Chapter 1:

A Bizarre Rumour

The Demon Hunting Club

No matter where you go, rumors will persist. If anything is constant in every facet of human society, it is the simple fact that drama, whether based on fact or fiction, is the highest valued commodity for the entire human race, and that there are people who will do just about anything in order to continue the cycle of arguments, romance, friendship, and petty violence that keeps the world turning.

This may seem cynical, but there is a purpose to it all, for throughout Kitaminami Academy, a rumour has existed since the beginning of my second year attending the locally famous school (I have no idea if anyone from outside my hometown would even be aware of it, but it's regarded as the big leagues around here due to being the only private educational facility for miles.) As many rumors are, it's core concept is rooted in a simple thing: love. Perhaps loneliness would be a better word for it, as this rumour details the process of acquiring a romantic partner through supernatural means.

First, you must be single, no love life whatsoever. Even if somebody, for whatever reason, considers you to be their significant other without your knowledge, the ritual (for want of a better term) will fail.

Second, you must remain on school grounds until night time. The more poetic proliferators of this rumors use the phrase 'once the sun has fallen and the moon risen' but the general consensus is that it needs to be night time for the ritual to work.

Third, you must look into one of the school's windows. The room apparently doesn't matter, but you need to look into the eyes of your reflection, so maybe a mirror would work better than a window, but what do I know? I don't even believe in any of this.

Fourth, you must state your name, your age, and the reason you desire romance so deeply that you'd turn to dark magic to make it happen. If your reflection continues speaking after you have finished, it will supposedly tell you whether or not your wish has been granted, and boom, you have a lover.

Basically, it's all nonsense, but prolific nonsense all the same. Even if I were so desperate for love as to seek help from my own reflection, or a wizard, or whoever it is that's supposed to conjure up a girlfriend for you, I'd like to think I wouldn't be so far gone as to believe any of this absurd fantasy.

Which is to say, that I as the kind of person who desires proving fantasies wrong beyond a shadow of a doubt, saw an opportunity to do just that on the night before the Kitaminami school festival.

“Yo, Sekigahara? You still working?” One of my classmates, the last one left besides myself, I think his name's... Nishikawa? Nishimura? Something starting with 'Nishi' at the very least, calls out to me from the doorway. “Dunno why you're tryin' so hard, dude.” The blond haired delinquent chuckles. “Or are you waiting for the sun to fall and the moon to rise?”

“Don't be absurd.” I tell him. “I'm just making the final checks now. Feel free to go home.”

“Hey, no need to feel embarrassed, my man. We can't all be popular, right?” If that's supposed to infer that Nishi-whatever is popular, then it'll be my turn to laugh.

“You're distracting me. Leave.” I tell him, moving on to check the menus. Seriously, of all the things for our class to do for the festival, did it have to be something so trite and cliché as a maid cafe? It's bad enough that the boys were suggesting such a thing, it's to be expected of them, but even some of the girls are excited about dressing up and serving pent-up losers cheap food.
“Alright, alright, whatever you say, dude.” Nishi-something finally relents. “I'll get out of your hair. But introduce me to your new girlfriend, okay?” He throws a final joke at me before heading out of the door.

I'd have thought that people saw me as dedicated enough as to stay at school late into the night so as to ensure everything with the cafe would go smoothly, but it seems I need to do a little work on my reputation. Doubly so now, since even somebody as out of the loop as me knows how much of a gossip Nishi-something is. Still, I've got a few hours before the sun sets, and I've triple checked just about everything. I guess it's a good thing I brought a book...

This is going to be a long night, isn't it?

I wake up with a start, my face thoroughly buried in my book, which is now stained with drool. A quick check of my surroundings shows that it's definitely night time, as the room is almost pitch black. Well, I guess now's as good a time as any. I stand up, set my phone to record, and face my own reflection in the window.

“My name is Kuro Sekigahara. I am sixteen years old. To be quite frank, I do not particularly want a girlfriend, I'm merely testing this ridiculous rumour to gain irrefutable proof of it's absurdity in the hopes of showing my classmates that such foolishness ill befits high school students.”

Silence. Just me talking to myself in an empty classroom. Of course, this is the exact result I both wanted and expected. When I show Nishi-something the recording, I'm sure he'll be shocked and appreciative of my investigation. I'm not to proud to admit that I probably look rather smug right about now.

“I am afraid I cannot grant that desire, Kuro Sekigahara.”

My muscles tighten from shock, that was definitely my own voice.

“In fact, I am afraid I will have to do the opposite.” The voice... my voice, continues from behind me. The opposite, what on earth could that possibly mean? My desire was to disprove the rumour, so the opposite would be... no, this is absurd. Clearly Nishi-something was waiting outside for me to do this, and saw his chance to mess with me. I had no idea he was such a good impressionist, but I won't be fooled by such a cheap trick. I turn around, hoping to catch Nishi-something grinning at me through the window, but I'm just faced with my own reflection, staring back at me, as if it wasn't reflecting me at all.

“Um... Sekigahara-san?” I hear a girl's voice from behind me. “Did you really not believe?”

No, this was some sort of prank, I didn't recognise the voice, but surely it belonged to one of my other classmates who stayed behind for the same reason I did, and was disappointed that I'd disproved the rumour before she had a chance to use it. Well, better for her to find out this way than by trying it out and not getting what she wanted, of course.

“Of course I didn't.” I tell her. “What reason could any rational person have to believe such a childish... rumor.” I turn around and see the girl. She wasn't dressed in the Kitaminami uniform, or any uniform, at that. Her long, bright red hair almost dragged on the floor behind her, but most notable were her yellow eyes and the ram-like horns growing from her head.

Of course, they weren't actually growing from her head, that would be preposterous, she was clearly wearing some sort of headband. She must be cosplaying.

“I'm afraid you've got the theme wrong, miss. We're hosting a plain old maid cafe, there's no demon theme.”

The girl tilts her head to one side. “Maid... cafe?” She asks. “What's that? Why would maids work at a cafe?”

I'm not falling for this. “Did Nishi-something put you up to this?” I ask her, and once again she tilts her head to the side. What is she, some sort of puppy?

“Nishi-something? I don't know anyone by that name.” She tells me, completely matter-of-factly. “Hey, do you really still not believe in the Demon Dating Agency?”

The what?

“C'mon, Sekigahara-san, I'm right in front of you. Undeniable proof that the rumor you wanted to prove wrong is true. You can at least admit that you were wrong.” The girl says, pouting the whole time.

“Well... that is to say...” I adjust my glasses. “Of course, when an experiment disproves a hypothesis, the logical thing to do is assume that you have miscalculated rather than argue with the facts, however...” I look at the girl once more. She definitely seems real, and she appeared once I carried out the ritual, and I've never heard the phrase 'Demon Dating Agency' used in regards to the rumor before... which leads to only one possibility.

However, it is a possibility I cannot possibly accept! “No, you must prove to me that you are, in fact, a demon sent here for the express purpose of becoming my... becoming... m-my g-girlfriend.”

“Hmm...” The girl rests her chin on her fingers, clearly thinking quite hard. “How would I do that, I wonder...” A faint smile appears on her face. “I can't think of any way to do that... what about you, Sekigahara-san?” She's clearly toying with me at this point, so I see no reason in entertaining her further.

“I'm afraid I also cannot think of anything.” I tell her. “It would seem we are at an impasse, so, if you don't mind.” I head for the door, walking straight past her.

“Well, if you can't think of anything, I guess I don't have a choice.” She mutters. “We aren't supposed to do this so early, but I'm sure everyone back home will understand.”

Do... do what exactly? No, calm yourself, Kuro, she's just trying to goad me into asking that exact question. I won't allow this girl to toy with me any more than she already has. I just have to go home, and hope she isn't some obsessive stalker who'll follow me.

As I'm in the middle of planning the most efficient escape route, I feel my body spinning before something hard slams into my back, and I find myself pressed against the classroom wall with this girl baring down on me, close enough that I can see that her canine teeth are absurdly sharp. Not that I'm making an effort to look at her teeth, it's just that she's somewhat taller than me, so if I were looking straight ahead I'd be looking at her... never mind, I don't see the need to explain myself anyway!

“I'm going to show you something really special, Se~ki~ga~ha~ra~san.” She coos. Is it just me, or has her personality done a complete 180 since we first met? And... what exactly does she plan to show me? “Close your eyes, okay? I don't want you to peep.”

Considering my disadvantageous position, I think it's probably best to do what she asks. I mean, for all I know, she's a deeply unhinged individual, in fact, that seems more likely by the second, and I don't want to anger her, so I close my eyes, and I feel the pressure keeping me pinned against the wall leave. After a few moments, I feel a slight, sharp pain in my left arm, and am told to open my eyes once again, and am met with something I couldn't fully comprehend at first.

Dangling from the girls hand was a severed arm. I didn't even need to look down to recognise that it was my own. I tried to scream, but no noise came out, and I instinctively tried to take a step backwards, but simply backed myself into the wall.

“Sekigahara-san, do you believe in me now?” The demon girl asks, completely deadpan, as she throws my arm back to me. “Or are you still trying to come up with rational explanations?”

“I..I...” I make the mistake of looking down at my arm. From just below the elbow, it's completely gone, but there's no blood coming from the cut. “Why are you doing this?”

“You're a smart kid, Sekigahara-san, did you really think there's a bunch of cute demon girls just waiting to date humans like you?” She asks. “We're hunters, and humans are our prey. We'll use all sorts of cheap tactics to get you to lower your guards.” She slowly starts to walk towards me. “But it's not just human souls we feed on. The fear you exude when you realise what's to come is like the starter. And you... well, you're already filling me up.” I can't deny just how terrified I am. I just wanted to disprove a childish rumor, and now I'm going to die? That's clearly not fair. “Ahaha... Sekigahara, are you crying?” She's baring down on me now, in a matter of seconds, my life will be over. “Huh?” The demon girl stops, and I feel something pressing against my stomach. I take a daring look downwards and see that the tip of a sword is poking me. Not only that, but it's poking me through the demon girl.

“I'm afraid I'm going to have to cut your meal short, madame.” Another woman's voice comes from behind the demon, as the sword is pulled back through her, and she twists around, swinging a suddenly clawed hand at it's owner. An unpleasant sound rings through the room as the blade clashes with the claws over and over and over.

“Damn hunter!” The demon girl roars as the sword wielding girl slashes her on the face. “Why can't you all just accept the natural order of things?”

“No prey animal gives in to it's predator without a fight.” The girl says, countering a wild swing and running the girl through once again “Humans are no different.”

“Damn it, this used to be so damn easy.” The demon spits, looking from me, to the other girl, and then deciding to cut her losses and flee out the window, barrelling through it with a loud crash. With the immediate danger over, the girl's focus shifts to me, and she sheaths her weapon and makes her way over. “Are you alright?” She asks me.

How could I possibly be alright? My entire world-view was shattered, and then somebody tried to kill me! “I'm fine.” I tell her, not wanting to let on just how rattled I was. Now that I'm in no danger, I think I can afford a little bravado.

“I'm sorry about your arm. I didn't get here in time.” The girl says. “I've failed as a hunter.”

“You saved my life.” I reassure her. “That's a success in my book.”

“You are too kind.” The girl nods. “I overheard the demon call you 'Sekigahara', is that your name? Are you a student here?”

“Yeah, Kuro Sekigahara. Who are you?”

“Are you in any club, Sekigahara-san?” The girl asks, completely out of the blue, and seemingly avoiding my question.

“Um, no... why?”

“My name is Tsuki Konishi. And, since you know about us now, I was wondering if, maybe, you'd like to join the Demon Hunting Club?”

Joe Gold
Taylor Victoria
Syed Al Wasee