You never asked for it, but here is Fate/Spirits Night
Chapter 1 Edit
“Do you know of spirits?” Is the first sentence of the book. To call it a letter wouldn't be wrong, it certainly was started with such intent. But soon it grew into a report, into a diary then turned into a book. Whoever it was directed to hasn't been discovered, but perhaps it never had a target. It was a letter directed at the reader, who the reader was never mattered. That was depth of the sadness and loneliness, maybe even of the despair, of the writer. The writer simply wanted someone to read it, regardless of who it would be.
“Do you know of spirits? Not ghosts or apparitions... Spirits. They're beings from another world... A fantastic, magical world. Saying this will certainly make this sound like some novel, but please believe that it is very real. Unbelievable, yet true. Spirits are... there isn't a way to sum them up, really. You can say humans are made of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, that they have two arms, two legs, a head and that would give a general idea of what a human is.”
“But if we had to talk about living beings as a whole, we'd expand too much, some have wings, some have gills, some have horns, two legs, no legs, a hundred legs. Explaining what Spirits are would be much like having to explain what every Earth lifeform is like. Inversely, doesn't that work as an explanation, though? 'Spirits are as diverse as every earthling, human or animal,' there we go, that's good.”
“Now that you know what Spirits are, this can proceed a little better. These very diverse beings come from a world close to ours. They're that neighbor from the floor above: you've never seen each other, maybe not even heard each other, but there's, no doubt, someone living on that room. I think I've been digressing a lot from the topic, I keep explaining these Spirits but I'm not saying anything about why you should care. Well, I think I'll skip to the story then, everything will fall into place eventually.”
The boy is a magician. A young magician, who learned everything by himself from the few books that were actually truly about magic, not just a magician pretender fooling others into thinking their magic is real. He was born with an inclination to magic, even if nobody around him believed in it or in the boy, he always knew it to be true. His studies allowed him to develop, but, being frank, he's still a nobody.
Compared to the average human, he certainly is incredibly developed. But comparing a monkey to a fish in regards to their skill of climbing trees is plainly unfair. If the boy is compared to the average magician, he's a monkey that can't even get to the lowest branch. He can only hug the trunk and attempt to climb, but inevitably falls to the ground.
The boy is aware of his inability, but he has no choice but to continue studying, he'll continue reading and practicing until he can succesfully climb the tree. His name is Elus, those who shorten names call him El. Short brown hair, a below average height of 160cm, no distinguishing features. If he weren't a magician, he'd be a boy that would blend in anywhere, that would disappear within any crowd.
Despite that, he's still a sixteen-year-old with a few duties related to his age. In other words, he still attends school. At this moment, he's leaving his home, prepared for another day of class. What he actually likes is meeting with his friends and returning home to study magic afterwards, but he's sure that's an equivalent exchange. Some hours of classes in exchange of pleasant moments and good memories.
He lives close to his school, fifteen minutes if he walks, around five minutes if he bikes. Today is a day he decides to walk because the weather is cool and refreshing, he wants to enjoy such an atmosphere. The streets are quite peaceful during early morning, perhaps only because this city is closer to being rural than urban. Cars being drove by sleepy adults heading to their jobs, teenagers and children in their uniforms, heading for their respective schools. The sound of light chatter grows louder as he approaches school, friends meet with friends and make small talk.
A red car slows down by his side and the window lowers, a woman pops her head out from it. She has dark hair tied on a ponytail, sunglasses hide her eyes. The clothes she wears are halfway through the path from casual to formal. Seeing her wearing that in school makes it look formal, but if he sees her in public wearing that, it will look casual. She's one of his teachers, Mila.
World history isn't one of his favorite subjects, but the classes she gives are interesting. She has personal feelings for history, she cares a lot about the people of the past, for some reason. She'd occasionaly tear up upon talking about the death of a particular person she liked a lot, or start grinning too much when someone she likes wins a war. Even if he still doesn't like the subject, the teacher makes it pleasant for him.
“Hey, El! Want a ride?” And she's an overall great person. Whilst still respecting the limit between student and teacher, she's on friendly terms with most of her classes. El once did a trick of taking out a handkerchief from behind her ear and offering it to her when she started crying because of a death and, ever since then, he became a special person to her. Out of all his peers, perhaps she's the one who believes the most his talk about being a magician.
“Hmm...” He knows he's just two blocks away from his school, he'd be there in pretty much five minutes, but he can't turn down a request from a friend. “Sure.”
Mila smiles and opens the door for him. Her car is quite comfortable. Not one of the most recent models, with over a thousand horsepower and capable of handling the birth of a baby, but still a quite fine choice. She's a humble teacher, but not a fool in any way, one can notice that just from how she spends her money. The breeze blowing from the window of the accelerating car is even more pleasant than the one he felt as he walked, accepting a ride was a good choice.
“Hmm... Hmm...” Mila seems bothered, trying to think of something, but not managing to say anything.
“Is... something wrong?” Elus asks, feeling weird having her make all those noises by his side.
“It's awkward to be with someone and not chat, but I can't think of any topic...”
“Oh, that's... I mean, it's a three-minute trip, even if we started a chat, it'd end abruptly. Don't force yourself, I think.”
“Wait, I know! Did you study for Math?”
“...Why would I?” He tilts his head. His math teacher didn't announce a test or anything of the sort.
Instead of replying, Mila winks and unlocks the door. They've arrived at the school gates, but Elus is still sitting there, agape. He comes out of the car, putting one and two together, but he still can't believe it. It could be a joke, it could be serious, he doesn't know what to believe. A shadow sneaks behind the dumbfounded boy and jumps on his back.
“You're wide open!” He says, sliding his arms beneath Elus' armpits and locking his arms with a move he learned from a certain dragon saint. “Brownie, do it now! Don't mind me, if you take him along with me, it'll-”
“You're as friendly as ever, aren't you? I mean you and Miss Mila,” the girl completely ignores the boy behind Elus. Giving attention to his delusions is a waste of time, she learned it the hard way.
“Hm, not really? It was just a ride,” and Elus also knows not to mind the boy. Being ignored by both, he lets go and just normally walks to the girl's side, slightly frustrated.
Illie Brown, nicknamed Brownie, Elus' classmate. An attentive and sincere girl, she's slightly careless with her words at times, but generally, she's great at giving advice, which makes her a little popular on their school. David Mentes, also his classmate, a delusional student. His gags can all be traced back to TV shows, animated ones and live action ones. However, because of these delusions of his, he ends up being an extremely honest and trustworthy person. 'A hero never tells lies,' and 'If I were to ever leave a friend down... I would never sleep at night again!' are some of his mottos. And it's certainly not just something he's saying, he truly lives under these 'heroic' rules of his.
An advisor, a magician and the delusional 'hero,' these three are a group of inseparable friends. They all have a fame around themselves, but they're not popular in the 'every one wants to be their friends' way. When the need arises, people resort to them, but they're just like average students otherwise.
David has gray hair, the result of an accident with white hair dye, but he says that gray makes him look even cooler. Nobody comments when he says that, beings respectful of his feelings. Both his eyes and hair are black when he's natural, but while his hair is often dyed, he doesn't use eye lens to change his eyes. He says he has some of different colors, but they supposedly look too silly for him to wear.
Illie has long blonde hair, often braided, but occasionally loose, when she doesn't bother to spend time on it. She tried twintails once, but she felt the atmosphere around her character had changed and never did it again. She wears glasses or lens, which of these she picks depends on her mood and the occasion. She's farsighted, so when going to school she always picks glasses because it's easier on her, but when she's going to family reunions or situations where she wants to look cute, she goes with lens.
“Ah, but that reminds me, we should, just in case, study some Math,” Elus says, deciding he's too young to gamble and ignore the advice of a teacher.
“Hm? Why?” Illie asks. Seeing Elus show interest in studying anything not directly related to magic is rare.
“Did your Mystical Seventh Sense pick something up?” David's expression turns serious, he tries to make it sound as dramatic as possible. While Illie is skeptical, David believes 100% that El is a magician.
“...You went straight to the seventh? What would be the sixth?” El never even said anything regarding a sixth sense, he can't see what sort of setting David is running with.
“Your very awareness of magic, of course,” he answers, believing it is a trick question meant to test him. Within his common sense, it's obvious that El of all people would know of his sixth sense.
“...Hm,” he never considered it to be a sense, but he can't deny there's some logic to what David is saying. 'I can't believe I walked into this one and actually am falling for it,' he thinks, feeling ashamed of himself. “No, that wasn't it, though. A bird told me, let's go with that.”
“Did you send familiars after Mr. Aujios? I cannot accept such ill use for your skills, with great power comes-”
“David, shut up,” Illie laughs, amazed by how deep into his own world he is.
“Betrayed by my own Brownie, I can't believe this...” He clutches his chest, doing an impression of someone who has been stabbed.
And just like that, El's daily life proceeds. With small breaks to chat with his friends and study a little, then clashing straight into a not-so-surprise test and somehow managing to get around it thanks to support of the heavens, also known as Mila, another school day ends for him. But if school has ended, his actual day can finally begin.
“Do you two have any plans today?” El asks his friends.
“This girl from Class 3 asked me to help her organize notes, she's doing badly in some subjects and can't catch a grip by herself,” Illie thinks that request is slightly beyond simple advice, but as it is something she can help with, she won't turn the offer down.
“Tonight the Moon will ask for a banquet of madness, the demons are getting out of control because of it. I must do what I can to seal them.”
“...You mean you're having guests over and you need to help in the kitchen?” It takes a second for El and five for Illie, but what matters is that both can understand what he says. The boy nods, a little embarassed because he thinks he'll get laughed at for helping around the house.
“Did you want something?” Even if he didn't intentionally do it, El's expression shows he is a little upset.
“Not really, just to fool around. But don't mind, I have some stuff I need to do too, I just remembered,” technically, it's not a lie. He did stop reading a book halfway because he fell asleep, but he didn't think of that as anything too urgent.
Thus, each of them headed to their own affairs. Illie to the mentioned girl's home, David to a grocery store to buy some ingredients, El to his own home. Academically speaking, Illie is above the two, while the two are on the same tier of being average. Regarding housekeeping, like cooking, cleaning and such tasks, David is above the other two, who are on the same tier of being bad at it. Regarding magic, El is a monkey and the two are fish.
“Aah... what a bummer,” he sighs. He certainly was in the mood to hang out with his friends, and even if he knows there are days like these, he can't help but be frustrated.
“Hey there, Mages-boy. Whatchu doing by yourself?” Mila spots him walking with his head hanging low and strikes conversation.
“My friends had appointments, so I'm by myself today.”
“I see, I see,” she nods, her arms crossed. 'It is a busy age, it's natural,' she's thinking. “Did my advice come in handy?”
“Yes, I think I was saved by it.”
“You should take both school and magic seriously. If you're a dropout, people won't take your magic seriously, you need balance, balance is important,” she scolds him. It isn't rare for her to properly act like a teacher, but he's become so used to seeing as a friend, sometimes he forgets she's his teacher.
“I'll be more dedicated from now on, don't worry. I like to believe I learn from mistakes,” he laughs apologetically.
“Good. I'll record that. If your grades don't improve, you'll have to treat me for lunch.”
“...Is that really something a teacher should be saying? It's bullying.”
“It's a friendly bet, don't mind! If your grades do improve I'll... hmmm, give you my car,” she looks away for a few moments, thinking about what she could give him.
“Isn't that a little unfair? Lunch x Car? Doesn't sound like we're talking about things with the same weight.”
“If your grades do improve and you get my car, all that'll change is that you'll be giving me rides instead. Also, you'll have to pay for gas in my place, I can only win,” she pats his head and walks away, giggling. El smiles, feeling she probably did all of that just to cheer him up. 'What a great teacher,' he mutters.
He can't think of anything to distract himself with. He could go to a game center to play for a while, but he doesn't have that much money on him. Accepting he has no choice, he heads straight home, figuring he'll just resume reading that book and then practice a little. When he opens the front gate, he sees the doors and windows of his small home are all wide open. 'Ah, it's probably...' he says to himself, keeping a calm expression rather than panicking.
“Miss Al?” He yells as he steps at the front door. His voice echoes for a few moments, then a reply returns, coming from deep within the house.
“Welcome home, El!” The voice of an adult woman echoes back to him.
Miss Al is this gentle adult from the neighborhood that takes care of Elus. He has a family supporting him with money, but, officially, he lives alone. His home is just a study, his bedroom, a kitchen and a bathroom, but that's more than enough for him. Al moved into his neighborhood two years ago and visited his home to mingle on the new environment, only to find out that boy was the only resident of that house.
'My child is already grown up, so I'm not needed anymore, but I still want to be a mother!' Was what she said to justify why she'd help him around. She doesn't come everyday, but at least once a week she comes around to air the house, see how he's doing and if he has been eating right. There are days he locks himself on the study and disregards everything else, so she feels worried about his living conditions.
“How was school?” She asks. He finds her on the kitchen, looking at the cabinets and fridge and taking notes of what he's running out of. She doesn't run errands on his place nor does she cook for him, as he had been doing that just fine until now, but she's still more caring about meals than he is. When she arrived, he bought instant everything and ate nothing but that, so she taught him how to cook a basic meal and instructed him on eating vegetables and fruits, otherwise he'd never grow strong.
“It was fine. I got a ride from Mila, had a surprise test and... that's all, pretty much. My friends were busy, so I came straight home today.”
“Hm, an alright day, indeed. I've finished making a list of what you're lacking, so I'll just leave it here. Other than opening every window and this, I didn't mess on anything, so closing everything down before it becomes night is all you have to worry about.”
“Okay,” Al is about to leave the kitchen, but she stops by the door and stands still there for a few moments. Then, she quickly turns around and gives him a hug. 'Bye,' she says and heads out once more, this time really leaving.
'Do I look that upset?' he asks himself, not understanding why everyone is being so... kind to him. He drops his backpack by a chair and looks at the list Miss Al left him. 'Rice, vegetables, salt, milk... How much money do I still have? The month is almost ending, can I last until the next allowance...?' he wonders, worried about whether he'll survive or not.
He eats a little for lunch, an attempt to make his food last longer, washes his dishes and then decides it's time to burn the rest of his day away on the study. When he's about to open the door to it, the doorbell rings. A very rare occurrence, his friends often go straight through the gate and knock on the door, but even if it's a semi-rural city, door-to-door salesmen still exist. He doesn't have any money, but he can't afford to leave the person hanging, so he heads out to answer.
He opens the gate with his embarassed smile and 'sorry, I'm low on money' excuse prepared, but the person he meets eyes with doesn't give the impression of being a salesman. He wears a brown trenchcoat which goes down halfway through his shins. The small portion of his pants that can be seen show he's wearing blue jeans. We wears black shoes, his head is covered by a hat, which casts a shadow over his face, making his features a little hard to grasp. All El can see for sure are the man's eyes, and they're infinitely deep, almost as if the universe existed within them.
The man extends his hands forward, handing a package to El. The boy needs a moment to be get away from the sucking power of those eyes and acknowledge the package. 'Should I take it?' he thinks, not understanding anything that is going on, the man hasn't said anything yet, he's just standing there, handing out a package.
“Your grandmother asked me to deliver this,” he finally says, seeing El isn't going to move by himself.
“...She did? Why didn't she send it through the mail, as usual?” It doesn't take a genius to know the guy isn't a mailman, so he feels suspicious.
“You'll understand why it couldn't be handled by a third party when you open it. It's not a bomb,” that final sentence sounded like an attempt at a joke, but the man's mechanical tone didn't allow for it to be a joke.
“Uh... Okay... then...” Still hesitating, El takes the package. The man tips his hat and walks away. El has no idea what just transpired, but if it's to be a scam, they certainly did their research.
'It wouldn't be weird for them to know I don't have parents around. Or do they even have to know I don't have parents? Gifts from a distant grandmother shouldn't be that rare of a concept. But that talk about third party sounds exactly like my grandmother... but that's just chance, isn't it?' He walks around within the study, the package closed on top of his desk. He doesn't want to open it, he can't trust it. 'But maybe just leaving it here is enough for them? Maybe I should throw it away?'
He can't make his mind up, so he decides to ignore it for now. If it will kill him, he'll take care of other matters first. He buys the groceries he refused to earlier, because he needed an excuse to distance himself. He's almost completely out of money now, but 'at least I didn't open the bomb and die,' he comforts himself. Next, he reads the book he was halfway through at an increased pace, he just wants to finish it 'before dying.'
At some point of speedreading he forgets about the package and returns to his normal pace and ends up going through the remaining 150 pages on a steady rhythm. After finishing it, he believes he got a new understanding of magic. He raises his hands up high, chants some hocus pocus words and white fireworks come out of his fingers. Sadly, such cheap slight-of-hand tricks are what he's always been capable of, he didn't manage to level up at all.
He looks at the package. Bullets of sweat slide through his brow. He turns to the clock. 'Oh man, it's 8pm already, I completely lost sight of myself, I need to eat something,' he turns his back to the package and heads to the kitchen. He prepares a sandwich and eats it slowly, savoring each bite and tastes it to the limit. He probably never felt a sandwich that was as tasty as that one, he enjoyed it down to the very last particle of breadt particle of bread.
Afterwards, he prepares a cup of tea for himself and savors it too, waiting for it to cool down, sipping gently, deeply inhaling the aroma, to the point he feels the tea might be what's swallowing him. But eventually, the tea ends too. He turns to the clock. 'Time of death 9pm? It's likely I'll only be found on the morning... unless it's a bomb, then everyone will find me... in more than one place.'
He takes the package and heads for his backyard. 'I won't destroy this small home, I owe it that much,' he decides to pay his debt to his home by dying in the open. He looks up the moon and sees it is full. 'David is probably enjoying his banquet of madness right now...' His mind strays to what his friends might be doing.
His thoughts are with his friends, but his hands are focused on opening the package. 'Ah, Miss Al will probably be very upset...' He rips the seal apart and turns it upside down. A thick book falls to the ground. At the same time the book hits the grass, he feels the tension on his shoulders being heightened to the limit, then blown away by the wind.
He picks up the book, considering the possibility of it truly being a gift from his grandmother. He can't read the title, the words are very unclear. There certainly is something written there, but he can't make sense of it. It doesn't seem like a language he can't read, it certainly is something he knows, but his brain doesn't seem to connect one and two together to interpret it.
He opens the book, quickly flipping through the pages to check if there isn't something hidden between pages. Oddly, save for the first few pages, it is completely blank. 'Is this actually some old diary?' he raises an eyebrow, perplexed by the empty book on his hands. Seeing as there's nothing but a few pages with anything written, he goes straight for these first pages.
“1 – If you were chosen to have your wish granted, what would you ask for?” Says the first line of the book's first page.
“I want to excel at magic...” He just thinks it naturally, it's difficult for him to read a question and not think of an answer.
“2 – How far would you go for that wish?” Says the second line of the book's first page.
“Well, that depends, but...” He doesn't complete the thought. That sort of question isn't simple, he could easily say 'I would do anything,' but he isn't sure he'd really mean it, there's a line that must be drawn at every occasion.
“3 – Steel your resolve and turn this page, there you'll find your answer.” Says the third line of the book's first page. These three sentences are in a font large enough to take the entire page. He turns the page to see what's next. 'Is this a self-help book? So it was a scam, after all...?'
That page had words before, when he rushed through the pages, he's certain of it. He didn't read them, but there was something written there. However, when he turns to that page now, it is 'empty.' It lacks any words or content, but there's something moving on the pages, there's a 'ripple' spreading within it. He stares at rippling pages, confused.
Suddenly, a blinding flash of light. He lets go of the book, but it doesn't fall to the ground. He can't see it, but it is suspended in midair, the pages flipping infinitely. More than a thousand pages are turned, yet the book continues to appear to be only halfway through its content. Until it opens an specific page, a page shining with the light that blinded El, it doesn't stop. Once that page is found, the book falls to the ground.
Elus' sight returns slowly. He could hear the book hitting the ground again, so his eyes went straight for it. But besides the book, he sees feet. 'Who?' he asks himself, waiting for the rest of his sight to return so he can see who's there. The person's overall shape is the first thing that comes to him. The person looks tall, they have broad shoulders and long hair. Then, the person's clothes become clearer, a black shirt underneath a silver coat and white pants. Their hair is black, but two bangs come down from their forehead, almost covering the eyes, and these bangs are yellow-colored. Finally, El sees the person's face and... it's quite androgynous, he can't ascertain whether the person is male or female.
“Are you... my master?” The person asks, biting their lower lip in shame.
“...Huh?” Elus enters a state beyond confusion, that person being there and being asked such a question by the mysterious being is very puzzling.
“...” The person takes a pained expression. 'I don't want to repeat it... to call anyone master once again, I...'
“Wait,” El, upon thinking about it carefully, has started to put sense into it. A mysterious book with strange words. A weird person who appears out of the blue. 'Are you my master?' the person asks. “You're a familiar! Summoned by... me?”
“...” 'That's pretty much saying he is my master, isn't it? It took him a moment, but he got it,' the person seems to relax a little, the 'master' doesn't seem to be that clueless, despite a bad first impression.
“But the book is probably a catalyst, I wouldn't manage this on my own... Did grandmother send this so I'd...?” He bites his thumb, more focused on thinking about the 'summoning' than on the 'summoned.'
“...” The 'familiar' also has no intent of calling for his attention, they can only wait for the master's command. But that doesn't mean their guard is down until being told to do something. The 'familiar' can hear presences near the walls surrounding the backyard, two people sneaking behind the house. Even their conversation can be heard by the person's ears.
“I thought it was a trap, but... Instead, this looks like a total chance, doesn't it?” Says one of the individuals. Judging by how the voice rings, the 'familiar' can correctly guess it's a female aged from 18 to 23.
“It isn't rare for a battler to enter battle without knowing of the rules... this behavior of theirs certainly sounds like that of someone who entered the battlefield without a single clue of what is going on,” this person is older and also female, maybe having an age from 25 to 30. But what matters is that this individual isn't a 'person,' but a 'familiar' as well.
“Will we storm in?”
“We will storm in.”
The following scene happens very quickly, which makes it even more amazing. The female familiar and the girl with her jump over the wall. The girl manages the jump by getting a hand from the 'familiar,' the familiar can do it without any help due to her supernatural strenght. Up until this point, while unnatural, nothing that could be considered impossible has happened.
The moment they hear the two are preparing to jump in, El's 'familiar' had opens one of their hands, pointing towards the invading duo's landing point. At the moment the two jump, a sphere of light forms around the person's hand. That light vanishes as fast as it appeared, leaving a handgun on the hands of the 'familiar.' Without even having to turn their face around, the 'familiar' locks the aim of a black revolver on the girl, who has just landed.
The girl seems to be about to announce herself, but before a single word comes out of her mouth, El's 'familiar' shoots. That gun appearing and the shooting happened so quickly that El only notices it is there when the bullet is already flying towards the girl. The echo of the gunshot startles El, who jumps away and falls on his back. The girl also doesn't see the gun, by the time her eyes can actually see the two people in front of her, there's already a bullet coming her way.
Moments before the bullet hits the girl, it is deflected. The girl's 'familiar' slashes it away with an invisible sword. The girl could only hear the sound of a gun shooting, then sparks flashing right before her eyes. When she takes notice of her 'familiar' brandishing a sword and the handgun held by the opposing 'familiar,' that's when she understands: If not for her partner, she'd have been killed. She went in thinking she had the upper hand, and almost died because of that. 'Pride is the downfall of a battler,' her 'familiar' said once, but she'd never think it would happen so quickly.
“...When it concerns protection, we're always like that, aren't we? Would you manage that if I targeted you?” El's 'familiar' laughs, thinking both of them are pitiable existences.
“Wanna try my luck?” The woman provokes them, a smile on her face.
Not offering any further words, the 'familiar' shoots three times, all three shots targeting the woman. She swings her unseen blade three times, her slashes are so quick that normal eyes would see them as simultaneous. Even if moments ago she had one sword and two arms, when she's swinging, it'd appear that she had three swords and six arms. Sparks fly in front of her, the three bullets are deflected towards the ground, lodging themselves into dirt instead of into flesh.
“Hmmm,” the gunner opens a cocky smile, feeling that their marksmanship is being challenged. A second sphere of light appears around their other hand, a second pistol appears, this one being silver-colored with gold engravings. It points the two handguns to the swordswoman, but Elus stand in front of the line of fire, his arms wide open.
“What are you doing?! Stop shooting people, what's wrong with your head?!” He yells, worried about the girls his 'familiar' is shooting. Especially because shooting someone on a peaceful neighborhood like this one would cause the entire neighborhood to gather there, if that goes on, he might become unable to continue living quietly.
“I'm protecting you... master,” the gunner hesitates to call Elus master, but the 'familiar' must accept their place as a servant and act adequately.
“Nobody even attacked me!” Elus wouldn't ever be able to guess their intent is to take him down while he's still green. However, the 'familiar' can't hope to convince him of the enemy's intention without having any evidence.
“Is that your tactical decision?” The much taller person looks away from the invaders and meets eyes with Elus. While the gunner is cool and unemotional, El's eyes quake, he can't understand what is happening, but he assumes it isn't right.
“Yes!” He screams. Until anything makes sense, he'd rather not have a familiar he summoned shoot people.
“...” the person lowers their arms and the guns disappear like melting snow. They remove their gaze from El and return it to the invaders.
“Soa, I believe we underestimated them, let's retreat,” the swordswoman grabs the girl and somersaults backwards, leaping over the wall and then running away. The girl doesn't even react, she is still paralyzed by fear, the shadow of death surrounded her, yet she escaped.
“Let's go inside now, we need to talk...” El frowns, worried if this familiar acting this way is due to his own weakness as a magician.
“Any question you might have will be better answered better by that,” the familiar points to the book. Elus had forgotten about it, even if he knows the book is blank, it's not right to just leave it on the ground.
As the two head in, Elus tries opening it again, to see if the pages beyond the first had returned to having words. Instead, the words on the very first page have changed. 'The wish and resolve of Elus Mason have been here registered. We wish you a good battle.' Still on a large font, floating on the center of the first page like a lily pad on a river, these odd words that weren't there before can now be read.
He flips to the next page. 'First engagement: Elus & his Spirit show advantage over the enemy, but the battler absconds, allowing his opponent to escape. Nobody was damaged.' On the following page, a picture of the 'familiar' exactly as they currently look, standing still, a blank expression on their face. Becoming increasingly perplexed, he heads to the study and sits down on the chair by the desk, not taking his eyes away from the book even once.
Status and skills are listed below the picture, but the section called 'Name' is smudged. Elus turns one more page and a picture of that pair is there, exactly as they looked the last moment he saw them: the girl with a frightened expression on her face, the woman with an angry expression, holding the girl on her left arm, grasping something on her right hand. He can't see what she's holding, but she certainly had something there, which she used to hit the bullets. In her case, not only the name, but her status are also smudged. Under skills, however, he can read 'Sword Master.'
“Look, this is only giving me more questions,” he turns to the 'familiar,' his expression very complex, a mix of anger, fear and frustration. If someone were to paint it, it'd be called an abstract painting representing human suffering.
“...Where do you want me to start from.... Master?”
“Even if you tell me 'where from...'”
“...Do you know absolutely nothing?”
“Let's go with that,” he nods. The 'familiar' falls silent, doing nothing but stare at El, their blank expression not budging an inch. It is impossible to tell if they're thinking about something or if they're waiting to be asked something. “Well, let's start with... your name?
“I'm... Archer,” the 'familiar' pauses mid-sentence, his blank expression turns into ditzy one for a moment.
“That isn't a name, you know,” he says, using a mocking tone.
“It seems I forgot my identity. I only know I've been classified as 'Archer' for this match,” they lower their head, ashamed of not having a name to offer to their master.
“Also... I hope this doesn't bother you, but are you... Are you a guy or a girl? I can't tell,” he smiles nervously, feeling it's an awkward question.
“Technically, neither. I am whatever you ask out of me.”
“...I don't want to go too deep into that, but if I go with you being male, will you be fine with that? Are familiars always this... quirky?”
“I am whatever you ask out of me. Also, since you know nothing, I feel I should correct a misunderstanding of yours: I'm not a 'familiar.'”
“...No? Then, what are you?” There are many possibilities of what a summoned beast could be, to try and guess each of them would take too long.
“I'm your Spirit.”
“Spirit? Can't say I've...heard of that before,” he feels inadequate. 'A true magician certainly would know what that is...'
“Ask the book about it,” Archer points to the book once more, insisting it will give a better explanation.
“As in... actually make a question to it? Like making a search on the internet?”
“Yes, ask the book a question,” Archer ignores that second bit because he doesn't understand it.
“Uh, okay,” El opens the book again, on a random page on the middle of it. It is blank, like many of the other pages, but El can't help but feel there's a 'pulse' in there. “What is a Spirit?”
“They're beings from a different world. Spirits exist in many forms and shapes. They're made of a different matter than that of humans, their power source is 'Core.' Core is to Spirits what Oxygen is to humans,” a paragraph saying this appears on the previously blank page.
“A different world...? How did I summon this Spirit from his world?” That's what he had been thinking about for a while, he wants to know if he was the one to summon the spirit or if the book did it.
“By signing a contract with the Spirit Book on your hands. In exchange for having your most innermost wish granted, you'll be given a spirit and risk your life facing six opponents who, just like you, have made the same contract.”
“You and your spirit must triumph over the opposing six battlers and spirits in order to gain your wish. The last one standing is the victor who'll have their truest wish become a reality”
“...I see. As expected, it's... something troublesome, isn't it?” He hates that part of magic. In order to seize anything, one must gamble. Without an offering, nothing can be obtained.
“Isn't your wish worth this battle... Master?” Archer asks, puzzled by the concept of a battler being upset by the idea of fighting against others.
“Is it? I... can't tell,” he asks. He expected the book to answer, but something subjective like that clearly cannot be answered. “Since you won't answer that... Why did this guy get named Archer?”
“The spirits summoned to this rite fall under seven classes: Archer, the long distance warrior. Saber, the close quarters warrior. Assassin, the warrior of the shadows. Lancer, a midfield warrior. Berserker, a very powerful all-field player. Caster, a warrior whose true calling is for magic. And lastly, Rider, a warrior allowed to have a mount by their side.”
“...Out of all these, I ended up with Archer? Berserker sounds strong and Caster could probably teach me something, those would have been better...”
“I apologize for being inadequate... Master,” Archer lowers his head. Even if he plays loyal subject, El can tell Archer's words don't carry a drop of sincerity. Almost as if he is conditioned to say that.
“No, I didn't mean it like that, don't... Uh, was that woman just now Saber? Since she had a sword?” He changes the subject, thinking that forgetting about it will be better than making up a poor excuse.
“We cannot tell for sure. She certainly isn't Archer, as that is your companion. The only classes that can be outruled are Assassin, since she faced you head-on, and Lancer, due to no spear. She could be a Berserker who didn't go all out, a Caster with physical skills, trying to fool you into seeing it as belonging to another class, a Rider who didn't bring out their mount or, indeed, a Saber,” the pages before Elus are almost completely filled, all the answers it has given so far spread over them.
“Hm... Why would it fool me into seeing it as another class? Is knowing the class that important?”
“In some cases, it can be, as it can reveal weaknesses and strenghts of a warrior. While her case is difficult to crack, yours is much easier. Only Archer or Assassin would display the skills your Spirit has shown, such pinpont marksmanship is specific of these classes.”
“I see... so she probably knows what sort of class I have...” He keeps feeling he got the short end of the stick. There are still a lot of questions to make and he's already losing sight of hope.
“Master, I apologize for intruding, but I'd suggest flipping the pages now.”
“These pages are full, if you continue asking, the new answers will be overwritten over the previous ones and both will be lost. When you fill a page, use another one to make new questions.”
“Ah, okay...” 'Why is it that I have this feeling I was taught something that is very obvious...?' he asks himself, heading to the next page. “Are all my opponents magicians too?”
“I'm lacking in information to answer such a thing,” 'geh, did I just waste a line? I should turn the question into something easier to answer...'
“Ah, I know. Can only magicians summon Spirits? Would it be possible that a non-magician entered this... battle?”
“Anyone with a Spirit Book could summon a Spirit, as long as they have a wish and the resolve.”
“...Also, you said Spirits exist in many forms and shapes, but looking at Archer and that woman before... They're pretty much humans, aren't they?”
“That is correct, but also incorrect,” almost as if to answer to his desire to fill the pages with as many answers as possible, the book's answers decreased in length.”
“Go on, in what way is it correct and incorrect?”
“While on the Spirit World, where overflowing Core can be found, spirits exist in their 'true forms,' whatever these forms are like. But upon being forcefully summoned to this world without abundant Core, they lose their true forms, thus turning into beings like the natives of this world. In other words, they obtain shapes like those of humans in order to exist on the world of humans.”
“That's... Is that related to how Archer lost his identity?”
“I'm lacking in information to answer such a thing,” 'damn, again?!' El gets answers and tries to accept them, but there are lots of facts going above what he previously understood of the world, even with his 'sixth sense.'
“Can you show me what sort of beings Spirits usually are?”
Many drawings appear across the pages, split into six groups which are distant from each other. They're not colored nor do they look like photographs, it's like an old-fashioned painting, done with nothing with black ink and a brush. On one of the groups, dragons, lizards and fierce beasts. The following one has giants, creatures no words would give justice due to how gruesome they are and multi-headed lizards. The following shows birds, bugs, bugmen and beasts much like the ones from the first group, but these have spikes, blades and such things growing amidst their fur. In a way, they look even fiercer than the first ones.
The fourth group shows angels, fairies and majestic beasts straight out of myth. To contrast with that, the fifth shows demons, ghosts and the undead. The last group is divided in machine people and mechanical animals. To El, that last one looks like something out of a very futuristic Earth, where everything would have become mechanical.
“Wow, that is pretty diverse... and yet they turn into humans upon coming here? If a human went over there, would they change into one of those?”
“No, the core cannot affect people. Humans going to the rift between Human and Spirit Worlds isn't that rare, that's how battles normally happen. This battle is the one that is... particular, in how the Spirits are the ones entering the world of humans,” much to El's surprise, Archer answers his question.
“Huh, I thought you didn't remember anything.”
“I've lost my identity, but I remember my world.”
“...Which of these groups did you belong to?” El asks, showing the page with the drawings to Archer. But Archer can only lower his gaze solemnly, ashamed of his inadequacy.
“I cannot recall... Master.”
“Now that you're a human, I guess it doesn't matter. I was just curious,” El closes the book and sighs. There's still lots of questions to make, he knows, but he's tired now.
He turns to the clock. '10pm... all of this in nothing but an hour...' he sighs once more. He stands up and prepares to head to bed. 'Brush my teeth, take a shower, turn off the lights, uh...' he turns his head around when he enters the bathroom and Archer is following him inside. He stares at the Spirit, hoping he will get a clue, yet he just stands there, answering El's stare with the same poker face he's had until now.
“You don't need to follow me around everywhere. Or anywhere. Do your own thing.”
“I have nothing but you... Master,” he answers. The fact he says that with a straight face rings a few alarms within El's mind. 'He's saying some creepy stuff without even caring.'
“Well, stand guard by the entrance or something, I have private stuff to take care of.”
Archer hesitates, but distances himself from Elus after a few moments. El picks up his cellphone and sends Illie a message. 'Want to come over here? I have a need for many advices,' he wrote. He drops the cellphone by the sink and takes a long shower. 'I'm a magician, this sort of thing shouldn't be surprising to me... I should be excited, this should be my chance to shine...' he repeats it over and over, trying to convince himself.
When he's done showering, he opens his phone and sees he got a reply from Illie. 'Who do you think you are, calling a girl to your home on an hour like this? If it's important, call me, I'll wait up to 11pm, I guess.' He didn't mean it in a 'come here right now' way, he regrets his poor choice of words, but blames it on being tired. But if what she said is true, then he can still catch her on the phone, it's just 10:40. It's better to call and explain the misunderstanding, he figures.
“What is the problem? Be quick because I'm beyond bedtime just for your sake,' she yawns, apparently even more tired than him.
“Uh, you probably won't believe it if I say it straight, but consider this setting: You and six other people get into a fight over a prize. If you lose, let's say you're in debt. Is it worth participating?”
“Is the prize good?”
“Is the debt huge?”
“Probably a good prize, probably a huge debt, isn't that the 'equivalent exchange' you always talk about? The basis of magic and stuff.”
“Y-yeah, it is.”
“Then what exactly is the problem? You're afraid of failing so you want me to tell you what to do?”
“...Does it sound that way to you?”
“I see. Then I guess I'll close the call and think by myself. That's better, right?”
“Good night, El,” she ends the call and finally lets herself fall asleep.
The boy sighs. He ought to be happy. Summoning a loyal creature, even if not a familiar, should be a feat, it's the best he's ever done. But technically, he didn't do it, it's thanks to the book. What more evidence does he need that his power was irrelevant to the summoning than hearing it is a rite that can be performed even by a normal person? And the Spirit he summoned is probably really weak, archer troops are always the easiest to take down in games. In a battle of a gun against a sword, Archer didn't hit even once.
'It has no identity, nor does it seem to have a personality. Is that uselessness meant to be a reflection of my power as a magician?' He stares at the back of the man standing in front of the door, still as a statue, 'guarding the entrance' exactly as ordered. Before sleeping, El grabs the Spirit Book once more and opens it on a blank page.
“Can I get another Spirit?”
“If you lose yours and still have a strong desire to fight, it is possible to obtain another.”
“I see. Sounds pretty easy actually, do people change Spirits often?”
“If possible, yes. To avoid such thing from happening, after killing a Spirit, it is common to also take the battler's life. Without anyone protecting them, it is an easy feat.”
“I... see...” he closes the book and drops it by his bed. He closes his eyes and tries to sleep, but the turmoil within his mind makes the task hard to achieve.
Kilometers away from El's home, a girl on her bed looks at the new page of her Spirit Book, but there's no data, only the picture of Archer looking at them with profoundly disdainful eyes. The girl has orange-ish red hair and freckles all over her body. Since she's wearing pajamas, it is correct to assume she is about to head to bed. By the side of the girl's bed, lying on a mattress, a woman with white hair and pajamas matching the girl's. The woman hugs a pillow, her eyes are distant, she's imagining a battle which didn't happen. 'If that battle continued, can I be sure I'd win? That Spirit was going easy on me, I can tell...'
“Do you think it's safe to assume that was Archer? We've met with Assassin already and... I can imagine Rider could also come out as a gunner, but I get this feeling it is Archer,” the girl asks the woman.
“Archer is like the nemesis to Saber. If somebody other than Archer can annoy me that much, I really don't want to meet the actual Archer...” She hates the feeling of uncertainty concerning who would have won the battle. She's itching to face Archer once more, but she mustn't forget this battle isn't for her sake.
“I see...” The girl closes the book and grabs a red-colored radar from underneath her pillow. The radar is giving a faint pulse, coming from a very distant point. “He's still giving out his presence, maybe he doesn't know how to hide it? Or is he really trying to lure people there? Judging by how we fell for that trap, it's possible... That Spirit is just too scary, honestly. That look on his eyes...” While El got a good look of Archer and could feel confused about the gender, Soa, who only glanced from a distance, thinks it's a man for sure.
“Would you rather have him conceal it?”
“If someone else takes him down, won't you be bothered?” These two understand exactly what goes inside the mind of the other, these questions were pretty much moot point. They ask exactly because they know the answer. “Shall we pay these two a visit tomorrow and tell them how to hide? If they're doing it to lure people, then we just fight again. But this time we'll be prepared,” she clutches her hand, a flame burning deep within her eyes.
“Sounds good to me,” Saber smiles.
Soa is a non-magician, but she easily understood the situation due to Saber's explanations. That radar is a detector meant to track swords, but some meddling turned it into a detector of Core Energy. What attracted the two to El's location was the Core Energy released during Archer's summon, the radar almost went haywire when it happened. Out of all the battlers present, these two are the most powerful combo. But this isn't a battle of power alone, which means that their title doesn't assure they're the most likely to win.
Somewhere else, distant from both of the two previous locations, a girl on a dark room, the only light is that of a flickering TV screen, opens her Spirit Book. 'Fourth engagement: Saber and Archer engaged each other, but the match was interrupted by Archer's battler. Assassin observed from the atop the trees and confirmed the class of both Spirits. Nobody was damaged,' she reads.
“With this... all seven have been summoned, right?” She asks. Nobody can be seen other than her. But within the shadows, invisible to the eyes of everyone but her, a man kneels, his head low.
“Aah, it's gonna get serious, won't it? Should we get serious too?”
“Only if you wish so, my lord.”
“Hmm... I'll decide that tomorrow. I'll just finish one more episode and then straight to bed.”
“My lord, every night you repeat that same sentence around five times and end up not sleeping.”
“...Okay, but this time is different, I really mean it.”
“...” The man hidden on the shadows knows she's lying, but he won't bother. Just like usual, he'll wait for her to fall asleep, turn off the TV and tuck her into bed. 'For a student, that behavior should be unnacceptable. But I am not one to meddle into the affairs of my lord,' he thinks to himself, quietly waiting for her to fall asleep on accident.