Satoru woke up in bed quite confused. He recalled being in a room with strange tablets all over the walls. There also was a woman behind the table, and Satoru remembered finding out that something strange happened to him and his body. As his head cleared up, realization dawned upon him and a chill ran down his spine.
"You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes."
Satoru tested ‘his’ voice with a Morpheus's quote. While his own voice was rather soft and gentle, now he really sounded like a girl. Well, to get to the point without beating around the bush, he was a girl.
So he did the most obvious thing, a thorough body inspection. ‘Yes, indeed, those are my tits.' After a quick ‘manual' check of his lower parts, all his doubts vanished without a trace. He also decided to put all lewd-related things, along with panic and screams off for later. His mind was flexible and he could stomach something like that. Probably.
‘This is not the time, nor the place. We’ll get to it later.’
He spent some time looking around the room. It was small, 3 meters wide and 4 meters long with a locked wooden door on one side and a tall glass window on the other. The window was locked as well.
‘Going by the height of the stone walls, I’m probably inside a castle courtyard. I think..?’
The walls were at least as tall as a three-storied house, or even taller. Several one-storey building could also be found by the wall.
‘Judging by all these horses and hay laying around, this is a stable. Hope I have some kind of hidden power. Don’t want to end up a stall cleaner. Or a farmer for that matter.’ He had nothing against farmers or stall cleaners, but manual labor was never his forte.
Besides buildings, an interesting view came into his sight, a giant stone tower. It dwarfed the wall by at least twofold and had no windows or doors on the side he could see.
‘If it’s an evil wizard’s tower, I am gonna complain to the developer. Too generic.’
His nerding was interrupted by the sudden appearance of a luminous opening at the foot of the tower. A moment later, a girl came out of it and headed towards the building Satoru was in.
‘Oh, I know you, pretty lady.’ This was a girl he met after waking up in this world. In excitement, Satoru leaned on the windowsill and waved to her. Noticing him, she froze in place. A few moments later, she rushed to the building with a panicked expression on her face.
‘What a strange girl. But I need to leave my mind open to anything. Who knows what traditions and customs are common in this world.'
Less than a minute had passed when a clicking sound came from the door. A flushed girl burst into the room and slammed the door behind her.
“Why are you naked?!” She cried out loud, trying to catch her breath.
“Huh? Oh, well, I thought that someone would bring me some clothes to wear…” Now he was not that sure about his previous assessments.
“Here it is!” She pointed to a nightstand, on top of which lay an already familiar cloak. “What were you thinking?! Are you okay with guards staring at you?”
Now, this was a new thing for Satoru to consider. ‘I'm sure I'll be screwed more than once by this… predicament. And in more ways, than I can imagine…' He silently sighed.
“Anyway," she finally calmed down. “Dress up, we have a lot to do today.”
“Won’t you give me some kind of introduction? Like, where am I and what am I doing here and where is the Demon Lord?” Inquired Satoru, putting on the cloak.
“The one, who faints a lot, knows a little…” She grumbled in a low voice. “I’ll have to give you a crash course. You’ll have to accompany me on my daily tasks. We’ll do it on the move." A pained expression appeared on her face.
After making sure that no one was naked, she opened the door, letting Satoru out. The door led into a short and narrow, windowless corridor. Lamps hanging on the walls gave an even, warm light. Exactly the same doors were to the left and to the right.
‘Are there bulbs in those lamps? Do they have electricity?’ Satoru mused, following the girl. ‘Then what is this blue… paint, that connects every lamp?’
They came to a halt in front of a fragment of the wall, framed by the same blue, slightly pulsating paint. To the left of the frame was a crystal glowing with a red light.
“What is this blue paint on the wall?”
“Mana circuits.” She blandly answered, touching the crystal with her armlet. The crystal changed its color from red to blue. Suddenly the framed part of the wall was replaced by a luminous opening. The girl calmly stepped inside and her blurred silhouette was visible on the other side of the opening.
Satoru shrugged and followed her. ‘Hm, almost zero sensation. At best — like when touched by silk. My first magical encounter is kinda disappointing.’ He then asked
“It’s a portal, right?”
“No. A matter displacement gate. Like a normal door, only made with Mana.” She was already halfway down the stairs. “Please, keep up. We don’t have time for this.”
“I somehow offended you? If so, I am sorry. Forgive me.” Satoru was a little puzzled by the girl’s displeased attitude and apologized just in case.
She suddenly stopped and looked at him. After a moment she sighed heavily and explained with a bit of regret showing on her face:
“No… Well, look, I’m sorry. It’s not your fault. It’s just that because of your yesterday’s fainting I had to carry you to the room. And now I have a lot more work to do, too. I’m sorry for being grumpy.”
She then wiped a bead of sweat from her forehead with a free hand and continued down the stairs. At that moment Satoru finally noticed a giant book in her left hand but decided to not bother her with another question.
After a few minutes of walking, they came to a room with an emblem of a white heart on a black background.
‘Looks like an infirmary,’ Satoru guessed because of the abundance of white color in the room. Several heavily injured people also suggested the same. ‘Am I sick or something? That’d suck. Press F.’
“Rita, we’ve been waiting for years! What the hell?” A heavily bandaged bearded man raised himself on the bed. By the look of it, besides his right hand, his entire body was in bruises and wounds. Two other people were in no better condition, with bloodied bandages all over them.
“I’m sorry, Captain, something came up and my presence was required elsewhere. I’ll tend to you right now.” She opened the book on a certain page before sitting down and putting it on her lap. “Please, line up.”
Groaning and moaning, all three people lined up in front of her. Satoru calmly observed the situation with nobody paying attention to him.
“Tomecraft: Greater Balm!”
She repeated the incantation two more times, pointing her finger at one person after another. They noticeably cheered in the process. Taking a breath she then asked:
“Please, remove bandages and clothing from injured areas.”
Among them was a green-haired girl. She calmly removed her clothes, not at all embarrassed by the men next to her. Meanwhile, Rita turned the book to another page and repeated the phrase three times:
“Tomecraft: Greater Disinfect!”
While Rita turned the pages again, Satoru wondered to himself.
‘Looks like the healing process is somewhat more complicated. I so want this book to myself.’
“Tomecraft: Greater Mend!”
All the wounds on their bodies began to slowly close, leaving bloody stains on the skin.
“I’m so sorry, Captain, but that's all I can do right now. Your bruises will have to wait." Rita's voice was filled with regret.
“Oh, don’t bother. Thanks a lot, missy! We’ll probably need your help tomorrow, too. Looks like we missed some pests today.”
Closing the infirmary door, she swayed noticeably. Satoru caught her by the elbow, feeling the weight of her body. ‘Is she so heavy..? Or am I so weak?’
“I’m alright, don’t worry. Just let me catch a breath.”
Since they had been walking for quite some time, doing Rita’s daily chores, Satoru decided to ask a few questions:
"What happened to those people in the infirmary?"
“While you were asleep, another Wave occurred.” Seeing Satoru’s expression, she immediately continued. “For now, you don’t need to know what the Wave is.”
“What awaits me in the near future?”
“You’ll be studying and training in a special newcomer’s camp.” Looking at Satoru’s questioning face, Rita continued. "You'll study general knowledge about the world, history, rules of a conduct. And, of course, written language and combat skills."
After taking a lunch break, they arrived at another room, apparently a clothing warehouse. A man inside the room asked her to write something down in a book before they were allowed to continue.
“You'll need two pants, two shirts, and a jacket. Grab four panties and two bras in the left corner. Your size is forty-M”. Rita turned on the managerial tone while picking up four new cloaks of different size.
“So your name is Rita?” Satoru removed his cloak and went to the corner with underwear.
“Yes, it is, but for now you don’t need to…” She paused, looking at Satoru, then facepalmed heavily. “I don’t know anymore. Girl, I’m at a loss…” Pausing for a moment to release a heavy sigh, she turned around. “Johan, could you please leave us for a moment. I promise we won’t steal any of your precious clothing.”
A slightly disappointed Johan left the room.
‘Looks like I rolled a really low Int stat.’ Heavily blushing Satoru thought to himself, before bowing to Rita in an apology.
Under her thoroughly puzzled look Satoru emerged victorious in an uneven fight with a bra clasp.
Before leaving the room, Rita handed him a grey backpack to store his belongings.
“As I was saying,” she stared at him meaningfully, “you don’t need to concern yourself with names before getting your ID.”
‘That is one strange custom you have here, lady.’ He kept his thought to himself.
“Your age and appearance have changed, so your name will change, too.” They entered another crystal-sealed room. “It’s a rule, no exceptions.”
“I have two questions, then.”
Rita sighed heavily.
"Okay, one question, for now, another one after the ritual. And before you ask, this device is used to analyze your character and generate a suitable name.” She said in a tired voice, putting a small metal tag inside a strange looking device. “Ask your question and put your right hand on the crystals. No refunds.”
Satoru prepared this question beforehand, tackling it from different angles. It was important to phrase it as innocently as possible. So he put his hand on the device and asked the question:
"You said that my appearance and age have changed. From your tone, I understood that I’m not the first one that appeared in this world?” Rita nodded. “So how common is it to have a change in your age and appearance? And what also is a subject of change?” Satoru gulped. A single drop of sweat glittered on his forehead. “I mean, can something more important change, like your gender or even your race into, let’s say, an elf or even a spider?”
Pressing a small button on the device, Rita thought about the question. At the same time, the crystals started to glow with different colors. Satoru felt an unearthly sensation, best described as a wave that washed over his mind.
“First of all, everyone receives a new appearance. This also applies to age — biologically speaking, every arrived person is of the same age. So, to make things easier, your age is considered the same as the age of maturity, which is sixteen.” Rita started her explanation in a lecturing manner. “Secondly, it is impossible to have a change of race. Even non-humanoid races were reborn here as human beings.”
Satoru’s attention was heavily triggered by a mention of non-humanoids. He made another mental note for future researches. It was when the device finished its work and released the tag. It had a lot of empty space on it, but Satoru grabbed it and read the contents anyway.
Date of birth: 28.04.17
Place of birth: Arrival chamber #71
‘Orisa? What?! Whaaat?!’ Orihara Satoru’s mind flipped. ‘What was that? Analyze my persona? But that’s simply the first part of my family name and the first part of my name together! What a scam!’
“Lastly,” Rita was about to finish her lecture, “while being extremely rare, change of gender is, indeed, possible. I don’t have the numbers on me, but if I’m not entirely mistaken, one in ten thousand is changing sex.”
She finished her speech and grabbed Orisa’s tag to check it out. He was still shaken by an unprecedented fraud, but the numbers turned his attention.
“What did you say just now? One in ten thousand?” Satoru was puzzled. “And, pray tell me, how many ‘arrived’ people there are?”
“This is your last question for today, okay?” Rita turned around to leave the room. While tackling with a crystal lock, she calmly spoke. “How many people in this world are ‘arrived people’ like you? To put it simply – almost everyone.”