This is my first FictionPress story (And hopefully, not my last). So I'd appreciate some support and reviews, please.
The series/story itself has many different names, but I will usually call it either MTB or Mabaka; the former more than the latter. Check out my dA page for more info. I'd give a link, but this website hates them.
Before anyone starts bitching/complaining about how my descriptions of my characters and the surroundings are vague, let me explain: I originally published these chapters on my deviantART page (Same name as on here, hyphens and all), where art of the characters and such are readily available for looking at. This should explain why my descriptions of Akemi, Rokuro, and the others are not clear at some points.
There are cultural notes at the bottom of the page.
(EDIT 5/15/11: Currently rewriting my earlier chapters because I consider them amateurish and forced. Starting with the first chapter, of course!)
"Man, come on!" Akemi huffed angrily. She gripped her broom in her hands, pausing in her chore. It wasn't turning out to be a great Sunday for her; since morning, she had been in an irritable mood, which was brought on by her father's abrupt note of absence. "Why can't he tell me beforehand when he has to go away on business! And he doesn't even tell me in person!" Her father was certainly not any type of scatterbrain. He had probably been planning this trip for the last week or two. It wasn't like he was too busy to speak with her. On the contrary, they conversed very often, like every other normal family. Then she remembered the note he had left her.
Meiko's dragging me to a meeting in Osaka, and she's not letting me leave without a fight. Please try not to destroy the house while I'm gone, and remember: You are not to bring any boys into the house while you're home alone. We'll be back in one week.
If her father was getting pulled into this by Meiko, of all people, then maybe he really didn't know ahead of time. Her aunt was famous for dropping unplanned bombs like that on people, albeit only after forgetting them herself. Akemi was trying hard not to let it bother her; this stunt had been pulled before. Only this time, she was old enough not to have her grandparents looking after her. She loosened her grip on the broom's bamboo handle a bit, the white fading from her knuckles slowly.
"Ah, well. Guess I'll just have to make the best of this, won't I?"
Akemi Segawa and her father are the caretakers of the old Segawa Shrine. Needless to say, the chores are left to her most of the time, and this has become a frightfully boring job as the years pass by. However, today's events will be a little different. Akemi is about to meet someone who will change her life, open all kinds of new doors, but above all, someone who will completely and utterly drive her up a wall.
Akemi hummed a tune to herself as she swept the pink sakura petals into a neat pile in the dirt. The wind loved to knock them off the tree's branches, but did so very gracefully, so that you could admire their beauty even while they flutter to the ground. The breezes now seemed to be picking up, but that wasn't anything unusual or shocking; spring had the most unpredictable out of the four seasons. The word "unusual" would better describe the anomaly that suddenly appeared in the sky.
Against the clouds and blue above, Akemi spotted something out of the corner of her eye; it was large, black, and was spread out like a haze. There were probably other words to describe it other than "haze" persay, but before she could get a second, better glance, the shadowy image disappeared. It was gone with a blink of her cerulean eyes.
"..." She got nothing from that aside from utter confusion. ... Did I just see... What did I just see? She didn't think phenomenons like that happened outside of books and movies. And they don't. ... Don't be stupid, now. Akemi rubbed her eyes, pushing it off as a hallucination, and returned to her chores. She didn't get far before the sound of something crashing through the trees redirected her attention again. Akemi's head darted in the direction of the front of the property. She remained quiet still, waiting to catch any other noises. Her pause was not in vain - A loud, disgrulted curse echoed, coming from the same area, without a doubt. Not wanting intruders of any kind in her home, she dropped her broom and ran as fast as she could to the source of the commotion.
Pushing her way through the trees, Akemi slowed her running as she reached a small clearing. She didn't know if the intruder was harmful or malicious, and wanted to be cautious. However, once she peered out from behind a tree, her concern for danger lessened greatly.
Sitting there on his rear, none the wiser to the orange-headed onlooker behind him, was a boy.
Akemi stared at him without moving or speaking. The clothes he wore were not any type she had seen before. In fact, they seemed downright tacky, even for Japan's sense of fashion; and nearly everything on him was blue. A white headband was just visible beneath his black hair. He felt the back of his head tenderly, wincing when his fingers grazed a sore spot.
"Oww... ... Stupid branches..." Akemi heard him mutter. He reached to his right side, where a brown messenger-type bag was lying helplessly. He went to lift it over his head, but paused. "... Hmm?" He opened the bag up, and looked inside. "Hey, where's my freaking book?" Akemi watched him dig through the bag at a speed that was decidedly inhuman, and then jumped back a few inches when he suddenly cursed again. "Damn it! I lost it again!" He hammered the sides of his head with his wrists in frustration. Then, slowly, he stopped hitting himself, and lowered his arms. If Akemi could see his face, she would've see a look of realization pass across it. "Oh, oh yeah!" There was an air of laughter in his voice. "Now I remember." What he did next could only be described as the following:
The boy, quite literally, pulled a large textbook out his ear, in a way that resembled an amateur magician pulling a quarter from the same place. He grazed the back of his hand across the blue velvet cover, wiping away any imaginary dust that might be on it. "Got it." Those two simple words barely made it out of his mouth before he was hit on the back of the head with Akemi's onusa.
"You-! You-!" She struggled to make a complete sentence. You could hear a slight tone of fear in her words. "What are you? A demon?" While the chance of encountering something out of old legends and myths was slim to none, Akemi was not accustomed to seeing people make objects appear out of nowhere, and went for the first possible explanation that came to mind. The boy held his head in his hands, where the throbbing pain emanated from.
"Who the...!" he yelled. The boy turned around, and Akemi could barely get a look at his face before he leaned forward on the palms of his hands. He lifted his left leg high, and swung it around for the beginning of a roundhouse kick. "What the hell did I do to deserve being hit, you-!" His shout was cut short by a soprano screech of fright. Hearing it subsequently brought his kick to a halt. His facial expression switched from angry to shocked in a split second. "You... ... You're a..." He looked up at the frightened girl, whom he had come very close to attacking, his gray eyes widening considerably.
Indeed, Akemi noted his unusual eye color - A light gray. They weren't even a blue-ish gray, or a mix of any other hues, they were just... Gray. And they were horrified.
The boy brought his leg back down, and hopped to his feet. "I- I'm sorry!" he cried, his voice reflecting his concerned appearance perfectly. "I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to...! I..." Akemi lowered her arms from their guard slowly, realizing how fervently the stranger was trying to apologize to her. ... What is with this guy...? Once again, she found herself staring at him, if for a different reason. He rambled on. "Look, I try not to hit girls! Really! It's against my moral code! It's just-! I thought you were attacking me, so I...!" For the third time in two minutes, his expression changed, this time to one of dubious confusion. His brows furrowed. "Speaking of which... Why did you hit me?" Akemi gripped her onusa in a similar way she had been doing to her broom earlier, clutching it close to her chest as if it offered some kind of protection.
"You... You're not a demon?" she asked carefully. The boy shook his head incredulously, his bangs swaying left to right.
"Of course not," he replied flatly. "Do I seem like one to you?" Akemi felt some relief at this, but then mentally smacked herself for considering the possibility to begin with. Of course he wasn't a demon. What the hell had she been thinking? No matter; there was a separate matter to attend to.
"If you're not a demon, then... Explain to me how you... Did you pull a book out of your... Did you pull it out of your ear?" Her voice came off as incredibly cynical to the boy. He noticed, and frowned.
"Nooo," he began slowly. "I pulled it out of my head. Imagination is great storage space!" He grinned at her. "I invented that technique on my own." At this point, Akemi was doing nothing but staring at him.
"... What... the hell... are you?"
"Y-You can't be human..."
"I'm not." His answer was blunt and simple, and his grin didn't wane. "I'm Rokuro, a Type One wizard. No last name applicable." Akemi's eyebrows raised, but more from skepticism than anything. Did this guy land on his head or something? Looking at the miscellaneous cuts and bruises he had... Wait, was he the cause of those noises before? Could he have fallen through the trees? The prospect of someone falling from the sky, and surviving, was improbable at best... Akemi realized that she was heading down the track of myths and stories again, and sighed.
"Are you some kind of nut case?" she asked. "Or a travelling magician? Because this isn't amusing..." Rokuro cocked his head.
"I'm pretty sure I'm mentally sound." His response was a joking one. "But... Wait..." He bit his lower lip in thought. "Before... You asked me if I was human, right?" Akemi nodded slowly. "Does that mean you're a... a... You're human?" Another nod. At this point, Rokuro's facial expression had become one of panic. "Then this... Where is this?"
"Japan, you weirdo!" Akemi yelled. This boy was beginning to frustrate her. "Tokyo, Japan! Asia! Earth! Third planet from the Sun! Get the picture ! ?" Rokuro looked like he had just died twice over. The color drained from his face.
"I-I'm... Where ! ?" The next bunch of screams and spastic movements which followed his outburst looked to Akemi like he was having a meltdown. Rokuro was too busy to notice her gaze, as he seemed to be reprimanding himself outside his thoughts. "Stupid, stupid, stupid! I was told not to leave the schoolgrounds after sundown, I was told that the stupid system was coming around, but noooo, I have to be an asshole and-! Owww!" Akemi saw him clutch his head again. Rokuro massaged his forehead with his fingers, and had his eyes shut tight. "And these damn branches are going to pay for giving me a headache..."
"..." Akemi went over and grabbed his wrist, pulling it away so she could look at it. She ignored his protests and inspected the cuts he had; aside from some bruises, nothing seemed too serious. Then again, those were external injuries, and for all she knew, he could have hit his head bad enough to give himself a concussion. Grabbing a fistful of light-blue fabric, she pulled him along behind her as she headed to her house. Rokuro pouted.
"Where are you taking me, girl?"
"My name is Akemi; and pick up the speed already."
"Ow! That hurts!"
"Quit moving, then."
Rokuro winced as the disinfectant made contact with his cuts. Akemi patted his injuries with a few cotton balls, and stuck band-aids to them. There wasn't much she could do about the bruises, but cleaning his cuts was fairly easy to do, once she got him to behave for a few minutes.
Getting her unexpected visitor to calm down had been one thing; getting him to stay that way long enough to let her treat him was something different altogether. She put the disinfectant spray on the kitchen table, making a louder noise than needed. "I swear, you complain more than a child does," she muttered loudly. "This stuff isn't going to hurt you, you know." Rokuro yanked his head away from her touch as soon as he was able to.
"I've never seen something like that before, let alone felt it! It stings!" he replied, more irritated than his wounds at the moment. He scratched at the band-aids, wanting nothing more than to take the sticky objects off his skin, but felt that that would do nothing except make the girl even more annoyed. Being hit again wasn't on his list of things to get done. He re-tied his headband, making sure to not catch his hair. "Anyway, sorry to be rude, but I didn't need your help. I could've healed myself."
"Oh, yeah?" Akemi replied. "How?" Rokuro was completely silent, except for the small shuffling coming from tightening his headband's knot.
"... Err... Nevermind that. See ya 'round." He stood up promptly, fixed his bag's strap, and swiftly attempted to walk out of the room. However, Akemi would not have it. She stood up and pulled down on his ear, forcefully sitting him in the chair again. Rokuro yelped in surprise, and gave the girl a startled look. "Hey, what gives?" he asked bemusely. Akemi put her free hand on her hip, giving her guest a look that said she meant business.
"Hey, I found you in my yard, and I'm helping treat your injuries. You owe me some sort of explanation - Like what you're doing here in the first place. Where did you even come from? You said you were a wizard, but those things don't exist. So, are you a liar, stalker, or just on a psych ward-worthy level of crazy?" Rokuro shrunk back in his seat. This girl just wasn't going to let him go without an explanation, was she? What could he possibly tell her? Well, it wasn't like he hadn't nearly blown his cover before. If the girl remembered what he had accidentally told her earlier, this wouldn't take very long.
He didn't have much to lose. If anything happened, he'd scram without a word and never speak to the girl again. He exhaled slowly, bangs blowing up until he ran out of breath.
"Fine," he said, finally. "Just let go of my ear already, and you'll have your explanation." Akemi did as such, and sat back down in her own chair. Her gaze was expectant, her blue eyes boring into his own gray ones. Eye contact was something she wasn't afraid of.
"Well?" she said. "I'm listening." Rokuro flinched a bit. For him, eye contact wasn't so easy. It made him nervous. Not wanting to keep Akemi waiting any longer, he quickly looked left and right, as if checking to make sure no one else was listening. Very slowly, he replied,
"My body can heal itself." When his words finally made their way through her conscious, she chuckled a bit. Oh, boy. He really is mental.
"Yeah, right. You expect me to believe that? Do you have a screw loose?"
"Uh-huh." Akemi folded her arms, frowning at him. "And how exactly does your body heal itself?" You could practically hear the air quotes around her last two words. Rokuro slipped his hands into his pockets calmly.
"I mentioned it to you before. I'm a wizard. So my body has special properties that make me an exceptionally fast healer." Akemi raised her eyebrows.
"You're still going on with that? Look, I told you already-"
"That wizards don't exist?" Rokuro finished her sentence for her. "Yeah, you did say that; but I'm telling you that you're wrong, so listen." His words sounded surprisingly demanding, even to himself. "You might not think so, but I don't really have any reason to lie to you." Akemi's frown didn't lift. Seeing her mute response, the so-called wizard went on. "I am a wizard. A student, in fact; and if you think I chose to end up in the first dimension like this, you're wrong again. I got here by accident." When her only response was a roll of the eyes, Rokuro returned the priestess's frown. "What, you don't believe me? I can prove it." Akemi found it hard to react to his words aside from her derisive facial expressions.
"You sound like you're telling the truth," she finally spoke up. "But you're still not making sense. So if you can prove that you don't belong in an insane asylum, I'd suggest doing so." Rokuro shrugged, and straightened out his slouched position. He touched the violet amulet embedded into his top. A purple shine emitted from it, and a holographic, crescent-shaped 3-D object appeared in between them. Akemi scooted backwards in her chair, eyes wide. That wasn't what she was expecting. "Wha-Wha-What is-!" The stuttering couldn't be helped. "What is that?" Rokuro pointed to it nonchalantly.
"This is a holomap of Mahokkai. That's the name of my home world. Well, that's what everyone calls it. It's real name is much longer; truthfully, I don't even remember it's real name without looking it up." Akemi said nothing, continuing to stare at Rokuro and his "map". His explanation continued, though most of it would fall on half-deaf ears. "My dimension is where the magical beings of the universe reside. Most are witches, warlocks or other practitioners of magic, like me. We make up the second dimensional plane." Akemi turned her full attention to Rokuro himself once again, mentally pushing the translucent 3-D image aside.
"Second?" she repeated. Rokuro nodded.
"The first dimension is yours - Earth. Our dimensions are parallel, which is the reason I look human."
"... I'm not sure I follow..." Rokuro's patience with her was great. He didn't expect her to fully understand, so he was willing to take the time to help her do so.
"Ours is the dimension closest to yours, right?"
"From what you've told me, I'm assuming that's the case..."
"Right. The first few dimensions are inhabited by beings with human-like traits. Other worlds, further away from Earth, the core of the universe, look and act less like humans. So if I was from the third or fourth dimension, hypothetically speaking, I would probably have a tail or animal ears." To emphasize his point, Rokuro put his hands on his head, imitating cat ears.
Akemi rubbed her temporals slowly while she processed the information, eyes closed in thought. None of this seemed real to her; after all, a wizard landing in a world different from his own, let alone in her yard, was just about as far-fetched as anything she had seen or read before. If she was asleep this would have been believeable, as dreams tend to be even more vivid than imagination sometimes; but the fact that a living, breathing object of Western fiction was sitting in her kitchen with her, and the fact that she had seen him use magic twice already...
"... Rokuro-kun." Her quiet mention of his name was enough to startle the wizard, as it was the first time he had heard her address him properly. He motioned for her to continue. Akemi brushed her hair behind her ears. Getting back on topic... "Let me ask you this: If you belong in your world, what are you doing in mine?" Rokuro paused before answering.
"Err... Well, you see, with the different dimensions, there's something called Dimensional Transport, known as Hakobuttori. It's this teleportation system that moves between the worlds. It appears every so often, and it can teleport objects or people to another dimensional plane. It's supposed to look sort of like a black hole, I think... I didn't see it before I got caught in it." Akemi's memory clicked in place. So that's what I saw before! That hazy, black veil that appeared before hadn't been a trick of her eyes; it was Rokuro being brought to Earth.
Rokuro laughed nervously. "I actually thought it was some sort of myth, since most people have never seen it. Guess it wasn't a story, huh?" He touched his stone again, before the girl could reply, and the holomap disappeared. His smile faded, and was replaced with a look of discontent. "What stinks is that I can't get home until the Hakobuttori comes here again. It's pretty much stranded me here with no way to get back." Akemi felt alarmed at such a revelation, but more out of surprise than worry.
"Wait, why can't you get back...? You're a warlock-!"
"Wizard," Rokuro corrected sharply. He hated when people made that mistake. "There is a difference, you know." Akemi furrowed her brows.
"Whatever; you know what I mean. Anyway, can't you use magic to get you back home?" Rokuro's gray eyes went downcast.
"Nah," he muttered. "My magic's not strong enough. Not even close. I'm still only an amateur who hasn't even completed his student courses yet."
"... Oh." Akemi bit the inside of her cheek. That really did stink for him, then. The whole situation did. "Well, if you can't get back by yourself," she started. "When's that portal-thing going to appear again? That's what you'll use, right?"
"Of course," Rokuro replied, eyes meeting the floor. "But it won't be back for a while." Silence followed his monotone answer. Akemi rested her head on her palm, and let out a long breath.
"... ... ... Would you like to stay here?" she asked, all of a sudden. Rokuro's head jerked up at the offer.
"R-Really? You'd let me do that?" She didn't answer right away, which made him feel even more uncomfortable than he already was.
Akemi folded her arms and looked down, trying to think of the pros and cons to having him stay in her house. In retrospect, maybe I should've thought about this before I offered... She didfeel sorry for the wizard boy; being stuck in a foreign place and not knowing a single person in it had to be one of the worst things that could happen to a person; and she doubted she would do much better if the situation was reversed. Plus, there was a surplus of empty space around her home, so one more person living here wouldn't be an issue.
Maybe he could possibly be useful around the house, as taking care of the shrine was always a chore for her to do; but she wasn't sure how destructive magic could be, and she wasn't sure she wanted to find out any time soon. She was also worried about what her dad would say when he came home, after realizing that she had been home alone with a boy; and she didn't even want to think about what he would say if he found out that said boy would be living here for some time. That could be sorted out later on, she decided. Her father was a kind person. He would understand. Probably. Plus, taking back a proposal like that would make her come off as extremely rude. She looked up at Rokuro again.
"Yes, I'll let you stay here," she finally answered. Rokuro grinned at her, and bowed in respect. This girl had to be some kind of saint.
"Thank you so much, Akemi-san! I-!" Akemi cut him off with her raised index finger.
"But: If I catch you leaving the house without me, or using your magic outside of this place, you're in big trouble. Got it?" If even one person saw him using magic... That was one thing she didn't want transpiring in the future. There'd be no way to explain. Rokuro could cause all sorts of trouble for her and her father, but mostly for himself; and she didn't want her family to be caught up in it any messes he made. The wizard nodded again, in understanding.
"Of course..." he replied. Even knowing how impulsive he could be, if this person was making him such an offer... Maybe he could try to keep himself under control for once. It seemed like having good behavior around her was the best idea.
"One other thing." Akemi's tone was serious again, and made Rokuro even more attentive. "How long until this 'universe-teleporter-system' thing comes around again?" The teen wizard looked to the ground, suddenly finding the kitchen tiles to be very interesting. Meeting her gaze evenly was hard.
"Err... ... ..."
"Answer me, Rokuro-kun," Akemi implored. "How long?" Rokuro's nervous smile returned. He scratched behind his head.
A second passed... Two seconds... Three...
"... WHAT ! ?"
Reviews are helpful. Flames are not.
1) Onusa (大幣): I'm sure if I say "zig-zag paper tassel", you'll all know what I mean. You can Wiki it if you don't.
2) Honorifics will have to be looked up, because I am not taking the time to go through the long explanation.
3) Akemi's name is written with the usual kanji (明美), but her surname is written as 瀬画和 instead of 瀬川. You'll be seeing a lot of differently-spelled names/surnames in this story, not just that one.
4) Mahokkai: Written as 魔法界. It's a portmanteau of two terms, and literally translates as "magic universe". Mahou means "magic" and hokkai means "[the] universe".
5) Hakobuttori: Written as ハコブットリ. Is also a portmanteau of terms. Uttorisuru / uttoritosuru means "to be fascinated' (In a world of one's own), or "to be transported" (In terms of your mind, i.e., daydreaming). Hakobu means "to carry, transport, or move". As you can see, I like playing with words.