Roku Zaregoto sat in his seat, maintaining a stoic expression on his face. Today, he would meet a native English speaker! Roku didn't care about his gossiping classmates. All he cared about was getting feedback on his English skills!
Karuma-sensei clapped her small hands together twice and the classroom chatter died down.
"Alright, class! Please sit down and welcome the new student for the second semester."
She stepped away from the podium and called out, "Baxter! You can come on in and introduce yourself to the class!"
The sliding door opened as the students murmured among themselves.
A portly teen stepped in, wearing a new and neat school uniform. His blond hair stuck out in the sea of students with black hair.
It was a strange sight to see. Roku's school forced students with brown hair to dye their hair black. The students here didn't have the courage or will to fight against the school rules, so they wondered how this foreigner would be treated.
The teen confidently adjusted his black thick-rimmed glasses and sauntered up to the podium.
"Wow, so this is a foreigner!" gasped one girl.
"Tch, why did I expect a girl to join our class?" grumbled a boy.
"Looks like he's the serious type."
Roku nodded to himself. The foreign exchange student looked like the perfect candidate to teach him. It seemed like luck was on his side!
Baxter held up a balled fist to his mouth and loudly cleared his throat. When he caught everyone's attention, he gave a slight bow.
"My name is Baxter Bennett. I'm 17 years old. I come from the United Kingdom. I wanted to improve my Japanese before I went to the University of Cambridge. My goal is to become Prime Minister and bring together the East and the West, starting with Japan."
His smooth and commanding voice surprised his classmates.
"His Japanese is good!"
"Cambridge? Prime Minister? Is he going to be an important leader one day?"
"Now that I think about it, he looks a bit handsome…" gushed a plain-looking girl to her friends.
"He'd be a perfect fit for the student council."
Baxter turned around and grabbed some chalk. On the green chalkboard, he wrote out his name in crisp, but clear English.
"This is how my name is written. Please treat me well."
Baxter bowed once more and the students applauded him. Roku approved of this gentleman. He seemed like he'd become a great public servant one day.
Karuma-sensei clapped her hands together twice more. The rising excitement in the classroom slowed down.
"Baxter, there's an empty seat next to Zaregoto-san in the back. Please get along well with each other. Homeroom will now start!"
She turned to the green chalkboard and started writing.
Baxter casually made his way over and sat down. He laid his school bag at his feet and seemed to appreciate the classroom.
As Karuma-sensei talked, Roku once again thanked his luck since he was in the back of the class.
Roku knew his appearance was haggard, with crow's feet and bloodshot eyes. He also stooped over his desk because of his lanky physique. Still, he guessed Baxter wouldn't be affected too much by his looks. So, he took the initiative.
"Mr. Bennett. It's nice to have you in our class," Roku spoke in English.
Baxter looked surprised at the accuracy of Roku's pronunciation. He slightly extended his hand out for a handshake and looked more surprised when he received a firm handshake from Roku.
"Likewise, Mr. Zaregoto. However, now is not the proper time for a chat, isn't it?"
Roku smiled and shook his head.
"You don't need to worry. It's homeroom now. I can help accustom you to our school."
"Is that so? I have to apologize for troubling you, then."
"No, no. I'm not troubled at all. You see, I'm very interested in English. Can we talk more about yourself?"
A glimmer appeared in Baxter's eye and then he nodded. Roku followed his line of sight and saw Karuma-sensei noticing their conversation, but letting it go because they spoke in English. He shrugged and turned his attention back to Baxter.
"I'm quite a normal bloke when it comes to being an Englishman. I like fried eggs and sausage in the morning and tea in the afternoon. I don't like sushi, I'm afraid. Ah, but I mean no offense, of course."
Roku waved off the comment, letting Baxter relax.
"I have to focus on my studies, so I don't have much free time. When I can, I do enjoy a good game of tiddlywinks with my friends."
Roku snorted and almost laughed out loud. Baxter raised an eyebrow.
"Is there something funny about playing some tiddlywinks?"
Roku sputtered over his reply and barely held himself together. He didn't understand why he wanted to laugh so hard.
"I'll have you know that the University of Cambridge let tiddlywinks have a comeback."
Roku roared in laughter, completely unable to control himself. He shocked the entire class and Karuma-sensei.
"What's so funny about tiddlywinks!" Baxter roared. "It's a legitimate game that is enjoyed by many! Tiddlywinks even has its own tournament!"
"HUHE HAHA HAHA!!"
At this point, Roku couldn't control himself. He fell out of his seat and rocked from side to side in laughter. There was something about the word "tiddlywinks." It took hearing the word "comeback" to realize his juvenile and dirty mind caused this.
Roku imagined titties winking at each other and couldn't stop the crude train of thought. He couldn't catch his breath nor stop, so he kept laughing while Baxter and Karuma-sensei yelled at him.
Roku really did try to stop. It's just that the nonsense he thought of wouldn't go away. Because of this, he received scathing looks, like he was a lunatic.
Slowly, Roku began to have chest pains and suddenly lost control over his bladder. It became harder and harder to breath. He lost feeling in his limbs and his lungs felt like they were on fire!
Gradually, Baxter and Karuma-sensei realized it was serious. They ran off to get help, leaving behind a shocked room.
Before they came back with medical help, Roku gasped his last words.
Rumors said he peacefully passed on with a grin on his face. Eventually, Roku became a viral meme because of tiddlywinks. However, that story was for another time.
When Roku breathed his last, the pain that assaulted him disappeared. He felt weightless for a few seconds. There was nothingness. Then, he fell onto a stone wall.
"Gyah!" Roku shouted, in pain. "I… I can move again!
He pushed himself off the wall and stood up before inspecting his body for abnormalities.
"Haaaa… Is this what it feels like to be normal again?" Roku asked himself. "Wait, where am I?"
Roku took a minute to gain his bearings. But when he looked around himself, he couldn't hide his shock! It looked like he was transported to another world!
A sprawling city of wood and stone surrounded him. People moved about, looking like medieval Europeans. The most damning evidence was the bigger star glowing red in the sky!
Roku snapped out of his reverie and began watching people from the alley Roku appeared in. He gasped when he happened to see a patrol of guards in leather armor catch a thief and tie him up. This was the gritty Otherworld, where modern values didn't form yet!
"Isekai, indeed!" he declared in Japanese. "I died from laughing and got transported, like in those manga or anime other people talked about?"
Roku paused in thought and remembered isekai stories usually gave their main characters special abilities!
"Status! Menu! Settings!" he chanted to himself, but there was no response.
A few people noticed Roku's tall and thin figure brooding in the alley. They raised an eye, but didn't do anything because his summer school uniform made them think he was some form of foreign dignitary.
Sadly, Roku couldn't find out how to access the "system" he heard about, so he guessed he had to discover his ability on his own. Roku changed his focus to the streets.
There were so many people moving around. To Roku's best guess, there were a few thousand. He felt a bit daunted at what to do next.
In the end, he decided that with an isekai, it was safest to ask for some help first. He couldn't change this reality, after all. So, he followed a pair of guards some distance away and blended into the crowd.
"Excuse me!" he yelled in Japanese. "Excuse me, sirs! May I ask you a question!?"
Despite the guards leisurely walking, Roku found it a bit difficult to catch up or grab their attention. The crowd constantly shifted, so he had to move around people many times. Surprisingly, most of them were around his height, if not a bit taller. It didn't help that there were so many people trying to sell things, and their words became a jumbled mess of noise to Roku.
He stumbled with his indoor shoes on, and sweated under the hot red Sun. Roku's winter uniform clung to his body, making him feel extra sticky and exhausted.
When he finally made it in front of the guards, he was drenched. Dying was tiring, and transporting to this new world didn't restore his stamina.
Roku squatted down, breathing hard, with his hands on his thighs.
"Excuse… hah… me… hah… Can… you help?"
The two burly guards exchanged a look before pulling off their leather helmets and thumping them against their chest. The slightly older guard stroked his full beard.
"Does ya speak Gelsh? If yer not able, we'll bring ya to tha Adventurer's Guild branch."
They let Roku take a moment to catch his breath. Roku felt glad that they spoke English, albeit with a strange dialect.
"Yes, I can speak Gelsh. I'd very much like to go to the Adventurer's Guild. Thank you for your help!"
"Naw, it's our pleshure. Bigwigs from all ova like ta explore what it's like ta be an adventurer. Or it's yer comin' of age ceremony, right?" asked the younger guard with sideburns.
"...Ano… something like that, yes."
Roku followed closely behind the guards. He was thankful for their slow pace.
"Right, right. I'm Gann and he's Keys," said the younger guard.
"I'm Roku Zaregoto."
"Ya got ya pocket picked too, right?"
"Right, sorry about that. Ya didn't notice. Too many thieves in Nobriem nowadays. They're makin' it hard on us guards when we do our best."
"It can't be helped. Try too hard and you mess with normal people. Try too little and you mess with normal people's safety. It's the thieves' fault. Don't feel responsible for everything."
"Ha! Ya know how I feel," Gann laughed.
"We're here," Keys announced.
"Uwah!" Roku gasped.
An edifice rose from the street corner. It towered twice as tall as the nearby buildings. A sign hung over its double doors with a spear over a boot. Roku thought this was definitely something out of a fantasy.
"Thank you, Gann and Keys, for leading me here! I'm really grateful for your help!"
Roku bowed to them. Keys awkwardly scratched his beard and Gann scratched his caramel hair.
"Ya don' need to pay respects to us. We're just doin' our jobs."
"We'll be goin' now. Ya can ask tha receptionist fo' help. If ya really need somethin', ask for Gann. He's single, so he can spare tha time!"
Keys roared in laughter and Gann looked embarrassed, but he played along with his senior's request.
"I definitely will repay you both for this favor!"
The guards nodded and put on their helmets. As they left, Roku waved them goodbye. When they entered the crowd, he looked over at the open double doors. They stood a head taller than him and Roku was 1.8 meters tall!
Roku watched in fascination as a trickle of people entered and exited the establishment. He gathered his courage and stepped inside.
There was a long desk further back, separated into different lines with various receptionists helping adventurers. Bulletin boards lined the sides of the wall, catching the attention of adventurer parties. Some tables and chairs invited adventurers to sit in the front, allowing them to wait for their party members to arrive.
Roku gulped and joined the shorter line with a female receptionist that looked absolutely forgettable. There weren't imposing adventurers lined up to flirt with her, so Roku felt more relaxed in this more professional setting. There also was only three people lined up here...
This dramatic change in environment kept Roku in awe. In this world, he was now the foreigner and everyone spoke English. It was lucky that Roku studied English so extensively, or else he might have been completely at a loss. It was also lucky that he appeared directly inside a city.
It would be easier to find a place to live and money to survive. The people were also nice to him and would probably be helpful when he asked about things he didn't understand.
Roku snapped out of his thoughts and noticed he was next. He cleared his throat and stepped forward.
"Hello, Miss. I recently lost my belongings, just shortly after arriving. I talked with the guards Gann and Keys about it, and they said they'd help if I needed it. Ah, and my name is Roku. Roku Zaregoto."
The receptionist gave him a sympathetic look.
"Mah name's Ray. I'll notify tha Adventurer's Guild for ya. We can add you on tha list of requests about those damn thieves. If tha guards find anythin', we can tell ya, free of charge."
"Thank you very much. I'd also like to register, if I can," Roku sheepishly requested.
Ray noticed no one else behind him, and so, put on a professional smile.
"That's also free. Tha Guild gets paid for every commission. We'd have less adventurers if we charged people for registerin'. We only need adventurers to follow tha law, complete requests, and bring back materials. We get first pick if ya wanna sell materials, but ya get a fair price. Not bad, huh?"
"It sounds better than what I've heard!"
"Just write yer name down here, yer age, and yer skills if ya want. Ya also can pay for a test."
"I'm fine, thank you. I wouldn't be able to pay, anyway."
Roku complied and accepted the paper, ink, and quill. Ray wore an awkward expression since she accidentally gave him the standard business spiel. A faint blush reddened her face, but Ray hid her embarrassment by continuing her receptionist work.
"Ya start off as a G rank adventurer. Make sure ta be safe when adventuring. If ya get hurt, ya can't work. If ya die, ya can't try again. Don't be a hero. Know yer limits."
Roku finished writing and handed the things back to Ray.
"Thanks," she said, before looking over his writing.
"No, no. I don't deserve your thanks. May I ask what ranks are there?"
Ray clicked her tongue at blank space where Roku's skills were listed, but quickly returned to her professional attitude.
"From tha highest to tha lowest rank, it goes S, A, B, C, D, E, F, G. S ranks can crush basilisks. A ranks can take on manticores in a party. B ranks can take on ogres in a party. C ranks can kill orcs. D ranks can kill wolves. E ranks can kill goblins. F ranks can kill slimes. G ranks are normal people, so they're known to not kill anythin'."
"So that's how it is... There are differences in the types of monsters, though, right? They can't have a completely standard power level, like how adventurer ranks can't be accurate for each adventurer."
Ray sighed and rubbed her forehead with her palm.
"Obviously. I'm tellin' ya tha normal danger levels. It's better not to overestimate yaself and underestimate yer enemy."
"R-right. I apologize for the nonsensical question."
"Don't be. Like I said, information means life or death here. It's better to look stupid than to die stupid."
Ray rummaged underneath the desk and pulled out a small card that fit snugly in her palm. She wrote on it and finalized it with a stamp.
"Here's yer adventurer's card. It has our Adventurer's Guild branch mark. We'll update it as ya complete requests and give ya a new card when ya rank up after a test. These are cheap and weak, so try not ta damage or lose it."
"Thank you, again, for all your help! I just have a few more questions…"
Ray snuck a glance behind Roku and saw there still wasn't another person in her line. She sighed and rubbed her forehead again.
"Ya can take one request and it can only be a rank higher than yer own. The Guild isn't responsible if ya get hurt, unless tha request is wrong. Reportin' wrong requests has a small reward.
Remember, tha Guild can punish ya for failin' or lyin'. It can't be helped if new adventurers are inaccurate, but veterans have to be right. That information means life or death here.
If ya need a place to stay for free, the Guild is always open for adventurers. It's full most of tha time, but safe. If ya want food, ya can beg for it. We aren't a poorhouse. We're an Adventurer's Guild. Goin' hungry is normal, but some here adventurers are kind enough ta share some supplies."
"I'm in your debt, Ms. Ray!" Roku bowed to her and then walked away.
Ray puffed up her chest in accomplishment, but soon realized she was just doing her job. Anyone else could have told him this. She felt embarrassed, yet stayed quiet about it as she stood in place, waiting for the next adventurer.
Meanwhile, Roku inspected the room. He avoided the imposing adventurers, since they were likely higher ranked than him. At the far right corner of the desk, there were two bulletin boards with more civilian-looking adventurers.
Relieved at their lack of armor, muscle, and weaponry, Roku joined them in finding a decent request. He needed money for a living, or more specifically, his growing hunger.
Roku didn't bother the other spindly teens. They looked like they already had parties, and doing G rank requests shouldn't be too hard. If he did need help, he might as well be hopeless and forced to split his meager earnings.
The requests were written in sloppy English. It was still legible, but whatever material they were written on was cheap, making it annoying to look at compared to the modern paper Roku was used to using.
"G rank request: clean up Mr. Roan's blacksmith for 20 copper? Huh. I forgot about learning how much is this world's currency is worth. I'll probably learn it later if I ask around. For now, I should find something easy and fitting for me."
Roku browsed through the numerous requests posted. He ignored the requests to leave the city and any manual labor. Sadly, that was most of the requests still left up. Other adventurers probably already took the better requests.
"Aha! G rank request: Priest Theraday is looking for a scribe! 50 copper a day if I meet his requirements? That's fine! Doing paperwork in this world can't be as bad as the Hells of cram school, mock tests, and entrance exams!"
Roku took the request and went back to Ray to accept it.
"Ms. Ray! I want this one!"
"Hm. Alright. You can go ahead."
Roku began to leave, but then remembered something.
"Erm, how would I find Priest Theraday?"
Ray groaned and then showed him the map on the back of the request. Roku wanted to slap his forehead for his oversight. He left her with an expression of thanks and distractedly checked the map.
Just as Roku made it to the double doors, a muscular man appeared in front of him! Roku accidentally nudged into his shoulder and fell back a few steps.
"Eh?! Oh, I'm sorry! I was looking at my map."
Roku looked up and saw the muscular man had a wild mane of mahogany hair, an intimidatingly large and scarily blood-red axe on his back, and a well-worn barbarian outfit made from different pelts of different beasts.
Roku silently cursed his carelessness when he realized the muscular man loomed a good head taller than him.
"Oh, a newbie?" boomed the muscular man.
He closed the distance between them in an instant and analyzed Roku's appearance.
It was at that moment, Roku saw the muscular man's chest.
The mishmash of pelts left open a slit to reveal his nipple. A hairy line formed a sort of eyebrow, and as the muscular man moved side to side to look at Roku from different angles, Roku saw his muscles and nipple moving.
A strange compulsion to laugh erupted from within himself!
This was it! A true "tiddlywinks!"
Roku dropped to the ground, sounding like a duck as he laughed ceaselessly.
"Why's that foreigner messing with 'The Chopper?'"
"Must be an idiot."
The muscular man tried to understand this curiosity and bent down, but his flexing muscles, waggling chest hair, and waving nipple winked more and more exaggeratedly.
"HEH HAHA HA HAAA!!"
Roku's mind descended into chaos and agony as he did his best to control himself. But the hairy chest! That nipple! Those moving muscles!
He just couldn't help himself!
In a matter of minutes, Roku stopped breathing and soon after, his heart stopped. The entire Adventurer's Guild branch dropped into pandemonium. A foreigner died from just one look at Chopper! He seemed like an influential noble, too!
This was all big news!
However, that story was for another time.
I listened to Stephanie Mabey’s “The Zombie Zong” while writing this. It’s old, but relaxing.
I wanted to write this like the script of a one-shot manga. I really spent way too much time screwing around, though. Well, if I plan on writing more, it won’t be anytime soon, I’ll tell you that.
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