TLNC 24 – Lunch Break Talk

Lunch Break Talk

The next period passed by without any incident except Augustine making me and Tanaka stand outside the class, in the corridor, carrying buckets of water as a punishment for being late to her class. Incidentally the topic of today’s lesson was “Urbit: digital feudalism and decentralised computing.” I wondered if there was a curriculum if she winged it and gave us a lesson on whatever happened to pass through her mind on that day.

Tanaka seemed to pay attention though so maybe there was something important being discussed or maybe it was just the kind of subject he would be interested in.

During lunch break, we went to “Sarah’s Cafe, open from 7 AM to 3 PM every day,” or so the lineart-coloured pencil drawing of a cowgirl. The drawing welcomingly sat on an easel but there were no servers, instead there was a luxurious buffet. The food tasted real so I pocketed some plastic packets of honey for later consumption.

I reluctantly talked to some of the students while standing in line for the buffet but they all seemed to be equally as clueless as I was. Some of them had read Misa’s summoning email but it didn’t seem it made any difference if they answered the summoning or not. I was not even sure if Hisao or any of these students were real people to begin with, rather than Non-Playable Characters repeating to me their setting that they were kidnapped here like I was… Wasn’t there also the possibility that I and Tanaka were NPCs who believed that we were human and that we would disappear once our real selves awakened from this artificial dream? That’s some ridiculously disturbing line of thinking but one, thankfully, without a shred of evidence for it. Better not give in to such morbid imagination.

What gave me the impression that these students were NPCs was that they were all more interested in talking to me about the Holy Grail rather than what I was asking them about. “Ah yes, yes I was a student at Kisshomaru High before coming here but have you found any clues about the Holy Grail? It must be very important.” That was more or less how the conversations would go. It gave me the nauseous nagging feeling that I was talking with some decaffeinated Large Language Model trying to railroad the conversation in a certain acceptable direction barring all other avenues of inquiry.

Was the Holy Grail the key to all this? How could we find it? Maybe we could have had that explained to us rather than whatever passed for a lesson.

“Well, I am sure Miss Augustine could put it better than I could but the Holy Grail, and finding the Holy Grail is the reason that Faust Academy exists.”

Hisao’s answers, as usual, simply raised more questions than they answered. In fact I was beginning to suspect that there was no such thing as a Holy Grail.

I had a look at my schedule and next, we had what? Anti-Literature classes? What was that supposed to mean? That wasn’t the last of it, after “Anti-Literature” we’d be having an introduction to the Trivium and then classes would be finally over. I felt like skipping classes on the first day of school already… There were only five minutes left of the lunch break according to the red holographic warning from the watch on my wrist, but I came back to the seat and started up a conversation partly to drown out the sinking sensation in my stomach about going back to Augustine’s classes.

Sitting with Tanaka brought back memories of the real world, of sitting in the club room. We didn’t talk much back then, should we have? No, the best thing about it was being in the same room indulging in our own work without the pressure or a reason to interact. And yet that unpressurised silence that I took for granted was gone now, replaced with an unease which led me to speak with Tanaka.

“I saw you are still maintaining and updating the website but why?”

Tanaka looked slightly unnaturally handsome as if my eyes looked through some camera filter but it wasn’t too jarring, the game had done a good job of replicating our appearances, but not warts and all. Did the game scan our faces or use our memories about our own faces? I didn’t know and it didn’t matter. In any case, that face now looked with confusion at my remark.


“The stupid website that I made for The Light Novel Club at Okabe-sensei’s request, and on club president’s orders. I saw you post some reviews. Why did you do that?”

A few days ago, before my mind had been hijacked obviously, I visited that worthless waste of a few megabytes of space on the web which the light novel club’s home page occupied. My intention was to quietly have one last look at the site, regret my life choices and then take down the website, but I was surprised to find some new reviews written by Tanaka. The worst thing about it was that they were actually good, well written light novel reviews, and must have taken some effort in both research and time. Each essay was over 7000 words. In the end I got distracted by reading the reviews and forgot to delete the site before I got sucked up here, also incidentally because of Okabe-sensei’s request.

“Sorry, I should have gotten your permission. It’s the site you built after all.”

“No, that’s not it. Please don’t remind me that I made that site. I just don’t get why you’d bother. If you posted it on one of those anime database sites someone might actually have read it.”

“Well, you read it, so there… you’re someone.”

Tanaka took out one of his cigars. He was not the only student smoking.

“Now you’re just trying to look cool.”

“Well, even if you asked me why, Ishikawa-san, the answer would be just because it is there. The club’s site was there so I felt like writing some posts for it. Besides, I don’t like big forums like those anime database sites. They just lead to arguing.”

“Listen Tanaka, it’s just my opinion here but reviewers are lower than fans. I mean it’s not yours, what you are reviewing, you should focus on creating something instead then that can be yours.”

Tanaka yawned.

“Having your own and looking only at your own. You make it sound like you are talking about a woman. Some people are just fine with being readers.”

“If writing light novels is a form of masturbarion, as some have said, then what does it make reading them? Rather than a girl, I’d say it’s more like having your child rather than somebody else’s. Not that either of us will know that either. Well, at least you have got a younger sister.”

Tanaka shook his head.

“A younger sister doesn’t feel like a girl let alone a woman at all. I come across my sister’s dirty laundry all the time but it’s just a piece of cloth to me, though you wouldn’t know if you haven’t got one.”

What the hell was he boasting about? I needed to redirect this “gentlemanly” conversation to something that actually mattered.

“Speaking of your sister, I wonder what she did after seeing us both knocked out in your room. Wouldn’t she have tried to remove the VR helmets from our heads to try to wake us up, right?”

“No. I don’t think so. I mean we’d be out of this game, dead or alive or crippled in the real world by now if she had done that, but even without that I already knew she wouldn’t try that.”

“Why’s that?”

“I found a copy of SAO in her room. All four seasons. Her ebook reader had all the novels marked as read too. She must have imagined taking off our VR helmets would have fried our brains.”

“First the game CD from your father’s home office and now an anime bluray which belongs to your sister. There must be no privacy with you in the house.”

“Oh that’s absolutely right but it works the other around us well, my sister also goes through my things too. Doesn’t your brother do that too? That’s surprising.”

No, not this siscon conversation again! I just imagined my older brother acting all lovey-dovey to me. Bleh! Disgusting! Abort! Abort!

“Actually, what’s more surprising is that your sister was secretly an otaku. And that saved us. I mean what’s the worst that could happen? It’s not like we’d die or something if someone took off the VR headsets, right?”


“Hahaha -haha”

We awkwardly laughed like we were old friends (we were not) and then there was silence.

“I need to find a way out.”

Those words escaped my mouth as I banged the table with my fist at the same time as the bell rang. Hisao stopped reading the book he was holding and snapped it shut with a thud, reminding me of a certain mental girl.

We were going to be late at this rate but Hisao responded to my comment as we got up.

“You need out? Is that so? In that case, take this.”

He handed me a strange key… Another screen popped up by itself.


Quest no. Description

1 Locate the Merchant’s Shop

2 Find the Holy Grail



Time froze for another moment. I read the message and dismissed the screen with a swipe to my watch.

The status box blinked out of existence with a “blip” sound effect.

I suppose the key that I was given had something to do with either the Merchants’ shop or finding the Holy Grail. I had no idea how to find the Holy Grail yet so I guess I’ll need to find this Merchants’ shop. Can I even trust these status boxes?


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?  


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


not work with dark mode