Maohden vol 1, p.1

Maohden Vol. 1, page 1

 part  #1 of  Maohden Series

 

Maohden Vol. 1
 


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Maohden Vol. 1


  Author’s Note

  Of all my stories set in Demon City, Maohden may be the one most devoted to the city itself. I don’t imagine that another one of my stories will be so dedicated to Shinjuku. The city here becomes a stage designed and constructed with my own pen. I have done my best to not subtract in the slightest from intricate qualities of the real thing.

  The true protagonists in this story will always be those of you equally captivated by Shinjuku.

  Author’s Bio

  The publication of Makaiko in 1985 elevated Hideyuki Kikuchi to the ranks of bestselling authors.

  He was born in 1949 in the city of Choshi in Chiba Prefecture. As a child, he dreamed of becoming a manga artist. While studying law at Aoyama University he participated in the campus’ “mystery and detective novel” club. After graduation, he published stories in doujinshi magazines and translated science fiction while working as a magazine reporter.

  Hideyuki Kikuchi’s debut as a novelist came in 1982 with the publication of Demon City Shinjuku. He has since been unrivaled in his ability to create entertaining and compelling heroes.

  About Maohden, Vol. I, the author happily complains, “The plot turns are coming one after the other, pushing the story in directions not even I

  can predict.”

  Maohden Vol. 1

  Maohden vol.1 (c) Hideyuki Kikuchi 1986. Originally published in Japan in 1986 by SHODENSHA Publishing Co.,LTD. English translation copyright (c) 2012 by DIGITAL MANGA, Inc. All other material (c) 2012 by DIGITAL MANGA, Inc. All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission from the copyright holders. Any likeness of characters, places, and situations featured in this publication to actual persons (living or deceased), events, places, and situations are purely coincidental. All characters depicted in sexually explicit scenes in this publication are at least the age of consent or older. The DMP logo is (tm) of DIGITAL MANGA, Inc.

  Written by Hideyuki Kikuchi

  Illustrated by Jun Suemi

  English Translation by Eugene Woodbury

  English Edition Published by:

  DIGITAL MANGA PUBLISHING

  A division of DIGITAL MANGA, Inc.

  1487 W 178th Street, Suite 300

  Gardena, CA 90248

  USA

  www.dmpbooks.com

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Available Upon Request

  First Edition: June 2012

  ISBN-13: 978-1-56970-149-2

  10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

  Printed in Canada

  Part One: Black Magic Burial

  Chapter One

  The black shadows oozed through the milky white world. The creamy folds of light and dark traced the outlines of human beings, in the blink of an eye growing thicker and thinner, the silhouettes appearing at once recognizable, and in a blink not there at all.

  There were two shadows in the mist.

  One tall and thin, like a sword sporting arms and legs. The other short and stooped over.

  Where was this place? Looking more closely, larger structures could be made out around them—a round tower, a three-sided pyramid, a four-sided pyramid—all wearing the fog like a heavy cloak.

  And many more. Shadows beyond the shadows. Beyond and beyond.

  What seemed at first a disordered, random collection of objects followed an intricate geometry that only the most skilled of architects—the rare genius with a well-attuned aesthetic sense—could begin to grasp.

  Beauty was born of evil as well as good, like a flower blossoming in a vase of blood. The swirling mists bore an eerie aura on their wavering currents, a haunted miasma whose breath would reduce a normal man to a quivering mass in a minute.

  This was no normal place.

  In these fog-shrouded precincts, the air grew thick with the spirits of the dead. It inflicted no great harm on its residents. Those who went to work day after day in the midst of it—laborers or murderers alike—might shave three hours off their life spans for every day they spent there. Now and then, cough up blood and end up confined to their bed for two or three weeks.

  But they weren’t the true residents of these streets in the first place.

  Anticipating that sightseers would become an important source of revenue, the forward-looking mayor was already spelling out environmental restoration and violence abatement campaigns. Though actual implementation was still on the drawing boards, operations were underway that would ensure its eventuality.

  A voice rang out. Only a voice. But a voice devoid of every speck of personality or even mechanical individuality.

  “I will soon die,” it said.

  The statement was suffused with bleakness. There was no telling which one of them had spoken. Perhaps the mist itself had coughed it out.

  “But the end is not yet nigh. As long as this city exists—as long as you are with me—as long as you have him.”

  His head slumped on his shoulders. Not an expression of despair, he was looking down at his feet, at a rectangular box nine feet long, over four and a half feet wide, and three feet high. The purpose of this ominous object was not immediately apparent.

  There should have been no reason to worry had it been only an ordinary box. Except that the surface was intricately etched and carved. The lid, marked by seams finer than thread, was sealed with an electronic lock.

  The center of the lid was inlaid with the golden head of a goat. A vine of magical mandrake root wove around its horns, hung down and was bound beneath the beard of its chin.

  It was a crest. Especially in this city, it seemed improbable that any family would lend its name to such an accursed crest. The goat and the mandrake vine were unmistakable marks of evil.

  This was a casket.

  And who had sought eternal repose in this nine foot box of a bedchamber?

  “I have bet everything on fifteen years hence.” His voice rose again. “All I can say for certain is that this city will still exist. Beyond that is darkness and uncertainty. We will see if the odds of winning turn in your favor. The present circumstances are not to your advantage. Only time and this city can tell whether the dark gods of victory will smile upon your karmic enemies, or whether your blood will ultimately triumph.”

  The voice turned toward the heavens, toward a world sealed away from the moon and the stars and even the darkness. “One life winks out. One life slumbers. The life that awakens will surely not be heaven sent. Let us proceed.”

  The other silhouette retreated, not moving a hand or foot, as if sliding backwards on ice. At the same time, a heavy thud came from the feet of the speaker. Something like ink spread out and tinted the color of that world.

  The man had literally lost his head. Blood erupted into the air. The headless man leaned over and picked up the head with bloodstained hands.

  An unimaginable will to live and powers of mind propelled him forward. As soon as he raised his arms level with the ground, he pitched forward as his legs gave out beneath him.

  His hands reached out to the casket, bringing the head down squarely in the center of the crest. A moment later, the fallen body stretched out on the earth. It didn’t move again.

  A metallic sound like a great gong rang out deep below the surface. The head coming to rest on the crest had thrown a switch, or the ritual itself pulled the trigger. A moment later the apparatus holding the casket and the paved surface surrounding it slowly sank down into the earth.

  The concrete gave way to walls of black earth as it slipped down the dark shaft. The eyes of the head sitting on the coffin suddenly opened.

  “In fifteen years, this city will become an accursed metropolis like no other. Our plans shall bloom in the midst of that
poison. Wait and see, Renjo Aki. You and that son of yours. I will return again.”

  The eyes turned white, rolled back in the head. Now as lifeless as the mysterious casket it rode upon, the several hundred square yards of ground sank deep beneath the earth.

  Standing at the edge of the large hole, the mists wrapped around him, the shadow silently backed away, holding a remote control device in his right hand. His fingers played across the surface. The earth rocked powerfully beneath his feet.

  There were no buildings around him. But no native soil would be found anywhere in these city blocks. Only thick layers of asphalt. Now it quaked and rumbled and rose up. Excavated by enormous forces, the black interior peeked out from the fractured surface.

  Like a subterranean dragon had arced its back and thrown one of its scales skyward.

  The figure leveraged a portion of that power and flew into the air. He harrowed his eyes and concentrated his attention on the deep shaft below him. If his calculations proved true, the layers of earth and asphalt would form an impregnable vault that would ward off any attempts to unearth it for the next fifteen years.

  He set back on the ground as the fissures raced toward him. Uncertainty only briefly colored those steady eyes. At the last second, he flew into the air. When he landed, no less nimbly, it was like he’d landed on eggshells.

  Landing a second time, neither did the ground reflect the impact of breaking his fall. The hollowed-out earth had been tamed by the enormous power he wielded.

  Whatever the results, they were already beyond his control. The only options left to anyone would have to wait fifteen years. And now even he looked tired. As if noticing the damp, clinging fog for the first time, he rubbed the back of his neck.

  An angry yelp rang out in the air. A black dog sprang onto the road a dozen feet off to his right, baring its fangs, a good six feet long. He reached his hand into his pocket and drew it out. The legs of the dog spasmed. It fell over dead. Blood gushed from between its spear-like fangs.

  This was not a city where a man could ever let down his guard. The shadow sensed a number of malevolent presences within the mist. Slashes of green encircled him. Behind them, more loomed further back in the shadows.

  A pack of wild dogs. Efforts to exterminate these man-eating animals had not reached this particular block. Knowing the danger, it made for a perfect place to dump a body.

  The black masses closed on him at an incredible velocity. He soared over their heads.

  In the midst of this silent attack and counterattack, the pack did not swarm around the canine corpse already on the road. Attacking him surely meant they hadn’t already eaten their fill. But they seemed to possess the intellect, uncrazed by the smell of blood, to fix their attention on the second meal before them.

  The shadow landed on a crumbling wall. The concrete cracked beneath his feet. He didn’t lose his balance for an instant. Beyond the wall were the ruins of a factory.

  He set off running. Two dogs jumped up at him from below. His right hand flashed. The two dogs died. By the time the bodies crashed to the ground, he had sprinted to another wall a dozen yards off.

  A ferocious roar reached his ear. The additional feast of flesh and blood finally overwhelmed the animals’ instincts. Shaking off their pursuit, the shadow disappeared into the mists.

  A few minutes later, only bloodstains and shards of bone were left to tell the tale. Watery light slanted across the road. A new day had dawned in the city.

  Rising out of the thinning haze, the Keio Plaza Hotel was the first skyscraper to catch the morning sun—in a metropolis where, only a mile or so from the new city center, man-eating animals ran rampant.

  Demon City Shinjuku.

  Biding its time until that multi-dimensional showdown fifteen years hence, it calmly welcomed yet another one of its same-old accursed days.

  Part Two: Beautiful Genie

  Chapter One

  At four o’clock in the afternoon, the Lauren Knights hostess club in Kabuki-cho welcomed its most interesting visitor since its opening.

  The customer on his way out was demanding a refund. One of the employees, Noriko Toyoshi, was having a few words with him. “What the hell you are bitching about?” she demanded. “The way you were copping feels right and left, we gave a little perv like you a bargain deal.”

  The time was 3:52.

  Taking her raised voice as a cue, the bartender and bouncer joined the party. By the time they’d wrestled their displeased guest to the ground, thrashed him soundly and tossed him out on his ear, it was a little past 3:56.

  He landed with his face on the ground a couple of yards out the back entrance.

  “Take a hike, mister!” Noriko hocked a loogie onto his back. “And don’t come back!” An old-fashioned send-off, to be sure.

  It was 3:59.

  With the man’s finger—torn off at some point during the melee—clenched between her teeth like a cigar, she was heading back inside when she saw something out of the corner of her eye. She glanced over her shoulder and caught a glimpse of that face.

  It was exactly four o’clock.

  The sepia light of early summer stained the falling dusk. O-magatoki it was called, the time when ghosts and demons prowled the earth. Probably not a coincidence either.

  Noriko froze in her tracks. A long shadow fell on the earth in front of her.

  “Ah, is this where I can find Ryo Terumoto-san?”

  The drawling voice burrowed inside Noriko’s head and chased the golden sunset away.

  “Who-who are you?” she finally managed to say. The echoes of desire thickly layered her words. She was in the business of arousal but she was the one getting wet.

  Whether he knew that or not—the blank tone of his words didn’t change in the slightest—“Where might I find Terumoto-san?”

  “You mean, the boss?”

  “Yes.”

  It was strictly against the rules to give out the name and address of the owner to strangers. But all these taboos had flown out the window as soon as she saw his face. If he asked, she would have stripped naked and gotten herself off in broad daylight.

  “The boss—he’s chasing some skirt in the green room on the second floor. What’s this about?”

  A ferocious bark of anger made her turn around. “Stupid bitch! You don’t tell shit like that to a perfect—”

  The bouncer’s admonition cut off mid-sentence. He’d been lingering at the back entrance. A flush rose to his ashen cheeks. Noriko felt a flash of jealousy. He too was entranced by the man’s spell.

  “W-What do you want?” But even this cross-examination was colored by an air of fawning.

  “Upstairs, was it? If you would excuse me.”

  The silhouette moved. The man was dressed in black. Bathed in the listless sunlight, the turned-up collar of his black slicker suggested being caught in a cutting winter wind. It was the two lowlifes who felt the chill.

  A head taller than the five-foot-six bouncer, he disappeared down the hallway. The two stepped aside, as if pushed by an invisible force. The visitor silently climbed the stairs. By the time he got to the steel door identified with a nameplate as the “Ladies Green Room,” a flurry of footsteps sounded out behind him.

  “Son of a bitch! You wait right there!”

  “Take us for fools, do you? Turn around and face the music, bud!”

  The same number of shouts as the pairs of footsteps. A moment later, they fell silent.

  The visitor turned around. The next sound was of them all swallowing hard.

  Caught in the light streaming in from the end of the hall, the young man’s comely countenance took on an almost ultraviolet glow.

  Beneath brows like slender willow leaves, their stupefied faces reflected in his narrow eyes. The chiseled bridge of his nose—white teeth flashing between faintly crimson lips—his entire being wrapped in a savage yet mysterious aura—this was an object of rare beauty, as if sculpted by the gods.

  It was almost remarka
ble that it didn’t strike the grubby eyes of these thugs blind. And yet there somehow arose from his expansive, boundless presence a quite mismatched sense of amiable humanity.

  “Listen, you—” But the strangled threats uttered by the head underling carried little force in them.

  “I’m here from the Aki Detective Agency,” the young man said. “Two days ago, a girl came here from outside the ward. The word is that she’s making appearances here, apparently against her will. I have a few questions, that’s all.”

  “A few questions?” bellowed the stocky enforcer bringing up the rear. “Come here and tell me about it, pretty boy. We’ll sit our two asses down and get to know each other. Or maybe I’ll just set your ass down and get to know it a whole lot better.”

  He licked his lips, expressing less a jest than raw desire. The lewd aroma punctuated the violent atmosphere. The men lurched forward, their eyes hot and vacant.

  A hardly human groan spilled from those lips. Only once. The men froze in their tracks, a good ten of them, all reaching for their throats, tearing at the invisible in a strange kind of pantomime.

  These frantically struggling ruffians, who otherwise thought no more of another human’s life than they would an insect’s, had been rendered literally blue in the face.

  The young man—Aki was his name—smiled languidly back at them. A warm smile, utterly unaffected by the grotesque scene before him.

  “I can’t let anyone interfere with my work. Take it easy, okay? A word of warning—put up too much of a struggle and your heads may drop right off. Consider yourselves lucky to have faced off against me, and not me.”

  With a look like a mischievous child giving the slip to a gang of bullies, he placed his hand on the door knob. The door was locked from the inside. He appeared momentarily perplexed, but tried again—as if he’d been mistaken the first time.

  The door opened without a sound.

  As the door opened, a man’s cajoling voice could be heard, along with a woman’s moans—that might sound like cries of pain at first, but came from an entirely different source.

 
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