Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
Chapter 45: Beyond the Screen
After having gone through a series of events that started with a kidnapping I had no prior knowledge of, I finally returned to the academy.
Upon coming back, all the Knights, soldiers and Stocco bowed down before me, assuming a dogeza position, and offered to become more loyal to me than ever. In response, I simply told them it was nothing.
Since I was a fake Saint, I did call them Traitor Knights in my heart, but strictly speaking, their actions wouldn’t be considered as betrayal.
In the first place, they did not know that the person they were serving was the wrong one and that the one they should be serving wasn’t me, but in any case, they should still be able to continue being Knights after this incident.
Stocco, on the other hand, for some reason could no longer wield the sword that was the Prime Knight’s proof, so for now she’d been given a decent quality sword to tide him over.
Anyhow, the person herself said, “The sword is too heavy for the current me.” It must be quite heavy, making it hard to use.
After returning to the academy, the uproar finally abated and we reached our winter vacation peacefully.
Once the vacation was over, all kinds of students would be invited to the tournament instead of it just being grade-limited, then after that, it would finally be the last battle against the Witch
One other thing I had to think about was my actual lifespan. My knowledge of the game was only the duration of one year, so I want to deal with everything smoothly during the current school year.
I was going to have to strengthen Vernell’s group as much as I could to lessen the death flags that would come their way once I sent them underground.
The role of wasting the Witch’s MP prior to putting up the barrier was… something that must be done by people other than me.
This put me in an awkward position, really, since I told Vernell that “I could do this alone (game face)” just a while ago.
I totally couldn’t do this alone. I needed someone to make sure the Witch wasted her MP, else she’d escape.
Uwah, uwah, I’ve done it. What should I do now?
If I were to say, “As expected, I can’t do everything alone. HELP ME!” after all that bravado, it would be totally uncool.
Should I do this without Vernell included in the plan?
But no, it actually wasn’t possible without Vernell.
Basically, all I needed to do was to make sure the Witch underground wouldn’t notice me, then proceed to make her waste MP until the point where she’d be unable to use Teleport and make Mana Vacuum at will.
This was why it was necessary for the following people to be beside me: anyone other than full-fledged Knights, and people who possessed enough strength to force the Witch to waste her MP.
Among everyone I could pick from among the students and teachers… Vernell was the only perfect fit, since he was already on the level of a Knight.
Of course he was. He had beaten Mary, who was said to be equivalent to a Knight, so it was natural to think he’d fit the bill.
He might be lacking compared to Leila, but Leila was a Prime Knight, so it was weird to compare them in first place.
Additionally, he also had dark power that allowed him to actually damage the Witch, so it would be disadvantageous to remove him from the group.
If I excluded Vernell, then only Eterna would be able to damage the Witch, but… I didn’t want Eterna to participate in the underground infiltration. I was worried about the possibility of her turning into the final boss.
At the moment, she seemed to be living up to her potential and overshadowing my presence, but perhaps she’d be happier this way.
When Eterna displayed her presence, she mostly ended up with a death flag, after all…
Anyway, it was disadvantageous to remove Vernell. If there was no one else who could manage to damage Witch, there would be a higher chance that the Witch wouldn’t waste much MP.
As expected, I needed to apologize to Vernell to make him participate, I guess.
But what could I say after all that?
I should hurry and secure his help before he started holding a grudge due being treated as a burden…
While I was in deep thought, I walked toward the athletic field.
It was something akin to a schoolyard that was located outside the school building. It was where students jogged, sparred, and had sword training with straw dolls as target practice.
I stopped by, in case I could spot someone else suitable for the group, but… uh, the more I searched, the more it became clear just how capable Vernell and his merry group were.
Everyone else was below Mob A. Not even worthy to be considered.
It wasn’t that everyone was bad.
I spotted a student doing practice swings who had great momentum. He held the same sword that I had given Vernell before, and it was admirable to see him concentrating on each individual swing without losing his balance over the sword’s weight.
He was exactly like Vernell.
…or rather it really was Vernell.
“Wa, wait a moment Elrise-sama!”
But too bad, I got noticed and he caught up to me in no time with those quick feet of his.
Vernell, who approached with surprisingly great speed, put on a serious face while looking straight at me.
That must be it. Maybe? Was he still angry from what I said before?
Well, there’s no way anyone would feel good about being treated as a burden.
I had no choice then, I will be the adult here and apologize.
Well, adult or not, I was totally 100% guilty here.
“About before, I deeply apologize!”
Huh? I haven’t apologized yet though?
I tried to but, Vernell went ahead and bowed his head down while apologizing before I could.
But I didn’t understand. Why did he do so?
If we put the things on other day in order, firstly, I got confined, so Vernell prepared to commit treason to rescue me.
Of course, I asked the king a favor so that Vernell wouldn’t end up getting punished after the entire ordeal, but even so, the fact stands that he still walked on thin ice just to rescue me.
After that, the Billberry capital was struck, so we hurriedly went for a rescue operation, then he used his own body to protect me from Crow’s attack.
It’s already been established that there wouldn’t be a problem if he didn’t protect me or anything, but that might not be the case for Vernell—and toward such a person who was ready to risk his own life to save mine, I just declared him to be a hindrance.
Now that I thought about it again, I absolutely acted like the scum of the earth.
So, uh… There shouldn’t have been anything for Vernell to apologize about?
“After that, I heard it from Eterna and everyone… I was truly dead that time…”
Oh, that’s right. He should be grateful about that since he was really in a tight spot there.
“I intended to help, yet I ended up being helped instead… and I just arbitrarily tried to protect… it was obvious… that I was just disillusioned.
Somehow, Vernell seemed to have claimed that he was at fault here. Really though, he could have just been angry and said this directly: “I helped you, yet you return my goodwill with that attitude!”
Looking at it objectively, it was clear who was at fault.
If you talked about what I did, it was like how a hero would brave through danger and bet his life to rescue the princess who was trapped in the Demon Lord’s castle, yet the said princess already came out by herself, beat down the Demon Lord, and without giving a hero a single word of gratitude, she instead said “You’re too low level so I don’t want your help.”
It totally would make you break the game disk.
…Eh, that was right. I hadn’t even said thanks yet.
It has always been like this since back then in my past life.
Even then, I’d forget to show my appreciation because I thought I had already said my thanks.
Perhaps I felt that my gratitude would reach the other side without the need for actual words, but because of this, even if I somehow managed to snag a girlfriend, we’d break up soon after because of this nasty habit.
I’d yet to learn my lesson, it seemed.
Okay, this might not have been proper timing, but let’s say it now.
“No, I’m the one who should give my apologies. Vernell-kun and the others had bet your life trying to rescue me, yet all I said in return were heartless things toward you. I truly said such harsh things, and I’ve deeply reflected on it. Please forgive me.”
It was like an apology conference or something.
Be conscious of the camera, bend your waist to show off a beautiful bowing posture, and on a carefully prepared apology letter would be the words ‘I have deeply reflected.’
The ‘ojigi’ was the ultimate Japanese Lethal Weapon as it’s seen on television a lot. So now, let’s protect that sacred tradition1.
By the way, amongst those who did ojigi while saying these same words from those apology conferences on television, I didn’t know anyone who truly reflected on their wrongdoings.
Rather, was there anyone at all who did? Such was life.
Actually, “I’ve reflected on it” had about the same untrustworthy vibe as, “I will positively consider it.”
“That’s not right! There’s nothing for Elrise-sama to apologize about…”
Wasn’t Vernell being a little too good of a person?
It was okay to just respond like, “Then I guess I will forgive you” in this case.
“Also, about the time you came to save me… I’m glad you did. Thank you, Vernell-kun”
I truly was. I honestly hadn’t expected anyone to come.
When they arrived, I admit that I cursed them a bit silently, urging them to read the atmosphere, but even so.
It was touching to see how someone still took action for my sake, so I truly was grateful.
Then Vernell looked down, seemingly thinking deeply about something.
Oh, what is it?
He raised his eyes after some time, and uttered a declaration with such a serious expression on his face.
He always had to put on a serious face, didn’t he?
“Elrise-sama… I’m still weak but… I will definitely become much stronger than I am now. So I can become your Knight someday… I will definitely become stronger!”
Oh, oh, I see?
But you wouldn’t need to work so hard anymore, since you were practically the top student on the practical side of things. All you need was to take care of the theory side and you would make it as a Knight.
Not sure if I’d still be a Saint by that time—actually, I doubt it since Eterna would be the Saint then.
But work hard anyway.
“You will definitely get stronger. It’s Vernell-kun, after all.”
So let’s just randomly encourage him. If he leveled up enough, he could be strong enough to do a solo round against Witch. If it came to that, I could take it easy, so please, do become stronger.
Okay, reconciliation complete!
Ah- that was good, really good. I wasn’t sure how to secure his cooperation otherwise. Now all that was left was to make Vernell’s group stronger, and then send them underground.
Okay, victory is near!
—That was what she (Elrise) thought.
As he — Fudou Niito — saw the illustration shown on screen, he guessed what his other self, Elrise, thought and desperately tried to resist laughter.
If only I didn’t know the person inside was me, this scene would be what you call the scene of pledge between the protagonist and the heroine.
With the setting sun as their background, Vernell stood on the academy’s athletic grounds and vowed to become stronger while Elrise who slightly smiled as she heard that. It was what you’d commonly see in stories.
But he knew. Elrise’s will was part of himself… no, considering the him on this side was actually the part that had not made it into reincarnation, the one at the other side should be considered the real body… Anyway, it was something that should be far from existence called the heroine.
“An early confinement event didn’t exist in other routes, so Vernell ended up dying just to surprise me, but… well, he made it somehow. But, it’s really amazing how this route basically treated Eterna as air.”
While Niito smiled bitterly, the fact that Eterna’s presence as the main heroine was reduced into thin air made him feel complicated.
Because it was a galge, it’s not weird for the heroine’s presence to become less significant depending what route the protagonist was on.
Actually, one of the heroines was supposed to be a sickly girl named Lina Thomas, though she never appeared again after Elrise healed her.
This galge was a game that’s considered to be a monumental work, so depending on the choices one took, it was possible to have a run without ever meeting a certain heroine from beginning until the end.
Even so, Eterna had always been an initial party member with a preferential treatment because she was the Saint of this world, however, her presence had become so flimsy that it was doubtful how big her role as the Saint really was in this route.
By this logic, Elrise’s goal for Eterna’s survival with a Happy End might just happen.
“Well… the one inside was me. So I guess it can’t be helped… If I was wise and could adapt easily, I could live successfully here in reality in the first place instead.”
Elrise wasn’t skillful at such things, so he knew all too well to the point that he hated it.
Elrise was stupid, it was something he already knew so it went without saying, since Elrise was himself.
It was more like, “She did quite well despite being me,” was Niito’s honest evaluation.
Yes, I did quite well. If you looked at her by face value, she was an amazing person who accomplished feats that other people would be unable to do.
But… you could see her faults in various places. You could see she regarded many things too lightly.
The current events were some examples. Her time was already about to run out, yet she still honestly played the role of a kidnapped princess.
Indeed, the possibility for the Witch to have noticed that Elrise wasn’t present at the academy for a week was low. But it was merely low, not a zero percent possibility so Elrise should have already gone back to academy immediately.
In the end, it was all solved but… that was a hindsight-based opinion.
One wrong step and everything might go to waste.
Was this effect of a soul that got split up…?
“Regarding the fact that Eterna lacked presence, it can’t be helped, I guess. I don’t know how much of the game information was true, but it was already proven that the Eterna Route and the Elrise Route can’t exist at the same time.”
The fool on other side (Elrise) seemed to have a lapse in her memory, but actually the moment Elrise visited to academy, the Eterna Route disappeared because as we go by game the setting, the Elrise Route could only be entered through “New Game” while the Eterna Route could only be entered through “New Game+”.
This was why, once the choice for the Elrise Route opened, there was no way to switch to Eterna over the course of the plot, so the same could be said in reverse.
According to Niito’s experiment by playing several times, even if the Elrise Route opened, you could adjust favorability midway and end up in other routes like Mary’s route or Leila’s route, but no matter how you did it, it was impossible to switch back to Eterna.
In other words, for that fool on the other side (Elrise) who had been hoping to stick Eterna and Vernell together and achieve a Happy END, it was sadly already impossible.
… If this game information was true.
As Fudou Niito thought more, this game’s content… was everything true?
He had to question it because according to this one event he just saw:
The Capital Defense War where it started with a battle with Vernell and his party against the boss Crow. Once Crow’s HP would reach 0, the event would proceed with Vernell risking his life to protect Elrise and dying in the process.
At this time, Elrise was supposed to revive Vernell, but… if Elrise’s favorability was high enough, Elrise would give Vernell CPR, mouth to mouth.
—Will I really do such a thing?
If that was truly the only method left, maybe he really would have done it.
Saving the protagonist’s life was the number one priority. When I got my license for first aid, I was given a lecture about the proper way to administer heart massages and artificial respiration, but there was no fool out there who was taught, “If the other individual is a dude, then it’s okay to not do CPR!”
Well, if there was any other choice, he definitely wouldn’t choose to kiss a dude. Fudou Niito was a guy, and he had no hobby of kissing fellow men.
But then here, depending on the favorability level, Elrise would do it even though she had the magic to deliver oxygen directly.
Yet as if she herself wished for it… using lifesaving as an excuse so ‘she had no choice’ but to do the mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
This scene was heated on the internet. Videos were also overflowing with comments.
Yes, if people didn’t know the backstory, it could be seen as a beautiful scene. If one didn’t know who was inside Elrise’s mind, it was quite moving.
It was truly a scene out of a movie, but for Fudou Niito, this scene was totally manufactured.
It was an overproduced imitation scene twisted by the game creators’ will, something that forcibly tried to fit the genre called galge, to replace the otherwise unromantic scene that should have been there.
As if something was stuck on his throat, he hurriedly blocked his own mouth with his palm.
While cough calmed down, he looked down at his palm and saw red sticky liquid there.
At that, Niito took the wet handkerchief he already prepared on top of the table to wipe his mouth while the corners of his lips rose in a slight arch.
“I don’t think I will last long… but before I go to the other side, I should do what I need to do here.”
Standing up from his seat, he went toward the front door, swaying on his feet.
There wasn’t much left for him to do here, so he sorted his affairs one by one.
The remaining cash he had left in his possession was around 30 million, which he had already withdrawn and had taken care of all things related to inheritance.
If it stayed in the bank, it would create various troubles like his account being frozen and whatnot, so he took care of all of them first hand then split it up into portions to be given to his mother and younger sister.
His life insurance was already taken care of, so once he died his family should receive a few tens of millions, but more than that, he thought about the connection of worlds between this and the other side.
It seemed… that it was still linked.
The game content indeed changed according Elrise’s actions, but even so, a game was still a game.
Bluntly speaking, it was merely text, CG, BGM, and programming. It was a record composed of abstract things, and yet it was not merely a world beyond the screen. What’s inside an LCD display was merely a polarized filter and glass substrate… it was only what composed it to form the things. It’s not something you need to think about. Anyone knew that.
Data is still a Data… 3D person entering a 2D world was theoretically impossible, and a real world beyond a game should not have existed.
But the other me actually reincarnated into the world of “Kuon no Sanka”, and I also recognize this to be a fact. I also met and conversed with Elrise…
At very least, she was not a being made from CG.
Since this was so, the world she was in was not just a game world, rather the game was adapted and shaped according to that world…
His doubt never ended.
Did Elrise enter the world of “Kuon no Sanka,” or did Elrise reincarnate into a world that was similar to “Kuon no Sanka”?
Or perhaps the premise was reversed. It was a real world in first place and the game named “Kuon no Sanka” merely projected what happened there.
It seemed like the same premise, but it was totally different.
In essence, what made things complicated was not only the game content, but the recognition that the world was being changed according to Elrise’s actions.
This game always had this kind of content, and everyone recognized this to be true, so then…
What was the meaning of this?
He didn’t believe in God, but considering what he already experienced, the only existence that could manipulate reality like this were those who were called Gods or Devils.
And, if there was anyone who would know about it… it would only be the Producer, was what Niito thought.
“The Producer… ‘Attimo Game Production Project’. The address is… 3 hours away by train.”
There were still things to be done even as one waited only for death.
As Elrise on the other side did her best in her own stupid way, so would he over here.
With the sheer force of willpower, Niito suppressed the pain that he felt and swallowed back the vomit he could feel crawling up his throat.
He searched for his coat before going out, which he found on the floor some distance away instead of where he usually kept it.
“…I don’t remember putting it there. That’s weird. I don’t think there’s a problem with my memory…”
He tilted his head to the side due to the mysterious phenomenon of why the coat moved by itself, but well, maybe he just moved it and forgot about it.
He didn’t use the painkiller given by the doctor. If he had taken it, the drowsiness it caused would be terrible and he’d no longer think decently. Sure, it meant he would taste torturous pain for every passing moment… but, even so Niito fearless smiled.
“Heh… such a bad face.”
Looking at his own face reflected in the mirror, he felt ridiculous.
His pallor was now close to a corpse, his cheeks were so sunken and the area around his eyes were so hollow that he looked like a zombie.
At the very least, he washed both hair and his face but… even so, you couldn’t say he looked prim and proper.
Despite it all, his eyes alone shone brightly due the happiness of finding one thing he could do.
It was different from the time when he only waited for death as it drew near. No matter how insignificant it was, he found something he wanted to do, and this became his reason for living.
“Well then… let’s go and meet a god. Expect a souvenir story from me, Elrise, me on the other side.”
Toward the computer screen that was still turned on… he talked to Elrise who was still shown, then Niito left home and set off for the one place he aimed for: the game company that made “Kuon no Sanka.”
Wants to read ahead? We’ll be chapters of Fake Saint in advance through Ko-Fi!