"Oh, and within your talent, you have the ability to analyze anything, anyone. The more you increase your relationship with someone, the more you'll see. Including secrets, without their knowledge. They may even tell you things. So be kind."
The way Mortem said the word, kind, tipped Clyde off a little. Main characters of anime trait? No, don't overthink it, Clyde. He needed to keep his head straight and get out as soon as possible. If that meant leveling up, he'd do so. Like an RPG, right?
This didn't have to be all bad. If the being was true to his word, they'd take him back to his timeline and he'd shake off this whole thing like a bad hangover. Not that Clyde drank. He wasn't good with alcohol. He became a master of excuses to avoid attending his friends' parties just so he wouldn't be urged into drinking. He'd turn it down; peer pressure wasn't a problem—but people would get curious. Ask too many questions. Call him out.
"Before I go," Mortem said, "Remember this. All rules of anime apply here. Oh, and…you may want to invest in a bus pass or a bike. Bye."
Too late. The being vanished and time resumed. The map icon appeared on the corner of his mind's eye. Fortunately, his apartment wasn't too far away.
As he walked, Clyde couldn't help but be amazed that he was actually living in an anime. The setting, the people, everything. He found it surprising they didn't make him deal with Yen, the Japanese currency. Dollars? How boring.
When he rounded a corner, he caught sight of a wallet on the ground. No one else seemed to care, so he picked it up and glanced at the ID. Some pink-haired girl named Harumi Akagi. Or if one wanted to be full weaboo, reverse the first and last name, Clyde thought.
The culprit just happened to be the person walking away, dressed in a school uniform.
Something inside Clyde stirred. A warning sign? This could be his awfully annoying, cliched start to his own anime. Still, there was no need to be a dick. He didn't want anyone to steal this girl's money. He bet she lived alone like a lot of anime characters did and depended on it for survival. If so, she was clumsy. Fucking careless. But hey, shit happened right? Maybe he being here is more of a coincidence than arrogance.
Just then, a prompt appeared in Clyde's vision.
[QUEST: return the wallet to Harumi. Accept: Yes or No. If you do not accept, you will be suspected of theft. Reward: 5 EXP and 5 dollars.]
Well, there goes that choice, Clyde thought as he accepted the quest. Easy experience and five dollars. Better than nothing, Clyde guessed. He hurried to the girl.
She turned around to look at him.
"You dropped your wallet."
The anime girl gasped and blushed.
"Thank you so much," she said as she gave him a short Japanese-style bow.
[QUEST COMPLETED. You have received the reward. Your relationship with Harumi has changed from Stranger to Friendly. Returning someone's wallet to them without stealing from it truly shows your character. In a cold world, you are a warm light.]
"It's no problem. Just be careful." Clyde headed off before she could say another word. Or so he thought he was going to be long gone.
"It looks like we're heading in the same direction," the girl, Harumi said. She held out a hand. "I'm Harumi."
Clyde was thankful they didn't do the honorifics here—he didn't want his life to be even more of a pain in the ass. He accepted her handshake.
"Clyde. I'm new in town," he said. "I'm headed to my apartment."
"Wait. You must be the new neighbor I heard we were getting," Harumi said. "They loaded the vacant apartment next to mine with a bunch of furniture and stuff."
Clyde held his neutral expression, but inside, he was baffled. He didn't want to deal with any annoying anime tropes, yet they were fluttering to him, like blood-starved leeches. If he got sucked into some weird shit, he'd never get home. Hell, he could be even killed by a…yandere. Just like Mortem warned. They were rare in anime, but one could never be too careful. He'd try to avoid raising the relationship stat. Pink-haired anime girls were dangerous.
"Let me buy you lunch before we head back to the apartments," Harumi said. As if on cue, Clyde's stomach growled, anime-style. He sighed as hunger flooded through him. He couldn't ignore basic needs.
"If…you don't mind," he said then gave the girl a sheepish smile.
[SECRET QUEST COMPLETED. By accepting Harumi's kind hospitality, you received the following rewards: 10 EXP. A 5 % boost to your relationship gain with Harumi and any of her friends. 5 dollars. Making friends is an important step in adapting to your new life here.]
Clyde didn't like the sound of that but thanked Harumi for treating him. While they ate ramen, he unintentionally got to know her a little better. It turned out that the uniform she wore, which was a blue shirt and skirt combo, belonged to the academy in which he'd be attending. Clyde just fucking knew she'd be in his class. The system had him by the throat. She'd probably call after him as he left to walk home together. This…was a slice of life trap and if Clyde didn't do anything, he'd be stuck in it. How would he level up if he's stuck at a slow pace? Level grind at night. Risk sleep? A good way to end up with debuffs for the day. He pushed the thoughts aside as they reached the apartments.
"Do you need any help settling in?" Harumi said. Clyde felt a little bad for his thinking earlier. What was it Mortem said: everyone here had consciousness, a life. Maybe he won't find himself sucked into any tropes after all. He knew he'd be naïve to believe that, but hey, a guy could dream.
"That's okay, you've helped me a lot already," Clyde said then smiled. "See you around."
Harumi's door was only some feet away from his, so she smiled warmly at him as she slowly unlocked the door to her place. He accessed his inventory and willed the key to appear in his pocket. To his relief, it did. He reached into his pocket, pulled out the golden key, and unlocked the door.
The apartment looked quite luxurious. Fully furnished, TV included. The kitchen had shiny floors of marble accompanied by a stainless-steel fridge, granite countertops, stove, microwave, toaster, and even a blender. Clyde hoped he didn't have to pay any rent—because he'd be screwed. The place may look like anime, but as if the artist put years into the details. This wasn't a two-dimensional plane of existence, but everything still had the appearance of a two-dimensional anime. Maybe on steroids.
The large living room had nice fluffy black sofas accompanied with a fifty-inch smart TV. Glossy floors. Clyde's room was nice and tidy. He peeked into a closet full of casual clothing and school uniforms. A paper awaited him on a nightstand. It revealed that the academy was a college. Somehow, he knew it'd be ran like an anime high school. He kept his status as first year. His eyes widened when it said all earned credits would be transferred into his record on Earth. His time wasn't wasted. Good.
His list of classes wasn't too strange. Well except for one. Thankfully, next to them indicated how the credits would be transferred. Interesting.
Satovia History 1
Romance Literature 1
Clyde could live with this. He checked the clock on his nightstand. Five. The only thing that really kept him from losing his shit was Mortem's warning. The words promising to return Clyde to his timeline.
He opened a drawer and found what he was looking for. School supplies. He wrote a reminder to himself, accessed his inventory and placed the note inside. No use of being completely unprepared for practice. Clyde was no stranger to assumptions and false hopes, so he pushed aside the thought of home for the moment. He was really in an anime world. He rushed to the bathroom and stared at what he saw reflected back. An anime version of himself. He flinched but focused. To his relief, the illusion went transparent. There, reflected his true self. He was still alive, not in some afterlife, maybe after having some ridiculous heart attack or being hit by a truck. Mortem and his masters were playing a game. He and this Viper were the pieces. That thought infuriated Clyde, but what could he do?
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