaimed people of heaven, lived in small numbers…Rather than a nation, it was more like a settlement. My setting was such that this was also my birthplace. Even though my black wings…
It was just a minor detail, so I didn't think too much about it back then. It wasn't hard to imagine being persecuted for it though.
In the game, besides my black wings, there were wings of diverse colors. Now, that would be the subject of persecution (😃). There were even those who changed the colors one feather at a time to create a picture. I was considered rather plain by comparison.
"It's almost night. Let's stop here for today."
Tanaka had no driver's seat. It would move by itself even if nobody attended to it. However, it sometimes moved in a strange direction or attacked monsters along the way. Thus, I needed to control it. That was the reason Dina woke me.
It looked like a car, but it was actually a golem. It should not be overlooked that it was basically a machine that would automatically attack enemies. Golems with AI level 5, such as Libra, would obey orders with fine details like "avoid unnecessary combat". However, care needed to be taken when dealing with AI level 4.
Simply put, it was like the priest of a certain RPG who persistently used instant death magic on an enemy that was immune to it. After knowing about such fools, it should be easy to understand my reason for caution.
"By the way, Ruphas-sama. There is a country ahead."
"Yes, or rather, we are already within that country's borders…The capital city of Gjallarhorn is a little further ahead. One of the Seven Heroes, the Sky King, Merak founded this country. Most of the flügels live there."
One of the Seven Heroes who still lived.
Indeed, it was my goal to meet them and recover the Twelve Heavenly Stars. However, I was hesitant upon hearing that it was a country of flügels founded by Merak. A country of flügels…I would be left out the moment I entered.
Of course, there was no way that I would be captured or killed. Since Aries and Libra were here, any aggression by the country would only result in a counter-attack. Regardless, I did not like causing a disturbance.
Anyway, one of the Twelve Heavenly Stars had occupied their original home. No matter how I pondered, I would be considered a landmine to the flügels. But even if I postponed the trip, nothing would change and I would still go.
In addition, I must cover my entire body with the cloak again.
The flügels had a long life-span. Many people would still remember my face.
"I understand. Let's stay there tonight, even though I'm not too keen."
Only three of the Seven Heroes survived. There was no way for me to avoid them. Feeling like a criminal facing the gallows, I eventually saw the kingdom Dina mentioned as Tanaka continued to move forward.
The first impression was—a strange country. Those words alone sufficed.
Firstly, the buildings were white. The pure whiteness completely ignored color balance and appearance. It was impossible to differentiate the private housing from the other buildings. It was just a plain, featureless whiteness.
Next was the location. Somehow, all the buildings were built on cliffs. Or rather, they were forcefully built to cling into the cliffs. Even though there was a flat plain nearby, where was the fun in building in such a place?
It was like a Greek town I saw in a photo once, except that it was far worse. There were stairs everywhere in consideration of visitors, but those stairs seemed to be rather difficult to climb. The city was obviously built on the premise that one could fly.
What was even stranger was that there were more cliffs on the other side of these cliffs. The other cliffs also had buildings similar to these cliffs. However, all the buildings there were black in color. As before, they were built on the premise that one could fly. It was really inhospitable to people who could not fly.
And at the top of the mountain, a white palace with an imposing presence stood sandwiched between the two towns.
"What is this? What a terrible capital city."
"It seems really difficult to walk around here…"
The two towns sprawled on each side of a large mountain. This was a very intriguing city to me. Similarly impressed, Aries had a shocked expression.
Well, it was fine to have different colors. This was no problem in design. But it was too extreme. One side was pure white, while the other side was pure black. It looked like a different city when viewed from the side.
What was this Merak guy thinking about in this country?
"Dina, what is the situation here?"
"Hmm…It seems this country is currently divided into two factions in the midst of a civil war."
"Yes. Firstly, there are the 'White Wing Supremacists' who held onto the traditional beliefs that pure white wings are the pride of the flügels and that other colors were unacceptable. Opposing them are the 'Mixed Wing Advocates'. Originally, the flügels had white wings, so those with discolored wings were oppressed and persecuted, as you already know. However, after Ruphas-sama was gone, this trend intensified."
As Dina explained the situation, I felt that I was breaking out in cold sweat.
Oh, was this struggle happening because of me?
Were the flügels persecuted because of a dangerous character like me?
"When Ruphas-sama ruled, discrimination and persecution based on the color of wings were forbidden. But after Ruphas-sama was gone, the white-winged faction began to re-assert the ideology that they were superior. On the other hand, the people with discolored wings—the Mixed Wing Advocates fought for equal rights. For nearly two hundred years, both sides have been struggling with each other."
Damn. This was totally caused by me.
What was the ban on discrimination and persecution? I didn't remember issuing such an order.
In the game, there were flügels with wings in all sorts of colors. It was no longer surprising to the point where nobody could be bothered with every single one of them.
This was completely different from "me". This was a different world where the actions of "Ruphas" could be witnessed.
"What is Merak doing?"
"Merak's stance is neutral. He seems to be trying to stop the conflict, but it is impossible to control the people."
"…That guy is a man with a heavy burden…"
"Libra, don't say things like that."
In the game, I remembered Merak as an attentive person who could read the mood and never offend anyone. At least, he was not as useless as Libra claimed. If even he could not suppress it, the conflict must have been considerable.
Therefore, as long as I was the reason for this conflict, there was no way I could just pass over this.
"So, where are we going? White or black?"
"…Black first. It probably belongs to the mixed-winged faction."
I felt that I would cause a disturbance if I ventured into the white-winged faction's territory. Therefore, I chose to visit the mixed-winged faction first, since they might be a little more accommodating.
Of course, there was no danger of exposing my identity, but there was nothing wrong with being cautious.
"Master supports the black faction…saved to memory. Next underwear selection, black."
"What is this person saying?"
Libra said some weird things expressionlessly as usual. For the moment, I should just brush it aside. Was she serious or just joking? This could not be discerned from her expression. You would immediately know it when Dina made a joke. Aries was a just novice, so he was blushing with just this statement.
"Of course, I should select master's preferred color. Or would it better for me to wear something that could barely be seen with slight adjustments?"
"…No, it is fine."
"I see. White faction. The popular standard."
"No, I didn't say I particularly like that."
"…!? Could it be…no panties…!?"
Hey, this one was still broken. I speechlessly smacked Libra's metallic head.
Are you really okay, you degraded tool?
Those were some really strange thought processes. She was supposed to be AI level 5. I wondered if Mizar taught her those strange things. Aries already could not keep up with the conversation, wasn't it?
It was high time to add someone with common sense so as to put her in her place.
Wanted: Someone to fill the role of countering Libra.
"Anyway, let's visit the black town first. Tanaka, hide yourself in the shadows of the nearby rocks!"
After we alighted, Libra directed Tanaka into the shadows of the rocks. Then, Libra covered it with a large cloth from somewhere and returned.
Hmm. She was very competent when she properly performed her tasks. Anyone could have done it, but her actions were fast and steady.
"So how are we going to the town? There's a stairway, but…"
Dina said as she pointed agonizingly at the stairway. There was a stairway leading up to the town. But it was long, unnecessarily long. There were hundreds, even thousands of steps. If we used the stairs, dawn would break by then.
"Please be at ease. I will carry you all. Program selection. Skill, Sky Jet, activate."
As Libra spoke confidently, her back opened and deployed a jet pack. It was a mystery how her body managed to contain something like this. Apparently, she could fly in the sky.
Well, the Sky Jet skill was a general purpose skill for golems. Items that allowed golems to acquire skills were sold for 200,000 eru in the game. I had Libra learned a lot of skills. However, this skill was so science-fiction themed. Where was the sense of fantasy…?
Libra held me with her right hand, carried Aries like a barrel with her left arm, and grabbed Dina's neck with her left hand. Dina made an unfeminine sound "Gue", but Libra was unconcerned. The vernier thrusters blasted off with a roaring sound that would confuse anyone nearby. And so we flew into the sky.
Wait…stop, stop! You will wake everyone in town!
Libra, stop! Stop—!?
※ Author’s Notes: About GjallarhornGjallarhorn
The citizens of Gjallarhorn are the flügels who excelled in battle. The terrain is also advantageous to them. Therefore, even without a guardian deity like Levia, there is no way for the demons to take actions. Even he was weakened severely, Merak's Intimidation skill would always make small fries of Level 250 or less to be unable to move. So it is pointless no matter how many small fries there are.
If one of the Seven Luminaries attacks by himself, he will be killed by Merak. If two or more cooperate, there may be a chance for victory, but the Seven Luminaries do not cooperate with each other usually. Therefore, the stalemate continues until now. However, this balance would easily collapse if one of the Twelve Heavenly Stars joins in. Or perhaps, it will perish as a result of a civil war.
Relations With Other Nations
It is a country that is somewhat closed to foreign contact, so relations are not that good. However, they do have a minimum amount of trade. Svalinn is an allied nation, but due to flügel's nature, Gjallarhorn is not in sync with the arcane nation of Svalinn. They did not rush to the aid of Svalinn because the mana that fills the region causes the flügels great discomfort. The flügels who had been to Svalinn always say that it is a place that stinks of surströmming and durians.
Relations Between Kings
Merak and Megrez are former comrades-in-arms. They are close friends, but do not have direct contact for two hundred years. Merak tried many times to contact the Vampire Princess, Benetnash to form an alliance, but he was always ignored. His thoughts and actions are aligned. A true hero.
Q. Tanaka has bathroom and kitchen, so how big is it actually?
A. It weighs twenty tons, and is ten meters long with a height of two to three meters. Its width is about the same as a road lane in Japan. It's a rather troublesome size if used on an actual road. It could become bigger if the number of companions increases. A terrace could be set up on the roof of the second floor.
※ Foot NotesMidgard (ミズガルズ) is the world of man in Norse mythology. In this novel, the world of X-Gate Online is also called Midgard.
Vanaheimr (ヴァナヘイム) is the world of the Vanir, the deities of fertility and wisdom, in Norse mythology. In this novel, it is the original home of the flügels.
Gjallarhorn (ギャラルホルン) is the horn of Heimdall in Norse mythology. It will be blown to herald Ragnarök. In this novel, Gjallarhorn is the country of flügels founded by Merak. The Greek "town" mentioned in this chapter may be referring to Meteora, where several monasteries were built on top of rock pillars.
Merak (メラク), also called Beta Ursae Majoris, is a star in the constellation of Ursa Major and the Big Dipper asterism. In this novel, Merak is the flügel member of the Seven Heroes, also known as the Sky King (天空王).
Vernier (バーニア) Thrusters are rocket engines used on spacecrafts for fine adjustment of altitude or velocity.
Surströmming (シュールストレミング) is a lightly-salted, fermented herring from the Baltic Sea. Salt is used to prevent the raw herring from rotting. A fermentation process of at least six months gives the fish a characteristic strong smell and somewhat acidic taste. A newly opened can of surströmming has one of the most putrid food smells in the world.
Benetnash (ベネトナシュ), also called Eta Ursae Majoris or Alkaid, is a star in the constellation of Ursa Major and the Big Dipper asterism. In this novel, Benetnash is the vampire member of the Seven Heroes, also known as the Vampire Princess (吸血姫).
A WILD LAST BOSS APPEARED!