The ship that the students of Yasaka High School were on for their field trip sank due to a bomb planted by terrorists.
In this tragic incident one hundred and two casualties crewmen and passengers lost their lives, not counting the terrorists.
「Ah, seeing that the cold, salty water has disappeared, I guess I’ve died as well.」
Amamiya Hiroto felt a deep numbness as he became aware of his own death.
He was in a faintly lit place and there were a lot of other people gathered here as well. It wasn’t as simple as floating in the Sanzu River* with beautiful fields of flowers awaiting them on the other side. But this was likely something like the entrance to the afterlife.
The other people were showing a variety of reactions to being dead – some were crying, some consoling each other and others were showing relief that their friends or loved ones weren’t here with them.
Hiroto, too, wanted to cry out that he didn’t want to die, that he wanted to keep living, but he couldn’t muster the energy to do so.
「Haah... In the end, I died in vain, huh.」(Hiroto)
The reason he said that was that he had spotted a female classmate sitting in a spot a short distance away from him.
She was Naruse Narumi. She was the mood-maker of the class, known by her nickname, Naru. Hiroto had died to save her.
When the ship lurched and began to capsize, Narumi had failed to grab hold of a handrail and looked like she was going to fall. Hiroto had seized her hand immediately and helped her grab the handrail... And then he had rolled down the diagonally-inclined floor in her place, landed on his back against the wall and fallen into the sea to drown.
It had happened in an instant; it was not been something that he had thought about and decided on doing. Thinking about it now, it seemed like a reckless thing to do. Even so, if she had been saved by his actions, he would at least have been able to console himself, but...
「No, I think I acted like a good person before I died.」(Hiroto)
Even if Hiroto died, nobody would mourn for him anyway. He had lost his parents when he was young and he had no blood-related siblings. He had a poor relationship with his uncle’s family on his father’s side, who had adopted him. He had even been told,「get out after you graduate high school.」He didn’t have any friends or a girlfriend. His uncle would be receiving the remainders of Hiroto’s inheritance from his parents and condolence money* for this incident, so he could consider the favor of adopting him as having been repaid. In fact, it was more than enough repayment considering his uncle’s abuse... The clear discrimination from his own biological children, the way Hiroto had been treated until now.
His dreams of the future had only consisted of something vague like「become happy.」It would be fine if that dream would be granted in heaven. At the very least, his uncle and that family wouldn’t be here.
However, reality was irrational and not so lenient.
「You souls who have lost your lives once already, you have been chosen. I will now grant you special power, a new destiny and new fortune. Using these, I wish for you to live new lives in a world separate from the『Earth』you lived on.」(God)
Gods were probably those kinds of beings. A mysterious person with a halo over his head appeared and made this declaration to the people here.
It seemed that instead of heaven, what awaited them was the endless circle of transmigration*. They were further surprised at the news that they would be reborn into another world.
「Of course, you may refuse my request. If you choose to do so, you will lose all memories of your previous life and be reborn somewhere else on『Earth』, as is normal. Those of you hope for this, I would like you to come forward now.」(God)
Hiroto wondered who would refuse in this situation, but there was one boy who refused. Hiroto was a little far away from that boy, so he was unable to hear what the boy said to the god. But the god said,「Well then, you may return to the normal circle of transmigration.」and the boy disappeared, so he knew that the boy had refused the god’s offer.
Of course, Hiroto, like the rest of the people here, were intending to accept the god’s offer. They would receive some special power, be born in a new world to a new family and be happy. No other scenario could offer more hope than this.
「Well then, as I call your name, please come and stand in front of me. Endou Kouya.」(God)
One after another, they had their names called out and received their special powers, destinies and fortunes from the god before leaving the room. Narumi’s name was called out, too.
But now about half of the people had already left, and Hiroto’s name was still not being called.
「Amamiya...? Amemiya Hiroto.」(God)
For a moment, Hiroto thought that he had been called, but it seemed that wasn’t the case. Someone with a very similar name stepped forward to stand in front of the god.
It was a name that Hiroto had never heard before. Even if they were in different classes, they were in the same school, so it seemed unlikely that he didn’t know someone with such a similar name.
Was it a passenger who happened to be riding on the ship at the same time as them, or was it one of the crew? He looked like he was in his late teenage years... Even their physiques were similar. If even their faces were similar, surely he must be Hiroto’s doppelgänger or some long-lost sibling.
The others had received one or two, at most three special powers from the god. As Hiroto observed, Amemiya Hiroto received no fewer than eight special powers. They were quite large powers, too. There were even two destinies and two fortunes, but the god combined them into one before handing them to him.
To receive not just two, but eight special powers! The god must truly love this person. As this thought occurred to Hiroto, the god continued, calling out the next person. And soon, Hiroto was the only one left.
「Hmm? You are?」(God)
Finally, the god noticed Hiroto.
「I’m Amamiya Hiroto.」(Hiroto)
The god sounded puzzled, so Hiroto told him his name. However, this only seemed to surprise the god further.
「Amamiya Hiroto? Not Amemiya? Your surname is Amamiya, written as “shrine of heaven”, and your given name is Hiroto, written as “knowledgeable person”?」(God)
With a bad feeling, Hiroto gave this answer to the god, confirming the spelling of his name. And then the god gave a groan.
「Oh dear... Your names are similar, so I made a mistake. I thought you and Amemiya Hiroto were the same person. All of the special powers that were supposed to be given to you, I unfortunately gave them to Amemiya Hiroto. And even the destiny that was supposed to be given to you and the good fortune that was to keep you safe, I have given to him.」(God)
It was an honest mistake that had occurred through pure coincidence. The time that Hiroto had first thought his name had been called, it seemed to have occurred then.
「But Amemiya Hiroto is no longer here, so I cannot have him return your share. Nor can I prepare new powers for you. The same goes for your destiny and fortune.」(God)
「So in other words, I’m the only one who has to start from zero with nothing?」(Hiroto)
「No; you will be starting from a negative position. You will never be saved by destiny or coincidence, nor will you ever be blessed with good fortune.」(God)
Not even a start from zero, but a negative start. Wasn’t this a little too much?
「In that case, I’ll give up on this. Please return me to the normal circle of transmigration, like that other person earlier.」(Hiroto)
Even if he were to be reborn in a new world, it seemed now that he would face only hardships, so Hiroto was ready to completely give up on this rebirth. But the god shook his head.
「The time of confirming your intentions has already passed.」(God)
「... Are you serious?」(Hiroto)
Hiroto no longer had the ability to refuse. He was ready to raise his objections, to say that these kinds of rules couldn’t exist, but his body began to be surrounded in light and his consciousness started fading away.
「It seems the time for your rebirth has come.」(God)
No way! Isn’t it too much for me to be the only one to start with nothing?!
「In exchange, your soul has a large『empty frame』that is different from the others that are being reborn. In place of special powers, this『empty frame』will likely contain a tremendous amount of Mana within your body. Though since you have no aptitude for magic, you will not be able to learn any of the magical attributes that exist in the world you are about to be reborn into,『Origin.』Therefore, it will be quite wasted on you.」(God)
Are those supposed to be words of comfort?! To have Mana and not be able to use magic, it really is a complete waste!
「I do feel terrible for you. Without special powers, a destiny or fortune, I am sure you will experience many hardships. You will be unable to grow up in a happy environment. Your future prospects will also be limited because you cannot use magic. You will be tormented by an even greater sense of loneliness than you experienced in your previous life; in your hopelessness, you will struggle to breathe and suffer greatly. But I want you to look forward and live on without giving up or resenting anyone.」(God)
You make it sound so easy!
Without even being able to shout his protests, Amamiya Hiroto began his second life.
The god... Rodcorte. The new world he had sent Hiroto and the others was called『Origin.』It was similar to Earth, but it was a world where science and magic blended into each other.
The hundred people reborn in『Origin』were in wonder at the differences between this world and Earth. They were born to new parents, saved by various moments of good fortune, made use of the special powers they had been granted and reunited with each other and recognized one another through their destinies.
They kept their rebirth a secret amongst themselves, but before they knew it, they were known as the hundred heroes.
Excluding the 101st person.
Rodcorte was the god who ruled over the circle of transmigration for the souls of many worlds, including Earth and Origin. He was not directly worshipped by the people, and he didn’t entrust anything to clergymen. Nor was he able to directly intervene by descending onto a world to perform miracles.
What he was capable of doing was controlling the circle of transmigration of souls and, very occasionally, altering it. However, he had almost never made any alterations to the circle before.
This was because the system of the circle of transmigration was very well-made; there were almost no situations that required Rodcorte to adjust it.
However, a problem had occurred recently.
The circle of transmigration for one of the worlds that he managed was slower than those of the other worlds.
While the other worlds were proceeding as normal, this problematic world had come to a standstill for quite some time.
Magic, martial arts, literature, science, engineering, art, cuisine. A repetitive pattern was occurring in a wide variety of fields where development would happen, but then be lost soon after.
The countries repeatedly went to war with one another; a thousand years passed with no progress to show for it. From time to time a hero would appear and one of two smaller countries that had been at war would win and absorb the loser to form a single, larger country. But such larger countries were unable to unify properly and eventually divided, giving rise to conflict once again.
Even when countries were able to maintain peace between each other, incidents like the appearance of powerful demons caused even greater casualties than war.
There existed gods who directly controlled that world and led its people. However, to protect the world from a Demon King who had previously appeared in another world, they had to summon heroes from other worlds and fight the Demon King together with them. Ever since then, they had been unable to regain their former power.
It was necessary for this world’s advancement to continue through any means necessary. It was currently in a state of stagnation, but one event could trigger a sudden decline in development.
As the world declined, fewer souls passed through the circle of transmigration, posing a danger even for Rodcorte.
As Rodcorte wondered what to do, he heard rumors from gods who managed other worlds.
The rumor was that if you took a soul from another world that retained all of their former memories, bestowed cheat-like powers upon them and had them reborn into a world, that world would develop in a good direction at an alarming pace.
It was a rumor that he wanted to believe in. It seemed absurd think that a single person with memories of their past life and cheat-like powers could have such a large influence on an entire world.
Even so, it was worth testing. In the problematic world, the gods had summoned several heroes from other worlds to battle the Demon King. It was a direct summoning of living inhabitants of other worlds, so they had not received divine gifts such as cheat-like abilities. Even so, they were victorious against the Demon King.
Furthermore, most of the heroes lost their lives in the battle, but even in their short time on this world, they had made a lasting impact.
And there would be no better time to test this rumor than now, when there were no Demon Kings or evil gods. With no events like battles between gods and abnormal beings that could challenge them, if heroes were granted cheat-like powers, they would surely have an even more profound impact on the world’s development.
Fortunately, using his position, Rodcorte could feed the souls of the dead back into the problematic world, causing their rebirth into that world as many times as he desired. It wasn’t a difficult task to have them retain memories of their previous lives, either.
As for the cheat-like abilities, he could prepare them by using his ordinary god-powers that he had been saving.
However, he was uneasy with the idea of reincarnating only one person. Just in case, he should use a hundred people.
And with good timing, just as Rodcorte had finished his preparations, around a hundred Japanese people died. According to what he’d heard, they were inhabitants of an island country with advanced knowledge of science and economics, as well as a peculiar culture.
With nobody around to object, Rodcorte decided to exclude the souls of the evil people from among those of the Japanese people who had died on the ferry and reincarnate the rest.
However, they would be reincarnated not on the problematic world, but in『Origin.』
For the purpose of executing his plan perfectly, Rodcorte chose Origin as a place where the souls could live through a practice run so that they could accumulate knowledge and experience.
Once these souls completed their second lives in Origin, he would grant them new powers and destinies once more and have them reincarnated again on the problematic world.
With this much time and effort spent on this plan, it would surely go well.
However, not being used to having to do such tasks, Rodcorte had made one small error. Even a god could not predict that this error would cause his expectations to come crashing down one day.
As if foreshadowing such events, a soul appeared before Rodcorte, having finished its second life.
Rodcorte had expected some differences in their timings depending on the order in which he had reincarnated them. But given the expected lifespan of a human, this was far too quick a reunion. However, he had predicted that this soul would be the first to appear.
「As I expected, you were unable to complete your entire lifespan, Amamiya Hiroto.」(Rodcorte)
The one that had appeared was the 101st reincarnated soul, without any power, destiny or fortune. It was the soul of Amamiya Hiroto.
The soul of Amamiya Hiroto that had appeared before Rodcorte was pitifully wounded, and covered in sinister Mana.
「I’ll kill them, I’ll kill those guys, even if I’m reborn I’ll never forgive them! That goes for you as well!」(Hiroto)
With no care for the fact that Rodcorte was a god, Hiroto threw a punch at him.
Amamiya Hiroto was born in a military state in Origin.
Rodcorte had told him that he would never live a blessed life. Those words became reality; he experienced nothing but misfortune from the moment he was born.
His mother was a prostitute and his real father had abandoned her before he was born. His mother found a new lover who made the decision to sell the baby Hiroto to buy alcohol, to which she didn’t object.
The ones who bought Hiroto was a laboratory that carried out illegal research. As he was examined there, it became clear that he was more inept at magic than any ordinary person in Origin.
In Origin, there were seven attributes of magic that could be used – the four elements of earth, water, fire and air as well as the additional attributes of light, life and spatial magic. It was common knowledge that everyone had at least one attribute out of those seven that they had an affinity for.
However, Hiroto demonstrated no aptitude for any attribute whatsoever, let alone any affinity. In other words, he was an existence that defied logic, inferior to even an ordinary person.
But the people of the laboratory realized that Hiroto owned a vast Mana pool that was far greater than that of an ordinary person.
He had incredible amounts of Mana even though he had no aptitude for any attribute. This was a bizarre contradiction in the eyes of the researchers. And among them, one suddenly came up with an idea.
「It’s not that this experimental subject has no affinity for any attribute. Rather, there’s another attribute that we’ve not discovered that this subject has an affinity for. Isn’t that possible?」(Researcher)
From that point, their research began. It was around then that Hiroto’s memories of his previous life returned.
After several years of research with Hiroto as a human subject, they discovered the eighth attribute – the attribute of death. The researchers had Hiroto learn the death-attribute magic that they had discovered and reconstructed his entire body, including his brain, to continue their research and experiments.
However, the circumstances that Hiroto was in ended with one word.
When he had regained his memories of his previous life, his body was filled with explosives; his life had been taken hostage. And around him were the researchers that viewed him not as a human being, but as an experimental animal.
Hiroto no longer needed basic education such as language or how to read and write, but he had no freedom whatsoever.
Not only that; if he showed any signs of rebellion, he would receive an electrical shock and be left convulsing on the floor.
He spent his days eating food that was nutritious, yet more plain than food fed to prisoners, and doing exactly as the researchers instructed him to in whatever experiments they desired to carry out.
Even though he had awakened his ability to use death-attribute magic, he couldn’t leave the laboratory.
Hiroto covered his body in death-attribute magic and desperately gathered power in his hand. Completely inept with any other attribute of magic, through sheer effort, he covered himself in death-attribute magic.
He developed many different uses for his magic, contributing towards the laboratory, the researchers and the country they belonged to. However, right until the end, Hiroto’s work went unrewarded.
This was because the researchers were aware of his usefulness to them, but they also feared his insubordination. As Hiroto’s usefulness increased, this fear also grew.
The explosives in his body were buried not only in the heart, but also in the brain. His torso housed a GPS to prevent his escape. His right eyeball was been replaced by an artificial eye containing a special camera and a listening device was planted in his mouth and ears to catch even the smallest whisper.
His food intake was limited so that he would never have more physical strength than necessary. His room was small and he was never allowed to leave it except for experiments.
To make him more able to use death-attribute magic, to increase the size of his Mana pool – They reconstructed his body for a variety of reasons.
In order to ensure that he wouldn’t somehow make an ally to plan an escape or rebellion, the guards who watched him and the operator that gave them direct orders were rotated often, so that he wouldn’t be in contact with any individual in particular for an extended period of time.
And finally, they carried out an inhumane procedure on his brain, cutting off his control over his body’s Mana and making him their puppet.
At this time, Hiroto wasn’t even ten years old. And from this age, he spent over ten more years in this hell where he couldn’t even move a single finger of his own accord.
Even after about ten years of this situation, Hiroto’s mind did not cave in. A reason for that would be the souls of the dead that had been attracted to his affinity for the death attribute, who whispered comforting words to him. Another reason was that he had hope that they would come to rescue him from this hell.
However, Hiroto died.
He was unable to withstand the reckless experiments carried out by the newer researchers, who were trying to surpass the results produced by their predecessors.
It was ironic that through death, Hiroto regained his freedom. Through the death of his body, his soul regained its control over his Mana.
Hiroto turned his own body into an Undead to go on a rampage, fueled by his hatred.
He tore those who had toyed with his life to pieces and squeezed the researchers that begged for their lives as if they were pieces of wet cloth. He made sport of the military personnel as he killed them.
As Hiroto continued rampaging after killing everyone in the laboratory, not satisfied with this revenge, familiar faces appeared before him.
Hiroto raised his voice in joy at the sight of these dozens of people, as their faces were familiar to him.
Their features were a little different, but most of them were his classmates in the same year as him in his previous life. He knew some of them as his teachers.
Naruse Narumi was among them as well.
They were Hiroto’s companions who had been reincarnated in Origin with him. They were his hope.
One day they would definitely find him; they would definitely come to rescue him. For the past twenty years, Hiroto had never stopped believing that.
They were a little late, but he wasn’t one to complain. Let’s celebrate our reunion, let’s redo our second lives, I’m sure it’s possible now that all of these companions are here, he thought.
Trembling in joy, Hiroto took one step towards them.
「Everyone, commence attack!」
However, at the command of a young man who appeared to be the leader of his companions, Hiroto was struck by simultaneously-released magical attacks.
『Wait! Why are you attacking me?! I’m your ally, I’m one of your companions!』
Hiroto’s screams were drowned out by blazing hellfire, blades of wind, piercing cold and devastating lightning. Hiroto, who had approached his companions with no thoughts of defending himself, was completely bewildered as he fell, his body fatally wounded.
「That was surprisingly quick. Considering that we heard that a powerful Undead had risen.」
「Well, there’s thirty out of us hundred heroes gathered here. There’s no way we’d have trouble with that.」
Above Hiroto’s head, familiar voices were having a conversation.
Hundred people? A hundred people, you said? NO! There were a hundred and one of us, including me, there’s a hundred and one!
He wanted to shout those words, but his throat had already been cut; he could not even let out a moan.
His right arm was completely burned and blackened; his left arm had gone flying off somewhere else. His legs had been torn off at some point; he could see his left leg in the corner of his vision.
His head and torso were in a terrible state as well.
「The reason we didn’t have any trouble is because this Undead let its guard down. Death-attribute magic... What a terrifying magic.」
Looking in the direction of this voice with the only eyeball that he could move, Hiroto saw Naruse Narumi standing there. She had matured more than she had in her previous life; she was now an adult woman.
「Ah, he’s another victim of this laboratory.」
Next to her stood a young man, the leader who had given the attack command. Judging from the distance between them, he knew that this man and Narumi were intimate with each other.
「I’m sure he wants us to kill him.」
「You’re right, Hiroto.」(Narumi)
Hiroto...? Hiroto? Amemiya Hiroto?! This guy is Amemiya Hiroto?!
「Let’s at least finish him off so that he doesn’t have to suffer anymore.」(Narumi)
「That’s the best thing we can do for him. Narumi, let’s do it together.」(Hiroto)
Don’t fuck with me! Why the hell are you the one standing there?! You, who took my share of power, destiny and fortune! Why are you trying to finish me off with such a heroic look on your face?!
Why is it you, why the fuck did it have to be you?!
It’s all your fault that my second life was such a disaster! Hundred heroes? You’re treating me as an outcast and killing me?!
Hiroto let out a cry, but he was unable to withstand the bright light coming from the hands of Hiroto and Narumi and turned into dust.
「Everything is your fault! You call yourself a god?! Second life, my ass! You cast me into a hell even worse than my previous life!」(Hiroto)
Hiroto’s fist had a black fog-like substance coiling around it, but it didn’t even graze Rodcorte. That was just the result of the difference in power between man and god.
「I am aware that I did a terrible thing to you.」(Rodcorte)
Saying the same thing as he had said before, Rodcorte explained the circumstances he was facing to Hiroto’s furious soul. The information was transmitted to him directly by some godly power and permeated through his mind in an instant.
「... So you’re saying there’s a third time?」(Hiroto)
「That is correct. This is something that has been prepared since you were first reborn in Origin. This time, you do not have the choice to refuse, and I cannot interrupt it.」(Rodcorte)
What absurd nonsense this was. However, to Hiroto, this nonsense was like finding a ship when he needed to cross*.
「I see... Then in the next world, I’ll kill them! The ones who killed me, I won’t leave any of them alive! I died first, right?! In that case, I’m going to be the one who reincarnates for the second time first, so I’ll have the advantage! This time, I’ll be the one who kills them!」(Hiroto)
I’ll become an adult before them, gain power and then find Amemiya Hiroto and the others among the children and kill them all! That should be possible even for someone like me with no special power.
「Now hurry up and grant me all that stuff, Kami-sama*. This time you’ve got a destiny and fortune for me, right? After all, I’m the one who died first, there’s no way you’re going to get me confused for someone else again, right?!」(Hiroto)
「... I have no power to bestow onto you.」(Rodcorte)
As if lightly pushing against Hiroto’s soul, Rodcorte pressed his palm into Hiroto.
With just that, Hiroto began to speed up and fall towards somewhere.
「At this point, the only thing I can do is add something. I cannot give you a power.」(Rodcorte)
「Why?! I’m the only one with nothing again, how is that possible?!」(Hiroto)
「Because I cannot allow the others to be killed by you.」(Rodcorte)
Rodcorte spoke to Hiroto as he grew smaller and smaller, apologizing.
「If you kill the others, the world’s development will be hindered. Your death on Origin was the product of a great amount of misfortune. The same goes for the fact that Amemiya Hiroto and the others were unaware of your existence, even until the very end. But even if I say that, you will not be satisfied.」(Rodcorte)
After Hiroto had died on the ship, before he was reincarnated, he had been standing at the edge of where all of the souls had gathered. Because of that, nobody had seen Hiroto.
Furthermore, there had only been one person to refuse to be reincarnated in a new world.
And the final point was that he had been the very last person to be reincarnated.
Because of these things, Amemiya Hiroto and the others had explained his absence by thinking,「he must have somehow survived and didn’t die with us」or「he must have refused to be reincarnated, like that other person.」
In addition, the repeated experiments on Hiroto’s body had changed the shape of his face completely, to the point that Narumi hadn’t even been able recognize him.
「All of this misfortune was caused by my own clumsiness. I wished for you to look forward and live on without giving up or resenting anyone, but unfortunately you were put on a path that made that impossible. Through your discovery of death-attribute magic and development of new magic, you contributed towards Origin’s advancement. I hope that you can forgive me for being unable to repay you in any way and forcing you to endure a third life of misfortune.」(Rodcorte)
But even as Hiroto’s soul grew more distant, Rodcorte could feel Hiroto telling him that this would never be forgiven.
「Therefore, all I can do is to have you give up on your foolish revenge before you can commit any sin and hope that you will quickly end your own life.」(Rodcorte)
And then, in the palm of Rodcorte’s hand, something like a ball of slime appeared. In the next moment, it hit Hiroto’s body.
As Hiroto screamed in agony in response to the violent pain, Rodcorte spoke.
「This is a curse. It can never be lifted. With this curse, you will never be able to gain new powers even in this new world. However, I promise you that for your fourth life I will erase all of your painful memories and return you to the normal circle of transmigration.」(Rodcorte)
With no time to object to Rodcorte’s undesirable promise, Hiroto’s mind went blank.