Chapter 3:

The Art of Hunting

The Demon Hunting Club

Dragged by the arm out of the Club Room (storage shed) by Date, I was honestly surprised by just how late it had gotten. Being on school grounds after dark for any reason felt odd, but such a clandestine operation as joining an unsanctioned and most likely dangerous club felt downright criminal.

“Wahaha! And so it falls to the glorious leader to instruct the newest recruit!” Of course, with Date-san yelling as loud as she was, that clandestine feeling was almost immediately shattered. “Listen here, Sekigahara, in order for mere humans such as yourself to effectively hunt creatures as powerful as demons, it is required of you to undergo a ritual that shall change your soul from that of an average human, to a super-powered hunter!” I look over to Konishi, who nods in agreement, or maybe it's supposed to be encouragement that Date-san isn't just making this up as she goes along. “So, newest recruit to the Kitaminami Demon Hunting Club, are you ready to stain your soul black in order to fight back against the inhuman hoards?”


“Excellent! I did not doubt your commitment for even a second, no, half a second, no, one hundredth of a second!” Date takes out a small dagger, it's hilt emblazoned with the kanji for hunt. “This blade is forged from the souls of vanquished demons, their latent power flows through it, and, when forced into the heart of a willing future demon hunter, it's power will be yours, and the weapon shall transform into one chosen by your very spirit!” 'Forced' and 'willing' aren't exactly words you expect to hear together, and... does she really have to stab me for me to become a Demon Hunter? I look over to Konishi again, and, once again, she nods, telling me that she went through the exact same ritual.

“Uh, just a quick question, Date-san.”

“Hmm? Speak your mind freely, Sekigahara.” Date tells me.

“Has there ever been, well, what I want to ask is... is it at all possible for the ritual to go wrong? I mean, you're stabbing me in the heart, after all.”

“Wahaha! Worry not, Sekigahara! There is, of course, a chance that the ritual can go wrong! Many people with weak souls have died before the blade even reached their heart!”

Oh well that's good to... wait, is it just me, or was her reassurance at complete odds with everything else she just said!? “Hey, hey, Date-san, can you at least give me a few seconds to prepare? I mean, even if the ritual works, getting stabbed in the chest is probably really going to hurt, so I think just a moment to steel myself would definitely make the whole thing a lot more likely to work!”

“Wahaha! Look how modest he is, pretending to be afraid so as to not appear arrogant in the face of danger! Three cheers for Kuro Sekigahara! Hip hip-”

“Hooray!” Konishi joins in, and even Mei gave a half-hearted cheer, if only to appease Date-san.”

“Hip hip-”


“Hip hip-”

With the final 'hooray', Date plunges the dagger into my chest. Was that whole cheer part of the ritual, or just another entry on the catalogue of eccentricities for the woman who claims to be the living descendant of Date Masamune?

“Now, rise again, Kuro Sekigahara! Rise as a newly forged Demon Hunter!”

I feel an intense heat spreading through my body, the epicentre of which is, of course, the dagger, now glowing intensely. I instinctively grab at the hilt, but it phases right through my hand, (which would be a lot less concerning had I accidentally tried to grab it with my left hand) and I feel the blade lengthen in my chest, extending so much that it stabs all the way through my back.

“Yes! Awaken!” Date commands. “Let the essence of your soul transform into a Word of Power!” I honestly have no idea what's Demon Hunter terminology and what's Date's posturing at this point. I try once again to take hold of at the hilt of what is now a full-length sword, and this time I manage to grab it. With a single, strained pull, I unsheathe the blade from my own body and hold it aloft.

“Ah-” Konishi gasps, as do Date and Mei. Was it really that incredible to watch? “Kuro-kun, there's-”

“Wahaha! Take a look, Sekigahara! Should you glance straight down, I assure you, you shall see a most wondrous sight!” What's she talking about? Is this just more of her... Date-isms? Well, whatever, I guess it wouldn't hurt to do as she asks...

What? What the heck!? I'm definitely holding the sword up, but... somehow, it's still running me through! I double check I'm definitely still holding the sword, and, sure enough, I am. Then... does that mean...?

“Indeed, Sekigahara! The blade has selected a form based on your own spirit! Not one, but two blades! It is certainly good fortune that you have elected to replace your lost arm!”

Of course I did! What kind of person would choose to live the rest of their life one-handed? Still, I can hardly just wander around with a magic sword sticking out of my chest, now can I? I hand the first sword to Konishi, who accepts it, and pull the second one out. The light enveloping the twin swords fades, and Mei hands two scabbards to Date, who fits them immediately to my waist (without, I may add, asking my permission first).

“Now, Sekigahara, allow me to furnish you with the word of power that the Hunter's mark has carved into your soul!” Date takes a look at my two swords. “Oh? Oh? Wahaha! Most excellent! Yes, indeed!”

Uh, could you stop posturing and tell me about this Hunter's Mark you keep going on about? Please?

“Can I take a look, Date-senpai?” Konishi asks, and Date hands over the swords (my swords, in case you forgot, as Date seems to have done) “Wow, that's so cool, Sekigahara-kun!”

“Um, what, exactly, is so cool?” I ask.

“Your Hunter's Mark!” She explains, showing me the hilts of the swords. In the same place as the 'Hunt' Kanji on the dagger, the kanji for mirror is emblazoned on the two swords, the sword that Konishi is holding in her right hand is normal, but the one in her left, the kanji is, rather fittingly, reversed, as if reflected in a mirror itself. To a trained demon hunter, that kanji probably holds some significance, but to a layman like me, it just makes the sword look kind of cool, I guess. “Oh, right, you don't know what the Hunter's Mark even is yet, do you? I got so caught up in the ritual that it totally slipped my mind.” She admits with a giggle.

“A Hunter's Mark denotes the Word of Power that the ritual etched upon your soul!” Date continues the explanation. “Each hunter has a single word that defines their unique skill set, you see. Observe!” Date whips out her own sword, showing me the hilt, which has the kanji for explosion carved into it. “You see? This is my own word of power. Fitting of a woman such as I, is it not?”

Loud and destructive? Yep, fits you to a tee, Date-san. Not that I'd actually say that, though part of me expects she'd take it as a compliment.

“Hmm... however, your twin blades provide a certain hurdle to your immediate training. Yes, this is most unfortunate.” Date muses, before immediately perking right back up. “All the more reason for us to await your grappling hook/arm cannon/prosthetic hand with baited breath! Wahaha! Until then, we shall proceed with the completely boring but unfortunately nessesary theoretical portion of your Demon Hunting lessons post-haste! Do try not to fall asleep as I did when I first sat through them!”

Can I take my lessons from somebody else, please? I look over to Konishi, who just gives me a thumbs up, and then to Mei, who scowls at me. Guess I'm on my own here.

“Bored already, Sekigahara? Why else would you gaze so longingly at your fellow club members? Worry not, we have no rules against fraternisation here!” Date tells me.

“N-No, that's not what I-” I defend, Mei looks even angrier with me now. “I was just... since you find these lessons so boring, I was wondering if you'd like to defer to somebody else, maybe?”

“Hmm.” Date muses. “A most appealing suggestion. Yes! Sekigahara, I have no doubt that you are a genius of the highest calibre! Nishida, as the second most senior member present, I would ask you to take over my position as tutor!”

“Me?” Mei complains. “I didn't even want this dude joining the club, and now I've gotta train him!?”

“If you have any issue with Sekigahara's presence here, then shall this not provide a grand bonding experience between the pair of you?” Date suggests. “Yes, of course! Sekigahara, I rescind my prior statement, for I am a genius of an even higher calibre than yourself! Wahaha!”

That's not exactly how I'd put it, but hey, she's the leader, I guess. I get a feeling my life will probably go a lot smoother if I just along with whatever she says. I offer my condolences to Mei in the form of a shrug, and what do you know, that makes her scowl turn into a full blown grimace.

“Fine, let's just get this over with.” Mei sighs. “Sit your ass down, newbie.” Not wanting to provoke her any more than I clearly already have, I do as instructed. “In order to fight demons, we need a fragment of their power, otherwise we'd just end up as their next meal. The Hunter's Mark ritual is the first step of that, but don't think it'll automatically keep you safe.” Mei takes out her own weapon, a serrated dagger, but her hand is covering the mark on the hilt. “Since every Hunter's Mark is unique, there are no shared techniques between hunters, and you'll have to come up with moves that use yours by yourself.” She takes up a fighting stance, crouching low to the ground. “But, since I'm sure Mr Logical doesn't have much of an imagination, here's an example. Pay close attention, cause I'm not showing it to you again until our next hunt.” She closes her eyes in concentration, before they snap back open. “Myriad Shadow Cutter!”

Had I blinked, I would have never seen her move. Hell, even without blinking, neither my eyes nor my brain could fully process what happened. Mei vanished in an instant, leaving behind an after image that faded almost as quickly as it appeared, and innumerable white lines appeared around me, and it felt as if reality itself was being slashed to ribbons. The entire display, intricate and elegant as it was, couldn't have lasted more than a second, and when Mei reappeared, shredding the surrounding grass, bushes, and a few gashes even appear on a nearby tree.

“Oho? It seems Nishida fully intends to show off for you. Give thanks, Sekigahara. What you have just borne witness to is one of Mei Nishida's Five Killer Moves.” Why she would need five different killer moves is beyond me, but it seems that Date's flair for the dramatic extends to the entire club when it comes to naming their moves. “Though I still prefer the name 'The shadow cutting blades falling with 1'000 petals'”. Oh. Never mind, then. I guess Date's game steps up a notch in this department. Does she just hate being outdone in any field?

“By the time I was finished reciting a name like that, I'd be demon chow, Date-senpai.” Mei complains, before turning back to me. “And I was not showing off. Why would I want to make myself more appealing to this loser? I just wanted to make sure he realised exactly how outclassed he was.”

“Well, mission accomplished, I guess. It'd be hard not to outclass somebody who can't even hold his weapon yet.”

As Mei growls at me in frustration, Date folds her arms and lets out a hearty laugh. “Wahaha! Indeed, this is very good! A friendly rivalry is just what we need to make our club feel whole once again! Well done indeed, Sekigahara and Nishida!”

Uh, I don't think friendly is the best word to describe what's going on between the pair of us. And, what exactly does she mean by 'make the club feel whole again'? This newbie is completely lost here, once again.

“I was so worried that having a club filled with girls would feel unwelcoming.” Konishi muses. “It's nice that silly things like that don't get in the way.” Yeah, maybe I don't but Mei seems pretty put out by my gender alone.

“But, and don't take this the wrong way, Mei-san, but, uh, what exactly was that supposed to teach me?”

“Were you even trying to pay attention!?” Mei explodes at me, before turning a deep shade of red. “And d-don't just go around calling me by my first name! Heck, I don't want you referring to me by name at all!”

Then what am I supposed to call you? “But, I already know your brother, calling you both Nishida would get confusing.”

“Then call him by his first name! Not me! That's way too familiar!”

Barring the fact I don't even know her brother's first name, it'd be just as weird if I just started acting familiar with him all of a sudden.

“Wahaha! It seems the lady doth protest too much, no? Yes, there is no doubt that I am witnessing first love blooming in-”

““That's definitely not what's going on here!”” Mei and I both retort at once. I guess we can agree on some things.

“Things are getting a lot more lively around here.” Konishi mutters, a smile on her face. Well, it's good to see that somebody's enjoying the show.

“Wahaha! Indeed, Konishi! This is a new dawn for the Kitaminami Demon Hunting Club! A veritable renaissance, if I do say so myself!” Make that two people. But glancing over, I notice that even Mei's smiling, though it turns to a scowl once she catches me looking.

“W-What are you looking at!? D-Don't tell me, Date-senpai was right? You're after my Maiden's heart! W-Well I only have eyes for Tsuki-cchi, so d-don't get any crazy ideas!”

“Just how big of an idiot do you think I am to try and put the moves on you after all that!?” I retort.

“Calling me by my first name, and stealing glances when you think I'm not looking? Those are textbook creepy dude in love tactics!” Mei continues.

“I keep telling you that's not it!” Before I can defend my honor any further, a loud shot rings out from the direction of the storage shed. Fukada is stood at the door, clearly annoyed.

“Loud. All of you. Distracting.” She warns us, probably not realising quite how threatening she is with a gun in her hand. “Quiet. Please.” She finishes, before storming back into the shed, but pokes her head back around. “Nishida. Clean up. Sekigahara. Not interested. Obvious to anyone.”

“Wait...” I can't quite work out her intentions, and turn to Mei. “Was she telling you I'm not interested, or telling me you're not interested?”

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