In the end, Chihiro was the one who paid for all of Elsie’s clothing.
Kazaya had tried multiple times to pay for them, but Chihiro gently rebuffed him each time. Actually, it looked like she even wanted to buy new trousers for him, but in the end, he managed to pay for them using his own allowance.
Since they had already come this far, Kazaya and Chihiro decided to take Elsie—now wearing a brand new two-piece dress—to a nearby cafe.
“One iced coffee, please.”
“Ah, I’ll have the same as her.”
After Chihiro and Kazaya placed their orders, Elsie spoke up.
The waiter was startled. Kazaya sympathized with the waiter while correcting Elsie.
“Elsie, this is not a diner.”
“Ah… Apologies, yes. Beef bowl, extra-large, add eggs!”
“Like I said, that’s wrong!”
Before things could spiral out of control, Kazaya ordered an iced milk tea for Elsie instead.
Kazaya sighed to himself and looked at Chihiro, only to see that her avoiding his gaze and pressing her face into the back of the sofa that she was sitting on. It looked like she was desperately enduring something.
“Senpai. If you thought Elsie’s reaction was funny, there’s no need to endure it.”
“……It wasn’t funny in the least.”
There wasn’t even a trace of a smile on her face when she faced forwards once more. He wouldn’t have expected anything less from her.
“By the way, Elsie, why did you come to Japan?”
Elsie looked puzzled at Kazaya’s question. Apparently, she hadn’t understood him.
Chihiro repeated his question in her native tongue. Hearing that, Elsie clapped her hands together and replied in the same language.
“Her father came to Japan about a month ago for work, so she’s here to visit him for about ten days during her summer vacation. It looks like she already admired our culture, to begin with.”
“Oh, so that’s how it is,” Kazaya said and nodded after hearing Chihiro’s translation. “So you’ll be here for a while?”
“Verily,” Elsie replied in her usual outdated speech.
“By the way, why did you come all the way here if your house is far away?”
“Ah… Boarded many trains. Got down many times. Unknown place. Interesting, explore. Unknown place. Interesting. Yes.”
“……Hmm? She boarded a train and just happened to get off here, and then got lost while she was exploring the surroundings?”
“Most certainly. Yes,” Elsie said while drinking her milk tea through a straw.
“You seem to be brimming with curiosity. Still, I would advise you to keep it in check or you might find yourself in danger. You’re lucky it was Tsugami-kun who happened to pass by at that time,” Chihiro warned Elsie while stirring her iced coffee with a straw.
“Indeed, most certainly. Kazaya, Elsie’s uncle.”
“Hmm? Uncle? Wait, there’s no way I’m old enough to be your uncle.”
“Uncle. Kazaya, white rice, on top, uncle. Yes.”
A bewildered Kazaya tried to work out what she meant by an uncle on top of white rice.
“A sushi chef… perhaps?” Chihiro said after thinking about it seriously.
“Why would I be Elsie’s sushi chef?”
“Who knows? When you saved her, were you making sushi or something?”
“What kind of situation is that?”
Even a professional sushi chef would never find themselves in such a situation. Kazaya frowned while thinking that and Chihiro shrugged slightly.
“In any case, you should be careful. There’s a saying in Japan, ‘Curiosity kills the cat’”.
“Curiosity, kills cat? Curi Osity, dangerous person?”
“That’s not a person’s name.”
Kazaya gently corrected Elsie’s misunderstanding, and Chihiro once again pressed her face against the back of her seat.
“Senpai, if you want to laugh, then just laugh.”
“Not really… It wasn’t funny at all, not one bit.”
Chihiro recovered her calm expression in short order. At this point, her self-control was basically an art form.
At that moment, Elsie suddenly looked at her wrist as if she just remembered something. She was looking at her wristwatch. It looked to be waterproof, as it was still working even after it had been dunked in the river.
“Papa, home soon, yes. Elsie, go home, scolded. Yes.”
“Oh, you have a curfew? That’s too bad.”
Chihiro’s looked at Elise with a sympathetic gaze, probably because she was also in a similar situation.
“Cashew, don’t have. Yes.”
“It’s ‘curfew’. You really know some strange words…”
Chihiro had mentioned that Elsie was interested in Japan, so maybe she had just studied some random stuff.
“Elsie, go back. Kazaya, Chihiro, thank you!”
Elsie stood up and politely bowed her head.
“Don’t worry about it. Have fun in Japan,” Kazaya said.
“I hope you make some great memories…. By the way, can you go back home on your own?” Chihiro asked.
“I have no confidence,” Elsie replied while proudly puffing her chest out.
“I don’t know why you look so confident about that, but I’ll write some directions for you so you should be fine if you just follow them. What station is closest to your house?”
After hearing the name of the station from Elsie, Chihiro took a memo pad out of her pocket, tore out one of the pages, and wrote something on it without any hesitation. It looked like English, but because she used cursive writing, Kazaya was only able to understand parts of it.
After looking at the paper that Chihiro handed to her, Elsie smiled and once again expressed her thanks.
Waving her hand, she ran out of the cafe at a trot.
As she had been a cheerful sort, Kazaya’s surroundings became somewhat subdued the moment she left.
“She’s a little strange, but a nice girl nevertheless.”
“Yes. Actually, I wonder how old she is.”
“She told me, back when we were talking. She’s apparently the same age as you.”
“Oh? As I thought, foreigners really do look older compared to us.”
Her face, figure, and the general atmosphere around her made it hard for Kazaya to believe that they were the same age. If she were to just stand quietly, he might have even believed that she was older than Chihiro.
It was just that her reactions were innocent and exaggerated, which caused a strange gap with her appearance. However, that made her easier to talk to, so Kazaya had a favorable impression about her.
“……Were you just thinking that she was cute?” Chihiro asked suddenly.
Kazaya’s heart started to beat faster.
“I-It’s not like that… Well, it’s true that she’s easy to get along with, and if I said she wasn’t cute there might be a greater than zero probability that it was a lie…”
Chihiro’s eyes narrowed after hearing Kazaya’s vague answer. Sensing an ominous mood forming around her, Kazaya coughed slightly to clear his throat.
“A-Anyways, Senpai, how does tomorrow sound?”
“Hmm? …..Ah, you’re talking about that place?”
There was only one location that Kazaya and Chihiro referred to as “that place”.
Chihiro stared at a point above Kazaya’s head for a while as she thought about it, but she eventually nodded.
“Yes, I think it should be fine during the daytime. My father won’t be at home during the day.”
“I see. Then let’s meet up over there tomorrow.”
Chihiro brought her face closer to his and spoke quietly as if she was talking about a secret.
“Let’s meet again in Grimveria.”
Grimveria was the name of a world that existed in a different location from the place that Kazaya and Chihiro called home.
In a nutshell, it was a different world, a concept that most people were familiar with through media like games, novels, and manga. Quite a few months had passed since Kazaya had been summoned to this world by the “Goddess” and had started to explore the various islands as a “Visitor”.
He had worked alone for the most part in the beginning, but he had recently found a dependable partner.
That partner was—
She was Mikoto Chihiro, the girl who currently had both arms in the air and was expressing her joy using her whole body.
Compared to Kazaya, she had become a Visitor quite recently. They had met for the first time around two months ago. After several things happened, they decided to form a party together.
Chihiro’s personality changed so much in Grimveria that she was almost like a different person, but Kazaya was already used to that.
(Still, the degree of the change is a lot more extreme compared to usual…)
Since summer vacation had started and they didn’t have school, the time Chihiro spent under her parents’ surveillance had increased, which seemed to have caused her stress levels to rise.
“Right! What kind of adventure should we go on, Tsugami-kun!? What should we do today!?”
Chihiro was stamping her feet, unable to stay still.
(In that case, helping Senpai get rid of her frustration is also my responsibility as her partner. Okay, let’s do this.)
Kazaya pumped himself up. However, it didn’t look like he was doing it against his will. Helping Chihiro smile was something that he was glad to do.
“That’s right, how about going to Island #9? There’s a quest that I want to complete, and besides, I’ve heard that there is a demonic beast that only appears on that island around this time of the year.”
“Oh, that sounds very interesting! Now that you mention it, it feels pretty hot here in Grimveria as well. Does this world also have things like seasons?”
Chihiro looked up at the sky and squinted.
“It seems like it. The temperature is more or less stable over the course of a year on average, but I’ve heard that there are a couple of months that are very hot, and a couple that are very cold.”
“I see, so it is similar to the seasons in Japan. I wonder if the Goddess has something to do with that.”
Kazaya fell into thought, wondering if that was true. He had met the creator of Grimveria only once so far, and on top of her childish appearance, she had seemed to be pretty casual, to the point that she could be considered overly friendly. Apart from that, he knew nothing else about her.
“In any case, let’s get going. You finally got some free time, Senpai, so we can’t waste any of it.”
“Yes, that’s right! As expected of Tsugami-kun, you sure know how to say things right! I’ll give you a bonus point for that!”
“I’m not sure when our conversations became a point-based minigame, Senpai, but are those points useful in any way?”
“You can redeem them for a discount.”
“A discount on what?”
“……On the dreariness of life, maybe?”
Kazaya agreed that it would certainly be good to reduce that as much as possible, but there should be a limit to a lack of feasibility.
“You should probably stop saying things without thinking, Senpai.”
“T-That’s not true. That is the answer I arrived at after a great deal of contemplation.”
“In that case, just how are you going to control the level of dreariness in my life? What do I need to do to make it reduce? What is the method? Why are you capable of doing something like that, Senpai?”
“H-Hey! Stop pressuring me like that! I’m sorry! I’m sorry, okay!? I just said that on the spur of the moment!”
Chihiro hugged herself, as though she was frightened by Kazaya’s cross-examination.
“I knew it.”
“So scary~ Tsugami-kun, aren’t you progressively being less deferential towards me? I’m your Senpai, you know? I’m the one who guides you in your life, you know?”
“I am aware of that. If you act more like a Senpai in Grimveria as well, I will take that into consideration.”
Seeing Kazaya shrug his shoulders, Chihiro exclaimed and put her hands on her hips. However, it didn’t look like she was actually angry, and she seemed to be having fun. It was the same for Kazaya as well.
“Well then, how about we head to the harbor?”
Kazaya smiled and started to walk, and Chihiro followed him with a light gait.
“It looks like the city of Reancos is lively today as well. Is it just me, or is always this crowded?”
Just as Chihiro said, there were a large number of armor-wearing people in their surroundings, going about their business. Most of them were Visitors.
“That’s right. It reminds me of the online games I used to play in the past, and for a second I was worried if the server would lag.”
“Lug? Do online games get heavier when they are crowded?”
“Lag, not lug. That’s what you call it when the net is under heavy load and the game starts to slow down.”
“Oh, I see. It’s true that fish find it harder to move when they’re all packed together in the same place”
“……Was that a joke?”
“What are you talking about?”
Kazaya wondered if she had actually mistaken “the net” for a fishing net, but he was scared to find out the answer and so decided to not pursue it any further.
Before long, they started to smell the salty breeze and see the sparkling surface of the ocean. There were a number of large ships moored in the harbor.
“Senpai, let’s search for a ship that has room for us—”
It happened just as Kazaya turned around to talk to Chihiro.
“Oh my!? That you, Kazaya!?”
All of a sudden, someone called out to him and he heard the dull sound of metal plates banging against each other. Kazaya looked around to see what was going on, and before long, he saw something approaching him.
It was a suit of armor.
It was a full suit of armor that covered the whole body, the kind of thing that is often seen in western paintings of castles. It was walking towards him while making a lot of noise.
“W-What is that!? A demonic beast!?”
Chihiro hid behind Kazaya and put up her guard.
“There are certainly some that look like that… But demonic beasts do not appear on the Central Continent, so I don’t think that’s the case.”
In addition, demonic beasts would not call out a friendly greeting.
“What, so you were a Visitor as well? Ain’t that a coincidence. How surprising!”
The moving armor came to a stop in front of Kazaya and started smacking him on the back. It was extremely painful.
“Umm, I’m sorry, but who are you…?”
Not only did the helm cover their face completely, but even their voice sounded muffled, and so Kazaya was not able to determine their identity. However, he got the impression that it was a girl for some reason.
“Hmm? What are you saying? ‘Tis I. Didja forget me already?”
“Sorry, but there are no moving armors among my acquaintances.”
When Kazaya pointed that out, the moving armor tilted its head in confusion and came to a stop.
Before long, however, it clapped its hands as though it had realized something.
“Ah, yes, the armor. I had all but forgotten. Happened across it in that armor shop over there, and I thought to meself, ‘Now this is grand.’ I just had ta buy it. Alas, it turned out to be stifling and hard to move in, annoying as heck. It was then that a familiar face caught my eye, and upon on closer inspection, it turned out to be you, Kazaya! So I thought that I absolutely had to offer my greetings! Hahahaha!”
“Ah, I see… Actually, despite the long explanation, I have no idea what’s going on…”
After hearing the person’s odd manner of speech, Kazaya started to wonder where they were really from.
“Understood, understood. A moment of patience, if you will. Lemme get this off.”
After saying that, the moving armor grabbed the steel helm with both hands. It pulled it up a few times and tried to rotate it to either side, but…
“……Oh? It won’t come off.”
It said something outrageous.
“Egad, it is well and truly stuck! Hahahaha!”
“Wait, that’s not something to laugh about, is it!?”
Perhaps Chihiro was finally convinced that it wasn’t a demonic beast, as she came out from behind Kazaya and criticized the moving armor.
“‘Tis futile. Methinks I just gotta get used to this.”
“Why the hell are you trying to be positive about it!?”
Kazaya reluctantly decided to help. He got Chihiro to hold the moving armor from behind, placed his hands on the steel helm, and pulled with all his might.
“Dammit… Ah hell, it’s stuck tight!”
“Hahaha! Verily, my head might break off instead!”
“Like I said, that’s not something you should be laughing about!”
The people around them started to stare while wondering what was going on, which made Kazaya want to just run away from that place.
“Why… the hell… is it on so tight… Uwaah!”
The resistance disappeared all of a sudden, causing Kazaya to go flying backward. After landing on his backside, he looked down at his right hand and saw that he was holding the steel helm.
“……It came off.”
Just as he was feeling relieved about that…
“Aah, I was worried for a second there. One must take care to not attempt feats with which one is not familiar.”
He heard a slightly high-pitched voice that sounded somewhat familiar.
“……Huh? Wait, are you…?”
Hearing Chihiro’s surprised voice, Kazaya stood up to find out the identity of the moving armor.
On top of the boorish, full-body armor was a cute face. Her skin was white as snow, her eyes were a clear blue, and she had beautiful silver hair—the sight of her features pulled Kazaya’s memories to the surface.
There was no doubt about it. It was the same girl that he had saved the previous day.
“Did I not already declare myself?”
Elsie’s expression seemed to say that she didn’t understand what all the fuss was about.
“No, you didn’t! W-Why are you here, Elsie!?”
“Because I’m a Visitor, silly.”
Elsie looked proud for some reason as she said that while putting a hand over her chest.
“So you were summoned to Grimveria as well?”
Hearing Chihiro’s question, Elsie turned towards her with a smile on her face.
“Indeed. You are Chihiro-san, are you not? Thankee kindly for your help yesterday.”
“I-I see… I didn’t expect Elsie to be a Visitor as well…. What a surprise.”
Kazaya muttered to himself as though he still couldn’t believe it. It was really an incredible coincidence.
“Heck, I was surprised too. To think, the person I met yesterday is a person from Grimveria. Strange happenings, indeed, but amusing in equal measure!”
“……By the way, I didn’t notice it earlier because of the shock, but why are you speaking like that?”
Hearing Chihiro put that question to Elsie, Kazaya also recalled something. Why was Elsie, who was supposed to be a foreigner, speaking fluently in what sounded like a dialect?
“Ah. Many people have asked this is of me before, but truly, I do not know. Seems like I sound weird only to peeps from Japan.”
“What’s with that? Is the translation function broken or something?”
Seeing Chihiro’s dubious expression, Elsie replied saying that she didn’t know the reason either.
In Grimveria, the residents and the Visitors would find that their languages were unified. Or rather, in order to ensure that people could understand each other, there was a system in place that automatically converted the words of others into a form that was easy for the listener to understand.
As Visitors were not limited to just people from Japan, this system might have been created by the Goddess Grimveria out of consideration for them so that they could communicate with each other.
However, Kazaya had never come across a situation like this before.
“Actually, it doesn’t even feel like one dialect. Don’t you think there are a bunch of dialects in there, all mixed up together?”
“That’s true. That’s why it is so confusing.”
Kazaya immediately agreed with Chihiro’s statement. Just listening to Elsie speak was disorienting.
“In any case, there is something that occurred to me when we first met, and yet I disregarded it as a mere flight of fancy. But I gotta ask, are ya really the “Lightning-quick wielder of the Demonic Sword”?”
Elsie asked Kazaya that as she removed her thick plate armor. Underneath it, she was wearing the sort of light armor that was commonly worn by Visitors.
“Hmm? That is… Well, I’m not really…”
Feeling somewhat bashful, Kazaya just replied vaguely.
That was a nickname of sorts that the people of Grimveria and other Visitors had come up with for Kazaya in light of his achievements. The people who had come up with it probably thought that it was a heroic title, but Kazaya himself just found it embarrassing.
That is why he didn’t want to linger too long on this subject. However…
“Yes, you’re right! Just as the name implies, he runs forward with the speed of lightning and brings down all kinds of demonic beasts in a flash! Hearken to me, for here he stands! The rumored, the elusive, the legendary Lightning-quick wielder of the Demonic Sword, Tsugami Kazaya is none other than him!”
Chihiro introduced him with a lot more flair than he had expected.
“Senpai! Stop that!”
Due to her loud voice, even the people in their surroundings heard her. A number of them started whispering amongst themselves while looking at him.
“What? It’s fine, isn’t it? It’s the truth after all. You have defeated many demonic beasts, haven’t you?”
“That’s true, but you’re exaggerating it too much! I was already finding it troublesome because people insist on putting me on a pedestal!”
“They’re rating you highly, so you should just honestly accept it. Being too modest is a bad habit of Japanese people.”
“You might have a point, but I really don’t want to stand out—”
While Kazaya was in the middle of persuading Chihiro, he was interrupted by a scream.
Surprised by the sudden voice, Kazaya flinched and looked towards the source and saw Elsie staring at him with her big eyes opened wide.
She trembled for a moment from head to foot and then shot forwards as if she was unable to stay still. The next second, she had kicked off from the stone pavement and was headed straight for him.
Taken aback by her unexpected actions, Kazaya went tumbling to the ground.
“To think that friggin’ cool Kazaya is actually the Lightning-quick wielder of the Demonic Sword! I cannot believe it! Freaking awesome!”
As Kazaya had never experienced having a girl sit on top of him before, he started to panic greatly.
“H-Hey, wait a minute! W-What’s going on!?”
He wished with all his might for someone to explain the situation to him, but unfortunately, such a miracle did not occur.
“I was thankful for just being able to talk to Kazaya properly. The Goddess Grimveria pulled off a miracle!”
Elsie started to pat his body repeatedly. Was she this assertive because she was a foreigner, or was this a trait peculiar to her? Kazaya had no way of knowing for sure. In fact, he didn’t even have the time to be thinking of such things.
“E-Elsie! Didn’t I tell you back then that people would misunderstand if you keep doing things like that!?”
“Ah! T-That’s true.”
For a moment, it seemed like Elsie was about to move away from him, but then she paused as if giving it some thought. What’s more…
“…Oh well, it should be fine for a little while. S’all good.”
She smiled and didn’t show any signs of moving away from him.
“No, no, no! I would mind!”
“Eeh~ Japanese people get shy so easily.”
Despite saying that, Elsie’s skin was a bright red in color. Since she was originally exceedingly pale, it was clearly visible. She was probably embarrassed as well, but since Kazaya was panicking a lot more, she had probably wanted to tease him.
“H-Hey, stop that, stop! Elsie-san, get away from him! There are people watching!”
However, Chihiro grabbed her and pulled her away, and even though Elsie appeared to be pouting, she was still forcefully separated from Kazaya.
At that rate, there was no telling what might have happened. Especially regarding his self-restraint. As a boy who was right in the middle of puberty, Kazaya was relieved.
“I didn’t think you would get that excited because of Tsugami-kun’s nickname. Just what is the matter with you?”
“Ain’t it obvious!?”
After Chihiro asked her that question, Elsie replied in an excited voice.
“There are many Visitors who look up to the Lightning-quick wielder of the Demonic Sword as a role model! I’ve admired him as well, ever since your’s truly came to Grimveria!”
“I-Is that true?”
Kazaya put on a perplexed expression because he had not been aware of that at all. Elsie nodded enthusiastically several times.
“And to think that person was actually Kazaya, I sense the hand of fate! I’m so pumped, y’all! Kazaya!”
Just as Elsie was about to run at Kazaya again, Chihiro stopped her by grabbing her collar from behind.
“How many times do I have to tell you, you can’t just hug him like that!”
“Ah, I tried to go with the flow, looks like I failed… But hang on a second, are you really Chihiro? Pretty different from how you were back on Earth, ain’tcha?”
“Ah… Senpai has various circumstances as well, so when she’s not in Grimveria she puts up an act.”
After hearing Kazaya’s explanation that omitted the details, Elsie put on an expression that seemed to say that she only partially understood what he had said.
“Well, putting that aside for now… Chihiro, what’s the big idea? Does my hugging Kazaya cause problems for you in some way?”
“Eh? Umm…. N-No, not really, but….”
Chihiro started to glance around uncomfortably, refusing to meet Elsie’s gaze and looking as though she had hit the nail on the head.
“Then it’s fine, isn’t it? It might be a problem in Japan, but this ain’t Japan. And besides, this is an expression of my deep affection for Kazaya.”
“N-No, but still… You know, a well-mannered young lady should not casually touch people of the opposite sex… ”
“Ho? Is that a trait peculiar to Japanese people? But I’m a foreigner so that’s got nothin’ to do with me!”
As soon as Elsie said that, she broke free from Chihiro’s grip and rushed toward Kazaya.
“Ah!? I won’t let you!!”
However, Chihiro crouched and dashed forward with a speed comparable to that of a professional short-distance sprinter, reached Kazaya before Elsie, and hugged him first.
As for Kazaya, he had absolutely no idea what was going on anymore and was stuck in a state of turmoil.
“Chihiro, no fair! Why are you trying to monopolize Kazaya!?”
“I-It’s not like that! It’s not like that but… How do I put it, I won’t let you, Elsie!”
“Say it clearly! Didja expect me to be convinced by that!?”
“That might be true, but… there are plenty of things in the world that are unclear and yet important, right!?”
“Indeed there are, but that don’t matter right now!”
The two of them started arguing, but Kazaya did not have the composure to stop them. The warmth and softness of Chihiro’s body and her sweet smell were testing Kazaya’s self-restraint to the limits, and it took all he had to keep himself calm.
“Ughhh….. What is it, are you going out with Kazaya, Chihiro?”
“Eh!? That’s… We’re not really… I mean….”
Chihiro blushed and looked away.
“In that case, what’s the problem? I want Kazaya too! Lemme hug him!”
“H-How can you say your desires so clearly!? Foreigners really are different after all… Wait, that’s not important right now! I won’t let you do that!”
Chihiro hugged Kazaya even tighter, causing her ample breasts to touch Kazaya directly. As for Kazaya, he could only escape from reality by dreaming about staying in that paradise forever.
“Hey, Tsugami-kun, you should tell her off too!”
“E-Eh? Me? Well…. Umm…”
“That’s right! Let us decide after hearing Kazaya’s opinion! Kazaya, let’s hear it!”
“Well, Tsugami-kun!? Do you want to be hugged by Elsie!?”
“You want to, don’tcha!?”
Pressured from both sides, Kazaya was forced into a corner. If there was a guy who would not be cornered in such a situation, Kazaya would have loved to meet him. He would request to become that man’s disciple in a heartbeat.
“Ah… Well… That’s is…”
“What is it!?”
“Say it clearly, goshdarnit!”
As the two girls continued to pressure him, Kazaya broke out into a cold sweat while thinking that villains who were forced to make a last stand on the edge of a cliff—a scene that commonly appeared in suspense stories—might feel something like this. At this rate, he would end up like those villains, confessing his sins before falling into the rough seas below. The End.
“In my opinion… I think that…”
Out of desperation, Kazaya had no choice but to say this.
“—Why don’t the three of us just get along together?”