A/N: I'm sorry to bother you all with boring notes before the exciting first chapter of Yoru no Youkai - the Child of Darkness, but there are a few things that need to be said here or some people might get lost as the story unfolds.
Don't worry, it is nothing too drastic. =D
First of all, it is a story about vampires (duh!). But of course, I took a few liberties in defining what a vampire really is, where they come from and what they can do. It will be all explained in due time, I won't spoil things for you just yet!
And second, this story will take place in three different countries: part 1 is in Japan, part 2 is in England and part 3 will be in Iceland. There will be characters from all those countries and a few more (a.k.a. Norway and maybe Denmark), and here and there a bit of random Icelandic or Japanese in the character's speach to make it more realistic. I don't want to brag too much, but I studied Japanese for five years, so I know a few things about the country, culture and the language (anime freak, anyone?). On regards to Iceland, though, all I know is based in a small incomplete dictionary, an on-line basic curse and the articles and news on Iceland Review Online (take a look if you will). If there is anyone from Iceland out there (or Japan or England for that matter), please feel free to correct my silly mistakes or make fun of how little I actually know. And finally, about England... Well, I'm Brazilian and I live in Scotland. If you know anything about internal affairs in the UK this should be enough to give you an idea of the type of characters those English will be. If you don't, I kindly advise you to do some research or ask me in a review. It is really worth it. =D
That said, this chapter contains a few Japanese terms, places and customs. Here they are:
1. Shinkansen is the Japanese bullet-train.
2. Kansai is a Central-Eastern district in Honshu Island, well-know for the cities of Kyoto and Nara, Japan's former capitals.
3. In Japan, school traditionally starts on 1st of April. The school year finishes in March with breaks in summer and New Year.
4. Kitsune is a spirit fox of Japanese folklore. It is a trickster fox with metamorphic abilities, usually regarded as mischievous creature that often gets into trouble.
5. A Senpai is an older students in the school.
6. A kouhai is the opposite of senpai, the younger student.
I believe it is all you need to know. Hopefully all this boring talk didn't put you off on your excitement to read the story. I'm sorry if it did, I'll try make more interesting notes the next time. Just so you know, Shadow Lurking in the Dark will be three parts, of which this is the first.
SHADOW LURKING IN THE DARK, PART 1
Aomori, the beautiful north frontier of the Honshu Island in the Japanese archipelago, was just a distant view from the window of the shinkansen. His journey was yet to complete ten minutes, but Kazuki Kawazue already wanted to go back. He and his father, Hiroshi Kawazue, were moving to Kyoto, the old capital city in the Kansai district, but of course Kazuki had no say in the matter. It was his father's idea from the start, another one to which the twelve-year-old could not agree with. People usually said he was entering that stage in life when parents stop being role-models to become silly annoyances, but Kazuki knew better: his father had always been a silly annoyance, never a role-model. It was not just a stage in his life; it was the norm of their father-son relationship.
Kazuki was still mad with his father about the sudden move, so mad he could not look the man in the eye. To hide his anger – or to keep it under control, as he was pretty sure he wanted his father to know exactly how he was feeling about the whole "moving away" thing – he locked his gaze in the colourful landscapes outside, while his mind escaped reality and flew over past memories of his life in Aomori.
It was not that he missed his former home, or all the friends and family and the school he once had, nor was it because he liked the cold and the snow that were not exclusive to winter and feared the warmer climate in the south. As far as Kazuki could remember, he had always been somewhat solitary and secluded. He had no close friends in his primary school, and his only relative was Aunt Asuka, a rather energetic and scary woman that Kazuki preferred to pretend he was not related to. What he would miss in Aomori were the long winter nights, the cold solitude of the streets at midnight, the silence that engulfed everything and everyone during the coldest months. There would be no quiet and long nights in Kyoto; he already knew that.
His classmates and teachers believed him to be a strange child. Thinking rationally about it, maybe he was. For instance, Kazuki never liked to go outside and play in those rare occasions the sun was out, bright and shinning. He only left home when the moon illuminated the streets, taking solitary walks around the block or to some random park nearby. The sun hurt his skin, its brightness irritated his dark eyes more than he could express to other people. But the strangest thing of all was that his father seemed unconcerned about the safety of a small child alone at night. In fact he was quite happy to let little Kazuki out while he enjoyed some well-deserved sleep after a whole day at work. Nor did anyone ever hear of the boy being attacked or in any sort of danger in those walks, as if his presence alone was enough to keep threats away. His son would be at his doorstep by five in the morning everyday, he would open the door and Kazuki would then sleep until it was time to go to school.
The sun shinning through the window interrupted Kazuki's flow of thoughts. To avoid being hit by the sun rays he had to move closer to his father in the cabin, almost touching the man's arm. The unexpected proximity called Hiroshi's attention, and he affectionately put a hand on his son's shoulder. Kazuki did not move, still too wary of the sun and its dangerous movements to care. It took a while for him to notice the extra weight on his shoulder:
'What is that for?' he asked; not yet putting the hand away.
'You should cheer up a little. Thinking of it in the bright side, you don't have to stay with Aunt Asuka anymore.' his father said, smiling with his eyes closed. Kazuki knew that smile. Being a very observant child, he had learned to recognize in people's movements and expressions the hidden truths their words would never say. That smile on his father's face meant he was trying to say he was sorry, but didn't know how to. Hiroshi never knew how to say 'sorry'. In fact, neither did Kazuki. It was probably a family thing, they had too much pride to admit being wrong.
'I would rather stay one whole year with Aunt Asuka than never return home!' Kazuki snapped, taking away the hand and leaving the compartment. That was his way to say he still hadn't forgiven his father, and would not do so for a long time still.
'Well, I guess I asked for it…' More relaxed now that his son was gone, Hiroshi risked a look at the window. The sky was blue with very few clouds. It was his turn to get lost in past memories: 'See, Johanna, that's your child. He has the nerve, as you can see, and even I can't face him when he is that mad. Is it from your family, or is it something to do with me?'
He was soon asleep.
One week had passed since the Kawazues settled in their new home. It was early April, Kazuki's first year of middle school was about to begin. As expected of a boy his age, Kazuki was not exactly keen on returning to school, but he was different in that he was not particularly happy about being on holidays either. There was nothing to do in the new city, even at night Kyoto was much noisier than Aomori could ever be. And he just knew that in the new school people would stare a lot at him because of his extremely pale skin – consequence of avoiding the sun so much – and his dark, really dark hair and eyes. It was a creepy combination even for him to look at; people often thought he was ill or even dead. Another of his physical characteristic that seemed to stick him out in a crowd was his height: he was taller than the average twelve-year-old, much taller. The second tallest in his class last year was more than a head shorter than him.
Sooner than he would like to, he found himself in one of the corners of the classroom waiting for the teacher to officially start the school year. For the last six years no one had ever approached him in his first day, too intimidated or too disgusted to get close. He was so used to such treatment that he almost did not see one student approaching, looking at him in the eye as she got closer to his desk. Kazuki only saw her when she was almost at his hand's reach:
'Hi!' She said, looking at him through a set of bright green eyes. If her eye-colour was uncommon for the Japanese standards, her general appearance was even stranger: her long, light-brown hair was tied in a loose ponytail, accompanying her movements as if it was a sort of bizarre tail. The comparison became more realistic as the tip of the girl's ponytail became visible: it was dyed white, resembling one of a kitsune. She was also very tall, almost as tall as Kazuki. 'You are new around here, aren't you?' The girl put her elbows on his desk, using them to support her head so that their eyes were in the same level. Her gaze was intense, so powerful that Kazuki almost looked away.
'Yes, I am.' He found himself answering, before he could consciously think of a reply.
'Ah, just as I thought! I'm Miyako Maeda, but you can call me Miyako if you want.' Miyako offered her hand for him to shake, smiling widely. Before Kazuki could take it, however, another student entered the classroom and Miyako's attention was drowned away from him. Kazuki watched as the strange girl Miyako grabbed the newcomer by the shoulders and put him between her and Kazuki.
'Maeda, what you...?' Whatever the forcefully-dragged boy wanted to say was cut short by just one movement of Miyako's hand. He rolled his eyes at her, as if used to this behaviour.
'This is Kintaroh Kido, a childhood friend of mine that thinks books are the best friends you can have in the entire world and who passed the exams last year with 496 points out of 500. Call him a 'know-it-all' if you want, but for me he is just a jerk.'
'You are being the jerk, Maeda. Now let me go and please don't bother me so soon in this new year. I need at least one day of peace if I want to remain sane until the next holidays.' The boy tried to get away, but Miyako's grip on his shoulders was too firm.
'Oh, don't be more of a jerk than you already are, Kintaroh! Say hello to our new friend, please!'
The boy sighed, annoyed by the polite demand. Defeated, he used his middle finger to put his square-shaped glasses further up in his nose and for the first time looked at Kazuki in the eye:
'I'm Kintaroh Kido. It is "Kido" for you. I don't really want to know your name, and I certainly don't want to make friends with you. Now, if you excuse me...'
Kido once again tried to leave, but Miyako was still holding him. He was considerably shorter than the girl, which more than anything enabled Miyako to abuse him anyway she wanted. Kido struggled for a while trying to free himself, and when it became clear he was not going anywhere anytime soon he begin arguing with his oppressor.
The argument lasted longer than Kazuki was willing to endure, so he simply shifted his attention to a heart-shaped burn mark in his desk, ignoring the two students in front of him and looking up only when he could no longer hear Kido's or Miyako's voice. To his surprise, though, the silence didn't mean they were finished; it was just a pause for Miyako to capture another classmate and bring her to their small group:
'Hey, newby, this is Mayumi Minamino.' she said, back to her self-appointed task of socializing the new classmate. Miyako was careful to position the girl as close to Kazuki as possible. Minamino was about the same height as Kido, her mahogany hair was shoulder-length and she had a carefree smile on her face as she was introduced to the new classmate. She closed her eyes as she smiled, giving her an air of childish innocence that nobody else in the classroom had.
'Hi!' said Minamino, waiving her hand in the air. She reminded Kazuki of a happy little child; or rather, of a silly, clueless and retarded happy little child.
'Hi...' he answered, not sure of what to say next.
Neither of the two spoke for a while. Minamino kept her eyes closed and her hand hanging in the air, smiling with her head slightly dropped to the right. The longer they stayed like this, the more nervous Kazuki became. Minamino's smile was unnerving; he felt somewhat cornered by it, invaded by her air of happiness and innocence at a time when he felt neither of those.
It was finally over when the teacher came in and the students went back to their seats. Minamino gave Kazuki one last look before heading towards her seat in the opposite site of the room, but the boy was adamant in not looking back.
For the next three weeks Kazuki's routine in the new school did not change much: he would exchange greetings with Miyako and Minamino upon entering the classroom, and sit down and listen to the teachers until lunch time, when he was obligated by school rules to leave the classroom. Because the refectory was always crowded with noisy students, Kazuki preferred to stay outside, where he had more space and could find somewhere quiet to pass the time. If the sun was out, he would choose a tree to use as cover for the damaging sun-rays and let time fly by observing the other students passing by, much like a scientist observing wild animals in their natural habitat. He would then return to the classroom, greet Miyako and Minamino again, sit down and listen to the teacher until it was time to go home.
He didn't participate in any school clubs; there was nothing of his interest in them. For a while he considered entering in the Dark Magic Club out of curiosity, for there were many interesting rumours involving the club and the student in charge of it; and since many people already thought he was half-dead, the Dark Magic Club would be the right fit for him. When he first entered the club's room, however, Kazuki rapidly changed his mind. There was only one person in there, sitting in a desk in the middle of the room. He was a strange senior who wore a thick black-and-silver cape over the regular school uniform. It was obvious he was a foreigner: his hair was blond and his eyes were wide and bright-blue. His skin was abnormally pale and he grinned suspiciously as Kazuki got closer to his desk, which had the sign "President of the Dark Magic Club" written in silver letters in a black background.
'Hello, what do you want?' asked the senpai, looking at Kazuki straight in the eye. Just as his gaze settled, the atmosphere in the room changed completely: the poorly-lit room became even darker, the little sunlight that passed through the dark curtains disappeared and the wind stopped blowing outside. The only thing clearly distinguishable was the blonde's face and his satisfied grin. 'Let me introduce myself: I'm Jón Arnarsson, the President of the Dark Magic Club. Do you want to join me in my plans to cover the world in total darkness? Or are you searching for something else?'
The hair in Kazuki's neck shot up, the air around them became heavier and colder as Jón spoke in a rather mocking tone. He could feel there was something off with his senpai; the energy surrounding him wasn't one of a normal person. His observational skills told him Jón was dangerous, so he wanted to leave as soon as possible, but there was something in the room that kept him from moving.
'I… I….' Kazuki was at a loss of words. For twelve and a half years no one had ever caused him to be like that, no presence around him was more intimidating than his own. He wanted to say something, wanted to move, wanted to do anything that would keep him away from that man and the feeling in the room, but his body had frozen on the spot.
'You are welcome here at any time, Kazuki Kawazue.' The tone of Jón's voice changed, becoming just as sinister as his overall appearance. The mocking tone he used earlier was no more. 'This club is yours as much as mine.'
Kazuki felt his insides turning with the last sentence. He had the feeling that Jón words had a secret meaning, something he should know but he didn't; something that should be very important to him and yet he couldn't access. He got that feeling through the strange look his senpai was giving him, and by the way his lips curled slightly as he pronounced the words yours and mine.
Kazuki felt the pressure to answer. He wanted to say something, but the words were lost somewhere down his throat. He became even tenser as Jón got up and started walking towards him. His head screamed, there was a lump in his throat and his legs felt numb. The head of the Dark Magic Club had totally overwhelmed him with just a few words.
Jón was less than a meter away when the door opened once again and an odd-looking first year came in, breaking the tension in the air and creating the perfect opportunity for Kazuki to leave the place. He avoided the room after that, but there was nothing he could do to prevent his senpai from crossing his path in the corridors. Every time Jón eyes felt upon him, Kazuki would again feel the fear and tension that accompanied their first encounter, but the blonde never approached him, apparently happy by just observing his kouhai.
It didn't take long for Kazuki to realise that the feelings he associated with Jón Arnarsson weren't shared by other people. Jón – he refused to be called by his surname, claiming that in his homeland no one did – was very popular among teachers and students, considered by many the pride and joy of the school. Everybody seemed to ignore the fact that he was in charge of a Dark Magic club of all things and had a very sinister demeanour.
Troubles with Jón aside, Kazuki's first three weeks in the new city passed without any major problems. The boy was still mad with his father, so they weren't speaking with each other much. He didn't consider it to be a problem, though; in fact he was glad Hiroshi hadn't tried to make amends with him yet.
Three weeks proved to be more than enough time for Kazuki to get to know everybody in the school. He didn't speak to anybody, never got close to them, but after spending so much time observing their every move, he did know a lot about them. For instance, he discovered that the majority of his senpais were nothing more than attention-seekers, and the ones from sport clubs were even worse than the regular senior or sophomore. The stars of the basketball, baseball and football team were not only school idols, but also appeared in a number of sports and teenager-aimed magazines exhibiting their looks and boosting even more their popularity. There was even an internal competition among them to see which club got most students in the magazines' covers. Most female students resembled cheerleaders with very little brain and very high-pitched voices; and male students attempted to show their "masculinity" by picking fights outside the school gates, smoking cigarettes when the teachers were not looking, and by bullying first years. None of them had yet approached him, however, and although he didn't knew exactly why, he knew it was the same thing that kept danger away from him when he went out at night.
It didn't take Kazuki a week to decide his senpais were not worth observing and start looking closely at his own classmates. His observations gave him precious information, like the fact that Miyako was a compulsive liar to whom false stories were part of daily life, much like eating or breathing. Minamino seemed to be her favourite victim, being just as innocent and gullible as their first meeting suggested. Kido was often seen with the two, but spent most of his time arguing with Miyako about silly things. Yet, it was Miyako who seemed to be the one giving Kido some social life; the boy had every characteristic of an anti-social nerd, which meant that when Miyako was not there to keep him surrounded by noisy people, he was busy reading old-looking books that weighted more than all his other school stuff combined.
In less than a month, Miyako's wide range of pranks and lack of fear towards older students and teachers gave her a reputation not enjoyed by any other first year: she was respected even by the sport-club-brainless senpais and retarded cheerleaders, and her classmates worshipped her as if she was the school's Goddess.
Due to his intense observations of Miyako, Minamino and Kido, Kazuki almost forgot about the Dark Magic Club and its mysterious president. He was able to enjoy almost three weeks of relative peace before Jón approached him again. The classes were over for the day and the students prepared for their club activities or to go home. Kazuki was walking through an unusually empty corridor when his senpai appeared in front of him, seemingly out of the blue. Just seconds before he was sure there was no one there but him, and yet the powerful presence of Jón Arnarsson was felt in every single hair of his body as it tensed and the air around him became heavier again. Jón's gaze fell upon him, so powerful it seemed to penetrate his soul, reading every secret, every fear he had ever had, reminding him of them all in the worst possible manner.
'Are you all right?' Asked Jón upon seeing him, his voice only half-concerned, in the same tone he used when they first met in the Dark Magic clubroom. Judging by the way he looked at his kouhai, Jón probably knew what Kazuki was feeling. Since the boy wasn't one to show his feelings openly, the fact that Jón could read his discomfort so well only increased his wariness towards the man.
'What are you?' Kazuki asked, mildly surprised for being able to speak. He didn't think about his words, they came out almost by instinct. Jón was less than a meter away and still walking. The more the senpai approached, the more the kouhai wanted to run away. Kazuki's instincts screamed at him, telling him it was dangerous and that he should run; that endure more of Jón's presence would stretch his limits more than he could cope with. His heart was beating hard and fast inside his chest, he could not stay that close to Jón any longer; he had to run away, had to…
'What are you? WHAT ARE…?'
'Easy now. I'm not here to harm you.'
Jón finally reached Kazuki, grabbing his arm and forcing their eyes to meet. The blonde was taller and stronger, making his words rather difficult to believe. His blond hair was long and wavy, allowing a clear view of his intense blue orbs, which shone strangely as they reflected the cornered kohai. 'As for your question…' Jón came even closer to Kazuki, whispering his words as their heads leveled. For no more than a second, the bright blue eyes became red as the President of the Dark Magic Club grinned, clearly enjoying the situation. '…for now let's say I'm not much different from you: I'm no more than a shadow lurking in the dark.'
As quickly as he appeared, Jón left the corridor, leaving Kazuki in the empty space with his heart racing and his face covered in sweat. It took him more than five minutes to calm down and finally move away. Jón Arnarsson was the only person capable of causing him so much fear, the only person to shake him that way. Since he was born, it was Kazuki who was supposed to be the one causing fear and repulsion, not the one feeling it. It was just the way things had been. He didn't really appreciate the change.
Once he got home, Kazuki locked himself in his room and didn't leave until the next day, glancing periodically at the window to make sure he hadn't been followed. The feeling that accompanied each appearance of Jón Arnarsson was still there, and he couldn't be sure if it was because he was becoming paranoid or if it was because Jón was really nearby.
'Not much different from me… A shadow lurking in the dark… What is it? Why is it?'
Kazuki didn't sleep after that. There were too many things going on in his mind, and not only about the encounter with Jón. Shadow, dark, darkness… The words said something to him; they had a special meaning that he could not share with any of the other people he knew. He wanted answers for all his questions, but he didn't dare ask Jón Arnarsson for them.
A/N: Me again! Yeah, I know I'm boring, but here is the thing:
I need to remind people that I appreciate feedbacks, even the bad ones telling me in a polite way that I suck. Of course, the not-so-polite remarks will probably result in a fit of laugh from my part, but most of the time I'm open to criticism and I usually listen to it.
And just because I'm the author and I'm supposed to know how and what to write, it doesn't mean I'm free from small mistakes here and there. I have to admit I'm nowhere near mastering my second language and I have never been to Japan or Iceland, as much as I would like to.
So, please, be nice and leave a review for me. It would make me very happy to know what people think of this (and how many silly spelling/grammar mistakes are there in just one chapter). I'm eager for feedback and I know you are eager to read the next chapter, which means that the more reviews I get, the faster I write. As simples as that.
Until next chapter,