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I Need a Hero(ine)

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There was a difference in just being isekai'd into an anime, and being Isekai'd into an Isekai.

Thought that was something I didn't learn until twenty years into my second life.

But let me start from the beginning for you.

I was (re)born as Iwatani Naofumi with all the memories of my previous life. And yes, I know, That's a rather masculine name. Well, my parents only ever wanted a boy, so when they ended up with a daughter, they weren't exactly prepared with any other names.

My new parents weren't bad people, per say, but it was obvious to anyone that they wanted a son and not much else. Thankfully that's exactly what they got when my little brother, Katsurou was born.

It was funny,in an ironic and not actually funny way, Despite having parents and not liking kids, I ended up more his mother than our actual one.

They never really cared beyond grades and social status. If he was sick, I wiped the sweat from his forehead. When he needed new uniforms, I took him to get fittings, and when he needed to talk to someone, Katsurou almost always came to me first.

(He asked me once, when he was about 6, "Why don't mom and dad treat you like me?" hands swinging between us as we walked home from school.

"Because I'm not a boy and they didn't want a girl." I said

"That's dumb. Why?" he asked, scrunching his nose.

"Girls can't continue a family's name. They have to take their husbands." I replied.

"Well then Nee-chan can just marry Katsu." He finished, in the way only a little kid can, and wouldn't take no for an answer.

Needless to say, I made him swear not to tell our parents he said that in fear for his safety more than mine. They had used…physical punishment when they shouldn't have far too many times for my liking, afterall)

I lived my life worrying more over Katsurou's needs than my own. To be honest, it was like my first life. How from a young age I was the one who took care of myself and another tinier human, and not the ones who made us. It didn't bother me as much as it should have. I had always been more mature than someone my age and despite my dislike of kids, I always ended up mothering others whether simply giving advice and a hug or cooking enough for an army.

I didn't make friends because of this. I was too quiet and kids were too loud and immature for me to get along with them.

And god were kids loud. It was to the point where all the noise would just become loud buzzing in my ears, the lights would start to blur and my heart would race to the beat of escaperunrunrun. When I realized my sensory overload had followed me into my second life, I was not very thrilled-though there wasn't much I could do, especially in a country like Japan where mental health isn't thought of very much.

So life continued as it had in my previous one. Spending all my time playing video games, reading, caring for my little brother and daydreaming in-between.

I graduated high school with a B average, and had just finished my first semester of university when I got a call from my mother concerning "her precious baby boy"

Katsurou and I hadn't talked in almost a year at this point, somewhere along the way he'd decided I wasn't worth his time, so I didn't expect much, but he was still my baby brother and I was worried.

I was a little shocked at what she had told me. He'd gone and dyed his hair blonde, gotten piercings and, oh the worst part, skipping both school and cram school for the past three weeks. I rolled my eyes but agreed to talk to him.

I came by the house, grabbed his arm, and said "We're going somewhere."

Somewhere was the arcade, where I introduced him to the world of rhythm games. And as I thought, he'd finally cracked from all the pressure our parents had put on him and after just an hour, he cracked and told me everything. About how he just couldn't take the pressure anymore. How they treated him like a robot. About how he hadn't slept more than four hours a night since I moved out halfway through my last year of high school.

How he hated how they treated me.

So we made up,we went to get food, he joined me in the hell that was rhythm games and anime, and we went home.

Long story short, my parents were so thankful that I "Put their darling baby back on the right track" that they offered to let me move back in, rent free. At least until I finished university.

And just like any other college student being offered free housing, I agreed.

That leads into where we are today. I was in the library after my morning classes. That particular day, I wasn't in the mood for the noise of the local arcade and I wasn't hungry enough to stop for food.

After a quick peruse of the manga section, I headed over to the fiction shelves. I'd always had a soft spot for fantasy. Something about fiction had always appealed to me. Whether it be due to the clothing, or the setting, or even because of the magic, I loved it all.

I gently touched each book spine as I scanned the shelves.

Bridge to Terabithia?

No…

Howl's Moving Castle?

As much as I loved it, I'd read it last week.

And then I saw it. It was an old novel with a cover made of worn brown leather and gold lettering. "The Weapon of the Four Saints… huh,ok then. Let's give you a shot." I murmured.

I headed over to my normal seat,a small armchair towards the back of the library tucked away between shelves and beneath a window with just the perfect amount of light for reading.

It was an okay book. Probably nothing I'd read again, but okay. The first ten pages were spent describing the country and world,which wasn't a bad thing, but most of the details were things that could just be dotted throughout the story itself. And then of course, there was the fact that one of the "weapons" was a shield.

I scoffed, "So shields are weapons now huh, smartass? Last I checked, you defend with a shield. What about an axe? Dual blades, staff, a hammer… ugh whatever…" I yawned, flipping to the next page.

The rest was your standard fair, except for an abnormally bitchy princess, four heroes are summoned to defend another world from some giant calamity.

For the most part, the heroes all seemed pretty generic. The dashing and brave sword-wielding hero, the intelligent and charismatic spear-wielding hero, and a bow-wielding hero who seemed to have been heavily Robin Hood inspired and the shield hero…

Was a blank paragraph?

"What the fuck?" I went back to the first page, brows furrowed, and began the flip back through, thinking maybe I had just missed something. But no matter how much I flipped, the shield hero remained blank.

My eyes were starting to get pretty heavy, so I shut them for a second, rubbing my hands over my eyes to try and clear the heaviness to them.

"Oh brave heroes, please, save us!"

My eyes shot open

"What the fuck?"

Chapter Text

"What the fuck?" I whispered, looking around the room that definitely wasn't my library corner.

The room I knelt in was huge and overly grandiose- all shades of gold and red and purple. Though the oddest part would go to the fact that I was surrounded by people in robes.

"What kind of cult bullshit…" I mumbled, looking around, before noticing the three guys lined up next to me. And why were they all holding weapons?
.
.
.

WHY IS THERE A SHIELD ON MY ARM?!

"Hey," Sword boi took a step forward, "Where are we?" Count on Sword Bois to ask the proper questions.

One of the cult looking men come forward and bowed. Is it just me or is he angled towards those three?

"Please my Lords, we have summoned you-" hold up what?‐"here in our great time of need. Our kingdom is under siege from a great evil. And so, we have brought you to us.”

Cult man continued to explain the situation. Giant evil hole in the sky drops demons down and as a "last resort" they summoned heroes from another world to save them.

"So you just want us to do this for you guys for free?" Spear man asks and wow, with the long hair and outfit, he really looks like a fuckboy...

The bow-wielding bishounen chimes in next "That's pretty selfish of you, don't you think?"

Sword boi clicks his tongue "Convenient for you lot, huh?"

Except all three of them are smirking like they find this amusing. I am not amused.

"So you just decided to uproot the four of us? We have lives, you know." I chimed in.

"Of course not, dear heroes. You will, of course, be compensated!" Wow, the king man actually ignored me. "Please, allow us the honor of your names."

Sword boi steps forward first."Amaki Ren, age sixteen. Second-year high school student."

Spear man comes up next. And oh boy, does he scream fuck boi. Blonde hair in a long ponytail, open button-up over a t-shirt and skin-tight pants? I'd eat my shirt if he didn't have a trail of one night stands. “Kitamura Motoyasu, twenty-one. Nice to meet you.” he winked and he flipped his fucking hair oh my god. Yea-this was a fuck boi.

“I guess it’s my turn then? I’m Kawasumi Itsuki. Seventeen and also a second-year.” I swear flowers bloomed behind this brat when he started smiling.

I flick my gaze around the room, crossing my arms over my chest. Most of the cultists didn’t even bother to look at me; those who did look like they were trying to glare me to death.

Yea, not sure if I want them to know my name if that’s how they’re looking at me. I’m gonna play this one safe. “Iwatani Na-Nagifumi. Twenty. College student.” I wouldn't trust these guys with a puppy's name, much less my own. If they had a way to summon random people, I bet they have some kind of brain-washing BS.

King-man nods. “Right then. Lords Ren, Motoyasu, Itsuki, let us be off.”

Ok. Yea I’m gonna go ahead and say the fake name was a good call.

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On the way out of the summon dungeon, the cultists explained some of the mechanics of this world. All people were able to see their own statuses, and our weapons( or in my case, shield) didn’t require maintenance and even came with their own upgrade trees- something I’d absolutely be playing around with later.

After a decent meal, a servant showed the four of us to a room for the night. Tomorrow we’d each have our own, but for the moment we’d share. To me, it was kind of weird. If they knew that four of us would be summoned, why wouldn’t they prepare extra rooms ahead of time, also, this is a fucking castle. Why the hell wouldn’t the rooms be ready?

But either way, the four of us settled down. I set myself up on one of the beds and claimed a pillow.

“This is seriously like an RPG…” I muttered as I played around with my status menu.

I heard a laugh and looked over at Motoyasu. “Like an RPG? It is one! Pretty sure I’ve played it before too.” he said haughtily.

I raised an eyebrow. “Yea, I play RPGs, never heard of one like this.”

He laughed ”Well you must not play that many, cause this is just Emerald Online!”

“Never heard of it. I only really do single-player. I dabble in Fantasy Life, though.”

“The hell’s that?”

“You live under a damn rock?! It’s one of the most popular MMORPGs of the last decade!”

At this point, Itsuki chimes in. “It’s not an MMO, it's a console RPG. Y’know, Dimensional Web?”

“Fantasy Life is computer and console-based,” I told him.

Ren decides that’s his cue to join in. “ None of you are right. This is a VRMMO- Brave Star Online.”

The three of us pause and turn to Ren now, before Motoyasu asks, “VR? Would you even be able to use a keyboard with something like that?”

“What are you talking about? Why would I use those antiques?”

“Antiqu- What are you on? VR games are only in Sci-fi novels.”

“WHAT?!” Now it was Ren’s turn to have a little freakout.

Itsuki took this as his cue to raise his hand and bring attention to him. “Ok, so what game does everyone think this is?”

“Emerald Online.”

“Brave Star.”

“Honestly, it’s more like a book I read than a game I’ve played.”

He nodded. “Ok then. Oh, and just so you know, this seems like Dimensional Web, to me.”

Motoyasu begins rubbing his forehead at this point, confusion very evident on all of our faces.

We continue this for a while until Motoyasu once again takes command. “Ok, how about this then, what’s the name of the current prime minister, on three.”

“Yuta Masato”
“Yawara Koutarou”
“Kodaka Enichi”
“Ichifuji Shigeno”


“WHAT THE HELL?”

“Ok then, so I guess it’s safe to assume we’ve found our answer.” I say, head resting on my fist, “Looks like Alternate Universes exist.”

Itsuki nodded “Yea, there’s no way we can all be from the same version of Japan.”

“And based on how all this has been going, We all ended up here under different circumstances then?” Motoyasu adds.

Ren scoffs. “While I’m not one for small talk, I suppose this is as good a time as any for it.” He obviously wanted us to think he was cool.

“I was on my way home from school when I came across a stabbing, I ended up throwing myself on top of my friend when the murderer came at us. After that, I was here.” It was honestly pretty cliche, like one of those dumb Isekai animes. But hey, who was I to judge?

“I’ll go next then.” Motoyasu rubs the back of his head. Oh, this would be good, wouldn’t it?

“So uh, I’ve had a lot of girlfriends, right?” Yea I think I knew where this was going.

“And well…”

“You were cheating, they found out, and stabbed you?” Ren asked sarcastically.

“Women are scary.”

I turned to look at Motoyasu, watching him laugh. Oh yea, he was a fuck boi if I’ve ever seen one. I wind my arm back and launch my pillow at his face. “You’re a moron!”

We all take a minute to jab at Motoyasu and his fuck boi-ness before Itsuki has his turn.

“I was on my way to Cram School when this truck comes barreling around the corner and through the red light. After that… same as you guys, I was here.”

It was now that I realized my story was out of place in comparison. As far as I knew, I hadn’t died. I sighed.

“I’m warning you guys, mine isn’t nearly as interesting.”

“Don’t worry about that part, this is all just info gathering, after all.”

I sigh again. “Ok then… I was in-between classes for the day and decided to head to the library to find a new book. There was this really out of place one on the shelf. Like, old leather cover, metal binding- the works. I head to my normal corner in the back and start to read. I got a really bad migraine, and then poof, same as you.”

I could feel the icy daggers coming from the three of them before they huddle together.

“But...guy…shield”

“Of course he...right?”

“Yeah.”

There were many things in this world I couldn’t stand. Being talked about- especially in front of me- was one of those things.

“Hey,” I barked out, “You assholes wanna let me in on your little talk?”

“Ah sorry, sorry!” Motoyasu laughs, heading over to my seat, and wrapping his arm around my shoulders.

“So how much do you know about these mechanics?” He asks.

I shrug. “I mean, I know the basic MMO stuff, but nothing crazy. Like I said, I tend to do more open-world single-player stuff.”

“Well don’t you worry, Your big brother Motoyasu is here!” I was getting suspicious now.

“So, in Emerald Online, there’s a class called Shielder. At first, it’s nice! Super high defense, lots of special moves, the works. But as the game goes on, you get less and less moves, and with how many enemies there can be, you get overwhelmed pretty quickly. Needless to say, it’s not a popular class.”

I raise my brows again. “O-kaay? So what?”

“The point is, it’s an unused looser class that no one likes!”

I turn to Itsuki and Ren. “How about for you guys?”

“Same. Besides the name, the rest of that is true for me”

“No one likes it.”

At this, the three of them go off onto their own little tangent for a second time. That was getting old really fast.

I had a sneaking suspicion forming in my gut. And if this is what I think it is, I’m not going to be getting along with these guys.

“Question!”

“Hm?”

I lean forward, prompting the other three to lean in as well. “What’s the Shielder roled as?” I ask.

“Tank.”

“Then why are you complaining? That’s what a Tank does. It absorbs damage so the DPS and Healer can do their jobs.”

And then Motoyasu hits the nail on the head. “But who needs a Tank? They’re useless!”

“Do...what classes do you guys normally play?” I ask, my voice starting to shake.

“Sword or sword-shield.”

“Lances or buster swords.”

“I tend to use ranged weapons.”

Oh God

Oh God no.

I was stuck with three DPS-scum players, and I was a Tank-class!