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Spellbound

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Imagine a world filled with magic.

Magic, everywhere, and for everything. A spell to brew your coffee, a curse to kill a demon, a charm to save money on your groceries.

A world suffused with so much magic that you might only live in it to become a magical being yourself. Cats, spiders, foxes, your broken umbrella – all transformed into magical beings by sheer will of existence.

Now imagine you have no magic yourself.

No art to cast a spell to hone the blade of your katana. No spell to reinforce your shield. Not even the smallest bit of pyrokinesis to light a cigarette.

Imagine, then, being Katsuki Yuri.

But this was not the extent of it. No, it was much worse than that! Magic could not affect Yuri. Rather, it bounced off, rebounding like a rubber ball. Cleaning spells, warming spells, healing spells, protective spells. Nothing worked! And he and his parents and his friends and his neighbors had tried everything – everything!

Yet somehow, this boy - this cursed boy - not only somehow persisted through the sheer horror that must have been his life: he persisted, and he triumphed!

For this world of magic co-existed with a world of spirits, and the worst of them were the yokai, malevolent spirits bent on mischief or murder. The Bureau of Onmyo had been established to deal with these wretched creatures, as they were a clear menace to the nation, and also rarely ever paid their taxes on time. The Bureau declared that each municipality shall appoint a Guardian whose role was to defend his or her village from any yokai who threaten the peace, menace the population, or were in arrears in regards excise duties. (Yokai were notorious for selling cartons of black market cigarettes.)

Such Guardian was determined by a series of trials. Generally, individuals in this role combined the magical skills of high level wizards with the swordsmanship of an elite warrior.

It is notable then, that, after going abroad for a number of years to study at the dojo of the distinguished wizard and swordsman, Celestino, Katsuki Yuri, though he could not perform the most elementary of magical spells, had been in his 22nd year appointed Guardian of the township of Hasetsu.

To his hometown, he was a hero.

But to himself, not so much.

And then one day....

But we're getting ahead of ourselves.