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Through the Looking Glass

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Isekai World – Game Characters

Can’t sleep?”

Alan flinches, head jerking up – only to relax when he recognises the figure walking up the dorm entrance, where he’s leaning against the wall.

Sirius, still working at this hour?”

The council president smiles as Alan pushes himself off the wall. “Well, since everyone else is a little occupied right now, I’m just trying to keep everything functioning. A lot of paperwork isn’t getting done right now.”

Alan’s grimaces. “Right...sorry about that.”

Sirius merely waves it off with a hand. “Don’t worry about it, this is an extreme situation.”

That’s one way to put it,” Alan agrees, and scratches the back of his head. “Still, are you sure you’re okay, between that fakes attack and getting whammied by dark magic, you should maybe be taking it easier.”

The redhead gives a short chuckle. “Oh trust me, I’ve felt far worse. I can relax when things have calmed down. But what’s got you out here? Still stuck on that sigil?”

Alan nods and taps his skull on the brick wall.

It’s driving me crazy. It looks so familiar, but no matter what I do, I can’t place it. Between that and the music notes that keep showing up in that rune, my brain won’t shut off. It’s like I have everything I need in my head to figure it out, but it’s locked out of reach.”

I’m sure if the answer is in there, you’ll figure it out, Prince Alan,” Sirius assures him. “But even if you figured it out right this minute, there’s nothing you could do with that information until the morning. So you might as well take the time to rest, and tackle the problem in the morning.”

Alan sighs, but does feel himself relax at the president’s words.

Yeah, you’re right. Maybe it’ll come to me if I stop focusing on it anyway. But you need to do the same.”

Sirius is nothing but smiles as they enter the building.

I assure you, after today, all I want to do and throw a blanket over my head and stay there until this entire fiasco is over with, and then forget it all ever happened.”


Game World – Isekai Character s

As the trio slowly walk out the exit and towards the men’s dorms, they stay quiet. While Gerald and Keith both try to coax Katarina into speaking, she looks distant and a little bit in shock, and when they share a look, decide to give her time, until they make it to closed doors again. She’s been hit with a revelation, which her denseness probably won’t recover from quickly, so she could probably use the time. In any other situation, they’d save this till the morning, but needs must.

Katarina meanwhile…


Attention! Attention! Emergency meeting now declared!”

Judgerina slams her hammer down on the table, looking slightly frantic as she tries to adjust her lopsided moustache. Around the table, her fellow councilwoman are equally frazzled – Glasserina is furiously wiping her accessories, Timidarina is rocking in her chair, Happyrina is quite literally dancing on the table, while Sillyrina is flopped back as if the soul has left her body.

What just happened?” Timidarina whimpers. “I don’t understand at all!”

I’ll tell you what happened! No more death flags!” Happyrina exclaims, moving from a badly performed moonwalk into an equally awkward floss. “We’re saved!”

It is rather humiliating that we got so worked up over nothing,” Glasserina says, popping her glasses back on. “If we managed to misunderstand so badly on this, what else have we misunderstood?”

Judgerina slams her hammer down again. “Don’t get overconfident. Just because the death flags we were expecting have disappeared doesn’t mean we’re completely safe. We’re still currently trapped in the world of the game.”

That at least, gets Happyrina off the table, settling in her seat with a pout.

But now that we have the journals, we can maybe find a way home,” she says. “And then we can enjoy things without fear of murder or exile, right?”

She glances around, and pokes the side of Sillyrina. “Right?”

Sillyrina leans forward – and drops her head on the table with a thud.

Is she still alive?” Judgerina asks, and Timidarina shuffles over to prod her.

Um, I think so?” she says. “I think she’s still processing?”

Aren’t we all,” Glasserina offers. “How is this going to affect things when we get back?”

Will it affect anything?” Happyrina asks. “I mean, even if we were never at risk of being exiled or murdered, are we really doing anything we don’t want to?”

I really do like farming, even if we’re never going to be a farmer,” Timidarina adds, and Judgerina nods.

True. But perhaps we don’t need to spend so much time throwing snakes.”

Yes, we can tell Tom to stop designing new ones,” Judgerina says, only for squeak when Sillyrina suddenly jerks up with a gasp.

No! Don’t take our emotional support toy!” she whines. “We’ve always carried a snake in our pocket!”

Poor Snakeyson Mark 2 did save our lives against the real black hearted Prince,” Timidarina agrees, and Glasserina’s jaw drops.

That’s right...wait, if Prince Geord was the real black hearted Prince, does that mean Prince Gerald...isn’t?”

Judgerina starts nodding. “It would make sense...I mean, Keith isn’t a playboy, so maybe Gerald isn’t as dark hearted as we thought.”

Come to think of it, I can’t think of any time he actually did anything that bad to us,” Sillyrina agrees, and Happyrina claps her hands.

This is wonderful! I know they work well in the game, but it felt kind of wrong to support the real Maria in a relationship with a dark hearted Prince. Now we can let them get together with no worries!”

They all smile, and punch the air.

Here’s to a happy ending for the Villainess!”

Woohoo!”


Katarina?”

The girl blinks, coming back to reality when she realises the three of them have stopped moving. “Huh, we’re here already?”

Keith squeezes her shoulder slightly. “Yes, sister. Are you sure you’re up for this right now?”

She quickly pastes on a smile and nods. “Uh huh, just got stuck in my head for a bit. I’m good.”

The room is a lot less well kept than she’s used to, but that’s likely because there are several boxes half opened littered around the room rather than any world-related difference. They make a beeline for the seats, and Katarina glances down at what had caught Gerald and Keith’s eye in the first place.

Oh! This is-”

She picks up the gold medallion, rubbing a finger against the grooves of the sigil. “Was this in the box too?”

Yes, we suspect it’s the emblem of the Cress family, that they also used as a sigil,” Gerald explains. “Given that the family doesn’t exist now, they must have died out.”

He then picks up the journal and hands it over.

If there are any answers, it’s likely he wrote them in this. Can you decipher it.”

Keith sits at her side as she thumbs the cover.

“Normally, I’d say it’s wrong to read someone else’s diary, but I guess they wouldn’t mind, given the circumstances,” Katarina says. She opens it up almost at a random page – and immediately blushes bright red, causing both of them to tense up.

Katarina, is it...explicit or-”

Nononono!” Katarina squeaks. “Marty was just...expressive with his words.”

That’s putting it mildly. She’s not sure she can see a single sentence that doesn’t have profanity in it. Absolutely no way is she doing an accurate translation in front of her sweet little brother and Prince Gerald. She definitely has to clean this up, no question.

Quickly, she starts rifling through the pages, checking the dates and trying to figure out a good place to start. The last quarter is filled with blank pages, so this is likely the last journal – but the first few pages still have him at the Magic Academy and seem fairly mediocre. Then her eyes catch on some large, heavily scored in words in a journal entry – judging from the date, just before he graduated.

HOLY CRAP THIS IS TIME TALES ALL!!!

Huh, I guess he didn’t realise it was the game world until much later,” she says, and Keith leans in.

What does it say?”

Oh um, let’s see,” Katarina says, glancing through the entry. “It looks like he came here a few years ago, but even with the name and the setting, I guess he didn’t realise-oh! That’s why, it looks like he never played the games, but his little sister did. He’d only know the basics then, no wonder he didn’t realise. Given that Time Tales All happens in the palace, he probably didn’t realise until he arrived and heard all the similar names.”

Really? Wouldn’t his name have rung a bell?” Gerald asks, and Katarina shrugs.

You never know. I completely forgot that Mary and Sophia were in the game until Keith told me about Mary’s engagement and I saw Nicol,” she says. “Someone who had even less information would have probably struggled.”

Still, she flips back a few pages, and confirms that idea. Most of this is Marty just going through his life. Every now and then, he mentions how things seem familiar to him, but his revelation of exactly where he is doesn’t appear until he’s been forced to take a position at the palace.

It feels weird, actually translating Japanese after so long. Part of her almost wants to speak Japanese, and has to remind herself not to. But her audience stays quiet, listening to her faltering voice as she translates part of the journal before the revelation.

Dammit, I wanted to be a musician. Given how my father was having all those money issues I was certain I’d be able to get out of this stupid ‘noblesse oblige’ stuff and do what I want, but no, he made a deal with an old friend and now I’m being offered up to the palace like a frigging dowry. I don’t care that my rune grades were top of the class, I just wanted to perform! I didn’t die two days before my music scholarship started to waste my chance in my second life!

A musician?” Keith repeats. “I guess that explains why the rune uses a song.”

A musical scholarship suggests he was also quite talented,” Gerald agrees.

Katarina nods. “The next entry seems to be after he realised where he was.”

And it starts with a mental breakdown that she’ll skip...

Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap. I wasn’t going crazy, all those idiots at school did look familiar – this isn’t just some random world, it’s that Time Tales All dating game world. I’ve ran into at least three guys I know my sister had posters of in her room, and now that I think about it, if I changed my glasses and maybe mussed up my hair I look a lot like that guy who always dies at the start .’

Posters?” Keith repeats. “There were posters of characters?”

Katarina nods and laughs. “Oh yeah, there was always lots of merchandise for those kinds of games, especially when the characters were so handsome.”

Gerald starts grinning. “Really now?  Did our dear Katarina have any?”

To his delight, Katarina immediately goes bright red, and quickly ducks back into the journal to avoid the question.  

The next entry looks like it was early morning the day after…”

I hate that any random thing can happen here just because ‘magic.’ Before I left home, my parents gave me a replica of the family crest. Apparently it’s been in the family since we became nobility. Created by our ancestor who was a master magician and got a title by helping the king or something. I vaguely remember my sister saying something about it being important, and tonight I learned why. When I was sleeping, I ended up meeting another version of me – from a year in the future or something. Apparently the medallion allows you to communicate with another version of yourself – I guess I wanted proof of what was happening, and he offered it. Told me all about how I’m going to die, but if I’m lucky, I’ll get saved by an amazing woman and live happily ever after if she chooses me.

...OH FOR FU -’

Katarina bites her tongue and readjusts.

He um, didn’t take that well.”

Excuse me, if? IF? I’m not staking my future on an if! I’m getting out of here before the plot starts. I’ve got a year, and maybe new magicians aren’t allowed to leave the grounds without an escort...and I’ll be hunted down as a traitor if I try to leave and my family will suffer the burden...but I’ll figure it out!

She stops and nods in understanding. “I guess it would be terrifying to know you’d die in a year unless someone you never met fell in love with you.”

And he could hardly explain this to someone without sounding mad either,” Gerald says.

But what’s this about his family and being declared a traitor?” Katarina asks.

Rules regarding nobility, especially in service of the King, were a lot stricter back then,” Gerald explains. “If his family had maintained their status with the expectation that their son would work in the palace for a certain number of years, an unexplained disappearance, or evidence that he’d fled the country, would result in those privileges being revoked. The only way he could escape without that happening is by faking his death...or jumping to another world.”

But that can’t possibly have been his first thought,” Keith says. “That’s an extreme solution. How did he come up with it, let alone pull it off.”

Well, maybe it explains it in the journal, hmmm...okay, so the next one is theorising about how he might be able to speak to a version of himself that already escaped, and then...”

So this might end up becoming a dream journal, given that everything useful happens when I’m asleep.

It looks like my suspicions were right on the mark. Tonight, I met a completely different version of me. Oddly enough, he’s from the exact same, guess the future part isn’t necessary. In his world, it looks like the old man didn’t manage to maintain his status, and we all got thrown out on our asses. So other Marty can go be a musician all he wants – except he doesn’t have any money for proper training, or anything to make him stand out with a tarnished reputation.

Enter an Isekaied millennial with a whole world of music to share. Now if I can just figure out a way to get to that world. Time to whip out the rune books.

Katarina stops and frowns. “Wait, in the game, Marty and the main character could only talk to their future selves.”

Given that everything regarding this rune seems to involve two worlds, it may be that it allows contact with the version of yourself that can provide what you want,” Gerald offers, and Keith nods – then stills.

So...anyone who slept with this medallion on their person would be able to contact a future or alternate version of themselves who could give them advice on how to obtain what they want.”

Gerald’s eyes immediately flit to the medallion on the table.

A way to talk to someone who had achieved the ultimate victory…”

Almost without thinking, he reaches forward, but before his hand touches the metal, he finds himself brushing against Keith’s fingertips, and they both look up with strained smiles.

I don’t think the Prince should risk touching something with such mysterious magic,” Keith says.

As your future Brother-in-law, it would be wrong of me to let you be the guinea pig either,” Gerald quips.

Oi, oi, nobody should be using it,” Katarina says, and to their dismay, quickly grabs the medallion from their soft grip.  “Although, this would really have come in handy eight years ago.”

Both of them look put out at the loss, but don’t argue or reach for it again.

Anyway, getting back to the point,” Keith says. “If that lets you contact another version of yourself...most people would want future knowledge, but Cress already knows the future, so that’s no good for him. He wants a foolproof way to escape...and the other Marty is looking for help to become a successful musician – and has his own copy of the medallion…”

It’s certainly an option. Please continue, Katarina.”

I would but…”

She turns the page to show them, and they both frown as they take in the multitude of rune sketches and awkward scribbles. “None of this really makes sense to me.”

Keith takes it from her hands and flicks through the pages. Every now and then there’s a short entry, but it’s hastily scribbled in, no doubt just a basic update. “We’ll probably be better off skipping these months until we get to the end of the plans.”

He stops when he finally sees a page with limited scribbles and hands it back. Katarina gives it a quick glance, and smiles.

Ah, good call Keith, this looks good. Okay-”

After some pretty awkward false starts, we think we have a functioning array. We will need something to hook to the rune to activate it, and we figure since we’re already connected by the sigil, we’ll use them. The plan is to make the rune, then walk inside, and wish to be transported to the other world while holding the medallion. Provided I’m holding it, so long as other Marty incorporates it on his end, it should work.

Wait, they need the sigils?” Keith asks.

That doesn’t make any senses!” Gerald argues. “It’s been locked away in storage, and we certainly didn’t have access to them.”

Katarina is already chewing on her lip in confusion, but her eyes light up as she continues reading.

...Okay so minor issue. Other me and I were discussing the plans, and I realised...we can’t test that this will work. Sure, maybe it’ll send me through, but maybe it won't and I’ll die horribly. The sigils are a no go. Need a plan B.

Ohhhhh…”

The sound is collective among the three, and Katarina skims through a few additional entries, all sounding frustrated, and her eyes widen as she turns the page. The next few pages are filled with maniacal scribbles – it looks like something out of a horror movie.

Ah...if I found this through casual researching, I’d think it was cursed ,’ Katarina thinks to herself, sagging in relief when the normal writing appears after several pages – if a little more erratic than it had been.

Okay, might have gone a little The Shining for a bit, but I think we finally have a working rune. Rather than a teleport style rune, we decided to go for a gate. By writing a song into the structure, we can use that as an activation. We’ll both have to play it at the same time, so we’ll have to coordinate that, but if it works, then we’ll actually be able to see it succeed. Given the circumstances, I figured we could use the theme song to Time Tales All. It’s kind of fitting, and I always did like the sound of it.’

Oh, I remember that!” Katarina says. “It was called something like ‘Bad End’ or something.”

And to Gerald and Keith’s surprise, Katarina starts humming the song Alan had been playing earlier.

If they’d had even the slightest doubt about her story, it was certainly crumbling to dust at this point.

However, when Katarina looks up and sees their faces, the sound cuts off, and she goes back to the book – reading before they can utter any request for her to continue.

Victory! We didn’t even need to play the song in tandem to get the thing open, just get it in harmony once we had the gate active. We tested it with a mouse, and the mouse made it through in one piece. Going to get things settled over here, and then jump through.’

Katarina turned the page, and her eyes widened.

MAIN CHARACTER JUST SHOWED UP! SCREW THE PLANS, GOING THROUGH TONIGHT! SEE YA OTOME MURDER GAME! WILL NOT MISS YOU!

The last line is underlined twice, and she raises her eyebrows before she closes it.

That seems to be the last entry,” she says. “Given that he didn’t reply, he must have successfully jumped through.”

Or he died in the process,” Keith says. “We don’t actually know it worked.”

He then leans back on the sofa, running a hand through his hair. “And unfortunately, while it does explain a few things, it hasn’t really given us anything we can use.”

Not necessarily.”

Keith and Katarina look up to see Gerald standing up, having reached across to grab the medallion.

If the rune works, then it’s likely this route works as well,” he says. “If one of us uses this device in the rune, we can get through without the song.”

But that route was never tested,” Keith says. “We have no way of proving that it’ll work.”

Gerald gives a soft laugh. “The very fact that we got through here using the phrase ‘I wish’ while using our alternatives as a focus means it will. The ‘wish’ requirement is all the proof we need. The problem is it’ll likely only work on one.”

So one of us steps into the rune, goes home and explains what’s missing,” Keith says. “We don’t know how the rune was sabotaged, but if nothing else, we can take the song through. That might be enough to figure it out.”

Keith nods. “It makes senses, but who do we send?”

Maybe I should-” Katarina starts.

No!”

That will not be happening.”

She squeaks and leans back as the other two spin round on her, looking frantic.

“I mean, I don’t want to,” she defends.  “There's something I planned to do tomorrow.  But since I can read the notes, I can probably help them on the other-”

You will not be going anywhere, Sis,” Keith says. “I’m not letting you out of my sight.”

While I wish I could say the same, I do believe it should be me,” Gerald says, looking down at the item in his hand. “While you can translate, I don’t want you anywhere near that other Prince given what he did.  Ignoring that skill, of the three of us, I’m the one most capable of figuring out what went wrong on their end.”

To their surprise, Katarina – looking unusually serious – starts to nod. “Well, if you don’t want to send me, I guess I agree with Prince Gerald.  He probably is the best choice.”

Really, Sis?”

That much faith in me, dear fiancee?”

Ah, I’m sure it’s safe,” Katarina insists. “But, if we’re going to be bringing the originals back soon, then there’s something I think me and Keith have to do first.”

Keith frowns. “There is?”

Katarina nods. “It might be kind of awkward, but I don’t think it’s right to leave things as they are. I’ll tell you about it tomorrow, and I won’t make you help if you don’t want to, but it would be best if we did it together.”

He can’t help but be suspicious, but Keith nods in compliance, then glances over at Gerald, who seems rather relaxed considering the risk.

Are you sure?” Keith said, sounding unusually reluctant. “We can’t guarantee anything with that.”

That alternative is waiting for the others to figure it out,” Gerald replies, eyes flitting over to Katarina for a brief moment. “And besides, waiting for ‘others to figure things out’ hasn’t had much success for me.”

Huh, what do you mean, Prince Gerald?”

Gerald just shakes his head, and smiles. “Besides, if nothing else, I very much want to have words with my other self.”

We should still wait till the morning though!” Katarina says, looking at the sigil with some worry, and the Prince nods.

I agree. We should probably leave the rest of these documents for the morning too – all of us could use more than a few hours of uninterrupted sleep at this point.

Keith frowns, before walking over and grabbing the medallion from Gerald’s hands.

In which case, I believe it’s best if this is not with you when you go to sleep, your Highness,” he says. “Don’t want you spending the night in conversation after all.”

Gerald quickly grabs it back. “I’m sure I can handle it.”

Keith quickly reaches over, and Gerald leans back. Katarina can only watch their antics with amusement.

Honestly, you’d think they weren’t smart, attractive guys, ’ she thinks to herself. ‘ Why on earth would you need support from another you to succeed? In romance or life, there’s nothing you can’t have.

Honestly, sometimes she really does worry about the intelligence of her friends.


Isekai World – Game Characters

The next morning, as the dawn breaks, Prince Alan snaps awake, his eyes wide in shock.

He knows where he’s seen that sigil before.