Summary: They say life flashes before you in that moment before death. I could see it all reflected in the blade. I was standing under the cherry blossoms at my school entrance ceremony, eating cake at my sister's wedding, standing outside praying the monster wouldn't come tonight. I might not be dead yet but I can see what's coming, this is the story of how I was murdered by a fox monster!
Sample Chapters: Chapter One, Chapter Two, Chapter Three, Chapter Four, Chapter Five, Chapter Six, Chapter Seven
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As it turns out, becoming an exorcist wasn't as exciting as I expected. Akito said that I was nowhere near ready to face a real Obake, so I would have to spend some time studying about different monsters and learning simple skills. If I had known I was going to die soon, I wouldn't have tried so hard.
On the first day Akito took me on a field trip to the museum. The aim was to rock my world and show me everything I'd ever known was a lie. Those were his words, not mine.
“Obake have existed since ancient times and have since spread themselves out to all corners of the globe. They take on animal form and hide themselves within nature, feeding on human kind wherever they may go,” he said as we walked through the ancient history room. “But if you look closely, there's much historical evidence of their existence which has been overlooked for centuries,” he pointed to a picture of an ancient cave paining. “Take this picture for example.”
“Cave drawings?” I questioned.
“This is more than just an ordinary cave painting, This picture depicts large cat Obake in their transformed state. The men you see on the left are some of the first exorcists attempting to exorcise them with the use of primitive anti-Obake weapons.”
“Really?” I asked while squinting at the picture. To me it just looked like a bunch of men hunting deers with spears.
“And this one,” he indicated to a small stone statue behind a glass case.
“An Aztec goddess of oceans, rivers, birth, and the patron of women in labor, ” I said while reading the small name plate below it.
“No, an Obake,” Akito replied.
“And this Australian Aboriginal painting?” I asked.
“Clearly an early record of an Obake infestation.”
Akito then proceeded to lead me around the room criticizing half the artifacts and how humanity had misinterpreted them. After an hour I finally began to catch on to what he was talking about.
“I get it now! So this stuffed wombat is also an Obake,” I said. “I always thought these guys were weird.”
“No, that's just a wombat Daisuke.”
The museum attendant followed us everywhere we went. Staring at Akito oddly like he was crazy. It made me realize why the man at reception gritted his teeth as soon as we entered the foyer.
* * *
Once we got back, Akito laid out a calligraphy set and a large stack of Paper. I recognized them as being similar to the ones I previously saw in Mana's bag.
“What sets exorcists apart from regular people is our ability to use spiritual energy. This energy can be channeled through special charms and used in the fight against Obake,” he took a sheet from the pile and wrote some illegible symbols with the calligraphy brush.
“Using different combinations of characters you can create charms with different physical effects such as fire, water, and paralysis. They can also be arranged in combinations that create larger effects, such as barriers or sealing charms.” He put down the brush, picked up the paper, and waved it in the air a few times to help the paint dry. “I will now demonstrate.”
Akito held the charm between two fingers and closed his eyes. He appeared to be in some sort of deep meditation. Suddenly the paper became damp and began to drip water. Within half a minute it completely disintegrated. It wasn't as cool as the one which caught fire, but it still looked pretty awesome.
I sat there transfixed. “Wow! Can you teach me how to do that?”
“Well that is the point of you being here.”
I was expecting that we'd play around with the cool charms. Maybe even go out and throw them at some Obake, but I spent the afternoon practicing calligraphy on sheets of paper while Akito continued to lecture me.
“As effective as exorcist charms are, they need to hit the target before the charm is spent. Sometimes you may need to utilize arrows, or weapons, to make sure it hits the enemy in time. The strength of the charm depends on how much spiritual energy you use, but the stronger the charm the faster it burns out.”
“But when I watched Itsuki he was chanting something, and then this giant ball of lightning came out of no where.”
“That's the more advanced form, there's no need to get ahead of ourselves.”
Every time I finished, Akito would glance at my paper, twitch his lip, and then command me to practice another hundred times. I tried making the paper catch fire, but nothing happened. Apparently the charm was only effective when you used a special type of paper which Akito wouldn't let me touch until my writing was perfect.
It wasn't just calligraphy practice. The rest of my time was dedicated to Obake research. Akito would give me various topics, and I would have to research them and present my results to him in person. I felt like I was presenting news to the emperor.
“Daisuke, name the four Obake levels,” Akito commanded.
I sighed and looked down my piece of paper where I had hastily written some notes.
“Obake can be divided into different levels based on their strength, and danger to humanity. Level four consists of harmless Obake who pose no threat. Level three Obake are capable of human speech and often trick people for fun. Level two Obake can change their form into more dangerous monsters, sometimes growing ten times their normal size. Level two Obake also attack and devourer animals and humans. ”
I paused to make sure that I hadn't made any mistakes. Akito nodded so I kept going.
“Level one consists of Obake who are capable of human form and coexistence with humans. They are especially dangerous because they're capable of tricking people for money, or luring them away to be eaten. Level S,” I paused because this level really freaked me out. “Is a new level created to distinguish the most dangerous Obake who were previously in Level one, such as the fox. Level S Obake should be treated with up most caution, and be avoided if possible. One should not engage with a Level S unless there is no other option.”
I exhaled and thought I was done for the day, but Akito also gave me little quizzes such as what's the weakness of a cat Obake? How can you tell a snake Obake from regular animals? And what element is most effective against wolves?
I thought becoming an exorcist was my escape route from school, but I soon realized that I had agreed to subject myself to a different type of hell.
One day I arrived at headquarters only to find a large set of books awaiting me. Akito was using it as an elbow rest as he scrolled through the morning paper.
“Your next assignment is to write a two thousand word report on raccoon Obake,” he said without taking his eyes off the page.
I felt like screaming. I chose my words carefully to try and suppress my rage.
“Ok,” I said through gritted teeth. “I'll just type it when I get home.”
“No, hand write it, people these days rely too much on computers,” Akito said while handing me a giant stack of paper.
“But my spelling is bad, I use the computer to help me write.”
He handed me a paper dictionary.
I tried to protest once in the first week, but Akito just shrugged his shoulders and said “well if you don't want to do the work, then there's no need to be here.”
I spent a good hour contemplating quitting, but after Taisei arrived home and showed me the pictures of his latest Obake adventure, there really wasn't a choice.
The only advantage to all the study was that I got to spend a lot of time with Nina. She was often in the library researching, or practicing archery outside. Apparently her injury was worse than she was letting on, and Akito ordered her to rest for the next month. She gave me small tours around headquarters, and showed me the library and how to search for different materials.
“Raccoon Obake huh?” She said after I told her the torment that Akito was subjecting me to. “There should be a book somewhere around here,” she brushed her fingers over the titles, much like how Grandpa had when I was a child. She found what she was looking for and handed it to me.
“This one has most of what you need to know, its one of Akito's favorites so you have to be careful.”
“Wow you sure know a lot about these books,” I said in awe.
“No, not really, Akito made us all write the same assignment when we were in elementary school.”
It didn't surprise me that Akito was forcing me to do things the others had completed as children, but it ruled out plagiarizing their work.
I often heard Akito chewing Nina out about her progress, and encouraging her to work harder. I once caught sight of them in deep conversation in the hall. Nina's face was stony and emotionless, like she was doing her best to suppress the urge to cry.
“You really need to start training harder, you're beginning to fall behind the others,” said Akito.
“Yes, I know,” said Nina while staring at the floor.
“I don't mean to sound mean, but this is for your sake more than anyone else. I don't want to send you home to your parents in a body bag.”
I once asked Taisei about Nina. He told me that Nina had the skills, but lacked the heart for killing things. She was a decent person, and even consoled me when I felt like pushing Akito off the side of a mountain.
“He's not trying to be mean,” she said. “He's just pushing you to learn faster. I'm sure he just wants you to be a good exorcist.”
“Yeah, maybe,” I muttered. I didn't want to admit that the torment Akito inflicted on me was actually for my own benefit.
I'm not one of those guys who dates multiple women, but I was considering Nina in case Mana didn't work out. She may have been two years older and resembled my sister (which was slightly creepy) but I could live with that.
While I was researching Obake, I also spent some time investigating my older brother. He was pretty famous amongst the exorcists, and even had his own books in the library. I scanned my finger down his long list of achievements until it finally came to an end by the hands of the fox monster. He was twenty six when he died, which meant his death must have happened about fourteen or fifteen years ago. I wasn't certain if I was even alive at the time. I sighed, shut the book, and placed it neatly back on the shelf. I pulled out another and began my composition on cat Obake, without any idea that all my research would amount to nothing.
I should have spent less time studying Obake and more time reading up on other exorcists. Maybe then I would have realized that over half of them died before their thirtieth birthday.
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Book Two: How I Was Murdered By A Monster King
Daisuke here. Last time we met I joined a secret organization of exorcists who hunt down evil monsters which are disguised as regular animals. My training was going great until a super powerful fox monster attacked and my teacher tried to kill me. Now my friends and the organization are accusing me of being a monster in human form, but that can’t be possible, can it?
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Read a free preview online here. Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3
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