The long day was finally over as I headed to bed.
Although I had expected it, there were no bathtubs around for me to use. Neither was there anything like a soft wet towel. Instead, I had to make do with a coarse and stiff flax cloth. After I used the cloth to wipe my sweaty body, I slipped into bed without putting any clothes on. I was too panicked in the morning to closely observe the bed I was laying on. Now, however, I could see that the “bed” was merely some straw spread over the floor with a cloth covering it. The blanket seemed to be stuffed with some kind of wool, because my nose could sense the odor peculiar to animals.
Because of my exhaustion, I didn’t really mind sleeping in this poor-excuse for a bed. My eyelids closed and I immediately fell asleep.
All of a sudden, I was wrapped in a bright white light.
As I watched the inconceivable spectacle, it felt like I was currently inside a dream.
I don’t think I’ll be able to laugh it off if I wake up and find myself back in Japan. This light is also too bright . . .
My eyes narrowed at the intensity of the white light. However, the light continued to steadily grow stronger. Even when I tightly shut my eyes, I could still sense the dazzling light behind both eyelids.
Although, I pressed my hands over my eyes and waited for the light to subside, there seemed to be no indication that it was going to do so. I was starting to feel slightly irritated.
It’s getting bright enough for my eyes to hurt. Knock it off already!
The light gradually lessened. It was as if somebody had heard my thoughts.
I uncertainly opened my eyes when it seemed safe to do so. Suddenly, twelve massive human shaped bodies were now towering over me.
I had to look up to see them in their entirety. It seemed like they were roughly ten meters tall. Things that looked like heads, arms, torsos and legs could be seen within their hazy outlines, giving them an eerie shape. The bodies appeared to have no substance, like a balloon. Despite that, their figures somehow inspired an intense feeling of awe in the viewer.
The feeling of awe that welled up within me was discomforting.
What kind of dream is this? I sure hope I wake up soon.
Suddenly, one of the humanoid figures spoke, “Are you able to hear me?”. Wait, no, he didn’t actually speak. It was more like he was projecting his thoughts. His words possessed a force similar to the undulating waves of a stormy sea as they struck me. Before I knew it, I fell onto my back.
“Ow! What are you doing all of a sudden!?”
I raised an angry voice at the figure who had released the wave of thought at me.
“I apologize. How is it now?”
Instead of the stormy wave from earlier, his words were now more like a ripple in a flowing stream.
“. . . it’s much better . . . however, where is this place?”
“Were you not the one who wished to speak with us?”
While feeling slightly befuddled, I replied, “I wanted to speak with you? What are you talking about . . .” My voice contained traces of irritation.
“We were the ones who summoned you into this world. Did you not request for an explanation from us?”
I finally realized what he was talking about.
They summoned me here? Not only that, they’ve come here on my request?
“That’s correct. The supervision of this world is handled by us. We have a favor to ask of you. In order to prevent the annihilation of this world, we ask that you lend us your strength.”
The supervisors of this world? That basically means that they’re gods right. Why do they want me?
“You can call us gods if you wish. We summoned you into this world because this was what you desired. In return for giving you a second life, we hope that you will agree to help us.”
A second life? Zack, no, Zacharias Lockhart’s life?
“That’s correct. You possessed a strong desire to start over in life. It was this desire that reached us.”
My desire . . . if this is a dream, it wouldn’t be strange for some of my desires to leak out. Nevertheless, they called themselves gods . . .
Even if they weren’t gods, for the time being, I decided to listen to what they had to say.
“I kind of understand what it is you want to say. However, I still don’t know what you want me to do.”
“It is likely that this world will be destroyed in the period of hundreds to thousands of years. In order to prevent that, a certain person is going to be sent in . . .”
Surprised by his words, I asked, “A certain person?”
“He hails from the same world as you. We’ve detected signs that our enemy has already begun their preparations to eliminate him.”
I completely couldn’t understand why these gods wanted to borrow the power of a mere human.
“Wouldn’t it be better if you gods just fixed the problem directly? An ordinary human like me wouldn’t be able to do what you want.”
“We are prohibited from directly interfering with the world. Of course, our enemies are no exception. At best, the only thing we can do is send in a powerful human. The progress of our enemies is a few hundred years ahead of us. In order to overturn their advantage, we have to XXX”
I couldn’t clearly hear the most crucial part of the conversation and asked, “I couldn’t hear what you said. Could you repeat it?”
“No matter how many times you hear about XXX, you won’t be able to understand it. As I said earlier, we are unable to strongly interfere with the world. This is an effect of that.”
Eeeh, I wonder it is that he can’t say . . . oh well, I guess it can’t be helped.
I decided to confirm the specifics of what they wanted.
“So, what exactly am I supposed to do?”
“Two years from now, we are going to send another person to this world. He is probably going to receive interference from our enemy. When he arrives, we wish that you protect him and if possible, open up a path for him by teaching him.”
Open up a path? Like what John the Baptist did for Jesus? Teaching him . . . might be interesting?
I was slightly interested in guiding this hero who was supposedly going to save the world. Saving the world myself was too heavy a task but guiding the hero seemed like a much lighter responsibility.
What kind of person is he?
I tried to get more information on the mysterious person and asked, “Who is this person? I won’t be able to help you if I don’t know anything about him.”
“We cannot reveal such information at this time. However, when the time comes, fate will make it so your paths intersect. You will understand at that time.”
I was planning to enjoy my second life. However, encountering this person because of fate or something and getting wrapped up in his problems was not something I was eager about.
I probably don’t have a choice do I? Refusing their request will definitely lead to some consequences . . .
“You have the choice to refuse. The consequences you speak of do not exist.”
I finally realized that this god was reading my mind.
Oh. Apparently this god can read minds. I guess I don’t need to speak out loud then . . . Anyway, if it’s possible for me to refuse, why did you call me out in the first place then?
“We believed that if it was you, you would still cooperate with us even if you didn’t understand our goals. There’s no need for you to be so doubtful. You can live the life you want to live. By doing so, you naturally contribute to our goals.”
However, I still felt that it was necessary for me to draw out a promise from these gods. Just as an extra precaution.
Even though I still don’t really get what you want, if what you said is true, then I will accept your task. But remember, I’m going to live my life the way I want to. If this future hero causes my freedom to be taken away, even though I won’t try to do anything to him, I definitely won’t assist him. I don’t intend to offer the freedom in my life to some stranger. Is that acceptable to you?
“It is acceptable.”
I had several more things I wanted to confirm.
In particular, I had an uncomfortable feeling about the abilities I had gained from the character creation process. The character creation system was strangely similar to an TRPG.
Is the TRPG character creation system a hobby of yours?
Since our thoughts were being projected to each other I could sense that the god seemed bewildered.
“I do not know what you want to say, but we wouldn’t know how your abilities were given to you. The method by which these abilities were given is completely based on your desires.
I created the character named Zacharias through a method that was based on my desires?
“That’s correct. The method you used to create Zacharias has nothing to do with us.”
Apparently, the TRPG system was of my own creation.
Was it possible for me to make my abilities even better?
“Of course. However, it was not something you desired. Although you have received our divine protection, you don’t have anything more than that. You had never wished for extremely powerful abilities.
I finally realized what it was I wanted. My wish was never to be a hero. No, the only thing I really wanted was the ability to wipe my gray life clean and start over. I didn’t want to become some kind of superhuman who had immense powers, instead, I wanted to live a life that was filled with companions and friends.
The god might have taken my silence as the end of our conversation or ran out of time. Either way, he said,
“Well then, enjoy your second life. We have already met with you as you requested . . . farewell.”
Please wait, at least tell me your name . . .
At that moment, my consciousness was abruptly cut off.
When I opened my eyes, it looked like it was midnight. My mother and father were still sleeping peacefully besides me. I tried to recall the conversation I had with the mysterious god.
Two more years? I’m already around three years old. That means that this future-hero is going to be five years my junior. Maybe those gods thought that waiting a few years would allow me to teach that guy better. Or is there a different reason for the age difference? I wonder what my meeting with this hero is going to be like. Nevertheless, I’ve gotten permission from those gods to live my life as I like. Enjoy my second life, they said . . .
My thoughts concluded and I quickly fell asleep.
The next day, I decided to focus on acquiring the knowledge and skills needed to live in this world.
First, was the language. Based on what I’d heard so far, the words possessed a close resemblance to English. The alphabet system here is basically identical to the Latin alphabet. There were many unique characteristics in the way the places around here were named. If this were England, perhaps the dialect would be similar to those of Scottish or Wales.
The words in daily conversation were no problem for me.
As for the character system, their alphabet was virtually the Latin system so it was easy to memorize. Their number system was also a modified version of the Arabic numeral system. Even though it was a bit awkward in the beginning, I was able to also quickly grasp their numbering system.
The main problem I faced was memorizing words. My family didn’t have a dictionary. Maybe dictionaries were extremely expensive and could only be found in places like the royal palace or the library of the capital. Either way, not having a dictionary was extremely exasperating. Every time I heard a word I couldn’t understand, I had to go and ask someone. You might think that simply asking someone shouldn’t be too difficult, however, you need to remember that there was no reason for a little child like me to constantly ask about difficult words. Each time I asked someone, they would look at me strangely and ask why I wanted to know. Eventually, asking for the meaning of words became extremely troublesome.
After learning how to read and write to a certain extent after three months, I tried pestering my family for a book to read. In the beginning, they gave me a thin book which contained a short and simple story. However, I quickly got tired of the book in less than a month. In my house we had two office rooms. One belonged to my father who was the lord of our territory and the other belonged to my grandfather who was the previous lord. Books on things like geography and history were stored in those rooms. Since I was still an infant, I was naturally not allowed to enter their rooms. However, after earnestly begging my father for a while, I somehow succeeded in borrowing some of their books.
My effort was worth it, as I was finally able to understand the things that were happening on in this world.
I was also able to gain general knowledge from my mother and Molly the maid.
In this world, one year was exactly twelve months, one month was exactly thirty days, one day was exactly twenty-four hours. When I first heard about this, I felt deeply moved by how beautifully simple the system was. It seemed like the gods of this world were existences who were fond of order and harmony.
Based on what I learned from the geography books and heard from others, I lived in Rushmore village, a small village with a population of approximately 500 people. This Lockhart family’s entire territory only consisted of this place. Rushmore seems to be located northeast, at the outermost edge of the Kaelum Empire. In terms of latitude, I think we’re around 40 degrees north. When comparing the number of daylight hours of the summer and winter seasons, I found out that the difference was not as extreme as the regions of northern Europe. At most, the hours of sunshine differed at around the same amount as Hokkaido. Still, I can’t be too certain since the size of this planet is still unknown.