The road to the Demon Slaying Corps HQ had been an uneventful one but still, under the calm dawn, Nik and Saeko moved within the city in a roundabout manner. Of course, this was mostly for Nik. Even after being in the city for a few weeks, he had remained cooped up in the mansion focusing on training and the girls aside from the delicious food.
The main reason for this particular sightseeing was for Nik to start familiarising with the entire city. Of course, exploring the entire capital within a few minutes would be impossible, it could take an entire day... or days to come. Yet, every objective is achieved after taking the first step. So, Nik continued alongside Saeko.
After exactly fifteen minutes, Saeko led Nik through the cobblestoned path of the capital where the majority of the currently closed shops are constructed with an occasional peddler moving around to prepare for the day's stock, completely focused on his own job to even let his concentration get disrupted due to some fancy couple's occasional walks amongst the 'lower' beings.
From the center of the market street, Saeko took a left and although, the streets remained quite filled, occasional bumps in the road pointed the ill-maintenance of the area and finally, the shops and constructed housed grew sparse with the bumps in the road appearing more than just occasionally.
Still, Saeko continued the path that soon broke into a clear, patched path of ground with no money even spent on the road that led the couple into a small forest that seemed to be a part of the capital itself. Even within the forest, the patched path led to a certain direction deep within the forest and the extremely low encounter with any wildlife made it all too clear that this forest simply wasn't natural.
"We are already inside the headquarters..." Saeko whispered, affirming Nik's suspicions while looking at the trees with a complicated expression as she continued speaking, with her arm still locked into Nik's, "The construction of the headquarters is still a few minutes of distance away...
This place is a graveyard."
Saeko explained while a look of realisation dawned upon Nik's face and he whispered.
"You mean... one dead slayer equals to..."
"One tree in this graveyard, yes."
Saeko nodded. With her hair in a rare situation of combed and braided, she had a mild aura about herself that extended to a certain amount of elegance.
Nik looked at all the trees in wonder while Saeko continued, "It's been more than a hundred years... these trees can't rest, they don't shed even in autumn and they need peace by getting watered by Muzan's blood himself."
Nik nodded as the duo continued the patched pathway silently. The denser the trees grew, the more solemn Nik's expression grew. If he hadn't known what these trees represented, Nik would have loved the touch of nature around the mansion... but now, even after understanding the 'after-kill' madness... he couldn't help but feel gloomy.
Never had Nik been to a graveyard filled to the brim.
In the back of his head, Nik also had a feeling that these trees presented more of a feeling of cautiousness than sentiments. After all, these trees remain as a reminder that facing demons require utmost focus and concentration while also remaining smart enough to adapt to any sudden changes.
After a few minutes of silent walking, Nik finally witnessed a traditional, feudal-style architecture in the form of a large mansion with a short, concrete wall marking the perimeter attached to a large gate with black lamps placed above the two pillars of the gate. A fresh scent of wet grass seemed to be lingering around the gate, a smell Nik was all too familiar with.
A natural demon repellent!
Since there stood no guardsman, Saeko and Nik took a step into the rocky path flanked by greenery on both of the side and bushes of flower following the path closely. The name of these flowers was something Nik did not know, but they were definitely exotic due to many rare colours, such as black and green present.
To top it off, at the extreme ends of the walls, Nik could even make out trees of wisteria flowers that kept on exuding their natural scent to repel any and every demon that may reach this place... no matter how unlikely the situation remained.
Saeko chimed with a refreshing expression and slid the wooden door open and took off her shoes and wore the guest sandals Nik followed her actions closely and walked into the unadorned wooden hallway as their footsteps echoed. This mansion was an extreme opposite of Elizabeth's rowdy mansion. Although, Nik happened to be contributing much to the 'rowdiness', he still couldn't help but wonder who the head truly is for having no regards to even furnish the mansion slightly.
Following Saeko to make a few turns, the duo finally slid the door open and immediately witnessed a group of gathered slayers, most possibly pillars their aura gave them away.
Instantly, many pairs of eyes focused on Nik and Saeko, more specifically, the intimate contact of the duo. Of course, Nik's eyes also gazed upon the multitude slayers present and instantly, his eyes observed a very beautiful, curvaceous, pink-haired woman with a fluorescent green tinge dying her hair. Of course, her uniform remained quite different from others for the massive gap in her collars revealed a rather deep cleavage.
Of course, Saeko's shameless voice pointed out his own shameless gaze.
'Fufu, marking the targets, are we?'
Her words instantly elicited a broad grin from Nik and then, his gaze finally landed on a giant in the form of a human. A large scar over his forehead and his muscular forearms clasped in a praying position with bodhisattva beads coiling across the back of his palms.
'That dude is dubbed as the strongest pillar?'
Nik questioned and a statement of approval emerged within his consciousness.
'The strongest, the kindest, the most brutal... he goes by many names in many societies...'
"Welcome, Saeko Busujima! Is this gentleman the most recent addition to our ranks?!"
A youth with long, unbridled flaming yellow hair spoke as his fiery red eyes bore into Nik. Although he was somewhat shorter than Nik, his aura easily surpassed Nik and even then, no attempts to 'suppress the newbie' took place. Instead, the man offered his hand and his face broke into a small grin.
"I am Kyojuro Rengoku! This generation's Pillar of Flame!"
Even though the 'Kyo' narrowed his eyes in a gleeful expression, his broad, sword-like eyebrows remained straight and diagonal, giving him an even more fearsome expression.
"Nice to meet you. I am... Nik. Err" Nik looked towards Saeko. No matter how cool the 'Pillar of War' sounded... Nik was incomparably embarrassed by such a title. He didn't love war. He loved passion, l.u.s.t addled women and most of all, the comfort of sleeping with a rare woman who wasn't a 'digger'.
"Good! Nik! What a nice name!"
'No, it isn't that great...' Nik retorted... but he simply couldn't help but feel a surge of warmth spreading in the surrounding as Kyo yeah, he would need some time to learn his name, too kept on grinning.
"To be dubbed as the Pillar of War, we all have high expectations from you."
"Well... as they say higher the expectations, greater the disappointment"
Nik's attention was immediately grabbed by a black-haired youth that was... sitting on the wooden ledges right beneath the ceiling. Of course, out of the many questions, such as why would he sit in such an eccentric location? Is the heterochromia of his eyes natural or lenses? And why the hell would he keep an actual slithering snake coiling up his neck? one question dominated all of the previous one Why couldn't he feel this gloomy dude's presence?
While the other pillars remained the extremely 'bright', the snake dude, officially dubbed as The Pillar of Snake Saeko informed dutifully was the complete opposite with his presence converged to the extreme.
"Obanai Iguro! We all should maintain our warmth that represents our hope even in the coldest of nights!"
Kyojuro Nik finally grew a little proficient in his name spoke with an unflinching grin and his passionate gaze changed their targets from Nik to Obanai.
"Don't keep on calling me by my full name..."
Obanai snorted and continued his silent stare that would occasionally rotate from Nik to the busty pink-haired lady before focusing back on Nik and Saeko.
"Um... are you maybe... in a relationship?"
The pink-haired girl finally stepped out as Nik, who kept on observing the snake dude Obanai for obvious concerns, finally saw Obanai twitch a little as Saeko grinned broadly and finally let go of Nik to embrace the green-eyed girl with a birthmark beneath each of them as she spoke with a massive grin.
"Ahhh! Mitsuri! I missed you so much!"
"Y-yes! I missed you, too." With a smile, Mitsuri Nik took no time to learn her name hugged back and let her chin rest on Saeko's shoulder.
"And for the fact... it isn't just me. Nik, me, Shizuka and Shigure... we all are hooked up."
Saeko's revelation immediately caused the eyes of everyone present widen in surprise and they immediately focused on Nik once again.
"Amazing! Even the broody-eyed weaponsmith Shigure could feel emotions?! I have seen everything!
Nik, your existence is now categorised as Flamboyant itself!"
With his head wrapped by a white cloth leaving only a single silver ponytail and his biceps covered by thick golden rings, the jewel adorned man's maroon eyes gazed at Nik with barely concealed elation.
'He is Tengen Uzui, the Pillar of Sound.' Saeko's voice informed Nik once again while a wave of relief spread within Nik's chest for Tengen was an easy name to enunciate. Meanwhile, the strongest pillar named Gyomei Himejima felt phantom injuries over his ribs and calves flaring in extreme anguish the moment the blind-eyed pillar heard Shizuka's name.
Meanwhile, a long, black-haired boy Nik did know him as the youngest pillar in the history named Muichiro Tokita looked as dazed as Saeko painted him to be with a soft whisper uttering out of his lips.
"Sanemi is late... once again..."
"That he is!" Kyojuro nodded as his loud voice boomed within the relatively empty room that was attached to the backyard that finally showed the sign of sun emerging, breaking the soft dawn with its bright rays.
"Welcome, Nik." Finally, the Gyomei The Pillar of Rock nodded towards Nik. Saeko described him to be a blind man due to his first-ever encounter with a demon. But still, the man posed himself to be an individual with outstanding instincts and mind-numbing battle sense for the only requirement to become a pillar is to directly slay a moon series demon. And to slay a moon demon without any visual senses placed the man in a higher pedestal than other pillars, including Saeko The second strongest, dubbed as the pillar of Steel.
Finally, the door behind them slid again, revealing a handsome youth wearing golden hair in a western fashion. A bandana over his forehead and his clothes not belonging to the uniform prescribed by the rules.
Of course, the youth's eyes widened when he gazed at Nik and Nik showed a similar expression, albeit, more moderate.