*Disclaimer note: This is merely a translation of the original Chinese version. I do not claim any part in the creation of the original story.
Creus! You cannot escape, you can never escape……
I jolted awake.
I hurriedly opened my eyes, however upon doing so I felt that something was not quite right, but I just couldn't put a finger on what it was exactly……
Normally when one opens their eyes, is all they see a sea of black?
Opening one's eyes and keeping them closed made no difference! If that's so then what's the point of opening one's eyes? Or is it, could it be that, I-I can't see?
That's not right! I can 'see', and it's becoming clearer and clearer, as if someone had wrapped the surroundings with several layers of gauze, and was now unravelling them, layer by layer. The black was fading and the surroundings were becoming clearer to me.
I 'saw ' myself lying on a bed; the bed had a very strong wood element, so it should be made out of wood. A thick blanket covered me, and beside the bed is a chair. Even further away is a table with four chairs around it, and on the table is some water element…… ah, a jug of water.
I could even tell that the jug of water was only half filled.
But, I hadn't even needed to turn my head to 'see' these things. They just appeared in my mind. I tried closing my eyes, then opening them again…… the image in my mind didn't change!
So, what is the purpose of these 'eyes'? Are they not for 'seeing'? And this word, 'seeing', I'm getting more and more confused as to its meaning…… Am I 'seeing' right now? It seems like it, yet not.
I was still puzzling over this when something more important came up – someone's coming!
I turned towards the door, but then stopped in puzzlement. What is the point of turning one's head? I don't even need to turn my head to see the door!
Even though I felt the purpose of eyes rather mystifying, I pushed the matter to the back of my mind to focus on the person who had entered. This person had very high amounts of wind element, but not enough to be a mage…… Ah! Must be some kind speed specialising job like a thief, or an archer. And his appearance…… ah, my mistake, it's a 'her'.
And a 'her' with an extremely good figure to boot! Even though I could not tell if she was beautiful or not, a person's figure had nothing to do with beauty. As long as they had a big bust, a slim waist and long legs, they can all be classified as having a 'great figure'.
"Oh! Are you awake?" she asked the moment she saw me.
From her voice, I could make out that the person was a pretty young woman. To meet a young and curvaceous woman moments after waking, what bliss!
"I…… um, I'm awake," I answered as I struggled to get up and nod at her.
"Don't get up!" She hurried forward. "You've been severely injured…… er, it seems like you're almost healed… Amazing! But Yuna clearly said that with your injuries you would have to lie in bed for a month, yet it's only been three days and your injuries are just about completely healed. Yuna even suspected you for an undead!"
"Yuna?" I asked confused.
The girl placed her belongings on the table before pouring a glass of water and walking back to the bed, all the while explaining, "Ah, Yuna is our party's priest. She and Igor went out to buy something. Igor's our warrior. There's also a druid called Walter and me, Caecilia, I'm an archer. You should be thirsty, here, have some water."
I was feeling a little parched, so I quickly took the glass of water and gulped it down after a quick thanks.
"What about you?" Caecilia asked with curiosity. "What's your name?"
It was not until I had finished the whole glass of water and quenched my thirst that I heard her question.
Caecilia moved a little closer, and I could finally 'see' her face. She had almond-shaped eyes and sharp features with full pouty lips. Even though I couldn't tell if she was pretty or not, but based on that busty chest of hers I'd declare her a beauty.
"Are you going to tell me your name or not?" asked Caecilia in suspicion.
I hurriedly came to my senses and answered her, "I'm called-I'm called……"
I trailed off into silence.
Great. I now know what's wrong……
Who am I?
Four people sat in front of me. Starting from the left is the incredibly built warrior – Igor; skinny as a weed – Walter; the priest whose figure wasn't quite as good – Yuna; and the hourglass figure – Caecilia. According to them there's still a thief called Archie who had yet to return.
From the observations of their respective jobs, I could tell that this party should be pretty good, as they had a good complement of roles in their party…… Huh, looks like my common sense and general knowledge hadn't been lost along with my memories.
"You've got amnesia? How incredible," muttered Walter as he got lost within his own thoughts.
"Yeah! How inconceivable," Caecilia butted in. "I had thought it incredible that he had gotten hurt so severely! How is that possible?!"
Yuna nodded her head in agreement.
"That's right," Igor agreed completely. "Too true."
"Em, m-may I ask," I was a little confused by this, so I asked, "what is so unbelievable about me getting injured? Everyone gets hurt…… er… Everyone can get hurt, right?"
I was getting a little unsure of myself. For someone who can't even remember his own name, the 'general knowledge' I know might not necessarily be correct.
However, the four in front of me had turned to look at me before saying in unison, "It's unbelievable because you are really, really strong!"
"I'm strong?" I asked in surprise. "Am I a warrior?"
"No, you're a priest," Yuna corrected me.
I am a priest, yet they say I am strong? But then why does my 'general knowledge' tell me that priests are known for being weak pussies? Hmm, looks like my 'general knowledge' cannot be trusted after all.
"Well, it's not that you're really strong, even though you are a very powerful priest indeed," said Yuna thoughtfully. "We were actually referring to your companions."
My companions…… I asked in surprise, "Is that not you guys?"
Caecilia rolled her eyes at me. "If we were your companions, why would we bother asking you for your name?"
She's got a point.
I fiddled with my hair absent-mindedly as I voiced my question, "You know that I am a priest, and that my companions are pretty strong, yet you do not know my name? Do you or do you not know me?"
They exchanged looks with each other. In the end, it was Walter who answered my question. "We don't know you, really, but we were rescued once by you and your companions. We knew that you were a priest because we saw you casting holy light that one time. And we could tell that your companions were quite strong from their attacks. Even though your party had only three people, you guys must have been pretty strong."
My companions, huh? I wasn't really surprised to hear that I had companions. In fact, several blurry figures came to mind when I heard the word, though there were far more than the number Walter had given. So even though I had no recollection of whom they were and how they looked like, I was very sure that I had companions, and quite a large number of them too.
I felt more relieved after realising this fact, but I was still curious. "What are my companions like?"
"There was a holy knight, and a-a……"
Walter hesitated. I noticed him frowning…… so that would mean he was hesitating, right? But why? Is there something wrong with that companion of mine?
Igor leant near me and said in a low voice, "He's a dark elf."
"A dark elf?" If I wasn't mistaken, the dark elves are a race of white-haired, ebony-skinned elves with a bad reputation, but the finer details seem to elude me.
Just then, Yuna hurriedly said, "Perhaps the dark elf was being held captive by you and the holy knight."
"Y-yeah!" Igor parroted. "Holy knights and priests would never be on the same side as a dark elf! They are dark creatures! And everyone knows that the Church of Light hate dark creatures the most."
"The Church of Light? I'm from the Church of Light?"
I turned the words over and over in my head. 'The Church of Light'. 'The Church of Light' and 'holy knights' certainly seemed to ring a bell, so perhaps it was true.
Yuna nodded and explained, "Your holy light is very strong. Only priests from the Church of Light could have such strong holy light, so it's not possible for you to be a priest from the other churches. But I wonder what you are doing here."
"Here?" I asked confusedly. "Where is here?"
"This is the country of Kissinger, the Church of Chaos's territory! The Church of Light in Forgotten Echo is quite a long distance from here. You would have to walk towards north for five days before you can even reach the borders of Forgotten Echo!"
I nodded my head in comprehension. 'Kissinger' sounded foreign to me, so I'm probably not from around here. And 'the Church of Chaos' didn't sound any more familiar either; not as familiar as the Church of Light, at least.
I turned to Yuna and asked, "Then, Yuna, are you a priest from the Church of Chaos?"
"Of course not. I'm from the Church of War," she replied impatiently. "If I were from the Church of Chaos we wouldn't have needed your help back then in the first place."
What did that mean?
I quieted down, not wishing to ask again. Even if Yuna did answer me, it would only raise more questions. Besides, it's not like I really care about which church she's from. All I want to know is - who the hell am I?!
I would be pleased with even just a name.
Creus! You cannot escape, you can never escape……
I paused. I do remember hearing this when I was startled awake earlier, and the first word – 'Creus' sounds like a name…… Could it be my name?
Just then, Yuna said apologetically, "I'm sorry, I forgot that you had forgotten everything. I shouldn't have snapped at you."
"It's quite alright."
I came to when I heard Yuna's apology. I then said to the four gathered before me, "Seeing as I do have companions, it should be alright. I mean, they're sure to come looking for me, right?"
They looked at each other before Yuna said delicately, "I don't think so. It's already been ten days, yet no one has come for you."
"Ten days?" I blinked before turning to the archer. "Caecilia, didn't you say that I had completely healed within three days?"
"Yup!" Caecilia shrugged her shoulders and said, "But after your wounds had healed, you continued to sleep for another seven days! We were so worried; we had no idea what to do! We couldn't just leave you behind, in your unconscious state, but we had used up all of our money on your medical bills and desperately needed to take up a few jobs--"
"Caecilia!" Yuna hurriedly cut her off.
However, Caecilia refused to be stopped. "But it's true!" she shouted, "We should be frank with him about our situation and have him help us out with the jobs! If not if we were to continue on like this we'll soon be without a roof over our heads!"
"Caecilia!" Walter said sharply. That seemed to stop her. Walter then turned to me and said apologetically, "I hope you can forget about what Caecilia said. We should have helped you without asking anything in return. After all, if you and your companions hadn't helped us out back then we would have died in the cave."
"He's right. So don't mind what she said, she's just too reckless and headstrong," said Yuna as she shot a warning look in Caecilia's direction. The latter backed down, reluctantly.
"What?" They blinked at me in incomprehension.
"You guys can call me Creus. It should be my name…… I guess."
They all nodded; Caecilia even muttered my name under her breath a few times, complaining that it was hard to pronounce.
I then continued on, "According to you, I've saved you guys once, and now you have saved me, so let's call it even. No one owes anyone anything from now on."
The four of them nodded, and Igor even shouted out approvingly "Good man, Creus!"
I smiled before continuing, "As for helping you out with the assignments, I won't refuse, but I want a cut of the pay. I'll take a ten percent cut for midlevel healing and twenty percent for advanced level healing. Should you need divine spells, that'll be another ten percent – thirty percent in total."
"Are you really a priest of the Church of Light?!" Caecilia burst out. "I thought that they're all kind and generous?"
I shrugged nonchalantly. "Who knows? I've lost my memories and don't remember anything. I could be from the Church of Chaos for all I know. And besides, you'd reminded me that in my current circumstances, I have neither companions nor my memory, so I have to depend on myself for food and shelter. If I have to start earning money, isn't it better to earn more than to earn less?"
At that, the three members all glared at their archer; Caecilia, on the other hand, looked remorseful.
When she noticed her group members glaring at her, she complained, "You're not at all like your cultured and elegant appearance!"
My appearance? I asked her curiously, "What do I look like?"
Caecilia leant closer to me and answered seriously, "Beautiful long golden hair, deep blue eyes, fair skin so soft to the touch……"
Fair? What does fair mean......? Hold on! Soft to the touch? "Wait a minute! How would you know my skin is soft to the touch? You didn't touch me, did you?"
"… … Ah!"
Caecilia froze and stared at me in mortification, before hurrying to explain, "I-I couldn't help it! It was when I had to change your bandages, and when helping to dress you I would of course come into contact with your skin. And how could I avoid touching when helping to bath you, or when turning you over on your side while you were unconscious, and……"
And? There's more? It'd be easier if you just list the times where you hadn't touched me.
Damn it! I've been molested by a woman, yet I wasn't awake to enjoy it?! That's not fair! And I'm never one to let things go! I always get even!
"You have to let me touch you in return," I told her.
"Caecilia!" Yuna hurriedly interrupted. "What nonsense are you talking about?!"
And Caecilia immediately changed her tune in embarrassment, "No! I mean, of course not! You big pervert!"
What a pity…… I should have requested it from her while no one was around. Judging from her reaction, Caecilia didn't seem to mind being touched. No, not at all!
Caecilia embarrassedly ducked her head down at her companions' disbelieving faces, muttering, "Well, it was 'cause he's so handsome, so I agreed without thinking…"
"Think about the holy knight in his party and you won't think he's so handsome anymore," Yuna suggested.
Caecilia looked up at the ceiling. Even though there was nothing up there, her expression turned dreamy…… or should I say, starry-eyed?
After a moment, she looked back down at me before nodding in agreement with Yuna. "She's right, you're not that handsome after all!"
…… I suddenly don't feel as enthusiastic about meeting up again with my holy knight companion.
"Yeah, that holy knight was so elegant."
This time it wasn't Caecilia who spoke, but Yuna. In a manner belying her usual composed self, she recounted excitedly, "And he's so handsome and strong, and he looked like such a perfect gentleman. His voice is deep and mature, and he was pretty generous. He didn't even try to claim credit for saving us, and even apologised for taking our kill away from us, trying to push the spoils of the kill onto us in apology. And he advised us to leave the place to avoid even more danger…… Sigh, he's just too perfect!"
It was now Yuna's turn to go off in her own world.
"And very elegant! Real elegance!" Caecilia shot me a look before shaking her head and muttering, "Not like you, who is only elegant in appearance."
I felt a little miffed at this and retorted, "He may look elegant, but he might in actuality be an arrogant and selfish person at heart!"
"Impossible!" Yuna, Caecilia, and even Igor refuted me.
I was struck speechless. Even the male Igor agreed with them. Could it be that my holy knight companion really was as handsome and mature and elegant and overall great guy as they described?
I refuse to believe there's such a person in this world!
Just then, Walter said a little hesitatingly, "To be honest, that holy knight seemed a little too perfect, and felt rather fake."
I shot a commiserating look at Walter.
"Hey, what's that look for?" Caecilia demanded exasperatedly. She had caught our shared looks of commiseration. "We're talking about your companion! Or do you not wish for your companion to be a good guy but a loser?"
Huh, she's right. It's easier to bully them when they are good guys…… Huh? What kind of thinking is this?! I'm thinking of bullying people? Could it be……that…
I'm not actually a good guy?
"That actually makes sense. Why else would my thoughts be filled with money, women and about getting even?" I mumbled.
"What was that?" Caecilia asked me in curiosity.
"Nothing. I'm just a little worried." I raised my head to look at the group in front of me, asking warily, "How would I know that you guys are not bad guys?"
"How can you say that!" Caecilia huffed at me angrily. "Of course we're the good guys! Who else would help you and stay by your side instead of going off on our assignments whilst you remain unconscious! If we really were bad guys we would have dumped you in a gutter somewhere and gone off on our separate ways!"
"You've got a point."
I beamed at her. It seemed to have a positive effect, for both Yuna and Caecilia – who had judged me to be good to look at but otherwise beyond redemption – were staring at me with stars in their eyes.
Seeing this, I felt the ruffled feathers of my manly pride soothed. "So you guys are the good guys; that's great, ohohoho……"
"Why do I have a bad feeling about this?" Walter muttered to himself, but he was distracted by a hearty slap on his shoulder by Igor who smiled at him and said, "Walter, you're always worrying about nothing! Haven't you always wished for a priest from the Church of Light? Now that a super strong one is here what are you fretting about?"
I had overheard their exchange and quickly turned to smile at Walter, hoping to reassure him, but instead, he blinked and motioned for the rest to quiet down. He then moved over to me, raising his right hand to slowly wave it in front of me.
I grabbed his hand and asked strangely, "What are you doing?"
Walter opened and closed his mouth several times before saying, "It's just, I felt something strange. Your eyes……"
"No, it's nothing. I'm probably jumping at nothing," he said. "It just feels like you're not looking at me."
"I am looking at you." I was indeed looking at Walter. The minute shifts in his face's muscles, the circulation of his blood in his body, the regular beating of his heart; I was looking at everything quite clearly.
"I must be oversensitive."
After that, Walter didn't bring up the topic of eyes again, and instead turned to more practical issues, namely—my cut of the pay.
He bargained with me, "Let's forget about divine spells – Yuna's a warrior priest, so her divine spells are definitely stronger than yours. So as your only use to us would be in healing, twenty percent is too much. Our group's policy is to deduct twenty percent of the pay for the group's expenses before dividing the remainder between the rest of the team."
"There are six people in the team, so deducting the twenty percent and dividing the remainder among six would be…… not even fifteen percent."
'What? That won't do!' I immediately haggled, "Twenty percent isn't a lot! I remember that light priests rarely leave the Church for these things, so we should be in great demand!"
"… … Are you sure you have amnesia?"
"If you don't want to then forget about it!"
"Alright, alright! Twenty percent, it is." Walter looked a little annoyed at that concession, but he then came back with the condition: "But you will have to cast the divine spells – Holy Blessings on us!"
Holy Blessings? Do I know that? I thought about it. The words Holy Blessings sounded familiar to me, so I probably did know it. Besides, even if I didn't really know how to cast it, it's not like they're going to kick me out then, right?
I replied, but was distracted by something. I turned to the door whilst asking, "Does your thief, Archie, tie his hair in a ponytail?"
"That's right! Have you remembered something?" Walter asked in surprise.
Before I could answer him, the door was kicked open. "Walter!"
"Walter! Great news! There's a big job in the city…… eh? He's awake?"
The newcomer had a head of long hair tied in a high ponytail. He was short and thin, probably reaching only to my shoulder and being even shorter than Caecilia; about the same height as Yuna. His voice, however, was a great contrast with his small build, sounding like a foghorn blasting in my ears.
This should be the party's thief – Archie.
When Archie noticed that I was awake, he quickly calmed down. "Aiyah! You're awake? That's great, we can finally take up assignments again! But then the news I had heard this morning would have been for nothing……"
"What is it?" asked Walter.
Archie shrugged as he said, "There's a pretty big mission in the city that doesn't require leaving the city, and the pay's not bad too. I was thinking of hurrying back to share it with you guys."
"Is the pay a lot? What kind of mission is it?" I asked urgently.
Archie blinked, looking at me strangely. He then turned to the rest of his group members.
Walter gave a little cough before introducing me. "This is our new member, Creus. He's a light priest and will be staying with us until his friends come looking for him."
Archie made a sound of comprehension before welcoming me. He then began to excitedly explain the task. "You guys have heard about the unicorn that was in the city recently, right?"
Everyone nodded, with me being the exception. "Unicorn?"
"Oh, right, you were still sleeping, so you wouldn't have heard about it," said Caecilia. "A few days ago a party managed to capture a unicorn! They became famous overnight after presenting the unicorn to the Adventurer Guild."
Unicorn? An unfamiliar word. That still didn't clear up my confusion. I hurriedly asked, "What's a unicorn?"
"What?!! How can you not know what a unicorn is?!" Archie exclaimed in astonishment. His voice was so loud that I could hear a ringing in my ears and I felt a migraine growing in my temple…… How could the others stand this?
I turned to look at the rest of the party; there they sat, calmly and not at all like my flustered self. As can be expected of Archie's longstanding friends, they knew him all too well…… they all had their hands over their ears.
Walter removed his hands and explained, "Creus has amnesia."
"Guh?" Archie looked as if he had stepped into a pile of dogs hit.
Walter then turned to me and explained, "The unicorns are a rare type of magical beast. They look like white horses, except that they have a pearly white horn on their forehead. It is that horn which enables the unicorns to unleash their magic. The unicorns are particularly known for their lightning magic."
Magic? I hesitated. I couldn't for the life of me explain what exactly magic was, but it sounded almost as familiar as Holy Blessings, so……perhaps I knew it too?
When I mentioned my suspicions to them, they roared in laughter.
And the loudest of them all was Caecilia. "That's impossible! You are a priest, not a mage."
Is that how it works? A shadow of doubt remained in my heart. Do I really not know magic? But if that were so, why would the term 'magic' ring a bell with me?
"Oh, stop laughing at him, he's amnesiac! You guys are very impolite to laugh at him so."
Yuna was the only one who had refrained from laughing at me, and had even spoken up to scold the others. My opinion of her immediately improved. Her comparatively lesser figure suddenly didn't seem as great a flaw as before.
She gently explained to me: "We've never seen a unicorn either, and have only heard from stories and legends that they can call forth lightning magic, but as to whether that remains fact or fiction, your guess is just as good as ours."
Archie butted in, "And everyone knows too—sorry, I mean rumours - Yuna, stop glaring at me! It's true that that's what everyone says! – rumours tell that unicorns only willingly allow pure and innocent virgins near them."
They like only virgins? Sounds just like my kind of guy…… Cough! I mean – unicorns are such perverted beasts, serves them right for getting caught!
Just then, Archie glanced sideways – well actually, all the males in the group had shot surreptitious glances too – at the only two possible candidates for virgins – the two females in the group.
"Stop looking at me! Do you actually think I'm one?!" snapped Caecilia.
Everyone (including me) immediately shook their heads, before turning to look at the last remaining candidate – Yuna.
Yuna immediately ducked her head at the attention and turned red as a tomato, before her head gave the tiniest of shakes.
Even Yuna was no longer a virgin!
I was shocked, but saw that I was in good company. The rest, too, had dropped their mouths open in astonishment, especially Igor. The poor fellow looked as if his world had just ended before his very eyes…… looks like someone has a thing for Yuna…… oops, looks like it's even more serious than that, for even his eyes had started to redden in sorrow and anguish.
But it would seem that the rest were already aware of Igor's affections, for I was the only one to show surprise at his reaction; even Yuna hadn't looked the slightest bit surprised. I was the only one who had a shred of sympathy for him, it seemed, and when I moved forward to give him a consoling pat on the arm, he looked back at me in gratitude…… and made to bury himself in my arms and cry out his sorrow! Thank goodness for my fast reflexes! I successfully evaded him.
Archie heaved a sigh in disappointment. "Sigh, what a pity. After the unicorn's escape last night, the Adventurer Guild is now offering a reward of five hundred gold coins for its recapture."
I paused at that, before rushing forward in a flurry of motion and grabbed his shirt. "What did you say?!" I shouted.
Archie stuttered in shock, "W-what a pity…-"
"The unicorn escaped last night!" he continued quickly.
I growled at him.
Archie stared at me in disbelief. It wasn't merely because of my growl (though it was rather intimidating, if I do say so myself), but mostly because I had lifted him up by his shirt, his feet having left the ground and paddling in the air.
"A reward of five hundred gold coins will be rewarded to the one who manages to capture the unicorn!" he finished quickly.
Five hundred gold coins!
I let him down and began calculating. Twenty percent of five hundred gold coins would be – a hundred gold coins! All I need to do to get a hundred gold coins in my purse is to catch that darned pervert horse!
I immediately turned to the others and roared, "Alright! We're taking this mission!"
They stared at me. "But-but, we don't have a virgin……" Walter managed to say after a moment.
I smirked. "Don't we? Then how about we just go grab one instead?"