Trials of the Junsuikaoni: Beginnings (Book 0)

Noah Gremory never wanted much out of life and has always enjoyed living humbly with his mother and older brother Caleb in their small textile district of the Wakaba Prefecture. You can say his life is nothing other than ordinary with the exception of just one thing…he lives in a post-apocalyptic world of demons. 450 years after the end of the “Cursed War” of the Junsuikaoni demons, which took the lives of billions and destroyed most of the planet, the world has been reborn, but the threat of the Junsuikaoni still remains, leading to a strict system of control for those afflicted. Noah never paid much mind to these things, as it had nothing to do with him, or so he thought. However, on the day of his 12th birthday, something changes in him. This leads to a series of events that propels Noah into the center of this world of demons that he doesn’t really understand and sets him on his path of destiny. Will Noah come out of this journey unscathed or will he succumb to the darkness?

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12. Every Ending Leads to a New Beginning and Thus, The Hands of Fate Turn

After hours of partying and taking advantage of everything their new living quarters had to offer, everyone scattered around and fell asleep. However, Noah wakes up when he hears Lili’s voice.

“Mai?” He peeks over to where they have fallen and sees Lili hunched over Mai, trying to get her attention. “Mai, are you asleep? I have to go to the bathroom.” She doesn’t respond, probably due to being in a very deep sleep. Even if it’s on the floor, this carpeted room is likely more comfortable than those beds in their cells ever were, thus this is likely the best night of sleep they’ve all gotten in a while.

Finally realizing that she wasn’t going to get up, Lili gave up. She sat back and seemed to contemplate if she’d just hold it or bite the bullet and go alone. Several minutes pass and Noah can see her start to squirm, she’s obviously reaching her limit. Just when he’s sure she’s going to relieve herself right there on the floor, she finally jumps up and hurries to the bathroom in her room. Noah decides to take this rare opportunity where she’s separated from Mai to take care of that mental note he made earlier.

Lili comes out of her bathroom and tries to quickly get back to Mai, but just before she reaches the door, someone grabs her from behind. She tries to scream, but they cover her mouth with their hand. She struggles, trying to break free, but they’re too strong and so feeling defeated, she simply gives up, going limp and letting them do as they please, as tears stream down her face. “Giving up so soon?” Her eyes go wide as she recognizes the voice, it’s Noah. “I’m a bit disappointed, I thought you’d put up a better fight than that. I’m going to let you go, but please don’t scream.” He releases her and she gasps.

“What…what are you doing? Why did you do that? That wasn’t funny.” Fresh tears stream down.

Well, good thing I wasn’t trying to be funny.” He sees her eyeing the door and being a step ahead of her, he shuts it and stands in front, blocking her only escape route. “We need to talk a bit, would you?”

“It doesn’t look like I have a choice.” She suddenly begins to unbutton her shirt and starts to lift it over her head. Noah becomes startled and a bit flustered at her actions.

“What are you doing? Stop that!” He grabs her shirt and pulls it down as she struggles to stop him.”

“What are you doing? I can’t take it off if you pull it down like that. I mean isn’t this what you want? You said we need to talk, so I’m saving you the trouble. I’ll just get myself ready for you now.”

“What are you…?” He finds himself very confused by her actions, but then suddenly it all makes sense. She’s probably conditioned to this sort of behavior from when she was being abused. He imagines that the guards probably approached her in a similar way. She thinks that this is the way you “talk”. He starts to let go and back off immediately, but then he thinks that this is the perfect learning opportunity for her though he feels a bit guilty about it since it’s going to require scaring her a bit. However, he thinks it’s the only way to help her get past her fear. He lets go of her shirt and grabs her arms instead, pushing her back and down on the bed. She gasps, caught off guard by his sudden movements. He thinks she’s about to scream, but instead she lies limp and closes her eyes. She’s not even trying to fight back.

“Just do it already! I want to get back to Mai.”  She says this, but her body trembles in fear.

Noah grips her arms tighter and leans down so that he’s closer to her ear. “So, are you saying you want this? If that’s so, then maybe I will have a taste of you. I promise I’ll make you feel really good.”

She trembles more strongly, yet her face remains indifferent, it’s as if her mind is distant from her body.

“I see, so that’s what you do. You let them have their way with you while you drift off into your mind. It makes it a lot easier to handle doesn’t it. I bet you don’t even feel the pain anymore, do you?” She doesn’t respond, or make any movements, she really has disconnected herself. Noah suddenly feels like crying. “Why won’t you fight back? You’re making this really hard for me.” He lets her go and sits up.

Realizing he’s no longer holding her down, Lili returns to her senses and sits up as well. “You aren’t going to do it? I thought that’s what you wanted from me.” She looks extremely confused.

Noah sighs. “Of course not! I was just trying to see how you’d react and you totally failed. Why would you just lie back and take it? Why didn’t you try and fight back? I’m sure you could fend me off.”

“I, I don’t know. I guess I just never thought I could without getting in trouble, so I never tried.”

“That’s no good. You have powers, you should use them. Also, you can’t just wait for Mai to save you.” He sees her look of confusion. “You can’t tell me you don’t realize that you’ve been extremely dependent on Mai. I noticed it from the moment I got here, you never leave her side. That’s why I took this opportunity to squeeze my way in. You stay next to her like she’s your personal guard because she’s the only girl around here that you trust and can feel comfortable around. Am I right?”

“I do rely on Mai, but I’m not just using her to protect me. She’s my friend and roommate, so, of course, I’d stay by her. I never asked her to protect me, she just does. But I like that she does it, it’s not wrong.”

“You say that, but who was the first person you mentioned about wanting to get back to when I was holding you down? You may not have realized it yourself, but you are totally depending on her.”

She frowns and seems like she wants to protest, but after thinking, she finally seems to understand. “Ok, so maybe I do, but is it wrong? Is it that bad to want to have someone you can rely on at all times?”

“No, it’s not wrong. What’s wrong is expecting that person to protect you completely and never protecting yourself. You completely submitted yourself to me. If I had really wanted to hurt you, you’d be in trouble right now. Lucky for you I don’t. Honestly, I wouldn’t have known what to do anyway.”

“You mean you’ve never done it before? You never had anyone you liked?”

Noah turns red. “Well, I mean why would I have? I mean I never really had the chance you know. I was only 12 when I lost everything and my life changed completely. I did have a girl I liked back then, but even if none of that stuff had happened and I was still there with her, I don’t know if I’d have done it yet. I mean at 12, I was just discovering I could even do something like that, so nothing has really changed in these last 2 years. I still have no idea about any of that. Are you saying you do?”

Now Lili turns red. “Of course not! I mean I’ve never had a normal perception on what that all meant since I had that innocence stolen for me so young. But I do know that it’s not supposed to be that way. At least I don’t think it is. I also thought it’d be something really special and sweet and gentle. I always thought it’d be with someone I actually liked. Though I may never get that chance now since I can’t even talk to boys, let alone be touched by them.” She suddenly looks sad.

On instinct, Noah reaches up and touches her face, gently, just like he’d seen a guy do in a movie he watched with Caleb. Lili looks at him and turns as red as a furnace. “You mean like this? I’m touching you right now aren’t I? You’re ok, though, you’re not dying. In fact, you’ve been locked up in this dark room for the last five minutes with a guy, just talking and you’re completely fine right?”

“Tha-, that’s because…it’s you so…I knew you wouldn’t hurt me.” She continues to blush.

“You didn’t know that at first. You only relaxed once I showed you I could be trusted. That just shows that you’re capable of being around men, you just have to convince yourself that it’s ok to do so. I know there will always be men out there who will attempt to take advantage of you as a girl and you should definitely be wary of them. But there are many more guys who are actually very kind and gentle. Guys that would never think of hurting you, like Gunther and Nik and me. I wouldn’t think of laying a finger on you unless you asked me to, have some faith in other guys too ok? Most importantly, respect yourself. Guys will only take what they think they can get, so don’t make it so easy for them to get you.” He suddenly finds himself feeling awkward, so he decides to end his lesson with that. “Ok, well we should probably get back to sleep since I’m sure Tahno has a big day for us tomorrow. I’ll just-.”

As he starts to stand up and drops his hand from her face, he feels a tug at his shirt, pulling him back. “I’m asking you to.” He sees Lili look at him with pleading eyes, as though she’s begging for relief. For freedom from the torment, she’s had to face for so many years. “Show me how it’s supposed to be.” He finally understands what she’s asking for and he feels suddenly nervous, not having the slightest idea of where to start or if he even should. But seeing her pleading eyes that call out to him, he feels something awaken in him, a demon of a different kind and running on instinct he sets it free as he lays her down.

Mai, who has been sitting against the door for quite some time, finally stands up and gives them the privacy they deserve. She lies down on the sofa and closes her eyes, attempting to go back to sleep, but somehow she’s wide awake. She suddenly feels moisture on her cheek and is startled to find that tears have begun to trickle down though she can’t understand why. Her heart feels like it might explode, her stomach feels sick and she’s feeling so many emotions she’s never felt before. There is one emotion she can pick out clearly as she’s felt it too many times and that emotion is none other than betrayal.

###

The next morning, Tahno uses the intercom they didn’t know they had to make an announcement.

“Wake up you delinquents, it’s time to rise and shine! Be dressed and ready in 1 hour. Tahno out!”

“What an annoying guy!” Noah wakes up in his bed, cursing Tahno’s rude awakening. He sits up in his full sized bed to see that he’s got a uniform set on his bed. “When did that get here? Damn creeper.” He stands up, his completely bare body shining in the sunlight that comes through the cracks of the window. He takes a look around his room for the first time. It’s a nicely sized room with a desk, large dresser and master bathroom. It’s a room fit for a king, well at least in their standards. It’s certainly bigger than those prison cells and bigger than the other rooms. He also gets it all to himself, where the others have to share though they probably don’t mind since they all get along with each other. He feels like he got the best deal, though. He thinks back to last night and instantly blushes as he recalls what happened. It was definitely something different, but even better than he’d ever imagine though he can’t help but feel a bit guilty about it, even if she did ask him. He hopes that she wouldn’t think he took advantage of her. Though he’s more scared to consider the actual question, did he take advantage of her? He shakes his head, to rid his mind of the thought, deciding he shouldn’t dwell on it since it probably won’t happen again.

###

Mai adjusts her collar, as Lili showers. She can hear her humming from the bathroom and she finds herself frustrated at the sound and how cute it is, yet she’s on the verge of losing her mind. No matter how much she tries, she can’t help but think back to last night. Even though she didn’t actually hear it, her mind is running wild with visions and sounds of what they might have done and it’s making her go slowly mad. She fumbles once more with the collar, which she can’t seem to fold quite right. “Argh!”

“Need a hand?” Mai jumps, startled by Lili’s sudden interjection. Lili laughs at her reaction.

“Lili.” She tries to control her expression, but she finds that doing so with Lili isn’t easy. “Please do.”

“Sure! Lili stands to face Mai and starts to adjust the collar. These uniforms are the type that have the tall collars that reach up to the mandible and so folding them down is required to make them look proper. “There we go, nice and straight.” She smiles. “Yours is blue? Mine is white. I was hoping we’d match.”

She walks over to her bed and removes the towel from around her as she begins to dress. Mai does her best to remain facing the opposite direction though Lili seems as though she could care less if she sees her or not. “I think they are trying to match our element. I guess that’s why they’re different”

“Oh? I never thought of that. Well, I guess that does make sense. They look pretty nice though right?”

Mai is a bit out of it, so she’s delayed in responding to her comment. “Oh yeah, they’re cool.” That came out sounding a bit more careless than she intended, but she just can’t seem to keep her composure.

“You’re mad at me aren’t you? Are you disappointed in me? Or maybe you’re just ashamed?”

Feeling pained at the sadness in her voice, Mai finally turns around. “No, I’m not! I just….” She’s just what? She wanted to deny it and make her feel better, but if she’s not then why does she feel like this?

“You are. I haven’t known you very long Mai, but even in just one day, I feel like I know you better than anyone else and you can’t hide your emotions with me. I could tell you were angry since we woke up. I know you know what I did last night and you’re disgusted in me right? I guess it makes me cheap.”

“What you did last night isn’t my concern, but I think I know you too and I don’t believe you’d do that so easily. I’m sure you had a good reason and as long as it’s what you wanted, you’re not cheap.”

Lili smiles brightly, as though Mai’s words made her doubt disappear. “I knew you’d understand Mai! I’m so happy!” She runs to her and grabs her hand, catching Mai off guard once again. “You’re still my prince.” Mai becomes flustered and confused, encouraging Lili to elaborate. “You were feeling betrayed right? You probably felt like I abandoned you to go to him, but it’s not like that. I just needed to know how it’s actually supposed to be. Now that I know, I can move forward and grow stronger, but I still need someone to be my support. So will you still be my prince? Will you still protect me?”

Mai suddenly feels as though the wind has just been knocked out of her and her legs feel like putty. She asks herself, why does she have this effect on me? She was angry, she did feel betrayed and Lili was able to guess all of that without her having to say so. With her words, it’s as if Lili has erased all the anger and sadness Mai was feeling and now she doesn’t even care about it anymore. She sees now that Lili is still Lili and she still needs a protector. That’s the duty she swore to do for her and she’s not the type to go back on her word. She wants to believe that there’s a deeper meaning in her words, but she can’t help but feel that at least at this moment, her feelings are not the same as what Mai is feeling for her. But if it means she can at least be by her side at all times, then she’ll play that role. She’ll be her prince. It’s at least the one thing that’s hers. The one thing that only she can do and no one else.

Finding a newfound resolve, Mai takes Lili’s hand and just like a prince would, she kisses it and says, “It would be my greatest honor, my lady.” She puts on a charming smile and Lili blushes,

“You’re such a charmer Mai! But I guess I like that about you. So please don’t change ok?”

           “I will never act in such an unsightly manner again, I promise.” And she really meant it too.

####

An hour later, they are all suited up and ready when Tahno arrives. “Wow, you guys clean up well!” They are all in matching uniforms, with the only difference being the collar colors. Nik has red, Gunther has green, Mai has blue, Lili has white and Noah has gray. He’s actually quite impressed with the design.

“Yea, that’s what happens when you’re young. Thanks for that wake-up call by the way.” Noah scowls.

“Oh, it was my pleasure. Now that you’re all ready to go, what do you say we head to the weaponry?”

“The weaponry? Only those entering the advanced weapons classes get to go there, does that mean…?”

“You guessed it Nik, due to our special circumstances, you all get to enter advanced training early.”

“No way!” Nik is clearly excited. “I’ve been waiting for this day forever!” He’s never been so happy.

“So that means we’ll be picking our weapons today? The weapons that we’ll fight with?”

“Yes Mai, the weapons you choose today will be the weapons you use from now until graduation.”

“I’m gonna choose a katana! Then I can be like a samurai!” Gunther joins in the excitement.

“You’ll need to choose your weapon wisely Gunther. Remember, you’ll be fighting with it. It’ll be your lifeline to using your powers, so you’ll need to choose something that’ll compliment your abilities.”

“Oh, so you mean like something attuned to our elements?” Lili joins in on the discussion.

“Yes, that’s right. There are many weapons to choose from, but probably only one suitable one.”

“Alright, then how about we just head down and have a look rather than discussing it here?” Noah finally speaks, growing tired of the conversation. Tahno just smirks at him.

Alright, Mr. Impatient. We can go now. Just know that you can only pick once, so chose carefully.”

Tahno brings them down to an area that looks like a military base and into the weaponry sector. Once they walk through the doors, there is a chorus of awes, taken aback by the many weapons available.

Well, here we are. If you can dream it, then it’s probably here. Take a look around.” They look around, sifting through the rows and rows of weapons, trying to decide what to pick. “Try looking for a weapon that calls to you. Often times, your weapon really will choose you, as corny as it sounds. You want something that will be easy for you to manage, will take the flow of your element and coordinates with your skills and battle tactics. Don’t just go for what looks cool.”

Nik walks through the aisles looking for a particular item. He’s spent years deciding on what weapon he’d use and he’s certain that it’s the weapon most compatible with him. He goes through several rows and then finally stops, his eyes settling on the weapon that’s even better than what he dreamed of.

Mai and Lili walk through the rows together, browsing the impressive selection. Mai isn’t really seeing anything that catches her eye, but she feels a tug on her arm, indicating Lili has stopped short. “I think I found it, Mai. It’s calling to me.” Mai watches as Lili takes the weapon down and examines it. “Yes.”

“If that’s what you really want, then I guess that’s fine. I don’t know what I want, though. I’m not really seeing any-.” Just as she starts to say that, her eyes go wide and it’s as if she realizes that nothing else would make sense. She grabs her chosen weapon and studies it’s fascinating structure.

“You want that?” Lili isn’t very impressed, but she accepts Mai’s choice. “Ok, if you like it then….”

Gunther tries several weapons out, but none of them feel quite right. He’s almost ready to give up, but then his foot hits something on the ground. “Oooh! I think I found it!” He grabs the weapon and smiles.

Noah is probably the least interested in this process since he doesn’t actually need a weapon to use his abilities. However, Tahno told him that having a weapon was still an important thing even for him. So here he is, browsing like he’s in a shopping mall. He starts to find Tahno and tell him to just give him something, but then something sharp catches his eyes and he smirks. “Well, if I’ve got to have a weapon, then how about we make it an interesting one.” He takes his weapon and meets the others.

Tahno stands in the same spot, as they all return holding their weapons. He gives them all a quick analysis and then with a smirk says, “well these are certainly interesting, but they’ll work. Good job.”

“So, do we get to battle now?” Nik is obviously the most enthusiastic about this whole thing.

“Not quite. You’ve still got a lot to learn about real fighting and maximizing the use of your abilities. Of course with four years to go, you’ll have plenty of time to master these weapons and your skills.”

“Wait, so you’re saying we won’t get to fight any real battles for another four years? No way Tahno!”

“Let me rephrase that. You won’t be fighting any real monsters until after you graduate. You will, however, be battling quite a lot over these next four years. You will begin by battling each other and then eventually you’ll fight other students. There’s also the Battle of the Elementals your final year.”

“That’s nothing! None of the other students will have a chance against me. This is so lame!”

“Don’t underestimate your classmates Nik, you just might be surprised. Never get full of yourself.”

He pouts, no longer even listening to Tahno. “So now what?” Noah asks Tahno.

          “What else? We fight!” He opens a door in the back of the weapons room and it reveals a small arena. “Here we are, your battleground for the next four years. Now, who wants to go first?” He’s got a sinister look on his face as five young teens face what’s sure to be a new chapter of their lives.

###

“So, as you can see, each floor is associated with an element class. The first floor is administrative, where you’ll find all of the staff offices, as well as common areas like the cafeteria, gymnasium, and rec center. The second floor has the fire and earth classrooms and the third has the air and water classrooms. Since your element is water, this will be your classroom and your teacher will be Mrs. Marko. You’ll receive your class schedule on Monday. Any questions?”

A young teen, with jet black hair down their back, looks at President Hiro through a slit in their bangs, the rest of their face is shrouded in darkness by the hair. Their eyes are a striking blue, but they appear to harbor such malice. Hiro can’t help but feel unsettled by their appearance, as he has since they arrived, but he does his best to hide it. The teen finally says, “I think I’ve seen everything I require Mr. President, I just have one question if I may ask? It’s about another student.”

“Of course. I’ll answer what I can. No personal information, however, I can’t share that I’m afraid.”

“Oh don’t worry, it’s nothing of the sort. I was just wondering if I’ll be having any classes with another student here. You see I’ve been waiting such a long time to meet him, so it’s quite exciting for me.”

“Of course. Who is this student if I may ask? Is it someone who shares your element class?”

“No, I’m afraid we’re not alike at all. In fact, you might say we’re opposites, but there’s beauty in that.”

“Right.” He’s starting to become more unsettled by the minute and so he once again asks for clarification. “So, would you mind giving me the name of the student you’re interested in?”

“Oh, I’m so sorry. I’m a bit scatter-brained at times, please forgive me. The student I’m interested in is named Helios of the Lord Cain lineage. Though more directly of Lord Mikael.”

Hiro is completely confused by his words. “I’m sorry, who are you looking for? I’m afraid no students by that name go here. Do you have the last name?”

The new student ponders to themselves for a moment and then has a realization. “Ah, or course! You wouldn’t know him by that name. I’m sorry, I believe he goes by a different name here. A human name. It was, um…darn, it’s on the tip of my tongue. Gremory! That’s it. He goes by the name of Noah Gremory. It’s quite difficult remembering human names I’m not used to.”

Hiro has never been more disturbed by a student than he is now. Human name? Why is he looking for that boy? Subject black? All these questions cycle through his head, but all he says is, “What was your name again? I’m sorry, I’ve seemed to misplaced it. That way I can let Noah know you are here.”

“Oh, so he is here! Wonderful! No need to let him know, I’d much rather meet him when the time is right. But you may know my name, Mr. president. My name is Ouran. Ouran of Tourer Kenai. Very nice to meet you. I’m looking forward to the next four years here.” They give a wicked smile, enough to make Hiro’s blood run cold. Somehow, he fears that he has just triggered a turn of events that will drive their academy into chaos. However, he dismisses this foreboding omen and carries on with the tour.

Known only by the powers that be, there is a shift in the air and a new chapter of the book of destiny is born. The hand of fate is turning and there’s much in store for the young demon named Noah Gremory.

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