Chapter 1-1: A travelling entertainer-like person from a different world
This world was created by the Dragon God. It was named, Lapillus-Draconis, the Dragon God’s Jewel…or thereabouts.
Rather than it just being a creation story of the world, the Gods themselves were said to live here. I say ‘were said to’ because your regular ordinary commoner wouldn’t be able to meet them. Only those of royalty were allowed. For your regular ordinary commoner, they could only go to a temple and make a wish.
From the moment my consciousness awakened, I desired knowledge. If I didn’t get it, I would fall into confusion and go mad, starving for information. As I consumed a wide variety of information, I came upon a theory.
“Could it be…I was from another world in a past life…?”
I had memories of the past few years as Acht. My mother had been part of a traveling entertainer troupe, and was sometimes on stage as part of the show. The memories were hazy and not too reliable, but they were definitely mine.
Alongside those, I had memories of another self within me. I had no idea what kind of person those memories came from, but they were definitely the foundation of my current personality. If you looked at it another way, Acht lacked the knowledge and experience from which to derive a personality.
According to the non-Acht memories, I lived in a country called “Japan”. All the children attended school, and I was just one of many. In this world, however, if you didn’t have wealth or talent you didn’t attend school. There was a huge discrepancy between the two. Also in Japan, not many people practiced any particular religion. At the very least, it wasn’t a monotheistic country.
It could be that Japan was somewhere in this world and I just didn’t know where yet. That’s what I thought at first. But what really made me believe this was another world was a simple fact: in Japan, the ‘Human Race’ was the only intelligent life form.
“By that logic, I shouldn’t exist.”
Including the “Human Race”, there were many races that proliferated Lapillus-Draconis. The largest populations belonged to the “Elf Race”, “Beastman Race”, “Winged Race”, “Demon Race”, and “Fairy Race”, with the rest of the world populated by other minor races. Around me, the people of the traveling entertainer troupe, apart from those belonging to the “Human Race” like Clau, were the “Winged Race” with wings on their backs, and those of the “Beastman Race” with animal ears and tails. Even the leader of the troupe was of the “Giant Race”, who were just like humans, but twice the size.
And then there was me, who had the blood of the “Human Race”, “Elf Race”, “Beastman Race”, and “Fairy Race” flowing through my veins, known as a “Mixed Breed”. A “Mixed Breed” was anyone with a heritage of 3 or more races, and were generally hated. As such, since the different races aged differently, it was impossible to tell how fast a “Mixed Breed” would develop.
When I first heard that I thought, what the hell? Persecuting someone who had no control over their own birth, isn’t that just horrible? Japan didn’t have anything close to this in terms of social structure, and would have considered such persecution as an act of evil. But the more I heard, the more I understood the reason for the persecution. Not only did no one know how quickly a “Mixed Breed” would age, but things like lifespan, intelligence, and magic power were also unknown factors.
For example, from the moment one is born they may quickly age and die, or even be a baby for a hundred years then suddenly age; both were within the realm of possibility. Their magic power and intelligence could also be abnormally high or abnormally low. I had grown normally for the time being, but there was no way to know if I would see a sudden burst in growth or not, that’s the kind of being I was.
Abnormal growth wasn’t a disease, so others wouldn’t be affected. Even so, public order here wasn’t nearly as good as Japan’s, and in a world where a child won’t necessarily become an adult, they believe it’s better for those of mixed blood to not reproduce. That’s why I think we’re hated.
In my case, my body was currently aging at the same rate as the “Human Race”, but there would be a disparaging difference if my mind remained a child’s. If I couldn’t learn to speak properly, it would be difficult to lead my own life. Just a month before my mother of Fairy and Beastman heritage passed away, her intelligence and mind suddenly aged at once. Then her body, in turn, aged rapidly, disgusting those around her. A mix of people that despised and didn’t understand Mixed Breeds both felt the same way.
Even so, the fact that I, as a “Mixed Breed”, had not been killed led me to believe there must be principles against such acts.
“…And it’s a little too late to act like I belong…”
The Japanese were good at reading the mood. However, that ability was pointless when you were in a situation with too many unknown factors. In the end, all I knew was that I was a bit out of place among the travelling entertainers.
Before I remembered my previous life…back when Mama was still alive and I was a baby, some of the troupe would interact with me, but now it seemed they were keeping me at a distance. They were creeped out by a Mixed Breed like me that could age at any moment.
So if I started acting like a child now, I would just creep them out even more. However, it also wouldn’t do me any good to suddenly start talking fluently; then they would never not be creeped out by me. Thus, I just acted like the silent type. If I didn’t strike up a conversation with them, they might eventually stop being scared of me.
Even so, I was worried that such a day might never come to pass. If that turned out to be the case, I wondered what I could do from here on out to live an easy life. I thought it’d be nice if I could hide the fact that I was a Mixed Breed so that I wouldn’t be persecuted in the future.
I had sparkling golden hair and blue eyes, and looked humanoid, and I had the good fortune to be rather good looking. My mother was a beauty so I expected great things of my future self.
However, reality wasn’t so kind. There was a major feature all “Mixed Breeds” shared, a mark on their face, and I was no exception. Like a tattoo, I had two marks on my face, one purple and another yellow; undeniable proof of my mixed heritage.
In order to hide the marks on my face, I’d need a mask or a hood. But to wear such a getup… Even if I wasn’t a Mixed breed, I’d still be viewed as creepy and suspicious.
This was looking to be a hard world to live in. I had gotten the short end of the stick. It’d be nice if someone could just throw me a bone.
“Acht, Boss said I could come play.”
Hearing someone call my name, considering no one dared approach me, caused me to raise my head.
Clau’s head peaked into the tent, and when he saw me look at him, his face bloomed into a smile and he came running over. Even though I might change in the future, Clau wasn’t afraid of me. Even now when my mind seemed to have abnormally matured, since he was just a little older than me, he treated me like a little sister.
By the way, this kid that treated me like a normal child. Despite being part of a large family troupe, he only had his mother and the Boss. Truly, he was a very precious child.
“He said after we hand out flyers, we could play. Acht, let’s go!”
Smiling sweetly without even a hint of malice, Clau grabbed my hand and started dragging me out of the tent.
“Wait. I still haven’t finished polishing the knives!”
You had to work to be part of the troupe. My mother had worked diligently before now, and I would have been happy enough to be part of the freak show. However, even though my mother was gone, it didn’t seem as if I would be immediately tossed aside if I didn’t do any menial labor. And even though “Mixed Breeds” were rare, it wasn’t like there weren’t any others in the world, and they weren’t particularly unusual.
In any case, they needed skilled people able to attract a crowd.
A 5-year old girl like me probably couldn’t survive if I was kicked out of the troupe.
So while I spent my time trying to understand more about my situation, I cleaned and repaired the tools used by the other members of the group.
“But that’s Iris’ job. You don’t need to do it, Acht. Mom says ‘if you don’t take care of your tools of the trade yourself, you fail as a pro’.”
“But I must!”
I stated firmly and shook my head. Be that as it may, if I just abandoned the job I was asked to do, I had no idea how much they would harass me in the future. Unfortunately I was not a master of martial arts, nor a skilled assassin, merely a helpless child. If they struck me, I might seriously die.
And what’s more–
“They finally gave me a job to do.”
Iris was a good person. There wasn’t much a 5-year old could do, but even so she gave me a job. She may have just been sticking me with a job she didn’t want to do herself, but it didn’t change the fact that she had given me work.
Just by being here, I made people uncomfortable. All the more reason to do as much as I possibly could. If I didn’t, I really would lose the only place I felt I belonged.
I was the only one who would protect me.
“That’s why I said, Acht doesn’t need to do it.”
I shook my head again.
“No, if I wrap up the handles of the longer blades, they’ll be safer.”
“Wrap the…long blades”
Clau nodded his head as he repeated my words.
I was determined for Iris to be satisfied with my work, especially if it resulted in less injuries. If the tools could be wielded easier, or at least without injury, I should, in part, be able to secure my place here.
“Gotcha. I don’t really get it, but if you really need to do it Acht, I’ll help you.”
He sat down on the ground with a thump, then Clau took my cloth and began shining the blades. Having a child help me…should he happen to get cut, it would be really troublesome. But still, Clau was obstinate; he wouldn’t stop helping until he was done.
“I’m your big brother, so I’ll do whatever it takes to help you, Acht.”
He told me not to worry, then used his tiny hand to muss with my hair. His mother often did the same to him, so this was his way of showing affection, even though it turned my hair into a mess. It was a mixed blessing.
I hurried and got to work so we could finish soon, and took a knife with a dulled edge to a whetstone with some oil and began sharpening it. I didn’t know how to do this in my previous life, it was something Iris taught me briefly. Having done that, I suddenly thought she might actually be a nice person.
After every last blade had been cleaned of oil, I put away the toolbox, and wiped the sweat from my brow. For a child, this was pretty hard labor.
“Okay. Let’s go see Mom real quick.”
Weren’t we going to hand out flyers? I tilted my head as Clau stood and grabbed my arm.
“If we’re this dirty when we go, the guys in the village will look down on us.”
Ah, I see.
It was true, Clau and I had both gotten fairly dirty. Clau took my hand, and this time was able to drag me out of the tent.
Living with traveling entertainers, we lived our lives in and around tents. The tent I was just in was used as storage for tools and props.
All the low ranking workers slept in a single tent huddled up together, but those that made the big bucks could afford to have a private, albeit small, room. And sometimes when we were in a city and the earnings were good, those with the higher pay grade were given a room at an inn. Clau’s mother, as a master of the sword, was one of those top earners with her popular sword dances and mock battles. I normally would have slept with all the other low rank workers, but Clau’s mother was a friend of my mother, so she had me sleep in her room.
“Mom, we got dirty. Where are the towels?”
“Oh my. Dirty indeed. Clau, you’d best change your clothes, too. Acht, just wash your face and you’ll be fine.”
A woman with black hair was in the room. She was polishing her blades, and her face lit up when she saw Clau. She was a beautiful woman with sharp eyes, and she was cute when she smiled. Following Clau into the room, I bowed my head in greeting to her.
“It’s not my fault, it was Iris. She made Acht do her job.”
“No she didn’t.”
I shook my head behind Clau.
Normally, I was in charge of all the odd jobs. Cleaning up the tools and props was just another job. I did go a bit above and beyond by sharpening the blades, but I wanted to give my all to the tasks at hand. So it was wrong to say that Iris forced me to do it.
“Yes she did. Acht, you’re too nice to other people.”
“No I’m not.”
“All right, all right. I got it, you can argue later, go change your clothes now Clau. I’ll get a wet towel for you both. And Acht, Iris isn’t very popular right now, so toadying up to her won’t do you much good. If you want to brown nose someone, you should aim higher, get someone to take you under their wing.”
I wondered about that.
I tilted my head, feeling awkward. The ones most likely to bully me were the irresponsible ones like Iris. Unlike the popular people, Iris pushed others around. She was ever in a foul mood, so I’d thought this was the best way to get around it.
Of course if I garnered the favor of someone popular, it would be harder for someone to lay a hand on me.
But I didn’t think I would be useful to any of the more popular members as I was now. Maybe if I was a bit bigger and could do more heavy labor I could manage, but unfortunately the things I could do at my current size were few and far between.
And even if someone did take me under their wing, unless I gained a bit more knowledge, it’d be impossible to ascertain certain things.
While I muddled about that, I followed Alfa-san.
As we made our way to the washing station, there were a few troupe members chattering away here and there, however, as soon as they saw me, their chit-chatting stopped, and they exchanged uneasy glances. …Even if I tried to make nice with them, I’d already failed the first step. I sighed as we arrived at the washing station.
Even with the awkward atmosphere, Alfa-san didn’t mind or let it affect her. At the washing station were Beastmen ladies covered with scales who gave Alfa-san some water. She wet a towel and handed it to me.
“Come on, quit furrowing your eyebrows, hurry and wash yourself.”
“Thank you very much.”
“That’s fine. By the way, I already like you, Acht, so flattering me won’t get you anywhere.”
Oh, that’s right, Alfa-san is also popular, isn’t she? I eventually would have arrived at that conclusion, but not having thought that far, she’d hit the nail on the head.
“I can give you all kinds of work if you really want to work. But rather than just settling for that, you should think about taking others’ skills for yourself. That’s the fastest way to make sure you won’t get pushed around.”
So she means I should strive to become popular myself… In other words something impossible. Right.
Unable to fully understand, I wiped my face with the towel.
What Alfa-san said was absurd, but I was also thankful. If she hadn’t gotten a wet towel for me, I wouldn’t have been able to wash until my allotted bathing time the next day. If I had gone to the washing station myself looking the way I did, there’s no way the girls would have given me a towel. Being a Mixed Breed was enough to cause people to scowl at me, and trying to use the water well would have been extremely difficult.
I seriously had no luck.
When I returned to the room, Clau was already changed. He took a towel from Alfa-san and washed his own face.
“Yeah. We’re gonna go hand out flyers. And then, we’re gonna go play.”
“Ohho? All the more reason to wear some snazzy clothes then. I gave you such a cute face, you should show it off more often.”
“Eeeh? We’re gonna play after, so they’ll just get dirty.”
“Then play so that they don’t get dirty. And if you plan on getting them dirty, come back here and change into some play clothes first. We’re first class entertainers because we have good advertisers.”
Then Alfa-san brought out a costume that resembled a sailor’s uniform, almost like a sailor-style school uniform, and handed it to Clau. The collar was a sparkling blue, and it shined so much you could probably see it from miles away. She then brought out another set of kid-sized clothes.
“Here you go. Change your clothes too, Acht.”
Rather than blue, mine was a pink sailor uniform. She wanted me to wear something that contrasted nicely with Clau’s blue.. Clau’s uniform had pants, and mine had a skirt. Considering my age, it would be very charming, but with memories of my past life, I hesitated at the almost too adorable color combo.
…What should I do? ‘Cosplay’ was the only thing I could think about.
“Change your clothes.”
If it didn’t look good on me, I’d stick out like a sore thumb. No wait, I should be trying to think of this positively.
As this was also part of my job, I finally decided to disrobe. Despite the memories of my past life, I didn’t really have any aversion to getting naked. Clau was practically a sibling, plus he was only 6-years old. I just wasn’t at an age where it was something to get embarrassed about…
Speaking of which…what gender was I in my past life?
I had general memories, but when I tried to focus specifically on myself, it was mostly vague. It’s entirely possible that I was male in my previous life, despite being a female here.
But even if I put a lot of thought into it, it honestly didn’t really matter. As a Mixed Breed, it was incredibly unlikely I would even get married, much less have to worry about my gender in a previous life.
“Yes, as expected of my best friend’s daughter. You’re too cute! Now get going!”
She gave us a firm pat on the back to get us on our way, and kicked us out of the tent. I couldn’t help but be glad that I didn’t even get a chance to see how horrible I looked in the mirror. Yep, operation ‘ignorance is bliss’ was successful.
“Acht, let’s go!”
Clau hurried me along, and I nodded my head in agreement.
In my case, even though I was too young anyway, there wasn’t much shopping to do in town. For the whole month we’d been here, it was work all day, every day with no rest in sight, so it’d been awhile since I even came to town. Thus, there’s no way I wouldn’t want to come.
“This town has a fountain that a lot of people go to. If we hand out flyers in front of some weird store, they might get mad at us, so let’s go to the fountain.”
So that’s how it is, huh?
The thought of handing out the flyers there caused a memory to resurface in my mind of people handing out free tissues in front of the train stations. There were usually shopping districts by the stations, so that’s where the advertisers would go. It made sense since a large number of people would pass by, increasing the chances of handing out one’s advertisements.
When I tilted my head to the side, Clau explained further.
“If you want to do business by stores with a lot of people, you have to give an apple…application? to an important person.”
“What important person?”
” ’Dunno. It’s okay. No one will get mad if we go by the fountain.”
He was right. The area around the fountain was like a park, which would gather plenty of people in its own right for us to solicit.
We headed for the fountain, making our way past the shopping district. There was a slight change to the ambiance in the shopping district, with its grounds laid with tiles. The brick buildings were all lined up uniformly in a row. It was like Europe in the Middle Ages, with carriages periodically speeding by.
“We should hold hands so we don’t get separated.”
The shopping district was certainly a place you could get easily lost in, and there were plenty of people walking around.
I heard before that the majority of the population in this country were part of the Winged Race, so there were many ladies showing off their wings while they walked around. There were some from the Winged Race in our troupe, and at the time I thought they resembled angels from my past life. But these wings were practical and super convenient, able to expand and contract, and most of the men kept their wings small and under their clothes, rarely showing them off. Indeed, if I had wings, I imagine they’d get in the way when I slept and inevitably rolled onto my back.
Although it was a fantasy world, the reality of it was a little disappointing.
“Clau. What kind of shops are here?”
The carriages were like buses and trains, and used by the average citizen, however, the only people disembarking at these shops seemed to be the rich and noble. This could only mean that this shopping district catered to those of the upper class.
“Umm, this one’s a Restaurant, that’s one’s a General Store. There’s also a Magic Item Shop and a Jewelry Store, and somewhere around here is a Weapon Vendor.”
It was almost like an RPG world, with its Magic Item Shop and Weapon Vendor, and I wondered if children were allowed in the stores.
From a Japanese point of view, this world seemed to be like a game, populated with all sorts of fantasy races with the ability to use magic. Those that qualified to enter schools would become Magicians, those that didn’t were simply magic users. If they passed a test, a magic user could become a Magician, however the test was so difficult that within our own troupe we only had magic users.
Even a normal person could use simple magic tools, so given the chance, I’d love to at least be able to touch one. After all, my soul had crossed dimensions, the likes of which people could only dream about, and magic itself seemed like an impossible dream realized. It couldn’t be helped.
“There’s also a Medicine Store, and…um. Oh right. The Boss called it an ‘Ethereality’ Shop.”
What kind of shop was that?
I tilted my head while I raked the dictionary in my brain. Either Really? Other Realty?
“They sell things from the Ether, um, stuff made in another world.”
“…Things like that exist here?”
In other words, it was something like an “Other Worldly” shop. The minute he said ‘another world’, it clicked in my brain like a lightning bolt.
“Yep. They sometimes wash ashore in Cognac. It’s mostly junk no one knows how to use, but some fanatics pay a lot for them.”
Ethereality, other worldly. Maybe these non-Acht memories were just my imagination…but maybe they were real.
My heart started pounding. Maybe I knew that other world. Maybe something would show me that all this stuff in my head was for real.
Anxiety and excitement mixed together.
“Acht, wanna go later?”
Clau read me like an open book. Still, at Clau’s invitation, I nodded my head without a second thought.