Hello again, it's been a while. Here's the second chapter, wherein Noboru kicks some demon ass and the prologue scene is narrated from Emi's viewpoint. Hopefully you won't have to wait for the third chapter as long as this one.

I'd like to thank everyone for the kind and helpful reviews. I assure you, there's no need to hold back, I can take harsh criticism too.

Don't forget to check out the awesome picture drawn by my wonderful forum imouto, Jax!

Chapter 2: The Diversion

As if conjured by Noboru's whirlwind, there was an unusually chilly headwind next morning when he walked to school. In September, typhoons sometimes caused strong winds and rain even this far inland, but this wind was too dry and cold to be considered normal for the season. Luckily, today was just the day when the students in his school were supposed to stop using the summer uniform, so Noboru was now wearing his dark blue, almost black blazer, and the white shirt under it was now long-sleeved.

"Yo, Noboru! Wait up!" Just as he was crossing the street at an intersection about halfway to the school, he heard a familiar voice call him from somewhere left and behind.

He glanced over his shoulder, but didn't stop to wait until he'd crossed the street. A moment later, someone ran across and stopped to take a breath beside Noboru. This someone was a high schooler like him, though from a different high school, and he still had a short-sleeved shirt and no blazer. It revealed well his athletic body. He was a tall and pleasantly muscular guy, though his face was too average to be a girl-magnet. His short hair was dyed blond.

"Morning, Arata. What's up?"

Arata recovered quickly from his sprint to catch up with Noboru. "Morning. I was just wondering, haven't seen you at the gym since last week's Monday. Any particular reason? You know it doesn't work if you don't do it often enough." Inoue Arata was affiliated with a certain... group who were involved with a nearby gym, and he'd arranged Noboru a discount there for years already. Noboru didn't particularly enjoy working out, and he certainly wasn't trying to grow muscles to impress girls: for him, keeping his body in a good shape was a matter of necessity. While it didn't come as useful nowadays as it had when he still couldn't put too much faith in his magic, he still considered things like stamina and running speed essential in his 'job'. On his slim body, the results of the training didn't really show outside, like they did for Arata, but Noboru frequently had to hold back in PE in order to avoid drawing too much attention. A geek running almost as fast as the track team ace would certainly result in uncomfortable questions.

"I've been dealing with someone... difficult the past three nights. I really need my naps after nights like that." Noboru flashed a pale, joyless smile, and Arata nodded. He understood. He knew. In fact, he was one of the two people in the world, besides Noboru himself, who knew of Noboru's nightly hunts.

"Alright then. As usual, give me a call the day before when you want to go." Suddenly, the vicious wind reminded them of its presence. Arata tensed up and rubbed his bare arms, eyeing Noboru's blazer enviously. "Brrr... Feels like a bad omen, doesn't it?" Noboru fixed his fringe, which the mischievous wind had so rudely played with, and nodded.

"I have to go now, Shou is waiting." Arata gave a little nod towards another boy who was now waiting for him on the other side of the street. Tachibana Shou was slimmer and had a much more handsome face than Arata, and he definitely didn't look like a delinquent. However, the truth was that Tachibana was the leader and Arata the follower. They were close friends, as far as Noboru could judge, but the power relationship was absolute.

"Yeah. See you later."

"See ya!" Arata slapped him on the shoulder and ran across the street again – forcing a driver to pull the brake suddenly, and receiving an angry toot as a reward. Noboru walked on.

Barely half a minute later, Kazuya and Fumio appeared as if magically next to him on both sides.

"You were talking to that delinquent again," Kazuya said in an accusing tone. Geeks and delinquents didn't get along, that was a universal truth, as far as Kazuya was concerned. "Decent people like us shouldn't associate with his kind of people, they are dangerous."

So am I. "Kazuya, drop it. I don't like hearing my friends badmouth each other." It was a good thing Kazuya had no idea whom Arata was really working for. He might get a heart attack.

"I know he wants to repay you for saving his life and all," Fumio cut in, "but is it really wise to hang out with him? People might start avoiding you." The official story was, Noboru had pulled Arata out of the road when he'd almost been run over by a car. A likely enough story, given Arata's recklessness in traffic... but the truth was, of course, more complicated.

"Fumio," Noboru said and put his arms around both of his friends' shoulders familiarly, "if I was really that concerned over my public image, would I really be hanging out with you guys? I mean, last time I checked, we were still 'the three geeks of class 2-A.'"



Be it by chance or by fate, Noboru and his friends arrived at the school gate at the same time as the black limousine carrying Miss Peak stopped before the gate. As she stepped out of the car and noticed him, she almost tripped on her own feet. A much stronger reaction than the usual split-second freeze or inconspicuous flinch. She must still be distraught over last night. There was no way she wouldn't have sensed Noboru and the demon's combined power within less than 500 metres from her. Noboru hoped she hadn't actually seen anything, that'd be bad.

"Good morning, Piiku-san!" Fumio piped up, his voice somewhat higher than usual, clearly too anxious to make the greeting natural. Come to think of it, in this situation it'd be strange not to greet each other. Oh well, too late, it'd be awkward now...

"Eh? Oh, good morning!" Peak was clearly caught off-guard, and while the smile she flashed at the three of them was beautiful, Noboru still thought it looked a little fake. However, when she walked in through the gate, there was no sign of haste or uncertainty in her walk. The three boys still stood outside the school grounds and watched on as practically everyone on the courtyard greeted her with respect, and she responded with much more grace than just a moment before.

"Don't you think something's bothering Piiku-san?" Fumio asked, frowning thoughtfully.

"Yeah, that smile wa so fake. And since when has she ever stumbled like that?" Kazuya agreed.

Sometimes they surprise me with how sharp they can be, Noboru though somewhat rudely about his friends. "Who knows?" he said in a tone as indifferent as he could make it. "Let's go, the class is starting."

"So, Emi, how did yesterday's meeting go?" Akemi asked on the lunch break. After meeting Satou at the gate – Emi still berated herself over losing her composure like so – the morning had been uneventful. Emi frequently found her attention slipping, as her thoughts were occupied by the party she'd be attending tonight. Houjou Ichirou, a successful businessman who'd made his fortune with electronics and later also stock market, had turned fifty and was holding a grand birthday party. Because the party was in Tokyo, she'd be leaving a little early from school and returning late in the night. She'd be returning alone, by the way, because her parents had taken the opportunity and arranged some meetings in Tokyo for the next day.

"It was boring", she replied absently. "I really didn't like the man we were meeting, but of course I had to put on a cheerful front." Just recalling that dirty old man gave her the creeps. She quickly and deliberately returned to thinking about tonight's dress options.

Akemi and Kanako were looking at each other questioningly. It was unusual for Emi to be this absent-minded.

"What are you thinking about so intently?" Kanako asked, peering at her downcast face.

"I have another party tonight. It's in Tokyo, and there will be many important people, so my parents want me to make the best if it." That meant making connections, charming boys and milking them for information.

"Aww, I wish I could take part in a party like that," Akemi said with dreamy eyes. "Wearing a beautiful dress, meeting rich and handsome boys, maybe even falling in love with one..." Keiko snorted, raising her eyes from her book (she always read while eating) just for a brief moment to cast a disapproving glance at the daydreaming Akemi.

Akemi quickly returned to reality. "I bet they'll all fawn over you, Emi."

"No doubt," Emi replied drily. "And that's exactly the problem. I'll have to dance with dozens of horny boys, most of them self-absorbed and spoiled rotten. It'll be worth it just for the few nice ones among them, but it does get tiring. Trust me, these parties lose a lot of their glamour when you're actually in them." Thank god Masaki-kun would be there. They were planning to enter together, that alone would spare Emi from a few propositions of the kind that she invariably rejected.

"I think you're just too used to it to see what a dream life you live," Akemi complained while chewing a piece of tamagoyaki.

Dream life, huh? I guess I've been fortunate compared to many, but... sometimes I just feel suffocated... Her contemplation was interrupted when Satou walked past right behind Akemi and Keiko, on his way out of the classroom. That glance he shot at Emi, it made shivers go down her spine again. Was it malice? No. Once again Emi had to conclude that she couldn't read Satou at all.

Akemi turned her head to see what it was that had – Emi just now realised – made Emi freeze in the middle of picking up a piece of chicken with her chopsticks. Quickly she resumed the movement, but it was too late, the damage was already done within that two seconds of immobility.

"Say, Emi-chan," Akemi began, using the suffix that she only ever used with Emi when she was about to say something mischievous, "do you, by any chance... like Satou-kun?"

Oh god, this misunderstanding is going to be a pain to correct. Having picked up the warning signs, Emi managed to keep her composure. Just. "Of course not. Whatever gave you such a silly notion?"

Kanako, and even Keiko, was now looking at Emi curiously. Akemi carried on, clearly enjoying the situation: "Well, I was just thinking, you always look at him in a different way than everyone else. I can just feel the tension between you two, though maybe there's some other reason...?"

Emi sighed and put down her chopsticks. At this point there was no point pretending, she'd have to tell them something. She motioned her friends to come closer, then spoke in a low voice: "Don't you think he's sort of... frightening?"

"Frightening?" Akemi and Kanako shared a confused glance. "You think Satou-kun is scary? That... geek?"

"I've heard he hangs out with a delinquent from another school," Kanako continued where Akemi left, "but to me he doesn't seem scary at all. Maybe a little creepy, but harmless."

"His record is spotless, except a few missed attendances," Keiko added without even looking up from her book. "No violence."

Emi shook her head, frustrated. "I'm not talking about delinquent level scary. I'm talking about psychopathic killer level scary! Look, I have enemies, powerful enemies, but none of them make me tremble in fear like he does, with just a look in my way!"

She'd said too much. Now the three other girls looked really confused and worried. Kanako put her hand over Emi's right hand on the table.

"Emi, you shouldn't judge others so far based on looks alone. Is this one of your hunches again? I know you trust those premonitions of danger, but..."

"I know, Kanako, I know." Emi put her own left hand over Kanako's and squeezed gently, smiling as reassuringly as she could manage. "I know it has to be my imagination. I'm just so used to trusting my hunches that it takes some time to get over this. I'll try."

Thankfully, their hushed discussion seemed to have passed without raising anyone's attention, and for the rest of the lunch break, they dropped the subject in favour of more light-hearted chatter.

For Noboru, the rest of the day went by uneventfully. Or so he would have liked. A certain group of delinquents, however, had other plans.

They were waiting for him on his way home, on a quiet section of the street. It was one of those residential areas where the streets were flanked by walls. Well, they probably weren't waiting for him specifically, Noboru was quite sure he'd never seen them before, but regardless, they were there and they were trouble. There were three of them, they were chilling on the walkway, each with a can of drink in their hands. They looked like your common punks, with bleached hairs and piercings and school uniforms worn loosely. Noboru recognised the uniform, it was the same as the one Aruta wore. His school was close by, so it was no surprise.

Better just go around, Noboru figured, turned right and crossed the road to the walkway on the other side. Too bad it wasn't far enough. As soon as they noticed him, the delinquents also crossed the road and positioned themselves on his way.

Noboru was in a bad mood. He hadn't had any sleep in nearly 48 hours, there was an annoying demon in his city, and now these punks were purposefully getting in his way. He seriously considered using magic to deal with this, as inconvenient as if was to clean up afterwards. (No, not that kind of clean-up.)

"What do you want?" he asked, trying to remain patient. Maybe they just wanted to ask some questions.

Yeah, right. "Lend me some money, man," the punk in the middle demanded. He was the tallest of the three, kind of scrawny, and he had two rings on his left ear and a blonde mohawk. "I'm broke, and my, uh, sister is sick, she needs medicine."

Well, this was new. The guy actually bothered coming up with a half-decent excuse. Noboru rolled his eyes.

"Oh, sure," he replied with a sarcastic smile. "Can't leave your sister without medical care, can we? How much do you need? Keep in mind, though, my interest rates are high. I'll make it ten percent, since it's for a humanitarian cause."

The punk blinked a few times, then his face distorted in anger and he grabbed Noboru from his blazer's lapel. "You fucker, do you think you can get away with making fun of me?!"

"Get out of my way. I don't have the time to deal with small fries like you." Noboru lowered his head and glared at the punk over his glasses with all the anger, arrogance and bloodlust he could muster. Demons had backed away from that glare. But then, they could feel his power. These poor fools has no idea who they were messing with, they could only see his admittedly unimpressive body.

Still, it seemed to work at first, the thug let go and took a wary step back, startled expression on his face. But then he seemed to gain courage from the presence of his two friends.

"Huh? You think you can just order us around? Who the fuck do you think you are?"

Several things happened during the next few seconds. The punk reached for Noboru's lapel again, Noboru stepped sideways and prepared to turn and run... and someone ran over from behind the thugs, bellowing "ORRAAAA!" very manly, and jump kicked the middle guy in the back, sending him flying on his face. Ouch.

"Ba- Banchou?!" the two remaining thugs cried in unison. Before they could make a move, the "Banchou" punched one of them in the face, sending him flying onto the middle of the street, roaring "YOU-", and then turned around and sunk his leg into the stomach of the other, making him double up, and finishing with: "FOOLS!"

Noboru surveyed the scene of carnage. "Swift work. Impressive."

The Banchou ignored him. "Haven't I told you idiots not to bother ordinary people?! We'll talk about your punishment tomorrow, now get the fuck out of my sight!"

Only when the three unfortunate thugs had picked themselves up and limped away, did the Banchou turn to Noboru. "I'm sorry about that. They're freshmen, and numbskulls like them are slow to learn."

"It's alright, it's not your fault," Noboru appeased the steaming Arata. "Anyway, thanks. You saved me."

They started walking side by side. "It's nothing. I saved them just as much as I saved you. You looked like you might... you know..."

"Use magic?" Noboru chuckled. "It's possible. I was feeling rather pissed off just a moment ago. But seeing that beating you gave them somehow cheered me up."

"You know, you're much more bloodthirsty than you look."

"Comes with the job, I suppose. Anyway, you saved me the indignity of having to run away. And more importantly, you saved me some precious naptime."

Arata shook his head in amused disbelief. "I'm glad to hear you have your priorities straight. Anyway, we'd both best head home now." He stopped as they reached an intersection.

Noboru turned and nodded. "Yeah. See you around."

"Have a good nap!" Arata bid him with a grin.

Tonight's moon seemed unnaturally large. Noboru was standing on the rooftop of yet another high-rise building in the city centre, enjoying the strong but natural wind cooling off his body, wherein the burning magic raged. Magic reigned strong on nights of full moon. Wild, even more difficult to control than usual, but strong.

This affected both human and demon magic, and on nights like this demons often became bolder than usual. Even now, Noboru sensed five weak flames edging their way towards the more bountiful hunting ground of the inner city. Of course, he couldn't be sure that they were all demons: there was no way to make a difference between human and demon power at night, when both were stable. But chances were high that they were demons, for Noboru couldn't remember sensing power near their locations before. Either way, tonight he wasn't interested in small fries.

Oddly enough, he didn't sense Peak's power anywhere in the city. She had to be travelling. Come to think of it, she left school early today. Well, her being away made things easier, since Noboru didn't need to keep watch on her flame.

His prey was waiting for him, this time outside the city. In the east, he sensed two powerful flames of roughly equal strength. Are you allies or rivals? Which one was the demon he'd chased for three nights already? If they planned to ally and assault Noboru, it didn't matter, but if they separated, the question would become essential.

And why east? Don't tell me it has made contact with that one... His brows knit in an expression of extreme concentration as Noboru faced south-eastand looked for another flame, one so powerful that on nights like this it could be sensed here, all the way from the Tokyo area... and found it.

Are you looking at me right now, as I am looking at you? he mused, as he had every night of the full moon for the past two years.

Glancing one more time at the full moon, Noboru put on his blazer and jumped off the roof. What surrounded him this time was no ordinary whirlwind, it was closer to a small tornado. The noise was deafening, the force could have torn him up limb from limb. This was the true "Raging Vortex".

Noboru spent quite some time just hovering there in the middle of the vortex, his eyes shut tight, until he finally felt confident that the winds were under his control.

"Let's see you escape me now!" he bellowed into the wind, knowing full well that there was no one to listen. Leaning forward, he shot out eastward at a speed significantly faster than the day before. Spells that controlled natural forces were the ones that most benefited from the full moon.

He reached the edge of the inner city in no time, now there were just fields and some suburb areas below him. That's when the two powers he kept his sights on started moving. They separated, one went south, the other north. From Noboru's viewpoint, right and left. He'd soon have to decide which one to follow first. There was a slight difference in power, but with the full moon, they were both stronger than the demon's flame had been before. Am I going to have to flip a coin about this?

Wait, no! The flame that moved northward was considerably faster than the other flame. Few demons could move that fast. A grim smile appeared on Noboru's face, and he veered a bit to the north.

The ground started to rise and settlement disappeared as Noboru followed the flame of power into forest terrain, with mountains not far ahead. He couldn't make out any individual trees, it was all just a mass of vegetation that flashed by in the moonlit night. The demon had turned north-east now, running away from Noboru, but he was steadily gaining.

He passed over a valley and then another rise, before he finally reached his prey on the top of a hill. The flame stopped moving while still in the cover of trees. Wrapped in his cyclone, Noboru landed on an opening, close to the treeline. The cyclone expanded explosively, making the nearest trees bend and tearing lots of leaves off them, until the winds slowly dispersed. An impressive enough display to entertain his small audience, no doubt.

"I'm tired of your games, demon," he growled. "We'll end this tonight!"

He'd expected to get a snide reply from the shadows, but now that the winds had almost died down, the natural silence of the night had returned. Noboru squinted suspiciously.

Something's wrong here. There were steps to be heard now, something was coming out of the woods. Or three somethings. The power that had felt like it came from one source slowly separated into three weaker flames, which approached him side by side. He could now distinguish three pairs of glowing eyes in the darkness.

What stepped out of the woods were demons, but not of the same sub-species with Noboru's prey. They looked much like hounds, but they had no fur, just black skin, and each of them was as big as a bear, only slimmer. Growling with rumbling voices lower than any dog Noboru had ever heard, they spread out with the intention of surrounding him.

Noboru racked his brain to remember what his two teachers had taught him about any demons that looked like huge hairless hounds, ran very fast and had excellent night vision. He made no move to avoid getting surrounded – in fact, it seemed like he barely paid any attention to his opponents. Then his expression brightened with recollection.

Of course! Mergers! That explains it. His grandfather's book told about a demon species that could use flesh-molding magic to merge or separate several individuals of the same species. Merged like that, they shared many things – including, apparently, magical power. Quite cunning, that. Since it couldn't find another demon with similar amount of power, at least one that would obey it and could run as fast, it used these mergers. Damn, I've been had.

His eyes focused in an instant, when one of the demons charged him from behind. "Shield me from all harm, Kattai!" A faintly shimmering, almost invisible barrier surrounded him, and barely a second later he heard a surprised and pained yelp from behind, as the creature smashed into it.

Completely relaxed in appearance, Noboru looked around to locate each of the demons. "This could've been your lucky night, mutts, since I'm out of the city hunting your master. But since you're here, I can't just let you go. Let's finish this quickly."

The barrier seemed to confuse the demons, especially the one that had just gained first-hand experience about its effectiveness. It backed away, shaking its head as if to clear it, while the two others shared confused looks. Noboru turned around.

He took his hand out of the pocket and glanced at it, then closed his eyes for a few seconds. Remember the pinprick! His middle finger jerked. He opened his eyes and focused his gaze at the retreating demon.

"God of thunder, heed my call! Strike lightning at my foe, Omezamade!" A crackling ball of electricity appeared over his head, just outside the barrier, and after accumulating power for a few seconds, it struck at the demon hound with a deafening roar of thunder. Sensing danger, the demon tried to leap back out of the way, but the lightning hit one of its front paws in the air, and for an instant, the creature was encased in crackling power.

It fell to the ground and collapsed, its paw a smoking stub and electric currents still crisscrossing all over its body. The two others ran to it at once, the first of them poking the fallen beast with its muzzle, the other positioning itself between them and Noboru, growling at him.

"Worried about your wounded brethren? How touching," Noboru commented without a hint of emotion in his voice.

The wounded demon raised its head, having regained its consciousness. The growling one backed next to it, and together with the third hound, placed its paw on the body lying on the ground. The three demons started to lose form and merge into one much bigger body. Despite his earlier words about "finishing this quickly", Noboru did not take advantage of this chance to strike. Instead, he watched on with curiosity.

The body that resulted from the merging of the three looked much like a bigger version of their earlier form, with one critical difference: it had three heads.

"Hoo?" Noboru looked up at those heads with a darkly amused smirk. "Cerberus, huh? Now this should be interesting. Let's play this by the legend!"

Falling on one knee and striking his palm at the ground, he cast another spell: "Mother Earth, Heart of the World, lend me your power! Give me the Arms of Heracles and subdue my enemy, Berinoru!"

The ground shook. Between Noboru and his enemy, the rocky ground shattered, and two fountains of fine rubble shot upward. The rubble did not rain down, however: it formed into two huge arms with human-like form and fisted hands.

"Let's go, demon!" he shouted his challenge, regardless of the fact that the creature most likely didn't understand his language. "Show me that you're worthy of my time!" The three heads howled in response, a sound much lower than a wolf's howl, but so loud that it echoed in the valleys and probably stirred people awake kilometres away.

With a pained, yet somehow cheerful grin on his face, Noboru took his hands off his ears when the sound finally faded. "Well, at least you can bark. Let's see if you can bite as well." The rocky arms extending from the ground moved, the left one reaching for the demon's front leg and the right one throwing a punch at the middle head. The beast danced backwards and avoided the attack with surprising lightness for such a large thing, then bounced back to bite at one of the arms. Even though it managed to extract a muzzleful of rubble from the arm, new stone travelled up the arm and quickly repaired the damage.

Such exchanged repeated themselves for a while, with the arms of stone occasionally landing a hit, but never a clean one that would seem to bother the beast. Likewise, one of the hound's heads occasionally managed to bite a chunk of rubble, but the damage was always timely repaired. It seemed like a stalemate.

"Is this all you've got?" Noboru asked, his disappointment obvious, and started walking closer to the battle. He was almost in between the arms of stone, when the demon suddenly lunged at him. Noboru squinted, and the arms immediately obeyed his mental command, grabbing the demon into their embrace and pulling it to the ground before any of the heads and their sharp fangs could reach him. It strained its body, it barked and growled and squirmed, but it could not break free from the hold.

"According to the myth, Heracles subdued Cerberus with his bare hands and brought it to the surface to show it to a mortal king." Noboru stood expressionless before the three huge maws full of sharp fangs, and those glowing eyes glaring at him with hatred. "Afterwards, he brought the beast back to Hades. Unfortunately, this is where we stop following the legend. I do not have the means to return you to your own world, and I cannot let you roam mine, so-"

Before he could finish, the beast's maws opened wide, and something, some dark liquid, shot out of them. Sizzling and steaming, it covered Noboru's barrier.

"Acid, huh? At least you still have some fight in you, that is respectable." The liquid evaporated quickly, revealing Noboru untouched. His right hand was aimed at the beast before him, the palm open. In his cold eyes, there was nothing but death.

"This is where it ends," he simply said. Without batting an eye, he slowly closed his fist and made the stone arms crush the demon's body. It howled in pain, until its spine snapped with a sickening crack and the three heads fell limp, dark blood trickling out of their maws.

Noboru turned around and walked away, allowing the Arms of Heracles fall back to rubble, a makeshift grave for the demon, and dispelling the barrier. Gazing at the night sky to calm himself down, he let out a long sigh and fished a handkerchief from the blazer's pocket. He took off his glasses for a moment and wiped the sweat off his face.

I wasted too much time. Where is it? He closed his eyes and concentrated on looking for flames of power in the vicinity. Two valleys to the south, he found what he was looking for... and more.

"Shit! That bastard, I'm going to kill it! Painfully!" Anger showed now clearly on his face, though there was no one to witness this rare emotional outburst. They're too far away, I can't make it in time with Divine Wind. I'll have to use that...

Noboru took off his blazer and tucked it under his arm. His angry face had turned sour at the thought of using what he considered the most unpleasant spell in his disposal.

For Emi, this had been just as tiring a day as she'd expected. She lay on the back seat of the limousine half-asleep, the ballroom music still playing in her benumbed mind. Her feet hurt, though less now that she'd taken off her high-heeled dancing shoes. Her countless dancing and conversations partners were one mess in her mind, none of them rising to any kind of prominence. She'd have to try and separate the important people and discussions from the trivial ones eventually, but right now she was way too tired to attempt it. Just let me fall asleep. Lovely, dreamless sleep.

She snapped awake due to the screech of stopped wheels sliding the asphalt, the feeling of sudden and drastic slowing down, and the seat belt digging into her body. Morishita had hit the brakes at high speed.

"Wha... What is it?" Emi huffed once she had her breath back.

"There's... someone standing on the road," Morishita answered slowly, as if unsure about his words. He seemed especially hesitant about the word "someone". Emi leaned sideways to see through the front window.

A large, dark, humanoid-shaped... someone... stood firmly astride in the middle of the lane. Despite its size, it was so dark-coloured that the only reason why Morishita had noticed it in time was probably the grey fur loincloth that acted like a reflector to the car's lights. But what caught Emi's attention was none of its external features. The thing gave her a strong hunch, and this time Emi didn't stop to question the legitimacy of the premonition.

"Morishita! Drive! Get us away from it! Now!"

But it was too late. The thing had been motionless before, but in that short moment that Emi focused her attention on Morishita, it disappeared from her field of vision. A few seconds later it fell from above and landed beside the car right next to the driver's seat, its feet making strange, heavy clacks as they hit the asphalt.

"KYAAAH!" Emi screamed and instinctively covered her face with her arms when the thing's arm crashed through the window, raining shards of glass all over the car. Most limousines had some kind of a wall between the front seats and the back area, but this one didn't. Nevertheless, none of the shards hit Emi, and once the rain of glass was over, she ventured a look from between her arms.

The dark arm retreated slowly back out through the window. As the clawed fingers came into her sight from behind the driver's seat, she noticed some dark-coloured liquid dripping down from them. Blood, she realised at once. Morishita's blood.

She wanted to scream again, but it got stuck in her throat when the murderous creature stepped closer and bent down to peek through the back windows. Blood drained from her face. Those black eyes, horns, and all the sharp teeth in the mouth that widened into a grin upon noticing her, they brought one word to Emi's mind: oni!?

"There you are, little one!" it said in a tone that sounded delighted and almost... benign. "I've been trying to get to you for three nights, but that accursed mage always got in my way. Not tonight. Tonight there will be no one to save you." The contradiction between that cheerful voice and the menacing meaning of those words, which Emi fully realised even in her dumbstruck state, made chills of terror run down her spine.

Emi closed her eyes tight, shutting out the horror before her. This has to be a nightmare. Wake up already! True enough, this feeling of panic and unreal were very much like in a nightmare. And yet...

The abomination was still behind the glass, looking at her with those remorseless eyes.

Having confirmed that this was indeed reality, Emi's survival instinct kicked in. With a lump in her throat, heartbeat thundering in her ears, she sprung into action. She opened the seat belt and scrambled out from the door on other side of the car. She knew very well she had no chance of outrunning the creature, but Emi wasn't the type to give up without trying.

"As much as I enjoy a good chase," she heard the oni say, "I have no time for such now." The next moment, something warm and serpentine wrapped around Emi's waist and pulled her back towards the car – and the monster. Another of those things wrapped around her ankles, and together they raised her in the air. She heard the clacking sound again, and felt the oni moving while carrying her with its... tentacles?

She struggled with all her might, but the tentacles held her firmly. So tight, in fact, that she was having trouble breathing. The oni walked in front of the car and dragged Emi before him, finally turning her so that they were face to face. Its breath reeked of something Emi couldn't name. She stared at those black eyes with horror, unable to comprehend how a creature like this could even exist outside nightmares.

The creature studied her in the light of the car's headlights. "Well, well. Not only are you full of power, you are also very beautiful. It makes me happy that the one whose power will help me rise to the highest of stations is someone like you. And under such a fine full moon, too."

Untouched by the marvel in its eyes, Emi continued to struggle. "Help! Somebody help! HEEEELP!" Knowing full well that with Morishita dead, there was no one to hear her voice in this area, she nevertheless cried at the top of her lungs.

Suddenly she felt the tentacles loosen up, and she fell on the hard asphalt with her bare feet first, then losing her balance, falling on her backside. Confused, she stopped shouting and blinked through her tears as the oni took two steps back. Then it extended its muscular arm towards her, the predator's claws glinting in the light, and started chanting something.

The ground beneath her started glowing red, or to be more exact, a pattern on the ground started glowing. There was a circle around her, and within it some weird squiggles that looked kind of like Arabic text.

I've got to get out of here! Her instincts screamed danger. She scrambled on her knees and started to crawl away... but it was too late. The spell was finished before she could get out of the circle, and as the oni finished its chant and the magic circle flashed one more time, something hit her. It felt kind of like being submerged in icy water, but on all sides at once, and it only lasted a second.

Once again she was grabbed by tentacles, but this time four of them, each wrapping around one of her limbs. Once again she was pulled before this creature of nightmares who studied her with such fascination. Like a child poking a suffering animal with a stick, oblivious to the pain he was causing.

Taking great care not to damage her skin, the oni took a hold of the front of her dress and ripped into the fabric with its claws. After one efficient downward slash, it finished the job by pulling the front of the dress apart with ease, then pushing it down her arms so that her upper body was completely exposed. Her bra was also quickly disposed of, and suddenly Emi was half-naked before the oni's molesting gaze.

"You are holding up quite well. Every other human I've taken so far has been begging for mercy by now, some have even wet themselves." Emi glared at him with all the hatred she could muster – and right now, that was a rather substantial amount. But there was nothing she could do against such overwhelming physical strength.

She could practically feel the growing lust in those black eyes as they drank in the sight of her naked body. The oni ran its fingers all over her bare skin, gently caressing, touching her breasts, her nipples. Shivering, but not for the night chill, she struggled with the last of her waning strength. Her breath was getting heavy, and somehow blood seemed to be rushing into her head, making her feel weird, making thinking difficult.

Why... Why am I so sensitive suddenly? Completely against her will, her body was responding to the touch of this horrible creature with rising pleasure unlike anything she'd ever felt before.It has to be... nh... that spell he put on me.

"...Ah!" The oni rubbed her groin with one of his tentacles, and a stifled moan escaped her mouth despite her best effort to hold it. She didn't want to give this disgusting thing the satisfaction of hearing her moan, but the surge of pleasure that shot through her entire body at the touch was unbelievable.

What does it want with me? Emi wondered as her attacker easily ripped off her stockings and panties. She couldn't believe it'd go this far just to rape her. Of course, it was probably going to kill her afterwards, but that didn't seem like its main goal either. Thinking was getting difficult, her heart was pumping like crazy, and it felt like every nerve in her body was sending signals of pleasure. Her mind was drowning.

Slowly, savouring the moment, the oni slid his fingers from her chest all the way down to her groin, tenderly touching her clit. Another moan escaped through her clenched teeth. A tear rolled down from the corner of her eye.

The creature smiled. "You feel it, don't you? The curse is spreading. You'll feel even better soon." Curse? Right, the spell that made her feel like every part of her body was a sensitive erogenous zone. Why was such a thing necessary? To humiliate her?

He lowered his head between her legs, and then she felt the caressing touch of something wet, soft and pleasantly rough. The pleasure that shot up her spine was even more powerful than before, it made her whole body tense up and her back curve. It took all she had to not make a sound. But Emi knew she was already wet down there, and she was panting. Before she realised, a drop of salive ran down her cheek. It was utterly embarrassing, but such concerns were quickly losing weight in her confused mind.

"Ah... Haah..." Her whole body was trembling, as the oni's wriggling tongue invaded her insides. She felt hot, so hot. In an unwittingly erotic motion, she licked her dry lips. She was nearing her climax, she could feel it. The part in her mind that remained defiant tried to turn her attention to something calming, like the chilly night wind. But it was useless, the curse was too strong.

Just as she was getting close, the creature pulled away. "Shall I put it in?" he asked. Oh, she wanted it so bad. Her hips were aching for it, her whole body was begging for a release. But her will wasn't quite dead yet. His smug grin reawakened her defiance.

"Go... to hell..." she panted, glaring at the oni, though at this point she was unable to put any strength behind the words. Blood rushed in her central body, but she was losing the feeling from her hands and feet, and losing the strength to even struggle. He shut her up by merely touching her once, forcing her to close her eyes and clench her teeth just to hold back another moan.

The oni put its huge hand on her breast, a gentle caressing touch that made her body tremble in pleasure. Suddenly he pinched her hardened nipple, and the sudden combination of pain and pleasure made her body jolt and tense up.

"IYAAH!" she cried out, her hips trembling. She could feel the climax approaching. Just a little more... just a little more...

"Ready or not, here I come!" the oni declared joyfully. The tentacles moved her closer to him, and through her tears Emi could the large, hard thing protruding from under the fur loincloth. She shivered thoroughly at the thought of having it thrust inside her. What little remained of her thinking mind was horrified, horrified of the coming pain and indignity. But her traitorous body was twitching in anticipation.

"No..." It touched her, it was going to go in, it was-

"Sword of Darkness, Blade of Death..." Her eyes started open. She heard a new voice. A strong voice, and unbelievably cold. Instantly, both Emi and the demon were seeking the source of the voice.

"...pierce my enemy and take his life..." On the roof of the car, there stood the slim figure of a man. Dressed in a white shirt, sharp eyes glaring under eyeglasses, wind playing with his long fringe. Emi's heart skipped a beat.

"Dourakusen!" She heard a strange sound, and then she felt drops of some warm liquid hitting her stomach. Emi could not tear her eyes away from the figure outlined against the full moon, but even in her muddled state of mind, she instinctively knew that the liquid on her skin was blood belonging to the dying oni. Time seemed to slow down. The tentacles slowly released her, and then she was falling. She heard the weird sound repeated four more times, but still her eyes were captivated by the man. He made no move, he just stood there, said those mystic words, and glowered at the oni. Emi had never seen those eyes so angry, so frightening, and yet, she had never been so glad to see them.

For she knew the man. In a moment of clarity, a single thought flashed brilliantly, undeniably, in her mind:

So cool...!

As the demon fell – a mass of flesh, blood, broken bones and black swords – Peak fell on her bottom next to it. On the hard, rough asphalt. She didn't make a sound, even flinch, as if she couldn't feel the pain. Noboru jumped off the car, absently noting the bloody body inside.

It was a gory, but mesmerising and strangelty arousing, scene. Next to the bloody mess, a naked girl of unsurpassed, fey-like beauty. The remains of a once-fine, plae blue dress hanging from her slender arms. Her perfect breast stained in bemon blood. Her long blonde hair an unkempt mess. Her eyes, those lovely brown eyes, usually so composed, were now clouded and confused.

"Are you alright?" Noboru asked, calmly approaching her. Well, of course she wasn't all right, no one would be after that.

"So close... I was so close..." she muttered, one hand on her chest, the other snaking to her groin, but not to cover it. Though she was looking in his direction, her eyes were oddly unfocused, as if she was drugged.

The demon must have put her under some kind of a spell, Noboru concluded, though I can't for the life of me understand why. He was now right beside her, and about to help her up, but then she suddenly gripped his shirt and pulled him down on one knee. Frozen in surprise, he watched as she drew close and looked up at him, pleadingly.

"Help me..." she whispered, desperately fingering herself. Noboru wasn't sure whether it was her rational mind seeking help against whatever the spell that gripped her, or if she was asking him to help her... well, get off.

The temptation to follow the latter interpretation was suprisingly strong. Here she was, the princess of the school, everyone's idol, the most beautiful girl Noboru know, on her knees before him. Naked.

But the moment of temptation was short-lived. The next moment he felt bottomless scorn for himself. He felt anger rise within him once again. Anger at himself for his despicable thoughts and failure to arrive sooner. But more than that, anger at the demon scum who had done this to her. The low-life had brought down to this sorry state a dignified woman who had Noboru's highest respect. He almost wished he'd taken the time and effort to kill it slowly and painfully.

Gently, with an expression far kinder than he even realised, he brushed aside strands of her silky hair and placed his hand on her feverish forehead. "Don't worry, I'll help you. But now, you should sleep. Fall into gentle sleep, Hinaeru!"

As the girl fell in the embrace of deep, magic-induced sleep, Noboru wrapped her in his blazer and carried her off the road. Though it was late and this was a relatively low-traffic road, it was a miracle that no other car had happened on the scene yet. Maybe the demon had done something to keep others away, though Noboru doubted he had such power. Regardless, it was only a matter of time before someone would come.

"Guess I have to clean up a little..."