Mahou Shoujo Ayaka Salamanca
The Princess Returns! - Part 1
Orange skies lit up in the sleepy town of Hanarisa, reflecting a golden glow on every nook and cranny of the town. On a certain residential area, a two-floor house stood on a lot that had a garden on the back and a small porch at the front. The occupants of the master bedroom stirred and a twenty-three year old woman with long pink hair stepped out of bed. Still dressed on a blue night robe, the woman stepped out of the bedroom and descended unto the stairs.
As she reached the first floor, she heard the unmistakable sound of footsteps and the clatter of dishes. The woman turned to the dining room and saw a young golden-haired girl setting the table.
"Good morning, Momoka-san," greeted the girl, holding a plate.
"Ayaka-chan!" said the woman, who was Sakurai Momoka. "Don't tell me you cooked breakfast already?"
"Oh, yes," said the girl, named Sakurai Ayaka, looking a bit embarrassed. "I know you said to leave the housework to you, but I was up early today. And there was nothing I could do, so I thought…"
Momoka sighed, then gave her a very sweet smile. "Well, it can't be helped," said Momoka. "Thank you."
"It's no problem!" said Ayaka, smiling as well. She went to the kitchen while Momoka took a seat on the round dining table. After a few minutes, Ayaka went out with a plate full of omelets.
"Omelets!" said a surprised Momoka. "You really spoil your older brother."
Ayaka smiled. "Not really," she said. "I'm practically the one he's been spoiling."
"Oh, but you don't look like it," stated Momoka. "It's surprising, but Akira did a good job in taking care of you."
"I know what you mean," said Ayaka. "Nii-san looked really unreliable at first sight. But he's a good brother…"
"Who's a good brother?" said a brown-haired man sleepily, emerging from the passage Momoka appeared on a while ago.
"Oh, Ayaka and I were just talking about you," replied Momoka.
The man, Sakurai Akira, yawned and then sat at the head of the table. "Now, what did my wife and my sister said about me?"
"Oh, nothing much," said Momoka and she and Ayaka shared a meaningful glance.
The glance was not lost on Akira. "Now I'm even more curious. But…" he said, his eyes shining in anticipation as he rubbed his hands together. "Who made omelets? It looks really tasty."
"Ayaka-chan did," replied Momoka. "You know, it's a bit surprising to know that a bad cook like you would have such a great sister."
"Hey!" yelled Akira.
Ayaka and Momoka laughed. After a while, Akira joined in. If an onlooker saw the peaceful scene, they would have a hard time guessing the relationship between Ayaka, Momoka and Akira, aside from the fact that they live together.
Ayaka and Akira were siblings, but they looked really different. Ayaka took after their mother, with her long yellow hair, fair skin, round and rather cute face and slim stature. The only feature she shared with Akira was their sapphire-colored eyes. But other than that, Akira resembled their father. He had dark skin, a lean build and short, tousled brown hair.
Momoka, Akira's wife was also very different from the two. Tall and elegant, Momoka had straight pink hair and green eyes. She had porcelain-like skin and did not need make-up to look beautiful, even in the wee hours of the morning.
Ayaka soon joined Akira and Momoka on the table, who were laughing and talking about something. When Ayaka sat down and started to eat her breakfast, the couple turned to her.
"Ayaka-chan," said Akira. "Momoka and I will be late at work tonight. Will you be okay on your own?"
"Of course," replied Ayaka. "I can cook on my own, you know."
Akira rolled his eyes. "I know you can cook. What I meant is that you'll be left in this house alone. Will that be okay with you? Now remember to look the doors-"
"Yes, nii-san," interrupted Ayaka, her turn to roll her eyes. "I'll lock the doors, bar the windows, bring with me my phone everywhere and never answer the door unless it's you guys."
Akira gaped open-mouthed while Momoka laughed. "Dear," she said to Akira. "You're too worried. I'm sure Ayaka can take care of herself."
"Well," said Akira, still looking unsure. "If you say so."
After that, breakfast was the usual thing. Akira and Momoka would talk about a lot of things and then would ask Ayaka about it. She would answer their questions and the couple would go back to their conversation.
"It's time for the Daily Fortune Wheel!" said a host suddenly from the TV that was installed on the dining room. Ayaka watched it with interest; she loved the daily fortune telling part of the show. She never missed it before coming to school.
"Let's start with…" said the host, a young woman on a frilly fortune teller dress. "Aries!"
Ayaka watched carefully; she was born on April 9, making her an Aries.
"You will have a fateful encounter today!" said the woman. "Somebody you meet today will change your life forever!"
"A fateful encounter?" said Ayaka. "What would that mean?"
Momoka looked up from her conversation with her husband. "That means you'll meet someone special today, Ayaka-chan," she told her. "I bet it'll be your future boyfriend!"
Akira choked and blew all the food he'd been chewing out of his mouth. "Boyfriend?" he screamed, looking really alarmed.
"I was just joking, dear," said Momoka. "But I say it's about time for Ayaka to have one. Fateful encounter or not, I'm sure she has a lot of suitors."
"Oh, I don't really have one," said Ayaka, blushing a bit.
"But I'm sure you have a crush or two," cooed Momoka. Ayaka turned really red and decided to keep her head down. Momoka smiled approvingly.
Meanwhile, Akira crossed his arms and looked really stern. "Hmph," he said. "I won't let an undeserving man defile my sister's innocence! They have to face me before they can ask her hand!"
Momoka laughed at her husband's behavior. "You're taking it the wrong way," she said. "Boys nowadays love challenges. They'll go after Ayaka more if her brother tries to stand on their way."
Akira was distraught; Ayaka shook at her brother's gullibility, it was obvious that Momoka was joking. They continued the conversation, Momoka giving her husband suspicious tips and hints, which, instead of keeping boys out of Ayaka's life, looked like it would give her more opportunities to meet new guys.
Still, Ayaka thought about her fortune today. A "fateful encounter"? She wondered what it would be.
An hour after breakfast, Ayaka found herself on a well-known street in town. Hanarisa High School appeared in front of her, the way towards the gate bathed by pink petals fluttering in the air. The school's main gate opened to a pathway with sakura trees on both sides, making it a fabulous sight in spring. A few students walked and mingled on the pathway as Ayaka came running towards it.
"Ayaka-chan!" called a blue-haired girl, waving at Ayaka near the entrance of the school. She was standing next to a girl with braided brown hair and glasses.
"Tomomi-chan! Junko-chan!" yelled Ayaka, waving back. She ran ahead and soon caught up with them.
"Good morning!" greeted Migumi Junko. Junko was a little taller than Ayaka, had clear blue eyes and short brown hair that was braided. She was wearing the same school uniform as Ayaka - a short-sleeved white sailor-style blouse with a pink ribbon on the center, a short blue skirt and brown comfortable loafers. On one of her arms was a red band that had a logo of a pencil.
"Morning, Junko-chan!" greeted Ayaka back, before Tomomi pulled her arm.
"Hey, hey, Ayaka, listen to this!" said Tsuchiya Tomomi, who was shorter than the rest of the girls. Her light blue hair was fashioned in two pigtails and she had all sorts of accessories on her arms. Her purple eyes gleamed with excitement as she babbled away at Ayaka. "My fortune today said that I'll be lucky in romance! Maybe I should confess to Haruto-kun?"
"Eh?" yelled Ayaka. "You're confessing to Haruto-kun?"
"Shhh!" Tomomi told her. "You're not that supposed to shout that out loud."
Ayaka looked sheepish. "Sorry… But are you really going to do that?"
"Maybe," said Tomomi, winking at her. "If you'll help me, that is!"
"Help you?" said Ayaka, surprised.
"Yup," said Tomomi, nodding at the brilliance of what she was about to say. "Remember, Haruto-kun is best friends with Kai-kun! If I get to be Haruto-kun's girlfriend, I'll set you up with Kai-kun and then you'll be her girlfriend too!"
Ayaka blushed. Junko shook her head. "You two are so simple-minded," said Junko.
"Simple-minded?" repeated Tomomi.
Junko looked smug. "Based on my research," she said. "Kai-kun and Haruto-kun are not 'best friends' as you put it. They can't stand each other, but for one important reason, he and the rest of the Princes are together."
"Amazing, Junko-chan!" said Ayaka with bright, sparkling eyes.
"Meh," muttered Tomomi. "Now then, Junko, what is this 'important reason' you're talking about?"
"I…" Junko opened her mouth to say something, her hand poised as if to make a point. A few minutes passed by, before she bowed her head, looking defeated. "…don't know…"
Ayaka and Tomomi made a comic fall. "Really," said Tomomi. "Get your facts straight before you make a point."
"I still haven't gotten around to research on that particular aspect," reasoned Junko. As she talked, a few female students came running by, yelling and shouting something. "Eh?"
Ayaka and Tomomi noticed it as well. "What's happening?" asked Ayaka.
Tomomi pointed to a part in the pathway where a crowd of girls were clogging up. They were cheering and shouting about something. "There!" she said, as she ran towards it.
"Ah, Tomomi-chan, wait!" said Ayaka, running after her. Junko soon followed them.
Tomomi reached the mob of girls first, standing on tip-toe to see what was going on. Ayaka soon reached her and Junko fell in last, gasping for air. Impatient, Tomomi grabbed hold of the shoulders of the two girls in front of her and finally saw what was going on. However, it took little effort for Ayaka and Junko, who were taller than most girls, to get a clear view.
Arguing in front of the mob of school girls were two male students. One had spiky red hair while the other had straight, dark blue hair. Another guy, who had short green hair, was trying to stop them, while one more guy with silver hair stood in the sideline, talking to somebody in his cellphone. All four were wearing the male uniform of Hanarisa High School - a pair of matching blue coat and blue pants. Also, all of them were good-looking in their own right.
Ayaka blushed at the sight of the guy with the dark blue hair. Junko, on the other hand, looked contemplative. "It's rare to see the four of them together."
"Really?" asked Tomomi, still grabbing hold of the shoulders of the girls in front of her. She was quivering in sight, because the girls were swaying, jumping and cheering at the same time. "I think they look good together, too. Ahhh, I'm glad I'm alive…"
Suddenly, the mob turned to move and Tomomi fell out of her "stepping stones" and fell butt-first on the floor. Ayaka and Junko looked on as the crowd of girls ran towards the main gate. It looked like the four guys were moving towards the school and the mob followed tail.
"Akande Haruto, Yukinawa Kai, Tsubaki Shun, Midorino Itsuki…" muttered Junko. "The four most popular male students in Hanarisa High School. I wonder what they have in common…"
"Good looks, that's for sure!" said Tomomi, standing up. "And I'm not going to stop until I date one of them!"
"Such a mediocre goal," stated Junko, her eyeglasses flashing in the sunlight. "Unlike mine, which is to find the mystery behind all of this! I stake my pride as a journalist, I will uncover the secret behind the Princes of Hanarisa!"
"Mediocre!" yelled Tomomi. "I don't know what that really means, but I'm sure it's bad. Anyway, it's not like you have progress in that mystery of yours."
Tomomi touched a nerve. "Just watch, I'll definitely uncover their secret! Unlike you, you won't even get the courage to confess on Haruto-kun!"
Ayaka had a sweat drop as her two best friends argued. Tomomi and Junko were definitely not compatible personality-wise, but they had been good friends to Ayaka. And in times when they didn't argue, the three of them could actually enjoy each other's company.
However, it appeared that this was not one of those times. Tomomi and Junko's argument went into dangerous waters. Both of them were glaring at each other.
"Then I dare you, Tomomi! Let's see if you can confess on Haruto today!"
"And I will, Junko! Just watch!"
"Errr…" mumbled Ayaka. "Tomomi-chan, don't you think that's a bit too hasty?"
"Of course not!" said Tomomi with confidence. "I'm lucky in romance today! Nothing will ever go wrong!"
Ayaka was about to say something, but the school bell got her first. The sound echoed all over the school, signaling the start of classes.
"Oops!" said Ayaka. She grabbed hold of Tomomi and Junko's hands and pulled them into a run. "Let's hurry or we'll be late!"
Tomomi and Junko looked surprised at first, but they soon recovered. Their hands clasped together, the three girls rushed to the school. Unknown to them, on top of a sakura tree, a pair of silver eyes had been watching their every move.
On another world, a world where darkness stretches from horizon to horizon, where flashes of lightning play on the stormy sky, where no living soul dares to venture, a lone castle looms atop a cliff. In the empty hallowed halls of this castle, a strange creature was pacing back and forth.
"It's been three days now," the creature said, its rather large toeless feet finally stopping. It scratched its bald head, just beneath its rather long ears. "Why are my Shadows having a hard time looking for it? It's just a defenseless cat!"
Its rather weird slanted eyes sharpened. "I don't have much time," he said. "If I don't find the prisoner quickly, Lady Amanti will be very angry."
It then stretched its long arms. "But I'm so tired after breaking that seal…" It yawned. "I'll just wait for now…"
"Tomomi-chan, are you sure about this?" asked a very worried Ayaka. She and Tomomi were hiding on a pillar of one of the school's hallway. It was already lunch break, but Tomomi dragged her into the pillar instead of going to the cafeteria for their usual lunches.
"Of course," replied Tomomi, her eyes strained in concentration, following the path of a certain red-haired guy. "This will be my only chance to confess to Haruto-kun! He'll be busy with the Basketball Club this afternoon, so I won't have the opportunity then."
Ayaka sighed. "I hope you know what you're doing."
Ayaka and Tomomi followed the red-haired guy, hiding in the pillars, crouching beneath the garbage cans and sometimes entering rooms. Ayaka wondered if this was what stalking feels like. Every time they hid, she and Tomomi would look at the guy's back, trying to determine if he sensed he was being followed.
Ayaka could not see his face, but he knew who it was. The guy was Akande Haruto, one of the "Princes of Hanarisa", as Junko and some crazed fan girls would say. Haruto was really tall, with a lean, strong frame. He had spiky red hair, which seemed to stick on different directions. He also had orange eyes and was known to smile only rarely. He had a rather well-known reputation of being the ace in the Basketball Club and was rumored to be good in fistfights. For Ayaka, it sounded like he was a delinquent and she was quite scared of such people. She didn't understand what Tomomi sees in him to pursue him like this. Now if only he was a bit like Yukiniwa Kai… Ayaka blushed just by thinking of him.
"Come on, Ayaka!" said Tomomi, following Haruto towards a decrepit flight of stairs that no one seemed to be using. She had a bad feeling about it.
"Tomomi, wait!" she said, but Tomomi already descended the stairs, afraid to lose sight of Haruto. She disappeared from Ayaka's view. "Tomomi-chan!"
Ayaka stared at the stairs and wondered where it would lead. In normal circumstances, Ayaka would have never dared to try and find out. But she couldn't let Tomomi go alone… But what if there were monsters there? The place was so dark; it's bound to be hiding some sort of monsters. She shivered at the sight of the unnerving darkness. Then, she had a headache and flashes of darkness and screams reverberated in her mind. Dark, red eyes… A woman screaming…
And suddenly, all of it was gone. Ayaka inhaled deeply, trying to remember. She was sure that she was forgetting something. But the situation called for some action. She didn't have time to stop and think. "Ayaka, Ayaka," she said. "You're not afraid of dark places…" She relaxed a bit.
Afraid that she'll lose her nerve again, Ayaka quickly stepped towards the suspicious stairway. However, she misjudged her footing and she lost her balance. Her whole weight moved towards the front and she was about to fall… She closed her eyes.
"Watch out!" yelled a guy's voice and suddenly Ayaka was being pulled away from the stairway. With her eyes closed, she felt her body hit something soft but sturdy. That "something" had his arms around her, as if protecting her from the darkness of the stairs.
"Are you alright?" asked the voice again and it was on that moment that Ayaka recognized it.
Ayaka opened her eyes to see that she was being hugged by a male student with straight blue hair. His bangs were styled towards the left and were a bit long that it covered most of his forehead. This student had a slim figure and milky white skin, which Ayaka was currently held in. Finally, he had clear, purple eyes, which was staring at her own.
Ayaka's whole face turned bright red. She stepped away from him. "Yes…" she stammered nervously. "I'm fi-fine…"
The guy smiled at her. "You shouldn't be trying to use that stairway. It's not very safe," he told her.
"B-but…" said Ayaka, straining herself to speak. "My friend went down there…"
At this, the guy frowned. "She went down there?"
Ayaka nodded, unable to speak anymore.
The student seemed to be in deep thought. Then, he asked, "What's your name?"
"Sakurai-san," said the guy. Ayaka felt herself faint internally as he spoke her last name. "You should go back to your classroom. I'll go ask the teachers to look for your friend. What was her name?"
"Okay, got that," he replied with a smile. "Now, don't worry about your friend. We'll find her."
Ayaka nodded. "Thank you…" Then, she realized something that she also needed to tell him. She knew Tomomi would be angry, but she had no other choice but to tell the truth. "And uh… Tomomi was following Haruto-kun. That's why she came down the stairway…"
"Haruto?" said the student, utterly shocked. "But he was with me and the others at the cafeteria…"
"Eh?" yelled Ayaka. "Bu-but… I saw him! And Tomomi saw him, too!"
"This is bizarre," said the guy. "I'll investigate this."
"No, I mean, uh…" The student fidgeted, as if he said something he shouldn't have. "I mean, as the Student Council President, I'll help look for Tsuchiya-san."
Ayaka was a bit confused, but she nodded nevertheless.
"Now, I'll escort you to your room," he said with a smile. "Just to make sure you don't fall on any stairway again."
If she wasn't so worried about Tomomi, Ayaka would have savored the moment she could have him for herself. She couldn't believe it; here she was talking to Yukinawa Kai, the one person she had a huge crush on. He even insisted one escorting her to her room. Could this be the "fateful encounter" her fortune said?
But… Ayaka couldn't be happy. Tomomi was lost somewhere out there. Where was she? Was she okay? Deep down inside, she couldn't stop but feel anxious. Her intuition was telling her that something terrible was happening.
Ayaka sincerely hoped that it was all on her mind…
To be continued…
Author's Note: Okay, here's Chapter 1, the first part of the two-part pilot episode of the series. The first part's a bit boring, but it has the needed introductions of some of the central characters in the series. And don't worry, the Magical Girl thing starts on the next chapter!
So yeah, thanks for reading! And I'll be happy if you post a review, too!