A shrill scream was heard in the utter silence that surrounded the area where Asura lay unconscious. Hearing the cry that was in distress, Asura’s ingrained ability to sense danger activated and awakened him from his sleep. He was momentarily confused as to where he was before remembering that he was in an unknown place, surmising that maybe he was in another world altogether.
He slowly rolled to the side and began pushing himself up with effort due to how drained he was feeling. The fatigue of the blood loss and serious injuries he sustained made him groan in pain. Still, he pushed himself up while taking deep breaths and finally got into a sitting position while observing his surroundings with interest.
“Definitely not something I recognise. Probably is another world, but how did I get here?” He muttered to himself, but no answer presented itself to him.
As he sighed, he heard the shrill voice yet again, screaming words in an unrecognisable language, but he recognised the fear, the anxiety and the stress in it. Realising someone was in danger, he rose to his feet while gritting his teeth to ignore the pain in the stab wound in his gut, causing more blood to seep through it.
He started walking in the direction that the voice came from, which was within the alleyway that he was currently at. In front of him, there was another alleyway that led into semi-darkness while in front of him was a large barbed wired fence to stop people from getting across it. Out of curiosity, he walked towards the fence and looked out across to see the other side located quite a distance away.
“What is this—?” He began to ask himself when he suddenly fell silent.
The reason was that he could hear the vibration of something getting stronger as if it was drawing nearer to him. As it did, the force of the shaking around him slowly intensified until a small earthquake like tremor started to occur in his area.
“Is it a monster?” He momentarily thought, remaining silent and vigilant, ready to take action at a moment’s notice.
Then, a loud bellowing horn sounded and it took him by surprise, causing him to wince and step back. In the next second, a large object with great length came from the right and whooshed away in front of him while blaring its horn at an incredible volume. A great gust of wind was blown in Asura’s direction, buffeting him as the object speed away, as he stared at it with wide eyes and watched it disappear within seconds, leaving Asura stunned.
“W-What the heck?!” Asura exclaimed, moving forward quickly to reach the fence, but he could no longer see the object. “It was moving so fast and… were there people inside of it?” He began asking himself in confusion, not understanding what the just witnessed.
Just then, the scream came again, and he cursed himself before quickly rushing away in that direction, although, he was stumbling every now and then due to the sudden pain he felt in his wounds. Several seconds later, he arrived at another turn, and when he took the corner, he saw a dreadful scene.
The alleyway route was a dead end and located in that place were seven people dressed in strange clothing he did not recognise. Three of the people, male, were lying on the ground while moaning in pain, blood spilling from the many wounds on their bodies. One female was being assaulted by two men while another man was watching the assault with a gleeful smile on his face.
One of them injured men pushed himself slightly and yelled at the men in the same unrecognisable language. In response, the man standing to the side walked over the kicked the injured man across the face, sending him flying in the wall with great intensity. Then, the assailant made some sort of remark before bursting into cold mirthless laughter while the girl struggled and screamed in an obvious desperation for help to get away from the two that assaulted her.
Asura was enraged by this scene and, despite knowing they could not understand his language, he shouted, “Hey! Let her go!”
His words were heard by all of them and, like he expected, they looked towards him in surprise without actually recognising the meaning of his words. Still, he got their attention and this made him smile a little because his sudden shout distracted the two assailants that were clearly trying to have their way with the lone woman.
The third man shouted something at Asura and waved his hands in a clear indication of wanting him to leave. Asura did not comprehend the man’s words, but he understood the gesture and, so he started to walk forward. The person glared at him angrily and shouted at him with the clear indication of wanting him to leave, but Asura did not heed his words.
Realising he was not going to stop, the man pulled out his hand and revealed a device strapped onto his right wrist, which he started typing some random buttons. In an instant, particles of light started emitting around the man. Then, he aimed his hand at Asura and a magic circle formed before a fire bullet was released. It shot past Asura, cutting him across the cheek and smashing forcefully into the backwall, resulting in a small explosion.
Seeing this, Asura raised an eyebrow and thought, “What’s this? They’re relying on some sort of device to use magic? That’s unnatural.”
In retaliation, Asura extended his hand out and prepared to fire an energy blast to knock his opponent out. However, he could not conjure any energy to gather much to his surprise. He could not understand why the energy was having difficulty gathering despite him channelling a great amount of energy, forcing him to stop only when he started to feel dizzy.
He glanced at his hands in utter disbelief and thought, “No…! It can’t be! Have I lost my ability to use my powers?!”
In the next instant, he grunted with pain as a fire bullet smashed into him and exploded, causing him to reel back from the force of impact. It injured him greatly, and he felt his consciousness drift in and out for a moment before forcefully stabilising himself because he wanted to save the woman. So, clenching his fists, he continued walking forward while managing to move his body to evade the attacks as best as he could.
“I feel my strength has decreased somewhat, but not to the amount that I can’t evade these attacks,” he thought grimly.
Getting angry that his enemy was somehow evading his attacks, the man clicked several buttons on his device and caused more particles of light to emit out of him. Then, he kicked off the ground to fly at his enemy while pulling his fist back, which he struck and hit Asura across the face. The impact was firm, strong and it made Asura stumble sideways from the force of impact, causing him to cough blood out.
When he straightened up and turned to look at his attacker, Asura was wiping the blood off his mouth and glared at him while saying, “Weak.”
The man was surprised that his enemy was rather unharmed and, now that he got a closer look at him, he realised his opponent was covered in a lot of blood. He momentarily wondered whether this man got into a fight with some other thugs and was thrown aside after being thoroughly beaten up and greatly injured. While confused by the attire of his enemy, he was greatly angered by the look as if his opponent was looking down on him.
Shouting something in rage, the man lunged his fist at Asura’s face once again, but the warrior caught his arm with his left arm. Asura caught his enemy’s fist by placing his left hand across the device strapped on his enemy’s wrist. As he glared at the man, he easily crushed the device and the man’s wrist with one crushing force. This shocked his enemy and made him scream in agony, trying hard to break free from the crushing grip his enemy had over his arm. In the next moment, Asura swung his other arm and planted it firmly on the man’s forehead while letting got of his other arm.
With a whoosh of wind, the man got lifted off his feet as he flew through the air and slammed with great impact against the concrete of the dead end. His friendly watched their friend slide down the wall into a slumped sitting position with his back to the wall in total shock, before turning to focus their attention on Asura while completely forgetting about the woman they were assaulting a moment ago.
Shouting their anger, they each clicked buttons on their device that emitted particles before charging at their enemy. As they came swinging their arms, Asura stepped back and ducked their fists before raising his hands to grab his enemy by their throat. In an instant, he had hold over both of their necks and, with great strength, held them off the ground due to him being taller and stronger than them both. The two men choked and spluttered as air threatened to leave them, desperately trying to break free from the iron grip of their enemy’s hold over them.
Asura slowly lowered them towards his face and glared at them, causing them to stop and look fearfully at him. The look on Asura’s face was that of utmost loathing as to the beings the two men were.
“You disgust me,” he said in a quiet voice, and the two men blinked with incomprehension.
In the next moment, Asura moved his arms downward and slammed both men onto the ground with tremendous force. The impact caused a small tremor to occur while the ground sunk a little while forming cracks around the sunk area. Releasing his grip of their necks, Asura straightened up and stepped back while glancing down at their unconscious forms with distaste.
“Even in another world… these things… are so familiar…” he muttered with a hateful look on is face.
He remained silent for a moment and turned to look at the woman, who was assaulted, appear to stand up and rush to her fallen comrades. Asura smiled for a brief second before an intense pain seeped through the gut wound and the other injuries he was sporting. At the same time, his body groaned violently from the forcefulness he exerted on his own body to get here while, at the same time, saw a large shadowing falling down on the alleyway as something descend from the sky.
“Ugh…” he muttered wearily before he lost focus.
His consciousness slowly faded, as he fell into sleep, causing his body to fall forward and collapse heavily on the ground. As he fell, the woman quickly rose to her feet and rushed over to him while shouting something, but he heard none of it, nor the sense of being taken away from that place by a pair of strong arms a minute later.
One of the summoned heroes shouted, startling everyone in the room with his excited voice. “A princess! A real life living princess! Yes! Yes!”
“Calm down!” The person standing next to him hit him across the head just as the Royal Guards attempted to move forward to restrain the excited man. “You’re in the presence of a royalty!” The person said in a serious voice, then he turned to the princess and asked, “Please, forgive this idiot for his rudeness.”
“I’m not an—!” The excited person began, but he got hit in the hit again by the person next to him.
“No. No. It’s quite alright, although, I was surprised,” said Erza quickly, looking quite amazed by the spectacle. “Don’t you have any king, queen, prince, or princess in your world?”
“There are, but you’re the first I’ve ever seen so close and so beautiful!” The person said eagerly, and he winked at her much to her surprise.
The person next to him looked at him coldly and asked, “Just what sort of world did you come from to be like this?”
“Hey! It isn’t my world that’s bad, it’s the people! We are free to do whatever we want!”
“And no rules to abide by? Such a lawless world, it’s unbelievable it exists.”
The energetic man raised an eyebrow and asked, “Rules? Are you kidding me! What world did you drop out of?”
At this, the person raised his chin a little higher and smiled proudly as he said, “I am of royal blood in my world, first prince of the country that rules over the rest of the world.”
“So, basically dictatorship?”
The question caused the person to narrow his eyes angrily, but he was interrupted when the person next to him, who had been cautious all this time, asked, “Aren’t you the least bit surprised to find ourselves in this world? I mean, how can we be sure this is all real?”
“Your question is, in itself, has the answer,” said the one standing a little behind them. When they all turned, the man shrugged his shoulders and gestured around while saying, “Take a look around you. Strange place, strangers everywhere, magic circle below us, and the fact that you can ask that question. There’s no way one can question themselves if they’re in a dream, unless you’re in a different plane of reality that your soul got transported to.”
There was a moment of stunned silence within the room before another person asked, “People of religious beliefs always said something like that, but I thought it was nonsense. This proves it then.”
“It’s not religious… It’s simple science,” the one, who gave the explanation from before, said with a wry smile on his face.
This made his colleague look at him in puzzlement and ask, “The what?”
“Science. You know? The embodiment of knowledge over a subject?” The man replied, only to look glum when the other person continued to look confused, which prompted him to ask, “What world did you come from?”
The other person seemed to think for a moment before saying, “Not sure. As far as I know, my world is always under conquer from someone from some place. So, we are always challenging others to war?”
Not many could fathom what he said at first, but the energetic man quickly clapped his hands together and said, with his eyes becoming round in alarm, “No way! That’s the crusader period! Seriously?! You’re way old, dude!”
“The crusader period? What’s that?”
“It’s a time when the armies of the world were conquering lands to dominate the world! In my world, that happened many centuries ago, so you’re from a really old age!”
“Are you calling me old?”
“What else should I call you when you came from such an old era of my time?!”
“Curse you, young‘in! Respect your elder!”
“How old are you?”
“You’re kidding me? I’m only Twenty-two! You’re just a few years older than me, dude!”
Before the other person could retaliate, the person that spoke nicely interjected in between them by saying, “Guys, guys! Please! Clam down! Let’s not fight each other like this.”
The man that gave the big explanation, quickly said, “Alright! We’re all strangers in this unknown world, so let’s get to know each other already!”
“Names and the world you came from will help,” added the person that scolded the energetic person from earlier. He gestured at the energetic person and asked, “Let’s start from you.”
The energetic person winked and said, “Yeah. Sure! The name’s Vikram Typhadus! Call me Vikram and I’m from a mediocre world called Earth.”
“Mmm. Strange. It doesn’t explain much about your world,” the man next to him commented in a low voice.
“I answered your question, now it’s your turn! Go on!” Vikram said, urging his neighbour to speak up with a grin on his face.
Glaring at him for a moment, his neighbour sighed, faced the princess and said, “Greeting, your highness. My name is Gram Dunkar, and I’m from a world that we call ‘Earth’ and it is ruled by the ruling classes, and I am the first prince of the royal family that rule over all others.”
At his words, everyone around the room began to whisper to each other in surprise and astonishment. Erza and the man with the stick also looked surprised that a royal member of another world was brought into this world because of their summoning. It just goes to show that the man had a powerful character and possibly one of the strongest abilities as a hero.
“You’re a prince of your world?” Erza asked curiously and, when he looked amazed, she asked, “So, your royalty system is based on inheritance of the same blood of descendance that rules over the world?” When he nodded again, she smiled brightly and said, “This is fascinating. We have a similar system of rulership here, so it’s truly remarkable.”
To that, Gram merely bowed slightly, but Vikram was not surprised because of his status in his home world and made it clear when he spoke.
“You’re from Earth as well?” Vikram asked, looking quite surprised, to which Gram did not respond to. Realising something was strange, Vikram looked around at everyone and asked, “For that matter, who else is from Earth?”
At that, almost everyone raised their hands into the air, except for the person that is presumably from the old ages, who said, “I don’t know what you mean by Earth because my people call my world Terra.”
Vikram, who was surprised by the number of hands, suddenly looked exasperated by the man’s statement and said, “You’re kidding…! Terra is a Latin word, dude!”
“So?” The cautious person asked, not comprehending the meaning behind Vikram’s look of exasperation.
“It also means Earth!” Vikram informed him, causing the man to widen both of his eyes in surprise. Seeing this, Vikram merely shook his head and asked, “It’s so strange. We’re all from Earth, but from different universes, different realities, or from different times?”
“Possibly from different universes since I just gave you an explanation about dream and reality,” replied the person that gave the long explanation from before.
“This is so complicated…!” Vikram complained, looking exasperated.
Gram turned to him and said, “It won’t be so complicated if we just accept that we’re from different places and move on.”
“Yeah… Yeah, I think that is the best course of action to take,” said Vikram, resigning to their predicament and waving his hand to continue their introductions. Thus, everyone moved their attention towards the person after Gram, who was the one that had been observing until now with an anxious expression on his face. As his turn came, he finally smiled a little and spoke formally.
“Greetings, princess. My name is Martin Ironhear, and I’m from a world that is pretty average; filled with species of different races and everyone possess special talents of some kind.”
“Special talents? Is that like special powers?” The princess asked, and he nodded, looking rather uncomfortable. Realising that something was wrong with the atmosphere around the hero, she did not wish to question him any further and merely smiled, turning to face the next person and asking, “That’s great. Uh… Can you please tell us about yourself, Mr…?”
“William. William Reigald, miss,” the man that Vikram claims to have come from the crusader period. “My world is… constantly at war, with each army trying to conquer the other. I served as the captain of the foot soldiers of the eastern riders,” he finished proudly.
The princess merely smiled as she did not understand how significant that position is, but she did not want to hurt the man’s feelings but stating her doubt. She turned her attention to the next man, who was the one that gave the explanation about this world being a reality.
“Your highness,” he said and bowed a little before straightening up and saying, “My name’s Natsu Mannshaden, and I’m from a world that’s mostly covered in ice due to global warming unfortunately going out of whack.”
“Oh my. I am sorry to hear that,” said the princess, looking rather troubled by the sad background of the hero.
He merely waved his hand and said, “It’s fine. It was our fault for causing such a drastic climate change with the experiments, although, no one really wants to admit it.”
“Realising that point kind of defeats the point of trying to do what they can to advance,” said Gram, looking rather interested. “You have my condolence.”
As Natsu nodded in acceptance, their attention moved to the next person, who had been observing all this time, took a firm standing position and said, “My name is Maxwell Gradiam. It is a pleasure to be in your presence, your highness. Please call me Max if it’s okay.”
The princess nodded and asked, “Max. What world did you come from?”
“I’m from a world that is currently in the middle of waging war against terrorists that are causing havoc and spreading chaos. I am currently in the military in a hot zone, taking care of hunting down the terrorist leader when I suddenly found myself here.”
“Wow. A military soldier? Here? Wow!” The person, who was nice from the beginning, said while looking amazed.
“Meh. It’s just a soldier. I’ve read plenty of novels that depicted that kind are more likely to end up getting transported or reincarnated to another world than anyone else,” said Vikram muttered to himself.
He was not amazed in the slightest by the presence of a soldier considering his belief of such a man, that follows strict rules, would be a nuisance for him. Several people, including Maxwell heard his comment, but they decided to let it go since it was just a personal opinion that he did not wish to share with anyone. Although, Maxwell did feel intrigued by the degree of dislike that was being portrayed by the young man from another world.
“Their rules must be very strict and are supressing the people’s voices,” thought Maxwell, not knowing he was closer to the truth than he realised.
“So, who’s next?” Asked the man with the stick, forcing the attention to move forward and rest on the silent figure, who had remained expressionless throughout the entire thing.
The man, who should appropriately be called a boy by the youth of his face, remained still and silent. He did not move, nor did he shown any sign that he was going to say anything. After prolonged silence, Gram frowned and asked in a serious voice.
“What is wrong with you? Don’t you have the sense of taking to someone when they’re expecting you to speak to them?”
The boy turned his attention to Gram, but he continued to remain silent. Then, the polite boy, as well as the princess, realised at almost the same time that something must be wrong with him. Sure enough, when the polite boy asked him whether he could speak or not, the boy shook his head and gestured at his throat while waving his hand in a negative sign.
“This is… so sad…” Erza said, feeling depressed by the fact that one of the heroes did not have the ability to speak.
“You really can’t speak?” Gram asked, and when the boy nodded again, Gram nodded back in understanding and said, “I see. In that case, I take back my earlier comments I made about you. Please, accept my apology. I was unaware of your difficult position.”
“If you didn’t know, then why assume and comment?” Vikram asked, eying the prince of another world in a shrewd manner.
“It was automatic. Anyone does it,” replied Grim firmly, not allowing the chance for anyone to take a shot at him. “Besides, I already apologised, so drop it.”
Vikram shrugged his shoulders while continuing to look unimpressed. Gram ignored him as the princess finally turned her attention to the remaining man standing slightly behind Vikram, who was the person that spoke nicely to her while everyone else were confused. She had liked the man for his polite manner and nice calm demeanour when they found themselves in this strange place without a clue as to what happened.
“My parents named me Fred Seezer. It’s a pleasure to be here, princess and, I led an average life in my world, which doesn’t have magic or the like. So, I don’t know how I may be of help, but I’ll do my best to be of service,” he said in a very polite manner that left others staring at him in awe.
Erza looked impressed and said, “My…! Thank you for your kind offer, and I am sorry to have brought you all to this world without your consent, but we are in a dire situation,” she finished, her face becoming filled with sadness. “We are under attack by aliens.”
Everyone instantly looked either surprised, amazed or alarmed, but William, on the other hand, was puzzled and asked, “What’s an alien?”
His question caused dubious expressions to appear on almost all of the faces, and Vikram said, “Are you kidding me?! You don’t know what an ‘alien’ is?! God! You really are from the dark ages!”
Those words hurt William, which made him narrow his eyes and say, “I know about migration, so this ‘alien’ word is new to me.”
“Aliens and migrants are not the same thing, you fool!” Vikram said, looking at William as if he could not believe him. “Sure, people sometimes call foreigners as aliens, but usually, when someone says ‘alien,’ they are referring to sentient beings from outer space!”
William listened intently to his explanation and when he finished, he blinked twice and asked, “The what space?”
Vikram remained silent, stunned from the disbelief of what he just heard and it caused him to mutter, “You’re not serious…!”
“Enough!” Gram said firmly, causing them to turn their attention to him while he focused on the princess. “So, these aliens, sentient beings, are attacking your world, and you summoned us to help you fight back?”
She nodded and said, “Yes. We’ve been at war with them for a month, and we’re gradually losing the war. However, legend has it that in time of need, nine heroes shall be summoned to save this world from utter destruction. I mean, it was written clearly that they wanted us to summon them in case their service is needed in the future.”
“I see. So, that’s why we’re all involved,” said Gram in a quiet voice.
The princess, feeling the sudden guilt of summoning them without thinking about their lives in their past worlds, bowed her head slightly and said, “I am truly sorry if I have caused you great stress and trouble by summoning you here, but we need your help. Please, help us!”
While the room fell silent, Gram spoke up and said, “Princess, while I, and the others as well, are feeling uncomfortable with our realisation that we have left our previous worlds, friends and families behind, I don’t believe you are at fault. Only difficult circumstances would’ve caused you to summon us.”
“Only if what you say is true,” added William, who was still being cautious of her despite the trust that the others were easily putting in her. “I still don’t understand what’s going on, but we’ll only help if you’re trustworthy.”
“Is there a way for us to return to our world?” Fred asked, looking anxiously at the princess.
“My thoughts exactly,” said Gram, in support of Fred’s words. “Is there some condition or mission that we must fulfil before we are allowed to return back to our world?”
This time, the princess smiled and said, “Yes.”
Everyone instantly felt greatly relieved upon learning they can return as the man with the stick explained, “In the ancient text, after successfully completing their mission in saving this world, a Messenger of God will arrive and will bestow upon you the choice of returning to your world or not.”
“This was passed down through the generations in my family, so I believe it is the truth,” Erza added, smiling at them.
Gram nodded in understanding and said, “That’s good. In that case, I am willing to do my best to help your world out.”
“I was already ready for the adventurer regardless of whether I return or not, so count me in!” Vikram said, grinning ear to ear as his excitement was at an all-time high.
The rest of the members all either spoke their ascent or simply nodded their heads in approval. Erza, seeing the summoned heroes all agree to help, could not help but help but look thoroughly relieved. After a month of desperate struggle for survival, her people, her warriors, and her world can finally be saved.