As Stella sat vigil over Adam in the hospital room, waiting for him to wake up, time lost any meaning.
She was aware that Atria was with her for a while, but she couldn’t say for how long. After a while, Atria put her hand on Stella’s shoulder and said, “It’s not your fault, you know.”
“People keep telling me that,” Stella said. “But I knew I couldn’t protect him. I should have told him to stay back, out of harm’s way. And now...”
Atria squeezed her shoulder.
“He was the one who found me,” Stella continued, wiping tears from her eyes. “He was the one who saved me, and showed me how to live in this world...showed me that I could live in this world. He was the first person I ever wanted to spend the rest of my life with. What am I going to do if I lose him?”
“I know what it’s like to lose somebody you care deeply about,” Atria said. “I lost Abel only days before coming here. But, you haven’t lost Adam – he’s right there, in that bed. He’s stable. It’s just a matter of time before he wakes up.”
They sat in silence for a while longer. How long, Stella couldn’t say. Then, Atria got up to leave.
“I’ve got some stuff to take care of back at the base,” she said. “I’ve also arranged some extra security for the room. Adam will be safe. Just make sure you get some rest yourself.”
And then, Stella was alone with Adam again. Time passed. He didn’t wake up.
The door opened behind her. She didn’t look. Somebody pulled up a chair beside her and sat down.
“You look like hell,” a familiar voice said.
Stella nodded. “I’m so sorry, Fred,” she said to Adam’s father. “I should have been able to protect him, and I couldn’t.”
“That wasn’t your job,” Fred Jacobs said. “Besides, Adam always felt like protecting you was his job. And if he hadn’t taken the bullet, he’d be mourning you right now.”
“When did you get in?” Stella asked.
“About two hours ago. Rachel is back at the hotel, getting some sleep after the flight. She’ll be here in a few hours.”
“How much do you know?”
“Everything,” Fred said. “Including who you really are. It was hard to believe at first.”
“They told you everything?”
“I work for the Department of National Defence doing classified research, remember? I have an Enhanced Top Secret security clearance. Japan is an ally – the JSDF read me in.”
Stella took a deep breath. “I’m sorry I never told you. I thought that if you knew the truth...” She looked down.
“...that we wouldn’t accept you,” Fred said. “Is that it?”
“You’re the woman our son loves,” Fred stated. “That alone is enough for us. We’ve never cared who he found happiness with, just that he found it. I never expected him to hook up with royalty, though.”
Stella blushed. “I’m only from a cadet branch. I was never in the line of succession.”
“Truth be told,” Fred said, “when I found out that you were Princess Stellaria from Chronicles of Arcaniana, my first thought was that I wished I had known back when there was still time to see a meteor strike spell in the flesh.”
Stella looked at him and blinked. “Sorry?”
“Where do you think Adam got his love of those games from?” Fred asked. “Back when he was a kid, I used to play them on the computer while he sat on my lap. And Chronicles of Arcaniana was a pretty big title. I played it too. Speaking personally, I think you’re much better in person than you are in the game. Can’t imagine what it must have been like for you being dragged into this world, though.”
“I wouldn’t have made it without Adam,” Stella said.
“Well, as far as we’re concerned, you’re part of our family too. If you need anything from us, just let us know.”
Stella rubbed her eyes. “Thank you, Fred.”
“How long has it been since you got any sleep?” Fred asked.
“I don’t know.”
“I was told that they commandeered a waiting room on this floor for you,” Fred said. “You should use it.”
They sat in silence for a moment.
“So, have you met your creator yet?” Fred asked. “Or author, or designer, or whatever the term is?”
Stella shook her head. “We came to Japan just so that we could do that, but with everything that happened, we missed our chance. I keep telling myself that we’ll do it another year, but it took us years to save up for this trip, so I don’t know if it will ever happen.”
“And what would you say if you did meet him?”
Stella shrugged. “I don’t know. When I first got to this world, I had all of these questions about what I was, why my world existed, why it was the way it was, why we had to quest and fight...but most of those were answered in developer interviews Adam showed me. And then, as I built a life in this world, so many of the things I once cared about stopped mattering so much. I still miss everybody I left behind, but that place is not my home anymore. I know that I’m somebody’s creation, and I still want to meet the person who created me. But I’m also a graduate student, and a fiancee, and a friend, and all those matter so much more. I guess all that would be left is to say ‘thank you’, but since I’d never be able to prove who I am, they’d never know what I was thanking them for. I don’t know what else there would be to say.”
“Well, I would suggest that you figure it out in the next couple of minutes,” Fred said. “The development lead of Chronicles of Arcaniana is waiting in the hallway for you right now.”
Stella blinked. “My creator is here?”
Fred nodded. “I ran into him on the way in. His English is pretty bad, but he was able to tell me that he had made a special trip to see you, and asked me to let you know he was here.”
Stella wiped a tear from her eye. “My creator came to find me?”
“When you’re done speaking to him, go to that room they set up for you and get some sleep,” Fred said. “Rachel and I can take it from here for the next few hours. We’ll wake you if something happens.”
Stella nodded and got up. She took a deep breath, collected herself, and stepped out of the room. A Japanese man of middling size in a dark suit waited with the two JSDF soldiers standing watch.
“Are you Princess Stellaria?” the man asked in Japanese.
The man bowed. “It is an honour to meet you. I am Ichiro Takahashi, development lead on Chronicles of Arcaniana. I must apologize for approaching you under such dreadful circumstances. Please accept my humblest apologies and sympathies.”
“Thank you,” Stella replied in Japanese. “I never thought I’d get to meet you, or that you would know who I am if I did.”
“Your friend Major Atria Silversword was quite convincing,” Takahashi said. “That she had the backing of the JSDF helped as well.”
Stella swallowed. “I’m sorry. I’ve waited for years for this moment, and now that it’s here, I don’t know what to say.”
“May I trouble you with a question, then?” Takahashi asked.
Takahashi’s eyes glistened. “The world we created – was it a good one?”
“I don’t understand,” Stella said.
“The world of Chronicles of Arcaniana – was it good? Did you like living in it?”
Stella nodded and wiped away a tear. “It was wonderful. I loved living there. Thank you for creating me and my world.”
“We are right now working on a sequel to Chronicles of Arcaniana,” Takahashi said. “We will be able to modify the character descriptions for some time. This would allow us to pass messages to people in the game by putting the knowledge of it into their character description. Is there anything you would like anybody in the game to know, such as your parents, or party members?”
Stella leaned against the wall and took a deep breath. “Please let them all know that I’m living in another world, where I met a wonderful man named Adam who I’m going to marry.” She wiped more tears from her eyes. “And please let them know that I miss them all very much, every day, and I wish I could be with them again just one more time.” She sobbed. “I’m sorry, it’s been a long time I’ve gotten any sleep.”
“We will make sure they know,” Takahashi said, handing her his business card. “If you think of anything else, please tell me. And do not worry about your fiancé’s medical expenses. We have already arranged for our company to cover them.” He bowed. “I must apologize again, as I have many things to do. Please forgive me. I will let you get some sleep.”
After Takahashi left, Stella staggered into the waiting room that had been set aside for her. Some blankets had been folded up beside a long couch, a pillow on top. She put the pillow on the couch, lay down, pulled the blanket over her, and fell into a deep sleep.
In the story worlds, isekai protagonist Daiki Yamato makes his long way home to his beloved Athena. But Daiki's author is dead, and it is up to him to figure out how to give his story a happy ending.
NOTE: To jump directly to the start of The Odyssey of Daiki Yamato, go to https://tapas.io/episode/2627592
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.
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Review by Josh Piedra at The Outerhaven: https://www.theouterhaven.net/2022/05/light-novel-review-reapotheosis/
Review of Re:Apotheosis – Aftermath by Josh Piedra at The Outerhaven: https://www.theouterhaven.net/2022/11/light-novel-review-reapotheosis-aftermath/
Print and e-book editions of Re:Apotheosis, with a new afterword by the author, are now available.