A man in his twenties was practicing his form in the courtyard. He had graceful movements that few could compare to. At this point, he had already started building a name for himself as a prominent fighter.
His name was Lau Ki Young, and he had been summoned to this world more than two years ago. Surprised that he had fallen into a mysterious world, he found himself quick to adapt to a place that seemed right out of an Asian cultivation story. Here, people demonstrated fighting prowess like that of legends and fantasy movies.
Even more surprising was the fact that he had been called upon to take part in it all. Aside from watching action films, Lau had no experience in martial arts. However, he had a well-toned body and incredible focus, skills acquired from his hobby as a juggler. He found it incredibly easy to learn the fighting skills needed to perform his duties as a summoned being, an Electi.
Lau looked over to his master, Jiro Kinkou, who was currently meditating. Jiro was a master of the mana arts, a magical skill that felt akin to a romanticized concept of ‘Qi’ in his home world. Though he didn’t appear to have a body suitable for combat, the young head of the Kinkou family had mastered the family’s teachings at an early age and was a key figure in Sanshiro’s defenses.
For generations, the Kinkou family had trained warriors for the country, using their mana manipulation abilities to aid in the fight against dangerous beings and demons that appeared every so often. A sizable group of the country’s warriors were taught under this school. From what Lau had heard, demons were a serious threat whenever they appeared. Apparently, Jiro had already fought against a few of them before he had summoned Lau into this world.
Given that Jiro had a weaker constitution than normal, the family decided to call upon a summon to help protect him. Summons in this country were not particularly common, as one’s own body strengthening and fighting ability were prioritized over the tricks of magic seen in other countries. There were some that viewed mana manipulation with similar disdain, but they couldn’t deny the usefulness when applied on top of physical enhancement.
However, Jiro and his family had been greatly surprised that an Electi, the rarest of the summons, had been chosen for him. It was a great opportunity to demonstrate the synergy between martial arts and mana manipulation, as Electi served as the perfect model to learn both simultaneously.
As a result, Lau was thrust into a world of training and battle, learning how to make use of his body to protect his master. Fortunately, he found it more interesting than the struggling life he had in the past, that of an ordinary salesman trying to get by. Rather than spending all of his time trying to make a living wage, he had the freedom to exhibit his juggling skills, his one joy in life.
The only difference was that he was now juggling people and himself in the air, rather than mere knives and bowling pins. Perhaps, it was due to his passion that he was blessed with this enriched stat of dexterity. Though these game-like numbers meant little to him, he did find it amusing that this world was controlled by such values. He was thrilled to find himself handling objects even better than his peak abilities in his previous world. It was like a dream.
“Have you finished practicing your form for the day?” A sweet voice called out to him as Lau stared into the distance.
“Just finished. Shall we go for a walk?” Lau offered his arm to her as they walked around town.
Lau gave off a cheeky smile as he saw Kanade, one of Jiro’s three sisters. Jiro’s family had treated him quite well since he arrived. Especially Kanade, who reminded him of a girl that he had a crush on in high school. Of the siblings, Kanade had the most experience in hand-to-hand combat, so she had been tasked with teaching him martial arts.
Jiro himself was a pretty lousy teacher, since he talked in concepts that flew over his head, so the task of mana training had been left to the eldest sister, Neiya. The middle sister, Narika, was a great cook that reminded him that he had sorely missed his mother’s dishes since he had moved out to start a career. A busy salesman hardly had the time to learn how to cook a proper meal.
Overall, life in this world was pretty neat. However, the price for this peace was that he would have to mobilize with Jiro to deal with the occasional threat. The first time he faced off against a massive dragon that had been bothering the town was quite the shock. He hesitated to attack until he saw fellow fighters smash their fists into the dragon, causing massive shockwaves through its huge body and snapping its limbs in half. Doing feats such as this were unfathomable in his previous world.
He had to quickly throw away his previous beliefs and trust in his training and parameters. In these cases, he could count on Jiro to tell him what he was capable of. In fact, Jiro and Lau had quickly formed a bond of teamwork that allowed them to easily take down the fiercest of enemies. Even when reports of demons had brought others to a halt, Jiro calmly faced off against the ‘fallen ones’ that were human in shape, but feral in nature.
He felt proud to have been summoned by such a reliable master. Things couldn’t be better for him.
He felt Kanade’s head rest against him, which made his heart pound in anticipation. There was actually a reason that he had asked her to join him for a walk. The answer was buried in the inner pocket of his fighting gi.
Stopping at a nice location that overlooked the town, Lau took a moment to stare at the place that he had become so familiar with these past two years. Finally mustering his courage, he pulled it out, an intricate hair ornament that was decorated with precious jewels. It had taken a large chunk of reward money from his jobs, but he was determined to do it.
Placing the shimmering ornament in front of Kanade, who had a look of surprise on her face, Lau bowed slightly.
“Kanade, will you marry me?”
Those simple words were all he could muster up with his courage. However, they were enough to convey his feelings. With tears in her eyes, Kanade gave him a wordless nod and pointed to her head. Lau slowly bundled her silky hair in between his fingers before slipping the ornament into place. Sharing their first embrace as a couple, Lau’s arms felt like they wanted to melt around her warm body.
Before they could lose themselves in that moment, a rush of mana passed over them. The couple, both possessing the ability to sense these disturbances, turned towards the source.
In the distance, they could feel pulses of mana emanating from that direction. These were pulses familiar to them, that of demonized beings baring their fangs.
The two of them rushed home, a sinking feeling in the pit of their stomachs. It was rare for a demonized being to be discovered in the middle of town as they didn’t have the ability to control their rampages. Long before they went berserk, someone would likely detect the dark energy swelling and poisoning their bodies. One could see the telltale signs of their irreversible transformation by the pointiness of their ears and the paling of their skin. After fighting several of them, Lau had an unshakable feeling that this occurrence wasn’t caused by the typical circumstances.
As they neared their home, they saw distinct signs that something had forced its way in – cracks on the pavement, bodies strewn about, and a front gate that had been shattered to pieces.
Lau bent down and felt one of the bodies for a pulse. It was one of his training brothers that he had spent quite a bit of time with. Feeling no thumping against his fingers, Lau tightened his fist in anger before reaching over to pat his fallen brethren’s head. Looking around, he could see others that belonged to the Kinkou school.
After a deep breath to calm his growing rage, Lau dashed forward, determined to take down what had caused this. He heard sounds of fighting in the courtyard. Jiro was currently facing off against three demons, people with malicious auras emanating from each of them.
Conjuring mana in his hands, Jiro swept away the attacks that were aimed towards him while looking for an opening, but it was difficult for him to defend against simultaneous attacks from three demons; they were usually tackled by teams of experts rather than any lone fighter.
Lau rushed forward, building a swirling mass of mana in his fist. His movement was so swift that he had come upon the nearest one before it could turn around. Letting loose a spiraling mana thrust into the demon’s back, the miasma that flowed around it was blown away. Chunks of the demon’s flesh were carved back, revealing a shining purple core that was imbedded in his torso.
Jiro saw his opportunity and pulled out a metal fan from his robes, smacking the core with a precise swing. The core slowly lost its shine and crumbled to the ground. Moments later, the demon also started to turn into dust.
“Where are the other girls and your folks?” Lau cried out as he did a spin kick to knock the next demon off-balance.
“Neiya and Narika are evacuating the others. Father and Mother…didn’t make it.” A grimace blemished Jiro’s handsome face as he followed up Lau’s attack with a downward hammer strike that was formed by collecting mana into a solid block at the end of his fingertips. The thick concentration of mana produced a solid blow much stronger than anything he could muster with his weak body.
As Lau defended his master, it took several more strikes for the miasma to dissipate enough to reveal the next demon’s core, whose body was much tougher than the previous demon’s. Jiro had to stab his fan deep into the demon several times before the core finally cracked.
As he finished, the form of Lau being sent backwards caught his eye. His arms were crossed, and blood dripped down his arms, a sign that the last demon’s attack had penetrated his defense.
“Focus harder on your mana shield!” Jiro cried out to him.
“Don’t you think I know that! I’m already tapped out here! I can’t make it any stronger!”
“Hold on! I’ll make him turn towards me!”
Jiro summoned the thickest shield he could manage on his left side, as he charged a mana strike with his right hand. Pecking away at the demon’s back, it finally turned its attention towards him. With a swift swing to the head, his mana blew away the miasma that obscured the demon’s face.
A familiar sight caught his eyes. Other than the pointed ears that he was now sporting, it was the face of a rivaling demon hunter named Wei Tung that he had worked with on occasion. That man had been a rather powerful fist fighter to begin with, so the demonification had apparently strengthened him even further. It was no wonder that he had given Lau a challenge.
The demon responded with a quick strike, slamming into Jiro’s fortified side. He could feel the malicious mana tearing through his own. His shield just barely managed to hold up, but the resulting shockwave jostled his entire body. If he hadn’t clenched his teeth, he surely would have bit through the tip of his tongue.
Jiro wasn’t sure he would come out unharmed from this. However, that was if he were facing an unknown demon. Having discovered its identity, Jiro had an idea. He concentrated mana on his fan, while goading the demon to attack. In the past, Wei was a straightforward warrior, one that prided himself on his strength. He always let his overwhelming power plow through his enemies.
That had given Jiro an advantage, who had practiced ways of self-defense that focused on taking advantage of his opponent’s momentum. Seeing the demon charge towards him, he used his fan to guard against the miasma, while guiding its large body into a spiral. As the force of Wei’s demonic strength pushed him around, he took advantage of the extra momentum to circle around the demon faster than it could move, before placing a well-timed mana strike into its back.
With the demon as the center point, Jiro continued to spiral around it, bombarding it with a barrage of highly accurate strikes. This was a dangerous strategy normally, as Jiro was like a bee circling around his prey. One moment of lost focus, and he would end up swatted into the ground. However, he was a master of mana manipulation and precise control. Attacks of this speed were hardly something for him to sweat about.
Lau stared in awe at the amazing technique that his master displayed. Not even with his Electi gift of dexterity was he able to counter in such a fluid manner. Though he could parry most attacks with ease, it was completely different when it came to pin-point mana control under such stressful situations. There was still much for him to learn.
Soon after, the miasma around the final demon was finally becoming exhausted. The malicious aura protecting its body was no longer thick enough to affect those around it, and the demon itself had slowed down its attacks. Some had observed that a demon drained of its miasma would show some signs of the personality it had before.
As Jiro slowed down his attacks, the demon who used to be Wei Tung appeared to be in deep contemplation. As if recognizing the warrior in front of him, Wei bowed his head.
“Sorry, I gave into the darkness…and lost myself. I can only offer this in return,” Wei said with a low, primal voice that shook as if he was barely holding onto himself.
He stabbed his hand into his stomach, creating a large wound and revealing the purple core that had changed him.
“But…you have returned to us.” Jiro hesitated, finally seeing a glimpse of his former comrade.
“Not for long. I cannot be forgiven anyways. Not after everyone I’ve killed.”
Though he was being controlled by his demonification, he and the other demons had slain many of Jiro’s students, as well as his parents. He had contributed to the weakening of the country’s battle potential, all because he was tempted by power.
Much to Jiro’s surprise, Lau rushed forward and delivered a fatal blow to the core, ending the demon’s life. Though Wei appeared to show a smile of relief as he disintegrated out of existence, Lau had not struck him out of mercy. Not knowing the man very well himself, Lau only held a feeling of rage for all of his companions that had been killed. He had struck the demon out of pure anger. He had killed it to feel the slightest bit better about his own powerlessness.
“Well, isn’t that interesting?”
A different voice called out to them at a distance. Jiro and Lau turned with a surprised look on their faces. They could immediately feel something was off.
There stood a man in a disguise with pointy ears like a demon. However, this ‘demon’ had no miasma spewing from him. The purple mass of malicious mana was perfectly contained inside, orbiting his core like nothing that they had ever seen.