Hayate was sitting in the living room of her house, hoping to relax and recover from her cold.
However, her house was filled with panicky family and friends who were making a huge fuss.
She sighed quietly as she thought about how it all started. How she simply wanted a quiet time to read her mystery novels.
◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊
Earlier that evening, Hayate was well enough to walk. She had thought she would be going back to the house while walking with Chiaki.
If not for the black car with the driver that was outside pacing back and forth with a worried expression on his face and speaking into a phone. She managed to catch part of his phone call.
“No, Hayate-sama has not come. It’s been several hours already. I haven’t been able to confirm where she is.”
She stood there watching him pace back and forth not looking at anything but the ground.
“This is terrible. There’s been no contact at all. Is Hayate-sama safe? I don’t know. Forgive me, this has never happened before.”
He continued pacing back and forth, she was a bit worried since he was an old man getting on in his years. She decided to call out to him before the stress got to him.
“?! Hayate-sama! Hayate-sama has arrived, I will call back to report.”
He hung up the phone quickly and ran to Hayate.
“Is everything alright?! Why did Hayate-sama not contact me about a change in time?”
“Ishida-san, I am sorry, but I collapsed earlier today and have been in the school infirmary resting. I was only able to leave now.”
“C-Collapsed?! Ah, what to do?! What to do?! I should call Sousuke-sama! No! Hatsuko-sama!”
She put a bit of strength in her voice, trying to make him focus on her.
“I will be fine, I am recovering well.”
“No, you’re not. You should be sleeping when you get back. You have a cold.” Said Chiaki as she lightly hit Hayate’s arm with the back of her open hand.
“But I am fine.” She tried to put up a strong front to her friend, though it didn’t register with Ishida when he heard it.
“COLD?! Hayate-sama has a cold?!!”
Hayate who had been driven around by Ishida had thought he was just a calm by the numbers type old man who followed protocols strictly and was never late when driving unless something big happened. Now she was watching him panic to no end like a worried doting grandfather.
“Hayate-sama, please get in the car! I’ll drive you back to the main house immediately!”
“I do not need to go back to the main house. I will be going home, I can report to mother about this later.”
“Ishida-san, I will be fine. The nurse says I should just rest before I left. So please, drive me home.”
“Y-Yes, as you say.”
Ishida opened the back door and still in a panic, gestured for Hayate to get inside. Chiaki followed reluctantly after Hayate insisted she get in.
◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊
The moment she got home, Fuumi panicked and rushed her inside the door with Chiaki in tow. With Fuumi giving out panicked pleas of help towards Olivia, the two servants went around noisily in the house.
Although she changed, she had been questioned by Xiuying about why she came home late, only to be looked at in surprise when Xiuying got the answers.
The sounds of screeching tires stopping in front of her house was heard. Several doors were opened and closed as someone used a key to open the door and went in.
The voice of her panicked mother yelled out. Although she was happy her mother was that worried, she had to question her family’s panicked state and also why her mother had a spare key to her house.
“I am here, mother.”
“You look terrible! You should be in bed!”
“I am fine, mother.”
“Hayate. I brought these.”
Her father had been carrying several plastic bags filled with various things. Different drinks, gelatin snacks, over the counter medicines and other stuff. About half of them were probably not needed and useless in this case.
“Hayate! I’m sorry I pushed you too hard! Forgive me!”
Her grandfather, Sousuke Kanzaki, lost his usual overbearing stern demeanor that Hayate knew when training or when serious things happened, back to the doting grandfather who cried easily when he caused problems for his grandchild. Or whining when his grandchild was not giving him enough attention.
“Dear, you’re being ridiculous. Hayate, you should be resting though.”
Her grandmother, Michiko Kanzaki, was her usual self, if it wasn’t for the noticeable look of concern that indicated she was holding back a lot for the sake of feigning stability and calm.
“Onii-sama, you look horrible! You should be in bed right now!”
She reaffirmed her twin sister took much from their mother, making more mental notes to observe her twin sister some more.
Suffering from a headache again, she tried calming down her panicked family.
“Everyone, I just have a cold. It is nothin-“
Her family shouted simultaneously causing her to cover her ears. The panic increased as she noticed all of them besides Hayate, took out a cell phone and began barking orders at some poor servant on the other side.
Chiaki said it’s just a cold, it’s not that bad….right? She thought to herself as she wondered what was exactly the big deal about it with her family.
◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊
And back to the present, the situation was a little chaotic and the house filled with more people than ever.
There were servants working in the background focusing on getting clean sheets and clothes ready for Hayate. Her family annoyingly looking at only her in worry for any signs while she tried reading her novel. A single cough sometimes had sent them into a frenzy of worry and panic. And a sneeze would have servants rushing in to hand a boxes of tissues to her.
She didn’t realize this, but her family really doted on her very much. Chiaki commented how much of a stupid doting family she had. Hayate could only agree.
Her sister Hayate was in the midst of choosing the perfect set of clothes for sleeping with a cold from her research. She didn’t seemed as worried, but Hayate had to worry about the occasional laughter that came ominously.
In the meantime, Xiuying had been worried as well as she shut herself in her room, researching old Chinese herbal remedies to help Hayate. Though compared to her family, Chiaki commented it seemed normal. Almost normal.
Fuumi, and Olivia led the servants while still in a state of panic, every one of them on call while they did cleaning, sanitizing, and whatever minor random thing that was needed.
She couldn’t concentrate on her novel since they were making so much noise as they continued to keep a close eye on her.
Even when she tried to voice her annoyance, they all simply didn’t listen in the end.
She ended up sleeping in her room much earlier than normal.
◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊
That same evening, only a scant few hours had passed. In the Kanzaki main house, Hatsuko looked visibly upset as she held an open letter in her hands. She was not alone as her husband, her parents and her older brother were here.
“Hatsuko, is it that bad?”
She nodded to her husband’s question. She placed the letter in the middle of the table as she spoke.
“One of the families has found out about Hayate, and it’s the worst one.”
“…She’s talking about the Sonozaki family. There’s been bad rumors about them, especially the son. For a long time, we’ve been wary of them.”
Sousuke took the letter as he read it himself.
“Yeah, this is from Akio Sonozaki. He’s got a bad personality from the rumors. And supposedly is the one controlling the Sonozaki family now.”
“And it’s even worse that he found out about Hayate. The letter basically is basically a subtle blackmail.”
“Dear, with our information control in the area, we made falsified records for Hayate since she’s going to school. And we hid Hayate‘s existence too. He hasn’t found out about Hayate but there’s plenty of pictures taken of Hayate from this letter.”
“Hatsuko, I wish you had chosen a different name for her, it’s confusing to keep track.”
Hatsuko averted her eyes, she had initially wanted to use her twins to play pranks on people by naming them the same name with different kanji. She had planned to make Hayate cross dress as a girl so that the two would look identical and confuse people. But so many things made her scrap most of the prank plan.
“Anyway, if word got out, they’ll see the pictures and think his false records are true and his real records false. And…because of the ‘lies,’ a confrontation is inevitable.”
“Then, I need to increase Hayate’s training after she’s rested and recovered.”
“It’s the only way, Hayate’s not up to par with upper tier of Demon Hunters when it comes to swordsmanship. In terms of demon hunting Hayate is fine but when in battle against other humans, she’s still not there yet.”
“Hatsuko, we’ll need Hayate to stay at our home the whole time. She’ll go to the school like normal, but like before she can only travel by car. As well as other changes.”
“So we’re going with that contingency. I will tell Hayate.”
“Please do, Hatsuko.”
“So how are you going to answer?”
“It’s obvious that we’ll refuse. I will ask Hayate her opinion first but I think she’ll refuse too. Because of her love of that genre, Hayate’s sense of justice is much stronger. She’ll definitely fight back.”
“I should thank Shiro for that.”
“Don’t thank him, he gave Hayate horrible fashion sense.”
“You’re still holding a grudge with that.”
“Fashion is important!”
The so called serious mood that had been ruined by Hatsuko’s passionate fire for fashion.
◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊
A week after, the Sonozaki released photos of Hayate to the other Demon Hunter families, causing a fuss as to why the Kanzaki family heir’s gender was falsified. Many sent inquiries trying to force them to answer and all were refused.
Expressing their ire towards the Sonozaki family for spying on their family without cause, the Kanzaki family demanded compensation for the trouble that the Sonozaki family caused.
It was expected a much larger argument ensued between their exchange and thus finally, the Head of the Kanzaki family declared they would challenge the Sonozaki family and through their victory force the Sonozaki family to submit.
While accepting, the Sonozaki family replied in return that through their victory making the Kanzaki family submit to them.
Then a few of the families also challenged the Kanzaki family as well under the premise that the Kanzaki family’s lies should be properly brought to light and that the heir should be put in an arranged marriage.
The Kanzaki family responded in kind challenging any other family who had similar ideas.
In the end, twenty-five out of the forty-seven Demon Hunter families were going to be soon involved in the largest secret war in the history of Demon Hunters.
This was the opening number to what would be called the Great Demon Hunter War.