In a position trying desperately to keep her modesty intact, Otsune’s hand felt a tempo beating beneath her breast. Increasing in speed, it was all she could feel as her body refused to move. She felt trapped. Her glasses were left in the changing room, her eyes displaying her surroundings blurred, the remaining four senses enough to tell her the truth lying naked in front of her, as equally naked as it was unequally woman.
“Who the hell are you?” she shouted at the top of her voice directly at the intruder. Mentally she tried to stay calm. Situations like these were best controlled by keeping your aggressor unbalanced. Screaming may look like an emotive response. But it changed the game that was being played, even if that game was apparently the intruder attempting to go back to sleep. Not willing to take any crap from him, she stood up, lifted her fist and began to lunge forward, her fist flying at high speed towards the now unconscious boy.
It didn’t matter apparently. The boy vanished as her fist hit rock. Clearly the weaker substance of the two, sharp pain erupted from her knuckles as they collapsed into the stone before her, adding to the bruises already self-inflicted earlier that day. It lifted back up of its own accord. Her hand screamed at her, causing her to respond in kind.
Her mystery opponent had jumped about seven feet away from the her, landing on a rock at the edge of the water. He seemed ready for a fight, a fist just in front of his head and the other arm in front of his chest. Then, just as sudden, he dropped his hands.
“Hey calm down,” he called over to her, waving more than just his hands in her direction. “All I asked for was for you to save my place.” Looking towards the floor of the pool, she swore she could feel the blood rushing through her temples. She just wanted a peaceful day. A nice, relaxing day to just fall into the Springs for a few hours- even ten minutes would have been nice. Now there was a guy in the pool. This was the last thing they needed. If rumours of a man here got out, it would like be confirming all the stupid townspeoples’ paranoid rumours. It was something like this being exactly why she was trying to convince Gen to sell off in the first place.
She was reminded in the bluntest possible way that he was naked.
“What’s wrong?” he asked calmly.
“Help!” she shouted again. “Somebody, help!”
“Why?” he asked, looking round. “What’s wrong?”
With a clatter of footsteps on the wooden floor, out rushed Natoko and Fujiko, two of her fellow residents. The second wasn’t the best to see come out as Fujiko, the resident girl who prided herself on gossip, would blab by accident if she wasn’t careful, and with half the internet knowing by sunset if she were careful.
Natoko though was perhaps the most helpful person to appear at this moment. Upon seeing the man, Natoko charged forwards, the water unable to stain even the bottom of her hakama dress. She rose to meet the intruder, katana blade unsheathing in one silent stroke.
Striking downwards, Natoko’s blade stuck the air in front of the boy’s forehead, looking to leave a nice cleave there. Trying his best to lean to the left, the blade slicing down without him, the intruder was just able to dodge by a fraction, the sharpened edge appearing to nick a few strands of hair, before getting his hand on the hilt of the sword and slamming Natoko forwards. Poor momentum, padded clothing, slippery floor, the girl couldn’t stop herself.
The boy took advantage of this situation immediately, his left foot slipping under her right, it pushed upwards, causing the girl to further lose her balance as her weight was used against her, her polished steel swinging wildly in the tight clutch of her hand as she began to fall back. Not yet finished, he grabbed the inside of her wrist, punching her sword hand with his other, knuckles against knuckles, flesh against flesh. With a sharp piercing cry her sword dropped to the floor, even as her body readjusted its balance and remained on both feet, be it one step back. Seeing her eyes following the blade, as if a hand had been cut off, his fist slammed into her stomach, causing a brutal cough to surge from her throat, taking her to the floor of the springs.
The intruder stopped immediately, standing up straight and quickly backing off.
“Ah, sorry sorry sorry,” he quickly apologized. “Forgot I wasn’t at home. Mom told me not to attack people around here.” He extended a hand to her, waiting patiently for her to accept it, the scowl on her face saying that may take some time. Wanting to help, Otsune stood as far back as possible, too afraid to approach the intruder, a force clearly to be reckoned with and preferably shot at long distance. He looked towards them, and she almost fell back at his serene face. She went to say something, maybe to scream at him again, when she was interrupted by a foot.
Turning out of reflex, the smallest slight redirecting his attention, the intruder must have felt regret at doing so as a small, dark-skinned girl wearing a loose grey shirt and baggy black trousers directed her foot into the limp jaw where the back of his neck had been a second. Head twisting, his body went with it, the force of the attack carrying on through him and throwing him into the water, the attacker landing in the spring at the same time his face did.
“Aki?” Otsune questioned the girl’s sudden appearance, forgetting temporarily who she was talking about. The young African girl specialized in being unexpected, appearing without warning to strike and annoy as only she could, only to quickly return to where she was. She seemed impossible sometimes.
“You leave Natoko alone!” the girl shouted, her accent exploding with immature anger. The boy was looking at her the same way most people did when their mother shot them, blood dripping from his lips, looking to it like he had never seen it before, watching it pour down his chin and into the water, diluting within the murky liquid.
“But she attacked me first, I did nothing wrong,” he explained, his voice still sounding bright and careful, causing Aki’s face to drop back almost instantly, as she had realized the truth of the situation. Otsune felt her face cringe, jolting her neck at the same time. Aki would believe him as well.
“Done nothing wrong? You were staring at me in the nude,” Otsune interjected. Her voice trembled at the end there, her mind quickly deciding to omit the parts that would have given him a semi-decent right to watch. The intruder looked shocked for a moment, and his blinking seemed to shake his entire head. “Huh? I was sleeping. You were the one who sat by me, remember? You started saying stuff and I mumbled. Then there was an urge for juice, and I think I fell asleep.”
Aki was helping Natoko stand up.
“That’s because I couldn’t see who you were,” Otsune’s argued back across the water, her anger justifiably high in her opinion. “And you were so obviously not sleeping, you were just pretending so you could get a look? You’re just a trespassing pervert!”
“But why would I even want to look at you naked?”
Otsune went to answer, but Fujiko’s sniggers stopped her. Her eyes still showing her the boy blurred. She felt a growl coming on. It actually felt like he seemed honestly confused at her anger. This was stupid. He had been naked in their pool of all things! Her thoughts stopping again, she quickly realized that he was still naked and turned; hiding her eyes from the blurred mosaic he had no intention of covering up.
“What are you doing here?” Fujiko asked beside her, now standing besides her friend with a towel and trying to sound like she was in control. “This is private property-well…sort of.”
“Oh that, I was invited by…”
“Liar!” Otsune interrupted, her anger flaring, not allowing him a chance to explain. Give anyone a chance to explain and they’ll rationalize anything. “You’re just another pervert. Aki. Keep him here while I call the police.” Turning, she made her way towards the entrance where her clothes, and more importantly, her glasses were. Aki pulled her fist back, more than happy to follow orders.
“I was invited by my cousin,” the boy shouted, making sure he was heard. “My name is Sagara Futabatei.” Everyone in the pool froze, Otsune turned back, looking at him in shock as, five feet away from them, the fence collapsed with a small detonation that boomed through the vicinity, a whirring sound tearing into the whole conversation as the DoomWheel tore into the pool.
Gasping loudly as she turned towards the even newer interruption, Otsune’s mind threatened to break upon itself. She just wanted a quiet afternoon! Then she got an intruder thrown in her face and now… now she wasn’t exactly sure what she was looking at.
It looked like a giant wheel, but with ancient, rusted hubcaps and tires that belonged on monster trucks. Spiky protrusions stuck out of every direction possible, some with bits of wood and metal hanging off of them, implying that a fence and lamp post had felt its wrath.
“Ah, there you are,” Sagara said, now completely ignoring those around him. “I’ve been looking for you. Well, not completely.”
“And I have been waiting!” the giant wheel said, with a voice that demanded respect despite the fact it was coming out of rubber. It somehow reminded Otsune of an ear test that she had decided she didn’t need to go to. “Your pursuit of me has not been very active, Demon Hunter. The time I have had to wait for you to wake up is insulting.”
“Sorry,” the original intruder apologized with a nervous grin. “But Hot Springs are so nice. You should join us before we try to kill each other.”
In response to the invitation, the giant spiked tire only swore, before spinning on the spot like a buzzsaw. Otsune’s brain failed to figure out how it was doing it, watching the spikes scratching the same area of rock over and over again as it sped up. It was revving, but common knowledge told her it was the gearbox that did that, not the wheel. A spinning wheel should still travel!
She felt Fujiko slowly back off behind her, pulling her arm to urge her to do the same. Natoko was standing back up, looking like she was about to slowly slide up to her friends, but ended up rolling over to catch her sword instead. The roll looked forced and, as she stood up, she held her free hand to her stomach, breathing heavily. With a mighty roar of an engine (which considering the lack of a car didn’t make sense either!) the giant tire sped forwards, screeching as it sent water flying in all directions.
The intruder just stood there, waiting with a smile on his face that looked like it wanted to become roadkill.
Then he was gone, the tire crashing over him and crushing him before Otsune could even see him disappear. Turning with a squeal, Otsune kept to the side, years of cartoons telling her that running straight back would only lead to doom.
But that was when the screeching stopped.
Her leg felt like it had landed in cement, her entire body stiffening as she turned back round to see what had caused the monster to stop, but there was only Natoko, standing right in front of it, her sword jammed below one of the spikes.
“What is this?” the machine shouted angrily, its invisible engine revving a few times. “What are you?”
“I will not permit any danger to my friends,” the girl muttered weakly, her breathing still haggard from the punch. Despite the scene in front of her, Otsune could only find herself thinking how, if her friend was able to stop this, an event surely impossible in itself, then how could the boy, who had just been a bug on a windshield, be so easily stopped.
Then she saw the boy.
Standing perfectly still- and not at all like a bloody stain for that matter, the boy’s smile seemed to hit harder than the fact he was still here. His hands now clutching what looked to be a beautiful piece of silk, Otsune’s eyes followed until she realized the long piece of rope had punched a hole through both the rusted hubcaps, streaming firmly through the middle of the monster and out the other end to where Sagara held onto it.
“Why couldn’t you have shown up in private?” the boy called Sagara said shouting loudly for the wheel to hear him over the noise. “You’re making me break the rules here.” It growled, trying to spin again, but unable to, both Natoko and the intruder jamming it. Water splashed violently throughout the spring, lightly showering most of the people there, but the intruder only looked like he enjoying it. He waited for the monster to stop revving, the engine now panting as it ground to a halt again, before looking over to Natoko. “Could you get out of the way please?”
“What?” Natoko muttered, looking pissed that the intruder was even daring to speak to her.
“It’s already defeated. It just needs to fall apart,” he explained, like a teacher telling a student they had forgotten their bag. Natoko looked forwards, looking a little unsure of whether she could let go without it crushing her, before quickly skimming off to the side, her sword the last thing to leave it.
From twelve o’clock to three o’clock, the wheel screamed as a quarter of its upper body just broke off, Otsune realizing for the first time that the silky cord had actually roped itself around the wheel twice and in different directions. Not speeding on as it looked like it might, the strange contraption rolled forwards once, before trapping itself in its gap, its innards falling out of the empty space, a mix of needless cogs and springs tat looked like they couldn’t possibly be the buoyancy the tire needed to continue being a tire.
“Is it broke?” Fujiko asked, when the deafening crash subsided.
“Are we broke?” Otsune mumbled off hand. “It’s beginning to feel like that.”
“It can’t die like that,” the intruder explained, the strangely silky rope now completely gone. “You can’t kill a demon properly in this realm, you can only break the connection it’s made to the object, destroy the connection of the kotodama.”
Otsune glanced to Fujiko, to see that the girl had the same expression that must have been on her own face, before turning back to the boy, who had muttered something about waking him up later, before crashing back down into the pool. “Who on earth are you?” she screamed at him. “Wait no, I don’t care about that. What was that thing? And that rope you have. How did it fall apart? And where did the laws of physics go?” Before anyone could answer, a high-pitched squeal resonated from the other side of the springs, turning all heads to the doorway where another young girl stood. Dressed in her regular hoodie, Sakura stared at the boy, an innocent look of horror plastered over her face as she stared at the naked intruder.
Late. Late. Running late. The sooner I’m there, the better. Sooner I’m there, the sooner I can ask.
But i can’t reveal myself here.
Crap! Right. Need to ask elsewhere. Where? The InBetween Realm. That’s the only safe place.
Need to get him there. Can’t just ask.
Need to get him there uninjured.
How do I do that?
Everyone had quickly moved to the foyer, partly because it was the nearest open space in the hotel from the Hot Springs, and partly so they could kick the intruder out as fast as possible once it had been decided that they should. Sagara was now fully dressed and not embarrassing the impressionable young children around him. He was still soaked, as the girls had not allowed him the usual allocated time required to dry one’s self, instead throwing his clothes at him and insisting he do it whilst still in the Hot spring, before pushing him into the changing rooms. They had also barely given him any time to put his clothes back on, not wanting to risk the chance that he would just run away. Although Fujiko had pointed out that the best way to prevent him running away would be to not have let him get dressed at all, none of the others seemed too keen with this suggestion.
Otsune had been allowed the allocated time to dry herself and was currently in another room doing so. The girl he had punched was currently sitting opposite him, her arms folded, staring at him with an intensely grim look on her face, her sword held against her shoulder. It probably wasn’t helping his position much that he was staring right back at her with the same grin upon his face that he had when he hit her. Aki was doing nothing now to conceal her presence, as she tried her best to distract Natoko without actually getting in her friend’s field of view.
The small black haired girl whom he had made such a memorable first impression on was sitting quietly on her own on a separate chair, mainly looking down at the floor, but with an occasional glance in Sagara’s direction.
“So…you’re a demon hunter?” Fujiko asked him in a ‘so much conversation happened when you weren’t looking’ sort of way, sitting with her feet on the table, thus preventing his most obvious escape route long enough for the others to stop him.
“Demon hunting ninja,” Sagara corrected.
“As you say,” Fujiko agreed naturally. “And that thing was a demon?”
“Not the tire,” he corrected. “The tire had just been warped by the long term effects of a Possession of Kotodama, but the demon was controlling it.”
“Ah, of course,” Fujiko said, with a loud air of sarcasm. Fifteen seconds clicked loudly on the clock, before she realized he hadn’t noticed. “What the Possession of Kotodama?”
“You don’t know?” he asked back, looking confused.
“Well,” he started to explain. “You know how everything has a voice, right?”
“Oh…” he said, clearly surprised. “Well, everything does have a voice, although I guess humans can’t hear them.” He took a moment to process his own statement. “And the demons hijack that voice, gaining the right of possession over the object. And, over time, it can deform the object and do what it wants with it, often going around to perform acts of evil, in this case, making challenges to strong warriors and then humiliating them.” He paused again. “Though I guess it didn’t get chance to do that this time. Normally it would use the item to make its mark on the human world, usually through acts of evil. I think this one was based on pride or something like that. Do you know what pride is? Tell me if I’m confusing you.” Fujiko remained staring at the interrogatee for a moment, nodding her head in time to his words, before turning to the others with defeat on her face.
“Help,” she whimpered, but no one responded. No one knew exactly how to. Their first thought had been to call the police, but calling attention to such a scene would probably cause more problems than the ones they were currently suffering.
“What are we going to do about the tire?” a sixteen year old called Junko pointed out, scrutinizing the newcomer like he was a badly created piece of art. She had passed by the scene just minutes after it had happened, and was suffering the obvious cognitive difficulties involved in seeing a massive pile of rubber, springs and cogs. “It’s too big for any of us to pick up.”
“And it’s in the Hot Springs…”
Silence reigned a peaceful dictatorship for a few moment, only Aki still moving about, still trying to annoy her friend.
“Oi you,” the intruder said without warning, catching everybody’s’ attention. “Sorry.” The apology was so bland and unexpected, that it seemed to take a moment for Natoko to realize he was talking to her. The response she gave could only be considered a growl. Standing up impassively, she secured her sword in her belt, before turning around and walking away, leaving out of the main entrance as another girl entered it. Sagara looked around a little confused, waving his head side to side, like he was trying to figure something out.
“Hey, Tina!” Aki called out, as she ran past the girl coming in, following Natoko out of the room. “Ew, you stink.”
Fujiko coughed in response to this, her hand covering her mouth. “Oh, she’s right, girl. Where the hell have you been?”
Tina, a ginger haired girl who wasn’t Japanese, possibly German, but irrelevant to the main storyline nonetheless, looked down at the floor, frowning for a second. “I…I fell into the lake.”
“You got pushed again?” Fujiko nearly shouted, now standing up and giving Sagara the opportunity to rush for freedom, which he didn’t do. “You have got to show me these people sometime, girl.”
“No, no, really, I just…”
“I can’t believe some of the people around here,” she said as she approached the girl, getting two feet away from her before lurching back. “You don’t treat foreigners like this. You shouldn’t treat anyone like this…”
“It’s okay, Fujiko,” Tina tried to say reassuringly, convincing no one. “I just need to wash up and then…” Her eyes darted to Fujiko’s side and she quickly followed out of the room, her bag full of clanking glass as she did so.
“What? She hasn’t bought more perfume, has she?” Junko exclaimed, as she caught sight of the disappearing bag.
The point became mute as Otsune entered the room, along with the landlord of the dormitory, looking around vaguely confused. Otsune was strangely calmer now, almost appearing giddy at being able to get rid of Sagara as soon as possible.
“This is the guy,” she said, indicating Sagara. “He claims he’s your cousin, so you should know him right?”
“I haven’t seen my cousin in years, so…” but he was cut off as the girl pushed him in front of the intruder, who stared at him like he was a giant pillow made out of hamsters.
“I don’t know you,” Sagara stated, Otsune’s face instantly curling up into a grimace at the intruder’s own confession.
“I’m…” Gen stuttered, eyes darting around like he wasn’t sure he should say anything or not, “Futabatei Gen.”
“Oh,” Sagara said, his face brightening up as he fumbled in his pocket. “Here.” Passing him a letter, Sagara backed off, giving the feeling it would explain everything.
As Gen went to open it, the letter tried with all its might not to let him. There was no way it was going to let a weakling like this beat it, and it resisted with all it might to stop the massive finger from ripping open its glue trapped confines. But try as it might, there was no way for the paper to prevent the fact that it was a lifeless inanimate object, and it tore apart accordingly. Inside was a letter.
It’s your aunt. How are you? Would like to say it’s nice to see you but unfortunately I am talking through the interdimensional fabric known as a sheet of paper, so I can’t. Your mother tells me that you somehow inherited the old hotel. I guess your grandmother must have realized that it was the place where you had the most fun as a child, so yeah, congratulations on that. Be careful, that old place has a trick or two to it. There’s also possibly some booby traps and sealed demons still lying around j/k lol. Remember. Demons don’t exist.
There’s a family get together in the works, but in MHO, it won’t happen for a year, since no one can really be bothered with scrounging up travel money. We might end up invading the hotel if need be, but we’ll give you some warning in advance. Until then, I hope to see you soon. TTYL
P.S- Do you have e-mail or Messenger. ?f so, my account’s email@example.com I’m really getting into at the moment, so I’ll be on all the time
P.P.S- Sagara should be coming over next week.
“Well…” Gen said as he finished reading the letter that Sagara had handed him. “That’s my aunt’s signature. I remember it from the Christmas card last year.”
“Very well,” Otsune replied, sounding dejected. “Wait. She signed a Christmas card?’
“Well,” he muttered. “Yeah.”
“I guess that means he is your cousin?” the student asked rhetorically, her own head just above Gen’s shoulder.
“I suppose so,” Gen replied, looking over the letter irksomely, as if there were supposed to be something else on it. “At least, I assume so. She…barely mentions him…” His head shot up, his face doing its best to brighten itself, like a match that was about to go out. “Long time no see then, it’s been about ten years since we last saw each other here.”
“One of us cheated at cards the last time we met.”
Gen failed to suppress a nervous smile. “Er, we did?”
“No. Only one of us,” continued Sagara. “Anyway, I’m staying in Japan for the next few weeks so I can…”
“Shut up,” Otsune interrupted with a harsh shout. “Why did you lie to us?”
“What?” came in Gen. “When did he lie?”
“He said,” Otsune thrust her face towards Sagara’s, “that you had invited him over to stay.” She turned to Gen. “Yet you didn’t recognize him. Why did he lie?”
“Because you were being scary at me,” Sagara explained. “You would have kicked me out if I had said I was just here to see him, so I said he had invited me to stay indoors. It’s taken me ages to get here, and sleeping in streets gets people poking me and stuff late at night.”
“See, Miss Tsunade?” Gen said. “His explanation is reasonable, he would have to go on the streets again.” This stuck in Gen’s head for a few seconds, and his brain waited patiently as the landlord absorbed the information. “You’ve been living on the Streets?”
“Bet you a hundred he’s just a hobo,” Fujiko commented to Sakura.
“Yeah,” Sagara said with a small smile. “Mom didn’t give me much money. She wanted me to learn how to survive without relying on her or the family. The Initiation Ceremony of the Enforcer of the Balance or something. Anyway, the plane trip here sucked out all of my cash funds, so I had to walk from the airport to your parent’s house. It took about five days and I ended up missing the bridge on the first day and going in the wrong direction. And then I found you were here. Your parents were kind enough to pay for the taxi from there to here. That’s a point, I should tell them I’m here. Can I use the phone?”
“You missed the bridge?” Otsune muttered. “But it’s right by the airport.”
“Sure,” stuttered Gen, still going over in his mind what Sagara must have been through. “Actually,” he interrupted as Sagara picked up the reception phone. “Why don’t I show you to your room first? There’s plenty to spare. Then we can get you some food. You can call my parents later.”
Sagara stomach rumbled at this like a deep rumbling sound that would have come from his stomach, was he very hungry, which he currently was.
Otsune followed, more curious than suspicious of the boy now. The possibility that he was just stupid rather than a pervert had become more probable, though the childish part of her mind was also playing with the idea that he might be some kind of perverted evil genius that used this act in order to get off being caught. If this was the case, they were all in grave danger.
“Hey,” Gen started. “Why are you here anyhow? You didn’t get to say.”
“Oh yeah,” Sagara replied, only just remembering himself. “I’m going to a martial arts tournament being held in the city.”
“Huh? You came all this way just to see a tournament?” his cousin replied confused.
“To enter,” he quickly corrected. “Well, it’s not in the city as such, but I need to go there to register.”
“Are you even any good?” Otsune asked, apparently amused.
“I beat your friend, didn’t I?” He pointed out, still with a smile on his face. “What was her name?”
“Natoko,” Otsune answered. “But you got your ass kicked by Aki. She’s not skilled at all. She’s just hyper.”
“These things happen, plus I was in the Hot Springs.” Otsune stared at him again, not quite sure how this was a factor in the subject. Gen spoke up during the silence.
“But still, coming all the way to Japan, just for a tournament?”
“Well, I have ninja stuff to do as well,” Sagara admitted, lowering his voice a little as he said it. It sounded like he was joking.
“Yeah,” Sagara said, before moving his mouth closer to Gen’s ear. “I’m not supposed to tell anyone this, but you’re family,” he whispered, apparently forgetting Otsune. “You see, I’m a demon hunting ninja on a quest and I have to go to this tournament to handle them ‘as I see fit’.” Gen just laughed nervously, Sagara quickly joining him, but for different reasons. Behind them and able to hear everything, Otsune mused to herself whether or not she should tell Gen about the giant tire that now inhabited the hot springs.
As Sagara was led to his new room, where he would then test the room for pushups potential, Yamanaka Natoko stood directly above him on the roof of the Dormitory’s East Wing, sword unsheathed and pointing in front of her. Swining the blade again and again, its polished edge coming back down in front of her each time, she exhaled violently, trying to release her frustrations with each strike. Each stroke cleaner than the last, almost as if a cleaning lady was polishing the blade with each stroke, each time just avoiding mutilation, which was good since she couldn’t afford the medical bills. The seventeen year old never wavered, trying to focus on everything and nothing at the same time, even as her emotions took up all her attention.
It had been her first fight.
Her first proper fight. Not a kata duel, nor a sparring session, not even a tournament duel or scaring off some bratty punk that had tried to get more than friendly with any of the residents since the new landlord arrived. A proper, real life fighting situation, where some stranger had intruded and was attacking her friends.
And she lost.
Not just lost, but utterly beaten. Her reactions had been good. She hadn’t hesitated in the slightest. She judged the situation, determined the interloper’s intentions, the distance between and the initiative of attack. She even had a sword. Everything should have been right.
Yet he did one better. She cursed herself- him as well. Didn’t she already get past the transition from dojo to street? Didn’t she understand real life situations, and how they were different from the training? She thought she would be ready, yet she wasn’t. He cheated and took advantage of her slight slip when she landed in the water. It was a cowardly tactic, but it had worked. If she was supposed to be a proper swordswoman, she should have been above such cheap tricks.
She didn’t care about the demon, save for him taking the victory when she had the win. It was the image of the boy that kept popping up in front of her, and she imagined herself cleaving him in half each time with her beloved Iziz. The thoughts of her sword caused her to pause for one moment. That was the worst bit of all. He had disarmed her, not only leaving her defenseless, but away from Iziz, her life and blade. No one saw it as she rolled to pick it up, but she felt the embarrassment of scrambling towards it as fast as possible, like a child crawling for its favourite toy. She had faded out of everyone’s sight, and now the boy was the center of attention.
It wasn’t jealously, she told herself, as she began swinging again. It was rage, pouring through her body like boiling liquid. To think that that creature could install itself a place in the dorm as fast as that. It was one thing to have the new landlord being male. He inherited the place, it wasn’t entirely his choice, but to have a boy beat her, kick her when she was down and then ask for a room, was totally unforgivable. Wasn’t she supposed to be the guardian of this place?
Train hard for now, she decided. Tonight and tomorrow, the entire day at school had been spent doing nothing, so there should be no excuse for tardiness. Then, she would challenge him again. If she won, she would take his tournament ticket and have him thrown out of the dormitory. That was justice.
Above her, something came to mind, a presence. Looking up and expecting Aki, a drop of water splashed directly into her eye. As she recoiled from the liquid, more drops followed as a massive downpour started its assault on the dormitory. She looked back up, her Hakama starting to lose its mass in the rain.
The rain felt like it was burning reaching into her. Suddenly, she felt something, striking through her brain and pushing through, a face screaming profanity at her as the weight of her body doubled in seconds, bringing her to her knees. She tried to resist, her mental faculties awash as this strange, sudden sensation. She coughed and cried without realising, the torrential downpour distracting all of her senses.
But it did not matter, and she ignored this harmless attack upon her fort. She stood up, feeling suddenly refreshed , even in the dry summer’s night.
Natoko continued her training, her strikes continuing with a little extra zeal behind them. Tomorrow would be a good day. She would remove the vermin from her home. She would protect her friends from his lecherous advances. She would humiliate him. She would kill him.