Chapter 1 - Encountering A Nice Magician
It has been almost a decade since I have left your protection to travel the world on my own. I am still not sure if you have noticed my absence yet, but I hope that my disappearance has not caused a stir amongst my numerous brothers and sisters.
During these past two years, I have been struggling to understand this new world I have found myself in. Even though my current circumstances are incredibly unique as far as my knowledge goes, I believe that this is a message from the universe telling me that this was my fate.
Please watch over your child from the Lost World, and bless me in hopes that I may discover my true meaning in life.
I finished writing the letter in front of me and quickly folded it before placing it into the nearby envelope. Except I wasn't planning on sending the letter to anyone, so instead, I placed it in a small section of my bag where several other stacks of envelopes were.
Glancing up, I saw that nobody else was in the library. Since it was quite late at night (although still quite a bit of time before closing hours) there weren't as many visitors still lingering around. A casual glance around the room showed that there were maybe three or four other people still in the library at this time of the hour.
Something caught my attention, and I stared at one of the other inhabitants of the room.
It was a young girl, around the age where most humans were still undergoing high education (although I'm still not certain that's how the term is supposed to be applied considering that there is another level of education after that). I noticed her because her appearance seemed to stand out in this mundane setting. Her hair was long and black, her facial features delicate, and her gaze as she read the book serene.
Still, it was mainly those striking blue eyes that caught my notice.
I was startled at that. The chroma of her eyes was a massive hint that something was different about her. No normal human had eyes that blue, and those that did were usually someone that I desperately avoided.
Looking at the clothes she was wearing, a casual outfit consisting of jeans and a white shirt, I realized that she wasn't here for me. Unless she was concealing some kind of powerful protection amulet or weapon, I doubted that she was dressed for battle.
Most likely, she was just here by coincidence. There was even the possibility that she was just a normal person, who had slightly abnormal eyes. She might not even know how special her eyes were.
Still, I didn't want her to notice me. So discreetly, I quickly walked behind the shelves as I returned the books I was reading earlier to their proper positions. I made sure the entire time that my hood was still up and covering my facial features from sight.
I was startled when she suddenly closed her book and stood up. Watching her from behind the shelf I was hiding in, I saw her leave the book on the table behind as she began leaving the room. I sighed with relief as I saw that she wasn't heading in my direction.
Leaving my hiding spot, I waited a few minutes before I too began to leave the building. There was the chance that she was waiting for me outside to ambush me, but I wanted to hope for the best and think that she did leave without taking notice of me.
Exiting the building, I saw the young girl from before entering a dark alleyway. Normally, I wouldn't have been concerned by that, especially since I had my suspicions that she wasn't a normal person. However, I had noticed earlier today that the alleyway was inhabited by a malicious creature and made sure to avoid it thus far.
If the young girl had not known that the alleyway was inhabited…
I sighed. Maybe I was making a stupid decision, but I couldn't let such a young girl run into that particular monster. And there was still that small chance that she was still a normal person.
Since I decided to help her, I quickly made my way towards the alleyway and entered myself.
My eyes found that nobody was around, with only the dirty surroundings filled with litter and a dead end at the other end of the alley.
"She must have been taken," I muttered with some small amount of worry. "Guess I have to go after her."
Taking a moment to check my surroundings, I made sure that no observers were watching me. Swiping my hands, a gash in the air opened before me before I stepped through the spatial partition. The gash in space closed behind me as I found myself in a completely new world.
A spacial partition was a type of pocket dimension that housed the elements of the supernatural. While normally, the world was absent of the large supernatural aspects that once plagued this planet, that did not mean that the creations from myths and legends were gone entirely. Those like me were able to access the world of the supernatural through various means.
My eyes widened in surprise momentarily as I found myself looking at the sight of a strange house taking up space where the alleyway was. Somehow, it was paradoxically wide enough to barely fit the dimensions of the alley, yet at the same time, wide enough to match the width of the library building from before.
The door leading inside was open, and I noticed the hints of someone speaking coming from inside. Entering through the entrance, I began to make out the voices speaking.
"Let's stop right there," I heard the voice of possibly the young girl echo. "This is as far as you go. You know as well as I do that establishing a territory so close to a place of literature is detrimental to everyone in this town."
That caused me to become confused. Rather than acting scared, it was almost like the girl knew what she was doing. As if she intended to come in here all along.
"We aRE CrEATuRES OF COgNITIoN," I heard a loud raspy voice reply. The voice seemed to be echoing from everywhere at once. "YoU MUsT UNdERStAnD OUr NeED TO FEeD."
"Nevertheless, it is not impossible to sustain yourself off of the dreams of humans." I admired the young girl's courage as she spoke to what must have been a terrifying creature. "Why must you seek above your station and take what is not yours?"
"IT iS OUr RIGhT TO TaKE WHAtEVeR WE WIsH," the being replied with aggressiveness. "WE CaRE NoT FOr THe OPiNIoNS OF ThOsE LEsSeR THaN US."
I heard the young girl sigh. "This library is a vital source of power to the beings that live in this city. If you are declaring your intent to claim it as your territory, then I shall have no choice but to rise to its defense as its guardian."
The being gave out a booming laugh at that. "PuNY HUmAN THInKS YoU CAn StOP uS? AMuSInG!"
So far, nobody has noticed me up until now. But I finally cleared my throat and spoke.
"Erm," I saw the young girl glance in my direction. "Sorry, am I interrupting something? I saw you enter here earlier and wasn't sure if you came in by accident or not."
She blinked at that. "What?"
"I saw you enter the spatial partition," I repeated. "But I didn't know if you entered by accident or not. I came here to check and see if you needed help."
She blinked a couple more times after that.
"No," she slowly replied. "I'm here to vanquish the being trying to take over the library."
That caused me to also blink in confusion. "Why would he want to take over the library? Does he like books that much?"
The being from before laughed after I said that. "YOuR WoRDS ARE NoT INcORReCT. I HaVE A GrEAT NEeD FOR ThE NUmEROuS BOoKS WItHIN THE PLaCE OF KNoWLEdGE."
"He's a creature of thought," the young girl began to explain. "He feeds off the thoughts of human beings and grows from it. The reason he's trying to take over the library is so that he can have access to the books contained in it. The stories contained in each book are an accumulation of the numerous thoughts of both the writer and those that read it."
"AnD OnCE I HAvE CONsUMeD ThOSe THoUGHtS, I ShALL EVoLVE ANd MY STrENgTH WiLL RIsE ABoVE MY LImITS."
She gave an exasperated sigh at that. "But if he consumes the library, it's going to cause a lot of problems for a bunch of other supernatural beings in the city. A lot of beings rely on the library to stay alive."
"WeAKeR BeINgS," the being responded with an annoyed tone. "FiT OnLY TO dIE UNdER ThE STrOnG."
My face still showed that I was a bit confused, but I nodded hesitantly. "So… basically you're trying to make sure he doesn't cause trouble."
"Not just that," she answered. "But if he consumes the library in the supernatural world, the physical library in the real world will also collapse. Either a freak earthquake will suddenly swallow the building or everything inside of it will catch fire and destroy everything. I'm trying to make sure that doesn't happen."
"YOu ArE TOO WEaK TO SToP US," the being declared. "I SHaLL DrAIN YoU COmPLEtELy UnTIL YOuR MIND BrEAkS."
"This is getting annoying," she sighed and pulled something out of her pocket. I couldn't see what it was, but she pointed towards the air in front of her. "I'm tired of just talking to the air. Why not speak to us face-to-face."
Something in the air changed, and I felt a presence begin to gather around the girl and into the object in her hands.
"For breath — appear on the mirror and sigh."
A foggy figure suddenly began to form in the middle of the room, and I finally saw what the monster ruling this house looked like. Even though it was a hazy image overlapping over its existence, his appearance was easy to make out.
It was a wrinkly old man with leathery bat wings sprouting from his back. His upper body was bare while his lower body was covered by a thin dirty strip of cloth. His face showed that he was annoyed that his appearance was revealed to both of us.
"An incubus," the young girl muttered. "Probably a variant, since he doesn't give off the feeling of lusting after everything."
I was speechless. Instantly, I knew that I was out of my debt. Rather than being a newly awakened person, it turns out that the girl that I just followed was actually a magician. And if there was one thing I knew about magicians, it was that I was definitely in danger if they caught notice of me.
"Fools," the old man said, his voice a lot more normal than before. "I am beyond my brethren who only think with their lower heads. I only consume the purest of thoughts for myself."
If it wasn't clear to me by now that the girl was a lot more capable than I thought, then her next move would have finally destroyed any doubts I had. Pointing the object in her hands towards the incubus, she muttered another spell.
"For breath — the flames of my will are born."
A completely terrifying presence gathered in front of her as a large fireball suddenly formed and shot towards the incubus. The incubus screamed in horror as its entire body was suddenly ignited.
I was petrified as I watched this girl I thought was helpless instantly wipe out a creature that was as powerful as the incubus. The incubus' cries of pain finally died out as the fire completely consumed him, and I froze when I saw the girl glance my way once more.
I waited for her to strike me down as well because there was no doubt she could tell what kind of creature I was. Still, the girl held her hand.
"What are you?" She tilted her head as she stared at me. "I can tell that you're not human, but I'm not certain what species you are."
I was sweating in place as she continued to observe me, not trusting myself to speak.
Gesturing towards the side of her head, she spoke. "Apologies, but can you please remove your hood?"
I clung to the piece of fabric and hesitated. "Is it okay if I refuse?"
She sighed and pocketed the object in her hands. "I can see that you're wary of my intentions. But the fact is that you came in here intending to aid me, even though it was unnecessary. Whatever worries you have, know that I will not harm you unless you give me sufficient reason to believe that I must."
Well… that was a better response I was expecting from a magician.
Taking a risk, I lowered the hood and allowed it to fall on my shoulders. I saw the girl's eyes widen as she caught sight of what I was hiding.
"An elf," she said as she stared at my pointy ears. "How old are you?"
I instantly understood what she was asking and sighed. "I am 84 years old."
"84?" Were she a normal human, I would have guessed that her surprise was due to my age. But since she was a magician, she knew better what my age signified. "So you're not a high elf then?"
I sighed at that. "To be precise, I'm not a natural elf. It's better to describe me as an artificial fairy."
Her eyes widened. "You're a spirit?!"
"Not exactly," I replied. I felt our surroundings begin to change. "Is it okay if we take this somewhere else? It looks like this space is collapsing."
Due to the death of the incubus, he wasn't able to maintain the structural integrity of the base any longer. And because of that, the world around us was collapsing.
She blinked and turned around to verify my response before nodding. "Very well then."
The space around us shattered as we found ourselves back in the real world. Both of us exited the alley and made our way to a nearby bench to sit down.
She gave me a curious glance. "Your ears, they're still there?"
I fingered at the tips of my pointed ears and smiled awkwardly. "Makes fitting in with humans a bit more difficult."
"Do you not know an illusion spell?"
I shook my head sideways. "I'm not a magician, and my talent in magic is pretty bad."
Her hands reached into her pocket once more and she pulled out the object from before. This time, I was able to see that it was a utility lighter commonly used to light up stoves or candles. Pointing at my ears, she muttered something as I felt a presence wrap around them.
"There we go," she said as she stored the lighter once more. "That should keep normal people from noticing the elf traits. Mind you, it's only a minor illusion."
I said my thanks to her and she waved it off.
The two of us sat down in silence for a while as I tried to figure out what she wanted with me. I knew that she was a magician, but all of my previous encounters with magicians weren't something I could compare to this.
Figuring that I should introduce myself at least, I held out my hand. "I'm Alf, nice to meet you."
She shook it and gave me a funny look. "Alf? Isn't that name a little on the nose?"
"It's short for Alpha," I said as I released her hand. "But I like going by Alf better."
She hummed at that. "My name is Annalise, but I prefer to go by Anna."
"Guess the both of us prefer shortening our names," I said as I grinned at that.
She smiled as well and asked, "So what's a fairy doing walking around in the mortal world? I thought most of you were hiding it out with the rest of the People of the Lost World."
I winced at that. "Well… to summarize things up, I don't get along with other fairies. I left to explore the world a few years ago."
She tilted her head. "You're only 84, correct? That's pretty young for a fairy. In human years, that's only around 16-17 years old."
I awkwardly laughed at that. "I'm a bit of a dreamer, to be honest. After all, the world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark."
"John Muir," she recognized the quote. "Looks like you're quite well-read in human culture at least."
"Well, I did have a few years to learn a couple of things."
She snorted at that. "Sorry, it's just that fairies usually don't have a high opinion of humans."
That was an understatement. It wasn't like we chose to name ourselves the People of the Lost World. We were called that because we were the people who were driven out of the mortal realm by the humans, so there's quite a bit of a grudge from my people towards humans.
"I don't think badly about humans the same way as the rest of my brethren," I said in response. "It was before my time, and I'd rather explore what the humans have been up to since then."
"I guess that's an admirable mindset," she replied. "So what exactly have you done these past few years?"
I smiled and began to regale her tales of what I've seen during my journey. I told her about my first few years getting used to learning how to adapt to modern society, my struggles at hiding my ears from others, the various places I've visited.
While I was telling her the story about how I found myself crying after eating a burrito for the first time, she suddenly interrupted me.
"Sorry, but it looks like I have to go." She was looking at the screen off of her smartphone when she said that. "It's pretty late, and I don't want to miss the bus."
I blinked at that and realized that we've been talking for quite a while now. Nodding, I quickly stood up from my seat.
"Well, it's been nice meeting you, Miss Anna."
She also stood up. "You too, Alf."
Waving her goodbye, I watched her leave in the distance as she began to head towards the nearest bus stop. My hand lowered once I saw her disappear.
I sighed and began to make my way back towards the alleyway. Entering the alley, I sliced the air and found myself entering through another spatial partition. From a casual glance, there was nothing special about the world I found myself in. But if you looked carefully, it was possible to make out another presence.
"She may not have noticed," I suddenly said. "But the incubus said 'we' instead of only referring to himself as 'I' earlier. Either that was how he self-identified, or that meant that there were multiple inhabitants."
At first, there was no response. Until suddenly, a seductive voice began to echo around my surroundings.
"Ohohoho, it looks like you figured it out." A misty figure began to gather in front of me. "I was hoping the death of my husband would have tricked you."
I sighed. "Anna mentioned how you were planning on consuming the library. Since that's going to cause a lot of trouble for a bunch of people, I can't allow that to happen."
The misty figure formed in front of me to reveal the figure of a beautiful woman who smirked at me. "Hm? And what are you going to do about it, young spirit?"
My arms raised themselves and energy began to gather around my hands. It was easy to guess that she was a succubus, based on how her aura felt to my senses.
"Well," I said as a wooden staff suddenly appeared in my grip. "I guess I'll just have to kill you myself."
And with those words said, I charged forward and began to engage her.