Hey, guess who's back? To those of you who have waited patiently for this next chapter to come out, thank you very much for waiting patiently! I am very sorry for making you all wait over a month and a half for this. Anyways, on with the chapter!
"Man, I wonder where that Flame Haze went." Touma mumbled under his breath as he walked along the busy streets of Academy City. "She's trying to observe me, but she ditches me in the middle of the day."
The slowly dimming, yellow sky shined down on Touma as he made his way towards his dorm room. As Touma got closer and closer to the dorm building, he noticed the figure of a person silently laying right next to the building. With every step he took, Touma could make out more of what the figure looked like. She appeared to have been a young girl with long, dark black hair, she looked to have been around the age of eleven or twelve. She also had had...banged up clothes, and numerous injuries.
Then, it sank in. Earlier that day, Touma had seen a large, black-ish red orb containing a certain part of the city, which he assumed to have been a Fuzetsu.
There was nobody else this could have been than the Flame Haze who had been observing him; the Flame-Haired Burning-Eyed Hunter.
Touma ran towards the girl.
"Don't come!" She shouted, her hair still buried in the ground.
Touma quit running as he was commanded to. Something had happened. Something bad.
"Hey, are you alright? Who did this?" Touma asked.
"Leave me alone!" The Flame Haze snapped.
"...It's your fault."
"What's my fault? C'mon let's go back to my dorm room."
Touma began to approach the Flame Haze again, despite her telling him not to come. He reached down towards the girl with his right arm to help her up. But, his arm was smacked away by the Flame Haze's.
"Hey! What was…"
Touma found his voice trailing off after seeing the girl's expression. Her eyes pierced him like an arrow. Her brows were furrowed, and the damage from the battle earlier that day just added to the look of anger on the girl's face.
For a reason Touma couldn't understand, the Flame Haze was infuriated. And somehow, he was the source of her anger.
"It wasn't my imagination, after all."
In the dimly lit room containing the exact replica of Academy City, Friagne kept watch of the torches wandering the streets of the city. Particularly, the ones which were just barely still lit. Keeping watch, he noticed that one by one, these torches would fade away out of nowhere, even if there was still a little time before they ran out.
"Someone's been erasing the torches that I've strategically placed." He said, a hint of annoyance in his voice.
"Could it be…?" Marianne, who was floating above the replica of the city, turned around, locking eyes with her master.
"No, this isn't being done by a Flame Haze." Friagne quickly disregarded their possibility. "If they were doing this to lure me out, they'd be erasing larger numbers. Besides, I don't think even the Flame Hazes know that we're using torches for out plan."
Marianne turned herself around midair and levitated over towards her master, spreading her arms open. In response, Friagne also spread his arms open, and embraced Marianne once she had been close enough with a hug.
"Don't worry, Marianne. I won't let anyone get in the way. No matter who our opponent may be. No matter what."
As Friagne made his promise to the Rinne, he took notice of yet another torch disappearing. He made a face of anger at this, before returning his focus on Marianne, carefully stroking her back to comfort her.
That next morning, as Touma exited out of his room, he took notice that the Flame Haze, who had previously waited for him as he got ready for school, was nowhere to be seen. This was how things would normally be. If Touma had never found himself trapped inside that Fūzetsu, if he hadn't gotten involved in the world of Flame Haze and Crimson Denizens, he wouldn't have to expect to see someone waiting outside his room for him as he got ready. This was how things should be.
And yet, it gave Touma a sense of loneliness. Like he had lost something precious to him.
Touma didn't need any confirmation that this had something to do with whatever transpired last night. The Flame Haze looked to have been in great pain, and for some reason, he was the reason behind her pain. That realization left Touma feeling miserable. But, he swallowed those emotions, and continued on his way to school.
While Touma was walking along the busy early morning streets of Academy City, Margery Daw, who had engaged in battle with the Flaming-Haired Burning-Eyed Hunter, was currently walking along in one of Academy City's alleyways.
"Given how I beat her up, I don't imagine we'll be seeing that Burning-Eyed brat for a while." Margery said, not acknowledging the fact the Mystes had stepped in at the last second.
"Yeah. Now we just need our main dish, the corpse collector. Let's find him quickly and chew him apart!" Marchosias said before letting out another one of his laughs.
"Like always, let's find someone who knows the city to show us around." Margery said.
"A young, fresh one to your lustful likings!"
"Quiet. Stupid Marco."
As Margery began walking in the alleyway again, only a couple steps short of walking into the city's open streets. However, before Margery exit out of the alleyway, she took note of two girls, presumably around the age of twelve or thirteen that walked right past the alley before Margery herself left the alley.
The girl on the right hand side appeared to have stood around 5'3". She had lengthy black hair with a small white flower on the side of her head. She also had blue eyes. The girl on the left hand side was a bit shorter than the girl beside her, standing at 5'0". Like the other girl, she had black hair, only hers was much shorter, only running down to the bottom of her neck. The girl also had a headband made of artificial flowers, and golden brown eyes.
The two were already fully into a conversation; the one with longer hair appeared to have been much more passionate about what they were talking about. From the glimpses of the conversation Margery heard, she noticed they had been talking about some kind of urban legend about someone dubbed the Shadow Guardian. Apparently, this Shadow Guardian person was someone who protected Academy City from any danger; whether it be crazy scientists, rogue espers, or any other kind of threat to the city.
Margery was about to just turn off and disregard the girls completely, but one of the two suddenly said something that just so happened to peak her interest.
"I hear they can even stop time!"
Now, anyone who was even remotely involved with the conflict between the Flame Haze and Crimson Denizens would know the correct term would be Fūzetsu; it was common knowledge. But, even though these two girls hadn't had a clue about the Crimson Realm, they at least had a basic understanding of some things connected to the realm.
"Those two will do." Margery said, making up her mind.
"Hey, hey! I didn't know you swung that way! Plus, they're a little young even for you, aren't they?"
Marchosias was about to burst into another one of his laughs, but was quickly interrupted by Margery, who punched the front of his cover.
"Shut up, stupid Marco."
Meanwhile, Touma was in one of his makeup classes, staring out the window, which his seat was right next to. Not having the Flame Haze there, peeking at him in class through the window made him feel oddly...bitter. He's been feeling like that the whole day. Was the bond the two shared really that strong for him to feel this way without her by his side? Or was the feeling one sided, with the Flame Haze only seeing him as someone who could potentially be an asset to her during her mission?
Touma's thoughts were interrupted by his two comrades of the "loser-trio," approaching him, saying, "Hey, Kami-Yan!"
Touma averted his gaze from the window and looked towards the two. He at first wondered why they'd got up out of their seats just to approach him, but then remembered what time it was; lunch time.
"Hey, what's up, Kami-Yan? You've been pretty down today." Tsuchimikado spoke first.
"Maybe it's because his stalker hasn't been around all day!" Aogami quickly followed up with the usual shit eating grin on his face.
"Ah, that must be it! Kami-Yan finally began to enter his popular years, only for the possibility to slip right out of his hands!"
Great. The last thing Touma needed right now was for someone to rub the fact in his face, even if they had referred to her as a stalker rather than...well, he didn't know her name, but that still didn't change how he'd felt in the moment.
With a sigh, Touma simply replied with, "Damn, you two are awful."
"Therefore, you two will be helping us search this city to find the Denizen!" Marchosias followed the end of the explanation up with one of his ever so famous bursts of laughter.
"Understood?" Margery turned back towards the girls, both of which nodded. "Good."
Margery had managed to convince the two girls to show her around, and while they were at it, Margery also explained to them details of the Crimson Realm.
As the continued walking, the long-haired girl, whose name was Saten asked, "So, um, what exactly do you want us to do?"
"Let's see…" The Flame Haze spoke. "For now, just answer my questions. You two are from this city, right?"
"Well, we both moved here while we were young, so we might as well be." Saten said, putting her hands on the back of her head.
Margery then went on with her next question, asking, "Have there been any major incidents or accidents in the city lately? Anything unusual happen?"
"Well, there's always bound to be an incident involving an esper who's up to no good." The other girl who was known as Uiharu said.
"I see." Margery spoke before turning away from the girls and looking up into the sky.
I have a bad feeling about this city. Margery thought.
For a long while, the three continued walking along the city streets, with Margery continuing to ask them questions about the city. But, as time passed, and Margery was just getting to asking them where they thought she'd be able to find a large sum of Torches (which she had explained to them), she noticed a large, dark red orb appear just in front of her. A Fuzetsu had been cast.
Of course, neither Saten or Uiharu could see the Fuzetsu, so they couldn't notice the area painted red.
"A pure white flame…" Margery spoke, a smirk appearing on her face.
"Hey, hey, could it be…" Marchosias said.
"Hunter Friagne." Margery spoke.
"You guys, wait here for a little bit." Margery commanded the two before going in the direction of the Fuzetsu to face off against Friagne.
It didn't take long for Margery to make her way inside the Fuzetsu. As soon as she landed down, she opened Marchosias, his pages quickly flipping.
"Chanter of Elegies, Margery Daw. And Claws and Fangs of Violation, Marchosias."
Margery turned herself around to face the owner of the voice. As she'd expected, Friagne came floating down, his white ribbons floating around him.
"Hunter Friagne." Margery smirked as she spoke.
"So you're the newly arrived Flame Haze. I doubt it, but are you the ones who have been getting in my way?" Friagne asked.
"I don't know what you're talking about. I'm only getting ready to kill you now."
"I see." Friagne smiled, putting his right index and middle finger on the top of his forehead. "The it seems the tasteless intruder has gotten away."
"Who would've guessed the Hunter would be after him as well?"
"Never mind. I don't really have time to waste with a Tool of Destruction...but, I guess it's not a bad idea to kick away some stones before I trip.
Margery's teeth clenched together. She wasn't going to let Friagne get his hands on the one she had been after. A circle of purple flames appeared at Margery's feet as she held her Grimoire wide open.
"How dare you even think of touching my prey! Ready to be chewed apart?"
"Although we'll chew you apart whether you're ready or not! Hohahahahaha!"
Despite the Flame Haze preparing to engage in battle, Friagne simply responded with a calm, collected smirk, preparing for the Flame Haze to make their first move.
After his class was over, Touma decided he'd just go straight home. He didn't really have anything to do, anyways.
But, as he was walking, Touma noticed a group of students—they appeared to have been around his age, maybe a year older. One of the students, a young boy with straight blue hair that flowed downwards and eyes of the same colour, had suddenly wisped away.
He was a torch. Touma thought.
As the group of teenagers passed, another figure came into Touma's field of vision. This person appeared to have been an old man, judging by the wrinkles on his face and his grey, fading hair. The old man was wearing a grey hat and coat, a pair of white gloves, and a tie.
But what stood out most was the tiny blue flame he held in his palm.
A Crimson Denizen? Touma clenched his teeth.
Touma took a step back, prepared for a fight to break loose. He clenched his right fist and prepared to make a wild dash towards the Denizen.
The old man suddenly began to approach Touma, which only added to Touma's suspicion of this person.
"Oh? So you can tell." To Touma's surprise, the old man greeted him with a smile rather than an attack. "Do not worry. I have no intention of harming you."
Needless to say, this surprised Touma. The only other Denizen he'd encountered thus far was one that showed no remorse in attacking him and the Flame-Haired Burning-Eyed Hunter, even while he was at school. So even though this was a nice change of pace, Touma remembered to keep his guard up.
"I dislike doing anything to recklessly disrupt the balance of the world." The Denizen said before asking, "Can we talk?"
With no other options available other than running away, which Touma would not do, he reluctantly decided to have a chat with the Denizen.
"Let me introduce myself. I am Lameis, the Corpse Collector." Lamies said as the two walked along the streets of the city. "As you noticed, I am in fact a Denizen of the Crimson World."
"I knew it. You are a Denizen—wait, are you the one responsible for hurting…" Touma pondered on how he'd ask this, since he hadn't even known the Flame Haze's name. "...a Flame Haze girl with long black hair, about 4'7.5"?"
"No, I did no such thing. But first, I introduced myself. Now, may I ask what your name is, young man?" Lamies said as he stopped walking.
"I'm Kamijou Touma."
"Kamijou Touma." The Denizen repeated the boy's name. "You, a normal human, are able to understand the situation you're in, and still remain sane. Quite impressive."
The two continued walking through the city. Lamies then brought the subject of the Flame Haze Touma had mentioned back, asking him if she was the Flame Haze that was by his side so often.
"Well, yeah. I don't really know much about her, though. All I know is she's the Flame-Haired Burning-Eyed Hunter, or something—"
Lamies jumped at the mention of the Flame-Haired Burning-Eyed Hunter, which quite surprised Touma.
"Then I imagine Alastor, the Flame of the Heavens, is also with you."
"Wait, are you two acquaintances?"
"Something like that." Lamies nodded before saying, "I see. The Flame-Haired Burning-Eyed Hunter. Then I Should be able to avoid any meaningless battles."
"Wait, meaningless? But aren't you a Denizen?"
Lamies began to explain to the boy how he does not prey on humans, but only torches. Even then, he only goes after torches which flames are nearly extinguished, hence the name Corpse Collector. He also explained that the body he currently had was also borrowed from a torch to not use up Power of Existence. Touma asked why that was, unsure of why a Denizen would do something like that.
"I have my objectives." Lamies said as he tilted his top hat. "I have devised an Unrestricted Spell that will aid me in my goal. I'm gathering powers of existence necessary to put it into use.
"That is my purpose for living. I would like to see what is to come with these eyes." Lamies said, turning himself back towards Touma. "I'd like to touch it. I'd like to make certain."
"So that's why you target the torches of this city."
Lamies nodded, before explaining to Touma that he hadn't intended on staying in this city for much longer, due to him being pursued by some troublesome people, as well as others not being too pleased with his actions.
Coincidentally, the ones that Lamies was referring to we're just about to get into a battle.
"Now, let's get started!" Margery's body was suddenly surrounded by purple flames as she said, "Let's blast him, Marchosias!"
"Right on!" Marchosias cheered out. "We'll kill them, destroy them, chew them to pieces!"
As the flames surrounding Margery faded away, it was seen that she had transformed into the large werewolf-like creature once again. The werewolf suddenly let out a shout, shooting several purple beams of energy at Friagne. However, as if he had done it a million times already, Friagne casually danced through the air, dodging every single attack that came his way.
"You seem to know who's been eating up my torches."
"I told you, that bastard Lamies is our catch!" Margery shouted before shooting more purple energy beams at Friagne. "You won't get away this time."
And he didn't get away. Instead, Friagne just stayed where he was floating. But, instead of Margery's attacks actually hitting Friagne, they began to spiral around him. This was because of the robe around him, which can deflect incoming attacks.
"Lamies...Lamies the Corpse Collector?"
"If so, what's it to you? In either case, this will…" Margery paused.
"...finish you off!" Marchosias continued.
A beam of purple fire was suddenly fired out of the werewolf-like creature's mouth, aiming straight for Friagne. But, right as it made contact, the beam...vanished?
"My flame repelling ring, Azure!" Friagne shouted aloud as the ring on his finger began to glow.
Suddenly, all the flames circling around him burst into several different pieces, shooting in several different directions. As the light subsided, Friagne saw this as an opportunity to make his escape.
"Running away?" Margery, who was no longer in her werewolf-like form, landed on the concrete below.
"I no longer have the time to play games."
"Don't expect to get away so easily!"
Margery thrust her arm out towards the Denizen, her palm open. Balls of fire rapidly began to come out of her palm and were aimed directly for Friagne. But, thanks to the robe around Friagne, the trajectory of the fireballs curved before they could make contact, keeping him out of harm's way.
Then, Friagne faded off into the darkness of the Fuzetsu, until his body could no longer be seen.
"He eluded our attack!" Margery said before falling on one of her knees. "Damn it!"
Then, the area inside the Fuzetsu returned back to normal, as if nothing had happened at all. People were walking again, cars were driving again, and the cleaning robots were cleaning again.
"You've told me what I've wanted to know. I guess it's goodbye now." Lamies said.
"What is it?" Lamies said. "Ask me a question, and I shall repay you for the information you have given me."
"Well, you know Friagne, right? Just what is he up to?" Touma asked the Crimson Denizen.
Lamies began to explain just what Friagne had been planning. Apparently, he was plotting something called the "City Devouring." Every single trace of Academy City's existence will vanish right off the face of the earth. The many scientists in the city, the Espers, Touma, and even the Flame Haze girl, whose name he didn't know. Touma clenched his fist. He wasn't going to allow this to happen. He couldn't.
"Take this information however you will." Lamies said before making his departure from Touma.
Finally, after a month and a half, here's the fifth chapter! How did you like it? Sorry if some parts weren't as well written or if some characters acted kind of OOC. I needed to get some things sorted out and it kind of got in the way of my writing this, but it's here now!
Anyways, that's it for now. FHW, out!