+Different World? Different Problems+


Weightlessness.

A stumble.

I straightened myself.

"Odd." My thoughts were hazy. "Wasn't I just bleeding out on the ground?"

I opened my eyes.

A chamber of stone. Rather primitive, but the dissipating mist born of arcane energies was nigh impossible to miss.

Three people were at my sides and a crowd in front. Everyone in the crowd was wearing robes. Was this some kind of Magic Ritual?

A sword sat in my slack hand. It was stuck to my palm and wouldn't fall to the ground despite me not grasping it at all.

What's more, this wasn't the sword I was familiar with. It was more ornate, and the gleaming blue gem in the guard was a new addition as well.

Plus my old sword got snapped in that duel just now too…

"O' Heroes! Please save our world!"

The crowd's words snapped me out of my trance.

"Huh?" All four of us expressed our confusion at that with varying volumes in

tonation.

"What's that supposed to mean?"

I glanced at the one who spoke up. Green and white weatherproof jacket, jeans, and a mop of unruly black hair. His hand held a shield with a green gemstone embedded in it.

For lack of any better options, I decided to call him "Shield" for now.

"There are many complications in this situation, but to offer a

simple answer to your question, we have just completed an ancient

ceremony and summoned you four Heroes."

"Heroes", he said. Judging by the lack of any other presence in the room, he meant us. But the other three looked as though they had not seen a second of combat in their currently not very long lives, and my past actions were...most definitely not heroic in nature.

Even if I'd come to terms with that truth, it didn't give me the right to gloss over that fact.

Pushing the thoughts away, I addressed the people I was facing. "Summoned?"

"Our world teeters on the brink of destruction," thanks for not answering my question. "Heroes, please lend us your strength."

With that, the men bowed to us.

"Well," Shield started, "I guess it wouldn't hurt to-"

"Not happening."

I glanced at the one who said that. He wore what appeared to be a school uniform, nearly completely green, with a red tie, and his blonde hair matched the colour of the gem on his bow.

Guess "Bow" is what he's going by for the moment.

"Yeah, I'm not feeling up to doing this either. We can go back, right? We can talk about your issues after that."

And that makes two of the three people that I was summoned with. Maybe their definition of "hero" is far looser than the one I'm familiar with.

The asshole who said that had blonde hair tied back into a ponytail and dressed

casually, with a red plaid jacket thrown over it.

He's going to be "Spear".

"I'm sure we can, at minimum, hear these guys out?" I made sure to pour all the exasperation I could into the words "at minimum".

Bow and Spear looked like they wanted to protest, but took one look at me and stayed quiet.

Maybe it was the scars on my face. Or maybe it was the glare, accompanied by the scars on my face.

"Yes, well," one of the robed men backed towards the door as he spoke, "we would very much like you to meet the king of our country. We can discuss your compensation afterward so please, have patience."

"Fine."

"Whatever."

Watching Spear and Bow walk off, I shook my head in disappointment. "I can

already tell this world will be in great hands." I nudged Shield to get him to move as I followed the other two out of the room.


+Support of the Sword Hero+


"So," intoned an old man in regal-looking robes atop a decorated throne, "these are the Four Holy Heroes of legend?"

I still felt like the term "hero" is relative in this case, but sure, let's go with that.

"My name is Aultcray Melromarc XXXII, and I am the ruler of these lands." That is a long line of people with the exact same name. "Raise your heads, heroes, and show me your faces."

...My head wasn't bent or anything, but I looked him in the eyes all the same.

"Now, I will explain to you the purpose for which you have been summoned."

It was a terribly long-winded explanation that boiled down to this: the world was being harassed by these "Waves of Catastrophe" that spawned a ton of monsters, which would go around and destroy shit, and these big hourglasses counted down to when the next "Wave" would hit. The first time it happened, the militaries of the world managed to fend off the monsters, but apparently the Waves after the first would be even more disastrous, so the king, seeing very few options, summoned the legendary heroes.

Which would be us.

What I found interesting, however, is that he made mention of the world, but only went into detail about this country he ran, so were we just going to leave the rest of the world to burn?

I mean, if he wasn't on good terms with the rest of the world, I could see why, but I felt that something else was happening here.

"Alright," Spear raised an eyebrow, " I get what's happening now, but doesn't this mean you're just going to be ordering us to help you?"

"Seems well and good for you, doesn't it?" Bow picked up after him.

"I have to agree." My eyes narrowed at the king. "As much as I feel sorry for the world you live in, I fail to see how this concerns me. Quite frankly, I have my own business to attend to aside from this."

Business such as finding my little brother.

"As they've said," Shield spoke up, "we didn't have an obligation to help you. What will happen once we bring peace to your kingdom? Are we just going to get anything other than "It was a pleasure, now scram"? On that topic, is there a way back to the lives we had before this? Can you tell us about that?"

It didn't escape my notice that for his words, his tone didn't match the arrogance of the other two.

The king gave the man standing next to his throne a sidelong glance before answering. "Of course we will compensate you for all your efforts. Arrangements have been made to support you financially and to provide you with whatever you may require as thanks to your efforts on our behalf."

So our efforts to save this "world" – A.K.A. country – would not be as lacking in support as I initially believed? Good. Maybe I could finally stop fretting about my finances as much as I used to.

Not entirely, of course. That'd just be irresponsible of me.

"Alright, if that's guaranteed for us, I suppose there won't be an issue," Spear grinned cockily.

"Just make sure you don't believe you've bought us off." Bow seemed to be trying not to laugh at his own words. "That said, we'll work with you as long as you don't stab us in the back."

They'd really said all that needed to be said, so I just followed up with a one-word response, "Agreed."

"Me too." Shield followed tiredly.

"Now, introduce yourselves, heroes."

I decided to take the initiative. "Edwin Ferris. 25…"

I trailed off. Normally one would add a description of their profession, but…

-marching through the bloodied body parts, sword resting on-

...How do I begin to describe the things I did? The things I still do?

Sighing, I picked up where I left off. "Wandering Duelist, and I go by "One"."

"Itsuki Kawasumi," Bow, or Itsuki, piped up, "I'm 17 years old and a high school student."

"Motoyasu Kitamura," Spear, or Motoyasu followed up, "21 years old, and a college student."

"Guess it's my turn. Naofumi Iwatani, 20 years old and a college student." The Shield, or Naofumi finished.

So my assessment was right. All of them were civilians. Hopefully, they knew how to hold their own in a fight, at least.

And was it my imagination, or did the king just glare at Naofumi?

"So Edwin, Itsuki, and Motoyasu, was it?"

...Definitely not my imagination then. Better speak up.

"I count four of us standing before you, Your Majesty."

"Is that so? My apologies, then, Naofumi."

He didn't sound very apologetic. I'm going to have to watch out for more of this

attitude.

"Now, heroes, please evaluate your statuses."

Uh…

"What?" Naofumi echoed my sentiment.

"Excuse me," Itsuki frowned in contemplation, "but how are we supposed to evaluate ourselves?"

I glanced around without moving my head. The way the king said it made it sound like it was something common, as though it could be done without much effort.

That made me doubt that there were any motions involved in-

Hold on, there was something in the corner of my field of vision.

I attempted to focus on it, and that made a screen-like image pop up in front of me.

I think this was it, now to relay it to the others.

"Look at the edges of your field of vision without turning your head, there should be an icon there. Focus on that."

I elected to look over my status instead of looking at their reactions...and what I'd found worried me.

Back before the war hit, Yoyo had introduced me to computer gaming. I wasn't as hooked on it as he was, but I did play a few of the "RPG" type games, so I knew a little bit about how levels worked.

And right now, I was a mere level 1. The bottom of the barrel, as it were.

"Tsk...Level one, huh?" Motoyasu rubbed his chin with his free hand.

"Yeah...how are we supposed to fight like this?" Itsuki glanced at Motoyasu worriedly.

"So…" Naofumi turned from where his status window presumably was to the king. "What is all this, anyways?"

"Do such things not exist in your worlds, Heroes?" Not outside of what few video games I've played, no. "What you are looking at is Status Magic." A bit on the nose, wasn't it? "Every person in this world can see and use it."

"So what are we meant to do?" I took in the information on the screen. "From the looks of things we're hardly fit to fight at all, much less repel apocalyptic events."

"What you must do," said the man beside the throne, "is to go on a journey to further polish your abilities, and strengthen the Legendary Weapons you possess."

I assume that by "polish my abilities", he meant I should improve these abysmal numbers I'm looking at.

"So you mean these aren't strong right off the bat?" Naofumi looked at the shield on his arm and sighed. "Mine isn't even a weapon though…"

"That is correct." The man by the side of the throne didn't seem to have heard the latter part of Naofumi's words. "The heroes must improve upon their legendary weapons on their own. That is how they will gain power."

The idea that I had to depend on this weapon to be strong kind of irked me, but then again it wasn't terribly different from when I was in Cier.

"Couldn't we just use different weapons while these ones are powering up?" Motoyasu cycled through a number of stances as he spoke.

The sheer amateurity of those "stances" caused me physical pain to watch, so I turned away. "We can figure that out later. Our goal now is to become stronger before the Wave hits so that we can fight properly."

"You know," Naofumi pondered, "if all four of us went and formed a party-"

"Just a moment, Heroes." The king's voice gave us all pause. "The four of you should set out separately and recruit your own companions."

"And why is that?" I gazed coolly back at the king. If this was another attempt to segregate us…

"According to the legends, The Legendary Weapons will interfere with one another when you are too close together. As such, both yourselves and your weapons can only grow when you are apart from each other."

"So essentially," Itsuki muttered, "if we stick together, we can't level up, huh?"

As much as it sounded like bullshit to me, a window popped up in front of me to confirm the king's words.

[ATTENTION]

The Legendary Weapons and their owners will experience adverse effects should they fight together

[CAUTION]

It is advised that the Legendary Heroes work separately

"I guess it's true then…" Naofumi frowned at where I presumed his screen was.

If we're going to be the vanguard against this apocalyptic event, working separately at that point would be suicide. Are we supposed to make an exception for those occasions?

For that matter, just how severe are these "adverse effects" anyways?

"So we're meant to recruit people to our cause ourselves, then?" With some effort, I pushed the doubts in me aside.

"I will attempt to secure traveling companions for you. As of now, however, evening draws near." Whose fault is that, I wonder? "Heroes, we have prepared a room for you to rest in, please make preparations to set out tomorrow. In the meantime, I will find suitable companions for you from the town."

I gave a shallow bow to the king as the rest of the "heroes" around me expressed their thanks verbally, and we were escorted out of the hall.


+Support of the Sword Hero+


We were taken to a communal room where we were to sleep after a meal was provided to us. I sat on one of the couches, looking over my status.

Hm…High Attack, with Agility and Dexterity almost matching it, a decent amount of Magic Power, but low defenses, huh? So tactics involve hitting hard and not getting hit in return...just a regular day of the week for me, then.

The weapon itself was self-maintaining and well-made enough that even without self-maintenance, it'd take a while for signs of wear to begin showing.

There was also an icon called the "Weapon Book". Focusing on that brought up all the potential forms the weapon could take. And there were loads of them present.

The Help menu was helpful in regards to how to strengthen the weapon. I wasn't amused by the fact that one of the methods was literally to level up.

There was also some shit there about rarity and prestige, but I only skimmed it over for the moment.

"Hey." Naofumi broke the silence. "Doesn't this all feel like a game?"

"It is a game," Motoyasu responded, looking in his direction. "Rather famous one too. It's called Emerald Online."

"I've never heard of it," Naofumi replied, "and I know my games fairly well."

"It's not an online game, what are you talking about?" Itsuki looked up from his menu, frowning. "It's a console title called Dimension Wave."

"From what little gaming experience I've had, it's definitely similar in system to the RPGs I've played," I muttered, "but I can't think of anything similar to this situation. Besides, aren't the two of you being a bit too casual about all this?"

"What do you mean?" Motoyasu looked at me curiously.

"Shouldn't the threat of a potentially world-ending apocalyptic event be on your mind at least a little, here?"

"Oh, that?" Motoyasu waved off my concerns. "That's like the plot to every RPG ever." Both Naofumi and Itsuki nodded, though the former did so with more reluctance.

...I honestly couldn't disagree there. The plotlines of RPGs were rather repetitive, from what I remember.

"Okay," Motoyasu stood from his seat. "Let's have a common-sense question seeing as we can't agree on what game this is." I still doubted that this was a game at all. "We'll all answer at the same time, so here goes. Name the person on the thousand-yen bill. One, two-"

"-Gotaro Yawahara."

"-Masato Yuda."

"-Hideyo Noguchi."

"-What the fuck is "yen"?"

All three of the others turned to me. "You don't know what yen is?" Naofumi frowned in bewilderment.

"Should I?" I raised an eyebrow.

"Well...even if you aren't from Japan like us, you should at least know about it?"

"I have never heard of this "Japan" you speak of, either."

And with that, more questions flooded in, eventually bringing us to the following conclusion.

"So," Motoyasu pointed at himself, Itsuki, and Naofumi, "the three of us are from alternate versions of Japan while you," he pointed at me, "are from a different world entirely."

"I've never heard of any of the countries or supposed celebrities you mentioned," I answered dryly, "so I suppose that's proof enough."

"They must have used powerful magic to have managed such a feat." Itsuki frowned in contemplation.

"Even so," Naofumi pondered, "doesn't this mean we were brought here for different reasons and in different ways?"

Different ways…

Right, before finding myself here…

"I have no idea why I was brought here…" I began, "and I'm not really sure how, either. The last thing I remember before finding myself in that chamber was bleeding out on the floor."

"Cool, cool." Motoyasu's tone was still blase. "How'd you find yourself bleeding out?"

With as much deadpan I could bring myself to muster, I responded, "Well, I was just minding my own business, picking flowers in the field, when I got shanked by thirty knife-wielding rabbits."

"Oh, wow." Itsuki blinked owlishly. "That's a very strange way to go."

"It would be, if it was what actually happened. I was fighting someone and I got stabbed, obviously."

"Was it a knife-wielding rabbit?" Motoyasu grinned cheekily.

"No," I sighed, "no it was most certainly not."

"Heh, right." Motoyasu chuckled at my expense before speaking up himself. "Well, in my case, I have, to put it simply, quite a few girlfriends."

"I'm sure." Naofumi interjected flatly.

"And, well…"

"You got stabbed for having multiple of said girlfriends?" I deduced.

Murders with jealousy as the motive wasn't something I haven't seen before.

"Yeah…" Motoyasu blinked at me. "Women are scary, you know?"

Maybe you should've been more committed to one instead of many, but I was no expert on romance.

Naofumi looked like he was about to explode at Motoyasu, but Itsuki spoke before he could.

"My turn. I was on my way home from school. When I made to cross the road, a dump truck came speeding around the corner…"

I winced as he trailed off. The fact that it wasn't as gruesome a death as what could be-

-blood covering the earth as severed limbs fell in a crimson rain around-

-was cold comfort. He'd still died, after all.

Naofumi was looking distinctly uncomfortable now. "Uh... do we really all have to talk about how we got here?"

"We all did, didn't we?" All three of us were looking at him.

"I guess...well, I was at the library, flipping through a book I haven't seen anywhere before, and then I ended up here."

A brief lull in the conversation ensued.

I frowned to myself as I considered his words. From what I gleaned of their conversations, their worlds had very little to no magic, but I felt that the book Naofumi read was definitely an example of what little magic was present.

"Not that it matters now, I guess…" I rested my chin on my hands as I gave up on trying to puzzle it out. Whatever that book may have been, it doesn't change the fact that Naofumi was here with us.

"All right," Naofumi's voice broke through my thoughts and whatever conversation the other two were having, "so is it fair to assume that we all have a pretty good idea about how the system in this world works?"

"Sure." Itsuki's reply was immediate.

"Done it a thousand times." Motoyasu's enthusiasm was evident.

"I'm still going through the Help menu to see how things work." My reply wasn't as energetic, but it still held surety.

"Well... Maybe you guys could teach me what I need to know

to fight in this world? I've never seen anything like this world before."

"Have you checked the Help menu? There's a number of tips there." But before I could give voice to that, Motoyasu walked up to him.

"All right then," the cheer in his voice was obviously faked, "your big brother Motoyasu will, as best he can, teach you the basics. First of all, and I'm only talking about Emerald Online, the title I'm familiar with, you are a Shielder, and your job is to use the shield and protect people."

Considering he only had a shield, it'd be kind of difficult to do much else, unless there's other ways of using it.

"Your defense starts out very high, which isn't too bad, but as you go up in levels, the damage you start to take gets a little unbalanced."

"Uh huh?" Naofumi was radiating trepidation at this point.

"There are no high-level Shielders. Once you reach higher levels, it's useless."

A moment of silence.

"Nooooo!"

Distantly, I wondered if the king could hear that yell from his throne room even as the greater majority of me reeled from the volume of it.

"What about updates? Shouldn't there have been updates?"

"Nope." Motoyasu shut him down there, too. "Because of the game's mechanics and population of players, the class was unpopular from the start. There were so few players using it that I think the developers were planning on removing the class entirely."

"And I don't suppose I can change jobs?!" Naofumi's shout was filled with frantic desperation.

"They're kinda dead too."

"What about classes?!"

"The game doesn't let you change classes."

Naofumi then turned to Itsuki, who looked away with a brief apology, before turning his gaze to me pleadingly.

"I don't know about the whole "classes" thing that the other two talked about, but I know of one person who used a shield to fight…" Naofumi's eyes seemed to light up. "...he got trounced. Completely and utterly."

Ignoring how Naofumi seemed to collapse into himself, I continued. "To be fair to the loser, he was facing Alfa, unquestionably the strongest Duelist of Cier, alone. None of us could actually fight him one on one and hope to win."

"And how do you know this?" Motoyasu prodded, "For all we know, you could just be a fan-"

"I fought him." I answered shortly. ""Wandering Duelist", remember? He told me about Thunder as we battled. The fact that he felt free to talk as we duelled said it all: he was not taking it seriously by any stretch of the means. Truthfully, if he did, I probably wouldn't be here right now."

"But we're getting off topic." I turned back to Naofumi. "There's no reason for you to consider the shield itself useless. If you can't attack, if using a shield is all you can do, then do it. And do it damn well. The king's getting us party members, isn't he? If you can't attack, you'll just have to find trustworthy party members to do it for you, and make sure you watch their and your back. That, I presume, is your purpose as the Shield Hero."

Snapping out of the stunned stupor he lapsed into at my words, Naofumi shook himself and nodded forcefully.


+Support of the Sword Hero+


After a restful night and a quick breakfast, we were back in the throne room once more.

Twelve strangers stood opposite to us, some stoic, some smiling lightly. It seemed that each of us would be paired with three people, if all went well.

I hoped that they were prepared for the road ahead.

"As was promised, I have called for others to assist you in your endeavours, and it is apparent that my call did not go unnoticed nor unheeded. Now, gathered adventurers, please choose the Legendary Hero that you will travel with."

Wait, they were the ones choosing?

I mean, considering we were the newcomers, it made some sense that they would be the ones to choose. They were the ones native to this world after all.

But that created room for bias.

Bias that became apparent as I looked around the throne room.

Motoyasu's party had five people in it, all of them women.

Itsuki's had six.

A lone figure stood behind me.

And Naofumi...none.

This was a problem.

"Your Majesty!" Naofumi did not miss the fact that his party roster was barren either.

"This was...unexpected." For his words, the king did not seem particularly perturbed. Suspicious.

Ignoring the offhand comment from his advisor about Naofumi's lack of popularity, I focused instead on a robed man who approached the king and whispered into his ear.

"So there have been rumors, then?"

"Rumors?" Motoyasu's question was punctuated by his tilted head.

"It would seem that there have been whispers around the castle. The nobles say that among the four heroes, the heroes of the Shield and Sword know the least about our world."

Tsk. Someone was eavesdropping on us then. The only times the matter of our relative inexperience came up was in the communal room. I've really gotten sloppy if I managed to miss that.

"What?!" Naofumi was floored at that revelation.

"It is said that the Heroes who are summoned possess an understanding of our land. As such, people are questioning whether you will be capable of fulfilling the conditions set within the legends."

I'm personally questioning just how much stock these people place in their legends. To simply expect their supposed saviours to know all there is to know about the local region when they're summoned seems just a touch unfair on their part.

"I guess someone was eavesdropping on us last night." Motoyasu's stage whisper broke through my train of thought.

"It's no coincidence, I assure you." My eyes narrowed as my mind processed the implications of what the simple fact that we were eavesdropped on could mean for me down the road.

"Motoyasu, doesn't this seem kind of unfair to you?!" Naofumi was not content to sit idly and accept his fate.

"Well...I'm kind of surprised too, you know?"

Of the fact that his party was comprised entirely of women, no doubt.

Itsuki, when Naofumi turned to him, seemed to ponder the decision. "I...guess it'd be fairer if we split them evenly so we each had three, but it hardly seems polite to do that after they made their decision."

Thankfully, I wasn't terribly polite, so by the time Naofumi turned to me I was already facing my prospective party member.

She was clad in a turquoise garb that matched her ponytail, and held a heavy-looking polearm that ended in a large curved head.

And she was looking at me questioningly.

"Could you perhaps party up with Naofumi?" My question was to the point.

"I'd prefer not to." Her reply was equally brusque.

"And why is that?" My tone held no judgement.

"I can tell that you are a capable warrior." She smiled at me and gave a shallow bow. "I would like to gain battle experience under your tutelage and put it in practice as I fight alongside you."

"What makes you think Naofumi isn't one?"

"I can tell in the way you hold yourselves up. If Sir Shield Hero was an experienced combatant, I would accept your request to transfer. As it is though, I fear my desire to improve myself outweighs any compassion I feel towards the Shield Hero."

I turned back to Naofumi with a resigned expression. It didn't seem she'd be budging on that.

"Sir Spear Hero," A voice sounded out from Motoyasu's party, "if it pleases you, I could join the Shield Hero's party."

I gazed at her out of the corner of my eye. Crimson red hair tied back, leather armour, and a sword.

She'd have to do. It didn't seem like Naofumi had other options.

"Are you sure about this?" Motoyasu had turned to face her.

"Yes."

Though she seemed sincere enough about it, something about her put me on edge.

Better make sure to discreetly keep an eye on her. Naofumi was in a precarious enough position as it was.

"Would there be anyone else who is willing to throw their lot in with Mr. Naofumi?"

Dead silence. No one so much as twitched.

"I suppose there is no way around it. Mr. Naofumi, Mr. Edwin, the task of recruiting companions will have to be left to you. I will provide funds to each of you every month, geared towards the assistance towards your journeys. In compensation for today's events, the payment provided to you both will be higher than that of the others."

I nodded curtly as the king continued. "For this month, these are the funds I have set aside for you. Mr. Edwin and Mr. Naofumi will receive 800 silver, while Mr. Motoyasu and Mr. Itsuki will receive 600. Use these funds well as you set forth on your journeys."

A collective chorus of "Yes sir!" sounded as we bowed to the king and took our leave.


A/N: First chapter of the rewrite, and some of the changes are already obvious. For one thing, Yoyo's absence.

I learned that outsiders being summoned alongside a hero isn't an occurrence that is common by any stretch of the definition, and if one does get summoned, there's a lot of challenges that they face. Most prominent among them being the language barrier, because the Weapons auto-translate the spoken language for the heroes. For a non-hero, not so much.

The sheer tediousness of writing dialogue involving Yoyo, who would have been the only non-hero summoned, is one of the reasons I took him from the story. The other is that this version of One is from before he found and was reunited with Yoyo, so he's still searching for him. And he knows that as of right now, cooperating with the authorities is his best bet on returning home.

And of course, seeing as One came alone this time, he would accept party members who are assigned to him, although his rumored lack of knowledge of the world would deter some from joining him, it wouldn't stop this lady from becoming a party member with her own motives.

If you enjoyed the chapter, please review. If you didn't enjoy it for a reason beyond "You suck" or "This story trash", please review and tell me what you think can be improved.

See you all around.