Chapter 1:

The Outcast's Burden

The Raven and the Dove

In a world where expectations reign supreme, every individual bears this burden. It is a force that propels existence forward yet also harbors cruelty and eventual demise. Some are shackled by towering expectations, coerced into a life of fulfilling illusory acceptance. One might deem it madness to compare a bullet to a human; after all, one is animate while the other remains inanimate. Yet, upon closer inspection, the disparity blurs. When a bullet is discharged, the expectation is clear: to strike its mark or pave the way for another, thereafter discarded to decay on the ground. Humans, too, share this fate. Once their purpose is served, they are often discarded, the repercussions more agonizing the greater their influence. In this infernal world, lacking adoration may seem a dire fate. Yet, it pales in comparison to the torment of living a deceitful existence, used and discarded. Thus, I, Sato Ryuki, shall leave no room for others to impose their expectations upon me.


"95 out of 100! Next!" The exam monitor's voice echoed through the chamber, announcing the results of what appeared to be an accuracy exam, testing the precision of an individual's aim. Standing before him was a young man, his dark hair reminiscent of the feathers of a raven in the night, and his eyes a striking shade of red akin to blood. He gripped a marksman rifle, a variant of the SVD Dragunov, its barrel slightly extended to enhance bullet accuracy. Equipped with a sight rather than a sniper scope, a peculiar choice perhaps, but one that likely improved vision during close-quarters combat.

The man was Sato Ryuki, a young individual who had grown up as an outcast due to his lack of magic. In a world where magic was as common as life itself, his absence of it rendered him unnatural, subjecting him to heavy discrimination. No one was privy to his past, and Kenichi himself likely remained oblivious to it. But it wasn't that he couldn't remember... he simply chose not to.

Sato exhaled, his breath escaping in a chilling mist as he slung the rifle over his back. Proceeding to the next exam, which measured magical abilities, he knew he had no desire nor a reason to participate. However, it was mandatory and factored into the final grading. He released a deep sigh, muttering under his breath, "What a pain.."

Sato stepped into the room where the exam was being held and immediately noticed a pedestal positioned at its center. The pedestal had been modified, featuring a basin on its top, with a shining needle protruding from the center. Upon hearing the exam proctor's call, Kenichi made his way to the center of the room without hesitation.

"Now, young man, just prick your finger on that needle. It will measure your magic based on the amount in your blood," the proctor instructed.

In this world, where magic was present in individuals like humans, it was fairly common knowledge. The blood of humans seemed to contain magic, although why magic specifically resided in human blood remained a mystery. Nonetheless, this fact proved useful, as excessive tests were unnecessary to determine a person's magic measurement; a simple blood sample sufficed.

Sato carefully pricked his finger on the needle, allowing the blood to flow down into the basin below. Normally, if a person possesses magic, the basin would glow and indicate a number between 1 and 100, measuring their capabilities. However, Sato was not a normal person. Devoid of any magical ability, the mechanism remained silent and lifeless as his blood reached the bottom of the basin.

Sato already knew what the result of the exam would be and wasted no time in leaving the room, disregarding whatever remarks the proctor was supposed to make. Despite his departure, he couldn't help but catch a slight sentence muttered by the proctor. "Tsk... pitiful."

Unfazed by the pitying comment, Sato continued on his way, his resolve unshaken. He has always paid no mind to the opinions of others, knowing he had no need for their sympathy. He knew they were all arrogant, ignorant, and selfish.

But in his mind, he couldn't help but acknowledge a harsh truth—he wasn't any different from them. Despite his disdain for their arrogance and ignorance, Sato knew that deep down, he shared similarities with those he despised. The only thing that set them apart was the presence of magic. It was the factor that divided the privileged from the downtrodden, the powerful from the powerless, the predator from the prey.

Exiting the exam room, he sensed a formidable aura ahead, its source unknown but undeniably potent. Bracing for an encounter with someone of considerable power, he was surprised to find a girl standing before him. With hair as white as a dove's plumage and eyes as blue as the sky, she was the antithesis of himself. Their eyes met briefly before they continued on their separate paths. Yet, even as they parted ways, murmurs followed in their wake.

"Isn't that Minami Namakawa? The 'Dove of Death'?" a boy whispered.

"She's truly as enchanting as they say, but I wouldn't dare cross her," a girl remarked.

"Rumor has it she's a skilled assassin, a stark contrast to her appearance," another voice chimed in.

Sato kept walking despite the whispering, he wasn't that interested in rumors anyway. As Sato settled onto a bench near the building's center, he found himself surrounded by the tranquility of a garden, akin to a miniature park teeming with life. Trees swayed gently, their leaves rustling in the breeze, while streams of water meandered through the lush landscape. It was a serene oasis amidst the bustling academy surrounded by marble pillars and a hole in the ceiling which allowed sunlight to enter.

As he allowed himself to unwind, he noticed that he was not alone in seeking solace here. Dozens, perhaps even countless students, had congregated in this haven after enduring their examinations. Normally adverse to crowded spaces, Sato found himself surprisingly at ease amidst the sea of his peers, though he paid little heed to their presence.

The allure of this particular spot lay in its significance—it was here that the results of squad placements would be announced. And so, students from all walks of life gathered, seeking respite while awaiting their fates.

In the land known as The Republic of Veridia, the Academy stood as a paramount institution, its corridors breeding the finest assassins, the silent blades destined to cut through the heart of their longstanding foe, The Republic of Aurelia, engaged in a bitter conflict spanning over a decade. Amidst the clamor of battlefields, where thousands fell to claim mere inches of territory, a subtler strategy emerged, veiled in shadows and whispers, as assassins and spies danced their deadly waltz across enemy lines.

These assassins were not mere individuals; they were forged into squads, small but lethal units ranging from five to ten members, their fates intertwined like the strands of fate itself. Once assigned, a squad remained unchanged, a solemn pact of camaraderie and duty. Losses were not to be replaced, for each fallen comrade was a testament to the sacrifices made in the name of Veridia's unwavering will.

As the hours ticked away, Sato found himself after being asleep for a while and was suddenly engulfed by a sudden surge of students. It was unmistakable—the examinations had drawn to a close, signaling the commencement of squad assignments. And, as expected, Sato's intuition proved true.

Amidst the flurry of activity, students hurriedly flocked to the announcement boards, their anticipation palpable. Though Sato wasn't as enthusiastic as his peers, he couldn't deny his curiosity about his future squad mates.

As he scanned the board for his name, a disheartening realization dawned upon him. Amidst the whispers and murmurs filling the air, a distinct tone of degradation and discrimination was directed at him.

"Hey, isn't that the guy with no mana?" a voice sneered.

"I'm sure he'd just be dead weight to his team," another voice chimed in with disdain.

"I feel sorry for his team, having to carry someone like him. He'd probably run away in the middle of a fight," someone else muttered.

The cruel insults and whispers about him continued to bombard his ears, reminding him of his perceived inadequacies. Despite his intention to brush off the comments, he halted his search for his name as a sobering realization struck him. They weren't entirely wrong.

As he pondered how he had survived all these years, memories flooded his mind, revealing moments of kindness amidst the cruelty he endured. There were always individuals who stood out, extending a helping hand despite his shortcomings. Yet, he realized with a pang of regret, all he had given them in return was the gift of departure.

Suddenly, voices reverberated in his head, as if the memories themselves were revealing their raw truths.

"You...!" Sato's father's furious shout echoed through the depths of his mind. "You are an insignificant and useless child! Your mother is now dead because of you!" His father's accusatory words pierced through Sato's consciousness like daggers.

In the memory, Sato found himself standing amidst a scene of horror, his mother's lifeless body sprawled on the cold ground, blood staining her pale skin, and the sharp glint of knives embedded in her flesh. Pain and fear engulfed him as he tried in vain to banish the tragic memory from his mind.

"If only you had inherited the family's talents, you are nothing but a disgrace!" His father's harsh words echoed through the corridors of his mind.

As if his body were compelled to respond, Sato managed to utter a reply, but it wasn't his own voice; instead, it was the voice of his younger self, innocent and unaware of the harsh realities of the world.

"I'm sorry, father! I couldn't save my mother!" Young Sato's tearful plea fell on deaf ears as his father interrupted him.

"Kfh!" Sato felt the aggressive sting of his father's hand against his cheek, the force sending him crashing to the ground, shock rendering him immobile. Through the haze, he heard the final, damning words his father would ever speak to him, "Why were you even born, you wretched brat?"

His eyes widened as those haunting words reverberated within him, a painful reminder of the world's harsh realities and the scars it had left on his soul. The memory began to blur, fading away as he returned to the present.

Back to his senses, Sato released a deep sigh and departed from the area where the squad placement boards stood. He walked past the murmuring crowd, their voices growing louder with every step he took. As he neared the exit door, a voice called out to him.

"Hey!" The shout pierced through the air, seemingly aimed at him.

"Could this person make their discrimination any more obvious?" he thought bitterly, feeling the weight of judgment bearing down on him.

Ignoring the call, Sato moved to open the door, but he abruptly halted when a hand touched his sleeve.

Surprised by the unexpected touch, Sato turned to see who it was, only to find himself face to face with a white-haired girl with piercing blue eyes. There was no mistaking it—this girl was Minami Namakawa.

"Where the hell do you think you're going?" Minami's tone carried a hint of annoyance at his apparent intention to leave.

"Eh? Why would you care?" Sato couldn't fathom why she would be concerned about him leaving.

"Are you dense? You're my squad member. Why shouldn't I care?" Minami retorted sharply.

Sato was taken aback by her words—"my squad member." He hadn't expected to be paired up with Minami of all people. Despite her declaration, he still felt skeptical.

"Alright then, miss. Are you planning to bring me to the principal to request a replacement?" Sato's sarcasm dripped from his words. "But then again, you won't have to worry about that. I won't get involved with your squad anyway," he added, this time with sincerity.

"What are you talking about?" Minami questioned, her eyes filled with ambition. "In fact, I'm here to do the opposite," she added, her voice firm with determination. "I want you to remain my squadmate!" Her declaration hung in the air, a palpable tension surrounding them until Sato finally spoke.

"No thanks," Sato replied with a nonchalant tone.

"What the hell, man!? I muster up the courage to say this to you, and you reply with that?" Minami protested, her annoyance evident as she began to hit him, her punches more like playful taps.

Sato couldn't help but chuckle at her unexpected behavior. Despite her reputation as the "Dove of Death," her punches lacked the expected intensity.

After a moment, Sato stopped chuckling and posed a question to Minami. "Why me though?" he asked.

"Hm?" Minami was caught off guard by the sudden question.

"I mean, surely you know I'm not proficient in magic, nor do I have any signs of mana. I'm sure I'll just be a burden, as they say," Sato continued.

Minami let out a sigh, as if bracing herself to answer his question. "Really? That's what you're concerned about?" she questioned, sounding almost incredulous.

"I don't care about any of that; I have my own reasons," Minami asserted firmly.

Sato couldn't help but feel curious about her reasons, and he found himself unknowingly staring at Minami, silently urging her to elaborate.

"Uhh, even though you have no signs of mana, you still scored one of the highest in the accuracy exam, you know? Yes, that's it!" Minami blurted out an answer, seemingly straight from her mind, though it was painfully obvious it was born out of desperation hiding the true reason.

"Alright then," Sato responded, seemingly accepting Minami's explanation. Though he suspected there might be more to it, he chose not to pry further, believing it would be invasive to her.

"Great, then I guess that means you accept to stay?" Minami questions him a warm smile

Although he had been reluctant to accept Minami's offer before, something shifted within Sato after seeing her smile warmly. He didn't expect to feel differently just from someone's expression. Perhaps it was because he hadn't been treated with kindness like this for a long time that it felt both new and nostalgic at the same time. Whatever the reason, that feeling began to compel him to accept—or rather, he found himself willing to try and accept it. However, despite his newfound willingness, he remained skeptical.

"Sure, but are the other squad members okay with me?" Sato replied, his tone tinged with uncertainty.

Minami chuckled at his concern and reassured him, "I don't think that will be a problem."

As a few hours passed after Sato and Minami's conversation, nightfall enveloped the academy grounds. Having journeyed a considerable distance from the center of the campus, they now made their way toward the dormitory where the other squad members awaited their arrival. This made Sato rethink just how vast the academy truly was.

"This academy seriously is massive; it took us a long time just to get to the dormitory," Sato remarked.

"You're right. I feel like this is a country on its own," Minami agreed.

As they continued their small talk on the way to their dorm room, they finally arrived after a while. Sato stared at the door for a moment, feeling a twinge of regret about his decision. He wondered if the others would accept him the same way Minami had.

Minami sensed Sato's uneasiness and nudged him in the waist with her elbow, prompting him to turn his attention to her.

"I told you it will be fine, just relax," Minami reassured him once more.

Sato nodded, as if ready to heed her advice. This served as Minami's signal to open the door, and she entered first. As she stepped inside, she signaled for Sato to follow suit, and he complied. He couldn't help but wonder what his squad mates would be like. However, the questions swirling in his mind were suddenly answered—perhaps not in the way he had expected.

As soon as Sato entered the dorm, he was suddenly greeted by a can flying through the air at full force. However, it wasn't aimed at him; instead, it was directed at someone else.

"What the hell, Ryota? Why are you eating my food?" a girl with short hair shouted at a boy named Ryota, who had been indulging in a tub of ice cream in a couch. Well, he had been until the can connected with his face, sending him to the floor somehow tumbling over the couch.

Ryota managed to pick himself up, albeit not entirely, and protested, "Why'd you throw a can at me? Are you mental?"

"Idiot, you were eating my food. I have every right," the girl responded, her annoyance evident in her tone.

"Haven't you heard of the term 'sharing is caring'? It seems to me you're just a selfish bit—" Ryota's words were abruptly cut off when a second can went flying straight into his face, making him fall back to the floor once more.

"What did you say? If you're that hungry, I'll insert metal into your throat," the girl threatened, another can at the ready, her demeanor fierce and unyielding.

"Akari, I think you should stop now. Ryota's already dead it seems," a guy with glasses chimed in, attempting to intervene and quell the chaos.

"Haruki, save me! The devil has come to drag me to the depths of hell," Ryota pleaded, tears welling up in his eyes as if he were a child seeking forgiveness.

"Who are you calling the devil!?" Akari snapped, her annoyance evident at the description Ryota had given her.

The chaos continued for a while, with Haruki attempting to intervene but ultimately deciding it was futile. He sighed, resigning himself to the situation, and turned to Sato, who stood there completely still, bewildered by the unexpected events. Sato hadn't anticipated this much chaos for a first meeting with his squad mates, and it was likely an encounter no one would easily forget.

Haruki stood up from his seat and went towards Sato to talk to him. "Sorry about these two; they're quite the trouble when they're together. You must be Sato, I presume. I'm Haruki. Nice to meet you," Haruki said, offering a friendly smile despite the mayhem surrounding them.

"Yes, I am Sato. Likewise," Sato replied with a nod of acknowledgment.

"I'm surprised you guys were already here before us," Sato remarked, bewildered by the fact that they had arrived at the dormitory ahead of them, despite the squad placements being released at the same time for everyone.

"Oh, that," Haruki chuckled. "Yeah, we were among the first to read the board. We didn't know where you were though. Minami stayed behind to look for you."

Sato likely hadn't noticed it because he had been asleep for a while, and perhaps he woke up some time after the placements were released. That would explain it.

"Oh, and what do you mean by 'us'? Is Minami already here?" Haruki questioned, his curiosity piqued.

"You guys didn't see her coming inside?" Sato replied, confusion evident in his voice.

Minami, being an experienced assassin, moved with the stealth and grace of a shadow, making it no surprise that the others hadn't sensed her arrival.

"No, we didn't. I guess she's just a quiet walker," Haruki answered. "I guess she really is as scary as they say," he added, his tone tinged with fear as he put his arms together like he had just felt a shiver run down his spine.

"Are you guys done with your nonsense already?" Minami's voice cut through the room.

"Ack!" Haruki instinctively shouted, startled by Minami's sudden appearance.

Minami, who had seemingly retreated to her room, had been listening to their conversation the entire time.

"Since when were you listening?" Haruki questioned, his nervousness evident in his stuttering words.

"Ever since you introduced yourselves," Minami replied calmly.

"Sato, it was nice meeting you. I'm going to take my final breath now; the dove has decided to take me," Haruki sobbed dramatically.

"Idiot, I'm not going to kill you for that!" Minami snapped at him, clearly annoyed by his assumption.

"Also, you two dimwits! Don't you have any decency? You haven't even introduced yourselves!" Minami scolded the two who were still bickering with each other.

The two immediately felt a chill run through their bodies as if they had just received an ominous warning from the embodiment of death itself.

"I think I can see the light taking me," both of them muttered, seemingly accepting their fate.

"Who do you think I am!?" Minami demanded, her voice filled with exasperation.

A few minutes passed until the two were cleared from their assumption of impending doom, and finally, they spoke up to introduce themselves.

"I'm Akari. I'm looking forward to working with you," Akari introduced herself in a calm tone.

"Yo! Nice to meet you, I'm Ryota, although you probably already know due to Akari's unnecessary screaming," Ryota chuckled

"You bastard, I see you're not stopping, eh?" Akari glared at Ryota, clearly annoyed and fighting the urge to hit him again.

"Oh? Is someone getting pissed?" Ryota provoked, a mischievous glint in his eyes.

As it seemed the two were about to start another round of chaos, they suddenly caught Minami's gaze, which silently warned them that impending doom might indeed be on the horizon.

"Eek!" The two recoiled once again, falling back into their assumptions.

Minami sighed at the two's idiocy and turned to Sato, urging him to introduce himself as well. Sato vaguely understood the signal but proceeded to introduce himself nonetheless.

"I'm Sato. Pleased to meet you," he said, extending a hand in greeting.

The two stood up, now seemingly calm compared to before, and shook Sato's hand.

"Looking forward to fighting with you," Ryota said with a grin.

"Let us fight till the last one," Akari chimed in, her expression determined.

Sato let out a small smile. He hadn't expected to feel this way so easily, considering who he really was. Nevertheless, he figured it wouldn't hurt to try to maybe live like this once again.

As the five of them completed their introductions, suddenly, as if by coincidence, a voice from the dorm's speakers echoed through the room.

"Hello there. If you're hearing this, then you're part of a select few squads called for a meeting tomorrow morning at Logistics Office Number 3. Please be there at 8 am sharp by the request of Madam Sharun. Thank you, and lights out." And just like that, the voice cut off, as if it had never been there.

The silence enveloped the room, casting a sense of anticipation as they exchanged puzzled glances.

"Why are they calling us for tomorrow? We just arrived at the academy today," Akari questioned, furrowing her brows in confusion.

"Dunno, maybe it's a mission," Haruki speculated, his fingers drumming nervously on the edge of the table.

"A mission this early?" Ryota interjected, his voice laced with skepticism. He leaned back in his chair, crossing his arms over his chest as he mulled over the possibility.

Sato remained quiet, lost in his own thoughts. The idea of a mission so soon after joining the academy seemed unlikely, but he couldn't shake the feeling of unease that settled inside him.

"Well, whatever it is, you heard them. We should sleep now," Minami suggested, breaking the contemplative silence.

The four of them agreed to Minami's suggestion and dispersed to their separate rooms. As Sato made his way to his room, he encountered Minami, who was also heading in the same direction. They exchanged glances for a while until Minami spoke up.

"So, what do you think?" Minami asked, her tone thoughtful, her fingers absentmindedly twirling a lock of her hair.

"Huh?" Sato replied, caught off guard by the sudden question. He shifted his weight from one foot to the other, feeling a bit awkward under her gaze.

"Do you think you're able to live the life you want here?" Minami inquired, her gaze searching.

"I don't know. I guess I haven't changed much from before. I'm not sure if I've fully recovered," Sato admitted, a hint of uncertainty in his voice. He glanced down at the floor, feeling the weight of his past bearing down on him once again.

"Well, don't worry. Whatever happened in your past, I won't pry," Minami reassured him as she walked past Sato towards her room. However, she stopped suddenly right after she passed him, turning to face him with a contemplative expression.

"But, I think you shouldn't let the past keep you shackled from achieving what you want. At least, that's what I think," Minami added before continuing on her way. She paused to adjust her hair, a small smile playing at the corners of her lips, before disappearing into her room.

Sato watched her go, a swirl of emotions churning within him. He took a deep breath, contemplating Minami's words. Perhaps she was right. It was time for him to break free from the chains of his past and embrace the possibilities of the present. But as he stood there, he couldn't shake the feeling that it was easier said than done.

There was still something looming over him, something he hadn't fully come to terms with yet. He knew he had to confront it eventually, but for now, it remained a daunting obstacle in his path.

With a determined sigh, he went to his room and slept for the night. Still wondering what he could do or what he could have truly done, both now and the him before. As he was lost in thought his eyes felt heavy, and drifted off to sleep.


In the darkness of the night, under the gentle glow of the moon, a scene unfolded, captivating in its beauty yet tinged with an air of foreboding. The interplay of shadows and moonlight seemed to whisper of unseen possibilities, but beneath this facade lay the harsh reality of dashed hopes and shattered dreams.

Within a building nestled in the heart of the Republic of Veridia, this dichotomy found its manifestation.

"Kuh! What do you want?" The words escaped the lips of a figure writhing in agony, his body marred by cuts and one arm severed, a testament to his helplessness. Pain coursed through his veins, drowning out all other sensations save for the sickening sound of his own blood pooling around him.

"Where is the document?" A voice, shrouded in darkness yet illuminated by the ethereal glow of the moon, cut through the silence like a knife. Its tone brooked no argument, no room for negotiation; it was a demand for something invaluable, something of utmost importance.

"I told you, I know nothing of what you want!" The injured figure's voice trembled with defiance, though it was tinged with resignation.

The shadowy figure sighed, his form shifting slightly in the moonlight. "Do you truly think me a fool?" His words hung heavy in the air, carrying a weight of inevitability.

"Well, it matters not. I have my suspicions as to its whereabouts." A smirk danced across his lips, revealing a hint of cruel amusement. "I merely wished to witness the terror etched upon your face."

Recognition dawned in the eyes of the wounded man, a chilling realization settling over him like a shroud.

"Very well then, may the darkness consume your wretched soul. Goodnight." With a swift and deadly motion, the sound of steel slicing through the air shattered the silence, leaving only the echoes of a life extinguished.