When I came back to my senses, I was in a white room with Maki-chan.
The room, whose dimensions reminded me of a large conference classroom, had a floor and walls made of stone; every surface was neatly polished. Upon closer inspection, I could make out a mysterious black pattern on the floor.
In the layers between several concentric circles, whose maximum diameter looked to be about 3 meters, something that looked like writing (and certainly not resembling Japanese characters in the slightest) was written very densely packed together. Uh, this looks almost like a magic spell!
Maki-chan and I were standing close to each other squarely right in the middle of that circle.
Several imposing stone pillars were spread evenly across the room, and there was what appeared to be an altar too. Because I could tell we weren’t in Japan anymore, I wondered what kind of exotic foreign building this was. Certainly, it looked like something out of the fantasy section of an amusement park.
In that room, there were more than ten people dressed in whitish clothes, and they were staring at us.
These people’s faces don’t seem very Japanese at all!
And the colors of their hair and eyes are not normal!
Maybe they are just actors wearing wigs and colored contact lenses.
Hmm, it seems Maki-chan is reasoning about our strange predicament in pretty much the same way as me.
And so there were both of us standing frozen and gobsmacked, thinking in the back of our minds what was in store for us in this perplexing situation, when someone called out to us.
“O, Priestess of Salvation, welcome back.”
Priestess of Salvation?
What’s that supposed to mean? Isn’t this too much like the opening scene of some RPG game?
I’ve never heard of any country on Earth where people start a conversation with “O.”
My head now was like a little factory of question marks working overtime. I see an old man with a white beard who speaks while kneeling in front of a black circle. Even though his beard is white, his hair was a mesh of green and yellow, which seemed to me very chic somehow. He had wrinkles not only on the face but also on his neck and hands, so it looks like this is a very aged person, not somebody masquerading as such.
And the other strangers in this room are also dressed in fantasy garb that would look like cosplay if you saw them in Japan. Yes, they look like characters straight out of a fantasy RPG game.
Now really, what’s going on here?
Where am I?
Maki-chan was reduced to tears, under the intense longing stare of this mysterious grandpa with the cool hair and, and turned her face to me like a bewildered little girl, but really, I have no answers for you, Maki-chan. Wait, no, actually, I do have one or two hypotheses about what’s going on:
1. Both of us had some nasty drug slipped into our drinks, lost consciousness, and are now unwitting participants in some wacky ‘Cosplay Candid Camera’ show.
2. I’m asleep, and this is all my dream.
3. We were summoned to another world.
Ha ha ha, which one could it be?
My senses are working too acutely, and it all feels too real for a dream, so number 2 is out.
Then maybe 1. This amazing room, an old sage with crazy hair, that… hm… actually really handsome guy standing over there who is obviously not Japanese, boy they really outdid themselves with the preparations!
But would a candid camera show go as far as to drug people into unconsciousness?
No way they could get away with it, so I guess I can’t explain how we got knocked out.
And well, the more I look around, the more the giant practical joke explanation loses its convincing power.
And then, the fact that I understand what’s being said is worrying me.
Why, you ask? Well, because this old man is not speaking in Japanese at all!
At that moment, Maki-chan’s stone flashed brightly, and everyone turned their attention to it.
“The Magic Gem of Summoning has brought you to save the land of Estelia, Priestess. Please assist us in this darkest of hours.”
So said the old sage without the slightest hint of humor, and everyone else placed a clenched fist on their chests, bowed their heads, and started praying.
Apparently, Maki-chan, who is the one of us with the stone in her hands, is a ‘priestess of salvation.’
Yeah, everyone is totally serious, and their awe at being in the presence of
Priestess Maki-chan seems pretty genuine.
Maki gingerly took a step back and, with a drawn face full of anxiety quite unbecoming for a girl, squeaked in a very little voice:
Yeah, you can say that again, Maki-chan. We are in an ‘Eep’ situation indeed.
With everyone present uttering strange prayers at Maki-chan, it seemed too much for the poor girl, who looked at me with a pitiful face.
I placed my hand on her shoulder very lightly as if I feared she would crumble under any additional pressure and said:
“Hey, isn’t this like one of the parts of that light novel I lent you the other day? It looks like we are on a trip to another world, which we have been summoned to, in order to save it from some once-in-a-thousand-years calamity. Ah, and it looks like I’m the sidekick. I reckon you have the big shot role, Maki-chan. You’re gonna have to be their ‘Priestess of Salvation.’”
“Another world! Another world trip! Priestess of salvation! Is that what’s going on, Senpai!?”
Maki-chan said, flustered, her heart and mind racing.
In my mind, I recalled the mental image of just before, when the light overflowed from the stone and wrapped itself around Maki-chan.
That mystery person with the black veil at the lithomancy event must have offered the stone to Maki-chan with the intention to draw her into this world. In other words, this was all planned long before we got here, and what Maki-chan was handed must actually be a “key to open the gates between worlds.”
It seems I’m just some collateral damage that got sucked into that swirling light explosion.
Aha-ha… All I can do is just laugh.
In moments of emergency, it often turns out that it’s women who display the nerves of steel to match.
I have heard that women evolved to have mental strength greater than men’s in order to withstand the enormous stress of childbirth.
About 15 minutes in, we had ceased to cry or fret, and after the old sage finished explaining the situation to us, we looked at each other.
“Senpai, are we really in a light novel? I don’t have any magical powers. Are we gonna be okay?”
“Maybe we’ll find an unknown power within us in this world. Hey, to think that the light novel was actually non-fiction, huh?”
“You’re right. I’m glad I read it.”
The author who wrote that setting for a trip to another world might have been someone who experienced the events happening to us, and used them as inspiration to write that light novel series. That means we may be able to return to Japan too!
According to the old man’s tale, as expected, Maki-chan is a very necessary person in this world, and she was destined to come here from the time she was born. After all, that gemstone seems to have traveled across worlds for the express purpose of summoning Maki-chan. And he also explained that the mysterious person with a black veil was actually just a magically created illusion.
And originally, while Maki-chan was supposed to be summoned here, for some reason, I got added to the bargain as a bonus, and everyone here seems a bit embarrassed at possibly being responsible for this unintended mix-up.
“Senpai, I’m really grateful you came with me! I can’t bear the thought of being here all alone; please don’t abandon me!”
Maki-chan clings to me with teary eyes.
“Naah, I just got caught up in all of this and really, I don’t wanna end up slowing down the great Priestess of Salvation, so if these nice people could do their magic thingy and send me home, that would be pretty great.”
“Nooooooo, senpaaaaaaai! Don’t throw me awaaaaaaaay!”
Maki-chan clung to my arm like a scared child, but that was a bit upside-down since she is the one with the fighter physique. She is 167 cm tall compared to my 160 cm. Her stunning figure’s three sizes put mine to shame. And to top it all off, she is much stronger and athletic than me. Now that she was clinging to my arm, there was no way for lil’ me to get her off.
“Lady ‘Senpai’, please save this world along with the Priestess. I beseech you to combine your strength and work together in fighting the coming darkness.”
“Lady Senpai, we will assist you in any way we can, so we are grateful for your cooperation with the Priestess.”
“Lady Senpai, this must be part of the gods’ design to have brought you here; please add your strength to the Priestess’ and save our world.”
The old sage and the people behind me “beseeched” me so. I just couldn’t say no to the hopeful stares they were sending my way and Maki-chan’s.
“Lady Senpai! Please join forces with the Priestess, Lady Senpai!”
“Oh, for goodness’ sake, give a girl a break!”
And so, it came to be that I was set up as Priestess Maki’s emotional blanket by the nice people of this other world.