Chapter 1 – Royal Road Summoned
I had come to the town library to hang out and read some books.
Wait, that's a terrible place to start. I haven't even introduced myself yet. The name's Iwatani Naofumi, college sophomore, and I'm what most people would call an otaku. I wasn't always this way, but after I was introduced to video games, anime, and otaku culture, there was no way I could ever go back to caring about something as boring as studying.
Once my parents realized I was a lost cause, they decided to focus their efforts on my little brother instead, forcing him into some big-name cram school to "ensure his future". Unfortunately, I think he must have cracked from the pressure of living up to their expectations and preparing for entrance exams, since he ended up dying his hair blond and talking like a punk. It was a really dark time for our family.
But then, a savior appeared: me!
I approached my dear, foul-tempered little brother and told him to play a certain mega-popular dating sim.
"You fuckin' with me or somethin'!? Get the fuck out of here!"
"Geez, just trust me and play it, okay?"
I knew the real reason my little brother went bad. It's because unlike me, who got everything I ever wanted growing up, he was forced to do nothing but study day in and day out. He desperately needed an outlet for his frustration. And when a relaxation specialist like me makes a recommendation, well, even my brother couldn't help but have his interest piqued.
...To make a long story short, the world gained another otaku. Since then, my brother's room has been totally transformed, filled to the brim with merch from the dating sim I recommended. On top of that, with his stress gone he managed to pass all his exams and get into a super prestigious high school. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't just a little bit irritating.
On the plus side, thanks to my efforts my parents lightened up on me, and I was finally able to enjoy a carefree college life. I guess you could call me the black sheep of the Iwatani family.
Anyway, where was I? Oh, right, the library.
My parents had already given me my monthly allowance of 10,000 yen, which I converted directly into light novels, manga, and porn. I made another 50,000 yen a month from my part-time job, but between the summer and winter comiket, and all the various local festivals, that didn't go very far either. In fact, it was looking like I was probably going to have to crash at my parents' house again for a while...
Still, I was able to live the way I liked, so I couldn't really ask for more. As far as I was concerned, just having my tuition and food expenses covered was more than enough. That didn't change the fact that I was dead broke, though, so in the interests of frugality, I was passing the time reading random books in used bookstores and libraries.
I briefly considered getting back into the online game I'd been playing recently, but doing that would mean resigning myself to an infinite time sink. See, I'm the kind of guy that values breadth over depth. Rather than racing for the level cap like most people, I preferred to spend all my play time leisurely making money. In fact, I had a character selling rare items in the in-game marketplace at that very moment.
Unfortunately, that meant the real-life me had more free time than he knew what to do with - which is where the library came in.
It happened while I was scanning over the section dedicated to old fantasy novels. You might not realize this, but fantasy is as old as humanity itself. Even the bible is basically a fantasy novel, when you get right down to it.
"The Weapons of the Four Saints?"
For some reason, a worn out old book with a nearly-illegible title suddenly fell off the shelf. Maybe the last person that looked at it had been careless when they put it back? Or, maybe it was fate. At any rate, I sat down in a chair and started reading.
Apparently it was one of those books that starts by going over the setting in excruciating detail. There was a lot to take in, but the gist of it was that a prophecy foretold the end of the world. According to the prophecy, the world would be destroyed by wave after wave of disasters. In order to avert this calamity, the people called out for Heroes from another world to save them.
"...It's a pretty cliched plot, but I guess I can't expect too much of from an antique. It must have seemed pretty fresh back in the day."
Four Heroes were summoned, wielding four weapons: sword, spear, bow, and shield.
"Haha, what? A shield isn't even a weapon, it's armor!"
I laughed wryly, but kept on reading. In the end, the Heroes set out on a journey to gain strength and polish their skills in order to fight the Wave of Calamity.
A wave of sleepiness washed over me. Seriously, would it have killed them to add a cute girl or two to keep the reader's interest? I mean, technically there was a princess, but she seemed like a total bitch. The way she toadied up to all of the Heroes was totally disgusting. Like, just pick a guy and stick with him, right?
Oh, well, at least there was a decent enough cast of characters. The dashing Sword Hero, and the thoughtful Spear Hero. The Robin Hood-esque Bow Hero, working to topple a corrupt kingdom. But when the story turned its attention toward the Shield Hero...
I inadvertently let out a gasp as I flipped through the pages. Everything after the page about the Shield Hero was completely blank. No many how many times I looked, there was nothing there.
"What the hell is this?"
Before I knew what was happening, my vision grew dim and my consciousness began to fade. Even in my wildest dreams, I never could have imagined that - just like that - I'd end up in another world.