“Hahaha, remember the time when our mentor, Futuysuki Fuji, forced us to watch her kill a Diao Si Gui?”, grinned Sakaki as he relived memories of our past.

“You were so scared of it that you practically hung onto my body and I had to carry you around while we were chasing after it because your legs were shaking!”

It’s late into the night, the moon hangs above us as our only light as we ambled down the main road towards the gate of the border town Twas. Sakaki and I walked closer to the gates, a putrid, revolting stench smacked us across our faces.
“What the f—”, Sakaki said with his fingers pinching his nose.
Before he could finish the sentence, I dived into the bush beside the path, pulling him along with me.
“What was that for?” he asked.
I shot back, “The smell of dead bodies. And did you see that woman who walked into the town?”.
“Walked into town? More like she floated in… Oh no….”, frowning as he digested what he said.

The wooden gate bore a sign “Humble Town of Twas”, we are certain a Pontianak entered town. There will undoubtedly be more of them, with the pungent smell of dead bodies emanating from the town. But if we’re lucky, they’ll only be one.
A Pontianak is born when someone grieves over a pregnant woman who had passed, longing her return. It assumes the form of a woman and feasts on the organs extracted by means of clawing with its long fingernails. Compared to our previous encounter, killing one is easier.

“Ahhh!”, a womanly shriek could be heard across town. Naturally, we ran towards the source to see bony bodies lying on the ground on the way, some with flesh exposed to decay, replete with flies and faeces all over. It was a horrific sight. Body after body lined the streets, all shrivelled and deplete. There were no lights from the houses as we ran through, more dead people might be in there and we would never know till daybreak. The odd thing is that demons were nowhere to be found.

We arrived at the source of the scream and see the Pontianak clawing away at a crystal barrier shielding a frail woman inside of it. I warded the creature with a gust of wind using my fans, though the creature simply floated gently down afterward and quickly retreated as it made sense of the situation. It was outnumbered three to one.

“Sakaki!”, I shouted, signalling him to give chase while I take care of the woman.
“On it!”, as he darted in the direction the Pontianak took off.

“My name is Karen Tomach, a demon hunter. You’re safe now, you can come out.”, I said softly to her.
The barrier shatters to dust and the she stands up, her legs nearly giving while doing so.
“Thank you, you saved my life”, she bowed, “My name is Nadiah, I’m from the local region.”
“Nice to meet you. You’re a mage?”
“Yes, I am a practitioner of magecraft.”

A mage is someone who manipulates objects to create a desired effect, or in this case, magic. The crystal barrier was only temporary, as any creature would be able to break into it with time. She was lucky that we were close by.
“What… Happened to the town…?”, I inquired in a controlled tone, barely able to conceal distress.
“All the bodies you see here… Died of starvation.”, her head hung low.

This is my first time travelling into the Southern region and I had no idea things were this bad.

“Ever since the Regional Government of the South implemented the policy of collectivised farming, the south experienced frequent famine.”, she explains, “Just a few days ago, a demon hunter came through town while pursuing a Gashadokuro. That’s how bad it got. We’ve gotten no news on the result of the hunt yet.”

A Gashadokuro….