Black Witch Tsu-To-Yu!
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It was high noon, a time for lunch for the students at the Fatajika Middle School in Fatajika town.
As always, the roof was desolate only for the group that frequents visiting there--the small group of people who are outside the norm of the students in the entire school. Sitting on the stone bench, a scream so loud permeated the atmosphere which fortunately cannot be heard by the other students below.
“Mmh! So good!” Tsubaki screamed, a girlish squeal escaped from her mouth as it chomped down the octopus-shaped sausage. An explosion of meaty flavor filling it with just enough spice that left her in ecstasy.
“I’m so glad you like it, Master Tsubaki!” Yuki smiled from her magic master gleaming from delight.
“Yuki, you’re the best! This lunch you made me is so delicious!” Tsubaki commented, making another go at her lunch.
Yuki brought in another lunch box for Tsubaki, a test lunch to see if it was to the taste for her magic master. As Tsubaki ate from the purple colored lunch box with such an excited smile on her face—it was a successful attempt.
“Mmh…” Touyo said nothing as he was eating the lunch he made himself, but he took a quick glance at Tsubaki showing a bit of curiosity.
“Oh, here is a little something for you too!”
Yuki noticed Touyo’s look and saw it fit to check into her bag to take out a small container wrapped cutely with a colorful ribbon.
“I’m sorry if it’s not much, or to your taste…” Despite her best efforts, Yuki still lowered her head from the nerves passing through her.
Widening his eyes, Touyo was left dumbfounded as he took Yuki’s container. He opened it up by pulling the ribbon and taking off the cover to see pieces of egg rolls tucked together. It created a harmonious and beautiful image of a carefully-crafted meal.
“D-Don’t worry about it! You didn’t have to make me food either, y’know!”
Touyo knew that at this point, Yuki was going over the mile from this, but she only shook her head.
“I wanted to… since you said that you liked my food. I thought it would be fine to make some for you too… do you not want it?”
Yuki turned her head up, her eyes glistening from the sunlight above. It was such a puppy-like stare that it made it impossible for him to ever say no.
“N-No! I’ll take it! Thank you very much!”
Touyo had no choice but to accept it like a man. He got giddy as he picked up his chopsticks and started munching on the egg rolls. His mouth felt the same kind of explosion of salty goodness. His eyes watered from the mixture of wonderful flavors.
“It’s really good! Thanks, Yuki!”
Yuki responded with a gleaming smile herself to see both her master and fellow student enjoying her lunches.
After they had a wonderful meal together, Tsubaki cleared her throat loudly, catching the attention of her students. Tsubaki floated upwards, her fist near her mouth as her eyes were closed to show that she was in her teacher mode.
“Now that I got everyone’s attention,” Tsubaki said as she placed her hand back on her shapely hips, showing an ecstatic smile. “It’s time for another lesson!”
“So, what spell are we going to learn this time, Tsubaki?” Touyo said, his hands resting in the back as he waited for Tsubaki’s crazy lesson.
“Nothing today!” Tsubaki plainly stated.
“Eh? So we’re not going to learn anything, Master Tsubaki?” Yuki asked in surprise as she stepped closer to Tsubaki by arching her back, her hands on her knees as she looked like a curious kitten with her head tilted.
“We’re not always going to learn a new spell, y’know,” Tsubaki said, wagging her finger left and right. “Sometimes, we need to focus on improving yourselves, or you will all follow a path to self-destruction by your own powers.”
Suddenly a heavy phrase from their usually-cheerful teacher was dropped on them. The students’ chests tightened—as if they just saw the end of what could happen if they go too far with their magic.
“Don’t feel too scared,” Tsubaki could see the fear in their eyes, something that made her slightly chuckle. “You gotta learn what you have right now instead of learning new spells all the time. So this time, we’re just going to hunt some ghouls.”
“Hunt…?” Yuki’s chest once again tightened.
“S-So like, we’re gonna hunt Ghouls to train ourselves?” Touyo, on the other hand, wasn’t as reserved on the subject as he took a plain interest.
“That’s right,” Tsubaki floated upwards, her legs crossed as if taking a meditating stance. “It’s good to keep you guys on your toes. Unless of course, you plan on becoming food for the ghouls?”
Yet another heavy topic, but the two quickly got used to it already.
“I get what you’re saying, Master Tsubaki…” Yuki placed her empty lunch boxes in her bag as she asked. “But how are we going to ‘hunt’ ghouls? I mean, aren’t they usually the kind that hunts us instead?”
Touyo understood what she meant as she was given the synopsis of what ghouls were on the day she fought a ghoul for the first time. He crossed his arms as he nodded up and down in approval.
“True, but that doesn’t mean that we can never hunt them back. It goes two ways—that’s how nature works.”
“I’m pretty sure nature doesn’t include magical monsters eating people…” Touyo snarkily commented.
“Well, it’s natural in my world,” Tsubaki winked in response.
“S-So…” Yuki squirmed her arms together, becoming fidgety. “How do we hunt them?”
Tsubaki giggled. “Get ready for tonight, cuz’ we’re going to go outside to hunt!”
After Tsubaki’s proclamation, the two students shared a glance at each other. It became natural for them to feel each other’s doubts for their time spent together with their master, leaving them to show eager yet nervous smiles.
Once school passed, both Touyo and Yuki returned to their homes to spend their time in leisure before night falls. For Touyo, he had a pleasant dinner with his mother, while for Yuki, she spent it with her father and mother.
Then, as soon as they were done, the two children asked their parents for permission to go outside at this time.
Of course, it was met with resistance.
“Touyo, I can’t just let you out without a solid excuse. It’s too dangerous for a 12-year-old like yourself to be out at this time.”
Razara made a valid point as she and Touyo were washing the dishes in their kitchen sink. Touyo bit his lip as his mother’s defenses were too high, so he had to find another way to get outside.
“T-That’s…” Touyo tried to make up an excuse, but since she was his mother, it’s possible that she could tell when he’s lying, though Touyo doesn’t usually lie.
Then, when he was being tied to a corner by his mother’s domineering presence, a knock traveled across the living room to the kitchen, catching their ears.
“Mmh? Wonder who that could be?”
Razaru gently placed the dishes in the sink water, wiping her soapy hands with a towel before heading over to the living room and to the entrance.
Touyo also got curious as he peered from the kitchen to the living room to see the door being opened by Razaru.
Then, his eyes widened, as if he saw the revealing of a major plot twist on TV.
“Hello, ma’am! How are you doing tonight?”
A young woman with a black-haired ponytail and a similar black dress over her curvaceous body appeared with a smile on her face and her hand waving at Razaru. Razaru was left a bit stunned by her beauty and asked.
“Yes, very well,” Razaru answered first. “Is there something you need?”
Razaru has always been courteous when it comes to strangers, so she made sure to appear nice.
“My name is Ms. Tsubaki. I’m what you call the special teacher for your son, Touyo Shikaya, and another—Yuki Sosuke. I’m here to pick him up to go on our nightly stroll for our special activities.”
Razaru was left wide-eyed while Tsubaki still showed her cool smile. Meanwhile, Touyo nearly pulled the hair out of his head to see Tsubaki suddenly talking to his mother like a school teacher.
“I see, so what Touyo was saying was…”
“We decided to check out the night life out in the town so that they can learn how to avoid dangerous situations that will come up later in the future. It might also be possible that we will continue to do this as we will come back to provide more study sessions for our school. Of course, I want to make sure that I have your permission first before taking your child out, just as I have done for Miss Sosuke.”
“Miss Sosuke…” Then, Razaru remembered the cute girl from before. “Ah, her? I see, so you two are students together.”
Razaru turned back to Touyo who flinched in response, but then he quickly nodded in agreement to Razaru’s understanding.
“I see,” Razaru, appearing to understand, showed a smile. “If it’s to help improve Touyo’s chances in the future, I’ll give him my permission. Then you’ll need my contact information in case something were to happen.”
“Of course! But don’t worry,” Tsubaki winked, offering her a great sense of security. “Nothing bad will happen to him under my watch~”
With a bit of excitement from her last word, both Tsubaki and Razaru shared a smile with each other which got Touyo to slide down to the floor, exasperated over the fact that Tsubaki managed to actually convince his mother to step down.
“Tsubaki, please warn me next time…” Touyo felt stupid for being in anguish over something that Tsubaki could easily handle.
The stars shined brightly above their heads and the street lights providing light for the streets below. The students flew over the city under the guise of the darkness while wearing their magic uniforms, each having their own stress piling up on them.
“I can’t believe that Master Tsubaki talked to my parents like that…” Yuki commented as her soul got sucked out of her body by the situation.
“It’s pretty shocking,” Touyo agreed wholeheartedly.
“Not just that. It was so embarrassing when they looked so shocked at me going outside with a friend. They didn’t have to overreact like that!”
Yuki huffed as her cheeks puffed up from the memory. Touyo didn’t know how to respond to that except think how cute Yuki looked like that.
“Hey, don’t feel so down!” Tsubaki commented as she was the one flying forward, her head turned back to her students. “We’re almost to the center where we can pick up some ghouls, so be prepared!”
Tsubaki said with gusto as Touyo and Yuki glanced at each other and decided to enter into their preparation mode, which is just mentally psyching themselves up for the battle ahead.
After 30 minutes passed flying in the sky, the Black Witches landed on top of the roof of the largest building in the middle of the bustling city.
The air, cold and crisp, caressed their skin. Touyo walked over to the edge of the building while Yuki tried to pull down her swaying hair from the gust passing by.
“T-Touyo! That’s dangerous!” Yuki shouted after seeing Touyo seamlessly walking towards the edge, seemingly ready to jump off at any given moment.
Touyo, however, couldn’t adhere to that. The adrenaline from flying took over as he etched in closer, his head peeking out of the edge of the roof. He saw the bright lights of the buildings and the passing headlights of the cars meshing together to form a wondrous shower of lights.
His heart racing, he moved his head upwards to view more lights from other buildings spanning over to the horizon, touching the darkened sky. The moon, the single orb of white light floating up top, was the only thing brightening up the sky.
“This is awesome…” Touyo heaved heavy breaths from the idea of falling at any second, yet he’s keeping his balance with an excited smile on his lips.
“Who would have thought that Touyo would become an adrenaline junkie?”
Tsubaki spoke out which caught the two youngsters’ attention. They saw her floating above the roof with a smile on her face, her legs crossed with her elbow on top of her knee and her chin on top of her hand.
“So, how do you feel being here, Yuki?”
Tsubaki glanced back at Yuki who kept holding her hair and skirt from blowing up from the wind. As the wind died down, Yuki swallowed the air in her mouth as the same sort of adrenaline rushed through her, though she wasn’t as brave enough to creep towards the edge like Touyo did.
“I-I’m just normal… but why are we here?”
“Because this place, this location specifically, is the main hub for ghouls creeping about.”
Tsubaki pointed down over the edge of the roof, getting Yuki to purse her lips as she figured that she also had to look over. Walking ever so slowly, step by step, Yuki crept up to the edge near Touyo and turned her head down. The adrenaline was reaching the limit.
“As I told you before, ghouls are created through the remains of arcana in the air left behind by mages. We usually call that kind of arcana ‘mana’, or ‘ether’, but you can keep calling them arcana if you like,” Tsubaki continued to explain. “So, generally, they gather where there are more people. And in other cases, in ley lines. We happen to be exactly in the center of that ley line.”
“L-Ley lines?! They exist?!” Yuki’s eyes seemed to glow after parroting the word.
“Okay, you mind explaining that to me?” Touyo felt left out already just by that word alone.
“Ley lines are magical lines that run across the entire world, each in different locations to the point where each line can cross each other and become ley nodes, a source of massive magical power! In Magical Girl Miyuri, ley lines are special magical roads that fuel her powers and even affect the natural order of the world if one tries hard enough!”
Touyo slowly understood, but at the same time didn’t. However, he figured that it’s apparently a magical place where magical beings gather.
“Ley lines naturally have mana in the air before the mage’s remaining arcana settled in, so naturally, ghouls gather in these kinds of places… Oh, here’s one now.”
Suddenly hearing their master say a surprising line, the two students braced themselves instinctively for combat.
Then, just like their master said, it appeared.
A crack formed in the sky, just like before when they fought the bat ghoul at their school’s rooftop. It created unease for the students as the sky cracked apart like a broken glass, and a creature soon came out of it.
The creature appeared to slither out of the broken hole in the sky. It appeared as a snake-like monster this time as it landed on the building’s roof like a mass of bricks, creating a loud thud.
Their hearts tightened and quickened their pace when the creature rose from its wriggling body, rearing its head that appeared to be wearing a mask with a horrendous face and an open mouth with fangs protruding out of it. It looked like a Hanya mask, a terrifying mask that resembled that of a demon. Black hair flowing behind it like a wild mane as it hissed before finally screeching.
The sound barrier was breaking from the loud pitch of the screech, causing the students to nearly falter by taking a step back.
“I-It’s big!” Touyo was reminded of its size from the giant worm he fought against on his first night as a Black Witch.
“W-We’re supposed to hunt that?!” Yuki shouted.
“Yep,” Tsubaki chirped as she stayed floating in the sky. “Good luck!”
Tsubaki floated farther up into the sky, completely leaving them behind. Their faces were left stone cold after she has done such a thing to them already.
“W-We’re on our own…” Touyo quietly said as he walked near Yuki to stay by her side, eyeing the creature with a glare. “Yuki, let’s work together!”
Touyo never figured that he would be saying that kind of line, but considering that their situation was identical to that of a comic book battle, Yuki nodded in agreement.
“L-Let’s fight it!”
Yuki figured now that there was no other choice but to fight as intended. In order to become a strong mage, she needs to practice by dealing with monsters like these.
Yuki lifted her hands. Her arcana gathered in them. She closed her eyes for one second, gathering courage, and opened them up.
A cliché line resounded, but Touyo widened his eyes from Yuki shooting out a blast of wind that practically burst forth out of the azure magic circles in front of her palms. It even formed into a sharp image of a blade flying across the air towards the snake ghoul.
The nearly-invisible blade flew and slashed the ghoul in its torso. Blood splattered off its new wound as it screeched to the sky.
“Whoa…” Touyo was amazed at the bland-like attack actually working.
“T-That was so cool…!”
Before Yuki could even marvel at her own work of a magical spell, Touyo noticed the rising speed of the snake coming towards her despite being damaged.
It prompted Touyo to turn towards Yuki and pushed her along to the side which managed to get them to evade the snake as it came for them.
The snake slid fast to the other side and reared its head for another screech.
“A-Ah…” Yuki lifted herself up from the hard tussle to the ground, realizing what had just happened.
“T-That thing is fast…” Touyo couldn’t focus on how he managed to get them both out in time.
The two stood up from the floor to face against the creature for another difficult battle.
About a few minutes passed after the battle started. The sounds of fire burning and ice corroding the ground were natural—like pleasant cheeps from morning birds.
Touyo was thrown off to the floor, his butt aching from the impact. He lifted himself up, his teeth gritting, and glared at the snake that had another peculiar feature.
It could fly.
Throughout the battle, the snake grew wings from its back—or wherever the snake’s wings were, and flew across the sky, using the air as its advantage.
Somehow or another, the ghoul became much more aggressive afterward. Not only it used its giant mouth to try to bite and rip apart the young students, but it also used the tip of its tail to deliver a finisher-like jab right to their stomachs. Touyo was the recipient of that attack just now.
His stomach was punctured, but in truth, it was just so painful that it felt that way. Another look below made it clear that no blood was spilled. Touyo turned his head up. The snake became occupied by his partner, the frightened but determined Yuki who was flying on her broom with shaking shoulders and pursed lips.
“I-Icicles!” Yuki shouted, this time magic circles appearing above her head like an arc.
Coming out of those azure-colored magic circles were sharp pike-shaped ice. They were so cold that icy mist could be seen from the ice pikes. One scratch from those and it should be possible that one could turn frozen in an instant—at least that’s how Touyo figured.
Yuki launched the attack, both hands forward like signals to start the assault. The icicles were shot with precision towards the snake, strangely enough that it seemed that Yuki had no problem aiming for it.
That was just how talented Yuki was. Even with his fire magic, Touyo could barely hit it despite having a bigger range. Yet Yuki was able to pierce the snake ghoul’s body exactly where it hurts according to the loud screech that resulted from it.
The snake spun and turn like a hose shooting out water. Touyo furrowed his eyes.
Touyo, growing somewhat frustrated, poured in his arcana into his hands and caused the crimson magic circle to appear. The crimson circle burst forth fire that headed towards the snake, and landed directly on its mask.
The ghoul screeched, piercing their hearing as it was the loudest screech they have ever heard. They waited with bated breath, feeling as if they hit the mark.
And they did.
The ghoul snake stopped flailing about, its screech lowering volume until it became deathly quiet. The snake, having no more power, fell to the floor with a loud thud.
Touyo walked forward, heaving heavy breaths while Yuki landed on the floor to close in on the snake. With Yuki repeating Touyo’s actions, they viewed at the snake with mild surprise, the snake slowly disintegrate into particles and slowly being whisked away by the wind. It left nothing but a sparkling jewel on the floor.
“Congratulations, my students! Another job well done!”
The students turned behind for their master as she floated down as usual. But this time, something caught their eyes to go wide.
Their magic master, Tsubaki, was wearing a rather colorful red uniform consisting of a short tank top that revealed her slim figure and navel, and wearing a short folded skirt. Her black boots, however, were still on her feet. Her hands were covered by springy fur-like decorations called pom-poms.
“Yay! I knew you guys could do it! Go, Black Witches!”
Shaking the pom-poms with gusto, Tsubaki lifted one up while making a loud cry, a smile on her face as she continued to do her dance of shaking her pom-poms while loudly making cheers.
Touyo and Yuki were left with astonished faces, both of which were just too tired to even respond.
Usually, Touyo would be on her case about this—though it’s not like he disliked seeing this costume change—but this time, he was just too out of it.
Considering their fight, all Touyo did was get hurt by the ghoul snake’s surprise attacks. Though they couldn’t have been avoided due to his inexperience, he could have done better.
On the other hand, Yuki was showing more progress with her diversity in magic. Her icicles were just perfection in Touyo’s eyes, and if it weren’t for that, Touyo wouldn’t have been able to deliver his finishing blow.
He turned back at Yuki who seemed to be catching her breath by putting her hand on her chest.
“U-Umm, Master Tsubaki, I thought ghouls usually die from hitting their cores…”
Yuki asked the question which finally got Touyo to realize that strange phenomenon.
“Striking their cores is a surefire way of killing them,” Tsubaki put her left pom-pom to her hip and lifted her right pom-pom as she gave a smile. “However, if you hit it long and hard enough, you’ll eventually reduce its magical capacity and kill them off. You guys have been fighting it for quite a while now. Be proud! Not every mage could handle fighting one for so long.”
Tsubaki shook her pom-poms in front of them as she gave her praise, leaving Yuki to widen her eyes and grinned for a job well done.
But for Touyo, it didn’t seem like a well-deserved praise.
It should have been easier, or at the least, easier to handle. He opened his hand, the hand that launched his fire, and pursed his lips.
This was the first time Touyo became frustrated over the hobby that he loved.