Back at the palace in the very different world, tears ran down Riko Satomi’s face as she watched the man get carried away by soldiers.
There were two reasons for her tears: her complete and utter fear from the swords pointed straight at her throat, and the guilt she felt for being incapable of moving at all.
She had done nothing wrong, however. There was no person alive who could have made a move when swords threatened to slice through their neck. Still yet, she blamed herself for being unable to help the same individual who put his own safety at risk to get her out of trouble.
“What do you intend to do now? While we would love for you to stay and fight together with us, you are not technically a hero, and we can’t force that of you. Please figure out your next steps.”
Without hesitation, Riko answered, “I will not fight with you.”
“I see. So, you intend to live on by yourself? We can’t guarantee you’ll stay alive.”
“That suits me fine,” Riko responded, giving back a bit of a glare.
There was no way she was going to stay in the same place as these people, and as those delinquents. In the past, she certainly might have, but things were different now. Seeing that trembling man crying out for help strengthened her resolve and changed how she would otherwise have answered.
Staying true to those very principles, she turned and left the palace behind.
As we neared the ravine, they stood me back up on my own two feet. I was faced so all I could see was down into its depths and they grabbed hold of both of my arms, locking me in place. The ravine itself was so deep that I couldn’t see its bottom. If I fell down into this, I wasn’t coming out alive.
“W-wait, please. You’re not really going to throw me down there, are you?”
“There is no place for defects in this world. Go die like a man.”
“N-no, please! I don’t want to die!”
“In this world, you have no right to live at all.”
This wasn’t fair. There wasn’t a damn thing fair about this!
I don’t have a right to live? Then don’t summon me here!
This was such bullshit. What have I ever done to deserve any of this?
Sure, I may not have been the pick of the litter, but I didn’t recall going out of my way to bother anyone else.
I couldn’t wrap my head around this. Just what was wrong with this world? Was it that bad for a person to have a low Max Level? You think I’m dying for a reason like that?
I thought I might have some chance of getting away, but they were holding me so tightly that I’d have no luck there.
“Right then, we’ve been near you way too long. Time to go.”
The soldier said this expressionlessly, and right after, pressed a hand against my back and pushed. The force was so great, I couldn’t resist at all and was sent flying. My arms waving wide, I reached out to grab something – anything, – but only met with dead air.
I fell down into the ravine’s depths. Time felt as if it had slowed down and my memories from long ago crept up in my mind, flashing through one after another.
Stopping to think about it, when in my past 25 years of life have I ever truly been “happy”? I remember having a happy enough childhood, but as time wore on, life just became a real slog to get through.
So, here I was, without a single happy thought to recall, having been pulled over into another world entirely, and then falling to my death in the most unjustifiable way. Did my life ever have any kind of meaning to it? Is dying like a piece of trash all that Tetsuya Takahashi’s life amounted to?
This wasn’t right. This wasn’t what I wanted!
I didn’t want to die. I really didn’t want to die.
I didn’t want to die living a life with no meaning to it at all.
It couldn’t end this way.
I didn’t want to die.
I kept repeating it in my head over, and over, and over. My speed never once slowed as I fell, though, and I continued falling without any sense of mercy given to me whatsoever. It was finally then the time for me to face my maker, with my body crashing down to the earth. Everything, including my miserable, meaningless life, was finally about to come to an…
Hold that thought.
I’d fallen down on something rather soft.
It was pretty elastic with enough resilience to take a grown man falling onto it. It was so elastic, even, that after dropping down from it, it bounced straight back up to its natural position.
In the end, I ended up lying down on my back on it, facing the cliffs towering above me. Turning to take a better look at what I’d fallen on, it seemed like it was actually some kind of giant mushroom. Yep, I’d landed on its cap — its extremely elastic cap.
H-have I been saved?
This had to have been some kind of miracle, and a close call unlike any other.
My life had nearly been taken from me unfairly, but I felt like I’d been saved by God.
To be honest, I wasn’t religious in the least, but, if there ever was a time to believe in a higher being, this was it.
Well, my life had been spared from certain death, but…
There was literally no chance I was scaling those walls. That said, I still needed to find some way to get back up there. The walls were incredibly wide, to the point where I couldn’t see down one way or another.
Find a way out? Pfft. Yeah, it wasn’t going to ever be that easy, for sure.
There was no bright side to my current circumstances. Also, if I never found a way back up, did that mean I had to live here for the rest of my life? What was I supposed to eat? Was it wise to try eating this mushroom? If it was poisonous, my life would be over in a flash.
No, no, being negative about it wouldn’t get me anywhere. No matter what, I was alive right here and now. My life had been saved. I was going to get out of this ravine and back up there. I was.
I climbed down from the mushroom and so began my search for a way to get out of this place.