TLNC 22 – Q&A with Hisao

Q&A with Hisao

There was probably more that I could have done that day, but I was too mentally exhausted to try anything else that might get me killed that afternoon. First I needed to regroup with Tanaka and Hisao and see what information we had at hand instead of trying out things carelessly. Well, at least by staying out of trouble I would know if the day would loop on its own even if I did not die.

As these thoughts occupied my mind, the three of us arrived at the dorms and Tanaka invited us to his room. The room was on the same floor as mine and Tanaka’s so I must have missed Tanaka leaving in the morning when I spent some time talking with Hisao soon after I woke up.

The layout of Tanaka’s room was almost identical to mine, including the fresco on the ceiling. There was a spare bed but no roommate to occupy it, meaning that there had been no one to explain anything to Tanaka when he spawned into the game, which led him to roam around the academy’s grounds until he stumbled upon Mephisto who claimed to be “considering the lilies of the field” up north from the dorms.

Tanaka had no memory of the time-loops, meaning that this broken game either actually manipulated time, or more likely that it had erased Tanaka’s memories of previous runs.  I didn’t know which possibility was worse. Perhaps my own memories were being manipulated. Maybe there were other runs previous to the ones that I could remember or perhaps there weren’t any time loops but my memories had been tampered with to believe that I had travelled through time by getting myself killed. Occam’s razor couldn’t actually prove anything.

“Principal Mephisto mumbled something about how there must have been some kind of error in the school’s SQL database and then said that I would be assigned a new roommate soon-ish.”

“We thought there would only be one student today.” Hisao chimed in as he plopped down on the bed of the missing roommate, as if it was his own bed, and looked up at the ceiling. I followed suit by taking a seat on a chair. “Or at least that’s what I was told at yesterday’s Student Council meeting. You should ask Misa though, she was in charge of sending invitation emails.”

I wasn’t going to ask Misa shit. I had decided that I could not trust the student council because they had murdered me. As if on cue Tanaka asked a question related to my thoughts.

“Hisao, are you part of the student council which killed Ishikawa?”

Maybe I wouldn’t have asked so directly but it’s true that if Hisao was part of the student council, we needed to be more careful about what we said in his presence.  Then again, I had already revealed everything so there was no point in worrying about it now. 

“As a class rep I am on the Student Council now but I am not part of its inner circle, the Privy Student Council, whose five permanent members have veto powers over Student Council decisions, and access to information like the other-wordly invitation list. Privy means secret.  They have meetings which class reps like me have no access to so they might have known there were two of you.”

“Veto-powers? You mean they vote on student council decisions?”

“Yes, if two or more members of the Privy Council oppose a decision they could defy the President but this has never happened because the members of the inner circle were chosen by Matthews herself.’

While Tanaka eagerly asked questions from Hisao I kept in mind that all these school politics were not real but an invention of Elicom, and ultimately of ACORN computers, the conglomerate at which Tanaka’s parents worked at. The game’s AI may have simply messed up when it came to Tanaka not getting a roommate, perhaps maybe because this might be a single player game but I kept these thoughts to myself because I didn’t want to make Hisao confront that he was a fictional character created by an AI. There was no way to know how he would react. Though perhaps he already knew about it, and all the characters in the game may just be the game’s master AI pretending to be different people.

“Who are the members of the Privy Council? Is that also a secret like the name implies?” Tanaka asked while lighting a cigar. Don’t know where he got it from, but since this was a video game I guess he wasn’t breaking any laws by smoking despite being a minor. “Sorry there’s nothing to eat here but if you want I got these cigars in my pocket and a lighter when I woke up here.”

He pointed at the other bed. Hisao and I both declined Tanaka’s offer for a smoke.

“Oh no. The five members are SCP (Student Council President) Matthews,  SCVP Misa, the Great Oracle, Treasurer of the Exchequer Schaum, and Secretary Azuma.” 

This time it was my turn to ask Hisao a question.

“Could you ask the student council president what the Oracle would like to have as an offering?”

If I could avoid directly interacting with the Student Council then it would be good for my health. Even if I didn’t  stay dead, it still hurt when I was killed, so I wasn’t too keen on repeating the experience.

Hisao shook his head.

“I don’t think the president would appreciate such an indirect approach. You already know how direct she is.”

“Yes, if I had to wager I’d say she was about as direct as a knife passing through my heart.”

Asking her directly would only be something I would do as a last resort with the intention of making use of that information in the next loop, if there was any.

“What about any of the other Privy Council members? Couldn’t you get them to talk about the oracle?”

Tanaka was on a roll with these useful questions. I guess I just couldn’t get over the fact that I was killed twice.

“Hmm… I could try asking Treasurer Azuma since he was seen talking to the Oracle before she became a hikikomori. However you should expect that anything I say to him will be passed along to President Matthews.”

As we chatted about what the Oracle might want it became apparent that gaining access to her was going to be harder than just walking up to her radio tower building and asking to be let in. 

“She is a shut-in because she wants to avoid people.”

Hisao explained.

“So a misanthropist? Well, with the sort of people on this island who could blame her?”

“What does she do holed up alone in the building? Make radio transmissions on the island’s weather predictions?”

Tanaka brought some tap water because there was nothing else to drink in his room. Unlike ours it didn’t have a fridge, probably because they didn’t expect anyone to be here.

“The oracle practises a form of meditation called the four jhanas. I don’t know anything more than that. As for the radio tower, it releases electromagnetic waves which help keep intruders away from the tower by confounding their sense of direction.”

Radio-waves which can manipulate thoughts… If we stayed on this island for too long, our minds might get warped even if our bodies were fine.

As we talked the sky became darker and we grew hungrier.  We set out to buy some food at a Chinese-styled Japanese family restaurant on the ground floor of the dorms. The food was delicious and cheaper than the school cafeteria. There were no families though, only flocks of students from the dorms.

We parted ways having agreed on a general plan of action for tomorrow.

I struggled to fall asleep wondering if I would see tomorrow or repeat the same morning after all. How much time had passed and what state were our bodies in back in the real world? For how long were we out? Did time pass at the same rate as in the real world? 

Strangely enough in the midst of these literally existential issues I couldn’t get it out of my mind that it was time to give up on the JNC light novel contest. Even if I found a way out of here before the three month term came to an end, I was already cutting it close before this farce began. Maybe next time, no, that’s what I said four years ago when I failed to finish the manuscript for the last JNC contest… If I was going to finish the novel then it would have to be this time or I should just give up on writing and get on with my life. So it came down to this, just because I was in a virtual world, from which my uncertain existence might be snuffed out at any moment, that didn’t mean I could stop writing.

The Light Novel Club

The Light Novel Club

Status: Ongoing Author: Released: 2024
Ishikawa Isshin, a freshman at North High has decided to join his high school's Light Novel Club, hoping to get some inspiration and quiet, to work on his novel for a light novel writing contest. Unfortunately for Isshin, the club's non-talkative bibliophilic book girl and old-tech obsessed club president, Izumi, as well as other members of the school faculty are intent on getting in his way by dragging him off to participate in miscellaneous after-school club activities.  Will Isshin remain the reluctant member of the club and continue to regret his decision to have joined? Or will he come to love the club, and discover the true purpose of the Light Novel Club?  


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