Chapter 12:

Impending Evil

Densetsu: A Beautiful Day

Darkness ruled the room, and if there was light, it showcased a cloaked man resting on his throne—his face hidden under the hood—and his crimson eyes glowed in the dark. He entered the room with a calm demeanor, but the mere presence of that cloaked man saw through him.

Fear coursed through his veins. Each step taken trembled beneath the earth. His title as Sylvan Supreme meant nothing to this man. At any moment, he would be disposed of.

“You summoned me?”

“Production on the Project Devices have failed. The Azzurum stopped the birth of the Serpentine Void…”

He gulped. Sweat poured down his cheeks. “It was a miscalculation—”

“A miscalculation that tarnished the original plans. Plans that have been implanted from the very beginning.”

His eyes carried three pupils resembling petals which surrounded the core pupil in the middle. Enfusing reiki into his eyes, the petals rotated clockwise much like a wheel.

Joe closed his eyes to avoid staring into them.

“Choosing to be a coward, huh? Is this your way of saying I chose the wrong person to work with?”

“You have it all w—”

“Oh, I’m wrong? You’re an outsider. You have the knowledge of the Outside World; a prodigy you claim you are. Where’s that great knowledge of yours, Mr. Jones?”

He was forced to open his eyes and stare deep into those devilish eyes. His heart pounded briskly. “The shrine maiden is coming to revoke your title as Sylvan Supreme. Prove your worth and defeat her.”

His heart rate increased. Riku was the last one he wished to fight. Not because she was powerful. The shrine maiden was the only person keeping him sane.

“Afraid of hurting the person you love dearly? I can tell by looking at your face. Fine then... I will give you all the power you need to suppress that feeling, Mr. Jones. Just ask nicely, and it will be yours to keep.”

The offer was tempting. Had he never discovered Densetsu in the first place, what sort of fate awaited him instead? The friends he made to reach this far, only to lose their lives by a snap of a finger.

“And throw away that wedding dress. I’ve read through your notes. You should be blessed to be working with me. If Primus Orbis finds out you’ve been planning to declare the Azzurum as your wife, they will not be happy.”

Working under either of the two made no difference to Joe. Death by punishment awaited him regardless. Failure was not an option for either party. If it meant he played the devil, he would do anything to defy that upcoming doom.

“Am I too late to accept that power you offered?”

“Never…so long as you finish the job…”

A needle was conjured and plunged into Joe’s chest. He yearned for breath as he absorbed it into him. Adrenaline rush fueled his veins. So much energy coursed through him like never before. His sight blurred, then turned scarlet.

So THIS is power, he thought. The pain was excruciating, plunging into him at every second, and searching for a breath of life. By the end of torture, he felt his reiki energy increasing exponentionally.

“Now you have the power that surpasses even the Kamiyama Shrine Maiden. Not even the All-Creator himself can reach heights of that level.”

The man arose from his throne.

“You’ve done well this far, Mr. Jones. Do better, and you will be rewarded greatly!”

He took a good glimpse of what was under that hood. A spiraling mask. The masked man exited the room, passing through a fox demon.

She rushed to Joe’s aid, concerned, but Joe brushed her off. “Sylvan Supreme!”

“I’m fine…” he panted, “prepare the defense. The gates are the main priority to keep the shrine maiden from entering.”

“Of course! As you desire.”

The masked man glanced at Joe before he departed.

“Twenty-one attempts, and you finally decoded my plan…well done, Yuuki Nohara. But unfortunately, you’ve already fallen into my trap...”

He strolled through the crimson hallways, passing through the guards. None of them acknowledged his presence. They rushed outside, armed and ready as they entered their defense formation.

The winged messenger had returned. “You’re here more than usual. What brings your presence this time?”

“Just my morning stroll,” replied the masked man, “and besides…I only came to warn Joe of his impending doom.”

Hayato looked at him with raised brows. Concerned. “You’re saying—”

“With the power and technology at my disposal, I can’t even touch the shrine maiden at all. Not even the Jigokugan would be enough to defeat her.”

The tengu’s eyes widened. Rid of fear, he grasped the masked man’s shoulder. A grave mistake.

He made eye contact with Hayato. That alone was enough to bring back the fear in the tengu. “Y-You gave him the Jigokugan? How’s that possible?”

“With this!”

He raised a brow. “A finger?”

“I used reiki energy to convert the eyes into one object. One that would prove to be easy to carry around while being able to transfer its properties into whomever falls victim into it.”

“But the Jigokugan?! They originally belong to the Kagami Clan. And there aren't any records of Kagami Clan members. How are you able to grab hold of those eyes? Unless—”

Sweat poured down his cheeks. The terror of the man’s achievement frieghtened Hayato. Despite his superior race as a tengu, this man in front of him was capable of eviscerating him.

The masked man resumed his stroll. Hayato watched him until his silhouette disappeared into the hallways. Fear still reigned over his body. Like someone breathing on the back of his neck.

“Who is he?”

The End of Book One