Story 2: Meiru Amagasa
This world is boring.
I, Meiru Amagasa, first realized this right around the time I entered middle school. I no longer felt surprise or excitement for what I learned at school, for the games I played, for the after school clubs I participated in.
When I was in elementary school, everything I laid eyes on was the object of my curiosity. Whenever I discovered something new, I obsessed over it until I had achieved complete mastery. As a result, my test scores were always the best in my grade, and I won awards in everything that I tried. It got to the point where people around me called me a child prodigy.
But it wasn’t anything to write home about
At least, not for me.
Strangely enough, when you perfect a skill, you can tell what the end result will be even without lifting a finger a nd there is no greater ennui in this world than that.
Knowing the outcome of mathematical equations is boring.
Knowing the outcome of a shogi (Japanese chess) match is boring.
Knowing the outcome of a movie is boring.
Knowing the outcome of a Buddyfight is boring.
And so, bit by bit, “enjoyment” disappeared from my world, and before I knew it, I’d lost interest in everything around me.
That’s when I stopped attending school, and stopped going into the outside world.
This world is boring, and limited, and gray.
That was the conclusion I arrived at in the two years since I’d advanced to junior high school.
But even I had one thing in this wor ld that I still enjoyed.
I’m talking about rainy nights.
On rainy nights, everything I hear and see becomes blurry, and I feel as though the world itself has changed. T his boring world seems to be audibly crumbling away, awakening in me a feeling of un certain ty, as though my sense of what’s normal is being overturned and that , to me, is irresistible.
So on nights like this, when the rain falls hard and heavy , I always go to a nearby park and stand under an umbrella, thinking these kinds of thoughts.
Maybe I stayed a little too long this time.
It’s definitely starting to feel a little chilly.
I want to spend a little more time in the rain, escaping from reality, but I don’t want to do that at the expense of discomfort. I don’t want to catch a cold, either.
Well, time for me to head home.
These were the thoughts that ran through my mind, as I gazed at the endless dark sky.
◇ ◇ ◇
The blare of the alarm resounded within the Buddy Police headquarters.
Their sensors had picked up an illegal incursion from another world
The Buddy Police support staff moved frantically as they analyzed thesituation and communicated their findings.
“We’ve confirmed an incursion from Darkness Dragon World!”
“A gate is being forced open!”
“The location is over Cho Tokyo, near Cho Shibuya!”
“We have confirmation of an invading monster’s signal coming through the gate!”
“We have…one monster!”
Within moments of the monster’s invasion, the gate to Darkness Dragon World had closed. At the Buddy Police headquarters, a pursuit team was quickly assembled to determine the monster’s location.
Assigned as the commander of the team was none other than Zanya Kisaragi, accompanied by his faithful buddy Tsukikage.
“Once I’ve exchanged intel with the team, I’ll take command. Tsukikage, I want you to deploy ahead of us to Cho-Shibuya and gather as much information as possible. Can I count on you?”
“Nin!” Tsukikage nodded, and vanished in the blink of an eye.
A pursuit team member ran to Zanya, as if taking Tsukikage’s place.
“Mister Kisaragi, here’s the latest from headquarters.”
“Thank you. I see… [Exterminating Evil Demonic Dragon, Belial], is it.”
“Even among the Evil Demonic Dragons, it’s believed to be one of the more powerful monsters.”
“…Understood. Thank you for your report.”
Zanya swiftly gave commands to the gathered Buddy Police officers before getting into his own Buddy Police vehicle. As he prepared to commence the search, Zanya thought briefly of an old friend.
“….A devil, eh.”
“No, it’s nothing. Let’s go.”
Zanya and his team left the car port to a deluge of rain outside.
◇ ◇ ◇
This world is superbly entertaining.
For me, the great Belial, Darkness Dragon World was too small.
No, it’s not that it was too small.
It’s just that my desires were too huge.
In any case, I want to see, to know, and to indulge in all the desires of a much wider world. This universe is overflowing with a myriad of amusement, indulgences that even I have not known before. And that is why the great Belial left on a journey to fulfill his own epic desires.
From what I heard from the other monsters, it sounded like this world that our world connected to a few decades ago, “Earth”, is quite an entertaining world.
They said that it’s connected to a bunch of other worlds, and they pit monsters from different worlds against each other using a card game called Buddyfight.
How amusing is that?
How arrogant is that?
How cruel is that?
How awesome and wild a game is that?
Making monsters from other worlds battle, crushing your opponents utterly, and reveling in victory. Such extravagant entertainment! Just thinking about it has me worked up! How could I go another moment without experiencing it?
Swept up in the excitement, I rushed to open a gate to Earth, and forced my way there, but…
“It’s no surprise that they’re after me, I suppose.”
As soon as I, the great Belial, had made my entrance on to Earth, my pursuers appeared. It seems to be some kind of self-governing community organization native to this world. I was certain that if I was captured, I would be thrown in jail or sent back to Darkness Dragon World.
That wouldn’t be entertaining at all.
That is why I, the great Belial, made a run for it.
I leapt from shadow to shadow, from darkness to darkness. For an Evil Demonic Dragon like me, moving in the darkness is child’s play. And fortunately for me, the skies were obscured by clouds and it was pouring rain.
However, these conditions were only temporary.
Eventually, night would give way to dawn, and the rain would stop.
“I have to figure something out before that happens…”
As I pondered my predicament, something I’d heard from the other monsters on Darkness Dragon World returned to me.
It was about the monsters that live on this world. These monsters had made a contract with the humans of this world to be their Buddyfighter partners. And I had come here to Buddyfight in the first place.
In that case…
I should just find one of those partners for myself, right?
“I, the great Belial, am a genius!” I roared the moment that the idea came to me, marveling at my own brilliance.
And just at that moment…
I found myself in a small open space. Probably one of those “park” things. And in that park, there was a human brat standing all alone.
The human looked really gloomy, but he gazed at the rain like it was precious treasure. A strange one, all right. I had seen desire burn in countless eyes before, but I’d never seen anyone with eyes like that.
“…I guess he’ll do.”
As I licked my lips dramatically, I felt my heart thrill to my own desire, and approached the human.
◇ ◇ ◇
I should head home soon.
I gave in to the demands of my chilled body, and turned my back on the park.
As I was about to leave, it happened.
My surrounding me were silenced, and the entire area was shrouded in darkness. It wasn’t anything as tame as the darkness of the sun setting – the world had truly turned black. There was not a single mote of light, and in this perfect darkness I couldn’t tell where I was or whether I was even still standing.
As I struggled to make sense of the situation, a voice echoed from the murk.
“Do you wish to make a deal with a devil, human?”
As I heard that sweet voice designed to tempt human hearts, I felt my whole body grow tense.
“Who the heck are you?”
“Oh, me? I’m a great and powerful Evil Demonic Dragon who can grant any wish or desire. But more importantly, human, you’ve heard of Buddyfight, yes?”
That one word was enough to give me a rough idea of what was going on.
“…Ah, I understand. You came to Earth without getting authorization, and the Buddy Police started chasing you. So, you panicked and looked for a Buddy. Conveniently enough, there I was. Something like that.”
“Looks like I guessed right.”
“You’re a weirdly canny human.”
Maybe he felt awkward after I’d hit the nail right on the head, because there was an obvious shift in his tone of voice.
I pressed on, in order to maintain the upper hand in this negotiation.
“…You know, I have a name. Meiru Amagasa.”
“Sorry about that, Meiru. Ah well, this does simplify things. I am the great Belial. An Evil Demonic Dragon from Darkness Dragon World. Make a contract with me, and-”
“I don’t want to.”
“Hey, hold up! The great Belial is not done talking!”
“The outcome is already decided, so it’s meaningless to talk any further.”
“The outcome is decided?!”
“I learned everything there is to know about Buddyfight five years ago. In fact, I’ve learned everything about everything in my world. I’m not interested in anything, and I have no desire to do anything. So, Belial, I have no intention of making a contract with you.”
After I made this declaration, Belial fell silent for a while.
He must be at a loss for words at how spectacularly I’ve failed to meet his expectations for humans.
Ah well. If that means he’ll lose interest in me, then that’s fine by…
“Kee-hee-hee! Ha ha ha! How puny! Meiru, your “world” is just so puny!”
Belial roared with laughter.
He laughed as if he was sincerely enjoying himself.
“Meiru, you’ve lived for a dozen or so years. And it was all in this tiny little town, correct? This town is smaller than a grain of rice in the infinite vastness of the universe! Even as we speak, all kinds of unimaginable things are happening! And you’re content with merely knowing everything that is within your sight?! What a blithering fool you are! Kee-hee-hee!”
Belial was laughing so much, I got a little annoyed.
“Belial, your world and my world are different.”
When I contradicted him, Belial suddenly stopped laughing.
“Humph, I get it now.”
I felt relieved at the thought that he’d finally given up on me, and then…
“That puny world of yours… I, the great Belial, will change it.” Belial said confidently.
For a moment, I couldn’t comprehend what he was saying.
Change the world?
There’s no way he could do that.
For some reason, I can’t think of what to say next.
What should I do? I have to deny him…
“This is the Buddy Police! Belial, you’d better come along quietly!”
As if interrupting my thoughts, the darkness disappeared, and the sounds of the outside world returned.
◇ ◇ ◇
The Buddy Police pursuit team led by Zanya surrounded the Evil Demonic Dragon floating in the night sky.
Jet black wings, golden horns, and a long tail. But the grotesquely enlarged right arm was the greatest proof that the Evil Demonic Dragon was Belial.
Belial was hovering over the boy’s head.
“Tch! Just when things were becoming interesting.”
“Opening a gate to Earth without proper authorization and invading is an illegal act. If you free that young man and come along quietly, we won’t have to get tough.”
“And if the great Belial resists?”
“Then we’ll use force to restrain you.”
Belial and Zanya glared at each other.
The air was fraught with tension.
And then, the boy who had silently been observing the situation, Meiru Amagasa, suddenly spoke up.
“Wait. Belial is my Buddy.”
At his words, Zanya and Belial himself looked at Meiru in surprise.
“…Do you really mean that, young man?”
“My name is Meiru Amagasa.”
“Very well then. Meiru, that monster Belial is a criminal monster who came to Earth illegally.”
“Monsters are allowed to stay on Earth if they register as a Buddy, aren’t they?”
“That doesn’t change the fact that he opened a gate to this world without proper authorization.”
“Even if that’s the case, as long as the monsters receive punishment, they’ll be permitted to stay on Earth afterwards.”
Meiru wasn’t budging.
Zanya pondered the situation.
Then, after a brief silence, he offered an idea.
“…I understand. Meiru, face me in a Buddyfight.”
Meiru clearly hadn’t anticipated this.
The Buddy Police officers all looked quizzically at Zanya as well, but Zanya held them back with his hand.
“Verifying humans and monsters as Buddies is also part of our job as Buddy Police officers. Meiru, I’d like you to show me your commitment through this Buddyfight.”
“What?! Meiru, you’ve made up your mind?”
Belial, who was feeling a little left behind, raised his voice.
“That’s what I’m saying.”
“Are you sure? Even I, the great Belial, don’t quite follow what’s happening.”
“Never mind that. Your deck.”
Meiru held a hand out to Belial.
“You’ve got one, right?”
“Oh, very well, enough already! I understand, I’m the one who started all this.”
Belial opened his mouth wide, and spat out a Buddyfight deck into his own left hand.
“…Was there no other way for you to do that?”
“Shut up! It’s all the same once you luminize it!”
Meiru accepted the deck and faced Zanya.
“It looks like you’re prepared. Then… let’s begin.”
Zanya activated the fight system. Where only moments ago the park had stood, a Fighting Stage rose up. As soon as the V-Boards appeared at their hands, they both luminized their decks.
“Evil dragon that rules over demons. Prove your power through this contract. Luminize, Demons Six.”
“The moon waxes full. Judgement cast upon evil…by the Ghoul Deity. Luminize, Kisaragi Ninja Arts: Ultimate.”
“Buddy…fight! Raise the flag!”
Meiru turned his flag card over.
“Darkness Dragon World!”
Next, Zanya turned his flag over.”
And so their Buddyfight began.
“I have the first move! Draw! Charge and draw! I pay 2 gauge and equip! [Famous Blade, Kogane-Chidori]! And I cast [Clear Serenity]. Together with Kogane-Chidori’s effect, my gauge increases by a total of 4. Now, here I come!”
As Zanya leapt forward, he slashed at Meiru with the golden Japanese sword he had just equipped.
Meiru’s Life: 10 → 8
“My turn is now over.”
“Then it’s my turn. Draw. Charge and draw.”
“Hey, kid, it just occurred to me…do you even know how to use Evil Demonic Dragons?”
“When you handed the deck to me, I memorized the data on all of the cards. I know their abilities and uses.”
“In such a short amount of time?! You can’t be serious.”
“I told you, I know everything there is to know about Buddyfight. Never mind that, it’s time to get on the field. I pay 3 gauge and Buddy call to the center, [Exterminating Evil Demonic Dragon Belial]!”
Meiru’s Life: 8 → 9
“Kee-hee-hee! The Evil Demonic Dragon that exterminates freedom from distracting thoughts, the great Belial! With amusement! With arrogance! With cruelty! I’m going to go on a rampage!”
Belial leapt into the air and landed in the center area.
“Attack the fighter.”
“Leave it to me!”
Belial moved quicker than the eye could follow, and attempted to sweep Zanya aside with his grotesquely enlarged right arm, when…
“I pay 1 gauge and cast! [Art of Shadow Stitching]! I nullify the attack and prevent Belial from Standing!”
A kunai suddenly flew at Belial, stitching his shadow and body to the ground.
“Now you have no cards remaining that can attack.”
“…My turn is over.”
“Now it’s my turn. Draw! Charge and draw! I call [Electron Ninja Shiden] to the left, and activate its ability! I draw two more cards! In addition, I pay 1 life each to call [Soarspeed Moonglow Byakuya] to the center, and Buddy call [Soarspeed Moonglow Tsukikage] to the right!”
Zanya’s Life: 10 → 9
“I’m on the scene, forsooth!”
A mechanical ninja clad in white armor and a mechanical ninja clad in black armor appeared.
“Tsukikage’s effect allows me to add [Overturn Ghoul Deity Gojinmaru] to my hand! Now, here we go! Ghoul Deity Combine!”
As Zanya called out, Tsukikage and Byakuya leapt forward into the night sky, and their forms overlapped mid-air. And then…
“I pay 2 gauge and call [Overturn Ghoul Deity Gojinmaru] to the right!”
The two smaller forms combined into one, and the massive mechanical ninja Gojinmaru took to the field.
“I’m just getting started. Cast! I pay 1 gauge and set the spell [Art of Explosive Hades Fall]. I place one card from my deck face down into its soul. And because I used a spell, Kogane-Chidori gains Double Attack, and Gojinmaru gains Triple Attack!”
Belial couldn’t help but turn to Meiru.
“Hey, Meiru. Aren’t we in trouble?”
“We’re probably going to lose.”
“Be serious! All that grandstanding about knowing everything there is to know about Buddyfight, and you’re about to lose!”
“It’s a crummy deck. I would have put it together much better.”
“Are you implying that it’s my fault?! Me, the great Belial?!”
“I’m not implying it, I’m straight up saying it’s your fault.”
“You’ll pay for that later…”
The two argued, heedless of the fact that they were in the middle of a Buddyfight.
As Zanya watched the two of them, he asked Meiru a question.
“Meiru, why do you want to be Buddies with Belial?”
“…A gamble, I guess.”
“Belial said he’d change my world. I can’t begin to believe that such a thing is possible, but if there’s even the slightest possibility that this boring world I’m in right now can change, then I thought it might be worth a gamble. That’s all.”
“Never mind that, let’s continue the Buddyfight.”
“Ah, that’s right. Now it’s time for my attack phase.”
Zanya closed his eyes gently, and…
He turned his sharp gaze towards Meiru.
“All cards on my field gain 1 critical, and can attack the fighter regardless of their center position! In addition, because Tsukikage is in Gojinmaru’s soul, all ninja cards on the field gain 1 critical!”
“In that case, I pay 1 life and cast [Darkness Rune]. I send Tsukikage from Gojinmaru’s soul to the drop zone.”
Meiru’s Life: 9 → 8
“I wonder if that will be enough to block all of my attacks. Gojinmaru, attack the fighter!”
Gojinmaru leapt high over Belial in the center position and closed in on Meiru, but…
“I cast [Melody of the Evil Moon]. Its effect costs me 5 life, but it will decrease the damage I take during this turn by 5.”
Meiru”s Life: 8 → 3
Blocked by a barrier wall created by the spell, Gojinmaru’s attack could not reach its target.
“Humph! Not bad!”
Seeing this, Belial regained his high spirits.
But Zanya showed no signs of slowing his attacks.
“That’s a powerful spell. But my Kogane-Chidori has an ability that prevents its damage from being decreased if it’s attacking alone. How about this attack?”
Gojinmaru put Zanya on his shoulder and flew high into the air. His leap carried him over Belial, and Zanya dove towards Meiru.
“I cast [Diablos Shield]. I nullify the attack, increase my gauge by 1, and draw a card.”
The sword swung down as Zanya leapt off of Gojinmaru’s shoulders, but it glanced off the shield.
But Zanya showed no signs of faltering, and prepared to deliver a second blow.
“Oh, this is bad. Belial, see you later.”
“I cast [Devil Stigma]. I destroy Belial and increase my gauge by 2 and my life by 1.”
Meiru’s Life: 3 → 4
Belial was destroyed before he could finish complaining.
A moment later, Zanya’s sword strike fell upon Meiru.
Meiru’s Life: 4 → 1
“…My turn is now over.”
“It all worked out somehow…My turn. Draw. Charge and draw.”
Meiru finished drawing his card, and Zanya pointed at his own set spell.
“Meiru. Do you know what [Art of Explosive Hades Fall]’s ability is?”
“…I know. If the monster that your opponent calls is the same size as the card you placed in its soul, it destroys the enemy monster and deals 2 damage to your opponent.”
“And right now, you have 1 life remaining.”
“So if I call a monster that’s the same size as the card in Hades Fall’s soul, I lose, right?”
“That’s correct. Now, what will you do?”
Zanya’s tone of voice sounded as though he was testing Meiru, but Meiru had a confident response.
“It’s obvious, isn’t it?”
“Oh? Do you mind telling me?”
“…In your previous turn, you used Gojinmaru’s Overturn. Its effect allowed you to ignore the center position and attack the fighter. In other words, one could say that you had no intention of destroying Belial, who was in the center. In the end, Belial was destroyed, but that was something that you couldn’t have predicted. That’s why there’s a low probability that you placed a size 3 monster, the same size as Belial, in Art of Explosive Hades Fall, which you had set earlier than that. At the same time, if we suppose that Belial had remained on the field, the chances of it being a size 2 or size 1 monster are low. In that case, the monster in its soul must be size 0. …And there’s one more thing.”
“One more thing?”
“The only way for me to win is to assume that my theory is correct, and attack accordingly.”
“…That’s a good attitude. Then go ahead, test your theory.”
Meiru took one of his hand cards and thrust it forward without hesitation.
“I pay 3 gauge and call [Exterminating Evil Demonic Dragon, Belial] to the center!”
“That’s the way to do it, partner!”
The center area was cloaked in darkness, and Belial appeared as if bursting out of the shadows.
“It’s too early to start celebrating, Belial. Our victory depends on whether [Art of Explosive Hades Fall] activates or not.”
Tension grew between Meiru and Zanya.
They calmly stared at each other without looking away.
They both understood that this would decide the outcome of the battle, and so they devoted their full attention to this moment.
After several seconds, Zanya spoke softly.
“…The spell does not trigger.”
Meiru had squeezed his fists tightly without even realizing it. He noticed that his body was growing faintly warm inside, and was confused by this long-lost sensation.
But he faced forward, determined to finish the Buddyfight.
“Leave it to me!”
“When my life is 1, Exterminating Evil Demonic Dragon gains Penetrate and his critical becomes 666!”
Even Zanya’s eyes opened wide at this.
“Did you say 666?!”
“Belial, attack the fighter!”
“This is the great Belial’s full power, body and soul!!”
As Belial raised his massive right arm towards the heavens, darkness spread out from the palm of his hand. The darkness expanded limitlessly, swallowing up the sky. Eventually, a solid mass of darkness that covered all the eye could see had formed above his head.
Belial swung his right arm down, and the mass of darkness fell upon the Fight Stage. The Fight Stage was cloaked in a darkness that swallowed up every object and sound in the area.
Zanya’s Life: 9 → 0
The fight ended, returning both fighters to the park, and Zanya extended his hand to Meiru for a handshake.
“That was a good Buddyfight.”
Meiru gave the proffered hand a light squeeze.
“The truth is, one of my friends is also Buddies with a demon.”
“That friend used to dance with the devils.”
“Dance with devils? But that…”
“That makes no sense. Isn’t that was you were thinking? I used to be rather inflexible, so at first I couldn’t understand that friend of mine, and I clashed with him. But thanks to him, my world became a bigger place.”
“Your world…became bigger…”
“There are as many different ways to be Buddies as there are Buddy monsters. I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of relationship you and Belial build together.”
“…Uh, there’s one last thing I’d like to ask you.”
“Oh? What’s that?
“What was the card that you placed in [Art of Explosive Hades Fall], really?”
“…I’ll leave that up to your imagination.”
Having finished the handshake, Zanya went back to a professional attitude.
He gave orders to the search team members, and prepared to take Belial back to Buddy Police Headquarters for processing. Belial reluctantly obeyed Zanya’s orders.
Meiru gazed at this scene and softly put his hand on his chest. He could faintly feel the warmth spreading into his hand.
◇ ◇ ◇
Several months later.
“You would not believe how boring it was!”
Belial was complaining again.
“There were so many times I thought about tearing the whole building down!”
The moment he had completed his prison term and been released, the complaints had started.
I was sitting on the desk in my room, listening to Belial tell his story. Belial moved around the room, flitting from shadow to shadow, talking about this and that.
“…I’m not interested in what you’re saying.”
“Ugh, you’re as frigid as ever.”
“Never mind that. While you were gone, this arrived.”
I took a letter out from the desk drawer. It was an invitation to a school called the World Buddy Academia. Apparently, powerful and skilled Buddyfighters from all over the world were being gathered at this school.
“That does seem entertaining! There’s no way we’ll be missing out on this.”
“Apparently the Buddyfighter who became Japan’s national champion is there.”
“I don’t really get what that means, but he’s strong, right?’
“Then first, let’s aim to defeat him! To help change your puny world!”
Having chosen a goal for the time being, Belial and I decided to go down this path together.
What would await me in the days to come?
Even I didn’t know the answer.
Text by Shun Menjo