There was a time of darkness and evil. It was back when people relied on their wits and their skills other than their guns and each other. Trust was not easy in this time. Demons lived everywhere and posed as humans. Villages were massacred. Families were split apart and homes were destroyed. This reign of pain went on for years, even decades but somehow, humanity has learned to survive and become stronger.
The demons were too and they were not slowing down.
But soon, a group of young people will stand up to put an end to the slaughter. They didn't know they were the chosen ones. Fate has chosen them as the demon seekers. They lived different lives but one day the demon seekers will come. The fate of the world rested on their shoulders. None of them believed that they would be the ones. Two were gladiators in an arena of combat. One was a card master. There was even one living a simple life of a painter. But life as they knew it was about to change.
Times were getting harder. Famine, pestilence and poverty were common. The suffocating darkness was getting thicker; making it impossible for crops to receive sunlight and make it's food. But the special group of young people yearned and didn't give up, no matter what was thrown their way. As a child, the one known now as the gladiator queen lived with only her mother to watch over her. Her father left his wife and daughter alone. The girl, Ruki, never knew why. Did he stop loving his mother and her? Did he find someone else? Perhaps he did love them and left to find work or food. Ruki's mother never told her why he left.
Many a night, Ruki had nightmares of her father. She kept calling him.
"Father, why are you going away? Don't go! Please stay with us! Don't leave me all alone!"
It didn't take long for her to resent her father for it and soon, all men. Men made it hard for the women to live. They believed that they were better than them and made sure that the women knew it. Ruki hated men, all men. She made a vow that she will make all men everywhere pay. She hated men and those who were weak. When Ruki became ten, she ran away from her mother. Her life there was just filled of bad memories and it wasn't easy living with her mother anymore. It was no home to her.
"I'll find my own way," Ruki told herself when she left her home. "I'll show everyone."
But it wasn't as easy as Ruki believed. Because the land was barren and food was scarce, Ruki became weak with hunger and she wasn't sure where to find food. There wasn't much water and the water she found was stagnant and infecting from all the dead fish. Though her body was weak, her spirit stayed strong. She was one of the chosen to stop the evil destroying her world. It was because of her strength that she became one. Ruki wasn't going to let famine ruin her life. She'd find out why there was no food.
"It was the men," she told herself, "they took it for themselves."
Ruki one day collapsed in the desert and later was found by a band of slave traders. She was just twelve years old.
"Why, look what I found," one of them said.
"Wake her up," another said. "Let's see if she knows how to have fun."
Before they touched her, one of the slaves broke free and attacked them. This slave was also a chosen one. His name was Ryo and a thirteen-year-old boy.
"Don't touch her," Ryo grunted. He stood in front of her protectively.
"How did you get free?" the slave trader demanded.
"Stop this!" shouted an angry voice.
The slave traders turned and looked at Yamaki. He was a gladiator. Not only was he a gladiator, but also he owned the arena, which held the battles. He was traveling in the desert with one of his gladiators, Reika.
"Your slaves are now mine," Yamaki said.
"You can't do that."
"You plan to fight me?"
The slave trader groaned. He knew that fighting Yamaki wasn't a wise choice. "Fine, take them."
"You will all be gladiators in my arena," Yamaki said, "if you would rather take your chances with the desert then stay."
Ryo picked up Ruki in his arms and followed Yamaki to the arena. She had no idea that a man had saved her life.
Another one of the chosen had a hard life. His name was Jenrya and when he was just ten years old, his family was killed and his house was burnt to the ground. Only he and his sister survived. Till this day, he still dreams about it.
There were noises outside the house. A window broke and a torch was thrown inside.
"Father, what's happening?" Jenrya demanded. "What's going on?"
"Jenyra, take your sister and get out of here!" His mother cried.
Jenrya heard his younger sister Shuichon screaming downstairs. He ran down the stairs to Shuichon's room. A torch was on her bed and began burning away her room and also the clothes she was wearing.
Thinking quickly, Jenrya threw a shirt on his sister to smother out the flames and rolled her on the ground. He picked her up in his arms and she put her arms around his neck.
"Try to stay calm, Shuichon."
"I'm scared," Shuichon said. "It hurts! My back is still burning!"
"I'm going to get you out of here," Jenyra said and he ran out of the room. All the windows were broken and torches were thrown inside. Finding a way out wasn't easy. He heard his parents fighting with the mobsters and he didn't know where his older brother and sister were. "Jaarin? Rinchei?"
Jenrya ran out of the back just to see his brother Rinchei take a shot from an arrow and his older sister Jaarin being dragged away.
"Jenrya, run!" she exclaimed.
"Get those two!" shouted one of the mobsters.
Shuichon pressed her face into her brother's shoulder as he ran away from the house to lose the mobsters in the woods. They gave up and left, taking Jaarin and a few teenage girls with them as slaves and whores.
"Jenrya, where are they taking Jaarin?" Shuichon questioned.
"I don't know, Shuichon."
"Will we ever see her again?"
"I don't know." He kept moving then he stopped to take one last look at his home.
Shuichon glanced at their burning house. "Jenrya, our home."
"Don't look at it, Shuichon," Jenrya insisted, turning her head.
"Everybody is gone!" she sobbed.
"There, there," Jenrya said as he patted his sister's head. "We've got each other. Don't worry. Momentai."
"This can't be happening," she said. "I'll never forgive whoever did this!"
"Let's keep moving," Jenrya said. "We've got to put some water on your burns."
For another boy, it was different. He didn't run away and his house was not set on fire. However, something did happen to his parents. They caught the plague and he did not know how to make them better. He was just a child and doctors were slim. Although he tried to heal them the best they could, they died within days, leaving them alone.
Miraculously, the boy never got sick. He was somehow immune. This eleven-year-old boy was a very creative and imaginative artist. When his parents died, he had to live alone. He wanted to be a soldier but he thought he was too weak. He often drew soldiers, wizards and bounty hunters. But he had no idea that he was a chosen one. Many people loved his paintings and though money was scarce, they paid them what little gold they had. While the boy was alone, he did have a friend. A very close friend, Juri the barmaid and she was the sweetest girl he ever did meet.
He went there often, not just because the drinks and eats were good but because he liked her. She had beautiful reddish brown hair and deep brown eyes. When she was young, she had a pigtail on the left side of her head but as she matured, she put the ponytail into a bun. Juri's mother passed away when she was only seven years old and her father had to take care of her. Though he remarried and had a stepmother to also look after her, Juri did not let her take the place of her real mother.
Juri had a secret. She told no one about it and was sure no one knew. Juri was a witch. She got the abilities from her mother. Juri was a different kind of witch. She didn't make brews and potions and cast spells on people. She didn't even own a magical wand. Instead, she had magical cards, almost three dozen of them. They belonged to her mother. Right before her mother died, she told her what she was. Her powers were more than the magical cards, but she knew how to cast spells. Juri never learned how to enhance those powers and her father was not a wizard. He was just a man and so Juri could only use the magical cards. She worked with them whenever she had a chance. Juri loved playing with the cards. Some put a force field around her; others sent bolts of lightning and balls of fire.
One day, Juri would put the cards into real use. But for now, she was just a barmaid.
As times got harder and injustice was being done, one boy felt compelled to do something. Yes, he was just a boy but he was also one of the chosen ones. This boy's name was Hirokazu. Robbers would come and steal all of the villagers' possessions and the people never fought back. Hirokazu wondered why. They should fight for their land. His friend Kenta felt the same way but believed someone else would come save them.
"Why don't we fight them?" Hirokazu asked Kenta when the robbers left again with some of their food and possessions. "This is our land. And those are our things they're taking! Someday they'll throw us off our own land if we don't do something."
"But we're just kids, Hirokazu," Kenta said. "We're only twelve years old."
"It doesn't matter," Hirokazu muttered. "This is our home and we must defend it. The adults here don't know how."
"And what do you expect us to do?" Kenta demanded, "that we become bounty hunters?"
Hirokazu grinned, "Kenta, that's an excellent idea."
Kenta gasped, "don't be crazy. We'll get ourselves killed. Who will teach us to become bounty hunters anyway?"
"We find a guild," Hirokazu said, "and join them."
And that's exactly what the youngsters did. They searched everywhere for a bounty hunter's guild. It took them months but they eventually found a notice on a tree.
"Look to this," Hirokazu said, ripping it off the tree, "it's a reward for 10,000 gold pieces if this outlaw is caught."
"He looks scary," Kenta muttered.
"Huyo Masuda." Hirokazu said, "sounds familiar."
"Isn't he the one who…" Kenta looked at the face again, "wait a minute…"
"He's the ringleader of that band of robbers," Hirokazu said. "It's time for our vengeance."
"How are we going to find him?" Kenta asked.
"We look. Where do these people spend their time?"
"Stealing from innocent people, fool!" Hirokazu exclaimed, hitting Kenta in the head with the notice. "There's got to be some kind of chain. Ours isn't the only village he steals from."
"Shouldn't we keep looking for a guild to train us instead?"
"We've done that," Hirokazu sighed, "maybe if people see us, they'll tell us where to go to find one."
They heard a woman screaming and smoke was rising to the south. "I think I've found them." Hirokazu said. "Come on!"
He pulled on his friend's arm and they hurried in great pursuit of the village. Just as Hirokazu expected, Huyo Masuda and his ring of robbers were getting ready to leave the village with a young woman on his horse.
"Oh no, what do we do?" Kenta asked.
Hirokazu felt something underneath his foot it was a rope. "I have an idea."
As the band of robbers took the road, Kenta went to the other side of it. They let the rope hang low on the ground and waited for the right moment.
"Be careful not to hurt the girl," Hirokazu whispered, "she might kiss me after we save her."
"You?" Kenta demanded.
"It was my idea. NOW!" The boys pulled hard on the rope when the horses came close. They couldn't move and fell back. Few of them ran away and the robbers stood up to see what happened. Hirokazu and Kenta picked up rocks and threw them at the robbers, knocking them out. The young woman got to her feet as Hirokazu and Kenta walked up.
"Are you all right?" Hirokazu asked.
"You saved my life!" she exclaimed, grabbing him by the face and pushing her lips against his. Kenta frowned and then she turned to Kenta and gave him a kiss. Kenta blushed.
"Are you bounty hunters?" she asked.
"Not yet," Kenta said and Hirokazu slapped his arm. "Ow!"
"We're working on that," Hirokazu said. "We're looking for a guild. You know of one?"
"Maybe downtown," she replied, "You can collect your reward money there. Ask for the Bounty Hunter Guild named 'Raiden.'"
"Like the thunder god." Kenta said.
The young woman nodded, "yes."
"No, thank you. Who are you?"
"Well, bounty hunters Hirokazu and Kenta," the girl said as she curtsied, "thank you for saving me. I am Sakura. I fare thee well."
The two nodded and left to collect their reward money and search for the Raiden Bounty Hunter Guild. When Hirokazu told them that he and Kenta caught Huya and his robbers by themselves, they didn't believe them at first until they showed them the money. It was more than enough proof.
The leader grinned, "welcome to Raiden, boys. You're about to become real bounty hunters."
And now, our story begins.