Hello, everybody! I haven't updated for a while. Again… Really, I begin to think that my teachers are either sadists or they simply hate me. Why else did they suddenly give me that unbelievable task, which was nearly impossible to finish in a week? At least, I was praised, when I finished that crazy report…
Some answers to reviews:
To tsukinopen: Thank you for your response!
To Lord Destroyer: I got the name Hakurei from my friend and was wondering where did he get it from as he didn't know Japanese at all… Last time I read Inuyasha three years ago, so I didn't remember all the plot.
To Rockman57: I intentionally made Dalila looking old, even if I knew that vampires in RV universe never grow old. It will be explained in latter chapters
To Guest: Tsukune will get power-up, but for some reason I don't like instant godlike power-ups. I can understand them in latter part of story, but not in the beginning.
To I'MNOTCRAZY1: Thank you for noting the grave accent. You see, when I'm typing in my native language the key for grave accent is used for apostrophe. So it's become a habit. I have a bad eyesight as well, which caused that I haven't noticed that I used wrong key.
About much talking during the fights… I know, I fell a victim to typical shounen pattern. I think I must stop to read shounen for a while. Next time, I'll try to avoid such a mistake.
To flynnstone628: Thank you very much!
Chapter 7: Dark legacy
When the old lady yelled on the locals, they stopped immediately, but no one of them showed any regret. Moreover, they wasn't happy at all after she ordered them to help girls. By that time Kurumu came to her senses and was trying to understand what was going on. Tsukune helped her to her feet, and then took Mizore bridal style again. The petite succubus was going to carry Yukari, but one of the locals pushed her away rudely and took the little witch himself. The old lady told Tsukune and Kurumu to follow her. The local who carried Yukari was walking behind them, cursing through his teeth. At last, they entered one of the houses.
Tsukune still couldn't get how he managed to end up in such a situation. First, his calm and kind father left the family all of sudden. Then the strange orange-haired woman instead of telling Aono Koji's whereabouts sent him to some odd village. Moreover, the locals' reaction wasn`t the most pleasant. And now the teenager was sitting inside one of the houses, drinking tea offered to him by old lady in kimono. By the way, that woman was sitting opposite him now, her piercing gaze carefully studying his face. Beside Tsukune was very irritated Kurumu. who still was the only one to regain her consciousness. Mizore and Yukari were sleeping in the next room.
The teenager looked around noting some traditional paintings with blooming sakura and cranes, as well as some katanas on the stand. The only things, which seemed out of place in that traditional room, were numerous photos on the opposite wall.
Tsukune sighed. He had to begin the conversation even if he had no clue what to say. Otherwise, he would be face Kurumu's anger. She kept silent all that time, but she unquestionably was eager to hear some explanation from him.
"What's going here?" asked Tsukune as he hadn't better idea.
The old woman chuckled:
"Wouldn't it be more polite to introduce yourself at first?"
"I'm Aono Tsukune. And this is Kurono Kurumu."
"Pleased to meet you Aono-kun, Kurono-chan. I'm the elder of Hakurei village, Hakurei Ayaka," the old woman bowed politely.
Kurumu lost her patience:
"What's up with all these unnecessary manners? Can't you simply explain us why we were attacked?"
"Don't tell me that Mikogami's little students didn't know where they came," smiled the elder. "Besides, I believe, you provoked my people yourself".
The teenagers looked at her with lack of understanding.
"How do you know about the Headmaster?" Tsukune became suspicious.
"We didn't provoke anybody!" yelled Kurumu angrily.
"I see," sighed Ayaka. "You really don't understand a thing. Let's make a deal. I'll answer all your questions, but you as well will tell me everything".
"OK" nodded Tsukune. "So what is this village?"
"It's simply the place inhabited by my family. The only home for my cursed kin," suddenly old woman`s gaze became distant and extremely sad.
"I don't get it," said Kurumu with confusion. "So everybody here is your relative?"
"Kind of" smiled Ayaka, but her eyes stayed gloomy. "Even if we are not blood related, we are still bonded by our souls. Everybody here holds a deep hatred for monsters. All of us either lost loved ones because of monsters or were tortured by them. Revenge is all we're living for. Don't you think, that we are miserable beings?"
"Who are you?" asked Tsukune. He already had a suggestion as he suddenly remembered the copybook of Y. K.
Monster hunters are strong and terrifying and still they`re pitiful beings with no real place in this world. Forever alone, forever misunderstood by humans, forever hated by youkai…
Those words once again flashed in the teenager's mind.
"You don't know even that, do you?" sighed the elder. "I thought, it's obvious that this is a village of monster hunters".
"What?" exclaimed Kurumu in shock. "I was sure, monster hunters is one of children's fairy-tales! My mother frightened me with such stories when I was little!"
At this exclamation, Ayaka burst into a loud laugh:
"Fairy-tale? Monster hunters? Are you joking? Well, I guess, after all, we have a truce agreement with Great Monster Council. No wonder, that there are children like you, Kurono-chan, after thirty years of peace. Maybe, it is better, when youngsters have no clue about the darkest pages of history".
"What do you mean by 'truce'? I've never heard about war between monsters and humans," said Tsukune and nearly immediately understood, how childish and irrational it sounded. Last year he didn't even believe in youkai. How could he know about their history?
The old woman gave him strange, unreadable look, but still answered his question:
"Monster hunters were in war with youkai for many millennia. After all, it was the only meaning for our existence. Of course, at first, we fought to protect human race, but soon we began simply killed monsters to satisfy our bloodlust… That time, monster hunters had lost their right to be called 'humans'. We are nothing better than violent, unreasonable beasts now".
"Isn't this too much?" Kurumu frowned. "For some reason, your self-accusation sounds false to me. If you don't want to kill, then don't kill. Nobody forces you to be – how did you say - 'violent, unreasonable beasts'!"
Ayaka stayed silent for a moment, her face darkened. Then she forced weak smile:
"Alas, you're wrong. We're forced to be murderers by our own blood".
"Oh, yeah!" Kurumu said sarcastically. "You're only poor lambs bonded by dark legacy! OK, I'll try to believe your statement, but can you explain me only one thing: if you're so innocent, what was the reason for all those terrifying stories about monster hunters? Even if a tenth part of them is true, you have no right to make an excuse!"
For some reason succubus girl was really angry. Tsukune looked at her with some confusion. His friend had to know something horrible about monster hunters, however the teenager himself had no idea, what caused that anger.
"I've never said that monster hunters are innocent souls," Ayaka's eyes blazed with sudden hatred. "We continue to kill you, youkai, when we have a possibility, because we HATE you. We have a right to have this feeling. And, of course, I have killed hundreds of monsters in my live. Some of them were even younger than you!"
Tsukune instantly sprang on to his feet as he felt a killing intent. The old woman seemed harmless before, but that was only illusion. The teenager clearly understood that the elder of Hakurei village would feel no doubt to attack him or Kurumu if it was necessary.
"Good reflexes," smirked Ayaka. "Don't worry, I'm not going to attack any of you. What a shame, that I let my emotions to overcome me. I deeply apologize for that outburst… By the way, Kurono-chan, there is really something like dark legacy of monster hunters. Wasn't you surprised at my people abilities? How could they tell that you were monsters?"
"Now, when you've said it… The man, who was holding me, had quite a strength… I mean, I'm not so strong, but I'm definitely stronger than some human," murmured Tsukune and nearly instantly froze. Had he really said that? It sounded like he didn't considered himself a part of human race anymore. Was he already adjusted to idea of losing humanity so much?
'No way!' thought Tsukune with fear. 'I'm not a monster. I'm human'.
'Yeah, human… What a joke! Human has no need in some device to be in right mind,' whispered a cold, composed voice in his head. Tsukune knew that it was right. It couldn't be otherwise: after all, that thought belonged to him as well.
Everybody has the dark side, and Aono Tsukune wasn't the exception. He remembered having violent, evil thoughts as long as he lived. As the time passed, the teenager learned to keep them under control, so no one even guessed that Tsukune could be really cruel and merciless. However, even under control, the dark side was still there, and now it was really enjoying Tsukune's situation. That part of him was even glad to lose humanity and gain the great strength in cost of his mind. That fact scared Tsukune more than anything else did.
"Those guys knew too much," agreed Kurumu, not noticing that Tsukune paled for a moment. "Moreover, it looked like they were aware, how and when we would attack".
"They really were," nodded the old woman. "As we are able to sense youki and our reflexes are far more sharper than those of average human. Otherwise, we wouldn't be able to oppose youkai. But Tora – the man who held Aono-kun – is strong himself. There is no one like him here".
"I've always thought that humans can't sense youki, and now you tell me, that I'm wrong," Kurumu said incredulously.
"Well, I think I've expressed it wrongly… Monster hunter is not able to sense youki the same way that actual youkai is…" Ayaka looked at the ceiling for a while trying to find appropriate explanation. "It's more like inner sight, ability to distinguish humans and monsters in disguise. If it is well-developed, one can surely tell much more after only one glance".
"Still, it's hard to believe," insisted Kurumu. "Why did only monster hunters develop such a useful ability?"
The elder didn't answer right away. She was sipping her tea for some time. It really seemed like she seriously doubted, if she had to answer that question.
"Well, I've promised you to tell everything… After all, most of monsters know about monster hunters and their abilities… If I don't explain everything, you'll simply ask Mikogami… There is no real problem here," she sighed. "It's the well-known fact, that we hadn't developed those abilities ourselves. If you don't mind, I'll tell you an old story".
"We don't mind at all!" Tsukune assured her hastily. In truth, he hadn't heard the whole conversation between Kurumu and old woman because of his thoughts, and now was trying to cover that fact.
"Millennia ago," started Ayaka, closing her eyes, "youkai considered themselves gods and did everything they wished. Weak and terrified human race could do nothing with it. Great massacres were extremely frequent during those times. Humans was treated worse than livestock. However, one day the situation changed completely. The day, when human managed to kill monster. Later, that action was shown as a great deed, but, in truth, it was simple coincidence. The 'hero' was only a scared young boy, who accidently took a stake for defense, and his rival was stupid enough to drive hard into it, impaling himself through the chest. But the fact remains, that the monster was defeated. Don't you think, it gave much hope to humanity? The monsters weren't invisible; it was possible to oppose them".
"I get your point, but what does it have with monster hunters?" Kurumu frowned. She didn't like old woman at all, besides, she still was angry because of that attack earlier.
"You're really impatient, Kurono-chan. I was going to explain it, when you interrupted me," chuckled the elder. "So, people had believed, that they could protect themselves. But not everybody agreed with only defense. There was bunch of humans, who suffered from monster's attacks and desired revenge. They became first monster hunters. Do you think, they were successful from the start? No, it was the exact opposite. Most of them couldn't do a thing and very shortly were dead. That was until monster hunters formed fateful alliance with one certain race…"
"Certain race?" Tsukune said with surprise.
"Yeah, there is one certain race, which is rejected both by humans and youkai, so-called 'boarder race'," nodded Ayaka.
"You mean, witches and warlocks?" sniffed Kurumu scornfully. "Don't even try to deceive us! This is nonsense! Even little children know that witches are on the same side as monsters!"
"I agree with Kurumu," added Tsukune. "As I know, witches hate humans for polluting and destroying the environment".
The old woman suddenly laughed:
"What naïve beliefs you have! No wonder, none of you is born in boarder race family. Maybe, your little witch friend knows much more, but I'm sure that she avoided this topic".
"No, Yukari…" began Tsukune, but suddenly stopped as he realized that the elder was right. Surely, Yukari had told him much about her family and homeland, but she actually never said anything about witches' traditions or history. She had never told him about discrimination of boarder race. Actually, he heard about it from Kurumu. And Ruby was the same. She eagerly talked with her friends about her late master, about her childhood and even about her parents, but not about witches' community.
"Your expression shows me, that you've realized it yourself, Aono-kun," said Ayaka. "But don't blame your little friend. That topic is great taboo among the witches and warlocks only because they as well have their pride."
"What do you mean?" sniffed Kurumu. Even if she considered Yukari annoying brat, she deeply cared about her and couldn't let the elder of Hakurei village speak ill of her.
"I assume, that Aono-kun has much better knowledge of human society, than you, Kurono-chan, so I'd better ask him… Have you ever read human fairy-tales or legends?"
"Of course," answered Tsukune, slightly offended. He finally realized, that the old woman didn't consider him human at all.
"Good. It will be easier for me to explain…" Ayaka smiled. "There are a bunch of bad witches in these stories… But not every person, who is able to use the magic, is a villain…"
Kurumu looked confused, but Tsukune understood immediately, what the elder meant:
"There are also wizards and fairy godmothers, who always help the hero… So, they are…"
"From boarder race as well," finished the old woman. "The same as witches and warlocks, only sided with humans instead of monsters… You see, there is a conflict with deep roots. The boarder race is hated by the both sides, so it deliberately tries to find its place. But what is witch? Monster with human body or human with supernatural power? Those two opinions caused the split in witches' community: half of them decided to live as youkai, while other tried to blend in human society. Of course, each of them considers their opponents traitors and denies the fact, that they're actually the same".
Kurumu looked at the elder suspiciously:
"For some reason, I can't trust you, even if I don't feel that you're trying to deceive us… You know, you change topic pretty easily as if you're going to avoid inappropriate questions. You were telling us about monster hunters' history, and then suddenly switched to witches and their conflicts".
"I simply couldn't help explaining, how we managed to form alliance with wizards," Ayaka shrugged. "Otherwise, you would never understand the whole situation".
"OK, it can be possible," murmured Kurumu. "But why do you tell us everything as if it is a well-known fact?"
"Because itis a well-known fact," chuckled the old woman. "When I was young, every monster was able to tell you anything about monster hunters. It is not as if the knowledge can change anything… I'll continue my explanation, if you don't mind. Therefore, wizards formed alliance with monster hunters. No need to tell, that they were greatly disappointed with our weakness. However, they knew the way to get rid of it. After all, there were many great magicians among our allies. Together they had cast a great spell on monster hunters and their bloodline, giving them inner sight and better reflexes, as well as dreadful violence, hatred and mercilessness for monsters".
"Mercilessness? But why?" asked Tsukune with surprise.
"Because most of failures were caused by doubts. Some monsters can be really charming or deceitful, and it is really hard for normal human to kill somebody… However, if nothing can stop monster hunter…" Ayaka sighed, never finishing the phrase. "It is really horrible curse. I realized it, when I saw monster hunter, who had lost lower half of body, yet still tried to fight, even standing on the brink of death. Eventually every one of us reaches his limit and can't stop their hatred anymore. While our reason and all other emotions are disappearing, we continue to fight until we meet our death. This is fate of any monster hunter. Well, willpower can slow down the process, but one day darkness totally consumes everybody's soul".
"Except yours," sneered Kurumu.
"Kurumu, it's rude," whispered Tsukune.
"You're wrong, Kurono-chan. I'm like any other monster hunter, well, maybe with much more willpower. Anyway, I'll reach my limit sooner than you think".
Tsukune looked into the old woman's eyes and flinched as he understood what she meant. Her eyes were cold, merciless, full of hatred, even if her face showed nothing of it. The teenager had never seen such glare before, neither among humans, nor among monsters.
"Sometimes, I wonder for what reason I have controlled this darkness for such a long time… All my friends succumbed to hatred…" Ayaka seemed to look beyond what everyone else could see. "And I can understand them… A mother, whose only child was murdered in front of her… A boy, who lost entire family in few minutes… A teenager, who witnesses inhuman tortures of his first love… Instead of useless grief there was the thirst for revenge… They made monsters suffer to stifle their own pain".
The silence stretched out thin. Tsukune was somehow terrified of what he had heard. What connection had his father with Hakurei village and monster hunters? He was prayed that it was a mistake or simple coincidence, but his inner voice was whispering to him not to deny the truth.
Kurumu was trying to get what was going there. She still hadn't understood everything, but she was sure that Aono Koji had some connections with that place. The succubus girl was going to ask her Destined one something, but then she saw his face and didn't dare question him. Even if the busty girl was considered silly among her friends, she was much more sensitive than they were.
The old Ayaka simply observed two teenagers. It was impossible to guess what she was thinking. At last, she broke the silence:
"I believe I've told you enough to explain everything. Have you any other questions?"
"No…" murmured Tsukune, trying to banish all unpleasant thoughts to the darkest corner of his mind.
"I have!" interrupted Kurumu. "You haven't told us, how do you know about the Headmaster. Don't you think it's suspicious?"
"A group of monsters came here in broad daylight," chuckled Ayaka. "Different monster races usually despise each other. If you were together, it meant that you were from some organization, uniting more than one race. You hadn't tried to sneak here at night, so you didn't plan to attack. You're pretty young as well. Therefore, I assumed that you're the students from Youkai Gakuen. Now your turn to answer my questions… What does Mikogami want?"
"What do you mean?" said Tsukune.
"Mikogami has sent you here, hasn't he? So what does that old fox want?" repeated the elder.
"The Headmaster hasn't sent us here. We've come on our own will," answered Kurumu.
"I'm looking for one person. The Headmaster simply helped us to get here," added Tsukune.
The old woman smirked:
"So, Mikogami helped you to get to the Hakurei and didn't even warn you… No wonder, it's so like him. I'm pretty sure, that he foresaw my interference, but still you risked greatly… Sometimes, I really feel sorry for his pawns…"
"Pawns?" yelled Kurumu angrily.
"It doesn't matter, anyhow," continued Ayaka, totally ignoring the girl's yell. "Who are you looking for?"
"His name is Aono Koji," answered Tsukune.
"Aono?" chuckled the old woman. It seemed she was really curious, but she never asked any question. "Everybody here has the last name Hakurei. It is against rules to change it," added she, predicting next question.
"He could stay here for a while," guessed Kurumu. "Tsukune, show her that photo!"
The elder reached for the photo, bending her head to puzzle over it. She didn't tell a thing while studying it intently. An ominous quiet filled the room and it was the worst. It would be much better, if Ayaka said something. Instead Tsukune couldn't help making the most ridiculous suggestions. He even almost believed that his father visited Hakurei village with his lover and maybe had some conflict with locals… Well, anything was better, than his father being monster hunter.
At last, the old woman stated firmly:
"This man is not from Hakurei village".
Tsukune sighed with relief. It turned out to be too early, as Ayaka continued:
"Yet I have no right to say, that I don't know him… When you thought it over, his name was really Koji. I took no notice, because it's incredibly common name. Still, I've never heard of somebody with last name Aono".
"Koji-san took his wife's family name after the marriage," explained Kurumu. She noticed, that Tsukune hesitated to ask anything, so she asked instead:
"Has he any connections with your village or not?"
"It's hard to answer…" Ayaka suddenly rose to her feet and went to the wall with photos. "Look here! Don't you think they resemble each other?"
Tsukune came round to the elder, followed by Kurumu, and looked at the photo, at which the old woman pointed. It was a picture of middle-aged man with quite average face and short dark hair. A diagonal scar ran across his cheek. It was the only difference between that man and Koji. Well, maybe, except nearly insane glare and fiendish grin. Tsukune shuddered: it was really horrifying to see father's face with such expression. It didn't even matter that that person wasn't his dad.
"Who is this?" asked the teenager in a ghost of a voice. His throat became so dry that he could scarcely speak. "Who is this?" he repeated, now much louder.
"Hakurei Koichi. We were adopted by the same man, so he was kind of my elder brother," answered Ayaka grimly. "I also believe that he was Koji's father".
"You've said, Koji-san is not from Hakurei village!" yelled Kurumu furiously as she saw Tsukune's condition. He simply stared on the wall without any emotion.
"I haven't lied you," said the elder. "Koji has never lived here. Moreover, his last name was definitely not Hakurei…" she suddenly stopped, meeting Tsukune`s gaze. Her eyes for some reason became sad and even sympathetic. Ayaka sighed: "I don't know much about Koji, but, it seems, you know even less, Aono-kun. I can tell you everything, but… Are you really sure, that you want to live with this knowledge? You still can return home and pretend that you've never visit this place".
For a moment Tsukune was really eager to leave without answers. Then she remembered his mother, her tears and despair, and his own determination to find his father. It would be too easy to run away. The teenager decided long ago not to run from hardships. Wasn't that the reason, why he still stayed in Youkai Gakuen?
"I want to know the truth," stated the boy with determination. "Even if regret later".
The elder sighed and walked through room, then returned to the wall with photos and stopped:
"There was a time when neither of us knew about Koji… You know, my brother Koichi wasn't a person to care about anybody. In truth, he wasn't interested in anything except fighting with monsters. I still can't imagine woman who was able to fall in love with him, as he was much worse than actual monster. Can you imagine our shock when one day a seven-years-old child came here, claiming that he was Koichi's son. We had no doubts about it, as that boy, named Koji, held striking resemblance to my brother. The child totally ignored all our questions, insisting on meeting with his dad. So I don't know about his mother or his real last name. As for Koichi, he showed no real interest in his son, but agreed to speak with him in private. Of course, we left them…"
Ayaka closed her eyes and continued:
"They wasn't alone even for minute, when we heard nearly inhuman roar. We burst in only to see that Koichi was holding a dagger, trying to stab the boy. It seemed that he totally lost his mind. And Koji was simply sitting there with a deep cut on his cheek. Two of my friends pinned Koichi in moments and threw away the dagger. We had never known what had happened there: Koichi refused to answer any questions, so he was locked for everybody's safe, and Koji had disappeared during that confusion.
I couldn't understand what was going on, and then my brother ran away, killing two of his fellows in process. The previous elder told us, that Koichi lost his mind. Still I was worried as I didn't know where he went… Three weeks later we received his corpse. Beheaded and cut to pieces. So we assumed, that Koichi had unthinkingly attacked some monsters' lair. I think, it was vampire mansion near Hinowa town…"
She suddenly smiled as she noticed that Tsukune slightly paled and Kurumu was fighting the wave of nausea.
"Disgusting? Nevertheless, that was a common death of monster hunter. Nothing special," chuckled Ayaka, but suddenly grew serious. "Next time I met Koji three years later. That year we made truce agreement with Great Monster Council. According to its conditions we still had right to kill monsters who attacked humans, but had to leave in peace those who desired coexistence. Yet somebody broke the rules. The whole monster families blending in human society were massacred. Of course, Great Monster Council suspected monster hunters. After all, some clans opposed the truce agreement…"
"What clans? Aren't you only one here?" interrupted Kurumu.
"Are you joking?" laughed the old woman bitterly. "There are hundreds of monster hunters' clans all over the world. Moreover, Hakurei clan is not even among most influential in Japan… Nevertheless, the most of murders were committed on our territory as if somebody was trying to destroy our reputation. No need to tell, that we began our own investigation, but without any real results. And then I managed to meet the mysterious murderer.
That was a moonless night. I arrived in the victim's house only to witness the same massacre as ever. The owner, his wife and children – everybody was already dead. Yet there was a living being as well, only I didn't know it. I tried to turn on the light, but it didn't worked, so I used the candle. And then I noticed him. All that time he stood there, observing me with his emotionless eyes. It was a boy of nearly ten, whose clothes became red of blood. The most shocking thing was that I recognized him: it was Koji, the same child who came to our village three years ago. I know that I had to do something, yet we merely stood there looking into each other eyes. I didn't know how much time passed, a minute or maybe much more, but he went past me and left, while I didn't dare to stop him…"
"But why?" whispered Tsukune.
"I was afraid… I was simply afraid… Heck, I was afraid for the first time in my whole live!" Ayaka looked at one of the traditional paintings and crossed the room one more time. "I had met the scariest monster, yet was horrified by the human child. I wasn't afraid of his strength or skill, as I was pretty sure that he couldn't do a thing against me that time… No, it was his stare that scared me – empty as an abyssal pit and at the same time full of hatred for the whole world…"
The old woman stayed silent for some moments, then continued:
"He became quite famous soon enough. They nicknamed him Phantom, as nobody could said where he came from and where disappeared. Then there was some years of silence. I even thought that he met the same fate as any other monster hunter. Koji reappeared again in the age of nineteen, but now for some reason he killed only monsters who opposed the idea of coexistence. One of my men managed to met them, they fought each other, and my man returned seriously injured. By the way, you've met him… I suppose, you showed him Koji's photo, didn't you? As Tora is the only one here, who holds a personal grudge against him… Anyway, seventeen years ago Koji disappeared for the second time…"
"I was born seventeen years ago," murmured Tsukune to himself hardly audible.
"And now we have rumors that Phantom is back. There were some mysterious murders lately," finished the elder walked round the room again and stopped near the photos. Everybody kept silent. Tsukune just didn't know what to say. Everything he knew about his father was contrary to all that he had heard from Ayaka. Was she trying to deceive him? Or was it Koji, who lied his son for the whole life?
Kurumu was really uncomfortable. It wasn't her business at all, yet she had heard more than enough. Had she any right to listen to that story? Did her Destined one want her to hear it?
Ruby was extremely tired. The Headmaster told her to find, how the stranger managed to sneak at the Youkai Gakuen, but she still had no clues. Moreover, she was eager to follow Tsukune and the girls to the Hakurei village. Instead the witch was forced to check the barrier.
Now she was going to the Headmaster's office for report. Some male students whistled as she was passing by. In truth, Ruby was quite popular among boys, especially those, who liked more mature women. And it wasn't strange: the witch was gorgeous and everybody admitted it. Unfortunately for her fans, Ruby liked Tsukune, which gave poor human teenager even more haters.
The Headmaster was sitting in his office, checking some documents. He didn't even look up, when Ruby came in.
"Are there any results?" he simply asked his assistant.
"Alas, no," sighed Ruby. "The barrier is intact and I haven't seen any other transdimentional passage".
"What about teleportation?" guessed Mikogami. "Are there any traces of magic use?"
"I haven't checked!" gasped the witch. "I'll check it immediately!"
The Exorcist chuckled:
"Have some rest. You can check it tomorrow… After all, we are tend to make the most mistakes, when we are tired".
Ruby bowed and withdrew. The Headmaster returned to his papers. They were mostly reports from his people. They wasn't optimistic at all. Vampires were gathering forces in the England. Two werewolf's clans declared each other war in Hungary. There was great massacre in Africa, as well as some commotion in China. Moreover, there were rumors about mysterious antihuman organization, named Fairy Tale, which became pretty popular, especially among young youkai.
Mikogami looked at the next report and suddenly smirked.
I've investigated the mysterious murders, which happened lately. I still have no proof, but I think that Phantom is involved.
'It seems that our fragile peace really going to end soon,' thought the Exorcist as he remembered one certain conversation more than year ago.
That day was simply boring. There was no reports, no important papers. Even students for some reason were quiet. Mikogami even played a chess party with himself.
A man in black clothes looked inside the office:
"Mikogami-sama, there is a visitor here… He wants to see you".
"Some student?" the Headmaster moved the chessboard aside.
The man shook his head:
"No, he isn't a student. It is middle-aged man. He said, his name is Aono Koji".
"Never heard of him," said the Headmaster. "Let him in!"
The man disappeared. Mikogami was wondering what kind of person was the visitor. Koji was quit a common name, he personally knew some man with such name. Could it be somebody of them? No way. Half of them totally ignored the Headmaster, while others hated him greatly. There was also one man, who tried to avoid the Exorcist at any cost.
The door opened widely and middle-aged man with average appearance stepped in. Mikogami was really surprised, but he concealed his surprise with usual creepy grin. He knew that man, moreover, it was that Koji, who had always avoided him. However, the Dark Lord was sure that last time the man's last name wasn't Aono.
"What a rare occurrence to see you here on your own will, Aono Koji-san" Mikogami smirked. "What has brought you here?"
Koji frowned. It seemed he hadn't change at all and still considered Mikogami suspicious rascal.
"I have a request," the man stated grimly.
"It is really interesting, Aono-san," chuckled the Headmaster. "For you, who never trust me, to seek my help? So what do you want?"
"I want you to enroll my son in Youkai Gakuen," answered Koji.
Mikogami looked at him attentively:
"I don't think I have a right to do so".
"Don't try to deceive me," Aono laughed bitterly. "I'm well aware that you enroll even students, who aren't approved by Great Monster Council…"
"You've grown quite cocky, Aono-san," smirked the Exorcist. "Who would think that one day you would try to demand something from me… Then, it seems that my assistance had quite a big mouth. Well, I don't have problems with certain kind of students. But I am still not sure, if it wise to enroll here the son of infamous murderer Phantom. There are already at least five deaths here every year, and we don't need here a bloodbath".
"No need to worry," assured Koji. "Tsukune isn't like me at all. Besides, he even doesn't know about monsters' existence".
"Your reasons are still incomprehensible. I simply can't get why do you want your son studying here, especially if he know nothing about monsters".
"Maybe, because he need to learn about coexistence?" shrugged Koji.
Suddenly the Exorcist burst out laughing:
"Brilliant! To hear something like that from you… And I thought that you didn't believe in idea of coexistence between different races".
"I still don't believe in this foolish idea," frowned Aono. "Yet I've never thought I was right. This is my answer. But Tsukune is different, so I'm sure he'll find different answer as well".
"You still haven't told me your real reason," Mikogami looked at the man attentively.
"I was never able to deceive you," chuckled Koji. "One day your fragile peaceful system will collapse. That day I'll be forced to return to my job. I simply want my only child to be under trustworthy protection… You're real bastard, but, at least, you're really smart to become a victor in every situation".
The Exorcist smirked as well and suddenly threw some papers to the floor. Koji automatically picked one of them and tried to return it, but Headmaster stopped him:
"Keep it for yourself. After all, you wanted this application".
"What?" Koji looked really confused.
"I have no right to give this to you, but you've seen it as well: I haven't given it to you. I've dropped the application, and you've picked it up…" Mikogami smiled evilly.
The man sighed:
"Now, I'm pretty sure, that you're real devil here".
A/N: The longest chapter so far. As well as chapter without Moka. Now I hate myself. Nothing special this time. The story simply reached a revelation part. Some of revelations will be quite obvious, while other will be quite unpredictable. Anyway I left some hints in previous chapters.
Btw, I'm planning to make it two or three part story with "Secrets of Past" as first part.