Soul Nemesis [VOLUME I]
As Eiji jumps out of bed with a start, his Shikigami passes him a look of disapproval.
“Eiji-dono is gonna be late for school, again.”
“Damn it!” The teenager spat glancing at his smartphone. “Why didn’t you wake me up sooner?”
“Well you looked like you were resting quite well after so many night excursions.”
“Tch.” Eiji clicked his tongue as he slipped into his school uniform in the blink of an eye.
“Oh and don’t forget your umbrella, Eiji-dono.”
“I saw it on the weather forecast just now.”
“You saw the…. Haah…”
Eiji sighed mid-sentence. Although he had explicitly told Meh not to turn on the TV while he’s sleeping, it seemed the Shikigami kept on doing just that.
Although he was only a spirit tasked with the job of staying by his exorcist’s side, Meh could interact with the physical world just like any other being. Although his lack of arms and legs left quite a lot to desired, he could easily land on the remote atop the table and turn on the TV all by himself.
After Eiji grabbed a half-finished bottle of orange juice, and rummaged through the wardrobe for an umbrella, he was all set for another very normal, non-dangerous high school day.
As the young man made his way outside, he carefully stepped over the kitten sleeping just outside his front door and readily left the apartment complex.
A rainy day meant he couldn’t rely on his motorcycle, so Eiji didn’t have any other choice than to walk, or take the bus from just across the street. Thankfully the rain wasn’t too strong either, considering it had been going on for a while.
After taking the bus, his walk from school wasn’t that long, and with his briskly long steps, he opted to close the distance even sooner than that. Although Eiji wasn’t even remotely fond of school, he was even more averse to repeating another year, so he decided to at least show up for class before he got on his teachers’ bad side. Assuming he already hadn’t, of course.
As he was finishing his juice while walking down the road close to school, he spotted a rather big group of students gathered opposite of him. Their formation even suggested they were waiting for something, or rather, someone.
“You can’t be serious…” Eiji muttered, as he threw away the now empty bottle. Realizing who this group was meant to greet, the young man walked up to them almost readily, in order to resolve the matter.
“B-Boss!” One of the delinquents in the group cried out, at the face of the man who beat him black and blue just the day before.
“Hah!” A tall, yet scrawny black-haired teenager with an old-fashioned Elvis pompadour hairstyle broke through their ranks and stepped up. “If it isn’t my rival, Kanzaki Eiji!” His lips parted into an arrogant smirk.
“Ugh…” Even Meh’s aversion to that man was plain visible through that sound of disgust.
“I heard you threw hands with some of my men yesterday, Kanzaki!”
The leader of the delinquent ring stated, as if he were the captain of a knight garrison.
“Whatever, just move aside…” Eiji sighed as he walked over.
“Woah!” The young man before him exclaimed. “You can’t go now, can you? I’ve to settle this, you see!”
“Just get out of my way, Ishida.” Eiji glared. After all, this wasn’t the first time, the two of them had clashed with each other. Ishida Mitsuaki was the leader of the reigning teenage delinquent gang in Shina, and after tussling it out with Eiji once, a few months back, he had seen him as a rival of sorts, much to Eiji’s dismay.
“No can do, Kanzaki.” Mitsuaki grinned once more.
“Yeah, now the boss is here, you’ll finally meet your match!” The crony closest to him declared, having seemingly regained his confidence with his boss by his side.
“I don’t have the time nor—“
“We’re gonna do this one on one! Boys, stand back!” Mitsuaki declared, as he threw his blazer straight at one of his crony’s face, and got in his unorthodox stance.
Completely ignoring Eiji’s protests, the young man continued “Now, show me what you got, Kanzaki!”
“Haaah….” With another sigh, Eiji stepped forward, hands still stuffed in his pockets.
As Mitsuaki charged him, arm outstretched and loaded, Eiji side-stepped to his right, ultimately giving him the slip. Although such a quick side-step was something Eiji could perform even while sleepwalking, to the naked eye, it was quite the high velocity move.
“Uraaaaaah!” Another charge by Mitsuaki, another Eiji side step.
Not one to give up, Mitsuaki stepped forward again, this time with even greater vigor. With his outstretched fist almost ready to sink into Eiji’s gut, his face flashed with excitement. “I’m not done yet!”
Instead of side-stepping this time around, Eiji unleashed a spinning kick straight at his opponent’s face, downing him almost as easily as he had evaded him.
With hands still stuffed in his pockets, Eiji didn’t spare a second glance at his adversary sprawled across the floor, and made for school.
Of course Mitsuaki’s subordinates wouldn’t dare stop him after such a display, as they stared back at their boss’s pitiful state.
Such an outcome of course, wasn’t uncommon, since all their fights had resulted in the same humiliating defeat for Mitsuaki. Despite Eiji making him seem so, Mitsuaki wasn’t weak in the slightest. One couldn’t be a leader for a delinquent gang if he wasn’t at least somewhat strong after all. Mitsuaki had both the guts and strength to hold his own against any delinquent all around Tokyo. Excluding Eiji of course.
Eiji wasn’t just a delinquent after all.
“Kanzaki-kun… late again?” The teacher scowled at his student’s usual guest star appearance.
“Apologies.” Eiji bowed briefly, looking almost too apathetic.
As he walked through rows and rows of desks, and finding his own seat, a certain glare made him turn his attention towards the first row.
It was Hatsue of course, passing him a very disapproving glare.
Eiji rolled his eyes, realizing he was in for another lecture during lunch time.
As the teacher stated those words, the class’s spirit was visibly elevated. Classes were over for the day after all, and as for Eiji, who didn’t sleep through a single lecture for the first time in a while, that fact was even more of a liberation.
As everyone got up to leave, forming their little groups around class, Hatsue very visibly stomped her way towards the lone young man who was already on his way out.
“Where do you think you’re going now…?” The young girl sighed at her classmate’s absentmindedness.
“Why do you care?” Eiji looked back at her.
“Woah! We’ve got cleaning duty together dude, remember?’
“Urgh…” Eiji exclaimed in pure disappointment.
“Urgh, my ass! Now come back here and get to work.”
Despite his big sigh, and even bigger attitude, Eiji obeyed and rolled up his sleeves.
As per the Japanese tradition, students were tasked to clean their classroom after use, and their school not only enforced that tradition, but made it mandatory for different pairs to do it together every single day.
As it so happened today’s pair was Hatsue and Eiji, and much to the young man’s dismay, even he couldn’t neglect it.
“Okay, I’ll just get the board and—“
“No way, I’m cleaning the board. You can do other physical labor stuff! You know, get these muscles to work!” Hatsue retorted, earning a glare from the young man before her.
“No way, my ass, I ain’t budging.”
A full half minute of unrelenting glares, caused Eiji to finally yield.
“Yatta!” Hatsue pumped her fist in the air in triumph. “The cleaning supplies are over by the closet at the back.” She finally pointed, before skipping towards the board.
With a resigned look in his eye, Eiji made his way to the back of the room. And picked out a cloth, a broom and a weird spray bottle.
“Here.” As he handed over the supplies to his classmate, the two got to work.
As Eiji swiped the floor and Hatsue in turn cleaned the board of any spots, a long silence hung in the air. The young man never did mind silence, so this situation wasn’t quite as awkward as one would think. Besides Hatsue only made him uncomfortable when she made the talking, and not when she was being quiet.
And there she was again, breaking the silence.
“…Do you like, work a night shift or something?”
“Where did that come from?”
“I mean, you’re always so sluggish throughout the day.”
“I don’t.” Eiji simply replied, as he kept on sweeping the floor.
“You sure you’re not involved in any shady business either?”
Could being an exorcist count as shady business? Eiji wondered for a second.
“Oye! Why are you always so cryptic, anyway?” Hatsue hissed, wiping the board vigorously, as if her work ethic was fueled through pure emotion.
“Who knows?” Eiji retorted once more.
“Haaah…” Hatsue heaved a rather long sigh, slumping her shoulders. “How are you supposed to make friends like that, dude?”
“I don’t… need any.”
“Heh, every loner says the same thing.” The girl rolled her eyes “Well too bad you already have one!” She grinned briefly.
“I’m talking about me, you dork!” Hatsue puffed out her flat chest proudly, pausing her work for a moment or two.
“No, thanks.” Eiji scoffed, finishing the last of his cleaning.
“Heh, whenever tsunderes say no, it usually means yes.”
“Oye, I’m not—“
“Yeah, yeah, I’m almost done here so can you take the trash out too?”
Not taking too kindly to being ignored yet eager to be rid of Hatsue, Eiji obliged and fished the bag out the trashcan with a set of plastic gloves.
“Good boy, now see you tomorrow!” Hatsue winked at him, as she finished up her own cleaning as well. “And don’t oversleep again!”
“Mhm…” Eiji hummed absentmindedly. With his school bag in one hand and the trash in another.
Already knowing the drill by now, the teenager rounded the school and threw away the bag and gloves on the school’s big metal bins that were used exactly for that purpose.
“What now?” The young man muttered, patting any leftover dirt on his palms away.
“There’s more of that malevolence from yesterday!”
“Hm…” Eiji looked around carefully. He could actually hear a couple of faint voices.
Opting to follow their trail, he came across a group of three delinquents, yet again ganging up on that one lone girl.
Do people never get tired of harassing others? Eiji seemed to ponder. It was apparent by now that this girl had gotten herself mixed up in something she couldn’t easily get out of, though.
“You think messing with Chisa-chan was a good idea, huh?” One of the tall brawny students barked angrily.
“But I didn’t do any—“
“Shut it!’ Another hissed.
“I heard she got her own club after school and everything. Something about an occult thing or something.”
“Pfft, that’s pathetic. A first-year having her own club.”
“Maybe it’s because you also got yourself an upperclassman to protect you too, eh? You think you can do whatever the hell you want around here now, is that it?!”
An upperclassman? Was that supposed to be Eiji? Maybe his display of anger against those girls backfired back at the bullied person.
“Eiji-dono! We must—“
Having realized the girls pulled out the big guns because of him, Eiji showed himself from around the corner.
Upon closer inspection, there were 3 big men towering over a single, short girl. Judging by their size, they were probably even older than Eiji. Their faces looked rougher, and there was a possibility they were even more dangerous than Mitsuaki’s wannabe criminals too.
“This is OUR school, little girl. And nobody messes with our chicks, got it?”
“Hm.” Eiji scoffed at that comment. Ganging up on a younger girl like that sure was quite the display of bravery.
As the young man got closer, he realized those delinquents were too engrossed to pay him any mind. He didn’t mind one bit though.
“Oye.” Eiji called out, one hand holding his bag, and the other stuffed in his pocket.
“What are YOU doing here, punk?!” What looked like the meanest of the three wiped his head around and pointed a glare towards the newcomer.
“Me?” Eiji walked over, causing all three of them to raise their guards. “Just taking out the trash.”
Deciding that was enough talk, Eiji landed a straight right punch right to the first delinquent’s jaw, who staggered back, struggling to stand upright.
Eiji delivered a second punch in quick succession, and this time the delinquent fell to the floor, completely unable to withstand the strong left hook.
“You… bastard!” The closest to him was quick to jump into the fight, yet Eiji was even quicker than that. Much, much quicker.
With some instinctive head movement to avoid the incoming punch, he smacked the next delinquent upright the chin with a swift left elbow, and with the same arm delivered a final straight to the nose.
With the second one down for the count too, the last delinquent remaining started panicking. And in his panic, he whipped out something from his pockets.
It was a pocket knife.
“AAAAAH!” With a mad battle-cry, the last delinquent dashed at Eiji.
While the bullied girl audibly gasped, Eiji remained as calm as ever. Pocket knives were the least dangerous things he had to face across the years.
Despite the charge, Eiji remained still for a second, allowing the attacker to close the distance.
As the delinquent entered Eiji’s range, the teenager grabbed the attacker’s knife-yielding arm, and with dexterity used his momentum to toss him to the ground.
Having caught ahold of the delinquent’s arm, it wasn’t difficult for Eiji to pry away the knife in the process.
“No, wait!” The delinquent cried once more, as he was allowed to get to his feet.
Yet Eiji wasn’t quite done, as he closed the distance once more and grabbed his opponent by the collar.
“Hey, maybe we can—“
After landing a clean final head-butt, Eiji spoke.
“Take your friends, that supposedly own the school, and get lost before I change my mind.”
“Y-yes!” The wincing delinquent muttered, as he went about waking his friends up.
"And don't ever pull out a knife again, unless you want me to make you swallow it." The young man warned one last time, before the other two delinquents rose to their feet.
As Eiji walked over to the bewildered girl watching all of it unfold, he fixed his unruly hair backwards.
“Uhm…” The girl stuttered, still shocked after the sudden display of violence. “Thank… you.” She gathered her thoughts and tried to speak as clearly as possible.
Instead of answering, Eiji rummaged through his school bag, and pulled out a weary, yet dry and familiar sketchbook.
“You dropped this yesterday.”
Taking the item offered, at hand, the girl’s face suddenly shone with delight.
“My… sketchbook!” She muttered, a shy smile playing at her lips. Eiji had never seen such an expression on her face, and honestly, he thought it suited her more than her usual scowl.
As Eiji watched the delinquents glance at him and scurry away from the school like a group of ants, he contently decided to make his way towards the exit himself.
His work here was done, and after all was said and done, he had a part time job to go to.
As he left the school grounds behind though, he couldn’t help but wonder if his interference was just. Still, he couldn’t really sit idly by any longer, even if it spelled bad news for the lingering curse.
Maybe getting into fights really was his calling? Or was he just that quick to jump into a brawl?