Prologue. A Certain Scenery

 

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Enefia, a world different from that of Earth.

A unique set of technology had developed there, and it was a world where various races lived together.

In such a world, a young man was currently sprinting across a grassland that was a short distance away from a fairly large city.

(…Dear mother and little brother in Japan, how are you doing? As for me? I’m running around a grassland, as energetic as could be. Oh, and there’s a dinosaur chasing after me, just like in the opening of that one anime where the ultimate goal is to collect seven balls…)

“Wait, this ain’t the time to be daydreaming! To begin with, it’s a lesser dragon, not a dinosaur! Ew, I can feel its warm breaths!”

The boy was tall, and though his face retained a bit of its childish traits, there was a certain air of wild masculinity that made him appear dashing.

His body was well-proportioned, almost as if he was a sculpture, and he had outstanding athleticism, no doubt attracting the interest of countless female students.

As for how smart he was, it remained to be seen.

This handsome boy was running at a speed of above 40 kilometers per hour, and he had been doing so for around 10 minutes without breaking a sweat, all while equipped with metal-plated armor and carrying a large shield and a sword.

The lesser dragon behind him was about 20 meters in size, and it tried to take a bite out of the boy every once in a while, running with the same speed as its prey and making the earth rumble with its every step.

“This is frickin’ impossible! Like for real! How’s a low-level tank supposed to subjugate a Lesser Earth Dragon solo!? Give me a buffer or a debuffer! Or at least an attacker! Kaito, Aru, Tina-chan! Senpai, I wouldn’t mind you either, so help!”

Leaving aside his stamina, it seemed the boy was desperate, and he failed to notice that his loud voice only served to make the lesser dragon more excited.

Although he was doing well in escaping, it was apparent that his skills as a warrior were still lacking. Mid-sprint, he suddenly felt that something was off and stopped to look back.

The creature which the boy had affectionately called an Lesser Earth Dragon was standing there without chasing after him.

“Oh? Finally giving up?”

The boy let out a small sigh of relief and stared at the Lesser Earth Dragon which was a short distance away from him.

However, although it was true that it had stopped, when the boy looked more closely, he noticed the lesser dragon sucking in a deep breath as if it was holding something in, and its gaze was directed straight at him.

Seeing this, the boy grew pale in an instant and immediately began thinking of what to do.

“…For real?”

He quickly used a body-strengthening technique and stored up enough energy in his legs before jumping to the side. A moment after he did so, a beam of light which was roughly 5 meters in diameter passed through where he originally stood, accompanied by a loud roar.

The power behind the beam was considerable, and a good chunk of the ground had been gouged out.

“That…was close. Though I’m specialized in defense and have my shield equipped, even my bones would’ve been vaporized if I had tried to block that <Dragon’s Breath>…”

Witnessing the power behind the beam, the boy’s cheeks twitched, and a shiver ran up his spine.

<Dragon’s Breath> was the strongest offensive ability of a lesser dragon, and as the boy had stated, it wasn’t something that could be blocked half-heartedly.

Having narrowly avoided such an attack, the boy took a deep breath to regain his composure and got ready to dash again.

(It’s good and all that I volunteered to act as a decoy, but man am I in a tight spot. I shouldn’t have tried to show off…well, it’s too late for regrets now. Hmm, if I’m not mistaken, the main member in today’s rescue team is…Kaito. Yeah, so help should arrive in 20 minutes or so at the latest…)

The boy contemplated his next course of action while looking at the Lesser Earth Dragon which seemed slightly exhausted after having unleashed its <Dragon’s Breath>.

However, as he looked around for a possible escape route, he noticed a familiar figure in the distance behaving as if he was watching a good show and had all the time in the world.

“What in the bloody world are you guys doing there!? Since you’re here, help! I’m actually going to die if you don’t hurry up!” the boy screamed at the top of his lung.

He had been desperately running for dear life for a while now, and nobody could blame him for overreacting. After all, his supposed “rescue team” had been watching idly from the side from who knew when.

And so, with his scream as the trigger, the rescue team jumped into action.

 

***

 

Going back in time, shortly before the boy dodged the lesser dragon’s breath attack, around ten heavily armed boys and girls along with two lightly armed boys gathered a short distance away from where the boy was running.

“What a hard worker.”

“…Aren’t we supposed to help him?”

“He should be fine for a while…probably.”

“Probably you say…”

The two lightly armed boys were exchanging small talks.

Judging from their formation, it was clear that they were the leaders of the group, or at least something similar to that.

The other boys and girls were lined up around them.

Of the two lightly dressed boys, one was 10cm shorter than the boy that was sprinting, standing at 175cm.

He likewise emitted a wild aura, but at the same time, he looked more refined and elegant. Combined with his toned body, there was no doubt that his physical abilities were top-notch.

However, for some reason, he carried neither a sword nor a spear, nor did he have crystals or stalves to aid in magic.

Though his armor was made of metal, ease of movement seemed to have been prioritized, so he only wore a breastplate and gauntlets. It wasn’t as if he was hiding his equipment or anything.

A stone with some sort of engraving had been embedded into the gauntlet on his right arm, and overall, his equipment stood out from the rest of the group.

The other boy was around 180 cm tall. Though he was well-built, he didn’t give off the impression of being as well proportioned as a sculpture as the previous two.

Not only that, his appearance also fell short of the other two. Nevertheless, it wasn’t as if he had no potential.

There was courage and fearlessness in his youthful face, and once he matured, he would no doubt become quite the looker himself.

This boy’s equipment was even more unusual. He wore no armor, with only a white long coat made of some kind of leather draped over his jet-black top and pants.

He likewise didn’t carry any weapons with him, but the gloves worn on both hands were embedded with stones that had been engraved, much like the gauntlet worn by the boy he was talking to.

They weren’t worried about the boy who was running with his life on the line. In fact, unlike the other boys and girls who appeared tense at the thought of going against an Lesser Earth Dragon, they seemed much at ease.

It only took a glance to know that they were different from the rest.

“So, what’s our plan?” asked the boy in light armor.

From this exchange, it became apparent that the boy in the white long coat was their leader whereas the boy in light armor was his lieutenant.

In response to the question, the boy in the white long coat came to a decision.

“First, Ichijou-senpai will launch a preemptive strike by launching a spear, thereby turning its attention towards us. Afterward, I’ll lead the melee class individuals to rescue Sora. Once we’re there, we’ll restrain the lesser dragon with Sora. Senpai and the other mages will then step in and shower the lesser dragon with your strongest attacks. Any questions?”

“What if it doesn’t fall after all that?”

“We’ll all strike together…as for the <Dragon’s Breath>, from the looks of it, it’s still a young lesser dragon, so we should be fine.”

“You’re making light of one of the strongest species…Well, I guess we just have to roll with it.”

“Since it’s so young, Senpai should have no problem dodging its breath. Sure, being hit means death, but there’s nothing to fear if it doesn’t hit.”

The boy named Ichijou seemed accustomed to the insane strategies that the boy in the white long coat came up with.

Curious, Ichijou followed up with another question.

“Are we still too weak to hunt Lesser Earth Dragons alone?”

“Let’s see… excluding Tina, Aru, and a few others, members of our upper echelons such as Sora, Senpai, and Sakura should technically be able to solo them…but you’d have to prepare yourselves to step one foot into the grave. As for the others…it would be impossible.”

“Sounds about right.”

Although it was frustrating, Ichijou nodded in agreement with Kaito’s words. After all, he knew that impossible meant impossible.

That was when the boy known as Sora took notice of them and screamed at the top of his lung.

“Kaito, since you’re here, help!”

“Haaa…so he noticed. Guess it’s time to work.” Kaito muttered as he scratched his head while frowning.

Ichijou, on the other hand, was feeling pumped.

“Great, let’s get to it.”

The jewel-like stone attached to Ichijou’s right gauntlet shone, and a spear suddenly appeared where there was nothing a moment ago before falling into Ichijou’s hands.

“Right… Get ready everyone! It’s time for dragon hunting! Get fired up!”

With Kaito giving the order, Ichijou brandished his spear like a throwing javelin commonly seen in school sports festivals and launched it as they had previously planned.

“GO, <SPEAR OF THE ONE-EYED GOD, GUNGNIR>!”

Ichijou’s roar reverberated across the grassland. At the same time, the spear in his hand was imbued with great power and flew forth with astonishing momentum, as if it was being repelled from his hand.

And with that as the signal, Kaito and the others commenced the battle to rescue Sora.

 

***

 

Roughly 10 minutes after the start of the battle, the fight was coming to an end.

“And with this, we’re done.”

Chin~tsu

Kaito sheathed his sword and looked down at the Lesser Earth Dragon that had fallen to the ground.

Previously, he hadn’t been holding any weapon, but for some reason, there was a sword in his hand now. However, none of the boys and girls seemed surprised, meaning it wasn’t anything new to them.

After confirming with his own eyes that the Lesser Earth Dragon was well and truly dead, Kaito immediately started arranging for their retreat.

“Process and collect everything that can be collected. Dragon materials are rare after all…Oh, hi there. You seem rather spent.”

While giving instructions to his fellow members of the rescue team, Kaito chuckled and reached out his hand to Sora, who was sprawled on the ground.

Fortunately, he had managed to survive the ordeal with only a few minor scratches.

“You good?”

“Somehow. You should’ve hurried up in your rescue…”

“Ahahaha. For me, it was a good chance to gouge your abilities…not to mention it was a pain in the ass.”

Kaito laughed mischievously.

Of course, his last statement was a joke.

They were close friends after all. Knowing this, Sora followed along in the banter.

“Hey, your inner thoughts are leaking out! …So, how are the students that I helped escape?”

“They’re all safe and well. They’re waiting nearby. It shouldn’t be a problem to resume the training.”

“That’s good. At least I haven’t shown off for nothing.”

As Sora himself had previously stated in his thoughts, he was trying to show off in front of his companions.

Nevertheless, it didn’t change the fact that he was trying to protect them, and so he was relieved to hear that his companions were safe.

Kaito laughed seeing how relieved Sora looked.

“It’s your fault for being tricked in the first place. You know what, Senpai and I will follow along in this training session. It’s better that way after all…Here.”

“Thanks. Well, time to go I guess.”

Sora grabbed Kaito’s outstretched hand and stood up. He was still in the middle of work, so he had to get going.

The two started walking side by side, but along the way, Kaito suddenly grinned mischievously as if he remembered something.

“Even so, your knees used to buckle facing a lesser dragon. To think you’d grown to the point where you can face one head-on…”

Sora hollered in response, a bit more serious than before. The part about his knees buckling was apparently true, and he was simply trying to cover it up.

“Lay off! Anyone would be terrified if they were suddenly confronted by a monster they didn’t know existed, not to mention the opponent was an old Lesser Sky Dragon! I’m proud not to have peed myself!”

“Ahahaha, if Aru wasn’t around at the time, it really would’ve been bad for you. Tina and I would’ve managed though.”

“You guys have it easy! As for me? Hah!”

Sora vented his frustration on Kaito who always seemed easygoing.

However, even after that, Kaito continued to make fun of Sora for a while.

“For real, you guys are way too strong, it’s abnormal. Hero and demon lord my foot.”

During their discussion, Sora grudgingly revealed a certain fact.

Indeed, the boy named Kaito wasn’t actually a boy. He was in fact a young man who had once been summoned to this world Enefia as a hero, and his current appearance was due to magic.

Of course, as neither magic nor monsters officially existed on Earth, only his close friends and a few of this world’s inhabitants knew of this.

“You know…I didn’t wish for this either.”

Kaito let out a sigh. He had a lot going on as well with him being the hero and whatnot.

Having said that, it was true that Kaito commanded unfathomable strength, and that was what bothered Sora so much. They were best friends, and precisely because they were best friends, it bothered him that there was such a huge gap in strength between them.

It was no wonder he felt discontent.

“You’re just freakishly strong.”

“Ahahaha, well, I’ve worked my ass off for far, far longer than you guys. Anyway, let’s grab some meal later. It’ll be on me, so let me off, alright?”

“Haaaa….then let’s meet at the bar in the western part of town.”

Kaito laughed, knowing he’d gone a bit too far this time. It would be petty of him to hold onto his grudge for too long, so Sora accepted the offer, letting go of his anger.

However, immediately afterward, Kaito began to run his mouth again while laughing.

“You aiming for their poster girl? Thought you had a girlfriend?” he said as he smiled suggestively.

Even though he was the hero, he was still a human and thus a man. Just like others, he enjoyed fooling around with his friends.

Sora, on the other hand, was surprised that Kaito knew of his girlfriend.

“How’d you know I confessed to Yuri!? Seriously, where do you always get your information from?”

“What? With Yuri? Eh, you confessed?”

Kaito’s eyes widened at Sora’s sudden revelation. This was news to him, and whatever he said previously had been a joke. As the saying went, a horse had appeared from a gourd. He was a hero, no doubt about that, but there was no way he’d know everything.

Sora knew he had self-destructed seeing Kaito stop in his track due to the sudden reveal.

“Eh?”

“…You really did?”

“…Y-yeah, just the other day.”

Kaito was at a loss for words, and Sora, who realized what he had just done, didn’t know what to say as well and simply spilled the beans.

An awkward silence continued for a few seconds until Kaito, who was the older of the two, decided to offer his congratulation.

“Well, for the time being, congrats.”

“Y-yeah…thanks…”

Sora said his thanks, sounding rather embarrassed. His voice was small, but he sounded happy, and his face was bright red, the cause of which wasn’t anger.

“…I wonder how we landed ourselves in this kind of situation.”

Kaito changed the topic of their conversation.

They had a lot of time after this anyway. They could continue with the previous conversation as a cherry on top while having some drinks (He was the type that liked to save the best for last).

“Yeah…”

Sora looked up at the blue sky and muttered.

Needless to say, they were Japanese men and were born on Earth.

Why are they in a different world? many would wonder.

It wasn’t as if Earth’s science and technology had developed to the point where they could travel to another world, and they weren’t in virtual reality either.

They were only 20 years into the 21st century, and technology had not taken such a giant leap.

“Oh well…we’re all alive and well, so I guess there’s that.”

“That’s not something a guy who would’ve died without me should be saying…”

“Shut it.”

Embarrassed that such an emotional moment was disrupted, Sora told Kaito to shut up.

With such a friend at his side, Kaito narrowed his eyes.

It should be fine like this.

When all was said and done, he was the older one here, and thus the wiser one.

(A second time, huh? I didn’t think I’d have to go on an adventure again.)

Kaito closed his eyes for a moment and took in a deep breath of the other world’s air.

The air that filled his lungs should’ve been the same regardless of whether he was on Earth or Enefia, but something just felt different.

(It’s been a few months…or should I say, it’s only been a few months…)

Following the flow of their conversation, Kaito fell into deep thoughts.

Seeing him behave this way, Sora tilted his head.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing important…it’s just, we’ve been here for a few months already.”

“Right…we were on Earth until a few months ago…”

Hearing this, Sora nodded. A deep emotion welled up within him as he drowned in nostalgia.

Naturally, they didn’t come to this world where danger lurked everywhere by choice.

Their story began on a fateful day a few months ago.

And with that, the two reminisced about the day it all started.

Notes

N/A

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