Outside Hospital, Hachioji - 6th of March 19:58
“And what exactly would you be willing to pay for those powers?” I ask.
She turns to face me. “Why the sudden change in heart?”
“If I walk away, you’ll disregard everything I’ve said and walk to your death.” I tell her. “But with my guidance, you’ll have a fighting chance to at least save your friend.”
“So you’ll make me stronger?” She asks.
“Depends.” I answer. “If you can make it worth my time.”
“What do you want?”
“Beginner’s mistake.” I state. “I’ll overlook it this time. Never let someone else decide your price for you. That will only end badly in our world.”
“But I have no idea what you want.” She complains. “How am I supposed to bargain when I have nothing to offer?”
“How about this then?” I pocket my hand. “Once your training has started, I can demand one thing from you. Regardless of what it may be, you’ll have to comply.”
“Anything.” I cut her off. “Whether it’s handing over an item, taking a life or offering your own, you will comply. That’s my price.”
She clenches her fists even harder for a moment before relaxing her body completely.
“If that’s what it takes, then I’ll accept.” She exclaims.
“I see.” I respond. “Then come to the ruins again at noon two weeks from now. We’ll spend all day outside, so come prepared for that. Wear loose clothes, preferably pants instead of that skirt.” I tell her. “Oh, and we’ll ride the train, so bring your own money for that as well.”
“Got it.” She nods.
Understanding that there’s no more to be said for now, the girl turns around and runs back inside.
It’s about time for me to head back as well. I’d prefer making it before the last train runs.
I don’t make it past the first corner before I’m stopped by my previous student.
“I now appreciate how easy it was to convince you to teach me.” He notes. “At least I didn’t have as hard a time as she did.”
“With a rather well founded understanding of basic elemental magic and a unique ability to eat souls,” I recall his skills, “I’d say you were already established in our world. It’d be impossible to shove you out again.”
“True.” He replies. “So, should I view her as a rival, or can I trust to still get your affection, ‘Teacher’?”
He gives me this smug-ass smile.
Not too long after he came to Japan, we ran into each other. He’d already caught wind of my skills and asked to become my apprentice, to teach him what I knew about spiritual powers. Since, as I said earlier, he was already part of our hidden world of magic, I had little reason to refuse. While he had problems wrapping his head around the theories, he was great at putting them into practice. In barely a years time, he decided that he’s learned what he needed and called off our relationship to avoid making his debt to me bigger than it already was.
“Yeah, you’re going to have to try harder from now on.” I play along. “But it’d help if you keep these two a secret for now. I may have agreed, but I’d still rather keep her out of this.”
“Strike a favor off the list and I’ll go out of my way to hide them.” He offers.
“Deal.” I agree without haggling.
Keeping those two a secret will raise the value of their info, should they make it into our world. Limiting the knowledge from spreading beforehand is an investment for him. He’d have done so whether I asked him to or not, but with this I have his hands tied as to when he can release the information.
Having finished his business here, he nods me off as he takes his leave.
Behind the Hakurei Shrine - 7th of March 09:55
Coach slowly paces around me, making sure I keep my posture. “So she’s basically another student?” He asks, glancing at the stopwatch.
“Basically.” I answer somewhat absentmindedly.
Normally we’d start off the month by stress testing my body to find out which areas could use some attention. However, the phantom yesterday managed to kill me. While Doc’s spell saved me once again, the side effect still lingers, meaning stressing the body will cause direct harm.
The spell in question is designed to activate whenever my body reaches a critical state where death is imminent. Once activated, it’ll restore my body back to the stage it’s supposed to be at. In other words, it resets my body according to how it was when the spell was placed. The main side effect results in my muscles being too soft and will break under increased pressure.
Another side effect is that my hair grows out to it’s maximum length. It’s more of an annoyance than anything else. After god knows how many times, we eventually just stopped cutting it. And surprisingly, it turned out to be useful as hair conducts mana better than blood vessels, which in turns allows to some creative use of hair.
“Focus.” He reminds me.
I quickly restore my posture and regain balance.
Because we can we can’t stress my body, we’re focusing on sharpening balance. Something we’ve kept to a minimum to make it easy to go back to having two functional arms again.
This particular exercise has me do a split while I sit atop a couple of poles, as I try to balance a cup of steaming water on each of my joints.
“So, what’s your plan with her?” He asks again.
“To begin with, getting her into shape will be the top priority.” I answer. “Maybe drilling some basic techniques into muscle memory.”
“So you are serious about training her? You could just not show up.” He clicks a button on the stopwatch. “Done.”
In response to his word, I flip myself around, letting the cups fall to the ground while still hanging myself. I reorient myself and drop down as well.
“A deal is a deal.” I answer.
I’m not above lying for convenience. Lying is like a second nature to me, to be honest. It’s necessary whenever a civilian accidentally stumbles into our world, or to restrict the flow of information within our world. One of the many reasons I’m glad for having been raised by Doc.
“As long as it won’t get in the way of your own training, then I won’t have any complaints.” He picks up the cups while I stretch my legs . “I can’t do much for her, but feel free to ask for advice on her behalf.”
“If she manages to reach a point where I’m not sure what to do, then I think it’d be worth bringing her here.” I note.
“That’s true. Anyway, any more than this, and Akame will have my head.” he he says, referring to Doc. “So we’ll have to call it quits for today.”
Doc isn’t a fighter like me or Coach, but he can be damn scary when he wants to.
Like usual, I bow deeply. “Thank you for your guidance.”
He returns my bow, acknowledging my appreciation.
That means the rest of the day is off schedule. Now would be the perfect time to take care of some preparations.
I make my way to my room and change out of my sweaty gi and into a clean set. They’re easy to put on and comfortable, so I have a few sets lying around. I grab a sheet of paper off my desk before going out again.
Heading down the shrine’s stairs I reach the village.
Gensokyo was originally created because faith in the supernatural was waining, so creating a space that could produce enough faith to sustain itself was a genius idea, and a lot of youkai moved to Gensokyo soon after it was created.
Back here on the outside though, faith continued to disappear. As a result, the youkai that remained out here banded together into small areas, securing small locations where faith would continue to flow. This village is one such place because it’s located so close to the main gate to Gensokyo.
While this does give youkai a few places to call home, it sadly imposes a limit on them as well. They can’t leave these areas for any extended period of time, or they’ll risk death. As the sole human in this village, my strongest point is the ability to come and go at will.
The youkai living in these places tend to be more friendly than what you’d imagine from youkai. Here they no longer need to instill fear into the hearts of humans to survive, so they’ve opened up a bit more. At least that’s how it is in this village. Even though I’m the only human who ever comes here, but that’s beside the point.
I stop in front of the house of our resident smith. The front door is open but I decide to knock anyway.
It doesn’t take more than a few seconds before the owner of the house peeks out from another room.
“Little Ryu.” He almost sings.
This guy is, well, imagine a dwarf from western fantasy, then scale him up all around until he’s the same height as a human. That’s basically what he looks like, complete with the old school pilot goggles. He’s covered in flux from head to toe, with the exception of his bright beard.
He wipes his hands clean in a rag he carries in the front pocket of his overalls, before inviting me into a hug which I gladly accept.
“It’s good to see you back safe and sound.” He notes. “You ought to drop by more often, you know.”
“And it’s good to see you too, Satou.” I tell him. “But sadly I’ve been quite busy these last few months.”
The smith lets out a jolly laugh. “That you have. So young yet so diligent.” He invites me inside. “So to what do I owe the pleasure? I don’t take it you just came to say hi. Did you finally decide to accept my masterpiece of mass destruction? Can’t blame you, she’s a beauty.”
“Not this time either. Maybe when you make a weapon of mass destruction, but with less destruction.” I joke. “No, I’m actually here because I’d like you to make something for me, if you don’t mind.”
“Sure. Not like orders come in much this time of the year.” He says. “So what can I get you?”
“Nails, actually.” I pull out the piece of paper I brought with me. “With this design engraved on the sides. I’ll need about two dozen of them.”
The over-sized dwarf examines the paper for a moment. “These runes are used for exorcism, right?” He asks.
“Mm.” I confirm. “There’s a haunted spot I want to take care of. This should let it go smoothly.”
“So that’s it.” He rolls up the paper. “I can have them ready by the day after tomorrow.”
“It’s nothing.” He brushes me off. “But anyway, now that you’re here, why not stay for a talk? I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to.”
Doryodo Ruins, Otukayama Park - 21st of March 12:13
I plant the final nail in the ground and take a few steps back.
With the nails set up, the spell activates. Each nail draws a line to the one next to it, forming a complete circle. Immediately afterwards, they draw a line to the opposite side, running parallel with the lines besides them. And at the last step, the points where the lines cross each other join together by creating a few smaller circles, until every square has been turned into a triangle.
The circle blinks sharply once, turning all the hard edges into curves before fading away.
I have to admit it still feels magical. It’s not often I get to use these self activating rituals. Watching them form and perform from outside really is different.
“Is that the kind of stuff I’ll learn?”
My newly appointed pupil makes her appearance.
“As if.” I reply. “This is leagues above your level.”
“But you didn’t do anything.” She argues.
“And it’s because of that I know it’s out of your league.” I stand up and face her. “Looks like you’re ready, so let’s get moving.”
Seems like she followed my advice. She’s wearing a dark gray set of sweatpants with a set of white stripes running down the outside of the leg. Her shirt follows the same color pattern, but presents the white through a shallow V going from her shoulder to the top of her chest. The red running shoes, though adding color, does nothing to change the completely generic look of her outfit.
She even arranged her hair to be more fit, by moving her single long bang back with a set of plain hairpins. I don’t understand why she left one bang that long. Some fashion fad? Regardless, the rest of her hair is being tied back by a low hanging ponytail.
“So, where are we going?” She asks as she starts walking by my side.
“Mount Takao.” I answer. “We’ll need a place devoid of people.”
“But that’s a popular tourist spot.” She argues. “And why do we need to get away from people?”
“I struck a deal with Naigubu to borrow some of his space for a while.” I answer. “As for why we keep it a secret, take a look at gun powder, rockets and nuclear energy for just a few examples.”
“Oh.” She realizes my point. “Didn’t think of that. Makes sense.”
She makes no further attempt at conversation for the rest of the walk. I don’t have anything to say to her yet, so I keep shut as well.
Mt. Takao, Hachioji - 21st of March 12:41
“Alright. We’re here.” I drop my bag at the edge of the clearing.
“Here?” She drops down, resting against a tree. “But there’s nothing here.” She’s visibly breathing harder than normal, though she tries to suppress it.
Seems like she doesn’t have much stamina.
“That’s exactly why we’re here.” I tell her.
Naigubu prepared this area for us. He burrowed some specially crafted crystal in the area which will help us.
“So, what’s first?” She asks. “You say magic is out of my league, so where do I start?”
“First? First I’m going to have to commend your parents on raising you.” I tell her. “Following a clearly suspicious man into the middle of nowhere on the promise of magic. Truly the smart thing to do.”
Her expression changes as she realizes my point.
She immediately tries to get on her feet, but before she even has the chance to, I’ve closed the distance between us.
I grab her by the collar and throw her into the center of the clearing.
“Always suspect everyone.” I tell her. “Though that’s more of a personal rule than a lesson.”
“What are you going to do?” She glares at me with fire as she gets on her feet again.
“Train you.” I tell her. “I’m a man of my word. It’s just important for you to realize our relationship. You can’t trust me.”
She relaxes a bit, though still not dropping her guard. Not that it matters, it’s full of holes anyway.
“For now, I want you to attack me.” I tell her. “Don’t worry, I won’t fight back.”
She raises an eyebrow. “Alright then. Here I come.” She charges ahead with her fist raised high.
And she hits me.
With no force to speak of, she punches me in the chest. Not an ounce of malice, anger or even determination can be felt from her. Nothing even closely resembling a killing intent, or even just a fighting spirit for that matter.
This is going to be a long road.
“I was going to hold off on my criticism until we were done, but this needs mentioning.” I grab her wrist and present her own fist to her. “See this? This fist is the only thing you got right.”
“Well excuse me for not being a hulk.” She complains.
“I was going to try and gauge your physical abilities with a little spar, but I can already tell how weak you are.” I pinch the bridge of my nose as I think this through. “Are you sure you want this?”
“Absolutely.” She answers without hesitation.
Just had to make sure.
I stomp on the ground, sending what little mana I have out to the crystals. They respond by enveloping the two of us in a thick mist.
As the mist clears again, our surroundings have been changed. The trees are gone and the mountain leveled, leaving a flat grassland behind for as far as the eye can see.
“Welcome to my world.” I say as I spread my arms. “Thanks to Naigubu, we can train here uninterrupted.”
She looks around, scanning the place curiously.
“Who exactly is Naigubu?” She asks. “This is amazing.”
“You don’t know?” I scratch my head. “I thought it was common knowledge that there lived a daitengu on this mountain. That’s why there’s a temple and all.”
“That rings a bell, but I can’t say I knew it.” She admits.
“Either way, without any physical abilities, we’ll have to focus on technique.” I get the conversation back on topic. “Which means we’ll start from the bottom. Today we’ll focus on drilling the art of falling into your body.”
“Falling? I thought you were going to at least teach me how to fight.” She complains.
“Attack me.” I command again.
She raises an eyebrow but doesn’t question it, instead charging at me again. This time with her hands held out in front of her.
All it takes is a swift move and she’s been thrown on the ground.
She lies there for a second desperately trying to gasp for air between her coughs.
“If you knew how to fall, that wouldn’t have hurt.” I tell her as she gets up again. “In combat, getting your opponent on the floor gives you a huge advantage, so avoiding getting on the floor yourself is the most basic form of defense. Aside from running away, that is.”
“I get it.” She wipes her mouth. “Stupid question.”
“Try getting down on one knee.” I direct the conversation back to the topic, ignoring her comment.
I’ve been drilling these simple techniques into her four hours now. Once she began to understand how to roll forward from a kneeling position, we began working on direction. After that we introduced various positions. Teaching her how to reduce the force of impact and how to focus the force into one spot came soon after.
In short, she’s been doing nothing but rolling around in the dirt for hours.
Yet she’s already too exhausted to even stand up now.
This really is going to be a long road. Though in the plus side, continuing to drill techniques like this into her will force her muscles to adapt, slowly raising her physical abilities until I can work with them.
“I think it’s better to call it quits for today.” I tell her.
“You, you think?” She manage to ask in between her ragged breathing. “What’s the time?”
Since this world is artificially created, the sky stays lit regardless of what time it is. A way to compensate the lack of a sun.
“About seven, I believe.” I answer.
“Seven?” She pulls her own phone out to check. “But we’ve been here for like half a day.”
“Six hours.” I correct her. “One of the features of this space is to slow your perception of time. Helps you get in more practice in less time.”
She runs her hand through her hair. “That’d be really useful back at uni. Make it a hell of a lot easier to meet the deadlines.”
“Magic isn’t meant for something so trivial.” I’m about to give her a small lecture, but she’s saved as my phone rings.
I don’t recognize this number. Someone new joined our ranks and got a hold of my number? Poor soul.
I answer the phone. “I’m here. Speak.”
“Um, is this Konoha?” A familiar voice asks from the other end.
Konoha? Konoha. That sounds familiar. I think that was the name I was using around new year. Wait a second.
“Yumemi?” I ask.
“So it is you.” She lets out a sigh of relief. “I wasn’t sure since this is the first time I tried calling the number you gave me.”
“What can I do for you?” I ask.
“Well, I was actually hoping I could get your help with-”
“Wait, you’re not calling that guy, right?” I hear another voice cut her off from the background. Sounds like the little sailor, somewhat honored she remembers me.
“No, I was just thinking-” She tries to argue, but is cut off early once again.
“I told you to just ignore him.”
“But-” She tries to argue back.
“Give me the phone.”
“Wait, Chiyuri-” I hear something heavy fall in the background.
“Give me the phone.” She demands again.
“No. Chiyuri. Get off me. I’m trying to-”
I take a look at the phone. They hung up.
Yeah, she didn’t really like me. Sensible little girl, though, I’ll give her that.
I’m about to enter the number into my contacts list as I get a text from her.
>Sorry about that
>I’ll call again when she’s not around
‘I’ll wait.’ I respond. I’m done with my pupil for today anyway. All that’s left to do is go back home and take care of the evening chores.
“How are you feeling?” I ask the little miss sitting behind me.
“It hurts all over.” She complains. “But at least I can still move.”
“Good. Means you’ve been active.” I tell her as I pull my own number up on my phone. “Write this down. After you’ve gone through a whole day without your muscles hurting, I want you to send me a text on this number.”
She pulls out her own phone again and starts typing in the number. “I take it we’re not going to meet regularly then.”
“Not yet. First we’ll need to build your body for a bit.” I tell her. “But we’ll need to be careful not to over train you, since you’re just getting started. Which is why I’m serious when I tell you to wait until it doesn’t hurt anymore.”
“I get it.” She states. “You know best, so I’ll follow your directions.”
“Good.” I pocket my phone now that she’s done. “In that case, eat something heavy on protein for dinner tonight and wash it down with milk.”
“Yeah.” She nods, showing she understand the instructions.
Using the mana I’ve recovered over the last few hours, I send out a new signal, telling the crystals to stop.
Unlike before, the surroundings silently fade away, revealing the scenery we left behind.
“Then I’ll be seeing you, Miss.” I tell her as I go pick up my bag.
“Usami.” She corrects me. “Usami Renko.”
“Hakurei Ryuko.” I respond. “And just as a final lesson for today. Don’t give away your name so willingly. Names are needed in order to use some dangerous spells, so keeping your real name hidden will help keep you safe.” I warn her.
She rubs her forehead as she mulls something over. “I’ll be sure to remember that.” She responds.
“Right, then I’ll be seeing you, Renko.” I tell her as I leave.
At a university, Kyoto - 23rd of march 10:15
So this is where Yumemi studies? I’ll have to admit she looks a bit younger than most of the people walking around on campus.
The campus itself doesn’t seem like anything special. It’s just as annoyingly big as every other school. The gate at the entrance, for example, is tall and wide enough to be able to fit at least six trucks parked side by side. Hanging above the entrance is the university’s logo, and above that a digitally rendered analog clock.
Immediately beyond the wall is a big open area that ends with the main entrance for the building. Halfway on the path to it from here, they’ve placed a fountain. On each side of the path, they alternate between a tree and a bench.
And of course, as I make the walk from one end to the other, everyone’s attention is focused on the giant. If my height didn’t give me such an advantage in battle, I’d be cursing it a lot more.
The receptionist, or whatever you call the people working at information spots like this, is a slender woman. Judging by the unnaturally bright color, it seems her hair is dyed. Further backed by the darker streaks appearing closer to the roots.
“Excuse me.” I call for her attention.
She looks up from her screen and almost jump in her chair as she lays eye on me.
“What- What can I do- do for you?” She stutters.
“I’m looking for a Okazaki Yumemi..” I tell her as I skim over the texts she sent me. “She should be at room 422.”
“That’s, uh, the fourth floor.” She answers, pointing to the stairs. “You should see a map once you reach it.”
I politely thank her and move on.
The halls on the top floor, which turns out to be the fourth, are empty. I pick up the occasional murmur from within some rooms, but nothing near the level of life on the floors below.
Following the map’s directions I quickly find the room I’m looking for. Judging by the schedule hanging beside the door it should be empty right now and I don’t hear much talking from the other side at all.
I push open the door slightly and take a peek inside. No one is there, so I open the door completely.
“Yumemi?” I ask out loud.
Immediately I hear a thump from behind one of the desks followed by a handful of soft curse words.
The little redhead pops up behind the counter, rubbing the top of her head. As soon as she sees me, her entire face lights up in a bright big smile.
“Konoha!” She exclaims. “You’re early.”
“It just happened the trains I was taking lined up.” I tell her. “So, what is it you need me to do?”
“Actually, I need help moving this thing.” She says as she taps a machine next to her. “Though it looks like your arm still hasn’t healed.”
“It’s actually starting to show signs of recovering.” I tell her. “But either way, taking care of something that size should be easy enough.”
“Ah. Wait here, I’ll go get a trolly.” She says before darting out of the room.
A trolly? Isn’t that one of those railed trains in the west? Maybe this university is more loaded than I thought. It’s probably a tool that’d help me lift this thing. Though I’d be able to do it without, whatever a trolly is.
A take a seat at a table.
This room looks a lot like what I’d imagine a robotics workshop to look like, but with less robots. Scattered around across all the tables are everything between small motors and gears to those green computer boards and wires.
My imagination is a bit lacking when it comes to concepts I’m unfamiliar with, it seems.
About the only thing in here I know anything about is the algebra scribbled on the notes on the table. They look pretty familiar to a spell, actually- Wait.
I quickly spread the notes out so they’re all in full view.
This is a spell. Well, it’s a framework for a simple fire based spell to be specific. The same I saw back at her apartment, the one that doesn’t require any of the known energy sources.
Last time we got close to the topic of magic, she got defensive and we began to raise our voices. Though it looks like she’s forgiven me for that, I doubt she’d let me study these if I asked.
And while I’m proud of my sharp memory, there’s no way I can memorize all of this in just a few minutes.
This place is a mess. Maybe, just maybe I’d be able to get away with just taking them. No, it wouldn’t work. Something about her is too sharp. She’d notice, and she’d figure out who in a heartbeat.
 Leave the notes be. I’ll get a better chance later
 ‘Borrow’ the notes
-  Take just a few notes
 Try to memorize as much as possible for now
Shit, its' already this late? I swear I'm gradually losing my sense of time.