Chapter 1 – Those Who Look To The Past
Inside a dimly-lit and chilly room, a boy’s voice echoed as if he was trying to endure something.
“Ugh… I’m at my limit…”
“What are you talking about? We’re just getting started.”
As the boy’s complaint tapered off pitifully, another voice rang out within the room which sounded more like bullying than encouragement.
“No way…. Tatewaki-san… I can’t take any more, just leave me….”
“What are you talking about, Yasu-kun!? That’s nowhere near enough. I’m not satisfied yet! You can still keep going, right?”
Kenzaki Yasuo hung his head inside the dimly-lit and cramped room while being repeatedly struck by Tatewaki Shoko’s aggressive voice.
“No, I’m really at my limit……”
As Yasuo let out yet another pitiful comment, another voice, which sounded both anxious and yet disappointed, broke into the conversation.
“Yasuo… Are you done already?”
Sensing the undertones in that voice accurately, Yasuo looked in the direction of the speaker and saw the slightly sorrowful and flushed face of Dianaze Krone looking at him with moist eyes.
“Just a little more… Can you please hold out for a little longer?”
“Look, even Diana-san is saying that. Let’s have some more fun together.”
Shouko added her own comments after Diana spoke, and looked at Yasuo’s face as if she enjoyed seeing his reaction.
Trapped in that small room, Yasuo had no way to escape.
Despite Shouko saying whatever she wanted with a big smile on her face, Yasuo was already at his limit.
He was exhausted, out of breath, and on the verge of fainting.
Despite that, both Shouko and Diana wanted to keep going.
Yasuo’s hand hit the slightly musty curtain as he struggled to stand, and a flash of sunlight entered the room for just an instant.
“Ugh… It’s still daytime, and yet….”
“What are you talking about? You’re supposed to give it your all until the climax, right?”
“But I’ve never done this before…!”
“It’s okay, Yasuo. It’s easy once you get used to it.”
“Wow, Diana-san sounds so grown up! That’s right. This is something that everyone experiences at some point, right?”
“I really doubt other people experience it like this!!”
“Seriously, you have a comeback for everything… But it looks like you’ve gotten a little better?”
“If you’re feeling better, you can still keep going, right?”
Inside that dimly-lit and cramped room, Yasuo felt himself driven into a corner by Shouko and Diana’s voices.
“Fine, I get it, already…”
Yasuo’s will crumbled into pieces.
Seeing that, Shouko cheerfully signalled a young man who had been standing silently behind the three of them.
“Alright! Feig-san, you know what to do!”
“Understood. I wonder if this is the right one…”
The young man called Feig picked up a disk-shaped metal container from a pile in the corner of the room and opened it to reveal a donut-shaped disk. He took it out of the container and placed it inside a machine. The light from the machine was especially bright inside the dimly-lit room.
“Ahem, in that case, let’s start. The running time of this video is fifteen minutes. The title is, “The Triumphant Return of The Hero, Hideo and His Party from the Ruins of Oodem.” and this is the fourth chapter in the series.”
“Wait, that series isn’t done yet!!?”
Hearing Yasuo’s scream, Feigreid Rubiz, a Magitech Knight from the Gaz Commonwealth, delivered a cold-hearted answer.
“The Ruins of Oodem series has another three chapters.”
“Three more chapters!?”
“After that, there’s the record of their grand audience with His Majesty in the federal parliament. That’s another five chapters.”
Yasuo tried to run away after hearing Feigreid’s declaration, but Shouko grabbed him by the neck and pulled him back.
“It’s all right Yasu-kun, take a seat. Your father looks really cool! I want to watch a whole lot more.”
“I-I don’t want to watch any more! Please, I beg you, just watch it without me…!”
“Look, Yasuo! Hideo and Madoka are using the final forms of the Holy Sword and Holy Staff! That’s so awe-inspiring….!!”
“Diana! I don’t need a live commentary!”
“Ah, the way Hideo’s face looks from the side as he suddenly goes on alert in the middle of the town! Don’t you think he looks exactly like you, Yasuo!?”
“Yeah, you’re right. Seeing it like this, you really do resemble your father, Yasu-kun. Ah, is that the Holy Staff Marlowe? So the girl who is fidgeting bashfully and walking behind your dad must be your mother, Yasu-kun! ”
“Your mother is really pretty, Yasuo. There aren’t many pure magic-users left since the advent of techno weapons and Magitech Knights, but the costume that she is wearing, called the ‘Sugiura-Type Magical Vestment’, is still the standard uniform for female magicians around the world.”
“Yeah, I didn’t know that! Nor do I care! How is this knowledge supposed to be of any use to us!?”
“Ah, so cute! She has braided hair! Your mom looks just like a high school student!”
“Seeing this again, I really think Nodoka resembles Madoka after all!”
“Major Krone, is Nodoka Yasuo’s little sister?”
“That’s right, Second Lieutenant Feigreid. She’s a very intelligent and cute young girl. I am sure that in another three years or so she will become a lovely lady, the spitting image of The Great Sage, Madoka Sugiura.”
“But man, seeing it recorded like this in a video, I guess your father was really a Hero after all, huh? He’s a little shorter than you are, but his face looks more masculine, kinda like an experienced hero. Don’t you think so, Yasu-kun?”
Yasuo was experiencing hell.
That was the only way to describe this space.
With no way to escape, he was being forced to watch videos of his parents’ younger days while surrounded by his friends. Truly, this was a space that was custom-made to torture Yasuo.
Holstro, the capital city of the Baskelgarde Federation.
In a corner of that city, there were archives of videos in a military museum that the Baskelgarde Federation, a major world power, had created by amassing technology and making the recordings, and for some reason they were completely open to the public.
The other world, Ante Lande, had 8mm film cameras and 8mm tapes.
The technology had been brought to this world by the Hero Hideo, Yasuo’s father, who had saved the world from imminent destruction at the hands of the Demon King Army thirty years ago.
It was a technology that had disappeared a long time ago from the houses of Japan, Yasuo’s birthplace, but in this world the technology was at the height of popularity.
The military museum in Holstro had many recordings from thirty years ago, and the videos, especially the ones that were related to the current high status of the Baskelgarde Federation, were proactively advertised to the public.
Yasuo strongly thought that the videos should have been treated as classified information and most certainly not rented out to random people on the street, but apparently the great country of Baskelgarde felt differently.
Just like the world that Yasuo was from, the entire world of Ante Lande was currently engulfed in a technology race. Each country was trying to improve the 8mm cameras and tapes that were gaining popularity, and hence each nation proactively created opportunities for the people to watch videos in order to show off their own technology.
In fact, even Diana had brought a video letter addressed to Yasuo’s parents recorded on an 8mm tape when she had first come to Japan.
It was quite surprising that while the tapes were undoubtedly high-class items, even regular people could experience the technology if they wanted. Also, at this moment Yasuo could only think of this fact as an unwelcome favor.
Even since before coming to Ante Lande, Yasuo had been frequently stunned by the Japanese culture and other customs from Earth that his parents had brought to this world, but he had not imagined that the 8mm tapes that had first given him that idea would bare their fangs at him at a time like this.
“Even Resteria doesn’t have such a vast repository of videos. Ah, to think that I can see new videos of the time when The Hero, Hideo was still active…. I can’t even describe this feeling!”
Diana had been in this state since that morning, from the moment she had started browsing the video archives after the museum opened for the day.
Yasuo had never seen Diana get excited to the point of losing all self-restraint like this before.
In the beginning, Diana had shed tears while looking at the videos that displayed a younger version of her deceased father, Alexei Krone, who had been a comrade of the Hero.
However, as they continued to peruse the archives, Diana’s speech became more and more fervent as she started to do a commentary on the videos, like a hardcore fan talking about their favorite idol.
Diana’s cheeks were still flushed because watching these precious videos one after another gave her no time to cool down, and her eyes were moist because she was so deeply moved that she couldn’t hold back her tears.
Seeing Diana like this, Yasuo suddenly became embarrassed about being in the same room with her.
There was no logical reason for it.
Sitting with Shouko, Diana, and Feigreid and watching things about his family that even he did not know about was just plain embarrassing.
In the past, there had been multiple cases where Yasuo had been confused by Diana’s extravagant words of praise for his parents, or felt an indescribable sense of discomfort about how the Hero, Hideo’s exploits were praised at every turn by the people of Ante Lande, in a way that went against his sensibilities.
However, Yasuo had never been in a situation where he was seeing those events directly until now, and moreover, there were even other people learning about them too. So, until now, he had only felt a sense of discomfort.
But now, Yasuo, as a modern youth from Japan, was being put in a spot where he felt like his heart was being gouged out.
It was like an extended version of being spotted by classmates in middle school while going to the supermarket with his mother.
“There’s no logic behind it….”
He unintentionally mumbled that aloud.
Seeing it on a video like this, Yasuo could tell that he truly looked a lot like his father from his younger days.
They weren’t on the level of being like identical twins, but anyone would be able to tell at a glance that they were blood related.
And that young father of his was currently smack in the middle of the slightly grainy video frame, wearing clothing that just screamed “Hero”, even more so than the clothes that Diana or Feigreid were wearing.
Every time the video switched to a new scene, Diana and Shouko would let out a shrill shout while being oblivious to his discomfort, and that was slowly eroding his heart.
And as for Feigreid, the Magitech Knight from the Gaz Commonwealth…
“I am so jealous that you have a chance to see what your father looked like in his youth, Yasuo. Also, as a Magitech Knight, just looking upon the countenance of the Hero Hideo is simply fascinating.”
He was neither playfully teasing like Shouko, nor was he intoxicated to the level of Diana, but he still had an overly serious and ambitious personality.
For that reason, unlike with Shouko and Diana, Yasuo was not able to immediately refute what Feigreid said to his face.
Although Feigreid was a few years older, he was still roughly in the same age group as Yasuo. Moreover, not only did Feigreid have a successful career as a Magitech Knight of the Gaz Commonwealth, he loved his mother and the younger kids in the orphanage and was diligent in finding ways to both openly and covertly support them.
At this point there was no area in which Yasuo could win against Feigreid as a person, so when Yasuo heard those serious comments about his father from him, the unworthy son of a Hero could only sit there in silence.
“……Please just let it be over quickly….”
Watching each of his companions getting excited in their own way, and yet being unable to take his eyes off the video archives for the sake of the future, all Yasuo could do was to curl up and wait for it to be over.
Their mission; to discover the true nature of the Shii, a spirit monster that had possessed Tatewaki Shouko’s body, and to remove it if possible.
Kenzaki Yasuo, Dianaze Krone, and Tatewaki Shouko had originally come to the other world, Ante Lande, for that reason.
Yasuo and the others saw the dark side of the “Carnelian of the Coal Mine”, an organization that helped refugees and which was also behind the appearances of the Shii in Japan.
Realizing that staying on the defensive in Japan would not solve their problems, Kenzaki Hideo, his son Yasuo, and Tatewaki Shouko set out on a journey to Ante Lande. They were accompanied by Diana, who had turned Yasuo’s life upside down ever since she had first appeared.
However, after the group had jumped into the Gate Tower, a construct that linked different worlds, they experienced a malfunction. The four of them ended up being separated and sent to different places in Ante Lande.
Yasuo and Shouko landed in the Gaz Commonwealth, a country neighboring Resteria, where they received help from a painter named Catalina Yostern who took them to a nearby fortress town called Galedeite. However, the dark hand of the Carnelian of the Coal Mine stretched after them even there.
Yasuo and Shouko, with the help of Catalina and Feigreid, a Magitech Knight of the Gaz Commonwealth, purified the numerous Shii that popped up all over the town.
However, the Shii of a demon general named Balor that had previously been killed by Hideo appeared, as if to sneer at their efforts.
The entry of the giant Shii, incomparably larger and more intimidating than any other Shii on record foretold the utter destruction of the entire area around Galedeite. However, Diana, who had borrowed the power of the “Holy Bow Pomona” from her mother who was one of the hero companions of Hideo, saved them in the nick of time by destroying Balor=Shii.
Reunited with Diana, Yasuo put together the various pieces of information that were available and determined that his father was in a neighboring country called the Baskelgarde Federation, in an ancient ruin called Oodem.
Moreover, from what they had seen during the battle in Galedeite, the group thought it likely that the Shii which had possessed Shouko was using an “Orion, Destroyer of Armies” which was developed by Baskelgarde and was considered to be the oldest model of Techno Weapon in existence.
Instead of returning to Resteria, Yasuo and the others decided to head to Baskelgarde.
Despite knowing that Yasuo, Shouko, and Diana could not make their identities public, the Magitech Knight Feigreid requested to join their party. Using his status as a Magitech Knight as cover, the four of them managed to enter Baskelgarde without any issues.
Thanks to the Scelephant, a giant flying creature that they had borrowed from Catalina, they managed to make the journey from the Gaz Commonwealth to Holstro, the the capital city of the Baskelgarde Federation, in just a day and a half, a journey that would have taken them several weeks on foot.
Once they arrived in Holstro, they settled the Scelephant—nicknamed “Hana-chan” by Shouko during their journey—in a stable belonging to the inn in which they were staying. That afternoon, the group set out to visit the Holstro Military Museum to examine the “Orion, Destroyer of Armies” that was displayed there.
However, unluckily for Yasuo, Feigreid had recalled that the Holstro Military Museum had a large quantity of video tapes related to the Hero Hideo’s journey in its archives.
They had started an informal video viewing session hoping to find some trace of Hideo or information related to the ancient ruins of Oodem, but that viewing session now seemed to stretch on with no end in sight.
Astonishingly, the video archives had a whole fifty video tapes.
The videos were of different lengths. While some of them were under a minute, there were others that were well-edited documentaries more than thirty minutes long.
Yasuo’s father, Hideo, was the main focus of forty of those videos, and twenty five of them were dedicated solely to him.
Some of the videos had no audio, others were interviews structured similar to a news show in Japan, some were state functions, and there were even a few that looked suspiciously like hidden camera footage. There was truly a great variety of videos.
They did not find any videos that indicated where to go next or any hints regarding Yasuo’s father’s location which was still uncertain. Nor did they find any information about places where Hideo was likely to go. The entire video session just turned into a long demonstration of how Yasuo’s parents were praised and revered in this country.
Shouko had initially started watching the videos to mock Yasuo like someone going through a friend’s old yearbook, but even she became silent at some point during the screening. After they finished watching the videos, she just said one thing.
“Yasu-kun, good work enduring it.”
All she had to say was that one sentence, which had complex feelings of praise hidden in it.
“Don’t say it.”
One of the films had a recording of a hymn sung in honor of the Hero, Hideo, and the lyrics of the hymn were provided as an annexure in the box that the tape came in.
As Feigreid translated the lyrics of the hymn which was written in the official language of Baskelgarde, Shouko sensed that Yasuo wanted to run away in earnest.
After seeing that, Shouko tried to divert the topic towards Alexei and Erijina who were Diana’s parents, but..
“Yes, my father is the pride of our country.”
“So my mother’s strict teaching method was caused by something this trivial, I see.”
Engrossed in the heroic appearance of her parents that was shown on the display, she just responded normally.
“Wow, she’s really used to it.”
Unexpectedly, it looked like this is what Diana had meant when she said, “It’s easy once you get used to it.”
The state of her country, the position of the Krone family in the country of Resteria, and the environment that Diana had been raised in, had resulted in her turning out this way.
There was a wide gap in experience between Yasuo, who had not even tried to understand what his father’s job as a salaryman was until recently, and her.
“Woah, it’s already pretty late in the evening.”
Once the screening session was over and they opened the curtains, they saw that the sky had already taken on the appearance of an evening glow.
“It’s pretty late. Should we move the museum tour to tomorrow? This place looks pretty big.”
Certainly, the Holstro military museum had more area to cover than any museum that Yasuo had visited, and the building itself was a lot bigger.
This was something Yasuo had only heard about, but apparently it would take at least a day to just walk around looking at the displays at the British Museum in England, the National Palace Museum in Taiwan, or the Louvre Art Museum in France.
He had no idea if the Holstro military museum was comparable in size to those, but he spoke after thinking about it for a short time.
“How about we take a look at Orion today, at least?”
“We’re not here to study the history of Baskelgarde, so there’s no need to walk around the whole museum, right? We have barely three days until you are supposed to go back to Japan, Tatewaki-san.”
Yasuo himself did not know what the “solution” to their problems would be.
However, he was desperate to not end their first day in Holstro with just watching a discography of his parents that he had not been aware of.
“I see. There will be less sightseers around because it is nearly closing time, and Shouko can also walk around without attracting attention.”
“Really? Don’t they have things like CCTV?”
Seeing that Feigreid was puzzled by what Shouko said, Diana gave him an explanation.
“Think of it as a greatly advanced version of the 8mm tapes. Using that device, it is possible to see what is happening far away and keep watch over a specific area.”
“They have something like that…”
“Of course, Ante Lande’s recording systems have not progressed to such a level. You don’t need to be that cautious.”
“I see. I’ll still be careful, just in case. It wouldn’t be pretty if we ran into some last-minute guests like ourselves.”
Saying that, Shouko pulled the hood of her cloak low over her eyes in advance.
“Is this all the films we borrowed? Should I just return them to the reception counter near the entrance?”
“I’ll take care of returning the films. As you said, it would be bad if you were seen by someone, Shouko. Both of you, wait here with the Major.”
“Ah, I’ll help too, Feig-san.”
“Oh, really? In that case, I’ll carry the films. Yasuo, please take care of the camera.”
Even since they had entered Baskelgarde, they had used Feigreid’s position as a Magitech Knight of the Gaz Commonwealth as a cover for all work that required public interaction.
Even though Feigreid had been the one to suggest that plan, Yasuo hadn’t felt comfortable with pushing all the work on to him alone, and so he would volunteer to take up simple tasks as much as possible ever since they had left Galedeite.
Feigreid started to push the trolley that was carrying the crate full of tapes, and Yasuo smiled wryly after picking up the tripod and the camera case.
“It feels strange to see it here. This logo is pretty old, but it belongs to a Japanese company, right?”
“No, that logo belongs to a state-run business from Baskelgarde.”
The logo engraved on the protective case belonged to a famous company from Japan that made precision instruments, and it was still famous to this day.
“Uhh, what was it called in Japanese again? A ‘copy’? Is that right?”
Strictly speaking, that was English, not Japanese. However, that was enough for Yasuo to understand.
“So as usual, someone made a copy of something that Dad brought here, and also set up a company with the same name while they were at it?”
“Yeah. Well, the two of you probably find it disagreeable, right? Like that, for example.”
Feigreid came to a stop and pointed in a certain direction.
An object rested inside a transparent case that was made of a material that was unknown to Yasuo and was neither glass nor plastic.
“Do you mind if I take a quick look?”
The body was shaped like an uppercase ‘B’ from the English alphabet and there was a trigger on the grip.
The cylindrical portion sticking out in front had a lens attached to it that refracted light and sparkled in a purple color.
It was a typical compact 8mm film camera.
“By all rights, it should have been fine for you to take it back with you, but…”
“Oh well, I understand why I can’t do that. It’s smaller than I thought it would be.”
Yasuo had the impression that recording devices only got bigger as you went back in time, but considering the size of the film used, the size of the camera made perfect sense.
“Besides, the display is a separate device.”
For the modern generation, it was natural to use the same device to both record and playback videos, but this camera from his father’s generation could only be used for recording.
“Still… Why was he carrying this with him?”
Both his mother and father said that they did not remember the particulars of how they had been sent to Ante Lande thirty years ago.
However, judging from their explanations, it was clear that they had been sent there against their will, and it had happened all of a sudden.
In that case, why had his father been carrying an 8mm film camera with him when that had happened?
“Of course, he must have been filming something. That’s obvious. Feig-san.”
“Where’s the tape that was originally inside this camera? Is it here?”
“No, I heard that it is in Resteria.”
“Then how come only the camera is in Baskelgarde?”
“The camera broke when it was in Baskelgarde. Take a look at the back.”
Yasuo went to the other side of the display as suggested, and saw that the casing on the back had been broken off violently, and the insides were burnt to a black char.
“It’s written on this exhibit caption here. Apparently, their baggage received a direct hit from the enemy’s magic during one of the battles with the Demon King’s army which destroyed the camera.”
“It wasn’t possible to repair it, and since it was useless he left it here instead of lugging it around, is that it?”
“I guess so. And then the federal parliament claimed it as a cultural artifact, I suppose.”
“I see…. Hmm?”
Yasuo had been staring at it closely for no particular reason, but he furrowed his brows after catching sight of something in particular.
“Does the description say anything about these letters here?”
“Let’s see… Ah, this might be it. [The lettering on the camera belongs to a script from the other world, and it is read as ‘Ken’. It is a portion of Hideo Kenzaki’s family name.] That’s what it says. I guess that means your father wrote his own name on the camera because it belonged to him? It was an expensive item, right?”
“I see… I guess that makes sense.”
It was handwritten in permanent marker on the silver part of the camera casing, and it was still faintly visible.
Maybe because of the spot where it had been written, the letters were warped and it was hard to liken it to his father’s handwriting.
Besides, as Feigreid said, 8mm cameras should have been quite expensive back when his father was still in high school.
He couldn’t really imagine his father writing on such a luxurious item directly in permanent marker.
“Oh well, Dad was still in high school at the time. I guess even he would do such careless things back then.”
Even though he wasn’t entirely satisfied with that explanation, Yasuo could neither confirm nor deny it and so he settled for just nodding his head.
Sure, the camera had been damaged, and thirty years had passed since then. Even so, Yasuo felt a queer sensation when he looked at the grip of the camera that looked quite worn down.
“So Dad had been carrying this camera around with him…”
Of course, Hideo was still alive, so it felt strange to get sentimental about it. Even so, Yasuo could not deny that he had strong feelings about this old item that belonged to his father that he had not heard anything about from either his mother or his grandparents.
Besides, he had been chasing after his young father in the display until just earlier, no matter how much he hated it.
Why had that young father of his been carrying this 8mm film camera around with him?
Among the films that did not have Hideo in them, maybe a few were filmed by Hideo himself.
“Alright, let’s hurry, Yasuo. It’s nearly closing time. At this rate, we really won’t have time to take a look at Orion.”
“You’re right. I’m sorry.”
His bout of sentiment dispersed after Feigreid urged him to hurry, but Yasuo decided to ask his father about this 8mm film camera once they were reunited.