November 9 2022

The Foreigner from a Distant World



A storm rages on one of the islands of Inazuma. Thunder flashes across the dark sky and briefly illuminates the land below. Harsh rain batters the cliffs and the howling winds rip apart trees and houses alike.

A lightning bolt splits the sky apart and strikes a clearing in the middle of the forest. The impact shakes the ground and burns the nearby trees and grass to crisps. The smoke clears and at the centre of the crater is the motionless and pale naked body of a boy.

The boy is quickly awoken by the deafening clap of thunder above. He gets up confused, cold and hungry. His most basic instincts kick in and he quickly finds shelter in the hollowed-out trunk of a massive tree at the edge of the clearing. The thunderstorm finally ends in the early morning of the next day and he immediately surveys his surroundings to make some sense of things.

His thirst and hunger are sated when he finds sweet edible fruit and drinks from the rainwater which have accumulated on the plants. The boy smells salt in the air and summarises that he must be near the coast. After knitting together large leaves using fallen vines, he sets off while following his intuition. He gets filled with hope when he sees sea birds and hastens his pace. It takes three days for him to reach the coastline and he finds himself at the edge of a cliff. The boy scans the horizon, there are islands further to the east and south and he sees no sign of human civilization.

"Where the heck am I…" Hikigaya Hachiman says out loud and collapses on the grass. His pale skin had quickly tanned since he woke up in this strange land and his arms and legs are covered with small cuts. The last thing that he vaguely remembers is having dinner with Vittoria Russmoni, his Dutch Italian friend in The Netherlands. His memories are perfectly intact which he is very thankful for.

"Did I get kidnapped? No, that's impossible. The climate and environment are different. I don't think I'm in Europe anymore. And I have never seen that purple fruit thing either. And where the heck are my clothes?"

Something catches his eye floating in the sea. He squints, it appears to be a wooden mast from a ship. Hachiman can't estimate its size since he has nothing to compare it to. Then he sees bits and pieces of drifting wood and wreckage. He gets up and crawls to the edge of the cliff, and he sees the broken remains of a ship far below him. The ship had split in half on the shore with its contents spilling from its opening like the entrails of a sea beast. It takes two days for him to reach the wreck since he had to circle and look for a safe way down. He took shelter inside a dry and warm cave an hour's walk from the ship and had raw crabs for dinner since he neither had the tools nor the skill to make a fire.

Unfortunately, he comes upon the deceased from the ship who had drowned and washed ashore. He counts fifteen adult men: some in their armour, a few naked and one wearing a Yukata. Hachiman pieces together the things he discovered while resisting the urge to let out the contents of his stomach. It is not a pleasant experience to come across dead bodies after all. Not wanting to leave them be at the mercy of the elements, he carries each one and buries them in an elevated area where the sand turns into soft fertile soil. His muscles hurt and his lungs burned when he finally finished his task at the end of the day.

He finds a decent set of clothes, regalias, a notebook and strange kind of pencil, what appears to be coins of some sort and a travelling bag in one of the ship's air-tight crates. Hachiman stays in the area for the next few days seemingly content to just consume the remaining supplies and provisions that he finds including those that just washed to shore. He does find a few more unfortunate casualties which he immediately buries.

Despite being alone, Hachiman feels quite fine. He was never the most sociable person anyway so something like this, despite the obvious and stark truths when compared to everyday life, is a breeze to him. Fear of the darkness is not an issue, there are bladed weapons which he can use to defend himself from the local fauna and weather is stable and wholesome for him. One of his concerns was the possibility of him incurring a wound that might possibly become infected so he takes every precaution to prevent that from happening. Despite all of those things said, he feels almost content as he had already accepted his current situation many nights ago.

On the fourteenth day, he spots a ship far on the horizon under the rising sun. He waves frantically at it and shouts until his throat goes sore but all is in vain as the ship disappears from view. Frustrated, he ponders if he should move on from the place or stay and take his chances. His supplies can last half a month and there are crabs and edible seaweed that he can forage. Two days later he spots another ship in the early morning closer to the coast.

The ship was a patrol vessel from the Shogunate in search of the same ship that Hachiman came upon. They spot the boy and quickly come ashore. Hachiman notes the ship as well as the clothes and appearance of his rescuers. More importantly, he finds out that they speak the same language as him. The crewmen also regard the rough-looking boy wearing a salvaged Nobleman's clothes with interest and caution.

He tells them of the storm some days before and even goes so far as to show them the graves of those he buried.

"Thank you for giving our comrades their last rites. It means a lot to us. But we have to ask - who are you? Are you from the village of Yashiori?"

He hesitates. He has no idea what to say and cannot yet disclose too much information. "I got lost during the storm and my clothes got torn to shreds. I had no choice but to borrow these." He says and gestures to his Yukata.

One of the men who appear to be the Captain walks forward. "You did good boy. Any other who would have discovered the wreck might have robbed the dead and run off with stolen goods. And yet you stayed and only look what you needed and even buried them with respect too. You've been raised by good people I'm sure."

"I'd say the Tri-Commission will reward you handsomely for this!" The large man adds cheerfully and his crew nod in agreement. "Say, why don't you come with us? We'll need your first-hand account anyway."

"That's…an agreeable offer." After telling them what he can without giving away too much information, they let him on the ship once preparations are complete. They sail away from the island heading east as he stayed at the ship's helm feeling the sea breeze softly caress his cheeks like a mother's touch. As someone from the 21st century, being on a wooden ship that still utilizes sails and the stars for guidance is quite a new experience.

"Where are we going, Captain?" He asks the burly man who stands beside him. Hachiman has quickly concluded that perhaps, as insane as it may sound, he has been transported to a timeline in the distant past. The lack of modern technology is quite apparent as well as their manner of dressing. He estimates that he is sent back in time around a thousand to eight hundred years.

"Straight to Inazuma City in Narukami Island! Oh but if the weather isn't in our favour we'll dock at the nearest port immediately. Let's not push our luck since it's typhoon season after all."

"Inazuma City? Narukami Island? First time I've heard of that place. It does sound quite Japanese though. In any case, I'm not in the Netherlands anymore." Hachiman thinks to himself as he starts making light conversation with the Captain to learn more.