The Curse Mark: Chapter Five



Memories were such fickle things.  Kenichi watched as Mio’s fingers twitched.  With her eyes closed, Kenichi knew she wasn’t just staring into some daydream with that usual dreamy look of hers.  It was because she was working.  The only time Mio was ever serious was when she was focusing on retrieving or erasing a particular memory.  Such as this very moment.  Leaning back against the cushy back of the booth, Kenichi’s violet eyes flickered between his imouto and her client.

The Fae Prince was not one of Mio’s usual customers.  He fell into the rare category; a kind of man who requested the removal of his own memories as opposed to someone else’s.

Selfish or selfless?  Kenichi considered the Prince.  He knew the man was a prince; the fool’s wings were poking out from underneath his polo shirt.  Kenichi had noticed.  Fae ranks were recognisable based on the colour and transparency of their wings.  Although Kenichi would not be what one would call an ‘expert’ on the Fae, but he was knowledgeable from his past experiences, most of them were unpleasant.   He could thank his imouto for that.

Kenichi couldn’t remember a day when he was not assisting his imouto and not running into trouble of some kind.  His eyes glanced once around the diner.  There were plenty to amuse the eye if one was interested in the colourful crowd that populated Riverton.  But they were not his concern.  Turning his gaze back to Mio, he watched her open her eyes and pull her hands away from the fae’s temples.

“It is done,” she murmured, her violet eyes, several shades paler than Kenichi’s, blinked slowly and de-hazed.  Very soon, Mio would revert back to her usual oblivious self and no doubt she would indeed seem like someone incapable of removing memories with absolute precision.  “Your request has been fulfilled, once you pay me, I shall remove all trace of this meeting as well.”

That was the signal for Kenichi to prepare for him and Mio to disappear.   Sitting up straighter, Kenichi ran a hand through his hair before sighing heavily and standing, excusing himself (being polite only to Mio, but scowling in warning at the client).  Granted, leaving Mio on her own was not his preference of choice, but this next part, she had always insisted on doing herself.  There had only been one incident in all the thousands of cliental meetings that ended with Mio resorting to extreme measures.

Taking himself out of the diner, Kenichi yawned.  It was late, so very late, the glow of the light from inside the diner was just one of a few lights that lit up the street alongside the street lamps.  Tucking his hands in his jeans pocket and slouching back against the wall of the diner near the door, Kenichi’s brows wrinkled in disdain.  The heat was atrocious.  It was hot, Riverton was located in a place where hot tended to be the usual descriptor as soon as it the spring and summer seasons.

A moment later, Mio stepped out of the diner, her white, thin cotton dress billowed slightly in honour of the rare gust of a summer breeze.  It was such an innocent looking dress and seemed appropriate for the weather, yet, it wasn’t as though his imouto thought to wear anything else no matter the season.  It was no wonder he had a difficult time protecting her sometimes.  It wasn’t just against unsatisfied clients, but perverts and rapists too.

She smiled at him.  Her pale eyes made her expression looked dreamy as they tended to do so no matter what expression she was feeling when she smiled.  “All done anisan,” she said lightly, her voice as faint as the paleness of her violet eyes.

“About time,” he said gruffly, pushing off the wall.  “Where to now?”

“Somewhere to sleep,” she replied nodding her head as though she was nodding her head to a silent tune.  “I’m tired anisan,” she said, sounding as innocent as always.  Kenichi wondered how she could manage to retain such innocence after all that had happened to her.  And…he looked down at her, and sighed, reaching forward, he ruffled her dark purple hair and said, “alright Mi, let’s go home.”  She was such a strong girl, perhaps, and Kenichi always speculated this, the dreamy side of her was a side effect.  Being this kind of girl, she was able to withhold the pain and horror of whatever secrets she discovered in the minds of those she examined and erased.   Well, that was as Kenichi presumed.

The walk to their house was a long walk, but Mio never seemed to mind the long walk.  She wasn’t spoiled.  Kenichi knew that.  He had watched over her for so long.

“So who was he?” Kenichi asked her, hesitating.  Even though on a daily basis he was considered rude, quite possibly by everyone he met, to Mio, he was nice.

“A man who seeks an answer to his guilt,” she replied wistfully looking up to the clouds passing over the darkened sky.  Not that there were many clouds to spy at this time of the year on this particularly warm day.  Watching his imouto, Kenichi understood what she was saying.  This was classic Mio, he had learnt long ago that she did not enjoy repeating the stories of her clients.  Sometimes she repeated them if it was too stressful for her, or if she felt it was necessary for her to pass it on in order to complete the job, but other than that, she didn’t say anything more.

A number of late nighters walked passed them, but their eyes barely glanced over at them, too drunk and full of Halloween revelry, they did not pay attention to a pair of demons like Kenichi and Mio.  Even if the majority of citizens of Riverton were beyond normal, Mio stood out for her hair.  Mio’s hair might look dyed to the ordinary human, but for Mio, it was natural.  Memory demons of her kind naturally bore pale eyes and dark blue-purple hair, and were in truth very rare nowadays.  Kenichi knew Mio was very aware of her rarity, but she pursued life as though she were not any different to any other being.  Status meant nothing to her, and it kept her strong.   Her mother had been a memory demon as well, and like Mio was doing now, her mother had been working for the underworld, for criminals and greater demons.  But unlike her mother, Mio was working for herself.  She did not have to answer to anyone, which indeed was more preferable, but then, also made it difficult for Kenichi to prevent her from doing something rash.

They turned a corner.  In order to reach their home they had to pass by a park full of Halloween revellers.  Was it an adult party or children or family?  Kenichi could not tell from where he was standing, so instead, he took the gamble and lead Mio forward down the footpath towards their house.   Located towards the end of the street was a pleasant gothic building situated in between two other equally as gothic looking house, but unlike those, their house did not share the same desire to take part in Halloween festivities.  It just sat still and stoically in the middle, silent and foreboding. It would be a lie if Kenichi said he had a love for the house.  It was Mio who chose and bought it for their temporary accommodations.  If it was up to him, he would have chosen something…less terrifying.

Mio hummed at they walked, an eerie tune that no doubt was a reminder of her mother.  Perhaps Kenichi should have kicked this habit of hers ages ago, but he hadn’t.   Whatever pleased her, pleased him.  And even if for a temporary period of time Kenichi had no affection for the woman who was Mio’s mother, he had eventually found himself also calling her mum.

And with like any innocent walk along the footpath where a hundred revellers were drunk and celebrating (Kenichi had a better gauge of those who were celebrating in the park as they neared it), one could hope to avoid being hassled by the revellers.  But with a face like Kenichi’s (something he’s highly aware of yet, knows now how as to fix it) and a dress like Mio’s, there was never a chance for them to quietly pass by.

A number of people, men and relatively burly, compared to Kenichi anyway, crowded around them.  Immediately, Kenichi’s hand tightened around Mio’s wrist.  He felt her tense up, and wanted to reassure her.  But once glance at Mio told him she wasn’t afraid.  She was looking just like she always looked.   Dreamy.  But there was a faint hint that showed Kenichi she was not as dreamy as she looked.  And though he wished she didn’t rely so much on him in moments like this, Kenichi wouldn’t have asked for any other kind of situation.  He wanted her to rely on him.  Otherwise, what kind of anisan would he be?

“Mio…” he said, a hint of warning his voice as he pulled her closer to him, and fisted his free hand.  Not for punching anyone.  That would be immature, and Kenichi wasn’t about to be immature now…not first anyway.  His eyes scanned the faces not that it helped much since they were all masked, hidden by Halloween.  “…Bounty hunters,” he said, gripping onto her arm tightly.

He felt the tension in his free arm, the gathering of energy, pure ki as he prepared to lay out anyone who was a threat to Mio.  But even despite his age and experience in handling anyone who was a threat to her, there were bound to be one or two who would not make life easy for him.  And depending on abilities, Kenichi was bound to be limited at one point or another.  But not today.  Today, he was being shoved ruthlessly to the side, a faint gasp the only sign from Mio.  The ki flew sideways, and any thoughts Kenichi had of increasing the gravity around each of his opponents vanished.  He would have been mad, furious even, but the pale look on Mio’s face stopped him feeling such intense emotions.  Glancing around at what had come bowling passed them, and the reason why Kenichi and Mio had been shoved sideways, he only caught sight of a trail of dark hair.  Dark hair, and a long skirt with some ruffles here and there.

The men who had clamoured around them before, turned their attention back to him and Mio, no longer distracted by the girl.  Even if Kenichi could not see their eyes or mouth, he felt like they were grinning at him, thinking they had cornered him once more.  But Kenichi was smarter than that.  For now anyway, and he raised his hand up and with a flick of his fingers, shifted gravity to send the men in front of him flying backwards.  With hardly any effort, he sent them over the roofs of houses and then dropped them when he thought they were far enough away, before he turned and tugged at Mio.

Mio.  She was in a daze.  Shock.  What had happened?  No.  Kenichi could guess what had happened.  What had she seen that was so shocking?  That must have been it.  It could not have been anything else.  He had watched over her for many years.  Mio had grown in power over the years, and she had grown sensitive too.  Though she was not like a seer who could see a future or past without requiring touch.  Mio needed skin to skin contact or a very close vicinity and connection to someone in order to read memories.  If she wanted to erase or change, then she had definitely needed that skin to skin contact.

Waking her somewhat out of her daze, Kenichi let out a sigh of relief before getting her up off the ground where she had fallen.  “Come on,” he murmured to her when she was steady on her feet and those sensibly clad thin tan loafers that some girls seemed to like wearing these days.  And Mio preferring a lack of hassle as much as possible probably hadn’t thought about pairing her dress and those shoes.  But lucky all the same.  It made it easier for him to guide her to their house.  There, he thought he would make it to the lounge at the very least, but no.  Instead, as soon as they stepped in through the doorway, Mio spoke.

And what she said, stilled him.

“What?” He asked, turning sharply to face his imouto.

Mio’s eyes blinked slowly, and she turned her head left and right as if she wanted to catch sight of something.  Then they widened, and Kenichi caught the slight look of panic on her face, and demanded, before she could forget, “Mio! What is it?”

“She knows him.   She knows him,” she repeated vaguely.


For a long moment, while Mio panicked and looked like she had no idea how she had gotten home, Kenichi was stumped.  They had been looking for signs for years.  Found clues yes, but had found more dead ends than divergent paths.                  Years of work.  Years of Mio helping the good, the bad and the ugly in exchange for clues.  Years of evading assassins and bounty hunters.  Years of Mio every so often doing a pro bono case like with the Fae Prince earlier.  She hadn’t asked him to pay.  She had just completed his request for his own sake.  His guilt, or pride, or what?  Kenichi couldn’t exactly place it. This was perhaps the only thing about Mio could never read beforehand.  She waived a fee once in a blue moon.  For a good girl, she was pretty consistent on being paid, and also with completing the request.  But when it came to her waivers, Kenichi could never guess.

All this, after all, had been to find him.

The one who had killed Mio’s mother.

Snapping out of his mood, Kenichi put his hands on Mio’s shoulders and said harshly, “Mio, what did you see?”

Finally her eyes focussed on him again, and Mio said, “That girl, I saw him curse that girl.”


Click Here:  Chapter One: The Devil’s Children/Cara de Vries

Click Here:  Chapter Two: A Moon At Stake/Adrienne Cynzia

Click Here: Chapter Three: Can Angels Lie?/Lennox Vanderwerken

Click Here: Chapter Four: Why We Fall/Blayke Feray

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