On a grassfield with plentiful silvergrass and halos-transporting pipes, there was a man named Enkidu napping peacefully. Feeling the soothing breezes, his mind drifted back to the old times in his hometown…
Back in the old days, Enkidu was looked down upon by his peers, but it never bothered him much. In contrast, Enkidu felt even more carefree than before.
Enkidu had been researching alone on subjects that intrigued him. This day in the furthest of the desert, he was observing the mana contained in some crystals, which were scavenged from Galaxia.
A girly moan sounded behind Enkidu. When he turned around, he saw an orange-haired girl who just stumbled on the ground.
“...Enlil, I think you should do a research on the reason why you trip yourself every time you meet me,” said Enkidu with a slight frown.
Not only wasn’t the girl provoked, but she giggled.
“Sure. I’ll tell you when I figure out why, but it might take you a lifetime to wait,” said Enlil.
Enkidu and Enlil smiled when their gazes met. There was an exclusive connection between them.
“I still have some questions about the memory reconstructing circle. Can you help me with that?”
Enlil handed a scroll to Enkidu, but he seemed not interested. After taking a look, he shifted his attention back to the crystals.
“How come a genius like you seeks help from a fool like me?”
“Enkidu is no fool at all! Frankly speaking, you’re much smarter than me, but it has to arouse your interest first. You pour all your effort to pursue everything you long for,” Enlil paused with a sweet smile, and she asked, “am I right?”
Enkidu would like to answer but a childish shout woke him up.
Waking up from the dream, Enkidu saw an eight-year-old girl trip in front of him, resembling Enlil in his dream. When he was about to give the girl a hand, a man came over——Kingu the Eldus who had been Shamash’s favorite lately.
“Sorry. Looks like I just disturbed your nap.”
Kingu’s apology did not sound what it meant because of his playful tone, but Enkidu was not offended at all. His attention was all caught by this little girl in front of him.
Intrigued by Enkidu’s reaction, Kingu told him about the girl, “her name is Elpis, an earthling produced two weeks ago.”
“...She has Enlil’s life sequence...”
Kingu first raised his eyebrows in surprise; then he smiled and revealed, “You…you’re right. You’re the first one who discovers it. No wonder Enlil would invite you to this venture.”
Ignoring Kingu’s compliment, Enkidu crouched down to stare at Elpis.
“Kingu, I want her,” Enkidu muttered with a firm stance.
“No way. Every earthling has a record. If Shamash finds out, you and I will be dead.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll give her back to you, but before that let me instruct her.”
“...Alright. If you insist, I’ll let you take her. And I’ll come to you every seven days to boost her growth.”
Kingu then left with a wave of his hand. When he was leaving, there was a smirk on his face as if he had just found an interesting game.
Enkidu and Elpis were alone on the grassfield looking at each other; anyone could tell that Elpis would become gorgeous just by looking at her innocent facial profile.
“Would you like to go home with me?” Enkidu asked Elpis softly while stroking her cheek.
The innocent Elpis scanned Enkidu out of curiosity. Then she gave a pure smile and nodded.
Yet the outcome was not as Enkidu expected. Elpis’s intelligence was way slower than Enlil’s. No matter how hard Elpis tried, she never met Enkidu’s expectation.
Seven days passed quickly especially when Enkidu had lost his hope. This day, Kingu visited to boost Elpis’s growth.
The boosting procedure was a torment to Elpis, who let out a nerve-wrecking scream. Annoyed, Enkidu turned around to leave the house——
“Enkidu...Don’t...leave…” Elpis murmured powerlessly, reaching her hand at Enkidu. He stopped for a moment, but left eventually.
After a while, Kingu walked out of the room and spoke to Enkidu, “it’s done. She might have a fever tonight. Keep an eye on her.”
Kingu left after leaving the words. Returning into the house, Enkidu went straight to his room silently when he saw the blushing Elpis lying on the couch.
A banging noise startled Enkidu when he almost fell asleep. Leaving his room, he found that Elpis had dropped onto the floor, panting in agony.
“...Just give her back to Kingu tomorrow. I’m better off on my own,” Enkidu decided as he put Elpis back onto the couch. While he was returning to his room, another bang stopped him——Elpis dropped onto the floor again.
“Well...Looks like I have no choice.”
Scratching his scalp in frustration, Enkidu brought Elpis back to his own bed. After putting her down, he laid down to prevent the same accident from happening again.
“Mmm...Enkidu...There you are...So good…”
Elpis smiled when Enkidu was the first one she saw. The smile somehow resembled Enlil’s, which softened Enkidu’s heart. He comforted her softly, “you’re ill. Go to sleep.”
All of a sudden, Elpis got up and kissed Enkidu on the cheek, who pulled her away immediately.
“What...what were you thinking?” Enkidu could still feel the remaining heat as he touched his cheek.
“It’s because...Enkidu seems lonely...so I...Wheeze…” Elpis suddenly gasped, but she continued speaking with hard effort, “I’ll try...my best to study...Please...don’t leave...Elpis…”
“...Stop overthinking. I won’t leave you,” said Enkidu, who couldn’t reject the little Elpis.
“Great…” The relieved Elpis finally fell asleep.
With that promise, Enkidu had no choice but to continue instructing Elpis. Yet stray thoughts kept lingering in his heart ever since that kiss. To clear his mind, Enkidu took Elpis for a walk as well as her first combat training.
“Activate the spell to gather mana. Then convert its form and unleash it.”
Following Enkiu’s instruction, Elpis quickly gathered green mana, compressed it and unleashed. The unleashed air blade chopped off dozens of trees. This hit had completely blown Enkidu’s mind.
“Despite having Enlil’s life sequence, Elpis was a monumentally different individual than Enlil. She has the combat talent that Enlil lacks,” Enkidu pondered.
While Enkidu was absent-minded, he failed to notice an approaching beast that was ready to engulf him——
“Damn it!” Enkidu was enraged when he saw Elpis get bitten to bleed. He launched a mana strike to blast the aggressive beast away.
“Elpis!” Enkidu went over to heal Elpis with a spell.
“I’m so glad that you’re safe…” Elpis stroked Enkidu’s cheek and smiled genuinely.
“You’re the one who got hurt! Painful?”
“Yes, but I’ll feel pain here if I see you get hurt. It'll be much more unbearable than getting hurt physically. I’m relieved as long as I can protect you,” said Elpis, putting her palm on her chest.
The deeply touched Enkidu held Elpis’s hand tightly. He felt a heart-wrenching pain when he saw the blood-soaked clothes on Elpis. The firm hand grip from Enkidu worked as a cure to Elpis, who managed to get up and kissed Enkidu on the cheek.
This kiss was not as hot as the last one, but it ignited the emotions lurking deep inside Enkidu’s heart. As the breach of his soul was filled, the flatline in his life started pulsing again, and everything looked beautiful as brand new in his eyes.
Ever since that kiss, Enkidu and Elpis had become much more intimate. He taught her all the knowledge he had in his brain; He shared with her the things that he treasured the most. Whenever she was happy, the joy was his too.
“Why do I feel warm and delighted whenever I see her smile?” Enkidu was stuck in this thought as he was unable to explain this sort of emotion. Soon, his thinking was disturbed by Kingu.
“Hey there. Here I am again,” said Kingu with his signature playful tone. “She seems energetic. Looks like it’s a good day to boost——Enkidu, why are you blocking my way?” Kingu said while gazing at the humming Elpis outside the house.
“Kingu, please leave.”
“Hey hey hey, what’s wrong?”
Scanning Enkidu, Kingu figured out why very soon.
“You don’t want to see her suffer? That’s a no. Don’t you remember our deal? You can borrow that toy, but you gotta return her to me eventually.”
“What toy——” Enkidu’s word was interrupted by the warmth in his palm——from Elpis. She held his hand and smiled at him.
“I can take that!”
“But you might get hurt.”
“Yes, but I wanna grow up faster so that I can protect Enkidu.”
As Elpis insisted, Enkidu had no choice but to let Kingu do his job. The boost was finished after a long period of torture, and Elpis grew up into a fourteen-year-old girl.
The upcoming days didn’t resume normal like Enkidu had expected. Next day in the morning, he found Elpis crying.
“Elpis, what’s wrong?” Enkidu asked.
With the tears on her face, Elpis threw herself into Enkidu’s embrace and sobbed, “boohoo...I might be dying.”
“Huh? How come… Which part of your body doesn’t feel well?”
Elpis blushed when Enkidu asked about her well-being. Hesitating for a while, she eventually whispered her situation to him.
Surprised at first, Enkidu then searched his knowledge bank for the answer.
“That means...your body is mature.”
Although the physique of Eldus still contained reproductive system, the evolution process had eliminated most of their sex characteristics, which was the reason why Enkidu had no idea to solve Elpis’s mystery. At last, he called Kingu for help.
Kingu then assigned a female Eldus to teach Elpis how to deal with her mature body. By the time everything was settled, the nightfall had already arrived.
“It’s been a tough day. Go to sleep,” said Enkidu.
“Enkidu...I’m still scared...Can I sleep with you tonight?”
Enkidu was defeated when Elpis pulled his sleeve in an adorable way. With a reluctant headshake, he indulged her by rubbing her head and said, “...one night only.”
It didn’t take Elpis too long to fall asleep. When Enkidu almost fell asleep, he felt the touch of Elpis’s body in his arms.
An inner impulse woke up when Enkidu felt Elpis’s soft body and her pleasant aroma. Before he lost the last bit of sanity, he rushed out of the bed to calm himself down with a cold shower.
“That was...lust...No way...It can’t be! I was turned on by Elpis——”
“What’s...the feelings I have for her?” Enkidu murmured in confusion.
As time went by, this day was the last boost for Elpis. After that, she would be caught up in the ability test for earthlings.
The fully grown earthlings must go through a series of tests in order to identify the ability of each individual. The result would determine their future positions. Elites would be enlisted in the combat division, which was the most privileged group among all earthlings.
Watching Elpis’s battle from the Eldus section, Enkidu felt a tremendous heartache whenever she got hurt.
At last, Elpis earned herself the combatant qualification with her overpowering strength. Meanwhile, Enkidu left his seat before the result announcement, heading straight to earthling’s preparation room.
“Enkidu!” The thrilled Elpis called him. “I win! Now I can become a soldier and protect you!”
Despite all the painful injuries she had, Elpis was still smiling purely like their first encounter.
Enkidu could feel nothing but regret.
“I shouldn’t have taught her how to fight...All I want is nothing but her carefree smile...I want her to be with me forever...I love her so much…”
Recognising his true affection, Enkidu pulled Elpis into his arms to hold her tight. He buried his face into her aromatic hair and mumbled, “I will save you...at all cost!”