Waking up after the arduous first day of school Yama finds himself in deep thought.
Laying in bed hours before the start of his day, he thinks about everything that has led to this moment.
He begins speaking aloud to himself.
“It's crazy… I’ve really been through a lot.”
“I’ve been so caught up in everything that has happened these last couple of weeks that I almost forgot why I’m doing this in the first place.” He says before pausing and placing his hands on his face.
Yama quickly has a flashback of his even younger-self at the orphanage in Chuoto.
The heavy micro and macro aggressions that were handed down by strangers began to flood his mind.
Such words rang in his mind, reminding him of the past, his face squirms in distaste before he soon ends sudden recollection.
“Samurai are the real scum.” He says to himself.
“This is why I want to get stronger in the first place, no one will ever treat me like that again.”
“Why am I even thinking about this right now?” Yama cuts himself off and stands up, walking around his low-lit room.
He stops adjacent to the window and takes in the wondrous gaze of the quiet and harmonious village.
Yama plants both of his feet firmly on the ground and begins striking at the air rhythmically.
“Strength is all that matters.” He says aloud.
“Everything that has happened in my life was for this moment.” He says punching after each word.
Suddenly, the door flies open, before Yama could notice.
“W-what’re you doing you scared me!!”
“You’re being too loud with your thoughts! Haha.” She says in a joking tone.
“W-what do you mean.” He replies laughing nervously.
“I can feel you down the hall with all your incessant worries and punches!” Aori replies, as she plops onto Yama’s bed.
“Haha, that doesn’t make any sense…”
“Ya well whatever, keep it down. Everything is fine.”
“We came here to get stronger and prepare for our new lives.” Aori states.
Shocked by her words Yama stares at her for a second in awe.
“You’re right. I’m just doing some lite exercise to stay in top shape!”
“You should do some with me!” He says excitedly.
“No thanks.” Aori replies before almost immediately falling asleep.
Yama looks at her with an endearing nature for a minute or two, before he continues to exercise.
“She always knows what to say and keeps me grounded…”
“I don’t know what I would do without her…” He says to himself.
Yama continues his light punches before he switches to kicks, until sunrise.
As soon as the rays touch Aori’s face, she begins to wake up.
“Why am I in here?” She asks confusedly.
Yama moves his head, addled.
“Uhm… you burst in earlier this morning, rambling about nonsense.” He says wryly.
“Well, whatever.” She lazily responds, before leaving without saying another word.
Following the short conversation, Yama makes his way towards the bathroom to clean off the sweat-residue latched onto his skin. While he showers, the others begin to wake up and prepare for their next day of Academy.
During this time, the Sonmyō who was peering out the window at his vast land, was contacted by his special force.
“What is it.” Itama states.
“Word comes from the South.”
“A horde of demons are gathering near our South-Eastern border.”
“Why is it so important that you would see me over some mere demons?”
“It is because our intel has linked the organized horde to have a connection to Nanpoto in Soyokoji.
Itama becomes slightly intrigued.
“You believe the South to have planned an attack on us?”
“I dare not state my beliefs. I know we can handle this ourselves.”
“Well, then… handle it.” He says sternly.
“Yes, My Great!” The special ops disappear instantly.
“That fool would not dare.” Itama says to himself, continuing to peer out his window.
Following the report, Yama is leaving the bathroom, and he is stopped by Ryukyuko who is on his way inside.
“Mornin’, “ He says lazily.
“Morning.” Yama replies.
Their meeting was brisk, as neither of them says another word to each other and continue their newfound morning routine. Yama returns to his room to get dressed before heading to the dining room to eat.
Upon walking inside the dining room, Yama is unsurprised to see Ryukyuka chowing down on breakfast.
“Good morning, Ka-chan!”
“Ready for the day?” He says enthusiastically as he begins eating his food.
“Mmmhm,” Ryukyuka replies, with a full mouth.
Soon Aori and Ryukyuko join them in the dining hall as they all enjoy breakfast. Looking around the room, Aori thinks to herself.
“I just can’t get enough of these moments..”
A few moments pass before everyone finishes their meals, and around the same time; Ruri presently enters the room without anyone noticing.
“Good morning, young masters.” She says with a smile and a bow.
Ryukyuko is the first one to speak.
“Good morning!!” He says with a large smile, as the rest give their greetings.
Ryukyuko continues to stare as she cleans up after them; snapping him out of his trance-like state, Ryuyuka shakes her brother.
“Are you listening to me?!”
“It’s time to leave!”
She continues to shake him.
Ryukyuko snaps out of it.
“Huh? Oh, yeah.”
“I’m ready, let's go.”
“Stupid.” Ryukyuka mumbles under her breath as they all leave the room.
Heading outside, the blazing sun gleams over their eyes, slightly inhibiting their sight.
“It’s really bright today.” Aori says.
“Yeah...” Yama replies.
“Hopefully we don’t do much training outside, I hate the heat!”
“What about staying in top shape? Haha.”
“Only when it's not boiling outside!!”
Ryukyuka giggles as they make their way to the Academy.
Trafficking through the main walkway, the children absorb many other things they had previously not noticed yesterday.
“There’s really a lot of merchants here, aren't there?” Ryukyuko says.
The clamoring shops are bustling with orders, ringing bells, and filled with loud voices shouting numbers; all masked by the scent of sizzling meat and cooked vegetables.
“Yeah... and this smell is making me hungry again.” Ryukyuka says with her tongue out.
“Calm yourself.” Ryukyuko replies jokingly.
“Ugh, it's SO hot!” Yama interrupts.
Suddenly he sees a line for what appears to be shaved ice.
“Guys, what’s that?” He says intrigued.
Noticing the situation Aori jumps in.
“No.” She says.
“We don’t have time.”
“We have to make it to class on time or we will be punished, remember?”
Continuing his march towards the long line.
“I’m not afraid of that old man.” Yama replies in a confident yet joking tone.
“I can’t resist, it’s just so hot.”
“No.” Aori says sternly.
“If I can’t stop and get food, you can’t either Yama.” Ryukyuka states in a pouty tone.
Something clicks in Yama’s head.
“Don’t we need money for this?”
After uttering those words everyone had a shocking epiphany.
“You know what…” Ryukyuko says.
“I totally forgot about money.”
“We didn’t have any in Chuoto other than what she gave us for food.”
“Ha!, Yeah, all this free food at the castle has made me forget the importance of money.”
“We should definitely ask Itama-ji for an allow-”
“As much as I’d love to talk about money.”
“We are quickly running out of time.”
“We’re going to have to run to class at this point.” She says annoyed.
Taking the attention off of Aori.
“Well, how else are we going to stay in top shape?” Yama replies sarcastically with a smile.
Aori furls her eyebrows; and at that moment, Yama begins to run towards the Academy.
“Yama!!” Aori yells taking off after him, as she is soon followed by the twins.
“Never a break with these guys.” Ryukyuko says smiling.
Running at similar speeds as their first day, the children make it to the Academy very soon. With one minute to spare, they reach their classroom and sit in their seats 10 seconds before the bell rings. The instant the ten seconds were up, Kokkuri appears inside the classroom and stands behind his podium.
“Good morning, students.” He says.
“Good morning, Sensei.” They all reply in unison.
“I received some complaints about last classes’ teaching method.”
“It appears there is some high-ranking folk amongst your peers.” He says plainly.
“Nevertheless, the West has no need for the weak who cry to their mommies.” He says mockingly.
“So today we will be focusing solely on [Somatic(Physical) Kaōk] Arts.”
“I expect all of you in the training ground in two-minutes.” He says before vanishing.
As everything begins to settle down in the classroom after Kokkuri leaves, they start to slowly look at one another.
“Wow, someone here has that kind of pull?” A student says aloud, as the others mutter amongst themselves.
“Damn it!” Yama says to himself.
“Now we have to do training outside!”
Juso notices his angst.
“Are you okay, Yama?” She says concerned.
Yama breaks out of his short-lived panic.
“Uh...yeah, I’m fine. Haha.”
“Oh, okay.” She replies without prying further.
The clock has moved about 30 seconds as all of the conversations are happening.
On the 89th second, nearly all of the classmates immediately leave the room and head towards the training field. Soon, 98% of the entire class makes it on-time, leaving only a couple of students who are falling behind.
Kokkuri pays them no mind and continues with his lesson.
“Thank you all for making it on time.”
“Now, who can tell me what Somatic Arts(Kaōk) is?”
A few students raise their hands, and he picks one.
“You there, state your name before you speak.” He says.
“Yessir! Ishinami Byuri.”
“Kaōk is the practice, study, and alteration of bodily aspect manipulation.”
“Can anyone say it in a simpler way?”
Another student raises their hand, and they are called on.
“Yes! Harime Juso!"
"Kaōk is the method of strengthening one's body!”
“Correct!” He says smiling.
“You both answered well, but there are a few things more to Kaōk that we will cover later.”
“For now we will be going over the basics.”
“For the next two weeks we will be performing, 300 still punches, followed by 300 low, mid, and high kicks, each.”
“Each?!!” Yama accidentally says out loud.
Some of the classmates begin to laugh, as Kokkuri smirks.
“Yes, Yama, 300."
"Each.” He pauses for a second.
“There is a reason for all of this.”
“The foundation for immensely powerful offense and defense begins with a well-trained body.”
“This foundation allows for all types of Abilities, Natures, and Arts to be buffed in the long-run.”
He pauses again.
“So with that being said, please begin.”
Ending with those words Kokkuri sits atop a wide boulder shaded by a large tree.
The students immediately begin positioning themselves sturdily and strike in front of them one-by-one.
“This is easy.” Yama says to himself.
He gets an idea others feel the same way as he looks around at everyone.
Hitting around 50 punches, pressures of air can be found shooting off a few of the student's fists; Yama notices this and wonders why his aren't doing the same.
“Just how hard are they guys punching??” He says to himself with a sense of dispassion.
More time passes as they reach around 150 punches. “Halfway there!” Yama says to himself.
Aori looks at the twins and notices how calm each of them is, “I cannot believe Yama does this in the morning...the twins too?” She says confusedly. “How are they so calm, my arms are tired!”
At around 250 punches, Yama begins to feel a change in his body, “It almost doesn’t even feel like I’m moving them anymore…” the tone of his voice changes.
He continues his exercise as he notices the force around his fists change. “That felt like…”
Nearing the end of the 300 still-punch exercises, Yama begins shooting off pressures reminiscent of the students earlier. Albeit, the others strength has increased by the end of the drill, Yama found himself near their level as before.
“Good job, two-minute break.” Kokkuri quickly interjects.
Upon stopping the workout, some of the students could feel their arms swelling with blood, making them large and pulsate.
Kokkuri takes notice and immediately sends them to the infirmary with no extra comments.
Following the nearly two-hour-long exercise, Kokkuri instructs them again.
“Alright, time for the second phase of basic training, begin.”
The students reform and begin low-angled, acute kicks towards the ground. The exercise looks something similar to shaking a bug off one's leg.
They soon hit 50 kicks and no one is found to have any physical changes or discomfort. Around the 100th mark, Aori begins to feel tense in her leg, “This is too much!” She says to herself.
One of the students in the back begins to slow down and lose pace with the others, Kokkuri immediately and silently ejects them from the training session.
Hitting the 150th mark, Yama notices some swelling in his foot, “Ow! I’ve never done more than 100 of these before.”
“This is crazy.” Yama slightly loses pace with the rest of the students, he instantly feels Kokkuri’s eyes on him and he fixes his pace.
At the 200th mark, two more students are quietly ejected from the session. The swelling in Yama’s foot starts to increase; he looks to Aori for support but nothing comes from it as she is focused on herself with her eyes closed. Turning to the twins for comfort, Yama is met with an effortless smile from Ryukyuko as they perform the exercise flawlessly.
They soon hit the 300th mark and are immediately stopped.
“Great! Rest for 15 seconds and start the same on the opposite leg.”
Several students uproar in discontent while others find it as the time to rest their leg, none of them however, quit the training session.
The break ends quickly and they start on the other leg, by this time everyone knows what to expect so they speed through the exercise; some faster than others.
“That was way easier than the first time.” Yama says to himself.
“Fantastic, now switch to mid-kicks.”
“These kids learn pretty quickly…” Kokkuri says to himself.
“This is turning into a chore…” Yama says to himself as he starts his exercise.
He looks over to Juso and sees her fairly calm as well. “Is no one else bothered by this?” He says to himself.
By the 100th kick, Yama starts to feel his body get a little lighter, looking at Aori he sees her a bit more relaxed than how she was previously.
The students soon finish the 300th kick and immediately move onto high kicks.
By the time they reach the high kicks, some of the students appear to be kicking off large amounts of pressure; Yama being one of them.
“Ooh, this feels great!”
He looks around and notices the annoying student from yesterday at the same level as himself.
Yama huffs aloud and the exercise soon reaches its ending point.
“You’ve completed the first day of basic Kaōk training!”
The students sigh and cheer in relief.
“We will continue basic training until you are ready for the next level.”
“Please return to the classroom after taking a short break outside.”
Kokkuri leaves as soon as he finishes talking.
Yama meets up with Aori and the twins to talk about the experience.
“My legs hurt!” Aori groans as she rubs her feet while sitting on the ground.
“Yeah, I’m still kind of feeling it in my arms.” Yama replies.
“You guys didn’t even break a sweat!” He says referring to the twins.
“Well, Beastmin bodies can handle a lot more than humans can.” Ryukyuko replies.
“I suppose so…” Yama says.
“This kind of exercise is child's play for Beastmin.” Ryukyuka states.
“Kids younger than us do this before they begin to read!” She says energetically.
“Anyways…” Yama says, ignoring her comment.
“I could feel my strength improving towards the end of the session.”
“Me too,” Aori says.
“It was like my kicks were heavy yet lightweight.”
[Ryukyuko begins looking around for girls.]
“Right, I hadn’t felt such force before.”
“Maybe I need to train harder!”
“Probably.” Ryukyuka says.
Yama ignores her comment as he is interrupted by Harime Juso.
“How do you guys feel?” Juso says with positive energy.
“In pain.” Aori states sarcastically.
“Yeah, I’m feeling a little tense right now.” Yama replies.
“How are you feeling?”
“It was tough that's for sure!”
“But I feel like I got used to it later on.” Juso replies.
“I don’t want to do this every day though, haha.” She laughs.
Ryukyuko quickly interrupts trying to shake her hand.
“Hello, I don’t believe I introduced myself last time.”
“My name is Ryuoji Ryuky-”
Ryukyuka jumps in before he can finish.
“Please don’t mind him.”
Juso looks slightly confused but her attention is quickly caught by one of the students in the back. She spots a student muttering to herself and feels uneasy about it.
“Hey, do you guys see him?” She points toward the unwell student.
“What are we looking at?” Yama replies.
“Hmm...” Aori says.
“He does look kind of weird.”
“What do you mean?” Yama asks.
Focusing a little harder with his eyes, Yama starts to see a corruption to the students Kādo (Chi (Field).
“Something doesn’t look right…” He says.
After uttering those words a few other students can feel the vibe in the air get denser.
They all look toward the student Yama and the others were just staring at before the student suddenly bursts alive with a massive amount of energy.
Letting out a loud roar, the student begins to slightly levitate off the ground due to the sheer pressure of his Kādo.
Kokkuri quickly takes notice of the massive spike in energy and heads back to the training grounds.
Without coming out of the bushes, Kokkuri analyzes the situation.
“Hmm, a demon eh?” He thinks to himself for a little bit.
“Let’s see if the children can handle such a low-ranking bug.”
As the student continues to build up his energy, the students around him immediately back up, some of them even run. The fleeing students are instantly interrupted by the possessed child, as he quickly drop-kicks the several students that attempted to flee.
Moving at high-speeds only a few students could even keep track of his movements, Yama and the team being some of them.
‘This is crazy what’s going on?” Yama states.
“I knew he was acting funny!” Juso replies.
Ryukyuka begins smelling the surroundings.
“It smells like... a demon in the air.”
“A demon?!” Aori replies.
“Yeah, that’s a demon alright.” Ryukyuko agrees, with his nose.
Yama is initially shaken, as is Aori.
“I’ve never seen an actual demon before.” He says.
“But he doesn’t look like what I would've thought.”
“He seems to be possessed.” Ryukyuka quickly answers.
“We used to see cases like this all the time in Soyokoji.”
“Hmm.” Yama thinks to himself for a bit.
As they were having this conversation, the possessed student continued to attack the ones that fled before moving on to the 10 students that were left including Yama. The anonymous student from yesterday is the first to jump out into battle. Soon flames were seen rising in the vicinity, however, no matter how hot the flames were, the corrupted student came out unfazed.
The possessed student counter attacks with brute strength and sends the student flying into the woods. Yama stares in shock. The corrupted-student immediately turns his attention to Yama and the group.
“Guys.” Yama says in a cautious tone.
The glowy-eyed, demon-possessed student with veiny skin dashes towards them faster than he had at the other fleeing students.
He is face-to-face with them before they can even react.