TWEM Vol. 2 Chapter 14
Chapter 14 – Ephyr’s Past and Haruto’s Truth
It happened about one year before Haruto bought Ephyr.
She lived in a hidden elven village located in Tonitia, a large forested area on the border between the Perdis and Glicente kingdoms.
Elves did not occupy large tracts of land or built countries: they lived in hidden settlements all over the world, which were all independent from each other.
Ephyr’s home village was the largest of such settlements.
It did not have any exceptional authority because of that, but the village elder acted as a sort of representative of all elves — similarly to the king of human states — and Ephyr was his only daughter.
One day, something unusual happened in Ephyr’s normally peaceful village.
A human army was marching towards the village.
“That’s absurd!! All elven villages are protected by an enchanted mist that drives away all humans! Only elves know of this place, no one else should be able to get past the mist!!”
The village elder and Ephyr’s father, Elba, reacted to the report with incredulous rage.
Next to him was Ephyr’s mother, Elsha, a worried expression on her face, and Ephyr herself, her facial muscles tense in fear.
The young elf who reported the dreadful news, however, shook his head powerlessly.
“The human army has already entered the area shielded by the mist, but continues to march straight in the village’s direction…I loathe even thinking about the possibility, but I can only conclude that one of our brethren has been caught ‘outside’ and somehow forced to reveal how to cross the mist…”
Elba’s expression became stern.
It was normally impossible for humans to even find the location of elven villages.
All elven settlements were located in areas where humans rarely if ever tread, and were also protected by powerful magic barriers that only let elves through.
Elves, as a race, were gifted of beauty regardless of gender, so throughout history humans or their states often sought to make them their slaves.
Because of this, any elf that wished to leave the village had to prove to be skilled enough: the elves who lived “outside” all had abilities on par or superior to rank B adventurers.
Elba recalled the faces of those who had left the village, as his expression showed his pain and turmoil.
“Gh…has there been no communication from our ‘outside’ brethren recently?”
“Yes, there has not been any contact from outside in the past month…but that has happened before, so we did not think it was a source of concern…they might have been caught a considerable time ago, and forced to speak over time…”
The young elf’s suppositions were indeed correct.
One month before, several elves were ambushed by soldiers and captured. Even if the elves were stronger individually, they couldn’t win against the humans’ numbers.
The elves were then repeatedly tortured: some of them took their own life by biting their tongue, to keep from giving out any information, but in the end the method to cross the mist and find the elven village was leaked.
“…I see. In any case, our first priority is to drive away the human army and protect the village. Gather everyone.”
The young man nodded and rushed out of the elder’s house.
Elsha and Ephyr looked at Elba, apprehensively.
“It’s alright. There’s nothing to worry about.”
Elba patted their heads, then left for the village square.
He looked at the elves gathered there, then began to speak.
“My brethren, lend me your ears! A human army has breached the barrier surrounding our village and is headed this way! Those who can fight, be ready for battle! Those who can’t, take shelter in the caves outside the village!”
A wave of shock ran through the crowd, but one second later their fists were in the air.
“We will protect our village!!”
After a brief discussion, not only the men, but also the women confident in their fighting skills chose to stay and fight.
Ephyr and her mother Elsha would hide in one of the caves outside the village, protected by a few guards, like other young women and children of the village.
Less than a hour later, the human army had completely crossed the fog barrier; it would reach the village in a matter of minutes.
The elves did not just wait for them, however: they made the best use of their bows and magic to attack all humans that emerged from the fog.
The human army’s numbers were overwhelmingly superior, however: soon enough, the village became a battlefield.
The humans systematically destroyed all homes, buildings and facilities in sight, as the elves desperately tried to defend them by attacking the humans.
Because of the larger numbers of the human army and the difference in tactics, the elves were forced to fight a defensive battle and saw their numbers decrease rapidly.
“Damn it all, we’ll be done this way…!”
Elba realized there was no chance for the elves to win and headed to the caves, hoping to let Elsha and Ephyr flee.
“Elsha, Ephyr, things are going worse than expected. You have to escape this village, right now! I already told the elves that are still fighting and those hiding in the caves to run away as soon as they have a chance. Go, now!!”
The caves overlooked the village, so Elsha and Ephyr already knew that things were looking grim.
Elsha noticed the resolve in Elba’s face and understood that he meant to make his last stand, so she nodded gravely.
Ephyr was not so compliant, however.
“I don’t want to! Father, come with us too!!”
“The people in the village are still fighting, dear. The elder can’t run away without them, right? Ephyr, take your mother’s hand and go!”
Elba looked firmly in his daughter’s emerald eyes.
Ephyr couldn’t hold back the tears and sobs, but managed to nod all the same.
“Thank you, Ephyr, Elsha. I love you.”
“We love you too, dear.”
Father, mother and daughter embraced each other, dreading to let go.
Elba once again headed towards the battlefield, while Ephyr and Elsha escaped in the opposite direction, escorted by the guards.
Outside the mist, however, the human army had completely surrounded the area.
Thanks to the guards’ efforts, Ephyr and Elsha somehow managed to break through the encircling net, but their pursuers were right behind them.
One after the other, the guards fell to the enemy attacks. Eventually, Ephyr and Elsha were on their own.
“Haah…haah…mother…what should we do…”
Ephyr, running alongside her mother, was struggling to keep hope.
“We can only run, dear, let’s do our— !! Ephyr, look out!!”
Elsha tried to encourage her daughter, but forcefully pushed her away in the middle of her sentence.
“Waaah!! Mother, what happened!? …!?”
Just as Ephyr asked such a question, a volley of arrows rained down on the spot she was standing on until a few moments before.
They turned around and saw a dozen human soldiers.
“Ephyr, I’ll stop them here, so run! — Air Arrow!!”
Elsha shot arrows made of wind at their pursuers, hoping to stop them in their tracks.
“No, mother! I’m going to fight too— ”
“What are you saying? You can’t hope to win against so many enemies, Ephyr!! Run away, now!!”
The human soldiers did not fail to notice Ephyr’s reluctance to move.
Another volley of arrows flew through the sky, targeted at her.
Ephyr was little accustomed to battle: her legs gave way under her.
Elsha then moved to protect her daughter—
— and the arrows pierced her back.
Elsha once again turned towards the soldiers and cast another Air Arrow.
Because of the wound, however, she could not control her magic power properly: the magic arrows faded into the air before they could reach their targets.
Another volley of arrows was shot, which pierced the elf woman’s chest.
Ephyr held her mother’s arms, frantically calling her among sobs and tears.
“Ephyr, run, run, as fast…as you can…and…be well…I…love you…”
After uttering such words, Elsha lost all strength in her body.
Ephyr hugged her mother’s lifeless body and wailed loudly.
She then glared at the soldiers approaching them.
“Go away!! Don’t come any closer!!”
Ephyr’s raw, fierce, emotions probably reached the spirits: that very moment, she activated “Spirit Magic”.
Sharp blades of wind, much stronger than normal Wind magic, attacked the soldiers.
The soldiers were torn to shreds by the blades — all except one, who miraculously managed to dodge.
“What the!? You shitty brat!!”
The survivor noticed that all of his comrades were killed in seconds and swung his sword in a blind rage.
Ephyr, her magic power depleted by using Spirit Magic, had no way to evade the soldier’s blade.
Her right arm was cut off, her body thrashed by the sword’s handle and the soldier’s kicks.
Ephyr endured the blows, waiting for a chance to run, but before she realized it the world turned to darkness before her eyes.
“ — when I came to, I was in a slave trader’s horse carriage. My wounds were closed, maybe thanks to a potion or something similar, but my ears had been cut off and my throat smashed, so I could not speak. No one believed that I was an elf.”
Ephyr told me what she knew about what happened at her elf village.
“I see. Thank you for telling me about it.”
Her father, Elba was probably already…
“No, master, I believe I should thank you. Talking about what happened helped me put some order in my feelings, at least a little. I could not even utter a word this past year, so…”
Iris and Finne fell in a grave silence after listening to Ephyr’s story.
“Were you sold to Bohbee right after that?”
“No, I changed hands several times before. I had lost all will to live, so I barely even ate, and lost a lot of weight as a consequence…because of that and my defects, no one would buy me. I arrived at that store about three months ago, I think.”
“I see…honestly, I think you’re great for braving through something so tragic.”
Ephyr smiled faintly at my words. Whoa, she’s too cute…
I felt my heart skip a beat, but Iris brought me back to reality by asking Ephyr a question.
“Pleased to meet you, my name is Iris, the first princess of this Kingdom of Perdis. If it’s possible, could you tell us any particular characteristics of the soldiers who attacked your village?”
“The pleasure is mine, Lady Iris…let me see, their armor was— ”
Ephyr mentioned a few characteristics of the soldiers’ appearance, and Iris listened intently.
“I see. Thank you very much.”
“What about that? Did you understand anything?”
Iris firmly nodded to my question.
“Yes. The soldiers who attacked Ephyr’s village — came from the Glicente kingdom. No doubt about it.”
“…the Glicente kingdom…”
I did think it might have been them…and it turned out I was right.
Summoning and then trying to have me killed was bad enough, but they really are scum, aren’t they…
“The young lady’s village was supposedly located in the Tonitia area, on the border between our kingdom and Glicente. I honestly doubt Perdis’ soldiers would ever do such a thing, and if a third country had sent their army, we would surely have noticed…oh? Lord Haruto, I believe your Intimidation is leaking.”
I realized it only after Sebas pointed it out.
I looked around and saw that everyone except him looked deathly pale.
“I’m sorry, everybody.”
“I-it’s nothing…did something happen to you in Glicente, Sir Haruto? You told me you were there before…”
The question came from Finne.
“…yeah, we first met in Glicente, didn’t we. Well, yes, I have a bit of history with that place…”
“That level of Intimidation seems too much for ‘a bit’ of history, though…if it’s okay, could you tell us more?”
Iris asked me to talk, carefully trying not to force me into it.
“Well…right, I guess I don’t have anything to hide from you guys.”
I paused for a moment, then looked at everyone’s faces.
“I — actually come from another world.”
“You come from another world…? Wait…I heard that the Heroes of legend appeared in the Glicente kingdom recently, could it be related to that…?”
Finne, Asha, Lyla, Mia and Ephyr reacted with shock and surprise. Sebas didn’t yell like them, but went wide-eyed for a second, then nodded to himself.
On the other hand Iris, thanks to the information she knew through her position, immediately made the connection.
“As expected of you, Iris: that’s correct. I was summoned by Glicente as a Hero, but— ”
I then explained everything that happened to me.
The fact that I didn’t have a Gift, that I was kicked out for being useless, that I was murdered in the forest, that I received skills from God and became stronger, how I met Bacchus, then traveled to Waxe and Vaana…
“ — then in Vaana I met Finne.”
After I finished talking, everyone had a mystified expression on their face.
“…such a cruel act cannot be forgiven!”
Finne was quietly boiling with anger, so I patted her head.
“Thank you for getting so angry for my sake. But thanks to that I could meet you and everyone else, so it isn’t so bad, is it?”
I looked at Finne’s face and found it beet red.
I felt someone’s eyes on me and turned around: Iris and Ephyr were both looking at us, a sort of envy in their eyes.
Okay, I can see why Iris would look at me like that, but Ephyr too?
I guess it can’t be helped…I thought, and patted their heads too.
For some reason, Asha joined in too. Oh well.
As I continued the head patting, I started talking again.
“Anyway…if you find it hard to believe, I’ll show you my status. As proof of my trust.”
I then displayed my status for everyone to see.
UNIQUE SKILLS :
Max Skill Growth
Unique Skill User
Master of Martial Arts
Master of Magic Arts
EX Rank Adventurer
“See? It says “otherworlder” in my species and titles, right?”
So I pointed out, but everyone seemed more surprised by other parts of my status.
“W-what in the…level..320…?”
“So many Unique Skills too…”
“Indeed, I see many titles as well.”
“I have never seen a status like this, and I lived more than 100 years already…”
“Martial and Magic Unification…? Does this happen when you have too many skills, so they get grouped in one category…?”
Finne, Iris, Sebas, Ephyr, and Asha spoke in turn.
Lyla and Mia nodded with conviction, especially to Asha’s words.
Do you maids need that many skills, in the first place?
As I was wondering stuff like that, Sebas spoke up.
“Milord, may I ask you a question?”
“Hm? What is it?”
“What are your plans for the future? Will you exact your revenge on the kingdom of Glicente?”
Well, it’s no wonder he’d want to know.
Everyone probably thought the same thing, as they looked at me intently.
“To be honest, recently I was enjoying my new life and almost forgot about them, so I didn’t really care anymore…but after listening to Ephyr’s story, I changed my mind a bit. They’ve gone too far, and need to be punished.”
I sealed my words with a grin.
“By punished…you mean…?”
The very timorous question came from Finne. I wished she didn’t look so scared, though.
“Well, I haven’t decided the details yet. The first priority is for Ephyr to heal and learn how to do her job; I think I’ll take it easy and think of the punishment in the meantime.”
Everyone in the room reacted to my words with rather tense expressions and tight smiles.