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“Damn, I really need to eat something when I get back.”

There was no need to eat in the Love Hero Chronicles if you discounted the necessity to craft treats for powerups. You could go through the entire series without having to use them though. Besides that were numerous date cutscenes with the heroines where you’d take them out to restaurants. Food was just the intangible garnish to the game – pun intended.

This was survival mode now.

I could really starve to death if I wasn’t careful. Not that missing two meals was enough to really matter but the portions at the Yukihana’s this past week had been limited. My insights from the game on the family’s background was limited since I rarely went through Toki’s route. The last time being several years ago. I was fairly certain that the Yukihana’s were powerful Magic Swordsmen but were down on their luck as of late. The route following Toki involved helping her… um… restore her family's honor? Prestige? No, maybe lifting a curse?

Ugh! I couldn’t remember let alone think straight when I was hungry! Besides I wasn’t too keen on getting into the Yukihana’s family affairs anyway. While Hisato was technically related to the main family there was a reason why the name Osawa was associated with him during the events of the game and why there was immense hostility between him and Toki when they were both in your party. The two were basically the opposite when it came to their roles when slaying magical monsters.

Just another reason why I would be trying to get the hell out of this place the first chance I got. But until then…

“Did you get something to eat?” I asked Toki who was trailing behind me on our way back to the compound. I already knew she did as I poked my head into her classroom during lunch. It was just to help remind her that I wasn't her adversary.

“I’m not speaking to you! It’s your fault I dropped all my stuff and I’ll be telling Father when we get back!”

“Why wait then?”

“Huh?”

I pointed just at the base of the mountain where the ascending steps were. A nice looking Benz was parked by the Torii gate with several well dressed men standing in formal kimonos. It appeared like we returned just as the head of the family, Komuro Yukihana and Toki’s father, Takei Yukihana, did. Even from a distance they really cut an imposing figure. Including the fact that Noburo was also there to greet them, showing deference to their presence while he easily intimidated everyone else.

Personally I was hesitant about meeting them. A traditional family like the Yukihana were more conservative even in a more formal and reserved culture like Japan. Oh sure they could produce things like eroge games and anime but as a whole foreigners were typically regarded with a strained politeness and patience. Even in a magical world like this I already saw how kids and adults here regarded my distinct features.

“Father!” Dashing past me, Toki seemed ecstatic at her father’s return.

“Toki-chan!” So did the son of the family head it seemed.

It was all very touching to watch a father return to embrace his daughter. Well, at least until the daughter seemed to be saying something to the father and then turned to angrily point at me. I'd give Toki credit for following through on a threat. Her Dad looked at me with a perplexed stare. Three seconds later my appearance seemed to click in his mind as he started looking apprehensive and uncertain as to how to approach me.

Not that I’d blame the man for that given what happened.

“Let’s just get this over with,” I muttered. Taking measured steps I halted several paces away from the pair. I wondered how the real Hisato would have felt about this moment. He was always someone who seemed cheerful in the game. After five years the pain of loss could be dulled. The boy’s wounds were still fresh now so I couldn’t even imagine how depressed he would have felt now. So unsure of how to address the man I opted to test the waters and see just where I was standing before the closest family member I had left. “Uncle Takei… It’s… good to see you.”

The man took several heavy steps towards me, feet like they were made of lead. The emotional weight he must have felt must have been hard as the next thing the Yukihana heir did was drop to his knees, arms extending around me and pulling me into a tight trembling hug. A strong scent of incense from his clothes filled my senses as my face was buried in his shoulder.

“My dear Nephew… I’m so sorry, Hisato-kun! I’m so sorry I was here for you until now!”

Ah. So this was the man’s measure. The faint memories I had from Hisato showed His mother talking very fondly of her younger brother. It seemed like Takei Yukihana was someone who cared just as deeply for his older sister even after she left the family. I had no idea what sort of person he was from the game. To be perfectly honest he didn’t exist as a character, secondary or otherwise. He didn’t even exist canonically as a brief mention through dialogue.

Seeing him up close I could tell he shared some features with Hisato’s mother. Even in his 30’s the man was like those real life pretty boy characters in anime ripped out to resemble a real flesh and blood person. A shame he wasn’t in the game. Perhaps Toki’s route wouldn’t feel so stuffy and bleak if that happened.

The only member of the Yukihana family I knew best after Toki was the older man just standing several feet away. A no nonsense tight ass that made no attempt to hide his disdain and irritation of the player when they attempted to get close to Toki. Komuro Yukihana was the head of the family and the reason why Toki was wound so tightly in the game.

‘My Grandfather said this…’

‘My Grandfather taught me that...’

‘My Grandfather showed me how…’

She quoted him every time the player tried to challenge Toki’s beliefs on a situation and typically caused the affection level to drop until the stoic family head’s influence on her was broken. A milestone that many didn’t feel like bothering with – myself included. I couldn’t draw up an actual percentage out of my head but Toki was one of the least pursued Heroines in the series.

True to form, I could see her talking to her – rather, our – Grandfather as Takei held me by my shoulders. I could see the seething glare coming from the family head alongside Nobuo who was likely relaying this morning's events. Yes it was Komuro that I had to watch out for. The man didn’t give one wit about me being his grandchild. He only saw my presence here as a disturbance and an insult to the family. It was his own daughter that cut ties with the family against his wishes and now…

“It must have been hard, Hisato-kun… losing your parents like that. You don’t have to worry about anything. You have family here to look out for you, ” Takei naively declared.

…now he had to take care of the child of his disgraced daughter after she was killed.

“Thank you Uncle. I’ll admit it’s been hard for me to adapt here.”

“I know. This will be a difficult transition for you living here now.” Takei smiled, trying to reassure me of a matter I really didn’t care for. “I was hoping you and Toki would get along but it seems she’s not too happy about this arrangement.”

“Ah yes. We had a little race to school this morning and her stuff fell out of her bag because of it.” I explained in a very matter of fact manner. “All her homework fell out and lost her lunch in the process. She wasn’t too happy about it.”

“Oh? Is that what really happened?” Takei frowned, glancing back at Toki who seemed to shuffled awkwardly. “It seems like I’ll need to talk to her later about this.”

I placed a hand on Takei’s shoulder, shaking my head. “Don’t worry about it Uncle. I do bear some responsibility for aggravating her. I already talked to her teacher about the lost homework and gave her my lunch today to make up for it.”

“Y-You actually did all that?”

Nodding, I looked him in the eye to show every measure of sincerity with my words that I could. I needed this man as an ally and watching over his troublesome daughter was the way to do it. “She’s definitely a handful but I promise you that I will look out for her. I owe that much to you at least.”

“Hisato-kun… I… what I mean is…” Takei seemed to fumble for his words for a moment, getting all misty eyed at my promise. Even embracing me again. “...I too will do everything in my power to look out for you as well. Words cannot express how strong you are to act so confidently after your loss. Whatever you need, just come to me.”

“Well, some food right now would be good.” Smiling, I placed a hand on my growling stomach. “No lunch and I was so busy sweeping the courtyard this morning that I missed breakfast. I think I’m about to keel over if I don’t get something to eat soon.”

“Mature and hardworking too!” Takei praised. He stood up but kept his right hand on my shoulder as he guided me to the two men who I’d much rather avoid. “Truly Elder Sister and your Father raised you well. Come, I’m sure your Grandfather would like to meet his one and only Grandson. After that we’ll have a big feast to celebrate your arrival.”

Ya I wouldn’t bet on any of that happening.

First thing about Grampy was that he, unlike his more effeminate son, looked like he was cut from granite. Built like a truck with thick graying facial hair and a face with a few small scars running across his lower chin and just above his left eye. He was every depiction of a battle hardened samurai you’d see in a period drama. Some would say his appearance was almost cliché given his role in the game.

Standing before him in real life just made him seem like a person you’d see in real life. Those people you’d meet and realize it was probably better not to antagonize them.

It’s a good thing I knew how to tow that line.

“Master Komuro.” With the deepest bow I’ve given since coming to this world, I wouldn’t spare a single hope on being even the slightest bit familiar with him. “I thank you for your gracious hospitality in light of recent events that have tragically unfolded. I’ll be sure my presence here does not place a burden on the Yukihana family.”

“Hisato? Why are you acting so formally?” Takei asked, stupefied by my actions.

“Hn, your words don’t move me, boy.” Komuro stated, his large figure casting a shadow over me as I kept my head lowered. “I can tell you’re no different from your no good father. He too could use honeyed words to take what he wanted without consequence. It seems like you’ve already taken advantage of my kindness so I’ll be sure you receive the discipline a weak man like your father couldn’t give you.”

Finally raising my head, I grinned madly, staring down the bastard in his dull black eyes to show how little I cared for his critique. He didn’t seem too happy about this defiant glare but I knew he wouldn’t do anything more after insulting a dead man so casually. “I look forward to it.”

“Father! How can you say such things about your own flesh and blood!” Takei tried to protest in between the rising tension. “Are you really going to let the past dictate–”

“–Silence! So long as he remains under the Yukihana it is I who decides how he shall be raised.”

If this ultimatum wasn’t already clear I got to witness very clearly just how different life was going to be. Like a winter breeze the air shifted around the old man, a faint blue haze surrounding his body like some murderous aura you’d see in an animated show.

Using Magic until now had been the last thing on my mind. Understandable since my priorities were just trying to get my bearings and learn more about this world. While it was basically some janky version of Earth with Magic that didn’t mean there weren’t nuances to the world that weren’t critical. Like how history played out or whether my original country was the same or even similar.

“It’s alright.” I placed a hand on Takei’s arm to calm him before he made another outburst. While I appreciated the sentiment, I had no plans on sowing any sort of conflict within the Yukihana family. Like the real Hisato it was best to just bear with it and then cut ties when I turned fifteen. “So long as I get fed and I’m allowed to attend school, anything else is optional. Does that sound reasonable to you, Master Komuro?”

The family head grunted, not taking my mediation of the situation all too well. While he may think I’m undisciplined I had a feeling it would be my maturity and thoughtfulness that would irritate him the most. Petty and irrational people who largely based their thoughts on tradition and dogma were typically at odds with those who showed insight. Even in an alternate world that held true.

Not deigning to spare any more time on me, Komuro started to ascend the steps with Nobuo and Toki following along. I waited until they were several dozen steps ahead before going up. Takei seemed to understand my reasoning and waited so that we could talk a bit more privately. No doubt he still had words on that terse interaction.

“Hisato-kun, listen I don’t want you to think that–”

“–Don’t. It’s alright. While I wasn’t privy to the whole story I got a sense why Mom left this place and why Grandfather took it harshly. He’s a man that values control and doesn’t like when things don’t fall under that locus. You may not like this but I’m not really in any position to go against him.” I gave him a hard look. “I’d imagine you are in the same position in a different manner of speaking.”

“That’s… uh. It’s quite amazing how smart you are, Hisato-kun. You are right but I’ll still do my best to help my father see that he’s wrong about you. He never admitted it but he was deeply pained when Elder Sister ran away. Many in the family placed so much hope in her.”

I frowned, taking notice of that last part. “Placed hope in her?”

“Hey Father!” Toki shouted down to us. “Quickly, everyone is waiting!”

“Alright sweetheart! We can discuss this later, okay?”

“Sure.”

At the landing where the main gate was located the servants and lesser family members were lined up on each side of the entryway. It was a cliché yet no less impressive scene depicting the return of a nobleman to his estate. Even with a more eastern twist on appearances I couldn’t help but feel a little awkward about having to walk through this row of bowing people.

Although I probably shouldn’t have been.

What the heck was I expecting after Grampy drew his little box around me? Nobuo extended his arm out in front of me as Komuro, Takei and Toki made their way past the show of deference towards the front door. It wasn’t until they were inside and the two rows of servants dispersed that I was given my next direction.

The look in Nobuo’s eye as he looked at me – even breaking his smile to show his true emotions made it clear how the rest of my evening would go.

“You are to wait in your room and not leave until told otherwise. Is that understood?”

“Crystal,” I replied, happy to do just that. “Just make sure to send food to my room otherwise Uncle Takei will likely raise a ruckus.”

“Indeed but remember it is Master Komuro that rules this house. Master Takei’s work largely requires him to depart for long periods of time. Don’t expect his support to help benefit you.”

“As I said; School, food and a roof over my head. That’s all I need.”

Nobuo adjusted his glasses, smile returning in force in an overly sadistic way. “I wonder how long that snarky confidence of yours will last here? Not long I’d imagine.”

I stopped, really wondering on how to respond to that. I didn’t want to let him have the last word but knew whatever I said would be shrugged off. So I drew upon what was the strongest memory Hisato had. One that was a true measure of the young man that never showed his personal feelings towards the worst day of his life in the game. How much injustice he must have faced only to be regarded as a simple sacrificial side character.

The very thought of it burning my rage on top of being stranded here!

“You're wondering how long I’ll last? Ha!” So I glared at him; Unblinking, seething with every amount of fury I felt. Spewing my words at him like I was spitting on his face. “When see your family murdered in front of your eyes and you still have the courage to face the pettiness of other people, you know what you realize?”

“....”

“You realize just how little you need to survive in this world and how truly fragile other people truly are.”

 

[LH]

 

Yasue was doing his best trying to stay awake as his Great Uncle Komuro dived deep into another one of his lectures. It was rare for the old man to go on a trip when cousin Takei typically handled any business for the family. So of course, when his Uncle did leave it was usually followed by some long winded speech that went on for hours. Leaving wasn’t permitted and punishments were typically tedious if one wasn’t paying attention.

He had learned that lesson one too many times.

Lost a lot of his weekends too.

Generally the speeches boiled down to rival dojos challenging their authority and how they needed to do more with exterminating monsters. Like a broken record the same talking points were said over and over and over again.

“We need to vanquish monsters faster!”

“We must reach them before our adversaries do!”

“Everyone must spend more time training to hone their abilities!”

Ugh. He just wanted to eat dinner already! He could smell the food wafting in from the kitchen down the hall. It all smelt so good and was one of the few times he liked it when everyone gathered. A not too often occurrence when there were cousins or close allied families that were off doing the things Uncle Komuro was complaining about. It seemed like every face that should be in attendance was actually here this time.

He couldn’t even remember a time when that happened recently. The only real time was over five or six years ago when his own Grandfather, Komuro’s younger brother, died and they held funeral services here at the compound instead of the local temple. That was also an unpleasant affair and one he wished he hadn’t gone to. From what he remembered a fight nearly broke out.

A fight between Uncle Komuro and cousin–

“Yasue!”

“Huh? What?”

Flinching, he snapped too when everyone’s attention seemed to focus on him. He must have really been out of it to notice the conversation drifting away from the usual diatribe. Worse was that there were no context clues as to what the reason he was called out for. Likely it was just for not paying attention which came with all of the usual annoyances and additional lectures. As a young promising member of the Yukihana family a lot of expectations were being placed upon him.

He glanced at his father and mother kneeling on the traditional floor pillows next to him, hoping for some kind of save. Neither seemed too keen on helping him when they had repeatedly told him to pay more attention. Again, it’s not like he actually wanted to be here! They could have just given him a summary after the fact and called him when it was time for dinner!

Life just wasn’t fair to him sometimes!

“Yes Uncle?”

“I heard that you disregarded the direction I specifically gave to Nobuo. Once more you seem to lack the importance of solidarity of the family and its blood ties.”

“Disregarded an order?” It took him a moment to think about what that might have been. He always tried to stay out of Nobuo Tatawaki’s way as much as possible. The man was a pain in the ass that seemed like nothing more than someone who sought to lick the bottom of his Uncle’s sandals. In this instance however it wasn’t hard to dredge up this morning's confrontation. “Ah! Ya that! So? What's the big deal?”

“Yasue!” His father hissed at him quietly.

“The big deal, as you’ve put it, is that I have already made a decision on what is to happen with the Osawa boy. One I expect everyone to follow, is that clear?”

“No, not really.” He frowned, feeling the same irritation he got with this same discussion being regurgitated with Nobuo – Petty adult problems being blamed on a helpless kid. Unfortunately he needed to spin it in a different direction besides being a simple moral obligation. “Sorry Uncle but you’re kinda shooting everyone here in the foot on this one. I’m sure you have your reasons but if you keep the kid from doing things like school then that's a bigger issue. If it’s our job to take care of Hisato-kun now then doing a poor job of it only gives our enemies a chance to hit our reputation.”

“He is right Father,” Cousin Takei concurred. “For that matter, why is my Nephew staying in the old shed? We certainly have enough rooms in the main and guest houses for him.”

Following this the entire room erupted into a smattering of conversations and arguments. He knew this topic was still highly polarizing for the entire family. However anyone with any sort of decency should have had nothing to do with Hisato. Sure the boy likely represented what many here saw as a betrayal to the family but that still didn’t put the blame for it on the kid!

His father reached over, grasping his right bicep and yanked him over. Neither of his parents looked pleased by his arguments nor wanted him to defend the actions of their slain Cousin’s only child. It was typical of them to just fold like this when they had taught him time and again to stand up for those who were in need. Hell! It was why the Yukihana were so well received by the local governments in the Hokkaido area.

The double standard hypocrisy of all this pissed him off.

WHOOSH!

“Enough!” With a sudden burst of Ice magic the room’s temperature dropped considerably. Uncle Komuro looked more pissed off from this than he’d seen in a long time. “I already said the discussion on this was final!”

“Really Father? So if Hisato-kun has an affinity for our family’s magic you have no intention of following the most sacred tenant of the Yukihana’s founder?”

Aha! That was also a consideration that he forgot about. From the founding of the Yukihana family over three hundred years ago anyone that showed an affinity for Ice magic was to be regarded as a student in the Densetsu-fubuki-ryū style of combat. Many came far and wide from all corners of Japan to learn. Those that came were encouraged to stay and typically married locals to start vassal families to the Yukihana. It’s how they had propagated allies from great distances when they were largely isolated up north.

And while a small handful of foreigners did make their way here to learn, many never stuck around long given the family’s more… conservative nature and how they were typically regarded.

“Has anyone here checked what his affinities are yet?” Takei continued. “From what Elder Sis–Erm, from what I was told Hisato-kun had yet to receive a Magic Plate.”

Now that piqued his interest. He just so happened to have an extra Magic Plate on him at the moment since a friend of his accidentally bought an extra one for their younger sibling and gave it to him. It was always fun to receive a Plate and see just what talents the Magical Gods bestowed upon a potential Wielder.

In fact it would be a nice way to change the direction of this painful discussion and potentially help Hisato-kun by getting him training to harness his abilities. It would certainly help the kid if he ever had to make it on his own if he got kicked out.

So stood up pulling out the Plate from his pocket and tossed it in front of his Uncle. Was it extremely rude? Definitely. Did he care at the moment? Not a bit.

“So why don’t we find out then?”

From the color Uncle Komuro’s face was turning though… he might later.

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Quaralknight

  • Standing right behind you
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