Chapter 1: A Chance Encounter
Natsuki Subaru was, to say the least, having a very strange day. Having walked to a convenience store and purchased a few things to fuel his NEET gaming habits, he'd rubbed his tired eyes. Upon opening them he suddenly found himself standing in the middle of a medieval city. It was complete with demi-humans, swordsmen, dragon-drawn wagons, all kinds of things you'd find in a typical RPG.
After being attacked by hoodlums in an alley, he was saved by a silver-maned beauty. This was when he found out that this strange world he'd been... transported to? Summoned to? Well, this strange world contained magic. He knew this because it was what the girl used to dispatch the thugs. She had used ice magic, to be specific, and hurled frozen spheres at the hoodlums to scare them off. Then, she had used healing magic to get Subaru back into decent shape after the attack. She even had a flying cat that she referred to as a spirit, which can also cast magic.
It turned out that she's had something precious stolen from her; some sort of insignia. She'd described it as a small triangular thing with a red jewel in the middle of it. One good turn deserves another, so Subaru had decided to help her find the thief that had taken it. After searching much of the city for an afternoon he'd learned her name is Satella, and the cat's name is Puck.
He'd also learned something else very interesting about her.
She is a half-elf.
This IS just like an RPG! Subaru thought to himself.
Eventually, they made their way to the city slums, where most local thieves would live. This is when he found out the cat, Puck, goes to sleep at dusk in a green-colored jewel fastened to the front of Emilia’s fancy outfit. After that, he watched her beckon to a bunch of blue firefly-looking things that she described as spirits, which were able to point them in the right direction.
They'd gotten wind that the thief might have taken her insignia to a tavern, or “loothouse” as the person who'd pointed them in this direction had called it. They now stood in front of this loothouse, and Subaru had no idea what to expect inside. It had gotten dark, and the appearance of the building was ominous.
“I'll go in first,” he turned to her and urged, “You stay outside and keep watch. I won't be back too late, but you can have dinner without me.”
“Don't say dumb things like that.” The violet eyes of the beautiful girl shone even in the dark as she followed up with a stern, “Be careful.”
He felt his breath slightly catch in his throat.
She really is gorgeous, he thought to himself before turning toward the door.
“Sure, sure.” Subaru brushed aside her concern. “Don't come in until I say it's alright, Satella.”
He turned back to find her staring at him strangely.
“N-nothing, nevermind,” she said. “If you can get my insignia back I'll apologize.”
She'd been expressing up to this point some doubts in his abilities, but he wanted to prove to her that he was up to the task.
Slowly pushing the door open and holding a lamp in his right hand, Subaru entered the tavern.
“Excuse me...” He muttered the traditional greeting when entering another's home. Holding the lantern high, he pointed it around the room; it was dark with no illumination other than his small source of light. He could see odds and ends stacked around the interior such as boxes and a suit of plate armor.
“Now, am I walking into a demon nest or a snake pit? In a fantasy world, either one is plausible.” The light from the lantern passed by a creepy doll, which he found himself doing a double-take at, swinging the lantern past it twice to ensure it wasn't moving.
“This is all stolen loot?” He continued to look around the building, nerves on high alert considering how dark it was.
“Why isn't there anyone here? A place that handles stolen goods can only be so careless.”
He took a few steps forward and stepped into a puddle. Stopping to see what it was, he looked down and pointed his lantern to his right foot.
What met his gaze was a puddle of viscous scarlet.
Shakily, he lifted the lantern to get a better look at what lay beyond the puddle. His gaze landed upon something large and brown...
A severed arm.
Starting to hyperventilate, Subaru pointed the lamp forward to find the source of the arm: a huge brown-skinned man. A violent splatter of blood had come from the stump where his arm had been, as well as a large gaping wound on the front of his throat.
Terrified, Subaru spun around, shining the light in all directions.
Whoever did this could still be here, he thought. Turning on his heels and sprinting back toward the door, he grabbed the handle and tore it open, running outside.
“Satella, we have to get out of here! We need to find a guard or something!” He yelled as he ran to her.
“What? Why? What's wrong? Did you find the insignia?” As she caught sight of his state, a concerned look came to her face.
“No! There's a dead body in there! A person's been murdered!” His eyes were wide and terrified, his breathing erratic.
Satella gasped, placing both hands over her mouth as her eyes went wide from shock.
“Come on, we gotta find help!” Subaru said as he grabbed her hand and began running in the direction they came from. For several minutes they ran together through the slums.
“There!” Emilia pointed. “That red-haired man is wearing a knight's uniform! Let's go tell him what happened!”
Reinhard Van Astrea had a rare day off from his knightly duties, but in the spirit of vigilance, he still wore his uniform. He was enjoying a relaxing stroll through one of the parts of the city he rarely came to, the slums. Sure, it was a little dirty here, and the air smelled slightly foul, but it was nice to get a different outlook every once in a while.
He couldn't help but muse that he would lose perspective if he only saw the well-to-do parts of the city.
Within his field of vision, two young people appear. A black-haired boy wearing a strange black and yellow outfit and odd footwear, and a silver-haired young girl in elaborate white and purple robes. They were running toward him with the boy pulling the girl along by her hand.
“Sir Knight!” the young girl yelled as they stopped in front of him. “Something terrible has happened!”
“Oh?” Reinhard queried.
Evenings in the slums are never boring, the Sword Saint thought to himself.
“There's been a murder!” The boy spat this out between gasping breaths.
His face turning from bemused to serious almost instantly, Reinhard put his hand on the bent-over boy's shoulder.
“Take me to where it happened.”
Several hours later, the boy and girl sat out front of the loothouse, waiting for the knights to wrap up their investigation. Reinhard had called on a few others of his profession to assist with the matter of the murders that had occurred inside.
Murders, plural. Apparently, in addition to the gigantic man that Subaru had found, there was a young blonde girl who was found dead inside as well.
“The description Reinhard gave us sounds like the girl that stole my sigil,” the half-elf next to him said, upset. She wasn't happy with the thief for stealing her precious sigil, but she couldn't abide by the possibility that it was the sigil that had gotten these two people brutally killed.
She's really kind, Subaru thought to himself. He didn't know if he would have the same empathy for someone who had stolen from him.
“So, Sat...er, Emilia...” he said.
That's right. It's Emilia, not Satella, he thought.
When they arrived at the loothouse with Reinhard in tow, he had addressed her as Satella, then found himself dumbfounded when Reinhard whirled and reached for his sword, taking a fighting stance.
“Wait! This is a misunderstanding!” Emilia had said. “I gave him a fake name so that he would get scared and run away! I knew finding my sigil could be dangerous!”
At this, Reinhard studied her closely, then after a few seconds, he seemed to relax.
“My Diving Protection of Wind Reading tells me you are not lying,” he said, “before I begin investigating, what is this sigil you speak of, and how is it related?”
“I'm a candidate in the Royal Selection and the sigil is my proof of candidacy...” Emilia looked down, eyes becoming half-lidded and shoulders dropping as she explained the importance of the missing item.
Reinhard's eyes widened once again, “I see,” he murmured, “this is not a small matter.”
That was when he had called for assistance from the other knights. When they arrived, he'd asked Emilia and Subaru to wait outside. Over a few hours they sat outside and nervously chatted. A few times the Sword Saint had come out of the loothouse to ask them questions. One of the first was their names. This is how Subaru had learned that the pretty girl's name was Emilia, just Emilia.
“So, Emilia,” he said, turning his head to look at her, “What's this Royal Selection thing?”
“This country's ruler has gone into hiding, and a new one has to be selected from among a few candidates who qualify. It turns out I'm one of those qualified people, and my sigil was proof of that. It was so important to get it back, but that might be impossible now.”
She wore sad eyes and a small frown. He felt bad for her, but he didn't feel like he knew her well enough to be able to comfort her. Deciding to change the subject, he resolved to prod a little more. Perhaps another topic might cheer her up a little.
“Are you from this city?”
“No, currently I live in a mansion about half a day from here. It's the home of my sponsor in the selection: a nobleman named Roswaal Mathers.
As she returned his gaze, her forlorn expression deepened, "He's going to be so mad when he hears how badly I messed up...”
Subaru frowned. Now he'd made her even sadder. As he was about to think of another way to cheer her up, Reinhard and the other knights came out of the loothouse.
“We've wrapped up our investigation. This appears to be the work of a killer known as the Guthunter, a famous assassin. You two are incredibly lucky that she wasn't here when you arrived.”
Emilia and Subaru both gasped, going wide-eyed. This didn't sound like the kind of person they would want to cross paths with.
“I need to ask both of you to come with us to the main guard station in order to fill out your statements of the events that have taken place here. We have people coming to take care of the victims' bodies, so there's no need to worry about that. This is extra important since it involves a Selection Candidate and her sigil.” Reinhard had a serious, yet sympathetic look on his face. He'd already asked for a lot of their time, and undoubtedly this had been a bad day for both the boy and the girl.
Just as he had said this, a dragon-drawn carriage arrived with yet another knight as the driver. Reinhard indicated that Emilia and Subaru should get in, and after they did he followed and sat across from them.
The ride to the main guards' station hadn't taken long. As they walked up to the large brick building, Reinhard opened the door and stepped aside. He used his free hand to beckon them inside. They walked up to a desk with a city guard sitting behind it, who Reinhard addressed.
“I need a sworn statement form for each of these two.”
The guard complied swiftly and handed him two pieces of paper along with two quill pens. They were then led to a small room with a medium-sized table and a few wooden chairs. Subaru sat down on the far side of the table. As he scratched his head thinking back to the events that lead them here, Emilia seemed to hesitate in choosing where to sit.
“I won't bite,” he joked, motioning to the chair next to him. Emilia looked at it for a second, looked at him, and then sat down next to him. He went back to thinking about the beginning of all this, but Emilia went straight to writing. He looked over and noticed that she was marking the paper with a series of strange, blocky glyphs.
“What are those marks?” He leaned over toward her and looked at her form.
“I-Glyphs, mostly,” she glanced at him, then a look of surprise came to her face.
“Wait, you don't know how to read?”
“I do!” He put his hands out, taken aback. “But it looks like your writing system is completely different from my home country's.”
“You're not from Lugunica? Where are you from? How long have you been here?” Her amethyst eyes had a twinkle of interest in them.
“My home is an island nation to the far east. You wouldn't have heard of it.”
Her brows furrowed. “Laginica is the most Eastern country in the world,” she went from looking confused to skeptical.
“Or so you think. I told you, you wouldn't have heard of it. And today is my first day in this country.”
“THIS is your first day here!?” Now she looked concerned, head rocking back and eyes going even wider.
“Yeah. I'm also broke with nowhere to stay. This bag of stuff and the clothes I'm wearing are everything I own.”
She looked like she was about ready to cry.
Even with everything that's happened, she's still worried about me, Subaru marveled at the kindness of the girl he'd only met a few hours earlier.
He felt a little bad for dumping his desperate situation onto her, but she had asked. She shifted back in her chair and put her finger to her chin, thinking. After a few seconds, she nodded with a “hmm.”
“Well, first let's write out our statements. It seems I'll have to help with yours since you can't write our language. It's so strange that you can speak it though.” She grabbed her pen and began scribbling more glyphs.
“I thought so, too. Do I have an accent or anything?” He wondered if he sounded funny.
“Nope, no accent at all.” She gave him a small grin and looked back down, continuing to write.
That smile is cute as hell, he thought to himself.
Eventually, Reinhard reappeared to retrieve their statements, both written out by Emilia. She had blushed when he had said that he wanted to help her find her sigil because she seemed like a really good person, as he had recounted the events of the day to her.
After reading both of them, Reinhard nodded in approval. He showed them out of the room.
“Thank you for your cooperation on this matter. It's not every day we have to deal with such a grisly incident, especially one involving someone as important as you, Emilia-sama.”
Subaru thought to himself, She really must be an important person if a guy like this is calling her "sama."
To the knight, Emilia replied, "thank you for your help, Sir Reinhard. We wouldn't have had a clue what to do without you."
Just as they emerged from the back area into the large room at the front of the building, he heard that same honorific again, only yelled out by a feminine voice.
The knight, the half-elf, and the boy snapped their heads around to see the origin of the words.
Standing in front of the guard desk was a pretty pink-haired girl in a maid outfit.
Author's note 3-25-21: I came back and fixed a lot of the simple mistakes in this chapter, and I plan on going through each one and cleaning them up now that I have a much firmer grasp of correct writing techniques.
This is my first attempt at narrative writing outside of a class, so I hope you enjoyed it so far. I don't have a lot else to say, other than please look forward to more! I'll do my best between this and work and classes.