Chapter 1: Welcome to Morioh
When Fubuki was around seven-years-old, he went on a hiking trip with a local scouting group and he ended up getting lost in the mountains.
He spent all night alone by himself. His scouting outfit could not protect him from the cold air and rain. His hair is black and on his face is a pair of eyeglasses, but they are broken.
Fubuki sat under a thick tree and hugged his body in an attempt to stay warm. He tried to light a small fire, but the rain keeps dousing it. He tried to stay awake the best he can because he is afraid that if he falls asleep, he will die.
He shivered and imagined every noise in the forest is a monster, lurking and waiting for him to drop his guard. He could feel his eyes getting heavier but his heart is pounding...
"Are you okay?"
Fubuki groggily opened his eyes.
The first thing he noticed is that rain has stopped and the air is filled with mist. It is now morning.
Standing before him was another boy around his age. Fubuki could not see him clearly, his vision is a blur. He realized he must have lost his glasses—though they were broken anyway. The other boy has his hand out for Fubuki... who reluctantly reached out and took it.
"Are you lost?" the boy asked.
Fubuki slowly nodded. His throat is so dry. His hair and shoulders are wet. He started shivering again when he noticed someone had wrapped a thick blanket around him. The other boy crouched down and gave Fubuki back his glasses.
"You drop this..." he said. He placed the glasses back on Fubuki's face.
To Fubuki's surprise, his glasses have been miraculously fixed. Now he could see the other boy clearly: The boy has short, messy hair and his blue eyes looked almost purple so early this morning. Then the other boy hugged Fubuki to keep him warm.
"It's okay, I'm here."
At that moment, the boy's grandfather arrived with a rescue team who had been looking for Fubuki all night. The boy and his grandfather have been camping together when they came across Fubuki earlier that morning. The boy stayed with Fubuki while his grandfather ran back down the mountain fetch help.
That was how Fubuki met Josuke Higashikata.
"It's going to die."
Fubuki is standing over Josuke, who was crouched to the ground near a new road that's being constructed. The two of them came across a little puppy lying on a puddle of tar on its side. Its terrified mother is licking its poor baby who is whining helplessly. Josuke tried many times to pull the puppy out from the tar but it was stuck to it.
"No!" Josuke cried, shaking his head.
"It's going to die, we can't help it," Fubuki told him in a cold tone. "We can put it out of its misery."
Josuke pulled away from Fubuki's grip and covered the stuck puppy, crying fat tears out of his eyes. Frustrated, Fubuki picked up a rock.
"Stop crying!" he insisted. "It's going to starve to death! You want to see it suffer in pain?!"
Josuke continued crying while the puppy was heard whimpering under his arms.
"The weak and sick ones die. That's how nature works."
The puppy suddenly stopped whimpering. Fubuki thought Josuke had killed it, but the latter stood up.
Josuke is beaming and he's carrying the puppy—who is miraculously freed from the tar. He gently placed the puppy down near its mother.
Fubuki is so awed that he dropped the rock. At that time, he barely understood how Josuke managed to help the puppy, and why he would go out of his way to do that...
Nine years passed, Fubuki Kurosawa grew into a young man with feminine features. He still wore eyeglasses since he was a kid, but he grew out his hair, making it long so it can flow gracefully behind him. He wears a pair of jade earrings, which make him look even more stylish.
Despite his elegant and prim appearance, a cloud of darkness has filled Fubuki's heart for the past five years.
He is sitting inside a train making its way out of the city. On his lap is a scrapbook made for the past several years. It was open and Fubuki noticed the passenger sitting next to him is reading it. Fubuki snapped it shut to prevent the passenger to read any further.
The train finally reached his destination: Morioh, his old hometown, where he grew up until he and his family moved out when he turned 8-yrs-old.
His parents wanted him to attend a prestigious high school in the city to further his education, but Fubuki's doctor pleaded for them to let him attend high school in Morioh.
Fubuki is struggling with some health problems. Even though he is physically healthy, his parents know there is something wrong with him... Five years ago, Fubuki's grades declined and he suffered night terrors. It only lasted for several months and Fubuki continued to have a normal, uneventful life. However, last year, Fubuki started sleepwalking and having nightmares again. He also developed a mild paranoia behavior; he refused to go to sleep unless he placed small bowls of salt in all four corners of his bedroom. Fubuki refused to explain the salt bowls while he pretends he doesn't have problems.
The doctor told his parents that he believed the cause of Fubuki's behavior is linked to a childhood trauma five years ago and prescribed medications won't be enough to help him. Not only Morioh is his childhood hometown, but the fresh air and stress-free environment away from the fast-paced city would help him recuperate faster.
It took a while to convince Fubuki's mother, but she told her son that he is wasting his brilliant mind, while his father doesn't seem to mind; Mr. Kurosawa, who was born in Morioh, is a well-known professor in archaeology and he owns a museum in the city. He even built a new museum in Morioh, which would celebrate the town's local history. However, Mr. Kurosawa had been busy getting prepared to go on the next archaeological dig, so he cannot be in Morioh to see the new museum open to the public in summer. Fubuki's mother came from a wealthy family and she often pushed her son to study hard so he can have a promising career. Fubuki recalls no memory of his mother smiling.
While he's going to school in Morioh, Fubuki will be living with his uncle (who happens to be the twin brother of his father) and his Italian grandmother. The moment Fubuki stepped out from the train, Norisuke Kurosawa is already waiting for him at the station. For a man almost 50-years-old, he still looked almost young. He has dark hair slicked back, and a dark mustache and goatee. He wore a buttoned shirt with tacky designs and a raspberry beret with pins sticking out.
He snapped a photo of his nephew with a camera.
"Welcome to your first day back in Morioh!!" Uncle Norisuke smiled, giving his nephew a big clap on the back. "You haven't changed much... Well, except your hair grew much longer last time I visited you. How's Fuyusuke?"
"Father's fine, I guess," Fubuki replied in a dull voice. "By the way, you covered the lens with your finger."
Uncle Norisuke looked down at his camera. "Ack!!"
Fubuki only has a schoolbag with him. The rest of his clothes and personal possessions were already delivered to Uncle Norisuke's home a week before, around the same time Fubuki passed his entrance exams.
They took a taxi to a two-floor building called Spider Threads in Kotodai Neighborhood, Block 4-28, owned and operated by Uncle Norisuke. To get there, one should take the number 11 bus from Morioh station then get off at the Kotodai shopping district.
Spider Threads sells and repairs made-to-order clothes, and is open for business every day except Sunday. Uncle Norisuke is an exceptionally skilled tailor and his shop is popular among high school students who want to get their uniforms altered on short notice and at a decent price.
While Spider Threads is on the lowest level of the building, Uncle Norisuke and his mother (Fubuki's grandmother) live in the upstairs apartment. This portion of the building consists of a living room, a kitchen and dining room, a single bathroom, two bedrooms, and an attic.
The shop is closed today and tomorrow, Fubuki will be attending his first day in high school.
When they entered the shop, Uncle Norisuke took off his shoes and tried to persuade Fubuki to do the same.
"I just replaced the carpet, the texture feels so soft and fluffy you almost wanna sleep on it!" Norisuke exclaimed. "Come on, try it out!"
Fubuki didn't remove his shoes, however. He just looked at his laid-back uncle, who acts a bit childish for his age. This is one of the reasons why his mother is against the idea of Fubuki living with him...
He followed his uncle to the backroom, leading to the upstairs apartment. When he reached the top, something small bumped into him—almost knocking the air out of him. It was his grandmother. She is a small, old lady with her gray hair tied into pigtails. She is wearing a cardigan over a simple gray dress.
"Fubukiii~!" she exclaimed, kissing his cheeks much to his embarrassment. "I can't believe my favorite grandchild will be living with us!"
"I'm your ONLY grandchild, Grandma Juri," Fubuki mumbled. He seemed rather stiff from being hugged and kissed.
"More reason to spoil you," she giggled. "Your stuff is upstairs. Do you want us to help you unpack?"
"No, that's fine. I have my own methodical way of putting my things in order."
"Since you'll be living with us from now on, I've changed the attic to a bedroom," Uncle Norisuke told Fubuki. He is still bare-footed. "It's a bit small, but you don't have to bend your head down to move around."
"I'm not going to be staying here for three whole years," Fubuki said. "My parents, I mean... my mother expects positive changes from me by the end of the year before I moved back to the city."
Grandma Juri looked a little disappointed, but she understood. She slowly walked to the kitchen, whether to be alone or to make tea...
Her real name is Julia Zeppeli. Many years ago, her father abandoned her and her four other siblings. Years later, she met a famous Japanese artist who would later become her husband and she moved to Japan to live with him. Julia used to visit her old family in Italy every summer until she stopped when her last sibling died. Her husband even died many years ago so she lives with her son nowadays, who also takes care of her.
Uncle Norisuke rested a hand on Fubuki's shoulder.
"There's no need to rush... it's okay for you to stay as long as you like." He then switches from his sympathetic smile to an excited grin. "Besides! Don't you want to see your 'Welcome-Back-Home' gift? It's upstairs waiting for you, and I've made it just like you wanted!"
This made Fubuki curious. He made his way up the stairs to the attic, where his new room is. It is small, but it's comfortable for a boy of his height. The ceiling is slanted and the wooden floor is covered in a similar soft carpet like the one in his uncle's shop. A round-shaped window is facing outside the street but Fubuki felt like keeping the curtains closed today. A secondhand personal computer is sitting on top of his desk, which Fubuki will gladly use for future homework and research. An old rocking chair is sitting in the corner. Several unopened boxes lay everywhere in the room. Fubuki wanted to get some unpacking done but his eyes caught a school uniform lying on his bed. Fubuki had been looking forward to seeing it.
Fubuki puts away his school bag and scrapbook. He changes into his new uniform and is awed at how fitting and comfortable it felt. It was completely dark with few modifications. It has a couple of blue belts spread vertically in the front, and another band over his shoulder. The collar of the uniform has two pins in the shape of the letters "P" and "R". On the shoulder band is a silver brooch in the shape of a diamond with a cross design in the middle.
Fubuki then found an envelope containing all the old letters he received from his second cousin Hitomi Isaji-Zeppeli. The two aren't very close because they live far apart, but she and her family used to visit him and she would play with him. His favorite letter from her was about the time she went on a fifty-day trip to Egypt. The last letter she wrote to him was about the tragic death of her father and she was pregnant around that time.
While Fubuki is reading the letters, his uncle came up to see him.
"What did you think? Did I do a good job?" Uncle Norisuke asked.
"It's... fantastic," Fubuki replied. Trying not to smile so much. "It's exactly how I ordered it. I didn't ask for these two belts, though."
"Consider it as part of a new trend with the high school kids nowadays," Uncle Norisuke said. He has an idea. "Why don't you go around town for a bit? Not only to get used to the town, but also to the feel of your uniform before you start school?"
Fubuki stopped cold at that idea. "And get this dirty? No, thank you."
"I'll clean it in time! Come on... at least try to find a good route to your school."
Fubuki sighed. "Alright."
Uncle Norisuke grinned happily and he snapped another photo of his nephew in his new school uniform. This time, he removed his finger from the lens.
Fubuki took a break from exploring the town and decided to buy a cold tea at a simple but rather unremarkable outdoor cafe called Deux Magots. It must have recently rained earlier today, due to a number of water puddles he has seen. During his walk, he realized how much the town has changed since the last he has been here.
Before, this suburb town was run mostly by agriculture business. The town even got a long history behind it, all the way to the Jomon era; originally, Morioh is the home of many martial arts training grounds and vacation homes of samurais. Fubuki's father told him his ancestors were part of them and that's why the Kurosawa family name holds high status. Even now, there are still many villas of samurai left.
Morioh then underwent a rapid transformation during the first half of the 1980s. Government officials decided to invest money in Morioh to develop it, as its population was quickly increasing with workers from the adjacent city. The streets were repaired, shops and markets were built and pretty houses were lined up on the land that used to be rice fields.
"Let's see, what else do I remember..." he muttered to himself. "The town's flower is the Adonis and its specialty is miso-flavored beef tongue."
The town seemed to change so much, but it's still the same. In fact... the same could be said for me, he thought. Ever since last September, I've been seeing things that nobody else could see... and then I discovered a strange power...
He checked the time on his watch. It's about time he heads back to Uncle Norisuke's place. After leaving the cafe, he picked up a water bottle from a vending machine.
He decided to take a detour through an alley when he is stopped by a male punk with a mustache, who is also wearing a school uniform. The punk would not let Fubuki pass through.
"Are you a student from Budo?" he asked.
Fubuki narrowed his eyes at him.
"Isn't it obvious?" Fubuki asked.
The punk smiled and held out a hand.
"If you'd like to pass through, that's 5,000 yen," he said.
Fubuki looked at the punk as though he was being ridiculous. He coldly brushed the punk away. He was about to turn around and leave, but another punk—smaller than the first one, but has a bad hair instead of a mustache appeared out of nowhere.
"If you're going back, it's 10,000 yen," the second punk snickered.
Fubuki slowly backed into a wall, stepping on a puddle of rainwater.
"Listen, I've just arrived in town and this is a new uniform," Fubuki warned the two in a cold tone. He pulled out a wallet and flashed bills at them, which got them attention. "I only have 50,000 yen here... But it wouldn't be enough to cover the cost of your hospital bills."
The two punks guffawed, thinking he made a stupid joke. Fubuki's eyes glanced down and noticed the water puddle he is standing in slowly began to move towards the punks.
Fubuki was then immediately shoved against the wall.
"You think you're fucking funny, pretty boy?!" the first punk yelled, spitting at his face. "We tried to be polite! Give us the 15,000 like you were told!"
Fubuki grimaced at the punk's terrible breath and saliva on his face and glasses. He ignored the punk once and walked away from him, bumping against his shoulder. The punk grabbed his shoulder.
"Hey! Don't just go like that!"
"Purple Rain," Fubuki said.
Suddenly, a ghost-like arm appeared and punched the first punk in the chest, knocking him back into his partner. The two punks slipped and fell on the ground, hurting themselves. Fubuki smoothed down his uniform. With a short "Hmph!" under his breath, he walked away with his nose up in the air.
The two punks try to get up so they can go after Fubuki and beat him up... but they slipped and fell down again. They are now lying in a puddle of water, and their uniforms are soaked.
"H-Hey! What's wrong with the water?!" the second punk demanded, his voice high in fear. "It's slick like oil! It's making us slippery!"
Fubuki turned the corner. He then heard another voice chuckling.
"Is that your Stand?" a male voice asked.
Fubuki stopped and turned around. He saw someone leaning against a wall, hidden under the shadow of a building. It was a young man he has long, light hair folded onto itself above his head in the sculpture of a flat-top. He has a curl at his forehead and a braided ponytail at the back. He wears earrings shaped as downwards arrows.
He is wearing a double-breasted school uniform, the collar which appears to read "BADC O." His right shoulder is the Japanese kanji for "trillion" and his left reads "TRILLION" between shoulder and elbow.
Fubuki has met him before.
"Didn't think I'd see you again... And what did you just say?" Fubuki asked, adjusting his glasses.
"It's the power I awakened in you," the young man told him. "Remember the first night we met? I shot the Arrow into your throat... and you survived."
Fubuki instinctively touched his throat, but he recalled brief flashes an antique arrow piercing his throat...
"... What are you doing here?" Fubuki demanded.
"Morioh is where I live," the young man answered. "And I see you moved here a well."
"What a coincidence."
"Coincidence? I think it's something more... The two of us are alike, and people like us are drawn to each other."
Fubuki stared at him, his expression emotionless and frosty.
"Where are the Bow and Arrow now?" Fubuki asked.
"That's not for you to be concerned about," the young man said. "I've come with a proposition. How would you like to join up with me? I'm looking for more comrades of our kind, people called Stand users."
"You didn't specify what a Stand is," Fubuki said.
"A Stand is a spiritual power awakened within your mind... It's the same one you just used on those two buffoons. I've already seen it before, but let me see it again."
Fubuki had no choice but to reveal a slim, athletic humanoid with a white body and purple stripes on its arms and legs. It wears a striped Renaissance hat with a feather stuck to it. The young man did not move from his spot but he was able to inspect Fubuki's Stand from afar.
"Care to provide a demonstration of what your Stand can do?" the young man asked. "Maybe it has the power what I'm looking for."
Fubuki sighed but he obeyed. He pulled out his water bottle, pulled off the cap. He turned it upside down a bit, letting half of the water spill right into the open hand of his Stand.
The moment the water touched Fubuki's Stand, it turned into a jelly-like substance. Fubuki's Stand molded the water into a ball and let it bounce on the ground which intrigued the young man.
"My Stand can control the property of water, making it thick as honey or thin as oil," Fubuki explained. His Stand let go of the molded water ball. When it fell on the ground, it reverted back to normal and splashed water everywhere. "Maybe if I solidify water thick enough, it might stop a bullet... Well, is it enough for me to join your club?"
"Let me check," the young man smiled.
Fubuki heard tiny sounds of guns clicking. Fubuki's Stand instantly used the remaining water from the bottle and stretched it out like taffy around its user. Tiny bullets began firing out of nowhere, and they hit the water, but none can pass through it. The firing stopped and Fubuki looked around, trying to see what was shooting at him. He then turned to the young man in apprehension.
"What was that about?!" Fubuki yelled.
"It's just a demonstration," the young man justified. "Welcome to the team, Kurosawa. While your Stand's power is interesting, I'm not exactly sure it's the one I'm looking for..."
"Well, I apologize for not meeting your requirements," Fubuki said sarcastically, while the water wall dispersed around him.
"Regardless, anyone chosen by the Arrow has the power to take lives," the young man said.
"... Is that why you made me a Stand user?"
"No, I just wanted a guinea pig to see if the Arrow does work. If we didn't meet that night, I wouldn't consider making you a Stand user."
"Why is that?"
"I only choose people who are more dangerous or violent. Criminals usually have more chances to develop this kind of ability."
Fubuki stared at him. "Criminals...?"
"Indeed. In fact, last year, I met one in prison and awakened his Stand before his execution. He managed to break out and he had some fun with his new power... He's here in Morioh too, and he's a man called Angelo."
At the mention of the name, Fubuki's blood turned cold.
"I'll be seeing you again soon," the young man as he began walking away. "Tomorrow's your first day of school, isn't it? Now that you're one of us, I will give you my name... Keicho Nijimura."
He disappeared. Fubuki did not bother to follow him, he was more preoccupied with a person named Angelo...
Just then, another voice spoke up.
"Young man, what are you doing there?"
Fubuki looked up to see an elderly police officer who just appeared on his bicycle.
"Is there a problem?" he asked.
"No, everything's fine," Fubuki lied.
"Then would you mind picking up your litter and dispose of it properly?"
Fubuki looked down and saw he had dropped the empty water bottle on the ground. It must have fallen during the chaos. He picked up the bottle and tossed it into a nearby trash can.
"Thank you," the policeman smiled happily.
Fubuki gave him a halfhearted smile and started walking down the street leading him the way home. However, the policeman is riding beside him.
"Did I do something wrong, Officer?" Fubuki inquired.
"No, but I was wondering if you could tell me your name," the policeman replied. "I haven't seen you before. I usually have a good memory so I always know everyone in town. Well... maybe not all, hahaha."
The policeman's eyes widen in surprise. "Fubuki?! Fubuki Kurosawa?"
Fubuki stopped walking and looked at him, raising an eyebrow.
"You know me?" he asked.
"You were close friends with my grandson Josuke years ago! Don't you remember me?"
Fubuki looked at the officer's name tag and he remembered.
"Mr. Higashikata... you've grown older," he said, surprised as well.
"Hey now, I'm still healthy!" Officer Ryohei Higashikata laughed. "I didn't recognize you at first with that long hair! How are you? You haven't been back in Morioh in years!"
"Yeah..." Fubuki said, still stunned. "I just moved today. I'm staying with my uncle at the Spider Threads."
"Why don't you come by and visit my home?" Ryohei asked. "Josuke will happy to see you again."
"Right..." Fubuki said. He recalled the face of a small boy with short, messy hair and a big, stupid smile. "Maybe tomorrow."
"My address is still the same! Or ask around if you forget!"
Ryohei then rode off, excited, while Fubuki just stood there feeling awful for some reason.
When Fubuki came home, he unpacked more of his clothes and his belongings. He put up three trophies in a row on one shelf. They're from winning first prize at his piano concerts. He used to be good at playing the piano; his mother made him practice for many hours until he gets it right, but since Fubuki had a passion and natural talent, he didn't mind the long, grueling hours.
However, he stopped five years ago. He no longer found joy in it.
He found a piece of folded paper in one of his old school textbooks. It was an origami of a dove that was mushed between the pages. The paper is yellowish and faded, but Fubuki felt a sense of nostalgia coming from it. This crane was a gift from someone he dearly missed...
Fubuki placed the origami dove back inside the textbook. Hopefully, it will be buried away forever.
When he finished unpacking, he sat down in his desk and began to open up his scrapbook. It was filled with newspaper articles he had collected for personal research. He quietly began to read:
"Two Boys Murdered, One Abducted for Ransom"
March 22, 1994. The bodies of two 14-yr-old boys were discovered in an abandoned building. The victims' names are Makoto Kanno and Haruto Yamada. They both attend S-City All Boys' Junior School and were seen going home together with a third classmate after their club activities. Both boys were brutally raped and strangled to death. Authorities found a note near their bodies that the third classmate has been kidnapped and the killer is demanding a ransom. Authorities revealed the identity of the third boy missing is Shinichi Fujimoto, the only child of a wealthy family...
"Kidnapping Ends in Murder and Arrest"
March 25, 1994. Around 7:00 PM last night, authorities arrested serial killer Anjuro "Angelo" Katagiri, who was responsible for the rape and murders of the two 14-yr-old boys. He abducted a third boy, Shinichi Fujimoto, age 14, and decided to hold him for ransom. Angelo was caught when making the exchange. He fought back and killed one of the policemen before he was restrained.
Investigators managed to locate the whereabouts of Shinichi Fujimoto and their findings are far worse than anyone could have anticipated. The boy was already dead, his body stripped of his uniform and his death approximately around two hours before Angelo was caught. The boy's corpse appeared to have deep, raw marks around his neck as though he was strangled by a wire. A large pair of sewing scissors were found in Angelo's possession which has been used to sever the boy's genitalia, ultimately leading to his death through excessive bleeding...
"Museum Robbed, Leaving Security Guard Killed"
September 20, 1998. Late last night, a mysterious intruder broke into the Kurosawa Museum and stole several ancient artifacts that were recently discovered in Egypt. The curator could not get in touch with the owner and leader of the archaeological expedition who found the ancient artifacts. The intruder's true identity wasn't caught on camera, and the only two witnesses to the robbery was a security guard and the museum owner's son. However, the security guard was found dead on the floor with a hole in the middle of his throat. Meanwhile, the owner's son is alive after being unconscious, but he has no memory of the crime that took place...
"Angelo Escapes Prison"
October 15, 1998. Notorious serial killer "Angelo" Katagiri broke out of prison. Angelo was sentenced to the death penalty for the gruesome murders of three 14-year-old boys. He was hanged two weeks ago, but he was still alive after twenty minutes. The guards had no idea how his heart continued beating. Angelo's execution was called off and rescheduled. Two weeks later, Angelo escaped and killed several prison guards. The bodies of the guards appeared to have been torn from the inside for strange reasons that could not be explained...
"Entire Family of Four Murdered"
January 2, 1999. The recent waves of mysterious gruesome murders continue to rise, with the Yamashita Family joining the body count. The entire family was killed inside their home in S-City, but there were no signs of a break-in or struggle. Just like with the previous murders, the internal organs of the deceased have been horribly ruptured...
Fubuki could feel bile coming up to his throat. Not only he met the man who stole the Bow and Arrow from his father's museum, but he learned the serial killer known as Angelo is in town.
Angelo's name is familiar to the Kurosawa family, especially to Fubuki. The name makes Fubuki think of dog shit, except Angelo is worse than that. He would never forget what that depraved monster had done.
Fubuki removed his eyeglasses and rubbed his eyes to prevent tears from leaking out. The tears stuck to his fingers and they harden like stone.
He heard his grandmother calling him to come down for dinner.
Fubuki glared down at a picture of Angelo in one of the newspapers. Angelo appeared to be an intimidating man with short spiked hair, prominent facial features and lack of eyebrows.
"Anjuro Katagiri... I don't know how you were able to survive your execution and escape from prison," he said coldly. "But if what Keicho Nijimura is telling me is true, then it's because you have a Stand... I have a Stand too and I've been practicing. Once I find you... I will kill you with Purple Rain."
<-- To be continued.