Unfortunately, it seems that some unfavorable things have happened. To start, I am not home. I am in Entrendei. I would have thought that the old man on the balcony just chanted the wrong way and didn’t properly send me back, but I seem to have switched genders!
What’s with this body? Did it belong to someone else? My physical stats are completely different! Questions keep running through my mind. Who are these people? Why were they summoned? Didn’t this country have over 20 competent heroes at their disposal? And what is Xenomyr’s problem with Elves? I stop myself. I need to calm down, despite my current situation.
Even as I was freaking out to myself, Xenomyr kept up his rambling.
“O Great Heroes, you have the opportunity to be our second generation of legends! There was a time when the Demon King and his putrid followers threatened our peace, but we had gracious Heroes who fought to save us. You will follow in their footsteps! You will train under the First Heroes, and you will prevail against the Elves!”
The truth of the matter just hit me. Was I to be forced to go on another bothersome adventure? What’s up with this? I did my time, set me free you overgrown raisin!
I noticed the way he spoke to this batch of people. When I was first summoned, he had some sort of courtesy, pleading for our help, but this time he was much more direct. There were no pleases, there was simply, “you will”. I wonder what changed. Perhaps this conflict was much more desperate. There was too much going on. I was lost, and unaware of my situation. I laughed to myself. This must have been what my classmates felt like that day.
I noticed I was standing in the middle of the sigil, where I was before I found myself female. Typical of me, I preferred the back of the group, and so tried to discreetly shuffle my way to the rear.
It was not discreet.
I, not taking into consideration that I had a completely different set of balance, proceeded to promptly plant my face upon the marble floor.
When performing the art of face planting, there are certain ways to do it. It could be comical, it could be dramatic, it could be beautiful, even. Mine was not either of those. Instead of playing it like a joke or spinning elegantly mid fall, I terribly tried to stop myself as I crumbled down into the floor like a building being demolished. Not only did it end in a resounding smack, but I had let out a little yelp during the process.
I heard Xenomyr’s speech cut short, as I felt the eyes of everyone in the room drilling into me. Damn it, this was the worst-case scenario. Now everyone knew where I was and what I looked like. They probably attributed my pitiable form upon the ground to a clumsy and stupid demeanor. I had achieved the complete opposite of what I had wanted. I cursed myself inwardly and shakily pushed myself off the floor.
I addressed the room.
“Uh… s-sorry, just slipped, continue...”
My own voice surprised me. It sounded different. Now, this should have been obvious, but it just hit me. The voice was softer and shakier, though that might have just been me being completely embarrassed. It had once again reminded me that I was not in the body I was used to. I rubbed my aching nose as the onlookers turned back to Xenomyr, who made the situation worse.
“Young lady, are you alright? We need to make sure our Heroes our fit for the job, we can provide you with any assistance you may need.”
Aaaah, Xenomyr, you old twig! I’m perfectly fine, don’t put more attention on me!
“Yes, p-please don’t mind me…”
I felt like a child just learning how to walk. To think I could take on demons only a few months ago. I tried to slink back to the depths of the crowd, but my fellow Heroes took more notice of me.
As I stumbled my way to the back, I noticed how the people here were all wearing different clothes, unlike my class, who all sported the same uniforms. Some looked to be different ages than the last batch. I noticed a businessman with rectangular glasses constantly looking at his watch and a girl of college age only clad in a revealing swimsuit. There was even a trio of young kids, two boys and a girl, that looked to be elementary age. They were huddled together, whispering frantically.
I looked at myself to find a black zip-up sweater, half-zipped, with a white t-shirt underneath. It had a logo of some citrus company on it. What a weird choice. I was wearing grey joggers, and slip-on shoes. Everything on me was oversized and wrinkled. Geez, whoever was hosting this body last was a bit sloppy. Maybe they had just rolled out of bed or something. Curious, I looked underneath my shirt… and immediately blushed. Was not expecting a bare chest under there… It’s weird being stimulated by my own body.
As my hair fell onto my face, I awkwardly started to brush it aside, I was not used to such an action, only to find that it was silver. What a peculiar color. Well, at least to me. The people of this world had all the colors of the rainbow atop their heads. Did the girl dye it? I looked at the other people only to find normal hair colors for them, with the exception of one dude leaning against a pole. Just comparing my hair to the others made me realize that I probably stuck out even more in this crowd. Damn, things were just going the opposite direction I wanted.
I impatiently waited for Xenomyr to finish his typical spiel. When he finally finished, he looked ragged and out of breath. This man should really retire already, one touch and he’d fall over from overexertion. What I had gathered from his talk was that we were to be introduced to the First Heroes, which I assumed were my classmates. After that we would be assigned our class, and then be treated to an exquisite dinner by the Church’s wonderful chefs. Then we would be assigned our room to sleep in for the night.
Xenomyr said his goodbye and he exited from up above. I wanted to leap up there and chase after him, but I couldn’t do that with this body. If I had my trained, rogue-class body, then I would have been able to reach him in under 10 seconds. I was going to have to find a way to talk with him, as he was my way back to my own body, and my way home. If I didn’t reach out to him, I might lose my chance at ever returning back to my old life. I realized he was a pope, and that generally meant getting an audience with him was difficult, but I would have to manage it.
As soon as Xenomyr left, a flurry of maids and butlers came out from the doors behind us to make greetings. One for each person. I remember when this happened the first time. I had an excellent butler by the name of Sebastion. Truly a terribly generic name for a position like that, but he served well, was curt in a fair way, and was built like a truck, despite being an older man. He was so sturdy I often practiced against him in my early stages of training. Though, I did not know if he enjoyed serving me or found me an annoyance. He was hard to read. Unfortunately, I did not see him here.
Like the first time, the servant we got was assigned by gender, and so this time, I ended up with a maid. My maid was a girl who seemed a bit older than the body I was in. My body seemed around 16 to 18, and this maid looked to be a couple years older. The maid had short cut brown hair to match her brown eyes. She had a slightly pointed nose and she walked strictly. The maid’s outfit was one I remembered well, it was black and white all over. The top was white with ruffles near the neck and wrists, and it had a black vest buttoned over it. The lower, puffier, part of the dress was primarily black and extended all the way to their ankles. She had black shoes on with a buckle strap to secure them. The maid introduced herself with a curtsy and a formal tone.
“Greetings Miss, I will be your personal servant for the duration of your stay. My name is Agnes, call me whenever you desire.”
I already appreciated her. She gave me Sebastion vibes right off the bat. They both had cold stares and a truly neutral tone. Perfect. This meant that they didn’t want to socialize and that they were all business. Both of them gave off an aura that said, “Don’t mess around, I am here to serve”. Whereas Sebastion’s aura was grand and intimidating, Agnes’ was one like sharp needles that prickled you if you got too close. She even had a fitting name for her position. Some other maids and butlers I had noticed were smiling and beaming, and some were a bit too casual. To think that I could get the lucky draw two times in a row, it made my situation a little more bearable… Though I hope I don’t sound too spoiled, I can take care of myself, I promise.
Agnes beckoned me to follow her into a private room, and I suddenly realized what was coming. Last time, Sebastion made me change into attire that the Church had provided. My poor school uniform was stashed away until I got to my room later that night. That meant that I was about to strip down in this unfamiliar body. Dread filled me as Agnes held up clothes for me to wear. It was a simple t-shirt with pants, a belt, and sturdier shoes. The shirt was blue-grey in color, and the pants were black. I hesitated.
“Miss, is there something wrong with this attire?”
“Well, no, but…”
“If that is the case, I must politely ask that you get changed immediately.”
There was the servant’s curtness I was expecting. I slowly grabbed the outfit and placed myself in the corner of the room. I turned to Agnes and spoke.
“Um… if you wouldn’t mind, could you turn around while I change?”
I thanked her silently as I reluctantly started to undress myself in front of a mirror. At least the girl this body belonged to was wearing the lower part of her undergarments. I don’t know if I could handle a fully nude me right now. My face was entirely red from just staring at the pale skin of my curves and the sight of my bare chest. The hair following the slight curve of my back was a bit scraggly and unbrushed, but it seemed to be of nice quality. This girl was exceedingly pretty, well I guess I was now, but somehow it felt wrong to say that. Please forgive me miss, I’m going to have to borrow your body a bit.
As I was analyzing my body, I realized my bust was bigger than I originally thought it was, which posed a problem. It would most definitely get in the way during combat, whenever that time may be. I would have to find a way to bind it until this situation could get fixed. I also noticed my eyes; they were an apricot orange. That was the only thing that stayed consistent between my two bodies.
I heard Agnes clear her throat. I guess I was taking too long. Sebastion would do similar things to hint at me when I was doing something wrong. I wonder if she trained under him. They act so similar after all.
I finally got dressed into the clothes and stated I was ready. Agnes looked at me up and down with an unreadable expression and led me out of the room. Was I still blushing? I wouldn’t doubt it, this body was becoming exceedingly inconvenient. I just wanted all the formalities to end so I could fix this.
Every time I walk through this place, I wonder how the heck the Church owned such a huge castle. Castle Grawden. Usually when someone gets summoned, they stay in such a castle, and it proved to be true in this instance. However, usually a monarch would be housed in such a place. In my previous three years here, I had heard the murmurs of a King only once. And even then, it was a passing comment by a butler on how the King should do something about some sort of issue. Every time I think about it, it makes me even more suspicious of the Church. I wonder if they squandered the movements of the King to achieve power. The people seemed to follow the Church more than any King. Whatever happened to the King, my condolences, but I didn’t care. I shouldn’t be staying here too much longer anyway.
Agnes lead me through halls decked with religious symbols and propaganda. I was used to it. It has been like this for as long as I can remember. The castle is painted in white all over, and the highlights are gold in color. Occasionally there would be a golden banner made of some sort of fabric, or some statue encrusted with jewels. I just wonder why all this luxury is contained in one place when the town right past the borders of your castle needs some of this wealth. Whatever one has, one keeps, I guess.
Agnes attempted no conversation during my re-observation of the castle. I, once again, admired her professionalism. We walked up steps and through halls. It probably took us 30 minutes to reach where we were headed. When we finally arrived, I saw the Second Batch, as I so brilliantly named them, standing around in what looked to be a gathering hall. Despite having been in this castle multiple times, there were so many parts of it I haven’t seen. It was about the size of a city and was intimidating if you looked at it from a distance. Those who tried to invade would be foolish to do so.
The hall was covered in a red carpet and some tables were at the sides. There was a small stage towards the back, with doors leading supposedly to another room or hall. Upon the tables were wine glasses and utensils, and there stood a guard by each door. While I waited for the First Heroes to make their appearance, I found a table in a corner to hide myself. Normally, I wouldn’t want to associate with any of these people, and I definitely did not want to do it in a body I didn’t know. Yet, I knew that I would have to socialize with my former classmates. And so, I thought…
What do I call myself? I’m obviously female now. Sure, Ren works either male or female, but I would need a new last name. Would calling myself Ren be too suspicious? I wonder if my classmates even remembered my first name. It would be quite a miracle; I’ve probably only stated it once or twice. I scrambled through my mind and eventually resolved to just stick with Ren. I hated that I wasn’t more creative, but it’ll do.
One thing I did need to do was get used to my voice and present myself in a way that isn’t totally incorrigible. And so, I started aggressively muttering to myself an introduction.
“Greetings, nice to meet you, just call me Ren”
“Greetings, nice to meet you, just call me Ren”
“Greetings, nice to meet you, just call me Ren”
Not noticing the creepy aura I was giving off, or the person that strolled up to me, my practicing devolved into something that sounded like the ramblings of a madman.
“Geez, what demon are you summoning?”
The person I didn’t notice spoke unexpectedly, causing a yelp from me, as well as a few glances from the others in the room. I should really stop doing that.
I looked up to see the one dude who was leaning against the pole earlier. He looked to be around this body’s age, and his hair was styled into a faux hawk. The protruding top was dyed blue, and his natural color on the side being brown. He had piercings at his nose and ears, and sported jeans with a leather jacket. His shirt had what looked to be a band logo on it, though I did not recognize which one. He looked like a mix between a punk rocker and a greaser. Dude, which style are you going for here?
I answered his question with a simple,
He looked a bit annoyed, and I guess I did something wrong. Perhaps I was too focused on myself and not my surroundings.
“I asked whatcha doing.”
“Nothing, j-just simply waiting”
My voice still was shaky, I needed to fix that.
“…I see. Well I think we all should prolly get ta know each other, since it looks like all of us are gonna be a group. I’m Daigo, dontcha worry ‘bout any formalities with me.”
“…um, j-just call me R-Ren”
“You should speak up, ya know that?”
Aaaah, my practicing did nothing at all! Curse this unfamiliar body, I wasn’t comfortable with my new voice and had no idea how to fluctuate it to a satisfying degree. My voice sounded like the squeaking of a mouse! I tried to raise my voice.
I raised my voice too loud, and it cracked in the process. The whole room looked my way. I wanted to curl up in a hole and be buried alive. I didn’t think it possible to be this embarrassed. I really should have socialized more in my other body. It was having clear consequences here, especially since I felt insecure about housing a different vessel. With some hesitation, Daigo responded.
“Ren, eh? …Well, nice ta meet ya. Seems like I pushed you too far for a bit, so I’ll let ya calm down.”
Daigo walked away with what seemed like concern. I’ve probably multiplied my initial embarrassing impression towards the Second Batch. I could only hope that my awkward position could be fixed soon.
As I was watching him walk away, it clicked with me that he was not wearing a generic uniform like myself. This punk rock-greaser got to keep his clothes? Scanning the room, I saw that while most were dressed similarly to me, a few did not change. The businessman, for example, still kept his style, and an elderly woman was wearing a faded long dress with a cardigan.
A few minutes after that embarrassing encounter a raspy voice came from above. I looked up to see Xenomyr on a balcony I didn’t notice before. This man really loved his balconies, did he? I bet he loved the feeling of looking down on people. Xenomyr announced the presence of the First Heroes.
“O Heroes, I would like to introduce you to your soon-to-be mentors! These wonderful ladies and gentlemen have previously risked their lives for the sake of peace! They rallied together and slayed the most vile Demon King, and every single one returned alive and well. We hope you look towards them as an inspiration and example. Please come forward, First Heroes!”
As soon as he uttered those words, the guards at the doors beneath the balcony opened up the way to allow my former classmates to walk through. Of course, Fujimoto was at the front. Instead of his normal battle attire, which consisted of blues and light armor, he wore a much more regal outfit. It was a shining white, to match the Church colors, with a flowing cape that was blue on the inside. His belt was laced with gold and jewels, and he had a decorator sword fastened at his hip. He also sprouted some formal boots and other glimmering chains. His smile was wide with pearly whites as he led the pack. He was too bright, and was frankly, disgusting to look at. This was the picture of a man who was exuding wealth and fame and enjoyed every second of it.
Xenomyr introduced them each, one by one.
“Here we have the man who landed the final blow on the Demon King. The man who took his classmates and lead them gallantly into battle after battle. Here is Lord Fujimoto!”
“Lord”? Fujimoto, you have fallen far. I may have hated you for leading the class into unnecessary events, but now I feel like there’s no redemption. It probably has something to do with his leading nature. Because he can control the class, with this wealth, he can control other people. I would need to stay away from him.
The others were introduced, along with their accomplishments, though there was less flair. Some others were granted titles as well, but not all. At least some of my classmates retained some of their dignity. When the introductions were all over, Xenomyr ordered us of the Second Batch to line up like we were a caterpillar. I was placed near the middle, and Daigo ended up behind me. I nervously muttered my greeting on loop while waiting my turn. After counting all of us, there was 18 of the second batch. Less than before, and all of varying ages. I wonder what the conditions of the summoning were.
It was my turn, and so I stepped forward, in front of faces I recognized, and started to speak.
“G-greetings, nice to m-meet you, just c-call me Ren.”
It was a bit shaky, but I managed to say it, and in a normal tone. Now Fujimoto would respond with “I hope we work well together” like he did to everyone else and this would be over.
“Ren? Did you say your name was Ren?”
Eh? That wasn’t the answer you were supposed to give!