‘This is quite the predicament.’
She couldn’t help but sigh at the situation she found herself in.
Natsuki Subaru, a girl who had it all and could do it all, a celebrity at her school and upcoming idol sensation, was at a complete loss for the first time in a long while.
She was a girl who could excel at almost anything she put her mind to, be it academics or athletics, mental or physical, her classmates looked up to her and her teachers adored her. Of course, there were those who envied and even resented her for this, but few could bring themselves to hate her given her humble and gracious demeanor. Her ability to quickly adapt to novel environments and challenges meant she could act reliably and decisively under almost any circumstance, so what was it that troubled her so? After all, anyone who knew her would agree that there was very little that could stump her, that she could probably find success no matter where she ended up in life.
Where she ended up, right, that might have been a good place to start. With graduation just a couple of months away, seventeen-year-old Natsuki Subaru who had always had a penchant for music had decided to make a career out of it. Just about anything she played would be a hit at school, and most performances she posted online would prove fairly popular, some even going viral and netting her offers from various talent agencies. In fact, she had just been returning from a successful audition when it happened.
She was suddenly the center of attention, and while some might perhaps consider this a boon for any aspiring idol, it wasn’t for the reasons one would hope for. It wasn’t her glamorous beauty (well, maybe) or star power that drew all those eyes to her, but rather, the fact that she was completely out of place.
The reason being that she was standing right in the middle of a busy road, wearing extravagant attire that stood out like a sore thumb; forcing people to walk around her, although a fair few elected to instead simply push her out of the way. Of course, it wasn’t that she was so inconsiderate as to thoughtlessly block the road, nor was she so desperate for attention as to do this as a prank. In truth, she really had no choice in the matter, for she had ended up here in what was quite literally the blink of an eye.
What had been a quiet road home in the dead of night had suddenly turned into a bustling city street in broad daylight. As someone who had never once experienced time travel or teleportation or even seriously considered the possibility, it was only natural that she would be bewildered by this strange occurrence. Maybe there’s no time travel involved here, one might think, given the existence of timezones, perhaps she was simply teleported to the other side of the world. But one look at her surroundings would make it clear that unless she had ended up in the world’s largest furry convention, wherever she was certainly wasn’t any place on Earth; the reason being that crowd around her was almost entirely comprised of hybrids of all description, from bipedal lizards to talking dogs, there were an absurd amount of humanoid animals traversing the busy street. Could that be part of why they stared at her so? In a place like this, it was ordinary humans like her who stood out most of all, the few other humans she did see all had vibrant hair and eye colors akin to those one would find in certain anime.
(Having put some more thought into the timezone problem, Subaru would have to concede that an entirely different world could most certainly be a different timezone and could indeed even have an entirely different flow of time, and thus her time travel hypothesis had little merit. Being that she was spirited away to another world, though, she wasn’t ready to rule anything out.)
Managing to squeeze her way through the crowd, she left the busy street and found an empty corner from which she could more clearly observe the world around her while she took stock of her situation. It seemed that she was in some sort of commercial district, judging by all the stalls she could see lining the side of the road. She couldn’t read any of the signs, but fortunately, she found that she could at least understand the language when she listened more closely to the various voices haggling around her.
‘Well, this all seems much too realistic to be a dream, but still, I should make sure.’
She quietly pulled out her phone and snuck a glance at the clock. She had heard that clocks wouldn’t function properly in a dream, although it was possible that this other world had strange properties that would themselves distort her clock, and so her clock behaving bizarrely wouldn’t in itself prove that she was dreaming. Such concerns proved pointless, however, since her clock was working perfectly.
She also took the opportunity to confirm that she had no reception whatsoever, and disabled all of her phone’s connectivity features and then turned it off so as to preserve its battery as long as possible. Fortunately, she made sure to always carry a solar charger with her in the unlikely event that she ended up stranded somewhere, but she never imagined that that decision would pay off like this. But she couldn’t even be sure that this world’s sun functioned like her own, what a pain this parallel world business was. She considered that for her to even be alive, the conditions here had to be the same as her old world for the most part, but such reasoning wouldn’t work in this case since the very fact that she ended up here completely defied the laws of physics, meaning it was entirely possible that she was being kept alive through magical means.
‘Could this be a lucid dream? I should be able to control it if so…’
She attempted to lift off, which again wouldn’t prove it was a dream since flight might be a thing she could just do in this world—Ugh, she wouldn’t get anywhere thinking like that. She decided that she would have to simply operate under the assumption that this was reality. Also, she couldn’t fly after all, which disappointed her terribly.
Glancing at a nearby stall, Subaru saw some sort of walking reptilian handing the owner what appeared to be copper coins.
‘Metal coins, huh. Of course.’
By this point she had grown fairly certain that she was in a classic medieval world one would typically see in fantasy stories, so a metal standard currency came as no surprise to her. It seemed quite likely to her that this world followed the usual copper-silver-gold pattern. As she analyzed this world more closely, the reality of her situation began to set in.
And with this, we return to the present:
‘This is quite the predicament.’
Subaru did the only thing she could: Panic. Internally, of course, she wouldn’t make a scene in public.
She had no idea how she ended up here or how to get back, or if it was even possible to go back. The thought that she might never see her friends and family again was truly horrific. She wouldn’t even have time to grieve over this, however, because she didn’t have any time to waste. She was alone in a strange world, her money was probably worthless, all she had was a small bag of essentials she always carried with her, and she was illiterate. She needed every second she could get in order to hopefully secure some source of food and shelter (As much of a blessing as it would be if it turned out she didn’t actually need those things in this world, she wasn’t going to count on something so convenient happening for her).
Deciding that the best course of action right now would be to further investigate this world, Subaru returned to the busy street.
‘Ah, I’m being watched after all.’
Subaru had always been a very popular girl, and that resulted in some becoming more than a little obsessed, as a result of which she had developed a good sense for identifying stalkers. She had in truth noticed these gazes a long time ago, but she wasn’t completely sure since almost everyone around her was giving her odd looks. But now that they followed her even as she moved, there was no doubt.
‘Looks like there’s three of them, common street thugs by the looks of it.’
They were most likely hoping to catch her in a secluded spot, so she was probably safe as long as she didn’t stray too far from the crowd. Still, it would be best to deal with them as soon as possible.
‘I have no idea what the power scale is like in this world, but society probably wouldn’t function if random thugs were absurdly strong. Those guys should just be normal humans…’
She was about to remind herself yet again that such logic wouldn’t necessarily apply in another world when she caught a flash of gold flying across the rooftops.
Despite its absurd speed, the golden streak almost seemed to be moving in slow motion to her as it descended with a gust of wind, brushing against a silver-haired girl dressed in white as it did so.
Taking a moment to realize what had just happened, the silver-haired girl quickly checked for something and immediately panicked as she ran off in the direction of the golden wind.
‘A theft? That girl does look pretty important, maybe…’
Given her elaborate robe and fine features, the girl was no doubt some sort of noble. If Subaru helped her retrieve whatever it was that was stolen from her, might she be rewarded? This plan could just as easily backfire, but…
‘I don’t really want to get involved in something this dangerous, but I might not have much of a choice. High risk, high reward as they say.’
She really didn’t want to end up as some kind of manual laborer or worse still, a prostitute, and this seemed like her ticket out.
Unfortunately for her, the girl was incredibly fast and was already quite some distance away by the time Subaru made her decision—Wait, did she just fire icicles out of thin air?
‘What am I getting myself into…’
Subaru groaned as she chased after her.