A/N: The first chapter I wrote turned out to be exactly 6666 Japanese characters.
Hello everyone. Fleurety here.
The fog upon my mind has cleared. I’m feeling great.
My lady’s brain still seems to be blue-screening. I give her a smile and walk over to stand beside her.
Not right next to her, of course. My place is one step behind her.
Then my lady finally reboots, jerking her head around at me like a broken phonograph.
“W-w-w-w-haaaat?!” At last, she blesses me with her adorable voice. “W-why did you, umm…”
“I am Fleurety, milady.”
“If you’re not used to it, feel free to call me ‘Letty’. Oh yes, which reminds me, I have not yet asked for your name. My apologies.”
“I am Sharon de… hold on, why are you standing next to me?! And what do you mean, your lady?!” Lady Sharon says, her hands flapping so much it looks like she’s doing sign language in fast-forward.
I give her a few gentle taps on the shoulder and a smile.
“Of course, that is because I’ve decided to serve you, lady Sharon. Or might you be dissatisfied with me, perhaps?” I reply.
“N-no, that’s not what I meant! I—”
“A moment, please, Sharon.”
And then some asshole decides to interrupt our heartwarming moment, right when I and my cute-as-a-button lady were in the middle of affirming our master-servant relationship.
“Sir Joel!” Lady Sharon says, turning around in surprise.
With his air of composure and striking looks that would probably make him quite attractive to a certain demographic, the guy looks like the quintessential fairy tale’s prince, even with the slight bit of confusion showing on his face at the moment.
Oh, right, I almost forgot. Judging from the architecture and clothing I see around me, this world’s probably somewhere around the Middle Ages, or maybe nearing the end of it. I also see light sources floating in the air that use no electricity, so I guess we’d been magically summoned.
“Excuse me, Sharon. Would you allow me a few moments to talk to her?”
“…yes, your highness.” Milady answers, looking strangely… meek? Her face now seems sort of stony-looking, and her voice sounds stiff. Does she not like this man?
This cannot stand. For milady Sharon, this lowly maid Fleurety shall send this brute away from the mortal coil… if not for the fact that she called him ‘your highness’. A wrong move here might just worsen milady’s standing.
“Miss, I would ask for your name.” He says, his question sounding more like a command. The guy’s obviously used to giving orders.
“Yes, milord, I am Fleurety.”
“My name is Joel, and I am the second prince of this country, Argrey Kingdom. Miss Fleurety… do you understand what is happening at the moment? Why have you decided to serve miss Sharon? You have been summoned here—”
“That’s right! There’s no way that halfwit girl could get a Partner first! There must be something wrong!”
So today is the day for interruptions, is it…
This time, the one who spoke up was a tall, brown-haired boy. Ignoring the fact that he has just insulted milady Sharon, just his frivolous-looking face alone is already criminal enough for a sentence of a million deaths. Sir Joel is a real prince in comparison.
“Karl, enough! You’re in the presence of his highness!”
One of the knightly-looking guys standing on guard scolds him.
“Be quiet, elder brother! In this academy, you’re just an imperial knight! You can’t tell me what to do!”
And now they’re getting into an argument.
What a pain… I’m not so good at remembering people’s faces and names, so having so many new characters showing up all at once is way more than my memory can handle.
“We’ll have her choose again after she gets a full explanation! Once she knows who that idiot girl is, there’s no way she’d choose someone so inferior!” Karl says, all the while ogling me from top to bottom without even trying to hide his gaze.
I must say, this doesn’t feel very comfortable. My mother had been pretty developed so I’d like to think I inherited a bit of that, but my body is not for your pleasure, Karl.
Beside, my own pair is just about average. I would have thought lady Sharon’s huge tracts of land would make the guys a lot happier, right?
Anyway, I have to say my lady’s bosom is truly amazing… not like I’d say it out loud, though.
“Milady, your breasts are breathtaking. May I touch them?”
“W-w-what are you talking about?!”
My, I accidentally let loose my true thoughts. Unbefitting of a maid indeed, but it can’t be helped. There’s no way anyone can possibly dislike a cute big-boobed girl, be they men or women.
“You shut up already!” The knight from earlier pinned Karl to the ground, eliciting a grunt from him. “Your highness, I must apologize for my brother’s discourtesy…”
“Pay it no mind. As Karl said, he and I are but classmates of the same year at the same school. He has not insulted me. Please let him go.” The prince says.
“…understood. My apologies to lady Sharon, as well.” The knight says, turning toward milady. And blinks his eyes several times as if not comprehending the sight before him.
No surprise there. He didn’t seem to have heard our talk, but he is seeing milady turning crimson-faced as she covered her chest with both hands.
Noticing something strange, lord Joel and several others turn puzzled eyes on us. In place of milady who’s looking seconds away from blowing her fuse, I pinch my skirt and smile, trying to pass the matter off as nothing important.
“…umm, excuse me!”
I hear a voice, somewhat nervous, coming from within the summoned (and subsequently ignored) classmates of mine. Sei is speaking with his hand raised.
“What will happen to us…?”
After the summoned Earthborn students received a quick summary, they were guided into the academy’s guest rooms to rest. The detailed explanation would be done tomorrow.
The academy had prepared enough private rooms for all of them, but anxious as they were, many had asked to stay in groups of two or three people. Each group was now having whispered discussions of their own in their respective rooms, talking about the day’s events.
In a room for two, Fua was the first to speak.
“Hey, Ginko… what’s going to happen to us?”
“Yeah…” Ginko replied to her best friend half-heartedly. With what had happened, even the strong-willed girl was finding herself at a loss for words.
Is there a way to return to their old world? Would they be forced to live in this one? Would they ever see their parents again? What would their lives become?
In this world, fifteen was the age of majority, while the girls were only fourteen this year. Even here, they were still considered children.
Their anxiety felt crushing. In an attempt to look away, to not have to face their unease, both began to search for something to talk about. Anything at all.
“Umm… so, about Kamishiro-san. Has she always been like that?”
“…I dunno. We never talked much… she walked out so confidently back then. Alone. It’s like…”
Her personality’s switched completely, the two shared the thought. Bewildered as they were of Kamishiro’s actions, they still felt as though their worry had lightened, just a little bit, as they recalled the sight of their classmate.
“”Has that always been her given name?””
They spoke in a chorus, the same question passing through their minds at the same time.
Meanwhile, while many of the students were distressed, there were several girls who shared their anxiety only on the surface. Inside, they were shouting with joy.
These girls knew what this world was.
There was a certain otome game with the title The Lines of Light, Darkness, and Love.
The game was set in ‘The Sandbox World of Fanteria’, or to be more precise, the ‘Argrey Kingdom’ inside of it.
Ten years ago, this game was first released for household game consoles.
Despite the content being a typical otome romance game, it had enjoyed a period of popularity among gaming enthusiasts thanks to its extremely detailed setting and dialogue writing for its characters.
The game’s main character was an Explorer who would find her true love among the many, many ‘capture’ targets. At the end, she, together with her chosen lover, would create a new country of “Argrey”. The game was rather unusual due to having an element of city-building in its gameplay.
Three years after the first game, the second iteration, Light, Darkness, and Love 2 was released.
The developer was a no-name company, and the first game hadn’t been exactly a best-seller, so gamers were rather justifiably suspicious of the second title. But once more, the game made waves on the internet.
The second game’s story was set two hundred years after the birth of Argrey Kingdom, in the Magic Academy newly built in the capital city.
Similar to the first, the amount of possible dialogue were so numerous as to make walkthroughs useless. The game gained popularity for its high replay value, and different from its predecessor, it even had an element of country-management such as allowing the player to make changes in the school’s educational content or pass legislations. The game was such a mish-mash nobody knew what the target audience was.
And another three years afterward, the game Light, Darkness, and Love Online was released.
The second game had looked as though it took the budget of an AAA game to be made, but there hadn’t been any news about it selling particularly well. And yet, the third game seemed to have gone a step even further beyond. Rumors began to circulate on the internet that the games were being made as a hobby of some millionaire somewhere.
This time around, the game’s peculiarity was mentioned right in its title: it was an online game.
Like a certain hunting game, this game allowed people to join password-protected rooms to play in groups with a maximum of four people, and they could play as female protagonists in the same game world.
The game was set in the magic academy of Argrey Kingdom, another two hundred years after the setting of the last game. The player played as one of the summoned heroines, and their goal was to ‘capture’ one of the target male characters. Except for when playing with friends, there were cases where two or more people chased after the same target, which sometimes even led to flame wars on the internet. And with its inclusion of an element of action-RPG gameplay, the game was the very definition of chaos.
And then, at the end of last year, the fourth game, Light, Darkness, and Love Online 2 – The Millefeuille of Love, was released.
Once more, the game was so detailed people were outright making conspiracy theories now, about how the developer could afford making a game at such a scale when they had absolutely no other intellectual property to make money from.
The newest game was, once again, an online game, and this time it allowed over 10 people to play together at the same time.
The stage was set in the magic academy after another two hundred years had passed. A whole middle-school class with eight female students and eight male students, for a total of sixteen, was summoned to the academy. The player would either play as the first heroine, a daughter of a viscount, or choose from one of the sixteen students.
The first twist of this game was that the player could choose to play as one of the male students.
Perhaps the game had intended to attract more male players with this decision, but in case the player chose a male student, not only could they choose to seduce one of the villainous female characters, they could even go for the male characters (though the difficulty in this case was stupidly high). This had resulted in the game attracting a lot of girls and women who wanted to see sausages rubbing together.
Another twist was that the game was a 3D open world game, something very rarely seen in this genre. There was a character creation process for the player character too, and the students that would become NPCs would be randomly created from a pool of several thousand different appearances and personalities, and even they could be capture targets. The insane degree of freedom had induced many an exasperated laugh from the players.
The strangest thing about this series was that despite all the development cost, there had been no advertisement at all. The developer had also refused any and all reporters, from game magazines or otherwise. The series became legendary on the internet as memetic games that normal people would never know about.
And now, the middle-school girls who knew about the games had been summoned into exactly that world, just like how it had gone in the fictional story. They did notice that there were seventeen people summoned, different from the sixteen in the game, but their excitement had quickly overpowered their vague puzzlement, and they soon forgot about it.
There were five main capture targets, plus extras. (The age mentioned was the age they were at during the current school year).
Yuri de von Argrey, 19 years old. The Crown Prince of Argrey Kingdom.
Joel de von Argrey, 15 years old. The Second Prince of Argrey Kingdom.
Andy de Mercia, 24 years old. Son of a marquis. Commanding officer of the imperial knights.
Yohanne de Michel. 14 years old. Son of a marquis. Fourth-year student of the magic academy.
Eric Marsaw. 27 years old. A baronet. A teacher at the magic academy.
The extras were non-player characters that the player could talk to.
Serving as the villains were three noble girls, plus extras.
Emilia de von Argrey. 13 years old. The first princess of Argrey Kingdom.
Camilla de Reese. 20 years old. Daughter of a duke. Guest lecturer at the magic academy.
Sharon de Michel. 15 years old. Daughter of a marquis.
Other antagonists included some other player characters.
No matter who the player’s target was, the villain girls would always be heavily involved, making trouble for the player. As there was no precise route to follow, the players hated these villain girls.
The students who knew of this game world began to think.
Within one year, they had to find a Partner and ‘capture’ them.
But in case there was another Player Character beside them, then there was a risk that this other PC would be chasing after the same target as them, or making trouble for them.
That meant they must not let anyone else know that they were a PC. Information was the most powerful weapon here, and by hiding what they knew, they would also be keeping the other PCs in check.
Among the female students, the girl named Kamishiro had offered herself as a Partner candidate to Sharon, one of the villainesses. They suspected her to be a Player Character too, but to confirm it would require them to reveal their own knowledge. It was risky.
As they hid behind their smiles and their nervousness, the girls quietly sharpened their fangs. They were ready to put all they had into this, to hold nothing back.
So began a deadly game of romance.