Okay now, this is our new project, hope everyone can enjoy this one as well. Also, NU mod has put a wrong cover for it in the NU page, I have contacted him already, so it will be changed soon. Next chapter/part will be tomorrow of the day after.
As usual, you can read up to 4 chapters in my Patreon page. And here’s the prologue, enjoy~
Cheers surrounded the boy. Every cheer was infused with joy and full of congratulations. The people who filled the palace plaza―there was nothing but a smile on their faces. The one who monopolizes the gaze of the people is a boy standing on the balcony.
A country that had been cornered to the brink of destruction at one time has now reached the point where it is called the supreme ruler of the central continent. This is all thanks to the boy who has continued to support the King by his side, overcoming despair and difficult circumstances and leading him to victory in many wars.
“…Are you really going to go back?”
The boy showed hesitation before nodding at the young man who showed a sorrowful face.
“…Yeah. It’s a regret, but I have to go back.”
The young man―the first and last person to speak to the King of this country in such a manner, would be the boy alone. If any other person had spoken to the King in this way, they would surely be punished with death or something close to it for impoliteness. But as the two men were kindred spirits, the King only smiled and did not blame the boy.
“I was hoping you would stay here for a long time because… you are the hero of our country, after all. We’ll even prepare you for the position you deserve. The country will have a period of stability ahead. We’ll have no trouble–and yet, you still want to go back?”
“Then it’s even better if I’m not here, you know. What this country will do from now on is domestic politics, isn’t it? You will need talented civil servants instead of military officers like me. The sooner you get rid of this useless food-eater, the better.”
When the boy said this, a bitterness spread across the graceful King’s face.
“Do you have to?”
They even sipped the same muddy water. The humiliation they have suffered is extraordinary. A stubborn man stuck with him―a man who stuck with a country on the brink of destruction until the very end. They were comrades in arms, best friends, and family. That’s why they know each other’s personalities so well.
The boy’s feelings are the same, no matter what. The King shook his head slightly as he realized this. He shook his head and said, “Then take this.”
The King randomly tossed a plain white card to him. The boy who received it looked at it with a dubious expression on his face. Then the King smiles like a child who has thought of a prank.
“If you don’t want it, you have to stay.”
“Haha, I’ll take it, but what’s this? I’ve never seen it.”
“You’ll find out sooner or later. Well, from what I’ve heard about it, I don’t think you’ll need it in that world.”
When he finished, the King turned away and started walking in the opposite direction of the boy. As the boy continued to walk away, the King stopped and spoke over his shoulder.
“This is where we say goodbye. You know I dislike gloomy things, don’t you?”
The King hesitated and then opened his mouth again as if to say goodbye.
“…Well, I won’t see you off. Take care.”
“Yeah. You too. I had a really good time.”
“Yeah… I enjoyed it too.”
So the hero’s story comes to an end――.
“――I had a dream like that.”
The one who said that with a serious face was Ouguro Hiro.
He’ll be seventeen this year, a sophomore in high school that can be found everywhere.
“I-I see… good for you.”
Fukutaro, a childhood friend of Hiro’s, was slightly taken aback by what he heard. Although they were both sophomores at the same high school, Fukutaro’s blessed physique was two sizes larger than Hiro’s.
“You don’t believe me?”
“It’s a dream, right? Even if I believe it, there’s nothing I can do, right?”
“No, well, I guess so.”
As to think it was right―before the awkwardness began to flow through the air, Hiro decided to change the subject.
“Speaking of which, I heard from your mother that you got a recommendation from the university, is that true?”
That old hag… after swearing, Fukutaro shrugged his shoulders and spoke of his confusion.
“I’ve only just entered high school, you know.”
“It’s no wonder, after all, you’re the hope of the judo team.”
“It’s still too early. I don’t have any feelings, and I don’t even know what college is called.”
After scratching the back of his head in trouble, Fukutaro gave Hiro a meaningful look.
“Well, rather than me, what about you? Aren’t you going to start your club activities again?”
“You know it, right? The doctor told me to stop doing strenuous exercise.”
After receiving Hiro’s words, Fukutaro gives him a concerned look.
“Well, it’s been over three years since then. Isn’t it about time you did some light exercise? You had a diagnostic day yesterday.”
There is a reason why a doctor is diagnosing Hiro.
Three years ago, Hiro was involved in a mysterious incident. Until the day before the incident, he hadn’t seemed any different from his usual self. But on the next day, when his mother had come to wake up Hiro, she let out a scream because her son was lying completely naked with a horribly emaciated body.
If that had been all, there would have been no problem. But his body was covered in wounds and mud, and his hair had changed from short to long, so he was rushed to the hospital at once.
The diagnosis was: dislocated shoulder, torn muscles, a few cracked bones here and there, and although the lacerations had been treated first, the sutures were so poorly done that they would last a lifetime. He was also diagnosed with several infections and was admitted to the emergency room.
Unfortunately for the parents, their son had lost his memory of the injury, and the hospital called the police because of the possibility of abuse. They were interrogated about their son’s unusual condition. The parents must have felt an immeasurable psychological burden.
“Hmm… it doesn’t look good yet.”
His memory never came back, but if we talk about his body alone, he has made a full recovery. The doctor in charge has even endorsed that he can withstand strenuous exercise now.
Nevertheless, due to a certain secret, Hiro does not participate in club activities. Even the doctor doesn’t know about the aftereffects, and even now, three years later, the aftereffects are still lingering―and when he realized the aftereffects, he didn’t want to give his family and close friends any more worries, he gave up his club activities.
“I see. I’m sorry to hear that…”
Fukutaro fell silent for a few seconds, perhaps feeling sorry for himself for being so insensitive. But the next time he opened his mouth, he was back to his usual Fukutaro.
“But that time, I was surprised. You were a different person. Even your hair was long, like a fallen warrior.”
“It reached all the way down to my waist. My mom was very surprised too.”
“And your body has tightened up a lot. How do you get to that level in a day?”
“I have a special ability. When I sleep for a day, I level up with a cheat level.”
Fukutaro laughs and tries to push Hiro. At that time―something buzzed in Hiro’s mind. He unconsciously dodged Fukutaro’s fist by moving his foot to the side. Not only that, but he also kicked the ground and dove into Fukutaro’s chest.
”…A-as always, your reflexes are unbelievable.”
And Fukutaro’s lips quivered without hiding his astonishment. Hiro’s fist was perfectly placed on his chin.
He moved away in a hurry and――.
Hiro noticed something strange. Fukutaro was frozen in a cold sweat, with a surprised expression on his face.
“Hmm…? What’s going on with you all of a sudden?”
Hiro gave a wry smile. It’s a prank that even kids don’t do nowadays. He waved his hand in front of Fukutaro’s face. Still, he doesn’t budge a bit.
“Forget it; we are going to be late.”
He tried to shake it out of his frustration. But it didn’t work, as it should.
“How long are you going to be doing that? Stop being so ashamed of yourself.”
Then Hiro looked around and saw a strange sight.
――The world had stopped.
Not only did Fukutaro stop moving, but the passersby around him also stopped moving. Even the crows at the garbage dump. A cat threatening an elementary school student at the side of the road. The sun that was coloring the sky as if it were its own. A white cloud floating in the blue sky.
The everyday scenery―everything has stopped.
Hiro couldn’t understand the situation―there was no way he could, and he had a face that he couldn’t show to others, like his jaw was off. Still, he tried to approach a nearby female student, hoping for a bit of hope.
“Uhm… Is this a prank?”
It was a cliche question. But he couldn’t think of anything else to say.
Of course, there was no way he could get a response. Thinking about it again, there is no point in trying to make a prank on a single high school student on a large scale.
“In the first place… why would they do that?”
No matter how many times he looked around, everything was still stopped all the same.
“Haha… what is this?”
His mind is going blank. His feet are wobbling underneath him, and his chest is palpitating faster. He has to take some action, but there’s nothing he can do about it.
Anxiety surges through him and tears well up in the corners of his eyes.
(What would you do at a time like this?)
My heart is calling to you, who have been through so much battle together.
(What would you say if you saw me in such a wretched state?)
Will you laugh and comfort me? Will you extort me for being pathetic?
(Who was I speaking of? I don’t know―― …I don’t know what I’m thinking about.)
It’s as if drowsiness has set in, and Hiro’s vision is fading.
――When in doubt, rely on me. I will depend on you too. We’re brothers, after all.
I remember your voice, your face, the words that you once said to me, and they come back to me in rapid succession.
――I am sometimes an older brother and sometimes a younger brother. But no matter what happens, we will always be family.
The person who resides in that world, the only family I have ever known.
――Look for salvation. Begging for help. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.
(But you’re not in this world. How am I supposed to ask for help?)
Leaving everything behind, throwing everything away and running back to the world he came from.
Is it okay for me to seek salvation like that? Such a question flashed through his mind.
――I’m going to go with you. We will face many hardships in the future, yet no one will be able to break our bond.
As soon as the young man appeared, Hiro lost consciousness.