"Nephie, I want to eat that."
"It's dinner time soon, so no, Fol."
As the sun set and dyed the streets in the colours of evening, Nephie was walking hand-in-hand with a young girl through the trade city of Kianoides.
Her pure-white hair fell to her waist and was bound in a red ribbon. She had pointed ears and deep blue eyes, and was an elf. Once more, she was clad in her ultramarine dress, white apron, and boots that eased fatigue. Around her neck was an unrefined collar, at odds with her delicate appearance. It was a slave's collar, but it was proof of the cherished relationship between her and the head of their household.
Holding her hand and pointing at the candy in a store at the side of the street was Fol.
She looked around ten-years-old, her vivid green hair like newly budding plants was covered in a hood patterned after cats ears. It was a native dress based on white and scarlet but under the hood were two horns. She had the form of a person, but she was a dragon girl.
She was a dragon girl, but in accordance with her young appearance, she wanted sweets. The sweet scent emanating from them stimulated Nephie's hunger too, but she tugged on Fol's hand and answered reluctantly. If they had snacks now, they wouldn't finish their dinner. Their head of the household, Zagan, was kind but loathed wasting food.
Nephie was also holding a basket big enough for a child which was already filled with ingredients. Even as Fol pouted at her pestering being denied, she looked up in expectation.
"What's for dinner?"
"It's roast chicken and corn soup. Afterwards… I know, how about we make some pudding?"
"Then shall we go home now?"
Fol's amber eyes shone at the promise of dessert instead of buying snacks. The three green braids peeking out from her hood shook as she tugged repeatedly at Nephie's hand in joy.
"Let's, I'm sure Zagan-sama will be hungry too."
"Shall we fly?"
As a dragon, even though she was young, Fol's body was big enough that several people could ride on her back and sometimes she gave Nephie rides. Nephie's expression didn't change, but her pointed ears quirked in happiness as she shook her head.
"Raphael-san is there too, we don't need to hurry."
As she spoke, Zagan's slightly happy expression when he ate came to mind and Nephie quickened her pace towards home.
A month had passed since Fol had come to Zagan's castle and they were a familiar sight around town as the surrounding people looked at them with smiles.
It was at that moment.
"Nephie, watch out!"
Suddenly, Fol pushed her away. She fell over backwards and the basket left her hand, scattering the ingredients within over the floor.
Several arrows of light poured from the sky.
Magic… an attack?
When Nephie had risen, Fol had quickly stood and readied herself. Standing before the young girl's glare was a figure. Everything including their face was covered so it wasn't possible to tell what race they were. They were probably either a child or a woman, even beyond the loose robe they could tell that they had a small build.
The figure stretched out a slender arm from the robe and pointed at Nephie.
"Are you Nephilia?"
It really was a woman and her voice was like tolling bells.
However, hearing her voice, Nephie was seized by a bad feeling. Fol seemed to be the same as her young face showed her agitation. There was no answer and the woman's lips curved into a smile beneath her hood.
"I don't need to check then. Die." Then, her deep-red lips moved as she said something. "――――――"
When she heard those words, an indescribable chill ran down Nephie's spine.
"I won't let you."
She held onto Fol as she went to move forwards and carried them both to the ground.
Following that, several crystalline spears rained from the sky. They weren't just aimed at Nephie and fell upon the surrounding shops and pedestrians too. Rubble and blood sprayed through the air and screams filled the area.
Nephie shouted. She didn't expect that to do anything of course, it was just a cry.
That should have been the case, but…
With a resonant chime, the crystalline spears crumbled.
She hurt the townspeople!
She could feel heat flaring up in her head. They were kind to her like Zagan was. She wouldn't forgive harming them, just like she wouldn't forgive harming Zagan. As if surrendering themselves to that passion, the movements of the fragments of crystal changed.
The fragments of crystal rained over the robed woman. At that, the woman let out a noise and jumped backwards but the fragments chased after her as if they were alive.
"I won't let you get away."
This was Nephie's power that made her feared as a 'cursed child' even among the elves who had a lot of power and could cause miracles just from wishing. The crystals that the robed woman had created were now completely under Nephie's control and chasing the other woman.
Fol let out in shock. The robed woman drew out a magic circle in the air which took several of the crystal. It was a basic magic formed of condensed mana, but its strength varied depending on its user's amount of mana.
It's like paper compared to Zagan-sama's shield.
The shield couldn't even stand up for a second and Nephie obliterated it with her cold rage.
However, in that space of less than a second, the woman had taken her next step as well and crystalline spears sprouted from under her feet, colliding with Nephie's crystal rain. The two types of crystal obliterated each other, not even leaving fragments behind.
"…Even if you are worthless, you're still a light elf then."
Together with her words that were almost a groan, the hood fell from her head.
Her face was exposed and Nephie's breath caught in shock.
Fol was astounded next to her too.
Underneath the woman's hood was a girl's face. She had the same pointed ears as Nephie, an elf. She looked around the same age as Nephie too. Her waist-length hair was likewise the same pure-white. Her unchanging expression and even the mana you could feel on your skin were the same, and above all…
The girl had the same face as Nephie, it was like looking in a mirror.
"A dark… Nephie?"
Fol spoke with a quavering voice.
She truly could be described as a 'dark Nephie'. The only differences between them were the colour of their skin and eyes. In contrast to Nephie's pure-white skin and deep-blue eyes, the girl had dark brown skin and golden eyes.
Nephie's lack of reaction to the surprise attack might have been because the mana felt so similar to her own.
'Dark Nephie' gazed motionlessly at Nephie before suddenly looking away.
"A Demon Lord's magic circle? What terrifying power."
"…What are you talking about?"
Following her gaze, Nephie's breath caught as well. Then calmly looking over the surroundings, everything had returned to normal, not just the crystalline spears but the destroyed properties now looked like nothing had happened and the people that had been pierced were just stunned and fallen backwards.
And on the ground, as if it was encircling the town, was a huge magic circle.
Is this Zagan-sama's magic…?
While Nephie was learning magic, she had come to understand that mages had habits when they were putting their circuits together and this circle had Zagan's.
'Dark Nephie' covered her head once more and turned with a quiet swish of her robes.
"Wait! Who are-"
"I am you, cursed Nephilia."
Those were the words from the girl with the same face as her. As Nephie shuddered, 'Dark Nephie' disappeared like a mirage.
The battle was now over and they could relax, so the townspeople rushed over to Nephie.
"Are you okay, Nephie-chan?"
"Did you fix this, Nephie-chan?"
Even though something had happened that might have destroyed the town, there wasn't a single person that blamed the two.
Fol then ran over as if she had found something.
The young girl was holding a letter up. The addressee was Zagan, but the sender's name made Nephie stiffen.
"To: My Dear Demon Lord Zagan, From: Demon Lord Bifrons."