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Only by accident did Hajime discover the power to travel between worlds. It was frightening at first but the lust for adventure that existed in every young man took over soon enough, the worlds he saw were wonderful, dangerous. He would conquer new frontiers every day after school, it was better than any club or sport.
His most recent excursion took him to a land of castles and dragons where he saved a beautiful princess from the clutches of an evil queen. It was all in good fun but the queen he so casually foiled had a short temper and a long memory. She wondered: if Hajime could jump into her world, perhaps there was a way she could jump into his.
Hajime’s little sister died in a school bus accident. His family mourned for days but grief turned to anger when Hajime heard reports of green fire at the scene of the accident. It had to be the evil queen. Either intentionally or unintentionally, she killed his sister in retaliation for his interference. If her plan was to scare him, it failed, he jumped worlds right after the funeral.
The dark queen’s castle sat like a bloated toad in the distance. Hajime’s school blazer fluttered in the dry breeze. Armed with his father’s nine-iron, he approached the castle with empty eyes, thoughts of his departed sister mingled with thoughts of bashing the queen’s head in like a watermelon.
“Stop!” It was a little girl from the village.
Hajime walked around her. “Leave me alone.”
“If you go into that castle, you’ll die,” the girl snapped.
“And how could you possibly know that?”
She blocked him, put her arms out. “Because I’ve already seen you die. Over and over. Three-thousand seven-hundred and eight times exactly.”
Hajime’s eyes widened, her voice was full of honest desperation. “You’ve what?”
“The queen knows you want revenge and she cast a spell to stop you. You’re doomed to repeat this day forever. I don’t know why, maybe it’s to keep you occupied while she carries out her plans in another timeline, but it’s true.” She grabbed her hair, “I’ve told you this so many times I’m losing my mind!”
Hajime looked up at the castle, at the crooked spires and glowing windows. He knew the bitch wasn’t about to let him waltz in unopposed but the girl’s tale was too farfetched. For all he knew, she was in league with the enemy.
“How do I know you’re telling me the truth?” Hajime asked.
The girl looked away and held herself. “You ask me that every time. I-I still don’t know what to tell you. You saved my princess, you have to believe I’m on your side.”
Hajime spun his nine-iron through the air, thinking. “I won’t die. I have to do this, spell or no spell.”
Hajime fought his way through the castle, all the way to the queen. He had accrued a great deal of skills after world jumping for months, his nine-iron was mere feint that concealed his true weapon: a powerful spell that canceled the queen’s power and left her incapacitated. She crumpled to the floor, her black robes splayed all around her. This was it, Hajime thought while lifting his weapon, this was his chance to finish her once and for all.
Before he delivered the fatal blow he remembered the girl who said he was doomed to die. It didn’t make sense; he was victorious now. Maybe he found a way to break the spell, maybe the girl was lying all along.
The truth didn’t matter. In his moment of hesitation, the queen killed him.
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