Rebirth: Prologue Part Four – End of the Beginning

Hello everyone! This is the final piece of the prologue (thus this chapter’s name), and the beginning of the actual story will follow next chapter. I hope that you’ve all enjoyed the setting so far, and I am happy to continue writing this series. Just so you all know, I’m pretty happy with this chapter, I hope it makes you excited!

Without further ado, the usual:

For those reading on Honeyfeed/RoyalRoadL, you can visit my site which has updates on what I’m doing, setting information about races, people, magic, etc. presented in an interesting way: sorani.me/rebirth

As always, any feedback is welcome on my writing, I know it will be amateur at times.

With that, the story continues…


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【Prologue Part Four – End of the Beginning】

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After having such an overwhelming morning before, it’s nice to get a day to myself. I neglected to put on that robe, but if it gives me access to the library then I won’t hold back!

Today I may look like a young fantasy mage, but maybe I can finally start to learn something about why I’m here… I’ll head straight to the library and look for books on transport magic.

Now that I think about it, I really am lucky that Nova showed me around, seeing as I know where the library is now.

I put on the mostly-plain, black robe that was in my wardrobe, and head out the door.

After following the path me and Nova walked yesterday, I find myself at the library of the school. To say it’s huge would be an understatement.

The tower that my room is in is massive, probably containing dorm rooms for hundreds of students, as well as classrooms. The library also occupies one of these towers — by itself.

「Woooahhh~」

A sound of admiration leaks from my mouth.

I figured there would be a librarian somewhere here, but I don’t see any special desk or anything nearby… How exactly do students find what they’re looking for? There must be tens of thousands of books?

I’d ask someone but I’m a bit nervous about it if I’m being honest. Everyone around me look like students, and they’re all pretty busy it seems… If Nova were here maybe she’d help me, but I also feel like I wouldn’t get anything accomplished either.

Would the school even let Nova into the library? She’d probably cause a lot of trouble for the other students.

OH! I can just ask Elaine, I just have to call her name.

Right.

「Ahhheem, Elaine?」

Huh, nothing’s happening though… Was it too quiet?

「Elaine?」

I said it louder but still nothing is happening… Was there some trick to it? I don’t remember her saying anything special like that.

Well, I guess I’ll just look around and see what I come across. There must be some order to how the books are presented, it might not be that difficult to figure out on my own.

It was a great time later in my future that I learned you couldn’t use magic in the library. Of course, summoning Elaine used only magic from her side, but she couldn’t detect my call inside the library’s barrier.

==========

「Lunian, there is something I must tell you.」

「Ah, no doubt it’s about the boy, am I right? Has the council begun deliberation?」

「Yes, well… about that.」

Arthae and Lunian sat across from each other in the Headmaster’s office, tea placed on the table in front of them.

「Rather than begun deliberations, they have already come to a decision.」

Lunian showed a look of surprise on his face.

「That fast? How can that be? Doesn’t your order usually take several days to discuss something of importance like this?」

「You seem rather disturbed by this news..? However, you’re not wrong. In most cases it would take that long due to the nature of a formal discussion. In this particular situation however, The Council was distressed by the circumstances and wish to bring him to the magical asylum as fast as possible.」

「Me? Distressed? Of course not, just surprised… after all, it is a young boy’s life we are talking about here. Even so, they are quick to lock him away.」

「It appears they are. Lunian, we have known each other for some time now. I know that you feel sympathy for the boy’s situation, but please don’t do anything foolish. It should be known to you that some of The Council’s members don’t like the semi-autonomy the Great Schools have even now.」

「…Yes, I’m aware of that.」

「I don’t like to talk poorly about other members, but there are those who would use anything you do as a reason to take that away.」

Lunian cursed in his mind. 「How did I not see this coming? Of course they will be afraid and pass judgement quickly… Now I will not even have time to consult Rhodnar.」

「It’s best that we have the boy come here, then you can explain to him the situation and I will take him away after. Lunian, don’t get any more involved than that. You have always been too concerned with the happenings of others, and it causes a great deal of stress to you.」

Arthae looked over at the his past friend, the stress had accumulated in the bags under Lunian’s eyes.

「Of course, you’re right… Then, I will have Elaine get the boy and bring him here. It’s best that I tell him what’s going on. After all, I told him I would keep him informed. Elaine!」

Elaine appears through one of her mysterious doors and looks at the Headmaster.

「It seems it’s time for the boy to go… Please retrieve him for me.」

Elaine looked surprised for a second, then her face straightened back into it’s professional neutrality.

「 !.. Of course, Sir.」

Another door appeared and Elaine went into the nether.

At that time, something like a black mist entered the grounds of the castle and traveled up to the tower room where a strange boy had been staying.

A few moments after Elaine left, knocks could be heard at the door to the Headmaster’s office.

「Were you expecting someone, Lunian?」

「N-No…」

Lunian stood and approached the door… One that shouldn’t be physically present inside the castle.

「Who is it?」

「Whadd’ya mean whos’it?」

A rough voice called through the door.

「Lemme in Lune, ya daft bastard.」

Lunian looked back at Arthae who’s face was full of questions.

「I’ll go… handle this. I’ll just be a moment, Arthae.」

Arthae eyed Lunian suspiciously, but Lunian quickly opened the door and closed it neatly behind him.

「Rhodnar! What are you thinking, knocking on my door like that?」

「Ye never was good with spacial magics was ye?」

The big man let out a gruff laugh, but his eyes became serious.

「Where be tha boy? He’s in yer office aint’ye?」

「He will be any minute. However, Arthae is also inside right now so you must not enter. I’m sorry to have made you come all the way here, but it’s too late. The Council has decided to send him to the magical asylum in Numbrium.」

「I reckon I’ll be tha judge of that.」

==========

As I was wasting time looking through books on basic magic (I found that I didn’t understand any of the terminology in the transport magic books), I felt a tap on my shoulder.

「Eh!」

「Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you. The headmaster needs to see you in his office.」

Oh it’s just Elaine.

「O-Ohhh…」

I got up from the table and follow Elaine outside the library, where she opens a door, and follow her inside.

We arrive in the Headmaster’s curio shop of an office, and she beckons me to sit on one of the couches. Across from me is a man I have never met before.

「Uhh, hello?」

The man looks at me awkwardly as I greet him.

「Ah… So you must be the boy that appeared here a couple days ago. My name is Arthae, a representative from The Council regarding the matter.」

「Nice to meet you, I’d give you a name but… Actually, you can call me Alastor.」

「Alastor is it? Did you remember you name then?」

Seems like this is the guy that the Headmaster was talking about before.

「Oh, no. I heard the name in passing and thought it would be easier to have something to call me with, so I decided to go by that for now.」

「…Then good to meet you, Alastor.」

「Likewise.」

So this is pretty awkward. Where’s the Headmaster at? Didn’t Elaine just say he wanted to see me?

I give Elaine a glance and reveal what’s on my mind.

「So where’s the Headmaster?」

Surprisingly, Elaine lifts her shoulders as if saying, 「I’m not sure.」

「If it’s him, he’ll be back in a minute… Someone needed to talk with him it seems.」

Arthae answers my question instead.

So he was here just a bit ago then. Well, I have nothing but time… although since this guy is here, that time might be spent behind bars from now on…

All of a sudden the door to the Headmaster’s office swung open, almost breaking off it’s hinges.!

「I’m tellin’ ya to shut yer pointy-eared mouth Lune.」

The scene before me was that between the Headmaster, and a small giant(?). The Headmaster was trying to restrict the huge guy’s movement, but it seems like he wasn’t going to listen, and easily pushed him aside.

Wait… 「pointy-eared mouth?」

The man was at least two meters tall, maybe closer to two and a half. A long, rough, unkept brown beard covered his face, which matched a similarly described head of hair. He wasn’t just tall, but also BIG. Not really fat, but a wide man so to speak, I can imagine he weighs several hundred pounds.

And that monster of a person just made eye contact with me.

The Headmaster and him are exchanging verbal combat, but I’m too absorbed in his figure to take any of it in as he lumbers in my direction.

Arthae stands up and tries to stop him in his beeline straight for me, but it doesn’t seem like that’s going to do any good either.

No way… is this…

The big man grabs me by the shoulders and lifts me up off the couch. Our eyes are lined up now, but that’s accounting for the fact I’m being held in the air.

「Listen ‘ere boy, and don’t ask no questions till’ I’m done.」

「A-alright.」

It took all my power to control my mix of fear and surprise and weakly whimper that out.

I look over his shoulder and see Arthae and Lunian talking quietly and making exaggerated hand motions at us.

「Don’ mind them, look at me boy.」

I immediately look back at the huge man’s face. Which is -way- too close to mine, an alcoholic stench reaches my nose.

「Did ya make some kinda deal with somethin’ eh? Did ye talk into the dark and ‘ere it whisperin’ back?」

「What? No, I don’t know what you’re talking about!」

The man shakes me back and forth in the air a little.

「Don’ lie to me, ye did, didn’t ye? Eh? Thought it’d be fun to have a lil’ chat with the darkness, did ya?」

「NO! I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING!」

Or did I? Could I have been into something occult in the past? I don’t remember anything like that though…

「Lune’s given me his memories on the talk ya two had. I know about tha bein’ ye talked to at the shrine. But that’s not the whole story inn’it? Tell me honestly boy, whadd’ya say to it?」

「I’m telling you! I didn’t say anything to anyone! I don’t know why I’m here or who sent me!」

The burly man looks me deeply in the eyes as I say this, and I stare right back into his. After a moment that feels like forever, he puts me back down and turns to the other two men.

Elaine looks at me apologetically, but takes no action.

「Listen ‘ere, all ya!」

The big man grabs the Headmaster and the other man, picks them up by the collars of their robes, and drags them over to me.

He sets them down on the couch next to me, which is not meant for three people, resulting in us being pushed together uncomfortably.

He walks over and sits on the other couch, which looks more like a custom made one-person seat when he’s using it.

「Whoere’ got Selethin’ to send that boy ‘ere is no friend to ‘im. Lune, you don’ know anythin’ bout ‘er but I’m disapointin’ as usual towards The Council.」

When he says the latter half of this, his face looks a little disgusted.

「You lot really think puttin’ em’ in the asylum gonna do anything to a god do ye?」

The big man who I’ve worked out must be Rhodnar, gives Arthae a sharp gaze.

「W-Well, w-w-we couldn’t just leave him here!」

「Ya damn well coulda’! Ya damn well shoulda’! Now look at ‘im huh? He’s scared outta ‘is mind, and you best be sure Selethin’ know bout it! You otta’ feel lucky she hadn’ come killed ye yet!」

Clearly these two don’t get along, I’m trying to understand the situation happening in front of my eyes, but all I can do is listen… It looks like this big man doesn’t think I should go to the prison though, so that means he’s on my side?

「W-Well… I wasn’t sure it was her-」

「That be no reason to take a risk like that iss’it? Ya fool’s always thinkin’ ye untouchable eh? That ye got some wisdom the rest of us don’ iss’it?」

「It’s not so much that-」

「I ‘eard ‘nuff from ya, shut’it. Lune, yer right to call me, this boy sure has been in contact with the goddess, we outta’ do somethin’ now before she come rampagin’ for ‘im.」

「You can tell it’s her influence?」

「Ye, it’s ‘er alright. I dunno much ‘bout the person ‘erself, but there be some sorta trackin’ on ‘im. Normally I’d ‘ave to test ‘im, but the shadow is leakin’ off him like a torrent o’ water.」

Something neither the Headmaster or Arthae could tell, this guy says it like it’s obvious… They weren’t kidding when they said he knew his stuff.

「Do you think that she’d attack us to protect him?」

「If she brought ‘im ‘ere, clearly she ain’t gonna let ‘im get caught by this lot, ain’t it?」

With that he pointed at Arthae, and let out a boisterous laugh.

「What do you recommend? Can you contact her Rhodnar?」

「Can I contact ‘er ye ask? Course I can’t contact ‘er, you think we’d barely know the name if we could talk to ‘er?」

It looks like something is about to burst out of Arthae, his face has become pretty red next to me.

「Then what do you say we do? Drop him at the top of a mountain? Throw him into the ocean? You’re so quick to judge us but you don’t know anything about it either, do you!」

Rhodnar takes a deep breath.

「Eh! Let me tell ya some’it-」

「Hiiiii~~ It’s everyone’s favorite, cutest, and most knowledgeable student! I present youuuuu- Nova~!」

Rhodnar pauses the torrent of abuse that was surely about to come out, and everyone looks over at Elaine who’s standing a bit off to the right of the couches… Behind her, giving a flamboyant introduction as she walks towards me, is none other than Nova.

Everyone goes silent and just stares at her for a couple seconds.

「What’s wrong? Why is everyone looking at me like that? Alastor! These old men are making weird faces~」

My face drops into my hands… Why the hell is Nova here? Suddenly I feel the sensation of a soft embrace, and my vision becomes blocked.

Nova has thrown herself on me in typical fashion, but due to the fact that I’m sitting- and already sandwiched by two men, it’s incredible awkward and uncomfortable…

「Boop~」

Nova does something I can’t see as my face is currently pressed in between her 「Twin Peaks of Pleasure.™」

Nova releases me and stands up, I take a deep breath.

I glance to my side to see Arthae resting his head on my shoulder and snoring. For some reason, this is gross…

Elaine recovers from the strange scene and grabs Nova’s arms, restraining them behind her back.

「Ohhhh~~!」

A sensual sound leaks from Nova’s mouth.

Elaine looks at her with disgust.

「What are you doing here, Nova? You know this isn’t something you’re allowed to be a part of. And why did you put Arthae to sleep?」

Elaine tries to manage the annoyance in her voice as she questions Nova.

Nova takes no notice, and instead looks directly at the Headmaster.

「Ohh, Mister Headmaster Sir! Nova reporting to solve your issues, Sir!」

She slips out of Elaine’s restraint and puts her hand to her forehead in a salute.

Does Nova ever understand the social situation? Doesn’t she realize she’s probably in huge trouble just for being here?

The Headmaster looks at her calmly and continues,

「What do you mean by that exactly, Nova?」

「That ogre over there said you needed to talk with my mistress, isn’t that right.」

Nova’s words become monotone, and her face has changed into a disturbing smile.

「Ogre…」

The Headmaster repeats that word as he glances at Rhodnar.

「I can help you with that.」

Nova knows Selethain? I mean, I don’t know anything about this deity, but there must be some insinuations due to it…

Not for the first time, everyone (excluding the sleeping Arthae) looks at Nova in surprise.

The Headmaster gets up and opens the door to the room with his key in silence. He beckons everyone to follow him through.

After passing through the door, we find ourselves in the lounge I ate breakfast with Elaine in. Nobody besides the five of us are present.

We all sit down at a long wooden table, and the Headmaster speaks up.

「Nova, are you saying you know a way to contact Selethain?」

「Headmaster, please! Why are you going along with this?」

Elaine grabs the Headmaster’s shoulder and looks at him with a face half in disbelief, half in concern.

「Elaine, not now.」

「But-」

「ELAINE.」

The Headmaster raises his voice and looks at Elaine severely.

She looks shocked, obviously not used to this treatment, and quiets down.

「Fufufufu~」

Nova lets out a quiet laugh at the scene, her face still reminding one of a psychopath.

「Well?」

The Headmaster looks at Nova again.

By the way, Rhodnar has been sitting quietly with his eyes shut the whole time.

「I can help you get in touch with Her Godliness, yes.」

==========

The previous day.

A place that even the most hardy beasts cannot survive, due to the storms and deathly cold. One might think that only something like a Lich King would be found here, an island made of a giant glacier, known only as 「Cocytus」, or 「Ice Hell.」

「What would you have me do, Goddess?」

In such a place, a conversation could be heard.

Nova is on one knee looking at the ground. In front of her, a slender, black haired stranger.

Selethain slowly circles a strange tree, oozing a purple-colored magic. The tree’s roots grow deep into the clear ice, and can be seen descending several meters.

「I cannot simply retrieve him myself. Or rather I could, but I’m not going to. The school’s barrier isn’t much of an issue, but I don’t want half the known world to be on alert to my movements.」

Nova silently looks at the ground.

「That said, I’m going to need you to get me inside the castle.」

「You want me to summon you? I don’t have any experience in that magic.」

「Not you.」

Selethain lets out a sigh.

「I need a much taller, uglier person to do it. His name is Rhodnar, and he will be arriving at the school tomorrow.」

「…What is it that you need me to do exactly?」

「I need you to convince him and the Headmaster to summon me. If they ask why, just tell them I need to talk to them, and I won’t cause any harm. Furthermore, make sure the boy is present.」

「Convince him? I don’t have any means to talk to the Headmaster on such short notice. What if I am denied an audience? He’s busy with this whole matter after all.」

「So then go to the boy. They will need to talk to him and move him, right? Surely if you stay nearby you will be able to talk with the Headmaster. When you do, give him this.」

Nova looked up and grabbed a piece of parchment from Selethain, it held a complex ritual circle with an ancient language Nova didn’t understand.

「What if I can’t get them to listen to me? I’m not sure I will be able to convince the Headmaster before they take Alastor away.」

「Although it will save me a lot of hardship if you do, I don’t mind using other methods… When I think about the ways, it makes me a little excited.」

Selethain looks at Nova with a cruel, cold gaze, and fixes a small smile on her face as she says this.

「I-I’d rather avoid that, Goddess. I’ll make sure to get your message to them.」

「See to it that you do.」

==========

Nova takes out a piece of parchment, and hands it to the Headmaster.

He stares at it seriously for several minutes, the atmosphere is tense.

Elaine looks at Nova.

「How did you get into the Headmaster’s office?」

「Ohhh, it was easy. I just used a little illusion to stay invisible, and walked through your door behind Alastor.」

I can tell Nova is looking at me, but I stare at Elaine who’s sitting directly across. I don’t really want to look at Nova’s face right now.

Elaine seems upset, but it’s obvious that Nova isn’t lying. Nonetheless, I imagine having your magic used this way isn’t a pleasant thing for Elaine. One way of thinking about it is that she opened a door to the Headmaster, and in doing so, invited an 「enemy」 in as well.

Elaine doesn’t say anything more, and the atmosphere becomes quiet again for a couple minutes.

「This will summon Selethain, is that right?」

Lunian looks up from the paper and directs a gaze to Nova, who is sitting across from him.

「You’re correct Headmaster, she is anxiously awaiting your call.」

The Headmaster hands the note to Rhodnar, who begins his analysis.

「I have a lot of questions for you Nova, but those will have to wait for now. Though I will say, your affiliation with Selethain will not be viewed as a merit.」

「I’m well aware of it, Headmaster. I am surprised I was able to stay at the school as long as I have thus far.」

I wonder how long she’s been here anyways… I know there’s a lot of stuff going on right now, but I have no knowledge and am feeling rather useless…

「Rhodnar, do you think you can perform the magic written there?」

「Aye, if this be all it takes to summon ‘er, shouldn’t be no issue… with yer support that be.」

「Then the question becomes, should we summon her..?」

「Ah, by the way! She told me to tell you that she only wants to talk, and promises no harm to anyone in the castle.」

Nova chimes this in with a happy tone.

「An assurance from a little-known goddess… sorry if I cannot take your word for it, Nova.」

Nova says nothing, but nods as though she understands.

Rhodnar fixes a sharp gaze onto the Headmaster.

「It otta’ be worse if we don’t, Lune.」

The way he talks, it must be an accent from somewhere but I can’t think of anything to compare it to. It’s rough but the inflections are complex. I wonder if it’s not his native language?

Speaking of which… why do I understand what’s being said? Why was I able to read the letters on that map? I’m not speaking Japanese, but clearly I can understand it. Why did I not think of this before? What else am I missing?

「I’m for it. If it means anything coming from the person concerned.」

「Alastor~!」

Nova gives me a sweet smile and looks happy. But now that I’ve seen another nature from her, I feel almost sick by it.

The Headmaster looks over at me who hasn’t spoken until now.

「Is.. that so. Well, if the alternative is being locked up, surely this is more favorable… probably.」

The way he says that worries me, but I’ve always thought I’d rather die then serve a life-sentence. I’ll take whatever risks are involved.

Conveying such to the Headmaster, he tells Elaine to open a door somewhere. Rather than her normal one-person sized door, a large double door appears and we all walk through it.

We find ourselves in a large room, probably somewhere near the dungeon I’m guessing. The walls, ceiling, and floor are all made out of the same dark bricks, and water occasionally drips down on us. The smell of mold and high humidity assault my nose.

Although there is some strange, blueish light coming from the walls, it isn’t enough to see well. The headmaster creates a ball of white light about the size of a baseball, and throws it in the air at the center of the room, where it floats gently.

It was just as it seemed, a stone room about two stories high, and about that width and length. On one side there was an old wooden door, but there is nothing else.

The two men stand several feet in front of me, and Nova moves next to me, her arm entwines with mine using her signature move.

If this was a less bizarre situation, I might enjoy it. Instead, we all stand in silence watching Rhodnar read the parchment and move around the room.

After about ten minutes of this, the floor has several magic circle-looking things spinning slowly on it.

「That’d ‘bout do it then.」

「Are you sure about this, boy?」

The Headmaster addresses me without even looking behind him.

「I need answers.」

The Headmaster, still facing away from me, does a small nod.

「Well I’mma begin then, I spose. Boy, she be wantin’ to speak with you, so come ore’ ‘ere with me.」

Rhodnar beckons me with his hand, Nova releases me and I walk to the center of the room where he’s standing. He closes his eyes, and begins to speak loudly in a strange language I’ve never heard before. It was a beautiful sound though, even from the rough voice of this giant before me, I sensed elegance in the structure of the words.

Lunian joins in after a few seconds, and they form a haunting chorus that fills the room.

Before long, the ground starts to shine in front of me, and a large circle forms from Rhodnar’s smaller ones, various shapes begin to emerge as it rotates slowly.

I watch as the light from the circle begins to expand, becoming so bright I can’t see anything and shut my eyes.

Rhodnar and the Headmaster stop speaking, and the light dies down.

I open my eyes, and a beautiful young woman stands in front of me. Long, shining black hair neatly laid down past her back, with various gold ornaments on her head. Although there are several pieces of jewelry, together they make something like a crown.

She’s a little shorter than me, a very slender body with nothing particularly voluptuous about her, wearing what looks to be a kimono of glossy black color. On it, a pattern of tree branches with purple flowers are embroidered.

Her eyes are a deep purple, matching that of the flowers, and her small nose is sharp, yet delicate. Slightly sunken cheeks define her cheekbones, with straight jawline leading to a small set of light pink lips— If I were to summarize, a different kind of beauty from that of Nova.

「Took you long enough, I am not one to keep waiting.」

The young woman looks to me.

「My name is Selethain, but you can call me Goddess. As for why I’m here, well… I’m sure you have a lot of questions.」

「You’re not wrong.」

She casually strides closer to me, her pale skin reflecting the magical light above us.

She’s now only a couple feet away.

Oh, she’s placing her hands on my arms.

I look into her deep purple eyes.

「There is no need to fear me. I have no come to injure anyone at the castle. I too, have many questions.」

I don’t feel afraid, but my legs are also trembling slightly without me having noticed. Even though I think I’m pretty calm mentally, my body is disagreeing.

Well, now is not the time to contemplate that.

First thing’s first.

「Why did you bring me here?」

She looks away and lets out a snort.

「Why did I bring you here? Well the answer is simple, I DIDN’T bring you here.」

What?

「But I thought-」

「You thought, based on an old man who looks at fake stories as fact, that I would bring you here? To what end? What use do I, a Goddess, have for a human like you? Especially one who cannot even wield basic magic?」

Well that’s a change in attitude if I ever saw one… reminds me of someone else I know.

「If you didn’t bring him here, then do you know who did?」

The girl’s eyes drifts off me, and I follow her look. The Headmaster has fixed her with a sharp gaze.

「Ah, well don’t we have an interesting one here as well? Do I know who brought him here? No. But by the fact that oaf over there thought it was me too, really, how annoying.」

Rhodnar huh? He did seem pretty convinced it was her earlier.

「If it wasn’t you, then why did Rhodnar sense your presence on him?」

The Headmaster nods his head in my direction.

「Really, mortals are so limited. Here I thought that someone of your skill would think more outside the box though?」

Selethain looks back to me and slowly brings her face up to mine.

What-

You’re CLOSE!

And now… she’s smelling me…

She backs away and looks at me with a wry smile.

Any healthy boy would have been embarrassed in that situation!

「Well it’s true that someone put a lot of effort into making it look like I did it. However, I can assure you I don’t know why.」

Her eyes scan me closely, like someone appraising a work of art.

「It seems they intended us to meet, framing me to draw me out. Really, what a roundabout thing it is…」

I look around as she does this, and see that Elaine and Rhodnar are standing very still, they look like they are paralyzed by something. Nova is kneeling behind me, and the Headmaster is standing close to my right, but he’s not moving outside of that.

「I was hoping that by meeting you, I could get some clue to who sent you myself, but I can’t tell anything from just now.」

「Are you going to try to find out?」

「Naturally, yes. If it was just to annoy me then it’s fine… however…」

The girl closed her eyes for a second as though in deep thought.

「Surely it wasn’t…」

Like a bad omen, a bright light once again filled the room and I shut my eyes. I felt someone’s hands grab onto the back of my arms gently, then the feeling faded.

Now in front of me stood another strange person…

Light reddish-brown hair flowed from their head. Her beautiful, crystal, light-blue eyes could take  anyone’s breath away. The most noticeable thing about her though, had to be that garb made of leaves and wild flora which dawned her frame. Ample breasts could be seen pushing the leaves away from her chest, and slender arms held an ornate, wooden bow.

On her head were two fluffy, triangular ears that looked like an animal’s, and a white-tipped, red tail hung from her backside.

Not unlike Selethain, her face was beautifully proportioned, but it was a little chubbier, giving off a cute impression, rather than a mature one.

This strange druidic-looking figure desperately scanned the room with her eyes, bow at the ready.

After walking around the room quickly she turned to me.

「Is there anyone else here?」

A calm, soothing voice came from the girl, but it was laced with urgency.

(So it’s this bitch huh? Pretend you don’t know what she’s talking about.)

A cold voice echoed in my head.

Telepathy? It must be Selethain… But where is she?

I look around, and I can’t see her anywhere. Not only that, but the strange pressure that accompanied her seems to have left.

Aside from that, the Headmaster, Rhodnar, Elaine, and even Nova have both been thoroughly rendered unconscious…

「I don’t know what you’re talking about?」

I guess I’ll follow Selethain’s advice… I don’t really get why I’m doing it. I just am.

The strange girl sighs in relief, quickly approaches me, and gives me huge hug.

「It does not look like the summoning worked, thank the gods!」

(What is she doing here?)

Selethain whispers something only I can hear.

「I am so happy that you are alright! I was afraid something would happen to you before I got here… I have so few humans that come to my shrines is such an honest manner… You are such a good-hearted person, if you’d been hurt-」

「Uhh… who are you?」

The beauty in front of me lets go and backs up a couple of steps.

「Oh of course, I am sorry! my name is Inari.」

「Inari..? The fox God Inari?」

「The very same! And you are the boy who visits my shrine, right? Thank you for coming and paying respects, so few humans are as devout as you.」

Devout? I only show up once a year to that shrine though…

Moreover, there was actually a god listening to those prayers!!! There was definitely embarrassing things told to her without me realizing it!

「Wait, the Shinto gods are real!?」

Seeing my confusion, she gently smiles.

「Yes, however it is difficult to contact humans in your world… I tried to warn you about the being  who has been hovering over you like a ghost in the past, but it was to no avail…」

She looked out for me? Maybe to her we had somewhat of a close relationship… I don’t know what a god’s standards of human interaction are.

「So then you must know who sent me here?」

The girl looks at me with somber eyes, her expression holds deep empathy.

「I am afraid I do not… I am sorry. As I told you, there are many restrictions in your world, as such I could not properly investigate.」

The fox-girl seems to be very upset about this, her ears droop a little- her tail hanging limply behind her.

「All I was able to do was to modify the spell for pulling you to this world slightly… I am sorry I could not do more.」

Modify it?

「What did you do exactly?」

「Ah… the spell originally would have wiped all of your memories, I fought to maintain what I could for you. It seems they intended to drop you here without any knowledge from your previous world. I left things like being able to understand the language, and the part they put in to make you accept your surroundings more easily. Outside of that, I do not know what the intentions are, but you should regain some sense of your past world as time goes on.」

What a sweet person… She might not know who sent me here, but she tried to protect me even though I only visited the shrine once a year…

I will need to have some words with those who look poorly at fox-gods.

「As I thought, you’re greatly distressed, are you not?」

She pulls me into another tight embrace, and I enjoy the softness. I feel like my concern and questions are melting away when she holds me like this.

(Oi, do you mind not being so grossly intimate in front of me, and ask her some questions?)

Selethain again huh.

(Why don’t you just come out and ask her yourself!)

(Uuuu… I can’t do that for certain reasons… Anyways, just find out what she knows. I’d like to clear my name, and you want to know too, don’t you?)

She’s not wrong.

I push the pretty fox-girl away from me and look at her.

「How did you know I was here?」

「I told you I modified the spell, right? In addition to the other things, I put something like a tracker on it to see where it would send you. Thank the gods it was somewhere I can freely interact.」

「Then why did you only arrive just now?」

「You do not know much about gods right? It would be difficult to explain, but basically it took me some time to get here.」

「I see…」

So even the gods aren’t omnipresent huh?

「It seems these people here were trying to summon someone though, am I right? Do you mind telling me who it was?」

Can’t she tell? It seemed like Rhodnar and Selethain were able to sense something… Maybe that ability is special.

(Don’t you dare.)

「We were under the impression it was Selethain that transported me, and so we were going to summon her here to ask.」

For now I’ll pretend like it didn’t work or happen yet, and try to gauge the situation.

「Selethain? Hmm… it’s possible. I do not know her well so I cannot say. Since her element is Shadow, I would not be surprised. Shadow gods are quite the dangerous type, so we are lucky she did not appear here.」

(Pah! What ab-so-lute ignorance. Would you take a look at her face right now!)

Selethain clearly was mad about that description, and Inari’s face did show a slight look of disgust.

(I’m going to rip those pretty ears off her head! Just you wait, nature bitch!)

Nature bitch? Lol…

「So you’ve come and explained all this to me… is it possible for me to go back to my world?」

Inari looks downcast at my question, her ears droop cutely… no good huh?

「While I would not say it is impossible… I certainly do not have the power to do it. That scale of spell would probably take several years to create. Although I am sorry to say it, even if you found a deity with the power to do so, the chance they will devote the time and effort to it…」

I see… so this is more complex than I thought.

「Why take me here? If it is so much effort, why am I here now? Clearly there must be some reason for it if it’s as difficult to do as you say.」

「I am sorry again… but I do not know why. I wish I was able to help you more than this.」

「No, it’s not your fault. After all you didn’t cast the spell, and you’ve done this much for me already. Thank you, I’m sure it was difficult for you as well.」

Inari makes a sorrowful smile at my words. She’s the loving 「Onee-san」 type it looks like. (EDN: 「Onee-san」 would be something you call an older sister in Japanese)

「What do you plan to do from now on? If you’d like, you can stay with me…」

Her face turns slightly red as she says this and she looks off to the side, her tail wags back and forth slowly.

「Ah… that would be much better than my current situation. Is that really okay though? I don’t want to intrude on someone I don’t know very well.」

The fox-god Inari looks at me and smiles cutely.

「That- that is good! Yes, I will tell the people here when they wake up that I will watch over you. What do you mean do not know me well? Of course, we have talked many times before now, right?」

She seems to be quite glad that I accepted her invitation, but did I forget something as incredible as talking to a beautiful fox-god as well? What was my past life like, anyways?

「I know that I went to the shrine several times, but all I remember is praying to you… did we have a conversation at some point?」

She tilts her head to the side, and her expression falls into confusion.

「That is what I am referring to… You would come to pray, and then I would talk back to you after you finished using telepathy. Is it not so?」

Certainly Selethain has been saying things to me in my head. So it was telepathy after all?

「Outside of what you just said, telepathy is thought of as a sort of joke in my original world though…」

「You mean nothing I said to you got through?」

「It’s possible that it was removed from my memory… but I imagine I would have gone more often to the shrine, or been too scared to go again after the first time.」

She looks completely dumbfounded. Her ears are laying completely flat on her head and all the life seems to have left her body.

「I’m really sorry, I don’t know what to say…」

As I say that, she snaps back to life.

「No, it is not your fault! Of course I do not want you to be upset… You can come with me and then we can talk about everything! Seeing as that is the case though, what were your plans after this?」

「It looks like I was going to be sent to a prison somewhere.」

Inari looks surprised at this and for some reason touches my arm.

「Prison? Have you done something worthy of that punishment?」

「Not exactly… It seems it’s because a group called 『The Council』 is afraid of who sent me and why I’m here.」

The air around Inari changes drastically when she hears this. Her face turns calm, but the air feels ripe with tension.

「『The Council』… That means he will be involved… I was going to take you to my home in this world, but it seems that will not be possible yet.」

She grabs my right hand and places her palm on mine. A green light begins to flow out of the back of my hand.!

I try to pull away but I can’t move for some reason. After a couple of seconds, something like a tattoo has formed on the back of my right hand. It’s pretty hard to see, but it depicts a small tree with a circle around it.

(What the hell is she doing! She’s not supposed to do that to a human! And she says that I’m the dangerous one…)

(What is she doing!? Hello!? Selethain!?)

I desperately think this, trying to get Selethain to talk to me, but she’s not saying anything. What is this mark?

「I am sorry if I scared you, but do not be worried. I do not have the ability to send you back to your old life, but I can start you a new one in this world.」

「Start me a new one? Wait, what does that mean? Wasn’t I going to go with you?」

She smiles weakly.

「I am afraid that I must hide you first… I will come to you when you’ve become an adult by this world’s standards, then I will explain it to you. Expect me then, I will be watching over you.」

「Wait! What’s going on! What’s going to happen to me!? I don’t understand what you’re saying!」

I desperately try to grab Inari, but she begins to fade, and I am unable to. Her face is neutral and reveals nothing to me, as her figure fades into darkness.

(Powerful enough to put that mark on you, yet too weak to even hide you from that idiot in The Council. How fitting for an animal.)

Selethain’s words only serve to fuel my concern. Why did she disappear after putting this mark on me? Is she talking about Arthae?

I scratch at the tattoo desperately until I feel blood come from the back of my hand. The cut glows slightly and heals in front of my eyes.

「WHAT. THE HELL. IS GOING ON!」

I scream it at the top of my lungs, and I feel immense fear. Running to the only door, I try to open it but it won’t budge.

Just when I think I’ve found someone who’s actually on my side…

I put my back to the door and slide down until I’m sitting, tears flowing out of fear and frustration.

「Why is this happening to me?」

I leak out this sentence in a pitiful-sounding whine.

The other people in the room with me are still passed out on the floor, I receive no response.

(You’ve been through a lot in a short time. You won’t be able to understand just now, but the sudden change in your emotions has to do with that mark.)

I hear Selethain’s voice but I’m an unstable mess right now, so I’m not really paying attention to her.

(I will put your mind to rest shortly. Although you are a simple human, I will show that fox bitch that I am not so dangerous. Please take this as an apology for my attitude earlier… It seems we will be spending a lot of time together from now on after all…)

The last thing I remember from that time is my eyes closing as the light in the room went out.

==========

「Where’s the boy?」

Lunian wakes to find himself laying on the floor in his office, Arthae is crouching in front of him, looking intensely at his face. Lunian’s body is lifted into a sitting position, a firm grip from Arthae is present on his shoulders.

「Wha— what?」

「Lunian, it’s no time to be confused, what happened to the boy!? Why were we all asleep!?」

Lunian looks around the office but neither the boy nor Nova are present. Elaine and Rhodnar are sleeping on the ground near him.

「Lunian, I swear! If you helped that boy escape!」

Arthae’s desperation was apparent in his eyes. The Council will likely punish him for this.

「I did no such thing Arthae. As you can see, I was asleep here in the office. That was also the case for you, was it not? Or maybe it was you who helped him escape?」

Arthae gives a suspicious look to Lunian, then releases him. A column of bright light appears around Arthae, and he disappears.

Wherever he is now, that boy will have to manage for the time being. Until The Council’s inevitable questioning occurs, I will pretend we all fell prey to Nova’s sleeping magic. When everything has died down, I will search for him.

「Alastor… was it?」

Lunian poses this question to himself. Selethain didn’t seem like she wanted to hurt him. Maybe she took him away with her… No matter the case, it is certainly better than being locked away in that place.

A wry smile appears on Lunian’s face.

「Good luck young one, our paths may cross again.」

———==========———

End of【Prologue Part Four – End of the Beginning】

———==========———


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