“Hmm?” She cocked her head as I didn’t move, and then flicked her finger again. “That’s odd…”
I was confused too for a few seconds. I had honestly thought I might go flying into a wall and end up in a hospital like the rest of them. Well… not in a hospital. I’d recover quickly thanks to my immortality, but it would still hurt being tossed around by a goddess. That was when I remembered that despite my immortality, I also still had godless. That meant that a god couldn’t directly use their skills on me, and I couldn’t directly use my skills on others.
Immortality was a strange exception to this rule. I didn’t know if this was because the skill was provided by a much more powerful god, or if it was because I was forcefully given this skill after godless, but the results were the same. I had forgotten I was effectively immune to other gods thanks to that skill. Then it suddenly occurred to me that maybe the reason Harem gave me Immortality is that, because of godless, he wasn’t able to do anything else to me.
I shook my head. Whatever it was, I could think about it for days and not have an answer. Right now, Netori was right in front of me. She was the very woman I had been wanting to speak to for some time. However, if I had to guess, this was an earlier Netori. She didn’t time travel with me, but she was the Netori from when my mother was that age. In fact, she had just taken over my mother. Does this mean that this was the event that my mother couldn’t remember?
“Netori.” I said, taking a breath to calm myself.
Her eyebrows rose in surprise, but then she quickly schooled her face. “Let me guess, you’re an avatar of some god? No… that’s not quite right. Your energy is too powerful. You’re not quite a god, but you’re not quite human either.”
She frowned as if considering what she was looking at. Although it was clear that my mother had been possessed by Netori, Netori hadn’t seen fit to alter her appearance. The Netori from my time had possessed a girl who happened to look a bit like Netori, and I supposed, in some ways, my mother also had features that resembled Netori. She was a beautiful woman with long dark hair and a slim physique. Mother wasn’t full developed yet, so her large chest and hips hadn’t developed. This was her body before she pushed out a couple of kids.
Netori could change her appearance, as her sister Netorare had done, but she didn’t choose to do so. That meant that anything she did while in my mother would be blamed on my mother. Supposedly, mother agreed to allow Netori in. This probably wasn’t a conversation that occurred out loud, but in her mind. Given the dead-end that mom had been pushed into, there was no question to me why she had chosen to allow the goddess in.
“I’m a champion.” I explained to Netori, looking to see if I got any reaction out of her.
She had a strange look on her face, like I had said something weird. I had come to the belief that champions were rather common among the gods. However, the look that she was giving me suggested that this wasn’t true.
“Champions? Gods haven’t created champions since the times of ancient Greece.” She said, looking at me cautiously. “When human beings started developing too quickly, they started creating new concepts that previously didn’t exist. Some of the gods grew concerned that humanity would be lost with out gods applied to these concepts. Thus, they sought to create gods.
“Champions were created, humans that were allowed to grow through challenges provided to them. They would become gods. However, it quickly became a mess. The Gods who were once human acted irrationally, breeding with humans, and creating demi-gods. They interfered directly with humanity, demanding worship, and even some created duplicates, two different gods retaining the same concept. This is how we ended up with the Greek Gods, Roman Gods, and so on. Eventually, the higher gods had to wipe them out. It turned out the whole system wasn’t needed. The majority of humans began to worship a single god, and it turned out the power gods received wasn’t dependent on shrines, but the hearts of man. New gods sprang into being when they needed to be.”
Her words made a lot of sense. This competition that she was holding with champions couldn’t be something common. If it was, then humans would be rising to godhood all the time. Instead, we heard about it being common in the distant past, but nowadays, it just didn’t happen. That wasn’t an accident, but a deliberate intervention from the true gods, the concept gods.
“So,” Her eyes fell on me. “What idiotic god decided to make you a champion?”
“Ah, about that…” I laughed uncomfortably.
The second I ran into Netori, and she was already grilling me. I didn’t know what to say in this situation. Could I just tell her I came from the future? The future Netori seemed to know about this, or did she? Did I have to react in a way I thought the future would go, or could I just do whatever I wanted? So soon after making that decision, I was already doubting myself again. I felt like I was going around in circles.
“Well, whatever.” She had been leaning toward me curiously, but then stood back up just as quickly without me providing an answer. “They probably had their reasons for doing that. All I can say is good luck with whatever you’re doing. Don’t rape women unless they secretly want it!”
She held up her finger like she was giving important advice, and then winked before turning away.
“W-wait! Netori, why are you here? In fact, why aren’t you surprised I know your name?”
“Why should I be surprised that a human knows my glorious name? Although, I suppose these days it is pretty niche to Japan.” She tapped her finger on her lips and then snapped. “I need to break out into America. I bet I can use Japanese manga to do that!”
She started to walk away again, and I took a few helpless steps forward. “W-wait… why are you here?”
She turned back. “You sure are nosy for a human. Of course, the reason I am here is simple. I want to further my name! This woman here is going to help me get back on top! I’ll use her virgin body to steal a hundred married men, no, one thousand! That’ll show Marriage who is better!”
While she was speaking to me, that last part seemed to be said partially for herself. However, as soon as she said it, I grew confused. This was only a few years before I was born. From what I knew, Netori had come down, possessed my mother, wiped out a few gangs, and then encouraged her to get with my dad. However, this woman didn’t seem interested in any of that. It seemed like she had just come to Earth to fool around!
“Wh-what about your sisters? Netorare? Netorase?”
Netori’s expression suddenly turned cold. “What about them? Are they the ones who sent you to me?”
“No! I mean, don’t you want to unite with them again?” I asked.
“Why would I want to unite with them?” She asked, a flash of anger on her face. “They left me! I’m great by myself! I’m the greatest of the bunch! People hate Netorase, and Netorare is just a freak. However, everyone likes to read some good Netori. The protagonist steals the girl from some asshole who is not treating her right? I don’t need those two, and I never did!”
I was floored by her words. She was the one who had worked to bring them all together, but now I was realizing why it was something that hadn’t happened before. Her attitude regarding her sisters was bad.
“You need… them…” My voice started strong, but it quickly weakened.
“I need them?” She sneered. “They’re holding me back!”
After what happened, I didn’t even know how to respond. I didn’t believe what she believed, that they were holding her back, but NTR was not a sum of her parts. She had left where those three had been loyal. How could I encourage Netori to become NTR, when NTR had hurt me in the way she had? My silence seemed to confirm to Netori that she had won the argument. With a nod, she turned around again. She raised her hand, and I realized she was about to snap. As soon as she snapped, I had a feeling she was going to disappear to go do whatever her mission here was. At that point, I wouldn’t see her again. I had to say something.
“I need you!’ I cried out, just before she disappeared.
Her hand froze in midair, and I couldn’t see her face. It was impossible to know what she was thinking. After a long minute, she lowered her hand. She turned her head toward me, but I still couldn’t see her face in the shadows of the alley.
“Is there… some girl you’re trying to get?” She asked.
I thought about it for a second and then nodded. “There is some girl… I need to steal!”
Her body straightened for a second, and then she turned around. As she did so, she floated off the ground, casually floating toward me. She was looking me up and down once again as if her interest in me had been piqued.
“Tell me about it.” She said, her body floating nearby in a manner familiar to the goddess I had come to know.
If she wasn’t still wearing the body of my young mother, I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference. Somehow, seeing her floating there, giving me a listening ear, reminded me of all the times Netori and I had spent together in the last half-year. The familiarity of it all caused my heart to throb painfully, and tears ended up coming to my eyes unexpectedly. Up until this point, I had grown angry and raged, grown sad and sunk to depression, and even run away. The thing I had never done was face my feelings head-on.
I stood straight and looked Netori in the eyes. “I love her.”
“Then, what is the problem?”
“Another man stole her from me,” I responded, my body shaking as I spoke.
“That can happen. Was it your fault?”
“It was. I wasn’t strong enough to hold on to her.”
She made a noise, her expression turning surprised for a moment, and then her eyes narrowed in a pleased look. “I would have expected you to come up with a dozen excuses as to why she left you.”
“Excuses won’t change what happened.” I shrugged. “I lost her because I couldn’t keep her. My only chance is to grow stronger.”
“How interesting…” She tapped her lips once again and then broke into a smile. “I could tell from the beginning that you weren’t with those other guys.”
She said that, but wasn’t she the one who tried to flick me into a wall?
“In that case, I’ll do it!” She announced just as suddenly.
“Do what, exactly?” I asked as she seemed to be convinced of something.
Her grin widened. “I’m going to help you steal her back!”
Netori was going to help me steal herself from Harem? This was turning out to be a strange day indeed.