. . .
My head felt like a rock that was being crushed into dust. Despite how uncomfortable I was feeling, a soothing warmth that was spreading throughout my body kept me comfortable. Not only that, but I could hear someone's voice calling to me.
I almost felt like I was dead, and that heaven was calling to me. But my thoughts were suddenly restarted and I remembered that I had been fighting alongside devils, so I doubted that God would even touch me with a 50 foot pole, let alone send an angel to bring me up there.
The voice though,
" . . . erh. Erh, A-A . . . A-aka-ne?"
Struggling to open my eyes, a blurry image of her appeared in front of my face; purple eyed, black haired-no, black haired with green strands that rested on top of her bundles. The shading contrast between the midnight sky and the hue of jade shaded aura was too finely transforming that it couldn't be faked. It may sound weird, but I think I prefer her hair like that; it looks . . . more interesting, and maybe it's more natural than what I had expected. Either way, I hope it stays that way.
My vision hadn't been fixed and I couldn't see too well past a few centimeters in front of my own face, so I could only see hers, as she just smiled and tilted it adorably like she always did.
"Who else would I be?"
My head attempted to move, but I felt like I had gone stiff like a piece of rusted metal in the gears that worked my neck needed to be oiled. My head was already elevated, and the fabric behind my head had a firm support like the intention was not for reclining on, so I questioned what this bed was that i was laid across.
"Where . . . are we?"
"The Esotericism Club Room, of course."
A bed in the Esotercisim Club? No that wasn't right, I was probably on one of the sofas, and the arm rest was acting as my pillow since they cushions that would have been here wouldn't have been large enough. But-
"Club room? But . . . isn't the school-"
"All repairs have been completed. It is like the school was never burnt down to a smoldering pile of ash in one night."
I had to question this further. I may have a limited grasp on magic, but it can't seriously be all hunky-dory just like a snap. Could it? "What if-"
"As if anyone could have noticed. The school may have been on fire, but no one saw it, and no one could see it even if they walked close by. So, our little secret is perfectly safe."
My vision was getting lighter, and now I was able to see the majority of the room. I had only really been inside it once after being dumped abruptly back into my classroom after passing out the first time. But from where I was laying, the room itself looked like it was untouched. However, I looked back down towards her, having just noticed that she was still right up in my face.
"So, can I ask you one last thing?"
"Anything you want, Zeni-kun."
"Why are you laying on top of me?"
My body was numb from whatever had happened, but only when my vision cleared up did I notice that it was peculiar to find Akane's face directly in front of me with no signs that she was leaning over. It then took me another second or two to process the fact that i could see her bare shoulders past her hair, and then I realized that I myself was bare around my collar.
Only a subtle blanket was covering the rest of my view, except of course for the gap that reach down between us towards her- . . . *eeck* Stop! Carry on! . . .
Akane deliberately took the opportunity and snuggled her head down across my pectorals, and her hair was now directly in my face. The scent that was emitting from her scalp was making me lose all senses again. Like how I reacted before, she wrapped her legs around mine, and her hands reached around my sides and onto my back. It felt like a warm trail was sliding around my body.
"I was keeping you warm of course" she explained, snuggling her cheek against my chest as she talked. "Being half dead meant you couldn't keep your temperature at an optimal level and your vital organs were beginning to shut down from lack of adequate heat. It couldn't be helped that you had lost more blood than was safe, but nothing like a little magic to get you working again, is there?"
Her words continued to butter me up, and the overwhelming scent and warm hold was numbing my mind even further. "You never answered the question."
"Don't be a spoil sport. I could have done it with magic, but then I wouldn't have had the opportunity to do this with you."
She raised her head, and soon her body followed and she brought her arms up and laid them across to support her chin. Looking eye-to-eye with me, her eyes half open and her smile continuing to linger, and it started moving forward as her fingers started dancing on my collarbone. "And, then I couldn't give you your reward for protecting me, now could I."
The blood rushed through my face. I was relieved briefly to find that I still had blood after how much I had lost last night, but my head needed to be straightened on. I could feel my eyes following her movements, and I was instinctively being played along with them. I remembered the overwhelming feeling last night when I summoned her to my room, and the uncontrollable actions that overtook me. Something deep in me wanted to feel that again, and . . . even go furth-!
No. I can't! I have to stop thinking about that! But I was only able to draw my thoughts to one thought:
"P-p-please. Tell m-me, that there i-ss-something . . . *gulp*, you kn-now."
My eyes widened when I realized I had spoken aloud. I felt the sweat dripping down my face and running down my spine.
"Oh, Zeni-kun, I didn't know you were so perverted."
Raising her hand to her cheek, she jokingly started pouting. But it got worse when I saw her body starting to move up, and the blanket that was covering the both of us rising along with and starting to slip down her shoulders.
I felt like my head would explode.
"T-T-TH-TH-AT I-S N-N-NOT W-W-WH-WH-WHAT I . . . I-I-I-I-I-I-I-!"
She started laughing all the while as I watched the blanket fall off her body. I kept my eyes on it, all to avoid staring at her naked flesh, and also because my concentration was still focused on the matter that it was falling, and falling down until it slumped into a semi-ring behind and around her.
I couldn't bear to move my eyes when it stopped falling. With Akane directly in front and on top of me, there was really no where else they would inevitably turn to. I was going to see her skin no matter what I did, even closing my eyes would have made the situation unavoidable still.
Where should I look then? If only that question could have been answered more easily then this awkward silence that was building up wouldn't exist;
The legs? No. From my point of view, her legs are only possibly visible to her knees, and even looking there would give me view of the . . . ugh, y-y-you know where.
Maybe an arm? No, Because then I would be looking near her chest, and I would end up wandering eventually. So, perhaps, I could slip past and look at her face- no that won't work either!
"I'm just teasing you. You know I like it when you get all flustered like that. hhmhhmmhmmmhm. You don't have to worry, I may be a tease, but I'm modest enough to at least wear the essentials."
"*sigh* W-well th-then, I g-g-guess that is o- . . . You're not wearing anything except your bra and panties?"
"Body temperature requires skin on skin contact. It's not like your wearing any more than me. I was a little surprised at first when the blood started restocking itself, but it was very comfortable, even when you started getting a little growth in."
Growth? What could she possibly me-. . .-he-aan-?
"Let's just put some clothes on!"
I blurted that out a little louder than was probably necessary, but with my mind under constant siege from thoughts of unintentional activities may have gone on to my body while I had no conscious memory of it
I had expected Akane to completely ignore my request, since she seemed the type of girl to do whatever she wanted, no matter if the public opinion of it was embarrassing. She had been playing with me this whole time because she enjoyed it, and because she knew how much it made me felt uncomfortable and would get me panicking and stuttering like I always did.
Being around a whole group of stiffs though makes sense why she would take advantage of every situation to do this to me.
Surprising though, she actually got off of me, and allowed me to sit up. Standing in the middle of the room in front of the coffee table between the two settee, in nothing but a combo of matching black bra and underwear, both of which had subtle impressions of floral design and green highlighting which insinuated particular parts of the design.
"Well" she said after stretching for a bit. Come to think of it, I actually have no idea how long she had been laying on me for, and if she was sleeping at anytime during my recovery. "I suppose we have to eventually. Classes will resume at lunchtime, thanks to a little nudge should we say, but anyways: *snap*"
She snapped her fingers and a green coloured circle erupted above where she was standing. I didn't notice at the time, but one was also above my head, which only came into view when it passed over my eyesight. Both of them fell downwards, and my vision was blinded for a brief moment after.
When it cleared, I could see Akane was fully dressed now, in Tekai uniform, from shirt to skirt. I looked at myself and I realised I too was in my uniform. I was deeply surprised to see that I was in fitting clothes, which lead me on to question whether these were originally my clothes that had been brought out of my room at home, or if Akane was just gifted in guessing my size.
I gave a deep sigh, as I continued to analyse over myself. "I'm just glad that no one was here to see this."
"You are so wrong."
. . . I didn't speak, and neither did Akane. But an emotionless monotoned voice emerged from behind where I had been resting. I hesitated to turn my head, but I didn't need to, as figures started moving around from the wall behind and passed around the chairs till they were in my clear view. Akane's peerage.
". . . Everyone."
Looking at them over, none of them where in bad shape anymore, and their clothes were also back together and in one piece like they should have been. After having made my statement, meeting with their own unique stares, hostile and neutral, and even one moderate smile. They all nodded their heads, all five of the-, hang on.
I see five people, but there should only be four;
Takeshi, Masako, Kumi, Suzue, and . . . who?
I looked at the last figure, while my mind continued to plunge deep into my memories; he was wearing school uniform, but I felt like I should recognise him, but couldn't. Black hair that reached around longer than they should have for a guy. Light grey eyes, that looked like a smudged mirror in the mist. He was older than me, and his height definitely matched his supposed age.
The only thing I could only think was . . . he was misisng something. Like . . . black wing? Black angel wing!
After finally being recognised, his moderate smile turned into a smile of relief and then gave me an almost sarcastic bow, like he was tipping his hat to me.
"A pleasure again, Santouno Zenjirou-chan. I am one of the Leaders of the Grigori; Saraqiel, the researcher of Earthen Signs, and the representative of the Fallen Angel Faction for Kaijou Town."
My eyes widened over the revelation. He was here amongsth everyone else, and none of them even bat an eye to his existense. I had to realise that he was telling me the truth this whole time. But- "Wait, you."
"You're wearing our uniform."
He l;ooked down at himself and analysed his clothing carefully. Too carefully. "Huh, I guess I am. Strange for a student to be wearing unform in school."
I knew he was being sarcastic an all, but the revelation was still too much for me to stop questioning and asking again. "You go to this school?"
A small salute later, he introduced himself again. "Third Year Tekai High School Student, Saraqiel Bar-Samil. Israeli exchange student since six months ago, though only an official student for a few months."
He crossed his arms and smugly smiled to himself. "The good old days. We'll have to tell you about it sometime."
Although he seemed to pose that as a form of humour, there wasn't any following laughter. From no one. The silence was even more awkward now that no one was talking at all. Or even moving.
"Speaking of which."
The silence was interrupted, as Akane made her move; walking in front of me, as well as deliberately brushing herself against me with her right hand. I swore I saw her grinning, like she was waiting for a reaction from me. But I felt too under pressure with everyone else watching to care what antic she was playing at.
Walking behind her desk and ducked under the table. When I say ducked, it was more a of a slow process rather than something done to quickly hide from sight. I heard draws being drawn and a slab being moved about. All these sounds were not adding up until they suddenly stopped and her black with green hair emerged back into view.
Everyone gasped, including Saraqiel when she placed the wooden box on the coffee table, causing everyone to walk around and gather towards it like a homing beacon. I couldn't understand why, but everyone was so drawn to something that looked too plain to have any importance.
Pointing at the plain looking box with my right index finger, I asked her. "Um, Akane, what is that?"
"Zeni-kun, remember when I said that Devil's have peerages."
Smiling, she popped open the top and inside it were little chess pieces. Though the designs were exact to the detail to what you would expect, the colour scheme was very peculiar to me; though it wasn't uncommon to have coloured pieces, it was uncommon to have naturally coloured pieces. Stranger still was that the colour of the pieces looked so unnatural, because it was green. Glowing green. All of them.
There were exactly seven pieces left in the box, with several of them missing; two pawns, one rook, one knight, two bishops, and one queen. Looking at one of the bishops and the remaining knight and pawns, i noticed a strange enticing movement in the glow, like it was full of a flowing liquid that wouldn't subside. The queen and other pieces didn't contain such a moving glow at all.
Picking up a few in her hands and placing them on the table in their correct orders, like they were on the board, she explained, "Well the purpose of this was to reincarnate other species into devils in order to bolster our own forces since our pure-blooded species are dying out."
I understood; so using these chess pieces was like a revival item you would get in an RPG, except it was more complicated than that; the pieces would reincarnate the person into devil, so only having fifteen pieces to use meant that you could have a maximum of fifteen new devils. However, with the pieces that were missing, that would mean-
"Wait, . . . so you guys were-"
"Human." "Definitely human once." "Same for me." "And I make four."
I asked her peerage, and they all answered like they read my mind. It came to a surprise to realise that they were all formerly human. Also, it occurred to me when I had remembered that while Kumi was a pawn like Takeshi, Taekshi was five pawns compared to Kumi's one, so that would also mean that there also a minimum of five depending on how many pieces you used on a single person.
Having arranged all her pieces pn the table, she looked at me, while a pleading sort of smile.
"So, will you . . . like to join my family. Become a devil, and live with us."
. . . I really didn't know what to say when she asked me that question. She was asking me to become a devil. Many thoughts ran through my head, and I would rather not draw out the process of what my decision was when I gave her the answer;
I remembered seeing her peerage fighting for the first time, with their speed and strength, all of them where just so adept at fighting that it was unreal to think that they were ever once human. Even after getting beat up so much when I was barely alive after taking less hits than they did.
The difference in power and fighting spirit was a greater bounds of difference, and I could acknowledge that it would be beneficial to me now that I knew I had power to begin with. If I could master it, then I could actually use this for better things.
Plus, I was curious in what other perks being a devil could bring; I thought of the longevity and idea of living for a long time. I also thought about the fact that Akane and her peerage were really close, so I could maybe stick with them for eternity and see how well that could work out. The benefits of being a devil seemed to heavily outweigh any reason for refusing something so generous, especially since she was asking me, not the other way around.
. . . However:
"No" I replied bluntly. The reaction I made when I said it wasn't harsh, but I felt like I was making a horrid choice myself. But I realised through my own thoughts that it was the right choice regardless of what amnicity may be felt afterwards. "I won't become a devil, but thanks very much for the offer."
Akane looked back in quite confusion and nearly fell backwards. Though her tone wasn't sad, she was really surprised of this. "Well that was unexpected."
Takeshi made a sound, but both Saraqiel and Masako held him back, with a flat edge of a blade to his chest, and a hand to his mouth. The older two seemed to be more mature than he was acting as they sighed at his blatant reaction.
Though Kumi looked confused, but Suzue made no difference in her expression towards my answer, it was Akane that I was paying attention to; though she didn't appear sad in any shape or form, I felt like she was putting off an aura of disappointment. Not on me, but maybe on herself, because she might have thought taht it was her fault taht I didn't accept. But that wasn't the reason why.
"May I ask the reason why?" she asked me. I took in a deep breath and then went through the thoughts that had relayed in my head after weighing in the pros. The cons, I should say;
"As much as it sounds cool. The truth is, I'm happy being human. I still have my mum to think about, and I can't just leave her if something happens."
"But you won't have to-"
"The idea of her growing old while I'm still young, forever. I never thought living for nearly eternity was possible before, but I honestly cannot do it; living hundreds of thousands of years on, knowing that people I knew had died years before, centuries ago. The idea doesn't sound appealing, as much as it's a tempting offer."
Although it was probably not the answer that she wanted to hear, she accepted it regardless with a halfhearted smile. "I see."
"At least he makes sense." "None of us had the same luxury that Zenjirou-san has." "I have to second Suzue's statement also." "Suppose the runt's got a valid point."
Despite the feeling of unwelcomeness I had felt from a few of them, and the general feeling of division between me who was still human, and the four of the peerage who used to be human. I was relieved, when they all accepted my explanation as a plausible reason.
"But" I said which suddenly caught everyone's attention once again, "I'm not done with this yet."
Reaching back into my pockets, I felt around again. Surprisingly, it was in my trouser pockets. I pulled out a folded piece of paper that I had kept safe in my pockets through the whole ordeal, and unfolded it to reveal a very familiar symbol stamped on the front.
Akane's eyes widened in shock as she remembered from the evening before, and even further when I turned the paper around and reveal her number was still written on the back. "The flyer?" she exclaimed, almot covering her mouth when she realised that she had forgotten about it.
"Devil's make contracts right?" I said "So, let's make one, right now."
"Hey! You can'-."
Again, Takeshi overreacted like he usually did, but Saraqiel was still there to hold him down. Even if it was in a lax position, he was very confident in his ability to enforce order. "Come on pipe down, Taki-chan. Let the grown-ups do the talking."
Though Masako had usually back up Saraqiel before, this time it was different as she pulled her sword away from Takeshi and instead held it closer to her. "I'm afraid that I have to agree with Takeshi on this one. It's disrespectful for a human to be asking something from a devil, after turning down a too generous offer."
Wow, after hearing that, now I felt like a huge jerk, even when I hadn't finished talking or even explaining why i was bring this up.
Swift as lightning, the first syllable of 'chan' was said, Masako stepped in on Saraqiel. "Will you stop calling me that! And will you not butt in, or I swear I'll cut you up with Aramasa."
Saraqiel's eyes went wide for a moment as the sword was inches from his mouth before he backed down and slipped back in line with the others. "You know what, maybe I should just stop talking."
Sheathing back her blade, Aramasa, Masako replied "that would be wise."
Kumi and Suzue, who were caught in between the fights of their senpais were reacting differently; Kumi was generally concerned that the two of them might have actually ended up fighting each other and the pain in her face was evidence that she was not pleased that this is where the outcome could have lead to. Suzue on the other hand was starting off into the space between them, towards me and Akane, like she knew that their little squabble was nothing but meaningless exchanges between themselves.
Choosing to ignore what was going on before I lost my nerve and started stuttering too much to be taken seriously, I continued with my proposal; "S-s-so, I was thinking that while I don't want to b-be a devil, I- well let's just say that I don't want to aban-ndon any of you guys. So, my de-deal is that; day or night, rogue angel, stray devil, or whatev-v-er." I tapped the metal on my chest a couple of times before the conclusion. "If you need my gear or me in general, summon me and I'll do all I can."
I cleared my throat as my face started getting warm. I don't know why I suddenly started getting flustered at this point in the speech, but I needed to break it down a bit and I just ended up looking away as I said it.
"And, for my price. . . Y-y-y-you . . . *gulp* have to let me take you on another date."
""""" . . . """""
"You know that I win in both ways, Zeni-kun?"
"You couldn't ask for a better deal."
"Hmmm. I could just rewrite your memories for my own benefit so I get you without anything."
My face went cold as the thought suddenly swept my mind. Though she usually had a playful tone, her voice sounded serious and her expression was more devilish than devious when she spoke it. ". . . huh?"
Smirking at her victory over me as I started sweating and panicking over th though, she returned back to her usual expression and titled head which got me to relax a little before she gave me her answer.
"On second thoughts, that sounds like too much work, plus I could end up erasing too much, so there's that also. Alright, Zenjirou, it's a deal."
Shaking hands and accepting the contract, the circle on the paper lifted off and phased itself over our joining hands. The circle traveled once up my arm, with a warm and illuminous ray, and them slipped back down and up Akane's arm. It fell back down and then lay flat over both our hands and disappeared from sights.
I looked back at my hand and noticed a faint imprint of a magic circle was appearing and disappearing every so often, but it wasn't too noticeable unless you looked really closely. After a while, I lost sight of it and looked back up.
Pleased with how the evenin-, no morning (I nearly forgot about my sense of time), how the morning had turned out, Akane resigned her self back to her desk, holding tightly to her hand that had made a contract with mine.
Saraqiel stepped off the wall and made an announcement as soon as the whole business had been concluded. "Now we just have a problem with the Angel's representative."
I immediately noticed that the tone of the room changed when the topic was brought to the table. Some expressions were sad, but others were more concerned than anything. Being unfamiliar with this I decided that it wasn't my place to call out.
. . . Which I completely ignored.
"Angels?" It seemed dumb to be questioning about Angels being real as well since Saraqiel was proof that one existed, even if he was considered a Fallen Angel, but that was not why I raised the question. "Isn't that your position?"
"No, Fallen Angels and Ascending Angels are two different factions. Even if they were to do things different, Heaven is separate to the Grigori."
I was only really curious, because, well seeing as there wasn't an angel amongst the room, I had presumed that Saraqiel was the closest thing to a represented that the club and by default this town had. "So, who was the representative?"
"Father Vitaliy Todorchev, Eastern Orthodox man from Vladivostok" Saraqiel explained, leaning against the wall. Though his tone remained calm, he seemed quite concerned with how the outcome had turned out. "He fell in battle unfortunately. He was one of Russia's leading exorcists in the Far East regions once upon a time. Shame, he was a valiant foe as well as a brave ally."
He widened his eyes as he cut me off. Eaten. Yikes.
It was only then that I realised when that the black sleeved arm with the silver item in his hand was really suppose to mean. I felt like my stomach was cut open and stretched inside out on itself.
"I think I'm gonna puke."
"I already took care of Ornias, so Governor Azazel and Vice-Governor Shemhezai are already made aware of the situation."
Akane nodded as she leant back on her desk and sighed. "I already sent my report to the Four Great Satans. I also made a note that Heaven needs a new representative here, but it will take time before the arrangements can be made here. Maybe Michael will send us more than one this time instead of assigning another old enemy. I would really hate to warm up to someone who tried to kill us and vice versa."
"Ditto to that."
Akane opened her eyes again and looked around the room. Her eyes were twitching all around, before she shut them again and smiled. Deviously, I should have added. "Speaking of which, did I ever tell you the time when Saraqiel actually fell for a trip wire trap in the park?"
Saraqiel's cool demeanor suddenly fell and he was panicking more that he was joking around this time. "Hey wait, come on, don't tell him that! It was dark, and I was busy trying to hunt down you after the chicken suit inci-"
Akane was laughing hysterically, and even her stiff peerage members were in a state of laughter when they heard chicken suit. I would have probably laughed also if I had any idea what he was talking about. Though Saraqiel was the butt of all the jokes now, he seemed to have reconciled with the humour and was joining in also.
"Oh, you'll love that one as well. It was . . . "