The Red Night

It appears without warning

Real, yet unreal . . . another world in another time and space

The monstrous Black Knights attack the young men and women who find themselves there, calling them "fragments"

What is happening?

Why is it happening to them?

Is there an answer at the end of this nightmare?

Prologue:

Satsuki Kakeru had a normal and rather lonely life ever since his sister's suicide six years ago. The one source of light for him until he started going to Rainbow Highschool was his childhood friend Minase Yuka. His life was average, void of anything unusual or interesting. . .

Until he and Yuka were dragged into the Red Night, a spell of a parallel world. There they met Kusakabe Misuzu, an onmyouji sowrdwoman, Hirohara Yukiko, a cheerful girl who took the personality of a cold killing machine, Tajima Takahisa, a pyrokineticist with an extremely heated attitude, and Tachibana Kukuri, a strange mute girl who looks like Kakeru's dead sister. These teenagers joined together, fighting against the Black Knights, dangerous shadows that refer to the friends as "fragments".

After destroying most of the Black Knights, Kakeru and his friends realized that their true enemy was Liselotte, the girl who was sealed away in a pink crystal at the center of the Red Night. Takahisa and Yukiko were already killed, and Kukuri had faded away. Kakeru and Misuzu were forced to fight Liselotte after Yuka threw Yukiko's fragment (the source of the teenagers' powers) at the crystal and broke the seal. They managed to seal Liselotte away, along with the help of Avaritia and Superbia (the remaining Black Knights. Kakeru and Misuzu realized that the Black Knights were only trying to prevent Liselotte from escaping), and Shiori Momono, another girl who possessed a fragment.

After Liselotte was sealed away, life returned to normal. Takahisa and Yukiko were alive once again, although they have no memories of the Red Night. Shiori and Kukuri disappeared without a trace.

Misuzu left to train in the onmyouji arts with her new mentor, Misao Kuskabe (also known as the Black Knight Superbia). She and Kakeru keep in touch through messages, telling each other about life where they are at. Despite his happiness for her, Kakeru began to feel the aftereffects of Misuzu's departure, missing her more than he realized.

"Hmmm. . ." the indigo-haired boy murmured as he swept his unruly shock of hair back. "She's finally replied. . . "

His hand rubbed instinctively against the tan and gold eye-patch that covered his right eye. His uncovered eye, a deep cyan blue, gazed around at the screen as the golden one stared at the underside of the protective piece of cloth.

Interested with what his friend had to say, Kakeru clicked on the message, his maroon uniform's cuff rubbing against the clean desktop. He smiled ever so slightly as he began reading. Misuzu's message sounded just like her, cheerful, polite, and mature. He could just hear her voice, musical and calm, speaking the words of her correspondence into his ear. He smiled again. Before the Red Night, there had only been one source of light for him, his childhood friend Yuka. The short-haired brunette girl with large blue eyes was always happy to help him. And then, when the Red Night happened, he had received a gift among a curse.

His friends.

He had met Kusakabe Misuzu after she killed off the oni (the monsters in the Red Night) that had been threatening him and Yuka. Then they met Yukiko, and then Takahisa, and then Kukuri. They fought together, forming bounds that could not be broken. After the Red Night, they had been forced to part ways, as Kukuri disappeared, and Yukiko and Takahisa had lost their memories after being killed in the other dimension. Only Misuzu stayed, although even that lasted for a brief period of time.

She left a few weeks later, telling him that she was going to return her five demonic swords to her clan. Kakeru was adamant against it; her clan was sure to kill her, since she had destroyed her own father at the age of ten when she pursued the legendary weapons. Misuzu had sighed deeply when he tried to dissuade her, staring up at the ceiling as if it pained her. Her white shirt had been painted a glowing mandarin from the sunset shining through the room, her royal blue skirt flowing like water as her hair flickered like flames.

I've gotten weaker, she had said, turning to him with a rueful smile on her face. I don't think I alone can wield all five. I understand Raikiri means a lot to you, Kakeru, and I'll keep it, just for you. After I return Tachibana Dousetsu Raikiri to you, I'll be leaving for good. This is goodbye, Satsuki Kakeru. We won't be seeing each other again.

He remembered the shocked expression that had burst across his face. Misuzu had smiled gently at that as she reached for her traveling bag, her gloved hand closing around the strap in the same way she had grasped her swords. He remembered running forward, catching her by the arm before she could turn. He tried to dissuade her from her choice, but she, as always, was determined. He finally gave up, offering to accompany her back, just this one last time. Misuzu shook her head, protesting that she couldn't drag him into her dangerous world of revenge and power.

You don't understand, Misuzu. Every since I drank your blood, we've gotten a friendship that no one else understands. I don't want you to leave. You taught me to fight, and because of that, as long as we're together I feel I can do anything.

He could still see the stunned looked that passed over the redhead's features, her amethyst eyes wide and her mouth slightly open, her scarlet hair in the breeze that had drifted in from the open window. Her bag dropped from her grasp as she suddenly surged forward, her arms wrapping around him as she pressed her face into his neck. He had been astounded for a moment before hugging her to his chest, pressing his own face deep into her sweet smelling hair.

So will you be staying?

No. But I'll be back. Thank you, Kakeru. Thank you so much.

He'd watched her walk away from him, taking her bag once more as she left the classroom. She glanced back, saying, I've already got these bags packed. It'll be a shame not to use them.

He'd stared after her as she continued, still striding away from him. He remembered watching her exit the gates, watching as she turned back one final time, a genuine smile gracing her lips as the sunset formed an ethereal sort of halo from behind her. Then she turned away, loping off.

A few days later he received an email from her. Her message told him that she was training with Kusakabe Misao, her new sensei, and that if he wanted, they could stay in touch. He had eagerly accepted.

Kakeru thought it was unnecessary that she had to leave, as Misuzu had been one of the most capable fighters of the group. Bu she told him that a true warrior could never stop being perfected. He responded quickly, asking how a warrior like her could get any better.

She replied back, and he replied to that, their correspondence going on and on until now, a few months later.

And now Kakeru's smile widened further as he scrolled down the screen, still reading. They often talked about their school life (in Kakeru's case, High School. In Misuzu's, battle training) and he laughed lightly as Misuzu described a horrible blunder that had occurred when she had tripped on her mentor's robe. According to her, Misao-Sensei had punished her severely. But she would survive, or so she said.

He continued reading the message, grinning at amusing moments, pitying her as she described the grueling work of being Misao- sensei's apprentice. Not that she described it as drudging work- on the contrary, she seemed to enjoy it- but Kakeru didn't want to take her place. In his opinion, his school was bad enough.

In his turn, he responded, telling her about the time Yuka had dragged him with her to the mall, describing the incident in which he, too, had made an embarrassing blunder. He often looked forward to seeing her replies. Sometimes he even thought about them at times. Today's message had been slightly more interesting than her others, though. Well, at least the end of it was.

At the end of her message she had typed, Reply soon, Kakeru. And who knows, I might be seeing you sooner than either of us expects.

I hope I'll see you soon, then, he typed back. Grinning still from his friend's message, he clicked the "send button". And now, it was time for school.

Kakeru got up and stretched, adjusting his maroon school jacket and his jet-black pants as he grabbed his briefcase, heading for the door. He stepped out onto the street, the crisp morning air chilling him slightly, jolting him out of the lingering feeling of warmth that had resulted from his comfy home.

"Hi, Kakeru-kun!"

Kakeru turned toward the voice of his friend, Minase Yuka. Her short, brown hair blew slightly in the wind as she hurried to catch up with him.

"Morning, Yuka," he said, smiling. They walked in silence, not the uncomfortable silence, but rather a friendly one. In what seemed like a short time, they arrived at Rainbow High.

"You two are finally here!" Teruya Tadashi shouted, waving his arms wildly, looking rather like a carrot-headed windmill. "You two haven't been up all night together, have you?"

"Shut it, baka," Natsuki Kaori muttered as she hit her orange-haired friend over the head with her suitcase. "Don't be a perv, geez..."

This was their usual greeting. The rest of the day passed normally, Kakeru going to class, Tadashi causing a major disruption as he was the class clown, Kaori bonking him over the head with a text book or bag, the four friends (Kakeru, Yuka, Kaori, and Tadashi) eating lunch at the roof of the school, them going to their afternoon classes. All in all, normal and boring.

The bell rang, and Kakeru got up, throwing his bag over his shoulder. Yuka had told him that she was going shopping today, so he wouldn't be dropping her off at her house on his way to his home.

"Oi, Satsuki-kun. We need help at the library. Would it be alright if. . . ?"

"No problem at all, Aikeru-sensei. I'll be there in a moment."

An hour later he walked through the corridors, making his way to the gate. He hadn't stopped thinking about Misuzu's message throughout the library session, and still hadn't.

Who knows, I might be seeing you sooner than either of us expects. Misuzu's voice echoed in his head.

What does she mean? Kakeru pondered to himself. He made a mental note to ask her that in the next message.

The school grounds were quiet as he walked silently toward the school's entrance. He watched the wispy clouds float along the sunset, thin and wispy. The sky was a deep, glowing red. But instead of reminding Kakeru of the times he spent in the Red Night, the color comforted him, reminding him of one of his closest friends. A gust of wind gently caressed his face, sending some of his messy blue hair floating up. He closed his eyes as he walked through the gate, drinking in the peace and calmness of the dusk atmosphere.

The sounds of footsteps reached his ears, and Kakeru opened his eyes quickly. He gasped and fell a step back.

"Wh-what?"

The familiar violet eyes regarded him with amusement as that familiar smile stretched across the girl's face.