As I tap away at the keyboard, programming to the specs of the project, a zombie-like groan escapes from my mouth.
How many all-nighters in a row has it been already?
They call it a death march, but this is beyond that.
A few days ago, a guy in the next section over jumped in front of a train. The memory is still fresh in my mind.
Will it be me tomorrow? Today? The thought keeps crossing my mind.
God damn it. And I thought slavery had already been abolished.
Yet I’m basically a slave to this company.
When we had a moment of silence for the guy who died, the president was even spouting bullshit like how the company wouldn’t be profitable if not for unpaid overtime. If the company is at that level already, unpaid overtime won’t suddenly make it viable! I hope you guys go bankrupt after I find a new job!
Why did I even choose this place... I’m at wit’s end already.
My name is Kogure Yukihisa.
I’m 26-years old and a productive member of society for over four years. I work as a software engineer at a sweatshop of a company.
Well, I knew there were a lot of jobs like this from the start.
But still, when I was being interviewed as a university student, every last one of these companies seemed to be as shitty as each other.
According to my friend from school who gave me a referral to this job, everywhere else is just as bad.
The world is just full of these fuckin’ sweatshops.
Fuck those clients who change everything at the last minute. Fuck the bosses who dump all the work on us grunts and leave on time every day. Fuck the temp workers who sometimes get paid better than us full-timers. Fuck the part-timers too. Fuck everyone!
If you’re gonna change the specifications, pay us for the work we’ve already done! Dipshits!
You’re all just brainless sheep!
With my urge to kill rising, I slam down on the enter key for the last time, wrapping up this project.
Completely exhausted, I hang my head down in front of my computer and let out a sigh.
There are a lot of coworkers on a death march much like me.
They all have their own work to do and can’t spare the time looking at other people.
Another guy in my department is slumped over his desk, looking like as if he were dead.
There wasn’t any strength left in our words.
I gently lift my head to check the clock.
Ugh... it’s already five in the morning. I don’t even have time to go home.
They take no excuses from grunts like me who have to be here by eight o’clock sharp.
At any rate, even though we’re done with this project, I think we’ll have to be on stand-by for the next one. Just thinking about it makes my blood boil.
The next deadline draws nearer.
How much fuller are you gonna cram this schedule, you bastards?
Gotta calm down. My body is already tattered. I can’t risk burning out and dropping out.
I wish I knew some kind of magic to somehow escape from this hellhole. Otherwise I’m just gonna die here like this.
There’s only three hours left.
Out from under my desk, I take out my sleeping bag and slip into it.
How lucky I am to get three hours of sleep.
I’ll change and take my dirty clothes to a coin laundry at lunch. Then, some time in the evening, I’ll hit up a bathhouse nearby. I get to do that once every three days or so.
Speaking of which, how long has it been since I’ve gone home?
With the time I could spend thinking about that, I use it to sleep instead. With the groans of zombies and clacking of keyboards in the background, I fall asleep like a warrior after an arduous fight.
Ah. Lying down feels so good. I could sleep forever.
“I’ve found you, dragon!”
“... you lot sure are persistent.”
The foolish human soldiers shouted at me, a dragon flying in the sky.
Humans are but easy prey to me. However, I have no such interest in destroying them.
If not for them being such an annoyance, like flies in my face, I would not even try to involve myself with them.
Yet, these humans fly through the sky, plotting something nefarious.
The magical barrier erected is nought but a hindrance to me.
... killing them now would be too heavy-handed. I shall scare them away and destroy their barrier.
Truly, humans are pests to wherever they propagate.
What do they stand to gain by defeating me?
I stop beating my wings to land in front of the leader of these humans.
A battle of magic begins.
They put down magic circles after magic circles. Almost all of them are protective spells to prevent human casualties.
... what a bothersome way to fight.
However, there will be no casualties in a battle with me.
Though troublesome, humans are tenacious.
If I were to such carelessly kill one of them, it would be a spark for a war involving all of mankind.
Even with multiple copies of me, it would still cost considerable time to fight off all humans.
I shall cast my mighty Flame of Megiddo and incinerate their armor.
With a mighty roar, I breathe out a scorching blaze.
I cause the vanguard major damage.
The smell of burning flesh permeates the air.
With fine control, my flames dealt most of the damage to the ones wearing armor, narrowly avoiding causing deaths amongst the humans.
The leader charges to the frontlines.
In a set of pure white armor, this warrior—a representative of the humans—brandishes a sword enchanted with anti-magic properties. He cuts through my magic, defending himself. However, seeing his ally behind him taking full brunt of the attack, the warrior shouts in a rageful voice.
How does he ignore the fact that he was the one instigating this fight? Not only that, but he has the nerve to victimize himself... This generation is all talk.
No matter what, they have to feign being just.
I have a life of my own to live. I wish not to perish.
Humans do not seem to understand that fact.
In any case, I would prefer to quickly escape from this predicament.
If threats will not work, then I shall bring down Heavenly Thunder to smite their sorcerers conjuring the barrier.
Know thy place! I am merely holding back on you lot!
“From the moment you were imprisoned within our barricade, you had no chance of victory. Take this!”
The warrior raised his sword towards me.
For a dragon like me, a hero’s sword is needed to cut through. Wielding even a sword made of dragon scales would be a fruitless endeavor.
However, not only is the warrior’s sword not one of a hero’s, a hero’s sword has to choose to slay a dragon.
I am brimming with confidence that I am not the dragon chosen by that sword.
I need not to defend against his attack.
I shall take the warrior’s attack straight on.
The enemy is the one behind him—the sorcerers. I shall start charging to cast Heavenly Thunder.
The warrior’s sword bounces off my scales and sets off sparks.
The warrior’s sword snaps and something like a glimmering crystal appears from within.
Curses—recently, my comrades have fallen to this magic without leaving a mark on the humans.
“This is the end for you, dragon!”
With a howl, I unleash my magic to counter their spell.
... what the hell kind of dream was that?
It wasn’t remotely realistic, but total fantasy.
That was great. Way better than dreaming about being shitty at my job.
Dreaming makes time seem to pass by slower too.
Being half-awake and feeling like you’ve dreamt for a week is even better than a relaxing sleep.
Anyway... maybe it’s not such a good thing that my dream was from the dragon’s point of view.
I’d like to pretend as if they were all the assholes from work and just let loose on them.
Their spell eroded through my defensive magic and then coursed through my body.
“Don’t underestimate mankind! Now die!”
I fire off all the power I have left.
Seemingly as a response to it, great lines of red run through my body and into the earth.
... huh? What the hell?
It feels as if I’m floating in the air, but gravity is pulling me back down. Like this is some sort of hallucination.
Right, it’s the same feeling like riding a roller coaster.
I’m... the dragon and wrapped in light. I soar above to space, red light shoots out from my body, and I drop like a meteor back down to Earth.
“B-Blast! Dragon! I won’t let you escape us! Wherever you go, we shall come hunting you do—”
Before the light fills my vision and I soar into space, I hear my opponent run his mouth.
And then... my consciousness completely fades.
An unnerving noise.
But at the same time, this feels really, really nice.
Ah. It’s just like as if I’m soaking in an onsen. It feels as great as that.
Something making a big splash is coming towards me.
“Are you alright?!”
Mm... I’m not fully awake yet.
Rather than half-asleep, it’s more like my fatigue is giving me sleep paralysis. Then I remember the feeling of someone pulling on me.
Who is it? Or rather, what is it?
Can’t you let me sleep for a little longer...? What, did I get assigned a new guy at work and he’s trying to wake me up?
There are so many noises going on at once. I can’t see anything in the office, but I can at least hear it.
Thanks a lot, but this is complete unnecessary. Let me sleep more.
“You’re going to be fine! Cough!”
It sounds like I’ve been dragged out of the bath.
“Hello?! Are you awake?!”
“Mm... I don’t wanna wake up...”
I am definitely not going to wake up for you. My body isn’t even able to move anyway, so I sleep!
After displaying my willpower, I fall back asleep.
It feels like as if the sounds are getting quieter.
Has it been a while?
I wake up with a weird feeling and open my eyes.
“Ahh... that was a good nap. Huh?”
I wake up and scan my surroundings. I see an unfamiliar girl looking at me.
In her hands is... a mortar and pestle. It seems as if she’s concocting some sort of medicine.
“Have you finally woken up? I’m so glad that you’re alright.”
Ignoring the worried girl, my head’s a complete mess.
I mean, I was sleeping under my desk at work.
I look down and, as expected, I’m wearing my dress shirt and trousers.
Let me take a look at my surroundings.
I’m at the bank of some kind of purplish swamp with a bonfire burning, with ominous-looking trees and a slight haze in the air surrounding us.
It feels like some sort of weird place deep in the mountains.
Oh. Are we at some sort of campground?
Is this a dream? Or is this some kind of prank?
I’ll try asking this girl in front of me to sort things out.
“I was about to feed you an antidote and a potion, but I’m glad you have awakened.”
... huh? What’s with this girl? The words coming out of her mouth sound kinda weird.
I understand what she’s saying, but her pronunciation is kinda off?
At least I can tell that she’s not speaking Japanese.
“Umm... this is a little sudden, but where are we?”
Am I speaking in some other language too? Maybe I’m just imagining it.
“... is your memory a little hazy?”
The girl speaks in a worried tone.
How should I explain?
Do I speak frankly? Or is this some kind of prank?
Or perhaps even that I’m still dreaming.
They say if you pinch your cheek while you’re dreaming, it’d still hurt like normal, so you wouldn’t be able to tell from that.
To be honest, I’ve had dreams like that before too.
“Well, it’s a mess in my head all of a sudden...”
“Oh, that’s right, isn’t it? I mean, after all, you did fall in a poisonous swamp... and you were breathing in that toxic gas too, so it really isn’t all that strange.”
A poisonous swamp?
Ah, you mean swamps that have poisonous gasses bubbling through?
Are there still places like that in Japan?
Shit, don’t tell me that this fuckin’ company didn’t want to pay me, so they went and got their hands dirty.
Considering how easy it would be, they’ve done quite the sloppy job.
For this cutie to have found me and your plans to come to nothing...
Hmm? Aren’t her facial features really well-defined for a Japanese girl?
Her eyes aren’t black either... it’s some sort of purplish-blue, you could say.
No, that’s not it, but her whole appearance isn’t very Japanese-like.
Her dress isn’t fully Western, but it’s all frilly and cute. And around her neck is a scarf. Very stylish.
Mm. This has got to be some high-level cosplay.
And her age... a high school student perhaps? Oof, I’ve caught glimpses of a schoolgirl in cosplay.
Nice. It looks fantastic on her.
Seems like she was also carrying a large basket, the one placed down nearby.
While I eye her up and down, the girl places a hand on her chest and smiles.
“I believe we have yet to introduce ourselves. My name is Arleaf. I’m an apothecary.”
She doesn’t seem like your average herbalist though.
“My name’s Kogure, Yukihisa...”
“Mr. Cohgray, is it?”
Why are you pronouncing my name so weirdly?
But Cohgray, huh...? Kinda fantasy sounding.
Still kinda irks me though.
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