It’s that dream world again. I looked around fully expecting to see that Dragonkin woman. How does she always know when I am sleeping? That was a question for another day. Found her! Sitting on a throne again eh?
Just like the first time, the young Dragonkin woman was sitting on a throne and inspecting me as if I were a test subject in an experiment.
“Hi!” I waved to her and gave her a sarcastic smile, “thanks for disturbing my dreams yet again.”
“Tch.” She didn’t seem to like my greeting much, “is it so bad to have a beautiful woman enter your dreams?”
I guess I can’t argue with that, but let’s not tell her that, “you sure do think highly of yourself. What makes you think you’re so beautiful?” I gave her another one of my winning smiles. I really don’t like women who think too highly of themselves, even if what they are saying is true.
I laughed at her reaction, looks like I hit a nerve. I actually didn’t mind her too much but it was fun teasing her.
“Alright well If you don’t have anything to say to me then I am going back to sleep, bye!” That was a bluff, I had no idea how to leave the dream world but it worked as she seemed worried and jumped off the throne.
“Wait, please… I just want to talk.” I watched her for a moment and her expression became surprisingly lonely. She really did look worried that I would leave and I felt bad for teasing her.
“Alright, I’ll stay but why not be yourself, you don’t need to act all high and mighty. Where I come from, everyone is considered equal!” She looked at me thoughtfully and then nodded her head.
We talked for a while like that and even though it was a rocky start, she turned out to be much more of a sincere person than I thought. I still couldn’t get much information out of her, she was very guarded and I didn’t want to push her too much. I spoke to her of Earth and I asked her if there was anyway I could return home. She explained that there was no magic she knew of which could travel between worlds.
“You mean there’s no Demon King I need to defeat and then I can return home?” I meant it as a joke since a lot of light novels had such a plot, but she took my question seriously.
“Demon King? I never heard of a Demon King.” She scrunched up her face a bit as she thought about my question and I laughed, “How about a goddess who can send me back? Anything?”
She realized I was joking and hit me.
“We will meet soon. I hope you will accept me when the time comes.” I was confused by her words. What does she mean by that?
I didn’t have time to ask her because she suddenly disappeared and I returned to my dreams.
It felt as if I had only been sleeping a short time when I was awoken by Reia. By looking at the window I could tell that it was evening. She had returned from wherever she had gone and a few hours had passed. She sat down on the mattress next to me and showed me a ring she had in her hand. It wasn’t anything too fancy, just a simple gold band, but there was a rune engraved in it which would occasionally glow if you looked at it enough.
“There, now we can finally communicate” Whoa! I understood her, is this a magic ring? Nice! We don’t even have things like this on Earth.
“It’s such a relief that we can communicate now.” This was one of my biggest concerns but it was now resolved.
“That ring is a magic ring of communication. They are very expensive so that is why I asked for your strange magic tool earlier. I was able to trade it for the ring. You should sell some of your other possessions since you have no coins. It will be difficult for you otherwise.” This ring really was amazing. It seemed to translate everything she said so that I could understand her perfectly. There didn’t seem to be a single mistake in the translation!
“I’m happy that I can finally talk with you. The silence was really starting to get to me.” I had already heard her voice the other times she spoke but now that I could understand her, it was different. The ring seemed to even magically change pronunciation, grammar and vocal sounds.
“I am used to being alone so it didn’t bother me so much but I did want to thank you for saving my life when that beast attacked. I also want to apologize for thinking badly of you when we first met.” Her voice really was unexpectedly lovely.
“Psh! Don’t worry about it, you saved me too, so we are even. Plus, you’ve been helping me out this whole time, although I have to admit I was worried you were going to run off with my cellphone.” She laughed as if I was making a joke but I was partially serious.
“Well, are you feeling better now at least?” I nodded my head and answered, “much better now that I have had some rest and we are safe in this town.”
“Now that we can communicate with each other, I wanted to ask you a few questions.”Reia suddenly looked at me with a serious expression on her face. I should have expected something like this. We were not able to communicate before and I imagined that there was a lot she wanted to ask me. I wasn’t sure how much I should tell her, though. Would she even believe me if I told her the truth? Well, she had saved my life and she had helped me up to this point out of goodwill so I decided to trust her fully. I just hope she doesn’t think I’m crazy.
“When I was in the forest, there was a bright light that blinded me and when I could finally see again, you were there. What was that light? Was it magic? I have never seen anything like it before.” She asked me quite reserved.
“To be honest with you Reia, I don’t know what that light was.” Reia looked at my eyes, most likely to see if she could discern whether I was lying or not.
“You’re not lying to me, are you?” There was a hint of doubt in her question but it was to be expected given the circumstances.
“Come on! We went through a bunch of life and death experiences together already, you don’t trust me?” Her expression changed when she heard my response and she shrugged, “I don’t trust humans.”
There must be some history there. I wondered if Demihumans were mistreated by Humans. I didn’t see any Demihumans in the town, she was the only one. I could understand if people like her were mistreated. Here, differences were much more pronounced between the different species. If humans, who are of the same species, couldn’t get along with each other based on just race and ethnicity, I could imagine how humans might discriminate against the Demihumans that exist in this world.
“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that. I know that not all Humans are the same and you saved my life. If I can’t trust someone who saved me than who can I trust? You don’t seem like a bad person. Alright, I will trust you, for now. If you ever lie to me, I will never trust you again. Do you understand?” Her words were reasonable, I could accept that kind of pragmatism.
“Alright, then I will tell you what I do know, okay? I wasn’t sure at first if I should tell you because I didn’t know if you would believe me. I mean who would?” She gave me a quizzical look and she seemed very interested in what I had to say.
I took a deep breath and prepared myself. I wasn’t normally like this, I usually had something to say regardless of the situation, and usually a sarcastic remark or two. Coming to this world has put me in a difficult spot. I have been acting a little out of sorts, also being around such a beautiful woman makes me feel slightly embarrassed.
When I didn’t speak immediately she became impatient and prodded me on, “Tell me.” I nodded and readied myself to tell her everything.
“I am not from this world.” I said that and looked at her to see her reaction.
“I’m not quite sure I understand….”
“Umm, I am from a place called Earth.” No reaction from her.
“Earth? Where is that? Is that across the Great Plains?” She didn’t get what I was saying at all. I wonder if the people of this world understand the idea of a planet.
“No, Earth is the name of the planet I live on. Well, where I am from is nowhere on this planet at all. The world I am from is a completely different world where there is no magic and we have something called science.” She seemed to be thinking as I gave my explanation, but I wasn’t sure if she could fully understand.
“Let me try to explain it a different way. There are villages where people live and this here is a human town. This human town is probably part of some kingdom, right?” She nodded while listening to me intently.
“There are probably other kingdoms all around the lands here, and there are oceans and continents and other lands far away. Then all of that, all the land, water, kingdoms, towns, villages, forests, etc. are all part of what we call a planet.” She nodded again so I assumed she understood.
“You probably have a name for this world, this planet, right?”
“Yes, I understand what you mean by planet now, our planet is called Aergan.”
“Okay, right, well I am from a planet called Earth and not your planet of Aergan.” This time she gasped, looks like she understands what I am saying now.
“Then you are from somewhere among the sea of stars?” I guess these people thought of space as a sea or ocean. That was normal even for people on Earth in the past. They might have referred to space in such a way.
“I don’t know for sure, but, I guess that is the easiest way to explain it. Somewhere out there in the sea of stars is Earth, my home.” She was quite shocked at learning that, but I suppose she was willing to accept it.
“When I first saw you, I knew there was something strange about you. Your clothes, your strange tools and the way you just appeared in the forest. I also felt, something…. familiar, that drew me to you but I can’t explain it. It called out to me… and in that blinding light I saw an image of a strange place. I thought it was just an illusion so I didn’t say anything.”
“I don’t know much about that…. but it’s true, I am from another world. Where I come from, it’s relatively safe. We don’t have monsters or magic and we have very little to fear. Yeah, there are some dangerous things, mostly people who commit crimes or terrorists, but for the most part our lives are peaceful. There are no Demihumans like you either, only Humans.”
I could see that she was struggling with what I said. I had difficulty accepting this world so I didn’t expect she could just accept my words so easily.
After a moment, she finally spoke. “Even if I knew something was strange about you, I never would have expected this. It is difficult to believe but I don’t think you are lying to me. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be in your shoes. To be from another world….”
“Yeah, I don’t blame you, but it’s the truth. You saw my cellphone and my watch here, these aren’t things your world can produce yet. Not with the level of civilization here anyway. I don’t really have anything else to prove it so you will have to take my word for it.” I tried to sound as trustworthy as I could.
After I spoke, there was an awkward silence. We were both sitting on the bed since the room was small and I tried peeking at her from the corner of my eye. She seemed to be deep in thought, probably processing everything I just told her. We were both still filthy from traveling and fighting monsters so there was definitely a bad odor emanating from the both of us. I feel disgusting, I wish I could take a bath right now but at least Reia doesn’t seem to mind.
I decided to break the silence, “listen uh… Reia. Maybe I am overstepping here, and if I am just tell me, but now that you know my situation, maybe we can team up.”
“What do you mean?” Reia looked at me seriously and a little surprised.
“Well, I don’t know anyone other than you and I certainly don’t think I can survive alone just yet. I also need to figure out a way to get back to Earth if possible. You are an adventurer, right? Why don’t we become a team? I think we worked pretty well together in the forest.”
She finally sat up and I could tell she was considering my words. Seconds turned into minutes and she still hadn’t responded, I was beginning to think that maybe I overstepped when she finally spoke.
“But I have never worked with anyone before, especially not a human. Is it really alright, to work with me? I am a Demihuman and you are a Human…” That’s what she was concerned about? I didn’t expect that type of a response from her. She was more concerned about the fact that she was a Demihuman rather than the fact that I was inexperienced or might even be dangerous for all she knew.
Her response was really strange. I pictured Reia as a strong and confident woman, but when she asked me if it would be alright to work with her, it sounded as if she lacked confidence. Is this a problem with how her kind are treated in this world? Humans must really treat Demihumans like shit. I felt really bad about it but I still hoped she would accept my offer, otherwise I would be back to square one. I guess in a way I was using her, but I really was sincere in wanting to be her friend and partner. It wasn’t like I was going to slack off! This was much different from my job on Earth where I slacked off daily.
“Reia, I don’t really know much about this world or why you don’t trust Humans. I mean I have my suspicions but I don’t know for sure. So I can’t say that I understand whatever it is you and your people go through. All I know is, to me you are a person just like any other and I would be honored if you were willing to team up with me. No, actually, you would be like my savior. I am a stranger to this world, I don’t know anything about it.” I held out my hand to her and hoped she would take it. I was sincere, I meant every word. I was worried she would reject my offer, but I was worried for nothing.
She shook my hand and smiled, “Okay, let’s work together then. I hope you won’t regret this decision. It will be difficult for you to live alongside other Humans if you stay around me.”
“You don’t have to worry about that, I could care less what they think of me. By the way, Reia, why are Demihumans hated so much by Humans in your world?” This was something I had been thinking about but didn’t have a chance yet to ask.
She turned her back to me and looked as if she were thinking of what to say. It must be difficult for her to talk about this.
“It’s a very old story. Humans from the Empire claim that Demihumans caused the destruction of Human civilization. A long time ago, the Great Black Dragon King led the Demihumans in a war against Humans, neither side won and both were devastated. The Humans claim that we are monsters and not truly alive and so we must be killed… or controlled. They began a crusade against us and the Dragonkin and the old Demihuman tribes fought for our survival. This is something that happened thousands of years ago, I don’t know how much truth there is in it. It is a fact that there is animosity between our kind, but most Demihumans just want to live and fight because there are Humans that kill or enslave us.”
It was an interesting tale and I wondered how true it was, and then I realized something she mentioned, Dragonkin.
“What happened to the Dragonkin in the story?” I asked Reia immediately after thinking about Allein.
“The stories say they all died and none have ever been seen since. They are the only tribe that have ever united all others of our kind.”
“Really now?” I didn’t know if I should tell her about Allein or not, honestly, I wasn’t even sure if Allein were real or not. Those dreams felt real, but it wasn’t something I could be absolutely certain about. I might sound crazy if I mention it so I will keep it to myself for now.
“So the stories say, or so my father told me.” Reia turned back around and our eyes met. I thought I would see sadness there but instead I saw determination.
“Then what about you and your tribe? I haven’t seen any other Demihumans around Enrain but you seem to travel it freely.”
“That is because of the former king of this country. The last king was a kind Human who was saved once by my tribe when they first arrived in this land. My father and our tribe were exiled from the Plains of Sorrow around fifteen years ago and while looking for a new home, they happened to stumble on a group of Humans who were being attacked by monsters. My father ordered his warriors to save them, which was strange at the time. They couldn’t understand why my father would wish to save a Human but they listened to his command. That Human was the king of this country and because of that we were given free reign of the forest to live and tasked with keeping the monsters in control. Later, I was given permission to join the Adventurer’s Guild and the king outlawed the enslavement of Demihumans in his kingdom. There are still some lords who secretly keep slaves, but there are none out in the open. My people stay away from the Humans though, because there are always those who secretly look to enslave or kill us and the kingdoms around here aren’t as friendly to our kind as this one. Sadly, the king died recently and his son has become king, but his son is nothing like his father. I don’t know how much longer my tribe will be safe in this kingdom, but until we are no longer welcome we will stay. I am worried what he will do…” I listened intently to her words and it started to make more sense to me. My heart ached for the Demihumans, it wasn’t right what was being done to them.
Reia and I spent a couple more hours talking about this world Aergan and I also told her about Earth. For the first time since coming to this world I was enjoying myself even though some of the topics we discussed were heavy. It felt good to be able to have a conversation about Earth and to learn about different aspects of Aergan. It was comfortable talking to her, she listened attentively to everything I said.
This reminded me of a time when I was younger and I was still married to my wife, before she began to hate me that is. It really started to hit me, the fact that I was in another world. I mean, I knew it already of course. It was just that, with everything that happened so far, I hadn’t had time to fully realize what was going on. I was no longer on Earth, but my heart hadn’t yet caught up.
I thought about my daughter, my family, my friends, all those I left behind. Without a body, they wouldn’t even know if I was dead or alive. Would they wonder if I abandoned them? Would my daughter grow up without a father? Would someone else take my place in her heart? I choked up a little but I didn’t want to look unseemly in front of Reia.
Reia could tell something was wrong with me and she stopped talking, instead watching me. She asked me if I was okay, but I asked her to give me a minute while I sorted things out in my mind. I felt my chest tighten the more I thought about my precious little girl who I would never see again. I regretted not fighting harder for her. In truth there wasn’t much I could do with the legal system the way it is back on Earth, but I should have done something more.
My life had been sort of screwed up. My divorce didn’t end well and the mother of my child was trying to keep me away from my daughter. I took for granted a lot of things in my life on Earth but I always thought that even if everything was screwed up, that maybe I could turn things around with time. The reality is, though, that you never know when your time is up. I didn’t realize that soon enough, and now I didn’t know if I would ever see the people I love again.
Thankfully, Reia was patient with me and she understood that I was having difficulty with all of this. She really surprised me, even though when we first met she was brutally killing monsters, now she was very gentle and sincere. It was quite the contrast and I was glad that she didn’t turn out to be a bloody murderer. From what she told me about monsters, they weren’t truly living sentient beings but instead creatures created by pure magical energy,so I guess it wasn’t a big deal that we killed them.
I was truly fortunate that I had met her when I arrived here, otherwise who knows what would have happened to me. Most likely I would have ended up dead by that first monster that attacked, or some other gruesome fate. Eventually Reia told me to get some sleep and she left to return to her room. I couldn’t sleep just yet. I had too much on my mind and I just kept thinking about my little girl. I didn’t want to forget her so I engraved her in my mind.
I’m sorry baby, I don’t think I will ever be able to see you again. I couldn’t get that thought out of my head.