There was a loud explosion, rocking the quiet and peace of the night in the small village.

”Fire! Fire! ”

The villagers ran out of their homes, still sleepy but now waking up as a blazing bonfire burned near the outskirts of the village, near the entrance to the forest.

”Whats going on? ”

”Did monsters attack again? ”

”Aren there guards at the entrance? ”

”Yes, the adventurers guild has some set up since the area is highly populated with dangerous mana beasts… ”

A few water mages began carrying water from the wells to put out the flames, but by the time they got there, what hadn already been knocked down by the explosion was completely burned down to the ground. The fire still blazed on, but it would die out on its own with nothing left to burn.

”This… this is the Char household! ” someone exclaimed. ”Has anyone seen them? ”

”Why was this house attacked? ”

”None of them are mages, right? ”

”Yes… ”

”Has anyone seen them? ”

A few brave mages ran into the flames, the heat not reaching them as they looked for anyone they could rescue. One threw up as he saw the charred remains of the adults, their bodies horribly disfigured from the explosion, but the other two pressed onwards. One thought he saw a fleeting shadow but dismissed it. There were more important things at stake here.

”There! Over there! ” they waved the others over as the fire was put out.

A small child, maybe five years old, was sitting on the floor, terrified, her blue eyes and snow-white hair glowing brighter than the burning flames around her.

”Quick! Is she ok? Someone call a doctor! ”

There was pandemonium as some of the villagers noticed the walls had been damaged in the explosion, and quickly ran over to fend off the monsters that had been drawn by the noise and lack of defence. In the confusion that followed, no one noticed that all the guards the adventurers guild had sent were all dead, each killed by a singular sword strike to the neck.

Meanwhile, one of the villagers went to pick the crying girl up, the flames now extinguished.

”Hey, its fine now, everythings ok. We
e gonna help you, o- ”

As he picked her up, there was a bright flash. When everyones eyes recovered, the man was dead on the ground and the girl was sobbing once more.

”Wha- what the hell?! ” the others exclaimed.

”…did she do that? ”

”…did she cause the explosion? ”

The night was quiet now as the villagers formed a crowd around the now burnt down home, the small girl sitting in the middle of the ashes that once used to be a building.

”What is she? ”

”Is she dangerous? ”

”Did she just… kill that man? ”

”Maybe it wasn her. Maybe it was something else. ”

”…like what? ”

The childs sobs were getting quieter. No one dared to move. It was a tense moment, and nobody wanted to make the first move. Quietly, the crowd parted for the village chief.

”Prota, child, ” he said gently, but his eyes were shiting and alert. He stood at least six feet away from the child, leaning on his cane but muscles tense, waiting for something to happen. ”What happened? ”

”Mommy… Daddy… I- I- the demon… ” was all she could manage between sobs.

”Anta… ”

Everyone began whispering. Prota and Anta Char, the twin sisters that had been the talk of the town. One with white hair and blue eyes, the other with black hair and red eyes, but otherwise completely identical. No one had noticed Anta was no longer there. Only Prota had been left behind.

”Where is she? ”

Prota shook her head. ”…taken… ”

”Taken? Taken by whom? ”

Prota hesitated, then shook her head again. She didn know.

No one knew what to do. The burned corpses of the parents were moved out of the way to be buried, but there was a sort of ring around Prota that no one would enter, like she carried the plague. Finally, the elder sighed.

”I will appraise her. ”

Everyone moved back as the wind began to pick up. The elder pulled out an orb and held it out towards Prota. Soon, it began to glow with unknown runes and symbols, the elders eyes shifting as he read them with anxiety. The orb began to swirl with shadows, collecting them and turning pitch black. Suddenly, there was an explosion as the orb shattered, knocking the elder off his feet. The villagers rushed to help him up, but he trembled as she stared at the girl.

”You… you… ” his legs went weak as he collapsed, falling backwards. Several people rushed to help him, but he didn try to recover as he stared in horror at the child.

”A demon? ”

There was an audible gasp as the crowd began to mutter.

”Demon? ”

”Did he just say demon? No demo ”

”No, I read that long ago, it was a demonic rune some used to take others mana… ”

”Demonic? ”

”Didn she say something about a demon?

”Did she kill her mother and father? ”

”Demonic? ”

”Demon. ”

”Demon. ”

”Demon. ”

The crowd began to disperse in disgust as they all left. There was small talk of burning the child at a stake, but she was just a child, and besides, no one was brave enough to approach her. Several people helped the elder back up, then hurriedly left. Soon, it was just the elder and the girl.

”…are you a demon? ” he asked quietly. The child didn look at him.

”I don know what to take that as. ” He looked very old, then. His voice was frail as he continued. ”I wish I could help you, but… I am too afraid. But… I will help you go to the nearest large city. There, maybe, you can survive… Youve been through enough. I hope you will find a new family someday. ”

Prota watched as her parents were taken away. Her family was gone. Her village was gone.

And she had just been cast out from society

~~~

{One year later}

”Hey, is that right, a kid like that on the streets…? ” an adventurer whispered to his companion.

A small child wearing basically rags was slumped against a wall, holding a small bowl out as she stared pleadingly at the passerbys. Her white hair was black with dirt and soot, her small arms and legs similarly covered with the same kind of mess. However, despite the mess, her face remained void of any emotions whatsoever, like a soulless machine.

”Didn you hear? ” his companion whispered. ”Shes a demon child. ”

Demon child. Of all the monsters that roamed in this world, a demon was the most feared. With god-like abilities, it would go on a rampage, slaughtering everyone, razing towns to ashes, and causing as much chaos as possible. Only the rise of a hero, blessed by the goddess, could stop it. The world hadn seen a demon for a long, long time…

”…demon? ” the boy whispered with fear.

”Yes, ” his companion said. ”Most people avoid her. Some give her a bit of bread out of pity, but… ”

They kept walking, but the boy, troubled, stopped and went back.

”Hey, ” he said quietly, pulling a piece of bread out. ”Here you… ”

There was a flash of fear that shot through him. He recoiled in horror, panting.

”What? Are you ok? ” his companion said, running over. Sweat poured down his face as he recovered from the sudden shock. ”Did she do something to you? ” she persisted.

”No… no, I don think so. Im fine, I think… ”

His companion ignored him. ”You! Don touch him! ” she yelled, whipping her blade out and pointing it at the child menacingly.

The girl nodded submissively and left without a sound, going into the dark alleyway she called home. Unlike the elders wishes, Prota had found no new family and no new home.

This wasn the first time shed gone through something like this. Initially, shed always cried, wandering around for food and hunger. Now in a completely new place, with no one to turn to, many would give her bread out of pity until the rumours started.

Prota had always been a joyful child. Her mother and father loved her and her sister dearly. Her childhood had been filled with happy memories of love and family. Then, it had all just been ripped away from her, like life was playing a cruel joke on her. Initially naive, she had to grow up, and she had to do so quickly. Initially cheerful, she soon learned to close herself up. She was a child who wanted to be loved, and so opened herself up to others, but soon learned that the majority of people would simply cast her out. At that point, she found it was easier to simply stop feeling. It hurt less. She closed herself off from everyone, and so while she stopped herself from smiling she also stopped herself from crying. She would sit outside, still as a statue, and hope people would give her enough food to let her survive.

However, her life wasn as easy as that. Some, some brave, some full of justice or others simply arrogant or stupid would crowd around her, and the beatings would start. She was just a child, and couldn defend herself, and the few that looked past her childs body and saw a demon instead delivered a mighty beating indeed. Soon, the pain stopped, not because the beatings stopped but simply because she got used to it.

That wasn as bad as when she killed people, however. She didn know what was wrong with her, but physical contact of skin would create a large flash like the one shed made when shed killed the man whod tried to help her back at the village, and whoever she touched would fall down, dead. It scared her, and so she avoided touch as much as possible, to the point where it became a habit to shrink back from everyone she met.

Prota went from a bundle of joy to a reserved husk of a child, rejected by all. There she sat, waiting for something to happen.

~~~

”Oi, bartender! ”

”Yeah? ”

”Another beer! ”

”You have the gold to pay? ”

There were sounds of clinking as gold was thrown onto the bar counter. In return, the bartender filled up a mug to the brim with golden liquor and slid the glass over.

”You drunkards really need to stop. Too much of this shit is gonna kill you someday. ”

”Ill stop drinking when Im dead! ” the man roared cheerfully, draining the glass. The bartender smiled and sighed.

He was young, with spiky raven black hair and a young face, tall and lean, like a runner. His face could only be described as generic, and if he stood in a crowd he would likely be hidden by many of the others. He was, however, dressed unlike any other. While he wore an apron to protect his clothes, they weren the leather cloth of the peasants, the royal silk of nobles or the steel armour of adventurers. He wore a sort of short black cloak, a shirt with a hood that opened up in the front and extended to his hips, and a red shirt underneath. Smooth black pants unlike that many had ever seen covered his legs, while cloth red shoes adorned his feet. A long red scarf wound around his neck, draping over the back where a strange symbol was brandished. Many had tried to pry into his history; no one ever found anything out.

The bar ”The Four Leaf Clover ” wasn necessarily the best in quality, food, or drink, but it was one that attracted many due to its ambiance and location. No one knew the bartender; no one knew where it had come from or why the bartender had started it.

This also made it a centre for rumours and backhanded deals.

”Quarta, you hear? ” one of the regulars said, beckoning the bartender over.

”Hm? ” Quarta said, cocking his head to the side.

”Theres a demon in town, apparently. Its just rumour, but theres this small girl who begs. She, what, five, six, I don know, she looks like a literal child, but… Ive heard she can kill you with a single touch. Maybe she disguises herself as a little girl to lure people in. Anyways, you stay safe, yhear? ”

Quarta snorted. ”You think a demon shows up, only to disguise herself as a little girl? Whos this demon going after, pedophiles?. ”

The regular laughed. ”Youve got a point. Anyways. ” He left a tip on the table and got up to leave. ”Just stay safe, alright? You
e not a mage or anything. Id hate to see this place close down. ”

Quarta grinned. ”Yeah, itd be real sad, wouldn it. ”

As the hour grew later, the bar grew quieter. Quarta began to wipe down the tables of those that had left. People started getting up to leave, as the bar was closing soon. This was another unique aspect of the bar; it closed relatively early. Stereotypically, a bar like this one would stay open very late, but this one closed at 11:00 and reopened back at 9:00. Many complained about these hours, but as nobody could do anything about it the times remained the same.

”See ya, ” a red headed adventurer said, carrying his drunken partner out the door. Finally, the bar was quiet.

”Another day, huh, Zero? ” Quarta sighed.

”You subject yourself to this, you know. Why complain? Dumbass. ”

A ghostly version of Quarta came out of his body. Zero was identical to Quarta in every way, save for the fact that Quartas right eye was red and his left was black, whereas Zeros eyes were both black. Otherwise, one wouldn have been able to tell the difference between the two.

”I don mind. Its not too bad, really. ”

”Thats only because they pay well. ”

”That helps. ”

”Weren you just complaining? ”What a day, ” my ass. You couldn care less. ”

”You know, it would actually be ideal if I could just not do any work and make lots of money. ”

”Wow, ” Zero said sarcastically, rolling his eyes. ”Im sure there isn a single soul that would love living like that. ”

The two bickered as Quarta continued to wipe the tables down. Soon, the bar was clean, and Quarta stretched.

”What a rumour. A child-like demon, huh…? ”

”…you gonna check that rumour out? ”

Quarta grinned. ”You betcha. ”

The bell on the door rang as Quarta stepped out. Rain fell lightly as he ran through the dimly lit streets, his eyes flicking left and right, trying to catch sight of the demon child hed heard about so many times throughout the day.

”Quarta, ” Zero whispered as a shadow flickered. Quarta nodded and slowed his pace down.

”Oi? Anyone there? ” he called out, walking into a dark alleyway.

As his eyes adjusted to the low light level, he could make out a small child huddling in the corner. She stared at him, but Quarta was surprised to see no emotion on her face. It startled him for a second, but then he remembered what he had come to do.

”Uh…Im not here to hurt you. Are you ok? Where are your parents? ” He hadn thought this through. He hadn done any research, and he wasn exactly the best at starting conversations, so he was just saying whatever came to mind first.

”… ” Quarta didn really know what to do next. She wasn saying anything. He slung his bag off his back and pull out a large white cloak.

”Its pretty cold out. Wrap yourself with that. Its a lot nicer than what you have on right now. ”

The child stared at the cloak hesitantly, but eventually slowly wrapped it around her body. It was way too large for her, but Quarta was right. She did feel warmer.

”Uh… Im Quarta. …who
e you? ”

There was a brief pause, but then the girl opened her mouth.

”…Im Prota. ”

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