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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2. Noah Gremory

“Caleb! Give it back, it’s mine!” A young boy, at the age of 12 runs around the house, chasing another boy of 15 for his comic. “I’m going to tell mom on you!” The older boy finally stops and turns to face his brother.

“Oh yea?” He holds up the comic and grips it between his hands, as though to rip it in half. “Do it, I dare you.”

Realizing he might lose his comic all together if he tells, the younger boy gives up. “Ok, I’ll let you read it.”

Caleb frowns, and then throws the comic at his brother. “Seriously Noah, you gave up too easy. I was testing your strength. You can’t let someone get over on you with petty threats, you have to be a man now, you’re turning 12 today after all.” He grabs Noah in a headlock, ruffling his hair until he’s dying of laughter.

“Caleb quit it! That’s so annoying. If you weren’t going to rip it, why’d you pretend like you would?”

“Like I said, I was testing you. You have to learn to stick up for yourself and fight back. You’ve spent your whole life letting people walk all over you. Why do you think you get bullied at school so often? It’s because the other kids can tell you’re an easy target who won’t fight. When someone pushes you, you push back.”

“But I don’t want to hurt them. Violence isn’t a good thing, I don’t like it. Even if I get hurt, I won’t do it.”

“Well then you’re always going to get bullied then and I can’t always be there to look out for you. You idiot.”

“Now Caleb, don’t say things like that to your brother. I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all. Violence is bad.”


A woman with blond hair tied up in a bun and pretty green eyes walks into the living room holding a tray of cookies and milk. Caleb looks up at her in dissatisfaction, while Noah looks at the cookies; mouth salivating.

“I’m not trying to encourage him to be violent mom, I just want to make him stick up for himself better. He lets others bully him without saying anything and I hate seeing it, but not being able to stop it. It’s not right.”

The woman looks at her son, with his chestnut hair and eyes, in admiration. “I understand it’s frustrating to see the ones you love be mistreated, but sometimes the best thing you can do for them is leaving them be. I don’t like the idea of Noah being bullied either, but I can’t possibly go to the school every time someone mistreats him can I? If I did that, he’d never learn. I believe when the time is right, Noah will know when he must fight back. You should trust his judgement, that’s also part of being a man is it not? Trusting in others?”

Caleb can do nothing but simply sigh. He knows she’s right, though it still frustrates him to no end. “Yes mom.”


She ruffles his hair with a smile and then turns to Noah, ruffling his grey hair. “Now, I think you’d like some cookies wouldn’t you Noah?” The young boy shakes his head vigorously. “Ok then, go ahead. Caleb you too.”


 

She watches as her two boys devour those chocolate chip cookies as they engage in playful banter and she can’t help but feel emotional. Before she’s realized it, she feels water dripping down her cheeks, startling her.

Noah looks up to see her tears and concerned asks, “Mom, why are you crying? Are you sad?”

She smiles as she wipes her tears away and says, “Don’t worry sweetheart, I’m not sad. I was just thinking about how much I love seeing you two like this. I just wish we could always be like this. That’s all.”

“Well you have nothing to worry about then because we’ll always be together like this, right Caleb?”

“Yeah of course, until I go off to be an enforcer of course. Oh, but I’ll still visit and stuff, so it’ll be fine mom.” She just smiles at their optimism. She’s happy, but somehow she can’t seem to shake her feeling of unease.

Caleb plays with his new Gamer Man Pro handheld as Noah reads his favorite comic, The Adventures of Steel Man and rests his head on Caleb’s chest. In the kitchen, their mother starts preparing dinner for tonight. She’s decided to go all out in honor of Noah turning 12, which she thinks is a very special age. He doesn’t know, but she’s managed to get the whole district involved in the celebration. It’s been 12 years since Noah was placed at her doorstep and she still can’t thank that person enough. She had only just lost her husband months before and felt so empty, despite having Caleb. But then that night came when she took Noah in, cold and alone and she felt as though she had a purpose again. She has never really been able to explain it, but she can just tell that Noah is a very special boy and is going to be someone great. When she thinks of this, she can’t help but feel special too. To feel that she raised such an amazing person all on her own, it really is a wonderful feeling.

There’s a knock at their door and before she has to ask, Noah opens it to see Mr. Stinson, Tekisu’s chief enforcer. When he sees Noah he smiles and says in his brash voice, “Hello there Noah, is your mom home?”


“Yes Sir, she is, would you like me to get her for you?”

“If you wouldn’t mind, yes please.”

“No problem!” He runs inside the kitchen as he calls out, “Mom, Mr. Stinson is here!”

“Ok, you don’t need to shout.” She walks out to greet him. “Rodney hello, how are you today?”

“Oh, not too bad. It seems you’re doing pretty well Maggie, I hope your boys aren’t wearing you out too much.”

“No, not at all. They’ve been darlings. How’s your Dina and little Rachel doing?”

“They’re just fine, thanks for asking. Though Dina’s getting in that rebellious phase, drives Margaret crazy.”

“I can imagine. Well, that’s teenagers for you, I’ve had my share of that already with that one over there.” She points at Caleb, he doesn’t even notice. “See, he doesn’t even notice me mocking him. Noah’s a doll though.”

“Well, it’s normally like that. You always get one who’s more rambunctious than the other. It’s just life.”

“That’s for sure. So what can I help you with Rodney?”

“Actually, it’s something I like to discuss privately, would you mind stepping out for a moment?”

“No, not at all.” She turns to Noah. “Watch that pot for me. If it starts to boil over, have Caleb turn it off.”

“Ok mom, I will.” She pats his head and then walks out with Mr. Stinson. Once they’re gone, Noah runs over to Caleb. “Hey, is Mr. Stinson dating Mom?” Caleb ignores him, continuing his game. “Hey Caleb, hey!”

He scrunches his face and glares at Noah as he tosses down his game. “Dammit Noah, you made me lose.”

“Sorry, I didn’t mean it. I-, hey you said a curse, that’s not good. I won’t tell mom, but you shouldn’t.”

“Dammit isn’t a curse you goody two shoes. What did you want anyway? I bet it was something stupid.”

“I asked if Mom and Mr. Stinson were dating. I mean, I know he and Misses Stinson were together, but Rachel said her dad moved out to live with Mr. Carter because he was cheating. You don’t think mom is the one right?”

“Oh come on, do you really think mom would do that? She hasn’t been with anyone since my dad died, so I’m sure she needs to get laid, but I’m positive she’s not and definitely not with Rat-Face Stinson, he’s a loser.”

“Hey, that’s not a nice thing to say about someone and you said another curse word!” Caleb just rolls his eyes.
 

    # (Outside the Gremory Home, South Sector, Tekisu District)
 

“Oh dear, are you certain?” Maggie covers her mouth in horror as Rodney explains the situation.

“Yes, unfortunately. There’s no doubt about it, she was murdered. No, more like brutalized. Not only was she beaten, but her insides were taken out as well. What’s stranger though, is that we can’t find them.”

Maggie has to hold back her gags. “That’s just appalling, who would do such a thing? They took her organs?”

“Yes, but it’s not like they took them out in a way that they wanted to preserve them, in fact it’s more like they ripped them out of her. There were even bits and pieces left along with the blood. It’s like an animal did it.”

“Well, perhaps it really was an animal? What makes you believe it has to be human?”

“We examined the body and there were human hand marks on her shoulders and neck, likely from the abuser holding her down and suffocating her. Also, her body cavity was opened with fingers and hands, not teeth as there were no jagged edges.”

“Goodness! If it’s as you say, then wouldn’t that mean it could only be…it can’t be can it?”

He nods. “That’s exactly what we think, though we’re still trying to figure out how it’s possible. As you know, the modern Junsui demons born of the marked children are basically just superhumans with demonic power and they are well managed at the academy. What we’re seeing here, seems to be that of the Ancient Kusaru, who were true demons and turned into full monsters. From what the historians say though, they’ve been extinct for centuries. So as you can imagine, it’s all quite puzzling and worrisome. Which is why I have to unfortunately cancel Noah’s celebration tonight, since we don’t know what we’re dealing with. It may put our district’s citizens in danger. I know Noah’s going to be heartbroken, but it’s for best. I hope you can understand.”

“Of course! I understand completely and the boys will too. In fact, Noah has no idea this was going on anyway, so it actually works out quite well. I wouldn’t want to risks my boys’ safety. We’ll just make it a night in.”

“Thank you, I really appreciate your cooperation. I just hope we can get to the bottom of this before anyone else gets hurt. We’ve been consulting closely with the historians so we can understand what we could be dealing with and we’ve also begun enlisting the help of the Karyuhdo who have graduated to track it, if it is Kusaru.”

“Well I really hope they catch whatever it is quickly. We’ve got a pretty safe community here in Wakaba, minus a few trouble makers of course, I’d like it to remain that way, for the safety of my boys, you know?”

“I completely understand Maggie, which is why I will do everything in my power to catch this monster.”

“Thank you Rodney we really appreciate all the hard work you do for our community. You keep us safe.”

Rodney blushes. “Aww shucks Maggie, don’t flatter me so much.” He’s silent for a minute. “You know I’ve…”

      # (Gremory Family Home, South Sector, Tekisu District) 

Back at the house, Noah is attempting to stir the pot that was boiling. He just barely can see over the tall pot, but he doesn’t want to ask Caleb for help since he’s so absorbed in his game. He thinks he’s doing quite well, but suddenly his arm touches the hot pot, making his hand flick back in reflex, knocking the pot over towards him. He falls to the ground and almost as though in slow motion, he sees the hot contents of the pot falling over his face. He screams as he puts up his hands, prepared for the boiling liquid to fall on him, but somehow it doesn’t happen. He opens his eyes and he sees both the pot and its liquid suspended in midair, like it’s frozen in time. He looks up, stunned at what’s happening. Am I doing this somehow? He wonders to himself.

“Yo, what are you doing in-?” Caleb stops mid-sentence when he sees Noah lying on the ground as a pot and food float above him. “What the hell?” He stares in astonishment, unable to believe what he’s seeing.

Noah finally finds the strength to move himself from under the items, and just as he’s clear, they fall to the ground, making a loud crash. “I think I just did magic.” Caleb just looks, unsure of what to say.


                                    # (Outside the Gremory Home, South Sector, Tekisu District)


“Rodney, I’m flattered, really, but I’m not really looking for a relationship and you still have things to work out with Margaret. I think we should just stay friends for now. Who knows what could happen in the future tho-.” Just then, they heard a loud crash and Noah yell out. “Oh my goodness, Noah!” She runs back to the house.
       
         # (Gremory Family Home, South Sector, Tekisu District)

 
“Dude that was not magic! I’m not sure exactly what it was, but that’s not some magic trick. That was kind of like Steelman type stuff right there. Or maybe more like…wait Noah, what if you a-.”

“What going on in here!” Maggie runs into the kitchen to see Noah lying on the floor and the mess on the floor. “Noah, are you hurt? You were trying to stir the pot again by yourself weren’t you? I told you to ask Caleb.”

“Sorry mom, I didn’t mean to ruin dinner. But you know, I just did something really cool. I made the pot-.”

“Mom, I’m really sorry, I should’ve been watching him better. I take responsibility.” Caleb interjects, in the attempt to prevent Noah from saying what happened. If it is as he thinks, he doesn’t think it’s a good idea to bring it up in front of Mr. Stinson. “I’ll clean it up for him, ok?”

Maggie is slightly surprised by his unusual sense of responsibility, but decides to take it while she can. “Ok, I appreciate that. I’ll see Rodney out then.” She begins walking out to the foyer, looking at Rodney. “Shall we?”

He looks at Noah in curiosity, but then follows Maggie out after saying, “Good day boys, take care now.”

Noah looks at Caleb in confusion. “Why’d you cut me off from telling mom what happened?”

“Because you idiot, what do you think could happen if Mr. Stinson heard you? He might be suspicious.”

“Suspicious of what? Did I really do something so strange?”

“Well yeah, you just levitated stuff! That’s not normal bro. I just thought about it before mom came in actually. I think you might be a Junsui or something. But its weird cause normally only marked kids can be them.”

“Junsui? Wait, is that the demon people mom told us about once? I thought they lived in the academy?”

“Well yea, the Junsui of the marked children do, but there used to be others you know. Well, I guess you wouldn’t know actually, but we learned about it in history this year. There used to be Ancient Junsui who-.”

“Are you telling your brother those horror stories again? I told you not to do that Caleb.” Maggie looks at him sternly as if to say, “don’t tell him about that” and Caleb gets the message. “Now, how about you clean up?”

Caleb says nothing more and gets started on cleaning up the mess. Noah looks at them in confusion, he feels like there is something they aren’t telling him, but he gets the feeling he shouldn’t ask right now. So instead he helps Caleb clean up, since it was his mess after all. Maggie leaves them to it as she reflects on what she’d heard. I pray that no monsters find their way to our home. She tries to forget everything and gets on with dinner.

    # (From the shadows in the distance, two figures look out over the house, quietly keeping watch.) 

“Can I kill him yet? Huh mama, can I? I really want to kill him now. I want taste his blood, like that girl.”

“Patience Judas. You have to give him a chance to catch up to you for a fair fight.  He is your brother after all.”

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