Chapter 10 - Magical Detective Wren
A demon lord.
Even though I didn't know how powerful a demon lord was, I knew that this wasn't something that was going to be easy. Something that others referred to as a demon lord was probably way out of my weight class.
"Wait, how do you know that I'm not the apostle you're looking for?"
Wasn't that what caused Anna to look for him in the last timeline? At least, that's what I figured now that I have the proper context.
She shook her head. "No, the demon lord I'm looking for is someone I know fairly well. Time travel is not part of his domain of skills. You're just a happy accident I've come across."
At least I knew that she wasn't going to go after me, even if I didn't like how she phrased it.
"So this demon lord is someone you know?"
"He's a distant cousin to the current Demon King. I'm close to the current Demon King's daughter, so I heard about him by reputation."
"You're close to the daughter of the Demon King?!"
"Of course," she answered. "Demons aren't like how they're depicted in religion or most fantasy stories. They're honestly not that different from humans, albeit more magical and maybe a bit more combat-minded. Rather than calling them demons, it's more accurate to call them aliens."
"They do live on the Demon World, which technically counts as another world."
My brain started to hurt. "I think I'm getting overloaded with all this information. But let me get this straight, you're asking me to assist you in your investigation into this demon lord. In exchange, you'll help me figure out how to deal with my current situation?"
"Yes," she replied. "I admit, I might be taking advantage of the fact that you have no context and that you literally have no other choice but to ask me for help. But I must discover who the demon lord's apostle is and deal with them as quickly as possible."
"Why? What's so bad if you don't find them?"
"He'll try an open a portal between Earth and the Demon World."
"...I'm guessing that's bad."
She nodded. "Humanity is no match for demons on their own, but the weapons of certain countries can match even the most powerful of spells of the demons. Many lives will be lost if the two worlds go to war, and that will most certainly happen if the two worlds are connected."
"But I'm from the future, and I never heard about this Demon World. Doesn't that mean that it won't happen?"
She shook her head. "I'm still not sure how exactly your version of time travel works. For all I know, you could be from an alternate timeline where everything turned out okay. But that might not be the case in this timeline. Or you could actually be from the future, but your current actions allow you to change events for better or worse."
That was something that he should've thought of.
"How is this going to work? I help you look for another apostle, and you'll do what?"
"I'll teach you magic," she replied. "Nothing too much, just methods on how to identify what abilities you possess and how to discover who you're contracted to. Apostles aren't that rare in our community, so there are lots of methods where we can figure something out."
This was crazy. He was supposed to find out what was going on with his time travel ability, and now he's thinking about accepting an offer to stop two worlds from going to war?!
"Are you sure that this demon lord has an apostle here?"
"Positive." She cringed slightly. "Well, at least, I'm pretty sure. Really, it's more like he's either here or nowhere at all. The fortune teller I talked to wasn't really specific about that."
"Fortune-telling," I deadpanned.
Her face flushed in embarrassment. "Fortune-telling is a completely legitimate profession if you know the right people."
Well, if magic really does exist, then fortune-telling is probably real as well. But judging by her reaction, it looks like it probably still has the same reputation in the magical community.
But really, what choice did I have? Anna is probably the only person who can help me, and all I have to do is help her look for someone. It's not like she's asking me to kill anyone, so I really don't have any reason to reject this offer.
Making my choice, I held out my hand. "Fine, I'll help you find the apostle."
She smiled and shook my hand. "Nice to have you, partner."
After everything I've discovered in the past half hour, returning to class felt strangely normal.
Even though I just learned about a whole other society that dealt with supernatural beings, nothing really changed for me so far. Anna wasn't going to be teaching me anything until later, and it's probably going to take a while before we decide on a proper schedule.
So far, we've exchanged contact information. And she said that she'll try and get back to me once she figures out how she wanted to do this. Since she was the one who was going to be teaching me everything, I just listened to whatever we said without complaining.
Meanwhile, neither of us had any clues on who the apostle was so far, so it's not like I was going to be that busy for the foreseeable future. So until that changes, I still had to go through my normal life for a while.
The normal life that I was repeating for who knows how many times.
Sitting at my desk, I greeted Maria.
She looked at me in surprise. "Um... hello?"
Weird, why was she acting like tha— wait, how close were we again?
Shoot! Didn't I totally ignore her this morning when I looped for the third time?! Does that mean that I'm the weird one for talking to her now?
"Ah," I finally realized the situation. "Sorry for ignoring you this morning. I'm not really a morning person, so I apologize if I came off as rude to you."
She nodded hesitantly. "I guess that makes sense. At least you apologized."
Ugh, this was awkward. Guess I really made a bad impression on her.
Neither of us spoke after that, and soon my thoughts began to wander.
Now that I've finally figured out a clue to how I was here, I still needed to figure out what Text wanted me to do. My initial hypothesis that he wanted me to investigate the events happening at school was correct, but that didn't mean that I knew which incident was actually involved in magic or not.
But during my second loop, I traveled back in time right after we were informed that a shooter just robbed a nearby convenience store.
Does that mean that Text wants me to do something about it? What does he want exactly? Does he want me to stop it from happening in the first place? Or did something else happen that I was not aware of at the time?
That means that I have two weeks to figure out a plan for what I'm going to do next. But without consulting with Anna, I can't really do anything yet.
Besides, there's the possibility that I might fail and just loop back to the second day of school. How am I supposed to deal with Anna then if that happens?
...argh, screw it. Tomorrow is the weekend. These past few weeks were a lot more stressful than I thought.
If I'm going to be busy later on, I might as well take as much of a break as possible.
This weekend, I'm going out.
"Hey Clovis, you wanna hang out somewhere?!"
That Saturday morning, I asked him without any warning.
He gave me a strange look. "Where to?"
To be fair, the me of five years ago was never really the type who liked to leave the house. The two of us were introverts who spent their free time playing video games or watching movies. Unlike our extroverts of parents, who often left during the weekends to go hiking or camping. So my offer must have looked especially strange to him, especially since he probably thought I haven't changed that much after only five years.
"Dunno yet, but let's go around and find a place to eat. Lunch is about to start soon."
He sighed. "First off, how are we going to get anywhere? Are you planning on having us take the bus?"
I gave him a confused look. "No, I'm driving of course."
The scene of my brother slapping his forehead confused me.
"Wren, think about what you just said, then go look into a mirror."
I scratched my head in embarrassment. "Ahahaha, oops? Guess it would be bad if I was caught driving without a license."
"You don't even have a car! Were you planning on borrowing Mom's?"
My silence was all the answer he needed.
My brother groaned and got up from his bed. "Fine, you're driving. Just don't get us caught by the police."
Guess he figured that it would be more troublesome to use the bus. Either that, or he must have noticed that I really wanted to drive.
I grabbed my mom's keys off the hook and the two of us opened the garage to where her sports car was.
"You know, it took me until senior year to learn what brand this was."
Clovis snorted at that and got into the passenger's seat. "You never really paid attention to those kinds of things. Guess you finally had to grow up at some point."
I huffed as I started the car. "No I don't, I still have no idea how people memorize street names. I just rely on my memory to get around."
My brother looked positively terrified at my admission. "Wait, you what?!"
But I was already driving off our driveway at that point.
"That was positively the most dangerous thing that I've ever experienced in my life."
"Oh, please." I scoffed at what he said. "You're exaggerating. My driving skills aren't that bad."
"You went on the highway," my brother yelled indignantly. "You never said you were going on the highway!"
"Why would I? People drive on the highway all the time."
"I would've liked to know if my brother from the future told me he was planning on driving over 80 miles an hour."
Please, we barely went over 65 mph.
I rolled my eyes. "This is normal. You're fine, and nothing happened. Stop freaking out already."
He huffed at that. "I may have gotten used to it five years later, but do remember that you barely knew what car brands were popular two days ago."
I sighed. Yeah, guess it would take him a while to get used to the fact that I wasn't the same person he knew. And let's not forget what I've told him about what I've learned from Anna yesterday. Even if he's a bit more mature for his age, I doubt any twelve-year-old can process that much in such a short amount of time.
Although, his face while I was driving was pretty hilarious. I only wish I could've taken a picture of it.
"Where are we anyway," he asked?
"It's a burger joint that closed during my junior year of high school," I told him. "Someone introduced it to me a while back, and I loved the food there. So I was pretty bummed when it closed later."
It was a memory from quite a while ago, so I didn't really remember how the food tasted. But I did recall that I enjoyed the large burgers there when I was young, so I wanted to see if I would still like it or not.
The two of us entered a bustling plaza, where several people were walking around and making noise. I directed the two of us to where I recalled the shop was.
"Here it is," I opened the door and the two of us entered. "Just find us a place to sit, I'll order for the two of us."
Walking up to the front, I was busy staring at the menu above the counter. That was probably why I didn't notice who was the cashier at first.
I turned to who spoke and was surprised. "Dean?"
Dean was staring at me in surprise while he stood behind the register. He was dressed in the store uniform, a bright red shirt with black pants and apron, with a red cap on top.
Wait a minute, now that think about it, wasn't Dean the one who recommended this place to me? But he never told me he worked here!
The two of us stared awkwardly at each other. It was one of those moments when you unexpectedly met someone you knew outside of school, and both of them didn't know what to say to the other.
It was awkward for me.
But it was definitely awkward for him as well.
And so, what both decided to do in this awkward situation was simple.
"W-Welcome to Burger House, what w-would you like to buy?!"
"H-Hello, I would like your n-number two and three meal!"
"W-Would you like to p-purchase anything else?!"
"I-I would also like e-extra nuggets!"
"T-Thank you for your purchase. H-Have a nice day!"
Just pretend not to know one another, and quickly get this over with. This was one of those skills that all part-timers who worked in food service mastered when dealing with friends or family members. Unless you were a super-extrovert, then that was a totally different matter.
"Wow, the food is actually a lot better than I thought. But did you really have to order it as take-out? We could've eaten inside."
I pretended to ignore my brother's question as I bit into my burger.
Both of us were sitting at a bench near the large plaza fountain. The two of us watched several other people walk by, and we continued to enjoy the atmosphere.
"Still, why exactly did you bring me out here? This isn't really like you."
I was silent at first when my brother asked me that.
"...cause we don't really meet anymore."
He looked surprised at that, and I continued to speak. "It's not like we hate each other in the future, but we don't really talk with each other after a few years. I don't really know why, but somehow we've come to accept that as normal."
I recalled a time when I just found out that my brother was walking home from one of his club activities. That was a surprise because I didn't even know he was in a club after two-thirds of the school year had already passed. That was during my senior year in high school, and probably the start when I finally started to notice the distance growing between us.
Yet, even now, I still know that our relationship was never one where we didn't like each other. We simply stopped talking one day, and we never tried to connect again.
So maybe it was wrong of me to take advantage of my current relationship with my brother. But I wanted to experience something that I haven't had in a long time.
I didn't know why I didn't think of this before in my first loop. Maybe I was still trying to stick to how things went in the first timeline, or maybe I wasn't sure if I should've gone with this or not.
I didn't say all of this in words, but somehow, my brother picked up on what I was feeling.
"...hey, how about I pick where we go next time."
I smiled at that. "Sure, I'll drive us there too."
He snorted. "You know Mom's gonna figure out one day that you're borrowing her car."
I laughed at that. "Eh, she'll probably be amused before she tries to kill me."
Both of us had fun that day, and that was something that I was glad about this repeat.