—Felmenia Stingray was one of the court mages of the Astel Kingdom.
As the second daughter of Count Stringray, she was a young lady of noble birth and raised without any inconveniences. She was a genius that had looked into the depths of magic by studying under an old mage, who was called the Sage, from a small age on after her extraordinary magical potential was discovered.
It had been ten years since she started learning the mysticism from the old mage. After learning the basics of magic from him, she was quickly initiated into all the secrets, which are said to take at least thirty years.
So she was told: There is no more I can teach you. Follow through with your own wits and magic.
Her life then became more hectic compared to the time she spent studying under the old mage. There was magic research of course, but also the appointment as the youngest court mage, a lot of jobs entrusted to her and an unthought-of number of party invitations. New experiences like numerous unfamiliar jobs, tea parties with noble ladies, typical noble dances and escapes from magical dungeons kept occurring in succession.
This lifestyle without even sparing time for sleep, was harsh and painful, but so fulfilling that she could forget all the hardships. So much that she already felt a sense of accomplishment. Right now, she was living her life. Not in the birdcage of a noble lady, but as working gear of this kingdom.
A few years after she left the old mage’s apprenticeship, Felmenia made a great discovery. In the middle of a job to subjugate high ranking monsters and devils as a court mage, she discovered the principle of flames, which no one acquired before.
Yes, Felmenia finally attained the truth at the tender age of eighteen. The truth about the flame. She found the white flame that burns all things in existence.
Felmenia reported this to her teacher and his Majesty the King without allowing herself to rejoice. Her teacher showered her with unprecedented praise and astonishment and even the King granted her words of praise for her great achievement.
At this moment, she found meaning in her life. Her continued efforts in searching for herself truly paid off. And it solidified her resolve to continue on the path of magic.
After that, Felmenia achieved numerous meritorious deeds in the kingdom while she pressed on with magic. From the subjugation of the devils in the north through to the extermination of the giant monster in the desert downwards to the reform of the magic studies in the Kingdom and the establishment of an academy to advance it.
Her achievements earned her praises from all sides. The gratitude of the people, the jealously of her colleagues and the expectations from her parents were the greatest honour for her.
And by now, Felmenia was recognized as one of the best mages in the Kingdom.
However, she couldn’t lift a single finger in front of the boy standing right before her eyes despite holding the valid title of the strongest mage in the Kingdom.
A full moon hung in the star-covered dark sky. Underneath, in the courtyard of the Camelia Castle, the seat of King Astel, the boy in front of her opened his mouth really stumped.
“…Oh boy. I can’t endorse tailing someone and snooping around. Only a pitiful and foolish stray sheep that doesn’t know the world yet, is allowed to do that.”
This boy, speaking in unfamiliar terms, was one of the two people, who were summoned together with the Hero Reiji. Unlike the girl, who had agreed to defeat the Devil King together with the Hero, the extremely ordinary boy had denied the King’s request in front of the assembled company and demanded to be send back to his own world.
Like you can see— I’m an ordinary guy. I’ve no special power, so I can’t fight any monster or devils, much less the Devil King. I can’t fight. Don’t drag me into it. Send me back.
After saying that, he was confined in a given room. That happened a few days ago.
The girl had mustered her courage even while appearing to suffocate from the fear and confusion after the sudden summoning, and loudly announced to accompany the Hero. On the other hand, the boy was backbit by the cabinet ministers, generals and castle guards as disgraceful, ignoble, egoistic and scum after he stubbornly insisted to be send back.
Yet, this current situation.
The white flame, her utmost pride up till now, was erased by the boy with a casual wink of his hand. And right now, he stood in front of her while emitting a serene magical power and a chilly daunting aura.
“—Okay, can I go next, Miss Mage?”
At this moment, Felmenia Stingray realized how foolish she had been.
…The boy was most likely strong and clever. His appearance was a farce. The ones, who took this pitiful bystander for a fool, were actually fools themselves. He was that cunning. And his strength was dizzying high to put into words.
This boy was a monster, who had reached an even higher level on magic than her teacher, with numerous secret skills she could never hope to match and had an absurd knowledge that would allow him to kill the Hero, who was granted a tremendous power from the divine protection of the heroic summoning, with a snap of his finger.
He was a genuine mage without doubt.
“…Who are you?”
She asked with a trembling voice, whereupon the boy fiddled bored-looking with something on top of his hand—
“—Yakagi Suimei, a magician.”
and named himself for the first time.
Chapter 02: Suddenly in a Different World
Suimei leaked an anguished voice from the pain on his bottom, which was the price for the sudden event to which he couldn’t even react.
It came out of nowhere. Sure, he had forecast that something was going to happen, but it was too sudden to ready himself.
The floor was hard. Probably stone paving or tiles. Falling flat on his backside, his tailbone was in anguish. That happened a moment ago.
So, how did it come this? He didn’t even need to recall it, since it only happened a few seconds ago.
On his way back from school with his two friends, he was pulled into a teleport magic circle that had suddenly appeared on the raod.
And at the teleported destination, he had hit his bottom.
(…Man, what a blunder.)
Suimei had explored secret magic in the modern era with its concrete jungles. He had only started magic around twelve years ago, but was confident in his skills. Yet, he, a modern magician, easily fell for the magic from someone else.
He had sensed it, even seen it, yet he couldn’t react and simply watched.
If that wasn’t a blunder, then what? He felt ashamed and disappointed.
With still teary eyes from the pain on his bottom and the humiliation, Suimei suddenly faced sidewards, worried about his friends who had walked besides him—
Right next to him, his friend Shana Reiji struggled with the same pain on his bottom like Suimei, who was rubbing his bottom.
“Hey, Reiji, you okay?”
“Yeah, somehow. You?”
“My ass hurts. Like seriously. It split in half…”
“Hahaha, you too, huh— Wait, it’s just you here, Suimei?”
Reiji laughed merrily on his silly joke, but only for a moment. He then noticed the absence of their other friend Anou Mizuki, who had walked with them, and called out uneasy.
She certainly wasn’t here. The girl, who had walked next to them just a moment ago, was nowhere to be found.
He looked around briefly. The round room was enclosed by stone walls and except the old candle stand, which gave a dim illumination, there was nothing. No, there was something: A solid door and a pattern on the hard floor they sat on, the teleport magic circle.
“Y- Yeah, Mizuki isn’t here…”
Suimei muttered still somewhat perplexed in anxiety over his missing friend. Meanwhile Reiji racked his brains with an even more bewildered expression.
“Why… And where are we…?”
“I don’t know either. But I do know that we were brought to this unknown place by someone’s will.”
“…You mean that?”
Reiji looked dubious at the big magic circle on the floor. Suimei followed his suit and looked at it again too. Within one big circle were drawn four more circles and the geometric patterns in it didn’t match the western four or five elements, nor the Chinese five elements. And words he had never seen before on a magic circle were put in place there.
He could tell that the circle was similar to the summoning or séance ones that he developed himself, but that knowledge only applied to him. Reiji, an ordinary guy, obviously didn’t know anything about it. Suimei knew him since middle school, but never told him that he was a magician. Therefore Reiji could only know about the thing at his feet from subcultures like manga or anime.
And suspicion arose in Reiji from that. He only had a vague guess that maybe this thing was the reason for their current situation.
On Suimei’s clear affirmation to the assessment of their situation, Reiji suddenly made an exhausted look. It certainly was the right situation for such a face. Even Suimei himself had a touch of bitterness on his stumped face right now.
“…Hey, Suimei. Somehow, this out the blue development seems really familiar to me.”
“I bet. The novel from Mizuki the other day had the same stuff.”
“I know, right? It really resembles the plot, where the MC suddenly gets called to another world and is told to defeat the Devil King.”
“Not funny. I can’t laugh at this joke.”
With a face like from a stomach-ache, Suimei answered in an annoyed tone. Upon that, Reiji had an expression of mixed feelings and laughed dryly.
“Ha, Haha… But it really feels like that.”
“Are you being serious, Reiji?”
Suimei averted his gaze from the nodding Reiji for now and secretly scanned the surroundings with magic. Ending up in the same development from a novel was too bizarre, so he didn’t accept it, but if this wasn’t Earth, then there should be difference in the environment.
Little by little, he collected information. The gravity was average and the atmosphere had a similar composition as well. It were acceptable values due to regional variation.
(The Mana’s rich here… Is it the room’s fault?)
Indeed, the source for mystic powers in the air called Mana was very rich here. So rich that it was on par with places like above a spirit vein, a sacred temple or circle and the Navel of the Earth.
However, deciding that this was a different world only based on that would be jumping to conclusions and totally unreasonable. It was possible that they simply chose a place with a rich Mana density to activate the magic circle. Actually, that was the most plausible explanation.
To begin with, Reiji had no means to probe the Mana and wasn’t able to feel a change in it. His hunch must come from something else.
“Reiji, what makes you think that?”
“I just got this really strong hunch.”
“Oh boy, did your brain melt, my dear Reiji?”
“No, not like I was hit by any weird electro-magnetic waves. Just look—”
A loud crash followed Reiji’s words. He had lightly hit the floor outside the magic circle, whereupon the stone floor was smashed to dust.
Suimei widened his eyes from seeing that. Even if Reiji was a handsome super athlete, this was going too far. It was impossible. A high force was needed to smash up stones. A mere knock could never achieve that. Maybe if he used his overwhelming good looks, but no, that was going in a different direction.
“See what I can do.”
“Don’t give me that. Stop feeding me strange ideas…”
Damn. A summon magic that permanently strengthen your physique sure is awesome… His thoughts wandered into that direction, but then he suddenly realized that his mind worked like that and analyzed the merits and demerits of magic because he himself was a magician. There were other things to consider first, yet he lacked the tension for it.
“So, what about you, Suimei?”
Reiji asked him hinting, but he could only reply like that. Even when he squeezed his fist or transferred Mana, it didn’t feel like he was strengthened at all. Most likely, only Reiji was chosen for the position of the sacred Hero that defeats the evil Devil King. If so, then Suimei was totally out of place here.
He dropped his shoulders, obviously flabbergasted, whereupon the magic circle to his feet suddenly started to glitter. Reiji’s expression became filled with unrest.
“It’s activating…! Are we transferred again or…”
Reiji was quick on the uptake. Suimei put himself on guard while listening to his accurate answer. Then a magic circle of one size smaller appeared in midair.
“Here it comes!”
As soon as a silhouette appeared from the magic circle, Reiji made his move. Maybe he identified what had appeared? His movements were agiler than before. An effect from his strengthened physique.
Thus Reiji caught Anou Mizuki as soon as he spotted her appearing in midair.
“Fueh? Reiji-kun, how…?”
“Good for you, Mizuki. Reiji literally saved your ass.”
And like this, the three of them were reunited in an unknown place.
Chapter 03: An Absurd Request like Expected
“No way. Are you serious…”
“Yeah. The possibility exists.”
After Reiji caught Mizuki, she was filled in about the current situation. At first she was rather confused too, but not being alone here surely worked in favour. With the encouragement of her two friends, she accepted it before long. Still, one had to praise her for having nerves of steel as she didn’t ran away from reality.
“Okay, I get it.”
“You sure are quick on the uptake.”
“You two are quite calm too. It would be embarrassing to fall in a panic by myself. Besides, now that we’re here, we can only take things as they come.”
Mizuki adopted a clear-cut attitude. She had long, black hair and a gentle look with an appearance that made her look like some frail, secluded young lady. Furthermore, she possessed a gentle, yet surprisingly strong and unperturbed heart. Reiji smiled at her.
“You’re strong, Mizuki.”
She ended up turning bright red from his smile. That was nothing new, but neither was Reiji’s unconscious enticer skill.
A totally inappropriate steamy mood filled the room and Suimei asked Mizuki as if to splash water on it.
“So, Mizuki, there’s something I want to ask.”
“If this is like the novel, then next comes…”
“Y- Yeah, some important people of the different world show up. Otherwise…”
The first part was like expected the same from the novel, but she added an otherwise, so there must be a different development possible too.
Reiji asked about that after a short pause.
“Is there something else?”
“In some other novel, the destination, in other words this place, happened to be the castle of the Devil King.”
“…Uwah. Now that’s harsh.”
Yes, in most novels, the summoned MC would only face off against the Devil King at the end of the story after many twists and turns. However. When this was an unexpected plot like Mizuki had mentioned, then this would be the focal point of the climax, the last battle.
That wasn’t all too funny. Only a peril for their lives. Such a distress was really redundant.
Then Reiji asked Mizuki with a calm tone.
“If I remember correctly, that novel was the type, where the MC defeated the Devil King at once and triumphantly returned to the county of the different world as a hero, right?”
“Yeah. Then another strong foe appeared and later the MC was dragged into a civil war…”
Mizuki started to explain, when Suimei, enhancing his hearing with magic, heard some noise from outside the room.
“Listen, you two.”
“I know already. Mizuki, someone is coming and a lot of them at that.”
Apparently Reiji had heard them too. His own enhancement wasn’t for show. Right after giving a simple explanation to her, he shifted his gaze towards the origin of the noise, the passage behind the door, and stood protecting in front of Mizuki.
She cowered anxiously. And Suimei took a stance like Reiji as well.
“Now let’s see what shows up…”
“I just hope it will be these important people that summoned us.”
“Don’t be stupid. If anything, hope for our classmates saying ‘fooled ya’.”
Reiji didn’t respond to Suimei’s little joke. Whether that was because the footsteps drew closer to the door or he simply believed it was actually better when some important people from the different world showed up, was not apparent. Anyway— Who exactly was it that came over and was about to enter the room?
Suimei glanced to the side, where Reiji stood all tensed up, ready to leap forward at any moment, and Mizuki backed off as to not be a hindrance to him.
As for Suimei, instead of growing stiff in an unfamiliar situation, he was excited with his heart was racing over this unpredictable situation. His heart as a magician of course.
Then he quietly checked his belongings. He got here without any preparations, so he carried nothing but mundane things on him. It were—
(I got my altered bag and the stuff inside. A chain accessory, a vial with mercury, a card, a jacket, the discrepancy gloves and a bit of the eight key nostrum… To be honest, that’s all not very useful. But—)
If something happened, he had to act. They all had lived in Japan, so Suimei was most likely the only one with combat experience, as he belonged to the underworld. He would like to keep the fact that he was a magician hidden, but not in the exchange for his friends’ lives. In the worst case, he could just erase their memories, if even he felt sorry about it.
The three of them tensed up from their respective worries. Then the footsteps finally stopped in front of the door.
A short pause that felt like an eternity and cramped their stomachs ensued. Before long, the door was opened with a noise of something heavy being dragged along.
While Reiji was distracted, Suimei readied a defence magic. It couldn’t be ruled out that they would attack right away. And there was no harm in being prepared.
—And then, a group clad in armour appeared in the entry. They looked like armed humans. A first relief that they weren’t monster, devils or demons.
The soldiers warily approached them in an orderly formation.
What will happen? Suimei still kept his magic ready, but the group split up, making way for a little girl with long, blue hair, wearing an elegant white dress, and a woman, wearing a robe as white as a polished pearl.
Both females made a bewildered expression as if they met an unexpected development. They huddled together and whispered in secret.
“White Flame, oughtn’t there be one summoned Hero?”
“But I see three people here…”
“My guess would be that two of them were swallowed up in the heroic summoning.”
They were whispering, but with his enhanced ears, Suimei could hear them and while he did understand their language, he was surprised. It was a strangely rhyming language that wasn’t Japanese, nor any other language from earth. Although he didn’t know the language, he understood it.
A possible explanation for that was that a language spell was cast on him during the summoning. How convenient.
Hearing the words hero and summoned, Suimei decided it wasn’t necessary anymore to be alerted and secretly cancelled his magic. Reiji too relaxed his posture.
Then Suimei leaned close to them and asked Mizuki.
“…They seem surprised… Say, Mizuki, know of any plot like this?”
“Yeah. There are stories, where the friends of the summoned hero get dragged along, but…”
Suddenly Mizuki stopped talking and tilted her head to the side. What was up with this hesitation?
“Mizuki, something bothering you?”
“Uhm, in said plot, the friend of the summoned hero, in our case either Suimei-kun or me, will make a contract with an evil god and turn against the hero.”
“What the? Why an evil god of all things?”
“I’m not sure either…”
Mizuki was flurried in anxiety. To be honest, even Suimei felt like loosing his cool. Contracting an evil god, what kind of bullshit was that?
He could only imagine a tragic fate, where the summoning killed thousands of people and even if you survived it, a dangerous evil avatar that uses up all of your life’s luck, awaited you and forced you to pay a compensation.
Suimei felt a cold sweat running down his back, whereas Reiji asked Mizuki.
“Turns against the hero… Why suddenly fight me?”
“Because either Suimei-kun or I will come to hate you in this plot, make a contract and fight the hero.”
Reiji turned remarkably pale on her words and was befuddled, so Mizuki quickly denied it.
“…O- Of course I’ll never hate you, Reiji-kun. I- If anything, I l- l- lo- love…”
As she was embarrassed to say it to his face, her words gradually became quieter and the end couldn’t be heard anymore, but Reiji’s face colour took a turn for the better and he awkwardly faced Suimei.
“A- And you, Suimei?”
“Nah. I wouldn’t have stayed with you for six years if I hated you. Just think about it.”
Hearing their answers, Reiji made a sigh of relief now. To be honest, there was no way Suimei could come to hate such a nice guy.
While the three had such an exchange, the girl with the long, blue hair called out to them.
“Excuse me for interrupting your conversation, but do you have a moment?”
When Reiji give his okay, the blue-haired girl elegantly corrected her posture and dropped a curtsey, then she spoke.
“Forgive me for bringing you here so suddenly. I am the second child of Almadias Root Astel, the King of Astel Kingdom: Titania Root Astel. And this is the person that made efforts to summon you here…”
When Princess Titania turned a bit to the side to introduce and beckon her, the person in question, the woman in the white robe stepped forward.
“My name is Felmenia Stingray, a court mage. Nice to make your acquaintance.”
The woman was called White Flame by the Princess earlier. She had named herself a mage and her body was indeed surrounded fluently by mana. She seemed to be a long practiser of magic.
After their introductions, Reiji stepped forward now and started to name himself politely.
“Thank you for your polite introduction. My name is Shana Reiji. If you are more familiar with family names last, then please call me Reiji Shana. These two are my friends. Mizuki Anou to my right and Suimei Yakagi to my left.”
Reiji introduced them like that, whereupon the guards made a ruckus and the princess Titania, as well as the mage Felmenia made an impressed expression. Reiji’s dignified behaviour and well-mannered greeting must have been impressed them.
Next up, Mizuki came to the front and introduced herself to them.
“Nice to meet you. My name is Mizuki Anou…”
And lastly, Suimei too stepped forward, imitating Mizuki.
His introduction ended by simply stating his name. He had nothing more to say, nor was this any situation to run his mouth carelessly.
Then Titania let her gaze wander over these three and closed her eyes like thinking about something.
“Reiji-sama, Mizuki-sama, Suimei-sama it is then. The reason we called you here is because we have to ask a favour from… one of you at all costs.”
“And that is?”
“Yes, at present the leader of the devils, Devil King Nakshatra threatens the peace of our world and I would like you to exterminate him.”
…At the very moment Princess Titania uttered this, Suimei, Reiji and Mizuki had all the same reaction in their hearts: That figures!
Only Suimei additionally placed his hand on his chin and looked up at the ceiling.