Act VI: Greed

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Scene XIX: New Start

Kanagawa, Japan. 2021, September

“Help me!”

“Please, we need help over here!”

As much as Tsume wanted to scold Kaze for opening the doors to the cafeteria, she could hardly ignore the shouting or screams coming from inside. Most were silent, sparing only wide eyes and murmured noises of concern to their new benefactors; others were far more panicked; including the captain of Shoki, Taiyo Josho.

“Please, over here!”

Muzai was the first to move through the crowd. Her shoes scuffed and slid against the beaten floor, strewn with papers and dust. She found Taiyo in the centre of the chaos, cradling a young man against his chest. She inwardly squirmed, watching the way Taiyo’s eyes turned down to the panting body against him. He looked ill; pale and riddled with sweat. The tag on his lab coat read Tsuki.

“… Is he okay?” Muzai blurted. It was a stupid question, but it was all her mouth could manage.

“No. No, he needs help!” Taiyo shook his head. His hands were gentle as they cascaded across Tsuki’s trembling face. His temple was bruised, and his hands were clutching his chest. Taiyo turned back up to Muzai. “Please. Do you have an infirmary here?”

Muzai’s reply was dismissed when Sozokujin appeared in the doorway, along with Yumi and Aisu. Their faces were a mixture of confused and hard. Especially Sozokujin, who stepped forward and held her arms out to address the crowd.

“Everyone, please remain calm and follow our instructions. We understand you have all had a rather rough trip and some of you appear exhausted. If you could all be so kind as to follow our lead, I need everyone who is injured on the left side of the room, and those who are not injured, please move yourselves to the right. I would also like the leader of you all to step forward.”

Muzai could feel the impatience radiating from Taiyo. He seemed like a genuinely smart man to obey her rules and was quick to oblige to her wishes instead of brawling with a complaint and hesitantly carried Tsuki over to the left of the cafeteria as instructed.

“Wait!” A high voice rang out, cutting the tension with a thunder of footsteps. “I’m the people’s doctor! I can take care of the wounded!”

Muzai flinched. It had been a long time since her heart thumped against her chest like this and when she turned to look at the so-called doctor, her throat went tight and she nearly fainted.

“… Hahen.”

Upon hearing his name, the doctor turned to face Muzai. His face had been hard and serious until the familiar sight of his old friend came into view. A hand flew to his mouth, black nails glinting in the dim light. Despite his grown physique and the authority he wore in a clad of scrubs and stethoscope, he was still the same boy – the same man Muzai remembered.

“Muzai… Oh, my God-! You’re still here?!” Hahen breathed, stepping forward to take her hands into his.

“Yeah, I am. I’m, ugh… even on the Council now.” Muzai smiled, an uncontrollable action to compliment her giddiness. She squeezed his hands, feeling the thick scars and marred etches along his fingers and palms. She could also feel the tears brimming her eyes when she looked back up to his face. “Everyone thought you were dead. We even had a funeral…”

“I guessed that would happen.” Hahen shook his head, pursing his lips. His thumbs grazed over Muzai’s soft knuckles. “What about uncle? Is he alright? And Shinrai? Did she have her baby?”

“Yes, yeah! Your uncle’s fine and aunt had the baby in Chiba that night of the massacre. The shock put her into early labour, apparently.” Muzai could not help her smile. “You have a seven-year-old cousin now, Hahen.”

“I’m so glad,” Hahen whispered. His eye flickered, moving from Muzai’s face and back to the crowd surrounding them. With a clear of his throat, he linked his fingers through Muzai’s and held her arm up above their heads. “This is Muzai Aibori, the one I told you all about.”

Not more than a second rolled by before the crowd began to cheer, chanting Muzai Aibori over and over. They held their fists above their heads and whistled in awe. The praise itself was a little distressing for Muzai to handle. She couldn’t even recall a single act of heroism that she had accomplished to earn her such mighty applause.

With uncertainty gracing her face, Muzai bowed her head to the crowd. Her face was so read when the crowd’s cheers died down and she opened her mouth, addressing the people staring at her with expectations she could probably never meet.

“Welcome home.”

Interview, Yuugen. 2021, September

“It has become customary to make visual records for newcomers to Yuugen.” Sozokujin towards the camera setup beside her. A slim finger was flexed when she pressed her index finger against the record button. “All I need you to do is summarise yourself. State your name, which Coven you were from before Concordia, why you left for Concordia, who your Match and Name is, along with any other personal notes you would like to add. Whenever you are ready; please begin.”

Across from Sozokujin sat Juden Furu. Her green eyes narrowed, and she shuffled, unused to so much comfort in a single armchair. She had been surveying the room since she walked in. It was simple, with pale-patterned drapes and shagged, beige carpets. There was an old desk towards the back, cluttered with papers and stationery. Anything else was discarded to mind when she turned back to the tripod holding the camera. Its blinking red light told her she was on display. She hated being on display.

“My name is Juden Furu.” She crossed her legs, fingers curling against her lap. “I was a member of Mad Dog’s Coven and escaped to Concordia shortly before his death with the help of a few others. I have yet to find my Familiar. I’m Nameless. No-one.”

Kanagawa, Japan. 2021, September

Iwarouji Lane always looked abandoned. The estate downhill was hardly lived in. It was more like a holiday spot with empty houses on offer during the tourist season. It was always quiet this time of year and Muchina was thankful for it when he drove into a clear parking space and killed the engine.

Kobi sat beside him, busying herself with her make-up mirror. She puckered her lips while touching up her eyes and cheeks, inwardly sighing when Muchina opened the door to climb out ahead of her planned make-over.

“They told us to come right away, Kobi. We can’t waste too much time.”

“I know that, hon.” Kobi snapped her mirror shut and shoved it into her bright pink purse. “But I’m well confused. Ain’t we on duty tomorrow when the students arrive? I don’t get why we’re being hailed today, is all.”

“I thought so too.” Muchina moved around the car to open the passenger door and help Kobi down. “But I guess it must be urgent.”

Hand in hand, they walked up to Yuugen’s gates and triggered the scanner to walk up the pathway, muttering between themselves about what to have for dinner tonight and whether they needed to go shopping before tomorrow. When they reached the foyer, Muchina stepped up first to open the door for Kobi and they slipped inside.

“It’s empty?” Kobi sighed. “Dunno if that means it’s super urgent or not? Ya sure Kin ain’t hoaxing you?”

Muchina shook his head and followed Kobi down the empty hallways, pausing when they reached the staircase and found a familiar face sitting outside the dormitory wing on the next floor. It stopped all sense of conversation and Muchina leant against the bannister, quirking a brow.


“You too?” Chishiki turned his head away from the pinned fliers along the pinboard against his head. There was something about class rep and after-class clubs. Nothing which really applied to him. But he was a simple guy with a super simple way of passing the time. “I take it neither of you now why we’re here, either?”

“Nah,” Kobi shrugged, clearing the rest of the stairway. “We ain’t heard of no special calls until now. Kin was just yelling down the phone to get our arses over here as soon as possible.”

“And if you don’t know why we’re here, then we’re definitely in the dark until someone tells us what’s going on.” Muchina added. He scratched his chin, muttering shortly. “We were gonna look for caterers for the wedding this morning.”

“Yeah,” Chishiki stood from his seat. “I was just closing a really good deal on this Victorian century piece all the way from England when Kin rang. What could possibly be so important?”

“Me, obviously.”

Chishiki’s shoulders tensed when the voice hit his ears. He whirled, turning to the dormitory hall, unable to call this moment real. He was dreaming. He had to be! Because standing just five feet from him was none other than Hari in all her tattooed-pierced glory with Kumo hovering behind her. They looked exhausted and had a number of cuts and bruises. Save for a few bandages, they would live. They were alive.

Hari moved forward, hands in her pockets. She was suave as always; even when she met Chishiki’s wide eyes. “We ain’t gonna hug, right?”

“Hardly,” Chishiki scoffed. “Does that sound like us?

“Nah,” Hari tipped back her chin, flashing her golden tooth. She moved a hand from her pocket to stretch her arm and made a fist. “Good to see ya, bud.”

“Yeah,” Chishiki bumped his own fist against Hari’s bony, tattooed knuckles. “Good to have you back.”

Kobi stepped forward, arms outstretched and eyes wider than they had ever been before. “Is that really your way of reuniting after seven years?!”

“What more d’ya want?” Hari rolled a shoulder and motioned to Kumo, nudging her into the centre of the semi-crowd. “If ya want a sloppy reunion, do it with this one ’cos I ain’t gonna get all gooey.”

Kumo smirked, dark eyes flickering towards Kobi’s outstretched hand. “Ah, someone has big news.” She hummed, motioning to the ring on her finger.

“Never woulda seen that coming,” Hari snorted. “Oi, it ain’t Nara, is it? That guy just ain’t marriage material. You’re too good for him.”

“Ah, no.” Kiba smirked, idly playing with the band on her finger. Whether it was sorrow or amusement tugging her lips, none could say. “Nara went to prison after the accident in Chiba. The police created a cover-up story; said the Theatre was a serial killer’s wet dream and put the blame on Nara for getting a ton of the audience killed.”

“Just as well, can’t say he’ll be missed much.” Hari tutted. Despite her cold words, she spared a sympathetic spark in her eyes for Nara before turning to the ever-silent Muchina. She gave him a once over. “It ain’t you, is it?”

Muchina felt his cheeks turn pink and he laughed, forcing his hand to move over Kobi’s. “Afraid so.”

“Aye? Well, good for ya.” Hari cheered, punching Muchina in the arm. “I’d love to stay and chat but all of our people need help settling in. They ain’t all too familiar with this way of life.”

Kumo nodded. “Some of them spent their whole lives in the Void. Getting used to our lifestyle and management is going to be difficult to adapt to.”

Chishiki didn’t hide his disappointment well. “…I can shift some of my plans for the day to help out? It’s the least I can do.”

“Same here!” Kobi chimed. “Muchina and I’d be honoured to give you a hand, right?”

Hari snorted, turning back to the dormitories. “We can work and catch up at the same time, yeah? Gotta spill the beans on your bustling romance.”

Muchina laughed, refocusing the situation on Hari and how she waited for Kumo to join her side. “Never mind us, what was it like for you two being stuck in the Void for all those years?”

Interview, Yuugen. 2021, September

“My name is Taiyo Josho. Captain Taiyo Josho,” he sat in Sozokujin’s office, staring into the camera’s bleeping light.

“I was never part of a Coven. Father only made brief connections with Yuugen before my mother died. After that we both fled to Concordia and built Shoki once The God of Chaos gave us permission to do so. I’ve lived there practically my whole life and have no other reason for being there. I’m Matched with Tsuki. But as you know, he’s currently resting up in your infirmary.”

Kanagawa, Japan. 2021, September

Yumi settled a tray upon the table in front of Aisu.

The Chairwoman was absent for a moment, eyes wide and void of emotion as usual. She spoke with Sozokujin regarding the newcomers and what their upcoming plans were, leaving Yumi to take a temporary break and relax – even if it was spent making tea. The clinking of the teapot spout against the china cups was a pleasant chime and Yumi smiled softly, backing away from The Mistress and her vice-chairman.

Kiba was waiting for him in the doorway when he turned. Their eyes met and Kiba forced a smile, motioning him over.

“Yo, sis said you wanted to see me?”

“Ah…” Yumi blinked his mismatched eyes and felt his throat bubble. He was far enough from Aisu and Sozokujin to not be heard when he reached for one of the stacked chairs. “You might wanna sit down.”

“Nah, thanks. I’ll stand.” Kiba replied slowly. His smile was not forced, unlike Yumi’s. “What do you need, man? You’re acting kinda… well, not Yumi-like.”

“I’m just – I mean. This isn’t easy, Kiba.” Yumi paused, running his fingers through the ends of his ponytail laying across his shoulder. He was never nervous and he never fiddled with his hair. Dire circumstances called for dire tics. “Look-”

As if luck were on Yumi’s side, a knock came to the open door and both men moved looked over to find one of their newest guests from Concordia. Her green eyes flickered between them and she pulled her lips back into a thin line.

“I can come back later…”

“No, no.” Yumi piped up. He moved, gesturing towards himself and Kiba. “Please, we’re here to listen to anything you may request.”

“Right, okay.” The young woman tucked her hair back behind her ear and she cleared her throat. “I’m, um… My name’s Juden Furu.”

“Yeah, we saw the log video that Sozokujin made.” Kiba grunted, moving his attention from Yumi and over to Juden. “Name’s Kiba Zasshuken and that’s Yumi.”

Yumi clicked his tongue. “I can introduce myself, thank you.” He bowed his head. “Yumi Yajirushi. Tell me, Miss Furu, what may we do for you?”

“Well,” Juden took a step back. Miss didn’t suit her. Even these guys could surely see that. “Some of us. My people. They wondered if they could have a celebration? As in like a meal, music, and general cheering. It’s a traditional thing we did in Shoki, like whenever we got back from a run. We would always celebrate in the tavern back in town. But I also understand if it’s too much trouble.”

“I don’t see why not.” Yumi exchanged glances with Kiba, dismissing his friend’s wary eyes. “We’ll begin the preparations right away.”

“Really?” Juden’s eyes turned hopeful. “Ah! Thank you. I’ll tell the others right away.”

Kiba waited until she had left before turning back to Yumi. “You sure that was a good idea?” He grumbled, crossing his arms over his chest.

“Why not?” Yumi shrugged, moving to pull the Council room’s door shut. “They’re lost and need a little reassurance. The least we can do is give them something to look forward to.”

“Soft as always.” Kiba sighed. He unlaced his arms and moved, clapping a hand against Yumi’s shoulder. “But hey, that Juden’s cute, right? Maybe you should ask her out or something? You could do with a little company.”

“I’m not really interested.” Yumi was thankful his back was to Kiba. The expression he wore was one of momentary sourness, lips pulled back into a grim line. “Kiba, look. I really need to tell you something.”

“I hear ya, bud. But maybe we should save it for later, yeah? I mean, if you wanna pull this party for these people tonight, we’re gonna have to start planning now.” Kiba grinned. “Hey, maybe we should hold it in the cafeteria, yeah? Spruce it up a little? It’s big enough. I’ll meet you down there!”

There was barely a moment’s notice for Yumi to intervene before Kiba turned on his heel and pressed down the hall. It was nice to see him motivated for once; even if it meant Yumi had less chance of opening up sooner than later.

“Yeah,” Yumi sighed. “Meet you there.”

Interview, Yuugen. 2021, September

“Name’s Kaze Hinshi.” He wasn’t great at interviews – before Concordia, he would always blabber and say something stupid in front of authority. It was a wonder how he ever managed to apply for Taiyo’s squad. He also didn’t like the way Sozokujin stared down her nose at him whenever he paused to shuffle on the armchair and gather himself before speaking again.

“I was part of The Glutton’s Coven. My cousin and I were on a cruise with our family when he got ill, so I was never transferred to Mad Dog’s Coven. Fucking prick. Anyway, when I came back to Japan, The Glutton was dead and a whole bunch of students from Yuugen were bailing to get away from the Council drama. So, I went to Concordia with them on the train.”

Sozokujin raised a brow. “And your Match?”

“He’s called Mada Kaizai.” Kaze slumped down the back of his armchair. “And I’m getting real sick and tired of this shit-”

Kanagawa, Japan. 2021, September

“… How was Chikyu able to create such a large portal?” Tsuki rolled onto his side, fingers flexing towards the source of warmth beside his bed.

After Taiyo had finished his interview with Sozokujin, he had been adamant to stay in the infirmary until Tsuki woke. The stress from leaving Concordia had been playing so long in their minds that the thought of crossing the barrier had been something of a distant dream. Now that they were here, the weight on their shoulders had been lifted and even Tsuki could see the fatigue written across Taiyo’s face when he reached out to hold his hand.

“I have no idea.” Taiyo grunted, pulling Tsuki’s hand to his face and pressed a small kiss against the soft skin. He sighed, pressing his check against the cold fingers. “I thought I might never see you again.”

“That’s sweet.” Tsumi hummed, raising his hand from Taiyo’s face to run his short nails through the messy tufts of auburn hair. “So… what’s the plan now? Do we stay here, or do we leave once everyone’s recovered?”

Before Taiyo could open his mouth, the infirmary door was pulled and Chikyu stepped through. She had a face of uncertainty and slumped against the chair across from Taiyo, on the opposite side of Tsuki’s bed. She crossed her arms and sunk down; legs stretching out beneath the bed. It had been the first time in years since the three of them had been in the same room and déjà vu was beyond appropriate.

“I do not care for this world all that much.” Chikyu muttered, staring holes in the floor.

“You’re taking it better than I thought you would.” Tsuki smiled, turning over to lay on his back. He shuffled, moving against his cracked rib to lean against the head of his bed. “I was sure you would have thrown a fit and gone around knocking heads together by now!”

“Yeah, well, only certain Sorcerers can use their powers outside the Void’s barrier. I happen to be one of many who cannot. Thus, I am unable to accomplish anything but this bitter expression.” Chikyu clicked her tongue sharply. “But I suppose causing havoc would only cause unnecessary situations, so I have decided to remain calm and composed until I find a reason to go berserk. Besides, this is not the end of Concordia. I could easily reopen the barrier and start anew within my state of mind.”

Taiyo leant forward in his chair. Whatever fatigue may have been plaguing him had gone. He was serious again. Tense. “You’re suggesting that you’ll remake the Void from scratch?”

“Merely a thought.” Chikyu rolled a shoulder. “My father’s powers were naturally greater than mine. The least I could do is create a world where Sorcerers and Familiars can use their powers and be themselves without ducking away from the media in the Dabbler world.”

“But… isn’t this a better way?” Tsuki spoke up. “I mean, without spells and destruction, no-one will get hurt and we won’t have to end up as bad guys anymore. We can help make this a regular school for gifted children and never have to use Magick where someone may get hurt. At least it’ll be limited here.”

Chikyu hissed through her teeth. “It’s never going to be that easy, Tsuki. You know that.”

Tsuki did know that. He just wished he didn’t. He wished life could be easy, long, and not filled with possible death and destruction every which way he turned. It was an honest relief to his thoughts when the door opened yet again and Juden stepped over the threshold.

“Ah, Furu,” Taiyo nodded, leaning back in his chair. Even he was grateful for the intrusion and a chance to rest his mind of what ifs. “Everything alright?”

“Everything’s fine. I just wanted to see how Tsuki was doing and, ah, tell you all that I’ve asked permission to have a celebration later this evening. The kind of celebration we used to have at the Tavern.” Juden hovered in the doorway, eyes flickering between Taiyo, Tsuki and Chikyu. There was a certain atmosphere not even she had the courage to break.

“I dunno where they’ll be holding it for us, but I’ll come back and tell you when I find out, okay?”

Taiyo smiled. It was soft enough to send the vibes straight to Tsuki and even Chikyu may have curved her lips upward; all at the idea of a carefree celebration which they all very much deserved.

“Thank you, Furu.”

Interview, Yuugen. 2021, September

“Kaizai… Mada Kaizai.” The whirling of the fan in the room was something of a pleasantry in comparison to the stuffy atmosphere. Mada shuffled, tugging the oversized hoodie he had been given down over his hands. “I was part of Mad Dog’s Coven. I left after he died and went to Concordia. I met my Match in the Void. Kaze Hinshi.”

Kanagawa, Japan. 2021, September

Sozokujin waltzed down the hallway and towards the unmaintained wing where the cafeteria was tucked away beside the stairway. She had intended to go up when the sounds of movement, scraping and bangs echoed down the hall. She merely approached the cafeteria with a cautious step, raising a brow when she reached the open doors.

Kiba was busy moving chairs around and only stopped when the sounds of Sozokujin’s heels clicked, redirecting his attention. He mentally cringed when the sight of papers and clipboard in Sozokujin’s hands caught his attention and he dropped the stack of chairs down at a nearby table before walking over, sleeve wiping the trickle of sweat on his forehead. Clearly he’d been at it for a while.

“What’s up?”

“I think you already know.” Sozokujin replied. She raised her hand and slapped a palm against Kiba’s firm chest, handing over half the paperwork. “You promised me an answer by Saturday regarding the teacher position and now it is Monday. For some reason, I still have yet to receive an answer.”

“Hey, don’t get upset with me. I tend to break a lot of promises I make. It’s nothing personal.” Kiba laughed; forcing the sound as he took the papers from the hand on his chest. He folded them up and shoved them into his back pocket before moving back to the chairs. “C’mon, Sozy, give me a break. I had to go with that little brat and his brother to the Void today. Now I gotta do this. I’ll give you an answer tomorrow, alright?”

Sozokujin rolled her eyes. “What exactly are you doing in here, by the way? I wasn’t aware the cafeteria was open just yet.”

“Oh, right. Well, ugh, the people from Concordia kinda had a tradition of celebration all old-style-like. Apparently they all joined up in a tavern in Shoki and ate food, got drunk and all that.” Kiba explained. “Yumi gave the go ahead and I’m just trying to make the place look nice for them. It’s the least we can do.”

“I see.” Sozokujin turned her attention from the boarded windows and back to Kiba’s face. “Have your party but know that I will be expecting that answer before dawn. The new students will be coming tomorrow, midday, for introduction and I can’t afford to have anyone slack off, understood?”

“Yeah, yeah.” Kiba scoffed, only turning when Sozokujin began walking out of the room. His eyes couldn’t help but wander down her back, watching the flap of her skirt rubbing against her thighs. “Whatever you say.”

Interview, Yuugen. 2021, September

“Meka Ningyo, at your service.” The doll-maker was perhaps the only one who had the courage to look into the camera the whole time. He was flaunting, all smiles and good angles when he winked at the blinking lens. “Sad as it is to say, I was part of The God of Chaos’ Coven, though many of his original followers turned to Concordia many years ago before he left Yuugen. My family was very close to him, you see. I was but a boy when I first came to live in Shoki. And as for my Match, I remain Nameless. Always on the market for anyone new~!”

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