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About Literature / Hobbyist Member Mark Thomas Barden21/Male/United States Recent Activity
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The works of a crazed writer and poser are within these walls. Enter at your own peril. No, seriously, I tend to get lost in here.

Random Favourites

Mostly Street Fighter pictures, and, by that logic, mostly Juri Han.




Just A Picnic by majormario
Just A Picnic
I downloaded a few new models. Thought I'd try them out a little.
From left to right: Dante from Devil May Cry 4, Helena Harper from Resident Evil 6, Naked Snake (Big Boss) from Metal Gear Solid 3, cardboard box from MGS, and Juri Han from Super Street Fighter 4.
Koakuma still had her doubts, but Meiling had done her best to alleviate them. Whoever this Malus Umbravi really was, surely the combined efforts of Sakuya and the fairy maids would be able to free Patchouli from this possession. During the Scarlet Mist Incident Sakuya had proved to all of Gensokyo that she was much more than an elegant maid. She was fast, deadly, precise, and a stern tactician. Her skill with knives was legendary, and her sway over the fairy maids, her subordinates, was enough to make would-be thieves and marauders think twice about snooping around the Scarlet Devil Mansion.

The maid was just the right person for the job. Koakuma almost found herself smiling and placed her confidence in the maid just as Meiling did. The little devil rubbed her bandaged arms and followed the guardswoman down the halls of the mansion. She craned her neck to look around for a few fairy maids, but it appeared that all of them were with Sakuya. Given that there were around a couple dozen or so of the little fairies, it was strange and even concerning to see them absent from the halls. Perhaps... Perhaps the situation really was dire despite Meiling's optimism claiming otherwise.

Soft humming and sipping could be heard near the doors to the library. Koakuma and Meiling turned a corner and looked over at Remilia Scarlet sitting back in a chair with a cup of tea in her hands. The vampire stared at the doors and the furniture piled up next to it for some time before she noticed the two workers. Sakuya must have moved the furniture from the door and used that entrance to get into the library, but not before making sure that her mistress was comfortable. That, or Remilia was complacent in her belief that Sakuya was powerful enough to combat a foe she was unaware of.

Regardless, seeing Remilia lounging around with a cup of tea when there was an incident did not bode well with Koakuma. Her smile faded and her eyes narrowed in anger, but she didn't dare to call out the mistress of the mansion for her complacency.

"Ah! And there's our most recent patient!" Remilia said with a smile as she lifted her cup of tea in greeting. "How are you doing? Sakuya said that you looked positively ruined when she found you."

"I'm doing better, Lady Remilia," Koakuma said, her pleasant tone forced.

"Practically jumped out of bed just to see how things were going!" Meiling chirped.

Remilia chuckled at that and took another long sip from her tea. The mansion was quiet at that time. There wasn't much activity there at this time of day other than what was going on near the library doors. Koakuma could only assume that the library was now host to a variety of noises, but when she went to press her ear up against the doors, she couldn't hear a thing. While the library was large enough to fit a second mansion within, sound did not do a good job of carrying itself amongst the aisles upon aisles of bookshelves. Silence was appreciated, but now it was unnerving.

"I wouldn't go in there if I were you, devil," Remilia said.

"You sent Sakuya in there with all the fairy maids, I know. Meiling told me."

"Yes, but don't worry. Sakuya is more than capable of carrying out her task. I have every bit of confidence that she'll be able to restrain Patchouli until she comes to her senses."

"Lady Remilia, I'm afraid you don't understand what's going on," said Koakuma as she moved away from the door and to the lounging vampire. She barely rose above the temptation to ball her hands into fists. "This is very, very serious!"

The cerulean-haired vampire scowled and got up from her seat. She chugged down her tea and deposited the empty cup on a nearby silver tray before standing before Koakuma. Though she was shorter than anyone else at the mansion, Remilia stood tall and held the authority. Meiling raised her hands in defense and looked on at the two devils with nervousness written on her face. Even the servants knew not to question Remilia's authority, but today was a dire day, and Koakuma would have none of it.

"Are you implying that I'm not taking this seriously?" Remilia challenged. One of her fangs glimmered in her scowl. "I know exactly what is going on, little devil. You wouldn't know, but this has happened before."

Koakuma raised her eyebrows and took a step back. She gulped and rubbed her arm in embarrassment as she gave the mistress of the mansion the benefit of the doubt. Just as she was about to apologize for overstepping her bounds, Remilia kept on talking.

"For as long as I've known Patchouli, I've known that she has a tendency to get into dangerous situations. Most of the time she escapes without a scratch, but sometimes she gets over her head and suffers from a curse, a foreign illness, a loss of mana or whatever." Remilia folded her arms across her chest and turned to the side with a scoff of disgust. "But what Patchouli is suffering from now is more serious than anything else she faced before. I've seen this behavior firsthand, little devil, so do not accuse me of not taking this seriously."

"B-but... You were sitting by wh-"

"While Sakuya does the hard work herself with the maids? Yes, so I am. I am entrusting Patchouli to Sakuya so she'll be able to attend to her should this happen again in the future." Remilia returned to her seat and softened her gaze when she looked up at Koakuma. "Normally, you would deal with this as you are her familiar, but she obviously attacked you and rendered you unconscious for the time being. My condolences, and I'll forgive you for your outburst as you are without a doubt woozy from the bloodloss." Koakuma bowed her head at this. "All we can do is sit and wait as this vile ailment is driven out of her body. And besides, I gave Sakuya the cure, so Patchouli will be fine in a week or so."

It was wrong to doubt Remilia, Koakuma realized. Despite all that she went through when she dealt with Malus, including the possession of Patchouli, the destruction of a few areas of the library, and the harm she caused, Koakuma's experience was insignificant compared to Remilia's over the years. This was her mistress's greatest and most trusted friend, and Voile was within her own personal domain. If it was within the Scarlet Devil Mansion, Remilia Scarlet, the manipulator of fate, was certain to know about it. She knew about the possession, the destruction, and more importantly, she knew who Malus Umbravi was.

At last, things seemed to be looking up after all that had gone wrong so far.

"With Sakuya-san and the fairies on the case, Lady Patchouli will be A-OK in no time!" Meiling chirped as she pumped her fists in earnest.

Koakuma smiled at this and was about to share in the guard's optimism when she suddenly lowered her brow in confusion and turned to Remilia.

"Wait a minute... Did you say that... that there's a cure?"

"Yes, I did. Patchouli made it herself and gave it to me just in case this happened again."

"Oh, so it's a potion?" Meiling asked. Remilia nodded. "That's amazing! A liquid cure for possession!"

Remilia glared at Meiling.

"Possession? What in oblivion are you-"

A loud crack echoed throughout the hallway as the doors to the library swung open. Meiling, who was unfortunate enough to be standing right in front of the doors, was slammed to the ground as the doors smacked into her body. The succubus and vampire both looked up and gasped as a lithe and familiar figure stood in the doorway with cold, dead red eyes. It scoured the room in a sort of trance before settling on Meiling's downed form. As if on instinct, the figure leapt on top of the guard and raised its arms to maul her, all the while unleashing a sickening screech.

Meiling raised her arms and defended herself as best as she could in her downed position. She was no longer smiling, and how could she when she had an unknown combatant on top of her? She screamed in terror and slipped her knees under the strange figure to push up and launch it away from her with her powerful legs. To her dismay, the figure bounced off of the wall and launched itself right back at Meiling as if the blow was like the bite of a flea. Koakuma reached out to try and assist the guardswoman, but before she could get to the figure she noticed a familiar flash of steel fly into sight and hit home.

The screeching stopped as the figure slumped over onto the hallway floor with a knife embedded in the back of its skull.

"Meiling!" Koakuma cried. She rushed over to the battered redhead and looked her over for any wounds. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah! Yeah, I'm fine, I'm fine!" Meiling babbled. She sat up and ran her hands over her body to check for anything abnormal. "What just happened?"

During all the confusion nobody noticed that the doors to the library had closed shut. It wasn't until the three residents heard the echoes of screeching and clawing at wood did they turn their heads and look to the doors. Bracing against the door with her arms outstretched was Sakuya Izayoi, the elegant maid herself. Either she had failed the task Remilia had given her or things had gone terribly wrong for her as her uniform was singed and cut in many places, and Sakuya looked anything but happy. Fresh cuts dotted her body and allowed droplets of blood to mar her otherwise impeccable uniform. Her silver hair was disheveled, her ruffled headband of authority was missing, and a dagger was clenched tightly between her teeth.

Sakuya held strong against the door and managed to keep it secure even as the handles jabbed into her back with every bump and bash. Something was behind those doors, and Sakuya didn't want to let them into the main part of the mansion. She looked up to the three residents gathered with pleading eyes. It was Koakuma who jumped to her feet first. The little devil moved to brace one side of the doors while Sakuya moved to the other. The two grunted and did what they could to keep the doors closed, but with all the force on the other side, they were not going to last very long.

Remilia, who had been struck with terror at the incident, managed to compose herself just enough to make a difference. She looked to the chair that she had sat upon and ripped out a leg without hesitation. Though it was vintage and such a lovely addition to the mansion, the chair's wellbeing came second to the residents' own. She tossed the leg to Meiling and ripped out another as the guard dashed to the doors and jammed the chair leg through the handles. Both Sakuya and Koakuma looked on in relief and backed away from the doors, for the leg was holding firm against the force behind those doors.

In time, the pounding and screeching died out and the doors no longer rattled.

"S-Sakuya-san," Meiling started as she noticed the maid's singed look. "Are you-"

"No, actually. I am not okay," Sakuya muttered after she took the knife out from between her teeth. She stood up straight and dusted off her uniform as if there wasn't any blood to be seen. "It turns out that the worst thing that could have happened, happened."

The maid twirled her knife around her fingers for a moment before sliding it onto a holster attached to her thigh. Everyone began to bombard her with questions, but Sakuya did not reply to any of them. Instead, she looked to the familiar figure on the ground with a knife in the back of its skull and moved to retrieve her weapon. She examined the torn wings, the tattered uniform, and the short stature of a once-living fairy maid before turning the poor creature over. Koakuma covered her mouth as she looked upon the face of the dead fairy maid.

"Oh gods..."

Whereas all of the fairy maids of the Scarlet Devil Mansion were young and attractive with bright eyes, the dead maid before the group had pale skin and cold, dead red eyes. A fresh streak of blood ran down her chin from her lips while everyone gathered could see distorted veins underneath the skin. Oh yes, it was certain that she was dead, but it appeared that she had been dead for quite some time. Sakuya bowed her head in respect as Meiling and Koakuma floundered about for answers. Remilia moved over to see the body for herself, and when she realized what the fairy maid's fate was, she looked up at Sakuya with uncertainty.

"This maid... She was a zombie! Sakuya, tell me what happened!" Remilia demanded. "Is Patchouli alright?"

"Mistress, forgive me for this, but Lady Patchouli is not suffering from mercury poisoning. She is no longer herself." Sakuya massaged a bruised arm as she continued. "Something has taken ahold of her."

As Meiling busied herself with bandaging up Sakuya's cuts, Koakuma glared over at Remilia.

"Mercury poisoning? Is that what you thought?" the little devil barked. She grasped Remilia by the front of her blouse and shook her. "Lady Remilia, for goodness sake! You lead me to believe that you knew what was going on! She's possessed, not poisoned!"

"Agh! Unhand me!"

But Koakuma did not listen. She did, however, let up on her shaking, but only to fix the vampire with a betrayed scowl. No, Remilia couldn't have been aware of the possession, but she made the situation worse in her ignorance. She should have waited for Koakuma to wake before sending Sakuya out with her fairies. In doing so, the residents would be better prepared to tackle whatever this Malus character had to throw at them.

"You don't understand anything that's going on!" Koakuma continued.

"Koakuma, please unhand my mistress," Sakuya requested. She made her way over to the two devils as a roll of gauze trailed after her with Meiling scrambling to collect it. "Neither of us could have known that she was possessed. My mistress assumed it was mercury poisoning and we acted accordingly."

"You could have waited for me to come to!"

"Could you just calm down? Please?" Remilia begged with a frightened squeak. "Okay! I screwed up! I'm sorry! B-but I really did think it was mercury poisoning!"

Mercury poisoning was rare for many normal beings, but for Patchouli Knowledge it was quite common. Many of her metal-based spells involved the use of mercury, especially when the spell combined the elements of water and metal. They were dangerous spells and caused near-fatal amounts of harm to the caster if they weren't careful. Koakuma, despite her anger towards Remilia, understood her reasoning for acting so quickly and loosened her grip on her dress.

"You may be Lady Patchouli's most trusted friend, but I am her familiar, and this involves me just as much as it does you," Koakuma growled.

Remilia recoiled from Koakuma and brushed off her dress with a huff.

"I understand that. I also understand that things are more dire than just poisoning now. Possession... Well, that's a big problem," Remilia muttered. "Sakuya? Could you tell us what happened when you went in there?"

The elegant maid folded her hands across a silver platter and held it against her body, hellbent on appearing professional or composed despite her wounds and dirty uniform. Sakuya spared a glance over at the dead fairy on the ground and noticed that Meiling was busy tending to the body. Though fairy maids were expendable, each death was felt amongst the residents of the mansion. To be turned into an undead abomination and be denied a good death was something vile. After a moment of hesitation and building self-confidence, the maid nodded and turned back to her mistress.

"I will tell you what I can, mistress. The fairy maids and I moved into the library and found Lady Patchouli at her desk, and she was showing the symptoms of poisoning. Hunched posture, convulsions, hacking and coughing... The list goes on. When I attempted to converse with her, she was unresponsive." Sakuya glanced over at Koakuma and gave her a nod of sympathy before turning back to Remilia. "Just as you instructed me to do so, I ordered the fairies to restrain Lady Patchouli. As I approached her with the cure brew, she gave me this odd look, and it was only until this dark mist wrapped around her did I realize that this was not a mere poisoning.

"She used a strange kind of magic to push the fairies away from her and attacked me. I had no choice but to defend myself. She tore up floorboards and destroyed bookshelves trying to harm me. Lady Patchouli, even when at her worst, would never destroy her own library in the crossfire," Sakuya stated. She looked over at the dead fairy on the ground and closed her eyes. "After a few minutes of fighting, the fairy maids were all dead by Lady Patchouli's hand. She raised them from the dead like... like a necromancer would, and soon they turned against me. I was outnumbered twenty-five to one. Mistress, I was fortunate to escape with my life."

Remilia nodded and listened to every word, as did Koakuma and Meiling. For Koakuma, the story wasn't anything new to her, for she had been caught off guard by Malus just as Sakuya had. However, she did not know that necromancy was now thrown into the picture. In the eyes of many, necromancy was a dark art not because it reanimated dead bodies but because it disrespected their eternal slumber. Koakuma wondered if this was Malus's plan, to build herself an army of faithful, undead minions from the bodies of her fallen enemies. But an army was useless without a cause to fight for, so there had to be much more at stake.

When Sakuya had finished with her tale, Remilia bowed her head and scuffed the floor in a mixture of disgust and shame. After witnessing the relationship between her friend and her familiar, Remilia was inclined to lighten up a bit on her personal servant. She no longer pushed her so hard when the maid was exhausted, and she made sure that her own requests weren't too unreasonable. Plus, mistreating the servant who prepared your food and drinks was not the smartest idea, so Remilia figured it was high time that she started acting like a good mistress of the mansion. She looked up again and moved over to Sakuya to guide her over to a chair.

"Yes, you are very fortunate. I'm relieved that you're still alive," Remilia said as she pressed the maid down into the chair. "Please, rest for now." She glared over her shoulder at Meiling and snapped her fingers. "You. Get over here and finish bandaging her up."

"Hai! Right away ma'am!" Meiling chirped as she snapped a quick salute.

The red-haired guard jumped in front of Sakuya and grabbed a larger roll of gauze to work with. As Sakuya was experiencing the misfortune of Meiling as her caretaker, Remilia took Koakuma aside and looked up into her red eyes with her own. She folded her arms and frowned, not in scorn but in defeat. Despite the spontaneousness and disrespect of the outbursts and manhandling from the succubus, she had every right to do so with her mistress's life on the line. Coincidentally, with the situation as it was, there was no time or reason to hand out punishments.

"Little devil, I want to ask you something."

"Mistress Remilia, I... I apologize for my behav-"

"To blazes with that," Remilia grunted. "You and I are here now, and I have no choice but to listen to you. Please, if you know anything, tell us."

Koakuma remained silent for some time before finding her voice. She took a deep breath and clasped her hands together.

"I'm afraid I don't know much. Sakuya's experience is similar to my own in many ways, but there is one thing that I have to add." Koakuma gave a tilt of her head and said, "Whoever possessed my mistress... She said her name was Malus Umbravi. Do you know who that is?"

Realization spread across Remilia's features once that name was dropped. She tore her gaze away from Koakuma and gave a toothy grimace. For someone who was five-hundred years old, it seemed like a herculean effort just to remember one person out of the thousands she met. But the vampire knew who this Malus character was, and Koakuma could see it as clear as day. Remilia grumbled and shook her head before glaring up at the little devil.

"Yes, I know who that is. But this isn't the place." She looked down at the body of the fairy maid and sighed. "Somebody pick her up and follow me."

Koakuma looked up into the night sky and drew her knees close. She could see embers dancing amongst the stars in the sky and managed a sad smile. Up there, the celestial bodies had nothing to worry about. No necromancers, no possessed mistresses, and no unnecessary drama. The warmth of the nearby fire pit helped to soothe frayed nerves and put the residents at ease. With fire crackling and crickets chirping nearby, it was, ironically, a peaceful night outside of the mansion.

The residents had taken the body of the undead fairy maid and built a funeral pyre for her in one of the fire pits on the mansion grounds. They were unsure if it was the best course of action as another fairy maid would take its place, and under the employ of Malus in the library. The necromantic magic was foreign to them all, yet it seemed that burning the body was better than any other option for it completely disposed of a potential threat in a respectful manner. Plus, the warmth and silence of the event had a calming effect on the residents and allowed them to recollect themselves.

Sakuya, despite being told to rest by her mistress, moved around the pyre with refreshments and tended to the residents. She ignored the aches and pains running through her system and made sure that everyone was comfortable with their food or drink, or a glass of blood in Remilia's case, before sitting down and massaging her temples. Meiling cozied up to her and continued to see after her wounds. The guard figured that it would be better that she acted as the caretaker of the group after having her roasted marshmallow idea get shot down, vehemently so.

"I remember who this Malus character is," Remilia squeaked from her position in the grass. "Malus Umbravi... Feh, what a terrible latin name."

"What does it mean?" Meiling asked.

"Damned if I know," Remilia replied. She shivered and looked to the fire. "I was still in Italy when I met her. She was like that little black and white magician; curious, annoying, and eager to get into business that wasn't hers. In the outside world magic was rare and frowned upon by the masses, but for those who practiced in secret, the rewards were great. I wasn't one for magic, but Malus was. Every time that I met her on the street I felt this eerie feeling crawling up my spine. I don't know how to explain it, but it was like turning your back on someone who had a knife in their hand."

"Pardon the interruption, but was Malus a human?" Sakuya asked.

"Yes, she was, but she always strived to be more than that. She dappled in strange magicks and gathered resources for some grand ritual, but it never worked out for her. Her skill was with necromancy, and that was why I felt so uneasy around her." Remilia leaned back and sighed. She could feel the three servants' eyes on her, eagerly taking in everything she had to say. "Malus wanted to become a member of the undead, but she wanted to retain her consciousness. So, she figured out what I was and begged to be turned. When that failed, she tried blackmail, threats, and whatever she could find to persuade me to sink my fangs into her neck. I should have taken the chance and ripped out her throat, but I didn't. My failure to submit to her demands led to her finding out about Flandre."

Koakuma growled at that. She didn't like where this was going.

"That tenacious bitch was preparing something, and I didn't want to see it come to pass. Fortunately, I knew a magician who could assist me," Remilia said with a weak smile. She nodded at Koakuma before continuing. "Patchouli came from Salem at the right time. We put our heads together and decided that Malus had to be removed, but when we moved to stop her from using Flandre, we inadvertently fell into her trap. When Patchy and I killed Malus, her body underwent a drastic change and she became a lich. In that state she used the bodies of my countrymen to try and kill us all. We had no choice but to trap Malus inside of a book to keep her imprisoned."

"Didn't you try to kill her again?" Meiling asked.

"We did. Time and time again we hurled fire and spears into her body only for her to shrug them off. She just wouldn't die, and we didn't know what she was at the time." Remilia shrugged and looked down at her feet. "We panicked and shoved her into a book. Now she's out and taken control of Patchouli. She probably wanted to possess my sister..."

Silence settled between the residents. It was one thing to calm down a psychotic vampire with the power to completely and utterly destroy anything she put her mind to, but to face a woman who had the power to raise the dead and bolster her ranks with defeated allies seemed much worse. Flandre, despite her unpredictable behavior, never intended to kill anyone.

Koakuma rubbed her arms and looked over at Remilia.

"So... What do we do now? How do we save my mistress?"

"Honestly, little devil, I have no clue. But I'm not going to give up on trying," Remilia muttered. "Like you said. You're her familiar and I'm her best friend. If we're going to save Patchy, we'll need to work together. That goes for you two as well," Remilia said as she looked to Sakuya and Meiling. "Now, does anyone have any ideas?"

Again, silence. Koakuma and Sakuya shook their heads until Meiling jumped to her feet and looked down at the succubus.

"I have an idea!" she chirped.

"Meiling, this had better be good," Remilia grumbled.

"No no, it's good! Koakuma, didn't you say that Malus came out of some old tome?" Koakuma nodded at this. With a hopeful grin Meiling continued. "Maybe if we had that tome we could figure out a way to stop Malus!"

"That's... Not a bad idea, actually," Koakuma admitted. She stood up as well and frowned. "But the last thing I remember about the tome was that I locked it in my mistress's desk..."

"And to get it," Sakuya whispered, "one would have to go back into the library..."

The idea of going back into the library filled Koakuma with dread. With Malus controlling Patchouli's body and magical energies, who was to know how the library would look? Voile was Patchouli's realm; her sacred sanctuary. Now with a dark necromancer doing who-knows-what within, the library's sanctity would be thrown into jeopardy. Koakuma imagined the dead fairy maids patrolling the library aisles while Malus remained in the middle near the desk, and she would have to dive through all the danger just to get that tome.

Remilia sensed the unease amongst the residents and raised her hands.

"That seems like our only option at the moment, but we should wait before heading in there."

"Should we ask for the shrine maiden's help?" Sakuya asked.

"No. Absolutely not," Remilia hissed. She stood up as well and looked into the fire. "Reimu is not to know about this. She'll find a way to destroy Malus, but in doing so, Patchouli will be no more. For this reason I am not involving my sister in this incident either."

The three servants nodded and agreed with this. While the miko Reimu was famous for resolving incidents and approaching problems like a skilled mediator, when it came to threats she did not take any chances. To keep Gensokyo in balance she would completely destroy Malus if she found out about her, even if it meant ending Patchouli's existence. Such was her duty as a shrine maiden. Nobody amongst the residents of the mansion wanted her to do her duty unless there was no other option.

"Now, unless there are no further questions, I want Meiling to guard the library doors while we get some rest for the morning. When it comes, we'll go into the library and see if we can't find that damned tome..."
The Tome of Malus - Chpt.3
Wow, what am I doing with my life? I have papers to write! Sorry, no Malus in this chapter, but her echoes are still here! Things are getting real now...
A bead of sweat trickled down her brow as she rocked back and forth. It had been some time since she had felt her own strength as it was in its natural element, free from any emotions. All that was on her mind was her training and the desire to put her skills to use. She paid no attention to the sweat glistening on her brow and instead lurched forward to meet her target. Pushing off from the ground with just the right amount of force, she went airborne and twisted her body to prepare a spinning back kick. As soon as her foot connected with the head of her target, she realized that she had used a little too much force, for a sickening tearing sound rippled through the empty dojo.

Juri touched down and sighed as she inspected the standing body-shaped training bag. Normally an indestructible pummeling bag, the effects of Juri's kicks had proved too much for it to stand against. The woman sneered when she saw sand trickle down from a gaping tear in the body bag's neck. On one hand, she always got a kick out of destroying something that was practically indestructible, but on the other, the body bag belonged to her and would have to be replaced, meaning it would have to come out of her purse instead of S.I.N.'s coffers.

"Well damn," she cursed as she took the body bag and laid it down on its side. She rubbed the tear in its neck and gazed over her shoulder. "Mrs. Tong? Do you have any duct-tape?"

The elderly woman looked up from her brooming and dusting and murmured.

"There should be a roll in the office. Try the desk." She huffed and ruffled a strand strand of white hair out from the side of her face. "Juri, it would be better to sew the scar up."

"Like stitches?" Juri asked. She moved past the older woman and into the office only to return with a roll of duct tape. "I fought with stitches once. It was awful. I don't imagine it would be much better for the bag."

"What makes you believe that duct tape will succeed where sewing fails?"

"Simple. I put a few strips over a bad gash one time and everything was fine." Juri's face fell at Mrs. Tong's look of concern. She sighed as she tore out a strip for the body bag's tear. "Oh come on, I'm kidding!"

"You've got a strange sense of humor," Tong murmured. She shrugged her shoulders and went back to her sweeping. "I learn something new about Han's daughter every day..."

Juri looked on and smiled at this. It had been a few weeks since the woman had made her less-than-triumphant return to South Korea, to her hometown of Seoul, and already she was making a better name for herself. So many people expected a conflict to flare up between her and the community, but the woman kept her distance and held her tongue against the silent judgements of the people. Juri stayed out of the public eye and made it clear that she meant no trouble to the citizens of Seoul and they realized the feeling was mutual. In turn, plenty of citizens began to ease into their roles and no longer worried so much about the spider making a web in their district. Though there were always naysayers and skeptics about, so far the Korean woman was doing just fine.

So fine, in fact, that Juri had managed to gather all the paperwork required to start up old man Tong's dojo. She went to city hall and other places to apply for permits and prove her worth as a teacher of the martial arts. In any other country Juri wouldn't have much trouble starting a dojo, but here she was back in South Korea, the heart of taekwondo and self-defense martial arts. The requirements and work needed to become a dojo owner were difficult and tedious. After running through half a dozen pens and a couple pots of coffee, Juri managed to get all her information and papers together. She could now teach children how to defend themselves as well as other age groups.

The victory was short-lived, however, when Kyung Song stopped in to congratulate Juri on her success. To an onlooker, the exchange would be empowering, uplifting, and kind coming from someone who already had an established dojo. The man clearly was looking forward to a long and fruitful relationship with a fellow owner, and their respective dojos would fare well in the coming days due to friendly competition. But to Juri, one of the few people who really knew what was going on, she saw Kyung's congratulations as belittling. He mocked her, challenged her, and saw her as a defanged snake. Nobody noticed this but Juri, and she was furious.

Competition was in her blood. She was a taekwondo prodigy and she would not be upstaged by some talentless hack with deep pockets and a pack of little pups swarming around his ankles. Juri soon lost sight of her previous desire to help kids defend themselves and survive in the world. It was still one of her goals, but now she wanted to see Kyung's wolfish grin turn upside down when her class beat the everliving daylights out of his. Unlike during her time in S.I.N. or in free-for-all fights behind closed doors, Juri was in the public eye, and she needed to adhere to something worse than ideals or societal norms.

Juri, the irrepressible force, had to play by the rules.

"In hindsight, beating up the body bags before the first day of class wasn't the best idea," Juri mumbled as she applied a thick strip to the tear. She ran her hand over the strip and eased out any creases before repeating the process a few more times. "Maybe I should buy tan tape next time. A kid'll see this and think 'I'm next'!"

"A teacher who practices the art every day and shows an eagerness to learn new things is very inviting for new students," Tong said. She finished up with her tidying up and replaced the brooms and dustpans. "Jin always practiced before and after classes."

"That's right. I hardly saw him without his dobok on," Juri replied.

"Yours fits very well, despite your... Ahem, creative improvements."

Juri's first thought for her professional taekwondo attire was to wear what she always wore. Yet in a setting where there were children and normal citizens, wearing a sinister breastplate that showed off her midriff along with a set of cut-away baggy trousers wasn't the best choice. Juri put aside her breastplate and spiked bracelets, but she refused to part with her trousers or belt. To appease the old woman who she now saw as her advisor, Juri took black cloth and patched up her white pants until they were to her own liking. She kept her gloves and black wrappings as well, and with her new dobok top, she looked like any sensei should.

Regrettably, Juri had to tone down her hair as well. It was an outright travesty, but it had to be done so people wouldn't see her as the woman of S.I.N. anymore. Instead of her usual devilish horns, the woman kept her hair back in a simple ponytail, at least for now until people no longer were unnerved by the previous style.

"I like the skull belt."

"Wouldn't your black belt suffice?"

"I like the skull belt," Juri repeated. She stood up from her work and massaged her gloved fingers. "Besides, I'm an instructor now. That means I have a black belt, and I doubt anyone's gonna doubt that. Some people like Kyung like to have their belts hanging out with their trophies on display, as if they have to prove something. Me? I don't care for that crap."

What the woman liked to forget was that she kept all of her old taekwondo trophies and put them up on display in her home. Tong, ever the wise old woman, chose not to reply to that.

"Well, everything is in order for the day. You may want to see about getting extra help, Juri," Tong remarked. "Many hands make light work, and honestly, I don't see myself tending to the dojo for much longer. It's yours now, in spirit and deed."

"I don't plan on making you work at all," Juri retorted with a chuckle. She looked over at Tong with a warm smile. "You're like, the only person in this city who I can stand. You don't have to work if you don't want to. It may be my dojo now, but you're always welcome to stagger in here and see what's up."

"Thank you, Juri." Tong sat down on one of the benches against the walls and laid her head back. She gave a wrinkled grin. "But I'd much rather see the children come back to the dojo. You don't mind if I stay for your class, do you?"

"No no, not at all!" Juri went around to the various body bags and pushed them off the mats and against the walls. She made sure that the five taekwondo tenets on the walls were visible before realizing that she was as ready as she could be. "I don't get it. The kids should be here soon, but I d-"

"Excuse me, but is this the Taekwondo Academy?"

Juri looked to the entrance of the dojo and noticed a few kids were poking their heads in. Behind them were adults, most likely their parents or guardians. A prim and proper office lady stood behind a pair of scruffy-looking munchkins and seemed to speak for the group, for she was the only adult who came inside with the children. She asked the question again and Juri nodded. Soon enough there came the rest of the would-be students and their parents. They glanced up at Juri every so often as they prattled about and got a feel for the dojo.

A week ago, Juri had made her rounds in the city blocks with a stack of flyers and papers promoting her dojo. She plastered them over lightposts, buildings, anything she could find that would highlight her new business. She focused most of her attention towards the poorer districts and in residential blocks, though she did dip into the heart of Seoul every once in a while to cover up Kyung's flyers. It didn't hurt to have a few kids from commercial families bunched in with the working class. After all, Juri herself came from a well-off family, and instead of wanting to become a banker or an office worker, she decided she wanted to fight.

The possibility of finding kindred spirits amongst the children gathered was pretty damn low. Juri looked over at what she had and deduced that the youngest child was seven, and the oldest was around fourteen. Each kid looked the same in her mind, no matter if they were boy or girl. It would be their determination that would differentiate themselves from each other. There were rough and ragged boys, prim and proper girls, oblivious little sprouts and obnoxious tricksters, and they were all Juri's problem now. I must be so blessed, Juri thought with a frown as she looked on at a chubby boy picking his nose.

The pickings weren't all that bad when there were around twenty students. Juri noticed that the two kids from the alley fight, Hyun and Seok, were present with a parent of their own. They looked nervous, but eager to learn something new.

"Alright, yeah. I guess this is everybody for now," Juri murmured. She produced a clipboard and held it under her arm as she gestured to herself. "Glad you all could make it. My name's Juri Han and I'll be the instructor for this term."

Han's reputation preceded her. After explaining what she expected out of the students as well as elaborating on what her personal goals were, a few parents got the impression that the woman was not the type of person they wanted to leave with their children. These closed-minded people became defensive and refused to see that Juri meant well. They took their children and left while hitting a solid blow against the woman's ego. Fortunately, only a fifth of the people left, leaving the rest dumbfounded.

Registration was a key part of any martial art school. Juri enforced a reasonable fee for the term that took into account medical materials, dojo supplies, refreshments, and the occasional field trip, though she was shooting for the stars on the last two. Her fee was costly, yes, but it was much better than whatever Kyung Song charged, so the parents were relieved. In fact, many of the parents were delighted that someone had breathed life into old man Tong's dojo once more, and the fact that Juri was once a student under his wing helped cement their respect. She was still on thin ice, but she could see that there were some people rooting for her and expecting great things out of her time with new students.

After registering new students, Juri spent the rest of the class period getting the children and parents acquainted with herself, the dojo, and the equipment. She made sure to tell them all that getting hurt was a given and that they were most likely going to learn some things that weren't taught in traditional taekwondo classes. Juri wasn't going to play by the book for the most part, but she would stay within the guidelines and values expected of her. There were no objections to this. The children, while a little unnerved by their new sensei, were eager to learn. That, or they just wanted to be able to knock out a bully with a well-aimed kick.

"Excuse me, Han-sensei?" asked a little girl as she raised her hand.

Juri looked over at the girl and glowered. She wasn't sure why, but she hated being called 'sensei'. Sure, she liked being in charge and letting others know that, but when it came from the lips of a child, Juri couldn't help but shudder in disgust. It would have to do for now, at least until Juri came up with a better title for herself.

"Yeah? What is it?"

"Are there grades? How do we, uh... What exactly do we have to do to pass the class?"

"There aren't any grades. This isn't school or college," Juri huffed. She looked over at the kids and shook her head. "Look, I'm not asking for much here. If you want to succeed, you'll have to want it. Each of you must be willing to give their all. I don't want to hear that you can't do something because it's too hard. Nothing is too hard, okay?" Juri leaned into the little girl. "So, when you go to class tomorrow, I expect you all to keep training until you can't get back up. Do you understand?"

The little girl nodded, as did some of the other children. Hyun and Seok understood very well after the event in the alley, and Juri had high hopes for them. Well, Hyun more than the cowardly Seok. Juri stood up straighter and ran her hands down to her hips. So far things were going well, but now came the hard part. It was time for philosophy, or rather, the philosophy of taekwondo as it was summarized in an oath and the five tenets. The new sensei walked onto the blue mat and beckoned the children to follow her, which they did like sluggish ducklings following after mother goose.

"Before I let you go for the day, there's one thing you have to do before I consider you my students," Juri stated. She folded her arms across her chest and glanced over at Mrs. Tong for reassurance before taking a deep breath. "You must all take an oath."

"What kind of an oath?" Hyun asked, voicing the question on the minds of many of her peers.

"This dojo operates on the standards set by the ITF, so it's a mandatory one," Juri explained. She lifted her hand to the wall behind her where the five tenets were. "Now... Repeat after me. I shall observe the tenets of taekwondo. I shall respect the instructor and seniors. I shall never misuse taekwondo. I shall be a champion of freedom and justice. I shall build a more peaceful world."

Juri suppressed the urge the scowl as she relayed the oath. It was a good philosophy and encouraged people to better themselves while being peaceful towards others, yet it was one Juri could not follow. She had taken the oath before when she was young and had adhered to it as much as she can. When she grew up and became rebellious, Juri broke her oath with her constant fighting and disrespect. It would be during her time in S.I.N. that she abandoned all hope of adhering to the oath that she broke time and time again. It was ironic that she was teaching this to children.

The children echoed Juri after her every sentence and followed her to the tenets written on the walls. Courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and an indomitable spirit. These were the tenets to be observed and strived for by all practitioners of taekwondo. Juri made sure that everyone read the tenets and stuck around to explain the parts of the oath that went right over the heads of some of the children. She doubted that she could be a great teacher when she couldn't adhere to the oath, but when she looked at the children and parents around her, she realized that she didn't have to make such an effort to do so.

Do as I say, not as I do.

"I'll see you all here tomorrow at three o'clock. If you have any questions, I'll be here for a few more hours," Juri said.

Soon most of the parents and students left the dojo and left Juri alone with her thoughts. She felt a mixture of relief and unease at how the day had gone. On the one hand, she was happy that there were enough potential students to have a good term, and that their parents were open-minded about her. Juri would be a good example and would teach what she could about taekwondo and more. On the other hand, she was nervous about the future and how she would handle being around children. She had made her choice to help them, but children were always so... Needy, annoying, and insolent at times.

A few parents continued to talk or encourage their children before heading out. Juri could hear a few of their conversations and picked up that they were talking about her. Though she wasn't in S.I.N. anymore, people were still wary of the woman, as they should be. The spider shrugged at this and went to share a few words with Mrs. Tong, who, for the most part, was very impressed with how she handled all the information and answered questions to the best of her ability. She did not showboat by showcasing her skills to the children, and neither did she try to intimidate them.

Juri was delighted to call it a day, but before she could do so, she noticed Hyun and Seok loitering around.

"Oh it's you two. What's up?"

"Can I use one of the body bags?" Hyun asked as she brandished her fists.

"And can I practice on the mat?" Seok asked.

"Sure kids. Knock yourselves out," Juri said with a wave of her hand. She looked on as the two pranced onto the large mat and dragged a body bag with them. "Heh... Crap, I'm going to be busy..."

Mrs. Tong appeared next to Juri with a cup of tea in her wrinkled hands. She offered it to Juri, but the woman declined with a smile. It was going to be a busy term for the new instructor, one filled with crying children, sprained ankles, bloody scrapes, and petty fights. These weren't chiseled and built kids from Kyung's class. All of these kids were like anyone else, and they had as many strengths as they had faults. Juri would have her hands full, but as long as she had the advice of the old wife of her beloved mentor, she figured she would be fine.

"You know... This might just be fun in the long run," Juri confessed. She waved her hand over the mat and chuckled. "Behold! My army of children!"

"Just be yourself, but more than that, be sensitive to their needs," Tong replied. "I know you'll do well."

"Yeah, I got a feeling I'll do alright. We'll see when class starts tom-"

"Han-sensei?" came Hyun's startled voice. "I uh..."

Juri looked up and noticed Hyun had knocked over a body bag. Sand was trickling down from a gash in the bag's neck despite the strips of duct tape keeping it closed. Juri shook her head and growled in disgust as Tong laughed beside her.
The Spider's Academy Pt.3



majormario's Profile Picture
Mark Thomas Barden
Artist | Hobbyist | Literature
United States
Hello, my name is Mark Barden, or Major Mario, depending on if you find me on Steam or in Team Fortress 2. I write Street Fighter fanfiction and create pictures using Valve's Garry's Mod. If you would like a request, don't be shy to send it to me. I can do just about anything, provided it isn't explicit, extremely complicated, or if it involves photoshop.

My stance on photoshop is this: you use it because you want your art appreciated by everyone, and if you do use it, you weren't satisfied with what your skills gave at first. I don't use photoshop for major or minor edits because I'm happy with what I have. I'm satisfied enough to accept the work as is. Art should be carried out with the artist in mind, not with the masses nagging at your noggin. Create for yourself, then show it off.

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ImmediateLight Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Holy crap! Awesome new icon, man! :omg:
majormario Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
SPC5297 Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
Hey, how did you become member of the Juri Han group? I'm not seeing any type of options asking me to join.
majormario Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
I'm not exactly sure since I'm on mobile right now. Try checking at the top options of the main page. You should find something about joining. If that doesn't help, try commenting on the main page.
SPC5297 Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
I figured it out. I'm a member now. All is well with the world.
majormario Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
If you're looking for more Juri stuff, I write most of my fanfics about her, so you can find them in my gallery. Also, a good friend of mine by the name of 'Simply-Scarlet' does a lot of work on Juri as well, and she's both a talented artist and writer.
(1 Reply)
ImmediateLight Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I saw you watched Claymore before. How was it? Did you like it?
majormario Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
It's been so long since I've seen it. I couldn't give you a good answer. It was good, I'll give you that.
ImmediateLight Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Yeah, I agree. I only saw the first 5 episodes I missed since I was stuck on the flashback episodes. They were pretty cool!
BLISTERMETRAYAL Featured By Owner May 29, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for the fav on juri =)
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