Kyo

Fuyukaba Academy: Demon Hunters

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"BZZZZZZZZZ!"

 

 

 

 

"BZZZZZZZZ!"

 

 

 

 

"BZZZZZZZZ!"

 

 

 

 

 

"BZZZ-THUNK!"

 

A hand crept out of the navy blue sheets and unceremoniously thumped the buzzing alarm clock in order to get it to stop. The hand then disappeared back into the whole from whence it came. The sheets stirred momentarily as the figure underneath readjusted itself before settling once more. The walls of the small room were bare, and there was little about that room that would give clues to the person that lived in it. It was minimalist, decorated with neutral colours. The floor, however, had been kindly decorated by the owner of the room, with heaps of trousers, shirts, pants and socks. A gentle thumping sound steadily grew louder and a soft groan could be heard from under the sheets, as the sleeping figure prepared for what was coming. The bedroom door opened with a bang.

 

The girl stood in the doorway was dressed in an oversized white hoodie and a pair of cut-off denim shorts, with her legs bare and a pair of pink slippers on her feet. She was young, only 17, with light brown shoulder length hair that was thick, untidy and boyish. She had a bowl of cereal in her right hand and her jaw was moving up and down with a crunching motion as she eyed the figure under the sheets. This girl was Hisako Ishihara, a tomboyish middle child of three sisters. However, to the figure under the sheets, she might as well have been the devil himself. She wandered over to his bed and promptly shoved her foot roughly where she presumed his face to be. 

 

"Oiii!" she cried as she jabbed the figure with her foot. "Wake up, dumbass!" she added. The sheets rippled and a face pulled itself out from under them. The boy staring back at Hisako had dark brown hair, mid-length and untidy. His eyes were like narrow slits as he glared at her, a combination of fury and exhaustion. 

"Who you callin' dumbass!?" He barked, shoving her foot off of the side of his face, causing her to tip back and spill some of the milk out of her cereal bowl. "Oii! Dumbasss!" he roared as the milk splattered along the carpet of his bedroom. "Quit coming in my room and wrecking stuff!"

"This isn't you're room, freeloader!" Hisako spat back, rubbing the milk into the carpet with her foot, before storming off out of the door, calling as she went, "Mari says you've to get your ass up!"

 

The boy sighed and pulled himself out of bed. His name was Karyu Morinaga, and in a way he was a freeloader in this house. The house belonged to Mari Ishihara, the oldest of the three sisters. Karyu was just her guest, and had been for as long as he could remember. He was under foster care from Mari, and although she never complained much, he had not been the easiest kid to bring up. Not that he cared much about that right now. He was awake, and steadily becoming more aware of the painful grumbles his stomach was making. He got up and decided to get dressed. 

 

 


 

 

Karyu emerged in the kitchen to find the three women of the house already inside. Hisako was sitting at the table absent mindedly slurping the remains of her cereal whilst playing a handheld games console. Beside her at the table was her younger sister, Aoi. Aoi was a stark change from her older sister. She was ten years old with long, straight black hair that reached her hips. She was dressed in a school uniform and was busy reading a rather thick book. When Karyu entered the room she only looked at him briefly, disinterestedly, before turning back to her book. Meanwhile behind them both, making packed lunches, was a young woman with light brown hair like Hisako's, but it was long and flowing. The woman, Mari, turned around and gave Karyu a warm smile. 

 

"Morning!" she said brightly. 

"Yo!" Karyu replied. He was dressed in his school uniform now. A pair of black trousers, black shoes, an un-tucked white shirt and a black blazer, with a school tie hanging loosely around his neck, the two top buttons of his shirt undone. He reached over the counter as two pieces of toast popped out of the toaster. He grabbed them both and put one of them in his mouth, taking a big bite out of it. 

"Hey!" Aoi cried, finally taking her head away from her book for more than a moment. She was scowling with her large, childlike eyes. They were a bright emerald colour, the same as her sister's, but hers were by far the most striking. "Karyu-nii! That's my toast!"

"Ah, too bad..." Karyu replied with a sly smirk, "You'll have to move quicker next time."

 

"Karyu! Give Aoi her toast!" Mari yelled as she continued preparing packed lunches. 

"Tch!" Karyu replied, "Fine..." he threw one of the pieces of toast on Aoi's plate and finished devouring the rest of the one he had bitten into. He pulled a silly face at Aoi and went into the hall to grab his backpack. As he slung it over his shoulder he heard Mari call him, and then a lunch bag flew through the air which he caught adeptly and stuffed into his backpack. "Thanks!" he said as he made his way for the door, "Later!"

 

 


 

 

Karyu walked down the street heading towards his school. Fuyukaba was a pretty ordinary town. The residential area were lined up neatly with walkways in between the houses, as was quite common with modern residential housing plans. The heart of the town was Amatsuseki, a large shopping complex built around a courtyard area with bushes and benches. Even in the early hours it was quite busy, with people making their way to work, and the younger crowd on their way to school. He watched the various cliques chatting and joking with each other as they made their way to school. He was an outsider of sorts, both at home and at school. He had acquired a reputation of being a troublemaker and a delinquent, and that was enough to keep most people from getting to close to him. Not that he really cared, they were all idiots anyway. 

 

As he passed through Amatsuseki's courtyard his eyes caught the image of an older man shuffling across the courtyard from him. Nobody else was really paying him any mind, but he looked worn out, perhaps a bit sick. Karyu slowed his walk as he gazed at the man. He was clearly not the sort many people cared about. Probably homeless, a rare occurrence in Fuyukaba, but not unheard of. Karyu was about to move on his way when he noticed that the man had stumbled, and fallen to his knees. Nobody else was bothering to do anything. He sighed and strode towards the man. As he approached he took note of the growing stench. Perhaps this was why nobody was paying him any mind. 

 

"Yo! Old man!" he called as he drew closer, "You okay?" he asked, as he took the man by the arm and helped him up. He winced at the stench. This guy had to be homeless, he smelled like he hadn't had a bath in years. The man began to get up, gripping on to Karyu's arm for support. His grip was surprisingly tight. As he got back to his feet Karyu attempted to bring back his arm, but the man would not loosen his grip. He tugged a bit harder and the hobo turned and glared at him. His eyes looked dead, like he was drunk or something. Karyu's teeth clenched and he heaved, finally relinquishing his arm from the stinky bum's grip. "Tch!" he spat, scowling at the old man as he walked away, "Some gratitude you have, geezer!"

 

 


 

 

Finally Karyu had arrived at Fuyukaba Academy, a 5 floored school for the students in the town. He was walking along the second floor to his homeroom class, 2F. He stepped inside the classroom to find that most of the students were already present and were either sitting quietly, or talking among themselves. Karyu noted that their teacher hadn't arrived yet and sauntered up to the back of the classroom. He sat at a spare desk and put his bag on the floor, putting his feet up on the desk. 

 

Within moments their teacher had arrived. Noritoshi Hideaki. Hideaki-sensei was normally a History teacher, but he was also Karyu's homeroom teacher. He was a man in his late 40's, with grey hair that was still thick and cut into a short, spiked hairstyle. He was dressed in black trousers, open toed sandals, and a black shirt with a mandarin collar. Around his neck was a long necklace with a large, silver pentagram medallion on the end. As Hideaki-sensei entered the room he stopped almost instantly, sniffing the air as if he could smell something strange. Then as his view tiled towards Karyu, the light caught his glasses and the glare hid his eyes, making him look a little menacing. Karyu raised his brow, waiting for Hideaki-sensei to say something to him, but his teacher simply turned back to his desk and walked over to it, taking a seat. 

 

"Settle down!" He called with a calm yet firm tone. Immediately the students settled down and took their seats. He smiled and continued. "Okay so it looks like a full house today. Very good. I'll just run through the register to double check...hmm...Abukara, Shuya...Aihara, Keiji..." and so he continued as he worked his way down the list of students in the class. After a few minutes he came to Karyu.

"Morinaga, Karyu...here I see." he said with another smirk. "Will you be staying for the whole day this time, Morinaga-kun?"

"I haven't decided yet." Karyu replied bluntly. 

"I see..." Hideaki responded, pondering for a moment. "I hate to break it to you Morinaga-kun, but if you continue to skip classes it won't be long before you are suspended."

"So...let me get this right..." Karyu replied, mockingly stroking his chin as if thinking deeply. "If I don't come to school you guys are gonna punish me by telling me not to come to school?"

 

"It's not how I would handle things." Hideaki replied, "However I don't make the rules. You should pray that one day that does not become the case. Because if it were up to me, you'd be begging for a suspension."

"Tch!" Karyu responded with a frown and a soft shrug. He wasn't scared of a teacher, or their empty threats. One of the few upsides to being an orphan was people cut you a lot of slack. He probably shouldn't abuse that, but he often did. More precisely he just never questioned it. He could tell when people felt like that about him. Many of the teachers, the parents, and even some of his fellow students all looked at him in the same way. They pitied him. He didn't need their pity, but he got it anyway. That was usually why he acted out. However Hideaki-sensei looked at him differently. He wasn't quite sure what this look conveyed, but it was certainly not pity. 

 

"Right then" Hideaki said finally. "Off to your next class, all of you." 

Karyu got up from his seat and walked out of the classroom. What was his next class? On a monday the first thing after Homeroom was...

"I hope you haven't forgotten where my classroom is, Morinaga-kun" came Hideaki-sensei's voice from behind him. That's right, on Monday he had History straight after homeroom. There was no ditching out this time. 

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The early morning sun shone into the large, old room. It's beams casting a dim orange glow over everything inside. The room itself was sparse in decoration. The floor was wooden, but covered with an old mat, training equipment placed precisely around the room. Every few seconds a deep thunk resounded through the room, accompanied by a light metal ringing sound. A red punching bag hanging from the ceiling by a metal chain was the source of the noise. A fist flew into the centre of the bag and another deep thud rang out while the chain wobbled. The fist was quickly followed by a strong knee which led into a powerful kick to the bag's side. It swung violently until a pair of hands took it by either side to still it's swinging.

The boy who was using it for training looked around seventeen or eighteen, but he was only a few months into his sixteenth birthday. He was tall and his body was slim and taught with well-defined athletic muscle, unusual but not unheard of for someone his age. He leant forwards and rested his head on the bag, brushing long, silver hair out of his face. Sweat trickled down his brow and dripped off the end of his nose. He stood there, leaning on the bag for what seemed like an eternity, until at last he looked up. The boy's eyes were an unusual mixture of blue and green, like two orbs of aquamarine. For a moment they looked tired and something else that you couldn't quite read, but then the look vanished and his face tightened as he stood back from the bag.

Bringing his fist back, he readied himself to put all his force into a single hit, but as he took a step forwards to attack he heard a distant voice. He stopped mid-swing and waited.
"Your tea is ready, Master Haru." The voice came again, it was just outside the sliding door.
"Come in," he replied, picking up a towel and drying himself off. The servant girl walked in with a tray of piping hot green tea, placed it down, knelt and closed the door behind her, then picked up the tray and stood again, all in one fluid motion.
"You are late." He added, pulling on a pair of black trousers over his boxer shorts.
"I'm sorry, Sir." She bowed, offering him the tea.

Haru stared at her for a moment, then allowed her to remain in that pose as he picked up his white school shirt and pulled it on, buttoning it up until at last he knelt down and took the cup, drinking it's contents in a single gulp before offering it back to her with one hand. As she poured more green tea into the cup she caught his gaze and immediately looked down.

"Tell my father I will be leaving shortly." He added, sipping his tea as she nodded and left the room silently. He turned back to the cup in his hand, staring at it's contents thoughtfully. 

 


 

 

"Haru!" His father called out to him as he opened the front door and began walking down their front path, he turned back to look at the man who was in his fifties with a short grey goatee. "I want you back here before nightfall. It's time for another hunt."
Haru's breath quickened slightly, but there was no perceptible change in his serene expression or voice, "Yes, father." He replied, bowing slightly with his head. He walked to the end of the path when he heard another voice behind him.
"Aniki?!" A girl called out, it was his younger sister. She was only nine years old, but soon to be ten. "Aniki!" She called again, waving her arm as she ran up to him, stopping just short of his reach.

"Are you going to school? I could walk with you." She smiled, her medium-length silvery hair swaying in the wind. Her eyes were quite different to his, a dark brown. "Only, if you're--"
"I am too busy for this, Chiyo." He replied bluntly, her face dropping.
"Oh, oh yeah, I know..." She muttered, kicking the floor, "But... but i'll be like you really soon and then we can do stuff together like you and father do?"
"Be patient." He replied, his face tightening. He turned away from her and walked to the end of the path as one of the servants opened the limousine's passenger door. He pulled himself inside as the door shut behind him and he tried not to focus on Chiyo's upcoming ceremony. Haru tapped the glass, "Drive." He said, then closed the blind on the window as the car took off.

 

 


 

 

When they finally arrived, the school was fairly quiet. Haru was usually one of the first to arrive. As he got out of the limousine he pulled on his black school jacket and walked up to the front gate. He never wore his tie, but the teachers never gave him any problems over his appearance as he was still tidy and consistently scored higher than the rest of his class. Before he'd gotten halfway towards the front doors however, a group of girls noticed him and within minutes he found himself surrounded by people. 
"Haru-san?" A boy called to him, trying to get in his line of sight as Haru made his way towards the front doors, opening them and walking down the corridor as the group followed him, talking to him all at once and vying for his attention.

At the sound of his first name, Haru stopped and whirled on the boy, "You are not family. Do not call me that again." As he resumed his walk the boy remained frozen on the spot, all the colour drained from his face. Haru eventually reached his classroom and walked in, there was yet to be anyone inside so he sat down and pulled a water bottle out of his jacket pocket and drank from it thirstily before replacing the cap and putting it on his desk. This was just like most any other day, there were exceptions, when he would skip class to go hunting or other activities, but his grades never suffered. He looked around the empty classroom and let out a sigh, moments later it began to fill with students and the teacher herself. He looked down at his desk and scratched at the wood with one of his nails - just another day.

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It was still early in the morning when the young man sat behind his desk, hands clenched and elbows resting on his legs in silent prayer. “…Amen,†he muttered under his breath as he opened his eyes and took a look at the alarm clock. He buttoned up his shirt and tied the school’s mandatory black and red striped tie tightly around his neck. After tucking his shirt into his black trousers and buttoning up his blazer he looked as neat and tidy as he always did.

His house was as quiet as it had always been. His younger sister had already left for Middle School with her friends and his father was already at the church performing his morning duties as the priest. Over the years Jinta Yamamoto had gotten used to this solitary life, but that didn’t make him feel any better during the lonely mornings. He quickly ate his miso soup and steamed white rice before grabbing the bento his younger sister had prepared for him.

After putting on his shoes he takes on last look at the living room and says: “I’m leaving,†despite no one being around to hear him. With that out of the way it was time for him to head to school. As was also part of his daily routine Ayane Miwa was waiting for him right outside of his house. “Good morning,†he said as he immediately commenced his trek towards his school.

“Morning, Jintan.†Ayane Miwa was Jin’s childhood friend. The Miwa’s have lived next door to the Yamamoto’s for as long as Jinta and Ayane have lived.


Ayane had long brown hair. When loose it could reach down to her chest, but as always she had it tied up in a ponytail and secured the fringes above her right ear with a cute pink barrette. Her deep brown eyes, cheerful demeanor and the way she treated everyone nicely made her a huge hit with a lot of the male students. At one point even Jin was convinced he was in love with Ayane, but he eventually realized that he was in love with her panties more than he was with her.

The entire road to their school was filled with Ayane endlessly talking about whatever came into her mind and Jinta nodding in agreement or looking at her as if she’s an idiot when she said something he disagreed with, but as they reached the gates of their school it was time to pop the question. “What color are they today?†As usual she didn’t answer, but one day she would and Jin would rather die than risk not asking that question on the day that she’d be willing to answer. For now, however, this would be the point where they part.

As always Jin had arrived early. In order to kill some time he headed to the Student Council room to try and do some work. The Student Council chamber was a small rectangular room with several desks aligned to form a square in the middle. The wall in the far back had a blackboard and the empty walls were decorated with several shelves filled mostly with books.

Before taking a seat at one of the desks Jin gazed at an oblong steel case situated on one of the shelves. He examined it thoroughly, trying to make sure that no one had touched it since he left the room yesterday. Once he realized that other than Yuudai, Haru and Hideaki no one else was likely to enter this room he felt at ease and prepared to do some paperwork. As the student council’s vice-president he took care of most of the paperwork, which was great especially since it gave him the opportunity to aid the school without having everyone following his every move.

Several minutes before it Homeroom commenced Jin left the Student Council’s room and head towards class 2F. When Jin reached the classroom he noticed Hideaki-sensei walking down the hall. His homeroom teacher greeted him from afar with a wave and Jin responded with a nod before entering. In the classroom he was met with an unpleasant scent that he was pretty familiar with ever since joining the Student Council. For now there wasn’t much he could or should do, so he simply took his seat in the second window seat from the front of the class.

After Hideaki finished with Homeroom everyone started leaving the class on their way to the History classroom, but Jin came to a halt when he passed by Hideaki. “Sensei, someone-“

“I know. Don’t worry; you can leave it to me.â€

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As the students of Fuyukaba Academy milled mindlessly into the school grounds, one group of them remained at the large, brass gates as they chattered excitedly among each other. In fact, it was a whole gaggle of girls surrounding a high school boy, defined by a long, navy blue coat which was adorned by red flame patterns at the edges. The boy seemed to be making some sort of comment, to which all of the surrounding girls would titter or laugh as though he had just made some fantastic joke.

 

"... But then they ambushed me, those bastards," the boy named Yuudai Shinozaki narrated with a smug grin, drawing the amazed stares of his companions. "Five of them jumped out from the bushes, and assaulted me from every direction."

 

The group gave a collective gasp.

 

Yuudai flicked his hair, giving the girls his world-famous grin. "But no thug was going to defeat the great Yuudai! I faced them down as they came, one by one, barely having time to knock one out before the next came up for his turn at the action... And in a matter of five minutes, all of them were out cold, and I had the old lady's purse in my hand."

 

"Wow! Shinozaki-sempai, you're the best!" One of the girls chirped up. Yuudai recognized her as Hanako, a first year student.

 

The ringing of the school bell interrupted their little discussion, and Yuudai pushed himself off from the wall he was leaning against, turning to walk off with his hands in his pockets. "Sorry everyone, but even a Student Council member has to report to lessons. See you girls around."

 

Waving to the chorus of "Goodbye!", Yuudai casually strode across the school field as he made his way to the staircase that would lead him to his classroom, 2F. There was a nice breeze that morning, allowing his cloak to billow in the wind. He loved it when that happened. Quickly skipping up two steps at a time, he flashed a grin at a passing female classmate as he made a right turn and slowly slid the back door of his classroom open. Immediately, a stench of unearthly origins assaulted his senses, causing his left hand to involuntarily twitch towards his belt. But this wasn't the time.

 

"Shinozaki, Yuudai."

 

"Here," he replied without looking at Hideaki-sensei, raising his hand lazily in the air as he strolled over to his seat at the back of the classroom, settling himself down casually as though he hadn't just walked in two minutes late. Hideaki gave him an angry glare which he largely ignored, then went back to calling out the rest of the namelist.

 

At the end of Homeroom, Yuudai slung his bag over his shoulder and watched as Jin walked up to speak with Hideaki about the stench. Looks like the two of them noticed it too. â€œI know. Don’t worry; you can leave it to me," he heard Hideaki say to Jin.

 

"Come on, Sensei, it's not like we actually pay attention in class," Yuudai cut into the conversation. With a flash of light, a sword materialized in his hand, spinning in an arc for a few times before he stopped it against his shoulder. "Jin and I can handle this in no time."

 

"Stop being a bad influence on Jin," Hideaki snapped back, glaring at Yuudai. "You're a member of the Student Council. Start acting your responsibilities as a role model student."

 

"Yes, sensei," Yuudai droned, rolling his eyes.

 

"And you two have to get to class. I'll handle the Demon."

 

"Yes, sensei."

 

Yuudai unsummoned the Shinkatana with another flash of light, turning to walk out the classroom once more. As soon as the two of them were some distance away from the classroom, he turned and poked Jin in the shoulder. "I'm going to go after that Demon anyway. I'll bet that Hideaki knows that I know that he knows that I'm going, regardless of what he says. You coming along, or shall I get all the credit for myself?"

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History class was insanely boring. Hideaki spent the class going on and on about the state of society after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings during World War II. Who the hell cares!? Karyu thought. The past is the past. We can't change it. What does it matter? 

As he lay across his desk, physically exhausted from sheer boredom, his eyes flickered to some of his classmates. 

 

Yuudai Shinozaki. He'd had a few run-ins with that punk in the past. He had a tendency to strut around the school like he was a rock star or something. Guys like that just pissed him off. However he could offer the guy a small ounce of respect. He could handle himself, which is more than could be said for most of the loud mouths in this place. Karyu didn't value much, but he did value strength, and from the few exchanges he had experienced with Yuudai, he knew that this guy had plenty of it. 

 

Then there was Jinta Yamamoto. At least that guy had the decency to keep his nose out of other people's business. However at times this also bothered Karyu. The guy didn't seem to have much to say, almost like he had no desire to voice his opinions. He didn't trust people like that. Often a loud mouth was quickly declared an idiot, but at least you knew where you stood with an idiot. He had no idea what was going on in Jinta's head. Not that it was a big deal, they weren't exactly close. 

 

These two guys were world's apart from him. He was the outcast, the delinquent brat forever in trouble with somebody. They were two members of the Student Council, hand picked by Hideaki for their excellence. He'd often wondered what it would be like to actually be given responsibility, and a chance to show what he was made of. He'd say he was a little jealous of them if that wasn't a completely pathetic thing to admit. Despite their differences, however, he had no serious beef with either of them. There was another in their little club, the President of the Student Council. 

 

An image of the silver-haired boy flashed in his mind. Haru Ashikaga. That stuck up bastard really pissed him off. That guy had everything, and he walked around sticking his nose up at everyone, like his shit didn't stink. Guy's like that were what boiled Karyu's blood. The trouble with those of privilege was that they had no appreciation of it. Karyu didn't have much, and sure he wasn't the type to show a lot of love, even to Mari who had taken him in as a child. However she knew that he was grateful. At least he thought she did. Yeah, he was sure she knew. His concentration was broken by a loud ringing. Finally it was time to leave this class. 

 

As he got up from his desk he noticed careful eyes on him. He swung his bag over his shoulder and went to leave the class. He heard a hushed whisper but he didn't catch what was said. He tilted his head back, noticing Yuudai and Jinta's eyes darting away as he had caught them looking at him. He stopped, allowing most of the students to file past him. What's their problem? He thought to himself, angrily. He spun on his heel, facing them and fixing his gaze on Jinta. He cocked his head and glared at him, making sure not to break eye contact. Jinta was the quiet one, the one that didn't make any fuss. He'd be the easiest to break. 

 

"Oii!" Karyu snarled, "What's goin' on, ehh? Have I got somethin' on my face?"

"Uhh, I don't know. What did you have for breakfast? Let me know what I'm looking for." came Jinta's response. Karyu's eyes twitched in anger as he took two steps forward, his nostrils flaring. "You tryin' to be funny?" he asked, his fists clenched. 

Jin noticed that his attempt at humour failed. "Morinaga-kun, calm down. Honestly, I don't know what you're talking about."

Karyu didn't break his stance. His eyes shifted from Jinta to Yuudai, and then back to Jinta. What the hell were they up to? Was he being paranoid?

 

"Morinaga!" Hideaki snapped uncharacteristically. Karyu turned to face him, noting that he did not have his usual calm demeanor. Just for a moment Hideaki looked dark, threatening. Then it was gone again, replaced by his usual, mellow expression. "I won't tolerate that attitude in my classroom. Apologise to Yamamoto-kun." Karyu's eyebrow raised in response. For a moment he seemed to contemplate it, and then his face soured again. 

"Tch! As if!" Karyu spat, turning to walk out of the classroom. "He's lucky I didn't knock him on his ass!" he added as he waved his hand in the air as if shooing away a fly. 

"Detention." Hideaki replied bluntly. 

"Ehhh!?" Karyu gasped. He looked at Hideaki in astonishment. "For what!?"

"Because I deem it appropriate." Hideaki replied. "Do you have a problem with that, Morinaga-kun?"

 

Karyu opened his mouth to respond but nothing came out. If this had been any other teacher he'd have trashed the classroom. Hideaki-sensei, however, had something about him. Karyu knew not to push him too far. Instead he simply turned around and stormed off into the corridor and disappeared from sight. Now Hideaki was left with only Jinta and Yuudai in the room. 

"You boys better get a move on too." he said. "Also...you will be on patrol tonight. Sweep the school grounds after classes end. Make sure Ashikaga-kun knows as well."

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Luckily the confrontation with Morinaga Karyu was put to an end by Hideaki’s intervention. Jin was certain that if Karyu had kept pressing on Yuudai would’ve intervened and it would’ve likely ended in a brawl. Jin wondered for a second how much effort Hideaki had to put into keeping a troublemaker like Yuudai in the Student Council. Poor Hideaki-sensei. After dismissing Karyu their teacher informed them that tonight they would be going on a patrol. It didn’t require much effort to put two and two together to realize that it most likely had to do with the demonic stench that permeated Karyu. After nodding as acknowledgement of the orders Jin grabbed his bag and made way for the door with Yuudai.

“Our secret agent skills still need some work,†Jin said as he left the classroom with Yuudai. “So we’re going after demons tonight, huh? Seems like your wish came true.†However, something about the entire ordeal bothered Jin. He couldn’t exactly place what was going on that made him feel uncomfortable, but he knew for sure that something crucial had slipped his mind. Either way, now was not the time to worry about that. “I think I have class with Ashikaga next, so I’ll let him know we’re going out tonight.â€

Haru Ashikaga was the Student Council president and most likely the most popular kid in school. He was good looking, rich and seemed to think of himself as the smartest kid in school. Too bad he was kind of a dick, though. Ever since the three of them formed the current Student Council Yuudai and Jin have become good friends, but Jin never had the urge to become more than a fellow member of the Student Council with Haru. Not only did Haru not share in Yuudai and Jin’s love for the females of the school, he was also pretty stuck up, which annoyed Jin more often than not in the past. Despite their differences Jin had to admit that Haru was capable when it came to handling demons. “See you later, Yuudai.†With that they parted ways.

 â€œHey, Jintan, wait up!†There was only one person who called him Jintan. “I forgot to ask this morning. Mom wanted to know if you and Makoto are still coming over for dinner tonight.†Of course, he had promised to bring his sister and have dinner at the Miwa’s. Unfortunate.
“Sorry, I can’t make it. Student Council duties. I think Makoto is still coming over, though.†The pair started walking towards their classroom and even though she didn’t voice her displeasure, after spending almost his entire life with her Jin could read her like an open book. “You know I can’t ditch my duties.â€
“Yes, yes, yes, yes. Vice-president blah blah blah.†She frowned and puffed up her cheeks in protest. This adorably childish act amused Jin more than he cared to admit.
“I’ll try and make it next time.â€

After entering the classroom the two went towards their separate seats and waited for the teacher to start. Unlike his usual self Jin didn’t pay much attention to class, instead he spent his time deep in thought thinking about his classmate Morinaga Karyu. Karyu was kind of a loudmouth he didn’t care about the rules, but Jin actually respected that. Having spent his entire life shackled by the rules his father laid out for him made him grow a certain appreciation for individuals who could just cast away everything and do whatever they wanted. In that sense Jin couldn’t help but be a bit envious of the delinquent. Before he even realized it time had flown past and the second class of the day had come to an end.

Jin quickly stood up and approached Haru before he had the chance to leave the classroom. “Ashikaga, Hideaki is putting is to work tonight. We’re to sweep the school grounds after classes end.â€

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Ashikaga - the mention of the name of the Student Council President caused the slightest of frowns on Yuudai's face. He didn't see what exactly qualified him for the position of President. If it were up to Yuudai, he would have placed Jin on the seat from the very beginning. It was obvious that he was the harder worker, and besides, he was a fine gentleman who knew the true value that lay under the skirts that patrolled Fuyukaba Academy's hallways. Ashikaga, on the other hand, was just a stuck-up rich brat who knew a thing or two about Demon fighting.

 

Well, Yuudai wasn't exactly a model candidate for the Student Council either, but that was another story.

 

"Good luck," he said to Jinta as the two of them parted ways, Yuudai heading towards Mathematics class. He didn't manage to get as far as the next stairway before a small, hyperactive creature jumped out from the corner, yelling 'Dark Lightning... STRIKE!!!!' as something moved rapidly in front of him. Moving as fluidly as though he was dancing, Yuudai sidestepped the incoming bokken swing, took two steps forward, and grabbed the head of the girl who looked like she was about to fall over from the momentum of her attack.

 

"Unyielding Fiend's Grip. Checkmate, Berserker."

 

The girl named Keiko Mitsuya turned around and pouted at Yuudai. She was a junior who attended Fuyukaba Middle School, located just a few minutes walk away from the Academy's premises. For some reason, she seemed to enjoy pretending she was a character in a shounen anime, and often hung around Yuudai even during school hours like now. "As expected of the Great Demon Lord Yuudai-sama," Keiko said with a sense of awe. "I am proud to be your disciple."

 

"Aren't you supposed to be in class?" Yuudai asked, bending down to look into her eyes.

 

Keiko gestured dramatically, closing her eyes as she turned to look away. "I cannot be constrained by petty mortal activities such as classes or timetables!"

 

Yuudai scratched his chin, as though he was deep in thought. "But what if the foolish humans detect your absence and suspect your true nature? You cannot risk the nature of our mission, Berserker."

 

"... You are right, my Lord," Keiko replied, lowering her bokken. "Forgive my oversight on this matter."

 

"Hahaha! Do you think the Demon Lord to be someone who bears grudges? Go in peace. We shall continue our training tomorrow."

 

"Not tonight, my Lord?"

 

Yuudai shook his head. "I have a secret mission to carry out tonight."

 

Keiko gasped. "Could it be...? Code Alpha Tango Zero?"

 

"I'm afraid so. This mission is too dangerous even for you, Berserker."

 

"I understand. I shall continually hone my skills until the day I can finally join my master in valiant combat." Keiko made a few mock swings with her wooden sword, a determined look crossing her face.

 

Yuudai forced a smile. "Keep training, my faithful apprentice. But for now, go. The human sheep will not be fooled for much longer."

 

After saying their goodbyes, Keiko sheathed her bokken with her belt and ran off, shouting 'Lightning Burst!' as she ran down the staircase. Yuudai stood and watched until she vanished from sight before sighing and continuing his way to the next classroom. He wondered if Keiko would still be as enthusiastic as she was now if she knew about the true nature of his 'extra-curricular activities'. He most certainly hoped she'd never find out the truth. Real Demons were frightening things to be around.

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Filing in for his second class of the day, Haru sat at his desk and kept his eyes on the wood as the room began to fill. Most of the students started to flock to him, he could hear them talking away, vying for his attention, but he knew that whatever they felt, whatever reason they took interest in him, it didn't matter. He quietly nodded, watching as the last of the students entered and the class began. It was a test, but he was done almost twenty minutes before the rest of the class. Haru stood as he put the finishing touches to his paper and marched past the other students to give the teacher his test paper. The teacher might have been surprised or doubtful, but this wasn't his first class with young Ashikaga. 

Returning to his seat, with the other students occupied by their tests once more, Haru looked out the window at the late morning sun, and before he knew it the bell was ringing for the end of the class. Several students rushed to finish their papers but the teacher was around like a shot, pulling them out from under furiously writing pens and pencils. As he stood to leave, however, he heard footsteps quickly approaching him from behind, he whirled around to see Jinta Yamamoto. This boy was one of the other student council members he had met when joining the council. He didn't have any opinion on him, he was quiet, and that suited Haru fine. But the other boy, Yuudai Shinozaki, was a punk. Just a loud-mouth pervert. At least Yamamoto knew when to be quiet, yet not now, apparently. 

“Ashikaga, Hideaki is putting us to work tonight. We’re to sweep the school grounds after classes end.â€

Haru stood there for a moment, assessing Jinta with a critical eye, before he slung his bag over his shoulder. The class continued to file out though a few students paused to curiously watch the exchange.

"Why the school?" He replied, at last. 

"No idea." Jin shrugged. "It's all Sensei told me."

Haru frowned, lowering his voice so that only Jinta could hear him, the other students didn't need to be involved in this discussion, "He would not ask us to patrol the school, unless there was a possible threat."

"I know." Jin lowered his voice to match Haru. "A kid from my class has the smell of demons. I'm assuming he came in contact with the demon somewhere near school. Might be why Sensei wants us here. Either way, I don't know any specifics."

Standing quite still, Haru considered this new information for a few seconds, his eyes on the ground. As he spoke, he turned his back on Jinta and walked out, "He's bait." He added finally, and left. He was hungry and probably in for a long night, time to get something to eat. Haru ignored the people around him, wanting to reach the cafeteria without incident. However, by the time he had finally retrieved a sandwich, sat down and taken a bite, he heard a great commotion. He sighed, eating in peace was out of the question, then. He scanned the courtyard for the source of the noise and within seconds caught sight of the scene unfolding in front of the food courtyard's bench seating, and its avid occupants who had become a cheering audience. Mewling children, he thought to himself, irritably.

 

"Come on, kid. Give us our money, and we'll be on our way." The three bullies surrounding the smaller boy were pushing him back and forth, knocking him over and punching him when he got up. He was badly bruised and on the verge of tears. The sandwich fell from Haru's hand as he stood and crossed the courtyard towards them. The cheering audience shifted notably as he passed through them, they saw the expression on Haru Ashikaga's face and their taunting changed to cautious silence.
"We know you have it kid, just give up the money, and we can go." The head of the trio, the vocal one in the middle, was also the largest of the three. He stood several inches taller than Haru, and clearly had the weight advantage, but his pace quickened until he was just a stone's throw from them.

 

"You should leave now." Haru called out, his voice and demeanour as calm and centred as ever.

"What?!" The boy barked, turning around to face him as his two lackeys followed suit. He thought so, this boy was Ryu Tachibane. One of the school's most prolific bullies. He had never had an encounter with this boy before, but it was as good a time as any.

"Oh, Ashikaga... I didn't see you there." His tone had softened slightly, this was good. If Ryu had decided that getting into a fight wasn't worth it, then he could avoid any possible repercussions. He turned his attention to the other two that stood beside Ryu, he didn't know them but he immediately and accurately assessed them.

"Leave." He said calmly, but with an air of authority. The two boys abandoned Ryu without a second thought. Now it was just Ryu and Haru, staring one another down. "If you leave now, Ryu-san, I will not report this."
"Tch!" Ryu spat on the ground, "Like I give a rat's ass..." He snapped.
Haru's watchful eyes narrowed on Ryu's neck, sweat beads had started to form, "Fine." He added, and moved purposefully towards Ryu, arms at his sides. Ryu frowned for a moment, surprised at the smaller boy's nerve, but once the surprise had passed he recalled his nerve and charged at the silver-haired boy and swung his fist with all his might.

 

Everything happened in the space of a couple of seconds. The fist came flying towards Haru, but at the last moment he moved his head to one side and the fist flew past his face harmlessly. The force of the attack propelled Ryu forwards, past Haru's waiting arms which were poised and ready. One hand snapped to the back of Ryu's neck while the other grabbed the boy's right wrist and in a single movement whipped Ryu's muscular arm around his back and brought it up, bending it at an unusual angle. The muscle-bound bully yelped as his right leg buckled and he knelt under the pain and any time he tried to stand, Haru applied further pressure on the arm, twisting it and pressing down on the back of Ryu's neck.

"I'll fucking... kill you... Haru.... Ashikaga..." Ryu snarled, through seething, pained breaths.
"Unlikely." Haru commented dryly. He waited a few seconds, reinforcing to Ryu that he would not be able to break free, then hearing footsteps in the distance he released the larger boy without a word and looked up to see a teacher quickly approaching. He didn't recognize her, so she must have been from a different year group. She was in her thirties, had long blonde hair and a stern expression hidden behind round-rimmed glasses.
"Haru Ashikaga, do you mind telling me what the hell is going on here?!" She looked from him, to Ryu, to the young boy who had been his victim and then back to Haru once again. "Well?!" She asked, her voice raising in anger. Suddenly, a cacophony of voices erupted, as though the student audience had just realised they had voices once more.

 

"It was Tachibane, Sensei!"
"Ashikaga-sama stopped him!"
"That boy was being beat up!"
"--what a jerk, and he stood in to stop him!"
"It's his fault, Sensei. Tachibane."

The teacher quieted the masses before looking back to Haru, "Is this true?" She asked. Haru stared back at her blankly and eventually she sighed, "You're going to have detention every night this week, Ryu Tachibane, mark my word. This is the last time." She walked over and picked Ryu up by the scruff of his neck.
"Sensei..." Haru spoke at last.

"Yes?" The teacher turned to look at him.

"Ryu-san has a dislocated arm, you should take him to the nurse before the principal." 
"Oh..." She turned to look at Ryu who's face was contorted in pain, "Oh, oh... of course. Right." She pulled Ryu away as the crowd watched Haru in silence, but when his gaze turned on them, they quickly dissipated.

"T-thanks, Ashikaga..." The boy quietly called out.
Haru turned his attention on him, walked over and picked the boy up with one hand, lifting him to his feet. "Do not let boys like Ryu Tachibane push you around. You are weak, and the only way to survive, is to be strong." He looked down at the ground for a moment and then walked away, leaving the boy where he'd found him. He walked back to where he had been eating, but his sandwich had been trampled. A loud growl escaped from the bowels of his stomach and Haru sighed, it was going to be a long day. The rest of the evening was thankfully not as eventful. He attended the rest of his classes and before he knew it, the bell was ringing to signal the end of school. Detention for some, but for Haru and the student council, it was a different kind of drill entirely.

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Karyu sat on a chair at the back of the classroom, with his feet hanging over the desk. The classroom was completely empty with the exception of Hideaki-sensei who was sat at his own desk at the front of the class. Karyu looked out of the window. The horizon was burning a warm red. It was far into the fall season, and it was getting dark out quite early these days. Shit he thought to himself. Mari is going to be pissed if i'm late for dinner. 

"Oi!" He called out to Hideaki. "How much longer do I have to sit here?"

 

"Until I decide you can go" Hideaki replied, looking up from his paperwork. "When I decide you have atoned for your mistake, you may leave."

"Ehh?" Karyu said. "You kiddin'? We'll have to sit here until hell freezes over!"

"Hmph!" Hideaki smirked. "Stubborn, as usual, Morinaga-kun. I sometimes wonder if you inherited that trait genetically, or are the Ishihara sisters like that too?"

"Tch! Watch your mouth, Oji-san!" Karyu warned, pulling his feet off of the table and planting them on the ground, leaning forward on the desk and glaring at his sensei. "It's not polite for adults to go poking around in a student's family affairs. Some people might think that's a bit creepy."

 

"Hmm..." Hideaki nodded softly. He was watching Karyu curiously, as if waiting for something to happen. For a moment they sat in silence. Karyu felt tense, like Hideaki-sensei was staring right through him. He shifted uncomfortably, averting his gaze out of the window once more. On the street below he could see some old bum walking on along the street by the school. Was that the one he saw in Amatsuseki earlier? "...stink old geezer..." he muttered to himself. 

"You smell it too, eh?" Hideaki said to him. He looked back at Hideaki, his brow raised questioningly. 

"You mean that old guy?" Karyu asked, pointing out of the window. "He's just some homeless creep I saw in town this morning. He smelled really bad."

 

"I see..." Hideaki replied. He was staring out of the window now. The red glow of the sky was slowly fading. It was almost dark now. Hideaki gave a soft sigh and stood up from his chair. "Okay Morinaga-kun! Time to go. I'm sure you've learned your lesson."

"Huh? but it's only been five minutes since you..." Karyu began, but then his voice faded as he realised that this was not the time to be questioning why he was being let off. The important thing was he could go now. "Oh, uh, yeah! I'll get going..." he said as he packed his things and left his desk, making for the door. "Morinaga-kun?" Hideaki called to him as he was at the door. Karyu stopped and waited for whatever was coming. "Try not to get into any trouble on your way home, hm?"

"Whatever..." Karyu sighed as he continued walking, leaving the classroom. 

 

 


 

 

As he walked across the school courtyard Karyu noticed how quiet it was. Most of the teachers had left by now. He was definitely going to be late for dinner, that was for sure. Mari was going to kill him. She was pretty tolerant most of the time, but when he was late she turned into a monster. He sighed thinking about the troublesome situation he would have to face when he got home. However he stopped as he caught the scent of a particularly disgusting smell in the air. He looked up to see that the old hobo was standing in the school courtyard, only a short distance from him. 

"Hey, geezer!" he called out, "What the hell are you doing here? Didn't you get the message this morning?" he asked. There was no response from the man, who only stared at him with dead, hollow eyes. He looked hungry. Karyu glared at him, holding his hands in his pockets and raising his head. "What's the matter, geezer? Lost for words?"

 

"De..." the old geezer replied, taking a feeble step forward. "De...de...lish..." it continued, slowly pacing forwards. 

"Spit it out!" Karyu snarled, "I don't have time for your bullshit!"

"Deli....deliciiiiiOOOOUUUUUSSSS!" the old geezer yelled, suddenly bursting with energy as he went at a sprint, his arms flailing limp behind him as he made a beeline for Karyu. For a moment Karyu was alarmed by the sudden burst of speed. Before he knew it the old geezer was nearly at him. However at the last moment his foot came up, colliding with the old geezer's face, sending him crashing backwards along the asphalt school grounds. 

"Oiii!" Karyu yelled, "What sick shit are you trying to pull you old pervert!?"

 

"Delicious..." The old man stated once more. He stood up, slowly. He turned around to face Karyu once more, however, as their eyes met a chill shot down Karyu's spine. The old man's eyes were suddenly alert and lively. They had turned a sickening yellow colour, with black slit-like pupils. When he smiled his mouth was filled with a set of over-sized, jagged teeth. "What the..." Karyu gasped, "What the hell are you!?"

"I am Ornias, The Hungering Plague!" it replied, it's voice now deep and menacing, resonating in a way no human could manage. Karyu's eyes were wide with fear. He was never one to be afraid, but this was different. He was staring at a monster. A real monster. 

"I have come to devour you, delicious Nephilim!" Ornias continued as he grinned madly. His skin was bulging, stretching. He looked like he might burst at any moment. 

 

"Nephi...what?" Karyu responded. "I don't know what the hell you're talkin' about, dumbass! Just stay the hell away from me!"

"You are in no position to bargain, weak and delicious, little Nephilim!" Ornias replied. Suddenly there was a sickening sound of something tearing. Without warning Ornias seemed to split in two, his skin and clothes shredding and disintegrating, as much larger form burst out from the remains. The creature was huge, standing about 12ft tall, with a fat, round figure. Still despite the weight, he looked imposing and strong. The skin was a sickly greenish yellow, and looked like it was sticky to touch. The creature barely had signs of a neck, it's head poking out from it's round mass with a pair of excited and hungry yellow eyes and the same set of razor sharp teeth. It's head was decorated with small, sharp horns. It's arms were large, with thick, chunky clawed hands. It's feet were like large paws, and it looked like his toenails were clawed as well. The creature did not wait for him to run. It advanced towards him, moving quickly despite it's size. Karyu tried to move but he couldn't. He was frozen in fear. He prayed for hiis legs to start moving, but they were rooted to the ground. Ornias rounded on him, there was no escape. This was it. He was going to die. 

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It had been a while since the last of the faculty had left the building, by now the only ones who still remained would be the members of the Student Council. Shortly after they commenced the patrol the three split up and took care of a different area, with Jin currently looking after the first floor hallway. While walking down the hallway he suddenly heard footsteps coming from Hideaki’s classroom, but these weren’t footsteps he was familiar with. Instinctively Jin dashed towards a corner and hid himself from whoever was coming down the stairs. When he got a good look at the figure he immediately recognized his classmate Karyu. “What is he still doing here?†He whispered. “Don’t tell me Ashikaga was right.â€

The bad feeling he had after talking to Hideaki and the things he heard from Haru left him worried about his classmate. The best course of action would be to keep an eye on Karyu Morinaga to make sure that he wasn’t being targeted by anything malicious, but he couldn’t just walk up to him with the way he looked now. Jin had left his blazer in the Student Council’s chambers and rolled up his sleeves directly under his elbows, which clearly revealed the bracelet made of prayer beads with a Christian cross on his right wrist. Most importantly, however, were the contents of the steel container stored in the Student Council’s chambers that he had grabbed; a katana that he carried in his left hand.

This katana was a weapon Jin chose when he realized the potential of the holy power he could harness and needed a suitable weapon to use it through. Years of experience with kendo made the choice of a sword as a weapon obvious, but it wasn’t until a while later that he decided to use this katana. Jin’s katana was a bit longer than a typical one with the blade being about 80 centimeters long. The katana rested in an indigo painted steel saya and also had a golden tsuba and kashiga, indigo ito and a Christian cross as menuki. The blade itself was made of steel, darkened with oil, with a white wavy tempered edge.

With sword in hand and while maintaining a safe distance Jin followed Karyu outside of the school building. On the school courtyard Karyu was greeted by someone who at first glance looked like a homeless man, but anyone familiar with the stench coming from him would quickly come to the conclusion that this man was tainted by a demon. Jin was ready to engage; his twelve beads had been charged with prayers this morning and his sword was ready and waiting in its scabbard. All he needed was a way to get Karyu out of that situation without revealing what was truly going on. The knowledge of demons roaming the Earth was something Jin’d rather spare him of.

But it was all for naught, as the demon had already commenced its transformation. “I have twelve spells…†he whispered, “can’t afford to waste them.†He quickly clasped his hands together, with the katana between them. “Soul of Christ, sanctify me; Body of Christ, save me; Passion of Christ; strengthen me.†After his shortened version of the Anima Christi Jin felt a surge of power in his body. This prayer utilized the holy power in a way he had developed by himself. He had become faster, more agile and more skillful than any normal human could be and received a level of protection against demonic powers which was vital to survive against demons as a normal human.

By the time Jin was done with his prayer the demon Ornias had finished his own introductory speech. Jin was glad this demon liked to talk, or else he would’ve had to waste one of his charges. With his upper body leaning forward he dashed with lightning speed, hoping to intercept the advancing demon. With his left hand still holding the saya and his right hand clasping the handle he drew the katana with an upwards slashing motion, hoping to finish off the fiend in one clean strike. Sadly the demon had taken notice of Jin’s approach on time to avoid any heavy injuries as he was able to leap back and sustained only a shallow cut.

“Morinaga-kun,†Jin addressed his classmate with a serious tone of voice he rarely used, but his eyes remained locked on the demon. “Run. Leave this to me.†The Prayer of Power he had used to increase his physical capabilities came with a time limit, a lenient one but a limit nonetheless. Without a second to waste he charged at the demon with a diagonal slash from the left, but again the demon managed to dodge with a simple step backward. Jin answered the dodge with an upward strike of his steel saya. The uppercut hit the demon clean in his chin and sent him flying backwards for a few meters. As expected the demon stood up, showing no signs of being any worse for wear.

“You smell like an ordinary human,†the demon roared as it rubbed its chin with back of its hand, “but you don’t fight like one.†For the first time since Jin stepped in the two remained steady long enough for the demon to examine him. “This power of yours… it must be the holy power. Interesting, a priest.â€
“Correct,†Jin answered as the twirled the saya and changed his reverse grip on it into a traditional one. As he prepared to lunge at the demon once again he noticed that the cut left on the demon’s chest had already disappeared and the bruise on his chin was also almost gone. Attacking randomly would be inefficient. He needed a plan.

Ornias recognized that Jin was up to something and decided not to give him a chance. “I’ll have to eat both of you! A nephilim and a priest, sounds delicious!†Despite its size the demon approached Jin fast and swiped to the left with its right arm. Jin managed to react on time and lowered his body to dodge and immediately dashed towards Ornias’ right side, where he had now created an opening. He raised both the katana and the saya above his head and struck downwards to cut at the demon’s back, but Ornias went with the momentum of his slash, made a 180 degree turn and met Jin’s slashes with his left arm. The sword left a deep cut and the saya shattered a few bones, but none of that would be enough to threaten the demon. Ornias retaliated by quickly sucking in some air and spitting out vile sludge at Jin.

Jin had no idea what that sludge was, but he would rather not find out. A quick backwards roll avoided the attacked and brought him to a safe distance. “Enough!†The demon bellowed as he once again sucked up some air. This time he didn’t spit out sludge, but he started vomiting. Despite the repulsiveness of the display Jin refused to look the other way, he had to know what Ornias was up to. It didn’t take long before several Thralls rose from the vomit.
This was bad. Jin’s previous evasive maneuver had placed him on the other side of the demon, effectively leaving both the demon and his Thralls between Jin and Karyu. If it was just Ornias it would be fine, but keeping both the demon and his Thralls away from Karyu by himself would be tough.

Either Haru or Yuudai had to get here fast or Karyu would be in trouble.

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"My, my, what do we have here?"
 
Yuudai walked casually from the far end of the school courtyard, his gaze quickly darting between Karyu, Jin and the Demon that was in between both of them. The navy blue coat he had been wearing earlier was now draped around his shoulders like a makeshift cape, its empty sleeves flapping under the breeze. It didn't seem like this demon was very strong, but it had the potential to be quite troublesome. Especially now, since an innocent had been dragged into the fight. As he continued to walk closer towards the Demon, he summoned the Shinkatana in the same spinning flourish he demonstrated earlier today, the length of the sword's sheath gleaming with the reflection of the evening sun.
 
"Who are you?" The demon growled, clearly irritated by the presence of so many intruders upon what was clearly an easy meal. "You... you smell like a power user."
 
"Some call me the Great Demon Lord," he replied with a smirk, stopping a few feet away from Ornias and his Thralls. "Others call me the President of Clubs and Societies of Fuyukaba Academy. But you shall know me... as Yuudai Shinozaki, womanizer extraordinare!"

With one fluid motion, he drew the gleaming longsword, tossing away the empty sheath as it vanished into golden dust. Ornias looked conflicted as to which adversary he should face first, and Yuudai took this as an opportunity to strike. "Exort. Exort. Exort!" With each chant, a bout of orange flames erupted from the hilt of the Shinkatana, darting and weaving their way up the blade. At the third chant, the entire length of the weapon burst into fire, as Yuudai charged into the middle of the Thralls with a rebellious glint in his eye.
 
Most Thralls were about as strong as a competent athlete or martial artist. Anyone who associated them with the slow, dim-witted zombies that were commonplace in Hollywood movies were going to be in for a big surprise. They ran faster than the average human, had nearly limitless endurance, and knew no pain as far as he knew. But they could be killed when slashed in half, just like anyone else. The fire was just there for the added coolness.
 
"Valia." The world around Yuudai abruptly slowed to a crawl, and he stood up and stared down the few Thralls who had deemed him as their target. They were running towards him in slow motion, their hands extended as they displayed their fearsome claws and fangs. Yuudai scratched his head and walked up to the nearest Thrall, lopping its head off with a casual swing of the Shinkatana. As it slowly burst into flames, the teenager had already moved on to his next target, stabbing his blade into the creature's chest before pulling it out quickly.
 
Of course, in reality, no one had been slowed down. It was Yuudai who had been accelerated greatly by the sword's magic. He darted from Thrall to Thrall, striking each one faster than the eye could follow. In a matter of a few seconds, the entire group lay dead on the ground, magic fire consuming what was left of their corpses. Yuudai positioned himself protectively in between Karyu and Ornias before releasing the time spell, raising his sword at Ornias as he flashed the demon a cheeky grin.
 
"Feel like eating me too, fatty? You'll find that this sword's a little harder to chew than you'd expect."

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Standing defiantly, Ornias examined his enemies with a leer, snorting as he sucked in air. "I've had..." he began, taking a deep breath, "... enough..." he began to retch, sending out sickening globules of spit, "... of you..." he finished, and with a deep exhale, released a thick cloud of dark green gas. As it moved across a wide area, smothering everything and threatening to envelop the school courtyard, a cold wind kicked up. At first, it seemed only passing, halting the gas for just a few moments, but then the breeze turned into a mighty gale, the clouds in the night sky darkened and became ominous. The toxic gas was thrown around and dissipated, pushing back into the Ornias' face. The demon snarled irritably at his misfortune but when he saw it's origin, he grinned.

"Now..." He chuckled, drawing in a rattling wet breath of air, "... it is hopeless..." Ornias laughed, which wasn't so much a normal laugh as a series of choking, coughing fits. The demon's gaze passed over his immediate threat and stared into the darkness behind them. He watched as a pair of red eyes began to form out of the black. "AAaaahh...." He crooned. His lips curling back over his blackened, jagged fangs in an unusual and unsettling fashion. "Ab..." He began, but stopped, surprised. Haru Ashikaga stepped from the shadows of the night, hands shoved into his black school jacket. The cold wind intensified, the demon looked up at the sky just long enough to see that a heavy snow had begun to fall.

"Nooo... what...?" Ornias snarled, looking from the others back to Haru. "Imposter!!" The demon roared, and with a moment's pause, as though collecting itself, the demon suddenly tore from neck to crotch. A thick, glutinous black liquid splashed across the concrete and from it was born an army. The thralls snarled and barked viscously, forming into 7ft tall muscular monsters that seemed somehow more self-aware than before. They didn't immediately turn on the group, but watched them carefully, assessing them as they stalked towards the group of demon hunters surrounding and protecting Karyu.
"What are you doing?" Haru asked, addressing the other members of the student council, "He has served his purpose, now he is just in the way. You should move him to a safer location while we deal with that." He nodded at the demon.

"What the hell are you talkin' about, Ashikaga!?" Karyu asked, his eyes sparking with fear and rage.

 

Haru kept his gaze on the demon in front of him but addressed Karyu directly, "If it is not clear already, Karyu-san, that creature is a demon. Your life is at risk. You should not be here." The heavy snow was thrown around violently by the increasingly violent winds.

"Don't bullshit me!" Karyu replied, "What do you mean 'he has served his purpose' huh?"
Even as the thralls advanced towards the group, Haru turned at last to look at Karyu, "Are you stupid?" He replied, asking honestly. "You were bait. That demon caught scent of you and followed you here. So, Hideaki-sensei used you, and now your usefulness is at an end."

"So this thing... wants me?" Karyu asked, disregarding the insult, it was hardly the time. "And the old man... he used me as bait? So you guys can play super hero? Is that it!?"

"If you like." Haru replied, ever calm. His attention was focused on the thralls once again, they had seen enough and were ready to attack now, meanwhile, the wound that Ornias had inflicted on himself to birth these abominations had already began to seal itself and he was quickly recovering. Suddenly, Haru sensed an approaching danger to his side, he turned ready to counter it but watched as Karyu passed him at a sprint, charging towards the nearest thrall and tackling him to the ground.

"I'm not useless..." He muttered, wildly punching at the thrall who was so surprised to be attacked by this human that it lay on the ground, dazed even as it was assaulted. 

 

Haru's expression remained unreadable yet his mind was racing. That was not normal. There was not a human alive who could tackle a thrall to the ground like that, only a demon hunter would have the natural or trained strength to do such a thing. Despite this turn of events, Haru shrugged it off. Whatever the boy was capable of, he was still a delinquent and a loser, and apparently, one lacking a sense of danger or forethought. Haru strode forwards and as the thrall that was under attack, began to regain its composure, Haru grabbed the back of Karyu's collar and in one powerful throw, lifted the boy to his feet and sent him flying back several metres until he hit the floor behind them, "Stay out of my way." Haru replied, then turned on the downed thrall.

 

"Die." He added, flatly. Placing his boot on the thrall's stomach. In the space of a second a large patch of ice formed underneath his boot and quickly spread, enveloping the demon to the point that it looked like a horrifying ice sculpture. With a crunch, Haru pressed down on the thrall's chest, and the creature burst into shards of flesh and ice, leaving nothing behind. He looked up just in time, as thralls were barely inches from his face. The storm's gale intensified to the point that the thralls found it difficult to take another step towards him, the snow blinding them, the wind pushing them back. 

Just as they started to find their footing, the ground underneath turned to slick ice and they slid backwards or collapsed and then with a single movement, Haru made his attack. He ran forwards at a sprint, lifted his arms up and as he did so, great daggers of ice formed in each palm. He sliced through the first wave of thralls like butter and passed them, leaving the remaining thralls to be dealt with by the other members of the student council. The key target was Ornias, and he had to be taken out right now. He didn't appear to be a major threat, and though this was a good sign, he knew to be wary. In seconds he was on top of the 12ft giant and deftly dodged the hulking monstrosity's first attack by his enormous fatty arms. Ornias roared as ice spikes suddenly erupted from the ground at his feet, impaling his legs and keeping him rooted to the spot but as Haru went for the killing blow, he realised too late, a fatal mistake. 

Suddenly the split in the demon's belly re-opened and as Haru was already mid-strike, he struggled to dodge or move out of the way. A giant maw opened in front of him, and Haru's face paled. He began to draw back, pulling out of his attack, but even as he did, as though in slow motion, he saw the giant independent jaws of Ornias' belly come flying out to tear him apart. As the massive jaws opened, revealing a giant row of fangs on either side, Haru did the only thing he could  to survive. As the jaws clenched down on his right shoulder, sending a spray of blood everywhere, a large mist exploded outwards from Haru and he stepped backwards as though untouched by the jaws.

Stumbling backwards, Haru watched as the mist cleared. Eventually you could see a near-perfect ice sculpture replica of Haru, frozen in Ornias' unusual jaws, which were likewise, frozen solid. The demon screamed and tried to back away, tearing great chunks of fat and flesh from his legs as he did so, and the jaw that protruded from his belly ripped away as he pulled and shattered on the ground. Haru had tried to protect himself with an ice clone, but he had reacted too slowly and paid the price. Though he had dealt a grievous wound on the demon and reduced his army of thralls by a significant amount, the group was still becoming overwhelmed and now he was seriously injured. He had made a stupid mistake this evening and one he would not soon forget.

Blood poured from his shoulder, drenching his right arm. He tried to move back, out of Ornias' reach but as he turned around he felt dizzy and retched a great pool of blood onto the snow-laden concrete in front of him. He moved as quickly as he could and as he did so, the wound on his shoulder began to steam. Strangely, it was already beginning to heal. Haru doubled over and fell to the floor, watching as the others continued to fight. But Karyu was standing back up, defiantly, "Stupid kid..." He muttered, seeing black dots flying in front of his vision. With his last reserves of strength, Haru brought his left hand up to the nasty looking wound on his right shoulder and in an instant, covered it with a protective seal of ice. As he tried to fight the darkness sweeping over him, he had an unusual scene play out in front of him that he could be unsure if it was true or just his imagination. He saw a thrall, escape beyond the fighting of the other student council members and sprint towards Karyu, unfettered by other foes. But Karyu wasn't budging, no, if anything, he was charging the creature head-on as he had done before, and nobody was coming to save him. "S-stupid..." He choked out, then everything turned to black as he passed out.

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Karyu dragged himself up from the ground, his hands and face scratched and bruised. 

"Shit!" he cursed, scowling at Haru, who had jumped into the fray. He made a mental note, that should he manage to survive this mess, he would make a point of kicking Haru's ass. For the time being however, he channeled his anger into the ugly, rotting figure that was charging in his direction. Karyu stepped forward, clench his fists and bracing himself. As the Thrall closed on him he lifted his head back. 

"Let's go, asshole!" He roared as he brought his head down, colliding with the creature's face, the two forces pushing against one another, their eyes locked, creating sparks in the small gap between them. "Human. Demon. I don't give a fuck! Nobody uses me as bait!" he roared as he shoved the creature back, punching it in the chest with his left, before bringing in a right hook to it's face, causing it to fall to his left and screech along the ground. Karyu moved forward, striding slowly but with purpose. His temper was soaring, despite the weather he was boiling hot. 

 

As he weaved through the thralls, paying little attention to the Student Council who were locked in combat around him. Eventually he was slowly surrounded by Thralls, as he drew closer to the large demon known as Ornias. The Thralls around him seemed to hold their ground, almost as if they knew not to harm their master's favored meal. Ornias turned to face Karyu' his long tongue flicking out of his fanged mouth, dripping with saliva. 

"What's this? Lunch is being delivered?" Ornias asked with sickening delight. "Have you come to embrace your fate little Nephilim?"

"Tch!" Karyu responded, "I don't know what the fuck you're callin' me, and I don't care. I'll only say this once, you ugly son of a bitch! I'm not on the menu!" Karyu sprung into action, charging at Ornias. However as he did the demon opened it's maw and a large blob rocketed out of his throat, slamming into Karyu, knocking him to the floor. The subtance was sticky, and getting worse quickly. He tried to move, but he was stuck fast to the ground. 

 

"Hahaaa!" Ornias' insane laughter sent a chill down his spine. "Foolish Nephilim. You are 1'000 years too late to have a chance at defeating me!" he yelled in triumph as the Thralls began to sorround Karyu, piling up on top of him. "That's right my pets! Tear him to shreds and bring me his insides! His organs alone will be enough to revitalize me!" he continued. He heard the scuffling of footsteps. The other humans were moving for him, trying to defend the weak one. Even the wounded child had moved to face him again. Ornias' power was dissipating, but he still had enough energy to slow them down while he feasted. With a disgusting belch a green, toxic gas filtered out from his jaws, filling into the air around him. His toxic breath was enough to disorientate those brats, not to mention it would make them sick and weak. No doubt that boy would soon disperse his gas again soon, but he would have time to devour the Nephilim.

 

Meanwhile Karyu was in a daze. His world had went black. He couldn't move. He felt weight increasingly piling on top of him. Something was gripping and pulling at him frantically. He couldn't remember where he was, or what he had been doing. Was this it? Was he about to die? He couldn't remember who he was, try as he might. Then, as he was about to give up, faint visions filtered into his mind. 

 

"Are you stupid?" a voice in his head asked him. The words cut through him, he felt wounded. 

“Morinaga-kun,†came another voice. “Run. Leave this to me.†it continued. Run from what? What was happening? A pang of fear shot though him. He remembered feeling terrified before. Then something had made him angry. Someone.

"You were bait. That demon caught scent of you and followed you here. So, Hideaki-sensei used you, and now your usefulness is at an end." the words cut into him like a knife. He felt betrayed. Hideaki, his teacher, had used him. Worse still, that asshole Haru didn't even give a shit, he was just as bad. He was wrong though. Karyu wasn't useless. He wasn't helpless. He wouldn't allow it. He wasn't dying today, he refused to be anyone's meal. 

 

Suddenly there was an explosion from within the cloud of toxic gas. Thralls went flying in every direction. An intense heat was radiating from within, with a powerful energy resonating outwards. Slowly the gas cloud began to burn away as the intense heat combined with the intense winds began to carry it away. Through the smoke and gas, orange flames were flickering furiously. And from within the centre of the inferno, stood Karyu, perfectly unharmed inside the heart of the flame. 

"Wh-" he gasped, snapping back to reality. "What...what is this!?" he asked himself as the flame slowly subsided, disappearing back inside him, leaving no evidence it had ever been there at all. Before he could think further on the matter, a shadow fell over him as Ornias' fat, clawed hand came swiping at him. Karyu tensed, narrowly diving to avoid the deadly claws, rolling across the ground and back on to his feet. 

 

He didn't know what the hell was going on, but somehow he felt stronger. It seemed these chumps in the student council weren't the only ones with super powers. He hadn't imagined it, his body had been engulfed in flames. And they had come from inside him. It was time to end this. After all, wasn't this how it was in all the good tv shows? The unlikely hero rises up from mediocrity and achieves greatness through victory. Jinta, Yuudai, and that dick Haru, they had all had their moments in the sun. Now it was time for Karyu to shine. 

"Let's go, old geezer!" Karyu yelled confidently as he stood in a fighting stance. He felt the power rushing through him. The demon was rearing up to come at him again. Now was his time to strike. He thrust his fist forward, channeling his energy through his arm, in order to summon a great fireball to destroy this ugly demon. Well, that was the plan. As his fist thrust out there was a brief "poof" of black smoke and then...nothing. 

 

"...Shit!"

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The cold wind that Haru had whipped up blew fiercely around the whole courtyard as Jin and Yuudai cut down thrall after thrall around them, unable to get any closer to their leader. Yuudai ducked under the swing of a thrall's arm, bringing his blade neatly across its abdomen as it burst into flames from the contact. Another one tried to attack from behind with a bear hug, but Yuudai leapt into the air, soaring right over its head as he landed behind the thrall and gave it a good kick which sent it sprawling onto the ground.

 

Haru's extravagant movements caught his attention once more, and he turned to watch as the president flew in for the kill, only to be nearly eaten by Ornias in an unexpected turn of events. If it were not for his quick reflexes, he would have been shredded by the demon's fangs - and left the presidency open for Jinta. "Curse that lucky bugger," Yuudai commented with a grin, bringing down another thrall with his blade before dashing towards where Haru had fallen.

 

Before he could reach him, however, an explosion rocked the battlefield as more thralls were sent flying. To Yuudai's great amazement, Karyu was standing in the middle of what seemed to be an intense inferno, completely unharmed by the flames. Damn, was he a power user too? Why didn't Hideaki tell them about this? It soon became clear that he wasn't a very experienced power user, as his extravagant punch - which was probably meant to summon a blazing fireball - emitted nothing but a comical puff of black smoke.

 

"Hah! Hah! Hah!" Ornias laughed in a thick voice. "The end is nigh, foolish Nephilim."

 

"Yes, the end is nigh. For you."

 

Yuudai held up a portable mp3 player, turning the volume up to maximum as he pressed Play. A blazing electric guitar riff began to fill the air as the gadget began to blare a J-pop song that sounded like it came straight from a shounen anime, eliciting a smile from Yuudai. Ornias turned to face him, its cavernous maw beginning to open once more as he planned on vomiting out more thralls-

 

"Valia." A streak of fire darted across the distance between the two of them, traveling straight through Ornias as Yuudai appeared on the other side, coat billowing wildly in the wind. The enormous demon exploded into flames for a brief moment, but it roared and dissipated the lingering magic on itself. Before it could turn around, Yuudai slashed across it again, and again, and again, each attack engulfing the entire demon in raging fire as its regenerative ability began to wear out and slow down.

 

"Curse you... CURSE YOU!!!" Ornias screamed in an unholy unison of voices.

 

"Deit Valia." The winds shifted around Yuudai as the flickering flames on his blade turned bright golden. He leapt into the air, staring defiantly into the creature's gaping mouth as he plummeted down towards the demon in the same manner of attack that Haru had attempted earlier.

 

"Foolish mortal! I will eat you like I have eaten your comrade! I will-"

 

The final streak of light shattered every single one of the demon's fangs. Golden flames ate away at the demon as it collapsed onto the ground with a groan, its regenerative abilities no longer able to save it from Yuudai's magic. He unclipped the mp3 player from his belt and stopped the J-pop song, flicking the Shinkatana in the air as it slowly dissolved into a cloud of glowing dust. He turned to Haru's fallen figure, running over to check on his injuries. He may be a dick, but he was still their comrade.

 

It appeared that Yuudai's worries were unfounded. By some power of his, the bleeding wound that Ornias had inflicted on Haru had already been mostly healed, leaving behind a rather nasty scab which he knew would vanish too, in time. It wasn't the first time Yuudai had seen Haru's healing prowess. It was almost like that of a Demon's...

 

He sighed, turning to face the unknown entity instead - Karyu. "Who are you," Yuudai questioned him with a firm look. "And why did the Demon call you a Nephilim?"

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When Haru and Yuudai jumped in Jin felt relieved; he was no longer under a massive amount of pressure. Between the three of them it should be easy enough to defend Karyu. Both of his teammates immediately started using their flashy powers in order to overwhelm Ornias and his thralls to varying degrees of success. While Haru tried to finish off the demon Yuudai and Jin were preoccupied with the overwhelming number of thralls. As soon as Haru’s assault failed Yuudai rushed towards Ornias and left Jin to fend off the thralls by himself.

Jin knew Yuudai well enough to know that he could finish off Ornias by himsef with the amount of damage the demon had sustained thanks to Haru’s spells. So for now he would focus on defending himself, the barely conscious Haru and Karyu. The first of the twelve prayer beads started radiating a bright yellow light as Jin activated the first of his stored prayers; the Prayer of Justice. After the activation of the prayer Jin’s katana became infused with the same yellow light, a holy light, and the thralls around him halted their advance, seemingly afraid of getting in range of the weapon enveloped in holy power.

He took a wide swing with his sword and even though none of the thralls were in range of the blade they were still touched by the every moving holy light. The thralls touched by the light either sustained severe burn wounds or burnt down to ashes. The combination of both prayers made Jin a force to be reckoned with as none of the thralls got even close to endangering the helpless Haru and Karyu.

Before long Yuudai had successfully finished off Ornias and all the thralls fell apart into ashes. Jin cancelled both active prayers and sheathed his sword. He noticed that Yuudai went to check up on Haru, so he was free to turn his attention to Karyu. “Are you okay?†He asked, but judging by the way his classmate looked any sustained damage would likely be psychological.
Before Karyu got the chance to answer Yuudai had joined the three of them and had started questioning Karyu. "Who are you," Yuudai questioned him with a firm look. "And why did the Demon call you a Nephilim?"
"Whaddya mean 'who are you', dumbass!" Karyu replied, "We're in homeroom together! We got in three fights with each other last year. Although I'm starting to think you might have been holding back..." Karyu continued, scowling at Yuudai. "As for the Nephilim thing...I don't know. I don't make a habit of talking to shit-ugly monsters. That's your territory."

Jin thought for a second. He had heard of the word Nephilim before, read it during his biblical studies. It didn’t take long for him to recall what he knew about it. “Hmm, Nephilim were described as giants in the book of Genesis. The offspring of ‘the sons of God’. No one really knew what they meant by sons of God, but most people believe that it refers to fallen angels, Seth or Adam himself.†Jin turned his attention to Karyu. “Is there anything special about your parents?â€
"They're dead." Karyu replied bluntly, averting his gaze and staring up at the sky.
“That’s… inconvenient.†Jin was too deep in thought to realize how rude that actually was, but for now all he cared about was solving this mystery. Why was Ornias so interested in Karyu? What was that fire power? “Morinaga,†no honorific, “you’re coming with us to see Sensei. I need answers.â€

"Wrong, Yamamoto!" Karyu replied, "I'm the one who needs answers." But Jin didn’t stick around to listen. He had already begun moving towards the school’s entrance, leaving the three others to follow his pace. Even if Karyu decided not to follow, he was sure Yuudai would drag him along.

Haru Ashikaga put a hand out to steady himself as he knelt up, he wiped the blood from the corner of his mouth and then looked over at his wound. The worst of it had healed. He felt ashamed and frustrated at his mistake, but that would not show on his face. He turned and looked at the group chattering away, "Did you kill it?" Haru asked into the air, looking around, realising that the storm had continued to rage while he had been unconscious. He looked up at the sky for a moment, and the storm quickly abated, though a light snow fall continued.

Jin stopped to look at Haru, the president was beaten up pretty bad, but most of the wounds had healed by now. “Yeah, it’s gone. We’re gonna see Sensei. Feel free to join us.â€

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Noritoshi Hideaki sat at his desk in the Student Council's meeting room. He was smoking a cigarette, strictly not allowed on the school grounds, but he occasionally had one indoors when it was quiet. He could hear a faint noise travelling up the corridor of the otherwise quiet school. Slowly the faint noise became a loud din, coming to a head as the door to the room crashed open. Jin was the first to enter the room. Hideaki smiled. While Haru was clearly his most accomplished student, he favored Jin secretly. Of course it would be wrong for a great teacher like himself to act on such bias. However the next person entering was not one of his chosen few, it was Karyu, the source of the ruckus. 

 

"Oji-saaaan!" He thundered as he marched across the room, "You damn Satanist! Why'd you have to get me mixed up in your damn cult!" he roared. Yuudai and Haru entered after him, much more calmly. Hideaki noted that Haru was injured. However he didn't bother to inquire about it. Clearly Morinaga-kun was in need of his attention. He turned to the boy who was still ranting. "-is bullshit! What kind of teacher offers his students up to demons as some kind of ritual!? I'm telling the police about this! It's abuse!"

 

"Oh?" Hideaki responded, smirking and then calmly taking another draw of his cigarette. "Feel free to do just that, Morinaga-kun. You would just sound like a crazy person. Besides, do you think any of my boys will be willing to back up your claim?" he asked. Karyu turned around to examine the Student Council. Each of them gave him an assuring look that they would not be going to the police. It was clear, they were loyal to Hideaki for whatever reason. Karyu tutted and turned back to Hideaki. For a moment he was silent. He had so much to say, but he didn't know where to start. His hands were shaking with nerves from the whole experience. Finally he swallowed and spoke.

 

"What is this?" he asked. "Explain it to me." 

"Well" Hideaki began. "For as long as humans have existed, so to have demons. It's quite fascinating how much they have been present within history. However I will spare the lecture for this evening. Here is the basics. Your classmates over there are Demon Hunters. They each have obtained special skills through various ways. I train them to hone these abilities in order to protect this town from demons, which they seem to have done a good job of tonight. Especially without supervision!"

 

"So why haven't I seen a demon before?" Karyu asked. 

"You probably have." Hideaki explained. "When a Demon kills a person they can hide in their body, using it as a host. Eventually the corruption will spread and cause the body to rot. The time it takes for this to happen varies from Demon to Demon. That Demon that you know doubt have seen enough of for a lifetime, I could smell his corruption off of you this morning. Unfortunately demons that stink that bad are close to breaching from their host. I was almost certain that it would choose to track and devour you. So I kept you here, that way Yamamoto-kun, Shinozaki-kun and Ashikaga-kun could protect you." Karyu turned around and eyed his classmates again. He had no intention of thanking them. He just rolled his eyes. 

 

“Sensei, Ornias repeatedly refered to Morinaga as a Nephilim.†Jin frowned. “I’m sure you know what that means.†Hideaki flashed his bright, young student a knowing look. For a moment he contemplated his response. His gaze turned to Yuudai, and then Haru. Both of them looked curious about this too. Finally his gaze fell on Karyu, who had a mixed expression of fear and anger. Clearly the boy had went through a rough night. Hideaki sighed before continuing his explanation. 

 

"A Nephilim is a very rare thing, Yamamoto-kun." he began. "Essentially it is the offspring of a Demon and a Human."

"Liar!" Karyu yelled, his fists trembling, he glared at Hideaki with venom. His eyes were watering slightly. He shook his head nervously in denial. "That's bullshit! Are you saying I'm like that ugly bastard who tried to eat me!?" he asked. Hideaki sighed again, adjusting his glasses. 

"Not quite. While it is true that your father was a Demon, that does not mean you are. Nor are you human for that matter. A Nephilim is sired of both human and demon origin, but it is neither. Does that make sense?"

 

"So... that smell this morning, was that Morinaga or Ornias?" Jin crossed his arms, switching into his usual thinking stance. "And if he's half a demon, why don't we take him out? Doesn't that make him evil?"

Haru had remained silent up to this point, leaning against the far wall, watching quietly. He looked over at his wound, it had healed now, but he was still covered in blood, "No." Haru replied, answering Jinta's question. There was no tone to his voice, but it was clear that that was all he had to say on that subject. He crossed his arms and returned to silence once more.

 

"Like I said, he is not a Demon at all." Hideaki assured. "And no that smell of corruption did not come from Morinaga-kun. The key fact of a demon is that they are truly evil. This is because a demon lacks morality. A demon cannot choose to be good. That is the gift of humans. Morinaga-kun, like a human, has the choice to be who he wants to be. The difference is that he was born with the power of a demon. In a sense he is not so different from any of you three."

"Shut up!" Karyu barked. Hideaki hadn't been paying attention for a moment. He hadn't realised that Karyu looked like he was about to burst. "Who the fuck do you think you are!?" Karyu yelled angrily, before turning to face his classmates. "All of you! Standing there acting like this isn't the craziest shit in the world!"

 

"Calm down Morinaga-kun" Hideaki tried to relax him but it was useless. 

"Shut up!" Karyu roared again. "You have no right to do this! You didn't know my mother or my father any more than I did! You can't possibly know this stuff!"

"Your father was a demon, Karyu." Hideaki said bluntly. He knew the boy was upset but it was time that he heard the truth. "That is always the way. A human cannot impregnate a demon. A Nephilim is always born of a human mother and a demon father. You have to accept this. It will not disappear because you don't want to hear it. Do you understand?"

"No! I don't understand!" Karyu snapped before storming out of the classroom, slamming the door behind him. Hideaki sighed and went to smoke his cigarette, but realised it had already completely burned out. 

 

"He is a waste of time, Hideaki-sensei." Haru said evenly, "He is incapable and if you believe he can hunt, you will be putting the lives of the student council at risk, and more."

"Oh?" Hideaki smirked as he looked at Haru. "Always reading my intentions before I voice them, Ashikaga-kun. However I have been aware of Morinaga-kun's birthright for a considerable time. He has stepped into a world that you have been exposed to since birth. Give him time. No doubt you are at least somewhat aware of his potential. I felt the surge of energy from here."

 

"I have to agree with Haru; this is too much of a risk. If he turns out to be a threat we will have to take him out." Jin did not like that thought. "I hope you know what you're doing, Sensei."

"Have you not sat in class with him all of this time?" Hideaki asked in response. "Remember that he knew nothing about this world until this evening. Do not think Morinaga-kun to be a danger in disguise. Many hunters across the world have utilized the power of demons to fight against them. Remember that he has human in him. One of God's children, no?"

 

"Then why did it take so long for a demon to come after him? He has been a Nephilim all his life, but this is the first time he has come in touch with this world." Hideaki fell oddly silent at this. Sometimes it was a disadvantage to have such clever students such as Jinta. 

"Like I said, I have known of his lineage for a long time. Measures were taken. Now he is ready to join the fight by our side. The rest of that conversation we can have when you're an adult. Now I think you better go home."

 

"I did not say he was a danger because some part of him is a demon..." Haru replied, his face tightening, "I said he is dangerous, that is because he does not think before he acts. He does not consider his actions. For that reason, he will get innocent people killed."

"You are one to talk, Ashikaga-kun" Hideaki replied, and it was clear his patience was wearing thin. "Some might say the same of you. Sure enough you are skilled, highly trained. You are not above mistakes though, that wound you have is evidence of that. You hold incredible power and skill, but what about if you slip up, hm? I think it is best that you children run along now. Goodnight."

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The events that unfolded last night still dwelled within Jin’s mind. The thought that one of his classmates was actually a Nephilim worried him; if he couldn’t figure out Karyu’s true identity despite all the time spent in his vicinity, how many more supernatural beings wandered nearby without being noticed? However, the biggest source of worry was Hideaki-sensei. It was no secret that his knowledge on everything supernatural surpassed anyone else Jin knew, probably anyone else in Fukuyaba, but if he knew about Karyu’s identity why didn’t he inform the Council? In fact, how did he know about Karyu’s identity as a Nephilim in the first place?

Jin’s mind was filled with numerous questions, but for now he had no other choice but to be quiet and observe what was going on around him. When the Student Council started asking questions last night Hideaki wasted no time it shutting them all down and sending them home with a firm ‘Goodnight.’ Jin contemplated inviting all the current members of the Student Council to have a meeting and discuss what they learnt last night without Hideaki’s supervision, but at this point he had no idea how much this bothered the others. If they didn’t care about Hideaki’s attitude the way Jin did or if they simply didn’t notice there was no guarantee that they’d inform him of what Jin was scheming. No, it’d be best to let rest for now and investigate when everything has died down a bit.

*Bzzzzzt bzzzzzt bzzzzzt*


Jin was about to eat his bento at his desk when his cellphone starting vibrating; he had received a new text message.  The name ‘Ayane Miwa’ blinked on the screen of his phone and for a moment we wondered whether he should just ignore it. Would probably be best if he didn’t. “Jintan, come to classroom 5C, please! It’s important! :3†The fifth floor was mostly reserved for special clubrooms with 5C being the Movie Club’s room filled mostly with props and video editing equipment. Sigh. He might as well eat his lunch up there. He put the lid back on his bento and left the classroom to meet Ayane.

In the Movie Club’s room he was greeted by Ayane. “Thanks for coming, Jintan, you’re a lifesaver.†Before answering Jin examined the room.
 â€œYeah. What’s up, Ayane?â€
“Have you ever met the Movie Club’s President, Chiriko Hayami?â€
Jin had heard that name before, the Hayami family was pretty famous in Fuyukaba. “Heard of her, never met her.â€
“She needs your help.†Ayane pointed at a girl standing at the window staring outside. Jin hadn’t paid much attention to her and she hadn’t turned to greet him yet. “Chi-chan, Jintan is here to help you.†When she was called she gracefully turned around as her long black hair twirled behind her. The moment Jin laid eyes on her he couldn’t help but be mesmerized by her beauty. “I’ll leave you guys to it,†with that Ayane left the room.

“Uhh, hello, I’m Jinta Yamamoto. Pleased to meet you.†Jin bowed quickly as he introduced himself. Despite all his years spent around Ayane, Jin couldn’t help but be a bit nervous while all alone in a room with the princess of Fuyukaba.
“Hello, Yamamoto-san,†Chiriko approached Jin, her eyes locked onto his. Jin turned his head away to avoid her gaze, but she simply stepped in front of him again. “I’m Chiriko Hayami. Pleased to meet you.†She stood right in front of Jinta, carefully examining him as their faces were less than 20 centimeters apart. Jin took this chance to take a good look at Chiriko and as he had expected she was just as beautiful from up close as she was standing at the window.
 â€œChi- Hayami-san,†Jin felt the urge to say something, lest the entire lunch hour would be spent with her trying to measure him up, “what can I do for you?â€

Chiriko smiled and started walking towards two desks lined up against each other. “Please have a seat,†she said as she sat down at the desk directly opposed from the one she offered to Jin. “Let’s eat our lunch together.†Jin quietly complied as he sat down across from her and opened up his own bento. They ate quietly for a while, Chiriko lost in thought as she continued staring out of the window from her seat and Jin even more nervous than he had ever been in his life. For as long as he could remember he dreamt of having lunch with someone as pretty as Chiriko, but now that it had actually happened he had no clue how to act.

“Aya-chan told me that you are very smart. That you read a lot. Is that true?†She turned her gaze back to Jin and he nodded while gulping down some rice. “The Movie Club is planning on making a short film for the school festival and I was tasked with writing the script.â€
“I-I don’t know much about script writing, if that’s what you need of me.â€
“Don’t worry, Yamamoto-san.†Chiriko took another bite of her food and glanced at the ceiling for a second. “I’m not that confident in my writing, but I wouldn’t ask anyone else to write it for me. I simply want you to read it.â€
“Read it?†Jin was confused, why would this girl want a complete stranger to read her script.
“Yes, there are certain themes I want to use in my short story, but I am afraid I haven’t done it right. I would like your opinion on the script.†As she officially asked Jin for help she leaned over slightly and the sunlight shone directly into her face, reflecting off of her deep purple eyes. While Jin remained silent she never broke eye contact, but instead of feeling uncomfortable Jin felt hypnotized by her stare. It seemed impossible for him to turn away from her mesmerizing eyes. “Please?â€
“A-alright,†he finally replied. He knew that he had succumbed to her spell, but there was no way he could resist her. Was she a demon? No, she didn’t smell like one. “Just give me the script once you-“ Before he could finish his sentence she drew a stack of papers from her bag.
“I look forward to hearing from you!â€

Not paying attention during class started to become a bad habit. Once again Jin was focused on something other than his studies while the teacher was busy with a lecture, but this time he wasn’t worrying about Karyu; he was reading a script. The script was well written, the story was interesting and the mystery certainly managed to draw in Jin’s attention. The fact that someone as talented at Chiriko wanted Jin’s opinion was still confounding. As much as he’d like to give her constructive criticism, nothing he read stood out as something he could improve upon. Would he disappoint her if he couldn’t think of anything?

Wait. Why did he even care if he disappointed her? Whatever! She asked for his opinion and his opinion was that it was fine. She’d just have to deal with it. *Ring ring ring,* the sudden ringing of the school bell revealed that class was dismissed.

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Yuudai Shinozaki slumped dejectedly over his desk in the Student Council room, with mountains of paperwork messily arranged all about the place. A half-eaten pizza lay discarded in its box not more than three feet away from his seat, as flies already began to circle around the meal. The boy groaned and shifted his position on the desk, accidentally nudging a heap of forms which moved its center of gravity, sending the forms fluttering all about the room and scaring away the flies in the process.

 

Who knew that being in the Student Council meant that he actually had to do work? And an impossible amount of work too; With the school festival coming up, Hideaki-sensei had asked him to personally vet through every club's proposed activity or booth they were intending on setting up. When Yuudai tried to argue, Hideaki had given him a death glare that sent chills down his spine. That teacher was worse than a Demon, he was sure of it.

 

At first, he had tried using Valia to hasten the work, but to his dismay, all the time spell did was allow him to finish more forms in the same time period. In his perspective, he still had to spend the same amount of effort. "Gaaaaahhhhh!!!" He yelled at the top of his lungs. "Where is that stupid Jin anyway?! Why is he allowed to chase after panties while I'm stuck here?!"

 

One form came floating down onto the desk in front of him. Yuudai picked it up, examining it with tired disinterest. "Takoyaki Store - by the cooking club," he read out the title to himself. "We have a cooking club?"

 

 

There it was. Club Room 4B, just like the form said. In front of the wooden door was a small sign which read: "Cooking Club!" with a small note underneath: "Current president, Katsumi Inoue". Yuudai shoved the form into his pocket, sighed, and pushed the door open.

 

His nostrils were immediately assaulted by a host of odors and smells, causing him to reel back in horror. "What's happening?" He gasped. "Are there demons inside this club?!"

 

It soon became clear that those were just the smells of the various broths and stews that were bubbling in the various pots that were all around the club room, with students busily chatting with each other while examining the progress of each other's soup. Yuudai's dramatic entrance had drawn most of their attention, unfortunately, and all gaze seemed to be directed towards him now. A student he recognized from his year marched angrily up to him, leaning forward aggressively as she stared into his eyes.

 

"Who are you?" She demanded to know. "And why are you barging into my club in the middle of a lesson?"

 

One of the first-year students gasped. "Katsumi-chan, he's..."

 

Yuudai brushed his hair back, standing up straight to meet Katsumi's gaze. "Yuudai Shinozaki," he interrupted. "President of Clubs and Societies."

 

There was a collective gasp around the whole room. Some of the juniors who had only seen him from afar around school burst into rapid whispers with their friends, gesturing and pointing at Yuudai. Katsumi seemed rather non-plussed by his declaration, however, much to his disappointment. "And? What might a Student Council member have to do in our humble club?"

 

"I heard you were having a takoyaki sale for the school festival," Yuudai replied, giving Katsumi his famous lady-charming smile. She continued staring at him with a disapproving look, causing him to wonder just what kind of girl she was. "I thought I might drop by and take a look at how you guys prepare your food."

 

Katsumi gave him a long, appraising stare. Finally, she turned abruptly on the spot, marching back towards the teacher's desk where she had come from. "Follow me," she ordered. "I'll make some takoyaki for you."

 

"Impossible!" A male second-year student gasped. "For Katsumi-chan to personally cook..."

 

The girl took her position in front of her desk, where ingredients and cooking materials had been arranged neatly. Yuudai stood on the other side, looking at her with folded arms and an amused smile. "I'm sure this is a test of some sorts," Katsumi said, picking up a pan as she thrust it at Yuudai. "We'll prove to you that the Cooking Club is worthy of participating in the student festival!"

 

Wow. This girl had some serious misunderstandings... but this little scene was too good to spoil. "Oh?" Yuudai replied. "Let's see if your food matches up with your words then, Inoue-san."

 

Immediately, Katsumi whipped into a furious frenzy, moving ingredients and utensils around on the table so fast Yuudai could barely keep up with her motions. "That's Katsumi-chan's famous technique, White Lightning Flurry!" He heard a voice behind him gasp. "Not wasting a single moment on unnecessary pauses, she crafts the perfect dish in the minimal amount of time! As expected of the Flash!"

 

Sizzling sounds began to fill the room as the already-formed takoyaki balls began to fry on her pan. Then, with a flourish, she tossed the pan upwards, sending the eight spheres flying into the air. There was a collective gasp around the room. But she was prepared - both hands were gripping four wooden sticks each, each stick gripped in between her fingers like claws. There was a dart - and one takoyaki ball was swiped out of the air, stuck firmly onto the stick that had punctured it. Another swipe, another ball. It was truly an impressive display of speed and skill that not everybody could pull off.

 

As she caught the last ball, Katsumi produced a plate out of nowhere, laying the takoyaki sticks upon it as she poured the finishing sauce upon it delicately, passing the plate to Yuudai. Cheers erupted from all around. "Lunch is served," she commented with a sly grin.

 

Yuudai gave the plate one look and chuckled. "You sure you got all of them, Inoue-chan?"

 

"What are you talking about? Of course I- what?!" Katsumi yelled as she looked down on her plate. "H-how could this happen?!"

 

One of the takoyaki sticks was empty.

 

"There were eight balls... and I used eight sticks... There was no way..."

 

Grinning, Yuudai produced the hand which he had been hiding behind his back. It was holding a wooden stick, with the last takoyaki ball impaled on it.

 

"Impossible..." Katsumi muttered in disbelief. "In the split second that I was distracted, he took a stick from my desk, snatched one ball out of the air, and hid it behind his back... All without the notice of anyone in the room?"

 

Yuudai slowly ate the piece that he had caught, nodding in approval as he did. "This is very well done, Inoue-san. You certainly do live up to your name," he said, beaming. Leaving the president of the cooking club still frozen in place, Yuudai turned and prepared to leave the club room. "I look forward to seeing the cooking club's booth in the school festival."

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Following that nights events with the demon Ornias, Haru had walked home in silence, contemplating what Hideaki had said to the group, to him specifically. He looked over at his wound, but it had healed completely now. Only the bloody and ripped clothes showed the previous signs of a sustained injury. It took him a little while to get home, as he'd decided to let his limousine driver return without him, he needed the time to clear his head and consider everything that had happened. At least, that was what he told himself, but some part of him knew that the reason he was procrastinating was that his father would be waiting for him when he got in, and he knew that he would be in trouble for having skipped out on their planned hunt this evening due to Hideaki's request. 

When he had finally arrived at their family home, Haru froze, his hand on the front door. He considered walking away, but thought better of it and unlocked the door, stepping through into the hallway and taking off his shoes. He looked around the hall and walked down, checking each of the rooms in turn. Where was everyone? Haru frowned, and continued to scale the house, checking each of the rooms. Eventually, he made his way to the back of the old, but grand house and out into the large, enclosed zen garden. It was night time, but his vision was well-adjusted to the dark. He saw a group of lanterns at the far end of the garden and made his way towards them. 

The light in the darkness made it difficult to see what was happening, he could only see two figures. It had to be his father and his sister, Chiyo. Haru crossed the garden, walking over the stream using the red wooden bridge before greeting his father with a short bow. The pair stared at one another for a good long while, as his younger sister stayed uncharacteristically quiet.

"Where were you, Haru?" His father muttered at last, breaking the silence, before turning back to face Chiyo who was dressed much like his father, in traditional robes.
"I had to join a hunt, father." Haru replied. He saw the expression on his father's face, and he lowered his head, "I am sorry."

"When you joined the Student Council, you told me it would not interfere." His father replied, picking up a small cup of tea to take a sip.

"I did..." Haru began, but the words got caught in his throat and he stopped. He walked up to join his father and sister and bowed, "I apologise, father."
"What if you had been to accompany Chiyo and she had died in your absence?" His father's words cut through Haru like a sharp knife. He lowered his head, ashamed. "Training." His father added, "Until morning." Haru looked from his father to his sister who remained quiet, bowed one last time and then walked from the gardens. 

 

 


 

 

It was the middle of the night. Everything in the house was quiet, save for a quiet thumping sound coming from Haru's training room. He smashed his fist into the punching bag over and over, attacking it with every ounce of strength he had. He'd been at it for hours now and he was tiring, his knuckles were bloodied and it had smeared across half the punching bag in a grotesque display, but between strikes, his skin was healing, trying to keep up with the damage he was inflicting on himself in addition to the punching bag. Haru panted, trying to catch his breath, he leant his head forwards and rested it on the bag, heaving for air. For a moment, there was silence, and then a loud voice.

"Haru!!" His father barked in another part of the house.

Standing upright, wavering slightly, Haru brought his shin up to strike the bag again, resuming his assault. How long before Chiyo's indoctrination into their family work? She had been in the middle of the tea ceremony when he had returned home. That was why his father wanted him present. It couldn't be long now, would his father wait a few more days? He found himself getting angry and though his face showed no signs beyond the serenity he was accustomed to, his attacks on his target grew more rigorous and frequent. With renewed strength he assaulted the bag, and for a moment, Karyu's face flashed before his eyes.

Face suddenly contorting, lips curling back in anger, Haru brought his hand back and thrust it forwards, but as he did so ice formed around it into a spike and impaled the punching bag, sand started gushing out from the wound in it's front and Haru sighed. That boy had no idea how easy he had it. He could have walked away from it all. He wanted him to. He needed him to, for the choice that Haru hadn't been given. But he didn't. And now Karyu would be like him. Trapped. He dismissed the ice on his hand and unhooked the broken bag, throwing it over his shoulder as though it was weightless. The bag landed behind him with a thud and as he attached a fresh punching bag, he looked back. A large pile of broken, wounded training bags lay behind him. He scowled and returned to his punishment.

 

 


 

 

When morning finally came, he was exhausted. Barely able to stand. Haru showered and left for school, though he was only half awake. He saw the other students passing by, talking amongst themselves, but he paid no attention to them. He had to get to his first class. By the time he finally got there, he was falling asleep. He sat down at his desk, and rested his head on one hand, which he rested on his desk. Slowly, his eyes closed, he tried to fight it, but eventually he lost and they closed entirely.
"Master...?" A timid feminine voice quietly called out. A delicate hand waved back and forth in front of Haru's sleeping face. Then slowly, very slowly, something sharp crept towards him. It sank into his hair, and there was a quiet 'clip' sound as the deadly-looking pair of scissors severed a little bang of silver hair and the hand picked it up. "Thank you very much, Master..." 

 

"Huh?" Haru began to rouse himself from his slumber but as he did his hand slipped and his face banged unceremoniously onto his desk, waking him immediately, "What?!" He looked around, eyes wide. The room was empty. He rubbed his forehead gingerly, glad that nobody was in the empty classroom. He yawned as the class eventually began to fill, had somebody been talking to him before?

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Karyu was sat on a bench in Amatsuseki's square. He was dressed in stonewashed jeans, a pair of red high top sneakers, and a black denim jacket. He had a white beanie pulled over his shaggy mane of hair. He had spent the morning wandering, trying to gather his thoughts. When he had arrived home last night he had went straight to his room, ignoring the yelling he was receiving from the Ishihara sisters. He swallowed nervously and looked around the square. He was supposed to be at school. He didn't especially care about an education, but he had promised Mari that he wouldn't skip school any more. He had only managed to keep that promise for one day. He wanted to keep it, but he couldn't face seeing Hideaki-sensei, let alone his class mates Jinta, Yuudai and Haru. 

 

He hadn't told anyone about what had happened the previous evening. Perhaps Mari would have forgiven him if she had known what happened, but he couldn't bring himself to tell her. What if she freaked out? He saw the way Jin had looked at him when he had realised he was a Nephilim. If Mari looked at him like that, well, he tried not to think about it. Not to mention Aoi and Hisako. Aoi would never speak to him again, and Hisako would probably try to hurt him. The Ishihara's were a pain in his ass, but they were the closest thing he had to a family. He'd have to keep this a secret from them, for everyone's sake. 

 

As he got up from the bench Karyu barely registered the fast paced tapping. He had been in a daze. By the time he had glanced to his left it was too late. The young girl collided with him and the pair crashed to the ground. His back and shoulders were still sore from last night, so it was tender when he hit the floor. Then the weight of the girl slamming against his front caused him to gasp. He winced from the pain. Then he efelt something soft caressing his face. For a moment he nuzzled it with his cheek. He opened his eyes to see a white blouse hiding under a school blazer. His eyes widened. "Ah! Sorry!" He gasped, pushing the girl off of him unceremoniously. He got up so quickly it looked as if he had teleported. He turned round, nervously scratching the back of his head. "Eh he he he! A-are you okay?"

 

The girl was still on the ground. She was dressed in a Fuyukaba High School uniform, a white blouse, school blazer, a light grey skirt and black leggings with brown shoes. He noted that she had a blue ribbon around her collar, meaning she was a freshman. She had shoulder length caramel coloured hair, with her fringe pinned back to the right with a pair of orange hair clips. Her eyes were hazel, and when she looked at him he realised they were large and shimmering. Her cheeks were flushed from embarrassment. Karyu helped her up and she looked at him nervously before bowing repeatedly. "I'm so sorry!" she said as she bowed, "I'm such a clumsy person! I'm so stupid! I'm sorry!"

 

"Oi!" Karyu said as he reached out and grabbed her by the shoulder gently. "It's okay, I wasn't lookin' so it's my fault. Don't worry about it...um..."

"Oh! It's Nana Shiotani! Pleased to m-meet you!" she said, bowing again. As she did he noticed her chest bowing with her and noted that she really was pretty grown up for a freshman. As she came back up from the bow Karyu averted his gaze nervously. 

"Oh uh, pleased to meet you." he said in response, "I'm Karyu Morinaga. I'm at Fuyukaba High as well. Second year."

"Ah, I didn't know." She replied, before staring off as if she was zoning out. Then she shook her head and panic filled her eyes. "Oh No! I need to go! I was only running an errand!" she said incredibly quickly as she hopped between her feet in a flustered panic. She turned around and picked up the grocery bag off of the floor. However she whimpered as she realised that her second grocery bag had split when she had fallen. There was no way she could carry it all. 

 

However Karyu moved forward and picked up the spilled groceries, cradling them in his arms. 

"Here, it's my fault so...I'll help you take these back." Karyu offered, looking off into the distance, trying to keep his cool. 

"Eh? Th-thank you, Senpai!" she said with another blush and a smile. 

"Uh, S-senpai?" Karyu gulped. Nobody had ever called him that before. "Uh...I mean. Right, Senpai." he said quickly before nodding to encourage Nana to walk with him. She smiled nervously as they headed for the school. Karyu didn't speak. He didn't quite know what to say. People had a tendency to avoid him. He was a slacker and a trouble maker, this was no secret. However this freshman seemed oblivious to it all. 

 

"I'm really excited about this project." Nana spoke up finally, "We're making preparations for our stall for the Cultural Festival. Oh that's right you don't know. I'm part of the calligraphy club. Although I'm not very good at it. I just joined. It's fun though! Although sometimes it's hard. Actually it's hard a lot of the time. Anyway we're going to run a stall during the Cultural Festival to raise money for more supplies. That's why I went out for these ingredients."

"Ingredients?" Karyu parroted. "You're cooking?"

"Yes!" Nana replied with a nod. "We're going to make a signature curry for the festival!"

 

 


 

 

Karyu and Nana stepped into the free classroom. It was a cooking classroom so there were stoves lined across the walls, and lots of cookware and cutlery around the room. Nana immediately joined the 3 others in the group. It consisted of two other girls and a boy. The girls were both freshman as well and when they caught a glimpse of Karyu they looked panicked. It seemed that they were more familiar with his reputation. However they said nothing, meanwhile the boy was walking towards him. He knew this boy, he was in his year. He was dressed impeccably in his school uniform, his hair was short, black and tidy, and he had youthful good looks. Keigo Tsunoda. 

 

"Morinaga-san, this classroom is booked for the calligraphy club." He said matter of faculty. "Please leave."

"Get out of my way, Tsunoda" Karyu responded as he shoved past his slight frame with ease. 

"Morinaga-san! As the President of Calligraphy Club I am going to have to insist you leave!" Keigo said, more sharply this time, as he spun around to intercept him. Karyu felt his temper bubbling. If he didn't have his hands full he might have been tempted to punch the kid. However Nana came to his rescue without hesitation. 

 

"Tsunoda-senpai! Please!" Nana protested, "Morinaga-senpai helped me bring the groceries here after my bag split. He was just trying to help."

"Hmph!" Keigo looked unimpressed. "Well then...he has served his purpose." Karyu's eyes flashed with anger as his mind flashed back to the previous evening, and an image of Haru stood between him an Ornias. 

 

"He has served his purpose, now he is just in the way." Haru's voice echoed in his head. 

 

The situation seemed tense. Karyu's fists were trembling. He was glaring at Keigo, trying to keep his cool. Meanwhile Keigo was simply staring back at him, stood calmly and with a sly smirk on his face. Nana looked nervous. The two other girls had began unpacking the groceries and were preparing the ingredients. After what seemed like an eternity, Karyu's fists relaxed, and he sighed heavily. This was what he got for making an effort. 

"Tch!" was his response, before he shoved his hands in his pockets and went to leave. As he was passing the door he stopped by the counter where the two other girls were preparing the ingredients. He glanced down at them. 

"That garlic, you shouldn't be chopping it" Karyu explained, "If you grate it you'll release the flavour much more."

"Uh...th-thanks." One of the girls said nervously, her eyes pointed down at her work station. "a-and...and these?"

 

Karyu looked to what she was gesturing at. There was carrots, apples, ginger, onions and potatoes. Over at the other girl's station was a large brisket she was preparing to cut up. As he glanced around the room further he spotted the rice, the various condiments, butter, oils, beef stock, etc. They were making a curry. However the girl was gesturing specifically to the onions. 

"Hmm. Slice them as thinly as possible. Then cut the carrots rangiri style, grate the ginger and apple, peel it of course." He explained. The girl picked up the carrot and held a knife, hesitantly going to cut it. "Um..." she said. "Wh-what's 'rangiri'?" she asked. Karyu shook his head. 

"Tch! Don't you know anything?" he said harshly, "Get out of the way." 

 

Karyu gently moved the girl out of the way and took of her work stations. He handed her the carrots. "Wash and peel those. And the apple." he ordered and she ran off to do as she was told. The other girl who was preparing the meat seemed a little more confident. She was cutting the beef into bite-sized cubes. He couldn't argue with that so he left her to it. Grabbing a knife he began slicing the onions with careful precision. Keigo had made a move to challenge him once again but had stopped when he had noticed Karyu's skill with a knife. Nana stepped forward. 

"Can I help, senpai?" she asked. 

"Peel those!" he barked back at her, motioning to the potatoes. He was not intentionally being blunt, this was just how he was with food. When he had finished with the onions he grated the garlic and the ginger. Then when the carrots returned he cut them rangiri style, that is to say at a 70 degree angle, rolling the carrot after each slice. The result were attractive looking carrot wedges that were ideal for soups and curry. 

 

When the potatoes returned he cut them into bit-sized chunks similar to how the beef had been prepared. Then grated the apple and finished any other preparations. 

"Skillet." he said as he moved the ingredients over to the hob, holding his spare hand out in expectation. 

"S-skillet?" the girl who had prepared the meat asked hesitantly. 

"That pan over there!" Karyu snapped and motioned to one of the pans. The girl bowed and immediately got the skillet for him. He put his things down for a moment and grabbed an apron, tying it around himself. Then he turned to the group who, by this point, were hanging on his every word. 

"Okay...girls...who are you?" He asked.

 

"Ayane Arisawa! Pleased to meet you!" replied the girl who had prepared the beef. She had long black hair and a sharp, defined fringe that was cut just above her eyebrows. He turned to the girl who was preparing the vegetables. "And you?" he asked. 

"um...Moe...Kitamura. Pleased to meet you, Morinaga-san!" she replied nervously, smiling softly. He assessed the three of them. Ayane seemed to be the confident one, though she was quite reserved. She reminded him of Jinta, actually. Nana was clumsy, hyperactive and infectiously happy. And Moe, much like her name suggested, was sweet and cute, although a little nervous. And then there was Keigo, standing in the background with his arms folded. He was easy to assess. He was a highly strung dumbass. 

 

"Okay, Ayane, season the beef with salt and pepper." Karyu ordered, and Ayane responded with a nod. "Moe, Nana, get that big stockpot and start melting the butter on a medium heat. Then add the onions, ginger, garlic, carrots and beef." 

"Okay!" Nana said with a nod, Moe following her lead. Karyu took the skillet and went to work, hoever noticed that Keigo was waiting for him to ask him to do something. 

"You can just stand around and keep making that sour face, Tsunoda-kun!" Karyu said with a smirk. He put the skillet on the hob and turned the heat up medium and began to melt butter in the pan, before adding flour. He began to stir it carefully but confidently, like he had made these motions a hundred times before. He noticed that by now all three girls were standing over the stockpot. 

"Nana, ass the apple and beef stock!" he barked. 

"Yes, senpai!" she complied. 

 

After about 20 minutes of stirring the roux had become a deep tan colour. He added curry powder and garam masala and continued stirring.After about 30 seconds the spices had released their aroma. He turned off the heat and walked over to the stockpot. By now the girls had added the apple and beef stock and salted it to taste. It was now gently simmering. He gave the stock a quick stir before taking a ladel of the stock's liquid and pouring it into the skillet with his roux, stirring it all into a paste.  He added the paste to the stockpot and stirred it in, also adding the potatoes. The he lowered the heat and left the curry to simmer on a low heat. 

 

Finally he removed his apron and tossed it to the side. The girls were looking at him expectantly. 

"Okay keep an eye on the pot for about an hour." he instructed, "stir it occasionally. After that boil some rice and serve the curry."

"How do you know so much about this stuff, senpai?" Nana asked him. 

"I live with three women. And none of them know how to cook a decent meal. A man has to eat, y'know?" he said with a sly grin. "Anyway. enjoy the curry. I'm out of here, later." he said, giving them a brief wave before heading out of the door and walking along the corridor. He felt a little better for that. Cooking was one of the few things he was any good at. It was a good stress reliever. However as he rounded another corner all of his stress returned to him as he stood facing the one person he did not want to see. Noritoshi Hideaki smiled softly at him. Karyu gulped. 

"Afternoon. How nice of you to join us, Morinaga-kun." Hideaki said with a grin. 

 

 


 

 

Hideaki had escorted Karyu to the Principal's office. The high school's Principal was a rather stern woman named Nobuko Honami. She didn't seem surprised to see Karyu. This was hardly his first time in her office. 

"Well, well. What a surprise to see you, Morinaga-san." she said dryly, as if she was too tired to be having this conversation. 

"Yo, nice to see you too, Nobuko." he replied arrogantly. Honami shot him a look of death for daring to address her by her forename, however, she said nothing. 

 

"Morinaga-kun missed school again this morning." Hideaki said. "I found him exiting the cooking classroom where he was helping the calligraphy club. While I encourage his extra-curricular interest, it's no good coming to after school clubs when you don't go to classes. I think it is time that we enforce punitive measures on this one."

"So you want him expelled?" Honami asked, looking sorely tempted to allow it. 

"Not really." Hideaki said, "I would like to request that he join the Student Council."

 

"Ehh!?" Karyu gasped. Hideaki simply smirked and continued. 

"Morinaga-kun is an intelligent young man. However he continues to act like a fool. I suspect that this is because he lacks any responsibility. I have decided that he should be the President of the Disciplinary Committee, and attend Student Council meetings. This will allow me to take a more active approach and mentoring him."

"You do realize it's guys like me that are the reason we even have a Disciplinary Committee, right?" Karyu asked, raising his eyebrow. He knew what Hideaki was up to. However he had no desire to join his weird cult. Karyu shook his head. "I don't even want to join. You can't make me."

 

"Actually..." Hideaki shook his head. "You're grade average is below the mark at the moment. Considering your track record it is unlikely that you could pick it up by the end of the term. You will be kicked out if this is the case. Unless, of course, you take up an extra curricular activity such as the Student Council, which could significantly increase your contribution to this school. In other words you can either accept my offer, or you can accept life as a failure. So, what will it be?"

Karyu frowned. "...Like I have a choice" he muttered in response. Hideaki smiled. 

"Wonderful. I will inform the rest of the Council. The next meeting is on Friday. Good luck, Morinaga-san." Hideaki said, "Oh and I almost forgot. Since you missed homeroom this morning you don't know. All second year students are required to participate in the Cultural Festival. I suggest you find a way to contribute, as it will affect your graduation." he said. Karyu's head dropped. Great. More pressure. 

 

 


 

 

Later Karyu was leaving the school. it was fairly empty, but there were a few student here or there, all leaving the after school clubs they went to. He sighed and walked across the courtyard where only the previous night he had been locked in battle with a demon. And yet there was no evidence that it had happened at all. And now Hideaki had forced him into his little club. It was going to be a long year. His mind, however, was on the Cultural Festival. He had no idea what to do. Nobody would want to work with him. 

 

As he kept walking he felt something crash into him from behind, grabbing him around the back of his shoulders. He soon realised that Nana had leapt on to his back and was clutching around his neck, riding on his back. 

"Senpai!" she cried excitedly. "You're curry was amazing! Mmmm! So yummy!"

"Oh?" Karyu replied, he couldn't help but smirk. "Thanks." he said. Moe and Ayane appeared at either side of him. 

"Morinaga-senpai!" Ayane looked like she had a pressing question for him. "C-can you come teach us how to make that curry again? We want to make a good impression this year and...well there's no way we can compete with the Cooking Club." she said, looking a little ashamed. He turned to look at Moe, who was simply smiling and looking at him hopefully. He wasn't quite sure what to think. It seemed they were depending on him. He didn't know what to say though. In the end it wasn't his decision. However, as if reading his mind, Keigo had appeared in front of him. He looked uncomfortable. Yet still he spoke, swallowing his pride. 

 

"Morinaga-kun...as reluctant as I am to admit it...without your curry recipe, we will not be able to make a good impression at the Cultural Festival. Will you help us?" he asked, immediately averting his gaze nervously. Karyu smirked. 

"Sure." he said, "When you guys put it like that, how can I say no, hm?"

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Before going to his own class Jin visited class 2B to give the script along with his sparse commentary back to Chiriko. Sadly she hadn't arrived yet, so he entrusted it to Ayane who attended the same class. With his promise fulfilled he left the classroom and continued on towards his own but was quickly stopped by Hideaki. "Yamamoto-kun, a word?"
Jinta hadn’t spoken to Hideaki ever since the events involving Morinaga. He wasn’t avoiding him, he simply had nothing else to say. "Of course, Sensei," he replied, "what is it?"
"I am sure you know that participating in the Cultural Festival is mandatory for sophomores," Hideaki waited for Jin's nod, "I would like the Student Council to provide some entertainment."
"Entertainment?†It was rare for the Student Council members to participate in the Cultural Festival outside of their normal class duties.
"Yes, whatever you'd like to do. I'll leave it to you."

Hideaki started pacing towards his classroom when Jin called out to him. "Sensei, how about a cooking competition?" Hideaki turned around to face Jin. "We'd have Ashikaga and Yuudai face off against each other while I commentate."
The suggestion surprised Hideaki. Where did that idea come from? "Can they even cook?"
"Don't know," Jin smirked, "that's what makes it entertaining. I guess I could let them pick a cooking partner." How the idea popped into Jin’s head was a mystery to even him, but the thought of Haru and Yuudai shooting venomous glances at each other while they cooked amused him.
"Interesting. I'll set it up and let-"
"Would you mind keeping this a secret for a while? I'd like to surprise them." Jin smirk turned into an evil smile. He was obviously plotting something.
"You're an evil one, Yamamoto-kun. Very well. Also, speaking of cooking, I think I should mention this now; Morinaga-kun has officially joined the Student Council. Please include him in your contest."

Jin wasn't surprised. Ever since he learned of Karyu's origins it seemed like a matter of time before he was conscripted into Hideaki's army. Whether Jin trusted Karyu or not was irrelevant, even his trust for Hideaki was irrelevant. The only thing that mattered was that at this point Jin was obligated to work together with Karyu. "Alright, a three way competition would be interesting."


The two discussed the details of the competition on their way to Homeroom and Hideaki gave Jin permission to skip the opening class in order to prepare for the big surprise. By using the computer in the Student Council’s room Jin created a pretty simple flyer in order to spread the word. Fuyukaba Academy had no less than 30 billboards, each of them littered with information on various clubs, events and festival activities, after printing out the flyers it was time to post them up. Within the time provided to him Jin couldn’t possibly reach all of these billboards, so he focused on the one near the entrance and the ones near stairways in order to reach most students and surely reach the other members of the Student Council.

After posting the final flyer for now Jin stood with his hands resting on his sides, satisfied with what he had achieved he grinned from ear to ear. “This is going to be fantastic.†By now Homeroom had ended and classes started to get drained of their students. A few of them noticed the flyers that hadn’t been posted yet this morning and attracted more attention to them by calling out their friends. Jin’s plan was a success.



Students of Fuyukaba Academy, I present to you:

 

The Fuyukaba Academy Student Council Curry Cooking Competition

 

At the end of the first day of the Cultural Festival Haru Ashikaga, Yuudai Shinozaki and Karyu Morinaga will compete in a three-way Curry Cooking Competition!

Of course it wouldn’t be a real competition if there weren’t anything at stake and it wouldn’t be fair for the Student Council to award themselves, so this will be a team battle! All three of the competitors may pick 1 partner to cook with and the partner of the winning member will receive an increased budget during the next budgetary meeting!

Hurry up and claim your spot as one of the member’s partner!


This once in a lifetime event is presented to you by the Vice-President, Jinta Yamamoto.




Now it was time to go into hiding to avoid getting killed.

 

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There was a commotion at the billboard at the entrance of Fuyukaba Academy as Yuudai slowly sauntered his way into school. A large crowd of students had gathered around the area, excitedly chattering and shoving against each other in an attempt to see whatever that had been posted on the billboard earlier. Normally, he'd just leave them to their own antics, but Yuudai knew that Hideaki would definitely give him one of his death glares and rant about the responsibilities of being a Student Council member if he didn't do anything to break up the rowdy crowd.

 

"Alright guys," Yuudai began to say. "What's all the fuss about?"

 

"It's him! Shinozaki-kun!"

 

"Eh?"

 

A large crowd of girls appeared out of nowhere, crowding around Yuudai like bees to pollen. Choruses of "Shinozaki-kun! Take me to the competition!" echoed all about him, as various food items were shoved unceremoniously in front of his face. "Wait! Wait!" He tried to yell, desperately floundering around to prevent himself from drowning in the sea of girls. "What's going on?!"

 

"Ehhhh? Shinozaki-kun hasn't heard? Here, someone pass him the flyer!"

 

Yuudai felt a piece of paper being shoved into his hand, and the crowd momentarily parted to give him space. The commotion immediately died down, as all eyes focused on him as they eagerly anticipated his reaction. Wondering just what could have agitated these students so much, Yuudai sighed and unfolded the flyer, looking down at the colorful words within.

 

He froze.

 

"Psst," came a whisper from among the crowd. "Is Shinozaki-kun alright? He doesn't look too well."

 

"Look, his hand is shaking," another replied.

 

Without warning, a great heat exploded from Yuudai, causing everyone around him to jump back in shock. "Look at that!" Another student commented. "He's so fired up about the curry-cooking competition that his blazing spirit is manifesting around him!"

 

"He's so heated up, even the flyer's burning away in his hands!"

 

"Wait, what?"

 

But it was true. A fierce orange flame had erupted around Yuudai's clenched fist, burning up the flyer like a piece of dried charcoal. His body began to shiver violently, as a low growl came from his mouth that slowly built up into a full-fledged roar. "JiiiiiiiinnnnNNNTTTTAAAAAA!!!!!"

 


 

"Shinozaki-sempai! Have a taste of my cookies!"

 

"Yuudai-kun! Come back!"

 

"Where have you gone?"

 

Yuudai pushed the door to the cleaning shed open just a crack, peeking out to see if he had successfully lost his pursuers. Fortunately for him, the mob of girls seemed to have charged off in the direction they thought he was running in, and soon, the school corridor became quiet once again. Yuudai stepped out, carefully replacing a mop he had been holding as he closed the door behind him. "That idiot Jinta was smart to hide himself," he muttered to himself. "Once I manage to find him, I'll show him why I'm not called the Great Demon Lord for nothing."

 

As he was walking back to the Student Council room, a familiar door greeted his sight. "Cooking Club!" It greeted. Below, it read: "Banned from entry: Yuudai Shinozaki".

 

He decided to enter the room.

 

Unlike his earlier visit, the Cooking Club was empty today. It wasn't the time for club activities, and so most of its members must have been at other places around the school. A lone person was seated in the teacher's desk at the front of the classroom, her piercing gaze fixated on Yuudai. It was Katsumi Inoue, the Flash.

 

"Didn't you see the sign?" she asked.

 

"Are you kidding? Putting up something like that is equivalent to rolling out a red carpet for me to walk in." Yuudai pulled up a chair for himself as he settled comfortably on it. "I've never been particularly worried about rules."

 

"Evidently so. Have you come here to gloat at me like the last time?"

 

Actually, Yuudai just entered the club because he was expressively forbidden from doing so. But since he was here, an idea popped into his mind. "Do you happen to cook curry?"

 

Katsumi's eyes narrowed. "There is nothing that I can't cook."

 

"Excellent." Yuudai stood up, walking over to stand on the opposite side of her desk. Extending a hand towards her, he declared, "Katsumi Inoue, the Flash. I hereby extend a request for your services in the upcoming Student Council Curry Cooking Competition. Will you make a contract with me and become a magical chef?"

 

She scrutinized his face. "Is that a challenge?"

 

"I've seen your skills personally, and I think they are worthy of mention." There was an evil glint in his eyes. "With your skills and my devilishly handsome features, there is no way we can lose this."

 

There was silence for a few moments. Then, Katsumi laughed - a soft, delicate chuckle that Yuudai would never have expected from someone as brash and headstrong as her. "You are an interesting individual, Shinozaki-kun. Very well. I shall help you in this... competition."

 

"I look forward to working with you. And please... call me Kyubey-" He coughed. "Yuudai."

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Mari Ishihara walked down the stairs of her house. It was early in the morning, and she could hear her sisters moving around upstairs. 

"Hisako!" she called as she reached the bottom of the stairs. "Can you make sure Karyu gets...up?" she trailed off at the end of her sentence. Standing in the kitchen was Karyu, dressed in his school uniform minus the blazer, but also wearing an apron. The table had been set and Karyu was in the middle of cooking breakfast. 

"Wh-what's going on?" Mari asked. Karyu didn't answer for a moment as he dished up tamagoyaki on to a plate, with a side of grated daikon radish. She also noted that he had made Nori and some steamed rice. 

 

"Don't get any ideas." Karyu responded finally, motioning for her to sit. "I need practice for the Cultural Festival." he explained. Mari sat down, not quite sure what to say. She'd never seen Karyu get up early enough to make breakfast before. As she tucked into her food Aoi and Hisako entered the kitchen and parked their butts in seats. 

"Ehh?" Hisako gasped as she poked at her food, "What's all this? Did you do something bad?"

"Shut up and eat." Karyu snapped, placing a portion of steamed rice beside her, and then another bowl next to Aoi. 

"I wanted toast..." Aoi murmured, squinting her eyes. 

"If you want toast go make it yourself!" Karyu barked, clearly irritated by the sister's attitude towards the whole thing. 

 

"So why are you taking such an interest in the Cultural Festival, hm?" Mari asked. 

"Apparently I need to do this to graduate. It's that simple." Karyu explained. He leant against the counter and began eating his own food. Hisako motioned towards him, talking with her mouth full. "Ish thawt why you're in thaw thtudunt counshil?" she asked. Karyu twitched in annoyance. He hadn't told Mari yet. He sometimes forgot that Hisako went to the same school as him. He almost never saw her. Still he now had all three of the sisters looking at him, awaiting a response. He sighed, swallowing his mouthful of food. 

"I'll tell you later." He said as he put his food to the side. "I need to go."

"But school doesn't start for another hour." Hisako said. 

"I know. I have some stuff to take care of." Karyu replied as he pulled off his apron, left the kitchen and put on his blazer before leaving the house. 

 

 


 

 

Inside Fuyukaba High, Karyu was stood in one of the cooking classrooms with Nana, Ayane and Moe stood in front of him. Each had come with a portion of curry which they had prepared at home the previous evening. Karyu had a spoon in his hand and began sampling from each. He took a mouthful of Ayane's and swallowed. His eye twitched. 

"Wh-what...what is this?" he asked. 

"I got a little creative." Ayane explained, "I put in some seaweed, and prawn, and some chicken, and some beansprouts and-"

"Don't do it again." Karyu cut her off, moving on to Moe's and sampling it. It was a little bland, but not bad. Finally he moved on to Nana's. As soon as he put the food in his mouth he regretted it. He tried his best to look calm, whilst inwardly screaming for release. Whatever he had just eaten was not supposed to be consumed by humans. He smiled nervously and just nodded. 

 

Just as he had finished testing the foods, Keigo walked into the classroom brandishing some sort of flier. 

"When were you going to tell us!?" he demanded, waving the flier at Karyu, who snatched it from his hand. He began to read it, and as he did, he could feel anger bubbling up inside of him. "That bastard..." he muttered to himself. How could he be involved in a contest that he never signed up for? This was a joke. It had to be. 

"Well?" Keigo asked. 

"I don't know...I guess it had to go ahead, even if I don't want to do it." Karyu replied. 

"Why? Can't you just say it's a mistake?" Nana asked. 

"As if! And let Shinozaki and Ashikaga take all the glory?" Karyu barked, "No...I have to win! Which means I need an assistant..."

 

"This could help bring more money for supplies to the Calligraphy Club." Keigo said with a nod. "Perhaps I should be your assistant."

"You suck at cooking." Karyu replied bluntly. He wheeled around and looked at the three girls who were watching him hopefully. He put his hand to his chin and thought about it. Ayane had the confidence for a contest, and Nana had the right attitude. However, based on skill, there was only one option. Karyu leant forward over the counter that seperated him and Moe. He looked her in the eyes, his expression quite serious. 

"Moe...do you think you can do it?" he asked, "It's going to be a lot of pressure. But you're the ideal person for the job. Can you handle it?"

Moe simply blushed, smiled and nodded. Karyu's eyes were twitching again. She was almost too cute. 

"Then it's settled. Me and you will win the Curry Contest!" Karyu yelled. 

 

 


 

As the school day was winding up for a close Karyu walked down the corridor, his hands in his pocket. A figure passed him by. The pair locked eyes. There was a spark of animosity, a wild glint in each of their eyes. They stopped and turned, facing each other, both protraying the same intimidating pose. They simply stared at each other for a moment, gauging each other's reactions. A bitter rivalry was forming. 

"Shinozaki...did you know about this?" Karyu asked

Yuudai looked away he put his hands into his coat pockets. "Mayyyybe."

"Tch!" Karyu scowled at Yuudai, cocking his head up. "You don't look like the kind of man who has time to perfect his curry-making skills. Too busy chasing skirt, and showing off."

 

Yuudai chuckled. "A man's gotta have substance to do both of the things you just mentioned. Unlike a certain someone who acts like a rebellious delinquent, I have the ability to back my words up."

"Oh yeah?" Karyu's eyes narrowed, and his teeth were clenched. "If I wasn't already on my way to kick Jinta's ass up and down these halls then I'd make you eat those words. Instead this delinquent is just going to have to destroy you with a fusion of carefully selected meats and spices!"

At first there were some muffled sounds coming from Yuudai as he quickly turned away to hide his face, but it soon devolved into full-fledged laughter, forcing him to lean on the wall for support.

 

He held up a thumb at Karyu after he had calmed down a little. "Manliest comeback I've heard in a while. Good job. You made me forget my witty retort." Karyu too his hands from his pockets and foled them around his chest. "Seriously, though, you don't expect to win, do you? I have a contract with the strongest chef in Fuyukaba." Yuudai continued. Karyu smirked. 

"Funny, I don't remember you offering me a contract." Karyu replied with a cocky smirk, "Enough of you running your mouth though. We'll see if you're all talk at the contest."

 

And with that Karyu walked off, turning his back on Yuudai and waving halfheartedly. "See you at the meeting on Friday, fellow council member."

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The rest of the week passed by fairly uneventfully, with Yuudai spending the majority of his time cooped up in the Student Council room, poring over proposals and reports by the million and one clubs within Fuyukaba. There were some which he had never heard of in his life before. Who in the world would join a Tea Appreciation Club anyway?! There were many times he wished that a demon would just appear and cause some trouble around town, but his pleas went largely unheard, and soon enough it was the end of the week.

 

As the students of Fuyukaba Academy slowly filtered out of the school gates back to the safety of their homes, the four members of the Student Council met up on the school field as agreed upon. Hideaki-sensei wasn't present, which meant that Yuudai could go all out if necessary. He cracked his knuckles, grinning as he watched Karyu walk onto the center of the field. "If there are no objections, I'll go first," he said to Haru and Jin, proceeding over to face Karyu at a good distance.

 

In the same signature spinning flourish he loved so much, Yuudai summoned his blade in a bright flash. "This," he explained, patting the blade with his other hand, "is known as the Shinkatana. It enhances my battle abilities when I channel magic through it. But let's start with something slow, shall we?"

 

Without warning, Yuudai charged at Karyu, swinging the sheathed blade at him in a wide downward arc. Karyu's eyes widened as he attempted to track Yuudai's movement, but he struggled to react. He quickly leapt to the side, narrowly avoiding the strike by a hair. He'd been in fights before, but nothing like this. Attempting to take control of the fight he lunged forward with a closed fist aimed at Yuudai's head.

 

Karyu's movements were strong and decisive, but lacked the grace of a natural fighter. Yuudai saw his body motions and ducked out of the way even as he was still throwing out the punch, quickly jabbing the hilt of his sword at Karyu's chest once he was in close range. Karyu doubled back from the blow. He rubbed his chest gingerly, but Yuudai hadn't really hurt him. He was being toyed with.

 

"If you're going to hit like a pussy then what's the point?" Karyu snarled.
 
"I was being careful with the delicate flower that was your body," Yuudai replied with a sneer. "But if you want to play rough, I'm game!"
 
Yuudai launched into a furious flurry of jabs at Karyu, aiming at several parts of his body all at once in an attempt to disorientate him. Karyu jerked all over the place as he winced from the impact of each jab, before finally backing out of the way enough to get a moment. As Yuudai came for him once more there was suddenly a burst of heat and a powerful updraft as flames erupted from Karyu's body. He took the impact of the coming jab with his forearm, he was now shrouded in a tight cloak of fire. He scowled at Yuudai, his chest beating up and down as he tried to regain his breath. 
 
"That all you got, dumbass?" He taunted, a sly smirk forming on his face.

 

Yuudai stepped back, a smile forming at the sight of the flames that had ignited around Karyu. "A fire user, eh?" He commented. "You'll get along well with Haru. But now that we're adding powers into the mix, I should warn you that my next attack will be significantly harder to block. Valia."

 

As the world slowed down around him, he raised the Shinkatana and ran up to Karyu, swinging it like a golf club straight at the flaming boy with all his might. Karyu's hands only just managed to move in time to take the impact of the katana. For a moment he stod, his arms shaking as he fought the force of the strike. Then, just as he had thought he had in the clear, the full force hit him and he was knocked off of his feet and sent crashing along the ground. Slowly he got to his feet, his arms and knees scuffed. It had hurt, but not as much as he had thought it would. He didn't know the details, but it appeared his shroud was absorbing most of the damage. Not letting Karyu have a chance to recover, Yuudai pressed on the attack, rapidly swinging the weapon again and again at Karyu, using his greatly increased speed to keep on the offensive and prevent him from counterattacking.

 
"What's the matter?" He taunted, dropping Valia for a short moment to speak. "Are you training how to block Demons to death?"
 
Karyu said nothing, but shot Yuudai a fierce glare, his nostrils flaring and his teeth grinding. Suddenly his shroud pulsed and intensified, channeling his frustration. He narrowly avoided one of the strikes by weaving to the left, bringing up his right fist to swing at Yuudai. The shroud reacted, the flames moving across his body and intensifying in a fist-shaped aura around his arm as it closed in on Yuudai.
 
Yuudai was caught off-guard by the sudden retaliation. Even as he avoided the bulk of his attack by jumping backwards, the wave of heat from the flaming aura washed over him like a crashing wave, forcing him to shield his face and dig the Shinkatana into the ground in order to prevent himself from toppling over entirely.
 
"Yes! That's more like it!" He yelled, pulling out the blade as he rushed at Karyu once more. "Show me your strength! Ignis, Vex, Deit, Valia!" In his eagerness, Yuudai caused golden fire and fierce winds to erupt from the still-sheathed Shinkatana, leaving trails of light behind him as he thrust the blade forwards with a burning excitement in his eyes.

 

"Shinozaaaaakiii!" Karyu roared, the flames once again enshourding his body, blazing like an inferno as he lunged forward to meet the attack. He swung his fist out and the pair clashed, passing by each other in a blink of an eye. The clouds and dust began to settle and the two stood back to back. For a moment nothing happened. And then Karyu fell to his knees unceremoniously, clutching his stomach as his flames dimmed and finally snuffed out. "Shit!" he cursed, feeling the pain across his abdomen. All this from an unsheathed sword? Karyu sighed bitterly. He didn't stand a chance.

 

Yuudai stood behind Karyu, staring into the distance as his cloak billowed in the cooling breeze. He took one look at his Shinkatana, smirked, and began to walk off to the place where Haru and Jin were watching. "That was not bad at all," he commented softly, chuckling. "We'll make a Demon Slayer out of you yet."

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Jin sat back and enjoyed the show as Yuudai and Karyu went for each other’s throat. It didn’t take a genius to realize that no matter what the source of Karyu’s power was, it was impossible for him to match someone with Yuudai’s training and experience, so it was no surprise when Yuudai proved to be too much for him. Despite all of that the fires were pretty impressive. “Yuudai,†Jin called out, “I know this is training, but you didn’t have to try and kill him.â€

Yuudai turned to Karyu, jabbing a finger at Jin. "Look who's calling you a wimp! I knew you could handle my attacks." He turned back to smirk at Jin.
Jin sighed as he got up on his feet. “Twist it however you like, fact remains that he’s new to this.†He thought for a second. If wailing at each other would be enough to help Karyu learn how to control his power he’d rather leave that to Yuudai or maybe even Haru. Jin decided on a different approach when it came to helping him.

“Morinaga,†Jin stepped forward and faced Karyu with his sheathed sword in hand. “It’s obvious you know how to fight, but you should learn how to think if you want to get stronger.†Jin clasped his sword between his palms and recited his version of the Anima Sancti when a golden light started enveloping and enhancing him. “I may not be as flash as Yuudai, but if you don’t learn to think you’ll just lose again.â€
"Tch!" Karyu smirked, folding his arms. "We'll see. You don't look so tough!"

 

Jin narrowed his eyes and directed his gaze at the ground. "Case in point," he whispered barely loud enough for Karyu to hear. "Well, you ready? Or do you need some rest?"

"Is a Demon gonna give me a rest?" Karyu asked, raising his eyebrow and smirking, before holding his fists out in front of him, waiting for Jin to strike.

"As you wish," Jin had thought of several ways how to incapacitate Karyu, but his opponent's bravado showed that none of that was necessary. Jin charged forwards, with his sword held against his left side, waiting until the moment he closed the gap to take a swing with his sheathed katana.

 

Karyu decided to strafe to the right, arcing around Jin, trying to keep him moving. His battle with Yuudai had been a a heated display of emotion, and he had only managed to keep up because of his mysterious ability. He decided that he couldn't rely on that with Jin, he didn't understand the power yet, so he would stick to what he knew, which was school yard brawls. He had planned to get around Jin and strike him from another angle, however Jin was faster than he had expected.

 

Strafing to dodge a vertical strike was well within Jin's expectations of Karyu's ability. He may not have the demon killing experience Jin had, but the boy had been in more than enough fights to know how to dodge an attack. Halfway through his slash, the moment Karyu stepped sideways, Jin lowered his body to a near crouching position, stuck out his leg and swept as fast as he could.

 

The swipe had caught him off guard. Karyu felt himself tipping backwards. He twisted his body, trying to break his fall, but only succeeded in landing on his side, his arm and the side of his chest taking the brunt of the impact. Fighting the pain he rolled himself over his back and on to his other side, attempting to move away from Jin, and pushed himself back up on to his feet. He clenched his teeth and advanced on Jin, putting all of his force into his upper body as he prepared to shoulder tackle him.

 

 Karyu approached with his body obviously ready for a tackle. Jin bent his knees a bit and held the saya horizontally in front of him with both hands to catch Karyu before his crashed into him. When Karyu collided into Jin's katana Jin was pushed back several meters, but managed to remain on his feet. If nothing else, at least Karyu had physical strength. "Morinaga, if you aren't going to try there isn't any point to this, is there?"

 

"I am trying!" Karyu bit back, his anger flaring and his shroud igniting around him again. Was anger the trigger? Karyu pushed himself away from Jin, backing off and waiting for his opponent to respond. Jin was right, he had to step up or this was all pointless. He wasn't sure how though. Outsmarting an outstanding academic like Jin was impossible for him.

Well, that was interesting. Karyu's outburst triggered something in his power, this gave Jin an idea. "I heard you're a decent chef and the favourite to win the cooking competition. I'm sure you'll be a great housewife one day." One of the black beads of Jin's bracelet illuminated and a golden light formed in the palm of Jin's hand. Without any hesitation Jin fired the golden beam at Karyu, hoping that he was right, because if he wasn't this might not end that well.

 

The shroud roared and intensified, blazing furiously around Karyu as the golden beam came towards him. Karyu didn't move, in that moment of anger he knew that he did not have to. The beam struck the shroud which began to twist and turn, enveloping around the wound, the unholy fire devouring the holy light in moments. Karyu's eyes widened, his pupils shriking as he watched this unfold in front of him. He looked back at Jin, his temper still soaring, but it was beginning to simmer as he caught the look in his eye. It seemed that his shroud was intesified by his emotion, that was it's fuel. Jin seemed to have come to this conclusion before he could. Now all Karyu had to do was figure out how to manipulate this factor. Like he had done without thinking when fighting Yuudai. How had he done it?

"That was risky!" Karyu barked. "I'm not letting you treat me like a lab rat! Let's see how you like it!" he continued, bursting forward with a hidden speed, the flames thrusting him forward like a rocket. He jumped up, rising into the air, descending upon Jin at a steep angle, the flames condensing around his fist again as he struck hard.

 

It had finally gotten interesting. Jin had managed to successfully anger Karyu and now he had jumped pretty high into the air. For a second he wondered if he could jump as high as that, but with Karyu crashing down as fast as he was Jin had no time to think about anything useless like that. The second bead lit up simultaneously as Jin activated one more prayer. "Let's end this here, Morinaga." Jin used one of his iaijutsu techniques and drew his sword in a upwards arc, despite the distance between him and Morinaga being to large. However, as he drew his sword he revealed that the blade was covered in a golden light, as with all his powers. This light shot up a blast into the air towards Karyu, several times more powerful than the simple beam he used to test Karyu's power.

 

Karyu's fist met with the crescent of golden energy, and there was a loud bang as the two conflicting elements fought for domination. However Karyu could already tell that he did not have the force neccesary to bypass this attack. With his shroud focussed into an offensive strike, he left himself vulnerable. It was that kind of power. Either intense offensive power, or a strong defense. The condensed fire around his forearm was extinguished and the force of the blast pushed him back through the air, crashing into the ground once more. He pushed himself up, by now his body was covered in scrapes and cuts. Another loss.

Karyu was a lot stronger than Jin expected, despite the victory Jin wondered how long it would take for the newest member of their group to reach the level of the veteran members. “Karyu,†Jin reached out and helped Karyu stand back up, “good work.â€

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