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Author Topic: Fruits of a Rose - Chapter 12 (170726)  (Read 14672 times)

Offline Ruka Kikuchi

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Re: Fruits of a Rose - Chapter 6 (170521)
« Reply #40 on: June 07, 2017, 09:39:04 PM »
Chapter 7

Mako was packing in her room, when she heard a knock at the door. She saw Nana standing there, and noticed one of her fingers was bleeding. Her eyes widened seeing the bloody finger, making her worry.

“What happened?!” she asked, walking up to Nana.
 
“Mako…”

“Your finger…” Mako lifted her hand, looking to see two puncture wounds on her finger. “Did someone bite you?”

“I did it.”

“What?!”

“I did it to help Manatsu.”

“Manatsu?” Mako furrowed her brows. “What’s wrong with her?”

She tried to leave, but Nana stopped her, looking at her with serious eyes.

“Kiss…”

“Eh?!”

“Kiss me…” Nana suddenly said, holding the girl. “Mako…”

“S-stop!” Mako pushed the girl away, running out of her room. As she left in shock, Nana gave a sad frown, looking at her finger.

“I’ll need to find a bandage…”

------------------------

“Is everyone packed up?” Natsuki asked as everyone gathered outside the entrance of the old school building. Everyone had backpacks filled with their personal belongings, as well as food supply and medicine.

Nana looked up at the building, a solemn glow in her eyes.

“I’m going to miss this place…”
 
Tomu seemed to notice her behavior, nudging Yuka.

“Hey, what is she doing..?”

Yuka saw the girl and tilted her head. “I dunno.”

“Do you think she has some history with this place? I mean, I did hear it used to be a school until…”

“Until what?”

“Apparently there was a revolt. Sort of a mini-war between the vampires and the hunters. From what I heard, the lives of the students who went here were also taken, and ever since, the two sides were at odds.”

“So that’s what happened…”

“It’s strange, though.”

Yuka raised a brow. “How so?”

“Well--”

“Alright, let’s go,” Natsuki announced as she saw the sun set over the horizon. “We start moving now, the hunters won’t be able to catch up to us.”

“Hai~”

As they continued walking, Tomu whispered to Yuka, “My grandfather told me vampires tried to make peace with the humans, but during that revolt, some vampires went crazy.”

“Eh?”

“It was all out of nowhere. They started killing the students and drinking their blood, even some of the hunters were caught off guard.”

“That’s scary…” Yuka shuddered. “What made them act like that?”

“I have no clue. Whenever I ask him, he just mumbles something about the moon.”

“The moon?”

“Yeah… It makes no sense.”

Yuka furrowed her brows, looking up at the sky.

“The moon, huh…”

------------------------
 
“We’ll stake out here,” Takayanagi said as she and the hunters set up a space where they could look out for any vampires. “We’ll take turns patrolling around this area. I’ll take the first shift, then Iwata, then Takahashi, Sasaki, and then Oshima.”

“Eh? Why am I last?” Ryoka asked.

“Because you’ll probably fall asleep anyways,” Juri said, making Yukari chuckle.
 
Takayanagi started her watch, meanwhile, the girls were setting up their sleeping bags and watched the girl at her post.

She saw the girl throw out some sunflower seeds, feeding a bird in front of her.

“Say, Takayanagi-san?” Ryoka then spoke up.

“Yes?”
 
“I was wondering, for how long were you a hunter?”

“How long have you been a trainee?”

“Um… half a year, I think?”

The woman chuckled. “Much longer than that.”

“Hee~ that’s amazing.”

“How long, exactly?” Juri asked.
 
“A few years.”
 
“Ooh, you’ve been at this for a while, huh?”

“That’s right. I know my way around this forest. I’ve slayed countless beasts that dwelled in the darkness.”

“Beasts?! You mean the vampires, or…?”

“You know of the other monsters, right? The fallen beings who lurk in the darkness…”
 
“Fallen beings?”
 
It was then that they heard a rustling noise in the distance. As the hunters reached for their guns, setting their guard up, while Akane just stared out as if looking for the source of the noise.
 
After the rustling stopped, the woman stood up.
 
“I’ll go look for it.”
 
“Be careful,” Yukari said as she walked off.
 
“She’s a hunter, Yukarun, and way more experienced than us,” Juri said. “And moreover, she’s a Magnolia alumni. She knows what she’s doing.”
 
“Yeah… guess I’m just worried.”
 
“And that’s why you’re such a nice person.”
 
------------------------
 
“Yoooosh~ Time to set up camp!” Marika cheered as she and Madoka laid their things down.
 
The two began setting up their tents and unpacking the other camping supplies. Madoka turned her lantern on, lighting up the area as it was starting to get dark.
 
“Mou, why’d we have to wait until now to get started?”
 
“We had to sneak out once after school was over! It couldn’t be helped!”
 
“Still…”
 
Once tents were up, Marika started to gather wood to start a fire. Madoka gathered leaves and tidling to help, pulling out a box of matches and sparking a flame.
 
Meanwhile, Marika was noisily humming as she rustled through the bushes, trying to find some twigs and sticks of wood for their fire. As she gathered them up, her humming died down as she noticed a figure in the distance.
 
“What is that?” she blinked, looking at the shadowy figure. “Someone else out camping?”
 
The figure then turned, and Marika could clearly see a red eye glaring at her.
 
“Oooooh crap crap crap crap crap…” she hissed in a whisper as she ran back to where Madoka was. She cried out, “MADOKAAAAAAAA!!!”
 
“Ehh?!” Madoka jumped up, almost dropping the lit match. She quickly put it out and looked at her panicked friend. “What’s wrong?”
 
“E-e-eye! R-red! V-v-vampire! I, I, I, I think it saw me!”
 
“A vampire?!”
 
Marika’s head nodded furiously.
 
“No way…”
 
“W-what do we do?! What if it comes for me?!”
 
They then heard rustling as something came toward them. Marika shuddered in fear and clung to Madoka as they saw the person’s figure draw closer to them.
 
“Madoka~” Marika whimpered as the older girl held onto her.

She then saw one of the sticks and broke it in half, giving it a pointed end. She gripped the wooden stick and was about to stab the figure, only for the person to dodge swiftly, revealing themselves.
 
“Woah! It’s okay, it’s okay!” the person said, raising their hands in the air. “I’m unarmed.”

Marika let out a sigh as Madoka dropped the stake.
 
“Mou, Marika, it was just a regular girl!”
 
“But th-their eye was red! I swear it was!”
 
“Marika,” Madoka glared at her, making the girl pout.
 
“Sorry…”
 
“What are you two cute girls doing out here so late? Don’t you know it’s dangerous?”
 
“Well, yeah. But, this one,” Madoka placed a hand on Marika’s shoulder, “Really wanted to go camping.”
 
“Guilty as charged.”

“Oh. Well, you two might wanna be more careful. There’s lots of things that go bump in the night.”

“Don’t worry. We know.”
 
The girl smirked before waving goodbye and heading back the way she came.

“See? Nothing to worry about.”

Marika raised a brow. “I dunno… I know what I saw.”

“Maybe it was just your mind playing tricks on you.”
 
“I hope so…”

Madoka then picked up the sticks again, throwing them in with the pile of tiddling before starting another match.
 
“Come on. Fire’s not gonna start itself.”

“I’ll get the marshmallows!”

Madoka just chuckled as her friend rushed to get snacks while she started the fire.

------------------------------

To Be Continued

Offline Ruka Kikuchi

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Re: Fruits of a Rose - Chapter 7 (170607)
« Reply #41 on: June 10, 2017, 10:45:33 PM »
Chapter 8

The group of vampires walked through the dark forest, Natsuki leading the way as she used an old compass and map to the old school building. The others lagged behind as sore leg muscles and hunger started to catch up to them.
 
Mako turned her head back to see Nana staring up at the night sky. She couldn’t forget about the girl asking to kiss her, but that proved difficult.
 
“Why did she ask me that so suddenly..?”
 
“Natsuki~ I’m getting tired…” Yuka whined.
 
“Oh, alright. Let’s rest a bit,” Natsuki turned around, then her eyebrows furrowed. “Wait.. where’s Natsumi?”

As the girls saw she was missing, they groaned in frustration.
 
“You gotta be kidding…”

“Somebody go find her,” Natsuki said.
 
Nao offered, immediately going off to find the girl as the others rested. Mako looked over at Manatsu, who was resting by herself while rubbing her temple.

“Manatsu-chan, you alright?”
 
“Yeah.. just a little headache.”
 
Nana looked down, eyeing Manatsu worriedly. Natsuki also noticed her behavior and approached her.
 
“You still feeling sick?”

“A little…”
 
She felt her forehead. “No fever… yet.”
 
“Eh? Manatsu-chan’s getting sick?” Yuka asked.
 
“Seems like it. She wasn’t all that well yesterday.” Tomu looked around the environment. “I think there’s some herbs out here we can use to make medicine.”

“I appreciate the offer, but I don’t think this is just any common cold…”

“Then, what?”

“Keira…” Akari voiced out, making everyone look at her as she had been silent. “This is exactly what happened to Keira…”
 
Everyone grew quiet, remembering the girl mentioned. Just like them, Keira was a young vampire going through her Cocoon period. However, she suddenly fell ill and died, much to their dismay.
 
Akari especially was heartbroken by the event, unable to speak or interact with the others for months after the ordeal. She couldn’t handle the unexpected loss of her friend. And it was hard for her to even mention her name… until just now, it seems.

“Why Manatsu? Why Keira?” Akari muttered, holding her arms.

“Hold on. We don’t know that it’s the same as…” Mako started, but stopped when she saw Akari’s troubled expression. She spoke again, this time more reassuringly, “I’m sure Manatsu will get better.”

“You just rest. Maybe the hunters won’t find us if we just calm down and stay hidden.”
 
“Then Nao better hurry and find Natsumi.”

-------------------------

Natsumi had wandered off again, distracted by the stars shining in the sky.

“Twinkle, twinkle, little star~ How I wonder what you are~” she sang with a giggle now and then, her feet leading her aimlessly through the woods.

However, she blinked and soon realized that her friends were nowhere to be found.

“Are? Are? Where’d everyone go?”
 
She looked around, confused and slightly dazed, as she couldn’t recall how she ended up on her own.
 
“Natsuki-san~? Mako-chan~? Where are you~?” she called out.
 
As she searched for them, she then started to smell smoke. She followed the scent and started to see a fire in the distance.
 
She walked closer and saw someone warming up by the fire. She blinked, tilting her head.

“Who is that? She’s familiar…”

“Madoka, let’s make s’mores!” Another girl said as they approached Madoka, who smiled upon her arrival.

“Madoka…” Natsumi repeated, getting closer.

Madoka’s ear twitched as she heard the rustling. They looked up, Marika immediately jumping behind Madoka’s back. When Natsumi approached them, the two stared at her silently for a minute.

“Uh… who are you?”

“Madoka,” Natsumi spoke again, staring at Madoka.

“Eh? Someone you know?” Marika asked.

Madoka knew exactly who it was. It was the girl who wandered into the school without permission and found her in the music room. The spacey, airheaded girl named Natsumi.
 
“Why are you here?”

Natsumi gave an ignorant smile. “Madoka… it’s been a while.”

Madoka stood up, “I said, what are you doing out here? Don’t you know it’s dangerous?”

“Yeah.”

“Then why?!”

“Me and my friends need a new home.”

“Eh?”

“Do you, like, LIVE in these woods?!” Marika asked, receiving a slap on the head from the other girl. “Ow! Hey, Madoka, what was that for?”
 
“Stop asking irrelevant questions.”
 
“Why are you here, then?” Natsumi then asked.

“We’re camping. That’s all.”
 
“Camp-ing?” Natsumi tilted her head.

“Want a s’more?” Marika offered, receiving another glare from Madoka. However, Natsumi took the treat, staring at it. Marika said, “It’s good! Taste it!”

Natsumi bit into the snack and her eyes lit up.

“It’s yummy..!”

Eating the sticky marshmallow and gooey chocolate, her lips became dirtied with the sweet delicacy. The sight made Madoka chuckle, seeing her eat like a little kid.

Marika handed her a napkin, to which Natsumi accepted.
 
“Natsumi!” A voice then called out.

The three saw Nao as she approached Natsumi, out of breath.

“There you are! Mou, why did you wander off like that?!”
 
“Sorry…” Natsumi apologized.
 
She then looked at Madoka and Marika, who were eating together happily. Looking back at Natsumi, she started to gain a worried expression.
 
“Natsumi,” she whispered so that they couldn’t hear her, “Why are you with a couple of humans?”
 
“Humans?”

Nao mentally facepalmed. “Yes.”

“They’re nice. They gave me sweets,” Natsumi just smiled ignorantly. Then, she pointed at Madoka and said, “And she plays pretty music.”
 
“Don’t you realise that these humans can ruin our plans?”
 
She just tilted her head, “They don’t look like hunters, though.”

“Hey, you want a s’more, too?” Marika asked, offering a treat to Nao.

“U-Uh, no thanks,” Nao said, trying to be polite as she declined. She took Natsumi’s wrist, “Natsumi, we need to go.”

As she was being pulled away, she waved goodbye to Madoka.

“Bye bye~”

Madoka waved goodbye back as the girl disappeared into darkness.

“We’ve come across some weird people out here, huh?” Marika asked.

“Yeah… weird.”
 
--------------------
 
Nao and Natsumi finally made it back to the others back at the resting spot. Everyone felt relieved as they saw Natsumi back safe and sound.

“Natsumi, don’t run off like that.”

“You need to be more aware of your surroundings.”

“Right.. Sorry…” Natsumi apologized.

Mako then smelled something from Natsumi. A familiar, sweet scent.

“Chocolate..?”

“Eh?”

“I smell chocolate. Did you eat chocolate, Natsumi?”

“I ate s’mores.”

Akari raised a brow, “A what?”

“Eh?! You don’t know what that is?!” Yuka asked.

“No?”

“It’s an awesome snack! It’s marshmallows and chocolate, sandwiched between two graham crackers. It’s crunchy and gooey all at the same time!”

“Graham crackers?”

“They’re cookies. They’re really sweet and they get crumbly easily.”

“Humans have strange taste,” Natsuki commented.

“Anyway, they’re really yummy!”

“Wait, but that means…” Tomu then realized, “You were near humans?!”

“They were nice though!” Natsumi retaliated.
 
“What if they were hunters? They would’ve killed you if they found out you were a vampire!”

“They didn’t.”

“Natsumi, this forest is filled with dangers,” Natsuki said calmly. “If something happened to you…”
 
“What did they look like?” Nana asked curiously. “What were they wearing?”

“Huh? Why are you asking that..?”

“Ah~ they were wearing white jackets! Their school uniforms!”

“Eh? Students?”

“Yeah!”

“Maybe they were on a camping trip…”

Natsuki cleared her throat.

“There could be more humans out here; we never know. We need to be extremely careful. And, more importantly, if anyone sees or hears one of the Fallen beings, run. Don’t try to fight it.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

---------------------------

Akane returned to the camp quarters where she saw Karen on look out.

“Takayanagi-san…” she stood up, bowing to the girl. “Welcome back.”

“Everything secure here?”

“Yup. No sign of the vampires.”

“Good,” Akane laid down on the ground, looking up at the sky from behind the trees. “It’s a clear sky tonight.”
 
Karen didn’t look up. She was too focused on her job as being on look out.
 
“Say, why did you decide to become a hunter, Karen?”

“Huh? Why do you ask?”

“You don’t like being asked?”

“It’s not that…” Karen fell silent, letting out a sigh. “My best friend.. was taken by vampires.”

Akane could hear a glint of sadness beyond the evident anger in her voice. She looked and saw Karen’s eyes were hidden behind her bangs, but she sensed that she was fighting tears.

“I swore I’d kill them and take her back… But, if she’s lost her humanity and become just like them…”

“You don’t want to kill her, do you?”

Karen glared out into the darkness, touching the gun at her side.

“No, but… If I must.”

“That’s bold.”

“I’m a hunter. That’s how things must be.”

Akane smirked. “Really?”

“There’s no other way I know as a hunter. If she’s… If Yuka is a vampire, she’s not my friend anymore. She’s my enemy.”

“Does it have to be that way?”

“What other way is there?”

“You continue to be friends.”

“Haa?” Karen looked down at her, confused.

“Maybe, if you didn’t kill her, if you stayed friends with her, it could start a change in the world.”

“But, she wouldn’t be human--!”

“So?” Akane suddenly glared at her, making her tense. “Just because you two are of different races, doesn’t mean there should be any grudges between you.”

“Takayanagi-san… are you..?”

“Enough,” she said, closing her eyes. “I want to rest. Don’t bother me.”

“Y-yes, ma’am…”

---------------------

Manatsu let out a small cough as Tomu prepared some herbal medicine for her. She felt her forehead a moment.

“She’s warm… Looks like the fever from before is coming back.”

As she was doing that, Mako was sitting by herself, snacking on some chocolate she had packed or the trip. She glanced over at Nana, who was silent for most of the trip. She walked over to her.

“You hungry?” she asked.

“No.”

“You sure? It’s been awhile since you’ve eaten.”

“I’ll be fine.”

Mako sat beside her, still eating the chocolate. She then saw a bandage wrapped around her finger.

“Isn’t your finger healing up?”

“That’s…”

Mako gently took her hand, unwrapping the bandage. The bite wound was still fresh and not completely healed.

“Strange… It should’ve healed by now.”

“Blood…”

“Huh?”

“I need blood… to heal.”

“Blood? Human blood?”

Nana shook her head, her hand grabbing Mako’s wrist. Mako pulled away, but was then forced down as Nana pushed her to the ground.

“N-Nana..?”

“Mako… say it’s okay for me to drink your blood.”

“What? B-but, it’s forbidden..!”

“Just let me… Tell me to bite you. Say that I can have your blood.”

“Why?”

“Mako-chan? Nana?” Natsuki called out to them.

While Nana was distracted, Mako broke away from the older vampire, standing up and running to her sister.

“Natsuki!”

“What’s the matter?”

“Natsuki, something’s wrong. Nana’s saying strange things..!”

“What are you talking about?”

“Nana… Nana wants to--”

Mako suddenly felt a sharp pain at her neck. She grew tense as she felt a pair of fangs buried into her neck, and her body became paralyzed.

Natsuki screamed, alerting the others. Nana broke away as her lips were blood red, small droplets of the younger vampire’s blood dripping from her mouth and coating her fangs.

“Mako-chan!” Nao ran to her side, shaking Mako. “Can you hear me?!”

Mako looked at her. “Nao…”

Then, she suddenly winced, screaming a bit.

“Ow! That hurt!” she said angrily, turning around. “Nana, why did you bite me?!”

“Mako-chan..?” Akari and everyone else’s eyes widened.

“What?”

“Your Initiative… You still have it?” Natsuki asked. “Nana just bit you, but you still have free will?”

Mako furrowed her brows. Indeed, it was strange. She still had all her emotions and memories in tact, and she was fully aware of what’s going on around her.

“Do you.. Feel any different?”

“Like, you want to follow Nana’s orders?”

“No. If anything, I’m mad,” she said while holding her neck, trying to stop the bleeding. She turned to Nana again. “Nana, don’t do that. It really hurt. I didn’t even give you permission.”

“Permission?” Nao raised a brow.

“Right! She was asking permission to drink my blood!”

“What..?”

“I’m sorry…” Nana spoke, hanging her head low.

She suddenly knelt on one knee, bowing to Mako. She and the others stood shocked at the sight.

“W-what are you doing? Stand up.”

Nana immediately did as she said, standing up.

“Wait… is it possible that..?” Natsuki then got an idea. “Mako-chan, tell her to do something else.”

“Eh? Um… Nana, spin three times?”

Nana didn’t hesitate and spun around, three times exact.

“No way…”

“N-Nana, shake?” Mako held out her hand. Nana took it obediently.

“Oi, is she a dog?!”

“Erm… Nana, what does this mean? Why are you obeying me?”

“Because, my Initiative belongs to you.”

Mako’s eyes widened. She wanted to believe it was a lie, but Nana’s straight, sincere eyes, told her that it was true.

“I have… Nana’s Initiative?”


To Be Continued

Offline Ruka Kikuchi

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Re: Fruits of a Rose - Chapter 8 (170610)
« Reply #42 on: June 17, 2017, 02:26:44 PM »
Chapter 9

“Your Initiative..?” Mako asked. “But, that’s impossible.”

“Yeah! You were born over one thousand years apart! How could you two have possibly met?!”

“It was one thousand years ago. When I swore my life to stay by your side.”

“What does that even mean? I don’t understand!” Mako pulled her hand away. “I’ve never met you before now!”

“We have.”

“What..?”

“We have met before. You just don’t remember.”

“Mou, this doesn’t make sense!” Mako shouted frustrated, storming off.

“Wait! Mako-chan!” Natsuki called out to her, but the girl disappeared into the fog that started to cloud the night of the forest.

“Oh crap… Oh crap!” Yuka suddenly shouted. “We need to go after her!”

“But, Yuka, it’s dangerous out there!”

“EXACTLY! Mako could get killed!”

Everyone was silent, not knowing what to do. Yuka looked at Nana, who was giving her a serious gaze. Even though she had blood on her mouth, she was able to read the vampire’s feelings in her eyes.

“You’ll come with me, right?”

“Of course.”

“Anyone else?” Yuka asked, but no one answered. The girl let out an angry growl, “Fine! Stay here if you’re that scared, then, dammit!”

“Yuka..!”

“Nana, let’s go!”

The two vampires ran off. Natsuki wanted to go after them, but stopped herself as there were more pressing matters at hand.
 
“Natsuki-san… will they be okay?” Nao asked.

“...I don’t know.”

-----------------------

Nana and Yuka ran through the fog, calling out their friend’s name in an attempt to find her. The two had no luck finding her, and soon, Yuka found that she had gotten them lost.

“Argh, now what do we do? How’re we gonna find our way back?!”

Nana held her shoulder, placing a finger at her lips as a sign to be quiet.

“Huh..?”

“Be quiet. Something’s here,” Nana said in a whisper.

As Yuka’s voice died down, she began to hear a low grumble. A beast’s growl. Her body froze as she felt her heart race in fear. Nana remained calm, her expression stoic.
 
The two then saw a pair of red, beastly eyes staring at them. The growl started to grow as the predator approached the two. Yuka felt her legs trembling as she and the other vampire girl slowly started to back away.

“W-w-we have to run…” she hissed, too scared to even speak.

Just then, there was a loud snap as someone stepped on a wooden twig. The two looked down, seeing the broken stick at the bottom of Nana’s foot.

The beast suddenly charged forward. Yuka screamed as it was about to attack.

BANG!

Then, there was a loud gunshot. Yuka and Nana fell to the ground as they saw someone dash forward, holding a gun. They shot the beast again, hitting at the center of its head. Slowly, the black beast collapsed, dead on the ground.

The person blew the barrel of the gun, strapping it onto their waist before turning to look at the two.

“Are you alright?”

“Y-yes…” Yuka responded while Nana nodded silently.

The woman smiled and helped the two back on their feet.

“What are you two doing out here?”

“W-we’re looking for our friend. She ran off and now, we’re lost.”

“You need some help?”

“Eh?! No, no, you don’t have to--”

“We’d appreciate it,” Nana said kindly, making the younger girl’s eyes widen.

“Alright. Let’s start then,” she said as she started walking.

“W-wait!” Yuka stopped her. “What’s your name?”

“Rena.”

-----------------------

Madoka and Marika were sleeping, but their slumber was interrupted when they heard a scratching noise.

“M-Madoka-chan, what’s that noise?”

“Probably just an animal.”

Marika tried to go back to sleep, telling herself it was just an animal. However, it was then that she heard what sounded like a roar in the distance.

“W-what was that?!”

Madoka groaned, trying to sleep, “Like I said, it’s just an animal. Like a bear or something.”

“That didn’t SOUND like a bear!”

“Marika, just be quiet.”
 
Marika frowned, shivering in her sleeping bag as she looked around nervously. Staring at the wall of the tent, she could see the shadow of whatever was outside slowly walk past the tent.

The shadow looked so unnatural. So monstrous. Marika held in a scream as she watched the shadow disappear, hearing the rustling footsteps fade away.

“That’s it!” she finally said, bolting up from her bed. “This was a bad choice! I give up!”
 
“Eh?” Madoka turned her head, seeing the girl stuff her backpack.

“Come on, Madoka, you were right! We’re getting out of here!”

“What?!”

“Hurry up and pack your things,” she said, throwing the girl’s bag to her.

Madoka let out a loud sigh. “This girl is hopeless…”

Nonetheless, she soon packed up her things and took down the tent. Marika started looking around, leaving Madoka confused.

“What’s wrong?”

“Um… I don’t know where to go.”

“Eh?! Are you saying we’re lost?!” Madoka grabbed the girl’s shoulders.

“I-I…”

“Hold on,” Madoka pulled out her phone, trying to search for a signal.

As she was doing so, Marika noticed a path she didn’t see before. She raised a brow before walking towards it. She saw a straight path that seemed to lead somewhere, but she didn’t know where.

“Hey, Madoka-chan?”

“Not now, Marika!”

Marika just pouted before looking back at the path.

“Might as well try…” she thought as she started walking.

She didn’t recognize the path at all, but she felt like she was getting closer to something.

She started to see something in the distance. She started running closer, seeing what looked like a clock tower.

“Is that the school?!” She ran faster, bolting out of the forest before stopping to see the building in front of her.

An old clock tower. Vines covering the walls of the building.

“This isn’t Magnolia Academy…” she realized. “This is… this is..!”

But then, she blinked.

“What school is this?”

The entire school building looked like it had been standing there for ages, untouched and untended by anyone. It was an abandoned ruin of the past.

“I gotta tell Madoka-chan about this..!” she said, turning around, but was surprised to see the path she had came from had disappeared. “Huh? Huh?! Where’d it go?!”

She got out her phone and tried to call her, but that failed. It was like she was in an area cut off from the rest of the world.

“No way… What am I supposed to do?”

She turned back to the entrance of the building, seeing a sign covered by vines. A sign which told the name of the school.

“Tsubaki High School…?”


To Be Continued

Offline Ruka Kikuchi

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Re: Fruits of a Rose - Chapter 9 (170617)
« Reply #43 on: June 20, 2017, 10:13:38 PM »
Chapter 10

With no other options and clearly lost, Marika decided to tour the old school building. Stepping through the entrance gate, she saw how truly old and in ruins the building was. Nearly all the glass windows were broken, stains visible on what she could assume used to be pure white walls.

Thorny rose vines grew everywhere, as if Mother Nature was reclaiming the entire building for herself. It was like a haunted house no one would dare go near. But oddly enough, something drew her to it.

“This is crazy…” she whispered as she took pictures of the area with her phone.

She stepped through the door, entering the lobby. She could imagine students walking to class and commuting with one another. She could almost hear the chatter of the noisy hallways.

“It’s odd… I’ve never been here, and yet…”

“Who’s there?!”

Marika jumped, falling back as she saw a figure walking down the hall towards her.

“I-I-I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to trespass! I just got lost and, and..!” she soon stopped as she recognized the face. “Wait… you’re that girl from before.”

“Ah. Nice to see you again.”

Feeling a bit relieved, she stood back up.

“What are you doing here?”

“This is kind of my home.”

“Home?”

“Yup. I’ve got nowhere else to go. So, I live here.”

“Ehh, that’s crazy.”

“And what about you? Weren’t you and your friend camping?”

“Well, we decided to leave, but… I got separated from her and now I can’t contact her.”

“Hmm… would you like me to help?” the mystery girl offered.

“Eh?!”

“I have a friend who’s out on a job. But I have a way of contacting her. Maybe she can find your friend.”

“Uwaa~ thank you!!!” Marika hugged the girl tightly.

“So tell me, cutie, what’s your name?”

“C-cutie?” Marika’s heart skipped a beat. “T-Tani Marika. And what about you?”

“Mm…” the girl pondered a bit before saying, “Just call me ‘J’.”

-----------------------

Mako held her neck, looking at her fingers to check for blood.

“It healed…” she said, sighing.

After storming off, she had quickly gotten lost, so she decided to stay in one place and wait for the others to find her.

She hugged her knees, thinking about Nana. She tried to comprehend what she had meant, but the more she thought about it, the more confused and frustrated she became.

“We’ve met before.. What? That can’t be… I.. we.. no..!”

“...Mako…”

Her ear twitched. She thought she heard Nana’s voice calling to her.

“Mako..!”

“Nana?” She stood up, looking around. She couldn’t see through the thick fog, but she felt like the girl’s presence was there.

She then saw a path in front of her and thought she could see Nana’s figure.

“Mako… come here.”

Suddenly, Mako fell into a trance. Her arms limply fell to her side as she started walking toward the unknown path.

Meanwhile…

The hunter girls were on lookout, when they heard what sounded like a howl rising in the air.

“What was that?”

Takayanagi opened one eye, looking at the young hunters.

“Was that a wolf?”

“Maybe.”

“Eh? Do you think it could come this way?!”

“It won’t, Ryoka.”

As they were talking, static starting going off on Takayanagi’s communicator. She pulled it out, adjusting it before talking.

“Rena, is that you?”

“Incorrect~”

Her eyes widened a bit, “Oh, Jurina..! What’s going on?”

“I got a cute girl here with me.”
 
“Uh-huh…?”

“And she’s lost out here. So I was wondering if you could help get her back to her friend.”

“I’m on a stake out right now, with some juniors. I can’t leave,” she said firmly.

“Ehh~ please, Churi?”

“Why is she even there with you, anyways? Isn’t the barrier…?”

“Hm? Oh, that. That’s right. Her name is Marika. I think she’s one of them.”

“Eh..?!”

“Huh? One of who?” Another voice spoke.

“Oh, nothing! It’s something on our end,” the girl Jurina quickly said before whispering back to her. “Churi… what about the girls you’re here with? Do you think they could be ones, as well?”

“I… hadn’t thought about that,” she looked over to the young hunters. “But, I think it’s possible.”

“Then bring them here. And if you can, like I said, bring Marika-chan’s friend.”

“Oh, alright. But tell Rena about this, too.”

“Of course! Who do you think I am?”

Takayanagi chuckled. “Right. We’ll see you there.”

After hanging up the call, she slowly got up, looking at the girls.

“Alright, listen up,” she announced. “Something’s come up. We’re gonna be moving location, so no time for dilly-dally. Come with me.”

“Eh? Changing location?!”

“Where, exactly?”

“Nowhere special… Just an old, abandoned school building.”

-----------------------

“Mako?! Where are you?!” Yuka called out as she and Nana were looking for their friend, accompanied by Rena. She groaned as she felt her stomach growl. “Ugh… hungry.”

“You two need a break?” the hunter girl asked them.

“W-we’re fine! Really…”

“Yuka, there’s no need to push yourself,” Nana said before looking back at Rena. “I just ate, but Yuka needs some food.”

Rena nodded before pulling out something from her bag. It was a small burlap sack with what looked like red berries. She poured out some into Yuka’s palm before eating some for herself.

“Thanks!” Yuka said before eating one of the berries. The sweet juice seemed to explode in her mouth, even for its size. “Yum! It’s super sweet!”

“That’s good,” Rena said with a smile. “Let’s keep going.”

“Un!”

Yuka snacked on the berries as they walked, squealing in glee from the sweet flavor. Nana looked at her, analyzing her reactions and eying the red fruit. She noticed her staring and glanced at her.

“Want one?” she offered.

“Ah.. s-sure,” she took one, placing it in her mouth and chewing a bit.

“It’s good, isn’t it?”

“Oh, yes.”

“Right~?” Yuka giggled as she ate more, not noticing Nana’s expression as she realized the taste.

“These are… Blood berries?”

She looked over at Yuka, who seemed blissfully unaware of the blood-like taste the fruit had. To her, it was just like eating any other berry. Then, she looked at Rena, who had given her the berries to begin with.

“Why would she have a stash of those? She’s a hunter. So that means, she’s human… right?”

------------------------

Manatsu was growing weaker, and everyone became tense as Mako, Nana, and Yuka haven’t returned. Natsuki started to fear the worst had happened to the three of them.
 
“This is bad… If they don’t come back…”

“Should we go find them?” Natsumi asked. “Maybe they’re playing hide-and-seek…”

“Natsumi.. You have a point,” Akari admitted. “If they’re out there, we need to go find them. Before anything else can.”

“But, if something has found them, if we go out and try to find them… we could get caught too,” Nao said. “Whatever’s out there--”

“We have to face it.”

Natsuki’s words made the girl go silent. She could see in her eyes she was serious.

“Yuka was right… Nana, too. We can’t run away for much longer. We have to fight back.”

“But with the problems we’re facing here, are we really going to risk being killed? Manatsu-chan is still sick and...”

“I-it’s..fine…” Manatsu weakly said with another cough. “Nao-chan… it’s fine… everyone.. needs to hurry.. To get to safety… to find Mako and the others…”

“But if we leave you here, you’ll..!” Nao spoke, tears forming in her eyes.

“I’ll… b-be okay… We were… always together.. So I know… we’ll still be together.. after all this…”

“Manatsu-chan…” Natsuki knelt down to her side.

“Y-you guys... go… Go to that place…” Those last words came out as a whisper. Manatsu’s eyes slowly closed, and she stopped moving.

“M-Manatsu…? Manatsu..?!” Nao shook her, but she didn’t respond. “No… Manatsu, you can’t die! Not like this! Not yet!”

“Nao-chan…”

Nao hugged Natsuki, crying into her chest. Akari and Natsumi were silent while Tomu placed a blanket over Manatsu.

“Rest in peace,” she whispered.

After breaking the hug, Nao stood back up, wiping away her tears. Without saying anything else, the girls just took their things, placing some wild flowers around Manatsu, and left.

-----------------------

Mako kept walking forward, her eyes empty. She swayed a bit as an unknown force led her somewhere. She didn’t know where she was going, but whatever came over her, she let it lead her.

“Mako…”

She suddenly blinked, snapping out of her trance. She found herself at the entrance of a rose garden.

“Eh..? When did I..? Where is this?”

She walked through the arch, seeing roses wrapped around and blooming around her. The entire garden was overtaken by the thorny rose vines, as if creating a defense around the garden flowers.

As she walked, she then noticed something strange about the flowers. Along with the roses, she saw red fruit that looked like apples growing on the vines.

“Since when did roses bear fruit?” she asked as she got closer.

She picked off one of the fruits, holding it in her hand. The fragrance of the roses dizzied her thoughts, licking her lips. She could feel her fangs growing sharper.

Giving into her hunger, she bit into the fruit, tasting it.

“Blood..?” She munched the fruit, red juice from it on her lips. “It tastes… like blood.”

Mako!


Mako suddenly felt a surge of pain in her head. She dropped the fruit, holding her head and falling to her knees. Taking in sharp breaths, she closed her eyes tight.

“Mako… don’t you remember me?”

“I don’t..! I don’t know..!”

“We’ve met before. You just don’t remember. It was so long ago…”

“Ngh… I don’t understand.. How can that be?”

“You were once human.”

“..!” Mako suddenly had a vision of her and Nana in another life. She suddenly had trouble breathing.

“That night… under the blood red moon…”

She suddenly looked up, seeing a hallucination of herself.

You were killed.

“Th-that can’t be…”

“It’s true!” her hallucination said. “You died. 1000 years ago.”

“1000… no way..!” Mako shook her head. “Is that… possible?”

“Why do you think Nana acts the way she does around you? You and her were friends! How do you think she feels that you forgot about her?!”

“I-I…!”

“You have to remember!” the voice suddenly changed. She looked and saw the illusion was now Nana. “Please, Mako… I miss you.”

“Nana…”

“Go back to that time, Mako. Let your mind go back.”

“Go..back…” Mako felt her mind drift off again. She collapsed to the ground, unconscious.
 
….
 
“Mako-chan. Nee, wake up!”

Mako groaned as she woke up, squinting as she saw the sun in her eyes.

“Wait… sun?!” She screamed and covered her eyes, jumping up. She shut her eyes tight as she was afraid of the sun burning her skin. However, she didn’t feel a burning at all. “Huh? It doesn’t hurt?”

“Mako-chan, what are you panicking about?”

She looked over to see her sister, Natsuki, wearing an unfamiliar uniform.

“Nee-chan..? Why are you wearing that?” she asked, looking around. “Where are we..?”

“Eh? Are you in a daze or something?” Natsuki asked her sister. “We’re in school.”

“Huh? School?”


To Be Continued

Offline Ruka Kikuchi

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Re: Fruits of a Rose - Chapter 10 (170620)
« Reply #44 on: July 08, 2017, 11:02:41 PM »
Chapter 11

Jurina was taking a walk around the hall, Marika following her as she didn’t have anything else to do. However, she looked out and saw something out in the garden.

“J-san!” she screamed, clinging to the girl. “I think there’s someone collapsed outside!”

“Let me go check it out,” Jurina said as she ran down the hall to the staircase.

Marika stared outside at the collapsed figure. She saw Jurina run out towards the girl and shook her, trying to wake her up.

After a while, Marika saw her pick the girl up and carry her inside. She soon heard the girl walk back up and returned with the unconscious girl cradled in her arms.

“Who is she?”

“I don’t know… But she’s not waking up. I’m taking her somewhere to rest.”

“Okay…”

-----------------------

“School…?”

“Mako-chan, are you alright?” Natsuki asked.

“Um… yes. I just, erm, I need a minute.” Mako got up and walked away.

Unfamiliar with her surroundings, seeing she was in a school she had never seen before, she stood under a shady tree, trying to collect her thoughts.

“What happened to me..? My memory’s all fuzzy…”

It was then that she felt something hit her head. She yelled out in pain, looking down to see a shoe. When she looked up, she saw Yuka taking a nap, her foot dangling from the branch she was sitting on.

“Hey, Yuka!” she called out, making the girl jolt from her sleep and fall to the ground.

“Ow! My butt!”

“Serves you right,” Mako pouted. “What were you doing up there?”

“What do you mean? Just napping in my usual nap spot, of course,” Yuka said as she dusted off her skirt.

“‘Usual’?”

“Hm?”

“...Ah, nevermind.”

The short girl just raised a brow before shrugging.

“Come on, let’s go back inside.”

“Eh? Where?”

“What do you mean? Free period’s almost over. It’s almost time for our last class.”

“Class?!”

---------------------------

“MAKOOOOO!!!” Yuka called into the inside of a cave, her voice echoing off the stone walls. “ARE YOU IN THEEERE?!”

“I don’t think she is,” Rena said, shining a flashlight into the cave. “It’s pitch black… We should go. We don’t know who or what could be living here.”

“She’s right, Yuka. Let’s go,” Nana insisted.

“Oh, alright. Besides, you have a point. I wouldn’t wanna wake up a werewolf and get eaten.”

They walked away from the cave, continuing on, until Yuka’s nose twitched.

“Hm? What’s that smell?” she asked, soon coughing and holding her nose. “It stinks!”

Rena and Nana also gagged, covering their noses as the smell got stronger.

“Th-this putrid odor… It’s ichor!”

“What-chor?”

“Ichor! Demon blood!”

They could then see a black mist that looked like smoke rising in the air. A clear sign that the demon was close, probably dead.

However, the closer they got, they could hear a low growling. It sounded like a hungry wolf.

“W-what is that..?” Yuka pointed out a shadow of what looked like a large wolf. However, Rena’s eyes widened as she soon realized what it was.

“Girls, we need to run!”

Once she said that, the wolf let out a roaring howl and started to charge towards them. The three started running, Rena loading her gun and shooting it towards the oncoming wolf.

“What is going on with this wolf?!” Yuka screamed, seeing blood dripping down from the wolf’s fangs.

Rena shot the bullet and it hit the center of the beast’s head. It collapsed to the ground, the awful smell of demon blood surrounding it. Rena could see wounds around the wolf, and its blood was black instead of red.

“I knew it…”

“Rena-san, what happened to this wolf?” Nana asked.

“It’s been corrupted.”

“Corrupted?”

“When an animal consumes demon blood… this is what happens to them. They become a Fallen being.”

“So.. this wolf drank demon blood and became like this?” Yuka asked, seeing Rena and Nana both give sympathetic looks.

“The poor thing… It never meant to go through such a sufferable fate.”

“At least now, it won’t be in pain any longer.”

They slowly walked off, Yuka still shook by the sight. They remained silent as they continued walking, but Rena stopped as she could hear voices approaching them.

“Shouldn’t we go looking for them?”

“We’ll go after them once we reach the school building.”

“Are you sure? What if a hunter finds them? Or something worse…”

Yuka’s eyes widened. “Wait… That’s Natsuki and the others!”

Yuka and Nana saw the group approaching, immediately running to them.

“Natsuki-nee-san!”

“Guys!”

“Yuka?! Nana!” The two immediately hugged everyone, the rest of the group surprised to see them.

“Oh my God, I’m so happy we found you all~” Yuka cried.

“What happened to you two?!”

“WealmostgotkilledbythishugewolfbutthenthisgirlcameandshotitandthenwealmostgotattackedbyANOTHERwolfand--” Yuka spoke in a panic, her voice slurring a bit with her crying.

“Woah, woah, slow down!” Tomu said, wiping her tears away. “Were you able to find Mako?”

Yuka shook her head. “No… But we made a new friend.”

She pointed over to Rena, who was leaning against a tree. She waved her hand, everyone acknowledging her presence.

“Well, I guess we’ll just have to search for her ourselves.”

“You all are going somewhere, right?” Rena then voiced. “I’ll go find her. You all should get where you need to be.”

“Th-thank you!”

“Just find us at the old school building, it’ll be that way,” Yuka pointed out. Natsuki and the others grew worried, but Nana mouthed that everything would be okay.

“School building?”

“Yes.”

“That doesn’t seem right…” Rena said, confused. “I actually know a shortcut that could get you there faster.”

“Really?!” Nao’s eyes widened.

“Where?”

“Just take the west path,” Rena pointed out, “and look for the path that’s lined with round white stones and rose petals. If you start to see the clock tower up ahead, you’re going the right way.”

“Thanks, Rena-san!”

“Good luck, girls,” Rena said as she walked away, disappearing into the night.

“That girl seems…”

“Super nice, right?!”

“Well, didn’t you find it a little strange? How would she know a shortcut to the former school building for Magnolia?”

“More importantly, did Magnolia have a clock tower..?” Natsumi murmured.

“That’s not what I’m talking about.”

“Yuka, Nana, are you sure we can trust that girl?” Natsuki asked. “She could be leading us to the hunters’ base?”

“She killed a demonic WOLF to save our lives! I think we can trust her!”

Natsuki looked at Nana, who gave a silent, serious nod. The girl just sighed.

“Alright. Let’s go then.”

-----------------------

“Takayanagi-san, is this really the right way?”

“Can’t we take a break? My legs are tired~”

Akane just looked around, examining the path. “Where is it..?”

“Hey, don’t tell me we’re lost?”

“No, we’re not. You just never know when the path is going to appear.”

“What does that mean~?”

They then saw a figure running their way. Karen tensed up, putting a hand near her gun. However, once the person came up to them, the girls let out sighs of relief.

“Ah, what? It’s just a girl…”

“Who are you people?” the girl asked.

“We’re hunters. And what about you?”

“My name’s Madoka. I’m a student at Magnolia Academy… I’m looking for my friend.”

“A Magnolia student, eh?” Akane smirked.

“Takayanagi-san, we don’t have time for this,” Karen said. “Let’s just--”

“Takayanagi-san?!” Madoka’s eyes widened. “Takayanagi Akane-san?!”

“Oh, so you’ve heard of me.”

“You’re an amazing demon hunter! Of course I know you!”

“Well, Madoka-chan, if you’re a Magnolia student, you must want to be a hunter yourself. Although…” Akane stared at her intently, “you don’t look like the type who’d be a hunter.”

“Eh?”

“You seem much more like the musician type. Do you play piano?”

“Erm, yes. But how did you know..?”

“Takayanagi-san!” Karen shook her shoulder, “Over there! It looks like a shortcut!”

They saw a pathway that seemed to lead somewhere. Everyone looked down the path, wondering where it could lead.

“Should we go?”

“I don’t know… It could lead to anywhere.”

“I’m going! I have to find Marika!” Madoka said, beginning to walk down the path.

“Takayanagi-san, what do you think we should do?” Yukari asked.

The woman just looked on, silently. Then, she took a step forward and started walking down the path.

“Eh..?” Ryoka looked at everyone. “Well… I guess we have no choice.”

Karen nodded, leading the rest of the group. “Let’s go.”

---------------------------

“Mako! Hey, Mako, are you listening?!” Akari waved her hand in front of the girl’s face. Mako just sat, trying to wrap her head around what was going on.

“S-sorry… What were we talking about?”

“Mou, what’s wrong with you today?” Nao asked worriedly. “You’ve been spaced out all afternoon.”

“I’m sorry…”

Tomu patted the girl’s head, “Don’t be so down about it.”

“Just tell us if something is going on.”

“I just feel like… I’ve been dreaming this whole time.”

“Dreaming?”

“It’s like I’m always stuck in a dream… I just wish I could wake up. None of this feels real.”

Everyone just looked on in worry and confusion. Natsuki approached her sister, tapping her shoulder to get her attention.

“Mako-chan, you’re not getting sick, are you?”

“I’m fine, Natsuki… Really.”

Natsuki frowned as her little sister stood up, leaving the classroom. As she walked out, she saw someone standing at the window and looking outside. She started to walk past them, until…

“Mako?”

Mako suddenly froze in her spot, her eyes widening.

“Was that… Nana?”

She turned around, seeing her eat an apple. She glanced over at Mako, and waved to her with a smile. Mako wasn’t sure what to do, biting her lip a bit. Nana swallowed the apple, raising a brow.

“Are you okay?” she asked. Mako nodded, still tense.

“We’ve met before… you just don’t remember.”

“Nana… is this a dream? A memory?” she muttered. “What is going on?”

Nana just tilted her head, “What do you mean?”

Mako shook her head, “N-no. Nevermind…”

The girl then handed her another apple to eat. Mako stared at it for a minute, remembering the fruit that she had eaten in…

“The garden… that school..!” She gripped onto the red fruit, gulping. “This school… my memory… If this is the key to my past…”

“Mako?” Nana held her cheek, making her look up.

And gently… she kissed her.


To Be Continued

Offline Ruka Kikuchi

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Re: Fruits of a Rose - Chapter 11 (170708)
« Reply #45 on: July 26, 2017, 08:05:43 PM »
Since it's technically Rena's b-day over in Japan, this one will be special. ;)

Happy birthday, Rena! :D

Chapter 12

“Nana!” Mako called out as she regained consciousness. She looked around, beads of sweat running down her forehead.

“Hey, are you alright?” a voice asked.

She looked up and saw a young girl with short black hair. She handed her a can of tomato juice, Mako just accepting while still a bit dazed.

“Do you know where you are right now?” Jurina asked. The vampire just shook her head in response. “Do you know how you got here?”

Mako didn’t respond. She just drank her tomato juice as Jurina continued on.

“This place is protected by a special barrier… It only lets you in if you have the right to be here. So why do you think it let you come here?”

“...Maybe.. to find out the truth about my past?”

“Is that so?”

“I’ve been dreaming… and it feels like part of my memory is missing. I think I’m here to try and recover it.”

“I hope you find it,” the girl said with what seemed like a knowing smile. Mako looked at her confused, but she just gave a wink and left the room.

“Ah…” Jurina gasped as she looked out the window, seeing the old, tattered main entrance gates. A twinkle in her eyes, she smiled, “Looks like they’ll all be here soon.”

--------------------------

“I see it! The clock tower!” Akari pointed out as she spotted the aforementioned clock tower in the distance.

“We’re close! Let’s go!” Yuka sprinted ahead, anticipating to see what was on the other end.

“Hey, Yuka!” Tomu ran after her, and everyone else followed sport.

Once they finally reached the end of the path, they saw it. An old school building covered in overgrown vines and other plant life.

“Uwaa… this is the old school building for Magnolia?”

“No, it doesn’t look like Magnolia,” Natsuki said. “Maybe Rena was wrong.”

“Speaking of, how did she even know of this building when it’s so deep in the woods?”

“It does sound suspicious…”

“Hey, I told you, Rena-san can be trusted!” Yuka insisted. “She saved our lives, right, Nana?!”

She turned to look at her, only to find that she was crying while staring at the school building. She looked over at them, unaware of the tears she was shedding.

“Oi, Nana, what happened?! You’re crying!”

“Eh..?” Nana touched her cheek, seeing her tears. “Why..? Why does this place make me cry?”

“Hey… should we go in?” Nao asked. Everyone looked around, not knowing what to do. “I mean, who knows… Mako might be here.”

Nana’s eyes widened. She looked to Natsuki, giving her a serious expression.

“We… can check.”

They walked through the entrance gates and soon entered the school building. Everyone looked around, making sure that no one else was present.

“I’m hoooome~” Natsumi suddenly called out.

“Oi!” Akari hissed, “What do you think you’re doing?!”

Natsumi just tilted her head, causing the girl to groan.

“Nevermind.”

“Let’s split up,” Natsuki then said. “Everyone go in twos. Yuka and Nana, Akari and Natsumi. Nao, you come with me. Tomu, think you can handle things alone?”

“Who do you think I am?” Tomu spoke in a cool tone, a snicker or two escaping Akari and Natsumi.

“Alright, we’ll re-group here. If anyone finds Mako, just come back here. Wait for us to return so we can leave as a group.”

“Eh? We’re not staying here?!”

“This isn’t the place we were looking for. Of course not.”

“But Natsuki-san… what if this is?” Nao asked.

“Huh?”

“Even if it isn’t our destination… what if this place has something more to us? Something like…”

“Hello?” A voice then called out. Everyone grew tense as they heard footsteps approach. “Is someone here?”

“Move out,” Natsuki whispered as everyone dashed away, disappearing without a sound.

Marika appeared from the shadows, looking around confused.

“Huh..? Weird. No one’s here.”

----------------------

Rena’s POV

“Yes. I pointed them in the right direction. They should be on their way as we speak… Yes. It’s almost time. I’ve already got preparations ready. Keep them busy until the time comes… You’re welcome. I’ll see you then.”

Destiny is inescapable. I learned that when I was very young. I was running from destiny without even realizing it. When I learned the truth of who I was, what my destiny was, I didn’t want to run away anymore.

The day everything changed… My 22nd birthday.

Flashback, 4 years ago…

*BANG!*

“Excellent marksmanship, Matsui!”

“Thank you, sir!” I bowed to the chief, strapping my gun to my waist.

“We’ve got an assignment for you, as well,” he then said. “There’s been recent vampire activity in former Tokyo. I’m sending you and a special agent over to investigate. Her name is Takayanagi Akane; she’s a Magnolia alumni like yourself. I expect both of you will get the job done.”

“Yes, sir,” I saluted the man and walked out.

I had been working as a hunter since I was 17, just after graduating from Magnolia. I was raised in an environment where everyone around me opposed vampires. I was taught to kill first, and ask questions later.

It was a brutal, harsh environment. I lived in a time where little hope was present, fighting in a war that had no end in sight.

That’s why… even now, I fight for that small hope.

“Matsui Rena-chan, it’s nice to meet you,” the woman wearing an eyepatch smirked at me. “I’m Akane.”

“Please take care of me today, Akane-san,” I bowed to her respectfully.

“Here’s our target for the night,” she showed me a picture of the vampire. She was wearing a blue mask with a rose on it. “She goes by J. She’s committed acts of theft, as well as breaking and entering, and assault on humans.”

“She’s dangerous?”

“So it would seem…” she said, then pulled out a tracking device. “She’s currently heading towards the fallen Tokyo Tower.”

“Eh? What could she be going there for?”

“Beats me. That’s why we’re here.”

The two of us started walking toward the fallen tower, splitting up in order to search for the vampire. I kept one hand close to my gun, prepared to raise it at any moment.

I could then hear someone singing as I walked toward the stairway. I slowly climbed up, hearing the song more clearly as I advanced. The song seemed familiar to me, like a forgotten melody that once played on the radio.

I finally reached the top and saw a girl sitting at the edge of what was once the peak of Tokyo Tower. Her voice was drawing me to her.

“Huh…?” She suddenly stopped, raising her hand to touch her face, “Why am I crying..?”

Suddenly breaking from my trance, I pulled out my gun, pointing it at her.

“Put your hands up, vampire!” I yelled out. The girl looked back at me for a short moment before turning her head back. It was enough that I saw she didn’t have her mask on.

She quickly put it on and faced me again.

“Don’t try anything… I won’t hesitate to shoot you!”

“I mean no harm, hunter,” she said, raising her hands.

“Then tell me why you’re here.”

“This is just a place where I come to clear my head…”

“Even so, you have still committed crimes! I’ve been ordered to kill you for act of thievery, and assault and battery!”

The vampire gave me a confused expression.

“Thievery, I understand, but assault and battery..? I never did that,” she spoke in a sing-song tone. “I always ask permission before eating or entering someone’s home! That’s just manners~”

“Shut up!” I shot a bullet, but she quickly dodged.

“My my… seems like you could learn a thing or two about that.”

I ran towards her, trying to shoot her. She was so light on her feet, always dodging my attacks. But she never fought back. She didn’t try to land a punch or bite me.

“I don’t want to fight!”

“Too bad!” I yelled as I ran toward her. However, she dodged and suddenly grabbed my arm, pulling me back.

“Look out!”

“Uwa!” I looked down and saw I was close to falling off the rubble.

“If you fell and died like that…”

I raised my gun at her, pointing at her head.

“Don’t act like you care for me! You’re a vampire! A bloodsucking demon!”

“Is that what they’ve told you?” she gave me a piercing glare. “Why are humans always so quick to accuse us? I told you before, I always ask permission before I enter someone’s home or drink their blood. It’s the polite thing to do after all.”

“That’s--”

“Not breaking the law. If they said no or told me to stop, I would stop.”

“Even so..! Even so, you..!”

She grabbed my hand before I could shoot her, pulling me close. Her eyes locked on mine.

“Freeze,” she whispered. I saw a light blue glow emit from her hand, surrounding me.

I tried to move, but found my body was frozen against my own will. I couldn’t speak as the vampire circled me.

“Impressive, isn’t it? I learned magic from my two caretakers. They were warlocks.”

Caretakers…?

“They were human, not vampires… But they didn’t care about what I was. They took care of me and raised me when I was left all alone. They told me my family was killed by hunters. All I have of my real parents are faded, flickering memories.”

Her family was killed… Why does that matter? Why is she even telling me this?

“I came to this place because I can allow my mind to drift off in the desolate silence of the fallen capital. I was hoping my memories would reveal the truth to me. My long forgotten family… Or memories of a past life.”

Past life..?! That’s crazy..! Reincarnation… couldn’t possibly..!

I then felt her cold hand touch my face, stroking my hair.

“Strangely…” she whispered, “tonight, I felt like I had come here by some unknown force. Even though I’m always in this abandoned city. Do you feel the same?”

I suddenly felt my throat become unlodged, allowing my voice to escape.

“What… do you mean?” I hissed.

“We’re all here, in one place. Under the same full moon. You, me, and that woman.”

“Akane-san..?”

“She has a powerful aura to her. Have you not noticed it? After all…”

She suddenly faced me with dark eyes, raising her hands to grip my wrists tightly.

You’re just like me, a vampire.

“..!” Feeling my body unfreeze, I tried to charge at her, screaming in anger. “Lies! Liar!!! I’m a HUMAN! I’M NOT A VAMPIRE!!!”

“I can smell it. Your blood… it’s the same scent as mine. The scent of the vampire,” she insisted.

“NO!!! I’m nothing like you!”

“Those human hunters brainwashed you,” she said lowly, her eyes still locked on my own even as I struggled. “You may have the mindset of a human, but deep down, you still have the body and blood of one of us.”

“SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP!!!” I pushed her away, seeing that she was near the edge. My blood boiled as I cocked my gun.

I’m human… Human… Vampires are…!

“MONSTER!!! DIE!!!”

BANG!

She dodged the bullet… but slipped and fell backwards off of the tower rubble. She hit the ground, facing the sky. Seeing that she wasn’t moving, I carefully climbed down and walked towards her.

She was definitely alive, still breathing. But she wasn’t moving at all. Her wide eyes stared blankly at the sky, unblinking with a red glow present…

Red… the color of blood… like a vibrant flame…

“Ugh…” I rubbed my temple. Why was I becoming fixated on the color of her eyes?

Recomposing myself, I pointed my gun at her and prepared to shoot, killing her once and for all.

“I finally remember…” she whispered, still in a trance. “There was one more person… who was captured by the hunters.”

“What..?”

“My… sister? ..Yes. Yes, she’s my sister..!”

What’s going on? Her memories are… she’s recalling her own memories?

“That night… there was a blood red moon… The hunters came and tore my sister away from us..! She was screaming my name..!”

“Jurina!”

“Ngh..!” I suddenly held my head, dropping my gun.

“The humans took my sister… and my parents hid me in the darkness of the forest…”

“Don’t worry, Jurina. Rena will find you again. I’m sure she will.”

“Rena…!” Tears well in her eyes as she screamed, “Rena! RENA!!!”

She yelled my name countless times to the sky. Her screaming was only making my headache grow.

N-no..! It can’t be true..!

“Rena! My sister’s name is.. Rena!!!”

I suddenly looked up. In my eyes, I could see the full moon over us…

A blood red moon…

Red… crimson red… like blood… the thread that ties us together…

“Jurina! I’ll come back for you! I swear!”

Jurina…

“These drugs will act as antibodies and cut off the vampiric energy in her blood. It will be like she was a human from the start.”

“And her memories?”

“Don’t worry. Once we’re done with her, all those pesky memories from her past will be gone.”

My blood… my memories… all tampered with..?

“Your name is Matsui Rena. You are a hunter sworn to kill all vampires.”

I’m a hunter..! I am..!

“Look, Rena, your baby sister.”

“You must be proud to be a big sister now.”

Big… sister…


“AAAAAAAAAAAHH!!!”

….Suddenly, I blacked out.

Third Person POV

“I knew it,” Akane smiled, seeing the two girls collapsed. Tears were stained on their cheeks and their hands were tightly held together. “I finally found you both.”

End of Flashback

Rena’s POV

That’s when I learned the truth. I was a vampire, and Jurina was my little sister. We were torn apart by vampire hunters and they took away my memories to have me fight against my own kind. That’s when all three of us decided…

This war needs to end.


To Be Continued

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