Chapter 1 - Carcinogenic
“Happy birthday to you!”
Several voices chant.
“Happy birthday to you!”
“Happy birthday dear Maito. Happy birthday to you!”
Everyone cheers and claps loudly. Then, the room goes quiet as everyone stands around Maito; who lies listless in the bed before them. A woman gently plants a brownie in front of him with a lit candle in it.
“Now make a wish sweetheart!” Says the woman.
Maito doesn’t move. Instead, he looks out the large window to his left.
“My birthday is in June…” Maito attempted to whisper to himself, but everyone heard.
Discomfort throughout the room rises. The woman sits on the edge of the bed.
“Maito…” She stares at the floor.
The rest of the people in the room leave her and Maito after exchanging looks. Maito and the woman remain silent.
“Maito…” She repeated.
“How are you feeling?”
“I’m not sure.”
They become quiet for a moment.
“We wanted to celebrate your birthday a little early so that we wouldn’t miss out.”
“You can just say I’m going to die Mom.”
His mother stands and rushes out the door with her hands to her face. Maito turns forward and looks down at the brownie. He grasps the paper plate it’s presented on. Shortly after, his hands begin to shake as he raises the plate. The candle leans, Maito gently straightens it. Maito closes his eyes for a slight moment then opens them. He blows out the candle. A beeping noise starts to arise and the rhythm quickens. Then, darkness.
“Hello?” Maito’s voice echoes.
“Hello?” Maito says again but its echo begins to drown everything out and a ringing ensues.
Suddenly it all blurs and what’s left is an imperceptible combination of black and the colors that made up his character. The ringing continues and for a short while a bright light engulfs everything. Then a wave of static crashes into him as he is awoken to a brush of warm water. He raises his upper body with struggle.
A voice can be heard but it's muffled to Maito.
“Hyu-.” Maito turns his body over and begins hurling a clear liquid.
His perception then becomes clearer but vomits once more. Maito takes in quick breaths and looks around with his eyes wide open.
A woman’s voice begins speaking, but Maito cannot understand.
Maito tries to speak, but his throat is too dry and only wheezes harshly.
The woman speaks once more, but still what she says sounds foreign to Maito.
“Who?” Maito whispers.
The woman gives a surprised look. She speaks back but nothing she says makes sense to Maito. Out of frustration Maito raises his voice.
The woman jolts back and then leaves the room. She comes back shortly after with another cloth and starts to clean the floor of Maito’s mess.
Maito starts to look around. The place he’s in is very nice with many antique-esque furnishings, walls, floor, and ceiling. The doors were fairly large as well. Everything looked lavish in a peculiar fashion, but Maito couldn’t pin it down to one particular place. To him it was like a dream.
Maito looks back at the woman cleaning the floor and realizes that even her attire was strange. It was floral but not of any flower he knew of, and it was of many layers with intricate designs. Maito couldn’t make up his mind on whether it looked good or crazy. She was very short and gave off a mature aura. Now with this in mind Maito had a sudden surge of anxiety rush over him. Maito couldn’t understand what kind of situation he was in and so he began to panic internally. His heart started beating rapidly as he clenched his chest, he swallowed and with the other hand started pulling and brushing his hair.
The lady stood, walked away, and then came back with something in her hand.
She held it up to Maito and he looked at it confused.
“What is this?” Maito asked.
The woman replied with the language Maito couldn’t understand. So Maito held out his hand and she placed the strange object in his hand. Maito quietly looked down at this object in his hands. It looked like a sharp marble rock with engravings around it. After observing for a while the woman pointed to her mouth. Maito at first thought to himself that he should eat it but after some mental battling thought that the rock was too valuable looking to be consumed. After some time passed the woman gave Maito a strange look then retrieved another one. She took the object and put it in her mouth like a whistle and began gently sucking on it. Maito then followed through and to his surprise choked on a spurt of water like substance. He coughed a few times and tried it again, this time indulging in the substance that secreted infinitely from this rock. After satisfying his thirst he took a mental note out loud.
“Pointy rock makes water, got it.”
Maito places the rock to his side and pauses. Then for a moment his expression becomes worrisome.
“What the hell am I doing?!” Maito asks himself out loud.
Maito stands up and lays a hand on the woman’s shoulder. He then begins asking several questions forcefully.
“Where am I?!
“Did I die?!”
The woman is frightened and calls out.
“What’s with the rocks?!”
“What’s your na-.” Maito is jerked back by the collar.
“Huh?” Maito turns and is greeted to the sight of an old man.
The old man is fairly well built with a hood and drapes of cloth around his shoulders, he seems to be in his late 50s. His eyes are both differently colored, the left being light blue and right being orange.
And who the hell are you?” Maito asks, still held by the collar. The old man then looks at Maito with a puzzled expression. Maito gives the old man an equally puzzled face in return. The man speaks in a mysterious language, the same as the woman spoke.
“I don’t understand you.” Maito says.
The old man looks flabbergasted. Maito does a few signs such as pointing to his head and waving his finger in a way that says no. The old man and the woman seem to still not understand. Maito sighs deeply then sits back down on the bed looking toward them.
The old man moves over to the large door and nods his head whilst saying something in the language, he pauses and stands in the doorway staring at Maito. Maito freezes in place and thinks what the old man could be doing. Nervously Maito waits patiently in place, but then the old man rushes back over to him and drags him up by the arm and to the door. Maito now realizes the old man wanted him to follow.
“I got it, I got it.” Maito struggles and then releases himself from the old man’s grip.
The old man looks back and Maito rubs his arm out of a slight pain and keeps following. The two make their way through a hallway-like area that’s half open to a mystically beautiful garden or courtyard, Maito couldn’t tell since it was fairly large. They walked for a short while till arriving at another large door. The old man stops.
“Are we going in there?” Maito asked.
The old man doesn’t give mind to him, instead, he opens the door and enters. Maito follows him cautiously.
“I guess I should stop talking.” Maito tells himself, taking another mental note that everyone cannot understand him and neither can he understand them.
When the two enter, Maito observes the room, it’s a conservatory-like room with glass walls and ceiling. The old man kneels on the ground and takes out a necklace with another rock of some sort attached at the end. The old man pulls the necklace off over his head and out into his palm where he let it rest. Then he lets the rock droop from his hand while gripping the link so that the rock dangles in front of him. Shortly after he gently moves his hand in strange directions. Then, as the rock swings he flicks it, suddenly stopping at a strange orientation. As it stays there the old man unhands the necklace and it floats completely static. Maito is impressed by the old man’s trick, but Maito notices something strange out of his focus on the necklace. Maito took his eyes off the necklace and observed the room once more. To Maito’s surprise, a glass pane had gone missing and behind it was a wall of stone tablets. This made no sense to Maito because the glass panes were all see through and still are besides the one missing. The old man stands and walks over to the wall of tablets, he fingers out a tablet from the wall and holds it in front of himself, observes it for a few moments and then taps it as if he found what he was looking for. The old man then turns toward Maito and walks over to him. Maito clears his throat as the old man comes closer.
“What’s this got to do with me?” Maito asks himself.
The old man raises the tablet to Maito. Maito looks down at it in confusion. The old man then demonstrates gestures toward the tablet as if giving instructions on what to do with it. First the old man swipes across the tablet with his palm at a distance, then he raises it to his forehead. After demonstrating a strange act Maito doesn’t really understand, Maito shrugs as if to say whatever happens, happens. Maito copies what the old man does but this time touching the tablet with both his hand and forehead, during the process the tablet shined strangely and then turned to dust when it touched Maito’s forehead.
“No fucking way!?” Bursts Maito.
“Did it work?” The old man asks.
“I can understand you!” Maito says with his mouth agape.
“You’re speaking the wrong language…” Says the old man.
“Oh…” Maito takes a deep breath and looks into his own mind with amazement towards the fact he could now understand and speak a completely new language in an instant.
“This is crazy.” Was Maito’s first spoken words in this language.
“You sound ridiculous.” The old man chuckles.
“Why’s that?” Maito asks.
“How bad is it?”
The old man laughs.
“Don’t worry too much about it. That was a very simple tablet of knowledge I was willing to sacrifice for this occasion.”
“You’re speaking the wrong language again.”
“Strange manners too, must be from your native language.”
“Ugh!” Maito rubs his head.
“Now that you can understand me on a basic level, I’m going to ask you a few questions.”
“Yes.” Maito nods.
“What is your name?”
The old man tries to hold in laughter.
“That is a very strange name.” Says the old man.
“Oh yea?! what’s yours?!”
“Yes, stop butchering it!”
“Your name is even more strange!”
Garpiloff clears his throat.
“What is your native language?” Garpiloff asks.
“Never heard of it but okay…”
“Are you gonna write this stuff down?”
“Write?” Garpiloff chuckles.
“Writing is long past its use.” Garpiloff holds out another strangely marked stone.
“This here is a listening stone.”
“So like a recorder.”
“Never mind that.”
“A listening sto-.”
“I get the gist, more questions.” Maito cuts him off.
“Ahem... How did you get here?”
"I’d like to know myself. I think I died and then woke to a warm rag on my face.”
Garpiloff is surprised.
“Died? You mean summoned.”
“I’m pretty sure I died.”
“If you died you wouldn’t be alive.”
“Then what do you mean summoned?”
“I know what summoning is, I’m saying how?”
“I’m sure you know the world is made of many precious and dull minerals.”
“And I believe you know these engravings on these minerals have effects.”
“To an extent.”
“Mining these minerals for use is a very dangerous task.”
“Any mark, no matter what, will do something.”
“Sounds absurd. How do you collect it then?”
“Experimenting with certain markings have shown us the safest way to extract these minerals with minimal repercussion.”
“Yea, so you summoned me with one of these markings?”
“Most likely, but here’s the problem.” Garpiloff scratches the back of his head.
“You were kind of an accident…”
“Experiment gone wrong?”
“No, a mining expedition went wrong. One of the miners made a summoning rock by accident and you were the result.”
“And you can’t recreate it?”
“Yes, well... We wouldn’t want to anyways.” Garpiloff looks down in grief.
“Why is that?”
“The miner was in critical condition afterwards.”
“He was saved right? By some healing rock or something?”
“We do have such rocks that can heal wounds.”
“But none have been discovered to bring back the dead.”
“Oh…” Now Maito feels both awkward and remorseful.
“Well, to discover a cure to death requires the experimentation of life. I don’t think many people are willing to take on that endeavor.”
“Well I think bringing back the dead would be pretty damning, zombies you know.”
“It’s something from where I came from.”
“People were brought back to life where you’re from?” Garpiloff leans in.
“No, more of a uh… Myth?
“We have myths about what bringing back the dead would be like. Stories of dead partners living among us as if nothing had happened.”
“Sounds a lot better than being eaten.”
“Stories of eating the undead?”
“No, the undead eating us.”
“Anyways… Back to the questions!” Garpiloff gets a little tired and rests by kneeling on the floor.
“Do we just sit on the ground?”
“Do people where you’re from not sit like this?”
“We usually have furniture for sitting where I’m from.” Maito sits on the ground across from Garpiloff.
“Designated furnishings for sitting? Sounds restraining to me, people just sit wherever they please in public and at home.”
“So can you describe where you’re from, before you got summoned here.”
“Well…” Maito scratches his chin.
“It’s basically like this world but without the rock marking stuff, and we called the place we lived on Earth.”
“Just like it? That’s very rare for many summons to come from a world almost exactly like this one.”
“Well I haven’t been outside to say for sure.”
“Ah yes! I’m fairly busy as of late. But how about I have one of my private security guards escort you about the area.” Garpiloff taps a ring with a marked rock on the ground with the back of his hand.
“You have requested my assistance?” A womanly voice from behind is heard.
“Yes, you will be assisting and protecting my subject here in touring the outside.”
“Subject?!” Maito blares.
“You are my subject for knowledge, handed to me by the people for investigating your origin.” Garpiloff stands.
“Let’s move.” The woman calls toward Maito.
Maito analyzes the woman. She’s shorter than Garpiloff, but taller than the lady from earlier. She’s dressed in mostly black and gray with gauntlets on each hand that have engraved gemlike stones and large bands of dark metal jutting out toward the elbow. She’s fairly tanned, has black hair and eyes of red on the left and a light green right. Attached to her waist is a strange black cone.
“Alright.” Maito walks to the woman’s side.
“Raise your chin!” The woman commands.
Maito complies and raises his chin. The woman then presses both her hands against his neck and releases. Maito feels his neck and notices a strange band that wraps around it.
“What’s this?” Maito asks.
“It’s something that tells others you’re a summon and owned by Garpiloff.”
“A dog collar?”
“A creature we tamed from my world.”
The woman opens the large doors and Maito follows, leaving Garpiloff to the large glass room. After walking a short while Maito and the woman enter a large room that is fabulously decorated leading to an even greater set of doors.
“So, your name?” Maito asks the woman.
“Maito’s me.” Maito stumbles his words.
It becomes apparent he’s fairly nervous and has an internal monologue on how dumb he thinks he was.
“You speak strangely.” Vei opens the doors and the outside is revealed.
It seems the large building Garpiloff resides in is situated on its own island in a lake. At the front is a barred gate and a large statue of Garpiloff himself, strange texts present themselves under the statue. Maito is able to speak this language but cannot read it.
“Why does Garpiloff have a large statue of himself at the front of his home?” Maito asks.
“This place is not only the residence of Garpiloff but also an academy and laboratory.”
The two walk past the statue and to the gate. The gate doesn’t have a visible way of opening. Rather than push and pull like Maito is used to, Vei brings out a chained rock and taps it at the gate like a television remote. The gate then opens itself outward. Past the gate is a bridge arching over to what looks to be a town but the architecture isn’t very familiar.
“Everything seems in line with how it is back in my world.” Maito squints.
“So it should be easy to orient yourself.”
“Nothing out of the ordinary, trees are trees, grass is grass, water is water. Maybe the air is a little fresher.”
“There’s such a thing as bad air outside of caves?”
“The world I’m from, my people are partially to blame for ruining nature and things.”
“So your people killed your world?”
“No but we were in the process of doing so, little by little that is.”
“I should be telling Garpiloff these things.”
“Oh no worries, I carry a listening stone by his request.” Vei flashes the stone for a second around her neck.
“About the miner… Will I be doing something about that?” Maito scratches his head.
“You’ll be meeting their family for a brief moment to express condolences.”
“But before that we will walk about Lantra.”
“So the town’s name is Lantra. Why’s that?”
“The lake is named Lantra after the name of the third ruler Zeid’s daughter who drowned during a flooding incident here. The town doesn’t really have a name so people call it Lantra Town or just Lantra.”
“Surprised you know this kind of information.”
“I was born and grew up here. I attended Garpiloff’s academy.
“About 3 Geis.”
“What’s a Gei?”
“204 cycles of light and dark.”
“So how long is a cycle?”
“The 3 Yudds pass over the sky each within an interval of-”
“Woah-woah, I think I should probably learn the way time goes by another... time… I'm in an information overload!”
“That’s one thing that’s way different from my world. Maybe Garpiloff can give me one of those tablets again.”
“Those tablets are very special and hard to recreate. He wouldn’t waste such things on a summon. Although you are fairly special.”
“You’re the first summon Garpiloff has ever taken in and labeled as his!”
“What do you mean?”
“That summon band with Garpiloff’s name on it is gonna cause commotion in Lantra. No doubt you’ll get a lot of attention.”
“I know Garpiloff seems like a fairly prominent person, but why the fame?”
“He’s a very kind and excellent person. He’s saved countless lives, taught many successful people, and even discovered life changing markings and minerals.”
Maito and Vei enter Lantra. A lot of the homes are built fairly high up with stairs. Shops don’t seem to exist, rather people just exchange things at the front of their houses. The townsfolk seem to mostly keep to themselves and converse irregularly. There are no benches or resting areas rather people just sit or lean on walls in the paths throughout the town. There are no vehicles or carriages, things seem to be held by hand or floating with the use of the marked rocks. Maito noticed another summon creature with red scaly skin and black eyes wearing a cloak and pants. Maito has completely accepted that he is in another world and isn’t entirely surprised by what strange things he will encounter.
“So that’s a summon over there?”
“Yes, summons are generally kept at homes to tend to chores, it seems that one is purchasing food for their owner.”
“So are summons servants?”
“No, they’re usually treated like family in a majority of households. Their most prominent jobs include babysitting.”
“People trust their children with otherworldly creatures?”
“When summons like you come to this world, they are the only one of their kind. With rarely any means to reproduce. So maybe taking care of a child is the closest most will get.”
“Have there been times where summons have… well…”
“Yes, there have been many cases of half summons being born. It’s advised against due to many defects resulting. Not every summon has the same sexual organs as well so it’s either impossible or a test of luck.”
“I should probably move on from this topic.”
“Isn’t it a little embarrassing?”
“How so? It’s a way of life.”
“Where I’m from it’s a little awkward to talk about reproduction openly, especially when you and I are…”
“The people you’re from find their own creation embarrassing?”
“In a way…” Maito twiddles his thumbs and looks to the ground. Vei looks at him as if he’s acting strange. Maito clears his throat.
“So… You seem to talk to me very easily Vei.”
“Is that not natural either?”
“Well I guess I don’t know what is normal in this world.”
“Also, you say I openly talk to you when you’re the one who’s been asking the questions.”
“Well, I’m used to it being short answers or just ignored.”
“People are very rude where you’re from.”
“I think I’m guilty of that too.”
“You don’t seem so.”
“I guess to some people I might have been.”
“Are you really a summon?” A voice from behind is heard.
For a brief moment Maito believes it was a conversation directed towards someone else.
“Hello?” The voice calls, prompting Maito to turn around.
“You speaking to me?” Maito asks.
“Yea, are you sure you should be wearing one of those?” A short man dressed in green robes with dark brown hair says, pointing toward Maito.
“This summon band? Yes I am a summon.” Maito replies. The man comes in closer out of disbelief.
“You are very interesting. A summon that is entirely similar to us. You must be bluffing.”
“I’m special according to Vei.”
“How could I be so rude to not notice one of Garpiloff’s personal security!” The man kneels before Vei.
“Garpiloff isn’t here Aeip, there’s no need to be so humble.” Says Vei.
“So then you’re here to introduce your summon?” Aeip stands and brushes off his knees.”
“No, he is not my summon.”
Aeip takes a closer look at Maito. He reads the text on the band and is visibly shocked. He then kneels again.
“A summon of Garpiloff himself! This is great news!” Aeip shouts and people begin to crowd around.
“Garpiloff has a summon?” A random voice says from the crowd.”
“This must be a joke?” Says another.
“Vei is with him…”
“He doesn’t look like a summon.”
“You sure that isn’t Vei’s summon?”
Voices become a jumbled mess and Maito has a rush of anxiety with all the attention.
“Quiet down!” Vei commands.
The talking lowers to a halt.
“This is a summon who is owned by Garpiloff. He was the result of the mining incident a week ago.” Vei explains.
The crowd is shocked.
“If the family of Ghein is here, Garpiloff’s summon would like to express his condolences.”
“May I?” Says a voice within the crowd.
People shuffle out of their way. Revealing a summon who is very small and has large fox-like ears and arms as long as it’s body.
“I am the summon of Ghein, his family is out of town for now.” Says the small summon.
“I’m sorry for what happened to Ghein.” Maito tells the summon. The summon turns around.
“Thank you...” The summon walks away. The crowd also slowly dispersed.
“I don’t know what more I can do.” Maito tells Vei.
“It’s a shame… Summons have a great attachment to their owners, I’m sure it was like losing their father.”
“Is it okay for me to be here?” Maito asks.
“What do you mean?”
“I’ve caused death the moment I came to this world.”
“You couldn’t control it. It was an accide-.” Maito walks away causing Vei to cut her sentence short and catch up.
“Where are you going?” Vei asks.
“I wanna get out of the town.”
“Well you’re headed the wrong direction and we need to be back at Garpiloff’s before it gets dark.”
“What’s up with him?” A lady with a smooth voice says as she gets closer to Maito.
She’s dressed in very revealing white clothes and has long blonde hair.
“Excuse me?” Maito steps away.
The lady giggles.
“The way you speak is funny.” She comes in closer.
“Aren’t you acting funny?” Maito asks out of discomfort.
The lady caresses Maito’s cheek and presses her chest against him.
“You’re pretty tall and handsome for a summon…” She whispers.
Vei groans and pulls Maito away from the woman.
“You’re right we should get out of town!” Vei drags Maito by the arm through Lantra.
“What was that about?” Maito asks.
“When people prepare for sleep girls sometimes come out in search for partners.”
“So like searching for a mate?”
“Yes, but it’s only some women who have the urge to do so.”
“Is that really allowed?!”
“Of course, it’s how we sometimes find our partners.”
“That sounds dangerous!”
“It isn’t from what I’ve heard.”
“This is gonna take some getting used to.” Maito releases his arm from Vei’s grasp and they reach a wooded area.
“So, do you get this urge?” Maito asks.
“I haven’t had this urge before, they say it’s when you’re ready.”
“Oh jeez.” Maito now realizes the conversation he’s having with Vei.
“Nothing!” Maito looks away.
The path becomes narrower; there are only fields and patches of trees with the occasional housing in the distance.
“We’ll be out of town for now.” Vei pulls the black cone from her waist and uses a strap around it to attach to her face like a mask. She then taps the tip of it.
“What is that ridiculous thing?”
“It’s a tool Garpiloff gave me to see in a special way.” Says Vei muffled behind the mask.
“What do you mean?”
Vei taps the tip of the mask and detaches it from her face and hands it to Maito. Maito puts it on and sees nothing but black.
“Now tap the end of it.”
Maito reaches forward and taps the tip of the mask. Immediately he is flashed with a bright light, but when his eyes adjust he can see things differently. It’s all in thermal vision.
“Wow! I didn’t know you could do this!” Maito looks around at all the signatures of creatures in the distance and Vei.
“Enough foolery.” Vei taps the end of the cone and pulls the mask off Maito’s head.
“I need to get one of those!”
“The mineral used for this is very rare.” Vei puts the mask back on.
“Do you use it a lot?”
“Only when I’m outside of town.”
“Is there something dangerous out here?”
“Famhirs are known to stalk at night, the chances of them attacking are low though.”
“Are they some kind of animal?”
“Yes, they’re large, brown, and hunt alone.”
“You ever had to fight one off?”
“A few times.”
“How do you do it?”
“These here.” Vei holds up her arms to show the jeweled black gauntlets she wears.
“I always thought you looked impressive with those.”
“They’re not fashion, is that something your world was into?”
“No, I meant you look strong.”
Vei smiles and then lowers her arms.
“We’d better head back now.” Vei turns around and begins walking back toward Lantra.
“Before we go can you show me what those do?”
“No need to.”
“Please!” Maito says not knowing what please is in the other language.
“Just one time!”
Silence from Vei.
“Fine but not here.” Vei grabs Maito’s arm and pulls him off the path to an open field.
“You’re not using it on me are you?!”
“Of course not!” Vei releases Maito and they stand in the open.
“You ready?” Vei asks.
Vei spreads her arms then bumps her fists together in front of herself. When the fists collide the engraved stones on her knuckles illuminate and then she cocks one hand back for a punch. She then throws her fist forward causing an eruption of sound and force like a volcano at a smaller scale. Maito clasps his ears from the sound and flinches. When Maito looked ahead of Vei in the direction she punched, the grass had been torn out of the ground in a long streak.
“That hurt my chest!” Maito yells in excitement.
“Anything in its path would’ve been evaporated.” Vei briefly flaps her steaming hand.
“How are you not affected by that?”
“The energy is pushed in the direction my fist is pointed. I’ve been told not to punch something with direct contact.”
“A majority of the energy transferred into the target will likely go through but it can blow back if too close causing serious injury.”
“So you’re punching without contacting the target?”
Maito is visibly excited by what he had witnessed.
“Now, let’s head back to Garpiloff’s.” Vei starts walking off.
“Wait up!” Maito follows.
After walking a short distance Vei looks off to her right.
“I see someone…” She whispers.
“Stay low!” Vei gets low and so does Maito.
Vei sees a signature in the distance, it's not easy to make out but it appears to be looking their way, like if it’s been watching Maito and Vei for some time. Vei stands and pushes Maito away, she holds up both her gauntlets in a blocking stance and a bubble forms around her. A sudden burst of energy blasts the bubble, throwing Vei backwards and the shockwave knocks Maito unconscious with a deafening ringing noise.