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CHAPTER 1 – THE FOUR CHARMERS
THIRTY YEARS HAD PASSED since the last famous-yet-secret Holy Grail war. Every one thought they would never hear of the mysterious gas leaks and back alley murders, but they were wrong; it started all over again.
“Did you like our tour in the museum tonight, Takumi?”
“Mmm! Can we do it again next time?” asked Takumi.
“Sure why not-“
Takumi felt the car rumble to the right.
Unable to do anything, he helplessly watched his father try to control the steering wheel. His mother was in a state of panic.
Just then, a fence slammed into the windshield, and in a matter of seconds, Takumi saw headlights heading straight for them. His father tried to veer off course, but the car was stuck. Seconds later the headlights rushed on toward them, and struck the front of the car with a sickening thud-
Nakashima Takumi woke up all of a sudden. His drenched in cold sweat. He was having the same nightmare for two straight weeks. He could not help but recall that tragedy every night.
Takumi looked at his table clock. It was five thirty in the morning, and his damn alarm clock did not ring. Quickly he stood up, and nearly trip over his books.
Darn, he thought.
Takumi took time in taking a bath; he quickly wore his school uniform. If he didn’t hurry up, he would be late for the third time in school today. He placed his text books inside his bag, took the house keys near the living room table, went out of the house and locked the front door without eating any breakfast. Minutes later, he was onboard a bus.
Takumi was living alone with his aunt and uncle for ten years since the tragic death of his parents. Ten years ago, he and his parents were driving along a main road when a huge truck sideswiped their car, resulting in a collision with the road barricade. They crashed into a van that was driving along the opposite lane, killing both Takumi’s parents and the occupants of the van. The truck, however, ran away from the scene without informing the authorities or giving any help. Not a long while after, passersby pulled him out of the burning wreckage.
Fortunately, Takumi’s uncle had a nice job. After Takumi’s parent’s funeral, he took care of Takumi like he was his own son, for he did not have one. Eight years later, Takumi was taught how to work independently after his classes ended. Now he was sixteen years old, and was working part time in a convenience store. Even though he was still being brought up by his relatives with his tuition and monthly rent, he was trying to learn how to live independently.
Takumi straightened his hair as the bus was about to stop by his school. Their current vice principal, Ishimaru Masahiro was too strict about the school’s policies. That always pissed off some of his classmates.
As he entered the school gates, he saw Mr. Ishimaru in his usual outpost near the security guards, scanning for rule breakers. Just as Takumi was about to pass by him, Mr. Ishimaru looked at him coldly. Takumi merely shrugged. Just then, he heard someone call him from the school building.
“Hey, Nakashima hey!” called out a male voice. It was Hara Shun his mean classmate. Takumi slowly walked toward him.
“Hey, stupid! Faster! Help me with this!” Shun said irritably.
“I’m walking as fast I can!” countered Takumi. He half-ran, half-walked. As he approached Shun, he noticed a big pile of books beside him.
“Our adviser wants me to place these books by her faculty table. You do it,” said Shun.
“It seems you never even gave an effort in carrying those,” observed Takumi.
“That’s because I want you to do it. Understand?” said Shun with a rather menacing tone.
“No problem,” said Takumi. He did not want to be bullied by Shun. Not today.
The bell rang as Takumi finished placing the books inside the faculty. He stretched his back for a bit, and proceeded to walk towards his room. As he was walking along the corridor, he noticed that the vice principal’s room was flashing. Not really concerned, Takumi thought that it may have been a camera or the sun reflecting on the room’s window. He entered his classroom just in time.
Their adviser came in minutes later. They greeted her as she approached her table.
“Please sit down,” she said “Today our class will have a new student. So please help her tour around the school.”
There was a great commotion outside the room as the adviser finished her speech. Then, everyone fell silent as the girl entered the classroom.
She had long, light brown hair that matched her beautiful, sky-blue eyes. She had good stature for a teenage girl. She silently walked toward the teacher’s table and introduced herself.
“I’m Midorikawa Ayumi. Nice to meet you all.” She showed no signs of nervousness. She kept her cool. For a moment, she scanned the whole room. As she came across Takumi her sky-blue eyes glowered.
“You may choose a seat, Ms. Midorikawa,” the adviser said. “Do you prefer to sit here in front, or sit there at the back beside Mr. Nakashima?”
Some boys were loudly whispering to her that she could sit in front. Takumi only looked away. To everyone’s surprise, Ayumi walked toward the back row. Takumi tried to stop her.
“No! It’s best if you sit in front!”
“I don’t care,” Ayumi answered simply. She sat down, and made herself comfortable. Takumi sensed that she was very unfriendly.
A few minutes later the adviser started a roll call to check the class attendance. As she called Takumi he raised his left arm, and said “Present!”
“Why Takumi, your left sleeve is drenched in blood! What happened?”
Takumi realized just then that he had a deep cut in his left elbow.
“Oh,” said Takumi. “Maybe it is a papercut. May I go to the clinic, ma’am?”
“You may,” the adviser replied.
Just as he was about to stand up, Ayumi grabbed him in the arm. With a tone of displeasure, Ayumi asked him a question.
“Are you a master?” she said.
“Huh?” wondered Takumi. “What do you mean?”
“Are you a master?” she repeated coldly.
“What are you talking about?” asked Takumi.
“Nothing,” Ayumi said with a gleeful tone. “Go ahead.”
At the end of the day, Takumi walked home with a bandaged left arm. When he went to the clinic earlier that morning, he showed the wound to the nurse in charge. At first, the wound kept bleeding, until the nurse had stopped it form opening up. The trouble was Takumi’s uniform. He just might have to spend the whole weekend trying to clean his blood-drenched uniform. Takumi entered his house, and turned on the TV set as he prepared his dinner.
Meanwhile, back inside the school campus, Hara Shun was talking to Ayumi. They were on the school’s rooftop, so no one would hear them.
“Come on,” Shun pleaded. “Join me, and we can make a good team.”
“Never, and you cannot make me” replied Ayumi. “I can win by myself, and I can single-handedly destroy anyone who will stop me from pursuing my greatest goal.”
At this, Shun stormed out of the rooftop exit. Ayumi only looked at the cloudless, orange sky. She was thinking about Takumi, trying to consider whether he would be a formidable opponent or not.
Takumi does not like watching news everyday, but he could not help watch one channel’s breaking news. The reporter described to the viewers gas leaks and murders that were deemed mysterious. There was one recent murder not far from Takumi’s neighborhood. The reporter warned everyone to stay indoors by 7 P.M.
After the news, Takumi switched off the TV set. He still had so much homework to do and he already felt very sleepy. He proceeded towards his room after he ate dinner.
That night, Takumi dreamed something unusual.
He was standing on an ancient, marble floor. Everything was dark, except for a strange, glowing, black book written in foreign tongue. With nothing else to do, he examined the ancient symbols in the book. The more he read, the more he understood its message. Just then, he felt something trickling down his left arm. He realized his wound had opened up again, bleeding profusely. He tried to cover his wound, but too much blood had already spilt. The blood trickled down to his fingers, forming a mysterious pattern. Most of his blood covered the back of his hand. Suddenly, something glowed in front of him. The blood vanished. He squinted towards the spot where the glowing began, he realized that there were four glowing transmutation circles. They had different colors - brown, red, blue, and green. Strange symbols then appeared inside the four circles. A few minutes later, four robed figures emerged from the circles. Takumi backed away as the four figures approached him. He was filled with surprise, wonder and terror. As the four figures cornered him, Takumi asked, “What do you want from me?”
One figure drew out her hood. She was pretty girl, with short, brown hair and brown eyes. The others followed suit. All of them were girls. One of them had long, red hair with red eyes while the other had longer, blue hair with blue eyes. But the one that struck Takumi the most was the girl that had long pony-tailed, green hair with green eyes.
“We are the Charmers, master,” said the brown-haired girl. She paused for a while to draw out her glasses. She put them on and continued.
“We have come here to serve and protect you master. Our lives depend on you.”
“Wait. This is just a dream,” said Takumi. “This is not true.”
“Kindly wake up master,” said the blue-haired girl.
“I will help you,” said the red-haired girl.
Moments later, the ancient surrounding dissolved. Takumi woke up to find himself back in his room.
“Well, that was one good dream. At least, my nightmare had gone away.”
Suddenly, someone spoke beside him.
“Do we look like nightmares to you, master?”
Those who have courage do not slay dragons, they ride them.