"What in the hell were you thinking!?"
Issei was eventually forced away from the window by the unexpected arrival of his mother,
Apparently, the older woman had been on her way home from the supermarket when she noticed the commotion in the street. Her curiosity only grew when she noticed a crowd of mostly females gathering in front of their house. That curiosity quickly turned to horror when she saw her son through the window, laughing maniacally with his dick quite literally drifting in the breeze.
Suffice to say, she was utterly mortified.
It also did not help that a large majority of the gathered crowd consisted of people from the neighborhood. Widows, college girls, unsatisfied housewives, these were the types of ladies that bore witness to Issei's bare manhood.
Pushing past the crowd, she immediately rushed back into the house and pulled her idiot son away from the open window.
"Do you have any idea what you've done?!" She angrily berated. "You could have gotten arrested for public indecency! Practically everyone in the entire neighborhood saw your t-thing! I have to see some of those people for the neighborhood association meeting tomorrow! Do you know how embarrassing that will be? What could have possibly possessed you to do such a thing?!"
Mrs. Hyoudou stood in front of the window as she stared heatedly at her son. As for Issei, he was sitting on his knees with his head tilted down. The bangs of his hair hung just low enough to cover his eyes.
Even as his mother lectured him, Issei remained silent. It was the only thing he could really do, given the current situation. The young man was far too preoccupied with holding back the tears that threatened to spill from his eyes.
After all, it's been over three hundred years since he last saw his mother. Even the most stoic of killers would feel 'something' from such a thing, much less someone like Issei who practically wore his heart on his sleeve.
Back in the immortal world, one of the things that he feared the most was forgetting about his loved ones. It was a pretty justifiable fear, considering the fact that before his death, he was already starting to forget.
It had been a gradual process. The first to go were the little details. The shape of his father's eyes, the placement of his mother's mole, the color of their eyes… small, seemingly insignificant details, gone before he even realized that they were missing.
The memories that he lost only grew more substantial with each passing year. The sound of their voices, the taste of their cooking… what once appeared to him in picture-perfect clarity now seemed blurry and uncertain.
Issei knew within his heart that had things continued like this, then he very well would have likely lost all of his memories, not just of his parents, but also of his past life in general.
Fortunately, he died.
From the moment his mother first walked into the room, the memories immediately came rushing back in.
"Issei! I'm talking to you, young man! Are you even listening?" His mother's words snapped him back into focus. Even without looking, he could feel his mother's heated glare boring down on him. At this point, he knew he could no longer remain silent.
"I… I'm sorry mom." His words were said in a low whisper. Fortunately for him, his voice cracked only a little bit. "I-I don't know what came over me."
He shot a quick glance up at the woman standing before him.
His mother stared at him with a complicated expression on her face. She must have noticed something off about him, because her anger was no longer there. After what felt like an eternity of silence, she eventually breathed out a heavy sigh, "It's fine, I guess… so long as you understand not to do it again."
Issei responded with a grunt and a nod of his head. Again, he did not dare meet her eyes.
She shook her head. "I know that you've recently developed… particular interests, and while I wish you hadn't, you are still my son. Nothing will change that. I won't disparage you for doing the things that you like, but… at least try to do things in moderation, okay?"
Issei bit down on his lower lip, refusing to speak. Her words somewhat touched him and again, the urge to cry welled up in his chest. He was all too certain that speaking even just one sentence would unleash the proverbial floodgates. Instead, he curtly nodded his head.
With that, Mrs. Hyoudou left his bedroom.
Issei waited for at least ten seconds after she left before he suddenly collapsed bonelessly onto the floor.
"Jesus, that was difficult." Remaining stoic in front of her had been harder than he initially expected. It was a miracle that she hadn't noticed anything unusual. "still, it was good to see her again."
A soft smile bloomed on his face.
He couldn't help but look forward to tonight's dinner. His dad would be due back from work by then. He couldn't wait to see him again. Of course, he needed to prepare in advance for the encounter. Crying in front of his parents was the last thing any teenage boy wanted to do. Three hundred year old immortal cultivator or not, Issei was no different.
Well, he could worry about all that later.
"For now, I need to figure out what exactly happened. How did I get back here?"
Issei crossed his arms and furrowed his brow.
Without a doubt, he had died back in that forbidden realm.
While death was usually regarded as something permanent for most beings, it was different for Immortals. For an immortal cultivator, death did not necessarily mean the end.
Speaking from personal experience, Issei had encountered quite a few cultivators who persisted even after death. Most of those guys happened to be demonic cultivators. They usually stuck around as some sort of land-bound spirit or disembodied ghost. So long as they could get their hands around a suitable host, then acquiring a second chance at life was completely within the realm of possibility.
Issei could only guess that something similar had happened to him.
After dying in the immortal world, his soul probably wandered back over to Earth, where it then jumped back into his original body.
"That still doesn't explain the time variation though…" Although three hundred years had passed in the Immortal World, not much time seemed to have passed back here on Earth. This was evident by his mother's reaction. She did not seem at all surprised to see him.
"Maybe time flows differently between both worlds? Or maybe the timelines aren't synced up or something?"
There were all sorts of possibilities. Unfortunately, Issei did not specialize in the Dao of time, so his guesses were worth less than shit.
Well, he could ruminate over that later. For now, he needed to move on to the next order of business: Ddraig.
Issei couldn't help but worry. The old dragon had been a constant companion throughout his time in the Immortal World. Which was why it felt so weird to not have him around.
Did he also return to Earth or did he perish back in the Forbidden realm?
He sincerely hoped for the former but prepared himself for the latter.
Since Issei and Ddraig were soul-bound through way of the Boosted Gear, there was a possibility that Ddraig might just be resting inside him or something.
As such, Issei quickly sat down on the floor and crossed his legs. He entered a familiar stance that he used often for meditation, and closed his eyes. He steadied his breathing, emptied his mind, and delved inwards.
Issei was currently inspecting his own inner soul. It was a technique that he had learned when he first entered the Nascent Soul realm. Nascent Soul was a cultivation realm that primarily focused on inner force and soul. Even without his cultivation (he had checked, his cultivation had been reduced back down to zero), he could still use this basic technique, as it was more of a meditation practice than any actual cultivation art. His experience as a top-tier cultivator also helped the process.
After what felt like a lifetime of silence, he finally opened his eyes. Issei frowned. He could not find Ddraig's soul signature, but he did manage to find something else.
It was like a hollowed-out space found deep within his soul. The space was intimately familiar to him. He knew exactly what it was.
Issei closed his eyes again. This time, he did not delve inwards. Instead, he was trying to force something up to the surface. With a grunt of exertion, a flash of emerald green light suddenly filled the room.
A moment later, the light receded. A crimson red gauntlet had materialized over Issei's left hand. It was the Boosted Gear.
"Ddraig?" Issei called out to the old dragon as he poked the emerald gem embedded in the center of the gauntlet with his free hand. "Oi, Ddraig! Are you in there? I know you can hear me."
After a short beat of silence, a voice responded.
"… Partner? Is that you?"
Sure enough, it was Ddraig's familiar rough baritone. To Issei, it was like music to his ears.
The brown-haired youth instantly perked up. "Ddraig, it really is you! You're alive!"
"And so are you." The Dragon pointed out. "Last I remember, we're both supposed to be dead. What happened? Where are we?"
"Well, we're in my old bedroom on Earth. As for how we're alive…"
Issei explained their current situation to him. He also offered his theories as to how they survived and returned to Earth.
"That all sounds a little too convenient to be true." Ddraig pointed out. "Is this another one of your so-called 'cliches', partner?"
"Maybe," Issei shrugged his shoulders, unsure of himself. "Usually, when a person returns to their original world, it either marks the end of the story or the beginning. I doubt this is the end, but at the same time, to consider what we went through to be nothing more than background exposition is a bit…"
Issei scrunched up his face. His experience back in the Immortal World was truly harrowing. To consider the three hundred years he spent in that hellhole to be nothing more than a prologue was like someone spitting directly in his face. He had undergone far too much for that.
"I get your point, partner," Ddraig stated, fully understanding of the youth's plight. "Let's forget about that for now. Let's just be happy we're finally free."
"You're right." Issei nodded. "At least we don't have to deal with those pompous assholes anymore. We're finally back on Earth, where things are nice and ordinary and completely safe."
A large grin broke out on his face. It felt as if a massive weight had just been lifted from his chest. He was well and truly free.
"I wouldn't quite say ordinary," Ddraig's words interrupted his happy time. "Remember what I told you before? Earth isn't as 'normal' as you think it is."
"Right… how could I forget? The supernatural exists here." He sighed. In his excitement, he had almost forgotten about all the stuff that Ddraig had told him about in regards to their homeworld.
While Earth appeared mundane at first glance, in truth, it was a world teeming with magic, monsters, and the supernatural. According to the old dragon, nearly every myth and legend existed concurrently. From Angels and Devils to Youkais and Vampires, all of it was here. The only reason why humanity wasn't constantly freaking out about all the creepy crawlies that go bump in the night was because all the freaky shit was hidden away from the general public.
Issei felt his stomach cramp just thinking about it.
Jumping straight from a Xianxia over onto Urban Fantasy meant having to deal with a whole other set of circumstances. If he wanted to avoid the mess that had occurred back in the Immortal World from repeating here on Earth, then he needed to make preparations. The sooner the better.
Right now, he was especially vulnerable, considering the current state of his cultivation.
It was something that he had discovered shortly after his realization that he was now back on Earth.
His cultivation had been wiped completely clean. He could not feel even a spec of Qi anywhere within his body. Ddraig was probably in the same state. After all, the old dragon was once again trapped in the Boosted Gear. If he still had his cultivation, then he would have forced his way back out by now. God knows how much the heavenly dragon hated being confined to that gauntlet.
Ddraig had stressed to him the dangers of Earth numerous times. While it may not be as outlandish as the Immortal World, it was still best to remain cautious. According to the old dragon, there were at least ten entities in the world right now with the power to destroy Earth. This was only counting the known entities too. There were plenty of hidden powerhouses hiding in the shadows.
With Issei's luck, he'd probably end up pissing off one such entity by the end of the week.
Issei shuddered. Three hundred years' worth of memories flashed through his eyes. Never again. He solemnly vowed to never again experience that hell. This time around, he'd do things right. He'd make friends instead of enemies. He'd find solutions to problems before they even became problems. This time for sure, he'd finally achieve his dream and become a harem king!
"Partner, why do I have the feeling that you just made some ridiculous declaration in your head?" Ddraig sighed out in exasperation. Issei was making an all too familiar expression.
"You're probably just imagining things." Issei dismissively waved his hand. "More importantly, we need a game plan. I doubt you want to experience a repeat of the hell that we went through back in that World."
"That's true. It might even be worse for me, considering all the enemies I made over the years." Ddraig couldn't help but shiver. "So, what's the plan, Partner?"
Issei crossed his arms and thought for a moment. After a short while, he suddenly stood up and walked over to his desk. He pulled out a notebook, flipped to a blank page, and scribbled something down. After a while, he took a step back and nodded to himself.
"What the hell is this?" Ddraig asked.
"A checklist, obviously," Issei responded as if he was talking to an idiot.
On the paper was indeed a checklist. The list highlighted all the key prerogatives that Issei planned to fulfill during his time here on Earth.
The checklist was somewhat dumbed-down and contained a set of very simple objectives. It read as follows:
1) Get 'Swole'
2) Find some backers
Ddraig looked over at the list and couldn't help but scrunch up his nose from inside the gauntlet.
"What does 'get swole' mean?"
"It means to get stronger," Issei responded lackadaisically.
He had learned a long time ago that while power may not solve all your problems, it was certainly a damn fine way to start. That's why he made the first priority to increase his own personal strength. Gone were the days of getting chased around by powerful enemies and frantic closed-door cultivation. This time around, he'd be prepared. He'd be the one doing the chasing.
"And that second one?" Ddraig asked again.
"You know, make friends and stuff."
Issei was done playing the lone wolf. It wasn't as cool as one might expect.
Back in the Immortal World, his status as a rogue lone cultivator had only served to put an even bigger target on his back. Without anyone behind him, people were more emboldened to attack. Not having to worry about the repercussions of one's actions was a pretty big motivator for some people.
This time, things would be different. He was determined to find a backer of his own.
Maybe he could join one of the pre-existing factions here on Earth or better yet, make his own. He was leaning towards the latter, as his experience being a lone cultivator did not exactly make him a prime candidate for following orders.
Creating his own faction was definitely a viable strategy. He could even make his own sect and train a few others in the art of cultivation. After all, the only thing scarier than one cultivator was two and the only thing scarier than two cultivators was a whole sect's worth of them.
Plus, Issei had hoarded plenty of top-tier cultivation techniques over the years. Even in the hands of an idiot, the stuff he had on him was enough to create a top-tier sect even in a place as competitive as the Immortal World, much less Earth.
"I don't think you need to explain the last one to me." Ddraig sighed in exasperation. He could already guess the meaning behind Issei's third objective.
Indeed, the last one was self-explanatory.
Even after three hundred years, his original goal had not changed. He wanted to become a harem king, and he would accomplish his dream no matter the cost. In his heart of hearts, the harem was Issei's primary goal. Everything else was honestly just supplementary to that one goal.
With his goals decided and with a fire burning in his belly, Issei was more than ready to tackle this strangely foreign, yet intimately familiar world he called Earth.