“I will awaken... the light within your darkened heart.”
The spirited light figure glistened within the sky for all life to see. Not even the most twisted evil could turn away from the glorious sight. Behind the failing facade of maturity held an expression of pure shock. It had never known that such a marvelous being could ever exist let alone transcend itself to such divinity. Calling it simply incredible was a pure understatement.
But in the dark figure’s state of surprise, it never noticed the flash through the air that filled the space around it. The being found itself wrapped in the warm embrace of the universe. The eternal song of despair was all over.
Blue eyes shot open in shock. For a moment, everything around the teenager seemed so different. Reality then slowly began to resurface itself. The girl looked tiredly around the train cabin only to find that most of the people on board earlier had all already departed. Strands of black hair whom had sought freedom from her messy ponytail swayed forward to frame her face. Pulling up the loose blanket, the teenager struggled to remain awake. She stretched up her arms and reached to fix her fallen hair. But as always, two unique stands on either side refused to be tied back.
The girl spotted the surroundings outside the moving train. Awe glistened in her eyes at the magnificent sight. Oh, in that moment how she wished to be a bird; For the doors to disappear so that she could reach towards the nearby forest, ready to race into its beauty and immediately open herself up to its incredible ambiance.
She had to be patient, however, just until she managed to settle down into her new surroundings. Thoughts ran through the girl’s mind of all that she had abandoned for this new town. She had dropped everything once known in hope of spiritual rebirth, a resurrection created within the peaceful space of Chuunaidei, all for the sake of recreating herself. Within this town rested her destiny.
“Coming up,” a female voice spoke over the intercom, “North Chuunaidei Station.”
The girl stood and grabbed the large purple suitcase peaking out from under the seat, and rushed to the other side of the cabin. She pushed a button on the wall and a red light shined above the door, signalling that the train’s next halt was soon to come.
Within moments, the locomotive came to a stop and allowed the door to slide open before the path to her new life.
She smiled to herself in determination. “Let’s give em’ some psyche.”
Her steps held confidence while strolling out of that particular train of which the girl hoped to not see again for quite some time. As her previous sadness faded, a new trust that good things would happen within the little town of Chuunaidei blossomed.
With every stride forward, a name tag bounced against on the side of her bag. It read her new contact information and the Japanese characters of her name that read "Koei Suzuki”.
Episode One: “Let’s Give ’Em Some Psyche! The Awakening Echo!”
“Azazel-sama, you called for me?” A voice asked from the shadows of the large throne room.
The platinum-haired male addressed as Azazel looked out to face his subordinate from his comfortable black throne lined with gold, demonic etching. He wore loose yellow, brown, and red robes with a torn, tan scarf around his neck. Bandages were wrapped around his forehead.
He replied with a deadly hint, “Have you noticed the sudden change on Earth, Leviathan?”
“Yes, my lord.” Leviathan slipped from out of the darkness and bent down to one knee before his master, wearing a dark blazer and slacks. His dark hair was slicked back to show piercing amber eyes. Like his master, he also bore bandages. His, however, traced down from his left cheek down to his chest. “At the center of all life where purity seeks shelter, a powerful soul of which we have watched for many years has arrived.”
“Your prophecy reigns strong.”
“The influence of her soul will attract many others…”
“Allowing us to take the opportunity in crushing them,” Azazel concluded in slight arrogance which resided across a face aged from battle.
“But also uplifting inspiration to the world.” Azazel frowned upon the subordinate’s words. “The others stir in wonder of what this young life is capable of.”
The dark lord paid much mind to the words, leaning back and abandoning his physical vision for the thoughts of which his mind conjured. “They sense her as well?” The subordinate nodded. “For even your fellow comrades to sense this must mean that the awakening is nearing.”
Limitless theories swirled within Azazel’s cobalt eyes. Without even waiting for the servant to respond, he straightened his posture and continued, “This could become troublesome if she grows to find the true power within herself before we do. But that is more than likely not to happen. Leviathan, go and find this child. Perhaps if the tables are turned, she could be of some use to us.”
“Yes, my lord, as you wish,” Leviathan responded, disappearing to his given destination.
Azazel relaxed upon his shadowy throne. Images of the despair that he could bring upon the living world now that the high spirit was nowhere to be found crept throughout his mind. With this, all would be in his control, even the spirit itself; Such was a goal that seemed to call from the depths of his being.
“This will certainly be a fascinating game, won’t it?”
Koei smiled as she walked towards the front entrance of Private Reimura Academy. She admired how the courtyard grounds were brimmed with bright life. Though the walk upon the concrete path up to the main building was short, Koei took her time appreciating the new surroundings. Students in grey school uniforms sat under trees or at benches, abundant with spirit, conversing about the newest facts of their day to day lives. The pink cherry blossom trees of spring had a tint of orange on their many delicate petals in the afternoon sun’s light. She felt like an outsider she felt like in her old school’s uniform. She would have prefered to have worn casual clothes when traveling but her parents had insisted on her wearing something more appropriate.
Finally, she stepped before the main outside of the structure was a simple white color, but most of the windows were open, inviting the cool early-evening breeze throughout the grounds. The school had already won her over.
Koei took a courageous stride forward. Her anxiety edged towards its peak, however. What if this school turned out to be no more accepting than her old one?
She shook away the thought. Even if it was, Reimura Academy was a new setting. A place to start over. She was willing to give every challenge her all.
Her mind was beyond reach when taking the first step up the stairs, not even realizing having missed the step. She quickly found herself falling to the ground.
Then suddenly, a hand grabbed her shoulder. Koei regained her footing and looked up to see a female student with short dark hair and brown eyes so light they appeared decorated with gold flakes. She realized her situation and straightened herself.
“You should be careful,” the girl stated.
Koei blushed and backed away slightly. “I’m so sorry! I wasn’t paying attention.”
The girl kindly shrugged off the apology. “No, no. It’s okay. I’ve had my trip or two.”
Koei remembered what she was doing. “Umm, do you happen to know where the headmistress’s office is?”
The girl nodded. “When you get inside, take the spiral staircase to the fourth floor. Her office is right across the hallway.”
The girl opened the door for her. “And welcome to Private Reimura Academy.”
“Thank you so much.” Koei walked through the door and turned to add, “By the way, my name is Suzuki Koei. What is yours?”
The girl was gone, however, as if their interaction had never occurred. There was nothing left for Koei to do but follow the girl’s instructions.
She made her way up the spiral staircase. The great wall beside the stairs held a tall glass window that revealed the entire school grounds. The higher up she traveled, the farther out her vision spread over the school grounds.
Before she had a chance to knock on the large doors of the headmistress’s office, a youthful adult opened it from the other side before her. “Suzuki-san, what a surprise! I was just about to head over to the front gate to greet you. So how were your travels?”
“Very nice, thank you. It is very nice to see you again, Headmistress Kirie,” Koei said politely and bowed in respect.
“No need to be so formal. Everyone here just calls me Motoko,” the headmistress said with her usual easygoing attitude.
“I am terribly sorry for arriving so late, Motoko-sensei.”
“Not at all. It could not be helped,” Motoko replied, leading her into the office. “All of the teachers have gone home for the day, though, so you’ll have to get acquainted with them tomorrow.
“Now, Suzuki-san,” Motoko said, making her way towards the filing cabinet, “Let’s see what has been arranged for you.” The headmistress found the file and opened it upon her desk for both her and Koei to look at.
Motoko read out loud, “Suzuki Koei, third-year junior high school student. You’ve been assigned to Yoko Saburo’s class 3-C, and you’ll be staying in the Sakura Uzumaki dorms, room nine of the third floor. And as I can see, your parents already signed all of the forms and had them sent over. Does all of the information below look correct?”
Koei looked over the papers and nodded.
“Alright, now...Yamazora-san!” At Motoko’s call, a female student paced in from a side door. Unlike most of the other female students, she wore a short, grey cloak over her blouse.
“Yes, Motoko-sensei?” The girl asked.
The headmistress introduced the two to each other, “Suzuki-san, this is Yamazora Kai, the student-faculty ambassador. Yamazora-san, this is Suzuki Koei.”
Kai bowed to her. “Nice to meet you, Suzuki-san.”
Koei nodded and bowed nervously in return. “Nice to meet to you as well.”
“Yamazora-san, can you please escort Suzuki-san to the Sakura Uzumaki dorms?”
“Of course.” Kai turned her attention back towards Koei. “Shall we go, Suzuki-san?”
Koei bowed deeply once again to the headmistress. “Motoko-sensei, thank you very much for this opportunity and I hope to learn a lot at this school.”
Motoko smiled. “I hope that this school can provide for you what you seek. I look forward to seeing what you achieve.”
After saying farewell to the headmistress, Koei and Kai ventured in the direction of the dorms.
Kai asked, “So, Suzuki-san, what do you think of the school so far?”
Bashfully, Koei replied, “It’s very nice. I can’t believe I actually got in.”
“Well, everything happens for a reason, so that just means that you were meant to be here.”
The deja vu in those words began to pull Koei from her shyness suddenly. “My cousin always told me that! Whenever I was upset, she would always explain how ‘life doesn’t want us to be sad, as we always have to be prepared for what it has in store for us’,” she stated happily, only to remember her situation and blushed. “I’m sorry, I got carried away.”
“No, no, it’s fine,” Kai stated. “It’s actually quite inspiring. Are you two close?”
“Does she live by you?”
“She actually lives only an hour’s drive away in the next town.”
“Well, then perhaps when you get settled in, you can rest and call her to let her know you got here.”
“That’s a good idea.”
Before Koei knew it, they were stepping through the door into the Sakura Uzumaki Dormitory, otherwise known as the Girl’s Dormitory. She was amazed at the sight before her. Ahead of the entrance was a room where multiple groups of female students sat together in their own spaces on comfortable looking sofa chairs around small tables or just standing. In the back were three open doors leading to single rooms similar to the large space except simpler. Usually, such an ambiance would have been negatively overwhelming for Koei, but this particular area actually seemed alluring and calming.
“This is the first lounge,” Kai explained. “When the students need a break, sometimes they’ll come down here outside of class to interact or get a drink from the vending machines in the side room.”
“What are those rooms in the back?” Koei asked.
“Just extra rooms for hanging out, but they’re mainly used as a private space when parents comes to visit their student.” Kai pointed in the direction of the door on either wall in front of the first lounge entrance. “A lot of the time though the students will relax in the lounge or mini-kitchens which are on every level of the dorms. In between the girl’s and the Botan Uzumaki Dormitory, the boys’ dormitories, is a gender-neutral area for students to mingle on an equal basis.
“Dinner is usually in the dorm cafeteria from 5:30 to 7:30, but tonight it’s self-serve, where the students request the ingredients in order to fix their own meals. This was put in place to help teach students to honor the food they eat.”
“That sounds so amazing!”
“I think so, too. Do you need any help settling in or fixing dinner?”
Koei shook her head. “No thank you. I actually do quite a bit of cooking for myself. But what about ingredients? Are there any spare in the mini kitchens?”
“Don’t worry about that.” With a smile, Kai signaled Koei towards the left walkway. “Let’s just get you settled into your room.” The two entered into the dorm area and into the staircase.
As much as she probably should not have, Koei could feel her mind slipping into a state of awe at the tranquility of the area. She had not even been at the academy half an hour and was already so entranced by its excellence. She had a very positive feeling about her new start.
“Suzuki-san. Suzuki-san!” Kai’s concerned voice broke through her scattered thoughts suddenly. Koei turned her attention to the door right in front of her and Kai. Bright yellow letters identified the room as C9.
“Here’s your dorm, Suzuki-san.”
The door was opened to reveal a small ten by ten feet bedroom with a bed on one side and a dresser on the other. In the wall next to the door was a closet in which hung several white blouses, plaid skirts, and various school jackets.
“Sorry it’s so small,” Kai said, “All of the duel dorms were taken.”
“No, it’s perfectly fine, it’s wonderful.” The two placed the luggage in the room.
“I’m glad you like it.” Kai’s watch beeped suddenly and she peeked down at it in surprise. “I can’t believe it’s already this late. I’m sorry, Suzuki-san, I would love to have dinner with you but sadly I have some school business to take care of before tomorrow. I have something to give you, though.”
“What is it?”
“Once you get settled, check the shared refrigerator. It’s in a bag with a blue lid on it.”
“Thanks for everything, Yamazora-san,” Koei smiled genuinely at her. “You’ve been a big help.”
“Don’t worry about it.” Kai returned the heartfelt grin. “I’ll see you tomorrow then.”
“Also, do you know where a phone is?”
“Down the hall to your left.”
Left alone, Koei explored the room. It was roomy and quiet and comfortable to her. She walked over to the balcony and gazed out at her new school.
After putting all her stuff away and fixing the room to her liking, she slumped onto the bed covered in a blue and purple patterned futon blanket. A sigh of peace escaped from her. Feeling at ease, she gazed over to a momento placed on the dresser. It was a photo of Koei and her cousin, Kowa Tanigawa, at the river valley from the past summer having a picnic. They were a mess: Sweaty, hair in a fuss, and completely soaked in river water. But even so, the two were smiling as bright as could be.
Koei pushed herself up and changed from her old school uniform into her casual clothes of a red and white baseball tee with a short vest, green cargo shorts, a loose pink heart belt, and her high tops. She then headed out of the room to the phone that Kai had directed her to. She picked up the telephone. Her fingers tapped along the buttons, dialing in a number that she knew from the very bottom of her heart.
The phone rung for several moments until, much to her disappointment, redirected to the answering machine. “Hi, Kowa-onee-san,” Koei said, “Hope you’re doing well. I just got settled in. Call me when you get this message. Bye!”
Even after clicking the end button, Koei found herself continuing to stare at the phone. There was an excited peacefulness running that her that she wished to share with someone.
The teenager felt a grumble from her stomach suddenly. She decided to head into the student kitchen and found herself alone. She felt partially soothed by the feeling, however. The already tranquil kitchen was quiet and mind-enriching. She opened the fridge and saw the bag with blue-lidded containers that Kai had told her about. Inside the bag, rice, vegetables, and fresh fish sat in their select containers.
Koei spotted a colorful note placed on the front of the top container which read, "Good evening, Suzuki-san and welcome to Private Reimura Academy. I’m sorry that I was not able to give much of a proper greeting, but I look forward to getting to know you later. -Kai Yamazora”
Kai’s kindness brought a smile to Koei’s face and a warmth in her heart.
She began broiling the fish and steaming the vegetables for dinner. Past her spacey demeanor and shyness, when cooking or meditating she expressed a side that very few people were allowed to see.
After cooking, enjoying her meal, and cleaning up, she made her way over the the window bench and allowed herself to succumb to the urge to truly separate her being from the world if only for a few moments.
As Koei allowed all the worries from the day to slip away from her mind and return to the world, her blue eyes began to droop from the effects of drowsiness. The next day, her life within Reimura Academy would begin. But in that moment, all she needed to do was relax. There was no reason to fight back, so she willingly gave in. Her tired mind whirled into the realm of a vision, turning all stress into the vivid feeling lush, green grass beneath her feet in an ecstatic message.
Happiness spread over her as she skipped amongst the life-filled plants. Nothing could make this dream any better. A gentle, sparkling breeze broke through the space, bringing Koei back from her child-like state of mind. She turned towards the new being, eyes widening at the sight.
It was like an older version herself, surrounded by a beautiful purple light, comforting a small animal lying within its lap. Then, the creature crawled out from the being’s lap and slowly made its way over to Koei.
Then it disappeared, but what seemed to be its voice appeared behind Koei, speaking, “You will awaken and see soon enough.”
A force was thrust through her chest as a burst of light. What would have seemed to have been extremely painful was as light and pleasant as the dream itself. Koei felt as though she could become lost in the moment forever.
Then, a loud pounding and the unclear voices of two girls came from the behind door suddenly. Koei shook away her dream-like state, lazily lifting herself off of the bench and walking over to the third-floor dorm entrance.
“What a strange vision,” she muttered to herself.
At opening the door, Koei spotted two teenagers, one taller and more mature in appearance glancing at the younger, shorter girl. The elder one seemed to be in an argument with the younger child.
“Takaki, I told you not to be so loud.”
“But, Nee-chan, I really want to meet her. You said I could come along!”
To break the confusion, Koei interrupted, Umm...“Excuse me.”
The older girl turned her attention to Koei suddenly with a small bow. “Please forgive us for dropping by so abruptly, but we noticed that you had just moved in and wanted to say hello,” the girl replied gently in contrast to the younger’s spunkiness, “I’m Meisen Takae, and this is my younger sister, Takaki.”
“Nice to meet you,” Koei said to the sisters, returning the bow.
“If you ever need anything, Takaki and I live downstairs in room A5. In fact, you’re more than welcome to join us for dinner, seeing as how that trip may have tired you out.”
Koei smiled in appreciation. “Thank you, but I just finished making dinner, and besides I don’t want to be of any trouble.”
“It’d be no trouble, but we hope to have you over sometime.”
“Thank you so much.”
“It’s no problem,” Takae said with a smile, “Well, I’ll see you later. Come on, Takaki.”
Takaki waved goodbye cheerfully. “It was nice to meet you!”
“As it was to meet you both.” And with that, the two sisters walked back down the hall, arguing until Koei could no longer see them.
She shut the door with a sigh. It was nice that she finally knew a few others from the same school. They had made her realize how new she was to the area.
Her mind then traveled back to the vision from earlier. It had seemed so realistic and ecstatic. No matter how many times she thought it over, Koei could not translate the third eye’s images.
“That settles it! I’ll take a walk and meditate on its meaning. Perhaps my higher self will have some words of wisdom to share.”
Koei opened the dorm entrance, ready to set out and explore the area. “I’m taking off,” she said, more to herself than anyone else.
She pulled out the school map in her pocket that she had picked up soon after arriving. Her eyes traveled over the paper until a particular route caught her eye. Joy filled Koei as she noticed that there was a woodland trail not far from the dorms. She instantly headed towards the woods in delight.
She passed the courtyard that Kai hard told her about where male and female students enjoyed meals together. Temptation peaked its head, encouraging her to join the others and get to know them. The thought was rejected as soon as it was conjured, however. A sad smile appeared upon Koei’s face as she walked away.
After a few minutes of walking, Koei came upon the end of the trail which led into the woods. Excitement bubbled from within. The very feeling the woodland gave off her mixed emotions about her hike, though. The woods themselves were cloaked in a holy and warm aura that was more than willing to welcome her. But when focusing in on the surrounding area, Koei could not help but feel that something terrible was close enough to snatch her.
She heard the trees’ branches flutter. Koei turned quickly to see what her source could have been. The presence in the movement was not one of coincidence or good intention. But there turned out to be nothing other than the path she had just walked. Her hesitant steps led her down the new trail with no need to look back, not giving her anyway of noticing the dark shadow smirking behind her.
Koei’s fearful experience then seemed something of an illusion as she entered a hidden clearing in the forest filled with lush vegetation.
“Wow! This is...incredible!” Koei ran happily through the grasses, letting the wind guide her movements until she eventually lost her footing and allowed the gentle glass to catch her. She had not allowed herself to release such childish energy in a long time. Taking in the energy of her surroundings, a feeling of deja vu rose. “This is just like the vision.”
A peaceful sigh unconsciously escaped her at the marvelous surroundings of which comforted her at that very moment. After a long day of traveling, being able to open herself up to life was the best thing Koei needed. It could not have been simply a coincidence that she had dreamed of the green space. She had been summoned and had answered the woodland’s call.
“This is just...unbelievable,” Koei said as she pulled herself up, gracefully easing into lotus pose. Her blue eyes closed as her heart opened to the surrounding area. All life around her began to freeze, allowing only peace to fill her mind and let her forget about the chaotic world. No matter where she went, life was always there to help her grow stronger.
Four breaths in; Four breaths held; Four breaths out. All feeling escaped her physical body to make room for the spiritual ecstasy enveloping her with the repetition of her breathing technique.
While the gentle breeze blew past her, a figure of pure light appeared within her vision through the third eye.
“Even in the time of weariness, you still come to show yourself.” Her higher self’s words resonated through her entire spirit as something beyond sound. Koei smiled in response to the being warmly.
“Of course,” Koei replied through her heart. “I just hope that you’ll forgive me for being unable to greet you these past few days. So much has gone on as I’m sure you understand.”
“There is nothing to forgive, for I am always here and will always know how you are.”
A sense of peace so uncommon within the world washed over Koei like cleansing spring water. Her higher-self’s kindness was something that softened one’s nerves more and more each time. The connection they shared was always what embraced Koei and brought her back to a state of being that even the greatest physical experience could never match.
The two embraced in a hug that could only create a connection as powerful as one between the physical and higher soul. Between the two, Koei hugged the tightest, her grief fading back into the universe. “I missed you.”
“As I to you.”
There was something off about the spirit’s energy. Amongst the harmonious being that she gave off, there was a wave of hesitation. The light figure’s expression mimicked her own, but something appeared wrong. The light was not as cheerful as always. Its presence expressed a concern Koei had not witnessed before.
Koei had never felt this universal space emit such anxiety before. “What is it?”
“I wanted to tell you the truth before you arrived here. Because-”
“So this is the being of spirit said to have the power to change the hearts of others? And who would think of such as anything more than a mere child,” a dark voice interrupted.
The peaceful space began to shift eerily. The light figure recognized the voice immediately and called out with strength that could have stretched to the ends of the earth. “Show yourself!”
Koei’s confusion manifested as clumps of energy within the space. “What are you? How did you enter here?” She asked in growing fear.
The cryptic click of a sneer pierced the air. “I didn’t expect to meet you both so soon, but perhaps now I should introduce myself.” The figure behind the voice appeared out of nowhere, stopping itself right before Koei and bowing to one knee. “Leviathan, member of the Lost Prisoners.”
Before Koei could react, her inner spirit appeared between the two as a barrier of light, defending Koei against the dark form. Leviathan took a leap back from the spirit. The light appeared weaker than the teenager had ever seen.
Unaware of the clotting energy her growing anxiety created all around, Koei grit her teeth to hold back fear. “Answer me!” She demanded.
Leviathan sneered at her pitiful fright. “By following you, my dear, I was able to discover the height of your spirit density. I had no idea that such would be so high during this cursed worship. It proved troublesome in entering this space. But it seems that even the strong have a long ways to go before having the ability to keep me out.” His words made Koei’s eyes widen.
Her higher self called to her for strength. “Koei, I need you to trust yourself. You need to in order to force him out. Can you do that?”
Koei panicked. Her heartbeat quickened with worry. “But...how do I do that? Can’t you help me?”
“I can only truly fulfill what it is that your heart has complete determination to accomplish. Without that, I can do nothing to defend you. Now hurry!”
With a nod, Koei closed her eyes and attempted to focus all her spirit on forcing the evil presence out of her mind, while still in deep confusion. She knew of the dark forces that lived within the world, but could not remember ever personally experiencing the fact that they could actually penetrate one’s conscious. And she never thought that such forces could be so frightening. Power welled up inside of her, her mind begging for the universal strength within and around her to remove the dark entity from the sacred space. She allowed her higher self to manifest more powerfully through her own will. The built up energy of anxiety and the flow of enlightenment struggled against one another in her fight to find strength. This went on for several moments until finally Koei thought it was all over. Lingering fret begged Koei to look ahead despite a deep instinct to continue focusing power.
She opened her eyes against her higher self’s words. A sigh of relief escaped at seeing no trace of the dark being that was once before her. But Koei’s victory was short lived only for a moment before noticing the dark energy that increased around her.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Leviathan’s voice appeared beside her suddenly. Koei froze in fear as she spotted the evil face looking closely at her.
“Koei, get out of here!” The spirit’s yell snapped her from her paralyzed state.
In her moment of hesitation, Koei turned her head for the slightest moment, watching as Leviathan reached for her.
In that instant, pure adrenaline took over, forcing Koei back to reality and shooting her off to escape the woods. Even without looking behind her, Koei knew Leviathan’s physical presence lingered not far behind. But she couldn’t stop. She bolted forward faster than ever before. Tears of fear filled her dilated eyes suddenly, mixing with the cold sweat running down her face. Her body pounded viciously with angst.
“What was going on?” She mentally screamed. “This had never happened before. Why?”
“You should have already realized that there’s no point in running,” Leviathan stated. He then threw a burst of dark energy into Koei’s path.
At the last second, she attempted to jump and avoid the burst only to be thrown off balance by the explosion. Koei hit the ground with a painful thud. Looking up, she saw Leviathan walking towards her. Again, she got up and attempted to run but was stopped as his hand grasped her wrist. Koei knew not to look, but out of fear slowly turned her head.
“I would say that you just do not know how to give up, but that is a symbol of a powerful psyche. In fact, your sacred space was quite marvelous even coated in fear.”
He leaned closer to her. His eyes invited an anxiety that already threatened to tear her heart in two. “Would you allow me to look inside your bright heart once more?”
Recklessness completely took over Koei. She raised her other hand above her and slapped Leviathan across the face. Stunned by the sudden and fierce attack, Leviathan released her at once.
Breathing heavily, Koei attempted to recover from her overpowering adrenaline rush. She trembled uncontrollably, unable to truly comprehend anything any longer. All she knew was that something pure evil was in front of her and that she had to escape.
Then, Leviathan’s hand moved away from his face, revealing a fanged wicked grin across his face.
“Such as spirited child. You give me no choice.” His sharp, amber eyes darted dangerously towards Koei’s, causing her to shudder. Black energy gathered around his clawed hand as he chanted, “Thee who turns from the will of light, poisoning it, fulfilling the dark, wrenching out curses upon the land thus once admired. It ends, and the eclipse begins.” His hand stabbed the earth, and his darkness began to seep into the innocent land. “Come out, Ijimeru!” As his arm tore from the ground, a despicable energy filled the air, intoxicating the trees in the path of its wrath.
Koei stared out at the infected trees and felt a sudden agony run through her. From within the depths of her soul she could hear their calls. They screamed and cursed and cried out for their pain to stop. No matter how hard she covered her ears, Koei still could not block out the anguish.
“How cruel! How could you do something this awful to them?” Koei shouted.
“Them? Should you not be worrying more about yourself right now?” With that, the dark spirit Leviathan had placed within the tree completely took over the tall, wood being. Its branches swirled through the air dangerously.
Stunned by the sight, Koei was unable to notice a branch heading towards her. The attack sent her flying through the air. Intense puffs of breath were knocked from her lungs as she hit the ground. She coughed rapidly, still trying all in the while to pick herself up.
A horrid, pained groan filled the air suddenly. Koei pulled up her injured body, only to be horrified at the sight of the monstrous tree nearly torn in half.
Leviathan stood in the sky above the field, a disapproving scowl across his face. “You worthless being, Azazel-sama requested her to be unharmed.”
The monster must have understood this and even in pain jumped through the air, careful not to harm Koei, but still attempting to catch her.
While dodging the tree’s branches, Koei could sense the misery its spirit faced, causing her to turn her attention back to Leviathan. “Why are you using this innocent spirit against me? What kind of a monster are you?”
Leviathan could only sneer as he watched the powerful child attempt to hold her own against the Ijimeru. Though reckless, she indeed was everything his master had spoke of. “Should such even matter? Those who can’t fight for themselves are just pawns in the hands of the strong.”
His words sparked an all too familiar agony within Koei’s mind, making her barely noticed the dangerous roots that sprung up from beneath her feet, knocking her over. While in unbearable pain, she attempted to shoot herself up once again from the ground, only to find tree roots binding her legs to the ground. Her state of panic was interrupted by Leviathan’s voice suddenly.
“But you are different. Though weak in comparison to the whole spirit at this stage, your very being can still inspire others,” he spoke, talking his time to walk towards her. “Azazel-sama sees this and knows that in order to keep you from healing, that you must be placed into our hands, out of reach from those who seek to take you from the abyss. Do you remember, that is the place which gave you comfort when the fear to grow became too much to bear?” Those words sent a shiver of mixed emotions shooting up her spine.
He knelt before her and extended a clawed hand, evil intention and an image of demented mystery gleaming within his eyes. “Now, shall we go, away from the land of which has betrayed you?”
Koei attempted to cry out refusal, but the agony radiating off of the tree’s true self and her own anxiety made it too unbearable. The feelings made her think back to everything before then: Healing; Discovering her spiritual powers; Encountering her true self; Losing herself too soon in grief from loss of knowing what she was to do; Constantly seeking answers for a way to renew herself back to the way of which she had been then.
A part of her had always wanted to give up, just like now. But it had been her courage, sense of self, and powerful determination that had allowed her to want to become strong again. To have given up would have been a betrayal to the true self within her.
“So what shall it be?” Leviathan smirked.
“You think that I’m really going to give up on my will to become stronger...just because some bastard wishes to see me fall?” Koei interjected.
“I’ve worked too hard...suffered to much...to let my heart be taken. And I’m not about to let the likes of you or whoever you work for to convince me otherwise,” Koei stated with bold passion. “I will become stronger. I will translate the message which the universe speaks through me. You’re nothing but an obstacle in my way. I won’t be stopped. And most of all...” She reached down and gripped the root binding her leg. “I will find myself!”
Spiritual energy rose immensely from Koei like a bonfire, pushing Leviathan away from her. He covered his face to resist her release of holy power. But he allowed himself to peak through the light at the sacred being was revealed. What awaited him was indeed a vivid sight to behold.
The world around Koei had disappeared, instantly replaced by a rush of enlightening feelings.
“You have finally awakened.” A voice echoed throughout her.
It was her inner self, only then even more magnificent, glowing around her in vibrant light, the hesitation from before a distant memory. “What...what’s happening?”
“I had hoped that you would never have to face this part of your soul in such a situation, but in your time of growth and as the the universe has set your destiny, an enemy has appeared to strip the world of its faith. It was selfish of me to keep you from your path. But now, we must become one in order stop this malevolent force."
“But...what do you mean?”
“I shall show you. Spirit, you can come out now.”
Light shot up from the ground suddenly before flying in front of Koei. Out of the light’s shell burst a small creature which seemed to be a mix between a cat and a wolf pup. The being bore white fur with shades of purple on its head, ears, and tail.
“What is this?” A stunned Koei asked.
“This is Spirit, your guardian power animal. He has waited many years to meet you.”
“That’s right, risu~.” Spirit greeted her cheerfully. “It’s nice to meet you, risu~!”
“My guardian power animal?”
“Yes, and along with guarding you, he also holds the key to your powers until you can discover them yourself.
“Now you must fight, for the world and your own sake,” the spirit chanted, “Using the legendary power of the Pretty Cure.” Koei felt a warm feeling fill her as her inner self laced onto an equal level with her.
Her vision switched back to the forest clearing. Her heart and resolve were now stronger than ever. She knew what she had to do.
“Spirit, let’s do this.”
“What could you be planning?” Leviathan asked condescendingly.
“In your arrogance to gain the idea of loss, you have sought to drag down those that represent hope. Such is an unforgivable act that will drag you down even further.” Koei brought her hand up to her chest, opening it to the object materializing within it. “Strength does not form from those who search for it, it forges for those who can find it within themselves. With hope, courage, determination, strength, will, all of these things...I’ll show you some psyche!”
In her unconscious shouting of those strangely recognizable words, Koei found herself grasping the brooch of which she had pulled from her chest. Spirit jumped through the air towards her, the charm on his pink collar turning into a key which flew into Koei’s other hand.
“Awaken! Pretty Cure, Ecstasy Petition!”
Right as the key was turned within the lock of the brooch and then placed in the top, the powerful heart-shaped object glistened with light, bringing Koei into a new state of being: A state that was such a faraway memory for years before then that she thought she could never reach it again. But it was then that she felt strong enough to be the being that was always inside her, the being that was strong enough to introduce herself as, “The awakening psyche! The soul’s inspiring tune! Cure Echo!”
As the light cleared away around Koei, now as Echo, her new form was revealed. Her short black hair had elongated into long, ash pink hair tied back in a magenta ribbon. Around her neck was a purple choker with a golden bell. She wore a pinkish-purple top with white feather-like fringe around the collar and over the skirt, which was layered with purple, green, pink, and white frills. Her arm bands matched her top with green ruffles along the top. Her purple boots had light blue ruffles and a teal bow. The Conscious Lock rested on her chest on a blue and purple ribbon.
The young warrior caught sight of Leviathan eying her with a powerful arrogance. “What is this that you’ve done? This child was meant to never again awaken into this form.”
With an air of beauty and grace completely surrounding her, Echo looked across to where Leviathan stood, paying no mind the tone meant to weaken her. “That may be correct, but you are not the leader of my destiny.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Don’t fool yourself with such a meaningless statement. I suggest that you leave.”
“Is that meant to be a threat-” But before Leviathan could finish his statement, he became preoccupied in dodging Echo’s sudden attack.
Another attack, another dodge. Another fist thrown, another flash away from the viscous punch. He gathered a ball of dark energy in his palm, aiming to strike Echo, only to have his wrist grasped, Echo using that chance to jump over him. Once behind him, Echo struck again only for her attack to be met with equal opposing force. She jumped back to widen the space between her and the dark being.
Looking ahead, Leviathan saw the delicate being standing where and ready to attack again. To think that the girl running away from him only a short time ago was now this being was not impossible to believe, but his lord had never expected something as extraordinary as her spiritual transformation to occur.
“Ijimeru, after her,” Leviathan commanded to the darkened woodland creature. “The child seems capable of holding her own.”
The tree rose into an attack position, ready to strike Echo. But the legendary warrior was prepared for the attack before it even occurred. In a flash, the tree found itself struck by Echo’s powerful kick. Echo looked up after landing, watching as the possessed woodland being prepared to attack again only to feel Leviathan’s presence appear nearby. She performed a round-house kick in defense against Leviathan’s strike. Powerful energies sparked in between the two in their clash as they attempted to overpower each other.
Then suddenly, Echo saw out of the corner of her eye a limb from the Ijimeru flying her way. She pushed herself back to avoid being hit.
Breathing heavily, Echo dipped within the depths of her mind, asking, “What do I do? I need to find some way of helping the tree, but with him in the way, I can’t seem to do anything.”
“Call upon the power of your muse,” Spirit called to her suddenly.
Echo nodded, gathering all of her power together within herself. She could feel the words come to her then, telling her what to do. With a tap of her heels, she shouted, “Harmonize, echo of the mind!” As she twirled, a rod of light burst from the ground for Echo to catch.
“Clash.” Echo snapped her fingers and the light split apart but quickly rejuvenated into solid forms within both hands. “Musing Strikers!” Light immediately sparked away from the newly formed objects, revealing a pair of magical dangers.
She and Leviathan clashed once more. Echo brought her other arm around to attack. Leviathan struck his hand past the weapon, grabbing for her wrist. To avoid being caught, Echo lept backwards into the air and away from the dark entity.
In a sudden flash, she appeared before the Ijimeru and slashed the Strikers against the tree’s branches. With her power focused on standing up against the creature, her spirit focused on attempting to help the woodland being. An image soon formed out of the corner of her eye. Looking more through her spiritual sense than the Ijimeru, Echo saw that the image was coming from within the tree. It was a small child crouched in the fetal position, extending its hand out to her, almost begging for help.
“Spirit, what was that?”
“The soul of tree calling out to you. It begs to be healed, risu~,” the small power animal replied.
“How?” Before Echo could receive her response, the answer suddenly came to her, not from Spirit, but something even deeper within her. As the tree came at her even more quickly, Echo dodged, afterward sending a fierce kick back at it.
The possessed woodland being held one of it deadly branches outward, allowing dark energy to gather upon it in the same fashion in which Leviathan did. The warrior then shattered the forming blast, however, with a single stroke of her Musing Strikers.
Echo threw one of the strikers to her side, allowing it to strike a large wooden limb. Seeing as this confused the tree, she did the same thing to the other Striker as well. The confused tree pondered on the unknown meaning of the worthless attack, only to be surprised as Echo crossed her arms, causing an extremely powerful shock to be sent through its entire being. It hit the ground, defeated.
Leviathan cursed the worthless being he had allowed his darkness to enter into, though, he could not remain irritated for long. After watching the girl battle the Ijimeru, the fascination of which he thought of her only increased.
Energy surged throughout Echo’s mind. Words of nature explained what it was she was to do. Even as foreign as the words seemed, she could not help but follow them, holding them close to know what to do next.
“Deliver,” Echo yelled, snapping her fingers next to her left ear, allowing her earring to form into a palm sized, heart-shaped charm. She pulled the charm from her face and jumped forward, moving quickly as the figure transformed into a small decorative pipe.
As Echo held the pipe out, the daggers flew from their places in the tree, their ends burying within the tube. “Spark Illusion Sword!” She jumped through the air, landing before the monster, confidence raging in her sky blue eyes.
“Pretty Cure...” When the right blade was stabbed into the ground, Leviathan’s dark shadows burst up from the crack, coming for Echo. But she was faster. Echo pulled the blade from the ground and twirled away to avoid being hit by the darkness. Her eyes then reverted back to the tree, focusing deeply on the spirit trapped within its depths. She readied her other blade, leaped towards the tree, and yelled, “Measure Blessing!” Once she slashed the space before the tree, the paralyzed evil spirit screeched as Echo’s attack surged through it.
Echo turned suddenly, hands twirling her now glowing weapon until her back finally faced the monster. She pulled the daggers from one another. The monster shattered apart, screeching in its last moment of life.
While the darkness fell apart, shards of light from beneath it flew out and gathered together, forming what appeared to be a stone. The small, colorful rock flew into Echo’s pipe right before the tube returned into its heart-shaped form at the side of Echo’s head.
With a final breath, Echo finally awoke from her ecstatic mental fog, exhaustion slowly taking over her from the powerful experience. She looked out at the now purified land and evil shattering apart. “I did that?” Echo asked herself. She could not stop herself from smiling though as the young tree spirit looked towards her with a thankful grin.
Echo allowed herself to feel satisfaction before the peace of sleep overtook her weary eyes. The magic of ecstasy fell away, returning her prior state when falling to the ground, her broach falling right beside her. She could finally release everything.
Leviathan appeared before the unconscious girl suddenly. He gazed down at the powerful child. During the time he had observed her fight from the sky, Leviathan could not help but be amazed as she had surpassed his expectations. How was it that simply a young being could hold so much power? “Not that such shall matter. There will be plenty of time to see what else you are capable of.”
As he reached for Koei, an invisible source shocked his hand suddenly. “Don’t touch her, risu~,” Spirit shouted, landing before Koei to protect her.
“Familiar,” Leviathan remarked, taking a step back to eye the small creature, “What business could you possibly have here?”
“This girl is my business, risu~! She is nothing for you to handle!”
“Oh, how wrong you are, little familiar,” Leviathan responded smugly. “Well, I suppose I should take my leave now. I will return soon, however, to deliver her to my lord.” A dark portal appeared behind him suddenly as he said, “Until then, familiar and...young warrior...” He then disappeared into the portal, out of sight.
Koei awoke at the feeling of a warm, soothing hand stroking her hair. “Have you awoken?” The voice of her inner self asked.
Koei nodded. Through clearing eyes, she noticed that she was once again in her inner spirit’s field. “What was all that?”
The spirit sighed with a smile. "Your awakening took place much sooner than expected. Because of the level of your powerful being and determination to become stronger, an ancient spiritual power known as Pretty Cure has awakened within you.”
“Yes, and though the enemy has little knowledge of this ancient gift, they will return in search for you again.”
“But why? What do I have to offer them?”
“All will be explained in due time. But until then, you must use your inner powers to fight against them and return faith to this world where so little exist. Now take this.” Suddenly, the same broach that Koei had used before appeared in the spirit’s hand as the being handed it to her. “The Conscious Lock, a device formed from the manifestation of your power, is to help you transform into your true form. It is yours now.” And with that, the deity stood from the ground, disappearing into the delicate breeze.
Koei shot up to attempt to stop the spirit from leaving as she cried out, “But...what am I supposed to do?”
“You will know soon, but today is not that day. Fight well. Come find me again and we shall talk more.” And soon, the deity was gone.
“-zuki-san. Suzuki-san!” A sweet voice awoke Koei from her from her peaceful sleep. Her eyes fluttered open softly to the real world, the sight of Kai being the first thing that she saw.
“Yamazora-san?” Koei slowly rose from the ground. Kai helped to support her still unsteady being.
“I saw you walking here from the courtyard and got worried when you didn’t come out. I arrived to find you passed out. Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m just sorry for worrying you.”
Kai shook her head and smiled kindly. “Don’t be. I’m just glad that you’re okay. You must still be tired from your travels.”
Koei smiled back. Then all of a sudden, she grabbed her head as sharp pain went through her head and memories of the battle flashed through her mind.
“What’s wrong?” Kai asked with a worried expression.
After a moment to think, Koei finally nodded and replied, “I just had a strange dream.”
“Really? What happened?”
Then it occurred to Koei that even though she did not know what was going on, there would be plenty of time to figure it out on her own. “It’s nothing.”
Still mentally questioning her new friend, Kai simply replied, “Is that so?. It’s getting late. We should probably be getting back, considering that tomorrow’s your first day here.”