An Invitation to Another World – Part 02
He breathed in, and air flowed into his lungs. Oxygen traveled through his blood vessels, the heart, and to the rest of the body. A body with actual blood flowing was warm. His ears caught the sound of rain and his nose the smell of blood. As his vision came into focus, he found himself in a dim hotel room.
Hikaru was surprised by the vivid sensation of a physical body; it felt like he had never experienced this before. Propping himself up, he slowly rose to his feet. He studied his bloody palm.
“I’ve really come back to life…”
A second later, countless memories flooded Hikaru’s mind, mixing with the memories of his time in Japan. The trip back after taking photos at a festival, reading research papers about potions, climbing the school’s monkey bars, attending a ball for the aristocracy. He felt sick, like his memories had been altered.
His knees buckled, and he cradled his head in his hands. It was like copying a large number of files onto a well-organized computer and then immediately processing them using brute force. His head was burning. Two sets of memories were being partitioned.
“So that’s how it is…”
Hikaru was hit by a truck, and Roland was stabbed to death by an assassin.
Once the memories were neatly organized, Hikaru understood.
“Roland. You’re here, aren’t you?”
Hikaru heard a voice in his head. It was Roland N. Zaracia, the person who brought him to this world. This body belonged to Roland, and Hikaru’s soul was transferred to this vessel. Roland’s soul was still inside, though slowly fading away. He didn’t have much time left.
The stab wound had healed. Transferring Hikaru’s soul here generated a powerful life energy that healed the body completely. If Roland had been suffering from some kind of disease, it would have been cured as well. Without that kind of energy, it would have been impossible to put another person’s soul into a different body.
Hikaru wobbled to his feet and checked his reflection on a mirror. He saw the same Roland that he met in the afterlife, but there was something off. His hair and eyes were darker, and the shape of his face was slightly different.
“So this is me.”
“Your body will gradually modify itself.”
“Seems like it.”
Hikaru surveyed the room. It was well-furnished for a hotel, its interior design resembling luxury European hotels he had seen on television.
“Roland.” Hikaru had no intention of hiding his anger. “You tricked me.”
Yes, tricked. That was the best word to describe the situation.
Roland had asked him to grant his wish, giving Hikaru his body for that purpose.
Now that Hikaru had Roland’s memories, he learned about his intentions.
“I did not lie.”
“You still tricked me! You want me to kill someone?!”
What Roland wanted from Hikaru was to commit murder.
To kill Count Morgstadt.
To teach the man who ruined his family a lesson.
“You said you didn’t have much time.”
“That’s right. I can only stay here for another hour at most, since most of my soul is already gone after using the Soul Sucking Stone. I need to see this through to the end before I go.”
“What makes you think I’ll say yes?!”
“If you fail to kill the Count within an hour, I will reject your soul.”
Soul rejection. Hikaru already knew what it meant. A soul that couldn’t attach itself to a body would eventually disappear. And perish.
Back when he was still alive, he would have been skeptical about the existence of a soul, but he learned firsthand that there was an afterlife. And what it meant for a soul to disappear.
“I will be summoned to the heavenly realm, then judged whether I’m going to heaven or hell. But your soul doesn’t have that option. You will disappear, and that’s it.”
There would only be complete nothingness. Hikaru’s existence would be erased. A denial of his entire being.
“I hate your methods.”
“There was no other way for my wish to be granted. Letting that fiend live will ruin this kingdom—this world.”
Roland resented Count Morgstadt from the bottom of his heart. And right now, his feelings were being transmitted to Hikaru.
Perhaps that’s why he didn’t feel that reluctant in killing someone—in killing Count Morgstadt.
“So I have no right to refuse.”
Crying or whining wouldn’t change a thing. Hikaru only had an hour left here.
He had to do it. Kill and live on. He had already died once, but there was a part of him that wanted to come back to life. Everything has a catch.
“Fine. I’ll obtain new life with my own hands,” Hikaru declared.
“I’m glad to hear that. I can assist you a lot easier.”
“So, you want me to kill someone, but I don’t even know where to start.”
“You have a gift, don’t you?”
“You can call it God’s grace. That young man gave you something bright.”
Hikaru tapped into Roland’s memories. The light emitted by the pouch, which Roland called a gift, was something that was given after death according to the soul record of the person’s life up to that point. Those who possessed that light would develop special talents in their next life.
“Since you’ve seen my memories, you should know that they’re like talents that souls can utilize when they reincarnate. In this world, it would manifest as magical and special abilities, engineering skills, or physical gifts.”
Roland’s voice grew quieter.
“I’m running low on energy… From here on out, I’m just going to count the time down.”
Hikaru could no longer hear Roland’s voice, but although faint, he could tell that Roland’s soul was still with him. And he knew that the body was still linked to him. Hikaru was only renting, so to speak.
As Roland said, he could reject Hikaru’s soul if he wanted to.
Magical and special abilities, Hikaru mused. Do I really have those? He heightened his senses and looked deep within him.
He sensed something fuzzy in his chest. A second later, an A4-sized, light-green, luminous stone slab appeared before him.
“Wh-What is this?”
He heard Roland’s voice.
“Five minutes already?!”
He was getting distracted. But preparation was key.
This Soul Board must be some kind of magic or special skill, Hikaru thought. There was only a huge circle on it. The surface of the board was smooth, like a tablet computer.
“How does it work?”
When he touched it, a mechanical voice sounded in his head.
“Unlock Soul Board? Consume 1 point.”
He didn’t understand. But he had to use it to make progress.
Words appeared on the surface of the Soul Board.
The word Vitality was in the center of the board, branching out into four entries.
“Looks familiar… Is this a Skill tree?”
A system found in the single RPGs and MMORPGs he had played in the past. Hikaru loved games, both console and on PC. He especially enjoyed playing RPGs, but he was what was called an efficiency nerd. His playstyle was maximum efficiency with minimum effort.
A Skill Tree granted special abilities by spending Skill Points. In fact, the number 15 shown above was now down to 14.
“Do I have 15 points because I’m fifteen years old? Let’s just forget that for now. Think… What do I do with this? My objective is to get close to a nobleman. I need to get close to him first in order to kill him.”
Count Morgstadt should be on alert. He sent an assassin to Roland, but the assassin had not returned—he was here in this room, lying on the floor.
“Fifty minutes,” Roland’s faint voice announced.
“What do I spend my points on? Natural Recovery? No way. I’m not going for a drawn-out fight. In which case, both Stamina and Immunity are worthless.”
The only remaining entry was Perception.
“Sharpen the senses… Like sight and hearing? Sounds handy, but isn’t there usually stuff like Weapons or Magic Skills? No, wait…”
There might be something more to this thing… He examined the Soul Board.
“A tablet computer… which means…”
He touched the stone slab with a finger and flicked to the left, revealing a screen that displayed only a ◎ symbol—a double circle.
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