Story: Heart's Toll (all chapters)
Authors: The Eternal
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Title: The Bell Tolls
[Author's notes: A tad short but it takes a real effort for me to sit down and type. I'll try to make the next chapter a little longer.]
The room was rather bleak, coupled with the fact that it was virtually pitch black it made for a uncomfortable meeting to say the least but the two robed figures who stood in the center paid it no mind. For what they where waiting for they had to maintain an aura of “professionalism” as they stood before a blank screen that took up an entire wall. After several more moments of waiting the screen came to life bathing the two figures in light revealing that they both wore brown hooded cloaks that covered their entire bodies. After another moment passed what the two had been waiting for appeared on the screen, another hooded figure whose face was obscured by a smooth metallic mask. Without wasting anytime the masked man spoke; “This is your target Shizuru Fujino.” After he spoke that sentence a small box appeared at the bottom right hand corner of the screen in it was the picture of a beautiful young woman with burgundy hair and piercing crimson eyes.
“So that’s the dormant Hime?” the taller of the two cloaked figures asked. The voice suggesting a young man of high upbringing.
“Yes, since the two of you are essentially walking into the lion’s den I will have Kamikirimusi on stand by if you will end up needing the back up.”
“So you gonna tell us what this is about, I mean we should have enough power on our own there is no need for us to go get some Hime who hasn’t even awakened yet!” The voice came from the shorter of the two cloaked figures and it suggested a young woman with considerably little patience. There was a brief pause after the young woman spoke which caused her to immediately regret voicing her concern in such a harsh manner. Many of the other Oni often chided her for pushing the envelope with their leader but the young woman usually ignored them however right now she could almost feel the pressure from their leaders eyes baring down on her despite the fact she couldn’t even see them.
“Patience Tomoe once Shizuru is here all will be made clear.” The masked man spoke in an unsettlingly calm voice that made both Tomoe and her companion more than uneasy. “Now you both know I will not tolerate failure!” And with that final threat the screen went blank once again.
A bell’s ringing echoed throughout the upscale schools halls signifying the end of a period. As students poured out of their respective classrooms and chatted amongst themselves the day seemed like any other at Fuuka Academy the unofficial training ground for Hime. The day was like any other for all but one, as the other students went about the school day one lone student sat at the head desk of an empty room. Fuuka Academy prided itself as school run by students for students, with the school council holding a vast amount of administrative power. The student who was sitting at the desk in the empty room was none other than the council president Shizuru Fujino. One would think that as council president she would be busy or at least maintain the image of a busy council person but it was no secret that Miss Fujino was an exceptional manipulator capable of swaying almost anyone to do her bidding with her charm and looks. However it was the “almost” that was causing her concern. Despite having nearly the entire school in thrall there was one person above all else that Shizuru’s heart sought. The council president was a young woman who could turn the hearts of members of both sexes, one would think that this talent combined with her popularity would give her her pick of anyone in the school. But despite this it was that one person who remained beyond her grasp that Shizuru desired the most…her best and perhaps only true friend Natsuki Kuga. Natsuki however had her eyes on her eyes on her key whom she shared with another young woman namely Mai Tokiha and the two fought over him constantly. For awhile Shizuru was content to quietly cheer on Natsuki from the side lines but lately Shizuru couldn’t ignore the sudden pains she had been feeling in her heart. It was getting harder and harder to put on her usual public face and bare the fact that the woman she had loved for so long barely even gave her a glance anymore. Just when she thought her metaphorical headache couldn’t get any worse the student council door flew open and in stormed a furious Haruka Suzushiro with a usual timid looking Yukino in tow. Shizuru did her best to hide her thoughts behind her public mask but the pain in her chest was beginning to get worse. As Haruka went on a tirade about one thing or another the student council president grimaced a little why was it suddenly so hard to hear Miss Suzushiro? Usually she could hear her from across the school, wondering if Yukino was experiencing the same problem Shizuru turned to look at the younger woman only to see her staring at her with the most horrified expression on her face. Then seemingly out of nowhere it felt as though someone stabbed a large knife into her chest and all went black as darkness consumed her.
Outside of Fuuka the two cloaked figures assessed the situation: their target was currently being shuttled into an ambulance on a stretcher and if one had to guess by the sheer amount of commotion it must be quite serious.
“Well this complicates things. What should we do now?” Tomoe asked turning to her companion.
“We shall go get Kamikirimusi and then head to the hospital I have a plan but it is risky given our targets seemingly bad condition…”
A sound….she could hear a sound it was steady almost rhythmic…beeping. What was it? Shziuru slowly opened her eyes which she found to be like lead, yet she still managed to will them open. The first thing that appeared in her blurry vision was a face, the face was that of a woman whose beauty was comparable to her Natsuki…no not her Natsuki with that thought Shizuru felt the pain return to her chest causing her to let out a pained gasp for air.
“Easy there, Miss Fujino.” The doctors voice was soft and almost musical but as far as Shizuru was concerned it still didn’t hold a candle to Natsuki’s.
“W-what happened?” The council president asked in between breathes.
“You had a mild heart attack and where brought to the hospital.”
“A heart attack?”
“Yes it wasn’t as severe as it could have been but it has weakened your heart considerably. May I ask what it was you were doing at the time that is if you remember of course?”
“I was sitting at my desk in the student council room…” Shizuru debated whether or not to mention what she was thinking about while in said room.
“Student council? Are you a member?” The doctor’s expression that of an annalist.
“Yes I’m the council president.”
“And do you find that job to be particularly stressful?”
“No, I’m sorry may we continue this another time I still feel…” The burgundy haired woman asked a feeling of drowsiness over taking her.
“Of course I will be back to check up on you in a little bit ok?”
“Ok…” Shizuru then felt her eyelids close as their lead like weight returned.
Mai wasn’t a big fan of hospitals especially after what happened the last time she was in one. But Natsuki asked her for a favor and it gave her an opportunity to keep Tate away from her. She looked up realizing that Tate had gotten up looking down the hall she saw the familiar faces of her brother Takumi and his friend Akira.
“Heya sis what are you doing here?”
“Natsuki asked us to check on her friend President Fujino.”
“Oh I heard about that how is she doing?” Takumi asked the concern evident in his voice.
“We don’t know the doctor came out a few moments ago saying she still needs rest and that was all she would tell us. We are going to hang around a bit longer just in case she wakes up.”
“Why couldn’t Natsuki come if its her friend?” Akira asked turning to Mai.
“Ah, who knows what goes through that lunatic’s head!” Tate nearly shouted prompting him to be hit by Mai. “Ow what did you do that for?”
“Because we are in a hospital and you shouldn’t be shouting you dolt!!”
“Umm, sis you’re shouting…” Takumi stated in a vain attempt to contain the situation.
Before the comedic situation could escalate the entire hospital shook for a moment as the lights flickered. A loud roaring and the fact several people were running around shouting something about a monster convinced Mai the hospital was under attack.
“Tate come with me Akira stay here with Takumi!” Mai shouted quickly assuming leadership as she and Tate dashed down the hall.
As Mai and Tate managed to maneuver their way past the screaming hoards of civilians and reach the hospital entrance they saw what was causing the commotion. A massive beast not unlike a child was destroying the area in front of the hospital. It had a reptilian like torso with four arms that connected to a canine like body with four massive legs, a large tail whipped about tossing cars aside with ease. The most unusual thing was the young woman standing on its shoulder. She had tussled hair similar to Mikoto’s and also bore a similar feral aura about her. Her attire was that of a ripped kimono with bandages covering her forearms and shins.
“What is that a Hime?” Tate asked in bewilderment.
“Don’t lump me in with the rest of those weaklings!” The red haired woman shouted back.
“Then what are you why are you doing this?” Mai asked the anger evident in her voice.
“You are Kagutsuchi’s handler? I am Kamikurimusi, and I am here to destroy you, go forth Izanagi tear them apart!!” With that battle cry the woman’ monster charged towards Mai and Tate.
Shizuru sat up in her hospital bed having been woken up a few moments ago by a loud crashing sound was now nervously looking at the door leading out of her room. There seemed to be a lot of commotion going on just outside her door and as she was debating to get up and see what it was the door suddenly swung open. In walked two figures wearing hooded cloaks that hid most of their body.
“Shizuru Fujino I presume?” One of the hooded figures asked as he pushed back his hood revealing himself to be a handsome young man with short black hair and golden eyes.
“Yes, what can I do for you?” Attempting to a maintain the image of high up-bring that as a Fujino she was accustomed to showing despite the situation.
“We come as representatives for our organization, we wish to inform you of an injustice that Mashiro has committed against you.”
“All this commotion over little old me? I’m flattered.”
“Obviously there is more to it than that, however it would probably be best if we where to leave before things spiral out of control and one of my associates is forced to hurt that Hime Miss Tokiha.”
“I take it you being so polite about this is merely a formality?”
“If needed we will subdue and take you with force, but I would rather not do that. I believe you will be quite interested in the information we have especially since it concerns a Miss Natsuki Kuga.”
Upon hearing that name Shizuru’s breath hitched slightly. They had information on Natsuki or so they claimed, then again it wasn’t like she really had a choice in the matter.
“Very well, I shall go with you.”
“Wise decision.” The young man said as he and his companion helped her out of her hospital bed.
[End notes: Please read and review as it will help this humble little writer grow. Thank you.]
[Author's notes: Okay some notes for those unaware Kamikurimusi is a bonus character in Soulcaliber 4 created by the character artist from the Mai Hime and Mai Otome animes.
Also Izanagi in japanese myth beheads Kagutsuchi thought it was fitting to name Kamikurimusi's child after it.]
Grace and sophistication were the hallmarks of a Fujino and even as the hospital quaked beneath her feet, the lights flickered above her head and hospital staff scrambled to help their patients Shizuru walked with as much dignity as she could muster. All the while the crimson eyed woman tried hard not to rely on her captures for support as they made their way towards a back exit of the hospital. As the trio walked out into the rear parking lot she noticed that they were heading towards an inconspicuous grey minivan. Her male captor quickly slid open a side door while her female captor helped her in. Once Shizuru was secure the male captor quickly made his way to the driver’s seat while his female companion went to the passenger’s seat. As the group sped away from the chaos behind them Shizuru decided she would risk finding out as much as she could before they reached their destination.
“I take it the associate you mentioned earlier was the cause of that commotion?”
“Yes Miss Fujino and thank you for reminding me.” The female captor said as she lifted her wrist up and began speaking into what Shizuru assumed to be a small communicator of some sort. Kamikurimusi we have what we came for retreat as soon as you are able to.”
A loud and somewhat gruff voice was heard over the speaker and although Shizuru couldn’t make out most of she hear she could recognize the words Kagutsuschi and “defeated”. Who ever her captor was talking to apparently thought they were strong enough to fight Mai. When her captor was done arguing with the person on the comlink she quickly turned around to face Shizuru.
“My apologies Miss Fujino I didn’t mean to interrupt you.”
Shizuru thought a moment before responding there was something in the girl’s voice something she was all too familiar with. Deciding to see if her hunch was correct…
“Please call me Shizuru, Miss…?” The hooded girl quickly faced forward in her seat so Shizuru couldn’t get a read on her but the burgundy haired woman could practically taste the girls blush.
“T-Tomoe, Tomoe Marguerite.”
Shizuru smiled as her hunch proved correct. “Well Tomoe may I ask why you are so interested in me?” Shizuru asked practically sensing the girl’s blush increase.
It was then that Shizuru’s male captor spoke. “I’m sorry Miss Fujino but I must insist on waiting till we reach our headquarters to answer your questions.”
“Very well then.” Shizuru said deciding it would be best not to push the matter. Shizuru turned around in her seat to see Mai summon Kagutsuchi who then began battling the other CHILD. It was a reckless move Shizuru thought, to do something like that so close to a hospital…
“Mai!” Tate yelled as he dodged some falling debris. “We have to move away!”
Mai unleashed a volley of fire aiming for her opponent who was still perched on Izanagi’s shoulder, only to have the beast block it with two of its four arms. “I know! Kagutsuchi go f-“ Before Mai could finish giving her command Izanagi had quickly scrambled over to the dragon and with a pair of arms around its throat and another pair grasping each wing the massive beast slammed the CHILD onto the ground pinning it in place. While Izanagi held Mai’s CHILD down its handler leapt from her perch on its shoulder materializing a large kanabo in her hand she brought the spiked club crashing down on Mai who dodged the blow.
“Whats the matter Hime…” Kamikurimusi taunted. “Can’t fight a real woman?!”
“Hey You wanna fight a real woman? Than fight me!” Kamikurimusi turned to see who would dare interrupt her. The person in question was a blonde haired young woman in a school uniform standing on top of the hospital roof. In her hands was a large two handed mace that nearly dwarfed the girl holding it, but despite her rather flamboyant pose Kamikurimusi sensed a fire in this one.
“More Hime to the slaughter? I’ll enjoy tearing you all apart and watching your keys scream in agony!”
“That’s a no, no.” Yet another person appeared standing behind Haruka and nearly startling her right off the building with his sudden appearance. The young man was dressed in a black school uniform that contrasted perfectly against his white hair and pale skin.
“You again you should be dead?!” Mai yelled as she flew up higher to get away from Kamikurimusi.
“Don’t worry I’ll make sure he never comes back!” Haruka than swung her mace at the young man, but in the end all she did was further damage the hospital roof. Wondering what had happened Haruka looked around only to see her enemy was standing next to the girl who had attacked Mai.
“Hey Musi-Musi the boss wants us back.”
“But there are Hime here who need to be killed!”
“You wanna argue with the boss fine I’ll just-“
“Alright, alright I’ll go…” Kamikurimusi than dematerialized both her CHILD and element and then gruffly grabbed the young man’s hand.
“It was nice to see you again Mai chan do tell Natsuki chan I said hi!” And with that both the white haired young man and Kamikurimusi were gone.
With the help of Tomoe Shizuru managed to get out of the car with little effort. From the look of things their destination was one of the nicer hotels in town, curious but not wanting to annoy her captors Shizuru was led further into the luxurious lobby. Shizuru also noted that not only did anyone mind that two heavily cloaked individuals were leading a young woman through the lobby but the receptionist looked just like the doctor who examined her at the hospital. The person in question caught Shizuru staring and simply winked at the curious girl before Shizuru and her captors entered an elevator.
“We’re almost there Miss Fujino.” Tomoe said as she proceeded to press several buttons on the panel before ending with the emergency stop button. Shizuru made sure to memorize the sequence…just in case.
After a surprisingly long descent the elevator doors opened but Shizuru’s companions made no effort to exit. Just as the former kaichou was about to ask what the delay was the larger of her two captors turned to her.
“Miss Fujino I’m afraid this is your exit Lord Kaiser wishes to speak to you alone his office is just down the hall.” Her captor then pointed down a poorly lit hallway which appeared to be made out of a smooth blue metal with the fluorescent lights built into the smooth ceiling. As Shizuru made her way out of the elevator she heard its doors close behind her leaving her alone to walk down the ominous corridor.
After walking for some time the former kaichou reached what she assumed to be the door leading to Kaiser’s office. The door in question looked to be made of several half circles that grew larger than the one before it leading to a basketball sized orb in the middle. Unsure of how to open it she placed her hand on the orb, which upon contact slid further into the door until it was completely flat at which point the whole thing slid up into the ceiling. Taking this as her cue to enter Shizuru stepped through the doorway into yet another poorly lit room. As she entered Shizuru noticed a masked figure sitting at a crescent shaped desk. The figure’s mask was smooth and silvery and framed by a blue hood trimmed with gold.
“Lord Kaiser I presume?” Shizuru asked making sure to sound confident despite being completely exhausted.
“Correct, I must say Miss Fujino it is an honor to finally meet you and as I’m sure you must be tired from recent events I ask that you please sit.” With that Kaiser waved his hand and a rather uncomfortable looking chair seemingly made of metallic looking crystals swirled into existence near where the burgundy haired woman was standing. Shizuru knew this was less of a courtesy and more of a simple display of power but never-the-less the young woman welcomed the chance to get off her feet. “Now as time is unfortunately a factor I will cut right to the chase. When I asked Reito and Tomoe to escort you here I permitted them to tell you we have some information regarding Natsuki Kuga, well that was the truth but said information also pertains to all Hime. You see Mashiro’s clan has been manipulating the innate energies of the Hime so that they can reactivate their powers should their key die. This comes at the cost of severely limiting the Hime’s power, originally the Hime were far stronger than those that currently exist but when those Hime lost their keys in battle their powers died along with them. Mashiro lets the Hime keep their powers while absorbing the dying essence of their keys.”
“And I assume I have some role in this, hence my reason for being here?”
Kaiser let out a soft chuckle at this. “You perception does not disappoint. Yes you see Miss Fujino Natsuki was meant to be YOUR key!”
For a brief instant Shizuru let a look of shock disrupt her normally calm features. “You mean…”
“Yes Miss Fujino you are a dormant Hime destined to free both the Hime and the Oni from our shackles.”
[End notes: Tryin here but my head is a swirling mass of ideas that genrally die shortly after being born to give way to new ideas that do the same so just bear with me.]
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