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Garic Aguero Grant

*mumble mumble* Wha? Me? No I was, uh... talking to my food...

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a character in “True Cross Academy”, as played by Xunnamius

Description

Garic Aguero Grant
"Wha? My sister? Oh, well, she's cool... I guess."

Image

5'1" 100 lbs, which makes Garic a little short for his age—a fact his sister will never let him forget.
Everything about him is pretty normal, save his faintly glowing red-amber irises. The image pretty effectively communicates the rest.



Age: 14
Gender: Male
Race: Human (most likely)
Role: Exorcist #9





Rank: Page
Exorcist: Probably a Tamer; room for expansion
Job: Going to school; works with his father at the family shop on the weekends




Backstory (Bio)

To put it simply: there were complications with Garic's birth. Several months into the pregnancy—during a particular night roughly sixteen years ago that will forever live in infamy—Satan attacked the most powerful members of the True Cross Order. Most, if not all of the recorded casualties of that night were males—Exorcists of the highest caliber. Imagine the surprise when Garic's mother, an Upper 1st Class exorcist primed to take a position as one of the Arc Knights, was also consumed by the blue flames whilst lying in her bed, next to her husband. Garic's father, a high level Tamer and Doctor, took swift action, summoning a demon to remove his wife from their bed, which by then had been totally engulfed in blue flames.

By now, Garic's mother was bleeding from various orifices, with neon blue flames spewing from her mouth, eyes, and ears like geysers. Needless to say, she was screaming in pure unadulterated agony. The father attempted every medical trick and technique at his disposal, but it became painfully obvious after several failures: his wife was about to die, as was his unborn son. With an eight-year-old Aurora crying in the doorway, Garic's father made a decision.

He was willing to sacrifice anything—everything—for a chance to save his wife and kid, and, through desperation, he conceived an idea. By now his wife was totally engulfed in the blue fire, and had stopped screaming. Not good. With a shaky hand, he drew out the most complex and powerful summoning circle he had ever wrought. He already knew what would appeal to this demon; they'd been circling each other like sharks, he and this infernal beast, for the better part of a decade. All he needed now was blood. A lot of blood.

So he cut off his arm, hacking and slashing his way through bone and tendon. When that amount of blood wasn't enough, he cut off his leg, wrapping his belt high along his thigh as a tourniquet to prevent an immediate death by blood loss. Vision tunneling, the man tried his summoning once more, calling to a very specific demon. His nemesis—the Prince of Black Flame, son to Iblis, the Demon King of Fire, grandson to Satan: the Kowloon King. After a few moments of silence, Garic's father feared that he'd failed completely, or that Kowloon had rejected his offer, but it was just then, as his spilled blood ignited with obsidian flames, that the demon appeared. A ferocious ink-like jet black wolf, eyes red as rubies, cloaked in the eponymous blue-black conflagration that was his namesake. The Kowloon King, Prince of Black Flame.

Garic's father pleaded with the demon to save his wife and kid. Said that he'd agree to anything. Anything at all. Now, the Kowloon is not a nice demon. He is not benevolent, and these humans—these Exorcists—in front of him were his sworn enemies. Yet, as a demon, he realized his position of power in the situation, so he abused it. These Exorcists had power, as well as knowledge on the order. He wanted it. All of it.

So he offered the dying man a deal.

In exchange for saving the woman and child, the father would have to agree to let Kowloon eat both him and his wife—body and soul—after three decades of life. Vision fading, his wife burning, he had no choice. Of course he agreed. He'd have agreed to anything. Kowloon accepted this and smiled. Their decade-long rivalry had finally come to an end, and the demon had come out on top. Better yet, he'd soon be able to assimilate the knowledge of two high ranking Exorcists—a potentially crippling blow to the Order.

Aurora, a competent child, had run off to phone for help before Kowloon appeared. Hopefully, that help would be arriving momentarily.

Kowloon kept his promise. For two years hence, do not break that summoning circle, Exorcist, or your child will die the demon warned, moving over to touch the burning woman. Upon making contact, he disappeared, a mark appearing upon her abdomen where Kowloon's paw had made contact with her body. The blue flames of Satan turned black, and then vanished altogether. The father blacked out then from loss of blood, to wake up several hours later under the care of an Exorcist medical unit.

As promised, his wife and child survived the Blue Night—though his wife had been rendered a paraplegic. He wasn't able to gather the courage to tell his wife about how he'd made the proverbial (or not) deal with the devil for their lives, but eventually he did. She went through several stages, eventually ending in acceptance. As warned, the Exorcist did not disturb the summoning circle for two entire years. Due to the demon, Garic was not born until after those two years expired. He came out a healthy baby boy devoid of any birth defects or afflictions—save oddly colored red-amber eyes. His father suspected it was a sign of the Kowloon's influence.

It was one final comeuppance—the demon had already won the two Exorcists' lives, and now he had corrupted their new born son in some way. Even breaking the summoning circle did not remove the red-amber corruption from the boy. It wouldn't be until Garic was eight that his father would discover just how the Prince of Black Flame had saved their child, and just what price they would all pay for making a deal with a demon. Garic fell down the stairs on this day, breaking his wrist in the process. However, before his father could pull out his medical kit and tend to the boy, the injury began to heal itself—slowly, but noticeably. At the same time, Garic's right eye glowed a soft red. Upon closer inspection, the father was horrified to find the source of the spontaneous healing factor.

Embedded in the boy's right red-amber eye was a summoning circle of sorts, one so detailed in its complexity and grand in its construction that the father couldn't even begin to comprehend the logic behind its design and microscopic scale. So that was how Kowloon had done it. He'd engraved himself into their son! And for the first and only time, Kowloon spoke through the boy. This child, my vessel, will be my key into the True Cross Order. The boy stood then, staring his father in the eyes. When the time is right, you will send me to the True Cross Academy. You will do this or I will end this child's life.

Like his sister before him, Garic was sent to the True Cross Academy when he turned 14.



Weapons

ImageGaric is, technically, a Tamer—though not in the traditional sense. Thanks to his father, he was able to learn how to summon "parts of his familiar," which coalesce with Garic's correlated body part(s) to form a type of demon-human hybrid extremity. For example, the image on the left is Garic summoning the wolf demon Kowloon's claw, which melds with and warps his human hand to form a sort of half-human-half-demon appendage. In theory, he should be able to perform this transformation on any part of his body—even his entire body all at once—but due to his lack of training, skill, and confidence, he can only summon safely on his arms and feet. There was one instance where he was able to transform his lower-mid section and thighs, which granted him Kowloon's tail and made it hard for him to walk, but that was purely an accident that he hasn't been able to replicate since.

ImageEmbedded in his right iris is Kowloon's summoning circle, which attaches the Kowloon King to Garic. The circle is not normally visible unless Garic attempts to summon Kowloon or his body is utilizing Kowloon's accelerated healing factor. He can feel when the circle is made visible (usually a slight burning sensation), and shields or covers his eyes so as to hide its existence from those around him. If the circle were ever damaged, the link between the human and demon would be severed—though the circle is so advanced that it can tap into the human body's self-healing capabilities. Such a healing would be very slow, full recovery taking days for a slight injury and weeks or more for one more grievous.

Performing this type of summon, which utilizes the circle (and blood) in his right eye, does require a certain level of self-confidence and absence of fear on Garic's part. Lack of confidence or an overabundance of fear will prevent him from mutating his extremities, and will sabotage his powers if he's already transformed himself.

Thanks to the Kowloon, Garic does not have need for traditional weapons, and therefore does not know how to use them.



Personality

Garic is very kindhearted and supportive of others, often sacrificing his own happiness for the sake of people he considers his friends. He also tries to hide what he's thinking or feeling, mostly to prevent Kowloon's personality from showing through. Because of this, he may seem like he's hiding something... which he is. His father told him to never ever let anyone see him transform using Kowloon. Never to tell anyone about Kowloon. Never to let Kowloon show through to the surface of his psyche.

His sister refers to him as "that wall flower," although that's not always true. Garic is naturally a shy person when by himself. He'll usually keep quiet unless spoken to directly, preferring instead to converse with the voice of Kowloon in his head. However, when surrounded by friends, he becomes much more of an extrovert, his shy and timid demeanor melting away.

Since confidence is required when working as a Tamer, Garic can be thought of as "confident when he wants to be". He'd never admit it, but his mental state is somewhat fragile and, even though living with his sister and her mouth has gone a long way towards conditioning his psyche, his confidence can be easily fractured by harsh words. Still, he is an extremely tenacious person. If he sets his mind to something, he'll never give up until he achieves his goal.

Likes
  • Reading
  • Watching TV
  • Doing stuff with friends
  • His sister (clean thoughts, people)

Dislikes
  • Arguing
  • Talking at length; people who tend to bloviate
  • Wasting time
  • Transforming with Kowloon in front of others

Flaws
  • He doesn't necessarily "dislike" fighting, but he is often reluctant to engage opponents
  • He completely and utterly relies on Kowloon during battle
  • Words hurt, and he is easily disheartened. His self-confidence could be considered by some as "fragile"

Hobbies
  • Eating tasty food. That counts, right?
  • Reading, watching TV



Skills/Talents/Abilities

Kowloon's Influence

Due to Kowloon's presence within him, Garic receives some autonomic boons, namely: an accelerated healing factor, augmented sight, and the ability to communicate with the kin of Iblis by touch.

Though his expanded healing capabilities aren't in the same league as a real demon's or someone like Rin Okumura, Garic tends to heal much faster than normal humans. Most small woulds heal almost instantly, while more grievous injures such as broken bones and stab wounds will heal in a few hours. Something insane like a severed limb might be able to be healed if Garic receives proper medical attention first, and the limb is reconnected in time. On the other hand, something like decapitation, getting punched through the chest, run through with a blade multiple times, or being blown to bits is not something that his meager healing factor can overcome. In cases such as those, he'd be just as dead as anyone else.

Thanks to Kowloon, Garic can see things that others may not be so quick to notice: those possessed by demons, offspring of demons, demons masquerading as humans, and the like are all as visible to him as the sky on a sunny day. Similarly, Garic can communicate with certain demons by touch, even if these demons do not speak a human tongue. This only works on demons that are kin to Iblis (and, therefore, kin to Kowloon).

This influence is not all boons, however. It's a two way street. If Kowloon catches Garic off guard, the demon can speak through him, even manipulate the boy's limbs.

Becoming a Hybrid: Summoning (Parts of) Kowloon

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As a novice tamer, Garic is able to use the circle in his eye to "summon" parts of Kowloon into his own body, effectively transforming himself into a hybrid of sorts. He usually summons Kowloon's hands and forearms, legs (below the knees) and feet, and/or teeth—though the latter occurs only when he's angry. For each body part summoned, Kowloon gains more influence over Garic's actions. In exchange, Garic gains more control over an expanded range of Kowloon's demonic powers such as: near complete resistance to flame-based attacks, extreme speed (if feet/legs), high cutting power (if hands/forearms), etc.

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In theory, Garic should be able to summon the entirety of Kowloon into himself, completely merging with the monstrous being and becoming a full hybrid, but he has never attempted such a feat. In such a scenario, he'd have access to a very large portion of Kowloon's powers, combined with anything his human side could bring to the table. The only downside is that control over such a hybrid form would be split about evenly between both Garic and Kowloon, which could lead to trouble.

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The Kowloon King

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The Kowloon King, Prince of Black Fire—or simply "Kowloon," is Garic's demon familiar... or something like that. Kowloon's goal is to usurp his father, Iblis, as Gehenna's King of Fire. His black flames are superior to his father's blue flames, but Iblis is a greater demon in almost every other way. Kowloon believes that infiltrating the True Cross Order and learning how they work will give him a competitive edge over Iblis, as well as allow him to protect many of his kin from persecution by Exorcists. He's been trying to find a way into True Cross Academy for quite a while. Unlike other demons that manage to sneak past the academy's protections, the pure-bred son of the demon prince of fire is just too easy to spot. However, through a bit of serendipitous fortune, he was able to take advantage of the Grant family and gain dominion over Garic, wearing him as a sort of disguise to mask his presence.

Do not mistake Kowloon's intent—he does not want to destroy the Academy or the True Cross Order. He believes that, without a common enemy, the Demon Kings would go to war with each other over dominion of Assiah. Many demons would be sacrificed in such a needless conflict, and could get so brutal that the entirety of demon-kind would be put at risk. Rather, he wants to gain allies (through Garic) and use the power of the Exorcists against his father, Iblis, so that he can assume the mantle as one of the eight Demon Kings under Satan.

Not much is known about his demonic powers outside of what was observed when he attacked True Cross Town during Garic's father's time: almost unbelievable speed—faster than the human eye can keep up with, sharp claws, and a healing factor the likes of a demon prince. He has pure ruby-red eyes and is cloaked in black fur-like flames that double as protection from most melee attacks. He can also issue commands to many of the kin of Iblis and is suspected of being able to control open flames, which would make sense for the son of the Demon King of Fire.

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As a fire demon, Kowloon is weak against water and strong against rot, and can be summoned by a Tamer just like any other demon—though the number of Tamers left in this world that could handle summoning a monster of his caliber can be counted on half a hand. If he accepts a summons, he tends to go berserk and things around him tend to spontaneously combust. Not something to attempt.



Relationships


Mother/Father: Retired Exorcists in their 50s, currently living somewhere in True Cross Town. Father was an Upper 3rd Class Doctor/Tamer. Mother was an Upper 1st Class Aria/Knight, gunning for the position as one of the Arc Knights before the Blue Night incident.
Older sister: Aurora Sanctus Grant



Thoughts Towards Other Characters


Aurora Sanctus Grant
Garic admires his older sister. She's strong. Powerful. Beautiful. Cool. Elegant. Graceful. Magnificent. High ranking. Respected. Confident. Essentially everything he's not. He mostly tries to avoid her, since their meetings tend to be awkward, but when they do meet, he always goes for small talk. He hopes to one day gain her respect.

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Theme Song
In The Shadows by The Rasmus

No sleep
No sleep until I am done with finding the answer
Won't stop
Won't stop before I find a cure for this cancer
Sometimes
I feel I going down and so disconnected
Somehow
I know that I am haunted to be wanted

...

They say
That I must learn to kill before I can feel safe
But I
I rather kill myself then turn into this thing
Sometimes
I feel that I should go and play with the thunder
Somehow
I just don't wanna stay and wait for a wonder

So begins...

Garic Aguero Grant's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mavis Aria Jeska Character Portrait: Yoru Sukishime Character Portrait: Haru Freimann Character Portrait: Analisia Tachibana Character Portrait: Yuen Tatabana Character Portrait: Yusaku Yanagisawa Character Portrait: Miki Taniya Character Portrait: Xepher Mier Dwei Character Portrait: Sonny Koizumi Character Portrait: Jitsue Osaka Character Portrait: Eira Akane Ueda Character Portrait: Makoto Taniya Character Portrait: Lin Mojarra Character Portrait: Chihaya Ogiwara Character Portrait: Soru Haika Character Portrait: Jora LaFete Character Portrait: ~;Subarashii Ritsuzen;~ Character Portrait: ~;Mei Norou Makazaki;~ Character Portrait: Rina Okumura Character Portrait: Aurora Sanctus Grant Character Portrait: Garic Aguero Grant Character Portrait: Felix Thorn

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Mavis Jeska


Mavis always woke up early, which is why she was at her class so early. She looked upon the few students in front of her class, either slacking off, sleeping, or talking. Rarely any of them were studying, and the ones that were well... It wasn't surprising to her though. She wasn't given that much respect as a teacher because of her age and being a student also. The only respect she was given was for being serious and strict in some way, no one looked her beyond that.

It's not as if she really minded though. This was daily, this was life. As a teacher, she had to deal with these things, always being the calmest and most accepting one, no matter the circumstances, which was why she was so open to letting people sleep in her class, 'It'll affect their lives if they don't pay attention in class the next time we all go on a mission...' She thought with a sigh but shook off this unpleasant feeling and glanced at her papers she had to grade and sat up straight in her chair before grabbing a pen and beginning to write.




Yuen Tatabana


Yuen woke up early, and by accident because his alarm was on and he didn't turn it off the night before, seeing how he'd always do that, but just because he hated waking up early. Usually, he'd wake up late, leaving behind first, second, third, maybe even his fourth period if he felt like it. The first year, his teachers were always angry at him for skipping his classes, but after him staying for so long and constantly repeating all his mistakes, all the teachers got used to such habit.

Slowly, he rolled off his bed, hitting the ground with such force it probably woke up the other heavy sleepers the floor below him. And yet his hand missed the alarm clock, leaving it still to ring as he brought himself off the ground, the blankets along with him. He brought his hand forcefully down onto the clock and stood up with a wrathful look on his face before heading for the door, partially dressed and undressed. He went on a mission a day before, and got really tired while trying to change out of his school uniform. He didn't care about the weird looks he got from his dorm, so he just headed straight for class, not knowing what time it was and that school wasn't even about to begin just yet.




Xepher Dwei


Xepher lit a smoke before putting the lighter back into his pocket and looking up at the sky from outside the academy. He wasn't the type of principal to be lying around and doing nothing, so what he did in the mean time was talk to a few of the kids or just simply welcome the freshmen or newcomers, since there were people of many ages.

It wasn't creepy or anything. He was the principal, sure, but he was so young. Even a few students and teachers were older than him, but that didn't really matter to anyone apparently. Xepher was the type of man that was easy to talk to, the type of man who anyone could open up to, no matter the age or gender. It was the same both ways since he felt mutual.

He looked down at his watch to check the time and noticed that it was 7:45, "Seven forty-five kids! Make sure not to be late, alright?" He laughed and watched the few students he talked to walk off and run into the distance, 'Really... these kids are so interesting and funny to me...' Xepher told himself, taking a breath of fresh air for himself.




Jitsue Osaka


Jitsue was sitting underneath a tree, holding a book up to his eye level and scanning it quickly. To most people, it looked like a regular book, but he was studying human emotions, since he's a demon himself. Although people suspected him to be a human, he was most definitely not. He, along with three others, were the people causing so much trouble for the school, and yet no one knew, other than perhaps one; the principal.

He always had his eyes on him, being wary, but around the students, he knew they never suspected a thing, so he was able to read these books and be normal around them without any worries. Still, he acted normal, just in case.

There, underneath that tree, he waited for three other people who were just like him; demons. But they were demons who also caused trouble and stood undercover in the academy to learn weak spots so they could attack when needed. Instead of takling to the students who passed, he waited for the other three of his kind to talk to. He never liked humans. In fact, he hated them with all his life, 'Just to get rid of them would be a long life well spent...' He though with a small smile while his eyes switched from the book to the passing students, still searching for the three he was waiting for.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Garic Aguero Grant

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Garic ripped the covers from his bed, tossing them unceremoniously to the floor. Not there. He got on his hands and knees, checking under the bed. He saw some lint and what could have been a dead spider—blehk—but what he was looking for wasn't there either. Most of the rest of his room lay barren, as his things had been moved into his dorm room at True Cross Academy at the start of the school year. His home was so close to the school that he could visit from time to time—usually the weekends, even spending the night when he felt like it. Today, he regretted that decision.

"Garic! If you don't hurry, you'll miss the train! I don't want you cutting first period!" A woman called from downstairs.
"Yeah, I'm almost done!" He shouted back.

He had been ready some fifteen minutes ago. He should have been gone by now... but he couldn't find his backpack!

Did you think of the answer yet, human?

Garic sighed, tearing through his pile of dirty laundry, articles of clothing flying across the room. Not funny, K. If you know where it is, just tell me. He stamped his foot in frustration. We don't have time for this!

"K" was the name Garic had given to his demon familiar whom lives in his head. A long time ago, his father told him that K had saved his and his mother's life, and that, in exchange, K got to live inside of Garic for a while. He remembered K filling his head with maniacal laughter at that explanation. As far as demons go, K probably wasn't one of the nice ones. Probably downright evil.

Which is why it made so much sense that he had taken it upon himself to hide Garic's backpack, and refused to tell him where. He'd probably controlled Garic during the night while he was sleeping, using the boy to place the bag somewhere. Sleepwalking. An unfortunate side effect of having a demon inside of you. Garic had all but torn his room apart looking for it. It was nowhere to be found.

Come on, it's an extremely easy one. What's the shortest of your human months?

Garic brought his hands to his head, letting out a moan of exasperation. K always played these little games with him. He couldn't believe it. He was going to be late to cram school for the first time! The shame. The embarrassment. He gulped, thinking of his sister. She'd probably kill him for "tarnishing the Grant name". No, not probably. She definitely would.

K, we're going to be late...
Then answer correctly. I won't associate myself with a stupid vessel that can't answer even the simplest of riddles.

Slumping his shoulders in defeat, Garic sat down upon his bed. The alarm on the adjacent dresser read 7:32. The next train would be arriving at 7:43. Maybe a little earlier. It was a 10 minute walk from his house to the station. 5 if he ran.

He took a breath, calming himself.

Are you sure it's not February?
It was K's turn to sound exasperated. No, human. You said that already. Try again.

Garic leaned back, thinking. Shortest month? Yes. Garic had been thinking to himself, and ignored K. Hrnn... February is the "shortest" month... it has 28 days and all the others have more than that... He chewed on his lower lip, eyeing his clock.

7:34.

K interrupted his impending panic attack. Stop wasting time, human, or you're going to be late. February... is definitely not the shortest month.

Garic's eyes went wide. Shortest?! He began counting something on his fingers, muttering to himself. "January... February... March... April... May... AHA! MAY! THE SHORTEST MONTH IS MAY, BECAUSE IT ONLY HAS THREE LETTERS!" He exclaimed out loud, pumping his fists into the air.

For a moment, K was silent, and Garic began to doubt his answer. Your bag is downstairs, hanging on the door. It's 7:36. You'd better run.

...

Garic slapped his temples as hard as he could with the butts of his palms, giving himself a slight headache in the process. Doing that really annoyed K, as intended. "You jerk!" He muttered, jumping up from his bed and rushing down the stairs, taking them three and four at a time. When he reached the downstairs door, there his bag was, just as K promised. "You jerk!" he repeated, a little louder this time.

As he opened the door, he turned, shouting over his shoulder "I'm gone, Mom! Tell Dad when he gets back that I said bye!"
"Alright! Have a nice day, and pay attention in class!" She responded, a mother's worry thick in her voice.

"Okay," Garic responded, a grin upon his face, closing the door behind him. He donned his backpack and sprinted for dear life. Luckily, their home resided within True Cross Town, so it only took one stop to get to the academy. No way he was going to miss this train, bring shame upon the Grant name, and summarily get murdered by his sister. Not today.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Miki Taniya Character Portrait: Garic Aguero Grant

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I'm impressed. You have some pretty dirty thoughts for such a young human.

Garic stopped in his tracks, to the utter dismay of those walking behind him. He'd managed to catch his train just in time, and from there it was a straight shot to the Academy. He'd stepped off the train with a bunch of other students onto the main entry platform for the entirety of True Cross Academy's massive campus. The gaggles and roaming cliques seemed to ebb and flow around Garic, who stood still a midst the chaos of rushing bodies. Right, class was about to start soon.

What are you talking about?!
Summon my eye. You'll be able to see through these measly human fabrics that way.
Garic visibly recoiled, blood rushing to his face. You mean... like, see people n-naked?
In his head, K laughed maniacally. You truly are dirty enough to be my vessel. Come on, let's do it!

At that, Garic's right eye began to emit a faint glow. With a hiss, he clamped both hands down over the eye, hoping no one saw. What are you doing?! In an attempt to look less awkward, Garic started walking in the general direction of the cram school classrooms. It kind of worked.

Giving you what you want.
No, K, those are your wants. Stop!

In arguing with K, Garic didn't notice the person walking slowly in front of him until it was too late. He bumped into the stranger, nearly knocking him over. For his part, Garic half-way tripped over his own two feet, landing on the ground in front of this stranger. By the time he looked up at the face of the person standing above him, K had ceased his trickery, his eye returning to normal.

But not before he'd caught a glimpse of something he shouldn't have. This person wasn't a "he" at all. Garic had just confirmed, albeit accidentally: she is definitely a girl.

Nonplussed, Garic said the first word that came to mind before thinking better of it. "Pink?"

That probably wasn't wise.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Miki Taniya Character Portrait: Jitsue Osaka Character Portrait: Makoto Taniya Character Portrait: Garic Aguero Grant

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Miki had just started to resign herself to the possibility that she was going to have to make it to the cram school on her own somehow. She really didn't like the idea. She really, really didn't like the idea. Not a bit. Now, Miki was completely okay with being by herself. Normally, in any case. But this was a completely different situation than normal. She was in a place she wasn't all that acquainted with, and her sister, the only one of the two who knew where anything was (and who, for the record, had the Key, so really, Miki couldn't get to the cram school without her regardless of whether or not she could find a secluded door). She sighed in her growing despondence, and continued walking only because the flow of the crowd demanded it, taking very small steps as she looked around for someone she knew. Like her cousin, for instance. She could always just enter with him. Her cousin was nice. She liked him. Not only was he one of her best (and only) friends, but he was good for sparring too, even if he did complain a lot about it being "inappropriate for a proper child of the Lord" and whatnot. He was kind of a nut sometimes. But that was okay, because it would've been weird if he wasn't.

If she couldn't find her cousin, she decided, then perhaps she would have to actually venture out of her comfort zone and find someone else in the cram school. But she didn't want to. Chiyo-chan had always warned her against strangers, and Miki was wont to take the advice of her close companion. What if she got weird looks? Or what about rude responses? She wasn't sure how she would handle those, and she didn't want to have to find out. People weren't her thing, and that was the way she liked it.

She continued her weird little shuffle-steps, both praying she didn't run into anyone (klutz problems) and thoroughly pondering her options at that point at the same time. Miki wrung her hands nervously and bit her lip. This was not going the way she had envisioned it at all. Not only that, but class was going to start any minute now. She had to get there, and fast. Along with her dejection, frustration was starting to rear its ugly head and add itself to the mix as well. Just what she needed: irked jitters to go along with her forlorn wandering. Perfect.

And, as if things couldn't have gotten any better, it was about a few seconds later when she was so shockingly run into from behind. The force would have been enough to knock her face-first into the ground, but she managed to reach out and steady herself on a nearby wall just in time to keep herself from doing just that. In her relief, she remained still for a good moment or two, breathing deeply, before she remembered that she'd been knocked into by someone. Wondering if they were even still there, Miki straightened herself up and turned around to check.

The person was still there, and on the ground no less; it appeared as if the collision had done them worse than it had her. He looked like he was around her age, she guessed. His face looked a tad blank for someone who'd just run into another person, not that she was judging or anything.

"Pink?"

Her eyes widened a fraction when he actually spoke to her. Most people she ran into in public places didn't do that. However, it took her a moment or so to register what he'd actually said. Pink? she thought, wondering what he was referring to, or if she'd just misheard the boy. Pink? Pink what? Was he talking about her? Probably. But what about her? The trim and skirt of her uniform was pink. Was that it? But all the other girls had uniforms with the same trim and skirt, too, so that probably hadn't been it. Idly, she tugged at the hem of her skirt, pulling the edge closer to her kneecaps. Gee, what else am I wearing that's pink? I don't think I am- Oh.

OOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHH.

Miki made a sound that appeared to be a mix of a yelp and a gasp and clamped her hands over her mouth at the same time, her face turning bright cherry as she did so. She was quiet for a few heartbeats afterwards, trying to collect her thoughts through her embarrassment. What was she supposed to do? How was she supposed to react? This had never really happened before!

Strike him, Miki-tan...

Without thinking, her hand flew out and slapped the boy right across the cheek. "Pervert!" she squealed, and hit him again, this time with the other hand. "Filthy filthy filthy filthy pervy creep!" She moved her hands to cover her face, which was glowing red as a tomato. "What's the matter with you? Oh my... Oh my gosh..." She'd not felt this ashamed in a very long time. From then on, she swore that she would start wearing shorts under these damned skirts. How indecent! Some strange boy had seen under her skirt! And... he'd deserved to get slapped! Yeah! He really had!

But maybe it had been a bit much?

She peeked down at the boy from between her fingers. She was very, very displeased with him at the moment, but she couldn't help but feel bad for hitting him. So, against her better judgement, and the voice in the back of her head telling her to high-tail it out of there pronto, she cautiously knelt down in front of him and took her hands from her face to get a better look. "Hey..." she said in that small voice of hers. "That didn't hurt, did it? You're alright, aren't you? Gosh, I'm sorry... Sorry for freaking out..." She trailed off, not really knowing what else to say.

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Makoto leaned up against the base of the tree as the boy answered, crossing her arms as she looked down at the two of them. "Nothing much. I'm just thinking about how much I've grown tired of seeing all these kids wander around with such high goals, like exterminating all demons or killing Satan. It's silly really. They can't even notice me in their school." The young man's voice carried an edge of laughter to it, a dark sort of humor that Makoto found herself rather satisfied that she could relate to. Maybe these people weren't so bad after all. Maybe they weren't complete wastes of time. Maybe they had potential, and weren't completely useless to her.

She grinned right back at him, a tight, almost-smirk that conveyed in it only a fraction of the red-hot anger she was really feeling, as she always felt when she thought of damned exorcists. She couldn't wait to be rid of them. Closed-minded Jesusfreaks, the lot of them. Just like her damn cousin. He'd be one of the first to go, she decided. Makoto snickered quietly to herself, then replied to the white-haired potential cohort of hers before she could have stopped herself. "Ah, yeah. Ridiculous. Stupid little shits, the lot of 'em." Another chuckle. "Demons right under their goddam noses, jeez!" She gladly continued, something that she didn't get to do a lot with the people she normally surrounded herself with. "Don't even get me started on their stupid lifelong dreams. I'll bet you they'll all be horribly killed before they could do anything they really wanted to. Mortality's a bitch."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Miki Taniya Character Portrait: Garic Aguero Grant

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From the left!

Slap! "Pervert!"

That first slap shook Garic like up an etch a sketch. Any semblance of conscious thought was erased from his mind, leaving him to gawk in amazement at the girl who had just hit him. Even K seemed stunned into temporary silence. Left cheek still stinging, she hit him again, this time from the other side.

The sound of the impact seemed to echo for miles in all directions. Some nearby students even stopped what they were doing to stare. Humiliated, Garic brought his hands up to either side of his face, screwing his eyes shut.

Inconceivable! How dare this bitch. Does she have any idea within whose presence she currently stands?!

It took everything in his power to stop tears from coming to his eyes. Just shut up, K. This is your fault.

Garic could feel K's wrath—his anger at this girl—simmering in his gut like a bad burrito, but it completely and utterly paled in comparison to his mortification, which had settled over his entire person like a heavy blanket. I'm a pervert now... The first thing that came to his mind: what would his mother think of him? A pervert that assaults girls at school. She'd be furious! And his sister... Oh god no. He'd have to run away from home, lest she find him. Wait, what if he got expelled? What if he got thrown in prison?! Executed?!

Images came to his mind of guillotines—

"Hey..." When the girl spoke, her voice was unexpectedly gentle and forgiving. Thought train interrupted, Garic opened his eyes to find that she had knelt down, bringing her face to the same level as his. She was kinda close, too. Unbeknownst to him, a pinkish-reddish blush had suffused across his nose and cheeks. "That didn't hurt, did it? You're alright, aren't you? Gosh, I'm sorry... Sorry for freaking out..."

As her voice trailed off, Garic's eyes widened. He swiftly removed his hands from his face, scratching idly at his hair with his index finger. "No no no. I'm the one who should be sorry. I was rushing to a door for the cram school and K was being a big jerk and I was telling him that when I..." K mentally slapped Garic upside the head, scoffing at him. I've told you this already. Even in the most informal of conversations, do not drop my name so cavalierly, human. After having visibly flinched in the middle of his own sentence, Garic noticed that the girl looked genuinely confused. "Uh... I'm just a big fat klutz sometimes. Sorry," he finished, offering her a smile in the hopes that she wouldn't engage in another smack down. He had brought his feet under him in preparation to stand quickly and run for his life if she did try to hit him again. Her slap really did hurt—almost as much as his sister's. The memory wasn't particularly pleasant.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Miki Taniya Character Portrait: Garic Aguero Grant

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As she spoke to him, Miki noted that a sort of blush had crept across the boy's face, and a part of her wondered why this was, while another part of her wanted to giggle like the little schoolgirl that she was. She wasn't used to seeing guys blush. It was funnier than she'd thought it would be. Very comical, indeed. It was like he was a little kid, but he wasn't, so that was kind of what made it funny.

He seemed to calm down (a bit, anyway) when she ceased her voice. If anything, he looked more at ease than he had just moments before, which was definitely an improvement. He had looked really distressed, and now he looked, well... slightly less distressed. It was something. When he spoke to her again. A small part of her, for a fraction of a second, seized up, afraid he'd say something out of line again. But her worries were dispelled at once. He looked like a smart enough boy. He could learn from his mistakes, she assumed. "No no no. I'm the one who should be sorry. I was rushing to a door for the cram school and K was being a big jerk and I was telling him that when I..."

K? Miki tilted her head to one side and raised a brow curiously. Who was 'K'? She gasped inwardly and blinked as a though crossed her mind. Does he have an imaginary friend too?" Granted, Chiyo-chan was not imaginary (at least... Miki hoped she wasn't), but it wasn't like anyone else knew that. But she'd thought it was pretty neat that at least they had something of that sort in common. It was... something. And that was that. He'd also said he was heading to cram school himself. That made her smile a bit. She was in luck! She'd found someone going to cram school, too! Not only was it a commonality between them, but he also most likely had a key on him, too. She was going to make it to class after all! Miki sighed quietly in relief, the knot in her stomach dissipating. Talk about lucky break.

The boy oddly flinched right smack dab in the middle of his statement, and Miki went back to raising a single brow in a mix of puzzlement and concern. Was this kid going to be okay? Did he have some kind of tick? He went on, though, and Miki promptly disregarded the oddness of what had happened a second before. "Uh... I'm just a big fat klutz sometimes. Sorry," he said, and Miki went back to smiling again. At least he had apologized. Something else Miki could relate to: clumsiness. It had been a miracle that she hadn't run into someone before this whole situation had gotten started. This whole thing had just been an accident, and it made her feel a lot better to know that. All things considered, this guy actually seemed pretty nice.

Small smile still alight on her face, Miki stood up and held her hand down to the boy, an offer to assist him in standing (because, whether he needed it or not, it was just common courtesy). "It's alright," she said. "I can be really clumsy too! And, hey, accidents happen, you know?" She blinked, thinking again about the issue of getting to class on time. "Oh, if you're on your way to cram school too, then, ah, do you mind walking together? I don't... Eheh, my sister took my key..." She laughed a bit, cheeks adopting the slightest of pink tinges. "By the way, my name's Taniya. Miki Taniya. What's yours?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Miki Taniya Character Portrait: Garic Aguero Grant

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Garic frowned when the girl brought her hand to bear, thinking she had decided to attack again after all; however, she simply held it outstretched, an olive branch of peace. One Garic would accept gladly. Grabbing her hand, he found his way back to his feet, breathing a sigh of relief.

"By the way, my name's Taniya. Miki Taniya. What's yours?"
"Hi Miki! I'm Garic," he said, beaming. "Garic Grant." He began walking towards the nearest doorway to the cram school as he spoke, fingering the key in his pocket. She walked alongside him. "So, you're training to be an exorcist too?" Hmm. Garic thought back over his time in the cram school. Surely he would have noticed such a pretty face sooner if they were in the same class. Were they even in the same class? Hmm... then again, he didn't really go out of his way to make friends, always content to converse with K over real people.

Now that he thought about it, he knew very few of his classmates.

I've noticed her "pretty face" on countless occasions, along with many other interesting things. My vessel should be more observant... And hey! I am "real". Do you think I'm a figment of your imagination you whelp?! How rude!

Garic didn't like K's sarcastic tone, but he didn't have a comeback ready for him—so he simply ignored the rough grainy voice, returning his focus to the conversation with Miki. He'd gotten really good at shuffling his focus over the years, and was able to continue from where he left off without skipping a beat. "That's really cool if you are, cause I am too. In Ms. Jeska's class!"

After a moment, he brought his hand to his cheek, brushing the area with the tips of his fingers. It still stung a bit. Again, it made him think of his sister. "Hey, are you gonna be a Knight?"

As he asked her that latest question, they reached the door he was aiming for. It was pretty simple in its construction, all things considered—maybe even conspicuously so; however, it was located around a slight bend, somewhat out of sight, as if purposely hidden. Garic grinned to himself, hoping to impress his new friend. It was an entrance that not many people knew about. Listening for her response, he quickly removed the golden key from his pocket, slipping it into the keyhole and engaging the mechanism. With a satisfying click, the door opened for them.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Miki Taniya Character Portrait: Garic Aguero Grant

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It was less awkward than Miki had thought it would be to help the boy off of the ground. He seemed pretty, well, not-terrified as he answered her question, which she took as a good sign. Nothing like starting off on the wrong foot and immediately switching to the right. First impressions weren't quite everything, thank God (she would have been in quite a bit of trouble on several occasions had that been the case).

"Hi Miki! I'm Garic," he answered, smiling brightly, and Miki couldn't help but do the same. "Garic Grant." Garic, huh? she thought as they started walking together, side by side. That was a pretty neat name. It sounded normal, but not at the same time. She liked it, she decided. "So, you're training to be an exorcist too? That's really cool if you are, cause I am too. In Ms. Jeska's class!"

She nodded emphatically in response. "Yup!" She laughed a bit. "Kinda funny how we're just now getting acquainted, if we're in the same class and all." What she didn't mention was that she never actively looked for people to get acquainted with in the first place; socialization wasn't her neck of the woods. That said, she didn't need it to be. Most of the time. As she walked, Miki's gaze started to wander about the surroundings, idly examining the school grounds. What he said next recaptured her attention, though.

"Hey, are you gonna be a Knight?" As they came to a halt in front of a door (one she never really noticed before), Miki couldn't help but giggle a bit. A Knight? Her? Ridiculous. She enjoyed fighting, yes, but she never thought she'd be very good with bladed weapons. She was just too uncoordinated, and had a feeling things just wouldn't work out. At best, she'd probably end up stabbing herself somehow. It was that bad.

"A Knight? Oh, gosh, no. I'd be no good as a Knight..." Miki trailed off as her new-found friend opened the door with his key. As the door opened, she stepped inside and started walking with him again. "But, eh, I really wanna be a Doctor!" She glanced up at the ceiling thoughtfully for a moment. "It'd be pretty neat to be a Tamer, too, come to think of it..." She blinked and looked back at Garic, head tilted in curiosity. "And what about you? What do you want to be?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Miki Taniya Character Portrait: Rina Okumura Character Portrait: Garic Aguero Grant

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"A Knight? Oh, gosh, no. I'd be no good as a Knight..." Garic could help but grin at that. He liked knights; they seem really cool. "But, eh, I really wanna be a Doctor!" Walking beside her, Garic noticed her glance up at the ceiling, lost in thought but for a moment. "It'd be pretty neat to be a Tamer, too, come to think of it..." She blinked and looked back at Garic, head tilted in curiosity. "And what about you? What do you want to be?"

That was easy for Garic. The answer came out of his mouth without even thinking. "I'm a Tamer!" Want to be a Tamer. "Er—want to be a Tamer." He gave a little awkward chuckle, scratching the back of his head. "Though I guess being a Knight kinda runs in my family."

As they conversed while walking down the hall, Garic, from his peripheral vision, noticed a girl walk in through the classroom door a few yards in front of them. He only turned his head towards her because he felt K growl—literally growl, like a dog—in his head. The girl had lengthy brilliant blue hair and matching deep blue eyes, and was that... a tail? He could never tell, though whenever he saw her, K always had the same reaction.

Then again, she did kinda have the whole "delinquent" look going for her.

Cut it out, K. Rolling his eyes, Garic looked back towards Miki. "I guess we should hurry before we're late." And at that, they made their way through the classroom door.