Title: 十年目、帰還を諦めた転移者はいまさら主人公になる(On The 10th Year, The Transferee Who Gave Up Returning Finally Becomes The Protagonist)
“Mister, are you sure you have enough money?”
The bar master asked in a slightly worried voice as he lowered the fancy glass onto the counter.
His eyes were cast towards a young, dark-haired man who appeared to be in his mid-twenties. He was sitting at the counter and had already ordered the four most expensive items on the menu and seemed to be working his way down. Yes, he was still staring at it.
This young man with dark hair was Toru Wakusari, and he replied in the language of this world, which he was now fluent in.
“Should I pay in advance? It will be so much trouble calculating everything, so I prefer to pay for everything together. Also, that last glass of wine. Where is it from? It was rather good.
He replied to the barman as he roughly shoved a hand into his purse and pulled out a single gold coin and put it down on the counter.
The barman’s eyes widened as he looked at Toru.
“You carry a lot for someone so young.”
“I’m not rich. But, I just wanted to indulge myself for one day. The wine?”
“It’s from Flaretalia. Not the rarest vintage, but it’s fragrant, isn’t it?”
“I don’t know much about wine, but I like how it just seems to smoothly disappear.”
“Hmm. If you have the gold, I could serve you something even better. I have a rare liquor called ‘Bloody Aquavit.’ You’ve had four glasses of wine already. Maybe it’s time for something different?”
“Alright, I’ll take it.”
There was no hesitation. Toru did not even ask for the price before ordering it. He simply returned to eating his plate of fried mushrooms and vegetables.
The barman grabbed a red glass bottle from the shelf and called to Toru.
“You said that you wanted to indulge yourself today. What’s the special occasion?”
“Haha, occasion, huh? I like that. Yes, let’s say it’s an anniversary.”
“You don’t look it, but are you drunk?”
“I’m drinking, so how could I not be? Besides, it really is an anniversary of sorts.”
Toru chuckled with a hint of sadness in his voice.
Nine years ago, Toru had suddenly come to this world when he was fifteen years old.
There was no warning. He had been transported to another world out of nowhere.
However, it wasn’t because he was some chosen hero. He had no special power. Toru was nothing but an outsider with no purpose.
And so he changed his name to something more fitting for this world, Tor, and searched far and wide for a way to return to Earth.
Like that, nine years had passed.
“I’m just a little tired. And I thought that I should just give up. But I can’t sleep.”
Tor laughed with a tired expression that did not match his young age. The barman looked awkward as he poured the red liquid.
He made sure that Tor was the only customer left, and then he picked up the ‘closed’ sign.
The barman hung it up by the entrance before returning to the counter and pouring himself a glass, which clinked lightly against Tor’s.
“You’re celebrating, right? It’s too bad that you don’t have anyone to celebrate with you, so I’ll keep you company.”
“That’s generous of you. …This drink…it’s quite harsh.”
“But delicious, no?”
“Yeah, it has a great flowery scent. Is it herbs?”
“Yes. It’s a very refined scent. It’s often used in cooking as well, but it’s hard to order in large quantities.”
“Where is it made? I’d like to buy some if I’m ever close by.”
“That’s just it. I have no idea! It just entered the market out of nowhere and then disappeared. Not only that, I don’t know if there was some arrangement, but unless it’s being resold, the price always stays the same.”
“That’s very strange.”
Tor felt a close fondness towards the ‘Bloody Aquavit’ now as he sipped it.
Perhaps within the next few seconds, he too would disappear from this world and return to Earth. This hope had entered his mind many times during the last nine years.
However, even after the glass was empty, Tor was still sitting in front of the counter.
The barman filled his glass with the Bloody Aquavit again. The clear, red liquid looked almost like fresh blood under the light of the candles.
“If you’re looking for entertainment in Durande town, there’s always the brothels. What will it be? Should I recommend a place?”
“I’d rather not. It’s never really suited me.”
“Haha. Yes, it’s not something you want to get too involved in. Especially at your age. And it’s good that you know yourself.”
But that’s not it. Tor protested in his mind.
Contraceptives were not reliable in this world.
And while any women he would meet would be aware of that risk, Tor himself did not know when he might suddenly return to his own world.
He didn’t want to do anything if he couldn’t take responsibility for it. That’s really all it was.
However, he did have doubts.
Nine years had passed, he should give up trying to return to Earth, and accept that this world would be his final resting place. That was why he had stopped at this tavern.
It might be best for him to say goodbye to his past self.
“…No, I can’t do that.”
Tor immediately rejected the idea and stuffed some nuts into his mouth.
The barman stood up and brought out some bread, which he sliced and served with liver paste.
“We could talk till morning if you want?”
“I’m surprised this place isn’t more popular if you’re this accommodating?”
“Bah, shut up!”
They chuckled with an ease that was unusual for people who had just met. And they continued to drink.
Perhaps it was because Tor had not experienced anything like this in a very long time, but he felt terribly grateful to the barman.
By the time he left, the sky was starting to turn pale.
The city lights, which were machines powered by magic stones, had already been switched off.
The bakers in this world also got up early, and the air was filled with the scent of fresh bread.
Tor walked down the narrow streets between the stone buildings. He was completely drunk now, and his feet were so unstable that he sometimes had to lean against the walls and regain his balance.
“Tsk. It’s so pathetic I could laugh.”
Still chuckling to himself, he entered an alley that would likely be a shortcut to his inn.
But after taking a few steps, his foot landed on something hard.
Tor looked down. He could not believe his eyes.
The thing that was on the ground in the alley, was a dismembered arm.
“Wha-, that’s a grotesque thing to lose! We’re not talking gloves here!”
Tor suddenly thought of something, and he picked up the arm.
He held it up with his left hand and then shook the hand with his right.
“Shaking hands in a back alley! Who are you? This is ridiculous.”
While he looked like a lone drunk who was telling gravely immodest jokes to himself, Tor’s eyes were carefully studying its ‘features.’
It was a metal artificial arm.
And he had realized it when shaking its hand, but there was a great deal of freedom in its joints. However, the movements were also creaky, as if there was something stuck inside. Like the gears weren’t aligned properly.
It was a magitec hand. A prosthetic hand that could be controlled by the user after supplying it with magic energy.
However, there was something about it that was different.
“…Hey, you. Give me back that arm.”
His mind was foggy from the drink, and he could not remember what it was that bothered him about it. And that was when a voice called from the other side of the alley.
A short man was standing there. He wore a robe and a hood pulled over his face.
“That’s my arm. Give it back.”
“Ah, sorry. I was just shaking your hand.”
“What? Shaking? Tsk. A drunkard.”
The short man scratched the back of his neck as if annoyed. Judging by the way that the robes hung near his shoulder, he did not have a right arm.
“You shouldn’t look down on someone just because they are drunk. After all, I had the common decency to pick up a lost item. Here, take it.”
Tor offered the magitec arm to the man.
The man snatched it out of Tor’s grasp and inspected it carefully to make sure it had not been tinkered with.
“Just so you know, it was poorly made from the beginning. So don’t try to accuse me of anything, alright?”
The way that the magitec arm’s joints moved made Tor think it was made by an amateur. However, the man reattached it to his shoulder as if it was where it belonged.
Tor yawned as he watched the man go through the motions of seeing if everything was in working order.
Once that was finished, the man unrolled his sleeve again.
Well, their business was over now. Tor walked past the man and towards his inn.
“See you. But if you’re an Adventurer, I would try to get something better.”
Perhaps this was unsolicited advice, but Tor was sincere with his warning.
This world not only came with the familiar monsters from fantasy, but there were also threats from creatures that were half machine, known as magitec beasts. Adventurers made a living hunting down such threats, and a faulty arm would only help shorten your lifespan.
“…That won’t be necessary.”
He heard the man mutter.
Immediately after, Tor swiftly ducked where he stood.
A mass of metal shot over his head. The thing that cut through the air loudly, was the arm the man had just reattached to his shoulder.
He must have not expected someone to be able to dodge such an ambush that was from behind, and the man wore an expression of surprise.
Tor rose and with the same momentum, unleashed a backhanded blow.
The man seemed to fall backwards as he dodged the attack.
“Shit. You move well for a drunk.”
“Damn it, I feel nauseous.”
The sudden movement must have affected his stomach. Tor looked up just a little and controlled the urge to vomit. Then he spoke to the man.
“What? Were you so insulted by my observation of your magitec arm? I’ll admit, it was rather insensitive of me. But your life’s on the line, so why wouldn’t I say anything? Isn’t that a kindness?”
“I don’t care about any of that!”
“If you don’t care, then don’t start attacking me. What? Does it have sentimental value? A gift from your lady? ‘Oh, now you can hold me in your arms.’ Does it bring back romantic memories? If so, I am truly sorry.”
“You don’t sound very sorry!”
“Uh, so what do you want me to do?”
This simple demand caused Tor to narrow his eyebrows.
“Is it possible that you are also drunk?”
“Don’t compare yourself to me.”
He had now pulled out a short sword with his left hand, and he was using the magitec arm to cover the blade as he slowly walked towards Tor.
This was so that it would be more difficult to calculate his reach. Clearly, this man was used to fighting people as well.
However, Tor still calculated his reach and retreated just enough to stay safe.
The man’s expression turned to one of suspicion. He was hiding his blade, and yet Tor had seemed to know its reach.
“You. Who are you?”
Tor did not answer the question. Instead, he looked up at the sky which was starting to turn blue.
“Hmm. This is my anniversary, so I had wanted to take things easy. But now that I think about it, it’s the next day now. So maybe I should just arrest you and see what the city guards or the guild make of you.”
“…Hey, what are you doing?!”
As he continued to retreat in order to stay out of range, he ended up exiting the back alley altogether.
And then he saw that two uniformed men, who were the guards that maintained peace in the city, were running towards them.
The man with the magitec arm was quick to react.
“Forget what happened today.”
He spat. And then he spun around and dashed back into the dark alley.
Perhaps he had physical enhancements, as his legs were very fast.
“Forget? But today has only just begun.”
Tor thought about chasing after the man, but then the feeling of nausea returned. And so he decided to leave the matter to the guards, and he moved out of the way.
“Good morning, gentlemen.”
Tor greeted them politely in order to punctuate the fact that he was the victim.