Slowly, Maho opened her eyes. It was only moments ago that the Master had cast his spell on her and her company with the intent of sending them both home.
Though certainly a little downtrodden at the idea of being apart from the Master, returning to set eyes on the familiar faces of her family should be her most pressing concern. The Master had even implied as much. Had it worked? Had the spell really transported them across worlds?
She had only managed to open her eyes with a great deal of trepidation, and as her vision adjusted to her surroundings… she was greeted with a sight that had escaped her ever since her impromptu summoning – cars fashioned from metal passed each other before her, leaving blaring noise and trails of exhaust in their wake. Under normal circumstances, this was not the kind of scenery meant to elicit feelings of joy. But for Maho, what she saw only served to reaffirm that she had indeed made it back home, and the happiness it conjured in her was insurmountable.
“We made it back… We made it…”
Whoever would have thought that the mere sight of cars would be enough to make her so ecstatic? The faintest hint of wetness began to pool in the girl’s eyes.
“Did we… Did we really make it back…?”
Her eyes moved towards the source of the voice, and she saw Yuuto standing in place, looking about with evident bewilderment. He was just like her, someone summoned into another world, the same world, against their will. He was now a young man, his days as a Hero in the past.
The Master had seemingly succeeded at sending the two of them to this world, not failing to transpose either one of them in the process. Feelings of deep gratitude welled up inside Maho, all directed towards him.
“We made it back!”
Overwhelmed by emotion, Yuuto spread both his arms wide and made to wrap them around Maho. As staunch as he had been about fulfilling his heroic duties in the past, this went to show that he was, in fact, a boy still in his earlier stages of youth, barely an adult.
They had both made it back to their own country, a place not ravaged by warfare, and the notion made his spirits soar. Longmann had, in life, never been one to keep his hands to himself when women were around, and Yuuto was a polar opposite in this regard, never laying a hand on a woman with ill intent in mind. His unfathomable joy, however, spurred him into the action regardless.
“You can’t do that.”
Maho, however, spun her body out of the way of his embrace with unprecedented smoothness.
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“You’re happy we’re finally back home, I can understand that. I feel the same. But you still can’t do that.”
“Y-You’re right. Sorry about that.”
The sharp glare in Maho’s eyes immediately impelled Yuuto to apologize. She had a point; he supposed – embracing a girl with whom he wasn’t even romantically involved was far from appropriate conduct. Unbeknownst to him, however, Maho had avoided his touch for an entirely different reason.
“I shouldn’t have tried to hug you like that; I’m not exactly the most delicate guy out there. I’m really sorry. I’m probably the last person you want to be hugged by, huh?”
“…Hm? That’s not true. It’s not that I don’t like you or anything like that, Yuuto.”
Seeing how confused Maho appeared to be at his own take, Yuuto himself wasn’t too sure what to think. They both inclined their heads as one, perhaps a testament to their amicability to one another. Now realizing that Yuuto hadn’t recognized the true reason just yet, she began to enlighten him on the matter, speaking in a tone that implied it should have been obvious.
“I mean, you do know I’m part of the Master Faith. I’m a nun now.”
Yuuto felt himself stiffen up at her words.
“A nun of the Master Faith pledges to devote her very being to the Master. That doesn’t just apply to piety, by the way – it also applies to all matters mental and physical. I have submitted myself to the Master in both body and mind. I can’t be hugged by another man without the Master’s clear permission.”
There was a dull gleam in her eyes, a kind of overbearing sense of bewitchment. They had both opened their eyes to find themselves standing in the middle of a park, the time being clearly sometime before noon, and the dark miasma emanating from Maho was enough to send a few of the children that had been playing nearby running. Worried that the local authorities might become involved if this went on any longer, Yuuto made an attempt to call the girl back to her senses by calling out her name. Maho remained unmoved by his efforts.
“Alright, I’m going to be living one busy life, starting now! I have to spread word of the Master throughout the world!”
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“W-Wait up, just a second!”
He called out to her in another attempt to hold her back, noticing just how unfocused her eyes were. They were positively spinning. Maho stopped in her tracks and looked back at Yuuto with clear vexation, but he wasn’t deterred. If he let her go now, there was no telling what kind of trouble she would be getting into.
The Master had entrusted Maho’s care to him. He had hardly been willing to accept, mind you, but he nevertheless felt that he had a duty to stop the girl. There was just the small issue of the pendant she had around her neck, which allowed her to still use her magic.
Yuuto had his Holy Sword with him, but he wasn’t quite sure whether he could utilize it as the proper fantastical weapon it was, at least as long as he was in this world. As long as he remained unsure of the fact, he couldn’t rely on his martial skill to sort this one out.
To put it more succinctly – a small misstep might mean his death. Despite the cold sweat that began to soak him, Yuuto tried to find the right words that would calm her down.
“Look, why don’t we go see your family first? They’re all probably worried sick about you.”
He saw a sliver of reason seep back into Maho’s eyes, and pumped a mental fist at his victory. Back when they had been a party, Maho’s desire to return home had been much stronger than either his or Longmann’s. She had wanted, more than anything, to see her family again.
“…You’re right. Family comes first.”
“That’s right! That’s exactly right!”
His words had finally come through to Maho.
This should be enough to keep her from picking fights with all kinds of faith-based denominations throughout the world.
Yuuto heaved a sigh of relief. Maho had been just a breath short of turning into someone like Anat, but now she was finally back to being a normal girl…
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“Who would I be if I didn’t introduce the Master Faith to my family first?!”
Maho tightened her hand into a fist, and an unpleasant gleam sprung from her eyes that made room for an even greater sensation of impending doom. It was a shame, really. There wasn’t one iota of what Yuuto had said that had actually gone through to her.
“Much obliged, Yuuto. If I can’t even get my family to see the light of the Master Faith, how am I supposed to convert everyone else in this world? Thank you for saying that. You’ve opened my eyes.”
“What, no! That’s not even remotely what I said!”
“When push comes to shove, and they still won’t listen to what I have to say, I can always use magic.”
“What, on your own family?! You know the Master didn’t give you the pendant so you could go around doing that, right?!”
It was already clear to Yuuto that there was nothing he could say to change Maho’s mind, especially now that it was all made up. She had been completely brainwashed by Anat, he realized.
He looked to the sky, defeated, and sent an apology which he hoped would reach the Master even in his world. That was when Maho took his arm in a tight grip.
“Come along, Yuuto!”
“What? What are you dragging me along for?”
“Are you even listening to yourself? You’re now a crusader of the Master Faith.”
“Crusader?! This is the first time I’m hearing about this, though!”
“Let’s start with Japan! They’re relatively tolerant to new religions, I’d say. It should work out just fine!”
“Stop! Please don’t make this work oooout…!”
As Maho dragged him along behind her, Yuuto’s scream could be heard all the way up to the heavens.