A story set in Lizel’s original world. It’s a side story separate from the main chapters and explains some things that happen outside of the main story. Whether you read it or not, it won’t affect the main story.
In the castle of a certain kingdom there was a young man who served as a secretary. He came from a low-ranking house, and his father, the current head of the family, had been caught red-handed committing a crime, so the house had exploded. That was not a metaphor. With an earth-shaking boom, his parents’ house had literally exploded. That had been the work of the current king, said to be the most amazing in all of history, but that’s a different story.
The young secretary had managed to escape his family’s punishment by being completely uninvolved in his father’s crimes, and furthermore was the one who had come forward to report the matter. Every time he remembered the collapse of his family’s house, he was glad with his whole heart that he had given the report. He was also glad that he was competent. It was because he was competent that the prime minister had hired him to continue working at the castle as a secretary. It was also thanks to the calm prime minister that the young secretary was able to himself work peacefully even in the face of many whispers and rumors about his father.
This young man was now sprinting through the castle. He was not afraid of being punished. He was also not afraid of the maids looking at him like annoying trash. Nor was he afraid of any complaints from the high-ranking nobleman he passed by for not stopping and bowing his head. He felt like he had run a hundred meters in less than ten seconds.. Amazing. The further into the castle he ran, the more knights he shook off. Without slowing down, he plunged towards the door that was his goal. Even if he would be treated as a traitor to the kingdom by these knights, he couldn’t stop now.
He shouted, “Your Majesty!”
Unable to open the door in time, he crashed face-first into it. Naturally, this was as far as he could go. The knights guarding the door moved to restrain him. They weren’t really sure what to do with the young man rolling on the floor in pain, so for the moment they caged him in with their weapons.
Footsteps approached from the other side of the door. When he heard someone standing inside say not to open the door, the young secretary stood up, holding his throbbing face. Just before the knights restrained him, he yelled to be heard through the door, “His Grace Lizel has disappeared!”
The door burst open, knocking down the two knights standing in front of it despite their heavy armor. From the doorway appeared a young man with a fearless face. Not a single silver hair out of place. This country’s one true king. Despite how young he was, no one could raise a single complaint, not when he overflowed with so much dignity. People saw him and couldn’t help but kneel in awe.
“In his office—”
Before the young secretary could even finish, the king grabbed his arm and fwip! Before the young secretary could follow the pull of the king’s hand, the scene suddenly changed. The king’s private room was replaced by Lizel’s office. It only took a moment for the young secretary to conclude that this was a transportation spell. To be enveloped in that powerful spell was something that few people were chosen to experience. Though it seemed that all the missing Lizel had to do was ask and the king would use it for him.
However, the young secretary had no time to be amazed by his first experience with this transportation spell. The king brazenly walked over to Lizel’s desk, lifted his chin, and in an explosively loud voice, shouted, “LIZ!”
There was no reply. The king remained silent for a time, trying to sense anything, then he turned with a click of his tongue and caught sight of the young secretary. The young secretary stood at attention and waited for the king’s response.
“Everything seemed normal. We were in the middle of talking when His Grace suddenly disappeared.”
“Disappeared,” the secretary confirmed. “It happened in the blink of an eye.”
The king looked at the chair Lizel had been sitting in. It was still flush with the desk, not pushed back as it should have been if he had stood up. Immediately after Lizel disappeared, the young secretary had shouted “Preserve the scene!” and rushed off to the king. This was why he was called competent. He was able to remain calm in a crisis.
“What about his earrings?”
“They were certainly in both of his ears.”
“So why can’t I sense him!” the king said through clenched teeth. He ran a hand through his hair, ruffling his bangs in frustration.
The young secretary had never seen the king so shaken. Maybe it was different for Lizel, but everyone else was used to the king being wild and carefree. Even when he had destroyed the young secretary’s house, he had burst out into laughter. It was a little traumatizing.
The king shouted to not to let in those guards who were showing up too little too late and dropped into the chair at Lizel’s desk, his arms crossed. For a moment, the young secretary was afraid that the king would also disappear, but that didn’t happen. In contrast to the young secretary’s relief, the king was wholly unhappy and probably would have preferred to disappear to wherever Lizel had gone. Just then, a knock sounded from the door alongside a voice, surprisingly clear considering the age of its owner. “Your Majesty, I’m coming in.”
Before the young secretary could open the door for him, an old man walked in. It was one of the king’s aides, his advisor. No one besides him dared to treat the king as a child, not even the king’s own father. Of course, Lizel was also an exception.
“I heard something about Prime Minister Lizel disappearing?”
“Seems he disappeared all of a sudden, he’s nowhere to be found.”
“And you cannot sense him?”
“There’s no response from his earrings.”
The king’s composure loosened a little and he pouted like any other man his age might. The earrings that Lizel wore in both ears were made for him by the king. One of them was for storing his mana rifle. The special method used to make the earrings was only possible because this king was the most powerful of all the royals in history. They were not something that Lizel himself could have made.
The other earring had been filled to the brim with a massive amount of mana. That mana remained connected to the one who provided it and so had the ability to show a small reaction when that person was in danger. This allowed Lizel to know when the king was in danger. The king should also have been able to feel a response through the earrings when he sent out a strong call, but when he had tried a moment ago there was no response. If there was no response from those earrings, it meant they were no longer anywhere in this world. That was why the king was so upset.
“So Liz is gone…”
“You’re calling him by that name again. The prime minister dislikes how feminine it sounds.”
“That’s why I use it.”
He wasn’t doing it because he wanted to harass Lizel. The king is the only person who could push Lizel to accept something he didn’t like. Lizel had taken care of the king from the time he was a child, and like a child’s desire to monopolize the king wanted to remain Lizel’s sole priority.
“By the way, what was the prime minister doing up until he disappeared?”
With a grunt, the king jerked his chin at the young secretary, signalling for him to speak. The young secretary thought back to the conversation from just before Lizel’s disappearance. It was a bit hard to say now that they had been having an utterly pointless conversation.
“About that, I learned some tips for organization.”
“You’re not very good at keeping things organized, Prime Minister, what do you mean by tips?”
“It’s because I’m not good at it that I’m trying to improve. Oh, speaking of organization, Kamaboko—”
And then he disappeared. The young secretary had no idea what the “Kamaboko” the prime minister had mentioned was.
“He was talking about some organizational tips while we were filing paperwork as usual.”
“Why was he talking about tidying tips when he can’t keep anything straight himself?” the king asked, and for the first time since Lizel disappeared, the king smiled. It was sort of a smirk, but it was definitely still a smile. It went to show how tense he had been up until now, but it wasn’t like that information was any kind of clue.
However, the advisor was stroking his splendid beard and making thoughtful noises as if he had remembered something, and he said, “This might be an old man’s nonsense, but I would like you to listen.”
“I don’t have time for nonsense,” the king replied.
“Then I won’t speak.”
“Hurry up and say it if there’s any chance it’ll help Liz!” the king shouted, his fearless face cracking.
The advisor only chuckled in response.
The young secretary looked at the advisor with respect for toying with the king even in these circumstances. The advisor seemed perfectly composed despite Lizel’s disappearance, but this wasn’t due to any bad blood between the two. As far as the young secretary was aware, the advisor and Lizel got along very well as fellow intellectuals.
“Have you heard it said that there is a backside to our world?”
“You’re not talking about underground and the criminal world, right?”
“Correct. It is said that another world exists like an inversion of our own.”
At this unexpected twist, the king showed a powerful scowl. It had immediately jumped into the realm of fantasy. “Liz never said anything about that.”
“It’s something I have also only heard second-hand. The person I heard it from heard it from their friend who had a great-great-great-grandfather who came from that world. One day he suddenly crossed over the boundary of that world into this similar yet completely different world… or so he said.”
It sounded ridiculous, but if it were true then it would explain Lizel’s sudden disappearance. It would also explain the earrings not responding. But Lizel was definitely still alive.
The king grabbed his own earrings and rubbed them. They had been stuffed to the limit with Lizel’s magical power, pulled out against his will until Lizel was gasping for air and lost consciousness. The earrings had not signaled any sort of crisis before the king received the news of Lizel’s disappearance.
“You’re pushing it.”
“My my, then it’s perfectly alright if you forget all about it.”
“Moron, if there’s even the slimmest chance of finding Liz I’ll go to the ends of the world.”
The king stood up. If the earrings had simply been broken somehow and Lizel was still in this world, then that was fine. Lizel would come back on his own. If he had ended up in an allied country, he would ask for protection, and if he had ended up in enemy territory then he would, without exception, have them send him via a vassal nation all the way back to this country.
The young secretary could only nod in agreement to this analysis.
But if Lizel had really gone to that parallel world. They would never give up. Giving up was not an option. For the king, this was the only man allowed to stand next to him; for the young secretary, this man was his greatest benefactor, the one who had picked him up when he had nowhere else to go; and for the king’s advisor, he was a valuable friend with whom he could drink tea and talk about intellectual topics on an even footing.
“For now, I’ll search everywhere he possibly could have gone with a fine-toothed comb. I won’t be back for a while.”
The way most people saw it, there was only one person who could stop the free-spirited king. Many people found themselves thinking “Lizel, please come back!” while trying to stop the runaway king, but there was no use calling out to the very person the king was looking for.
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