A white paper fluttered down from some unseen point above Grisia and Elaro’s heads.
Will’s message: “Congratulations to the players for receiving the %^*&#ERROR: Item not fouuuuuuund…”
The even tones of Will’s voice slurred for a moment before resuming, sounding even more mechanical than before. “… ThE TrAnSlAtOr’S nOtE. pLeAsE hElP uS.”
Even as Will finished speaking, irregular shimmering shapes appeared all around Grisia and Elaro. The shimmers looked like the water mirrors they were used to seeing summons step out of. But instead of a smooth surface and shape, the water mirrors were jagged like tears and the surface looked like it had been brought to a roiling boil.
Elaro called out in concern, “Will? What’s happening?”
Will’s response came in its usual voice, “The fourth wall has been damaged by an outside source. Players do not need to worry. Repairs will commence shortly.”
Grisia’s face twitched. How can anyone not worry upon hearing an alarming statement like that!
An arm suddenly reached out of the bubbling water mirror to their right. Grisia gripped the Sinner of Pride’s Staff and wheeled around, ready to send off a bolt of lightning. A young man wearing a T-shirt and jeans like the ones they had found for Elaro previously stumbled out of the water mirror. He had dark hair, a blue patch in one of his brown eyes, and a shocked expression.
Even as this was happening, another figure fell out of a frothing water mirror that was several meters in the air. Surprisingly, despite falling supine out of the horizontal water mirror, the person managed to right themselves mid-air and land on their feet. They landed with such an unexpectedly heavy impact that a small crater formed in the ground around their feet. Elaro suddenly realized that the person had a head of very unique and very familiar silver hair.
“Little Ah Ye?”
Despite the visor covering their face and the fact that they were a little bigger than they were yesterday, Elaro was sure he wasn’t mistaken. But the person didn’t respond to his call, instead regarding him coldly and slowly lowered themselves into a battle stance.
Elaro also went on guard. As he did so, the water mirror to the left of the person he thought of as Little Ah Ye bubbled as a dignified silhouette stepped out calmly. A delighted voice cried out, “Young Master?” As the silhouette took another step, Elaro could clearly see that this was Charles.
Strangely, the visor-wearing Ah Ye didn’t seem to relax upon seeing Charles either. A visibly puzzled expression briefly crossed Charles’s face.
Before the awkward situation could progress any further, another person slipped through the last water mirror. The surface of the water mirror barely shivered before it disappeared. In contrast to the calmness of the water mirror, the very attractive person seemed to immediately recognize that the child Grisia was the biggest threat present and immediately formed several layers of what looked like glass or ice around their body.
Grisia demanded, “Will, why are there so many summons? Can we request the readers’ support for all of them?”
Will’s response: “It seems several targets have been summoned due to the breach of the fourth wall just prior. Unfortunately, the readers’ support cannot be requested for targets summoned through an error. When repairs are complete, all targets will be returned to their worlds.”
Grisia’s face darkened and he gripped the staff harder. It would be much more difficult to convince all these people to cooperate if they were unable to promise them a reward for their troubles.
Charles abruptly spoke up, “Please, there is no need for us to fight. This is a situation we are all in together. We have been likely summoned to aid these two, not to fight them. Based on previous experience, there should be no danger to those of us summoned. If we were to die here, we would simply be returned to our world.”
The person wearing the visor and the person with the ice armor seemed to lower their guards at Charles’s words, but were still wary. The person in the T-shirt, while initially shocked, seemed to be thinking about something while taking measure of each of the other people present.
Knowing that the summoned targets were unable to hear Will’s voice, Elaro hurriedly clarified, “It was an accident that you were all brought here, but you’ll be returned home once Will is able to again. However, we do honestly need assistance. Just before you all arrived, we received this note and a cry asking for help.”
Elaro read the note aloud, and the young man in the T-shirt started when the cancelled series were mentioned. The person in the ice armor also seemed uneasy when the name “Dominion’s End” was said.
The young man in the T-shirt spoke up once Elaro was finished reading. “I recognize those names… They’re stories written by my neighbor Yu Shu. If that’s so…” He began pointing at each of the others.
He pointed at Charles and the person with the visor. “You’re Charles and Dark Sun from No Hero.”
Looking to the two Sun Knights, he said, “Elaro and… A small Grisia? From the series The Legend of Sun Knight.”
Pointing at the attractive man in the ice armor, he said, “Jiang Shuyu from Dominion’s End. And it looks like this world is most likely your story. It looks like it could be Charles and Dark Sun’s world…” The young man in the T-shirt surveyed the desolation and destruction around them. “…But I don’t think anything like this happens to their world.”
Jiang Shuyu immediately started cursing upon hearing those words. “Of course it has to be the Jiang family’s luck that we’re the only ones in an apocalyptic world! I can’t even catch a break by being transported to a nicer world for a little bit.”
Grisia scrutinized the young man in the T-shirt. “If you say we’re from stories, are you one of the ‘readers’ who Will says has been determining the results of the ‘livestream?’”
The young man in the T-shirt frowned, feeling that something wasn’t quite right. “I’m Jiang Ziya. I’m not sure how to explain this but… I know that I’m from the Illusions, Lies, Truth series that memo mentioned. But your stories exist in my world too.”
Grisia was stunned. Just how far does this go? Readers of readers…
Off to the side, Jiang Shuyu muttered, “Someone out there really seems to have something against anyone named ‘Jiang’ if we all ended up in the apocalypse.”
Both Elaro and Grisia quietly resolved not to tell this Jiang Shuyu fellow that this was considered the “Easy Novice World.”
Suddenly, Dark Sun lunged at one of the water mirrors. With a loud “CRACK”, he ripped the featureless head off a mechanical humanoid creature that had been emerging from that water mirror. As everyone turned to face the noise, each of them caught glimpses of other mechanical humanoids jerkily emerging from the other water mirrors still open.
Immediately following Dark Sun’s lead, Jiang Shuyu glided forward on a thin trail of ice and began smashing the robots with what looked like an icy staff. But moments later, he retreated in alarm. It was clear to everyone else present that something wasn’t quite right. Like a video put on lower resolution, Jiang Shuyu looked grainy for the few moments he was in close proximity to the robots. He called out, “They have some kind of ability that makes it more difficult to move when you’re near them!”
Seemingly unaffected, Dark Sun had already moved on to dismantling other robots. He emotionlessly said to Jiang Ziya and Charles, who were noticeably staying out of the fray, “Hit them fast and their ability shouldn’t affect you.”
Elaro called out while cleaving a robot, “We promised that Charles isn’t responsible for combat!”
While this was happening, Grisia hadn’t been standing around either. With a large blast of lightning, the majority of the robots were charred and melted. Suddenly the surroundings seemed to flicker into darkness for an instant.
It was at this moment that a notification came from Will: “The YuBot translator bots are required for the story to continue. Do not attack the YuBots.”
Uneasily, the group ceased attacking and several of the YuBots began work to close the water mirrors. But even more of them seemed drawn to the group, pressing closer and causing all but Elaro, Grisia, and Dark Sun to grow more and more out of focus…
Grisia yelled, “Elaro! Use the author’s room!”
With no hesitation, Elaro opened the system inventory and pulled out what looked like a small room to a dollhouse. It vanished and an ordinary-looking doorway appeared next to Elaro. Elaro dragged Jiang Ziya and Grisia into the room while Dark Sun, Jiang Shuyu, and Charles dashed inside.
For a moment, it was quiet but for the sound of everyone trying to catch their breath.
Then, “Will, what were those YuBots?”