Book I, "Diyero the Devil's Bane" of Rune Master will consist of fifteen total chapters, and is the first volume in a series of six of the Rune Master tale. Book I covers the very beginning of the tale, and starts off with Diyero in his early (not first, but early) years of demon slaying. Currently, there are ten complete chapters.
Diyero, Kogeru and Mushin are on their way to a ship headed for Litorale. However, they are are delayed when a mage accidentally summons a gooz demon. They chase the gooz around town before finally killing it and rushing on board their departing ship.
"The Wild Gooz Chase" - This is where it all begins. The creation of Ehrdi its gods, and races are briefly explained before going into the middle of a fight between a Duendai man and a demon dragon. Just before they clash, Diyero is woken up harshly by Kogeru -- the battle was just a dream. Urging Diyero to get moving because they have a boat to catch, Kogeru leaves. Diyero notes the sleeping woman in the bed by him, and with a grin recalls he probably had another drunken and wild night. Dressing himself, Diyero leaves the hotel and rejoins Kogeru and Mushin outside. Nearby, an inept mage is attempting to summon elemental spirits, but accidentally summons a gooz instead.
The tiny and rather stupid demon is instantly attracted to anything shiny, and begins to cause havoc as it searches for more attractive objects. Kogeru and Diyero chase the gooz down the streets, before realizing their ship is leaving port. Diyero quickly uses rune magic to stretch out his arm and impale the gooz with his sword. The demon bursts into flames and dies. Noting his rune magic is still in effect, Diyero grabs Kogeru (and in effect, Mushin) and stretches his enchanted arm out to catch the leaving ship. He pulls himself and his companions on board -- much to the surprise of the ship's captain and crew -- and apologizes for being late. The chapter ends with the blundering mage trying to perform another feat of magic -- this time with explosive effects.
The ship the demon slayers are on sinks when it is struck by a cow. After everyone retreats to the rowboats, they are attacked by a sea monster. Kogeru kills the sea monster, but another appears in its place. Diyero manages to escape far away with Kogeru and Mushin, but they are beset by a third sea monster that sends them crashing onto the beach. They recover soon after in a Ziegun house and learn they are now in the country of Kefalê -- far from their intended destination.
"A Sea of Trouble" - This chapter picks up only a few days after the previous one. Out at sea, the demon slayers and crew are enjoying a day of calm... Or, in Diyero's case, a typical day of binge-drinking and being rowdy. Suddenly, out of the sky falls a cow. It strikes the ship and causes severe damage -- enough for it to begin to take water. Everyone scrambles to the rowboats, and soon the ship is completely sunken. As they float about, Kogeru ponders where the cow (which is still alive and in the captain's rowboat) came from. The scene cuts back to the same idiot mage from chapter one and shows him trying to do more summonings... Only to cause potato explosions and launching cows into the air. Back out at sea, everything is quiet... Until a sea monster surfaces.
Taking action, Kogeru quickly leaps upon the beast and attacks it before it gets to the crewmen. Diyero attempts to help, but as he is still in a drunken stupor, he only succeeds in falling out of his boat and into the water. He surfaces, sobered. As Diyero climbs back into the rowboat, Kogeru uses magic in his sword to electrocute the monster (and only the monster), killing it. As the sea monster sinks into its watery grave, Kogeru swims back to his rowboat, unsure if he completely finished it off. A moment later, a second and rather peeved looking sea monster surfaces and charges at the demon slayers. Acting quickly, Diyero carves runes into their boat and activates them. The magic sends a large wave to push the sea monster back.
Determined, the monster dives back underwater and quickly resurfaces -- hitting its head underneath the slayers' rowboat and sending them flying. As they fall and the monster charges at them again, Diyero pushes Kogeru and Mushin back into the boat before grabbing hold himself and activating another set of runes. This time, the magic sends the rowboat zipping off into the distance. The sea creature stares at its escaped quarry, then slowly turns and grins at the unfortunate remaining crewmen.
Farther away, Diyero and company are safely drifting out at sea... Though the tall warrior admits he's unsure of just where he sent them. After a smack in the head from Kogeru, Diyero spots land. Before they can move, a third sea monster appears. This one seems uninterested in them, and soon returns to the water. Unfortunately, the tip of its tail his their rowboat, sending it at breakneck speed for land. Their rowboat slams into the beach, catapulting its riders out and into a large boulder and are knocked out. Soon after, Diyero reawakens indoors and finds Kogeru already revived and looking after Mushin. Diyero spots an unfamiliar Ziegun, confused. The Ziegun identifies himself as Arion, and explains that his brother, Myron, found them ashore. The chapter ends as Kogeru explains they are now in Kefalê: practically in the opposite end of the world from their original destination.
Now on Kefalê, Diyero and crew meet Myron, a Ziegun archer and learn the area is being plagued by a hydra monster. The group learn it's attacking the local university and go to battle it. They manage to defeat three of the four heads before Diyero accidentally crushes the final head and kills the hydra for good. Myron joins the group of demon slayers and a mage transports them over to the Vestin continent.
"Hydra Havoc" - Continuing right where chapter 2 left off, Diyero is shocked to discover how far off course they've gone. Arion welcomes them to stay, but has to leave for a meeting. He explains that he brother can help them in the meantime and departs. Somewhat grouchy over their predicament, Diyero heads outside to cool off. Not a few steps from the house, he dodges an arrow and looks for the culprit. Another Ziegun, carrying a bow, apologizes and explains that he was practicing his archery when he bowstring misfired and snapped. He introduces himself as Myron and it is soon apparent he has a rather odd occasional stutter in his speech. Myron and Diyero chat for a while, and the Duendai man soon learns that a hydra has been causing trouble in the area in recent days. Kogeru enters with Mushin, having heard the conversation, and offers his help with Diyero. The trio of men decide to leave Mushin safe at home with Arion's wife while they search for the hydra in its cave.
Armored and armed, Myron leads them to the hydra's known lair. Kogeru goes to investigate further, but returns a while after. He claims there's nothing in there, and before they have much of a chance to figure out where the hydra went, a chariot approaches them. The Ziegun charioteer frantically explains to Myron that the university where his brother works has been attacked by the hydra. While his brother's safe, the local militia still need all the help they can bringing the monster down. Diyero and crew quickly hitch a ride on the chariot and dash towards town.
When they arrive, the two-headed hydra is still causing havoc and destruction at the university. Diyero quickly uses runes to launch himself into the air and slice off one of the hydra heads. Myron scolds him for his stupidity and all watch in horror as the hydra grows three heads back from the stump it was decapitated on. Diyero recalls back to his school days and notes that he fell asleep several times in his monster lore class and admits he should have paid more attention in school. Frustrated, Myron quickly explains they can stop the heads from regrowing back if they burn the stumps soon after decapitating each hydra head. Kogeru and Diyero quickly retrieve torches and attack the hydra while Myron shoots arrows at it from afar. They decapitate and burn three heads, but when Diyero attempts to behead the final head, his sword gets stuck in its neck.
Myron explains the final head can't be cut, but it can be crushed. As Diyero is flung about, Kogeru and Myron try to figure out a why to crush the final skull. However, a solution arrives for them in a freak accident -- Diyero is flung off the hydra and slams into a column. The impact causes the pillar to crack all the way up into the ceiling... And the broken ceiling pieces fall down and crush the hydra in their descent. Not long after, the Ziegun begin to clear up and Myron admits he finds his time with Diyero and Kogeru more interesting than things at home. He asks to go with them, and they accept. He bids his brother farewell for the time being, and a few days later the restocked crew are transported by a Ziegun mage to the small town of Mortecitta, located near near Compilare.
When they arrive, Diyero instantly zips off towards the nearest bar, leaving the frustrated Kogeru and somewhat amused Myron to look for him. As they begin their search, Myron assures Kogeru that they do need a break and that nothing exciting seems to be going on in town. Kogeru agrees reluctantly, but as they walk off, the panel shows a wall filled with "MISSING" children posters.
Now back in Vestin, Diyero and his friends are in a town plague by mysterious disappearances of children. The new school teacher, Maggie, is a suspect. This turns out to be false and Maggie is instead looking for a demon that she believes is really behind the kidnappings. Maggie and the group track it down to its lair in the mountains and slay it. Though they came too late to save all the children, several survived and are returned to their families. Maggie moves on to another town and the group goes their own way.
"The Devourer" - Again continuing right where the previous chapter left off, several local women are gossiping about the new school teacher. They note that the slew of kidnappings began right after she entered town, but their suspicions are quieted when they realize the very teacher they are gossiping about is staring at them. The teacher walks away as the women breathe sighs of relief. A smiling red-haired man watches everything from around a corner.
Meanwhile, Kogeru and Myron decide to split up in their search for Diyero. Mushin watches the local children play in the schoolyard, and Kogeru urges her to join them. Kogeru senses something off and notices the same red-haired man from earlier watching the children play as the stands by the fence. Kogeru turns back to see the school teacher asking Mushin if she needs help. Shy, Mushin hides behind Kogeru while the teacher introduces herself as Maggie Magdalene. After Kogeru explains Mushin is not his daughter and he's not enrolling her in the school, Maggie warns Kogeru of the recent child disappearances and that he should keep a close eye on Mushin. Kogeru thanks her and he leaves with Mushin. Maggie returns to her duties while the red-hair man smiles.
Walking down the street, Kogeru notes to himself that Maggie was carrying a Cattòlico book and wonders if she is a priestess. He soon finds Diyero drunk and clinging to a woman's skirt. The woman smacks Diyero and storms off as Myron walks out of the nearby bar. Kogeru berates Diyero and asks Myron about the missing children. They decide to investigate the manner... But not until night and after they've found an inn for Diyero to sober up in.
Later that night, Kogeru is patrolling the streets and runs into Maggie again. He tells her his name and explains he is patrolling the streets for the kidnapper... Something he suspects she is doing as well. Maggie smiles and explains it's her duty as a teacher to look out for her students and expresses distaste for lack of action on the "passing heroes" and local guards' parts. She explains half her class is already missing and admits she suspects a mountain demon is involved in their disappearances. Kogeru believes Diyero might know more details about mountain demons, but probably won't be much help if he is still drunk. Myron runs up to them and frantically explains that another child was kidnapped and its mother is in the town square. He says he'll retrieve Diyero and Mushin while Kogeru questions the mother with Maggie... Who is already halfway down the street.
As Kogeru runs to catch up, Maggie is stopped by the red-haired man, who sits atop the school building. Blood covers his mouth and hands, which he slowly licks off and proclaims mortal blood is sweetest when it's young. Disgusted and angered, Maggie curses at the demon and opens her holy book. She casts a spell to attack him, but the demon dodges it. The creature taunts her but is suddenly thrown to his the ground when the wall behind him bursts apart. Diyero appears, his magically enlarged hand shrinking down to its normal size. He's pissed off that his sleep was interrupted by a sick child-stealing demon. Kogeru joins a surprised Maggie's side, but the demon tells them to try and find his lair in the mountains before disappearing.
Taking action, the three leave the ruined school and quickly arrange a meeting with everyone in the town square. Maggie explains the situation to the townsfolk, but they meet her words with suspicion and accuse her and Diyero's crew of being behind the kidnapping. Diyero takes offense to the claim, and Kogeru points out they only arrived in town that day and couldn't be involved in the disappearances. Though convinced of the group's innocence, the townspeople are too cowardly to try and face the demon on their own and offer to try and reason with it.
Angry at their foolishness, Maggie storms off to fight the demon on their own. As she leaves, Diyero surprises everyone as he expresses his own anger at the townspeople and punches a nearby statue hard enough to crack it with his disenchanted fist. He furiously berates the townspeople and claims they are cowards rather than real parents. Leaving, he snarls that he'll be damned if he ever becomes a father and abandons his children like they have. Kogeru notices Diyero's fist is bleeding as the man leaves, and Myron points out they should follow. Kogeru agrees, but decides to take his chances and bring Mushin with them, not trusting the townsfolk to keep her safe in their absence.
Far up the mountain, Diyero catches up with Maggie and explains when she looks at his bleeding fist that the town pissed him off. Appreciating his help, Maggie heals his fist with her divine magic just before the others catch up. Diyero, proving he does know at least a thing or two about demons, uses his knowledge about mountain demons to quickly deduce where the entrance to its lair lies. Pleased with his good work, Maggie gives him a gold star sticker and proceeds into the cave. The others follow her into the darkness. Diyero uses runes to light up the area, and the group soon set their eyes upon a gruesome sight.
Blood stains and small bones litter the cave -- the remains of unfortunate children captured by the mountain demon. The demon, now in his true form, sits upon a ledge and mockingly greets the group. Diyero identifies it as a liberedi, while Maggie opens her book and explains to Diyero that she needs him and his friends to distract the demon while she prepares a spell. Diyero agrees, and quickly makes a sword of stone with rune magic to dual wield his main sword with. Kogeru joins Diyero in a charge at the demon while Myron fires arrows from a safe distance, Mushin clinging to his goat legs. The demon dodges a few attacks while his own are deflected, but is soon hit in the neck with one of Myron's arrows.
Maggie casts a spell that causes a large pair of magical eyes to float behind her. The eyes freeze the demon in terror as Maggie's magic empowers the men's weapons. The demon cackles madly before he is simultaneously struck in the forehead by another arrow, Diyero decapitates him, and Kogeru stabs him through the heart. The demon's body twitches before turning into dust. Upon his death, several scared and dirty children come out of the shadows -- apparently the demon didn't eat every single child he caught.
Relieved there are survivors, the demon slayers return with the children to town. While some parents rejoice at the return of their children and others mourn the loss of their children's certain death, Maggie notes that she is now out of a job and will move on to another town. She thanks the group for their help and rewards all the men with gold stars. Taken in by Mushin's cuteness, Maggie gives the girl an entire pack of stars before heading out. The slayers and rescued children wave goodbye to her. Their work finished for the moment, Diyero notices a nearby bar and instantly heads off for it, much to a disgruntled Kogeru's displeasure.
Diyero and his friends are in Valle a month after the child-eating demon incident. They run into a young teen named Fayte, and Kogeru discovered Fayte's being threatened by gang members to throw an upcoming toeball game. The slayer group attends the toeball game, and Fayte proves to be an extraordinary player who gives his all, despite the gang threats. He wins the game for his team, and is ambushed afterwards by the angered gang members. Diyero and crew arrive on scene to help, but find it is not needed as Fayte easily knocks out the gang himself. Fayte reveals he followed the gang back to their base earlier and reported the location to the police -- effectively eliminating the gang's threat to the rest of the city. Fayte goes his own way, and the slayers retire to an inn outside the city. The chapter ends when Kogeru is left alone in their room and a mysterious woman presses a blade against his throat from behind, claiming she's been tracking him for a while.
"A Fayte-ful Day" - Taking place a month after the previous chapter, Diyero and crew are now in the city of Valle. While walking down the street, Diyero is struck by a suddenly opened door. The opener, Fayte, apologizes and gives Diyero money to replace the beer bottle that was ruined when the door hit him. Being very calm and collected about the whole ordeal, Fayte walks off and Diyero has already left to buy more alcohol. Curious, Kogeru secretly follows Fayte for a ways.
As he walks, Fayte skillfully dribbles a pebble between his feet. Sensing something behind him, he turns to find a group of large, muscular men. Their leader begins to offer a proposition, but Fayte interrupts him, saying his answer to anything from Agostino is "no." This angers the men, but Fayte is unperturbed. Kogeru intervenes and asks the gang of men if there's a problem. Noting that Kogeru is armed with a large sword, the men opt to leave... But not before warning Fayte that the Valle Wolves shouldn't win.
Kogeru inquires Fayte about the ordeal, but all the boy will tell him is that the gang are bad men looking for an easy buck. He kicks his pebble into a small bucket far across the street and leaves, saying his has something to do before noon. Impressed at his skill, Kogeru notices a poster advertising a toeball tournament game that day, and wonders if Fayte is a participating athlete. Diyero catches up to him then, drunk as usual, and also notices the poster. Kogeru comments he's never seen a toeball game before, which shocks Diyero. Diyero asks to borrow a few bucks to buy tickets as Myron joins them with Mushin.
Though unsure if tickets are still available, the group looks into anyway and are soon seated in the nosebleed section at the city's stadium. As the game begins, the two teams -- The Valle Wolves and the Sponda Falcons are introduced. Fayte is one of the offensive players for the Wolves' team. Kogeru is not very surprised at the fact and soon afterwards, the game begins. Within the first few minutes, the ball is passed to Fayte and he easily weaves through the opposing offense and scores a goal.
As Fayte moves back into position, he notices the angry gang from before watching him in the stadium. Ignoring them, he returns to the game. By the final period, the score is tied 45-45. A Falcon player gets the ball and makes his way for the Wolves' goal, but Fayte intercepts the kick and brings the ball back towards the Falcon's side. He plows through the Falcon defense and fakes out the goalie to score the final winning points in the game.
The gang is enraged while Diyero leaps about excitedly over the end results. Next to the gang members is a mysterious cloaked woman who smirks to herself. Kogeru senses something and turns in their direction. He notices the gangs leaving, but the woman is gone. Suspicious, Kogeru begins his descent down the stadium with Mushin, Diyero and Myron rushing to catch up.
Inside the locker room, Fayte is congratulated by his teammates - compliments he humbly accepts and brushes aside. Though he's offered to join them for an after-game celebration, he explains he has other things to take care of and leaves the stadium on his own. Outside, he is confronted by the Agostino gang members, now armed with bats. Demanding an apology that Fayte refuses to give, the gang members charge at him. Fayte quickly and easily takes the first man out with one punch to the gut. He takes out a second gang member with a hard kick to the jaw just as Kogeru and the others arrive on scene.
Before the slayers can offer their help, Fayte takes down the remaining gang members with swift kicks and punches. Diyero and the others are impressed, but one semi-conscious member threatens that Agostino will make Fayte pay for his behavior. Fayte, unafraid, mentions that Agostino is probably being hauled away by the cops at that very moment. Surprised, the gang member protests that the cops don't know where their hideout is. Kogeru, realizing what happened, asks Fayte if he followed the gang back to their hideout after their last meeting. Fayte only grins in answer as he kicks away a groping gangster's hand from his ankle. Slinging his bag over his shoulder, Fayte explains he has to leave and politely asks the slayers to turn the gangsters into the authorities for him.
After they do so, the demon slayers find an inn on the outskirts of Valle to spend the night. Myron and Mushin are already out, and Diyero goes to find a bar, leaving Kogeru on his on. The bushi settles to go to sleep, but is approached from behind by the mysterious woman from before. She presses a dagger against his throat and claims she's had trouble tracking him down, but now she's found him.
When we last left Kogeru, he was being held at knife point by a female ninja. Kogeru greets the mysterious ninja as Hikari saying that he sensed her presence before. After being interrupted by Diyero, the two small talk at the bar with the ever-curious Diyero, Mushin, and Myron. Mushin happily greets Hikari as her "big sis." After this meeting and reuniting, Diyero runs off to the inn, leaving Kogeru to pay his tab. The others decide to head back to the inn as well, but Hikari and Kogeru sense something in the air... After a few hours of sleep in the inn, they discover the disturbance in the air was a Lamia, a demon hungry for young children. The Lamia picks Mushin as her new target but is defeated after Hikari tricks it into coming too close. With the inn keeper angry (and scared of Hikari) and the customers staring at the crew through a gaping hole in the wall, Hikari decides to hang around with the crew for awhile and Diyero decides to go back to sleep.
"Scary Women" - Picking up immediately after the end of the previous chapter, Kogeru is assailed by an assassin pressing a dagger against his throat. Despite the deadly weapon and claims she's been searching for him for ages, Kogeru calmly responds to the attacker with a simple Senjose, "Hello, Hikari. Haven't seen you in a while." Removing her daggers from his neck, the assassin, Hikari, leans over Kogeru with a smile, "Aw, how'd you know it was me?" Kogeru says he sensed her presence at the game earlier, and just a few moments ago. Hikari tsks about never being able to hide from him and flips off the bushi. She comments on his new companions and his "stupid eyepatch" before Kogeru questions her as to why she's in the area.
Before Hikari can properly respond, Diyero bursts into the room to ask Kogeru for bar money. He cuts himself off when he notices Hikari. Assuming Hikari is either an enemy or a sexual partner, he asks Kogeru if he needs aid or if he needs to leave for privacy. Irritated, Kogeru straightens the Duendo out, telling Diyero Hikari is neither a foe nor sex object. Before Diyero can ask any more questions, Hikari casually flicks a kunai (throwing dagger/needle) that skims across Diyero's hair. Threatening that she "only miss[es] once," Hikari provokes Diyero into pulling out his own knife. Before a fight can break out, Kogeru tosses his sandal at Diyero's head, telling him to calm down.
Utterly confused, Diyero brings the two Senjose to the local bar and learns they are old friends. This fact does not fully clear up the Rune Master's confusion, because he recalls hearing Senjose warriors and assassins are usually mortal enemies if meeting face-to-face. Curious about these circumstances, Diyero asks how they met. Both Kogeru and Hikari look uncomfortable, and Kogeru reluctantly begins to explain that it's a story he'd rather not share at the moment. Before he can elaborate, Myron comes in with a sleeping Mushin on his back, asking Diyero where Kogeru went. Immediately after he queries, Myron notices Kogeru... And then Hikari. Straight to the point, the Ziegun asks, "Who's the lady?"
Right on beat, Hikari responds to Kogeru, "Who's the goat?" Kogeru introduces the two, but Hikari essentially ignores Myron once she notes the sleeping Mushin and how much the girl's grown. Amused, Kogeru mentions it's been around a year since the shinobi saw Mushin, to which Hikari muses how quickly time flies. Irritated that there are still many questions unanswered, Diyero shoves Kogeru down and demands to know how Kogeru became acquainted with Hikari. Mushin awakens at this point, immediately spotting Hikari and declaring gleefully, "Big Sis!"
The two females gleefully reunite while a grumpy Diyero exits to sleep... Leaving Kogeru with his bar tab yet again. Myron decides to retire as well, leaving the Senjose to catch up. Kogeru recounts their recent exploits in the previous chapters -- misadventures that cause Hikari to laugh at their absurdity. The only information about her recent exploits Hikari shares is that she spent a long time looking for Kogeru and Mushin -- and now she knows why. Deciding it's time for them to head to bed as well, the trio set back towards the inn. Along the way, both adults sense a suspicious presence. While they don't see it, they keep their skills alert in case it returns.
Back at the inn, after Kogeru tricks Diyero into paying him his owed tab, the team settles in for sleep -- Kogeru sitting against the wall and Hikari under Mushin's bed to alleviate the child's fear of monsters beneath it. Some time passes, and a strange figure creeps into the room through the window. Both awake, Hikari and Kogeru silently observe the creature -- half woman, half serpent -- as it slithers up to Mushin. The creature observes of the girl, "What a sweet looking child... So rosy... So healthy..." and reaches towards Mushin. Suddenly, Hikari startles the monster by grabbing its tail and peering out from under the bed with a, "That wouldn't be wise, monster." After an exchange of words, Hikari notes that the monster is a lamia and leaps out from under the bed, stabbing the demon's back in the process.
The lamia's roar of pain awakens Diyero and Myron. It charges at the groggy Diyero, whom also recognizes it for a lamia and ducks the assail calmly. The lamia crashes into the wall behind him and Diyero notes that it probably caught on to Mushin's scent a while back. Hikari retorts sarcastically, irritating Diyero and setting him off. Before Diyero can begin a new rant, Mushin's scared mumble alerts the adults to her awakened state. Kogeru, now up and armed, warns Mushin to stay where she is. The lamia suddenly leaps out from the hole in the wall at Mushin, screaming, "THE CHILD IS MINE!" Kogeru intercepts it and whacks the demon with the flat of his blade. The lamia flies off and slams into an unlucky Myron.
Hikari baits the lamia, sending it roaring at her. The demon grabs hold of Hikari's forearm, its teeth biting through her gauntlet. Blood leaks through the armor, but unfazed, Hikari laughs and stabs the demon in the skull, revealing the arm-bite was a feint to lure the lamia within critical stabbing range. Shriveling into dust, the lamia expires, defeated. Diyero is impressed by Hikari's skill, while Kogeru shows concern over her wounds. Hikari shrugs it off, stating it's nothing a few herbs won't take care of, and the gauntlet can be repaired. Mushin gushes over Hikari and Myron uncricks his back when the innkeeper suddenly bursts in, claiming there are complaints about noise in their room.
He cuts himself off in mid-sentence when he sees the damage done to the room. Angered and shocked, the innkeeper demands to know what went on. Diyero reassures him, claiming the damage can be paid for -- by Kogeru. Fleeing from the room through the hole, Diyero leaves an irritated Kogeru. Hikari calms her friend, claiming she can take care of things. Musing outloud, Hikari notes that this group is entertaining and that she might hang around for a while. This prompts Diyero to step back into view, unpleasantly surprised. Myron shows no objection to adding Hikari, thinking her skills will come in handy and if Kogeru trusts her, they should as well. Diyero protests, claiming she acts "like a bitch," which Hikari takes only mild offense to and Kogeru assures, "You'll get used to her."
Mushin is pleased that her "Big Sis" is staying, while Diyero remains grumpy and Myron professes he just wants to go to sleep. Aggravated, the innkeeper loudly reminds them that he's still in the room and demanding payment for damage, otherwise he'll kick them out. Hikari throws a deadly leer at the man, threatening, "I can kill you with my shinobi death glare." Her scare tactic successful, the keeper flees from the room and slams the door behind him. Myron comments that things will be more interesting from now on. Kogeru agrees, pointing out the people on the other side of the hole are staring at them. Nonchalant about the confused audience, Diyero walks off to bed and instantly falls asleep, leaving his friends bemused.
The group enters a new town with an enforced dry spell. Furious and bored by the lack of alcohol, Diyero sulks while the remainder of the team discuss things. This eventually leads to an inquiry about Hikari and her situation. Somewhat reluctantly, Hikari recounts her recent past spent with the Ueno Shinobi Clan and how an attack by a warlord a few years past nearly wiped them out. Forced to find funds as they rebuilt, the clan's leader, Hanzo, opted to accept virtually any assassination contract sent to them, breaking the clan's honor-code. This did not sit well with Hikari, and she challenged Hanzo to a duel for leadership... A battle she lost. Instead of executing her, Hanzo banished her from the clan until she could accept his assassination choices. Unable to do that, Hikari pursued Kogeru and Mushin... Leading her to where she is now, with the team.
"Shadows Revealed" - The chapter opens with Diyero in a rage, finding himself high and dry, completely out of any sort of alcoholic beverage. The usual antics ensue, while Kogeru tries to convince Diyero to quit his drinking and Hikari insults him, as per usual. Just as Kogeru convinces Hikari to leave him alone for a bit, Diyero’s eyes light up as he spots a new town. Hoping for a new source of booze, Diyero leads the charge into the town of Insenatura.
The moment they enter, Myron suggests that Diyero give his liver a break, but realizes in the middle of his sentence that Diyero was already gone, looking for the closest random town official. Finding one, he wastes no time asking for the nearest bar. The guard informs him that he knows where it is, but due to a recent outburst in crimes because of drinking, the current week was a dry week in Insenatura. A long pause follows the statement as Diyero waits for punch-line of the guard’s ‘joke.’ Upon realizing no joke was coming, Diyero screams, “That’s cruelty and torture!” Somehow, the group manages to drag the enraged Half-Duendo away and into an inn.
Soon, the group is checked into the nearest inn; Diyero already lies in bed, complaining of a headache. Again, Hikari sends scathing sarcasm at Diyero, but he ignores it this time, claiming that it’s not worth it. Myron, perhaps sensing another fight about to erupt, steps in and asks Hikari about her background, suggesting that she tell a little about herself. Kogeru, also interested in what she had been up to since the last time they had met, agrees. Hikari ponders for a moment before Diyero breaks in, also expressing interest in what she’s been up to before she began “making his life miserable.”
After some consideration, and more bickering between the Shinobi and Diyero, Hikari decides to tell the story. The entire group crowds around her back, all curious to hear about the mysterious ninja-woman. Before she begins the story, she first fills in a small bit of background about the several shinobi clans of Senjokuni. About how they administer justice from the shadows by accepting certain contracts for assassination that fit with their personal take on justice. She goes on to explain that, although they believe that their justice is best, not everyone agrees, of course. Diyero rudely breaks in, telling her to skip to the good parts before he falls asleep.
Hikari threatens Diyero for his rudeness, to which Diyero, of course, responds by jumping up and yelling. Kogeru steps in to stop the battle with a bop to Diyero’s head and asks Hikari to continue. She does, and upon being asked by Myron if they fought for “good and such,” she explains that it was more justice than good they fought for, establishing the difference between the two. She clarifies that good and justice did not always correlate. Leaving the statement at that, the continues, telling the group that theirs was the most powerful freelance shinobi clan in Senjokuni, and begins the story by stating, “Perhaps that is why we were almost wiped out...”
Kogeru cuts in softly, remembering the time she was referring to - when she had to flee her province for a few months. The scene then cuts to the night she came to him after fleeing her home. Hikari is terribly beaten up-looking as she collapses into Kogeru’s arms. There, she explains to him, (two years ago from the present comic time), that a man named Lord Ogata had attacked their clan, fearing their rise in power. Snipers in his ranks had hidden and rained arrows upon them. It was unexpected – they were hidden so well. Kogeru quiets her, telling her to rest rather than talk, understanding enough of the story to know the situation.
Diyero comments with a remorseful look in his eye, turned away from the group, that having a home attacked is no good. He seems sullen when Hikari grills him for stating the obvious. “... Anyway...” Hikari precedes and begins to weave her tale.
She calls to mind the picture of her clan rebuilding their lands. She asks the clan leader if they’ll be able to build it all. He responds by telling her that they’ll have to find a new, more hidden place to live in because Ogata knows their current home’s location. Hikari wonders about the complications, but their leader, who Hikari addresses as Hanzo-sama, states that it’s just the price of better security. Hikari seems troubled by this answer.
Diyero asks where they relocated to, but of course Hikari is unable to tell them, or else she’d have to kill them, as Diyero guesses. Hikari confirms his guess with a half insult, half compliment of, “Not as dumb as you look...” before continuing her tale. The shinobi did eventually relocate and rebuild, but upon hard times, they had to accept many contracts that went against their moral code. Hikari, however, refused to accept these, and Hanzo was in no position to force her, so he went to other shinobi more willing to take them.
Yet again, Diyero cuts in, asking why their leader could not force her. Hikari explains that, although he outranked her, he was in short supply of good captains like her, and could not afford to lose any who decided to leave. Kogeru wonders if she is still with the clan. She answers no, but not by choice. In layman’s terms, Hikari had been fired from the clan, as Diyero puts it. But Hikari explains that, in a shinobi clan, you are not hired, but born into it, making leaving more complicated than being fired. She goes on to explain the true reason she left.
Three months ago, she decided she was fed up with the way things were going, and she resolved to challenge Hanzo’s leadership. She explained herself to him, and he answered, admitting that he did not enjoy how things were going either, but acknowledged that some things just had to be done for the time being. Drawing her blade, she let him know that she respected him, but challenged him to a battle to first blood for his position.
The battle was quick but fierce, daggers flashing and kunai flying. It all ended when Hanzo struck a blow to Hikari’s chin, causing her to bite her own lip and bleed. Relinquishing the fight, she understood that it was the leader’s right to take the life of someone who challenged him and failed. However, Hanzo surprised everyone by allowing her to leave. He explained that he understood that the times were far from normal and that killing Hikari would prove little. Instead, he banished her from her clan. She finishes her story with the words, “Sometimes… I think… It would’ve been kinder for him to have killed me…”
Mushin consoles her with encouraging words while Kogeru explains that he can see that Hanzo hopes that she will perhaps return one day. Hikari responds by saying she can’t do that because she just can’t agree with Hanzo’s decisions. Instead, she explains that she’s content to follow them. And harass Diyero. After Diyero’s sarcastic answer and affirmative answers from the rest of the group that she’ll enjoy traveling with them, she asks Diyero to share some of his background.
He pauses as scenes of people being killed and chased down and captured in nets flash through his head, then simply responds by announcing that he’s going to sleep. Further instigating, Hikari tells him to sleep tight and shoves a bag of ice (that Diyero incidentally got from nowhere a few pages back) down his pants. The scene pulls out as Diyero screams in discomfort.
Finally, we cut to Senjokuni, finding Hanzo standing in a field, looking thoughtful. Another shinobi, Masanari, appears behind him. Hanzo asks what he has to report, but the other says he was just wondering if Hanzo was doing alright. When Hanzo responds that he was just thinking, Masanari asks if it was about Hikari. He tells Hanzo he doesn’t think his niece is every going to return, but Hanzo answers by telling him he didn’t expect her to. He thought it would be better for the clan for Hikari to be gone, and it would better suit her free spirit. He mentions other companions that would make her life more fulfilling.
When asked about the companions, he simply tells Masanari to nevermind and shreds a sheet of paper. As they walk home, the paper blows away in the wind, showing the name of “Yubi Kogeru” on the pieces that blow by.
Diyero, completely sober from the forced dry spell at the previous town, is unusually quiet and reserved -- a fact that throws Hikari and Myron out of sorts. Kogeru and Mushin, having witnessed a clearer-headed Diyero before, are unbothered. A well-endowed local woman tries to strike up a conversation with Diyero as he shops in the market, but the demon slayer shies away from too much interaction with strangers. Later, however, she convinces him to follow her to a bar, where she secretly spikes one of Diyero's drinks. Once thoroughly drunk, Diyero goes off to an abandoned house with the woman, Kogeru and Hikari secretly following them. Diyero sobers up as they get inside, and realizes the woman is actually a demon. She transforms into an empusae just before Kogeru and Hikari arrive on-scene. The three battle the demon and quickly defeat her. Diyero sets the house aflame momentarily to ensure the demon stays dead before the three head back to the inn.
“A Sobering Experience” - The chapter opens a few days from Insenatura as Myron notes that Diyero seems really quiet. Diyero reassures Myron that he’s just lost in thought – the words triggering Hikari’s response of ‘You can actually think?’ Surprisingly, instead of counter-attacking, Diyero simply stares off in space, still lost in thought. Hikari turns to Kogeru and questions Diyero’s health. Kogeru explains that Diyero always enters a sort of thinking and serious phase after becoming one-hundred percent sober after a long time of continuous drunkenness. Hikari then ponders the fact that he’s actually somewhat intelligent, but it’s usually hidden by the alcohol.
Myron wonders aloud what Diyero’s thinking about just as Diyero’s thoughts turn to Atatu. As he walks, seemingly paying no attention to the outside world, a cart rolls in front of him. Kogeru cries out a warning just as Diyero deftly – and unexpectedly – makes a quick dodge around the cart. The rest of the group stares in surprise at Diyero’s apparent agility. Myron questions whether it was luck or good instincts, to which Kogeru replies, “Maybe a little of both...”
Turning his thoughts from his awe at Diyero’s sober state, Myron questions where their next route will take them. Kogeru says probably to the next settlement they run into, replying with a shrug. Hikari notes that Diyero doesn’t have much of a long-term plan. Kogeru answers that they’ve all sort of become wanderers, and that he’s enjoying seeing the various sites of the world. Hikari pauses, and then agrees.
Diyero’s eyes suddenly widen as he spots a town ahead and calls out the observation. Hikari responds with the usual sarcasm, but Diyero again simply blows it off, giving a mildly sarcastic laugh. He tells them he’s hungry, and that he wants to hurry – Kogeru asks if he’s going to a bar. Diyero responds that he doesn’t much feel like drinking, again giving the group a shock. They run after him, telling him to wait up, all commenting on Diyero’s “strange” new state. Diyero’s thoughts wander to their supplies, noting that they should stop and pick some things up.
As they enter the settlement, the others catch up to Diyero, Myron noting that his actions don’t feel right. Kogeru, who’s seen it before, tells him it is a rare occasion. Hikari notes that everything should be fine as long as no ale or women come along to tempt him. Suddenly, she pulls out a bottle of saké and drinks from it. Myron sarcastically asks who was tempted by ale again. Hikari responds simply with a glare, causing Myron to nervously back off.
Meanwhile, Diyero closely inspects some cabbages as the cabbage merchant asks him how they look. Diyero says they look fine, but their group probably couldn’t live off them. The merchant says he does, to which Diyero confusedly replies, “Don’t you turn green by eating a lot of those?” A giggle comes from the side as the merchant worriedly checks his face. “You’re a strange man, you know that?” the woman who giggled approaches Diyero. The entire group watches as Hikari predicts that Diyero will return to his normal self.
Instead, he surprises them yet again, telling her that he needs to go after responding quickly to her statement. Hikari and Myron stare in disbelief as the mage from Chapter 1 accidentally gives a pig wings in the background. Kogeru mentions that the spectacle they saw now was the true Diyero around strangers, then closes Hikari’s dropped jaw.
Not to be ignored, the woman gives chase quickly, commenting on his hurry. Diyero tells her his friends are waiting for him. The woman raises a brow, asking if he’s so out of place that he won’t chat with a local. Diyero stammers as the woman asks for an explanation. Finally, he says maybe they can talk when he’s not on an errand. She offers to escort him, to keep him away from “shady businessmen,” and Diyero stammers for an excuse. Kogeru finally steps in and saves him from the awkward moment. Diyero says that they can chat again later at a restaurant, and the woman accepts as they walk off. Hikari and Myron stand in disbelief, paralyzed by the sheer strangeness of the new Diyero. As Diyero asks if they’re okay, Kogeru says it looks like they’ll have to be dragged to the inn. Shrugging, Diyero picks them both up as if they weigh nothing at all, and they’re off to the inn.
Reaching the inn, Diyero grabs a bucket and pours water over the two who remain in shock, snapping them out of their frozen state. Myron runs around screaming at the sudden cold as Hikari holds up a dagger and asks Diyero if he wants to die before his “hot date.” Diyero quietly asks if they need a towel as Hikari screams at him and Myron complains about uncomfortable wet fur. Diyero apologizes to them both and walks off to get some towels. Hikari apologizes to Mushin, who says she scared away “Uncle Diyero.” Hikari explains that she’s still not used to the new side of Diyero. Kogeru comments on Diyero’s mysteriousness in response.
Meanwhile, outside the inn, Diyero walks in search of towels, since the inn is completely out. Suddenly, the same girl from before comes up to Diyero, saying “Funny walking into you here.” Diyero wonders briefly if she’s stalking him for some reason before dismissing it and asking where he can find towels. She shows him to a merchant who sells towels and Diyero gives her his gratitude. The woman comments that they don’t see many Duendai around, asking if he’s half-Duendo. When he responds that he is, she says she knew it because of the tattoos and red hair. Diyero responds that he thought it was his towering height and “dark as sin” skin color. The woman asks who says that, and Diyero quietly answers that she’d be surprised how many do. Dismissing it, he buys the towels. The girl answers the comment, though, stating that the people who said it may not have “dark as sin” skin, but they have sin on the inside. Diyero falls silent for a moment before asking her name in good faith. She reveals her name as Peligrosa and says that she already caught his name from when Kogeru called to him.
Peligrosa asks him if he’d like to go to dinner and he accepts, forgetting why he bought the towels and leaving Myron and Hikari wet and cold. Kogeru muses that something seems wrong; the newly-sober Diyero isn’t so forgetful. Grabbing his sword, Kogeru decides to look for him and Myron offers to come along. He tells Hikari to watch Mushin for him as they leave. Hikari mutters that Kogeru has a lot of confidence in Diyero.
The scene switches to Diyero and Peligrosa in a bar – Diyero asks if there’s anywhere else to go for dinner. She answers him, saying that people in the town like their alcohol, and that he should loosen up and have a few – that it won’t hurt. Diyero glances down and mutters that it would in his case. Peligrosa comments that he sounds so silly and yet so sad sometimes, then invites him to share their secrets together.
Meanwhile, on the hunt for Diyero, Kogeru speaks to the man who told Diyero the inn was out of towels. They leave, looking for a merchant selling towels.
In the bar, Diyero opts to keep his secrets to himself and Peligrosa agrees to order him a normal drink. As the mango juice arrives, she eyes it suspiciously. While Diyero is glancing away, she slips some of her alcoholic drink into it. Diyero drinks, commenting on an odd taste, but continuing anyway.
Kogeru and Myron find the towel merchant, and he points them to the bar. Myron wonders about Diyero not feeling like drinking that day as they head over. They walk in, finding Diyero in the middle of a drunken babble that Peligrosa had lured him into. She encourages him, telling her it’s good for him to loosen up. Seeing Kogeru and Myron, she asks Diyero if those are his friends. Staring through blurred vision, he comments that they’re not them, because they have six legs and his friends only had two each. Diyero and Peligrosa make to leave and Kogeru tries to stop them. Diyero simply smacks him playfully on the back, saying it’s a private party, and leaves with Peligrosa.
Myron and Kogeru talk about Diyero’s odd behavior, and Kogeru notes that there’s something strange about the woman. Myron agrees, saying she’s quite the seductress, and probably a gold digger – except Diyero has no money. Myron asks if they should follow them, and Kogeru says he will, sending Myron back to get Hikari and watch after Mushin. Leaving, Myron tells Kogeru to be careful as he falls into the crowd behind Diyero and Peligrosa. Suddenly, a merchant offering saké and women interrupts him, causing him to fall farther behind the two. Just as he loses sight of them, Hikari appears suddenly behind him, causing him to jump in shock. Without missing a beat, Hikari mentions that she saw the two go to the left, and they give chase again.
They end at a broken-down house, seeing Diyero and Peligrosa walk inside. As Hikari questions her choice of living area, they both notice a sign announcing the building’s schedule for demolition. They prepare their weapons, smelling a rat.
Inside, Diyero suddenly falls out of his stupor and realizes where he is. A board creaks loudly as he questions the safety of the building. Peligrosa tries to reassure him as Diyero steps away. “Sober already? Oh well. It will just make it more painful for you…” she tells him. Diyero points accusingly, announcing that he knew something was strange about her. She opens her mouth in a wide, toothy grin, revealing large, sharp teeth. Before his eyes, she transforms into a demon with a donkey’s back end and a woman’s upper body.
“Definitely something wrong with you, Empusae!” Diyero cries, stepping back in revulsion. The demon speaks to him about his growing reputation, and how he killed her comrades back in Primo. She jumps for him as Diyero dodges to the side. At that instant, Kogeru and Hikari burst into the room. Hikari thanks the kami that they weren’t doing the “hanky-panky,” and Diyero yells that she’s trying to kill him. The Empusae promises death and pounces on him. Diyero pushes her back, calling her the only thing he’s seen with unappealing breasts– then throwing the Lamia in with the statement. The demon growls in rage and claws Diyero’s face.
Suddenly, Hikari jumps onto its back and crosses her blades in front of the demon’s neck, cutting it across the throat. Kogeru calls to Diyero, worried. The tattooed slayer stands and complains that she almost ruined his perfect looks. Hikari comments flatly that he’s jut fine. As the demon rises, a floorboard cracks under Kogeru, who mentions that they should leave before the place came down. An idea forms in Diyero’s mind, focusing around the crumbling building. At the same moment, the Empusae rises and promises to kill them all. Slamming a foot into the ground, Diyero brings a board up to smash the demon in the face, then rips a beam in half, using the piece in hand to stab and pin down the demon. As he walks away, the empusae damns him to the hells, to which he responds, “Maybe. But you’re going there first.”
As they run from the fast-crumbling building, Diyero cuts a support beam in half, bringing the rest of the house down on the demon, crushing it. Before she falls under the rocks, the empusae promises more demons to come. As they leave the broken-down house, Diyero paints some runes on his blade and sets the ruins aflame. Hikari asks if the flames will spread, to which Diyero responds by, after letting them burn for a moment, putting out the flames with some water runes.
In doing so, he douses a large group of villagers as well. He says that they should go to the inn as Hikari calls him an idiot in Senjose. He turns and tells her he can tell she’s insulting him. Hikari asks, “So?” He responds, “So I got a few people wet. Did either of you know that empusae have a nasty habit of ‘reviving’ themselves unless they’re burned?” Hikari and Kogeru pause and glance at each other as Diyero turns and tells them, “See you at the inn.”
“He’s full of surprises.” Hikari states as he walks off, “Although I’m not in the mood to see any more of them today.” With a smile and a sigh, Kogeru follows.
Chapter summary coming soon.
Chapter outline coming soon.
Chapter summary coming soon.
Chapter summary coming soon.
Chapter summary coming soon.
Chapter 13 is still in progress.
Chapter 14 is not online yet.
Chapter 15 is not online yet.