When I woke up it was as if yesterday was a dream. Well to say dream would be a bit of an understatement. Yesterday just felt a hundred percent unreal. Giant bugs, baseball bat becoming a sword, and spewing fire from said sword to kill said bugs...yeah unreal would be a fit description.

It was unreal to the point where even as I tried to sleep last night, to push the memories to the side and think of peaceful things, my mind would continue to ponder on it. As I was laying down last night I ran every detail through my mind, from when I entered the park to when I met the man Tamotsu. After that was blank, as if I walked back to my apartment in a daze.

When I fell asleep I had no clue but when I woke up I felt drained. Even getting out of bed took effort and it wasn't until a long soak in the bathtub with scolding (full blast as my tolerance to heat was even higher now) hot water and enough food to fead five armies that I was able to even move well.

After I was able to move I decided to test my powers. The result...was that I now needed a new rug. The moment I touched my bat I felt a shiver run down my spine and lightning course through me, and then a gentle heat that spread throughout my body and made me feel at peace.

After that I discovered that to activate it all I needed to do was call out the name of the blade and imagine it in my head.


Once activated a surge of power coursed through me, giving my body what felt like an adrenaline rush on steroids a thousand fold. It would be easy enough to take on any normal human without the powers but with them...it wouldn't be a contest. With them I knew that even compared to Daisuke my powers seemed to be stronger yet I felt that he would still win, if only due to expereince.

I really need to leave the house if I want to practice with my powers...

As that thought left my head I looked at the clock to find that it was nearly seven am, around the time that Hajime Knott left his apartment...yeah good idea, some normality would be welcomed.

"Just feel like I should ask but...why am I here?"

"Because I'm feeling lonely and grateful damn it! Just shut up and eat the cheeseburger!"

He sighed and looked down at the cheap cheeseburger, "I'm more into chicken sandwiches myself."

"Hey how come they aren't called chickenburgers?"

"Which one sounds good and which one sounds like you'll eat it and be unsure of if it was safe or not?"


"Thought so."

That being said however he opened up the cheeseburger and began to place French fries on top of it, dousing it in ketchup afterwards. I frowned at that but could not help but be intrigued.

"Does…Does that make it better?"

He shrugged, "I think it does, adds some salt or crunch to it. I do the same with sandwiches but usually with chips unless it's chicken. Next time you have a deli club or something throw in some potato chips, trust me."

"Ah, so it has the Hajime Stamp of Approval?"

Hajime bowed his head, "Why yes it does. I promise you that it will make the sandwich superior by tenfold."

I clapped, bothering the few employees behind the counter of the RecDonalds, "I hope that someday I shall be as smart as you to do such a thing!"

"Seina in the few minutes worth of time that I've met you I've come to the conclusion that you are a sarcastic tomboyish woman who probably watches more romance shows or movies than what she'd like to admit."

I paused, staring into Hajime's beautiful eyes, "How…How…what?"

He raised an eyebrow, "Wait did I get that right?"

"I shall invoke my right of silence."

"Which is just a way to say 'why yes you got it right but I shall not allow you to know you are', correct?"


"Thought so."

Hajime Knott leaned forward in his seat as he began to eat his French fried stuffed cheeseburger. It was silent as the two of us ate, the only sound that pierced that silence was the quiet chewing of our mouths. In minutes however the two of us both finished.

"So lonely how?"

I nodded but didn't feel like continuing.

"Boyfriend dump you?"

"I'll have you know that I never once have had a boyfriend.

"Ah sorry."

"Not something you need to apologize for."

"So girlfriend dump you?"

I blushed at that, "No!"

"Oh? Say it like a bad thing why don't you? Wait so when I said boyfriend you said you've never had one but when I say girlfriend you just said no...does that mean you actually have one?"

"N-No! I-It's not a bad thing but I'm…I am interested in guys damn it…what are you trying to make a girl say, you pervert!"

He shrugged and leaned forward, making me even more aware of his presence, " Not sure that makes me a pervert but I'll just let that pass for now. So I suppose if you won't tell me why you're lonely then I'll ask instead why grateful?"

"I'm allowing a fool like you to enjoy the presence of a beautiful maiden like myself."

"Trust me when I say that I have not once ever thought of you as a maiden."

"Ah then you have thought of me as beautiful then?"

"Would you like a lie or honest answer?"

"Preferably honest but if it'll turn all flirty then lie."

"So you assume that I'll say yes?"

"If you don't I'll kick you."

"You are right in your assumption, you are quite beautiful."

I nodded, "Good boy."

Wonder if he actually meant that.

"So tell me why you're lonely."

I looked up at him, "I d-" I paused as I looked into his eyes, his fierce yet kind eyes, "You are unfairly handsome damn it."

"I'll have you know that that isn't the first time I've been told."


"I'm lonely because I…I don't really know what to do. I met this guy a couple days ago and…wait why am I talking to you about this?"

"Because I'm probably the only person you know that won't be biased?"

Try the only person who is normal...can't exactly go to Nidaime for this, the Kaki Group may be good but they're still a gang and I only know Kaede-chan besides them...not counting Daisuke and Tamotsu.

"Ah that's why. Alright like I was saying I met this guy and his…stepfather found out that I was strong and now wants us to help him with a job but the job could be dangerous and doesn't pay well…I guess is how I should describe it."

"This is all hypothetical isn't it?"

"It is."

"Couldn't come up with a better analogy?"

"I'm running on fumes damn it and coffee isn't doing shit, hence my secret reason three for having you here."

Hell the shower and food only made it possible to walk without wanting to curl up and cry.

"Company of a handsome man to wake you up?"

"Company of an annoying handsome man to wake me up."

He leaned back, taking a quick drink of his clear soda, "Does this new job interest you?"

"Yes but…if I take it I feel like there will never be another option for me." I groaned and leaned back, rubbing my forehead, "If I'm being completely honest then…I'm actually scared."

"Why do you cut your hair short?"


I frowned but answered anyways, "Because I wanted to, no use trying to make it pretty after all, I don't need to impress anybody."

"Really now? I was expecting you to say that it was easier in a fight."

"Well…I'd be lying if that wasn't a reason."

He nodded, "And what do you do when you're scared? Do you fight or flight?"

I didn't even need to think about, "Fight of course."

"So why not do what you've always done? Go fight."

"It's not that simple."

"Why not?" I looked at him and he smirked, "Life is only ever as complicated as you make it out yourself. A friend of mine told me that once."

"Wise sounding friend."

"I'll do my best to tell them you thought so." He shook his head and looked at his phone, "I really should get going. I'll pay you back someday for the sandwich."

He got up and began to walk away but before he could I jumped from my seat and run up to him. He paused and turned his head to look over his shoulder down at me and I smiled right back up.

"Thank you for your advise the other day! It really really helped out!"

He frowned, clearly not remembering what I meant, and then a look of realization crossed his face and he smiled.

"Well then...I'm glad." And with that said he was gone, leaving me in the all but empty fast food restaurant.

"Wonder how many boys she's seeing."

I frowned and turned to glare at the cashier who had to have whispered that but decided not to comment. Instead I turned to sit back down and drink the rest of my drink but paused when I noticed that, on a napkin, was a series of numbers written in pen.

Why did he give me his number? And...when did he write that?

Looking back I don't know why it was that I pulled Hajime Knott off the streets while he was lost once again. I, in a daze, was walking around the island when I caught sight of him looking at a map. Next thing I realized I was dragging him towards the RecDonalds while others watched on the sidelines.

Sure he was going to be even later and get in even more trouble with the teachers but I had the feeling he didn't care. Either that or he had very good excuses. I wasn't worried.

I would be lying if I said that I did not feel better about talking to him. I don't know what is was about him but talking to Hajime, the few times that I had, always made me feel refreshed. I would also be lying if I said that I wasn't attracted to him, and I would be lying if I said that I was happy about that.

Wonder if that makes me "easy" like they say? I'm actually kind of glad he gave me his number...never know when I might need to call him.

But I knew it probably wasn't the best idea to ask what he thought of the situation, even if my hypothetical question was worded poorly he could still get in trouble with that Tamotsu guy.

Thinking of that man made a chill run down my spine. While I was able to practice a bit with my powers at home and had my bat with me, in a bag against my back, I knew that he would be able to beat me easily. Easily being an understatement of course...just from the speed he showed I knew that I wouldn't even see him coming.

I had called Kaede-chan who had taken a day off of school, something that surprised me since her step-father never allowed that. I had never met him but from looking and talking to Kaede-chan I could tell just what type of man he was. Rude, strict, and for some reason I thought that he had to be a creep but I was sure that was just me trying to understand why Kaede-chan did her best to never let me in the house.

She had told me on the phone that she would meet me an hour before we'd go to the river to talk. However in the mean time we would be come to a decision ourselves before meeting up.

And that's where I found myself now, standing at the very spot where I had come to realize that another world even existed.

My boulder was gone, the clearing itself covered in a pitch black ash, and no evidence at all that something had happened. I had watched the news last night yet I had not seen anything about a fire, or even something about the three girls.

I knew…knew that I should have reached out to the Kaki Group, told them that they were dead but…how could I explain it all? I couldn't. No, even as smart as I am I knew that there was no way to fully explain it all without having it point to a mystery killer.

"It smells…smells like ozone…I suppose that with his speed and the smell from the time that his power could only be lightning."

"You're right."

I turned, not surprised to see Daisuke leaning against a tree and looking down at the ground, hands in his pockets, "You've seen it?"

He nodded, "Three years ago on one of my first jobs. It was a job much like this really. A few girls, middle school, disappeared and were taken to a sewage area. I couldn't find them in time but when I finally got on their trail the Horde had began to mutate and devour each other…I suppose in reality I shouldn't be telling you this but I have the feeling you need to know this."

I nodded, "That stage that last one was at…it was mutating into a stronger creature I take it?"

"Yes. Once they take in enough lifeforce energy they begin to mutate. The Horde is a stage three creature. Stage one is a mosquito like existence called a Larva, it's harmless and unnoticeable but can be killed easily with the slightest change in temperature. Stage two is more like a beetle, called Shell, that takes time to mutate and take in lifeforce from animals but rarely humans. Then they become a Horde, even a single one can kill a human but they can populate and create other Hordes within minutes. And after that…when they begin to mutate they devour other Hordes and become the stage four Denizen called Shadow. Shadows are the most powerful Denizens, even one is more powerful than myself. We rank them as Master strength, me I'm at Apprentice, Tamotsu is ranked as Master."

I frowned, "Denizens? Rank? Master? Apprentice? Who exactly ranks you?"

He shrugged, "We don't truly know for sure but there's an organization out there that has been around since medieval times that issues out orders and information in secret. They ever only contact Master Ranks like Tamotsu however. As for Denizens well that's what we call them."

"Denizen, an inhabitant or occupant of a particular place. So where exactly do they come from?"

"I'll let Tamotsu explain that but for now I'll tell you the rest of my story, that is unless you don't want to hear it."

I nodded and he continued from where he left off.

"I had never seen it before but they devoured each other…and mutated into a single Shadow. I barely escape in my life but Tamotsu appeared, in a flash of light, and killed the Shadow with a single swipe of his hand. It was terrifying…it made me wonder if I was supposed to be scared of the Shadow or of him but it was then that I found out that Tamotsu is actually a good man. He told me that he used to be a high ranking soldier before he awakened and that he wanted to protect people. He comes off as rude yeah but he was the one who saved me from my old life."

"Old life?"

Only after I had asked had I realized just how personal a question that was. Yet he answered, not by speaking but by taking the collar of his shirt and pulling it down.

On his neck was an ugly long scar, jagged and pale white. It had to have been done by something dull and it had to have been deep, how he survived it was nothing but a miracle.

"My last gift from my parents. Maybe someday I'll tell you the whole story...when we're friends."

I didn't know what to say. How could I? How could anyone? I wondered briefly what his parents had been like, to scar their own child but...If there was something that could push a parent to do such a thing then I wanted nothing to do with it.

"He told me that most Soul Blades have a rough life, one way or another. Even said most Soul Blades who don't die from Denizens end up offing themselves soon after awakening. I doubt that thought is even going through your head though isn't it?"

I didn't have to answer and he smirked at me, a smirk that looked almost sad, "Thought so."

He turned around the tree and was gone, I couldn't even feel his presence anymore.

I looked up at the gray sky, "Why would I think about that…when there's somebody counting on me?"

I met Kaede-chan at the river, around a mile down from where I was supposed to meet Tamotsu. She looked solemn, which for her was not rare but never to the point where even her eyes lost their shine.

Yes my shy, happy Kaede-chan had her moments of seriousness. Mostly when dealing with my academic future, or lack of one. However never had I seen her as serious looking as I did now. From the circumstances we were in however I didn't exactly blame her, we were pretty much threatened by a man who could move at the speed of lightning and blow up our boulder, something that I think didn't take him any effort.

"Ohayou Kaede-chan!"

"It's afternoon..."

I laughed and plomped down next to her, still however she did not lose her serious appearance. Frowning I reached up and poked her cheek, hoping to at least get a small smile from her.

She returned my poke with a single raised eyebrow and sighed, "Seina-chan...why are you so calm?"

"Because freaking out won't help anything...and I need answers."

"Answers? What questions do you have that only...that only that m-man can answer?"

"What are Denizens, what are Soul Blades. Why do they exist, how do they exist? How am I one. Things like that."

"D-Denizens?! Where did you hear that word?"

"Oh yeah that's what they are called, those things from last night, they're called Denizens. It's their race. Daisuke told me when I saw him earlier." I rubbed my neck, "He also told me those things can get stronger...with hope I don't see what that is though, just thinking of one of those Horde things is scary enough."

She was silent, only staring at the river that was flowing slighty faster than normal despite the lack of wind.

"He also said that Tamotsu was able to beat the evolved Horde, something that Daisuke called a Shadow, with a single hit. I wonder how strong that guy really is..."

"Why...why do you want to fight?"

"Why? Well...because I really don't have any other choice."

"We could leave! We could leave this island and live happily! Together!"

Opening my mouth I was prepared to tell her otherwise but before I could I thought of what it would be like...if I agreed.

We could live together, maybe abroad in Europe? We'd learn English, we'd travel, we'd enjoy life. There wouldn't be any fighting, any bloodshed, we would be alive.


But what of those creatures? It would be naive of me to believe that they wouldn't be around us. No, now that we knew of their existence I had the feeling that we would know of their presence. How could we live...when something so horrid was so close?

Caring is what got my parents and sister dead and I didn't care to follow them any time soon.

I had said those words out of fear of dying, dying when I had not accomplished anything. Now I could fight, train myself to become stronger, to make sure that my island was peaceful.

Since the death of my family there had not been another homicide on the island, and to this day that rang true. The death of the three girls was something different, something that I felt could not be labeled by the laws of natural world.

Daughter ripped to shreds, right lung missing, ribs shattered into a dust, lower body soaked with blood and...bodily fluids.

Mother pulled, pulled, apart by multiple assailants. Jaw missing, multiple organs missing, throat was crushed.

Father was the only body left whole. Large blade wounds to his chest, Achilles tendons, and spine. Several chunks of flesh missing from his body, implies cannibalistic acts.

No, even their deaths...to blame it on something like those Horde creatures would be too easy, too convenient. Besides, having fought those Horde creatures I could tell that they could not inflict the type of force possible to shatter bones or almost cut a man in two as my father had been.

Could I really leave and allow someone else to suffer that hell? Their family killed in such a brutal way, no closure? No the people who killed my family were, most likely, still out there somewhere. I couldn't just say due to the nature of their deaths that it was a Denizen, even if I wanted to believe it to have some hope that humanity couldn't fall so low.

But...no, focus on the present. Even if it was a Denizen then it was probably long gone, or else others would have surely died as well.

"Kaede-chan...I'll protect you so...so you don't have to worry...continue with your life as it is, you know me I've never wanted a normal life anyways. I always ditched class, hell I fish in the middle of town. Nothing about me is normal so this works out fine..."

As I was talking a subtle static began to ring in my head and I felt my hands grow warm.

So I can use my powers without my weapon? Good to know.

"I...I..." She gaped and turned away from me, her shoulders shaking and small hiccups escaping her lips as I knew she tried to hold in tears.

Yet, while I knew I should have been consoling her, I looked on silently as I knew that anything I had to say would be fuel to the fire.

So instead I sat and watched as my best friend was reduced to tears, all by a decision I was making. She wouldn't, couldn't, fight and I could not just run away. So would we be separated? Would she allow Tamotsu to relocate her?

"K-" Before I could even say her name she jumped to her feet and ran away, at a speed that left me even in awe.

I...I want to chase you...but...I want to fight...I want to protect...does that make me selfish?

"Well that seemed emotional."

Tamotsu sat next to me, a comfortable distance to my right, and didn't look any different than when we had first met. No...around his neck hung a silver necklace, a blue lightning bolt charm hanging from the middle about three inches long.

Daisuke's hammer was in a bracelet wasn't it? And mine is in a bat...his is a necklace?

"So, shall I ask the question, or should I talk first?"

"That's already a question."

"Oh god are you a smart ass? Please tell me you aren't a smart ass, I don't think I can handle a smart ass!"

"Oh god you think you're funny..."

He gave a small chuckle but didn't reply, instead staring straight into the river. He stayed like that for some time, long enough for me to calm myself down from Kaede-chan leaving.

Finally, after a painful silence, he spoke again, "I lived here you know...when I was younger. Went to school and everything, had friends, the normal shit like that. I was a soldier too, for a short while at least. I was on my first tour when it happened. Denizens...a gate just opened right there, right in the middle of our camp..."

"Why are you telling me this?"

He shrugged, "Same reason I tell anyone. To show you that being a soul blade isn't sunshine and lolipops. Around one in every two hundred people is a Soul Blade, the majority of which commit suicide before they awaken or when they do. Those who don't kill themselves don't tend to live past thirty, and that's if they're lucky enough to even reach twenty."

"Those things, Denizens, what are they?"

"Just as what they sound like, they are inhabitants of a place. That place just happens to be on another plain of existence. Denizens appear from Gates, these green walls that makes you feel like vomiting just looking at them. There have been Soul Blades who have tried to go through to discover what's on the other side...of course they are all presumed dead."

"Doesn't that make it sound like they're being sent? If they're appearing from gates couldn't it be that something could be sending them? Daisuke told me they have ranks, couldn't it be possible that those Horde things are just like worker ants?"

Another shrug and he continued, "The most common are Horde, Shadows are rare. They adapt with the times actually. A long time ago they used to...well they used to be dragon like creatures if you can believe that. Later on they resembled large bipedal animals, or what they call werewolves I suppose. Now they're humanoid creatures. But Hordes have always been bug like."

Dragons? Really? Well I suppose that could explain the amount of dragon mythology.

"They seek out lifeforce, it's their bread and butter. For Hordes they consume as much lifeforce as possible before they begin to mutate. The amount you killed yesterday would amount to a quarter needed to create one Shadow. Shadows are powerful by themselves, well at least until you get to my level. Dealing with them in groups is even harder." He reached into his coat and pulled out a small metal flask, "This belonged to a powerful Soul Blade I knew, trained me. He could wipe out entire leagues of Shadows like it was nothing. Yet he was still killed in the line of duty...it's been ten years and they still don't know how he died."

"What was his name?"

He shook his head and I knew that he wouldn't, couldn't, speak the man's name. He returned the flask into his coat and sighed.

"But the truth is...is that we don't deal with just Denizens. Denizens are simple creatures ruled by bloodlust and without any intelligence. It's the Fallen you have to watch out for."


He nodded and rolled up his sleeve to show a massive scar, much like the scars some shark attack survivors have, "It's just like it sounds like really. Powerful Soul Blades who have fallen in battle and are devoured by Denizens. Their life force overpowers the Denizens and they become a hybrid existence. In the end nothing of their former life is left. I've only ran into one before and if it wasn't for my teacher I would have been devoured. If you're lucky you will never come across one. They're a rare existence and only a few have ever been documented in all of history."

I frowned, confused, "So if you were killed and devoured you would become a Fallen?"

"No...I'd probably need to be twice as strong as I am now for that to even have more than a one percent chance of happening. To my knowledge there are only two Soul Blades stronger than me, both of them not exactly the social type mind you." He groaned and scratched his head, "I've met one of them once, around a year back now. He didn't give his name but he was called Crimson, just because of the amount of red the guy wore. Didn't talk much either and came off as rude...but from what I've heard from other Soul Blades he's seen around the world destroying gates so I suppose he's a good enough guy. But to become a Fallen I'm sure you would need to be at their level at the very least."

So Soul Blades do have a network then. From what Daisuke said I figured they'd have a weaker system due to their secrecy but it seems stable enough. I wonder how they contact each other anyways, cell phones?

"You're telling a lot of things to someone who hasn't told her answer."

He laughed loudly, "No you have. You wouldn't have let your friend run away otherwise. I may seem stupid but I'm smart."

Speaking of intelligence.

"About that I have a question. Are Soul Blades enhanced? I've realized their strength may be but their brains as well?"

It would explain a few things about how I've always been stronger than most and smarter too.

"No...Soul Blades aren't enhanced until they awaken. And when they do they don't gain a raised level of intelligence merely a raised level of perception." He stood up and grabbed his necklace, the moment he did I felt every hair on my arms stand straight and a sense of emptiness fill my gut.

This feeling...it's feeling his power...his weapon isn't out yet I still feel his power, he really is powerful isn't he?

"So now you only have on one question to answer...do you want me to teach you how to fight?"

I would love to say that I went to the Kaki Group in person and told them that I had checked out the rooftop but if I did well…I'd be lying now wouldn't I? No, I called Nidaime and left a message on his machine stating that there was nothing at the scene and that the trail went cold. Sure it'd mean they'd think the killer or killers were still out there but I knew that they weren't. Even if they thought they were still alive the fact that they were already dead would not change, so I was willing to keep that knowledge from them.

I would also love to say that I went to Kaede's house but then I'd be lying. No I went to the one place on this island that I never go back to, not since ten years ago.

Bright Star Elementary School was the name of the abandoned school that closed down after a brutal murder, the only recorder murder on the island before the three children. A mother, father, and their ten year old daughter were found on the school courtyard all but ripped to shreds.

Daughter ripped to shreds, right lung missing, ribs shattered into a dust, lower body soaked with blood and bodily fluids.

Mother ripped apart by multiple assailants. Jaw missing, multiple organs missing, throat was crushed.

Father was the only body left whole, figure speaking. Large blade wounds to his chest, Achilles tendons, and spine. Several chunks of flesh missing from his body, implies cannibalistic acts.

The words from the case files made it appear so...impersonal, cold.

Yes, this was the school that my sister had went to, where I had gone to, and where my family was killed. It was here that shaped my life into what it was now. I often asked myself would it have been different if I was there, if maybe me being there would have changed anything. But no...I knew better. I would have died along with them and it would have been the end of a bloodline.

While I didn't exactly ever plan on having children having my bloodline end so soon would sadden me...even if I was dead.

It was the nature of their deaths that made me pause now, could it have been a denizen? I was doubtful yet I wanted to, really wanted to, believe that it was a denizen that had killed my family.

Humans could be cruel, crueler than any other species on the planet. Yet I just wanted to believe that it was a denizen.

If it was true though, and that there had been a Denizen here, then what happened after it killed my family? Did some Soul Blade come in and kill it, to leave soon after? Tamotsu had taken care of both Kaede-chan and Daisuke after they had awakened and their families were killed. So why not me? Why was I left to rot?

"Honey we'll be right back Hinata left her backpack at school so do you think you can stick around here and watch the house for us? It'll only be a second."

"I-I'm big and strong daddy! I make sure no bad guys get in!"

He had smiled and patted my head before standing up, towering over me, "You sure are! I bet in just a few years you'll be so strong you won't need your old man anymore huh?"

Just the thought had brought tears pooling up in my eyes and I screamed out at him as quickly as I could, "No! I love daddy and I always need daddy!"

He grinned and flicked my forehead lightly, "Well then guess that means I just need to get stronger huh? I need to go but hey tell you what, I won't tell mommy this but while you wait why not go grab that baseball bat you love and wait for us to get back?"

I sat on the couch, my three year old self, cuddling that baseball bat for hours upon hours. It was when I saw the sirens outside of the window that I got scared. I remembered crying, screaming for my father and mother to come and make things feel safe again.

They never came.

Since then I had never even been near my old school. I thought that if I did the smell of my family's blood would still be there, that I would hear their screams as they were torn apart…if not for the red-stained cement I would never have thought anything even happened here.

When I was older and after I had made contact with the Kaki Group I was able to get a hold of the case file, with the pictures of the scene. I could still picture them perfectly, such to the point that when I was looking at the courtyard there were moments that my memory of the pictures overshadowed what I was actually seeing.

It had to have been a Denizen, for I hoped that only something so inhumane was not done by a human, and a part of me wanted the one who had killed them to be alive, all so that I could kill it myself. A part of me wanted that…but I knew better. That had been ten years ago, if such a thing was still alive then how many more had suffered because of it? Did it mutate like that Horde had almost, like the one that Daisuke had told me about?

"The Hannibal Ripper that rocked Gunkanjima has disappeared and all trails have gone cold, leaving the island in a state of fear and unrest."

Trails gone cold was just a nice way to say that there had never been any. Only signs of a struggle was seen in the bodies.

Exactly like the three girls. They were seen entering an alley, never exiting. They disappeared without a trail.

Was it common for Denizens to be able to disappear, not leaving any tracks for people to follow? How then did the Soul Blades track them? When did they first begin to fight them? What was the history? I want to know how it all began, would Tomatsu be able to teach me? Would he even know? And who is it that ranks them, why even have the ranks to begin with?

Knowing that nothing would come of me staying here I turned to leave. I had been here long enough, time to leave.

"You won't change anything."

I froze. The hairs on my arms stood up and I felt my body grow cold as where I knew I had been hot since awakening. As I turned my head I felt sweat forming and I knew from the feeling of lightness in my arms and feet that I was experiencing something that I hadn't even experienced yesterday.

Yesterday I had felt anger unlike any that I had ever experienced. When I thought Kaede-chan had died I felt hopelessness. When I used Vesta I felt power.

Now I felt fear.

There stood a man; tall and lanky, as pale as snow, with hair darker than any abyss.

There stood a man; with eyes as red as blood and a long scar marring his face from his left eye to the bottom right of his chin.

There stood a man; with clothes that belonged to a reaper, black cloth that covered all but his face and tattered as if thousands of years old.

There stood a man...with the presence of the devil.

"You can try as much as you want, bark as loud as you can, but at the end of it all nothing will change."

His voice was deep, gritty, and cold.

I could only stare in fear at this man who filled me with more fear than anything I had ever experienced.

Must leave! Need to leave! Run!

Yet my legs would not move. I could not breathe, could not speak.

The man took a look at the school where I had done the same, as if he could see the crime scene like I could. As if he could still see my family's shredded remains littering the yard.

"But you are intriguing, I will grant you that." The man spoke as he then turned his gaze back to me, "At the end of this you will look back and despair at your pointless struggles, when you do I await your answer."


He nodded and nodded his head to the school, "Yes, the answer to my question from many times ago. The answer that you have spoken to me before time and time again. When the time arrives the answer will leave your lips and all will start again. And then we will meet, as we have as always, and once again the question will be asked and answered."

Meet as we always have?

I tried to force myself to ask him questions; what did he mean, when have we met, what is he, and why do I fear him so much...but my mouth would not open, my lips would not move. My once word to him, my one question, seemed as if it had taken all of my strength to speak.

And then, as I tried to force my mouth to move and mustered the willpower not to cry, he vanished as if he was never there to begin with. Vanished in a wisp of dark green vapor that smelled of rotten flesh.

I stared for several moments, what felt like hours, at the spot where the man had stood. When I first regained any form of sanity I realized that I had fallen to my knees, my legs weightless to me.


Gulping I tried to force myself to stand, to run, but my legs would not, could not, stop shaking. The fear still gripped my heart. It was as if the devil himself had appeared in front of me.

Who...was that man...who spoke as if we met?

No! Not as if...his words...there's something in his words...the way he spoke...condescending. He was humiliating me, speaking to me as if I was a mere worm and he was god himself.

Many time ago...that's what he said. Not a long time ago, or in the past. No he said many times ago...many. When he says time he doesn't mean years...no from the way he made it sound it was if I had been asked a question and answered it several times, dozens.

I would remember, definitely remember, meeting that man...so are there gaps in my memory or something else?

"Try not to be surprised"

My eyes widened and my shaking stopped, "When was I told that?" I shook my head, "No I heard it before when Nidaime showed me the tape...but who told me that?"

"Thank you for the advice!"

"Just what...is going on?"

Next Day

"First acknowledge that Vesta is an extension of your soul. When you use your powers you're baring your soul, the strength of which depends on your own inner strength. When you awakened you were able to fully use your powers because, like I said, it is an extension of your own soul. It doesn't make you a master and it will take time to get used to but at the moment I'd say that you were just as powerful or more powerful that Daisuke."

Moments passed before Tamotsu spoke up again, "Seina are you even listening to me?"

I nodded.

"Then what did I just say?"

"You said, and I quote, "First acknowledge that Vesta is an extension of your soul. When you use your powers you're baring your soul, the strength of which depends on your own inner strength. When you awakened you were able to fully use your powers because, like I said, it is an extension of your own soul. It doesn't make you a master and it will take time to get used to but at the moment I'd say that you were just as powerful or more powerful that Daisuke." That about right, Tamotsu?"

He blinked down at me from where he stood, "Okay...so you were listening, though next time feel free to word it differently. That memory of yours is pretty freaky."

I hate it at times trust me.

"So what's second?"

He gave a groan and summoned his own weapon, his blue spear coming to life in his hands effortlessly, "That would be to remember your own limitations. If your stamina is shit how can you expect to last against the denizens? What about your speed, power, and skills? Denizens may lack intelligence but they don't tire and they only get stronger with time. So if possible try to avoid a direct attack. Assassination is the key many times."

"Many times ago"

"Did you say something?"

I frowned and looked up to meet his eyes, "No sorry, continue on."

Must have spoken out loud...I'll try to avoid that in the future.

The two of us stood in the middle of the area where my boulder once stood, the smell of ozone now mixed with my own smell of smoke and ashes. We had met here early in the morning around five. If I was being honest I'd admit that having to miss my, what seemed to be daily, meeting with Hajime on his way to school made me sad.

I don't like him or anything...I just want that normalcy in my life...and he's a great distraction. And with what happened yesterday a distraction is what I desperately need.

It had taken me much longer than I'd like to admit to return to my house. And even then the shaking had not stopped until I curled up in my bed under the blankets and immersed myself in the memories of the past and fantasies of the future.

I tried to remember happy moments with my family but when I quickly ran out I tried to think of Kaede-chan. That too quickly became depressing when I remembered our last meeting. Daisuke briefing visited my imagination but him being a Soul Blade brought me back to the reality of it. Hell Nidaime did as well but I almost blamed him showing me that video that got me aware of it all...even though I would've visited the boulder anyways.

Thus I thought of Hajime. Doing so allowed me to remember that he gave me his number and that I wanted to try putting fries in my burger.

Oh wait he said chips mostly unless it's chicken, so many fries work better with chicken sandwiches? Next time I take him to RecDonalds I'll try that out. Maybe I'll call him once I'm done training here. Wait then I'll be all sweaty...

"-so I'll be teaching you how to manifest your powers in different ways. You have power but you need to think outside the box. Take Daisuke's power for instance-"

I shook my head, the distraction having worked too well that it resulted in me having not heard anything Tamotsu was saying. So despite me not wanting to I tried to think of what that man had said as well as what I had vaguely remembered.

Try not to be surprised...just who told me that? Have I heard it watching television? In passing? Maybe I read it before in a manga or something...I heard it when Nidaime was showing me that tape, someone's voice popped into my mind and spoke it but...but I can't remember who. There must be gaps in my memory.

"-so try to picture flames beneath your feet, that'll give you a boost of speed and if you master it you could probably even fly. Well either that or you could manifest your willpower but that takes years."


"Manifest willpower?"

He nodded and raised his left hand, pointing to the side to a tree, "Okay so if this was a game I'd say willpower would be MP or if we were all wizards I'd say it'd be mana. Basically it's your soul at it's deepest level, without the influence of your Soul Blade."

"But the way you make it sound if it's a part of your soul or your soul at it's base levels then wouldn't using it shorten your life?"

He shook his head, "No no no, see souls are infinite. Souls are intangible energy within the human subconscious locked away deep within themselves. An experienced Soul Blade could use it to fly or even attack. And the same is said for the Soul Blade weapon itself. It may be an extension of your Soul but if it is broken then you won't die, it'll hurt but you won't die."

I nodded and took this information in and then looked at where he was pointing once again, not seeing anything new.

"Why are you pointing anyways? What does that tree have to do with manifesting willpower?"

He frowned and looked at his hand before laughing, "Oh! Ha yeah sorry about that...meant to show you what I meant...well looky looky then."

Before I could wonder what it would look like a pale blue ball appeared in front of his index finger and quickly flew forward. The small ball, smaller than a golf ball, easily pierced through the tree and, from the sound of it, pierced a few more trees as well.

Okay did he just seriously shoot out a ki blast? Are there balls that grant wishes now too?!

"If you train it well enough then your willpower can make up for what your Soul Blade power lacks. Your powers are for attacking mainly but with willpower you could add powerful defense as well, and with boosting your speed like I told you you could become an all around fighter."

"So a jack-of-all-trades?"

He shook his head, "If you train right then you'd definitely would be able to become a king-of-all-trades."

Well don't think I've heard that before.

"How long did it take you to master that?"


So hasn't mastered that yet then huh?

Sighing under my breath I gave a wonder to just how large the gap between him and the two more powerful Soul Blades were. As it was the gap between us was already an ocean, so what about the gap between him and the Crimson man that he spoke of.

"So how long did it take you to be able to use it like you did?"

"Ten years. My teacher taught me from the moment I awakened and after he died I can't seem to train it as much as I used to. Nowadays I mostly rely on my Soul Blade power, Raijin. Like you saw the other day it posses quite the bit of speed."

You appeared from out of nowhere, killed the Horde mutation, and landed on top of your spear all within less than a second. If your power is lightning then that means you can move at 3,700 miles per second...or does his entire body become lightning and move faster?

"And my power isn't the most suited for groups. For me fighting Shadows are easier than fighting Hordes. Shadows rarely group together so I can focus on them easier, Hordes are all over the place and with their poison it gets annoying. That being said their poison shouldn't bother you too much anymore, you could probably just burn it off."

Well hopefully I don't come across any Hordes again for a while to try that out...

"Well Denizens are somewhat rare I guess to begin with. They're especially rare in areas of major populations. Too much pollution there, sullies the lifeforce. Soul Blades are more common there and they're put to work. Though they all tend to be pretty weak in terms of power and ability. Soul Blades like you and Daisuke are rare."

"From what you told me yesterday I thought that most Soul Blades kill themselves?"

"They do. The ones that don't are put to work though. Paid decently as well. Daisuke for example is working under me."

"But who pays you all? Who gives the orders?"

He absentmindedly twirled the spear around in his hand, the spear blurring together to form a large circle, "I'm afraid that I can't tell you. Only high ranking Soul Blades get to speak to them directly, and by that I mean by hearing them, all orders given to lower ranks are through us higher ranks or through messengers. And even then I don't even know where their location is."

"So they call you up and tell you where to go and you just do it? Seems weird to me."

"The pay helps...but they give directions to those of us without any purpose. It may be a fucked up life but it's my life. The others feel the same as well, plus those lucky ones get to sit around getting paid without doing anything. Sounds like the dream life huh?"

Somehow I think deep down inside you are a lazy man wishing to come out. Can't blame you though that does sound appealing.

Still that's weird, what happens to those who awaken and don't wish to fight? Are they really left alone and forgotten by the system?

"Now for the next five hours we're going to spar. Well I say spar but in reality it's just going to be you chasing me around trying to hit me once. If you're able to even get close to hitting me at full speed then I'd definitely say you aren't as weak as I think you are."

So Soul Blades like Daisuke and me are rare but he still thinks we're weak? Asshat.

"What are you waiting for? Begin!"