Daiki Yamato leaned against an alley wall and tried to process what had happened. A couple of people passed by, pointing at his clothes in appreciation and saying something about admiring his cosplay. Daiki waved them off.
He had started that morning in the village that he called home with Athena, the half-wolf demi-human he loved and who had guarded him as his shield ever since he had saved her from slavers, shortly after arriving in her world. The Devil King’s forces had paused for the moment, regrouping, and allowing his party a short period of peace. The other two Legendary Weapon Heroes and their parties were somewhere far across the countryside looking for mystical artifacts or the like to make themselves stronger, which suited Daiki just fine – he couldn’t stand being around the idiots. After all, they were the ones who had supported the false theft allegation that psychopath Saline had used to destroy his life for the better part of a year.
He and Athena had been enjoying a romantic walk, talking about their upcoming wedding, when the ground had given way underneath him. That wasn’t right – it hadn’t so much given way as just stopped existing. The last thing he heard was Athena’s anguished scream of his name and then he was here, in this alley.
Across the street from the mouth of the alley, a vendor was selling udon noodles and pressed sushi, and he could smell the batter of an okonomikyaki cake frying down the street. The passers-by spoke in a distinct Kansai dialect. Every now and then the sound of a busy sea port rose above the din of the street.
There was no mistaking it. This was Japan. Not only was it Japan, it was Osaka.
He was home.
Daiki leaned against the wall and took a deep breath, cursing whatever gods had brought him here. For the second time, he had been torn away from people he loved and dropped into another world. Once again, he had no way back. He might have been transported home, but without Athena what did it matter? And this cursed Black Sword was still stuck to him, always on his person.
But, even if Athena wasn’t here with him, he was still home. He could see his parents again for the first time in a year and a half. Perhaps they’d be able to say something that could comfort him, or at least put him up until he could figure out what to do.
Daiki stepped out of the alley and checked the street signs. He nodded to himself – it would be a long walk to get back to the house he grew up in, but after a year and a half in Athena’s world, he had grown used to those. Besides, without any Japanese money, he didn’t have any other options. He’d just have to put up with the people wanting to snap pictures of him with their phones.
As he walked through the streets towards his home, he tried to remember his mother’s laugh and his father’s smile, but it was Athena’s face that he kept coming back to instead. Athena, who he would never see again. He tightened his fist, ignoring a couple of schoolgirls who pointed and talked at him. His parents. He’d get to see his parents. That was what was important now. He could feel sad about losing Athena later.
He turned a corner into the residential area. The house he grew up in was only a couple of blocks away. A memory of walking down some of these streets to school flickered in his mind. He was almost home.
And then he came to the house he grew up in.
The colour was just as he remembered it. Pale brick on the first floor, with white walls framing the windows on the second. An unfamiliar car sat in the driveway, but his parents were probably overdue for a new one anyway. He took a deep breath and then paused. Should he knock? Open the front door and go right in? Just how do you approach your parents when you’ve been missing for a year and a half?
Daiki took another deep breath. He would knock. No assumptions. For all he knew, they wouldn’t be home yet anyway. He stepped up to the front door and knocked. His breath caught as he heard footsteps approach. The door opened.
A complete stranger stood in the doorframe, looking at him.
He was in his mid-fifties, by the look of it, short and clean-shaven. His eyes looked up and down Daiki’s leather armour and blue cloak, but his face betrayed no emotion. “Can I help you?” he asked politely.
“Um, yes,” Daiki said. “I’m looking for somebody who used to live here, I guess. The Yamato family. I grew up in this house. I was wondering if you know where they might have gone after you bought the place.”
“I’m afraid you must be mistaken,” the man said. “My family and I have lived here for the last twenty-five years.”
Daiki swallowed. “I see. You must be correct – I’ve got the wrong house. Thank you for your time.”
“Are you okay, young man?” the man said. “You look pale.”
“It’s nothing,” Daiki said, turning and starting to walk away. “Thank you for your concern.”
Daiki made it two blocks before his composure failed. He leaned against a lamppost, slid down it to the sidewalk, and wept. It was the wrong Japan. It had happened again. First he had been torn away from his family and thrust into a world where he was forced to fight a war for people who accused him of theft and hated him. Then, when he had finally found a reason to fight for that world and a woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with, he had been torn away from her and dropped here.
Was there no end to the cruelty of the gods?
He was vaguely aware of people passing by. Some made a show of ignoring him. Others stopped and asked if he was alright, or offered to help. Those he waved off. Finally, he had no tears left to cry. He took a ragged breath and collected himself.
He was alone, but he was also alive, and that was something. And, it was possible that Athena had also fallen into this world behind him. If she had, he needed to find her. And if she was here, she would be looking for him too. It was a faint hope, but it could be enough, at least for the moment.
So, he needed to be able to look for her. And for that he needed money and a place to stay. The coinage he carried was gold and silver – if he was lucky, it was still early enough for him to get to a place where he could sell it. And then he would need to find a hostel. He could worry about clothing and supplies tomorrow.
He got up and began walking. If Athena was here, he would find her. That was his mission. And if she wasn’t...
He couldn’t finish the thought.
Gritting his teeth, he continued on his way downtown.
For over a century, fictional characters have been falling out of their stories into our world. Some, like mech pilot Atria Silversword and isekai protagonist Daiki Yamato, want to go home. Some, like JRPG non-player character Princess Stellaria, want a new life. Some, like superhero Captain Infinite and devil king The Destroyer, want to meet their creators. Some, like monster hunter Jenny Calhoun and super-assassin Jack Death, want justice for their suffering.
And one will fight a bloody war to liberate them all.
New chapter(s) every Friday.
If you like what you read, please like, subscribe and share.
Art by Foxtail: https://www.deviantart.com/wilsanne07/gallery/
Review by Josh Piedra at The Outerhaven: https://www.theouterhaven.net/2022/05/light-novel-review-reapotheosis/
Print and e-book editions, with a new afterword by the author, will be released on November 21, and are now available for pre-order!