Why is it that in this moment of certain doom, all I can think about is the safety of Mio and my friends? If I die here, the others won’t have the strength to fight Torii Sensei.
I can’t let that happen.
“How delectable! Fear is boring, but to see struggle even in the face of despair… yes, struggle for me!”
Incomprehensible madness swirls in her eyes like the miasma consuming the room. Her bood-tinted cheeks are pulled back by a broad grin, devoid of any semblance of sanity— a look that’s triggering all of my danger senses.
I can at least fight back if I break free.
The bindings on my right arm seem brittle. I start putting all of my strength into it. Not just my physical strength, but also the magic that dwells within me. If there is any time to use it, it’s now.
Torii Sensei approaches with her palm out in front of her, the sadistic grin on her face tells me she’s interested in more than witnessing my death. The energy in her hand coalesces into a black orb the size of a marble. My senses are screaming at me to avoid it, but there’s nothing I can do.
I think of Mio and my sister whom I recently made up with. I think of Kana and the kendo club whom I want nothing more than to succeed in life. Everyone still needs me.
My right arm breaks free, and I clench the fist in front of me. Torii Sensei’s orb is snuffed out of existence. She takes a few steps back, surprised by the turn of events.
I rip away the rest of the restraints with sheer force and land on my feet. Now we’re on level playing fields. But just as I’m about to seize initiative, the haze disperses and the dreading sensation vanishes.
Torii Sensei starts applauding, the wicked look on her face is replaced with a proud smile.
“What the heck was that?” I ask, still on edge.
“You’re capable of offensive magic now. Look!” She points to my hands.
I didn’t even notice that both of my hands have been glowing with energy. It’s warm and cold at the same time, but it’s clearly fire flickering in my palms.
I take a step back from her. Torii Sensei waves her hand and a gust of wind extinguishes my magic. She puts a finger up to her lips and winks.
“You wouldn’t want a student walking in and seeing that, would you?”
“Screw off! You were really trying to kill me there.”
My heart is still racing. I wasn’t just about to die, I was staring at death’s door. Just what kind of magic was she using?
And… did I make it disappear?
“I know, and I’m sorry. Putting you in mortal danger was the only way to coax your magic out. It’s why I needed to play the part convincingly.” Torii Sensei says, taking a step back herself to give me space.
My hands are still tingling. It’s like a wall has been knocked down and the power is begging to spill out. There’s another sensation, too. I can barely make out that I’m…
It must be my imagination.
Regardless, I can use offensive magic now thanks to Torii Sensei’s scare tactic of a method. This is great because if we ever get into a fight, I won’t be a burden to Mio and the others. As a greater succubus, our firepower has increased several folds.
“Thanks, but maybe give me a heads up next time? I almost pissed my pants watching you come at me.”
“If you had the hiccups, I wouldn’t tell you that I was going to scare you. It would defeat the purpose!” Torii Sensei says, giggling. “You didn’t really think I was going to harm you?”
Just imagining that terrifying look on her face is enough to give me goosebumps. It was nothing compared to confronting Selene. The dark energy is somehow familiar— as though I’ve seen it before.
“Then you don’t actually care that Hana is a succubus pretending to be a student?” I ask cautiously.
She shakes her head. “As long as I suppress my aura, you are the only one who can detect me.”
So she says.
The scowl she threw Hana during lunch looked more reflexive than anything else. I imagine as a greater succubus , she couldn’t give a damn about lesser ones. Wouldn’t our greatest threats be each other?
“Since we’re on this topic,” I begin, thinking back on my discussion with Selene. “Would you happen to know how many like us are in the city?”
“By us, I presume you mean greater succubi. By my count, three: you, me, and whoever the queen is.”
It takes every bit of mental strength not to react to that number. Torii Sensei would have picked up on my suspicions. Three is not what Selene told me.
One of them is lying, and I can’t tell who is being truthful.
Currently, I know of three greater succubus in Tsukiji City— Torii Sensei, Selene, and myself. The identity of the fourth is unknown, and finding her may be the key to figuring out which one of those is the queen.
I’m obviously not a contender.
Worst case scenario is Torii Sensei being the queen. Aside from the random bouts of terror, her actions until now haven’t been suspicious. Though, I’d be an idiot not to suspect she’s not being entirely truthful about hiding. Confronting her isn’t an option. We currently have a friendship going on, strange as it is. The moment I break that and it turns out she really is the queen, then everyone at school is in danger.
Selene being the queen is just as bad. She’s having me take care of the competition in her stead. In which case, I’ll be playing into her hands. With the amount of lesser succubus at her beck and call at Coliseum, we wouldn’t stand a chance.
The fourth may be worse than Torii Sensei and Selene combined. No one having eyes on her means we don’t know what the hell she’s doing. We don’t know how strong she is nor how many succubus are on her side. If number four is queen, she might be closer to whatever her goals are than the other two.
Damn it. If this were a game, there should be some clues to a victory condition.
“Saeko?” Sensei’s eyes fill with worry, as if she wasn’t the cause of my stress a moment ago.
“Ahh, sorry. Just lost in thought.”
“If you’re thinking about going after the queen, I would recommend you refrain from that. There’s no telling how powerful she is, and if you aren’t ready, you could get seriously hurt.”
“Isn’t that true of me, though? She might not be aware of how strong I am.”
Torii Sensei blinks in surprise, almost appalled by what I said. She breaks out in laughter. “You are a bold succubus.”
Sensei boots me out of the room on the excuse that she has homework to grade. I’m beginning to wonder what her true intentions are at my school, and if she is any bit like Selene— looking to one-up the others to become queen.
If Torii Sensei expects me to believe that she’s only here to hide, she’s got another thing coming. I shouldn’t underestimate either of them, though. They have probably thought this through with every intention to betray me in the end.
The queen succubus didn’t come here to sight-see Japan. No doubt she, and whoever is vying for top dog, wants nothing more than to turn the world into their feeding trough.
Speaking of feeding… I’m getting hungry myself.
I find Mio and Hana in the courtyard being scolded by the student council president. Hitomi is railing into them with profanity that would put a sailor to shame, and Rika is trying in vain to calm her down.
“Gusu… but my collection! Uwaaahh!”
“What are you guys doing?” I ask over Hana’s wailing.
It takes one glance for me to figure out what happened. Hitomi’s got a firm grasp on Hana’s backpack filled with nothing but dildos.
“Hana thought it was a great idea to stick a bunch of dildos in the student shoe lockers.” Hitomi explains, rubbing her head.
Hana shrugs. “They’re presents!”
Hitomi drops the bag of dildos and clamps her fingers down on Hana’s cheeks.
“We only got about half of them back. I can’t believe some students actually kept them.”
“Uuuu— thwer stwess wewievers!”
“Hah? That so?” Hitomi squeezes the poor girl’s cheeks even more. “I’m o’er ‘ere stressin’ out ‘cos of yer fuckin’ prank, pinky.”
“H-Hitomi, that could be seen as bullying!” Rika pleads for them to stop.
Mio taps me on the shoulder. “We’re all going to Rika’s sento. Wanna come?”
Taking another dip would be nice. Though, with Mio there I can’t see this turning into anything but another sex trip.
“I have kendo practice today— wait… we, as in Hitomi, too?”
The student council president finally lets go of Hana and slings the d**** bag over her shoulders. “Rika’s been trying to get me to go for months, and Mio won’t stop pestering me to hang out. I finally got some time today, so I decided why not.”
I’m kind of jealous. Hitomi’s one of the more popular students at school. Her grades are top of the class, and I’ve been told she’s an athlete outside of school. It’s not an exaggeration to describe her as a role model to all students.
Well… if it weren’t for her occasional outbursts of profanity.
It isn’t everyday that I get a chance to hang out with her. I never could have imagined that when I was a boy.
“I know that look. You’re checking Hitomi out like a snack, ain’t ya?” Mio whispers.
“What’s wrong?” Hitomi leans a little too close, her piercing gaze almost staring past me. “Am I too intimidating to hang out with?”
“That’s, er, not it…”
Eh? Ehh? Why am I stuttering over my words in front of her?
“I have kendo practice, sorry!”
I take off running to the clubroom.
It’s all because Mio put that dumb thought in my head while I’m starved. Having sex with Rika is one thing, but the student council president is out of the question.
As soon as I get to kendo, the members are already practicing. This is the first time seeing them begin practice without needing my help to set up.
Gouda waves to me, beckoning me over. I apologize as I get to him. “I got caught up with Mio, but it looks like you guys are already good?”
“We were thinking of letting you take the day off.”
As far back as I can remember, I never missed a day of practice.
“I couldn’t. Not with Hyogo literally right around the corner.”
“We don’t have practice tomorrow either. A little two-day break won’t hurt you. Besides, we’ve trained all we can; it’s just drills from now until the tournament.”
I take the hint and resign myself to the day off. With my afternoon cleared up, I can join the others at the sento.
“Alright, you win. I’ll take the day off. You guys sure you’ll be fine without me?”
It’s a strange feeling leaving them to their own. I’ve stuck with these guys for so long they’re almost brothers to me.
“Well… ” Gouda scratches his nose and glances off to the side. “We’ll manage, but it’ll be lonely without you.”
I whip around before he can see my face turn red. “Ahem. Well then, make sure to work hard… if you want to earn that date.”
“Does that mean—?”
I hurry out of the clubroom and slam the door close before he can finish his sentence. My legs give out in front of a tree in the courtyard. I take a moment to rest and bury my face in my hands, still hot from the exchange.
“Ahhh! I can’t believe I said that!” I put a hand to my chest; it’s beating like crazy. “I practically confirmed the date by saying that. I don’t even know what to wear. Did he already make date plans? I wonder if he wants to— gah, get a hold of yourself! You’re like a teenage girl!”
I let that sink in and then put a hand to my face.
“That’s because I am a teenage girl… anyway, I should catch up before they leave without me.”
Synopsis: Somewhere in the universe, there was an altar. On it, laid a bloody eye as big as the sun itself. It burst with light and bathed the entire star system in red.
"The aura of an ancestral artifact!" Someone's voice rose in surprise.
The Great Galactic Era had begun.