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──It may be sudden, but let's talk about everything that has happened thus far.
And I'm sorry to say that all complaints about how this is more than a little sudden, are rejected. After all, it's necessary to "Go back to square one" from time to time. The summary will load so fast it should earn game of the year. Please be tolerant and overlook it this time. If this bothers you, just skip it.
── The stage is Disboard, the boardtop world.
A world where war is forbidden by the Ten Pledges, and everything is decided by games.
Two persons from Earth fell into that world: Siblings whose only redeeming feature was their gaming skills. No, I understated it too much. Let's respectfully amend this. They were two hikikomori neets with a communication disorder. These siblings were also masters of the useless person-fu. And their names were: Sora and s.h.i.+ro.
They were proudly undefeated in every game as Blank, the two in one gamer. But if we omitted this fact, they were quite useless in society. The place where these two fell was: "The Kingdom of Elkia". Cornered to their last city and on the verge of collapse, it was Imanity's (humanity's) only country.
Sora and s.h.i.+ro just kind of became its monarchs.
The Sixteen Races, the Exceed, had official cheats like magic or ESP, but even so Sora and s.h.i.+ro played many games against them.
There were honor students that talked about love, friends.h.i.+p and justice. Unfortunately those two didn't agree with them at all.
Instead, they recruited many scheming bad friends. Everything those friends said was a trick, a cheat, a lie, or a bluff.
They beat the Flügel, the Warbeasts, the Seirens, and the Dhampir in games one after another. Until they even won against an Old Deus ── a "G.o.d".
What's more, they didn't even subjugate them. They didn't dominate or exploit them either. They just brought them under a single flag, and the "Kingdom of Elkia" became the "Elkia Federation". It became the first Federation of many races in history, and it kept rapidly expanding even now.
This took place in just a few months.
By steadily acc.u.mulating those achievements, the city-state that was on the verge of death, Elkia, became one of the major world powers. And, at the same time, they also became the greatest threat to the world… well, leaving that aside.
Perseverance is key. If you didn't applaud what those two useless persons have achieved, you'd receive divine punishment.
… And by the way.
Many of you surely know about the "Law of entropy increase". To put it simply, it says that instead of gathering in a single place, all things tend towards h.o.m.ogenization. It isn't something that difficult. I think it is something everyone remembers doing.
For example, compared to tidying up your room, it is much easier to just leave things scattered around.
Or how giving the girl you like a favorable impression is a lot of work, but getting hated is instantaneous.
Or how your hard-earned money melts away on the gacha.
And finally, how winning a game requires a lot of effort, but losing one doesn't…
Well, in the end it's like this:
In general, it's easier for things to be destroyed than built; it's easier to lose, than to preserve.
──Well then, now for all the readers who skipped to this point.
Now that the summary is over, why don't we talk about a spoiler?
Following the law of entropy increase, those two, Sora and s.h.i.+ro…
──────── Lost everything.
That's right, everything. Their position as kings, as designated representatives ── everything and anything.
The collapse of everything they had built up to that point, started when a single phone rang.
It kept displaying the no signal symbol, and in another world, there was no way it could ring. No, it didn't matter where. There was still no way.
They picked it up with suspicion, and the words that resounded there were──
"We seek an audience, oh king of Imanity. Oh Spieler. We── are the Ex-Machina."
── This was when the Elkia Federation and the Kingdom of Elkia were still in good health.
In the very center of the capital, there was the magnificent castle of Elkia, and currently, there was a placard on it. It was a giant placard that hung on the spire. It was also magnificent, and this is what was written on it:
And inside the castle of Elkia that was currently closed… correction. It seemed like there was a wooden sign that said "989 production#" on top of the castle's stele.
In any case, the castle became deserted because of the announced holiday. Inside that castle, the steps of a red haired girl, Stephanie Dola, or Steph for short, echoed and:
"That's no good!! Holou, do you really think you can become a top idol like that!?"
"... If you don't have any motivation… then just stop…"
Also, from the repurposed a.s.sembly hall, where a similar wooden sign said "Lesson room".
"I do not understand what thou mean by motivation! If it is okay to stop, then I shall stop!!"
"Idiot!! Did you think we'd let you stop if you said that? Are you one of those modern kids!?"
"... they call those… the pressure-free… generation…"
There was a young girl complaining about her lack of understanding with teary eyes, and two persons from the most pressure free generation sighing because of her.
The first one was Holou. She was a little girl with a floating j.a.panese style inkpot# that was as tall as her. She was trying to hide it, but she was undoubtedly a G.o.d. Someone from the rank one race: an "Old Deus".
The other two were Sora and s.h.i.+ro. The older brother had an "I ♥ humanity" T-s.h.i.+rt, and the little sister had white hair and red eyes. They wanted to hide from everything and anything, but unfortunately those two were the kings of Elkia.
Two useless persons had made a G.o.d cry. Steph glared at that amazing sight with half lidded eyes,
"Tomorrow is your debut on the big stage, right!? What the heck is up with those steps? It's the day before!!"
But Sora just kept exaggerating without noticing her. Those exaggerations were the reason why Sora and s.h.i.+ro went as far as closing the castle. It was, in short, for an Old Deus' ── Holou's "Idol Production work". Doubting her own sanity because of this truth, Steph hung her head, but they kept ignoring her,
"Holou is moving according to your instructions! Specify the problem!!" Holou protested. Sora and s.h.i.+ro were sitting on a chair. They sighed at her, and──
──They abruptly stood up. Their dance steps sounded like a musical instrument. Even Steph was at a loss for words. Their steps and singing could only be described as perfect.
"Huff… puff…! So it's like this! D-do you understand!?"
"... W-we don't have the stamina to do this too many times… please understand"
Just like that, Sora and s.h.i.+ro fell to the floor, out of breath.
"There's nothing different from thy previous instructions!!" Holou screamed, stomping her feet.
They made a G.o.ddess stomp her feet. In a certain way, those two had accomplished a great exploit. They suddenly smiled:
"You are just following the score like a complete amateur! A pro would also wow the audience with their expressions!"
"... There was no audience, but… that was only… at home, or… when there was no people around."
Those two had the top scores in both rhythm games and karaoke, but that was it.
Since she was a G.o.d, Holou could perfectly copy anything she saw without any difficulty. However──
"Even if you copy it perfectly, it's meaningless! Express yourself! You are not a machine, so put some heart in it!"
"In that case, what is to express? And also what is the definition of 'heart'? Define those clearly!" Holou screamed at the useless producers that could only give vague instructions, with tears in her eyes.
… By the way, for Steph this was the fourth time.
She had been calling Sora and s.h.i.+ro's names, but──
"C'mon Holou! Once more! 'Help me G.o.ddess-summer ☆#' from the top!"
It looked like they really had no intention of responding unless she called them like that.
Those two just kept ignoring her, so Steph sighed at them── and screamed.
"Yes? Oh, so you were here, manager"
"... Feel free ... to call us 'P'... okay～"
Steph finally called them by the proper name, so Sora and s.h.i.+ro turned to face her purposefully.
"I thought you were joking… No, to be completely honest, I didn't think that. Yeah…"
The things that Sora and s.h.i.+ro say aren't mere jokes. At this point, there's no way Steph didn't know that, so she was in a defeated mood. But even so, there was something she wanted to know.
Their intentions as to why they closed the king's castle, gave all the staff a holiday, and shut down the internal government──
"But I'll ask just in case: Do you want to destroy this country via government shutdown!?" Steph asked, screaming.
In other words: do the kings of this country have any sanity at all?
"Eh～? But if we don't let our employees rest, rumours that we're a black company# will spread…"
"Aren't those better than the rumors about a crazy president!?"
However, Sora had been observing Holou's dance and song until the very end, so he gave a half baked reply.
"Do you two know what the world is calling you right now!?"
Steph pointed at them with a snap, and they thought:
── Hmm, what could it be?
The ones who defeated higher ranked races one after another, and even defeated a G.o.d; the great kings who rebuilt this country…?
They knew that couldn't possibly be it, so Sora and s.h.i.+ro thought of every possible slander.
"'The Absent Kings (The Discredited Kings)#'. The distrust in you two, who saved this country, somehow keeps increasing!?"
"What? Just that? Actually, isn't that pretty cool?"
"... It's a bit too… chuuni#…"
They were relieved at Steph's answer. Sora answered happily, and s.h.i.+ro groaned with dissatisfaction. But did Steph lose her temper because of their endlessly easygoing att.i.tude?
"Do you know why after doing all this, they still don't praise you!? And what's more, they are dissatisfied!?" Steph asked. Rather than Sora and s.h.i.+ro, Steph herself was the frustrated one.
── 'Even if she asks why…'
The two of them carefully deliberated about the difficult problem in front of them, and answered with a meek face──
"I cheated a stranger into falling in love with me, and I also bet the Race piece of my own accord. How could anyone believe in such a guy? Isn't he just a swindler, or in the worst case, a s.h.i.+tty b.a.s.t.a.r.d?"
"Aha♥ You have a wonderful self awareness～♪ Next, you just need to make an effort to change, right!?"
── 'Please tell me the reasons to trust me instead' Sora had reversed the question.
And, singing and dancing doing pirouettes, Steph answered him. It was a dance filled with grace, like a ballet, but,
"No～ I know that people don't change so fast～. They change step by step, little by little, within reason～ For example, in order to change your swindler nature that doesn't let you reveal your hand even to me! For now, let's start with the reason why you stopped our internal government～ How about that──!?"
It gradually became more and more pa.s.sionate, and in the end, it became a shouting break dance.
── 'I want Holou to watch and learn' Sora and s.h.i.+ro thought together, but…
"The reason why we stopped the internal government…? Well… there wasn't any work anyways, right?"
They were saying that right now, Elkia has 'No moves' to make. Sora told her their first reason. And maybe Steph couldn't understand, but she made a counter argument:
"There's no way that's true! In fact, wasn't the department of commerce and industry gathering strength!?"
… The department of commerce and industry… yes… what was it?
"Due to the sudden increase in resource exportations, both the traders and the lords became rich! So the other day, you and s.h.i.+ro forced them all to accept your doc.u.ments with a game by the Pledges, them!!"
"Ah no. I remember. It was that conceited bunch, right?"
He didn't lie. He remembered. He was just saying that he hadn't forgotten. And Sora and s.h.i.+ro both thought:
── 'This is why the expansionist play style is so bothersome.'
A federation of many races. They were well aware that, even at the best of times, it was an idea many found difficult to accept.
What's more, because the expansion was too sudden, and because of how the citizens perceived the reforms, both the economy, and the establishment of laws weren't catching up, so internal problems kept piling up. One of those problems was the commotion caused by the upstarts, since only their funds increased, but──
"So, what's the matter with those guys? Wasn't that already solved?"
"That way of doing things just added fuel to the fire! Didn't that just increase the dissatisfaction!?" Steph screamed, pointed at Sora with a whoosh, and said:
"Is now the time for your leaders.h.i.+p── your charisma as king to be questioned!?"
At such a time, the king was like this… Steph had a face of someone who has given up. She also dreaded the follow ups she'd have to do because they shut down the castle ── the internal government of virtually the entire federation.
"... What we… lack the most… is… charisma#…"
"Hikikomoris don't have charisma! Don't underestimate us!"
Those two didn't have the tiniest bit of confidence that they were liked. However! They were peerless at being hated! That's why they were the Kings! They smiled daringly:
"Like this, it's obvious! What Elkia definitely lacks right now!"
"... That is… a symbol... with charisma… and unifying power…"
"In other words, 'Raising the ultimate idol' is the highest priority── a national project!"
They loudly told her the second reason, and looked at Holou.
And like that, they turned their attention to Holou. However, she was silently listing her doubts on her scroll with a sulky face.
"Heeey, Holou! Were you listening～?"
She had been listening. However, she still answered with a face that said she wasn't convinced:
"Thou art not making any sense! How is thy lack of a unifying force related to Holou?!"
"Forget about our art#. Using Holou's overwhelming charisma, we will gain authority!"
That's right. For example, it's just like what Miko from the Eastern Federation did. Sora smiled daringly.
Even if they couldn't trust Sora and the others, Holou would function as a symbol. Someone to give the country's management to.
"Provisionally accepting such a request, Holou hypothesizes it is an instruction to be the same as the medium──"
If she did the same things as the medium ── as Miko, it'd be fine. Holou continued:
"But the medium doesn't sing or dance! Tell Holou the reason why she has to do this idol thing!"
"This is the 19th time you've asked that! However, the answer will be the same the 19th time: Because of heaven's decree──!!"
As an idol, there was none more talented than the one in front of them. If they didn't make her an idol, heaven would surely punish them where it hurt most. When Sora said that, Steph pierced him with a cold glare.
"... In short, idol rising is just your hobby huh"
"Rude～ You're really rude you know!? This is a perfect plan that combines both hobby and profits!!"
Sora said, and thought… Why don't we just try to imagine it?
Giving the country's authority to a peerless, literally G.o.dly beautiful girl, the 'Perfect Idol' ──
Sora thought. s.h.i.+ro also thought: 'I'd instantly immigrate there!'
And, with eyes that saw a far away endless utopia… Sora said:
"That which goes over the barrier of race… is 'Love'. Love is a feeling, a belief ── a faith. Those who gather faith are the G.o.ds. Namely idols#. Which are necessarily beautiful girls. Therefore, Holou! This is a flawless argument. If anyone thinks they can refute it then go ahead──!!"
"... Refuting sophistry is certainly impossible huh"
Sora had made a seven stories high leap in logic, it was even refres.h.i.+ng. So Steph answered with half-lidded eyes, and Holou continued with a still sulky face:
"In that case, give Holou specific instructions on how to become this 'Perfect Idol'! Holou will play the part perfectly!" Holou declared. However, Sora and s.h.i.+ro sighed once, shook their heads, and answered:
"Hmm… We certainly succeeded in a mult.i.tude of idol rising games"
"... Making… the perfect character… isn't that… hard…"
And, with a dirty grin, Sora said:
"Well, in short, a ch.o.r.eography that brings about lewdness without being too lewd! Then, preparing her costume, and making her sing songs including phrases like 'I love you'! And even making her say phrases like 'All ～my fans are my sweethearts♥' from time to time! Or 'I might get another doggie～'! Also holding handshake events to make the fans dream and shorten the distance with them! That's all!"
Holou's appearance aside, since she's an Old Deus she could act perfectly.
"I can bet on it. You'll make an absurd amount of fans, and enough money to burn."
"... Is it just my imagination? I feel some kind of personal grudge from Sora"
It seems that Steph noticed some sort of darkness in Sora's face when he spoke, but she was ignored.
"However, I think I told you this before: We will make Holou a 'Top Idol'"
"... there is no 'Perfect Idol'... in 2D… or 3D…"
They said, walking around meaninglessly. They were defining something:
After becoming a top idol, they could be called a perfect idol, but what is that!?
"What we are aiming for is someone with the unrealistic ideal of 2D, and 3D's sense of existence: that they are not made up and alive!! Combining these two is not 2.5D ─ it's not 3.5D or 4.0D either ──── uhmm?" Sora spoke pa.s.sionately, but he suddenly stopped, turned towards Holou and asked:
"Holou, you said that you were a multi-dimensional intelligence, right? How many dimensions?"
"I-it depends on the definition, but I hypothesize Quintessences are on a 13+iR variable coordinate syste──"
"That's it! It's already beyond 11 dimensions, an Idol literally in a different dimension!"
In their previous world, it was a concept that even the newest physics theories didn't entertain, mere references that were mostly ignored!
Sora kept yelling bravely about that n.o.ble ideal──!!
"That is a living wis.h.!.+ To become their boyfriend, get married, and grow old together!! A blissful existence that makes you cry tears of grat.i.tude! The Avalon# that we envision is the perfect Idol…"
That man and his little sister finished their pa.s.sionate talk, and there was a silence as if they were reflecting upon the finis.h.i.+ng note,
"... Do you understand?"
"I do not"
"I don't understand"
His voice seeked sympathy for his ideal; however, he was rejected by the instant responses from the G.o.ddess and the woman.
"Well, it's fine even if you don't understand! Actually, we don't understand yet either!"
"... *nod nod*"
They were just saying that 'They themselves don't know'. Half-lidded gazes poured onto them as they talked and nodded, but,
"However, we believe that Holou herself is the personification of that"
'Or perhaps, even beyond that ideal.' Sora thought with a gentle smile.
"After all, Holou doesn't age, and she doesn't go to the bathroom either! Do you want me to keep listening to reasons why Holou is an idol?"
Sora's eyes glinted at the last, and most important factor as he finished talking.
"... No… I've had enough… I'm full…" Steph dejectedly answered with a face like she had a sour stomach.
"Fine! Then let's restart the lesson, Holou. 'Help me G.o.ddess-summer☆' from the top!"
"... if you can't do it… by today… it will be embarra.s.sing tomorrow… Holou"
"H-Holou still has questions! Holou can't understand even half of what thou said! Sora, s.h.i.+ro!"
Seeing Holou's futile complaints, and how she was dragged around by Sora and s.h.i.+ro, Steph sighed once:
"Haaah… Even though we don't know when we might be attacked…" Steph grumbled.
"Hm? We can't be attacked you know?" However, Sora answered with an instant reply.
"It's like I told you. We closed the castle because there's no work…"
Currently, Elkia has 'No moves to make'. Sora explained the first reason why they closed the castle once again:
"We can't be attacked. No one can touch the current Elkia."
Steph wordlessly asked what Sora really meant. He understood her silence.
The Elkia Federation had expanded too suddenly, and it became a national problem… That was certainly troublesome. But that was precisely why they had closed the castle. After all, Steph could do a follow up on anything that may happen. That was nothing compared to the impression that the Kings of Elkia, Sora and s.h.i.+ro, made outside the country.
It was a large country that had subjugated many races, put down higher ranked races, and gathered them under the same flag to expand. Furthermore, they won indirectly, without fighting against the largest country in the world, Elven Garde, in a public game. They stole Elven territory, and brought the Elves into civil war. They even made the Elves doubt whether their own country was in the middle of being divided right now.
Becoming a big country? A federation of many races? Those things didn't matter.
To summarize it in a few words, the current Elkia was:
── The country that systematically provokes everyone in a game: 'The kings of conquest'.
What's more, they were on a winning streak, and even defeated a G.o.d. It was a country with an enigmatic "King (What is he?)#".
In a strategy game, for example, they'd be winning too much.
If all players were inclined to conspire against them, it is quite likely that Elkia would soon be beaten the h.e.l.l up from every direction.
However── 'It's futile' Sora thought with a daring smile, and said:
"There is not a single person who would challenge the current Elkia, s.h.i.+ro and me, to a game."
No matter how dangerous Sora and s.h.i.+ro were, or how much they were winning. That was precisely why their opponents couldn't lay a hand on them. And that's also precisely why they weren't liked. Sora continued with a bored expression:
"But they can't leave us alone either. That's why they have no choice but to challenge someone other than s.h.i.+ro and me"
"...Ah! Will we be separated from the Eastern Federation or Oceando!?"
It seemed that Steph finally noticed one of the reasons why there was no problem even if they stopped Elkia's central administrative organ, so she raised her voice.
That's right. It wasn't time to be worrying about Elkia. Since those guys were coming to investigate and divide them──
"Aah… however, since the Eastern Federation game is still a certain victory… then?"
── They'd would exploit that as much as they could… they'd be very busy when it went on season.
"Be as it may, this isn't the time for us to attack… there are no moves to make. At times like these?"
"... we pa.s.s one turn…"
── 'I see, now, in progressive tense, the trap that Sora laid on the rear is activating.'
The country was under a single flag so they were using that fact without reservation. They didn't have to worry about it. However, Steph still couldn't understand the reason why they shut down Elkia's internal government,
"... We were seeking neither trust nor confidence since the very beginning you see"
'In the first place, we aren't the vessel for that' Sora thought with a bitter smile. No matter how you called them: Kings, designated representatives… in the end, they are just gamers.
"Leaving things to a specialist is the best. Leave politics to the politicians."
Therefore, that's right── Leave games to the gamers.
"We will simply solve things with our own specialty, as gamers." Sora said, with a smile.
"... haaa… I understand. So you two have an idea."
Steph let a bitter smile show. She was still dissatisfied about something. Everything that Sora and s.h.i.+ro do has, for sure, a hidden side.
As they became more and more acquaintanced, Steph was becoming able to guess more and more about that. However, as usual, Sora and s.h.i.+ro had no intention to tell her anything, so she made a small counter attack:
"But Sora, you have been making many misreads lately… is it really okay?"
"Misreads!? Who!? When and where!? At what hour, what minute!? How many times had the planet rotated around the sun!?"
── The game against Holou from the other day. The battle against an Old Deus.
He had made several misreads, and they suffered a self-proclaimed defeat. Sora flared up at Steph's provocation.
"... Nii, that's lame… you're like an elementary schooler..."
"A real elementary schooler says so!? Aah, I won't misread again, okay!?"
But when he received s.h.i.+ro's ice cold gaze, he screamed that desperately. Contrary to his words, his voice sounded like he was just telling a joke. But he was boiling with frustration. He wasn't being negligent or conceited──
── Did Steph also notice that his eyes weren't laughing?
"So! Since you went as far as stopping the internal government, how do you intend to use me!?" Steph said with a bitter smile. They shut down the castle for that, right?
"Steph, you finally understood! Here!"
"... Holou's… costume…"
Sora and s.h.i.+ro handed her over several papers, and told her with a smile:
"You have until tomorrow! We don't have anyone who can make it properly you see～ But you can make it on time right!?"
"... Nii, it's okay… 'I can't'... are the words… of a liar…"
When she heard those two black company presidents, Steph gazed into the distance, and muttered:
"... Thinking about this carefully, I… don't have a holiday…"
Outside of Elkia's castle, where a mult.i.tude of flags had been raised.
The central avenue was thriving due to the merchants. Inside that hustle and bustle, there was a black group weaving through the crowd. They were all concealed with a robe, and wearing a hood low over their eyes, one couldn't even see their faces. The whole group was advertising that they were suspicious. Wordlessly, almost as if they were marching, they walked.
【Observation unit (Seher) report: Old Deus signal confirmed. Estimated objective coordinates: "Elkia Royal Castle"】
【a.n.a.lysis unit (Prüfer) report: Target identified. Imanity's designated representative. Presumed name: "Sora"】
They were walking straight ahead while they observed a wide area, and shared the information they collected by a.n.a.lysing the voices around them.
Straight ahead. Only straight ahead, in other words:
【──Understood. All units, prepare to engage the target. Begin preliminary calculations.】
As if they were destined to collect all the flags that were raised.
Step by step, they aimed at Sora. Straight ahead...