Yuusha shivered as if he stood in a freezer.
“... Huh?” was all that Yuusha could utter looking at the surrounding white ice. All around him were goblins—partially frozen, trapped in that same ice. But he didn’t see the palisade or the Eastern Gate. The church was in the distance, on the other side of the river. A teenage girl in a blue dress guarded the crossing, leaning on her staff. Ah, Yuusha realized, I’m here.
The chilling breeze had already passed, but the summer sun was still not enough to warm him.
The crystal! Yuusha reached to his trouser pocket. Empty.
“Ah!” Yuusha looked down and stared at his own body. Not only were his limbs obeying his orders again. Not only was he standing on his own two feet again. He was not coughing up blood. He was not a human-sized pincushion anymore. Yuusha lifted up his shirt for confirmation. Not a single scratch on him.
Then does that mean—Stats!
[Name: Yuusha Kigiraya]
[Level: 1 (0%)]
[Health points: 20]
[Mana points: 40]
Another Chance: Level 1 (10%)
Arcane Flash: Level 1 (0%)
Arcane Wall: Level 1 (0%)
Evil Language: Level 13 (89%)
Good Language: Level 0 (1%)]
It’s literally called “Another chance”? Did she just name it after what I said? Wait, she?
[Skill: Another Chance
Level: 1 (10%)
Description: Upon death of User, brings the User back to life and Resets the world to thirty minutes before the User’s death. Cannot Reset the world further back even if the User dies again within less than thirty minutes from previous Reset.]
“Ha! Hahaha! Ahahahahahahahaha!”
Yuusha just stood there, laughing like a lunatic. I can’t believe it actually worked! For once something actually happened as I wanted! Who cares that I’m level 1? With this skill, I’m practically invincible!
Yuusha’s laughter stopped when an ice spear flew through the air and impaled into a building behind him.
With her staff still raised and pointed in the direction of the young man, Lucina—breathing heavily and squinting—watched the headless body fall on its back, before collapsing herself.
“Pffffft! Bwahahahahaaah!” Undignified female laughter echoed in the dark. To Yuusha, the laughter was unpleasant and obnoxious, like a spoiled child’s, though the voice clearly belonged to a grown woman.
“You don’t disappoint!” The voice cackled. “But please, next time, try to extend your demise at least a little bit! Your face was so cute last time! Hehehe!”
Who are you? Yuusha wanted to shout out but couldn’t. His mouth didn’t move. He tried to feel it up with his hands—nothing was there. No mouth, no nose. But Yuusha could feel his arms move. His fingers touched as they continued to grasp at nothingness. Yuusha felt up his shoulders, his neck—My head!
“Bwaaahhahhahah!” A new wave of psychotic laughter pierced Yuusha. He instinctively tried to cover his ears but couldn’t—he had none. A headless corpse floating in endless darkness. It was not a matter of sight. Somehow Yuusha knew that even if he had eyes and could open them, it wouldn’t make a difference. He felt it with every fiber of his being—this was not a nice place to be. It was devoid of light and warmth. Only tormenting laughter of an unknown entity traveled across it.
Yuusha’s thoughts were a scrambled mess. He could not move properly. He could not think properly. He wanted only one thing—to get out of this place. Now!
“Oh, don’t worry—you’ll be back to your exciting little adventure soon enough! And this place will fade from your memory far sooner than you might think!” The entity spoke, finally calming down. But even this calm voice was unnerving to Yuusha.
“I will even be so generous as to answer a few questions you didn’t bother to ask!”
Can we not? Yuusha had a very bad feeling about this.
“Oh, you’re going to need a pair of eyeballs for this one!”
Yuusha didn’t see any difference. A black void was still a black void after all. Then, the world whooshed past him. It was like looking through a window while sitting on a bus, speeding at about five thousand kilometers per second. And just as suddenly it came to a stop.
Yuusha stood in front of a casket. He looked inside and saw a teenage boy, sixteen years old, with straight dark brown hair, the same color as his eyes. I looked much better alive, Yuusha thought.
“You looked better? The mortician did a phenomenal job! Do you have any idea what water does to a body? Wait, let me show you!”
No—Yuusha couldn’t finish his objection. Half a second later he was staring at a bloated monster, lying on a metal table, reeking of death and decay.
Yuusha fell to his knees to throw up, but couldn’t. The contents of his stomach just jumped up and down. He tried wiping his mouth and that’s when Yuusha realized that he still had no head—just a pair of eyeballs, floating above his body. He heard a snicker behind him.
“A few of the bodies ended up outside the bus. They recovered your body the very last, and, well...”
That’s why you brought me here in the first place?
“Bingo!” the voice answered and proceeded to laugh in the room filled with corpses.
I get it, I’m dead! Why even bring it up?
“Well, you might not have cared, but others did.”
Another whoosh and Yuusha found himself in a familiar room, filled with planted flowers, palm trees and cacti in nearly every free corner and then some. At some point, Yuusha came to admire his host parents’ obsession with plant life.
What, you’re going to show my host family crying, and I have to feel sad about it?
On a brown couch, with majesty palms on either side, sat his former host father. He was in tears, trying to comfort his sobbing thirteen-year-old daughter.
Yuusha was taken aback. This can’t be real! The only thing they would be crying over is my fathers' money.
“Oh, they were not sad that you kicked the bucket—you yourself made sure of that. Could you remind me what was the logic? You found out that your father was sending them substantial amounts of money to put up with your brooding, so you decided to be an extra-large pain in the ass for them to make it worth the money?”
Yuusha didn’t answer.
“Well, either way, you were mostly right – they did not cry over your death. The girl outright hated your guts, and the father was relieved that you were out of their lives three months ahead of schedule.
“Still, your host mother felt she had to at least help your father arrange the swift transfer of your body back to Japan. She died in a car accident on the way home.”
“I just thought you’d be happy to know that even from beyond the grave you managed to hurt this family. And in a way that topped any other!” The psychotic joy the owner of the voice got out of this situation was blatantly obvious. “You wouldn’t happen to know how this feels like by any chance, would you?”
This isn’t my fault!
“Well, had you actually tried to get kicked out of this house, instead of half-assing it just to the point that everybody’s slightly miserable, then you would’ve been out of their lives sooner, and the little girl would still have her mother. So, it is, in fact, your fault!”
Yuusha averted his eyeballs away from the remaining family, deciding to instead try and see if he could look down at his neck, now that he had no head. Success!
Again, the old world whooshed by Yuusha. When it settled again, Yuusha found himself in a private office. It was a corner office, with glass windows from floor to ceiling, fancy white carpet, varnished wooden furniture.
It was already dusk outside, and the view was as good as anyone could hope for in Tokyo. In fact, somebody was admiring that very same view, sitting in a long leather chair, with it’s back toward Yuusha. The kanji spelling ‘Kosuke’ the back of the chair had slightly faded since Yuusha last saw it.
Dad’s moving up in the world, huh? Although the office itself changed, the furniture was exactly the same—desk, chair, shelves—all of it.
I don’t care! Yuusha announced. He can be crying, laughing or busy at work without a care in the world—I don’t care! He can—
Yuusha’s declaration was interrupted by a thud. He walked over to the window, where the chair was, and saw his father—unkempt and unconscious on the floor, with his face in his own vomit. Two liquor bottles laid next to him, one of them empty.
“He’s really not good at this, is he? He just sent everybody home and locked his office.”
He’s been like a robot since mom died, so what is this supposed to be?
“Fast-forward eight hours.”
Again, the world shifted around Yuusha. A second later he was floating in the star-filled night sky, high above the streets of Tokyo. In front of him—an edge of the rooftop of a high-rise.
Yuusha froze in mid-air. He knew this rooftop. Now, the edge was surrounded by a metal mesh steel fence, but it was still the same.
“Yes, one way to say it is that this is the building where your parents moved their company.” The cackle that accompanied that sentence was downright sadistic. “Did I mention it’s your father’s last day on the job? Look, here he comes now!”
A door opened to the staircase to the roof.
“No…” Yuusha gasped.
The same man that laid in his own vomit hours ago, now stumbled on to the roof, nearly falling over. The liquor bottle in his hand was nearly empty already, so not much was lost. And, as soon as he regained a more or less upright position, Yuusha’s father took a mouthful right from the bottle and wobbled to the fence at the edge of the roof.
No! Yuusha wanted to scream and reach out to his father, but couldn’t. His body wouldn’t respond. He was actually frozen. And he knew who was responsible.
“The company was your mother’s dream, not his. He only kept it going to pass it down to you. So, what use is the company to him now?”
No! Nonono! Don’t do it! With all his might Yuusha tried to move, but instead he was forced to just watch his father—clumsily, but with determination—climb on the metal fence and hang on the edge, looking down to the streets below.
Darkness gathered next to Kosuke. While it appeared to have no shape, a mist not dense enough to be thought of as a cloud, Yuusha could swear it leaned to whisper into his father’s ear.
“Yes, that is what Yui saw before she jumped down. Your drunken stupor is probably the closest you can get to what her last days felt like.”
The mist swiftly withdrew and now floated next to Yuusha.
“Why do you want to stop him?” The mocking voice seemed to get louder. “Didn’t you yourself repeat countless times it was his fault your mother committed suicide? Didn’t you transfer so you would never have to see him again? Even though you still relied on the money he sent you? But since it’s from your mother’s company it belonged to you anyway, so no problem there, right?
“So what if Yui was his childhood sweetheart? He's a weak man and it’s about time he paid for his crimes! In fact, you should encourage him! All together now! Jump! Jump! Jump! Hhahahahh!”
Don’t! Please, please, don’t! If Yusha could cry he would, but his eyeballs were there for only a single purpose—to stare exactly where they were commanded to.
Kosuke gulped down what liquid remained in the bottle then held it in front of him for a couple of seconds, before letting it slip—the first object to fall that night.
“If he wants to join his beloved wife that badly—let him! Who’s going to mourn him anyway? You!? At least they’ll be together in the afterlife! You believe in such things now, right!? Aaaaahhhahahahahhhaaah!”
The soul-piercing cackling was unbearable, but still, it somehow faded into the background when Yuusha saw his father lean forward.
Shut up! Shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up!!
“Shut up”!? WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU’RE TALKING TO!!?” Yuusha’s body was torn to shreds before the sentence was over. His blood and guts were vaporized into a red mist and blown away. Only his two eyeballs remained, frozen in terror, watching the thunderous voice split the night sky open. Darkness spread from the cracks like a plague.
“You are less than an insect and you dare to tell me, one of The Seven Great Goddesses, to shut up!? How dare you call out my name and attempt to use me to save your useless existence!? You’re going to work with me!? You!? Perhaps you would like to join Luluna in the joyful fun-time chamber I designed? Maybe there’s still a regurgitated part of her left, that you could recognize!”
The darkness had already consumed the sky above Yuusha and the city below him. It never took any proper form, but somehow Yuusha felt as if the core of the evil presence was right there, in his face, pressing and tearing his very existence apart with each sentence, like a hurricane. He could almost imagine it—though faint and distorted—a face of a woman with red eyes, contorted by malice.
“A hero! What a joke! A spoiled brat that takes others for granted and doesn’t know his place! The mere idea that Luluna would choose you as a hero, shows how utterly lazy and callous that useless sow had become!
“Save the world!? From what? They already saved themselves and would have finished off that joke of a Lord long ago if they weren’t busy backstabbing each other!”
Slowly, the pressure eased. The storm calmed.
“Tell you what, with Luluna… preoccupied at the moment, I’ll make you an offer. If you can rip that useless Lord to pieces and unite your new world under your rule, I will give you a chance to save your dear daddy. Deal?”
... Deal. Yuusha’s battered existence could not manage more than a single word.
“Of course we have a deal! I’m sure you can do it! After all, I gave you a sliver of godly power! With it, you’re “practically invincible”! And no one else in that world has such a skill, I can promise you that! So, make good use of it!”
Yuusha was such a wreck he couldn’t even muster the willpower to process the condescending insults.
“Oh, and I’ll even throw in a warning as a freebie! While you do have a knack for making me laugh, I would not recommend calling out my name as lightly as you did before. A single Touch Of Nightmare is already more than you can handle.”