Hello there. I’m back and I’ve got a new prelude to release.
Not much different from the last run. This is basically an incorporation of logs 2 and 3. Well, with an extra twist and a bit of fixing up.
In any case, enjoy!
Prelude of Pearls: The 2nd Prelude – 2 Choices
「…you’re Silvia, right? Drop the act.」
While I was slightly taken aback by the sudden little sister imposter, I somehow got a hold of myself and spoke the following.
「Arara? Is Onii-chan still asleep? It’s your cute little sister, Silver Devil-chan!」
「…I’m closing the chat.」
「Wait!? I’ll stop. I’m sorry!」
The girl on the screen immediately panicked as she desperately tried to stop me from cutting off the conversation.
「Alright. So? What’s with that get-up? Actually, why do you look so different from the monochrome girl?」
I immediately unleashed a barrage of questions. While Silvia was here, I might as well try and extract as much information from her as I can, or so was the impetus behind my actions.
「Monochrome? Ah, you mean this?」
As she spoke, a veil of silver shrouded her body, as if she were being consumed by a cloudy mist of silver dust. A few seconds later, the mist dispersed, revealing the figure of a girl with long, silver hair. The headphones and monochrome attire were exactly the same as the image imprinted in my memory.
「So you can change your appearance, huh?」
「Yeah. Got a problem with it?」
「Not really. But is that all you can transform into?」
「Of course not! Don’t underestimate me!」
As she pompously declared thus, the same phenomenon that occurred only moments before had repeated itself, a shroud of silver enveloping the girl once more. This time, however, what appeared was a girl with shimmering eyes of maroon, wearing an outfit that reminded me of a shrine maiden. Although the tranquil nature of the girl’s appearance seemed to suggest that she was quite the elegant individual, that image couldn’t be any further from the truth.
「…I see. Anything else?」
I spoke, purposefully appearing unimpressed.
If I’m right, then-
「Huh! What’s with that unimpressed tone! You really don’t understand my greatness, do you!? Even though I managed to catch that black one off guard with this. Fine then. I’ll show you something that even YOU can’t ignore!」
As I had thought.
I had roughly determined that this silver girl seemed to possess quite a prideful character, wanting to be admired and acknowledged by everyone around her. Therefore, if I expressed such a bland tone, she would come to the conclusion that I had yet to take her seriously.
While I had intended to simply urge her to continue her transformation show, she leaked out something quite interesting.
Even though I managed to catch that black one off guard…
Although I couldn’t help but feel that this was quite an……inelegant expression, I disregarded this thought as I returned to the topic at hand.
It would seem that Silvia had yet to learn our names and, in place of that, referred to us by our hair colours. Therefore, while it seemed a bit premature, I decided to move forward with the assumption that Silvia was referring to Schatten and, in consequence, had met him using this form.
In which case, the chance was highly probable that Silvia took different forms when she met the rest of us. Although I have no idea why, it would seem to fit the current pattern observed so far…
「Hey! Pay attention to me!」
As I was dragged out of my contemplation, I once again focused my eyes onto the screen.
This time, Silvia had taken the form of a rather short girl with large, round, purple eyes. A similar, shrine-maiden style dress with a contrasting pink and red theme was draped over her small frame, said dress fitting tightly to the girl’s form while exposing the neck.
Although she was quite adorable, only one thought had flowed into my mind.
(This is the form that must have enticed LoliQ.)
The conclusion that I reached was quite obvious. After all, LoliQ was an individual who was absolutely ‘obsessed’ with Lolis. That was essentially the origin of her handle name.
Thus, if such an idealistic Loli were to appear before her, there was no doubt that she would immediately listen to whatever the Loli had to say.
「…so? What did you want to talk about?」
I asked Silvia as I tried to move the conversation along.
「Hey! You’re not gonna comment about this absolutely amazing transformation power I possess?!」
「If it’s nothing important, then I’ll end the call.」
「I’m sorry. Please don’t disconnect the call.」
Silvia immediately spoke in an apologetic tone. While I wasn’t exactly sure what had her so perturbed, I paid it little mind as I continued to speak.
「Also, mind returning to normal? Although I don’t mind talking to you in such a figure, it must take effort to maintain that form, right?」
「Hmph. I’ll do whatever I want, thank you very much.」
Still defiant, the cloud of silver once again clustered around Silvia before dispersing, revealing a girl in a seemingly baggy outfit, an annoyed expression plastered onto her face.
(…interesting. So even though she can change her form, she can’t get rid of her silver hair?)
Indeed. What I had noticed by engaging in this little farce was the fact that even though she was capable of altering her size, shape, eye colour, and facial features, there were two things that she did not change.
Her gender and her hair color.
While I don’t know the reason behind this inability to transform these two aspects of her appearance, I took note of it. I also noted that, as I had only observed five of her forms, this observation may not be necessarily valid.
「So? You contacted me for a reason, right?」
「Ah, that’s right! I forgot!」
As she tapped a clenched fist onto her open palm, she brought her fist in front of her mouth and coughed lightly before she began to speak.
「Welcome to Ede-!」
I coldly glanced at the screen that notified me of the action that I had instinctively taken.
Obviously, what I had just done was close the chat room.
(Well, she should contact me again if it’s actually anything important, right?)
Just as I thought thus-
I was met with a familiar dialog box.
「What the hell! What’s wrong with you!?」
「Sorry. It was a reflex.」
「What do you mean, reflex?」
「Well, I thought that I was very close to being in legal danger, so I kinda just closed the chat room. Sorry ‘bout that.」
I apologised as I scratched the back of my head.
「So? Are you gonna do this properly?」
「Haa…why is this one so much trouble? Actually, every one of these guys are so troublesome…」
「Hey, you called us, remember?」
As she exasperated, I replied in a passively aggressive manner.
「I know, but…why did it have to be you guys? I could have had a more reliable group of people…」
I remained silent as I processed the information that just reached my ears.
(The way that she had phrased that…made it seem like she had no choice but to choose us.)
In other words, that meant that there was a force beyond her control which was responsible for choosing us to be sent to this world.
I made a mental note of this as I opened my mouth.
「Well, get on with it. All we’ve been doing is engaging in idle chatter.」
Of course, this was not necessarily true. However, I said this in an attempt manipulate her into thinking that I learnt nothing from our previous exchange.
「I know, alright! Geez. Now I know how that red-haired chick must feel…」
Red hair? She must be referring to Kiriko. As I suspected, it seemed that this girl had yet to learn any of our names and, instead, just addresses us by our hair colour.
「Let me start again. Welcome to 【Paletia】!」
I mutter as I repeat the noun that had just passed her lips.
Paletia. I was unsure what kind of language this word came from, much less what it meant. If I had to derive a meaning from it, the word appeared to be morphed from the English word Palette.
Palette. Often associated with art as artists have a palette of colors that they use to paint pictures of the world.
「Indeed. This is the world that I desire.」
「Heh~. I don’t really see what’s so desirable. Of course, I’ve only just got here so I’ll have to wait and see.」
I ponder as I glance towards the world presented before me.
「So? Did you call just to tell me that?」
「No. I came to give you a ‘tutorial’ as it were.」
「Hou? A tutorial of what?」
I express interest as I return my focus towards Silvia.
「Well, it’s not really a tutorial. Think of it as some sort of hint, if you will. After all, I’m sure that you will learn the workings of this world eventually. Just like the rest of you.」
As she said thus, I was suddenly reminded of the party of people that had supposedly also been sent to this world known as 【Paletia】.
「Where are the others?」
「Yeah, you see, that’s the thing. You guys were all sent to different places.」
「…so you mean, we’re scattered?」
「I see. So? Where are they?」
「Huh? Go look for them yourself! I can’t hold your hand all of the time, you know!」
From her comment, it appeared that she knew exactly where all of us were. Otherwise, she would not have known that we were all scattered.
Although I was not aware as to how she knew this, seeing that she was capable of contacting me, then it would seem probable that she can do the same to the others.
「Anyway, I came to tell you 3 things. The first being the name of this world, 【Paletia】.」
「Your goal. You need to meet up with the others.」
「That so? You mind telling me where they are?」
「No. Go find them yourself. Think of this as a ‘quest’ meant to test your caliber.」
「…and if I refuse?」
I spoke thus in a purposefully provocative tone.
While I originally intended to search for the others, I wanted to see if there was any consequence for not accepting such a request. While it was risky, I deemed it a necessary measure in order to gauge how the person known as ‘Silvia’ would react to such a threat.
「I’m the only one that can send you back.」
「What if I said I didn’t want to go back?」
「You’ll still need my help to survive in this world. In actuality, you’re the weakest among your friends.」
I felt my face twitch as I heard something surprising.
(I’m…the weakest one?)
While it was true that my stats did not seem overly impressive, I suddenly recalled my skills.
Not a single one was capable of injuring an opponent.
Furthermore, my Attack stat was 5. It was clear that I did not have much offensive strength. In addition to the demerit incurred by 《The Sadist》 title, this figure would be diminished to a mere 4.75. While I was not yet aware of the statistical scale of this world, I had an inkling that such an attack stat was very bad.
Of course, this was just the attack stat. My defense was a measly 8. Agility was around the 10s by memory. Although my Wisdom and DP stats were quite high, these would not help me in combat at all.
(…shit. Why didn’t I realise this before?)
I grimaced as I tried to maintain my poker face.
「That’s why I suggest that you listen to my request.」
She simply smiled as she exuded a threatening atmosphere.
…or at least, it would have been threatening to most people. Yet, it seemed to have no effect on me.
(…ah, I see. My D.Defence.)
Indeed, I realised that my D.Defence was currently negating any sort of influence that she tried to place on me. Thus, even though she appeared to be in control, I was still quite capable of declining her offer.
Nevertheless, as I had no intention to reject the offer in the first place-
「Alright. I’ll accept your ‘test’.」
-I answered in the affirmative to her request.
「Very good. Now, the 3rd and final matter that I need to tell you about.」
「It’s about your equipment. First things first, your guide should have been blessed by me. Your ‘tablet’, was it? It shouldn’t run out of ‘dough’.」
(Dough? What the hell is she saying?)
I was absolutely rendered speechless as I could not comprehend what in the world she had just told me.
When one talks about a tablet ‘running out’ of something, it’s usually about a battery…
(…wait a minute. It couldn’t be?)
「It’s not ‘dough’. It’s ‘battery’.」
「Huh? Wait, really!?」
As she spoke in bewilderment, the silver-haired girl grabbed a thick book from somewhere and began to flick through its contents.
It finally occurred to me. What she had wanted to say was ‘battery’. Yet, she had somehow mixed up the word ‘battery’ with ‘batter’. From there, she most likely tried to find synonyms to make herself sound more intellectual.
Nevertheless, it just made her sound more stupid.
(……why does that remind me of LoliQ?)
I couldn’t help but feel astounded by her stupidity, even though my supposed “kouhai” (junior for the uninitiated) was also prone to the same mistake. Regardless, now was not the time to bask in her idiocy.
She had stated that my tablet would ‘not run out of battery.’ In other words, that meant that I could keep it on indefinitely.
This would also save me the trouble of searching for a place to actually charge the tablet.
After all, it was my essential guide. There was no way that I could afford to have it turned off, even for a moment.
On the other hand, however, it would be quite troublesome to lug my tablet around with me if I were to engage in combat. From what I could see, that tablet would be necessary to view all sorts of information. It would be very inconvenient for me if I were unable to access such information mid-battle.
Regardless, I doubt that I had much say in the matter. Therefore, after making a note of this dilemma, I called out to Silvia.
「So? Is there anything else about my ‘equipment’?」
「Found it! Battery: A combination of two or more cells electrically connected to work together to produce electrical energy.」
I gazed coldly at the girl who was currently fingering through, what appeared to be, a dictionary.
「Oi! If that’s all, then I’m gonna close the chat.」
「W-wait a minute! I’m not done yet!」
「Hurry it up then.」
I voiced my annoyance.
「Hey! I’m fed up with your attitude! Why don’t I just kill you now, huh!?」
However, in response to my impatience, Silvia replied with a threat of murder.
While I was unsure as to whether or not she truly could kill me at this moment, I decided to return a sarcastic response.
「Hou? So you’re gonna kill me? Even though you need me to help you ‘conquer the world’?」
Upon being faced with my ‘counter-threat’, all Silvia could do was express her displeasure.
「So? Is that all?」
「Ah, no. You should still have your phone on you, right? You were listening to it when you met me so it should still be in your pocket.」
As soon as she said the word ‘phone’, I reflexively brought my hand to my left pocket. Sure enough, a rectangular, metal lump could be felt within the confines of my trouser pocket.
「I’ve taken the liberty of hooking up your phone to the tablet. Although it won’t have the same functions as the tablet, it should solve the dilemma of having to constantly look at your tablet throughout combat.」
「I see…you’ve actually put some thought into this, huh?」
I voiced my admiration as I pulled out my phone. Incidentally, my earphones were also tangled inside my pocket.
I unlocked my phone as I searched the applications. Sure enough, a new application had emerged within the list of downloaded apps.
(I see…another app, huh.)
While my eyes wandered across the screen, I noticed a ∞ symbol beside the battery icon.
(My battery level is at infinity? Does that mean it has also been blessed?)
I recall what Silvia had told me before.
『First things first, your guide should have been blessed by me. Your ‘tablet’, was it? It shouldn’t run out of ‘dough’.』
Disregarding the whole dough/battery confusion for the moment, this immortal battery appeared to have also been given to my phone, as well as my tablet.
A smirk appeared on my face.
「? What’s with you?」
Silvia asked as she tilted her head to the side.
「No, nothing. Thanks for the info. I’ll work things out from here. Anything else you wanna add?」
I asked as I hinted that the conversation was drawing to a close.
「Yeah. There are two more things.」
I pricked up my ears.
「I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but your guide isn’t quite complete yet.」
「…what do you-」
「I’m not going to bother going into details. Simply put, there are some kinks in its system, so things might change as time goes by.」
「Right……is there any particular reason for it?」
「Well, it could be attributed to your subclass? Or maybe it’s got something to do with your second time.」
As something quite strange came out of the silver girl’s mouth, I couldn’t help but release an expression of incomprehension, my face blank as I stared at the tablet.
However, it would seem that the person on the other side of the screen cared not for my confusion.
「Anyway, I have one more thing I want to say.」
Silvia spoke as her face contorted into a smile befitting a Silver Devil.
「Please don’t die, Onii-chan❤」
Silence enveloped the surroundings once more.
Although I had more or less grasped the idea of my objectives, the discussion with the ‘Silver Devil’ was quite beneficial.
Not only did it clarify some concerns that I had, I managed to extract quite a bit of information from her.
Of course, while there were still mysteries that had yet to be unraveled, I decided that, seeing as I couldn’t do much to solve them right now, I should shift my focus on a more pressing matter.
(Now then, how should I proceed?)
As I pondered about my next course of action-
I heard a loud scream before the surroundings darkened slightly.
I quickly surveyed my surroundings in order to ascertain the origin of the noise.
As I could no longer see any orange light, I concluded that something had happened at the shack nearby.
I swiftly made my way to the cottage, making sure that I remained silent.
(-tch. It’s annoying to move around with this knapsack.)
I complained internally as the knapsack constantly kept getting in the way of my legs. Due to this impediment, I was forced to take it off of my shoulder and hold it close to my chest as I advanced cautiously.
I soon arrived at the shack. I slowly leaned against the wall as I tried to calm my restless breathing.
(Damn it. I haven’t run for quite some time. No wonder my agility stat is low…)
As I commented thus in my mind, I peered into the window next to me.
Although there was no longer any artificial light, moonbeams trickled into the hut through another window, dimly illuminating the interior of the run-down shack.
What I saw inside were 3 people.
The first was a man dressed in rather worn out clothes. Although I could not gather his age due to incredibly dim lighting, I was able to make out the facial hair that clung tightly to his chin. As he had a bandana over his head, it was hard to determine the color of his hair. Yet, the one thing that I could clearly make out, despite all of the difficulties, was-
The man was collapsed on the floor, a knife protruding out from his upturned chest. A dark substance puddled underneath the man, eroding the area surrounding him with its murky pigment.
I was unsure what to think.
Although I had seen the portrayal of death in several different types of media, this was the first time that I had observed a real corpse before my very eyes.
Was I meant to feel unpleasant?
Was I meant to feel disturbed?
Honestly, I wasn’t sure. After all, I had no words to express what I was feeling right now. If anything, I would probably relate it closely to apathy and disgust.
Apathy because I did not care about the man’s death.
Disgust because of the apathy that I felt.
(…pondering my feelings now isn’t going to change anything, is it?)
The fact that the man is dead cannot be changed. No matter how hard I contemplated his death, it would not change the fact that he was dead.
And so, with this (arguably depressing) mindset, my eyes focused on the other two individuals.
A woman with disheveled, long, brown hair was being pushed against the wall, her mouth gaping wide as her expression seemed to convey agony. I could not make out much more as the other figure, a man, was blocking my view, covering a large portion of her body from my eyes adjusted to the darkness.
The man wore the same bandana as the corpse on the floor. Seeing that his back was facing me, I could not make out much of his features except for his scrawny, thin build. What I did note, however, was that the man was pushing the woman up against the wall.
(…wait, this couldn’t possibly be-!?)
Although I had seen quite a bit of this sort of material across my– er, travels on the net, I had never actually seen it happen before.
I turned away.
Not because of the fact that I found such an act disgusting but because I did not need to see any more of such an act to understand the situation.
(Those two men in bandanas appear to be comrades…and they most likely forced themselves upon this woman.)
This was my assumption of the scenario.
The two men had somehow cornered the woman into this shack. They then forced themselves onto her. However, the woman struggled as she stabbed one of the men with a knife taken from this shack. After that, the remaining man took the opportunity to have-his-way with her.
While I was slightly perturbed by the fact that I could calmly analyse the current situation, I quickly dismissed the thought as I began to ponder-
What should I do now?
There were two choices that presented themselves before me.
Choice 1: Help the woman.
Choice 2: Simply leave.
Choice 1 would probably be the more popular choice. After all, it would be considered just to stop wrong-doers and, as our society often stresses to us, it would be the right thing to do.
However, I didn’t really care about what society thought. While, yes, I do conform to society in order to avoid complications. However, that does not mean that I have the disposition to always save those that are right in front of my eyes.
After all, I am not a hero. I am a weakling.
Taking my meager abilities into account, Choice 2 would appear to be the better answer. I would not be involved in any conflict, there would be less risk to me, and, above all, I would stay alive.
(…but am I really ok with that?)
Indeed, simply walking away is a valid decision. However, it was also the easy one.
Regardless of whether it be now or later, I will have to fight eventually. I cannot continue to run away from fights, especially because I am by myself.
I mean, sure, this might be a world in which I didn’t have to fight. While most might think of other worlds being chaotic and full of violence, there was no basis for me to assume that this one had such a deranged nature.
However, regardless of whether I had to fight or not, was I willing to simply walk away, to abandon that woman while placing my hands over my ears?
The wise academic inside of me said yes.
The sensitive idiot inside of me said no.
(…in which case, I better think of something. And fast.)
Deciding to side with my idiotic self, I peered into the window, focusing my gaze towards the man’s back.
It seemed rather tall and slim. There were no obvious signs of muscle mass. From the illumination created by the moonlight, his skin appeared to be sickeningly pale. On his upper right arm, I noticed a bandage wrapped around his flesh, a dark patch staining the white fabric.
As I made these observations, I felt a vibration come from my left pocket.
As I moved away from the window, my back pressed tightly against the wall, I took out my phone and checked what had caused the vibration. In doing so, took great care not to allow the LED light from the phone to seep into the shack.
As I was presented with, what appeared to be, a status screen, I could only assume that these stats belonged to the guy that I was just observing.
(…shit. That attack stat is no joke.)
Although I was unfamiliar as to how the damage system worked in this world, what I did know was that this guy’s attack stat was over double my defense stat. Rather, his attack stat was almost four times my own.
With just that fact alone, I was painfully aware that I would soon die if I were to face that man head-on.
「Gah-! You bitch!」
I heard a groan from inside the shack. While carefully making sure that I wasn’t noticed, I once again peer into the window.
I immediately noticed a dark substance gushing out of the man’s arm. It seemed that the woman had hit the man’s wounded area. Even though the woman’s arm seemed pale and skinny, she had clearly inflicted quite an amount of pain.
I felt my phone vibrate once again. This time, however, my eyes widened upon seeing the information that was displayed.
I could not help but express my amazement at the convenient development.
From what I gathered, even though the woman only had an attack value of 3, she was able to inflict 5 points of damage to the man’s HP.
However, upon inspecting the man’s defence stat, the woman should not have been able to inflict that amount of damage.
This could only mean one thing.
(Damage dealt changes upon the area attacked.)
This was the logical conclusion.
As the woman had attacked the bandaged arm, it was clear that this area of the man’s body was significantly wounded and, thus, vulnerable to attacks.
This theory would be able to rationalise how the woman could inflict such a high level of damage, despite possessing relatively little offensive power.
(…in which case, there might be a way.)
I thought to myself as I stood up.
Although I know that this will most likely not benefit me in the long run, I had already made my choice.
Even if it was stupid.
Even if it amounted to nothing.
I had already made my resolve.
|The 1st Prelude – New World||XCrossJ’s List of Movements||The 3rd Prelude – What comes after Death?|