Chapter 14:

Mask of the Kamisama

Soul Weapon

May 2nd, 3184
Wednesday - Afternoon

I had woken up—in my dorm room bed. A lot had happened last night. Kiyoko fell unconscious, but ended up okay, and I… Well, I passed out for some reason. Kiyoko isn’t in any shape to have any guests, so I wasn’t able to visit her, but I was told that she was doing fine.

Grudgingly, I dragged myself out of bed and headed for the school. I’m not in the mood to see Miho; Ena is ghosting everyone; and Kiyoko’s recovering. This really does feel like before. Being alone. I don’t know why, but I just feel so down today. I’m not motivated to continue the tournament. It’s not even just the fact that Kiyoko had lost, I just feel a heavy weight on my shoulders after what happened, but I can’t explain why.

I made my way to the tournament’s bracket board to look at the fights for today. Skipping over Ena’s, the list goes as followed:

I fight Iasmu at 1:00 p.m.

And that’s everyone.

I mean, I—What? I fight Isamu today? Now that has me excited. In the few fights that I’ve seen Isamu in, they’ve all been amazing. I can’t wait to test my strength against him. Rereading the brackets, I see that Ayame has a fight not too long before mine. I suppose I can check that one out, too.

I make my way to a café and grab some breakfast before heading for the tournament grounds to watch some fights. After about an hour, someone sits down beside me.

“Hello,” the voice cheerfully says beside me.

I almost jump before I notice who it is. Mirai. I’ve never actually gotten a good time to talk with her before, but what does she want?

“Hi,” I say, nervously.

“Oh, there’s no need to be afraid,” she says, casually, “I know you don’t trust me, but I trust you! I just want what’s best for the future, and I think that involves you.”

“Do you think I’m going to win the tournament?”

“Well, I can’t say that,” Mirai giggles, “But I can say that I expect great things from you. Or perhaps, terrible things—I haven’t decided yet.”

I really have no idea what’s going on in this woman’s head. Much like Jiro, it seems like she wants to get friendly with me, but—like Jiro—I don’t know her intentions. Mirai looks over at me and speaks.

“You look like you have a question for me. How about this! I’ll answer any one question you have with complete honesty!”

“I, uh,” I clammer, “What do you want with us?”

“To train you,” she replies, flatly.

“No, but why?”

“Ah ta, ta, ta,” Mirai shushes me, “I said I’d answer only one question with complete transparency.”

Mirai stares at me, waiting for a response, but I give none.

“But,” she continues, “I suppose I can also answer that, too! As I said before, I want to train you to fight for a future war. Now, this isn’t some hypothetical war. This is a war that’s happening for certain.”

“Who are we fight—”

“Nope,” Mirai interrupted, “You’re not getting a third answer out of me.”

She laughed before calming down after a moment.

“Ah, I’ll let you know soon enough,” Mirai says as she pats my leg, “Let’s just continue watching the fights, shall we?”

“Yeah,” I say, skeptically, “Sure.”

It’s as though Mirai knows what’s going to happen. She’s so certain about this war—is she going to start it? Or does she just know the future. That would explain her name, I suppose. But in the end, I didn’t really learn anything new. I guess I won’t be getting any more answers out of her. At the moment, I have better things to worry about—I can deal with her later.

As I sat on the bleachers beside Mirai, two figures made their way to the arena. Ayame, and a blonde boy with hair flowing in many directions that wears a simple button up shirt and tie. Thinking about it, this is Ayame’s fight, so Miho should be somewhere around here. I scan the room and find Miho sitting almost directly across from me with a troubled look on his face.

Once in position, the referee speaks.

“Are you ready, Ayame Mitsuba?”


“And are you ready, Hikari Juba?”

With a grin, he nods his head.

“Then, three! Two! One! Activate your Gears!”

Both Ayame and Hikari exclaim together.

“First Gear!”

Just as smoke starts to form around Ayame, a large staff forms in Hikari’s hands. The staff is white with gold engravings and accents. The head of the staff had many beams sticking out of it, crossing and zagging between each other—almost in a circuit-like fashion.

Hikari quickly raises his staff to the air and yells.

“Meet my Heavenly Judgement,” he exclaimed hysterically.

He then swung his staff staff down as a barrage of light came down from the sky. The light, aimed in Ayame’s general direction, struck the area around in small beams. It almost looked like lighting, but it was more concentrated and controlled than that—despite the seemingly uncontrolled aiming.

In a light that blinded everyone, a loud boom echoed the room. After our eyes had adjusted, in the center of the arena lay Ayame completely knocked out with burn marks all around her body. With a devilish grin, Hikari looks as though he’s trying to hold back laughter.

The referee then nervously walks back to the arena and announces the victor. Immediately, nurses started to surround Ayame much like they did Kiyoko yesterday. In shock, I look around the room as Hikari exits the tournament grounds. I move my focus to Mirai, sitting beside me. She has a clearly troubled look on her face, much like Miho did. After a moment, she looked over at me.

“It’s best you just get ready for your fight, dear. Alright?”

Without question, I simply nod my head as I get up to leave for the prep room. As I exit, I look back to where Miho was once sitting, but he’s disappeared. I hadn’t even seen him leave the room. Ignoring that, I shakily make my way to the prep room to calm down. If I beat Isamu, that means I have to fight that guy. To be honest, I don’t think I could win. And to be honest, I don’t think I even want to fight him. With a blast like that… I’m sure Ayame will recover to her previous state, but it’ll take a while.

I look around, hoping for someone to talk to me, but there isn’t anyone. They’re all busy preparing for their upcoming fights. After a few minutes, someone does walk up to me, however, and says that my match is starting soon. My anxiety had calmed down, I made my way out of the prep room and onto the arena.

As I approach, the crowd cheers for me. That’s new. But it feels kind of nice. Suddenly, however, the crowd starts to cheer even louder at the sight of someone else—Isamu. However, he looks different than before. This time, he not only wore his haori normally, but there was also something else different, too. Isamu’s face was covered with a white mask that had deep eyebrows and a large nose. Coming out of its top lip and the bottom of its chin were long, grey facial hair. The eyes were filled except for the iris and pupil where Isamu’s eyes lay underneath.

Isamu approached his side of the ring and bowed, completely silent. There’s a different energy about him that I can’t quite explain. It’s almost as though this isn’t Isamu. I mean, it absolutely is, but it just doesn’t feel like it.

The referee, more confused than I am, speaks.

“Kurayami, are you ready?”


“Isamu, are you ready?”


“Isamu? Are you ready?”


The referee took a few steps closer before getting startled.

“First Gear,” Isamu suddenly yells.

The referee runs off of the stage with good reason. Isamu then raises his foot and stomps on the ground with his knees bent and his legs wide. The drums form on his sides as he suddenly plays them. However, much like the feeling I have, this doesn’t sound like the regular playing that Isamu would do. Not wanting to get overwhelmed, I yell.

“First Gear!”

My scythe forms in my right hand as I get into a ready position. To be completely honest, I hadn’t actually thought much about how I’d win if I were to fight Isamu. Since my weapon is just a thin blade, there’s not much I can do about his ash unlike Takashi or Genji. At least I have my cloak, but I’m betting that won’t do a whole lot.

However, there is one move I’ve been preparing for.

Isamu plays his drums more intensely as his ashy snakes come out of them. They suddenly dart toward me as I jump out of the way. I’m able to dodge the one, but the other strikes me in my side as I attempt to block the blow with my scythe. The attack pushes me to the edge of the arena as the other snake I previously dodged makes its way back to me. I jump out of the way and slice it as I dodge. For a moment, the part that I cut off starts to fall before connecting itself back to the rest of the ash.

Standing in the middle of the arena, both ash snakes charge in at me from either side. I crouch into position as they hone in on me. I wait for them to get closer. I wait. They’re now just a meter away. Just a bit more. Within the second that lasted almost an eternity, the ash snakes almost upon me, I jumped up high in the air and flipped. As the snakes collided beneath me, I swung my scythe backwards and sliced them down the middle.

As I land, half of the ash sits on the ground as the other half hovers a few meters away from me, waiting to reconnect. I then extend my right hand forward and hold my scythe in front of me. Then, I let go.

"Check this out," I boast.

With a faint purple aura that almost can’t be seen with the eye, my scythe hovers in front of me. Then, it sways to the left just slightly before it starts to intensely spin clockwise. It goes faster and faster as the ash connects with itself. Now, my scythe spinning faster than the eye can keep up with, only a black and silver blur can be seen like a plane’s speeding propeller. One thing I have to thank Jiro for is helping me understand my First Gear more.

One of Isamu’s snakes hones in on me and I move my hand toward it as the scythe follows directly in front. As the snake makes contact, it gets completely devoured by my propelling blade, sending the ash all across the arena. I’ve got to keep an eye out for that.

The snakes continue to barrage me as I use my scythe as a forcefield, destroying them one by one. Once both of them are nullified momentarily, I take that opportunity to strike. Like a baseball pitcher, I raise my arm in the air and throw my scythe toward Isamu. Heading in a clear direction, it suddenly gets knocked off course by a couple blasts of ash that came from the ground.

The shot caused the scythe to lose balance and spin out of control toward Isamu. I suppose that’s not that big of a difference. However, the unexpected happened. Without moving an inch, the scythe, in its frantic state, completely missed Isamu’s body entirely and flew past him toward the audience.

With a shriek from the students on the bleachers, I pull my scythe backward and try to strike Isamu from behind. As though he could sense the scythe, he quickly squats down, spins 180 degrees and throws his foot in the air. It strikes my scythe perfectly and sends it rocketing in the air.

Without hesitation, he then spins back toward me and dashes as fast as he can with a deep yell. Isamu charges his fist as I swing my hands in front of my face to block the attack. His fist slams into my crossed forearms with a slam. He continues his barrage of attacks that I barely block.

Almost like a monster, he continues to throw punch after punch, even getting some kicks in there, too. Right after throwing two fast jabs to my face, he grabs the sides of my head and brings them down and quickly connects it with the cap of his knee, causing blood to fly out of my nose. Almost instantly after that, he continues throwing more punches. It’s almost as though he’s out to kill—like Kiyoko was against Miho.

I’m able to find an opportunity to dive past him, but I’m quickly caught by the leg as he tries to pull me in. Grabbing my leg to my torso, he pulls me toward him and throws another punch that I just barely move my head out of the way from. A sharp crack is heard from where he punched as a hole is made straight through the ground. I look intensely at his face and with his eyes deep behind his mask, he really does look like a monster.

I manage to shoot my hand up and call for my scythe. It comes charging toward me, handle first. Isamu shoots his head up and gets knocked straight in the forehead with the hilt. His mask then gets disconnected from his face. I force my scythe to spin in the air as it accidentally knocks the mask to the other end of the arena. Isamu then falls backward as he dodges the blade.

With a small amount of distance between us, I grab ahold of my scythe and pull myself to the opposite side of the arena. Isamu lays on his back as he looks up to the roof. With the support of my scythe, I climb my way back up to my feet. This is the quarter finals, after all. Of course things will get difficult from here. Only two more matches if I beat Isamu here.

Isamu rolls to his stomach and makes his way to his knees facing away from me. His gaze then gets locked on his mask that lies a few feet away from him. Slowly making his way to his feet, he trudges over to the mask and picks it up, wiping dirt off of it. Now, once previously spotless, it now has a deep gash running horizontally down it. With a deep breath, he makes his way to one of the corners of the arena and hooks it on the post, allowing the mask to watch in on the fight. Calm, but with confidence, Isamu turns around and makes his way to the center of the arena.

“I’m sorry for what I’ve done,” Isamu yells.

“Eh,” I mumble, “Don’t tell me you’re gonna quit.”

Isamu laughs.

“No, I won’t. Not unless you want me to. But I don’t think that’s the case.”

We stare at each other in silence before he continues.

“The mask I wore. It’s a noh mask. It’s of a deity that represents great strength. I wore it because I thought I’d need it. I’ve seen your fights in the tournament, Kurayami. They were… certainly different from the average fights. But it showed your strength. It showed your resolve. I realize now that it was unfair to bring this mask. I do apologize for how I may have acted while I was under the mask. To put it simply, it wasn’t me. But now it is. So let us fight, you and I, to see who will continue on.”

Isamu bows deeply as I push off my scythe that supported my weight and I huff a few more breaths.

“You can call me Kura,” I muster out.

Isamu smirks, then readies himself as I do the same. Instead of sending the ash snakes, he simply charges at me. I understand.

I drop my scythe and I dodge his punch to give him one of my own. We exchange blows one after another as I’m somehow able to keep up with him despite my current state. No kicks, no cheap shots, just a straight fight between men. To the audience, I’m sure we must look kind of ridiculous, just trying to punch each other out. I think Isamu was in the same mindset as me.

The more we punch, the more Isamu starts to look more like I do. However, despite that, I’m starting to lose my energy really quickly. We throw a few more punches to the face, chest, and gut, before both Isamu and I charge up for the final hit that either of us can muster the strength to give.

With the crowd completely silent, a snap echos the room, followed by a loud boom.

On the ground lies Isamu, completely knocked out. At his feet, opposite to him. So do I. After a moment, my scythe dissipates while his drums… Well, they never did. Because they weren’t there to begin with.

The referee runs to our sides and announces a victor.

“Due to a double knock out, both Isamu and Kurayami have been eliminated!”