I felt a drop of cold sweat rolling down my back.
‘Electi had a similar nature as demons? How could that be? Weren’t Electi summoned heroes that helped their masters turn the tide in their favor?’
I vaguely recalled the warning that Koujiro had given me. An Electi had the potential to conquer the world. Koujiro certainly proved that he could rise to the top of a country, so how much disaster could one Electi bring if one’s intention had been to turn their abilities on the world instead?
I thought about the Electi so far that I had encountered – Saki, Ludmila, Koujiro, Lau, Chrys, the Sunny Boys and myself – we all had the potential to do some pretty absurd things. Such as how demons and demonic beasts had gained a major boost in power after transformation, the boost from being an Electi was an unnatural gift from who knows where. Who was there to say that those chosen by the Gods wouldn’t have the best state of mind?
However, all of us were human, with the sense and reason to care for others and fight for our beliefs… or that was what I’d been led to believe. That the nature of summoned beings were assumed to be those that tended to do good.
‘What if? What if one of us spiraled out of control? What if we fought for the wrong reasons?’
I knew first-hand that facing off against an Electi was certainly not a trifling matter. If the people here treated us like a ticking time bomb with no way to dispose of, what was there to keep them from fearing us?
“Being an Electi is a heavy responsibility. The people of Sanshiro are aware of the existence of the core, and they are naturally wary of it. If it’s any consolation, only those highly experienced in mana detection can detect this difference, so this should not impact those who interact with you normally. Granted, we live in an era of relative peace, so we truly don’t know if Electi are more likely to demonize.”
Kaguya’s words gave me a small bit of solace, not only for myself, but also for the others who would likely be treated differently if this was known publicly. Though we were already considered beings of special existence, it was completely another matter when being special had turned into such a negative connotation. Like the discrimination I had faced for being of mixed race, people’s fears propagated from ignorance and misinformation that was spread from conspiracy theories.
“However, one fact is apparent to us.” Kaguya stood up and parted her robe, revealing her midriff.
Most of us in the room jumped slightly at this strange action, but we calmed down when we realized that she had started manipulating the mana around her. Similar to what I had seen with mana-enhanced vision, the mana network flowing through Kaguya shone through her exposed skin. Her core gradually appeared, and to my shock, it had a faint tint of purple.
“What? Aren’t you a resident of this world?” I blurted out in surprise.
“Yes, I am. But I am also the summoner for these two.”
I cocked my head in wonder. “The summoner’s core becomes purple, as well? How could that be?”
“We are intimately connected to our summoned beings. Over time, the flow of mana continuously links us summoners to our Electi and dyes our very essence. In the process, our own mana flows back, carrying our strongest thoughts and feelings. Through this connection, our power grows along with theirs, and our wills slowly become aligned. That is what it means to be a Master/Electi pair.”
“Even if that weren’t the case, Brother and I have chosen to devote our lives to Lady Kaguya!” Wen Zhi interjected.
“I agree. To us, there is no other person who we would rather follow. Perhaps, the Gods knew that we would be compatible.” Wen Lu nodded, agreeing with his brother.
Kaguya gave them a heart-warming smile. I couldn’t sympathize more. My mind still wandered to Eryn whenever there was an idle moment, despite the months that had already passed without her. I truly hoped that this strong connection would endure despite the distance.
“I-I too think that Knight Evers and his master are a wonderful pair! They have gone through many things. I could not possibly see them turning into demons!” Katsys spoke up.
Kaguya nodded. “Truly, those that have gone through many trials and have steeled their wills are not likely to become demonized. That goes the same not only for those with purple cores, but the common man as well. Demonic miasma dyes those that lack reason and let their emotions run rampant. That is why this country places much stress on training our minds and bodies. The weakness in our hearts drives those to fall into depravity.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
“Ludmila will be careful.”
Ludmila and I kept those words to heart, while Chrys stared pensively.
“Don’t worry. There’s plenty of us here to take care of you.” Katsys ruffled Chrys’s hair a bit. “Speaking of which, what about the master that summoned her?”
“Ah, Zhao Yi Long, the youngest son of Zhao Lei Dao from the Thunder Phoenix clan? I suppose that is a matter which requires the person to be present.” Kaguya stood up and clapped her hands in the air.
Immediately, some servants that had been standing outside the room slid the paper door open.
“Please fetch Young Master Zhao from the guest room.”
With a bow, the servants closed the door once again. After a few minutes of idle talk between ourselves, the door reopened, revealing a young boy who looked like the typical eleven-year-old. Though he came from a family of martial artists, his body was thin and lanky. His shoulders were slouching, and he nervously fiddled with his hands. With a light tap on his back from a servant, he stepped forward, looking away from the direction of Chrys.
“Young Master Zhao, do you find your summoned Electi to be unpleasant?” Kaguya said sharply to him, noticing the aversion of his eyes.
Slightly jumping in surprise, Yi Long trembled under her scrutiny. Neiya walked over and kneeled down to meet his eye level.
“Boy, I don’t know what your family has taught you, but do you believe the girl you have summoned to be a demon that terrorizes our people?”
Yi Long bit his lip and looked away. “That’s not…”
“Despite having pointy ears, can you not see her as just another child like yourself?”
Yi Long bent over, his cheeks turning slightly reddish in hue. “I’m… uh… I can’t…” His gaze remained glued to the floor as the trembling of his body grew more apparent.
“Will you not just talk with her-“
“I’M TELLING YOU THAT’S NOT IT!” Yi Long lifted his head suddenly and cried out. “How am I supposed to face a pretty girl after my family tried to kill her for appearing to be a demon!” Realizing that he had said too much, the boy slapped his hands over his mouth, like it would somehow deafen the words he already said.
“Oh? So, it’s like that?” Kaguya smirked at the boy.
Chrys dug her face into Katsys’s back, hiding the blush that had crept onto her cheeks.
After looking back and forth a few times between them, I smacked a closed hand against my palm in realization.
“Ah, I guess that will sort itself with time.”
As we talked to Yi Long, we found out that he never had the chance to do anything once Chrys was summoned. Having been stunned by the appearance of a cute girl with foreign features, his thoughts were caught in his throat. When the cries of shock and fear flooded around him, it was already too late for him to act anymore. He felt his retainers pull him back, and soon, his vision was flooded with the bodies of warriors that had stepped forward, blocking her from his sight. He didn’t even realize why he had been led away until after the commotion had settled down.
Similarly, Chrys had barely got the chance to see Yi Long. The menacing warriors that charged at her were all that reflected in her eyes. She hardly had any time to understand the situation that she had awoken to.
All-in-all, the two kids didn’t seem to have any personal grudges against each other. Maybe once they spent some more time together, this whole issue would become water under the bridge.
“Since that has been taken care of, we will just have to make sure they undergo the proper training,” Kaguya said.
“Training?” Chrys spoke up, filled with curiosity.
“Of course. I mentioned that training one’s mind and body is the key to resisting demonification. That is the only way that people will trust that you have a good hold of yourself.” Kaguya gave her a reassuring smile.
Lau raised his hand. “However… it would probably not be wise to have her train under the Zhao family. Not with their distrust of Electi.”
“Unfortunately, the words you speak are rather true. The Zhao family prides themselves on their own fighting techniques. The capricious sayings of an Oracle aren’t enough to sway decades of beliefs held by them. Warrior Lau, as you and your family have already taken several Electi under your wing, would you do us the honor of training young Chrysanthemum also?”
“Of course, my Lady.”
“And will you not reconsider rejoining the counsel? Though the Kinkou family and you no longer lead an esteemed school like in the past, your abilities are no less impressive.”
Lau chuckled and looked over at Neiya and Kanade. “No, we are too old and set in our ways to deal with all the youngsters and their showboating. We are relics of the past. When we were removed from the counsel by your father, we no longer wished to guide the country with our voices. There are plenty of others with our level of expertise. Let the youngsters like the ones here pave the path forward.”
“I see. How regretful.”
A moment of awkward silence permeated through the room. That was, until Wen Zhi raised his hand.
“Um, are we done yet?”
“Yes, Wen Zhi. You may proceed with what you have on your mind,” Kaguya sighed.
Wen Zhi stood up from his sitting position with a look of fire in his eyes, while Wen Lu placed a hand over his face, apparently knowing what he was about to say.
“Yo, Claude.” Wen Zhi pointed his finger at me. “We haven’t settled our match yet. We were at a disadvantage because we didn’t know about your stats last time. And I still haven’t forgiven you for hurting my dear brother!”
Though I had given Wen Lu several clean cuts that had bloodied his outfit, some recovery potions had sealed up the wounds. It was rather silly for him to hold a grudge over that after they had electrocuted me and knocked out the others.
“Need I remind you that you were beating up on a little girl?” I looked over at Ludmila, who was silently fuming. The mana around her gave off the sense of a tiger waiting to pounce at an unsuspecting prey. “You may want to barricade yourself at night if you want to get any sleep.”
Wen Zhi flinched. “Ah… well… I have no reason to fight her anymore. I’ll accept her vengeance. But the matter between us is different! We are men! We settle this with our weapons!”
“Just amuse him, if you could. He’ll just keep pestering you, if you refuse,” Wen Lu told me.
I shot him a tired look, because the last thing that I wanted was to fight again.
“Hey, at least I won’t be joining in. I’m totally cool with the result.” Wen Lu flashed a cheeky smile.
“Gah, fine! Lead the way!” It felt like things would be better if I just got it over with.
Wen Zhi had a spring in his step as he led me to the open courtyard where he normally sparred with his brother. With the people in the previous room as our audience, Wen Zhi and I drew our weapons and squared off against each other.