Tsuujou Kougeki ga Zentai Kougeki de Nikai Kougeki no Okasan wa Suki desu ka? (Do You Like Moms Whose Regular Attacks Hit the Entire Enemy Party Twice?) is a 2017 light novel written by Inaka Dachima, illustrated by Iida Pochi and published by Fantasia Books. I don’t usually read light novels, but when I came across the description in a Japan Today article, the premise sounded so ridiculous that I just had to read it. Luckily Fantasia Books has provided a free preview of the first two chapters right here.
I read it and it’s… not quite was I was hoping for (more on that in a future post) but I liked it well enough. And I figured since Fantasia Books released the first two chapters for free, they wouldn’t mind too much if I did a quick translation just for fun, would they? They probably would, so let’s just keep this between us. Please don’t repost this anywhere. If you find any typos leave me a comment, thanks. Chapter 2 will be out in a day or two.
[Award-winning work] “Do you like moms whose regular attacks hit the whole enemy party twice?” Author: Inaka Dachima
Artist: Iida Pochi
“Do you think you would get along with your mom if you went on an adventure with her?” “Let’s have lots of adventures today, okay Makki?” Masato Ooyoshi’s greatest wish comes true: he gets transported into a game world! But for some reason his doting mother Mamako comes along too! It’s the start of a new adventure comedy, complete with mom in tow!
Answers from a certain young boy.
Question: Do you get along well with your mother?
We’re okay, I guess.
Q: What do you talk to her about? How much time do you spend talking?
Q: Has your mother said anything recently that made you happy?
Q: Has your mother said anything recently that made you upset?
I really hate me when she calls me by my nickname.
Q: Do you go out shopping with your mother?
Q: Do you help your mother at home?
In spirit, yeah.
Q: What does she like?
Chores and bargain sales.
Q: What does she hate?
The roaches in the kitchen.
Q: What are her good points?
I’m sure she has has some somewhere.
Q: What are her bad points?
She has a lot of those too.
Q: “Do you think you would get along with your mom if you went on an adventure together?”
Dunno. We might, I guess.
I may have forgotten to turn off the gas. Then forget about me and go home already.
“Have you all finished answering the questions? Then collect the sheets and bring them to me, starting from the back.”
Following the directions from the male teacher at the podium, the student in the very last seat started collecting the sheets.
The students were filling out what was known as the “Parent-Child Awareness survey.” It was a booklet printed on high-quality paper, not cheap copier paper. It gave off the air of a very important document, like a question sheet for a nation-wide academic survey.
Which was only natural, since it was that kind of survey. It was a survey being carried out by the Cabinet Office’s Director-General for Policy Planning (Department for Policy on Cohesive Society) to learn more about the current state of the youth. In other words it was a matter of government policy.
“I must say I’m surprised our school was chosen to take this survey. You guys have been chosen to represent the youth of this country, you know. That’s a great honor. You should be proud of yourselves,” the teacher said with some feeling.
His students didn’t quite share his sentiments. Having been kept from going home after school and instead forced to fill out this survey, their feelings were more along the lines of “Honor, my foot!” “You’ve gotta be kidding me!” and “Cut the crap!”
Masato Ooyoshi was one of them.
(I can’t wait to get home and play games. Stop wasting my time, dammit!)
He scratched his head in frustration and sighed deeply.
Okay, now calm down. I’m done filling it out. That’s good enough. I just have to give it to the student collecting them and I’m done. There we go.
All done. Now forget about that and think about MMORPGs. Should I grind like crazy to collect rare items to craft equipment with a 100% success rate or use normal ingredients with a 70% success rate instead? Well, that’s what he wanted to think about, but…
Something was bothering him.
“…What the heck was up with that question?”
He just couldn’t stop thinking about one of the questions.
Q: “Do you think you would get along with your mom if you went on an adventure together?”
That was one of the questions on the survey he had just filled out. A dumb question like that on a government policy survey? Seriously?
“The guy who wrote those questions must’ve been dumb. Real dumb.”
Just when you think Japan is advancing, they pull a stunt like that. It’s enough to make you cry. Well, whatever. It’s all in the past. Time to go home and play all the games I want. Looks like we can go home now. Welp, off I go.
Just then the teacher muttered, looking through the forms.
“…Yup, I knew someone would do it. You weren’t supposed to write your name on the last page of the survey but someone did it anyway. Not gonna say who, though.” Something like that.
“Huh? Did I… No, probably not… Whatever, I just want to play games!”
He felt like the teacher may or may not have been looking at him but he quickly left the classroom anyway.
Several days later, on the weekend…
Masato got home after a half-day of school to find a pair of shoes, a pair of women’s pumps in the entryway.
His mom had several pairs of the same type, but these were neatly lined up in the middle of the entryway so they must belong to a visitor. He could hear cheerful voices from the living room.
“One of Mom’s friends? Should I go say hi?”
Should he take the chance to score some points as a dutiful son? Or would he be better off skipping a pain in the neck duty like greeting his mom’s visitors?
He debated the matter briefly , but his mind and body were both in agreement that the true best course of action would be to play video games in his room. He decided to pass straight by and quietly sneak through to the corridor…
…in his dreams.
“Those footsteps! It’s Makki, I just know it!”
The living room door burst open and Mamako Ooyoshi looked out.
The sight of her gave Masato no small deal of shock. Even her own son couldn’t help having some doubts whenever he saw her face.
(Is this… is she really a mom? My mom?)
Why? Because Mamako looked young. Really young. She looked way, way too young for the part.
There wasn’t a single wrinkle at the corners of her smiling eyes and her skin was always smooth and supple. Her long wavy hair was silky smooth, cuticle-free and full of shine and bounce.
She wasn’t his stepmother either, she was a normal housewife and mother pushing forty with a son who was a high-school freshman, but amazingly enough Mamako looked young enough to easily pass for a teenager.
(I’ve heard of rolling back the years but this is ridiculous. What is wrong with this mother of mine?)
Her youth bordered on the level of supernatural phenomenon, which made it all the harder for him to see her as his mother. Honestly she made him a little uncomfortable.
Yeah, that’s it. Uncomfortable. It wasn’t “dislike” or any other clear sense of rejection. She was just hard to deal with, hard to keep the right distance from so he just preferred to keep her at arm’s length. Something like that.
Unfortunately she had no idea of his feelings on the matter.
“Welcome back, Makki!”
With a sweet, lazy smile on her face, Mamako approached confidently, certain that Masato was glad to see her. Close… too close… way too close.
“Okay, okay, you got me. Now gimme some space!”
“Sorry dear. And how was school?”
“Nothing special? Did anything bad happen?”
“S-so it was just as much fun as ever… yes? Oh, right! Have you had lunch? I’ll make you something if you’re hungry.”
“Fine? ….You don’t want lunch? Did you eat out with a friend? Is that why you’re not hungry?”
“Yeah. And why are you bugging me now? Don’t you have a guest?”
“Oh! Oh no! She’s a very important visitor. Come say hi, Makki. I want her to meet my precious baby boy. Okay?”
“Pass? …Does ‘pass’ mean you’re coming to say hi?”
“Pass means I’m not coming, don’t play dumb. …Sheesh.”
Who would want do something that annoying? Turning his back on Mamako, Masato made to pass right by the living room. But as he glanced towards the living room, his eyes just happened to meet the gaze of the visitor inside.
“What’s this? It looks like your son is home.”
The visitor didn’t seem like one of Mamako’s friends who had just popped round for a visit. She was a cool, intellectual-looking young lady with black hair and a skirt suit. He thought for a moment she might be an insurance saleswoman but… something told him she didn’t belong to any ordinary organization.
The woman quickly rose and strode over to Masato with light steps, holding out the ID card hanging from her neck: “Survey personnel, Director-General for Policy Planning (Department for Policy on Cohesive Society)”
“Pleased to meet you. I’m Masumi Shirase. This is a visit from the Cabinet Office concerning the survey we recently carried out. But don’t worry, it’s nothing serious. Or should I say… Shi-ras?”
“Uh, h-hi… and what’s with the sudden pun?”
“I’ve been teased about my name since I was little so now I take the lead in making fun of it myself. Don’t take it so… Shi-rasly.”
Looks like she took the wrong turn in trying to overcome her little complex.
Meanwhile Mamako was making another unauthorized approach into Masato’s personal space. She really had no sense of distance, she just assumed her son would be totally fine with it.
“You know, Makki, you know, Miss Shirase’s survey is…”
“Wait, you mean that Parent-Child Awareness survey?”
“Wow, amazing! That’s the one! How did you know?”
“We filled it out at school the other day.”
“Huh… Y-you did? You never said a word about it.”
“I don’t have to tell you everything. And back off a bit.”
He pushed back his mom who was all over him like a pet longing for some affection.
“Are we all done with the survey, Miss Shirase?”
“No it’s not over, just paused since you got up as soon as your son came home. You must really love him.”
“Oh yeah? Too bad I don’t feel the same way.”
“Whaat? You really love me, don’t you Makki? I really…”
“Oh shaddup already. And back off again. And stop calling me that embarrassing name. How many times do I have to tell you? You just never learn.”
“B-but Makki will always be my little Makki. I’ve always called you Makki so I can’t help calling you Makki but if you don’t like being called Makki then I’ll find something else to call you other than Makki…”
“Aaaaah, shut up!”
He moved away from Mamako, who just kept coming closer no matter how often he pushed her away.
“Uh, so, Miss Shirase. You can go ahead with the survey. I think you’ll have your hands full with my mom, though.”
“Very well. Let’s continue, ma’am. However, since the purpose of this survey is to collectively evaluate the separate opinions of parents and their children…”
“You don’t want each side know what the other is thinking so you don’t want me hanging around and eavesdropping, right?”
“That’s right. I just wanted to let you know what was going on first. I take my job very Shi-rasly, you know.”
“Uhh, thank you. Hmm, my mother’s thoughts, huh?”
Being told not to listen in suddenly made him a little curious.
What if they discussed about how his mother really felt about him?
(Okay I guess I am a little curious to hear what she thinks of me.)
But this was an official government survey. There might be a huge problem if the wrong information got out just because Masato listened in on it. Better do as she said.
“All right then. I’ll be locked away in my little room.”
“Thank you for understanding. When we’re done I will Shiras-ly come up and let you know so please stay in your room until then.”
“Gotcha. See ya.”
“Wait, Makki! What should I call you from now?”
Nimbly dodging Mamako as she tried to cling to him, he made his way to his room on the second floor.
After he had left, in the living room… Mamako wiped her tears away with a tissue, blew her nose, wiped away some tears, blew her nose again and used up a whole box of tissues that way while openly lamenting the woes of mothers with sons.
“I know how he feels, on some level. He’s in high school now. It must be embarrassing to be all buddy-buddy with your mom at that age.”
“I’m sure that’s part of it. That’s one of the things we’ve learned through our surveys so far. It’s a general trend so don’t take it too Shiras-ly.”
“I know, but I still want to be his friend anyway. He’s my only son and I’m his only mother.”
“It’s only natural for a mother to want to get along with her son. I have a daughter of my own so I understand how you feel.”
“Oh I see… So you’re a mother too?”
“Yes. I have a five-year old daughter. They’re a bit of a handful at that age.”
“Five years old… Yes, they’re old enough to walk around and talk about all kinds of things. Clinging to your leg and going “Mommy!” and…”
Her face clouded as she remembered her son’s childhood.
“I wish we could go back to that stage but Makki isn’t having any of it. We bought him a computer as a present for getting into high school and he’s been obsessed with online games ever since. We hardly even talk any more.”
“I see. Sounds like you get conversations full of “Nothing,” “Not really,” “Yeah” and “Okay,” but that’s pretty normal for a teenager. Why not just give him a little space, Mamako?”
“I don’t know… I just can’t get it right and…”
“I see. This seems like a stereotypical household with a teenager. It’s almost ideal just how complicated things have become. Hmm…”
Shirase fell into thought for a minute, quietly made a decision and took out a document from her bag.
She placed a document with the heading “MMMMMORPG (temporary name) Registration Form” in front of Mamako.
“Oh! Y-You mean you’ll accept my application?”
“Yes. I believe the Ooyoshi family meets the criteria to participate in this program so we’ll allow you to take part. Please get ready as soon as possible.”
“R-right! What will I need? Oh, Makki will need his shoes! Oh, but first I should tell him about it!”
“I will inform him. That’s my job. This is Shi-ras business, after all.”
“… Or so I said I would, but sometimes I Shiras-ly forget to tell people what they need to know. Shirase here, just trying to show off her playful side.”
“Huh? At least make some sense if you’re gonna pop up behind me!”
Masato suddenly heard a voice behind him as he played an online game in his room. He turned around to see Shirase behind him.
“You should at least knock.”
“I didn’t want to break your concentration, so I used a silent knock.”
More nonsense, of course.
She continued to speak, looking at the screen with cool eyes.
“An MMORPG, huh?”
“The 3D animations are very fluid. I bet your PC has both an HDD and an SSD and a good graphics card as well. The case fan has just the right level of loudness. And you’ve got good taste, picking a low input lag monitor.”
“Uh, thanks, I guess? But it’s my mom who bought all these for me. She said some kind person recommended them. Do you know a lot about computers, Ms. Shirase?”
“I stopped going to school for a while because I hated being teased about my name. That’s when I learned a bit about computers. Somehow it felt like only my PC operating systems understood me, so I tried to understand them in return.”
“You really didn’t have to tell me about your embarrassing past, you know.”
“I like to tell people things they Shi-rasly didn’t want to know. That’s the Shirase way. Now back to business.”
“I take it you’re done with the interview?”
“Yes. And I’m here to tell you that you’re going to be living a new life from now on.”
“I… I am?”
Masato was so busy being exasperated by this woman’s nonsensical statements that he let his guard down for a moment, and that’s when she struck! With a swift motion of her arm, Shirase reached forward and pressed the Esc key on his keyboard. The game window closed immediately. Then, leaning on Masato from behind so her breasts squished against the back of his head, she seized control. Opening the browser, she entered the following URL:
“Ack! H-hey, what are you doing? What kind of site is that?”
“I’ll ask you just one thing. According to the survey we carried out, a lot of online gamers would like to visit a video game world for real. Are you one of those, Masato?”
“W-well I guess I would if I could but, that’s…”
“What would you do if I made it happen right now?”
Impossible… the word started to form in his throat but he couldn’t get it out.
As soon as she hit the Enter key, a torrent of light burst out from the low input lag monitor. Closing in like a relentless tsunami, it engulfed Masato in a flash and began to drag him into the monitor.
“T-this is… Are you serious?”
“You’d better believe it! It’s exactly what you think!”
“I’m really going into a game woooooooooooooorrrld!”
He stopped trying to resist. Letting go of the desk he had been grabbing for dear life, he let himself go with the flow.
It should have been impossible for him to enter the monitor, but he felt his body begin to slide inside. Just then…
That sounded like Mamako’s voice. Did she run over when she heard him yelling?
It was so bright he couldn’t see clearly. He turned in her direction and whispered.
“Sorry Mom… I’m going away for a bit.”
Why did he apologize? Because he felt bad, that’s why. His dad was away on a job transfer so it was just the two of them. She would be all alone if he went away too. It wouldn’t be right. Part of him didn’t want that to happen.
After all, it’s not like he disliked her or anything, though he would rather die than admit he actually liked her. She was the only mother he had. On some level he wanted to do right by her. He did think about her happiness sometimes, and he did try to fulfill the wishes and expectations she had of him.
It was just hard to express those feelings in words and actions. Something in his heart always held him back. That, and he didn’t really see such a young-looking woman as a mother so he found it hard to deal with Mamako. That was the problem he was dealing with at the moment.
“I’m going to have lots of adventures and get way stronger… then I’ll be able to be more honest with my mom… At least I hope that’s how goes…”
He would be back someday. And then he would be a kinder soul, having overcome all embarrassment. He would love to give her a big hug as he whispered, “I’m home, Mom.”
With such warm thoughts in his mind, Masato crossed the barrier into a world he’d never imagined he could actually enter.
He touched down.
It was a completely different place from the room he had just left. He found himself standing on a stone altar on a corner of an island, one island among many floating through an endless sky.
A magic circle still glowed faintly under his feet.
Something small ran by his foot. A lizard. An eight-legged lizard.
The little create breathed out a small burst of fire to threaten Masato then, satisfied with that display of bravado, ran off as fast as its many legs could carry it. There was no such animal in Japan, that was for certain. Or anywhere else on earth, for that matter.
He had to believe it was real.
So this was the world inside a game? A fantasy game? Really? Really!
And with that, Masato went,
He’d made it! He really made it! He was in another world! This was unreal!
At long last, at long, long last it was finally time for him to shine!
“Aww, Makki. I told you to wait for me but you didn’t. I was so sad.”
He turned at the sound of the familiar voice to see a young girl standing behind him.
She was dressed in a lovely shift dress and carrying a large traveling bag so full the zipper wouldn’t close, looking clearly like someone about to set off on a trip. Hey, waitaminnit.
She just looked like a young girl but she wasn’t actually all that young.
After all, this was no ordinary young lady; this was Masato’s mother Mamako.
“Huh… W-what… This isn’t… This can’t be happening…”
“Let’s have lots of adventure together, okay Makki? Tee hee.”
“WHAAAAATTTT THE HELLLLLLLL?!!”
Somehow his mom had joined him on the trip into the game world.
Seriously? Was he imagining things? No, no way, it couldn’t be…
But it was.
“This way, Makki. I’ll show you around.”
“Uh… umm… yah.”
All he could do was start walking. Plodding along automatically as she pulled him by the arm.
They crossed over carefully-placed stone bridges from floating island to floating island until they reached a much larger island.
A solemn-looking palace with a domed-roof building at its center loomed ahead of a road lined with statues of gods. Looks like that’s where Mamako was taking him.
(Okay Masato, calm down. Keep your head on. Think. Get a grip on the situation.)
What on earth was going on here? What kind of situation was this? He could tell from everything around him that he had definitely been transported to a fantasy game world, no two questions there. But his mom was there too. He had to do something about that. That was the first challenge to overcome. Right, then.
“S-so, uh, Mom? Why are you…?”
“Here we are! We have to do an event here first. Let’s give it our best shot!”
He was too busy being dumbfounded to notice, but it seemed they had arrived at the event flag point at the end of a corridor.
In the middle of the palace, at the center of a large circular hall, an old man sat expectantly on a throne. He had a solid, well-built physique and was dressed in gorgeous finery topped with a robe decorated with gold and silver thread. On his head was a crown festooned with precious jewels. His hair was white as snow. He was the very epitome of a king.
“It’s good to see you. I am the King and the owner of this Palace of Transportation.”
What a booming voice!
He said he was the king so he must be the king. There were no soldiers or courtiers or anyone else around but he was the king.
“I’ve been waiting for you! Thank you so much for coming!”
“Thank you very much. We were very honored to receive your invitation. …Go on, Makki, greet the king.”
“Uh, umm… Hello?”
At Mamako’s prodding he knelt perfunctorily before the throne and bowed his head. Just doing as he was told.
The king looked them over with a warm smile and gently continued.
“Let’s start with introductions. Why don’t you tell me your names?”
“My name is Mamako and this is my son Makki.”
“So you’re Miss Mamako and this Master MySonMakki? Then I’ll register you as such…”
“H-hold on a minute, Mr. King! My name is Masato! Masato, okay?”
“I see. The mother is ‘Mamako’ and the son is ‘Masato.’ Is that correct? Then I will proceed with the registration.”
He slowly raised his hand up. Two window screens appeared in mid-air. A name registration screen appeared in each window and the king entered Masato and Mamako’s names.
“Hang on… that looked like… a new account registration?”
“Correct. For the record you can’t make any changes once you’ve been registered.”
“Why didn’t you tell meeeeeeee?!”
Getting carried away and using your real name for an account. That happens a lot. And you can’t change your username afterwards. Yup, happens all the time. Masato thumped the floor in frustration. Thank goodness the floor was there to bang on.
Thump! Thump! Thump!
“M-Makki! Please stop banging on the floor! You’ll disturb the people downstairs!”
“Ho ho ho. There’s no one living down there so thump away, young man. Now that the account registration is out of the way, let me give you some basic information. Take this.”
With a light movement of his fingers, the king slid the screen smoothly through the air towards them. On the display were their basic stats.
Masato’s account name was “Masato.” So they did use his real name. And his class was “Ordinary Hero.” His attack and defense stats were there too, along with words like “Combatant” and “Cannot craft.”
He peered at his mother’s screen and as expected her account name was “Mamako.” Her class was “Ordinary Hero’s Mother.” She also had “Combatant” and “Cannot craft” on her screen.
There was a lot he wanted to say about this but first things first.
“Excuse me, my class says ‘Ordinary Hero.’ What does that mean?”
“Ordinary means ordinary.”
The king shut his eyes thoughtfully and smiled gently.
“It means you won’t be saving the world or anything grand like that. You’ll just live an ordinary, friendly, happy life. That’s what you, Ordinary Hero Masato and you, Ordinary Hero’s Mom Mamako, will be aiming for.”
With those kind words explaining their goal, he pointed far off into the distance.
“Now go, Hero!”
What a moving, dramatic line!
“All right, let’s do this! …Waitamminit! I can’t just go like that!”
Go where? And do what? It didn’t make any sense at all.
“Of course not! Give me a proper explanation! I don’t have a clue what all this is about!”
“Very well. I will explain. Pay close attention.”
The king cleared his throat and continued.
“To put it briefly, this is a test session for a closed beta for an online game that uses special technology I can’t really explain to transport the user’s body into the game itself.”
“Test players are usually carefully selected based on the results of a survey carried out, but there have been cases of some unfortunate souls being chosen because they put their names on a survey that was supposed to be anonymous. They were chosen because they made it easy to find them. I’m not going to mention any names, though.”
“Hee hee hee. That’s so silly; I can’t believe anyone would do something so… Huh? It-it can’t be…”
…Or could it? The way the king spoke made it sound like his suspicion was right. Or was he just imagining it? Let’s pretend he was just imagining it.
“Moving on, this game is only at the play-testing stage so it does not have an official title yet. For that reason it’s being called ‘MMMMMORPG (temporary)’ for now.”
“Does that stand for Massively (X5) Multiplayer blah blah blah? Sounds like a parody.”
“It’s a fantasy MMORPG featuring features a lot of potential job classes, divided into Combat and Non-combat classes. You can choose to fight or you can play casually, craft items or just decorate your house. It’s designed to let you play freely any how you want.”
“But I’m already…”
“Indeed. We put you in a class no one had chosen yet in order to collect actual test data. And you can’t change that either. Try not to get too upset.”
“So much for my so-called freedom. So this is what the world is like…”
Completely absurd and endlessly unfair. That’s life.
But it was still an incredible honor to be chosen for a beta test run. And a full-dive test run to boot. He was happy about that, at least. Forcing himself to look on the bright side, Masato rose up.
“Hmm. Okay, I guess I’ve got the basics down. Basically this is an online game.”
“Correct. I’m glad you understood it so quickly. Are you all right as well, Miss Mamako? Do you understand how this game works?”
“Hmm? Do feel free to ask if you have any questions. I’ll tell you what I can.”
The king sounded so warm and inviting that Mamako, who had been looking confused, ventured to ask a question.
“Um…. what’s an… ‘account’?”
“Whaaaat? You don’t even know that?!”
The king and Masato yelled in unison.
“I… uh, see… Let me ask you, Miss Mamako, what do you think an account is?”
“An ‘account’ is, umm, an…”
She sank deep into thought and then finally smiled as if she’d got the answer.
“It’s like ah-ah-ah-ah, right?” she said, counting the ‘ahs’ off on her fingers. Evidently she believed ‘account’ meant counting how many times you said ‘ah’.
Riiiight. That’s how low her level of game knowledge was.
The king turned to Masato, still smiling gently.
“Master Masato, I leave Miss Mamako to you. Good luck.”
“H-hey waitamminit! You can’t just run away! Do something!”
“There is nothing I can do!”
“How can you refuse with such bold authority?!”
“Because… I am an NPC! I cannot say anything I am not programmed to say! My job is to provide an initial explanation only! If you want me to train complete newbies then you’d better give me those lines in 10kb or less! Got it, developers?!”
“You’re just programmed data and you think you can order the developers around? What an NPC!”
“By the way, there are both test players and NPCs in this game, but there’s no way to tell them apart. If you really want to know the difference, write down something perverted and make them read it aloud. NPCs will read it out exactly as it is written.”
“I’m pretty sure I didn’t need to know that.”
But hmm, it might be fun to make people say all kinds of things… like you-know-what and you-know-what-else. Not that he would ever do such a thing, of course. Of course.
“That’s enough talking. You can figure the rest out as you play.”
“Yeah, I guess. It’s faster to work things out instead of getting a lecture anyway. Wait… huh?!”
Right before he agreed that he didn’t need any further explanation, Masato realized something with a start.
No, wait, hang on. There was a problem here. A huge one standing right there.
It was Mamako, who had snuck up and was standing right next to him.
“H-hold on a second! You haven’t told me the most important part!”
“Yes, I know what you want to know, Master Masato. Why did your mother come along, right?”
“Yes, that’s it! And don’t skimp on the details!”
“I’m afraid I can’t tell you that.”
“What?! Why not?! Because you weren’t given those lines?!”
“No, that’s not it. The reason your mother came along is deeply involved with the true purpose of this game. Any further explanations might reveal the intentions of the administrators and we can’t have that. What we want is for you realize it yourself and to become what we want you to become over the course of your adventure. That’s the ideal result.”
“…Huh? W…what did you just say?”
“Mothers are usually told in advance, but it’s best for the children to stay out of the loop. Just play anyhow you like and find out through your adventure. Now then…”
The king rose up and touched his throne, which disappeared. The stone slab underneath sank into the ground with a heavy groaning noise. There was a spiral staircase inside leading downwards.
“It’s time for the next event. Follow me.”
“Wait! Don’t just skip to the next scene! I need an expla–”
“Just keep quiet and come with me. I’m going to give you a gift that will make even the most jaded, unsatisfied-with-the-current-situation hero gasp in wonder.”
“Don’t try to change the subject!”
“Oh? So you don’t want the starter bonus for making a new account and your first login?”
“What? S-starter bonus?”
Ka-ching! They had him. And he knew it.
No normal human being could resist the delicious starting bonuses all online games meted out to new players. There was no way he could ignore this, no matter how hard he tried. He would take it. He had to take it.
Not even a hero could resist this sweet temptation.
There was another circular room at the bottom of the spiral staircase. There were several doors on the walls, each affixed with a plaque bearing the names of classes like “Holy Knight,” “Wizard,” “Florist” and “Farmer.” One of them was the “Hero” room. Masato followed the king into the room and what he saw blew away all the doubt and misery swirling through his mind in an instant. He swallowed nervously.
Swords. Awesome swords.
The room was small and made from stones that glowed with a faint light. In the middle was a pile of stones with three swords stuck into it.
A sword that glowed red hot like magma.
A sword that shone deep blue like the depths of the ocean.
A crystal clear, transparent sword.
Even Masato could tell at the glance that they were real and that they were no ordinary swords. They weren’t intimidating just because they were weapons. There’s was something more to it… Something that filled him with a sense of awe, as if in the presence of some extraordinary power.
“I see you can sense something. No wonder you’re a hero.”
“Go on, Master Masato. Pick the one you want. It will be yours.”
“I can really have one?”
“Certainly. They’re actually supposed to be high-level quest rewards, but you can’t get users into a game these days without some nice bonuses. This is just bait, basically.”
“…I kinda wish you hadn’t told me that.”
“People these days are so picky. Why, back in the old days heroes started their adventures with just a wooden stick, and they liked it!”
“Stop living in the NES era, old man.”
“Go ahead, Master Masato. Choose your sword.”
He walked confidently over to the transparent sword.
He had no reason for picking that one, but somehow he could just feel it.
(This is the sword for me… I don’t know how I know it, but it’s true.)
The sun. The moon. The stars. Wrapping his hand around the detailed heavenly bodies engraved on the hilt, he held the sword aloft. Although it had been deeply embedded in the stone, it slid out into Masato’s hand without a trace of resistance.
“I see. So you are the hero chosen by the distant heavens.”
“Chosen by the heavens?”
“That sword you’re holding is Firmament, the Holy Sword of the Great Sky. Long, long ago, when the skies of this world were overcast with darkness, this legendary sword cut through all the darkness in a single swing… or so the flavor text says.”
“That last bit was unnecessary. But, well, it seems like a pretty neat sword. It’s hard to get what’s so great about it from hearing that explanation, though.”
“I’ll try to simplify things.”
The king put on his reading glasses with a click, pulled a book out from his robes and flipped through the pages. There was “Official Guidebook” written on the cover.
“Firmament, let’s see… It does double damage against flying monsters at triple the normal critical rate. It’s one of the most powerful event items in the game and can’t be sold. There you go.”
“That was easy to understand all right, but you kinda ruined it. You should roleplay a little harder.”
“No worries. I’ll act properly when the official release rolls around.”
Just because it’s the beta version doesn’t mean you can do anything you want. At least try to get into the act a little… is what Masato thought to himself but he doubted the old man would listen, so he kept his mouth shut.
“How do you feel now, Master Masato? Ready to give the game a try?”
“Uhh… I, uh…”
The king was completely right. He’d hit the nail right on the head. Something inside Masato changed the minute he took hold of the Firmament, the Holy Sword of the Great Sky.
(There’s a sword in my hand.)
The sensation in his hand called out to him. A desire carved in every boy’s, nay, every man’s instincts: to live is to fight. That was the desire that stirred up within him.
What’s more, he had a legendary sword. An ultimate weapon. The whole point of fighting and adventuring was to become the strongest. Why on earth would he throw that glory away? He couldn’t think of a single reason. Not that he tried very hard, though.
“Oh very well… I hate how you suckered me into this, but fine.”
“I know how you feel, but give it up already. Tell yourself this is your destiny as a hero.”
“Hmm… Nah, slapping the hero label on me doesn’t make me feel like one.”
“What are you saying? You have the legendary sword in your hand. Only a hero could have pulled that out. So you must be a hero. A true hero without a doubt.”
“Oh, well, if you put it that way… This is kinda embarrassing…”
Masato was a hero. Without a doubt. A true hero. A hero, they said!
“No need to be shy. You’re a hero. The champion of this world. Now sally forth, our savior!”
“Aww, man, stop it. This just too much!”
Hero. Champion. Savior. A hero and a champion and a savior. A three-in-one combo, sweet!
“I’m just telling the truth. Whether this game ever gets an official release or not will depend on the results of this test run. It all depends on how well you guys do. I hope you will lead this game into a new direction. You’re the only one who can do it.”
“R-really? Well, if I’m the only one who can then I guess I’ll do it.”
“Hee hee, yeah. Makki will do it for sure. He’s my precious baby boy, after all.”
“Yeah, and I’m a precious baby boy too. So of course I… Wait… huh?”
“Can mommy have some swords too? There we go.” Slip, slip.
Mamako pulled out both the fire red sword and the deep blue sword.
Two swords that could only be pulled out by the chosen hero, just like that.
Masato’s happy mood from being flattered by the king vanished in a flash. Huh? What this? What just happened here? Could someone please explain?
“U-umm… Your Highness, could you…”
“I’m sorry. I can’t say any more. As an NPC this is as far as I go. …Oh yes, please give this guidebook to Miss Mamako later on. Farewell.”
And with that final gift, the king scampered away somewhere, leaving them behind.
They went through a door further inside the hero’s room and found themselves in a circular fighting arena. There were no audience seats, just an endless fighting stage out in the middle of nowhere. Looks like a stage for a tutorial battle.
Masato stood in a corner and skimmed through the guidebook. He soon found what he was looking for.
“Terra de Madre” and “Altura.”
Those were the names of the swords Mamako had pulled out.
The fire red sword was Terra de Madre. The Holy Sword of the Great Mother Earth. It was the life born from the earth when heaven and earth were created. This sword was the source of all life in that world.
The deep blue sword was Altura. The Holy Sword of the Great Mother Ocean. It miraculously stopped a great flood that threatened to swallow the world with a single swing. It was also the symbol of the contract between the earth and the sea when they shared the world between themselves and united it.
So how good were those swords, practically speaking? Wait till you hear the next bit.
Terra de Madre: Hits land monsters for double damage with a tripled critical rate. Hits all enemies. One of the most powerful event items in the game. Cannot be sold.
Altura: Hits aquatic monsters for double damage with a tripled critical rate. Hits all enemies. One of the most powerful event items in the game. Cannot be sold.
As a special note, the phrase “Deals damage depending on the number of enemies” was affixed to the “Hits all enemies” line for each sword. That meant the amount of damage from each attack was fixed in advance and then distributed equally based on the number of enemies. That’s what usually happened when you used that kind of weapon.
“Watch me, Makki! Mommy’s gonna do her best! Hiyah!”
Mamako raised Terra de Madre in her right hand high above her head and swung it down. Countless sword-shaped stones rose up from the ground in an instant and rained down on the clustered group of monsters.
“Gaaaaah!” “Gyaaah!” “Gruhhhh!” “Gwaaaargh!”
The ants, caterpillars, spiders, wolves, bears and other monsters split in two and then poofed into little pieces. And she made it look so easy.
But another group of enemies appeared right away!
“You won’t beat me! I’ve got to look good in front of Makki! Yah!”
Holding Altura horizontally in her left hand, she thrust forward.
Dark blue swords made of water appeared, split into thousands of water drops and pierced the enemies with bullet-like speed.
“Fshaaaa!” “Ggggghhhh!” “Glub glub glub!” “Blublublub…!”
The ultra high-speed barrage filled the monsters with holes. They crumbled and disappeared almost instantaneously. A total wipeout for the second round of monsters and another easy win for Mamako.
But the fight wasn’t over yet. Monsters appeared in the sky!
“Your turn, Makki! Show them what you’ve got! Go, baby, go!”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah.”
Closing the guidebook, he pulled out Firmament and slashed halfheartedly at the sky. A shockwave flew out from the sword and rose up in pursuit of the enemy. Dancing up into the sky, it scored a direct hit!
A single, small, sparrow-sized monster fell from the sky and turned to ash.
Masato defeated a monster!
And then he sank to the ground and began to cry.
“Noooo… this is all wrong… this is a mistake, it has to be a mistake…”
“W-what’s wrong, Makki? Are you hurt? Show me!”
“No… That’s not it… That’s not it at all… *sob*”
Sure, Firmament was great and all. Any sword with a slashing attack that homed in on the enemy was definitely awesome. He ought to be confident. He ought to be proud of himself. Right?
But Mamako’s regular attacks hit the whole enemy party, and she could attack twice because she was wielding two swords. Compared to his mom, who had easily defeated dozens of monsters…
(I’m… so pathetic…)
All he could do was cry and sulk himself to sleep. What else was he supposed to do?
Mamako ran over worriedly.
“Come on, cheer up, Makki! That was an amazing attack! I was so surprised when that clear thing went whoosh into the sky! You were really cool, Makki!”
“Please… don’t try to cheer me up. I’m depressed enough as it is; don’t make me feel even worse.”
“That’s not it! I-I wasn’t trying to! C-come on, get up! Let’s finish this tuto… chooto … uhh, what was it again?”
“Choo choo train, Mom.”
“Yes, that’s it! I used to it with my friends. Choo choo, here it comes!”
“Wrong. Mom. All wrong. I don’t see anyone huffing and puffing in a row, do you?”
“O-oh yeah. This isn’t the time to talk about the past. Um, well, that’s enough of this stuff. Let’s move on to the next scene. Okay? I’m sure it gets more fun as we go.”
With that she took his hand and tried to pull him up, but he batted her hand away.
“If you want an adventure so badly you can do it by yourself. Sure there’ll be monsters out in the field, but they’re no match for your firepower. You’ll clear the whole game in no time at all.”
“Fire…power? I’m not on fire anywhere. I’m not a stove, am I?”
“That’s not what I mean by firepower.”
Firepower referred to her attack power. It was an expression that originally referred to the firing of guns and other firearms. Maybe the concept was a little hard for his mom to grasp, but that wasn’t the point.
“Look, just go, okay? Just forget about me.”
“I… I couldn’t possibly…”
Pass. Pass on everything. If he could pass on breathing, he would. He just wanted to fall down like a dead man and let the whole world pass him by, just like a corpse.
“Awww, Makki… What am I supposed to do now? Oh, I know!”
At her wits’ end, Mamako reached for the guidebook he had tossed aside. She flipped through the pages desperately looking for something, anything to cling to.
“There must be some strategy for coping when your hero son doesn’t want to go adventuring with you…”
“No way in hell there’d anything that specific in there. What kind of guidebook is that?”
“Wait, it says here, ‘Your child will be delighted when he finds out you can hit the whole enemy party twice with your regular attacks. He will hug you and beg you to come along on his adventure.’ That’s a lie, isn’t it? You don’t look happy at all!”
“Well… I guess in theory you’d be kind of happy.”
“Well yeah. You’re hitting the whole group with a powerful attack. And not just once but twice. Anyone would beg such an adventurer to join their party. They’d even pay you if they had to.”
“Then why aren’t you happy? Why…”
She feel deep into thought then, having realized something, timidly asked the question.
“Is it… it because… I’m your mom?”
“That’s right. That’s the biggest problem here. Now then.”
Masato pulled himself up and sat across from Mamako.
He forced himself to stay calm and not get angry or yell. This was important.
“I think you owe me an explanation.”
“Tell me everything. All of it. I want the full story about why we’re here right now. You know something, don’t you? The king said the mothers were usually told, so the developers must have told you something. Right? ”
“It’s weird enough that I’m inside a game, but I don’t mind that part so we’ll let it slide. But this is completely different from what I was hoping for inside a game. And by ‘different’ I mean what the heck are you doing here?”
“Come on, other mothers are always going into game worlds with their sons…”
“Hell no! No way! No way in hell that ever happens! And it would suck if they did! A young man’s fantasy world is a no-parent zone! This is a huge problem!”
“Awww. You’re so mean, Makki. Mommy’s upset.”
She puffed out her cheeks and pretended to pout. Pout, pout. Aww, she’s so cute…
Wait, no! That’s Mom! And she’s almost forty! There’s no way on earth she’s cute! This isn’t the time for that!
“Don’t give me that! Enough sulking, just answer the question!”
“R-right! I’ll tell you everything!”
“Why did you come along and how did we end up like this? Spill it, Mom.”
“B-but they said I didn’t have to explain early on. They said it was better for you to figure things out yourself through various experiences on the journey…”
“Whatever, just start talking. I’m pissed off enough as it is. If you don’t get serious, I’ll…”
“I’ll never talk to you again!”
The words were out before he knew he had spoken them. They were words born of irritation.
They were created forcefully and came out forcefully and hit Mamako with that same force, robbing her of all expression.
“Uh… no… I didn’t mean…” By the time he realized what he’d said it was too late.
Large tears began to form in the corners of Mamako’s stunned eyes and then slowly drip down her cheeks.
She looked straight at him as she cried.
“I’m sorry… I don’t know how to explain this. Ms. Shirase seemed to have a lot going on, so I don’t know how much I’m allowed to say.”
“T-that’s okay. It’s okay. You must have your reasons, so…”
“But I will tell you one thing. I would never, ever do anything to hurt or trick you. Please believe that.”
“Okay, Mom, I’ve got it.”
“I just want us to be friends. I thought if we went on an adventure and talked a lot and worked hard together we could get to be really good friends. So… *sniff* so…”
“I get it, I get it already! I get it okay? I get everything!
“Don’t say hurtful things like you’ll never talk to me again. That’s the most painful thing I’ve ever heard in my life. I’m so sad.”
Her tears continued to flow. An endless stream of sad droplets.
He’d really done it now.
He’d made his own mother upset enough to cry. And now he had to watch this sad figure in front of him. There’s nothing more bitter or painful for a child than having to see this.
(What the hell is wrong with me?)
It was nothing to get so excited over. Every child gets their life from their parents, and that life is filled with the desire to make those parents cheerful and happy. Their very soul couldn’t tolerate making them unhappy. There was no way he could bear it. And no way he could ignore it either.
He sat up straight and bowed to the ground, his forehead scraping the ground of the arena.
“Mom, I’m sorry! I was wrong! I didn’t mean it that way! It just came out all wrong, but I didn’t mean it at all, I swear!”
So please forgive me. Please don’t cry. Before he could get the words out… Ruffle, ruffle. He felt someone ruffling his hair. Mamako was ruffling his hair with infinitely tender fingers and a ‘You little rascal’ kind of air about her.
“I love how kind you are and how much you care about my feelings.”
“T-thanks. I’m really sorry I said that.”
“Don’t worry about it. It’s okay. Raise your head.”
“Uh, well… okay.”
He raised his head to see his mom, tear streaks still lining her face. They hurt to look at, so he tried to turn away, but…
“Come on. I’ve told you to look people in the face when they’re talking to you.”
No helping it, he had to face her.
Mamako looks like she wants to join the party.
“Urgh… I never thought my mom would look at me this way…”
“Makki. Look at me. And listen to what I have to say.”
“I want to go on an adventure with you. Will you let me come along?”
Would he let her come along?
There was no room for hesitation. There was only one answer.
“Yeah okay, I guess. It would be great to have your kind of firepower in my party. So I guess you can join the party… I mean, you can come along.”
“Good. Then I will. Let’s give it our best shot, Makki.”
“Uh, yeah. Sure thing, Mom.”
Mamako has joined the party.
“But just one thing, Makki.”
“I can’t breathe fire or anything. I told you, I’m not a stove.”
“And I told you, that’s not the kind of fire I’m talking about!”
Masato got the feeling that the greatest enemy on this trip… might very well be his mother’s ignorance.
End of Chapter One. If you liked it and can read Japanese, you can buy the full book on Amazon now. Look forward to the next chapter soon. (update: it’s here)