Disclaimer : No I don’t own Saki and never will. I’m just killing time by borrowing Ritz-sensei’s characters.
Chapter I – The Mahjong Club
“Miyanaga-san, according to the tests you can possibly become a mahjong practitioner in the future, do you want my recommendation to apply to Kazekoshi?” the kindly school councilor asked the shy student.
“Ummm… I’ve already chosen Kiyosumi, most of my classmates are going there, besides my score for mahjong is about average to the norm for my age, right?” the girl shifting nervously under her gaze replied.
“Even if you only scored average, there are only a 1 out of a hundred that can become mahjong practitioner you know… scoring anything at all on the test is a great accomplishment,” the councilor explained patiently.
Seeing that the brunette doesn’t seem to be enthused with the idea, she tried again, “You should develop your talent and going to a good school is the first step toward it. Who knows maybe I’ll even see you in the national stage.”
Unfortunately, that comment has the opposite effect causing the girl to visibly deflate even more.
“But, I don’t want to fight…” the girl whispered softly.
Ahh, the aged woman thought so that’s why she’s having a lot of trouble with this one, most students were usually enthused to discover that they can become mahjong practitioner.
She tried again, “Miyanaga-san, though most practitioners know how to fight it isn’t necessary. Only a select few can actually muster a good combat skill for it to be needed militarily. Most use their mahjong skills as an extra advantage in their professions. ”
But her argument seem to have gone to one ear and out another for the girl remained stubborn, “Gomen… but, I want to go to Kiyosumi, my friend is going and its near my house so it will be easier for me.”
“You’re sure? I don’t think Kiyosumi even have a mahjong club.”
A short nod was her only answer.
“Very well then. Kiyosumi it is.”
“Here take this,” she said handing the girl a small black ball which on contact with the girl’s skin emitted a soft glow. “As you know that amount of glow shows that you have about average potential for a mahjong player your age.”
For some reason, this only disheartened the girl, so trying to lighten up the atmosphere, the woman added, “It’s actually funny when we connected it to a reader your score is the exact mean for last year survey of high school student.”
Her good humor was lost on the the shy student though, who stiffened more and seemed to become more resolute after that last comment. “I really don’t deserve this sensei,” Miyanaga-san softly said refusing the gift.
She inwardly sighed, trying to get this girl to relax is taxing, “Don’t worry about it, we give this to anyone who showed the slightest mahjong potential so don’t think you’re getting special treatment. This way even those who don’t go to a mahjong club can develop their skills. All you have to do is meditate on this ball everyday and try to make the ball glow more.”
Staring at the ball for a while, Miyanaga-san finally said, “Arigato sensei.”
“I suppose that ends our session, do you have any more questions regarding your future aspirations?”
After some hesitation, the girl finally asked, “You said that my potential is about average for mahjong players my age but it’s already something extraordinary? Umm… What exactly is normal to get when you test using this?”
Maybe she is finally getting what a wonderful gift she has, the councilor inwardly thought. Outwardly she said, “Why normally you get nothing at all… not even the slightest glow just pitch black. As I’ve said you’re gifted Miyanaga-san, it would be a waste if you don’t develop it. Do you have any more questions to ask?” The girl shook her head… ” Well this ends the session. I hope that I have been able to help you.”
“You have sensei…,” then bowing deeply, Miyanaga-san softly said “Gomenasai” before taking her leave. Unnoticed in the girl’s hand the soft glow that the ball is emitting slowly vanished without a trace.
– Final Advising Session between Miyanaga Saki and her Middle School Councilor.
“Welcome to the Mahjong Club!” Kyoutaro proudly proclaimed as he opened the door to a building.
Looking at the building that her friend led her into, Saki felt a pit open up in her stomach. To put it frankly the building was eerie – its so old that it’s a wonder that it isn’t already demolished. The broken window panes and the small dents at the side of the building wasn’t exactly confidence inspiring either.
But, the building appearance wasn’t the main reason for Saki’s unease. The moment the door was opened, she could feel the energy inside the building… or perhaps its more accurate to say how much energy the place have. Just from her rough estimate the building has a hundred times more energy than normal. Why with this amount of energy it will be so easy to set something off…
Not for the first time, Saki felt that agreeing to go to the Mahjong club was a bad idea, not that she thought that it was a good idea in the first place. The only reason that she agreed is to see if her friend is safe and just by the environment of the club the idea is becoming unlikely by the minute.
Speaking of Kyoutaro does he know about this? Looking at her friend’s eager face, Saki quickly dismissed the idea. Kyou-chan may be a bit impulsive but he will never willingly walk in a disaster area much less invite her to a place that could potentially be dangerous. It seems like her friend is being deceived after all. She should have expected this the moment the boy have said that mahjong is fun. There is only one thing to do.
“Kyou-chan, the building is dangerous, it … ” she began but before Saki finished her warning, the boy sighed interrupting her.
“I’m ashamed of you, Saki. I know the building looks a bit suspicious but you of all people should know that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.”
“This is different – “, our resident bookworm tried to object, but whatever she was about to say was halted when the boy simply stepped toward the threshold before she can even complete her sentence. To her horror, the energy began to swirl around Kyoutaro while he stood there without a single barrier of protection. Worried for her friend Saki was about to forcefully yank him out of the death trap of a building when she noticed the boy smiling slyly.
The smile that Kyou-chan usually make when he want to make grand presentation of himself or play a trick made her hesitate for a bit. He looks so sure standing there perhaps he isn’t in danger after all. He is probably going to cast a protective spell inside using the ambient energy to make it easier. Calming down Saki thought wryly to herself, really he should have told her before plunging directly like that, he almost gave her a heart attack.
Unfortunately, Saki’s optimistic thoughts about her friend was not to be.
Making a show of stomping his feet toward the ground and without a single attempt to mold the dangerous energy around him, her childhood friend grinned, “See, the floor is solid as a rock, it’s perfectly safe here.”
Saki just stared.
“Oh come on, don’t think I haven’t noticed your worrying yourself to death the moment you saw the building. You probably thought it was going to come down on our head, huh?”
Stomping the floor a few times and then kicking the wall for a good measure, the boy continued, “This place can take more than a few beating so don’t worry. Here, I’ll even lead the way.” The boy then stomped his way all across the room toward the staircase totally oblivious to Saki’s true worries.
‘He didn’t notice?’ Saki thought. Looking at the boy happily stomping and the energy happily swirling around him but not interacting with him in any way, Saki concluded that Kyou-chan is totally unaware of the supernatural phenomena happening.
But how is that possible? Even if he didn’t notice shouldn’t there be some sort of clash between his aura and the flow of energy? At the very least, he should have felt some sort of pressure… Saki stared at the decrepit building doubtfully, could there be something special about this building?
To test this hypothesis, Saki tentatively moved closer to the door and poked the energy. At a split second, the energy flowed through her from the point of contact invigorating her body. Shocked at what happened, she quickly removed her finger away as if burned.
Still she wasn’t quick enough for when she examined her ring finger – it was glowing from the absorbed energy. Well there goes one guess, sighing to herself she expelled the energy without a second thought toward the ground causing a small singe mark to appear. That won’t do at all, Saki thought looking at the singe mark and with a gesture the singe mark disappeared.
This is odd… the energy here is too easily absorbed, it’s not inert like she expected like when Kyou-chan passed through. As it stands right now, if she goes inside the energy will go haywire. How did he managed to pass through this without even trying? Perhaps she confusedly mused, she was right the first time and her friend has truly become a really good practitioner without her noticing?
The faint stomping of her friend’s feet which is already above the stairs snapped her out of her musings. That’s right her friend is waiting for her… regardless of whether he has become really good of a practitioner or not, she made a promise to help him with this for just one day. And she refuse to break another promise ever again… her lips frowned reflexively at the mere thought of breaking a promise. Even if it is about mahjong, perhaps especially if it is about mahjong.
Anyway, it’s just one day after all and friends do things that they don’t like for their other friends, right? This is just one of those things she told herself. So that left only one thing to do. Calling on the her largely suppressed personal energy, she used it to make a form-fitting shell around herself. Hoping she did it right, she once again tried to poke the energy at the doorway with her finger. This time the energy didn’t respond. Success, she thought to herself.
“Now for the real thing,” Saki said as she hesitantly entered the building. To her relief, the shell held out and the energy in the building remained calm as if she wasn’t there. There one problem down, now to find Kyou-chan. He was going up the stairs a few minutes ago, she better follow him.
Saki was already at the top of the stairs when a soft polite voice called her attention.
” … a guest?”
Turning to the voice direction, she saw the pink headed beauty that she observed this afternoon sitting on one of the comfy chairs in the corner of the room. Of course, the mysterious girl is going to be a mahjong practitioner too. The bookworm inwardly grumbled to herself. So much for her resolution on not meeting the girl.
Come to think of it, could this girl be Kyou-chan’s dream girl? The pinkette is certainly pretty enough to qualify and knowing her friends type the pinkette’s blessed assets would be a welcome bonus.
A soft cough, made her realize that she was staring at the said blessed assets. Mortified, Saki could feel her face burn as she attempted to explain her faux pas, “Umm … gomen… I was surprised to see you here.”
The mystery girl only raised an eyebrow in response at her lame attempt for an explanation. “Umm… just this morning, I saw you passing through the bridge… I didn’t expect to see you so soon,” the bookworm tried again.
Miraculously the mystery girl seems to have understood her, “Ahh… you’re the one reading by the bridge?”
Saki gave a brief nod of confirmation and elaborated why she was intruding on the building, “I was looking for Kyou-chan…”
“Suga-kun will be here shortly. Please, make yourself at home,” the pinkette rose up from her chair as proper etiquette demands when she is greeting a guest and pointed at a chair opposite to the one she is sitting on, “Have a sit.”
As Saki went to the chair pointed, she wondered about the chances that the mystery girl would actually remember her? It is a relief because it saves Saki from making anymore awkward conversation, but it is also worrying because the bookworm didn’t think she did anything to stood out when she and the girl first met. To be able to remember a passing scenery just like that means the girl has very good observational skills.
The mystery girl then began to busy herself by preparing some tea.
Saki, on the other hand, took her seat and observed her host once more, this time being careful to keep her gaze on the girl’s face which is actually not very hard to do all things considered.
If this is the one Kyou-chan is pursuing, she definitely approves – not only is the girl easy on the eyes, but just by looking at the girl’s clear and steady aura she knows that the girl is also a good and honest person who is unlikely to lead her friend astray.
Speaking of aura, the mystery girl’s aura was a bit subdued now compared to when she last saw her but like Kyou-chan’s doesn’t seem to be interacting with the surrounding energy of the place. Maybe it is some sort of technique taught to all club members? Mahjong practitioners who fight must be really high level then, Saki concluded.
“Please have some tea,” the pinkette handed Saki a cup of steaming tea ending her brief contemplation. The bookworm promptly sipped the tea and found it to her liking. It tastes very light and has a small undertone of sweetness to it.
“This tea taste delicious. Thank you,” The bookworm said to express gratitude to the mystery girl’s hospitality.
The girl deflected the compliment merely stating, “It was made from special herbs that Mako-sempai brought. It gives the tea a sweet flavor.”
After a couple more of light conversation Kyou-chan finally arrived. He was carrying four large metallic circles on one hand. “Oh good, Saki you’re here. I thought for a second you chickened out.”
“Waa… Kyou-chan you’re mean, you know I always keep my promise,” the bookworm pouted.
The pinkette visibly perked up as soon as she saw the rings and asked, “Oh… are you a mahjong practitioner as well?”
“I do know how to use mahjong but I’m not really familiar with the sport version,” Saki honestly answered.
“Don’t worry about that Saki, you’re going to be in good hands, Nodoka here is the middle school individual champion.”
“Is that good?,” the bookworm innocently asked.
“Of course its good, how can you not know that?” Her friend exclaimed, dismayed by the lack of knowledge her answer revealed.
But, before he can go on a tirade about how awesome the mystery girl is, he was interrupted by an energetic girl who literally zipped through the corridor.
“I’m back!”, the pint-sized bundle of energy announced.
And out of the blue the energetic girl made a beeline toward Saki’s personal space spouting praises for the pinkette, “Nodoka is really amazing. She won the middle school individual championship which meant that she is the best.”
The best the word echoed through Saki’s head blurring the rest of the energetic girl’s tirade. There is only one person that the bookworm has ever associated with that word.
Could this person be similar to her Onee-chan? Saki’s heart raced while her aura lashed violently clashing beside the shell that she formed to stop it from interacting with the volatile energy in the room almost breaking it. Almost.
Calm down, Saki thought to herself. It’s too early to be excited. Nothing is confirmed yet. Still, Saki finds her eye wandering to the now revealed middle school champion.
Unmindful of her audience distraction, the energetic girl continues, “- And what’s more her parents are a public prosecutor and a lawyer! And she’s popular with the boys!.”
The pinkette, on the other hand, has progressively grown exasperated from the glowing praises and had enough, “Yuuki! I’m sure our guest isn’t interested to know that.”
Then, with a quickness that was born from need to change the subject she turned to Kyou-chan, “Suga-kun, is the transformation rings already calibrated?”
“Of course, I’ve done the calibration myself,” the boy said proudly waving the huge rings hanging on his arm.
Saki wanting to join the conversation asked, “Transformation rings?”
Her friend sighed, “Don’t tell me, you don’t know about the transformation rings too, Saki?” Seeing the bookworm shake her head, “What do you think allows the mahjong practitioners to do those complex spells that they do in the competitions?”
But, couldn’t you already do those normally? She want to ask but stayed silent to avoid upsetting the boy again.
Seeing that the newcomer was not getting it the pinkette continued Kyou-chan’s explanation, “The transformation rings allows the practitioner to connect to the purified mana that surrounds the mahjong arena and it also gives them certain protection. Here I’ll demonstrate.”
“First you have to concentrate on the ring.”
Taking one of the rings from Kyou-chan the pinkette stared intently at it.
To Saki’s eye she could see the pinkette’s aura slowly enclose the ring and then the ring suddenly dematerialize and cover middle school champion’s body making it glow. After the glow faded, the girl is now wearing a pure white flowing gown with a white headband to hold her hair.
The energetic girl continued the explanation , “After the transformation you give your name to confirm it like what Nodo-chan will do.”
True to her cue, the transformed middle school champion softly stated, “Haramura Nodoka entering battle mode confirmed.”
“Now, its my turn next! Watch how awesome I am!”, the energetic girl swiftly took one of the rings before Kyou-chan could object and in a split second the ring also dematerialized and covered the energetic girl’s body.
This time the result is different, a leather outfit with rugged pants and a thin shirt that only reached her belly button- the energetic girl truly looks like a thief class straight from a fantasy game.
She gave a cheeky salute and said, “Katoaka Yuuki, reporting for duty.”
“My turn,” the only boy of this party also used the transformation ring and in a second he is also in an outfit reminiscent of a swordsman from a generic MMORPG. “Suga Kyoutaro is also here.”
Kyou-chan then handed one of the transformation rings to her, “Here Saki, you should try it too.”
Looking at the transformation ring, Saki wondered if she should try it. It occurred to her that she could just walk away from this with no one the wiser at all. She could easily avoid letting her aura touch the ring after all.
But, she did gave her word and to be honest her new acquaintances is growing on her. Looking at their eager faces she doesn’t want to betray their expectation.
Besides, there is Haramura-san… her heart clenched at the possibilities that she represented. And after so long without a single hope, Saki knew that she would not be able to stop herself from chasing this unexpected windfall. Chuckling to herself, she guessed that her decision is already decided then.
Saki gently pushed her aura in the ring and she was instantly covered with light. In a split instant she could feel the mana gathering around her and becoming solid.
When, the light died down she looked at her new outfit – she was wearing a thick white concealing cloak with silver trimmings that covered every part of her. Inside, she could feel the cold touch of metal which she intimately know to be chains running around her body.
Remembering what she is supposed to do, she gave a soft bow to her current companions – until she can have her answer she’s committed to this path for now.
“My name is Miyanaga Saki. Please take care of me.”