Chapter 18:

Guiding Lights & Protecting Darkness

Azure Sins (Sin Ver.)

The two young demon hunters curiously looked at each other before turning back and nodding at each other in agreement. Moments later they would be walking down a less busy street as a small group with Aisellia and Elanor in the lead having a conversation while Miyaura and Shingen trailed closely behind. Miyaura walked cheerfully behind the two girls simply enjoying the walk itself. Shingen's cheeks blushed red as he looked at the happy Miyaura, his eyes beginning to trail down, his eyes becoming stuck on what was exposed of her cleavage. His eyes became fixated on how they jiggled at her every step, until he caught himself, immediately shamefully turning his head and eyes in the opposite direction. Feeling safe he made a sigh of relief as it seemed Miyaura had failed to notice, simply following Aisellia with her eyes closed and a smile on her face. Unknowing to Shingen, once he had turned to face away from her, Miyuara eye's opened narrowly, already glaring at the demon hunter leading her to close her eyes once again while fixing her attire onto her shoulders completely. In front of them, Elanor would be answering Aisellia's questions.

"Demon Hunters were originally called Demon Slayers for most of their existence. Our guild is close to its eighth year the guilds have been officially recognized. It's the guild who changed Slayers to Hunters and as the name might not suggest we don't only wonder looking for demons to kill, our predecessors proved the faults in that way for a cause. Many imitators existed then, cheating people for money or just special treatment it eventually ruined the reputation of actual slayers, but with many imitators and real slayers alike, it became a hero's dream taking many slayers and imitators' lives...from both greedy people, surviving demi-humans and demons alike. After guilds were made, a few of the past known surviving slayers formed a guild. By being a guild we can all ensure we are paid and properly identified as hunters for credit towards our individual work and pay. Also part of the earnings goes towards the guild."

Keeping his eyes astray towards the buildings they were passing, Shingen began speaking, helping his partner explain their guild to the new mercenary girls.

"Who would think after the rumors so many brave people and those seeking glory alike were still around, in the first three years the guild began accepting members upon invitation but in just those years members join purely at their request and the guild quickly became one of the largest Guilds to exist in those first three years."

"And on that fifth year, it, unfortunately, became one of the smallest guilds to exist now. It was one mission. On a mission, multiple divisions and captains were assigned to slay an imposing demon force. Unfortunately in that great force were several powerful classed demons who wiped out most of the forces with only two captains surviving the tragedy. Ever since then the demon hunter guild is simply the mocking target of other mercenaries. Some guilds have respect for what we do."

"So how do hunters like you two fight the demons? Even a decent group with big guns has a high chance of not surviving a demon encounter." Aisellia stated in response to the newly revealed information to her.

"Through the engineers in the guild, our weapons are engineered to really pack a punch against demons. I am part of the research and repair division while Shin here is part of the more front lines kind of thing."

"Oh? So what do you use Shingen?"

Shingen opened his mouth to speak but the already excited Elanor had interjected herself to answer Aisellia for him, leading for them all to stop walking, moving his cloak to the side to reveal a blue/white elegant sword sheathed on his hip. The elaborate and highly regal look of the blade caught Miyaura and Aisellia's curious attention while Elanor began her explanation of the weapon.

"Shin here is a special prodigy case. His weapon was given to him by the High Priest at one of the temples before he became a mercenary. But why a sword and not a gun right? Well, this baby here is able to cut through even the toughest of demon hide. With Shin's skill in swordsmanship, he's already gotten the attention of captains in the guild even though we both passed our recruitment trial at the same time three months ago, although you could count the year of the recruitment training behind it. This weapon is most famous by name and not its appearance. The High Priest that came from the capital called it an Angelo. Angelo in history was the weapons crafted by angels to combat demon-kind."

"Angelo?" Aisellia questioned the demon hunter, stunning her demon hunter acquaintances, the two curiously looked at each other before returning their strange stare to Aisellia.

"Yes but the angel stuff is just legend. Older members of the guilds teach us that there were weapon-smith families that formed a coalition to help slayers by repairing their weapons and offering places of rest on long journeys. Those families existed all over the continent but along with that tragedy, all of them were wiped out. With the mass of hunters the mission needed, so many were commissioned for repairs. Which brings me to MY question about YOUR weapon, I can tell what you have there is a gun but its craftsmanship reminds me so much of an Angelo."

Half an hour later...

Night fell onto the city, the group of four now present at the guildhall. On the seats attached to a table, Elanor sat on the edge seat with Aisellia right next to her. Next to Aisellia was Miyaura who sat on the table itself, with her legs hanging over the lengthy seat her friend sat. Shingen sat on the other side of the table, looking between Elanor and Aisellia as they continued their conversation. Shingen let out a sigh in their background.

(How can two people talk for so long continuously? Elanor's a nice girl. Back in the market, she picked out they were newbies and likely in over their heads. Seeing how we're all going to be on this mission, it's nice she's helping them in her way to understand since they're new.) Shingen thought, hearing Elanor further educate the girls. Aisellia listened in intently making it obvious she was focusing to gain as much information as she could.

"To put our demon assessment simply to compare to your understanding of classes, a Lesser demon is a Daeva Threat level, meaning they can easily overtake villages and small towns but their overall abilities are basic. It takes even experienced hunters to kill one. Lesser demons are the most existent threat to lives. They may be the weakest but there are exponentially more of them than higher classed demons!"

"I see, and Greater Demons must be the threat level you mentioned earlier Oni?"

"Yes yes! Even at the academy for our guild not many people can catch on or understand much of it that quickly. Many people have joined for the simple thought of killing demons and nothing more...which is why our reputation is how it is now. Oni level demons, greater demons, are capable of widespread destruction and power however when becoming a greater demon a small percentage doesn't gain great physical prowess or abilities but something more deadly. Intelligence, becoming a minimal conscious mind they are able to plan, set traps and gain other demons as their followers!"

"So there is always the chance a group of demons could be led by a demon weaker than them but displays a higher intelligence? Could that be due to the mentally conscious one having a higher demonic Aura?"

Miyaura chimed in at the end, their conversation having caught her interest. Suddenly Elanor and Shingen bot tilted their head to the side curiously looking at her.

Elanor & Shingen: "Demonic...Aura?"

Miyaura: "Huh you guys don't know? With all the smarty stuff going on I thought that would be common knowledge for hunters."

Elanor Martin: "Wait what's this aura?"

Aisellia quickly interjected, waving her hands nervously trying to distract from the question.

"Oh, it's nothing! Just a little hypothesis we have going on. I'm actually trying to unveil the hidden truths about demons and their physiology. I feel if more people understood the demon threat more around the world instead of simple ignorance born from sheer fear, we may one day have a better means of defeating them and keeping our loved ones safe. Along with it, I have wished that understanding the bad demons will help people become more kind to demi-humans around the world. But Miyaura and I are just at our starting point for that dream."

Shingen would have a smile on his face during wiping a tear from his eye while Elanor on the other hand stressfully bit onto a handkerchief having tears descending along her cheeks.

Elanor Martin: " beautiful my heart can't take it!"

Shigen Miyamaru: "Indeed. I haven't heard such a great cause for purpose since I was training with my former master."

Miyaura: "Were you...?"

Shingen Miyamaru: "Oh no no no I wasn't a slave or anything like that. My swordsmanship Master! Before joining the Demon Hunter Guild I was trained by a knight who turned out to be a demon hunter in his youth but afterward, he became a Knight for the temple, officially being one of the original ten Holy Knights. Before he passed he made sure his wisdom, knowledge, and skills were passed on. He had no children but he once told me that I was a better child than a man like him could have a part in creating. This Angelo was his, and before that, it belonged to his master."

Miyaura: "So you're like a badass Holy knight without the official title? You must have met plenty of strong enemies!"

Shingen Miyamaru: "In short Yes. I could have continued my training to officially become one but I feel like I can do more good with the guild rather than sitting in a protected city being a Holy Knight for the social status and praise. I'm sure they've easily replaced me."

Shingen said in response to Miyaura, although turning his eyes towards her, seeing her twist around to face him. She had placed her knees on the seat and her torso leaning over the table, using her arms to support her body. Shingen had met eyes with the girl but his face grew red as his eyes almost began to drop down to her exposed cleavage. In an attempt not to look he could only try his hardest to keep eye contact with her.

"So you are strong! I knew it! I have an eye for strong people. You'll be a great backup, although no being or person is more capable than my love to have my back hee-hee!" Miyaura said confidently.

(I can't move my eyes. It's taking everything I have just not to look down! I've never seen any that huge...and soft looking....NO What kind of black magic does this woman's body have?! I mustn't look!)

Aisellia watched amusingly already knowing what the kind boy was trying to avoid looking at.

"He's struggling super hard. He looks like he's going to burst a blood vessel."

"Shin's not even that focused when fighting demons..." Elanor stated. The two girls shared a laugh while Shingen's struggle continued to grow ever more stressful, veins pushing against his skin and sweat dripping from his head.

"Okay, I think we've had our fun with him long enough."

"Question, Is she doing it purposely?" Elanor curiously asked Aisellia.

"Far from it. More like she's just really comfortable in her skin and with herself. She chose her outfit design only so revealing for one man. Sometimes what shows escapes her mind. Without our guard around she can get excited thinking about him. But there's a trick. Watch this."

Aisellia responded, turning to the other side to face Miyaura, gently grabbing the end of her friend's skirt, and lightly tugging it.

"Miyaura you're going to kill Shingen. It would be bad if his head exploded like a melon. Those weapons are for your one and only right? You might want to be a little more attentive with people around. It's not just us anymore"

With those words Miyaura's eyes widened, looking down to her chest that rested over her folded arms.

"Oh!" Miyaura exclaimed, leaning back and returning her weight onto her knees completely while casually pulling her kimono top-attire back onto her shoulders. Drastically reducing the quantity of exposed breasts, but with her bust size, her cleavage would still be visible where the center of the clothes did not meet to cover her up as she returned to her position sitting on the table itself.

"Thanks, Aisellia, the full enjoyment is an exclusive members club!"

She said placing her hands on her cheeks, expressing a cheery smile on her face thinking of the man Karna whom she spoke of.

"I sometimes wear slightly more covering outfits like I am now. There's still plenty of visible skin though. But it's just a personal choice like hers. Just because there's a difference doesn't mean either is actually wrong or bad. I think others pay more attention to noticing it than the girl they're on honestly but I understand Miyaura's struggle. When you want space and air, they're not easy to just hide away, especially if you want to be comfortable without it feeling like a ton of pressure crushing your chest because of a too-small bra or going through a heat stroke from a tight shirt with no breathing room. They should really increase the fabric for the chest in clothes for bustier women."

Aisellia started to say looking down at her chest placing her hands on her breasts and letting out a deep sigh.

"A buxom girls' struggle I guess."

"Yeah and Oh! Sorry, Shingen I didn't notice! You're nice so it would be sad if your head burst like a melon!"

"I-it's fine." (Melons are too convenient to compare things to here.)

He said through his nervous laughter. Aisellia eyes caught something from the side of her vision, turning her head towards Elanor who had lowered her head to Aisellia's chest level, inspecting her chest.

"I don't know if you two know this but you're substantially more busty than the average woman!"

Elanor extended a finger and poked Aisellia breast, causing her to blush and cross her arms over her chest to cover them, which lead Elanor to seemingly teleport over to Miyaura and poked hers. Seeing no reaction from Miyaura but a curious look, watching Elanor slowly pressed her finger against one of Miyaura's breasts and slowly pushed her finger inward slightly.

(Whoa, I barely pushed and my whole finger sunk in! These are like some kind of super boobs!) "They're bigger than captains, she has big ones too hee-hee! All the lower-ranked men in the guild can't ever stop mentioning her figure. I'm a little jealous, those guys over there have been breaking their necks the whole time looking at you two. The attention, not them."

Elanor finished saying gesturing over to the guys she spoke of at another table. Leading Aisellia and Miyaura to simultaneously look over at the table she was talking about. Most of those men quickly turned away attempting to hide their fawning shame but one kept looking, soon meeting eyes with the girls, then winking his eye knowing when he had their attention. A look of disgust suddenly struck Aisellia and Miyaura's faces, shuddering in disgust while Elanor went back to her seat laughing at their immediate expressions of disgust.

"You two are hilarious! A lot of free march girls like the idea of being taken care of or just sleeping with a well-known mercenary if even just for a few nights to feel secure and safe, maybe start a family somewhere safe if they could. This area's dense with demons, it's everybody's fear of what happens way too often in the world. It really makes you think about how short life can be and even the things the monsters can take away. Something like that...can break a girl in so many ways, you're scared think maybe you'll find someone to rid you of that fear and trauma. Monsters...humans and demons can hide behind a disguise just to take advantage of someone..."

Elanor said with a sorrowful tone in her voice. Her eyes looked up at the ceiling as she seemed to drift off into a dark thought. Aisellia and Miyaura could both see the saddened look on her face, both turning to Shingen who held his head low, his hair preventing them from seeing his face while sitting in silence. The two girls looked at each other with a very concerned expression before Aisellia turned to gently place her hand on Elanor's shoulder. Miyaura's eyes shifted to the side, seeing one of Shingen's hands clenched tightly into a fist. Once Aisellia's hand touched her shoulder, tears fell from Elanor's eyes catching herself by surprise and laughing at herself while she wiped her tears away.

"Sorry, sometimes I just go on a tangent! But that guy that was looking is a B-class mercenary and has been making a little name for himself in the area, well him and his friends anyways." Elanor explained herself to them but Aisellia and Miyaura still looked concerned for her.

"I'm fine I promise! After I met the captain my life changed for the better, it was her that inspired me to join the academy and guild."

Aisellia Rae: "Oh? You've mentioned this captain before."

Elanor Martin: "Yes! The guild has different divisions each with a captain. The captains are phenomenal in power and skill. Even as humans they're able to fight off lesser demons with ease, each has slain at least five greater demons for their title. They've honed their skills and body to near supernatural limits, it's believed even outside of our guild the captains are a force of their own. With our bad reputation and our member decrease rate, it's well understood the captains are the reason we are able to still have a guild. For example, the nobles paying for the mission requested a few captains to participate but our captain came alone, with us of course. I'm her personal assistant and Shin is the upcoming swordsman of the divisions."

Shingen Miyamaru: "I'm not that great Elanor. I wouldn't be able to come close to a captain's skill."

Elanor Martin: "I'm sure you'll become lieutenant soon Shin. I believe in you!"

Shingen Miyamaru: "Thank you Elanor, I'll do my best not to let you down....not to change the subject but I think you girls managed to get someone's attention. That guy's walking over here and I get the feeling it's not for me."

Noticing the warning he gave them, the three women curiously looked forward out into the room, seeing two mercenaries walking towards them with smiles on their faces. Just before the men reached them, a person came running through the guildhall and stopped beside the two men.

"Boss! We lost Johnny and Pagus in the raid!"

"What? How? We had the jump on all those bounties hiding out together."

"That's just it! Some monster...or some person? I don't know what that thing is! It looked like a man but he was trying to steal our hunt. We warned him to scram with our new rifles and he said something about not being able to kill THEM because of a deal but that didn't mean he couldn't do anything to us and just wouldn't turn away!"

Hearing the man speak and characterized the person, Aisellia and Miyaura listened curiously as the man's story unfolded. Yet once the minion spoke of a deal paired with a threat they began to look nervous. Both girls averted their eyes from anyone's gaze awkwardly.

"So did you get the prey?"

"That's just it boss, we shot him but he didn't go down. It only just pissed it off! It had crazy speed and choked Mackie before using him and the others to smash a hole in the wall! That's when Pagus tried to save'em but he just got snatched up and used to actually break the wall! The man-beast laughed the whole time doing it.-in his words- I won't have to walk around to the front door. The enemy started firing at all of us so we just got out of there!"

"The rest of ya must be at the medical station if you're hanging out here tellin' me this looking pretty banged up yourself. So what of the monster you mentioned?"

"No clue, after he made the hole with our guys, the enemy started shooting. Last I saw he went into the building by himself."

"Damn, that was our best tracker duo...Hm, Good job reporting in. Go rest up and I'll join you and the rest in a bit. I have something I want to check out with the lieutenant here."

He said placing his hand on the minion's shoulder, guiding the man to join their group at their table near the back of the massive hall they were in while he and the other member walked forward until they stopped close to Aisellia's table. Their smug grins revealed their intentions before they even spoke. Not wasting any time they began looking over its mostly female occupants before speaking even a word.

"Quite the table of attraction over here. Three beautiful ladies and a nice little boy. These two in uniform must've already signed a death warrant joining that guild when they put those cloaks on. But you two are the rumored newbies, and I gotta say the boys weren't lying about how cute you girls are."

Finishing his sentence, the mercenary's eyes started to trail downward from Miyaura and Aisellia's eyes yet before they could Elanor quickly smacked him from under his chin with a thin metal rod. His attention know on the hunter who lifted his head slowly with the rod protruding from a mechanism hidden in her sleeve like a hidden blade. The female Hunter had lifted his chin up to keep his eyes off her new acquaintance's large bosoms. It was now all three of the women's facial expressions shifted into a simultaneously annoyed glare. Throwing his hands up in surrender, Elanor retracted her weapon back into her sleeve thus allowing the rugged man to move his head freely.

Mercenary Leader: "Let me try again eh?  I heard ya were new and I made my way over here to offer ya a place of safety and security with me in my crew. Gotta warn ya I'm a needy stallion so I promise none of the guys will get to squeeze on ya but me. "

Miyaura: "We're fine and dandy...Thanks for trying..."

Aisellia Rae: "...I  really can't believe so many guys think that's how you should start a conversation...does no one care about first impressions out here? Anyways we have someone for protection."

Miyaura: "He's the only person we'll ever need really!"

Mercenary Leader: "Trust me ladies you can't make any decent money around here without someone watching your back. Without it, you'll just end up dead with these two and I personally think that would be a waste. This business can get...lethally competitive. Some don't like others getting in the way of their coin. We have a couple of ladies of our own, I'm sure they could help you get comfortable with... understanding favors...for your other crew leader. It earns a lot."

Aisellia and Miyaura let out a depressive sigh, seeing the man wasn't taking the hint well. Having her patience tested, Aisellia spoke, her words making her exhaustion of their presence known.

"Ugh, so lame. *Sigh* Here we go. Trust ME, we're doing a lot more than well taken care of with our safety and company currently." Aisellia proclaimed laughing under her breath and smirking. Her comment led Miyaura to giggle at the truth she found in multiple degrees within the comment. Both demon hunters appeared simply baffled by their giggling, at a loss at their change of tone. 

"Much more better than whatever you could dream of offering too! He's always taking care of our needs Just thinking about it, Mmph!"

Miyaura said, letting out an excited oomph at the end. Her eyes rolled upward, sensually biting her bottom lip. Being physically/mentally caught up in her thoughts about him sent gratifying shivers down her spine. Seeing this caught both Elanor and Shingen off guard, both blushing at what they could tell was generally going through her mind given her physical behavior and expression. Elanor began to overheat, the intensity of Miyaura making her quite red-faced which led Shingen to notice and begin fanning her in the background with a paper fan. The mercenary was drawn back a bit, looking rather insulted by their harsh rejection. Suddenly the minion from before came racing back over to his leader. The mass of female gasps and murmurs filling the room quickly gained all of their attention towards the entrance to the hall. Atop the steps, the women could see Karna. Standing with what remained of his tattered shirt coupled with a sigh of sadness released through his lips as his eyes lazily scanned the room.

"Huh? This guy must have had a rough day. Looks like another new merc got robbed on the roadside. He must have the worst luck of all."

Shingen noted while chuckling, his eyes shifting back towards the ladies only to see that Elanor's blood was already rushing to her head, turning her face entirely red. He could see Miyaura seductively smiling at the guy, licking her lips. Her smile stretched ear to ear and narrowed eyes gave her a look he could only describe as a starving predator eyeing its hefty long-awaited prey. Aisellia on the contrary continued facing the mercenary leader. w

"Oh...Oh, my maker!" were the only words to escape Elanor's face as she blushed, placing her hands on her warm cheeks.