It’s been a day since Sakaki had left Karen and Iris in the city of Chisa. Although he fancied the company of his dear friend, he asked to be left alone after hearing the news that his mother is no longer alive.

None of her belongings were left behind. There is not even a grave. His father, Nao Sakurai, a financial minister of the Eastern Region gave the decision to cremate her.

They were not lovers in any sense. Sakaki’s mother is beautiful with plump breasts, smooth skin, silky black hair, slender figure with red eyes - a body every woman would kill to have. She would display a cheerful but shy attitude.

She could be pressured easily by peers and strangers alike. Harassments were common and harsh comments were easy to come by for people working in the profession. Despite the situation, she persevered. However, when a commoner was forced by a noble to perform certain tasks, one does not simply ignore said task or there will be consequences.

Simply put – Sakaki is a bastard. He was conceived unethically.

Despite being a child born of such circumstances, she still loved her son very much. So much so that she would spend most of her unsubstantial pay on decent clothing and books just for him. The kind of love that every mother would give her child. And every once in a while, she would splurge it on good food to try and fatten him up, saying “You’re a boy, you should learn to eat more.”

On normal days, the meals were provided by the Sakurai residence as the maids and staff would live in the mansion and food were provided.

On Sakaki’s seventh birthday, he enquired whether if he will be acknowledged by his father. His mother never answered it, brushing it off by saying that his father is too busy with work to think about trivial matters. He is by no means unaware of his mother’s hardship. He knows that his mother worked herself to the bone for his sake. But about his father? Just that he had never had an extended interaction with and would be avoided constantly.

On the same night, while roaming around the residence, he saw his father walking alongside a stranger. A woman with long black hair tied up in a ponytail fashion, wearing a blue yukata, a traditional eastern clothing. It was made up of cotton instead of silk, which made it more breathable and stretchable.

I wonder who she is, he thought.

The woman looked towards his direction and stopped walking. She whispered to his father and after getting an answer, walked towards Sakaki. She placed both of her hands on his face and looked directly into his eyes and whispered to herself, “Red eyes. Interesting. There are too few Karma with valuable red eyes these days. It is a dying trait after all.”

After letting go of Sakaki, she smiled and said gently to him, “I’ll find out what circumstances you’re in.”

When he arrived back to his mother’s quarters, he could hear a conversation behind the door. It wasn’t a conversation between his father and mother, but of two women. The first voice was of his mother and the second was of someone he had just met earlier. He could not hear the contents of the conversation as it was muffled through the door.

Being curious of what is transpiring, he opened the door and said in a concerned tone, “Mother?”

The stranger looked at Sakaki and turned back to his mother.

“I’ll be leaving in the morning. Think it through, if you can.” The stranger left the room, leaving Sakaki and his mother alone.

That night, Sakaki’s mother explained everything they were discussing to him. Including her choice to allow Sakaki to be trained under the apprenticeship of the stranger as a Karma.

“I’m sorry son, I’m sorry that I’m selfish. I know this isn’t what you wanted. But it’s still the best for you.” She said as she hugged Sakaki tightly with eyes full of tears. “This is no place to raise a son. You won’t live an easy life here. That’s why I want you to go with her.”

No mother could bear to see their child leave, especially at such a tender age. Teaching a seven-year-old child the ways of killing a demon might be cruel, even torturous. But his mother thought that a life of a Karma would be better than what she, herself could ever hope to give him. Perhaps it was the words of a famed Karma that assured her. Or perhaps she was hoping it was a blessing in disguise for his son. She would never find out.

The next morning, after a night’s worth of tears and final thoughts, Sakaki waited for the woman who was talking to his mother at the front gate of the residence.

“Hahaha… Finally, one less mouth to feed.”, a course voice he heard behind him. And from that moment, he swore, I will come back to take you away from this wretched place, mother.

A familiar sight came into view. A woman wearing a blue yukata soon stood in front of him. She bent down and patted his head and said, “Nice to meet you, I’m Fuyutsuki Fuji and you will be under my apprenticeship training to be a Karma from today onwards.”