Chapter 15:

15

Densetsu Kenshi: Beginnings


   A few days ago my world seemed to come crashing down all around me. In reality, it all started around a month ago when my brother went missing. Although he was initially proclaimed as a missing person, the truth was that he died. He died and soon after, my mother died too. They both died right in front of my eyes, and today was the day when they would be remembered and honored for the lives they lived. That is, today was the day for their funeral.Bookmark here

   Admittedly stereotypical, the day was overcast, and the sky looked to burst open any minute.Bookmark here

   I hadn't prepared myself very well for this day, but I did understand that it would come. I understood that sooner or later, people would gather to celebrate their lives, regardless of how well they actually knew them. That right there was something I couldn't understand. The fact that some people are impressed by the smallest actions, and then remember you for only that little thing, and don't even take into account the way you really lived your life. But really, enough about what I think, this day is supposed to be about them. Bookmark here

   I left my sketchy looking house with the windows all boarded up and headed to the reception hall early in the morning. Naturally, the responsibility fell upon me to organize everything. A bit out of taste, given the situation I was in. What child can actually plan their mother's funeral? And add in your little brother too. It was looking to be a grim day.Bookmark here

   I arrived early to the service as planned. Before me were several elegant flower arrangements and photos of those to be remembered. Everything looked tidy and organized, devoid of color, and ready for lines of people to come in. Ready for lines of people to come in and grieve, cry, and ultimately remember and honor the departed. Bookmark here

   I spoke with the manager in charge, and like I thought, everything was ready for the viewing in a few hours. I say viewing, but I really don't know what other word to use. I can honestly testify that my seventeen year old self wasn't sufficiently versed in the required vocabulary when it came to funerals. But I did know that it ultimately wouldn't be a traditional viewing. I mean that there were no physical bodies to view. And they weren't cremated.Bookmark here

   With several hours of free time now on my hands, I decided to wait patiently for everyone to arrive. I realized that was probably a pitiful sight for a young man without siblings or parents to be the first to arrive at the funeral of his sibling and parent, but such is life. Or rather, such is my life. I'd prefer not to include others into my pain and suffering. Bookmark here

   As I sat waiting, I couldn't help but think. I couldn't help but think about all the what ifs, could've beens, and might have happeneds. I dwelt a lot on the future. I figured that my life would be hard, only figuring that one out because life is what you make it, but there were these kinds of complicated happenstance that just seem to appear out of nowhere. I had recently learned from a good friend that during these times of trial, one should try their best to accept the natural feelings of sadness and sorrow, but not dwell on them. Try their best to see the whole picture, and then accept it for what it is and how it was. And try to combine it all together, those feelings, those precious feelings that have probably only been felt in this situation, combined with a full understanding and acceptance of the situation, and continue on in life. Continuing to learn everyday and to always remember those experiences that may have scarred you once, but will ultimately never leave you. At some point, it may even be possible to look back and laugh. Laugh and smile while you remember and recognize the growth you've made since that day long ago. Bookmark here

   And so, I thought of all that, and I began to smile. I began to smile and silently laugh inside. Don't worry, I did not just lose my mind. Instead, I believe I reached a point where I was able to recognize the good things I had and am still able to enjoy in my life. Specifically, all of the fun moments that I had had with my mother and brother. All of the goofy little moments that I had forgotten about in my selfishness and pride. We really did have some good times. Times good enough to call that house a home. It made me feel a bit emotional. Bookmark here

   Outside, the thunder cracked loudly, and the heavens opened and the rain came pouring down.Bookmark here


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   The people arrived and came and went. I recognized a lot of faculty from the high school, and also several teachers and employees from the elementary school. Many lost their composure when looking at the photos and then looking at me. I understood that they realized just what kind of way my life had turned. I appreciated their sentiment. It made me feel happy that my mother and brother had such profound influences on the pie around them. The day to day people that I oftentimes don't even acknowledge.Bookmark here

   Amongst all of the mourners that passed by, there was one man that stood out in particular. Of course there were many people that I didn't recognize, but the majority explained their relationship, friendship, or acquaintance to my family. This man, did not. He silently passed through the line, placing down one flower for my mother and one for my brother. He didn't say anything to me or to anyone else. In and out he went, not even taking the time to remove his raincoat and hat. He seemed to be an interesting man, but there was no need to pursue his prerogative. People died, and he came to mourn. Nothing more, nothing less, nothing at all.Bookmark here


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   I mentally made the effort to focus on something other than the depressing scene in front of me. It had been several days since my mother died in that "accident", and I hadn't actually had any time to grieve on my own. Up until today, I was plagued by visitors. Always coming by and visiting right when I thought I had a break.Bookmark here

   First was Izumi-chan's unexpected mini activity and eidolon hunt. I'll be honest, I was pretty on the fence at first about her, but now she's a trusted friend and I even have her number on speed dial. Bookmark here

   The second was, well, it'd just be easier to explain everything as it happened until this point.Bookmark here


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   The day after Izumi-chan visited I was awakened by a loud knocking on the front door. I stumbled my way out of bed and when I opened it up I was greeted by someone I had almost completely forgotten about.Bookmark here

   "Best morning, O Seiji-san."Bookmark here

   Takenaka greeted me with that cheery and cheesy line first thing in the morning. Bookmark here

   "Best morning?"Bookmark here

   "Yes. Good, better, best-- thou knowest the rest, O Seiji-san!"Bookmark here

   "Well, I'd be lying if I said I didn't understand your little play on words."Bookmark here

   "Thou art on top of it like always, O Seiji-san."Bookmark here

   "Uh huh, thanks. So to what do I owe the pleasure, Takenaka? I haven't exactly been feeling best lately, despite the state of the morning, so how can I help you?"Bookmark here

   "Well, I realized that thou art in a most difficult position. Therefore, I gave two announcements for thee. One blessed, the other cursed."Bookmark here

   "Good news and bad news?"Bookmark here

   "Exactly."Bookmark here

   I thought about it for a moment and came to my conclusion.Bookmark here

   "I'll hear the good news."Bookmark here

   I could use some positivity in my life.Bookmark here

   "Thou art wise indeed. However, I can not tell thee the cursed announcement right away, understood?"Bookmark here

   "Yeah, yeah. Just tell me already."Bookmark here

   "O Seiji-san, the blessed announcement is that I saw that young lass from Thermo Corp. break into your home and drag you all around the day before today. Thus, I am here to construct a protective device for your windows in order to reduce the exposure to the elements."Bookmark here

   What a roundabout way to say that he was stalking me yesterday, saw some teenage girl break the windows in my house and now he's going to help me with some good old home improvement. Bookmark here

   "What you're saying is that you're gonna board up my windows and make my house look like it's abandoned?"Bookmark here

   "If I spoke the common tongue I would say it the same way."Bookmark here

   "Ah, okay. Thanks for the offer. I'll be inside, just let me know if you need anything to drink or any help."Bookmark here

   "Thou art mistaken, O Seiji-san."Bookmark here

   "What? Do I have to pay you or something? If so, forget it."Bookmark here

   "No, this humble servant works on the desire to spread charity, nothing more. O Seiji-san, thou shalt lend a hand with the labor!"Bookmark here

   "You want me to help you out on your own act of kindness?"Bookmark here

   "O Seiji-san, you reap what you sow. If thou hast the opportunity to sow good works, thou must take advantage of it. In return, thou shalt be blessed ten-fold."Bookmark here

   "I don't get it. I don't get it all, but if it means you'll leave sooner, I'll help you out."Bookmark here

   "Bless thy heart, O Seiji-san."Bookmark here

   "Give me a minute, I've still just barely woken up."Bookmark here

   "Understood, after, we shall go and buy the materials necessary!"Bookmark here


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   I got ready and brushed my teeth as fast as possible. Takenaka was still waiting for me outside, so I tried my best to keep him from waiting. I left out the front door and made sure to lock it behind me. Not that there really was a purpose, given the state of the two wide open windows.Bookmark here

   "Alright, I'm ready," I announced to Takenaka.

   "Let us depart! Onward to the hardware merchant!"

   I could tell that this was going to be a long trip. Maybe trip isn't the best word, considering its connotation for an extended period of time, but then again, I'd say it perfectly sums up how long this was going to take.

   The shopping trip at the hardware merchant was pretty uneventful. Takenaka did scare me when he told the cashier he didn't have a credit or debit card. I honestly thought he tricked me into buying everything and helping out on the job. Turned out that Takenaka is just one of those guys that only carries cash on him.

   Back at my place we were able to finish up the job relatively quick and only with a few arguments about how to board up the windows. It wasn't important at all, but I do think it necessary to mention that as the homeowner, you have the final say. Take that as you will.
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   As we were relaxing inside after a hard day's of work, Takenaka broached the subject of the bad news. The cursed announcement, if you will.

   "O Seiji-san, the great and dreadful time has arrived for me to deliver the cursed announcement."

   "Alright tell me, I'm ready," I answered nonchalantly.

   "Concerning Maekawa," Takenaka began.

   Maekawa-sensei? What could have happened to him?

   "It's in thy best interest to keep thy distance from him."

   "What?? But he's my sensei..."

   "O Seiji-san, forgive me as I speak clearly, but it is no secret that thou art hosting an eidolon."

   "You know??"

   "I had my suspicions before I even met thee, and the incident with the hydrangea hydra confirmed it. Now, do you know what it means to be a host for an eidolon?"

   "Uh, yeah. The basics, I guess. I draw from her power and I can use her abilities and stuff."

   "Correct. Thou art knowledgeable of the basics. However, are you familiar with the risks of hosting an eidolon?"
 
   "Risks? Well we get along just fine, so I wouldn't say there are any problems--"

   "--No, the risks of others targeting thee in order to take the eidolon inside  you."

   "What? That's a thing? But why? Wouldn't that put factions against each other and ultimately distract from the threat of the eidolons hurting innocent people?"

   "Indeed, thou art very good at understanding. Now, let me explain the reason why you carry the largest target on your back. Let me explain the King's Roulette."Bookmark here


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   "That... that sounds incredibly dangerous," I said as soon as Takenaka finished explaining.

   "Yes, it is widely known that Maekawa's number one goal is to complete the King's Roulette."

   "But surely it's impossible, right? To do all that, one would have to devote themselves to a life of killing."

   "O Seiji-san. Dost thou really believe that Maekawa isn't capable of living a life like that?"

   "I-I don't know."

   "He's tried to kill thee before, no?"

   "He... He's mentioned it. B-but why? I trusted him."

   "O Seiji-san, listen closely. When you use an ability, you always say the word 'reaper', right?"

   "Yeah, I do."

   "There is only one grim reaper eidolon. Her and her counterpart are the strongest and most powerful eidolons."

   "The most strong and powerful?"

   "Yes, and they are not easily controlled. In fact, in all of history, there are only a few records of them even being seen."

   "So, if I hosted one, it would make it a lot easier for someone else to get their hands on that eidolon is what you're saying."

   "Exactly. And that is the problem."

   "And Maekawa-sensei..."

   "Yes. Honestly, if I was bestowed the opportunity to cut and run and never see that man again, I would take it and never look back."

   "Well, what about me?"

   "I'm not sure, O Seiji-san. Heaven knows how this will ultimately play out."

   With those interesting words of wisdom, Takenaka excused himself and left me alone. I admit that I was grateful for his company, but when he says bad news or cursed announcement, he's serious.Bookmark here


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   I continued to worry and worry about everything he told me until a soft knocking roused me from my stupor.

   Another visitor? Who could it be now?


   I opened the door ever so slightly and peeked outside. My eyes were blessed with the joyous sight of light and bright platinum hair and crystal clear blue eyes.

   "Mitsuki!"

   "Heyyy, Sei-ji-kun. It's been awhile!"

   "Come in! Come in! Make yourself at home! I-I'm happy to see you!"

   I ushered her in and started preparing some light snacks. You've got to leave a strong first impression for the first time a cute girl comes into your house.

   "I-It's not like I'm happy to see you!" She mouthed off.

   "Huh? Then why are you here?" I said and my hands froze in the middle of the preparation of the snacks. 

   "Oh, w-well, I figured you were lonely."

   "Oh thanks! I've actually had a lot of company over lately, but I'm happy you stopped by."

   "You seem really cheerful despite, you know, what happened."

   Mitsuki casually brought the elephant in the room into her sights, loaded up the artillery, and fired an absolutely massive volley of destructive explosives. The elephant in the room wasn't just pointed out, it was blown to smithereens, and everyone saw.

   "Oh, well, about that. Everyone has their own approach to this kinda thing, but there is something I wanted to tell you."

   I said these words even though I was actually pretty disappointed that this was the first thing she brought up. Her sense of guilt must have been eating away at her and she couldn't seem to get past it. I was hoping that she wouldn't bring it up and we would be able to joke around like back in the day.

   "Something to tell me??"

   "Yeah. I know you were assigned to protect my mother, but please stop worrying about it. I get it that you might harbor bad thoughts and feelings toward it all, but what happened is what happened. Just like what will happen is what will happen. There's no going around and changing it all to accommodate your feelings. A-and that's something I've had to accept too, Mitsuki."

   "I-I see. Thank you Seiji-kun. You've matured a lot since we first started getting along."

   "Haha, you think? Thanks, Mitsuki. Please promise me that you'll stop thinking about it for good. Please?"

   "O-okay, I promise."

   "Thank you."

   "A-and Seiji-kun! I-I'll always be here for you. C-call me anytime and I-I promise I'll talk to you."

   Her plea was genuine. Unfortunately, I couldn't honor it. There was a time when I needed help, and she wasn't there for me. That time was filled up by someone else. It was sad, but I knew that our relationship would never be what she wanted it to be.

   I smiled through it all and reassured her that I was thankful for her kind gesture.

   "I appreciate it, Mitsuki. A day without you caring for me is the day the world loses color."

   "I-I... I should get going now!"

   Mitsuki and her flushed face got up from her seat and ran out the front door.

   "Woah, I wonder what made her say all that. Girls can be so hard to understand," I sighed to myself.

   "They sure can be quite the stumbling block. By the way, how ya doing, Seiji-kun? You all good? Okay?"

   A smooth voice spoke behind me. I turned around and nearly dropped the plate of snacks that I was about to put away. I would probably need them though, considering I had one more visitor for the night.

   "Maekawa-sensei!?"Bookmark here

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