Chapter 0:

Hour of the Hunt

Assassin's Guide to Being Ordinary

The winds howl, the streets are quiet, and the moon rests high in the sky—the perfect hunting ground.

Along the backdrop of a commerce strip, lights were going out, a signal that the day had finally come to an end.

"Good night!" shouted one to another, and he was met with the same farewell.

However, for one man, it would not be such a good night.

Within an abandoned warehouse, an anxious man was running for his life. His frantic footsteps echoed along the towering walls, perhaps just as loud as his heavy breaths.

Panicked and unable to maintain his composure, the man stumbled on his own foot. He fell to the ground at a small opening where the moonlight leaked in from a ceiling window.

"Shit, shit, shit!" he muttered as he pushed himself up.

Suddenly, a shadow fell before him, and a chilling sensation encroached upon his spine. He slowly turned around and tilted his eyes up.

Looking down upon him with the silhouette of a devil. Despite merely standing there, idle and apathetic, the imposing pressure nearly suffocated the man.

"What the hell do you want?!" he screamed. "What wrongs have I committed for you to come after me?!"

The hunter did not reply, so the man reached for a pistol that was holstered around his waist. However, the moment he turned back around, the silhouette was gone.

Left and right, forward and back, there was nothing except for the dark corners that were seemingly creeping in.

With a cry of fear, the man broke into a sprint once more. All the while, his mind was sinking further and further into the darkness.

Could the hunter be chasing him from behind? Will he strike from the side? Or perhaps he was already lying in wait somewhere in front of him.

Finally, a thin silver lining appeared before him. Standing at the other end of the warehouse was one of his armed bodyguards.

"Sir!" he shouted.

"Yes! Finally!" the man exclaimed. "Where are the others? Quickly! Get me out here!"

"The others? Sir, they're... they're all gone."

"Gone? What do you mean?!"

"It happened too quickly. One minute, there were twenty... maybe even thirty of us rushing over here. The next... there was only me."

"... W-what...?"

At that moment, the reality of the situation had finally sunk in. Even as he watched his previous bodyguards fall to the ground in a pool of blood, he still held onto hope. Just like every other time an assassin was sent his way, he would escape by simply having an abundance of protection.

This time, however, was different. In the end, quantity offered nothing but a false sense of confidence. His efforts, his life's work, and he himself were now at the mercy of a single person.

"No... no, no, no, I've done too much to die here!" the man proclaimed. "I won't die here! You hear me?! Who the hell do you think you are to hunt me down like a dog?! Once I get out of here, I will make you suffer in ways you could never imagine!"

His voice echoed for a second. The sudden burst of bravery he mustered was short-lived, for an uneasy silence filled the warehouse once more.

"Q-quickly, let's go," the man mumbled.

"Yes, sir," the bodyguard replied. "Right this way-"

A faint clink rang in the vicinity, followed by a deafening thud. For a moment, the man neglected to turn around. What would he see? There was only one way to find out.

Cautiously, his head turned. Even just an inch, he had already noticed an expanding puddle of blood on the ground. There rested the bodyguard, a glistening silver knife protruding from his skull.

"Ah... A-ahhh..." the man moaned out of pure fear.

He fell to the ground as his mind collapsed entirely. With a cry of desperation, he pulled out his pistol and fired aimlessly into the darkness.

With each gunshot, a metallic clang from the falling bullets clattered upon the ground. He fired until all that came out of his pistol was the sound of a click.

Once more, silence filled the hall. Seconds felt like hours as the cold wind grazed upon his skin like sharp blades.

Suddenly, apart from the howling night, a single sound could be heard: footsteps against the pavement as if a monster was lurking, hiding, waiting, and toying with its prey.

They crept closer, but they sounded as if they were distancing themselves at the same time. No, it sounded more like a thousand people marching in unison, closing in from every direction.

From the darkness, a figure stepped out into the moonlight. A cap covered his head, and a mask hid away his face, yet his shining eyes of the darkest lavender seemingly glowed with malice. Apart from that, the only thing he wore was a thin jacket and a pair of black pants. The sleeve of his left arm was rolled up, showing off the tattoo of a scythe. It was the man's first time seeing him in the past hour of the hunt.

"D-don't come any closer!" the man shouted at the top of his lungs. "Stay away!"

Yet, the hunter did not. He stepped closer, then closer again. He walked with such confidence that such a simple act was worthy of intimidation.

With each passing second, the man's heartbeat hastened. His breath felt shallower and shallower. He could only watch as the hunter knelt down on the ground with glaring eyes that pierced through his own.

"Yukimura Kenji, secretary of YS Corporation," the hunter spoke coldly, but it hinted at the man's young age. "Earlier, you asked what wrongs have you committed for such a fate to befall you. Shall I tell you?"

Kenji sat like a statue that was subjugated to a violent earthquake. Even when granted the opportunity, he could not provide an answer.

"Fraud, bribery, embezzlement of funds totaling to billions of yen. Ah... And also one that I find personally irritating: sexual solicitation, especially from that of... minors. It seems you were able to sweep all of that under the rug for years. And this gun... Don't you know about the laws that bars you from possessing something like this?"

Again, the man said nothing, so the hunter stood with a silenced pistol of his own. Laws are only effective when people are diligent enough to follow them. Since Kenji brandished a gun against him, the hunter will face him using the same method.

"W-wait!" Kenji finally spoke up. "Who sent you? They must've paid you a hefty sum for my head, right? If you let me live now, I will pay you double-no, triple the amount that your contractor paid you! How does that sound?!"

That, however, did not deter the hunter from cocking the gun and pointing the barrel at Kenji's head.

"The Hunt sends their regards."

"What...? The... The hu-" was all he could say before the bullet pierced through the center of his forehead.

Kenji lifelessly fell to the ground next to the one who gave his life for him. Without hesitation, the hunter shot his head one last time to ensure the impossibility of survival.

He wasted no time and reached for his earpiece.

"Watcher, sir," he said. "The job is done."

"Good, good," a deep voice replied. "Well, you saw Kenji for how he truly is. Any thoughts?"

"None whatsoever, sir."

"Oh, come on. Surely, you had something on your mind."

"Like what, sir?"

"I don't know. Something like... 'Yeah, this guy deserved what I did to him.' Well?"

"Nothing like that comes to mind, sir."

"Give yourself a bit more credit, son. The Hunt targets the bad in this world. What we do, we do for the sake of those who've suffered with no outlet to vent their desperation. What you did was undoubtedly right. Don't ever forget that."

"I took a life tonight, sir. Tens of lives, actually. There is nothing I can say to justify that."

"Hah... Whatever you say, son. Anyway, come home and get some rest. Don't you have final exams tomorrow?"

It was at that moment that the steadfast hunter with bloodied hands became vulnerable, even if it was for just a second.

"I... I completely forgot... sir," he replied.

"... You're so unbelievably fucked."