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“Kuzuha isn’t here”, I automatically lied.
“I know. Even the Komyo clan can’t do anything to the Shinoda clan without concrete evidence. Although she was alarmed by me, she couldn’t stop her freeloading foreigner jumping into the mouth of a shark. Did I say the mouth of a shark? I should have said the mouth of a fox.”
While speaking, Haruaki slowly stepped closer to me.
“I’ve set up a magical barrier around here. No one can come in unless I allow them to do so. Remember, no one will come to your rescue no matter how much you scream. I’ve been biding my time, waiting for you to be alone, Kiriya Coleman.”
“You should stop running your mouth, asshole.”
“Oh, I will stop talking. Instead, I can just crush each of your teeth.”
I saw Haruaki pull out a special extendable baton, the kind used by Japanese police officers.
“Why are you targeting me?”
Instead of answering, Haruaki brandished the baton. It cut through the air with a whizzing sound. I would be lucky to only lose my teeth with one swing of that thing.
“Who are you?” I ask again.
“I’m the current head of the Shinoda clan. The only genuine successor of the Shikigami invokers in Japan, and –”
“The fiancé of Kuzuha Komyo.”
Omiai is a Japanese traditional custom conducted by parents to introduce their son or daughter to a desirable future partner. The omiai between Kuzuha and Haruaki had a strategic purpose: to unite two Shikigami invoker clans that had been in conflict for a long time.
The history of Shikigami invokers has been dominated by two main clans. One is the Komyo clan, which uses their power for public welfare, and the other is the Shinoda clan, which serves even criminals for their own benefit. However, the Shinodas suddenly declared that they would work for public safety, with the hidden intention of monopolizing the Shikigami business in Japan. Utilizing information, technology, and the internet, the Shinoda clan cunningly assimilated their craft to gain trust, and finally reached a position to offer a peace-making plan of betrothing the two heirs. The ruthless intention of the Shinoda clan was actually to abolish the Komyo invokers by erasing them one by one after the families have merged.
However, Haruaki’s personality was too short-tempered for such a time-consuming plan and he ended up interrogating Kuzuha on their very first meeting for the Omiai.
“Show me the Ryusei Sword and tell me where the Hokuto Wheel is this instant. I know you know where it is.”
Kuzuha didn’t reply and kept her silence. Haruaki made no effort to hide his irritation.
“You’ll be mine soon enough. Women belong to men after marriage. You might as well give everything you own to me now.”
“You aren’t good enough to receive fear and exclusion from the common people.”
Haruaki tried grabbing Kuzuha by the collar, but she threw him across the floor. He quickly picked himself up and was poised for battle with a baton in hand. Kuzuha ignored him and left the room. There was no need to fight, she thought, as surely he would refuse the marriage proposal.
He glanced at the kimono-clad porcelain doll on display in the room. The doll is a Hakata doll, named after the town it’s made in. Haruaki paid the beauty of the doll no mind and crushed it into pieces with his baton.
“The Ryusei Sword, Kiriya Coleman! The Hokuto Wheel! Those are the source of power for us Shikigami invokers. Our Shinoda clan will have the power to conquer this country when we have these two holy relics! Ryusei- the shooting star! Hokuto- the Big Dipper! The Komyo clan act like the government’s servants, but we’ll control them!”
Intoxicated in his own self-absorption, Haruaki continued to shout in my face.
“Kuzuha definitely has the Ryusei Sword. I’ve been struggling to locate the Hokuto Wheel as it’s been missing for quite a while now. But a little birdie told me that you have it. What a surprise!”
“Well, hand it over.”
I don’t have a clue what this Hokuto Wheel thing is, but I know what I should say now.
“You should try… looking…”
“Where, tell me now!”
“Up your asshole, asshole!”
Haruaki swung his baton towards my head with full force. I jumped back. The baton whoosed past my face just a hair’s width away.
“Come!” Haruaki barked.
On his order, a group of figures came towards us. They were the Judo club members who I was talking to in the changing room earlier. They all had glowing green eyes and vacant facial expressions, unaware of their own actions.
“I think it’s time to practice your skills before the Kinshuki tournament. I don’t care if you strangle him to death or break his neck. No one will stop you. Do whatever you want.”
Every member of the Judo club launched into an attack on me all at once. I found myself strangely calm. I had my daily Aikido with Kuzuha to thank for that… She taught me that Aikido is a martial art which turns the attackers’ power against them. The most important thing in Aikido is to not be afraid of your opponent. She told me to memorize the following words: “If you know the enemy and you know yourself—”
“You shall not fear a hundred battles,” I spoke the latter part aloud like a mantra.
I fended off a tackle made by one of them and throw him with a foot sweep. The other grabbed me by the collar and I let him pull my body. He lost his balance because he expected me to resist, and I pushed him onto the floor. I’m no UFC fighter not an Aikido expert like Kuzuha, so I didn launch on anyone who was only defending themselves. Kuzuha told me if that if I ever had the chance to run away from a battle, then I should do so.
An obnoxious laugh announced that Haruaki was at my side. He folds his baton and puts between the sash of his yukata.
“You did well, Mr. Gaijin.”
“Tell me, do you know why us Shinodas are superior to the Komyos?”
I ignored his question; I had no interest at all in his arrogant ramblings. He tapped his temple with his finger.
“The difference is right here. We use our brains and they don’t. They are stupidly naïve. You know what? If evil spirits are so powerful, why should we struggle with them? Why not tame them and use them as a weapon?”
Haruaki’s nimble fingers began to swiftly form Shikigami finger signs.
“We set evil spirits under our control on humans, you see. We then offer to exorcise the spirits and they pay us! It’s a great way to make easy money.”
A mandala formed with luminous green lines appeared in the air. It rotated slowly and a hole to another world opened in the center.
“Kurokuda fox, come out.”
A gigantic fox emerged. It was the same one which attacked me in the manga world.
Go to Shikigami Girl Chapter 8: The Hokuto Wheel→
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