Saturday, January 22, 2022

Have a Cup of Coffee after School in the Fantasy World Café V6 (1 of 7)


Translator: Skythewood

Editor: Hiiro

My back hurt when I stood up straight. I was too engrossed in shoveling the snow. Heat was dissipating from my body, and my back was covered in sweat. I shoved the shovel into the snow and supported my waist with my hand. I looked towards the laughing I just heard. One of my regulars, Wilm-san, was standing on the road to my shop.

【The snow sure is a hassle.】

【Good Morning, Wilm-san. Heading to the Labyrinth on such a snowy day?】

【With how the city is, it’s more comfortable to dive into the Labyrinth.】

【Sounds great. Maybe I should take a look too.】

【If you are going, let me guide the way. Anyway, the Labyrinth Shift that happened three years ago will be happening again. This is the time for the adventurers to go in and get a final haul. If you want to go, it’s better to go next year.】

Wilm-san raised his hand, then walked away in the snow.

It snowed last year too, but the snow was heavier this year, turning the streets white.

When I woke up this morning, I found the entrance to the shop buried in the snow. So I took out a shovel from the storeroom and started shoveling.

The mountains in the distance had a white crown, and the city was dyed in white. The snow was glistening under the morning sun.

I took a deep breath of the clear cold air, and held it in. The air filtered by the snow had a clear taste. It was a comfortable morning.

But there was something worrying too. With this much snow and in such cold weather, would there still be customers?

I could hear cheers from nearby. Four kids were running around in the streets, laughing while covered in snow. They would jump into the piled up snow or throw snow at each other, their happy laughter echoing out loud.

Snow was the root of my worries, but for the kids, this was the beginning of fun and games.

I locked my gaze with the person on the other side of the street. He was leaning on his shovel while resting, and watching the children just like me. We smiled at each, then went back to our shoveling.

This was the third winter since I came to this world. And it started with me doing hard labor, shoveling the snow.

A fire burned brightly in the hearth. I added more firewood, then sat down on the floor. My sweat from shoveling snow had cooled, and my body was freezing. I warmed my hands at the fire, and saw my fingers were trembling.

This was troubling. How great would it be if I could make a snowman and engage in snow fights like a kid.

And now, I was worried about shoveling snow in my storefront, how many customers would come, and problems like the cost of firewood. In short, how much this snow would affect my income.

Instead of enjoying the snow, I was more worried about the money. I felt a little sad that I have grown up.

After warming myself at the fire, my chills had subsided. Pushing myself up, I looked out the window, and light snow was falling, glimmering in the golden sunlight.

【… It will be great if the snow stops piling up.】

I would need to shovel snow tomorrow too. I could only smile wryly about this, since grumbling about the weather was useless.

The door chimed, and the wind blew in with light snow.

【Oh, Shopkeeper. Good Morning.】

It was the adventurer Arbel-san.

【Good Morning, you are fully armed today too.】

【Oh, this?】

Arbel-san knocked on the platinum armour she was wearing under her coat.

【It might look heavy, but it’s actually light and comfortable. And warm too.】

【Warm? Isn’t it metal?】

【There is a convenient thing called magic engravings. Armors can become light, and the temperature can be adjusted.】

【That sounds convenient.】

I started seriously considering buying a set too. It would be convenient when I shovel snow.

As if she saw through what I was thinking, Arbel-san smiled.

【And of course, it cost a tidy sum of gold. This is one of the secret techniques of the Coven. It cost as much as a dwarven steel sword.】

【Are dwarven steel swords expensive?】

【Yes, because they hate swords.】


【A dwarf I knew said they don’t like weapons with blades taller than them.】

That sounded like a personal reason, so I wonder if I should laugh awkwardly or treat this like a joke.

【By the way, what’s the Coven? I think I heard that somewhere before.】

【Huh?】 Arbel-san cocked her head.

Oh, it seemed I had misspoke.

I didn’t belong to this world, I came here suddenly one day. I didn’t have the common knowledge of the locals, and they would look at me dubiously when I asked them about it. This has happened numerous times now.

I was thinking of an excuse when Arbel-san spoke before I could.

【It’s something like a research institute. Investigating ancient secrets, produce from the Labyrinth, and all sorts of things. The Coven is secretive in nature, and difficult to discern.】

That sounded like some secret evil organization. I remembered where I heard that name before. It was Linaria. When she saw the devil’s fruit brought in by Corleone-san, she mentioned that the Coven was also researching it.

【The Labyrinth Shift is being investigated by the Coven too. The cycle is shorter than usual, so they are investigating since it’s out of the norm.】

【Is that Labyrinth Shift that rare?】

【It happens once every several years or several decades. The shortest interval should be eight years, but this time, it’s three years. It’s only natural for Coven to be concerned.】

I didn’t really understand what the Labyrinth Shift was, and I was hesitant to ask now, so I pretended to know and nodded. I then reached for the bag I placed beside the counter.

【Sorry for chatting for so long. Here, the lunchbox you ordered.】

Arbel-san took it with a cheerful smile.

【Thank you. That’s something to look forward to in the Labyrinth.】

【But, that’s a space distortion bag, right? Is it really fine to put your lunchbox inside?】

Arbel-san passed me this magic bag some time ago. It was small enough to be held in one hand, but the inside had been expanded with magic, and time was stopped for the things placed inside. She asked me to pack the lunchboxes inside.

【No one knows how the Labyrinth will change after a Labyrinth Shift. I want to do as much as possible while the Labyrinth maps I saved up are still useful. The adventurers might choose to camp in the Labyrinth, which means I will be camping in the Labyrinth, I can’t stay there without this much leisure and comfort.】

Arbel-san leaned in close as she said that. The faint sweet citrus scent made my heart race. It was too stimulating for an innocent youth like me for a big sister as beautiful as Arbel-san to be so close.

【Did you prepare the usual?】

【Yes, I have put in the Coffee.】

Arbel-san gave me a bunch of buckets along with the bag, and asked me to fill all of them with Coffee. I knew Arbel-san was obsessed with Coffee, but I still had to respect her for going so far.

【That’s a relief.】 Arbel-san looked satisfied. 【It’s a matter of life and death if I can’t drink your Coffee for a few days.】

【I’m happy to hear that, but do be careful.】

I didn’t know how dangerous the Labyrinth was, but it definitely wasn’t a stroll in a park. You couldn’t be too careful there.

【I have the Shopkeeper’s lunchbox and Coffee. That’s the best protection for me. I will be counting on you for the food and Coffee after I come back.】

【Yes, I will be waiting.】

Arbel-san left the shop. I couldn’t follow her, so I watched Arbel-san go as usual.

When the door stopped chiming, the shop was eerily quiet. As if the snow in the city had drowned out all the sound.

It had been a while since I opened the shop. I remember that I didn’t flip the sign to 【Open for Business】.

I was heading out when I bumped into a guest coming in. It was the big sister Elf who visited regularly.

【Welcome. You’re early today.】

The big sister nodded and stared right at me, and I looked back. I stood there wondering what it was, but she still didn’t speak. I couldn’t stand the silence and was about to speak when…

【You are not from this world, right?】

The unexpectedly clear voice seemed to hit me right in the heart. I couldn’t say anything, and just looked back with my mouth agape.

【It’s almost time for you to return to your original world.】 

Chapter 1: The Beginning of Winter and the End of Stasis


There were different seasons for Coffee.

To brew a good cup of Coffee, high quality Coffee beans were necessary, and that included the cultivation of these beans. Coffee beans were hard to cultivate, and it was probably the same in this world. You couldn’t plant them without the perfect environment. As for the difficulty, it needed heavy rainfall when it was growing, and it had to be dry enough when harvesting it. It needed sufficient sunlight, but it couldn’t be too strong, and the year round temperature had to be just right. It was easier to get along with the unsociable dwarves than planting Coffee.

Because of their nature, there were limited places for Coffee beans to grow. On top of that, this world didn’t have a culture of drinking Coffee as a beverage, so bean cultivation was rare. It was popular in some places as a local specialty, but it wasn’t well liked where I was. This shop’s Coffee beans were imported from overseas, transported by sea.

This contributed to it’s high price, which couldn’t be helped. I had to sell it with a thin margin, and instead of making money, I had the ambition of spreading the charm of Coffee to the whole world.

However, great ambition was usually accompanied by great difficulties.

【Your ship is out of commission?】

【We ran into a mana storm during our voyage. We made it out safely thanks to a mage who was on board, and managed to secure the cargo too. But the keel is done for. It had been used for decades already, so it’s time to retire the ship. And it’s time for me to retire with it too.】 

His grey hair was combed back, and his beard looked majestic. He was old, and his well toned body was completely tanned. I address him as Skipper, and don’t know him by any other name.

The Skipper’s large hand covered the cup as he picked it up and drank the Coffee heartily.


【And so, I can’t help you with the delivery of this thing any more.】 


【… I see. Given how your ship is, that can’t be helped.】

Skipper had been supplying the Coffee in my shop.

【And I finally liked this thing.】 


The Skipper always drinks rum. My shop didn’t serve alcohol, so the Skipper always tried to drink Coffee.

【When you first ordered this for me, I thought you were being nosy. But now, I guess it isn’t too bad.】 


The Shopkeeper surveyed the shop. The regulars were visiting despite the snow. Amongst them was the Elf big sister who told me the explosive news this morning.

I tried to not pay attention to her and smiled at the Skipper.

【The number of people who realized the charms of Coffee, just like the Skipper, is increasing. Just a little though.】

【Even a small number is important. Accumulating slowly over time is more reliable.】

The Skipper turned silent, his gaze resting on the Cup.

【Sorry that this happens just when your shop is getting on track.】 


The Skipper who was as cheerful as the summer sea was gone, his voice sounded gloomy.


【Don’t mind it, I only made it so far because of your support, Skipper.】 


The truth was, Skipper was the only one in this city who could deliver those weird beans to me at a low price. Lots of people turned me down before Skipper accepted my request and said 【Sounds interesting.】


【I’m really grateful to you, Skipper.】

【… Oh.】 


He smiled clumsily, then picked up the cup and drained it. After finishing it, he stood up. Skipper opened his large hand after pulling it out from his pocket. There was a pile of silver and copper coins.

【I still need to inform other people. I will drop by again when things settle down. I will also try to find someone to take over the delivery of your cargo.】 


Skipper told me to keep the change, then left the shop.


Putting it nicely, he was forthright, but from a different perspective, the Skipper was crude. When he settled the bill, he would fish out everything in his pocket.

I was awed by the Skipper’s manliness today too. A question popped up in my mind as I put his cup in the sink. The retirement of the Skipper delivering my Coffee happened right when the Elf big sister told me about that thing.


It wasn’t logical, and I would refute it after thinking about it calmly. Other people would just laugh it off. However, I couldn’t shake off this idea.

Was this really a coincidence?



This was what happened this morning.

【It’s almost time for you to return to your original world.】

I couldn’t understand what the Elf big sister was saying right then.


I was told something unexpected, at an unexpected timing, by someone I didn’t expect from. Instead of surprise, it felt unreal. Before I could accept this fact, the Elf big sister just waited quietly.

【What do you mean?】

I squeezed out after some time with a hoarse voice.

【I’m sent by the Coven to watch over you.】


It didn’t sound real, and I had no idea either. I didn’t know how to answer even if she said she was watching me. The Elf big sister drooped her eyebrows at my reaction.


【You can be angry at me. It doesn’t feel good to be told you’re being watched, right?】 


She continued.

【You just drop by during opening hours and even placed orders.】 


【It’s important to blend in.】

She sounded a little proud for some reason.

【To me, you are just a regular customer, there’s no reason for me to be angry.】

【Like I said, I’m watching you.】

【By the way, why are you watching me?】

The big sister then said:

【Because you came from another world.】

Our conversation finally felt real. The words filled my mind, as if a jam had been cleared. I had a few things I wanted to ask, but the words were stuck in my throat. I couldn’t decide what to ask first, and felt a little anxious.

I had been searching all this while.

Someone who knew my true identity. There were other worlds aside from this one. Even if I said that, people would just brush it off as a joke. I had been searching for someone who I could share this loneliness with.

And that person was standing right before me.

The Elf big sister stood there stiffly, waiting for my next words. I was waiting for my own words too. After calming down, I finally unclamped my throat.

At this moment, the door chimed. It was Gramps Goru. He looked at us standing at the entrance and raised a brow.

【Am I interrupting something?】

The Elf big sister nodded in greeting before walking to her usual spot. I didn’t stop her, since I wasn’t sure what I should say.

【What happened, Yuu-kun, are you hitting on her? I will tell on you to Linaria-chan.】

I couldn’t help smiling at Gramps Goru’s teasing tone. This felt like my normal everyday life.


【No way, just idle chatter.】

【What, how boring.】

Gramps Goru walked to his seat and I returned to the counter. I glanced at the Elf big sister from afar, and she was reading a thick book like usual.

I imagined walking to her and continuing our conversation, but it didn’t work. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do that.

I would bring it up naturally in the evening. Before that, I should prepare myself mentally.

However, would that moment really come? For some reason, I felt a little scared.


The stable weather suddenly changed in the evening. A blizzard had started, blowing the snow everywhere. The visibility was terrible, and it would be difficult to even walk outside.

【This might be the effect of the Labyrinth Shift.】

Gramps Goru who was dozing off before the hearth said as he looked out the windows.


【Would the weather turn for the worst during a Labyrinth Shift?】

Gramps Goru stood up and came to the counter seat.

【There is a large shift of the mana inside the Labyrinth, which affects the mana in the surrounding air. The intermittent snow would continue in the near future.】

It seemed that the Labyrinth Shift caused a change in the mana, which affected the weather. I see, I didn’t understand anything.

The Shift must be a serious thing. Arbel-san said so too. However, I didn’t really understand it since I didn’t have the chance to ask about it.

I wanted to ask Gramps Goru to give a detailed explanation when the door opened and a strong wind blew in. The chime was ringing wildly. The one pushed in by the blizzard was a duo. A tall and short figure wrapped in their coats. The tall figure pulled off his hood, and the snow fell onto the floor.

【My apologies, we want to rest here until the snow stops… Is this a tavern?】

That sounded like a young man, and his face looked exhausted. He had an unkempt beard.

【Welcome. This is an eatery. There aren’t any alcohol, but would you like some warm beverages?】 


【Eatery?】 The man sounded doubtful. 【Can you give me a cup of sweet beverage, and one that isn’t sweet?】 


【Alright, coming right up. Please sit anywhere you like.】

The man took off his coat and hung it on the hanger by the entrance. He then cleared the snow on the smaller figure’s head and shoulders, then led that person to the seat near the hearth.

The smaller figure sat down with the coat still wrapped tightly around them, so I couldn’t see their face. This was unnatural, but there must be a reason.

I boiled the water and looked at Gramps Goru, and he slowly shook his head. He was telling me not to probe, and I nodded in agreement.

He ordered a sweet beverage, so I cooked hot cacao with a pan. This was a staple beverage during winter in this city, and could be seen on the stalls by the road.

I took out some fruit soaked in sugar, added it into the cocoa and heated it up. The sugar and fruit melted slowly, and the thick aroma was released.

I brewed the Coffee while it was cooking, then served the beverages when it was done. The two of them sat opposite each other in silence. The atmosphere wasn’t bad, they seemed close enough to enjoy this silence.

【Thank you for waiting. This is sweet cocoa.】 


The man took it and placed it before him.

【And this is the non-sweet Coffee.】

【Coffee? This shop serves Coffee?】 

A female voice came from inside the coat. I looked over on reflex, and locked my gaze with purple eyes.

The woman looked very stiff, and the man also took a defensive posture. The seat turned a little tense. I didn’t know why, so I didn’t care about the atmosphere and the woman’s expression, and served the Coffee.

【You know about Coffee?】

The woman looked troubled, and answered carefully.

【Yes. I often drink it when I was young.】

【Me too. I spat it out when I first drank it, then got addicted to it before I realized it.】

【Yes yes, you will get addicted without knowing. I will feel uncomfortable if I don’t drink it.】

The woman covered her mouth with her fingers, and I could hear a soft, bell-like laugh.

【I never thought I can see Coffee in this country.】

Her white, slender fingers picked up the cup and moved it to her face.

【How fragrant… It’s Banjaro, Miguri, and something else.】

I was surprised when she said that. To think someone could identify the beans just from the aroma.

【There’s a little Kinekuto too. It has a good harvest this year.】

【Oh, so it’s Kinekuto. Yes, it does have its aroma.】

【This is the first time I have met someone who can differentiate the beans. That’s amazing.】

【I’m sensitive to the smell.】 The woman said with a smile and sipped the Coffee. 【It’s plain, you must have adjusted it to make it easier for people to drink.】

【Most of my customers in this city aren’t used to it, so I adjusted the bitterness. Would you prefer it to be stronger?】

A while later, she answered quietly with a light nod:


【… A little.】

I could tell from our conversation that this woman was used to drinking Coffee. It couldn’t be helped that she thought my Coffee blend to be plain. I made it so that people could accept the taste more easily.

【Would you like some other Coffee?】

【You have something else other than this?】

【Yes, I actually have some Rogukonerika.】

The woman cheered quietly.

【You have such an expensive bean?】 


【I have my connections.】

That's what I said, but that was just something the Skipper got from his friend, and he gave it to me in turn. Rogukonerika was a Coffee bean with a low yield, so it’s quality and price was really high. If that was true in the country that produces Coffee, then it was a rare brew in this city.

【I can’t sell it since it’s too expensive, which is troubling. So let me treat you to a cup.】

【But it’s something so valuable.】

She seemed really concerned, but her shoulders were shaking excitedly. She really wanted to try them.

Ohh! She really understood Coffee!

I wanted to serve her Coffee just from that alone. I wanted to put my business on hold and just talk about Coffee with her. However, the woman seemed really elegant and hesitated to speak. Seeing her like this, the man opposite her laughed.

【Shopkeeper, can you serve that expensive Coffee? Just charge us the full price. I can’t drink it, but she finds it really tempting.】


【It’s fine, you haven’t had Coffee for a long while, right?】

【That’s not the problem.】

【It’s alright, I will foot the bill, don’t mind it.】

I observed the woman, and realized that the man didn’t understand why the woman was hesitant.

【… Alright then, may I charged it at retail price?】

【Please do.】

【Yes, it’s fine.】

She sounded unhappy.

I sympathized with that man a little. His manliness was noteworthy, but he underestimated this cup of Coffee.

I returned to the counter and took out the Rogukonerika I kept carefully on the cabinet, and poured one cup’s worth into the grinder.

I brewed it with the Coffee maker as usual, and an aroma far stronger than usual spread in the room. I could feel how strong it was from the aroma, so the taste must be even deeper. This was a high quality product for Coffee lovers.

I served it more carefully than usual to the woman. She had finished her first cup. The woman took the Coffee and moved it to her nose, then said softly: 【How nostalgic.】

【Have you tried it before?】

【Yes, but just a sip.】

She slowly took a sip, then exhaled.

【This is amazing. It’s really delicious.】

【I know.】

That was how I felt when I first tried it. The price aside, it wasn’t easy to get my hands on it. Its rarity was complimented with its unique taste.

【This was the first time I have seen you made such a face.】

The man said gently.

【Oh, I’m sorry. Was it unsightly?】

【No, I saw a nice scene and it was really worth it. It will make me happy for quite some time.】

【Really now, stop teasing me.】

I left quietly as they chatted happily. I had enough experience and could read they were in a nice mood.

【How sweet. There was a time when I was like that too.】

When I returned to the counter, Gramps Goru said nostalgically.

【It’s not nice to eavesdrop.】

【I just happened to hear them, and didn’t hide at all. I’m surprised you call it eavesdropping.】

Gramps Goru was literally sprawled over the counter, resting comfortably while supporting his cheek. He was taking up enough space for two.

【By the way, Yuu-kun, don’t you have any for me?】


【Rogukonerika. I want to try it too.】

【I’m out.】

【Isn’t it in the cabinet? On the second shelf.】

【It’s empty.】

【I heard about one’s cup worth of it inside.】

【It’s not for sale.】

【Didn’t you serve a cup from that jar?】

【It is not for sale now.】

【That’s just on a whim of your feelings, Yuu-kun. Ahh, I want to drink it. Can’t a young man treat an old man without much time left to a cup?】

Gramps Goru tapped the counter to a strange rhythm and started singing 【The Wish Song of the Old with Not Much Time Left.】 A staple when Gramps Goru was being shameless. I could ignore him if I was alone, but there were guests today, and they were a couple with a good mood going.

【… I get it. I will prepare it for you, so stop singing that weird song.】

【Yuu-kun is so kind! The longer you live, the more good things you’ll encounter.】

It sounded fake, and I realized I had gotten used to it. I smiled awkwardly at Gramps Goru.

I took the grinder from the cabinet again, and the soothing sound of grinding started again.

The snow was piling up outside the window. The panes were shaking as the wind blew. The shop was warm because of the hearth, and I could hear the crackling of the firewood, along with the quiet conversation.

It felt comfortable, as if I was trapped by the snow. Time seemed to have stopped, and the shop felt peaceful. Ths shop was filled with things I had collected, as if it was a part of me.

I noticed while setting up the Coffee maker. He said he really wanted to drink, but Gramps Goru was dozing off. He mentioned he was busy up until yesterday, and was probably exhausted. He would probably make a ruckus about wanting to drink it when he woke up, I would just brew it for him then.

I took a look inside the shop, and couldn’t help glancing at the Elf big sister. A thick book was laid out on her table, but she was staring out the window.

It was completely white outside because of the snow, but we could see shadows of people walking outside. There were still people braving the blizzard outside.

I gazed out the windows too, and remembered what the Elf big sister said:

——It’s almost time for you to return to your original world.


What did she mean?

I could really go back?


And why did the big sister know I was from another world, and keeping a watch on me.

I looked at the falling snow and the questions kept welling up. And the person who could answer my question was sitting right there.

And I wondered why I was still standing behind the counter and spending my time as always.

Why did I receive the guests, brewed Coffee and chatted with Gramps Goru.

Shouldn’t I react more fervently? For example, I could close the shop, grab the Elf big sister by her shoulders and press her for an answer.

That should be more logical, but my body was moving like I wanted. I just stared out the window. My emotions were strangely calm.

【Excuse me.】

Someone called for me, and I looked over. The tall man named Aluff stood up.

【I would like to settle the bill.】

【Alright, I will be right there.】

Hot cacao, Coffee blend and Rogukonerika. His eyes turned wide when I told him the sum.

【It’s that much?】

【Most of it is the Rogukonerika.】

【… I know why Sophia was concerned now. So it’s that expensive. Thank you, Sophia enjoyed it too.】

He smiled warmly, then paid with a sum greater than the bill. He then leaned in and whispered.

【Please don’t say anything about what you saw. We don’t want others to know.】

【Huh… see what?】

I recalled the purple eyes I saw under the hood, but what was so special about them?

I didn’t understand and asked, but the man seemed to have misunderstood.

【That’s good. Thanks.】

He nodded happily and went back.

He left behind a lot of change. Simply put, it was hush money. Although I didn’t know what he wanted me to stay quiet about.

The blizzard continued for about an hour, then the bright sun shone in when the sky suddenly cleared. The snow had stopped, people emerged from the buildings, and the streets regained their vigor. The couple left the shop at this moment, disappearing into the crowd.


The blizzard affected the nightlife establishments too. Everyone went home early. Normally, there would still be guests around at this time, but the place was deserted. Only the Elf big sister stayed behind.

I tidied the place up and waited for a while, but there were no signs of any customers coming. From the perspective of a business, the day was over. It was early, but I decided to close up.

I went outside, and the air felt chilly, my skin felt like it was going to freeze. I put out the lamp beside the door, and switched the sign to 【Closed for the Day】. The warmth covered my body when I returned to the shop. I exhaled as I pulled the curtains on the windows facing the streets.

Normally, I would start cleaning the floor, but I had someone I needed to speak with today.

I took off my apron, folded it and placed it in a cabinet. It was a little funny that I felt tense. I wasn’t going to confess or get scolded. I had no idea what we would talk about. However, I had thought about it, and wondered if it would go just as I imagined. That was the thing making me nervous.

I took a few deep breaths. I filled my lungs, and my shoulders started to heave. That didn’t ease the tension, but it helped me resolve myself.

【Sorry for the wait.】

I sat opposite the Elf big sister. She closed her book and set it aside.


We didn’t say anything and just sat there. The big sister was looking at me, but I was staring at the grains on the table. Should I break the ice here?

【You must have many questions, so ask away. I will answer whatever I can.】

The big sister said with a considerate tone.

I raised my head and met her calm gaze. She looked to be in her twenties, but her eyes had the wisdom age. The Elves are long lived, and didn’t look their age. This person was definitely older than she looked.

Speaking of which, I didn’t really understand this person at all. Just her food preference.

【Erm.】 I started.

【Yes, have you decided on what you want to ask?】

【Can you tell me your name?】

She turned stiff for a moment. Her sharp features became child-like, with her eyes curling up. She said with an intrigued tone.

【That’s your first question? What a curious child.】 She then straightened her posture: 【I’m Levian Titia Tolin La Tirugulam.】

【I’m sorry, your name is too long.】

I couldn’t remember that.

【It’s short for an elf though. The older we get, the longer our names will be.】

【I probably can’t remember my own name there.】

【That’s…】 She opened her eyes wide. 【I never thought of that. It’s an honour for an Elf to get a longer name.】

What a strange culture.

【What do people call you?】

【People close to me call me Levi. Those not close to me won’t address me by name.】

Another troubling custom. How should I address Levi-san then? It would be embarrassing if she told me not to call her that after I tried doing so.

【Can I call you Levi-san?】

I decided to check with the person herself.

【Are you close to me?】

She said with a mischievous face.

【Of course, you are my most frequent customer.】

Although we had not spoken properly until now. After talking to her, her face was more expressive than I thought.

【Normally, you will be angry because of the surveillance, or be more guarded.】 Levi-san said with a wry smile. 【You can call me Levi.】 


【Okay then, Levi-san.】


I wanted to say something more, but was still a little hesitant. Should I really ask? If I did, I couldn’t pretend to be ignorant any more. There was no turning back.

I shook off my hesitation forcefully.

【What is the Coven?】


Levi-san cocked her head a little disappointedly.

【You want to start there?】

【There are lots of things bothering me, but I want to know about the Coven first. I already heard it’s a secretive organization.】

【You are the type to proceed in order, huh…? That’s fine.】 She paused. 【The Coven is a combined research organization. It researches magic, ancient civilization, or the Labyrinth, then utilizes their findings in the lives of people. On the surface.】

【That’s the superficial reason?】

【That’s how it is right now, but it was originally meant to manage the Labyrinth and its produce. But one day, a human appeared in the Labyrinth.】

As I thought.

There were people aside from me that came from a different world.

【That person was protected by the Coven. He said he came from a different world, and the Coven hypothesized that the Labyrinth might be a passage linked to other worlds. It had been centuries, but that hypothesis had not been proven yet.】

【No one can figure it out?】

【No one saw the other end of the Labyrinth before.】

【The Labyrinth has not been conquered after hundreds of years?】

That was a surprise. I knew there were other Labyrinths around the world. This Labyrinth had not been conquered yet, but I thought there would be a conquered Labyrinth somewhere.

【Whenever a certain amount of progress has been made, the Labyrinth will go through a structural change as if on cue. The paths and types of monsters will change. The exploration progress will be reseted. We call this a Labyrinth Shift.】

【Hah, I see.】

I finally understood what a Labyrinth Shift was.

【An interesting thing will happen then. When there is a Labyrinth Shift, there is a rare chance that someone from another world will appear. You appeared after the Labyrinth Shift three years ago, and the Coven has been watching you since then.】

【That’s strange to me. Why monitor someone like me?】

Not trying to brag, but I was just your average human being. I shouldn’t be of any use to a large organization like that.

【People from another world have a common point. They don’t realize how special they were.】

Those blunt words made me straighten my back.

【The knowledge, values and actions you consider trivial might sometimes affect this world greatly. This world had already changed several times because of otherworlders.】

【But that’s not me, right?】

It was definitely someone more capable, knowledgeable and ambitious than me. However, Levi-san shook her head.

【One such otherworlder was around your age. After they traveled around the world with the Saintess Eminem, all the languages were unified. The world then changed at its very roots.】 


Someone my age should be a highschooler. It was hard to imagine such a fantasy-like story.

【Their knowledge changed the culture at times, took part in wars at times, and spread scientific ideas at times. Insignificant ideas to you because you’re desperately doing what you can, might have unexpected results. You wouldn’t think much about the grave consequences or effects, since this was another world to you. You are just a visitor, so you don’t pay a second thought to your actions. That’s what all of you think.】

I couldn’t refute that. I couldn’t tell her that I never thought that way.

【So the Coven started monitoring the otherworlders. They were protected in the past, but there would always be people asking the otherworlder for help, and creating problems. For example, the Chess that had grown popular amongst the Royals.】

She said with a laugh, and I bowed my head. I had affected Aina’s life somewhat because of that game too.

【In the end, we reached the conclusion to minimize contact. If there isn’t any big effect on the world, we will just monitor.】

【That’s why Levi-san is monitoring me.】

Levi-san affirmed that question.

【You are the most stable otherworlder so far. A Cafe is a new concept, but that’s just an eatery. There are Coffee lovers in other countries too. I enjoy spending my time here by using your surveillance as the reason.】

I was happy to be praised, but my feelings were a little complicated. My pride as a man had been stimulated, and I wonder if I should have done something big too.

【It’s a pity, but this is about to end.】

The air changed. We had been talking about the past, and were now discussing the future. After hearing Levi-san out, I realized she was making an exception by explaining the situation to me. I could guess why she had not told me before this.

【I’m going back to my old world?】

Levi-san nodded.

【All the otherworlders the Coven knew of had disappeared. And it all happened on the day of a Labyrinth Shift.】

I got what she wanted to say.

【The person who appeared in this world in a Labyrinth Shift, will disappear in the next Labyrinth Shift. And that applies for the Labyrinth that person appeared in.】

A Labyrinth Shift was going to happen in this city.

【So it is time to go back.】

【That’s right, back to the world you should be in.】

This didn’t feel real. Appearing here suddenly, and going back suddenly. Should I be glad about the advance notice?

【Erm, will I really go back?】

I asked on reflex. I still found it hard to believe.

【We can’t be sure. However, people are connected to their worlds. An otherworlder like you doesn't have a connection to this world. You appear here because of a strong mana flux, an accident. And you will return to your world because of a similar mana flux… That’s our theory.】

【Connection, huh.】

I would be going back because I had no mana, and I could only accept this reason. Besides, I didn’t understand how I came to this world in the first place, so it was only natural that I didn’t know the reason why I had to go back.

In any case, there was no doubt that I would be disappearing from this world.

I looked at my hands. I was still here, there was no question about that. It was still hard for me to accept that I would be disappearing from this world.

【… When?】

【It’s difficult to get an accurate estimate, but the Coven predicts that the Labyrinth Shift will happen in less than two weeks. The Labyrinth will be sealed in five days.】

There were still two weeks left.

Like an announcement of my eventual death.

She wanted me to put my affairs in order. To prepare myself mentally for the fact that I would be disappearing from this world.

My mind was a blank, an empty void without anything.

【Are you okay?】

I looked up, and saw Levi-san looking at me with worried eyes.

Was I okay?

I wanted to know too. I couldn’t judge myself, my brain was stuck.

I wanted to ask Levi-san about that instead.

Would you be okay if someone told you that you would disappear from this world in two weeks?


I thought my mind would ease after thinking about it for a while, but it seemed that a few hours wasn’t enough.

After Levi-san left the shop, I sat in front of the hearth in a daze. I didn’t feel tired or hungry, just numb.

I could go back. I could finally go back.

But why didn’t I feel a shred of happiness? Because I couldn’t be certain if this was true?

Levi-san might not be speaking the truth. She might be deceiving me.

I mulled on that idea for a while, but couldn’t find an answer. My brain was stuck in a loop.

The firewood was burning out. I didn’t feel cold because I also installed a heater, since the weak fire wasn’t dependable.

I should sleep.

I should rest tomorrow, and think about it on my bed. This wasn’t a problem that could be solved by just thinking about it, but that was all I could do.

My body felt heavy, as if I was soaked in water. My joints hurt from staying still for so long. When I stood up, the door opened. Snow flew in together with the freezing cold. A large figure in black stood before me.

【Long time no see, Falluba-san.】

He was my regular, his real identity was a dragon. He likes Coffee as if he was addicted, and I was worried since he hadn’t visited recently.

He walked to me without a word. He said with a very serious face from close up:

【Yuu, help me.】

I could tell from his tone that he was desperate. This was a serious situation.

【What is it, you ran into some problem?】

Falluba-san shook his head.


He continued.

【I might get kicked out of my home.】

【—— What?】

Chapter 2:  Stagnant Front, and Walking Forward

【Please wait a moment.】

I stopped him for now, then took a deep breath. My mind was already stuck, and got confused after hearing something so absurd.

I refreshed my brain, and looked at Falluba-san again.

【I still haven’t grasp the whole situation, but you are saying your wife chased you out?】

Falluba-san nodded firmly.

【That’s right. My wife is smart, beautiful, and scary. So that will definitely happen.】

【How did things turn out like this.】

He started stuttering.

【If this continues, I will have to take someone’s bride.】

【Bride? What’s going on?】

I couldn’t understand.

【This is obviously not my intention. I won’t do something so terrifying, and I love my wife too.】

【I will pretend I didn’t hear your slip of the tongue.】

【Thanks. I thought the custom of the Dragon’s bride had ceased a few centuries ago.】

A term I didn’t know had surfaced. What a pain. My brain was already full, but I couldn’t chase him out either.

【… Anyway, take a seat for now. I will brew you some Coffee.】

This was going to be a long chat.


There was a saying of drinking three mugs of beer as a punishment game, but the meaning was different when it came to three cups of Coffee. And Falluba-san already drank five cups. He was drinking it like some after-shower milk.

When I served him the sixth cup, he didn’t touch it and just stared at the cup. He had calmed down a lot.


I started a conversation, and Falluba-san looked up.

【What’s a dragon bride?】

【… It’s an old custom. It’s not started by the dragons, but the humans. The women the humans give to us as a tribute are called by that name.】

【That sounds reckless.】

【It’s nothing but trouble for us to accept the brides. Shoving them to us and asking for blessings and bountiful harvests is just a problem for us.】

That sounded logical, and an indescribable feeling welled up in me.

【If we don’t accept the tribute and return her, they will say they incurred the wrath of the dragon and send loads of food, gems and treasure the next day. The elders in my tribe back then didn’t know what to do, so they accepted the bride and left her in the village, then returned her some time later. The humans were satisfied with that. It somehow became a tradition for the humans.】

【… Sorry for causing you trouble.】

I felt ashamed as a fellow human. But that meant the humans really revered the dragons. The tribute given in hope of a bountiful harvest was probably given with that in mind.

【At a certain point of time, we abandoned our home and lived in seclusion. The humans knew too much about us. That was just a few hundred years ago. We have forgotten about the dragon’s bride, and the humans have gone through a few generations, so we thought that custom was lost too.】

He sighed deeply at this point. Falluba-san took a swig of Coffee, as if he was drowning his sorrows in alcohol.

【By the way, humans are more stubborn than we imagined. Today, I heard in my village that the dragon bride is on the way. The mountain we are living in had been discovered by humans.】

【There are people searching for dragons?】

【There probably are. It seems that they saw me traveling between the mountain and this city.】

So you were the reason. I suppressed that retort.

【The elders had a meeting, and concluded that I have to take care of this problem. I have to accept the bride as tribute. My wife was furious… What’s going to happen to me?】

His shoulders trembled at the thought, and Falluba hugged himself.

【I need to stop this, but I don’t really understand the lives and rules of humans. I can’t do this alone.】

He looked at me with serious eyes.

【Help me Yuu, you are my only hope.】 


He put his hands on the counter and bowed towards me. I fell into a panic.

His identity as a dragon aside, I didn’t feel good about Falluba-san lowering his head towards me.

【Please raise your head.】

I didn’t say I would help him. My hands were full with my own problems. Falluba-san might not understand humans well, but stopping the marriage wasn’t impossible.

【I want to help you, but I’m of no help.】

It was heartbreaking to answer that way towards the troubled Falluba-san, but I couldn’t agree to help him so hastily.

Falluba-san closed his eyes and smiled.

【… That’s true. This is a problem even the dragons can’t solve, and chose to avoid. It’s too much to ask others for help. I’m sorry.】

【I’m sorry that I wasn’t of any help. But you can drop back at any time. I can listen to your rant and complaints.】

【Yes, I will do that. I will think of some other way.】

Falluba-san stood up and finished the rest of his Coffee.

【Sorry for intruding on you so late. I will drop by earlier next time.】

Falluba-san walked out the door with a smile.

I felt a tinge of regret. Should I have agreed to help? At the very least, we could think about this together and I could offer some suggestions.

Besides, that Falluba-san wouldn’t lower his head without thinking about it. He couldn’t come up with any good ideas by himself, which was why he came to me.


I might get sent back to my old world, and couldn’t wrap my mind around that yet. Even if I accepted Falluba-san’s request, I would probably be useless. If I disappeared, then the work would be incomplete. I would rather not accept it in the first place then risk that.

I thought of an excuse, but I couldn’t ease the heaviness in my chest.

The silence of the night hung over the shop. The fire in the hearth was burning out, a weak flickering light lingered on top of the ash pile.

It made me feel lonely. The air felt more distant than usual.

I looked around the shop. I had grown used to this place. After coming to this world, I had been living here every day. According to Levi-san, I would be gone from this world and this shop soon. This still didn’t feel real to me.

Could I really go back?

I thought my never changing days would continue on. Then one day, I was told this would end.

I still hadn’t sorted out my feelings yet.

Was I happy, or feeling reluctant? That kept hanging over me.

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