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Topics - shuuen

Pages: [1]
Members Manga / 547 SERVICE
« on: December 11, 2012, 10:03:47 AM »
Feels weird being on this side of the forum o_o

So I've been collaborating with Han and my artist for a manga that I'm working on, and we've finally finished the cover for chapter 1! The title of my manga is called 547 SERVICE. Scans will take a little longer to post, but until then, this is a little teaser.

Character design by shuuen
Artwork by kidobedo
Coloring by han ki-tae -- can't thank you enough! T__T

A written version is available online at

Let me know what you guys think! :)

Manga Creations / Porcelain (one-shot)
« on: June 20, 2012, 09:35:34 AM »
Hi guys! I found this one-shot that I wrote from five years ago on my drive... I thought I'd post it up here just to hear what you guys think. Please let me know! Thanks in advance! :D


Her father had always loved her hazel eyes. Like a forest in spring, he would tell her with a smile, and for that he had named her Iris. Yet she had other names in this household. The bastard daughter, her estranged relatives would call her whenever they came for afternoon tea. Or the love child, the nicer servants would say when they thought she couldn't hear them. Her father, the late Count of Roquen, would've been livid to hear that, but he was gone now, and no one else would bother for his little girl. The fruit of his one-month escapade with his mistress, the "only woman he truly loved", he had told his daughter after his wife left him for another. Yet the Count had been ill-fated when his mistress died during childbirth, and seven years of depression and arsenic in his tea took their exaction, leaving her alone.

Of course, there was her half-brother Kain. Despite the coercion of his relatives he had refused to dispose of her to 'clean the family name', as what one of her aunts had said three hours after her father's burial. Still, the new Count was not one to look nor speak to her beyond closed doors, but she hadn't been sent to the orphanage, and for that she was thankful.

Angelica had been her only companion. Porcelain white skin and ebony curls, she had always wished she had been pretty as her, but Kain told her she was pretty in her own way, and bought her a nice, red dress afterwards. It was like the color of Angelica's scarlet gown, or the sheets on her bed during the first nights. Angelica was the only one she could talk to and would listen to her in her silence. Only she would understand. She was the only one who knew. She was the only one who saw everything.

She had met Angelica in a shop in London. She vividly remembered seeing her beyond the carriage window when they passed by. Her father had brought her with him to visit one of his estates and had seen the priceless smile on his daughter's face when she saw her. Angelica had been with her ever since; of what little he could reward his little girl for her delight and what it brought his own.

"Put that away", Kain would mutter whenever Angelica was in her hands. Soon, the doll would take its usual place on her bedside table, witness to another afternoon in her room. During those hours Iris would come to ponder the whiteness of her ceiling, the way the curtains would filter the sun or sway lightly in the breeze, or how the sparrows would perch on her windowsill, singing to her and ebbing away the reminder of the man above her.

Nobody else would know, or everyone else would pretend not to know. Servants would simply think His Lordship preferred to spend his afternoons in the privacy of the girl's chambers. That the relentless count had actually learned to grow fond of his little sister and was simply too prudent to show it made up for an enchanting story in itself. Not that Kei wasn't fond of her. He had told her he liked her in many ways.

"You like this dress a lot, don't you?" He had smiled to her, undoing the dress strings with his fingertips. He loved to breathe in the scent of her hair and watch how her pale, white skin would turn a rosy glow beneath him. Breathlessly he had whispered, "I like it a lot too."

Iris would merely look at Angelica on her bedside and faintly smile at the comfort of her presence. She could never continue without her and always thanked her in her prayers at night.

Kain would ask her if she missed him whenever he decided to visit her, stirring her from her sleep. He often came when he didn't enjoy a particular ball he attended, and would turn to her to give him good dreams before going to bed.

"Stop looking at that doll, Iris," he had snarled. His eyes were a foreboding icy gray in the moonlight whenever he wasn't pleased with her. "Look only at me, or I'll throw that thing away."

The morning after as her naked half-brother lay on her bed, she had lain beside him in her favorite red dress, the same one he had bought her to match Angelica's own. Angelica lay between them in her grasp as she looked at her brother's face and discarded the pool of scarlet beneath them.

Iris had smiled and held her brother's cold hand.

"I love you too."


Develop Your Story / Glass Crown
« on: June 09, 2012, 12:47:18 PM »
So guise... I decided to start a new story (again). Title and a lot of things still subject to change, but I just want to know what you think. Here's a very short prologue to hopefully give you guys an idea.

Glass Crown

Have you ever seen someone die?

The first time I encountered death before my very eyes, it took on the form of a young man being shot in the back. He fell face flat to the ground and was dead in an instant.

I can’t really remember what the second time was like. It might’ve been the explosion that sent dozens dead at once. It might’ve been the soldier who lost his leg. Or maybe it was the kid with the wound infection at the infirmary. It’s all a bit of a blur in my head.

When there’s people dying left and right all at once, you tend to lose track of things. You lose count of the casualties. Blood sticks to your clothes until you forget the smell of it. The screams fade into silence. Eventually, you forget the faces of the people who stared at you straight in the eye before dying.

And yet despite everything, life can still manage to be ironic. It’s funny how all those deaths were of strangers I never met. The single most important person in my life—my brother—was what the war chose to take from me, and yet I wasn’t there to be with him when he died.

All I heard was that he died fighting to the very end. When I finally saw his body I could barely recognize his face from all the blood and grime. I wasn’t even able to touch him before they carted him off. I was fifteen when I lost my only family.

It’s been a year since my brother’s death. Having lost my parents at a young age, I never really understood loss, but now I can tell you that it’s like walking with a hole in your chest. The pain is no longer there, but the emptiness will always remain.

The war back home is still ongoing, but now I live a new life in a new country under a new name. Now I’m in my first year of high school. I wish I could say that things are back to normal, but I can’t when I’m forced to live with the man who was responsible for my brother’s death.

My name is Katya Severin, and this is my story.


Comments and critiques much appreciated! Thanks in advance! :D

Develop Your Story / 547 Service
« on: May 29, 2012, 12:11:16 AM »
Hi guys! So I've decided to post another story of mine which I've been working on over the last year... This is about a rock band trying to make it big in Japan. The genre is comedy/romance. It starts out a bit dry, but I hope it can somehow establish the story and the characters. Please let me know what you think! :)

Track #1 
i n n o c e n c e

“We are now shortly arriving at Tokyo station…”

I opened my eyes and looked out the window. I winced at the sudden brightness of my surroundings and observed the multitude of tall buildings before me.

I sat up straighter in my seat and stretched my body, complacently sighing when I heard several bones crack. I had been sitting on the train for the last eight hours. I badly needed to get out.

I began to gather my baggage along with the rest of the passengers as the train began to slow down. I slung my backpack over my shoulders and dragged my trolley case down the aisle, where a queue had formed near the exits.

The train finally came to a stop, and for a moment I was overwhelmed at the sheer number of people around me the moment I got off the platform. I guess Tokyo really isn’t one of the busiest cities in the world for nothing.

I had no choice but to pick up the pace when people started bumping against me. I sighed when I managed to step on the teeming escalator.

I couldn’t help but panic at the swarming crowd before me the moment I got off. Too many people and too many signs. I took out the cellphone from my pocket and frowned at the lack of notifications. My cousin was supposed to pick me up, but he was nowhere in sight.

I punched in his number and frowned further when all I heard was the busy tone. I moved to a spot by the wall and looked at my watch. It was half past three in the afternoon. I was right on time! Where the hell was he?

I was only moments away from a nervous breakdown when I finally spotted a tall figure with light brown hair wearing a striped, green shirt. He was on the phone with his back turned on me.

“What about Saturday? Will you be free by then?” The man said in a voice that sounded one too familiar. “Aw, c’mon baby... I miss you already…”

I caught the side of his face when he laughed. I cleared my throat.


The man turned around and looked at me.

“Sorry, hold on,” he said to the other line as he blinked expectantly at me. “Yes?”

My eyebrows met. “Yes? What do you mean, yes? I’ve been looking for you.”

He blinked at me again and thoughtfully frowned. “I’m sorry, do I know you?”

“What the hell,” I snapped in disbelief. “It’s me, Haruki!”

It took him a good several seconds just staring at my face until his lips formed into an “o” of realization.

“Woah,” he said, flipping his cellphone shut. He gaped at me in amazement. “Seriously?? Is that really you??”

“Wait, weren’t you in the middle of a call...?”

“Doesn’t matter,” he said, placing his hands on my shoulders and bending over. Not that I’m small or anything. He just happens to be almost six feet.

“You cut your hair!” Was his first brilliant observation. “You always had long hair! Couldn’t imagine you without it!”

“It was getting troublesome,” I shrugged.

“Dude, I thought you were a dude,” He innocently widened his hazel brown eyes at me. “You kinda look like a boy with short hair, you know.”

“Thanks,” I muttered. “Um, could you help me with my stuff? This is getting kinda heavy...”

“Oh, yeah! Sorry,” he grinned, taking my luggage as we began making our way to the subway.


“Why do you live so far?” I groaned as we continued walking down the narrow street to his apartment. We were currently in a place called Arakawa, and it’s taken us amazingly almost an hour since we left the station.

“Are you kidding? Cheap rent don’t come easy in this city, and the only way you’ll find it is if you live around here,” My cousin said as we finally stopped in front of a building.

“Are we still even in Tokyo?” I snorted as we started going up the stairs. “Hey, doesn’t this place have an elevator?”

“You talk great for someone who just came from the province,” he scoffed as we stopped at the third floor. He began to fish his keys out of his pocket.

I decided to say nothing more as the door to Room 304 opened. The smell of cigarettes immediately reached my nostrils when I stepped inside.

It was a pretty small place. The kitchen immediately greeted me to my right, where there were a lot of pending dishes on the sink. Past the narrow hallway was a very unkempt bed to my left with the closets to my right. There was a lot of clutter on the carpet floor.

Shin-chan parted the curtains to let the late afternoon sunlight in. There was a small terrace where some of his clothes were hanging outside.

“It’s pretty cramped, but make yourself at home.”

“You haven’t changed.” I deduced.

“You know me best,” he grinned.

“Um, so where am I sleeping?” I placed my backpack on the floor.

“Er, there, I guess,” He pointed to the space of litter around me.

I morosely stared at him. “Do you at least have an extra mattress or something?”

“I think I have one in the closet? Hold on, lemme check...”

I problematically scratched my head. “You shouldn’t have allowed me to crash your place if it was going to be pretty tight.”

“Nonsense,” he shrugged. “People come over all the time here.”

I suddenly heard a meow from the other end of the room. A fat, white cat emerged from the kitchens.

“And you have a cat,” I realized with raised eyebrows.

“Oh yeah, that’s Yumi,” he grinned. “Cute, isn’t she?”

“Didn’t take you for a cat person,” I sat on the bed and tiredly sighed. “Man, I’m beat.”

“I can imagine,” He settled down beside me. “How’s Aunt and Uncle, by the way? I haven’t heard from them in ages.”

“They’re doing fine,” I shrugged. “Same old.”

“So which school are you going to again? That’s awfully nice of your folks to pay for your college.”

“Tokyo Tech, and I’m on scholarship,” I rubbed my eyes. “Not to mention I have to pay them back anyway.”

“Wow,” he whistled. “And what are you taking up?”

“Computer science.”

“You were always a math geek,” he grinned.

I stood up and kicked a crumpled piece of paper out of the way. I spotted a guitar case leaning against the wall.

“Looks like you still play,” I said, slipping my hands inside my pockets as I stared at the instrument.

“Of course. And what about you?”

I pursed my lips in reply. “I left mine back home.”

“Aw, you should’ve brought it with you,” he cooed, standing up as well. “Well, you can play with it anytime you like. I left my other one at a friend’s house.”

“Alright,” I answered as I began rocking on my heels. “But before any of that, I am starving!”

“Alright then,” He eagerly rubbed his hands together. “In honor of my darling cousin’s arrival, consider it my treat tonight!”

“Sweet!” I beamed. “Where are we going?”


“What??” My face fell. “Is a fastfood joint really the best you’ve got?”

“Hey, all you’ve ever done since you came here is complain!”

“Yeah but I mean, seriously...”

“Do you want a free dinner or not?!”

“Fine, fine...”


I awoke to the sound of meowing and found myself staring at the ceiling. The purring became louder, until I realized Yumi was meowing directly in my ear.

I sat up from the futon and grabbed my cellphone to check the time. It was half past two in the afternoon.

“Sh*t,” I muttered. The fatigue from traveling yesterday must’ve made me sleep in so late.

I stretched my arms and looked around. The curtains were still shut, but the bright afternoon sun was creeping in from the floor. The bed at the opposite end was empty and untidy. I stood up on my way to the toilet when I noticed a piece of paper near the kitchen sink.

I usually leave the house around 8.
There’s some leftover pizza in the fridge.
Here’s an extra key.

I looked at the key next to the note as I opened the fridge. I took out the box of pizza and opened it.

“F*ck,” I groaned, immediately closing it shut. Whatever was inside it seemed like another life form entirely.

I leaned against the sink with a sigh and spotted Yumi emerging from the bedroom. She stopped a short distance from me, still staring at me beadily while her tail flickered on the floor.

“How can you live with that slob?” I asked her as I stood up straighter with a sigh. “Alright. I’m getting something to eat.”

I slipped into yesterday’s clothes and grabbed the key from the sink as I made my way out of the apartment.


continued here at:

Manga Creations / Dreamcatcher
« on: May 28, 2012, 08:57:57 AM »

She had had the same recurring dream ever since she was little. It was a place she loved to visit, and somehow she would always be transported there even when she saw other dreams.

She would wander along a forest path. The wind would blow the same way and the leaves would sway the same direction. She would wear the same yellow dress and brown shoes, and the sound of her feet crunching against the rocks would be like a song she could sing to. The path would be endless but she would keep walking, mystified by the woods and the strange sense of protection it seemed to wrap around her.

It was that same, singular path in the forest, but over the years she had returned to walk on it felt like she was stepping on new rocks and passing by new trees. She would never tread the same steps, and whenever she looked back it felt like looking back at a moment in time.

She had been walking that road for as long as she could remember, but not once had she seen any other form of life there. No animals, no houses. Not even any insects on the ground nor birds in the sky. Strangely enough it would always be a cloudy afternoon in spring. It felt like being in a time capsule every time she revisited those woods.

Several months ago the forest began to change. The leaves began to turn yellow. The path she always walked on would start being cluttered with fallen leaves. Her dress had turned into a shade of magenta. For the first time in her dreaming life, autumn had arrived in her forest.

Despite its recurrence, she didn’t dream every night, or at least she wouldn’t remember it anyway. But as the leaves began to turn brown she would return to the forest more often. When her path finally disappeared under all the fallen leaves, she was already there every night.

She only started dreading that dream a few weeks ago. Every time she would sleep she would always go back there, and despite knowing it was only a dream, it was becoming as inescapable as reality.

By now winter had fallen upon the forest. The leaves were gone and she would be treading on nothing but snow. She would be so cold with only her dress on, which was now a crimson red. She had always been alone in that forest, but now she would start to hear voices in the wind. She would see shadows passing by the trees, but they would always be gone when she turned around.

She no longer knew where to go but forward, waiting for nothing but her next waking hour. Much to her horror, time would seem to pass by more slowly, and each sleep would be deeper than the last.

Soon she could no longer hear the alarm clock. She would always wake up minutes later than the previous day, and unless somebody shook her, she would never wake.

Such was her worsening condition that she refused sleep whenever she could. It did not help that a prolonged state of fatigue had fallen upon her, and fighting rest was becoming more and more futile. She started either staying at her cousin’s place or asked someone to come over. She no longer wanted to sleep alone, fearing she would never wake anymore.

One night as she continued walking in the snowy woods, she stopped as she heard a crunch of snow behind her. She saw no one when she turned around, nor any footprints that would’ve given an existence away. She stood there for a while, waiting, listening to the wind, but there was nothing. It felt as if she was all alone again.

She had only started to walk again when she heard a branch snap. She saw a shadow pass by behind the trees like a blur.

“Who are you??” she called out. “Show yourself!”

Tears began to form in her eyes. She was just so tired of this. What was her dream trying to tell her? When was this going to end?

She heard the snow crunch behind her again. She turned around and saw a cloaked figure in black.

She stared at the figure before her. It looked like a person, but it was so fully covered that she didn’t know whether it was a man or a woman.

“Hello…?” she warily called out. “Who are you?”

The figure lifted its head. She saw a pair of light grey eyes staring back at her. Its intense gaze made her feel naked and vulnerable.

“I’ve never seen anyone in these woods before,” she uneasily said in its silence. “What are you doing here?”

“Everything here is all inside your head,” It finally spoke in a deep, rich voice. “You should know that best.”

“Show me your face,” she ordered. She heard his low chuckle.

A strong gust of wind suddenly blew past her. She closed her eyes at the painful cold that kissed her face.

When she opened her eyes the man was gone. She suddenly felt a tingle down her spine, and realized he had moved behind her.

The wind was still blowing, parting the cloth from his face. His hair was as white as the snow around them.

“You…” she whispered in realization. “You’re…”

“You can end this now, right here,” he said. “Just come away with me.”


She turned at the sound of her name, but the wind drowned out the voice into a faint echo.

“Haruki,” The man before her said. She faced him again.

“Where?” she replied, creasing her forehead. “Where are we going?”



“There’s no time,” he said. “We must leave now.”

“Wait,” she uneasily answered. “But I don’t even know you.”

“Do you wish to stay here forever? You won’t wake up anymore.”

Haruki, can you hear me?

“Ignore the voice,” The cloaked figure said. “The woods are tricking you to remain here.”

It seemed the more she remained undecided the more forbidding the man in black seemed. His bright gray eyes seemed to be gazing through her with burning intensity, growing more impatient and unyielding in her silence.

“It’s now or never,” he said, offering his hand. “We need to get out of here.”

Wake up! Open your eyes!

“I…” she murmured. The wind began to blow hard. It felt like suddenly being thrown into a raging blizzard. Snow pelted endlessly on her skin and blinded her vision as she fought to remain standing in the storm.

“Take my hand now!” The cloaked figure shouted.

Her senses were shutting down on her, and her last remaining instinct led her to step back. She saw the anger in his eyes, and knew it would prove colder than a thousand snowstorms.

The wind immediately stopped howling. She began to sink to the snow beneath her feet as he watched her fall deeper and deeper.

“This world can’t stop me,” he said. Ice began to settle in her veins as she struggled to look up at him with half her body already submerged in the snow. “We’ll meet again, in your waking life.”

She closed her eyes in painful acceptance when the snow reached her neck. The man was gone when she opened them again.

The cold and the snow began to choke her. It felt as if icicles were stabbing her lungs. Despite her weak and numb state her body convulsed for dear life. She thrashed in the cold as darkness began to engulf her vision...


She bolted upright on the bed, gasping for breath as her heart hammered wildly in her chest.

“Thank God!” She felt a warm and firm hand on her shoulder. “Are you alright??”

She almost screamed at the snow-haired man that was on her bedside, until the last colors of her delusion faded and there was no one else but Kei before her.

“You looked like you were having a goddamn seizure,” he said, looking shaken himself. “I thought you’d never snap out of it.”

“I’m fine,” she breathed, wiping the cold sweat off her forehead with a shaking hand. “Just a... bad dream, that’s all.”

“You sure?” he worriedly frowned as he stood up. “Let me get you some water, okay?”

She grabbed for his wrist and gripped it tight. Kei froze in his stance.

“I-I’m sorry,” she stammered. “I just don’t want to be alone right now.”

“I understand,” he said, sitting back down as he sighed. “I heard from Shin about your sleeping problems lately but I didn’t know it was this bad. Someone should really be here to watch you. Thank God I came over.”

“Where is he?” she swallowed.

“He just went out,” he frowned as he placed a hand on her arm. “Look, are you really sure you’re okay now?”

She jumped when she thought she felt his ice cold fingers, but that too, was just a part of her imagination.

“Jesus, are you sure you’re alright?” His eyebrows met in concern.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” She tiredly massaged the bridge of her nose. “I’m just stressed, I suppose.”

“If there’s anything you need, just let me know,” he said. “I’ll be here.”

His gray eyes seemed lighter as moonlight filtered through the window. She watched him gaze at her with the shadow of that same intensity on that cold, winter night.

We’ll meet again, in your waking life...

“I know,” she murmured. “You always were.”

Manga Creations / Writer's Block
« on: May 28, 2012, 08:55:45 AM »
Writer's Block

Kei had been staring at the open document on his laptop for as long as he could remember. Of the 15 pages he had written so far, he had found himself unable to add even a single word for the last ten days.

This was a problem alright. He had only four months left before his deadline. If he didn't make it, his editor was going to kill him.

Kei put a hand to the bridge of his nose and sighed. He closed his eyes and leaned back to his seat in frustration. He opened them again and found himself staring at the ceiling of his spacious apartment. Well at least he had only his death to worry about now. Two years ago he would've found it unthinkable to be here in some high-rise condominium in Tokyo, if you would compare it to his cramped excuse for a living space in Osaka two years ago.

Keisuke Mikura was a prolific writer, having written about 35 different but pointless novelettes in his lifetime, but it was also only until two years ago that he finally got something published. After trying to sell the same story to the same publishers and getting the same results, he decided to go with the cock and bull story about a lonely housewife falling in love with a high school student. The story became an overnight success.

'The secret to being a successful writer is simple,' His friend and fellow bestselling author Ryoji Hirose drawled to him in his memory. 'Target the housewives. Get their attention and those copies will be flying before you know it."

Of course, the ingredient to a housewife hit story, according to his friend, was also simple and singular: the forbidden love plot. Stepsiblings, secret assassins, 20-year age gaps... His top-selling debut novel, 'A Can of Green Peas', fell under the 20-year age gap and younger man/older woman category (therefore a supposed forbidden love plot) and was without surprise, a housewife hit in the making. Despite the success of the story that Kei had written during a bout of dementia from an analgesic overdose, and which he had failed to burn upon reading (it was his bed that had caught on fire instead), he still couldn't believe such a piece of rubbish could bring him so much success.

Despite his initial skepticism and mockery at his friend's housewife hit theory, he had gone on to publish subsequent bestsellers, which were eventually and unsurprisingly, all about forbidden love. To his horrified amazement, all he had to do was chock up anything that had the element of forbidden love, together with a tragic (bordering on pitiful) turn of events, and an addition in his later novels that would prove to yield him more success -- smut. He would've laughed at his foolish, loyal readers, but the housewives were always too nice and giggly to him during book signings that he always felt remorseful to do so. Of course, other than the fact that critics (who just comprised of more successful married women) constantly raved at his 'heart-stopping, thrilling' novels and his 'breath-taking' and even 'knicker-dropping' looks, Kei always felt like laughing at himself more. His stories defined him as a writer and as an artist. What did that say about himself?

Kei groaned and brought his hands to his face in frustration. He was successful in wasting another fifteen minutes on a thought that had nothing to do with his latest nonsense: a seminarian on the verge of taking his priestly vows and a young, lonely widow who was a devotee of his church. Kei sorely stared at his laptop with tired, dark gray eyes. He had been working just fine until ten days ago. What the hell was wrong with him now?

The doorbell rang. Kei stared at the door at the other end of the room for several seconds. Then with a sigh, he stood up and made his way to the door, scratching his messy, jet black hair.

He opened the door. His 22-year old assistant walked past him without another word.

"Are you done yet?" She asked her favorite mantra as she took off the checkered purple scarf around her neck and placed her sling bag on his sofa. Kei locked the door again and wearily looked at the girl walking to his kitchen and rummaging the insides of his fridge.

"Geez, is there anything still edible here?" She made a face of disdain and closed the refrigerator door. She then looked at him and saw him in his blue bathrobe and pajamas and woolly slippers and sighed.

Kei didn't like it whenever his assistant looked at him like that, like he was some hopeless, unsolvable problem. He often thought of complaining to his publishers just to get her replaced, but as much as Haruki looked like some smug, inexperienced 22-year old girl in her Chuck Taylors, denim jeans, and that perpetual, reproachful grimace she seemed to reserve only for him, she was his junior editor and one of the most efficient people he had ever worked with. He had almost felt insulted when he was given an assistant who wasn't even out of college, but she was a walking grammar book and corrected more run-ons than the hairs on his body. Not to mention, her subtle nagging methods (e.g. once abducting his coffee maker when he wouldn't budge) were a force to be reckoned with, and thanks to her, he always miraculously made it before the deadline.

Kei looked down on his bathrobe and pajamas and woolly slippers and inwardly sighed. So much for the out-of-bed look.

"Have you even taken a bath yet?" she gloomily asked. Kei merely shrugged.

Haruki sighed again and went back to retrieve her things on his couch. "I'm gonna go out and stock up your fridge. Seriously, you're hopeless."

He listlessly swung his door open at her departure. She paused on her way out and stopped in front of him. "I need to be able to read something new when I get back."

"Maybe you can give me a little something to inspire me," he said. "That might make things easier."

Haruki idly stared at him for several seconds. He hoped she was contemplating what he wanted her to be contemplating.

"Fine," she blinked. "I'll throw in a pint of ice cream for free."

Kei pressed his forehead to the door in resignation when she left.

Keisuke Mikura didn't have much of a life. When he wasn't too busy being harassed by a deadline he was forced to wear fancy suits to book launchings or signings. He had been asked to appear on television several times, but he was a closet introvert. He preferred his works to do the talking.

The last time he had a date was with a woman who was eight years older than him. No, not a housewife, just someone of the same age who was unmarried and had more money. Not that he didn't like older women, no. Suddenly it just seemed like there were no other women but older women. Of course, he could meet other girls if he wanted to, but he was too busy for that now. At 28, he suddenly felt too old to be going to clubs and picking up girls. Even his sex drive seemed to be in mid-life crisis already.

Then there was his assistant. She seemed to be the only female within a five-mile radius that was below thirty, but the way she dressed she could pass as his younger brother anytime. Short, cropped hair and those denim jeans and sneakers... Well, she once wore a skirt and that had been quite the treat, but the moment he expressed his approval he never saw her wear skirts ever since. Since then he deduced his assistant to either be a man-hater, or asexual.

Kei halfheartedly dragged his feet back to his desk. His open document remained unchanged when he returned to his seat. He swiveled in his chair a bit, placing his hands on the keyboard as if ready to type something when he knew he would be able to enter absolutely nothing. Then, in his boredom and frustration, he decided to type...

She came back an hour later with his groceries in hand. She made her way to his kitchen and began placing the food inside his fridge.

Kei stared at the new text on his screen. He hadn't typed a single letter in ten days. The black font on the white page was almost blinding. He looked at his empty kitchen.

"Hey, they ran out of your favorite flavor of ice cream at the store," she said, brushing the back of her jeans

Kei creased his forehead and deleted the last word. He replaced it with 'skirt'.

... her red, pleated skirt...

It had been the color and style of the only skirt he ever saw her wear. It had been last year. Of course, when his assistant actually returned later she would still be in denim jeans, but you could get away with anything in fiction.

"I know you're picky with your sweets, so I just didn't buy any," she said, tidying the empty plastic bags on his countertop. There was nothing but the sound of crackling plastic, and the sight of her in her short, red pleated skirt and white blouse...

"What the hell am I doing?" Kei muttered under his breath. He reread the sentence and pushed his chair away from his laptop. He had reduced himself to a crazy pervert fantasizing over his assistant in a schoolgirl uniform.

Kei began chewing on his thumbnail in earnest and glared at his floorboard. He suddenly had the horrible urge to continue.

He glanced at the clock on the wall. It was half past three in the afternoon.

"I asked you to give me something," he said. "I won't be able to write now."

"Fine," she shrugged. "What do you want?"

He watched her face in silence. She merely blinked back at him.

"I want you."

Her expression did not change, as if his words had no effect on her whatsoever. She continued folding the empty plastic bags on his countertop. The sound of crackling plastic suddenly seemed louder.

When she had finished folding the last plastic bag, she put them to the far end of the countertop to clear the marble surface. Her gaze fell on him again. There was now a small smile on her lips.

She hoisted herself up on his counter. She playfully began to swing her legs. Her Chuck Taylors were as red as her skirt. He saw the long and smooth expanse of her shapely legs from the skirt that fell barely past her thighs...

Kei found himself sitting up straighter in his seat. If this was the road to madness, it seemed like a pleasantly engaging journey.

He walked to her without thinking. She said nothing as he placed his hands on each side of her on the table. The marble felt cold on his fingers, but he could feel the slightest brush of her skirt on his skin. He looked at her again. Her gaze was as playful as the smile on her lips.

He neared his face to hers and slowly, gently pressed his lips to hers. Her lips felt soft and delicate on his, and when she slowly parted them for him, her mouth was warm and sweet to the taste. He found himself groaning and reaching for her, wrapping an arm around her waist to pull her closer to him. The kiss grew deep and passionate as his hand found its way up her skirt. He heard her giggle. He looked at her again. One of her arms was around his neck. She was the one who pulled him in for another kiss, and this time it was deeper than the last.

"Kei..." she whispered in his ear when his mouth fell on her neck. Her skin, her hair, it was so warm and fragrant. She smelled of honey and milk. It nearly drove him insane.

"Do you want me to stop?" he asked, intently searching her face. She brought her fingers to his face and touched his cheeks. She smiled at him again and shook her head.

He kissed her again, long and deep, and slowly began undoing the buttons of her blouse. She began undoing his

Kei stopped typing. He realized his mouth was already open and his breathing was faster. He found himself staring down on his woolly blue bathrobe and pajamas. No, he wouldn't be wearing that there. He'd be in his long white sleeves and cozy black slacks. That's what he always wore on better days.

Her fingertips seemed sparked with electricity when they raked down the expanse of his chest. He took her hands and clasped them with his, kissing her again as she slowly leaned back and propped her elbows on the marble surface. He parted her blouse open and revelled in the slow rise and fall of her breasts and the creamy skin of her stomach.

"Are you inspired yet?" she murmured with a small giggle.

"Not quite," he breathed. "Just a little more..."

The doorbell rang. Kei almost jumped in his seat.

"Holy *censored*," he hissed in surprise. His heart was thudding wildly in his chest. He lividly stared at his laptop again, now abundant with words that had nothing to do with his manuscript. He stared at the clock on the wall again. It had only been ten minutes. Why did she have to come back so quickly?!

Kei slowly rose from his chair and uneasily began to walk to the door. The growing feeling between his legs was proving hard to ignore.

The door opened. His assistant returned with his groceries.

It took Kei several seconds staring at his now empty doorstep before he realized she was now in his kitchen, placing the food inside his fridge. He shakily closed the door, watched her in her black shirt, checkered purple scarf, and blue denim jeans, and audibly swallowed.

"Hey, they ran out of your favorite flavor of ice cream at the store," she said, brushing the back of her jeans with her hands. "I know you're picky with your sweets, so I just didn't buy any."

His jaw fell open.

Haruki creased her forehead at him. "Are you okay? You look like you've seen a ghost."

He immediately cleared his throat. "N-nothing."

She dubiously eyed him for several seconds before walking to the other side of the room. "Well, any progress?"

He was still staring at her, not having quite recovered yet, when he realized she was approaching his laptop.

"NO!" he bellowed, almost diving into his desk to scoop up the laptop into his arms. Haruki stared at him in surprise.

"What the hell is wrong with you??" She gaped at him.

"Nothing, nothing!!" he blurted out. He sounded almost hysterical, cradling his laptop like it was his long, lost son. "This is trash! I'm discarding it!"

"Let me see it first!" she said, looking ready to tackle him when he wouldn't give. He realized she was serious.

"No, really!" He forced a laugh as he began retreating away from her. He almost knocked on a trash can along the way. "It's absolute rubbish. I'll come up with something better, okay?"

"Kei, I'm your assistant editor," She gritted her teeth, finally able to take hold of one side of his laptop. "Let me see it."

"NO!!" he shouted. Whatever the look on his face was, it immediately sent the girl gluing her hands to her sides.

"Okay, okay, geez!" She angrily threw her hands up. "Whatever! I'm leaving!"

Kei almost collapsed to the floor in relief and exhaustion, and wearily, longingly saw his assistant storm out of his apartment in a furious huff.

She had only made her way to the door when she swiftly turned around and lividly pointed a finger at him.

"If you haven't made any progress by the end of this week," she snarled. "I'm killing you before our editor does."

The door closed behind her in a loud bang. Kei threw his head back, staring at the ceiling with his laptop still in his hands.

His low, tired chuckle gave way to full, uncontrollable, manic laughter.

He should consider retirement soon.

Manga Creations / Ink Stains
« on: May 28, 2012, 08:53:07 AM »
Hi guys! This is a one-shot I wrote a couple of years back. There's a tinge of shounen-ai, but I hope it's not too much for some readers! Please let me know what you think! Thanks in advance! :D

Ink Stains

The pitter-patter of rain was a dull sound above him as Yuuichi gripped the red parasol firmly in his hand. The feel of sweat down his back was cold and humid as his breathing grew shallow from the steps he had taken. Gion-ji was situated at the foot of the mountains in Kyoto, taking five hundred steps before you reached the small temple for praying. He stood under the gate at the entrance of the shrine, observing the maple trees that were green in the summer. The sound of cicadas was missing from the rain.

He had not been to this temple in three years. He hadn't really wished to return.

He remembered having to ascend this cumbersome stairway every Thursday afternoon, forced to deal with his annoying old teacher for the longest two hours of his week. His family was a patron of the traditional arts, and his father had sent him under the tutelage of a man who lived here to teach him calligraphy.

Reiji Kiyosaki was the only living descendant of an old family renowned for their mastery of the art and had taught him advanced calligraphy during his high school days. Kiyosaki-sensei upheld his family's prestige unquestionably. "Perhaps the best in six generations," his father had fondly told him, but it didn't change the fact that his teacher had been the laziest, sleaziest man he had ever met. The only thing Reiji seemed to do right was what he was paid for. It was much to his chagrin, since he would've done anything then just to get away from those afternoons.

His family had been a patron of the Kiyosaki family since his great grandfather's time, and it had become a tradition for the members to learn under their guidance. Yuuichi could care less for ink and paper, but he didn't really have a choice. Three years later on a rainy afternoon in June he would've wondered to himself what he was doing here again, until he was reminded that his father had asked him to pick up several scrolls that he had requested for Reiji to do. The man had thought it would be a good idea for Yuuichi to personally visit his teacher again, to 'catch up on good times' and see how he was doing. His father had asked him to buy Reiji's favorite sweets for his visit, but he didn't bother. He didn't plan to stay long enough to feed him anyway.

Yuuichi listlessly sighed to himself as he began to make his way to the house next to the temple. Despite his family's wealth, Reiji had decided to settle in an old Japanese house in the mountains. He said that he had found city life too bothersome. Yuuichi called him a hermit, but Reiji didn't like the term. A recluse, if he remembered correctly, was what he preferred to be called.

The rocks crunched beneath his shoes as he stood in front of the stone pathway to Reiji's home. The sliding doors were closed as the smell of sandalwood incense from the nearby temple drifted in the humid air. He would've considered, wished the place to be deserted the way the wooden doors and windows seemed so locked up, but having been here too many times before, he knew better. Unless Reiji happened to drop dead in his own home today, he wasn't going to be lucky.

Yuuichi traipsed along the stone steps to the front porch, turning to his left and passing by a bush of forsythias that led to a small Zen garden. On most Thursdays he would usually find his teacher staring senselessly out his porch, with a bamboo pipe that never seemed to leave his hand. Today was just like those Thursdays three years ago.

His teacher was seated on the wooden flooring, one knee raised with a pipe in his hand. His dark blue robe hung loosely over his shoulders, his sapphire blue eyes wistful on the rain. The ends of his jet black hair teased at the back of his neck, thick, uneven strands framing his face at the front and sides. A curve crept to his lips as those sapphire eyes met his. Yuuichi stood unmoving in his stance with his parasol still in hand. He had not seen that contemptible, all-too familiar smirk in a while.

"Well, well," The man drawled, his deep baritone clearly audible even in the continuous pitter-patter of the rain. "If it isn't my favorite student."

Yuuichi made his way towards the house, closing the parasol as he situated it on the stone steps leading to the elevated, wooden flooring. He removed his shoes and stepped onto the cool surface, his footsteps thudding as he looked down on the man on the floor.

"I've come to get the scrolls my father asked you to do," he said. "Where are they?"

Reiji placed the bamboo pipe between his lips and closed one eye. "I missed you too, boy."

Yuuichi bit back an exasperated sigh. "I'm in a bit of a hurry here."

"Really?" The man looked up at the dull, gray skies above him. "This rain won't be stopping anytime soon. Must've been tougher coming up here, huh?"

"I'm fine. Where are the scrolls?"

"Yuuichi," Reiji problematically sighed. "It's been three years. Be a bit nicer to me."

"You know I don't like being here," he snapped. "Just give me the scrolls so I can be on my way."

Reiji exhaled the smoke through his lips, lifting himself from the floor with a light grunt as he began to make his way inside the house. He scratched his head as his bare feet graced the matted floor. He disappeared down the main hallway as Yuuichi looked around the room. The living room was still the same with its green tea-colored walls and the huge scroll that hung at the center of the room. Nichi nichi kore koujitsu. Everyday is a good day, it said. It pretty much summed up everything about his teacher's outlook in life.

Yuuichi stepped inside the room, his shirt growing damp from the sweat on his back as he allowed himself a light sigh. A cold cup of tea was on the low table as he prodded a pillow with his foot.

The sound of footsteps beyond the door to his right announced Reiji's return a few seconds later. The man had a thick scroll in the crook of his arm. He dropped it to the floor and let it unroll on the tatami, revealing a blank parchment.

"What is this?" Yuuichi creased his forehead.

"My bad, I thought I had a couple more days," Reiji shrugged. "I'm one order short."

"What? My father gave you two whole months," Yuuichi said in disbelief. "He just asked for four orders."

"Ah, Yuuichi, of all people," he smirked. "You should know what I do isn't easy."

"No, of all people," The younger man griped. "You could've done even ten in one sitting."

"Hm, true," Reiji innocently pursed his lips. "You know me best."

"I can't believe this. The more time you're given, the more you slack off," Yuuichi shook his head. "I need those scrolls by today. We're having a tea ceremony in the house tomorrow."

"Hey, if you're in such a hurry," The man shrugged again. "Why don't you do it yourself?"

Yuuichi stared at him. "You want me to do your job?"

Reiji brought the pipe to his lips again and took another drag. "Can't do it anymore?"

"No, you're being paid for this," Yuuichi snarled. "You're supposed to do your work."

Reiji sighed again, settling on the floor and taking out an ink and brush set from under the low table. He breathed the smoke through his lips, neglecting the brush on the clean parchment.

"Well what are you waiting for?" Yuuichi asked in exasperation. "Get on with it already!"

"Your old teacher's asking you if you can still do what he taught you," Reiji drawled, leaning back and resting an elbow on the table. He idly looked up at him with expectant, sapphire blue eyes. "Has three years made you rusty?"

"This is ridiculous," The younger man snapped in irritation. "We're an order short here and all you care about is that??"

"Surely it won't take so much of your time if you could prove three years wrong," he smirked. "I can do even ten in one sitting, after all."

"This is unbelievable," Yuuichi hissed under his breath, dropping to his knees on the floor. He swiftly grabbed the brush and faced the parchment to him. He dipped the brush on the inkpot, writing the word 'ei' on the paper with a graceful flicker of his wrist. Eternity, in semi-cursive, the long, black lines as if flowing out from the parchment.

He dropped the brush on the black mat beneath it and stared at Reiji with raised eyebrows. "There. Now can we get a move on?"

"Ichigo ichie," The man quietly said, traveling his gaze from the paper and looking at him.

"What?" Yuuichi creased his forehead.

"Ichigo ichie," Reiji repeated. "Write it down."

Yuuichi opened his mouth to speak and attempted to complain. He narrowed his eyes and angrily picked up the brush again.

"Wrong," Reiji said when he began writing the second character. "You have lost touch, Yuuichi."

"You know what, I don't care anymore," Yuuichi dropped the brush, a huge inkblot splattering on the paper in his anger. "I'm not even supposed to be doing this. I never even liked doing it!"

Reiji blankly stared at those irate, copper brown eyes. He wordlessly picked up the brush from behind him. The smaller man's back hit his chest as he turned over the parchment and dipped the brush on the inkpot, taking hold of Yuuichi's right hand and clasping the brush with his.

"Let's do it one more time," he murmured. "Follow my lead."

Yuuichi fell silent as Reiji's arm began to control his hand. The first character, one long, horizontal stroke.

"Each," The man softly said in his ear, the warmth of his breath and the feel of his body on his back sending a familiar, long-forgotten shiver down his spine.

"Moment," His hand moved downward at the second character. Yuuichi shakily sighed.

"Only," Reiji's lips began to hover on the back of his neck. His fingers faltered, causing a slight curve at the end of the stroke.


The brush fell to the floor. Ink splattered all over the tatami mat.

Yuuichi stared at the ceiling as tears stung the corners of his eyes. He bit his lower lip and persisted on Reiji's arm. He brought his hands to the floor, trying to crawl out of hold, the thin surface of the parchment and the fresh ink brushing on his palms. Reiji's grip on him slightly loosened, and he immediately tried to writhe out of reach, only for Reiji to hover directly above him, chest parallel to his back.

Yuuichi knocked over the inkpot, the black liquid splattering all over the tatami and on his hands. He placed his hands on Reiji's arm again, the man surprisingly relenting as he swiftly turned around and fell on his bottom. He began moving backwards, his hands leaving marks on the floor as Reiji cupped his face and squarely pressed his lips to his.

Yuuichi closed his eyes tightly shut, immediately placing his stained hands on Reiji's shoulders.

"Three years," The man hoarsely whispered, his deep baritone sending a trickle of electricity down his spine. "Not a single word from you. How could you?"

"Don't," Yuuichi fought back with a snarl. "I was nothing to you."

His deep blue gaze was almost blinding to look back into. "Those Thursdays were all I ever had."

"Liar," Yuuichi hissed with relentless spite. "Then you have nothing left."

"You know how I felt," Reiji snarled, his grip almost painful on his left arm. "You clearly knew it, but everything's always a *censored*ing lie to you."

Yuuichi put a shaking hand to his temple and lowered his head. Reiji's hold loosened on his arm as he gently cradled the boy's head to his chest.

"Believe me again," he quietly said, cupping Yuuichi's cheek and meeting his eyes once more. "Please."

Yuuichi looked at those sapphire blue eyes, feeling the soft tendrils of Reiji's hair brush against his fingertips.

"Give me a reason why I should stay with a miserable hermit like you."

The man lazily smirked, nearing his face once more. "Because this recluse is miserable only without you."

Yuuichi softly laughed, touching the dried ink on his fingertips and closing his eyes.

Each moment only once.

And he had finally allowed himself to seize it.

Develop Your Story / Middle Ground
« on: May 28, 2012, 08:31:21 AM »
Hi guys! I just started a contemporary adventure-type story a couple of months back called "Middle Ground". It's my first time writing something paranormal/supernatural-based, so my world-building techniques might still be sucky... Nevertheless I'd love to hear what you guys think! Thanks in advance!

Middle Ground


St. Adrian’s Academy is a private institution in Kingswich, a small county situated east of London. The school was originally a small courtyard castle from the 15th century, and at present is considered a highlight of the town’s tourism. It currently ranks as one of the top five institutions for higher education in the country, being a feeder school to notable universities in the United Kingdom. It has an average of a thousand students each year, mostly from the upper class, but scholarships and grants are also offered.

At least, that was the most Alexa Young gathered from the pamphlet before tossing it back to the table in front of her. She crossed her legs and stared at the nun behind the big desk before her.

Sister Eleanor Bennett looked at the girl with open disapproval. In her grimy Doc Martens and ridiculously short, blue uniform skirt, the 16-year old would have left nothing to the imagination if not for the striped black tights that clung to her legs like a second skin.

Alexa Young was what you would call a special child. She could sense things most people couldn’t. Simply put, she could communicate with anything paranormal, whether they were ghosts or malevolent beings.

Sister Bennett first met the girl while visiting a small town called Old Moordam. She had stopped by the local parish and met the pastor’s daughter for the first time. Alexa had been about four or five then, out on the field talking all by herself. Over the years, Sister Bennett had come across many schizophrenics and impostors, but she immediately spotted Alexa’s potential like a sore thumb. She suggested Pastor Young to enroll her at Dovecross Preparatory School for Girls where she was headmistress, and told Alexa of her abilities and the things she could do with them.

Ministers like Sister Bennett belonged to an organization called the Crusades. Descending from the historic, religious army, the Crusades were founded several centuries ago after a powerful sorcerer named Lazarus formed the Renati. The Renati were a cult that heavily dabbled with necromancy until they created the Mortoviv, more popularly known as vampires in modern folklore.

Alexa’s gift was beyond seeing ghosts. She could tell if an undead was walking among the living.

The girl crossed her legs and impatiently tapped her boot on one of the table’s legs.

“You must be wondering why you’re here,” Sister Bennett finally began. “You’ve heard about St. Adrian’s, of course.”

“I’m not qualified,” Alexa finally spoke in a flat voice. “And I don’t want to qualify.”

“Yes, but St. Adrian’s has a special program—”

“I don’t give a f*ck about programs.”

“Watch your mouth, Miss Young,” The nun’s eyes narrowed in warning. She slowly leaned back to her chair with a collected sigh and folded her hands on her lap.

“Now as I was saying, St. Adrian’s has a remarkable program for special kids like you.”

“That’s what you told my father when you dumped me here,” Alexa petulantly frowned. “I’m the only medium in this entire school, and all I have is the attic and your dusty old library to work on.”

“Crusaders don’t receive formal training until they are sixteen,” The nun replied. “You’ve just turned of age.”

“And this St. Adrian’s place,” Alexa disinterestedly stared at the pamphlet before her. “Is it where all the other freaks gather?”

“For the most part St. Adrian’s is a regular high school, but it is also one of the biggest underground headquarters for Crusades in the country.”

“I don’t have the money to go to such a fancy place.”

“If you pass the initiations, you’ll be accepted under scholarship,” The woman answered. “You won’t have to pay a single penny. In fact, you’ll find that the order is quite generous for services rendered.”

“And what will I get from going to this school?” She raised her eyebrows.

“You will have real books, real teachers,” The nun replied. “You will meet people who share the same ability as you do, people who use it for a living.”

Alexa warily narrowed her eyes. “I can get better?”

“You can be stronger,” Sister Bennett firmly said.

“So what,” The girl shrugged and glanced at the pamphlet once more. “I just pass the test and I get in?”

“Oh, it’s not that simple,” The nun softly laughed. “This is a secret Vatican organization we’re talking about.”

“Fine, whatever,” Alexa uncrossed her legs and rose from her seat. “Anything else?”

Sister Bennett stared at her long and hard before closing her eyes with a sigh. “Nothing more, Miss Young. I’ll let you know when I’ve made the arrangements for your application.”

Alexa left the room as the woman wearily stared at the door. God knows there was more darkness than light in joining an organization like the Crusades, but there was a bright and terrifying potential in the girl that could no longer be contained. It was time for Alexa to face the real world.

It was time for some much-needed change.

to be continued

Welcome Center / *nervously looks around*
« on: May 28, 2012, 08:18:40 AM »
Hi everyone! I just joined this forum like... two minutes ago, and boy it seems quite busy here!

I've been writing manga-based stories for almost nine years now... I somehow hope that I can continue to find growth in a community like this and hopefully make new acquaintances :D

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