Chapter 0 : Prologue
In the darkness, the light quickly disappears. Even unconscious the hand reached out to grasp at nothing, while falling there was a sense of tightening in the nether region. Nagumo Hajime’s face distorted with fear as the light disappeared from his vision.
Currently, Hajime was falling down a deep cliff that looked like the entrance to hell. The only light visible was the light that illuminated the ground above. As he continued to fall the light no longer reached him, the surrounding turned black, Hajime searched the dungeon, and on the cervices of the sides he saw a revolving lantern as the sound of wind passed by him.
Being a Japanese myself, the inequality that he tasted when he came to this world was too hard to represent in words and the hope that this fantasy world would rid of it, the current history of the misfortune that he tasted in progressive form.
* * *
Monday, the most melancholy of all the days has just started. For most people, at this time of the week would sigh, while the previous day would be heaven to them.
And Nagumo Hajime was not an exception to this notion. However, in Hajime’s case, it was not just a simple bother, the cozy school was associated with a very bad feeling, probably because he was depressed. As always, when the last bell chimed at school, he opened the door to the classroom with his tired body from pulling an all-nighter.
At that moment, Hajime received glares and clicking of tongues from the majority of the male students in the classroom. The girls did not have a friendly expression either. It was fine if the people were indifferent, but there were those who had an expression of contempt directed at him.
Hajime tried to play it off as he headed to his seat, but there was always people who would mess with him every time.
“Hey Kimoota*! Did you play games all night again? Was it an eroge I wonder?”
“Uwa, gross. Staying up all night to play eroge is super disgusting.”
What the heck do they find funny to guffaw at? The laughter came from Hiyama Daisuke. He is the leader of the students that pick on Hajime on a daily routine. The three next to him with the stupid laugh were Saito Yoshiki, Kondo Reiichi, and Nakano Shinji, these four were the ones that picked on Hajime the most frequently.
As Hiyama stated, Hajime was an otaku. Hajime’s appearance and behavior was not that bad to be called Kimoota or to be ridiculed. His hair was trimmed short and he did not have bedhead hair. He did not have an assertive personality but that did not mean he was anti-social, besides he clearly replied back to people. He was quiet, but he did not give off a feeling of creepiness. Hajime simply liked things like manga, light novels, games, and movies.
The criticism that otaku’s receive from society is certainly strong, generally speaking the degree of ridicule varies but it never reaches open hostility. Yet, why does all the male students show unrestrained contempt and hostility?
The answer was a girl.
“Nagumo-kun, Good Morning! Almost late as usually, you should come earlier.”
The girl walks up to Hajime as she is smiling. In this class, no wait this whole school, she is one of the few exceptions that treated Hajime friendly.
Her name was Shirasaki Kaori. She is known as one of the two goddesses of the school, popular among both male and female students and known for her very beautiful looks. Kaori had long glossy black hair that reached her waist, and large slightly weeping eyes that conveyed a sense of gentleness. She had a straight bridge nose that was small, and thin lips of Sakura colors arranged to perfection.
Always the girl with the endless smile, is very caring and has a strong sense of responsibility that often people, regardless of school year, rely on her help. She is always seen with a sincere expression without any unpleasantness, that is why it is hard to believe she was just a high school student.
So, why does someone like Kaori treat Hajime so well? This has caused many sleepless nights for Hajime and the student body (He got average grades as a result), it was thought that it was because of Kaori’s good nature that warranted the treatment.
Now, Hajime’s class attitude should improve, if Kaori was dealing with an Ikemen than it would have been acceptable, unfortunately, Hajime was very ordinary, on hand his reputation for “a life of hobbies” did not see an improvement of the attitude against him. That such a person as Hajime can be so friendly with Kaori, the ordinary male students could not stand it. Often they think “Why is it only him?” The female students simply, because they believe Hajime is taking advantage of Kaori’s kind nature, seem to be uncomfortable with him.
“Ah, Good Morning Shirasaki-san.”
Uwa, is this Saki?! Is what he wanted to say, but he saw the glint of the eyes and just contorted his face in discomfort as he returned the greeting.
And Kaori just wore a joyful expression. Why does she have such an expression? Furthermore the glaze was so piercing that he could feel the flow of cold sweat. Hajime wondered every single time. Why does someone like Kaori, who is hailed as the most beautiful in the school, associate herself with him. In Hajime’s eyes, there is just something about Kaori’s nature that he did not think about yet.
However, he was not going to flatter himself thinking that it was romantic feelings. Hajime himself, had given up self-awareness in his pursuit of his hobbies. Because of his lack of self-awareness his looks were average and so was his athletic ability. So when you compared him to her, he was nowhere close to being good enough. Therefore, her attitude is a mystery.
Besides that, can you be a little more aware of the Saki storm brewing! I say in my innermost thoughts. If I had voiced it, I have no doubt that someone would take me behind the gym…
When I attempted to end the conversation there, three students got closer to us.
“Nagumo-kun, Good Morning. It’s troublesome every day.”
“Kaori, are you looking after him again? Really, Kaori is really kind.”
“For real, no matter what you say to this unmotivated guy, it won’t work.”
The name of the girl that greeted him, from the three, is Yaegashi Shizuku. Kaori’s best friend. Her trademark was her long black hair done in a ponytail. Her slightly slit eyes was sharp, but in the depths there is a feeling of softness, this gives her the impression of being cool rather than cold. She was tall for a girl at 172 cm, her posture and physique was very dignify and it was similar to how a samurai was.
In fact, her family is in ownership of a Kenjutsu dojo. Shizuku herself is a vetran of her family style. Since she was a child, she had never lost in a tournament. Currently she appears in magazines as the “Beautiful Swordwoman”, she even have some diehard fans.
The underclasswomen would call her “Onee-sama” because of their admiration.
Next, the one that spoke a little clumsily to Kaori was Amanogawa Kouki. Just like his name he was the perfect man, good looks, athletic, smart, and good personality. He had silky brown hair and gentle eyes. His body was toned and slender at about 180 cm. Kouki was nice to everyone and had a very strong sense of justice. Since he was small he attended the Yaegashi Kenjutsu dojo. Like Shizuku, he was a national level athlete. Shizuku and him are childhood friends. Dozens of girls have fallen for him, but he is always close to Kaori and Shizuku so the other girls are hesitant to confess their feelings. Still he is a very popular guy that gets confessed to at least twice a month from all over.
The last person was a male with a very reckless feeling named Sakagami Ryutaro, Kouki’s best friend. He is muscle brain that does not care about the finer details in things. His physique is like a bear and he stand tall at about 190 cm. The eyes he has shows playfulness and sharpness. Ryutaro is a very hot blooded individuals that like others that put in effort like him, he does not like Hajime because of his lackluster approach to life. Even now, he choose to ignore Hajime.
“Ohayo, Yaegashi-san, Tennokawa-kun, Sakagami-kun. Haha, Maa, there is no helping it since it’s my own fault.”
To their greetings, Hajime just gives a bitter smile. “Teme, What selfish words did you say to Yaegashi-san? Aaa?” I wanted to say but a stare stopped me*. Both the girls were very popular, Shizuku’s reputation would not lose to Kaori’s.
“If you knew about it, why not fix it? I think you are fawning over Kaori’s kindness. Kaori is not just trying to bother you.”
Kouki admonishes Hajime. In Kouki’s eyes, Hajime is not taking Kaori’s kindness with any sincerity. It’s not like he wanted to be babied! Rather please just leave me alone! I wanted to argue with him, but there would be more trouble if I did. There was no use in arguing with Kouki because he always felt he was right.
Even if they asked him to “fix” his hobbies, his hobbies was at the center of his life. Because, his father was a game creator and his mother was a shoujo mangaka, in the future he wanted to get a partime job at his father’s company or mother’s workplace.
He was already practicing his skills, and all his hobbies were perfect for his plans. Hajime did not feel like changing his life style because he had given serious thoughts about it already. If Kaori had not taken an interest in Hajime, he would have lived a quiet student life.
Therefore, laughingly, Hajime let it go. However, the goddess of unawareness dropped a bomb again like always.
“Kouki-kun, What are you saying? I’m just talking to Nagumo-kun because I want to.”
Zawatto*, the classroom became noisy. The male students glared and clenched their teeth with Saki at that. Hiyama’s group started to consider where they could take Hajime during the lunch break.
“Oh?…Aa, Really, Kaori is so nice.”
Kouki seems to take Kaori’s response about Hajime at face value. Kouki’s was a good person, but he lacked the perception to really understand the meaning of what is being said. Hajime took this time to look up at the sky to escape the awkward situation.
“…Gomenasaine? I don’t want to rude to you two but…”
At that place the person with the best understanding of people, Shizuku, secretly apologized to Hajime. Hajime replied with a “No choice” with a grin and a shrug.
At that time the bell chimed to signal the start of class, as their teacher entered the classroom. The teacher conveyed the usually information. And, Hajime started his daydream, while the class started.
Looking at that Hajime, Kaori smiled, Shizuku just grinned, males were clicking their tongues, girls were directing a gaze of scorn.
* * *
I returned to consciousness at the feeling of the class’s bustle. Since it was a habitual sleep, he had a timing of when to wake up. The kind of feeling he got, signify that it was lunch break.
Hajime raises his face from the desk and takes out his basic lunch with a rustling sound. Looking around the people who were buying food were already out the class, so the number of people in class were decreasing. Still, there were still about 2/3 of the class with their bento left, while their 4th period social studies teacher Hatakeyama Aiko (25 years old) was chatting with several students near the podium.
Immediately, Hajime tried to take a nap after eating his lunch. However, a certain goddess would not all it, for Hajime she was the devil, smiled as she approached his desk.
Hajime inwardly moaned “Damn!” He seemed to be especially sleepy on Mondays. Usually before Kaori’s and the other interacted with him, he would have been gone to find a place to sleep, but those two days of all nighters had taken a toll on him.
“Nagumo-kun, how rare it is to find you in class at lunch. Obento? If you want let’s eat together.”
Once again, a disturbing atmosphere filled the classroom, Hajime scream in his heart. No, who do you pay attention to me now? Without meaning to, an unknown dialect almost escaped from his mouth. Hajime tried to refuse.
“Ah, thanks for the offer, Shirasaki-san. However, I have already finished eating so why not join the others?”
As I said that, I showed her my empty lunch pack that was completely gone. To refuse such an offer people would think “Who is this guy?”, but it’s better than the constant nagging he would get.
However, such a low level refusal was not enough to stop the Goddess from trying.
“Eh! You only ate that much? That’s not good, you should eat properly. I’ll give you some of mine!”
(Give me a break! Notice it! Notice the atmosphere!)
Suddenly my saviors appeared, when I started to produce a cold sweat from the increasing pressure. It was Kouki’s group.
“Kaori. Let’s eat together. It seems like Nagumo hasn’t slept enough yet. I won’t allow such a sleepyhead to enjoy Kaori’s delicious meal.”
Kaori just laughs refreshingly at Kouki’s smug response. For someone as insensitive as Kaori, an Ikemen’s smile and words had no effect on her.
“Eh? What are you unable to allow?”
Shizuku unwittingly blew out a laugh at Kaori’s response. Kouki just laughs at that and starts to just chat it up. Still 4 of the most famous students were gathered around Hajime’s desk and that did not allow the glares to weaken.
Hajime complained to himself and let out a sigh.
(Already, these guys are in their own worlds. No matter how you look at these 4, they are caught up in their own atmosphere. Please someone from another world summon him.)
Hajime tries to escape reality. When he was about to moving away he was frozen.
In front of his eyes, a complex array of snow white circles appeared before him. The students also noticed this weird phenomenon. He watched as the patterns shined and the force that held him started to hold the other students, he thought it was a magic formation.
The magic formation got gradually brighter and soon expanded to the size of the whole classroom. When the students finally processed the situation they tried to move and scream. When the formation started to shine, Aiko-sensei shouted “Everybody get out”, but at this instance the formation exploded.
The light covered the classroom for a few seconds, then a few minutes. When it cleared no one was left in the classroom. The classroom was devoid of human life but all their belongings, that were not on them, were left behind.
The world would later call this a Spirited Away incident, but that is for another time.