[Distant Journey] Part 1

Since the Alicization anime has already started covering volume 14 content, I figured it was about time to start releasing a part of Distant Journey as an example of Eugeo and Kirito's good relationship...
If I'm lucky, I might be able to finish up part 2 just as the final cour 2 episode airs. On second thought, I may have something even more fiendish in store for the cour 2 finale... [Insert evil grin]

Anyway, this story is only like 56 pages long, so I wouldn't expect a grand story here. This part alone was nearly half the story, and it was mostly just exposition. Though, if you're craving some Eugeo and Kirito moments, then look no further.

P.S. I didn't have any editors for this and only gave it a once over, so please excuse any oopsies I may have made. If anyone notices anything weird (be it weird phrasings, obvious mistakes, or anything else you feel might need improvement), please let me know.

Italic text indicates English words in katakana, where it was important to make a distinction from actual Japanese.

Any feedback is appreciated.



Raws: Celest
Translation: Gsimenas



Seven hundred and fifty kilometres.

That is the distance between Rulid, a village located at the base of the End Mountains at the northern edge of the Norlangarth North Empire, and Central Capital Centoria, located at the centre of the Human Empire.

When I heard that we'd have to cover seven hundred and fifty kilor, as it would be referred to in #this word#(Underworld), I couldn't actually grasp how far our destination was at first. Only once I brought up a map of Japan in my mind and calculated that it would be the equivalent of travelling from Tokyo all the way to Hokkaido in linear distance, I finally realised, "Man, that's a long way to go!".

Since we were going to cover all that distance on foot, I was prepared for it to turn into one heck of a journey, but even then I didn't imagine that it would actually take us an entire year to finish. Actually, we did spend some of that time living and working on a farm, as well as working as guards in a large town, but that didn't change the impression that the whole journey felt more like we travelled to the other side of the Earth, rather than to Hokkaido…………

"Ah, Kirito, there's a stone marker over there!"

Upon hearing Eugeo's words beside me, I put away the map of the northern empire I had opened up in my mind, and blinked. Just as my partner had proclaimed, there was a pointed, obelisk-like gray stone set up to the right of the road.

"Haven't we already seen like tens of these stone marker things already……"

When I responded as such with a wry smile, Eugeo puckered his lips in displeasure.

"It's not just a mere stone marker; it's one of the big ones!"

"This isn't our first time seeing one of those either."

"Sheesh, Kirito, the only thing that gets your interest is edible-looking fruit…… I'm going on ahead!"

My partner broke into a run upon saying that, so I began chasing after him while apologising.

"Sorry sorry, next time we come across some Siral fruit, I'll be sure to leave some for you too……"

"I wasn't trying to imply that I was mad about that!"

Continuing our argument, we ran about fifty metres ahead, until we came to a stop in front of an obelisk that was about our size.

Such stone pillars, which, I believe, were officially known as a 《milepost》 or a 《milestone》 in the real world but were called stone markers in the Human Empire, were placed next to all main roads at precisely ten kilometre intervals. I have no idea how someone was able to calculate the distance so precisely in a world where both GPS and laser rangefinders weren't a thing, but at the very least it was clear that the Axiom Church was responsible for placing them.

The church's crest, consisting of a circle on top of a cross, gave off a golden shine at the top of the obelisk; the number 《50》 was engraved below it. It was implying, of course, the distance to Central Capital Centoria—— meaning that our journey would end in just fifty more kilometres.

Probably having had the same thought himself, Eugeo squinted as he muttered.

"We only have but fifty kilors left…… So we only need to continue walking for three, make that two days and we'll reach the central capital……"

So far, we've been travelling at a pace of twenty to thirty kilometres per day, so it does indeed add up to two days worth of travel. I subconsciously directed my gaze to the south, but all I could see on the road ahead were gently-sloping hills and the wide sky.

The aforementioned sky was already nearly half dyed in madder red. It'll probably be getting dark within the next two hours.

"Say, Eugeo. How many kilors till the next town or village?"

When I raised such a question, my flaxen-haired partner took his eyes of the stone marker to look at me, before giving me an exasperated smile.

"You know, Kirito, I'm pretty sure I told you this when we were eating breakfast at Calda Village. We won't be able to reach the following town of Fouchelle before the end of the day, so we'll be camping out tonight."

"E…Eeeh!? Wait, did you?……"

"I did! You still looked half asleep back then, so I even repeated it a second time……"

"Uhhm, I was probably still asleep while eating my morning grub. Though…… till now, there's always been a town or village, or at least an inn set up close enough that it could be reached within a day on foot.

"Yeah, I also found it odd, so I asked the mistress of that 《Nagabibachi(1)》 inn we stayed at last night about it……"

With these words, Eugeo put his hand into the utensil bag on his right waist, taking a rolled up parchment out of it. The parchment with worn out edges, looking like its Life would be fully depleted at any moment, contained a map that we had purchased for a large sum just before leaving the town of Zakkaria. The exceedingly long and narrow parchment noted the seven hundred and fifty kilometre-long Nomain Highway that ran north to south through the Norlangarth North Empire, as well as all the towns, villages, inns, and stone markers along the road, in detail.

Eugeo carefully unfolded about thirty centimetres of the worn-down map. The end of the parchment held up by his left hand depicted half of the circular Central Capital Centoria, with a highway extending towards his right hand. Previously, we had to unroll more than a metre of the map whenever we felt like looking up our current position; the fact that we only needed thirty centimetres of it now was just another sign of the end of our journey being at hand.

Although a parchment map like this had its charm, that aside, I sure wish we had a map window feature, seeing as we already have a status window anyway…… as such thoughts crossed my mind, I pointed at around the middle of the map.

"Ehm, so this is that Calda Village we stayed at last night…… and this is the next town of Fouchelle……?"

As my finger was about to head towards Centoria, it stopped midway.

"Huh, there's a tiny symbol over here too. Isn't this… an inn? We're currently over here…… at the fifty kilor stone marker, so we're not even three kilors away from this inn."

"While that is true……"

Eugeo nodded but instantly gave a slight shrug.

"According to the mistress of the Nagabibachi Inn, the 《Bilzen Inn》 noted on this map was apparently closed down over three years ago. That's why travelers and merchants passing through this region since then have either rented a horse, camped out midway, set out from the previous village in the dark hours of the morning and pushed themselves to reach the next inn on foot, or……"

Seeing as his words cut off, I peered into my partner's face at this point. However, Eugeo then slightly shook his head, before continuing.

"Scratch that, the fourth option is probably irrelevant to us. Anyway, you have to take one of the aforementioned measures to reach the next stop, as I've heard."


A moan came from me as I watched Eugeo roll up the map again.

"We are running low on money for our travelling expenses, so renting a horse is surely out of the question. In that case, we should have woken up and set out ear……"

At that point, I noticed my partner's intense stare. Come to think of it, there have been innumerable cases of me oversleeping and needing Eugeo to wake me up throughout this year, yet I can't recall even a single case of this happening the other way around.

"Oh, but camping out once in a while does sound nice too, hahaha."

When I tried to brush it off with a laugh, Eugeo gave a slight sigh, before forming an exasperated smile, as if thinking, 'what am I going to do with you'.

"It's become quite warm lately, huh. Though, we only have one blanket, so we'll have to share it."

"Sure, no biggie. Now then, let's cover a bit more ground before it gets dark."

"Yeah, let's pick up any sticks that we can use for the fire along the way."

Upon sharing a nod, we stepped aside from the obelisk and returned to walking through the highway again.

As Underworld is given form through 《Mnemonic Visuals》, everything in it rivals the real world in the sense of reality, though the beauty of the sky might have actually surpassed the real thing…… or so I sometimes find myself thinking. Particularly, even though it's been a year since I awoke in this world, the sunset on clear days still manages to take my breath away to this day.

Admiring the sky's magnificent colour gradation as it changed from Rodgersia-blue to light purple and then madder red, before finally becoming a transparent Kerria-golden(2)…… and hearing complaints like, "Stop staring at the sky all the time and pick up some firewood", from Eugeo, I continued walking for nearly an hour when it happened.

As a cool breeze suddenly caressed my cheeks, I turned my eyes to the left side of the highway without much thought. Just then, my legs came to a sudden stop. My partner took two more steps before turning around questioningly, so I silently raised my right hand, and pointed at it.

About twenty metres away from the highway, there were two large, broadleaf trees lined up like a gate, beyond which I could see a reddish triangular roof.


Having muttered this, Eugeo continued with a slightly gloomy expression.

"……That's probably that closed down inn, I guess. So the building still remains……"

"The Bilzen Inn, was it? Actually, why was it closed down in the first place?"

"Dunno…… Even that mistress didn't tell me much of anything about it. I guess the proprietor passed away due to some illness or injury, leaving the place with no heirs, or something like that……"


In the real world, whenever an inn—— I mean, a hotel or a ryokan(3) shuts down, it's practically always because of a decrease in the number of guests that use them, but this was quite unthinkable in Underworld, where the occupation of its populace, that is, their 《Calling》, was strictly regulated by the Axiom Church, practically stifling any free competition. Actually, Bilzen Inn itself was the sole inn in the area, while Underworlders were forbidden from neglecting their Callings by the Taboo Index, so a drop in service quality couldn't have brought about a decrease in customer interest. In the end, aside from the lack of heirs, as Eugeo guessed, I couldn't really think of any other reason for the inn to close down. Even in Japan in the real world, such an issue would result in the talk of the town; to think that such a thing happens even here.

"……Though it is sad matter, there's nothing we can do about it. Now, let's go a bit further and look for a place where we could camp out."

As Eugeo shook his head and was about to begin walking, I pulled on his hair at the back of his neck.

"Youch…… what gives, Kirito?"

"You know, I've just come up with a great idea."

At that very moment, a sceptical expression found its way on my partner's face.

"That's what you always say, Kirito, yet I can't quite remember any instance when it actually turned out to be a great idea."

"This time's gonna be fine. You'd prefer to sleep under a roof to camping outside, wouldn't you?

"Where would you get a roof……"

After a moment of standing there flabbergasted, Eugeo once again gazed to the east side of the road, and then again at me.

"Whoa, Kirito, you're not telling me you want us to stay over at that building, are you?"

"What else is there to do in this situation. If it was closed down three years ago, there might still be some beds that haven't crumbled away."

"Hey now……"

Despite giving a sigh for show, Eugeo didn't offer any further objections. Thanks to our budget trip that's lasted for an entire year, we've grown to be on the same wavelength… I think. Slapping my partner's back with great force, I gave a broad grin.

"Alright, now that that's settled, let's go over there right away."

"Yeah yeah. Not like you're going to listen to me once you've made up your mind anyway, sheesh……"

As Eugeo began walking despite his grumbling, the disappearing afterglow momentarily flashed on his wavy hair.

After walking along the highway a bit more, we found a narrow path to the left, along with an iron sign at its corner. Probably because it lacked any maintenance for years, its surface was awfully rusty, but upon closer inspection, I was somehow able to make out the characters 《Bilzen Inn Starting at a Hundred Shears per Night》.

The narrow path was overgrown with weeds, and while they would end up entirely covering it, given a bit more time, the overgrowth hadn't yet become so bad as to impede passage. Once we passed by the broadleaf trees that served as the gate and went further inside the area, we finally caught sight of a building with a red roof ahead. It was a grand, two-storey building with a steeply-pitched gable roof and plaster walls, which would probably be referred to as the Tudor architectural style(4) in the real world, but just as the sign at the highway, the house gave an impression of having lost a substantial amount of Life by now.

The walls were slightly dirty and their plaster had begun peeling off all over the place, while vines had begun creeping up the walls at places. The red roof also had obvious dents, the upper half of its chimney collapsed.

After exchanging a glance with Eugeo, I approached the building, drew an "S" symbol with one of my right hand fingertips, and then tapped on the wall. Looking at the 《Stacia Window》 that appeared at that point, I learnt that the building had only a little under twenty percent of its maximum Life value left. Like in the real world, if you don't conduct repairs on a building in Underworld, it gradually falls into ruin, so the building would lose all that remains of its Life and collapse in around another year or so if left unattended.

"……Though, well, it doesn't yet look unliveable at the moment."

Just as I repositioned the bundle of firewood held by my left arm and was about to head to the entrance, Eugeo pulled on my sleeve.

"Hey, hold on now; while this building was indeed an inn three years ago, it's no longer in service anymore. If you just waltz in like that, wouldn't you break the 《Thou shall not enter a building owned by another person without a justifiable reason》 taboo clause?"

Having predicted that he'd point that out, I pointed at the still open Stacia Window.

In the space to the left of the object ID in the upper-left corner of the purple window, there would be a 【P】 symbol if the object belonged to the person who opened the window, or an 【O】 symbol if someone, rare as it was, were to open the window for someone else's possession. However, the inn's window had neither of the two marks.

"Huh, so this building… doesn't have an owner? Why……"

"Why you ask… didn't you say so yourself, Eugeo. If the proprietor of the inn died and he had no heirs, the building's ownership rights being reset…… I mean, being revoked shouldn't really come as a surprise, don't you think so? Actually, why did you even think that this deserted building would have an owner?"

At my question, a somewhat complicated expression found its way on Eugeo's face.

"Hmm, theoretically, you would be right, Kirito…… But in the case of buildings, it isn't that simple. While it would take a mere three days for object ownership rights to be revoked once the item leaves your hands, stationary buildings on land require three months for their ownership rights to be invalidated."

"Heeh……. ——Hmm? Wait, weren't ownership rights transferred after twenty four hours?"

"That's for when a person gives an item to another person. The ownership rights for objects left alone outside anyone's home are maintained for three days, while in the case of buildings, this period is extended to three months."

"Hmmh…… Meaning, whenever an owner is away from home for three months, their ownership rights for the building will be revoked. So, you can't just go off on a trip around the world without a care in the world."

At my comment, Eugeo burst into laughter.

"Ahaha, even the emperor of Norlangarth himself can't just set off on a grand journey around the Human Empire like that. As always, you sure have some grandiose jokes, Kirito."

"I-I guess so. So…… in the end, what gave you the idea that this building would have an owner?"

"Oh, that."

Upon restraining his laughter, Eugeo looked up at the half-decayed inn.

"……Like I said before, the ownership rights for buildings are preserved far longer than for items…… But it's not really that hard to maintain your ownership of buildings that you don't even live in. All you have to do is visit them once every three months and your ownership rights won't be revoked, after all."


"So, there are some who make use of this to take control of vacant buildings. Even in Rulid Village years ago, Balbossa-san caused an uproar by taking control of Ridack-san's tool shed when the guy carelessly lost his ownership rights of it."


Ridack and Balbossa were the names of large-scale farmer families that competed against each other for first and second place in Rulid. I only knew them by name, which I happened to hear of before we set off from the village, though hearing this story now, I couldn't help but feel glad that I didn't get involved with them.

"……Meaning that, normally, someone would have long since acquired the ownership rights of the building by now…… is that what you thought would have happened, Eugeo?"

"Yeah. Even if the deceased proprietor had no heirs, that doesn't mean they wouldn't have a single relative, and this place should have had some employees too. The building comes with the surrounding plot of land, so you'd have nothing to lose by keeping it for yourself."

"I see……"

In Japan in the real world, you would have to deal with maintenance costs and property taxes, so there weren't all that many people who'd desire to simply own a vacant property with no intention of selling it, but possessing real estate in Underworld wouldn't incur any expenses on its own. While you would have to visit the place once every three months to refresh your ownership rights, it probably wouldn't be that big of a hassle if you were living in a nearby town.

Finally, even I understood how unusual it was that the building was left alone, but it didn't seem to be a problem for us at the moment. Instead, you could even say that it was quite convenient for our situation.

"Well, whatever the reason for this may be, it is clear that this building doesn't have an owner. In that case, we wouldn't be breaking the Taboo Index if we were to stay here for a while, right?"

"Well, that's true……"

Nodding in what appeared to be resignation, Eugeo looked at me with upturned eyes, before saying.

"Though, in that case, you go in first, Kirito."

"Huh? Why?"

"If, by any chance, we ended up staying inside the building for over twenty four hours, whoever stepped inside first would have their name registered on the Stacia Window, you see. And I have no desire to end up being dragged into some strange mess."

"I'd rather avoid that too…… Let's depart early in the morning tomorrow."

"Says the guy who's just going to oversleep anyways."

Brushing off my partner's persuasive remark with a laugh, I walked up to the inn's entrance.

Although the massive front door gave a very loud creak, it did not refuse to allow us travellers seeking a night's stay inside. Naturally, there wasn't any light on, but the rays from the almost set sun found its way inside through the dirty windows, just barely illuminating the interior. In the spacious lobby, there was a counter in the front, with stairs leading to the second floor to its right, and a large door on the wall to its left.


Although I called out just in case there was anyone around, no one responded. 'Come on, hurry up and go inside', said Eugeo behind me as he nudged at my back, thus I timidly stepped inside after repositioning my bundle of firewood.

The inside of the building was in better condition than I had anticipated; it didn't seem like the wooden floor boards would just collapse on themselves, though three years' worth of white dust had piled up on the counter, and there were some spider webs dangling from the ceiling. In a regular RPG, this would definitely be a location haunted by an astral-type monster, but this kind of stuff didn't really come up in the Human Empire…… or at least I hope so. In the unlikely event that a ghost did come out here, the《Blue Rose Sword》 Divine Object hanging at Eugeo's left hip should be effective against the undead, based on its colour and design… I think.

Said Eugeo finally entered the lobby, before giving a repulsed-sounding shout.

"Uwaah, that's a whole lot of dust…… Kirito, are you really planning on staying here?"

Hearing that, I had the urge to respond, "You know what, let's camp outside.", but I held it in. Being the one who brought up the idea in the first place, I couldn't just back down now.

"W-why certainly, ehmmm…. So the door on the right leads to the guest room, while the door on the left leads to the cafeteria and the living room. Let's head to the cafeteria first."

"Just so you know, I definitely don't think there's any food left."

"You never know; personally, I get the feeling we might find a bottle or two lying around."

'If this were a regular RPG, that is', I held back from saying, before crossing the lobby towards the left door. Gripping the rusty door knob, I gently pulled open the door, when rays from the deep red setting sun shot at my eyes from the broken windows ahead. After blinking several times, I inspected the room.

The cafeteria was as big as a tiny restaurant; it had six tables for four and several counter seats by the eastern wall. Beyond the counter was an arched entrance that probably led to the kitchen. I could see a large fireplace by the northern wall, with a wide sofa in front of it.

"……None of it's been laid to waste, huh……"

When I muttered this, Eugeo gave me a peculiar look.

"Laid to waste by what, animals? I don't really think there are any beasts around here capable of entering a building."

"R-right. By the looks of it, maybe there's some food left over?"

Once again made aware of the fact that the Human Empire didn't have any prowlers or burglars, I placed my bundle of firewood and the bag on my back onto a nearby table, before going around the counter to head to the kitchen. I looked inside, but it was quite dark as the light from the setting sun didn't reach it.

"System call. Generate luminous element."

After chanting a Sacred Arts rite, I created one light element and had it drift to the air. Illuminated by the pale light, the kitchen looked pretty tidy, making me wonder if the inn was closed down because of some unexpected circumstances, such as its customers running away during the night, or because of some infection. All the better for us, though——

"Looks like we can make use of the pots and the hearth, but……as I thought, no food left behind."

Having looked through the shelves by the wall, Eugeo gave a shrug.

"Come to think of it, that's to be expected; left alone in an ownerless house for three years straight, there's no way for even a bottle sealed firmly with vax to have maintained at least some of its Life."

"Or they were cleaned out before people abandoned this place. Oh well, what can you do; guess tonight's grub is dried meat and dried fruit again, Eugeo-kun."

"When have I ever complained about dried meat!"

As my partner puffed his cheeks in protest, I gave him a push on the back to return to the cafeteria. Having returned to the table where I had left my bag, we carefully sat down on the chairs after Eugeo put away the long sword that had been hanging by his left hip. The chair should have lost some of its Life by now but, probably having been well-made originally, it accepted my weight with just a slight creak. Reclining on the backrest, I gave a deep sigh.

The sky visible through the western window was still dyed red, but Solus would set beyond the forest within a few minutes. After staring at the sunset beyond the dirty glass for a few moments, Eugeo turned around with a smile.

"Now, let's get to work on the food. I'll go draw some water at the well outside, so you light a fire at the hearth, Kirito."

Having returned to the kitchen, I crammed about a third of the firewood I picked up along the way into the brick hearth. To light a fire in the real world, you'd need a lighter or a burner, but you could use a somewhat lazier method here.

"System call. Generate thermal element."

Generating two heat elements this time, I moved them inside the hearth. 'Burst element', is what I'd like to say at this point, but using the releasing rite would cause a small explosion, thus I patiently continued touching the firewood with the elements. Eventually, the dry stick lit up with a crackle. At this point, the heat elements would disappear on their own if I left them be, so I stopped focusing on them and stood up. I then picked up a sooty pot from the shelves by the wall, and looked inside it. While it wasn't exactly sparkling, the pot didn't seem to be full of dust, probably due to having been kept on the shelf.

As I wiped the inside of the pot with a piece of cloth I had in my pocket, Eugeo returned in a trot. A leather water sack hung down from his right hand, and a gunny sack from his left.

"Nice work, did you manage to get some water?"

"Yeah, though I had a bit of a hard time with it as the bucket was broken."

With these words, he lifted the now-full water bag. Once he filled half of my pot with water and placed it over the hearth's fire, he took out four long and narrow slices of dried meat from the gunny sack and threw it into the pot.

There were many kinds of dried meat for sale at grocery stores in the Human Empire; while the high-grade stuff was moderately tender, quite similar to beef jerky from the real world, all we could afford was the cheap, stiff stuff. It was very great that their Life lasted long, but it wasn't exactly easy to gnaw at them as is, so when we had a way of getting ample amounts of water, it was much easier to eat them after turning them into soup.

When the water eventually began boiling, Eugeo added some salt and dried herbs into the pot. As he stirred the content with a wooden ladle we found in the kitchen, a pepper or basil-like appetite-arousing scent filled the air.

"Your cooking has totally become better than mine."

When I expressed my sentiments while staring into the pot, Eugeo gave a wry smile.

"I am just boiling and adding seasoning to dried meat. If I were to actually call that 'cooking', I'd only get laughed at by Alice."

The moment he brought up the name of his childhood friend who was good at cooking, my partner's forehead clouded over faintly, thus I tapped on his left shoulder after a moment of hesitation.

One year ago, Eugeo and I set out from Rulid Village together in order to enroll at the 《Imperial Swordcraft Academy》 located in Central Capital Centoria. However, our ultimate goals were different. Mine was to reach the headquarters of the Axiom Church, towering at the centre of Centoria——that is, the centre of Underworld, to find a way to establish contact with the real world. Meanwhile, Eugeo's goal was to save his childhood friend Alice, a girl who had been taken away by one of the Axiom Church's Integrity Knights seven years ago.

Deep down, Eugeo's bound to be feeling an urge to continue running through the highway day and night without rest, in order to reach the central capital as soon as possible. That impulse is being kept in check by his sense of reason that he wouldn't be able to meet with Alice any sooner even if he went through with that.

"……Alice wouldn't laugh at you. Once you save her from the Axiom Church, be sure to have her eat some of your dried meat soup special. I'm sure she'll enjoy it."

When I uttered those words, gripping his shoulder, Eugeo turned to me and gave a small smile.

"You think so…… ——Well, it's bound to be better than one of those hotchpotches you make, Kirito."

"Why you!"

After giving a light nudge at his left shoulder, I returned to the shelves behind me. Among the several pieces of tableware remaining there, I found two non-broken bowls that I took back to Eugeo. We did have some tin cups in our luggage, but our meal would definitely feel more delicious eaten from ceramic tableware than from those old things, battered after a year of overuse.

With Eugeo holding the pot and me holding the bowls, we returned to the cafeteria, where we began our modest dinner. While our menu consisted of simple stuff, like dried meat soup and dried fruit, the mere fact that we were getting a piping hot meal after all that camping was enough to make it seem like feast. After spending some time chatting about this and that until we finished our meal, and after offering a prayer to Goddess Terraria for her blessings, we used the remainder of the water to give the pot and tableware a quick wash before returning them to the shelves in the kitchen.

We still had quite a bit of firewood left over, so I lit a fire in the cafeteria's fireplace; once I sat down on the sofa in front of it, I gave my body a good stretch.

"Mmmmh…… Eugeo, have we already run out of cofil tea leaves?"

"We ran out of them a long time ago. And this is the third time you're asking me about them."

"If I continue persistently asking for them, perhaps the god of tea will take pity on me and send us some more leaves."

At my remark, my partner gave an exaggerated sigh.

"Lately, I've finally become able to discern when you're being serious and when you're just kidding, Kirito."

"Ho-hoh. By the way, I was very serious just now."

"Just so you know, there's no such thing as the god of tea."

As his sigh turned into a yawn, Eugeo stretched out his body on the sofa. He blinked repeatedly as he stared at the flickering flame in the fireplace, until his eyelids eventually shut tight.

Having planned to use a bed in one of the guestrooms for sleep, I was about to reach out with my left hand to shake my partner awake, but then I changed my mind. Like other pieces of furniture here, the sofa looked old but high-grade, so it shouldn't be inferior to the beds in comfort.

Careful not to wake the sound-asleep Eugeo, I quietly stood up and returned to our bags, from which I took out a blanket. After covering Eugeo with one side, I covered myself with it on the opposite side of the sofa. Woven from thick wool, this blanket was given to us as a farewell gift by the head of the Walde Farm, and his wife when we were setting out from the town of Zakkaria; it was the most valuable item——excluding, of course, Eugeo's Blue Rose Sword and my Gigas Cedar branch——among our possessions. If it weren't for this blanket, we would have probably caught a cold numerous times during our journey.

I wriggled on the sofa till I found a pleasant position, before giving a sigh. It wasn't even eight in the evening yet, but perhaps because all that travelling on foot was pretty exhausting on its own, I got sleepy right after dinner. Despite the fact that my real body hasn't moved the slightest bit during that time, strangely enough.

"……Good night."

Whispering to my partner, already in sound-asleep mode, I closed my eyelids.

Suddenly, I felt someone pulling on my forelocks.

I slightly opened my right eye. The firewood in the fireplace had already burned out, but it wasn't entirely dark thanks to the moonlight coming from the windows. When I turned my head to look at the left side of the sofa, I found Eugeo curled up, sound asleep. No sign of anyone else around.

In spite of a year having passed since I became confined in Underworld, I still end up trying to check on the current time by looking at the upper left corner of my view, or by groping for my phone whenever I wake up like this. However, aside from the Stacia Windows, there was no user interface in this world, nor was there even an alarm clock around, let alone a phone. The only way to tell the time was by hearing the town church bells that ring out every hour on the hour, and on the half hour.

Nevertheless, having lived here for an entire year, I have learnt how to approximate the time by how dark it was, and by the angle of the moonlight. Estimating that it was just around midnight sharp, I was about slip back into the depths of sleep again, when…

A pricking sensation struck the roots of my forelocks again, causing me to frown. Somehow managing to raise my heavy eyelids, I once again examined my surroundings. Shrouded in pale blue darkness, the cafeteria did feel a bit eerie, but there was nothing out of the ordinary with it. Bandits weren't a thing in the Human Empire, nor did any monsterish monsters spawned here, so if anyone had sneaked in here, it would only be some kind of animal, though wild beasts wouldn't be pulling on a sleeping person's hair like that.

"What gives, ugh……"

Noticing that I was thirsty upon muttering this, I quietly got down on the floor. Careful not to wake Eugeo, I tiptoed to the table where we had left our canteen, and just as I was about to reach out for it, I suddenly noticed.

The moonlight was supposed to be shining in from the southern window, that is, right in front of me, yet I felt a dim light coming from the left side of my view.

A bluish-white light was shining beyond the entrance next to the counter, from a corner of the kitchen. Calling it dazzling… would be a big stretch. It was a faint phosphorescence, paler than even a single light element.

——Did some luminous moss start growing on the wall or something? Though I've never seen such a thing in Underworld before.

With such thoughts in mind, I timidly headed towards the kitchen. Pressing my back against the wall beside the arch, I glimpsed inside. I couldn't discern what was shining. Touching my hip with my left arm, I realised that we had left the sword on the table; yet, 'Oh whatever', I continued going through the arch.

Lined up by the kitchen's right wall were the hearth, a countertop, a sink, and a water jug; a shelf reaching all the way up to the ceiling was placed by the left wall. The bluish-white phosphorescence seemed to be coming from the open space between the wall and the water jug. After slowly approaching it along the shelves on the left, I peered into the opening, only to——


Open my mouth wide in an urge to scream, barely managing to restrain myself. The reason why I held back that scream wasn't because I feared waking Eugeo, but because I thought it might pounce at me if reacted dramatically.

Shining between the huge water jug and the brick wall was neither a firefly, nor luminous moss, nor a panama sawtailfish(5), but rather, a very young girl, sitting and hugging her knees. That she wasn't a physical Human Empire resident was obvious from the fact that the hem of her skirt, as well as the ends of her limbs were faintly transparent. No matter how you looked at her, she was an astral type…… meaning, a ghost. Her hair was braided; I couldn't see her face, as it was cast down.

As I stared at her, holding my breath, the girl's small head twitched. Deciding to let out a full-power scream for sure this time if her face turned out to be skeletal, I continued staring at the girl as she slowly raised her head.

Skeletal——it was not. If it weren't for the bluish-white light, her smooth forehead and plump cheeks would actually look healthy. Nevertheless, the moment her pupil-lacking silver eyes stared at me, I felt a chill at the very depths of my body. As her small lips began moving, a voice not of this world escaped her mouth in a whisper.

"Mister……Are you… not scared of me?"



1. ^ Nagabibachi (長火鉢) literally means "oblong brazier".
2. ^ Rodgersia refers to Rodgersia podophylla (also known as Roger's bronze leaf​), a saxifrage family plant native to Japan. Kerria refers to Kerria japonica, or the Japanese yellow rose. For reference, Rodgersia looks like this; Kerria looks like this.
3. ^ A ryokan (旅館, lit. traveller house) is a type of traditional Japanese inn.
4. ^ A Medieval architecture style during the Tudor period (1485–1603) in England.
5. ^ Refers to Idiacanthus antrostomus (or Pacific blackdragon). For reference, it looks like this.


  1. Hello! Thank you for the translation, I'm so happy I can see more interaction between these two boys, I always hoping that I can see a glimpse of their journey in those two years and wow, Kawahara really write them.

    I really want to share this to my country fellow fans, would you mind if I retranslate this? I'll put credit and the link to your blog of course!

    It's alright if it not allowed! I'll enthusiastically await the next part!

    1. If you credit us for the original translation, you're free to make your own derivative translation into your native language.

    2. Hi! Thank you for the permission!

      This is where I posted it if you are curious https://kaorihikari.blogspot.com/2019/03/distant-journey-part-1.html.

      I hope there will be more Eugeo and Kirito content in part 2 haha, but I'm pretty happy with this side story I ended up rereading it a few times.

  2. Thank you so much! I can't wait for part 2 - the more Kirito and Eugeo, the better.

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