Chapter 14:

14

Densetsu Kenshi: Beginnings


   "So where are we headed to now, Izumi-chan?" I asked.

   We had just spent the last hour and a half at an arcade. Izumi-chan seemed to be the type of girl to come to the arcade in her free time, considering the annual pass she owned and all of the prizes she won. But hey, I didn't mind, I got a free stuffed bear out of it. Bears.

   "hmm... we could sit here for a bit?" She suggested and gestured toward an empty bench at a nearby park.

   "That's alright with me."

   We went and sat down  and munched on some snacks that we, but really only Izumi-chan, had won at the arcade.

   It wasn't silent as we sat there. Izumi-chan was more like vacuum-chan as she inhaled every chip, pretzel, and candy that she ate. Crumbs and bits of food flew everywhere as she munched along with her mouth wide open, carefree and oblivious of the scene she was making.

   I wonder what would happen if...

   She tossed a chip into her mouth and started chewing. Her eyes closed as she savored the limited edition flavor of baby back barbecue.

   I made my move.

   I untwisted the cap of my water bottle.

   Bringing it right up to her mouth, I squirted the water down her throat with full force.

   "...ohhh... munch munch munch... soooo guuuuud... munch munch munch... yummmmy yumm- AHH! AGH! AGH!"

   She started coughing up her food and ran to a trash can and even threw up a bit.

   "wth! Seijiii-kun! ur so so so mean!"

   "Ooh-ooh, stop pouting Izumi-chan! Hahaha!"

   "ig it was kinda funny, hehehehehe!"

   We laughed together for a few more minutes. It was honestly really fun.

   "heyyy, Seijiii-kun. what do you like to do for fun??" Izumi-chan asked.

   "Oh? Well, the usual things I guess. Anime, manga, working out, being outside-- that kinda stuff."

   "umm anime and manga don't normally go with working out and being outside."

   "I gave you the honest answer. What more do you want from me?"

   "...u."

   "Huh? Well, what about you, Izumi-chan?"

   "umm, like if i had to choose... prolly texting, listening to music, being outside, working out, watching anime, and reading manga. lol."

   "Being honest with someone you just met is no laughing matter. But hey, it seems like we have some common interests!"

   "it appears so..."

   "Hey let's go somewhere else, it's kinda hot out, and your face looks pretty flushed."

   "umm... okayyy. where do u want to go?"

   "Why not a book store? We both like to read, right?"

   "mmm, okayyy!"
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   We headed on over to the bookstore and I have to admit, I was really enjoying my time with Izumi-chan. Despite her quirky attitude popping out a little too strong at times, we were always laughing and just having some good old fashioned wholesome fun.

   "heyyy, Seijiii-kun! what do u think of this one?" She asked me, shoving the first volume of a popular manga in front of my eyes.

   "Hmm... This is the one with the super good natured protagonist that tries to heal his sister right? Everyone loves the sister even though she never talks and is a minor, right?"

   "yeppp, u seem familiar with it. u think i should buy it?"

   "Well I've only seen the anime, but it's kinda expensive. Do you think you can afford it?"

   "i do have a job, Seijiii-kun."

   "Oh right. Thermo Corp."

   "yuppp, it's not much, but it pays the bills."

   "Wow. Do you work a lot then?"

   "nope. i work part-time."

   "Part-time? What about the other part of your time?"

   "well, u see... i have two jobs!"

   "Really!?"

   "yuppp! part-time eidolon slayer, full-time hottie!" She boasted.

   My jaw dropped to the floor. How lame. What a ridiculous answer.

   "Ha ha ha. Anyway, aren't you like super young for a part-time job?"

   I hadn't mentioned it before, but Izumi-chan looked like a little girl. There was no way she was over twelve years old.

   "me? umm... i'm sixteen!"

   "Sixteen! You're a teenager!?"

   "mhmm, and so r u, right? aren't u like, seventeen?"

   "Uh, yeah, but you look really young!"

   "and u look really surprised."

   "I just thought you were younger, that's all. My bad, I'm sorry."

   "oh nooo, don't apologize. it's okayyy, really, it is! if i had feelings, i'm sure they would've been hurt by that, but i don't! so no big deal!"

   "So robotic!"

   "hehehehehehe! ur funny Seijiii-kun!"

   "Hahaha!"

   "hehehe!"

   I ended up buying the manga for Izumi-chan. She'd done a lot for me lately, so it was the least that I could do to start paying her back. We headed out of the bookstore and started walking back to my place.

   "Hey, Izumi-chan."

   "what?"

   "What's Thermo Corp. really like?"

   "oh, well. tbh, i've signed a non-disclosure contract, so i can't really tell u."

   "A non-disclosure contract? Sounds serious."

   "yeah, it's a big company, u know."

   "I bet."

   "buttt, if u sign a non-disclosure contract with me, then i can tell u!"

   "Really?"

   "mhm! here ya go!"

   She handed me a small piece of paper and a pen.

   "Izumi-chan, this is the back of a receipt that has 'non-disclosure' written on it."

   "yeppp! so sign it already!"

   "Okay." I scrawled my signature across the crumpled up paper and gave it back to her.

   "tysm!" She took our freshly agreed upon non-disclosure contract and ripped it up. Ripped it to absolute shreds. She gathered all the pieces together in the palm of her hand and blew on them so they were scattered with the wind. I'm pretty sure that was littering.

   "Wha? What are you doing?" I was thoroughly confused. After all that talk about working for a serious corporation, she just up and turned back on her word. Girls can be complicated, I guess.

   "well, umm, idk? i just felt like it?"

   "You just felt like it? I thought you were pretty serious about this whole thing?"

   "well, normally, but then i met this guy and i feel like i'm going through a bit of a rebellious phase rn. i might even quit my job!"

   "Listen to me Izumi-chan. Quitting your job is not worth it for some boy. Tell me who he is and I'll take care of this distraction for you."

   I put my hand on her shoulder as I proclaimed that I would help her against the many distractions in life. I couldn't bear to see a good friend of mine ruin her future before it even started. Boys can be such trouble!

   "no! h-he's pretty oblivious rn and doesn't even realize it... so it shouldn't be a problem!"

   "Izumi-chan! He's clearly part of the problem, but you mustn't get distracted! You have your whole life ahead of you, what something goes wrong? Don't take the chance!"

   "ahhhhhhh! i mean, but he's like suuuper brave and cute and stuff! how can i not like him!"

   "This guy sounds amazing! But fight the temptation Izumi-chan! The greater the height, the higher the fall!"

   "buttt he's like sooo wise and even has a hidden funny side! he seems depressed but i'm sure he's actually really happy!"

   "He sounds like an E-Boy! Izumi-chan! Don't fall into these internet scams! Here, take my contact info so you can call me whenever you think about him so you don't get distracted!"

   I thrust my phone with my contact info open to her so she could put it into her phone.

   "AHHH!" She squealed and then fainted. Luckily, we were sitting right next to each other so she collapsed right onto me. I caught her in my arms and laid her down so she could rest for a bit before she woke up.

   This kid that she's crushing on must really be something to overwhelm Izumi-chan like this. I took a closer look at her peaceful face. She was actually really pretty. It wasn't something I had noticed because, well, she was always either trying to kill me or my eyes were always closed shut from laughing so hard with her. Her dark auburn hair really complimented her unusually tan skin. She seemed to be pretty true to her Generation Z lifestyle, always wearing a pair of headphones and having what looked like two to three different pairs of earbuds on her too. 

   Izumi-chan. I wonder what school she goes too? Or does she really only work all the time?


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   "Oi, Izumi-chan. Wake up, it's been like twenty minutes." I nudged her head and she finally woke up. Revealing dark golden eyes that had never caught my attention until now.

   "oh?... SEIJIII-KUN!? what am i doing laying down like this next to you?? you delinquent!"

   "I didn't do anything! I swear! You fainted when I gave you my contact information! Nothing more, nothing less!" I pleaded my innocence.

   "hehe! i know! i wasn't actually unconscious! i was waiting for u to give in to your brutish natural instincts and make a move on me!"

   "What?? I would never! I'm a man of culture!"

   "hehehe! u passed my test ig! sooo, what do u want to talk about now??"

   "To tell the truth, I'm still a bit tired from everything that happened yesterday. Would it be alright if I walked you home and we called it a night?" I asked.

   "hmm, sounds like u just want to get away from me..."

   "I wouldn't say something so tasteless!"

   "hehehe! okayyy, walk me home, O Seijiii-kun!"

   "Sheesh, you sound like Takenaka when you call me that. But that's not important, so let's go. Which way is home for you?"

   She and I walked the dark lonely streets toward her house. Every little while when it was necessary, she gave me a direction to follow so we stayed on course and didn't end up lost. On the way we passed by the local zoo and it seemed eerily empty. It was late at night, so there wasn't really a reason for people to be there, but it just seemed off. 

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   "Izumi-chan, do you always pass by this zoo on your way home?"

   "mmm, sometimes, but i don't normally walk this way, why?"
   "I was just thinking that something felt a little weird. Like it's super quiet right now, wouldn't at least some of the animals be awake?"
   "umm, idk. but now that you mention it... i kinda feel like, some spectra energy over there that prolly shouldn't be there? i'm not really sure tho."
   "Do you think it's safe to leave it alone for the night? I'm asking for your professional opinion here, Izumi-chan."
   "umm, well... if you really want to know, Seijiii-kun. the night is young! let's check it out!"


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   She ran off to the zoo and climbed up and over the front gate. I followed after and reluctantly joined in on her blatant trespassing.

   People do this all the time in movies, right? If there's actually a problem, we might come out of this as heroes or something. Maybe we'll get a medal or a statue in front of the zoo to forever commemorate our heroic deed.

   We started our investigation into the zoo. I had never even seen this place before, let alone knew it existed, so I followed Izumi-chan's lead.

   "heyyy, Seijiii-kun, it is kinda quiet here."

   Izumi-chan broke the silence and announced the obvious reality in front of us.

   "There's nothing here... like all of the enclosures are here, but they're all empty."

   The zoo was completely empty. Not a single animal in any of the places where they should be. We wandered around all throughout the park, checking and double checking the exhibits. The park had to have been abandoned for some reason and still hadn't been demolished to open up space for new construction. But Izumi-chan did mention that she had passed by the zoo before. Was it always like this?

   "Hey, you said you've walked by this place before. Do you know if it closed down?" I asked her.

   "umm, idk. i can't remember like, actually looking at it?" She replied.

   "Oh that..."

   I didn't finish my reply because I saw something that we had definitely overlooked. 

   It was a sign that pointed to the large animals exhibits. We had probably passed the sign several times on our walk around the zoo, but we definitely overlooked it or confused it for a different sign. But I knew, I knew that we hadn't been to any exhibits for bigger animals like lions, elephants, zebras, hippos, or giraffes. 

   "Yo, Izumi-chan. Check out this sign. It's for the bigger animals and it points toward the back of the park."

   "hmm, we fosho haven't been there. let's gooo!"

   It wasn't a far walk to the large animals exhibit, and when we arrived, there was a most surprising sight. In unison, Izumi-chan and I let our thoughts escape us.

   "What the...?"

   "wtf?"Bookmark here


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   In front of us was the elephant exhibit, and it was full of every single missing animal in the zoo. This didn't seem like some midnight meeting for a zookeeper to receive dating advice from the animals. Every single animal was asleep and accounted for in the elephant exhibit.

   I hope my words weren't misleading, and every single animal was sleeping, but they were all floating in the air. All of them, except for a gigantic yellow elephant sleeping right in the middle of the exhibit. Sleeping on the ground, I might add.

   "umm, i think that might be an eidolon, Seijiii-kun." Izumi-chan said, pointing at the giant yellow elephant.

   "Yeah, I think you're right. This exhibit description doesn't mention anything about yellow elephants."

   "not to mention the ridiculous amount of spectra energy it clearly has."

   "Don't forget to mention the floating animals too. That's for the circus, not the zoo."

   "well, we can't just leave them like that, right, Seijiii-kun?"

   "Right! Let's get in there and take that elephant down!"

   We both summoned our swords and confidently strolled into the lion's den, ergh, elephant's den. Piece of cake, five minutes. In and out, no problem.Bookmark here


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   We entered the exhibit and well, it wasn't what I was expecting. Meaning, I thought it would be simple to just kill the eidolon and head out and continue on with the night. But, I never thought that we would also be affected by that weird floating spell. 

   As it sounds, we were indeed caught up in the problematic gravity, or lack thereof, situation.

   "Uh, Izumi-chan."

   "umm, what's up? Seijiii-kun?"

   "We've been floating around for like ten minutes now. I'm starting to lose my patience!"

   "hehehe! it was fun for a lil bit, but not anymore ig."

   "So what do we do??"

   "hmm. well i'd say that we're caught in a pretty sticky situation. do u know what this is called?"

   "Uh, no? Bad luck?"

   "nope. it's called an ambient realm! it happens when a swordsmen or eidolon releases their spectra energy into their surroundings and starts to manipulate the world around them in a certain distance!"

   "Woah, that's intense. So, now that I know that useless bit of information, how do we get out of this?"

   "u gotta take out the source ofc! the el-e-phant!"

   "But it's the only thing that isn't floating, how doe we get down there?"

   "idk, think like an el-e-phant?"Bookmark here


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   They say that wisdom comes out of the mouth of babes. But with every existential piece of advice like that comes several questions. So I humbly ask, now that several hundred years have passed since that expression came about, what qualifies as a babe? 

   A babe could be any person younger than yourself, metaphorically thinking. Therefore, Izumi-chan falls into this category. But is it really wise to judge someone on just a singular line of thought? I dare say that it is actually unwise to judge like that. 

   So, using Izumi-chan's self-proclaimed "full-time hottie" as testament, I argue that if she has the confidence to egoistically define herself as such, then others may describe her using a similar word. No, they have the right to describe her with any similar word of their choosing. The word of focus being, "babe".

   Now that that's established, is it wrong for me to call Izumi-chan "babe"? In what ways would it be wrong? Morally, ethically, pathologically? All of the above? No matter the reasons previously listed, is it socially acceptable to call a member of the opposite gender "babe" without first belonging in an established romantic relationship?

   Naturally, several theories, arguments and foolproof ways came to mind in order for me to call Izumi-chan "babe". However, I would never call her that.

   Simply because she said perhaps the stupidest and most unwise thing I've ever heard in a serious situation. Thus we see that if wisdom comes from the mouth of babes, then Izumi-chan is no babe, because wisdom does not come out of her mouth.

   "THINK LIKE AN ELEPHANT!?? WHAT ARE YOU EVEN THINKING!!"

   "i was just trying to help..."

   "Jeez! No, no, it's fine! I'm sorry I got mad."

   "okayyy, nbd Seijiii-kun! grab my hand!"

   She smiled and extended her hand out to me. I reached out and struggled against the gravity pulling us apart. My fingers brushed against hers, igniting me with hope. That hope was quickly extinguished as I kept reaching out but could never grab her hand.

   "stop being so dramatic and grab my hand, u obnoxious pos. ur not even that far away."

   "Sorry, I couldn't resist the opportunity."

   "okayyy! here ya gooo!"

   She grabbed my hand and twisted her body and slung my down toward the sleeping elephant with all of her force. She didn't have to communicate the plan to me. From the beginning I figured this would be the only way to get close enough to the eidolon.

   The initial movement wasn't enough, so I periodically planted my feet on a few of the comatose animals' bodies and propelled myself further down.

   I put my sword out in front of me and called out my favorite and only consistently accessible ability.

   "Reaper's Paradise: Hell's Ambition!"

   Like a ray of brilliant green fire, I plunged toward the sleeping yellow elephant.
 
   Its eyes opened and witnessed hell.

   With a single thrust, the eidolon died, releasing its ambient realm.

   The numerous animals rained down all around me, and I walked out of the exhibit, catching Izumi-chan in my arms and never looking back. 
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   "woahhh, Seijiii-kun, u were like super cool back there. i might just fall for u!" Izumi-chan told me on my doorstep.

   "Haha! Good one! You already fell from the sky once! I'll catch you again, don't worry about it." I promised.

   "hehehe! i'll take ur word for it! oh yeah, what do u think happened to the animals when they fell down, Seijiii-kun?"

   "Hm? Oh, I don't know. Don't cats always land on their feet?" I said hopefully.

   "actually i read that that was the only zoo in Japan that doesn't have any animals in the cat family."

   "Oh... best to not think about it then." 

   "hehehe, right! well, gn Seijiii-kun! thx for the fun today!"

   "No thank you, Izumi-chan. You helped me out a lot today."

   "ur welcome! bye-bye!"

   "Bye, Izumi-chan."Bookmark here


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   I entered into the house where I had spent my entire childhood. It's funny that when I describe it like that, I tend to think about my childhood, but there's really not much to think about. At least not now.

   Despite the whirlwind of emotions I had felt today with Izumi-chan, this house pulled out the sadness from deep inside me. I spent some time reminiscing, looking at the family phots, the scrapbooks. Walking through each room. Taking it all in.

   The room formerly known as "Mother's Room" caught my attention. The door was unusually slightly ajar, almost inviting me in. Nothing was stopping me, so in I went.

   I didn't know what to do with myself in this uncharted territory, but I did feel a little curious. I opened the single drawer bed side table, and inside were two journals. One with my brother's name, and the other with mine. I opened up mine and looked through it. Every flip of the page moved me closer to tears. I read enough, and closed the book and put it back.

   She may not have been a perfect mother.
   She may have not showed love in the typical ways.
   She may have even neglected me.
   She may have not done a lot of things right, but now that she wasn't here, it was obvious.

   I knew that she loved me, and that was enough for me to move on and keep on living.Bookmark here

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