With a cry from the crowd, the townspeople started running away. The clan fighters surrounding the circle had formed into combat positions.
I couldn’t understand what was going on. A demon? Who? Her? All I could see was a young girl that was now looking around in panic as chaos erupted around her. The young master who had summoned her was sitting on the ground, having fallen back in surprise. Within moments, someone grabbed him by the collar and dragged him away from the proximity of the summoning circle.
An aura of hatred from the clan members focused squarely on the elf girl as some of them drew their weapons. I could tell that they were completely serious about the situation. Their glares only served to drive her further into despair. She looked around in desperation, hoping for a way to escape.
Before I knew it, my legs were already on the move. I wanted to help her. She was just summoned. Without provided any reason for the animosity, weapons were already directed against her. Cornelius’s words echoed in my mind. If a familiar was unwanted, there were those who would kill their unwanted mistake.
How could I stand still when a child of Ludmila’s age would be treated such?!
Though I dashed forward, I was much too far away to do anything. A few of the clan members had already pounced on her, their weapons held up for a killing blow.
Words were stuck in my throat as I helplessly watch the sharp weapons fall down upon her shaking form.
I held back my urge to look away as I feared the worst. However, a collective look of surprise spread upon the attackers’ faces. Somehow, their weapons had become entangled with one another. None of their weapons had hit their mark. The girl remained unharmed, cowering around blades that had become snagged above her or deflected to the ground, mere inches from her body.
That moment of hesitation was all that was needed for me to reach her.
“OUT OF THE WAY!” I screamed at the crowd of people hovering around her.
They turned around in surprise at my sudden entrance. Not bothering to give them any time to react, I drew my knife and slashed at the metal weapons. A spray of cleanly-cut metal flew into the air as their weapons split into pieces. They barely had time to flinch as I poked them in the pressure points, causing them all to fall over. At this point, I no longer needed to touch bare skin with my fingers to induce the effects from my technique. I could transfer mana through my knife, through their clothing, and straight into their weak points.
With the men out of the way, I scooped up the trembling girl in one arm and tried to dash through the crowd. However, they had formed a perimeter to surround me. I had been effectively trapped. A surprise attack wouldn’t work again.
The girl looked up at my face, but all I could do was manage a weak smile. I didn’t have any good plans to get out of this. My body had simply reacted before thinking.
“Can you hold me tight? I’m going to try to break free from this,” I told her, hoping that she understood me.
She nodded lightly in response and wrapped her arms around my neck.
Several men lunged forward to take me down. Catching two in the arm with a swift swing of my knife, they clutched their arm in surprise as it started to flail about uncontrollably. Thanks to my training, mana ran through my knife and collided with their pressure points rather than cutting them. They barreled through the crowd, smacking people with their weapon as they tried to retreat.
However, another 3 men had quickly replaced them, swinging their weapons at me. I dodged left and back to avoid two of the strikes, but a third one had followed up the other two to home in on the space that I retreated to. The first two strikes had been a feint.
Unable to bring myself to dodge the last one, I prayed that my defense was high enough to accept the blow coming towards my left shoulder, which was guarding the girl I clutched.
Suddenly, the blade coming at me shifted trajectory, wobbling in the air before curving upwards and away from my body. Mysteriously, the blade had completely missed my arm.
Not bothering to think much about it, I swung my knife and countered that man, leaving him to eat the stone floor before I leapt past him. Others had caught up behind me, trying for a swing at my unguarded back.
There were simply too many to fight off, especially with her in my arms. I held my breath as I took down the ones in front, while waiting for the blows to hit my back.
Yet, once again, they never came. I felt the wind from the blades grazing me, but no actual impact. I couldn’t be bothered to question my luck at this time.
It was rather strange that I hadn’t taken any damage yet. Though I had my mana shield as a defense, I knew that it wouldn’t last against an onslaught of blows. How on earth were they missing with their attacks? It’s not like they were those troopers from that sci-fi space opera.
Suddenly, a portal appeared next to me. Taking that cue, I immediately dove into it by instinct. Both the girl and I fell onto the bed of a wagon. Katsys had already taken the reins and snapped them, causing a jolt of motion forward. The portal gun that she had used was still in her hand.
As we sped away, the clansmen shouted at us. Not that we would stop because they did so. Hurriedly, we bolted through the streets, racing through the heart of the city.
“Claude, that was too reckless!” Katsys yelled at me, obviously upset.
“Sorry, I couldn’t just stand there. Do you know what all that was about? Why would they attack a newly summoned familiar?”
Katsys puffed her cheeks in a cute manner. “No, but I guess they had some reason to. After all, the townspeople reacted rather strongly.”
“Yeah, but not until her ears popped out from under her hair. I heard someone cry out, ‘Demon!’, but she looks like an elf to me.”
Katsys looked at me oddly before I remembered that I had never seen an elf in this world. Did they not exist?
The girl I was holding onto reached up and touched her ears, and then touched mine. “Not an elf?”
Her hand lightly rubbed the round top of my ear as she timidly questioned me. I pulled her away gently because it felt a bit ticklish.
“Nope, I’m human.”
The way she meekly responded. The gentleness and innocence of her eyes as she stared at me. Why would they be so afraid of her, or was there something else that I didn’t understand since we were foreigners?
“Maybe the Kinkou family will know,” Katsys responded to my earlier question. She continued pushing the horse forward to expedite our return.
In the meantime, the elven girl moved away from me and sat on the other side of the cart. Out of curiosity, I pulled up a ‘Status Check’ to look at her parameters.
At the top of the menu, an unusual name drew my attention.
“Your name is Chrysanthemum?”
The girl nodded, looking a bit surprised. “How did you-?”
“Here, it’s your status window.” I brought it over to her. Apparently, she hadn’t seen anything like this before as she just stared at it in confusion. Together, we went through the various lines in the status window. She had a hard time understanding how the numbers on the screen corresponded to her.
My eyes did a double-take when I saw that her Mag stat was 1. Now, that was unexpected! An elf that couldn’t use magic. That was as rare as an undead with a holy attribute. As I continued to scroll down to see which type of Electi she was, the rest of the stats looked normal until I hit Spd.
“What? Another 1? What is going on here?”
I had a strange feeling at this point. Electi usually didn’t have more than one bad stat unless they were particularly strange, like me. As I scrolled down to the second to last line, my guess was proven right. Next to the stat for Lck was the number 999.
“What’s wrong, Claude? You’ve been staring intently at the menu screen for a while now,” Katsys said after taking short glances over in my direction.
“She’s a Luck Electi…What does that even mean?!”
The echoes of my own situation when I was summoned resounded in my head. At first, Eryn and I thought that the Crit stat was virtually worthless. However, it had grown to become quite useful.
I wondered what kind of overpowered ability would come into play with a maxed-out Luck stat. It was certainly a parameter that did not seem to have a straightforward purpose like that of battle-oriented skills. It was another one of those stats that people hardly paid attention to, so not many could explain how it would impact one’s livelihood.
I looked back at the sullen form of Chrysanthemum. She was clutching her knees close to her, deep in thought. Even with the rumbling of the wagon, I could tell that she was shaking due to the sudden wave of new experiences.
We could figure out her abilities later. For now, she needed support, just like Eryn had given me at the beginning. I scooted closer to her.
“Hey, I don’t know where you came from, but you were summoned to this world, just like I was.”
Chrysanthemum turned her eyes at me. ‘Good, it looks like I got her attention.’
“Um…I don’t understand why those men were out to get you, but I’ll be here to help you. My name is Claude, and that lady over there is Katsys. We’ll do our best to keep you safe. I promise.”
The girl nodded slightly in response, but she still looked rather unsure during the ride home. However, we tried to keep her mind off her worries by asking about what she remembered up to this point.
She was an elf that lived in the forests of Arland. Having never stepped outside of that comfort zone, she was confused by the different architecture that she appeared around her. Furthermore, people dressed in unfamiliar clothing had been staring intently at her. She had no idea what to do, and even when they started attacking her, she was slow to react to the situation. All she could do was cower in reflex.
My presumption that elves were humanoids that had super long life spans was off in this case. Chrysanthemum, who I now called Chrys as a nickname, had just turned 10 and looked her age when compared to a human. Though her face was dyed with worry, I could tell that she was normally a cheery girl that had fair features like Ludmila. The two of them would grow up to be beautiful young ladies in the future.
Having no siblings of my own, I didn’t have much experience dealing with younger children. I would likely have to pawn off that duty to Ludmila, who seemed like she would be quite the big sister. She was rather mature for her age, probably from her training as a maid.
Finally, we had reached the town of Haneman. At the sight of another town, Chrys clutched my hand. The slight trembling in her hand seemed to stop as I gave it a squeeze in assurance. Soon, the wagon skidded to a stop in front of the Kinkou household.
Neiya was in front of the gate sweeping. She initially cocked her head to the side at the sight of an additional person, but that quickly changed to caution as she caught a look at Chrys’s ears. By reflex, her broom handle shifted forward like she was wielding a bo staff.
However, that reaction lasted but a mere second. Seeing Chrys cower behind me, Neiya scanned the mana around us before dropping her stance.
“It seems that there is more to this, I suppose.” She sighed.
“You gave off the same reaction as the guys from the next town over. What gives?” I explained how Chrys had been just summoned. Just from her features, they had all reacted in aggression towards her. Not understanding how they could treat a young girl that way, I dove in to scoop her out of harm’s way.
Neiya nodded, understanding the situation now. “Well, of course. They have been trained to respond to a demon threat without hesitation. And you may have just made an enemy out of this country as a result.”
I couldn’t believe what I heard.
“What? Why? What’s so bad about this girl that she could be considered a demon?”
“Well, in this country, those with long ears typically signify that a person had become demonized or fallen into irreversible corruption.”
“Eh? Just because of the ears? What about her aura?”
I looked over at Chrys. The feeling around her was completely different from the demonized Stark that I had encountered. At that time, a thick miasma covered his body, making it hard for me to even distinguish his features. In the heat of the battle, I couldn’t recall if he had long ears or not.
“That is when a demon has gone berserk and starts a rampage. By the time a malicious aura seeps out enough for the common man to see, there would already be untold destruction around it. To begin with, most people are unable to tell unless they have gone through extensive mana training. Even I was apprehensive until I took a closer look at this girl’s mana.”
“Neiya, have you encountered a demon before?”
Neiya looked away for a moment, a painful look on her face. “Yes…my older brother was, unfortunately, one that had been turned into such. Let’s go inside…This story might take a little while.”
The somber aura that had enveloped her as she retreated to the house told us that we had stepped into a touchy subject. Minutes later, everyone was gathered together in front of the table as a story from their past was told.