Post Reply Bewildering Impending Spiriting Away
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Posted 1/22/08 , edited 2/22/08
O.O write more!!! but since you didn't highlight your chemistry reference, we can't accept it as an entry for the contest, but write MORE!!!! ~Duster

0/Prologue

--------- New Years Eve

The streets are filled with people eagerly awaiting the New Year. It snowed yesterday and the white on the street served to enhance the festive atmosphere.

I hate the cold. During days like this, I prefer sitting in the kotatsu and sleeping. But today is a special day.

Today I, Aozaki Takashi, will confess my love.

To a person like myself with unimpressive looks and no musical talent, it’s a wonder I even have someone to confess my love to. All that stuff you read about impressing girls with your intellect is horse shit. They won’t care unless you look good too.

Unless they’re like Yuuka.

Kakizaki Yuuka. Short. Bespectacled. Otaku. Saying that she is fujoshi might be a bit cruel but she does have those sorts of hobbies. Suffice to say, she’s not very popular in school.

Not like I’m any better. My interest in the paranormal effectively killed my social life.

Looking at the two of us, one might say misery likes company.

Shows what people know. Besides, I think her glasses make her look cute.


The clock says 11:45. It’s almost midnight.

We’re supposed to meet in the the middle of the park. The City set up a large clock there for the occasion. Even though there’s a bit of a crowd, she should be easy to spot. She has a talent for sticking out.

I find her sitting alone on a bench. Leave it to Yuuka to read manga in a park on New Years Eve. Hair like she just woke up. Haphazardly tied up and fixed with just a pin. No make up. Dirt cheap glasses that don’t fit her face. Baggy clothes. Every inch of her screams “Otaku Glasses-Girl”.

“Hey, Yuu-chan.” I say as I sit beside her.

“KYA!”

She almost fell off the bench in surprise. As usual, she is oblivious to her surroundings when she’s reading. I can’t really imagine how you could ignore the New Years atmosphere though.

“Oh, it’s just you Taka-kun.”

“Really, the world could have ended and you wouldn’t notice. It’s New Years Eve for goodness sake!”

She fixes her glasses on her face. Even her mannerisms fit the “Glasses-girl” personality a little too well.

“It’s not really that big a deal. The new anime don’t start airing till summer anyway.”

Always with anime and manga this girl.

“Don’t you have anything special to do? New Years is about going to shrines and setting the pace for the entire year. C’mon! Let’s go!”

I grab her arm and help her up. It’s almost midnight. I hope I make it.


Standing among the couples any passerby would mistake us for one of them. Everyone is dressed up for the evening. Our plain looks stick out like a sore thumb. We might as well have stood under a sign that said “Otaku Love”.

But we’re not a couple. At least, not yet.

The clock says 11:55. If Im going to make it, I should go for it now.

“Lot’s of couples out tonight huh?”

. . . Damn! What a lame start.

“Yeah, I guess. . . “

Yuu-chan looks like she’s blushing. Maybe she’s embarrassed that we look like one of the couples. She looks really cute with that expression on her face.

“Taka-kun . . Why are you staring at my face?”

Ah! Now Im blushing! Better go for broke.

I hold her hands and look into her eyes. Thank goodness we’re wearing gloves. My hands are sweating buckets.

“Yuu-chan. . . . . Well, uh. . . It’s because I think you’re very cute . . . “

Goddammit Takashi! Get it together!

I concentrate on Yuu-chan’s face. . . . No good. Her cute expression only makes me even more nervous. She’s blushing as much as my reflection in her glasses.

“Well, you know how long we’ve been together. . . It’s just that I’ve had these feelings for you for some time. . . “

“The truth is. I love you Yuu-chan!”

There! I said it! Im not such a failure at manhood after all.


Yuu-chan slips her hands from mine and covers her mouth. I can see the tears welling up in her eyes.

“Taka-kun. . . . .”

She backs away slowly. Shaking her head.

“IM SORRY!”

She turns and starts to run away. She trips on her own feet before she gets too far. Picking herself up, she runs away even faster.

The clock strikes twelve. They start ringing the New Year's Bell. The cheers of people fill the air. Confetti rains down from one of the buildings.

It starts snowing.

I just stand there. With my hands in front of me, holding on to thin air.
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1/Magician
August 3, 2007

------------ Summer

It’s been almost six years since that memory.

We never got to talk after that. Once we graduated we just lost contact. I went overseas to pursue my interest in paranormal studies. I never heard from her since.

I came back to Japan about a year ago. The education part of my resume effectively limits the kind of work I can do to writing for UFO and Ghost magazines.

Surprisingly, some of my old friends got respectable positions in the police. Because of that, I was able to use them as connections so I could do some PI work.

Thinking about that, it seems kind of depressing.

The skills I learned back in London served me well. I’ve been able to make a bit of a reputation for myself as a PI. It’s quite funny. I left London to get away from the environment where those skills were usefull and here I am using those same skills to make a living.

In the subways of London I met a person who taught me these skills. In a sense, having these skills was like playing a video game with full knowledge of its structure and having access to a strategy guide.

In London, I became a mage.




“WHAT WERE YOU THINKING!?”

The woman in front of me berates the young man beside me.

“All this time you don’t even bother to contact us, and when I finally track you down you’re hanging around these dangerous people. . . . Are you trying to throw your life away!?”

The woman contacted me a week before to look for her brother. There have been a lot of missing persons cases lately. Thanks to that, there’s been plenty of work for a person like me. It’s not that I take some sort of perverse satisfaction from all of this. It’s simply that if I don’t get any work, I might not be able to eat.

“Well?! What do you have to say for yourself?! Do you know how much you made me worry?!”

“It. . . It’s not like I asked you to worry about me.”

Tough words coming from a guy who can’t even look his sister in the eye.

“Besides, how and when I die is none of your business.”

SLAP!

That’s got to hurt.

“Stop talking about dying as if it was nothing stupid!! You’re the only little brother I have in this world! How can you say it’s none of my business?!”
“If you ever did die . . . I . . . I . . .”

“I. . . I’m sorry. . . . I didn’t mean to worry you. . .”

“Is that all you have to say for yourself?! When I heard what you were doing here, my heart almost stopped!!”

I better put a stop to this. A crowded train station isn’t the place for something like this. The people around us are starting to stare.

“Now now. . .”

Placing my hand on her shoulder, I try to calm her down.

“I think your brother understands what you’re trying to say. I’m sure he’s just having a hard time conveying how he really feels deep down inside.”

She seems surprised. I guess she was so caught up in her emotions she forgot all about everything else.

“I’m so sorry Aozaki-san!” She bows apologetically.
“I got so carried away in our conversation. . .!”

“It’s alright. Let’s get to the platform before you two miss your train.”


“I’ve already talked to your brother’s “friends” in this city. So I doubt they’ll be bothering him again in the future.”

“Thank you so very much.” Another deep bow.

I never got used to people thanking me this much. It’s kind of embarrassing.

“Not only did you find my little brother for me, you even went out of your way to do that. . . I don’t know how I can thank you enough.”

“It’s alright. It wasn’t too much trouble and it is part of my job.”
“Although, I would recommend that you and your brother never come near this city again. Even those men have their pride.”

“O. . . Of course. Come on now, did you thank Aozaki-san yet?”

“Thanks. . .”
A half-hearted reply. He doesn’t even look up and just stares at the floor. Can’t blame him really.

She gave one last bow through the window as the train left the platform.



I leave the station. The summer heat beats down on me as I walk the streets. It must be at least 38 degrees today. Normally, I wouldn’t even think about going outside on a hot day like this. The streets are practically deserted. No one wants to stay outside on an abnormally hot day like this.

The cool air inside the convenience store washes over me like a refreshing dream. I savor it by walking as slow as possible before I stop to loiter at the magazine racks. I take out my mobile phone and place a call.

. . . .

“Machida here.”

“Hey, it’s me. You can file away that missing persons case I was on.”

“Nice work there Takashi. that’s already the third case you closed this month. That’s some talent you got there.”

“Hey! Don’t reduce it all to just talent. It takes a lot of hard work.”

“There are a few more cases like this last one. If you want, I can refer them to you.”

“Not right now. I’ll call you if I need more work.”

After those last three cases I actually have a fair bit of extra cash. I don’t want to work if I don’t really need to. Right now, all I want to do is go home and sleep.

I slowly walk along the food aisles. I don’t do any cooking so I live almost entirely on take away food from convenience stores.

Damn. All that’s left here are the pork kimchi bento. Why do they even bother making this stuff during the summer? No one buys them. Well, no one buys them if they have a choice.

I take enough to last me until tomorrow evening. I’d like to avoid going out during the hot mornings as much as I can.



I shove my face into the path of cool air from my air conditioner. I never thought it could get this hot in Japan. The walk from the convenience store to my apartment might have well been a walk through the Sahara as far as I was concerned.

Thankfully, I won’t have to go out much for a while. I’ve got enough money in my account to last me a few months. At the very least, summer would be over by then and work would be much easier.

I slug back my third can of soda. That damned kimchi was spicy as hell. Maybe I should have walked to the next store and bought something else.

Nevermind. I can get some other stuff tomorrow. Right now all I want is to shut my eyes and sleep.




I feel extremely hot.

I wake up sweating and panting.

The air conditioner is on full blast and it’s actually cold in my room. It’s not the environment. The heat is coming from inside.

I feel awful. It’s like I’m running a hundred degree fever.

I roll of my bed. I lay on my back and stare at the ceiling. I can feel the heat slowly subsiding.

After a while I feel well enough to sit up. I run my hands over my body. Even though I’m soaked with sweat, my body feels normal to the touch. No sign of the sudden fever I felt moments ago.

What the hell was that?

I stagger into the bathroom and examine myself in the mirror. My face looks completely normal. I stick out my tongue. Nothing. No sign that anything is amiss.

I wash my face and wipe the remaining sweat off my body. Whatever it was, it’s gone now along with any sleepiness I might have had. I guess I’ll go for a walk. Clear my head.

I throw on some clothes and head out. As an afterthought, I dump the remaining kimchi bento in the garbage.



It’s much cooler tonight than it was this morning. A lot more people on the streets too.

I watch the blur of faces and lights as I wander the city streets. I keep walking. The cool night air helps clear away the cobwebs in my mind.

Normally I would wile away my boredome in a mah-jong or pachinko parlor. Tonight seems different somehow and I don’t feel like doing either of those things. I just keep walking.

Before I knew it, my feet have carried me to the park.

It’s quiet here. Although there are lamps set up along the path ways, it’s not as brightly lit as the rest of the city. On some days, I would say it’s a perfectly romantic spot for couples to spend time together. No couples here tonight though. The benches are empty and the pathways are deserted. It’s just me and the night.

I walk along the lonely pathways. Enjoying the cool air. Then it hits me. The same feeling as before although not as strong this time. My skin prickles as I sense something in the air. Like the residual heat from a bonfire. This time, I recognize this feeling.

It’s the sensation of being in the presence of raw magical energy.

Someone, or something is releasing a large amount of magic. It’s not ominous or oppressive but it’s definitely strong. If I were to guess, I’d say whatever is releasing it isn’t human.

I close my eyes and extend myself. Feeling and probing the area around me. The source was easy enough to find. The magic was just flaring outwards from a central point. It’s slowly subsiding but the source itself hasn’t moved yet.

Taking a shortcut through some bushes I emerge into another world.

I almost slip as I step on the pavement. It’s slick with a red substance. The sea of blood flows before me. In the middle of this red sea is a human corpse. At least I think it’s a human corpse. It’s hardly recognizable. Its limbs are bent at angles they were never meant to go. And its body looks like it was crushed inside a vice. From a perverse point of view, one could say this scene is like how a tomato is squeezed to get its juice.

This place is not normal. Even the black of night is covered with the crimson taint of blood.

From the corner of my eye, I notice something move. I was so fixated on the corpse that I didn’t notice someone was there. The sleeves of her shirt are stained red. Kneeling down and touching the blood flowing on the ground, her hands paint a gruesome picture. Her long hair is is stained with so much blood that it looks like a crimson waterfall falling into a sea of blood. She raises her hands to her face. The blood drips down her fingers and her body shakes.

She turns and stares straight at me.

Instinctively, my hands reach to my waist to grab my gun. Only I didn’t bother bringing it.

Something hits me. A force so strong that it feels like my body is being painfully killed.

I can’t move my limbs.

I can’t breath.

My vision starts to lose color.

Oblivion slowly creeps upon my mind. Slipping into unconsciousness.
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Posted 1/23/08
Interestingly creepy is how I would describe this..
I'm dying to read the next chapters.
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Posted 1/23/08
2/Hunger
August 3, 2007

"IM SORRY!"

I still remember those stupid words. I was so confused by what Takashi told me.

No, that's a lie.

I wasn't confused. I knew exactly what was happening. I was waiting for it. All those times we were together, I tried summoning the courage to say it myself but I never could. It was such a surprise when he told me the very thing that I was dying to tell him.

Why did I run away? Why didn't I accept it?






The simple truth is I was scared.







"Hey! Yuuka-chan! Snap out of it!"

Huh?

A familiar voice.

"Hey! Wake up!"


SMACK!


"OW! You didn't have to hit me senpai."

"You wouldn't wake up if I didn't. Here, we need these reports done by tomorrow."

"HWE! But isn't this your job?"

"I have an important appointment tonight so I’m leaving early. I know I can count on you right? Just leave them at my desk I'll pick them up tomorrow. See ya!"

Uwaaa! Senpai! Don't do this to me! Not again!

She doesn't even look back as she leaves.

I'll have to work late to finish this. You would think with the amount of overtime I put in I'd be due for a raise or a promotion. But only those girls that have "fun" with the boss get raises. On top of that, they get special favors while the rest of us have to work extra because the boss doesn't mind if they fool around.

Just thinking about it pisses me off!

It's not fair at all! I keep picking up their slack but I never get anything in return! The heroine shouldn't have to put up with this much before the hero comes. Then again, if this was a manga it would be a rather poor one.

Fuu.

"I wish it was a manga though. A typical story that young girls would like. With a magical heroine and a hero that loves her. Yeah! A magical girl with an ordinary love interest! He would be weak but would still be protective of his love from the people who pick on her at school but then he would be all shy around the heroine and wouldn't be able to say his true feelings until much later even though it's obvious to everyone that he likes her. That's right! And the heroine would be a wizard or something who would do battle against the forces of evil. She would have saved the hero many times but the hero wouldn't recognize her because she would have a secret identity. Then the hero would be confused as to who he loves more, the girl from school or the magical girl that saved him. Then it would be revealed that it was the same person all along thus letting their love blossom!! YEAH! THAT'S RIGHT!"

"UWAAA! I'd love something like that!"

. . . . . .

Did I just. . . say that out loud?

Everybody is staring at me. . .

I guess I'll just take care of these reports. Auuuu. . .







“I’m home!”
I call out even though I live alone. I’ve never gotten out of the habit even after moving out.

I sit down and massage my feet. I missed the last train home so I had to walk all the way. Thank goodness it’s the weekend. I feel so tired I think I’ll sleep in till noon.



__________


. . . . .

I’m hungry. . .

. . . . But more importantly

Where the heck am I?

A deep forest. Everywhere I turn, all I see are trees.

But something’s wrong somehow.

The colors seem a bit off. Even the way the leaves move seem wrong somehow.

It’s probably my empty stomach that’s making me lightheaded. I mean, a tree’s a tree right?

I start walking. I know if you walk in a straight line through a forest, you’ll eventually walk out. Not really the best of plans but it’s not like I have any choice.




I wish to die
in spring, beneath
the cherry blossoms,
under the full March moon.

Cherry blossoms, Cherry blossoms
Across the April skies,
As far as you can see.

Like a mist or floating cloud


Ah, I know that song, An old Japanese spring song.
By the way, how does that song go from there?

Fragrance fills the air around.

Yes, that was it.

Now, now, let’s go look at them!

“Onee-chan, where did you come from?”


A cat that looked like a little girl. Or a little girl that looked like a cat.

“Onee-chan, if you’re in trouble, I know someone who can help!”

Pulling me by the arm, the cat led me through the forest with amazing speed.

What’s really amazing is that I was able to keep up.




--------


A large Japanese style house with tatami floors.
Since this is a dream, I don’t mind that it’s in the middle of a strange forest.


“Master! Master! Look what I found in the forest!”



I was expecting a large cat of some sort.

A lady wearing strange western-looking clothes wasn’t something I even thought of. The little cat’s master, her clothes reminded me of a porcelain doll. All frills, ribbons, and lace.


“Ara~! A young wanderer. Where might you be from young mistress?”

Her voice echoed inside my head. Melodic but harsh. Echoing, bouncing around in my head. I didn’t even see her lips move.

The world started to sway. I need to sit down.

Looking up at the lady, I somehow knew she was smiling even though she hid her face behind a fan.

“You’re not. . . . ah. It seems you’re very far from your home. . . “

I couldn’t help but think it was a really creepy smile.

“Well then!”

She suddenly slaps her fan across her palm and sits in front of me.

Her eyes are really starting to creep me out.

“You’re quite welcome here young lady. But you and I both know you really can’t stay for long.”

She has a point. Wow. This is starting to get really weird. Even for a dream.
“Umm. Yes. But I don’t really know where I am. . uhh ma’am.”

“Neither do we. This place doesn’t really have a proper name. It’s simply what our kind call home.”

“Your kind?”

“OUR kind.”

Getting creepy. . .

“But. You have another place you call home, don’t you? Only you don’t know the way back.”

“Uhh . . Yes."
"But this is a dream isn’t it? I just have to wake up, right?”

“Fufufufu~ In that case, let me help you wake up.”

The lady stands up and starts to slowly pass her fan over my head.

I should write all this down when I wake up, it’ll make good material.

My stomach growls.

“Maybe after breakfast.” I mutter to myself.

I start to feel myself slipping through the floor.

“Enjoy yourself. I envy you a bit.”

With those words floating in my head, I slip through the gap.


_______



-------- Suddenly, I wake up.

A vast night.

In a small patch of grass I stare blankly at the moon.

Something is gnawing inside me.

A feeling of emptiness. Not a burning pain but a dull, constant ache.

I feel a pair of hands grab me and lift me up.

A face enters my vision. It opens its mouth but I can’t really make out anything it says.

The person pulls something out of his pocket and starts talking into it.



The gnawing inside me grows stronger.



I stare at him as his body starts to contort. He might have screamed but I never heard it.

Blood started to flow from his mouth. His eyes looked like they were about to pop out as his chest started to cave in.

Kneeling beside the body. I felt a strange sense of satisfaction.

I tore off one of its limbs and put it to my mouth.

The flesh warmed my insides.

Chewing off the fingers. Drinking up the red spill.








It was really. . . .








. . . . the best thing I’ve ever tasted.





A rustling sound.

A figure emerges from the darkness.

My eyes latch on to new prey.
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3/Witch

. . .

. . .

I can breath again.


It’s a bit painful to breath but I still suck in as much air as I can.

“Hey you! It’s dangerous just lying around like that.”

And I hear a familiar voice.

I open my eyes and try to sit up. Every inch of my body hurts, like I just had the beating of my life.
The pain wakes me up and for the first time, I smell the scent of scorched concrete.

Looking up, I see a young foreign girl standing before me. Her black hair tied with ribbons, wearing a simple denim skirt and a t-shirt.

“Eh?”

“What do you mean ‘eh’? You have an awful lot of free time on your hands if you can just sleep around here in the middle of the night. I was this close to kicking you, so you better watch out.”

She says this before taking a drink from the can of beer she was holding.

Japan is the only country where a girl like her can just walk up to a vending machine and buy a can of beer.

“Marissa.”

“Ahhh. Even vampires would prefer a cold beer to hot blood during times like this.”

“Marissa!”

“What? Can’t get up? Old age getting to you Takashi?”

“Im hearing this from someone whose life scales up to three digits. Where is she?”

“Who?”

“The girl, the one that killed that person!”

I turned to point towards the corpse. The poor guy. Talk about wrong place, wrong time.

“Oh, her. She ran off. I didn’t even land a single shot” She says as she drops coins into a vending machine.

The creature Im talking to is named Marissa Chandler. A friend sort of.

I say creature because despite her cute looks, she’s not human. Although she displays vampiric tendencies, she’s not really a vampire either. For one thing, she isn’t affected by sunlight or anything “normal” vampires are prone to.

She came back to where I was sitting holding a new can of beer. Seems she’s not even going to bother helping me up.

I drag myself to a nearby bench and try to sort things out in my head.

The scent of blood is starting to get to me. What was that thing?

A Hybrid? No, there were very few of those bloodlines left and none of them were stupid enough to go out and kill in the middle of the city. Almost all were very rich families so they had no reason to, even if any of them wanted human flesh.

The only other things I could think of was a creature coming through from the gaps between worlds, or a changed human. I’d say that it was the second option given the fact that Im still alive.

“Hey, Takashi! Catch!”

I looked up and only barely managed to catch the hot can of coffee before it struck my face.

“You’re thinking too much. Whatever it was, the locals will take care of it. Bet the local Shrine Maiden is already on it.”

“It’s a she. And didn’t you just beat up the local Shrine Maiden a week ago?”

“Oh. Yeah, I almost forgot. I bet she’s really pissed at me right now. She likes sake so maybe I should go bring her a present or something.”

I take a sip of coffee. I’d rather not get in the middle of their love-hate relationship.

I close my eyes and sort through my memories. I summon forth memories of islands I’ve visited. Waves crashing into the white sands. The salty tang of ocean air. I can feel the mana flowing into me, cool and crisp. I quickly draw an intricate symbol in the air and force the mana from my mind into the symbol.

I open my eyes.

There. My attackers aura left a perfect trail. A distinct red purple haze slowly dissipating into the night sky.

“You gonna follow her?”

“Finding out where she came from.”

I drain the can and tossed it into a bin. Taking out my mobile phone, I made a call.

“Machida here. Shit, you’re up this late too?”

“Yeah. Hey, I got something for you guys. . . .”


--------------



That guy. He’s always taking things too seriously.

Even back then when he was just a little idiot with a few tricks.

He never did have much talent. But he made up for it with “absolute effort”

“So bothersome.”

He can go monster hunting as much as he wants. Im going to go have some fun.




*******




The shrine doesn’t look as creepy in the day as it does at night.

In the light of the afternoon sun, you wouldn’t notice its’ dilapidated state.

“Psh. Yeah. Either way you look at it, it’s still a poor looking shrine.”

Because of the rumors surrounding the family that cares for it, hardly anyone comes to pay their respects to this shrine. Never mind donations.

Ignoring the front door out of habit, I enter silently through one of the windows.

THUK!

Barely missing my head, a knife buries itself in the wall.

“WHOA! You could’ve seriously hurt someone with that!”

“Thieves are shown no quarter.”

Staring at me with her sharp crimson eyes the shrine maiden, Ninomiya Nanako, doesn’t even acknowledge that she knows me.

“Yeah, like there’s anything worth stealing in here. Anyway, thieves don’t bring gifts.”
“So, wanna have a few drinks tonight?”

“Why are you here again?”

“Huh? Are you talking to me?”

“Who else is there!!”

“Geez, don’t get angry. Im giving you fewer donations now.”

“YOU NEVER GIVE ANY IN THE FIRST PLACE!!”

“No need to be so blunt about it.”
“Anyway, don’t complain like that when you look so happy.”

“WHA!! No!”

“That was a joke by the way.”

“GAH!”

“Oho! You actually ARE happy aren’t you?”

“I. . I . . .YOU!”
“THE HELL I AM!!”

“Im really being a nuisance then?”

“Um . . .”

“All I really wanted was to see you.” *sob sob*

“Well. . . um . . . “
“It’s. . . It’s not that you’re a nuisance. . . Coming to see me like that. . . Im. . . happy. . . .”

“Then you ARE happy after all!”

She can be so adorable at times.


Her silver hair and crimson eyes make her stand out so she takes the time to dye her hair black. Unfortunately, she cant wear contact lenses for some reason so she cant hide her eye color. She’s never belonged with any group. Paired with the horrible training her family imposed on her, she must really be lonely.



It’s surprising how well we match.
These crimson eyes of ours must be bad luck.




“Geez.”

I pull Nanako close and kiss her soft lips.
“You big faker.”
“Hmm. you should dye your hair again. I can see some silver showing.” I said as I play with the white ribbon she ties her hair with.

“Ah. . . umm . . .”

Wow, she looks really cute when she’s flustered.
“Why are you all dressed up today? Is there a festival or something I don’t know about?”

She’s wearing her shrine maiden outfit, the distinctive red hakama and white kimono shirt, though her outfit lacks the normal long white sleeves. That’s not really out of the ordinary even though she prefers wearing regular clothes. What concerns me is she’s brought out her sword as well.

“What? You mean someone like you didn’t feel it?”

“Am I some sort of evil spirit to you? Felt what?”

“No way! You really didn’t feel anything? Something came in. A youkai beast from the spirit world. It’s really hard to miss the ridiculous spike of power in the park last night.”

Oh that.

C’mon you can’t possibly mean. . .

“You mean, you’re supposed to do something about it?”

“It’s in my blood. Besides, it’s the duty of the local shrine maiden.”

With that, she stands up and makes for the door. Her sword hanging from her hips.

The light of the setting sun makes her look serene. Like an autumn leaf slowly falling to the earth.

It’s obvious that she’s going up against something way out of her league. Even I had trouble with that youkai in the park. That Aozaki survived can be attributed more to luck than anything.

Normally, I wouldn’t bother myself with these things. Living for too many years, I’ve seen too many lives go by, and taken far too many myself. To achieve happiness as a mortal being, I’ve lost much of my humanity.

But still, I cling to what little I have left.

So. . .




*******




“So. . . Why’d you come along too?”

“Ah you know me, I can’t help butting into other people’s business.”

Across the street is the park from last night. Seems the police have closed it off. There’s a large sign saying there’s some wild animal of some sort.



Nothing out of the ordinary. Just ignore us.



So goes Nanakons’ ward. Just a simple suggestion so everyone else wont mind us. Im impressed by the subtlety and technique. She really IS a shrine maiden after all.

The policemen didn’t even turn in our direction as we walked straight in.




“So, how are we supposed to go about this?”

Now that we’re here, I realize I have absolutely no idea what we’re supposed to do. If this was my task, I’d just obliterate the place and everything in it. Simple and direct.

Obviously that can’t be done here, So what now?


“Hey, did you have a plan or something? Or were you just going to wander around and beat the crap out of whatever it is you happen to find?”

“OF COURSE I HAVE A PLAN!! Now, be quiet!”

She pulls out a talisman and holds it between her fingers as she starts to chant. The paper talisman stiffens and starts to glow as she focuses her energy.

A ward is always something that isolates an area from the outside world. The best wards don’t feel weird to a normal person. Shall we call it “an idea that forces itself on the unconcsciousness.” The best of the best reach the stage of “disconnection of space”, but to go that far, you’d have to look for gods rather than magicians.

Well, nothing that powerful was formed. It’s pretty complex. This one is aimed inwards rather than outwards. The kind that makes it so no one notices no matter what happens within the area of effect. Even if someone would set off a bomb, not one person would notice the noise.

“Very nice. But, you sure you’re still up for this after that?”

“Hmph. I wouldn’t make a plan that I couldn’t keep up with.”

Even though you’re already sweating?

“Besides, You’re here, so you might as well give me some back up.”

“Fuuu~ Some plan. I can only shoot down things. Nothing more.”

“That should be enough.”

BIBIBIBI

My mobile phone is ringing.

It’s Takashi. Kinda odd for him to call me. Usually, I call him.

“Ya. Hey! Takashi!”

“Where are you!?”

“In the park. Im with the local shrine maiden. Don’t worry. We’re gonna take care of your little monster trouble.”

“WHAT! Listen! Don’t sh---.”

For a moment, there was a dull crunching sound. Pain shot through my right side.

Damn. That was quick. I wasn’t even able to put up a barrier.

Out of instinct, I leap behind one of the trees for cover.

Im lucky she only managed to wreck my arm. It looks like it was run over by a truck. I don’t even want to think what would have happened if whatever attack she threw at me hit my head.

Preparing a spell in the back of my mind, I take a peek from behind the tree.

The youkai rushed at Nanako. Reaching out with it’s arms, intent on ripping her apart, it narrowly avoided a quick slash from her. Grabbing her sword arm, it squeezed hard enough to put her on her knees.

Summoning memories of far off mountains, I threw the spell I prepared at the monster.

A short distance away from my target, The spell hit something incredibly dense. The spell completely broke up, the stray mana setting some of the surrounding foiliage on fire.

Turning towards me, the youkai beast stared at me with a deranged expression. At the very least, I got the monster’s attention.

I touch my right arm. The blood is still flowing. The flesh is still torn.
I smile a bit. The flow of blood is proof that Im alive.

Gathering some of the blood, I force my bones to realign and my flesh to close. The pain was indescribable, but I need a working limb to fight.

Two delicate legs kick the ground.

The monster comes at me as I rush towards it.

I ram my fist into its stomach, It was like punching solid concrete. I don’t think I did any damage but I was able to push it a fair distance away.

With a small flame at the tip of my finger, I write in the air. The writing reflecting on the body of the youkai as if it were being projected.

The engraved sorcery of a far off world. The mana moves and in an instant – the monster is engulfed in flames.

“. . . Tch. It’s too weak with just the rune in the air.”

The flames soon go out.

A blur of red white flies past me.

The air that followed the swinging of her sword crudely snapped some branches off a tree.

Normal humans, even some other creatures, wouldn’t have been able to see her movements carried out at such high speeds. Even so, the youkai matched her. Their movements creating a maelstrom of wind that shook the tree branches wildly.

A smashing blow to her chest and Nanakon is sent flying. The youkai starts rushing at me. It probably sees me as the more dangerous threat, pretty smart for a wild beast.

But I was expecting this. I knew the best Nanakon would be able to do was slow it down. The time she bought allowed me to gather some serious mana.

Bracing myself, I raise my arm, palm facing the monster about to rip me to pieces.

Not even that shield of yours can withstand firepower that is the equivalent of a battleship’s cannon.












No!














The firestorm I had gathered in my mind was starting to ebb away. The mana was leaking! Fast!

At this rate, the shot would be just about stronger than a rifle bullet.

NO! SHIT!

I can’t even raise my barrier any more!

The youkai doesn’t seem to notice my sudden bewilderment as it grabs my face.
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I never intended to join the contest. This is the first time Im presenting my work to the public, some parts may be unpolished or clumsy, so I don't really think it's contest material. Though, it would make me happy if you find it the least bit entertaining.
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Wow..I read the whole thing...took me a while, but i read it. This may not be contest material, but definitely novel material. I can actually picture this long story in a novel.
Are you going to post more? If so, buddy me and let me know...this is really interesting~
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3/Magician 2




I followed the trail.

The red-purple haze hung like smoke in the air. It was starting to get fainter so I walked faster before I lost it.

My eyes were starting to get tired. It was a while since I last used this spell, I guess it’s only natural.

It would be dawn soon, and any trace of the lingering red-purple haze would be drowned out by the sun’s rays.

I started to run.


And I ended up in front of my apartment building.

There was a fairly large concentration of the haze in the apartment above my window. Staring at it is making my eyes water so I stop the spell on my eyes.

This was unexpected. But then again, I don’t know anyone else in the entire building so I shouldn’t really be surprised.

It seems, this is going to be a bit more complicated than I thought.




I stopped by my own apartment to prepare. Im not the type to get caught flat footed twice.

Sure, I did take my gun, but I only have wax bullets for it. I don’t think I’d ever have the guts to shoot a person dead.

A simple spell to unlock the door and I step in.

Inside are shelves of manga. An entire library. There’s even some old Weekly Shonen magazines in perfect condition. Even going as far back as when Ashita no Joe was serialized.

And scattered on the floor are crumpled pieces of tissue paper. Ugh. I can only imagine. . .

This was a surprise. I expected a mages atelier or something, not a stereotypical otaku room.

Searching around, I find nothing regarding magic. No books or scrolls. Just more manga and weird things that these sort of people like.

Hmmm. What’s this?

A picture frame. The photograph is of a girl and a boy in their highschool uniforms.

She looks familiar.

Hey, wait a minute. That guy in the photo is. . . me.

A feeling of nostalgia. . .




Kakizaki Yuuka. Now I remember.

Does she live here? A quick search in one of the drawers reveals some bills addressed to her. This room certainly fits my memories of her. I guess she hasn’t changed since then.

Some investigator I am. I didn’t even know she lived in the same building.


Wait.



If this is her apartment, what’s her connection with the youkai that I encountered earlier? Before I forget, the reason I came here is because I was following the creature’s trail.

Has she been eaten?

No. The room is clean. No sign of blood at all.

As I mulled over the pieces of information in my head, I notice a slight distortion in the air just above the bed.

I leaned closer. Out of curiosity, I reached out towards it with my hand and mentally touched it.

An inexplicable feeling of menace assaulted me. I recoiled in fear and furiously retracted the mental feelers that I extended.

The air started to feel stifling and heavy. I could feel the energy in the air spiraling and concentrating on the curious spot in the air.


How stupid of me! In my feeling of mixed nostalgia and bewilderment I failed to recognize the distortion for what it was.

A weakening in the border of this existence. A gap in our world.

I rummage furiously through my memories, looking for something to staunch the flow of energies. I know I have a proper spell. I plunge myself into my mental mansion, throwing open doors to the rooms that I constructed to house my spells.

Empty.

Empty.

Empty.

I haven’t been using my spells much, but I never realized I was walking around practically spell-less!

The gap grew wider. A black stain bordered by prismatic strands.

Drawing my pistol and removing the safety, I steeled myself to meet whatever emerged from that inky blackness.

Something cold and vaguely visible wrapped around me. A shapeless thing lifted me up and slammed me into the floor. My pistol flying out of reach.

Another meeting with the floor. My blood started singing in my ears. My vision was starting to get blurry.

But the pain shook something loose in my mind.

Gritting my teeth. I focus through the pain to draw mana to fuel my spell.

Another painful meeting with the floor.

I grab the tentacle wrapped around my body. Disgusting! It felt like grabbing some slimy thing from the sewer.
My target, the weak tethers keeping it in this world. I focus and pour my power into a relatively simple command word.

“Go. Away!”

I direct the flow of energy through the creature and into its’ weak bonds to this world, disrupting them. Enough for the World to crush the distortion.

The thing disintegrated into motes of dust as its’ spiritual essence was blasted back to where It came from. With the creature gone, the bounded field that accompanied it collapsed.


I try to get up but pain shoots through my entire body. I feel so awful that I throw up.

Getting attacked by one weird creature is rare enough, but two? In just a little over half a day? Normal must have taken a vacation. Well, whatever passed for normal anyway. Everyone and everything I meet seems to be weird in one way or another.

Comes with the job I guess.


I drag myself across the floor and prop myself by the bed. A cigarette would be really great right now, too bad I already quit.

I can still see the distortion above the bed. As long as I don’t direct any magical energy at it, it should be fine for now. I don’t have the means to take care of it right now anyway.

A gap between worlds. That just leads to all sorts of trouble.

A mage should be prepared. Better take out that old spellbook and memorize a few spells I might need.

As an afterthought I use the mess I made on the floor to draw a few runes on the window and the door. Just to keep any curious people away.

Vomit to make a boundary field. Who said magic had to be glamorous? Besides, I don’t feel like cutting myself to draw with blood. Any bodily fluid will do fine. And no, urine doesn’t work as good.


*****


Sitting meditation. A good way to lock spells in your mind and getting your legs stiff.

It’s been a real painful day.

I swallow a few painkillers and call Marissa on my mobile. The youkai that attacked me in the park held valuable clues. It’s obvious I’m no match for it. Might as well call on the big guns.

......

“Ya. Hey! Takashi!”

“Where are you!?”

“In the park. Im with the local shrine maiden. Don’t worry. We’re gonna take care of your little monster trouble.”

“WHAT! Listen! Don’t shoot it! I want to capture –“

Dammit, the line cut off.

I tried calling her again but the friendly recorded voice tells me she’s either out of reach or has her mobile phone off.

Whatever happened, those two can take care of it. A half-demon and a vampire sorceress, those two are monsters in their own right. I’m more worried that they might kill the youkai before I can get anything out of it. That, and they might destroy the park as well.

I grab my coat and head out. Who wears a trench coat in summer? But I don’t have anything else to keep my holster out of sight. And my blazer smells of sweat and vomit.

I quick run through my mental mansion to check on my spells. The reassuring weight of my gun. I head for the park.

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I love it, i love it, i love it! Write more <333~ I'm so glad you decided to write more!
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Hey, this is getting interesting. Write more!
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5/Reunion


The youkai lifted me into the air. It’s hand covered my face so I couldn’t see if it was smiling, but I had a feeling it was.

I lied. I can do more than just shoot down things.

Twisting my hips, I kick its chest with all my strength. Surprisingly, I managed to connect. For a moment, I thought I heard bones cracking. The youkai let me go and held it’s chest in pain.

The mana I gathered for my spell is gone, but I still have enough to maintain and enhance my body. Otherwise, I would’ve been reduced to a pile of blood and fluid.

Its barrier is gone.

I can’t shoot anything right now so Im just going to beat the crap out of it!

Leaping forward. I punch it’s face and kick it in the stomach. Hah! It may be resistant to spells but it’s no match for simple physical attacks! I wish I had a sword with me right now.

I pummel the beast in front of me. It tries to fight back, swiping at me with its arms. I block them easily and continue my attack.

Random, beastlike movements like that aren’t going to work on me!

Beating something to death feels awful, but it’s not like I haven’t done this before.

I alternate between striking its face and chest. It blocks a few of my attacks but it can’t even slow me down.

I throw a feint towards its chest and quickly follow up with a flying kick towards its face. My foot connects solidly with its chin and the beast goes down,

Flat on its back like that, it doesn’t seem so dangerous now. I’ll just crush its head and be done with it.

But before I could do that, I feel three projectiles strike me.

It didn’t hurt too much but it did get my attention. I guess someone just shot me. A policeman? What the hell is Nanakon doing!?

Turning around to face the shooter, I see someone not entirely unexpected.

“YOU!”

It’s Takashi. I should’ve known. There’s only one mage in town who can cast Mana Leak. He’s not that good with a gun, but even if he missed and hit me by mistake . . .

I can see his hands shaking as I walk towards him.

“What the hell are you doing!?”
“Where the hell do you think you’re shooting at!? Goddammit! I didn’t think you sucked that much!”

He’s shielding his face with his arms. The idiot, if I wanted to punch him I’d break both his arms.

“H-hey! It’s not like I could just shout for you to stop! I need that youkai for information.”

“Information my ass! You can’t negotiate with beasts like that!”

Suddenly, paper talismans flew right past us.

Dozens of talismans started to circle the fallen body of the youkai. Each glowed with a bright white light, the workings of spiritual magic that I had no understanding of. The talismans attached themselves to the youkai covering its eyes and mouth and binding its arms and legs.

A sealing spell. I was wondering if Nanakon was alright after taking that hit to her chest. Hmm, she’s tougher than I thought.

“So, are you going to help me with this?” Nanakon asked as she went over to the sealed youkai.

“Huh? Help with what?”

“We’re taking this back to the shrine.” Nanakon replied, kicking the bound youkai. “It’s his plan, and it makes a lot of sense if you think about it. We don’t have much time. Im having trouble keeping the ward up as it is.”

She tossed a photograph at me. Is it a shrine maiden trait to be able to throw flimsy pieces of paper accurately I wonder?

The photograph showed a younger Takashi with a nerdy looking girl.

. . .

What the hell am I supposed to make out of this? I look over at Takashi but he just backs away and covers his face again.

Gah, is this really the guy that made it out of that incident?

Whatever. I’ll sort this out once we get back to the shrine. I’d better help Nanakon. No one, especially not a youkai beast would appreciate being clumsily dragged anywhere.

“You’d better appreciate this Taka! You owe me a night out!”


--------


Raw meat touching my lips, sliding down my throat.

The sensation of consuming a life.

It can’t be compared to anything I’ve ever eaten.

Hot blood. Twitching muscle. The slight resistance.

The wonderful feeling of domination. The euphoria of knowing that what you are consuming is helpless against your will.

I love it.




I wake up in a strange place.

The flickering flames of numerous candles cast strange shadows against the walls. The floor is made of tatami and the high ceiling makes the place feel like a shrine of some sort.

I can’t move my arms or legs. Laying helplessly like this douses the wonderful feeling I had.

As much as I try, I can’t remember how I got into this situation nor can I remember how I received that wonderful high.

Was I drugged? My memory is all fuzzy. I can’t remember anything between going to bed and this scene.

Maybe this is all just a bad dream. Something I ate? I should be waking up in my bed anytime now.

But no matter how I try, I can’t wake up.

“Oh no. I still have work tomorrow.”

“Ara! It can talk! That’s a surprise.”

A young girl stepped into the light. She didn’t look Japanese but her speech was fluent. If you asked me, she looked rather cute.

“Hey now, do you understand what I’m saying?” The girl asked.

“Ye. . Yes. I can. Where am I?”

“You’re in Japan. Shinzo Abe is the prime minister. Interest rates are nonexistent. It’s ridiculously crowded. Pizza usually has mayonnaise. You can sleep drunk almost anywhere without harassment. Does that answer your question?”

I nod. This girl seems to have been here for a long time.

With an amused grin on her face she takes out a photograph and shows it to me.

“Hey, do you recognize this photo?”

Of course I recognize it. It’s one of my treasured memories.

“That’s mine! How did you get it? . . . AH! Did you rob my apartment?! Please! Just leave the manga alone!”

Her expression shifts from amusement to confusion. Then she just bursts out laughing.

“KYAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!”

Holding her stomach, she laughs so hard she looks like she might burst. Somehow, she manages to walk over and open a door.

“HEY TAKA! Get a load of thi-“

Before she could finish a man barges in, knocking her down to the floor in the process. His face looked familiar once he stepped into the light.

He comes closer and holds the same photograph to my face.

“Do you know anyone in this photo?” He asks.

“Ye. . . Yes. That’s me in the picture. And the guy is an old friend of mine. Takashi Aozaki.”

His face turned pale and contorted to an expression of confusion and surprise.

Turning away, he sits next to the foreign girl and lights a cigarette.
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