Author Topic: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread the First  (Read 408632 times)

capt. h

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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge! - Crossover Central
« Reply #930 on: April 02, 2012, 06:14:06 AM »
Next week is Easter Sunday.

Not that that's necessarily a problem, it's just an awkward date.

The ⑨th Zentillion

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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge! - Crossover Central
« Reply #931 on: April 07, 2012, 04:46:52 AM »
Eheh, first time ever entering the WWC, i figured this would be a good challenge to start on. This is a crossover of the "character replacement-style" variety. The chosen other subject is Sonic Adventure. This isn't a direct script edit, though SA's script is used as a framework and there are direct quotes. I don't have any real warnings except Big the Cat's role is being played by Koishi - Heart-throbbing Adventures Koishi.

Maidens of the Kaleidoscope Weekly Writing Challenge
Subject: Crossovers

Aya Adventure
By Jason ?Zentillion? Winter


A floating shrine drifts high up through a cloudy sky, a small thunderstorm roiling within the clouds. This shrine is known as Moriya and has a long, convoluted, and mysterious history. In modern times, it has wound up the target of a notorious mad engineer after her space station, the Death Cucumber crash-landed into it. It was here that she found out that the shrine was kept afloat by the fabled Faith Jewels, just the tings she needed to get the Death Cucumber back up and running.

Tricking its shrine maiden, one Kochiya Sanae, or in western order the reverse of that (from now on all names will be in Western order, also); into believing the one who had brought down her superweapon in the first place - fabled adventuring reporter and fastest girl alive, Aya Shameimaru and her sidekick, Momiji Inubashiri were the ones planning on stealing the Faith Jewels from her shrine, including the most gigantic and powerful of them all, the real reason the shrine was kept afloat - the Moriya Jewel.

Our villain?s machinations lasted just long enough for her to steal the Moriya Jewel. By this time, Sanae had found out who the real good guys were, the very two Tengu she had been fighting with and could only watch in horror as Lady Kawashiro swiped it. Deferring to Aya and Momiji, the two once again chased after Lady K and brought her Death Cucumber down permanently. The Moriya Jewel sent the shrine back up into the skies, and all was good.

That was, until tonight. A large shape moves through the clouds towards the Shrine, soon coming out and revealing a flying, aqua-and-green skiff that resembled a cucumber in shape. On its sides, the symbol of a grinning kappa and a pair of crossed wrenches adorned it. The insignia of the infamous Lady K. She had found something new about this shrine, or more importantly, its source of flight. A tiny, glowing sphere shoots from the ship and careens toward the shrine?s sacred chamber.

Not noticing this as she thinks to herself is the Shrine Maiden in question, sitting a little distance away from a large, green star-shaped gem, hands in her lap and head tilted down. Her vibrant green hair rustles in the breeze that comes into the jewel chamber "As far back as I can remember, I've been living here in this dark
shrine.

I?ve always guarded the sacred Moriya Jewel and the Moriya Shrine from anything that could harm them or break their sacred balance,? she muses  ?I know why I was given this job. Why it was my fate... Destined to be here forever and make sure to continue my family?s duty, and I wouldn?t have it any other--?

Sanae is distracted and immediately startled from her thoughts as she hears a loud explosion and shattering from behind her that sends her rolling off a bit. She coughs, pushing herself up and turns, expression turning from pained surprise to shocked horror. The Moriya Jewel has been mostly destroyed. Her expression, however soon changes a bit as she notices something else, eyes narrowing in anger at the figure standing in front of the shattered bauble. A blonde girl in a purple and white dress decorated with frogs ?Who are you? Did you do this?! You?re mine, you little brat!?

She rushes the mysterious child, swinging her gohei for her upper torso, only to whiff  and get smacked aside by one of the girl?s way-too-long-sleeved arms, flying back and tumbling again. She pushes herself up just as the blonde crouches down? and then leaps into the air like a coiled spring and out of the chamber and vanishing into the night. Her face continues to be angered, but it then goes back to horror as a rumbling begins to happen ?Crap, without the Moriya Jewel?s power, this whole shrine is going down.?

The Moriya Shrine then begins to plummet, thankfully at the time it was right above the peak of Youkai Mountain. It falls right down next to the lake at the mountaintop, thankfully not being damaged too much, though it does cause some damage and a shockwave from its fall.

Meanwhile, a bit down further on the mountain, the quake goes unnoticed by a snoozing, three-eyed figure in yellow, black, and green. Her black, wide-brimmed hat with a yellow ribbon lays on her face while a green, star-shaped gem lays to one side of her. That quake and a sudden breeze caused by the storm above sends her hat flying off a ways. When it lands, another hat falls from the sky; a large straw hat with a pair of googly eyes.

Those eyes blink suddenly, looking at the other hat for a few moments before sliding over to it and colliding. The collision causes them to both glow, the eyed hat seeming to vanish, just leaving the black hat. Only, there is something different about it by now. It has those eyes. As if now sentient, he hat drifts back towards its owner, or rather, to the jewel beside her.

Speaking of the girl, that?s when she grunts and yawns, pushing herself up and opening the two eyes on her face after rubbing them with her sleeve. Heart-shaped pupils glance back and forth for a moment before the girl grins a grin that goes from ear to ear, seeming to take up most of the bottom half of her face. She giggles and pushes herself up and looks around, and then notices her hat is missing ?The hat? where did it go? Hehehe, where are you hat?!?

She looks down, and sees her hat floating over to her. She giggles and giggles and giggles, leaning down and holding her hands out, that grin never leaving her face. It gets smaller, however, when her hat flies away from her and plops itself right over her treasure. It is then she notices the eyes ?Hey, hat, where did those eyes come from? They look really ugly on you! Let?s get them o--?

Her hat sucks up the gem and suddenly shoots off ?Hey! You took my shiny, hat! Hat?! Come back here! ?The hat is my friend. Why is it doing this?! Hehehe, I?m going to find out.?

The crazy satori takes off after her hat, vanishing into the night.

A couple hours later, somewhere a bit away from the mountain, in the Human Village?s Station Square a figure streaks through alleyways, across streets, and above rooftops, the occasional bright flash of a camera going off, perhaps the figure in question?s camera? They?re too fast to be sure, but there?s only people few and far between that are that fast. The figure finally stops and lands on one of the rooftops, revealing our heroine, it was kinda obvious anyway.

?Ah yeah, this is happening!? she chirps, putting her hands on her hips and grinning as she looks around. It?s a nice night and Aya Shameimaru?s got some good pictures today. No big scoop, sadly, but that happens often. It doesn?t stop her from making one anyway. However, tonight there would be something newsworthy.

That?s because suddenly, a whole bunch of priests and Shrine Maidens run past. Something?s got them racing towards the Elder?s Mansion. She quirks her head, muttering a quick ?Hmmm? What?s up?? to herself and takes off after the group. She finds the group standing near the mansion, gohei and ofuda at the ready. They appear to be confronting a? child with blonde hair and purple and white clothing? Aya waits to see what happens before she goes over.

?You?re completely surrounded!? the head priest shouts at the girl ?Surrender yourself or prepare to be purified!? The girl simply blinks at him and tilts her head, bounding forward a step, on her hands like a frog. Another hop, and the priests decide to take action ?If that is your choice, then feel our power!?

Ofuda go flying, sticking to the girl as the shrine maidens charge, readying purification needles and swings of their gohei on her person, only to have the talismans uselessly be flung off as she hops, skips and dashes towards and between them, sending priests and priestesses flying with both swings from her arms and calling the very earth or torrents of water to strike them. She takes them down in no time flat and they beat a hasty retreat.

That, of course, is when Aya zooms over and lands in front of the frog girl this time, looking her over and snapping a photo ?Oh yes! This is going to be a huge scoop! ?Mysterious Frog Child Embarrasses Human Village Protectors!? So, kid, tell me, where does your power come from? You human, youkai, god, or something else? Tell me!?

The girl simply tilts her head and giggles. She considers things for a moment and then shakes her head ?Can?t say. I?m here for various reasons that you aren?t privy to, Miss Tengu. And I can?t allow you to print your story. If I were you, I would go off in the other direction as soon as possible and forget this whole thing happened. I would rather there not be unnecessary bloodshed.?

?For a story like this?! No way, kid! I?m gettin? this scoop if I have to fight you for it!? Aya exclaims, dashing back a bit and grabs her leaf fan along with some cards as she puts her camera back around her neck ?Ready, shorty?!?

?If that is your decision? then I will be crushing you now,? the frog child says with a sigh, leaping back, a huge chunk of rock bursting from where she stood and straight towards Aya, who, even with her speed, just barely manages not to get hit. The tengu retaliates with a quick swing of her fan, sending a huge gust of wind forward at her opponent, sending her soaring into the air. The girl, however, begins to flap her arms like a bird?s wings, using the gust to fly up right above Aya and then come plummeting down.

Aya dodges easily, only to have her eyes widen in surprise as her opponent?s crashing into the ground not just causes rocks to fly, but a huge shockwave of water as well, the reporter-hero getting splashed in full force and sent tumbling. She?s quick to push herself up, however, and burst forward at the other girl and swing her fan again, only this time, the air is sharp and bladelike, shattering into shards of energy on collision with the frog girl and sending her crashing into the mansion.

She pushes herself up like nothing happened and violently shakes her head, bounds forward, and swings both of her arms, two strong jets of water flying from her sleeves, the jets getting clawed hands of water at their ends and both swipe at Aya, who ducks under one but gets plowed in the gut by the other, body folding forward ?Oof! Haa? damn!?

The other girl prepares to repeat her action, only two have Aya grumble something, one of the cards in her hands glowing and vanishing. A breeze comes up from under the girl who pushes her skirt down so it doesn?t fly up, but that is not the intent of the declared card. There?s a sudden, loud whoosh as a huge tornado of magical energy fragments engulfs her, slamming and flinging her around for a few moments. The tempest ends and the frog girl falls to the ground with a thud.

?As you were saying?? Aya asks with a grin, walking over to her fallen opponent and holds out her hand in an offer to help her up. She looks up at Aya, pouts, and doesn?t take her hand. Instead she readies another leap, only this time it?s not one of aggression, but one of escape ?Come on you little twerp! Where you go? ing. Damn, she?s gone!?

Aya quickly flies off, not noticing someone peeking out from an alleyway, making a giddy giggling at the situation. Nitori ?Lady Kappa? Kawashiro is pleased as punch at the little show of the power of what she has freed. Sure, that meddling Aya had technically won the fight, but she did take some blows. She tilts the bill of her goggle-topped cap over her eyes and heads off to meet up with her new ally. Before she leaves, however, she can?t help but gloat ?You know nothing, fool~ It?s Suwako Moriya, Goddess of Mountai-- er, Destruction! Hehehehehe~!?

The day comes and several people arrive in the village, the first being one Sanae Kochiya.. She?s attuned enough to guesstimate the locations of the fragments of the Moriya Jewel, but not actually locate them "It's up to me to find the missing pieces of the Moriya Jewel. It won't be easy, even with my powers. The pieces flew off everywhere, just need to figure where the best place is to look.?

She doesn?t have to go far as she overhears some villagers talking about a strange green meteor shower. Seems some of the meteors fell near the Elder?s Mansion. It?s a good a lead as any and she goes on her way, not getting to overhear about the strange frog girl that had also been the one who had appeared when the Moriya Jewel got broken. She quickly finds the mansion and begins to scour the area. As she?s doing this, the satori girl with the crazy grin and the closed third eye has also arrived, looking for her hat. She does some asking around, but gets nothing.

Unfortunately for the villagers who she asks, any of them that have no useful info soon find themselves quivering in fear as their innermost horrors become so very real in their minds. She sometimes leaves them behind until it wears off, other times she asks again. A couple wind up being taken behind houses and horrifically murdered after that if they still have no information, the girl giggling and grinning the whole time.

Eventually, she sees her hat fly past her and back towards the general area of the Youkai Mountain. She follows just as a wolf tengu flies past her, clutching onto something green and glowy. She heads off to the hot springs nearby the village, quirking a brow at the girl that flies past her, wasn?t that Koishi ?Heart-throbbing? Komeiji, notorious murderer? ?Best to let her be on her way.

Good thing Koishi has her third eye closed, or she would have overheard those thoughts and Momiji would have been turned into a rug. Instead, she just blasts her out of the sky for the hell of it before moving on, Momiji careening towards the ground with a shriek. Thankfully for her, Aya was taking a nice soak in the springs and notices her sidekick plummeting. Of course, she has to catch Momiji soaking wet and naked, but it?s still a pretty sweet catch.

Aya lands, putting her friend on the ground, grabs her towel and wraps it around herself and nudges the other tengu with her foot. Momiji soon pushes herself up with a groan and looks at Aya while brushing herself off ?Oww, that sucked. I passed by Koishi and she said ?hi? her way. Thanks for being there to catch me.?

?What are you doing flying around the Human Village anyway? You usually avoid it like the plague,? Aya states.

?Oh, I came to see you, Aya! I was just setting out my laundry and I noticed something shiny sitting in a rocky outcrop, and I thought you might find it newsworthy,? Momiji replies with a grin, producing the Faith Jewel she had been carrying with her ?been a while since we?ve seen one of these!?

?WHOA, a Faith Jewel?! No way!? the reporter exclaims, wide-eyed ?And you just found it near your house?! Oh man, oh man.?

?Yeah, pretty much, Aya,? the wolf tengu says with a nod ?Considering these contain unlimited power, they?re always quite a find. ?Um. Can we talk about it in a better location? Let?s just head back to my house. You know where it is, right??

?Yeah, right northeast of the Scarlet Devil Mansion and halfway up the mountain. See you there!?

Aya zips off before Momiji can say anything. She sighs, shakes her head and flies back towards her house. Oddly, she gets there first, Aya winds up taking a whole bunch of photographs and sees a couple easy scoops as well. The two tengu wave at each other. Before they can speak further, a familiar female laugh interrupts them ?Tee hee hee! If it isn?t Aya and Momiji!?

Aya smirks, looking up at Nitori, who is currently hovering nearby in her cucumber-shaped pod and sipping a can of cucumber-flavored soda. She is quick to get the snark flying ?Hey, look, it?s a giant talking cucumber.?

?Shush! Yes, it is I, the great Nitori Kawashiro, greatest machinist in all of Gensokyo!?

?Uh huh, what ever you say, Lady Kappa.?

?Enough out of you, Shameimaru!? the kappa is quick to respond ?I?ve got big, biiig plans coming, and I?m going to put them into motion immediately!?

?More of your mischief?? Momiji manages to get in, she can?t have Aya do all of the talking ?What?re you up to this time??

?Ohh, I just want the Faith Jewels, starting with the one you have on you, hehe! I would give it up and  stay out of this, or else!?

??Or else? what, you loon?? Aya asks, still smirking. Nitori responds by flying off for a moment and coming back with some new attachments on her cucumber pod.

?Or else? I?ll take it by force. Y?know, the hard way!!!?

With a loud burst of its new engines, Nitori?s contraption blasts towards the two tengu girls. Easy to dodge for Aya, though Momiji finds herself  painfully launched several feet as the ship slams into her. Growling and barking, she brandishes her sword and shield and takes a defensive fighting stance as Nitori comes back around, hexagrams bursting to life at the front of the engines and fire a complex wave of danmaku towards them both. The spaces between each bullet aren?t too hard to dodge or block with a shield, or magi-photograph away.

?All systems, full power!? the kappa announces after the spell ends, drills popping out of the fronts of the engines as the whole ship glows before rocketing down towards Aya and Momiji. They dodge, and Nitori finds herself lodged in the ground. She growls and curses, trying to pull out of the ground. Her opponents help her out by attacking her contraption in full force and send her backwards a bit. She prepares to fire again, but the components twitch and spark for a moment and then pop off ?Agh! Damn it! Piece of junk!?

?Easy peasy,? Aya says, crossing her arms in a victorious pose ?I?ll play with you some other time!?

Momiji goes over to Aya, pulling out the Faith Jewel to show the reporter it?s fine. That turns out to be a huge mistake as Nitori cheers gleefully, mechanical arm shooting out of her ship and yanks the jewel from the wolf tengu?s grip.

?Oh, crud!? the heroines exclaim as our antagonist looks the shining gem over, looking at her multiple reflections.

?Now then, my tengu friends, it?s time for you to meet my new friend! Su wa ko~!? Nitori chirps, snapping her fingers. There?s a light thump as a small figure lands beside her ship in a froglike pose. Blonde, purple dress with frogs over a white shirt with long sleeves? Aya recognized her immediately.

?Suwako?! That?s the loli I ran into last night!?

??Loli??!? Momiji exclaims,  glaring at Aya ?Seriously, Aya, do you have to call every really youthful-looking person that?! It makes you look like a skeez!?

?Hey, I can use whatever terminology I want, Momi! Seriously, I don?t mean anything perverted about it. Yeah, sure, it does have connotations, but that?s not the point!?

While the tengu argue about the use of that word, Nitori sighs and tosses Suwako the Faith Jewel, which she catches in her hands. It takes on a bright glow, which seeps into her body and then vanishes, the jewel and its faith absorbed into her body. She, too, glows for a moment, her body gaining just the littlest bit of curvature ?Hehehe! It?s just as the scrolls predicted! Her body ages just a little bit each time she absorbs a Faith Jewel!. With all seven, she will be invincible and work for me. Together, we?ll relocate the Human Village, and where it once lay, I shall create Nitori Land, the ultimate city, where I will rule it all! C?mon, Suwako, let?s leave our tengu friends to their own devices and go gather more of those jewels!?

?As you wish, Lady Kawashiro,? the goddess replies. Before the two leave, however, she turns to Aya ?You?re quite interesting, Aya Shameimaru. I hope to meet you again sometime along the road, perhaps when my abilities are stronger. I await our next confrontation.?

She hops onto the back of the cucumber pod and Nitori uses a flashbomb to hide their escape, leaving Aya and Momiji to muse upon what had just happened. Finally, the wolf tengu speaks up ?Aya, we can?t let her get away with this.?

?No, we can?t.?

?If they didn?t get their hands on any more of the Faith Jewels, then Suwako can?t transform and become too powerful to stop. It?s up to us to get the Faith Jewels before Kappa does, yes??
« Last Edit: April 07, 2012, 04:58:38 AM by The ⑨th Bartzentillion »
Did you bring a light?
...No...


Smash the Fash; The far right belongs in the TRASH.

Re: Weekly Writing Challenge! - Crossover Central
« Reply #932 on: April 07, 2012, 01:29:04 PM »
Out of curiosity, and so I know how  much I need to buckle down, when's the deadline?

Iced Fairy

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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge! - Crossover Central
« Reply #933 on: April 07, 2012, 06:34:06 PM »
Out of curiosity, and so I know how  much I need to buckle down, when's the deadline?
Tomorrow at midnight Pacific Standard Time.  Though I admit I'm going to be dead tired so it's very likely I won't official deadline until I wake.  However don't put your trust in this.

Re: Weekly Writing Challenge! - Crossover Central
« Reply #934 on: April 08, 2012, 03:00:24 AM »
(I used Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations for my crossover.  If this is thought well of, it'll be added to Mise en Place as an omake.)

***

Gensokyo, land of fantasy and illusion.  Walking through its fields, one could easily be forgiven for thinking it lived as a relic of the 19th Century.  In its towns, however, the 21st Century struggles to emerge, like a chick from an egg.  In turns cosmopolitan and provincial, its humans, animals, fairies, and youkai live in a melting pot easily disturbed by the whims of the powerful and bored.  In short, Gensokyo's a land of paradox, it's my hometown, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

***

I'm Koishi Komeji.  I write, I eat, I travel, and I'm hungry for more.

Koishi Komeji: No Reservations.

***

Historically, the first stop for any visitor to Gensokyo was the Human Village, if only for safety.  It wasn't all that long ago that newcomers were considered fair game for the countless highwaymen, hucksters, and hungry youkai that prowled the land.  Once they reached the Village, a newcomer would then have the same protections as a local and could walk around safely.

Now, any person can freely travel all throughout Gensokyo without fear.  Yet you should still go to the Human Village right away, if only to see the changes a vibrant economic boom can make to a small town.  Be prepared to walk, though.  There are no buses in Gensokyo, and it's best that way.  Who would want to miss the natural splendor of the countryside?  But if fields, mountains, and forests aren't your thing, you can hire a cat cart.  It  isn't that much faster, but your cart driver can fill you in on the local gossip and folklore on the way.


***

“This all changed a few years ago,” Rin Kaenbyou called out over her shoulder as she pulled a small wooden rickshaw.  As the kasha ran, Koishi sat on the cart's bench, one hand holding her wide-brimmed hat on her head.  The feline driver showed no sign of fatigue as they passed a rice paddy.  “After the Hakurei Priestess created the spell card rules.  That leveled the playing field between the strong and weak.  Now a child can walk from one end of Gensokyo to the other without worry.”  Rin winked at Koishi.  “I know I wouldn't have been able to do this in the old days.”  She sprinted faster.

“Certainly, not everyone follows the spell card rules,” Koishi said, wincing as the cart bounced over a rock.

The cat youkai laughed.  “Those that don't find Reimu waiting for them.  That Hakurei Priestess shows them just as much mercy as they showed others.”

The young satori traveler cringed.  “So, none then.”

Rin laughed and said, “Good riddance, I say.  Between her rules and the new kappa inventions, life's a lot better now.”

“Is there anything you miss from the old days?”

“Some of the food carts.  You can't find good cheap lampreys anymore.  Progress, I guess,” Rin said, licking her lips.  “Oh, and Koishi?  Please don't forget to see Satori.  She misses you something fierce.”

“Thanks,” Koishi said, shrinking into her chair.

***

After she shared a recommendation for an authentic Chireidein barbeque restaurant, I reassured Rin that I'd check in with my sister.  I then set out throughout the Human Village to find what Rin could not; cheap lamprey from a food cart. 

Tucked away throughout parts of Europe and Southeast Asia, you can find small food carts and stalls.  Often run by one family for generations and focusing on one specialty, you can tell the best of these from the long lines of locals waiting their turn for the food.  Like Rin, I could remember a time where Gensokyo was filled with these mom and pop shops, many times ran by farmers trying to eek a little more cash from their harvests and slaughters.  These thrifty souls lived the ancient challenge of the poor cook; making the leftover and the inedible edible.  In the process, more often than not, they made tasty food that would be the envy of any large city chef.

Yet the noble food cart proved to be just as frustrating to find as trying to catch a glimpse of a kirin in Gensokyo.  Fields where food carts once converged now lay empty, or worse, are paved over with the newest TGI McFunster's abomination imported from greater Japan.  After growing frustrated and hungry during my two hour search down the Village's now bustling streets, I began to despair.  The food cart used to be part of the Human Village's soul.  What does it profit a town, to gain so much, yet lose its soul? 

If I couldn't find the lamprey stand, I'd at least try to find the cook.  A tip from a friendly hell raven sent me here, to the hottest new restaurant in the Village, the Maya Noodle Bar. Instead of common Japanese fare, though, Maya serves a strange mix of the familiar and the foreign, providing its customers with Spanish tapas side by side with more traditional seafood and rice.  Despite the name, noodles aren't featured here, save for a Cajun riff on Chinese noodles.


***

“The old cooks are still here,” Maya's head chef, Mystia Lorelei, said, sliding a plate filled with grilled lampreys and fried potatoes bravas toward Koishi.  “But you'll now find them in restaurants like this instead of the streets.”

“Why did you leave your cart?” Koishi said, between bites.  The two sat out in the Noodle Bar's patio.

Mystia shrugged as she waved down a green-haired waitress with a snake ornament in her hair.  “For the challenge, really.  Before I came here, I cooked only lampreys and rice.  Now I have much more to play with.  Ocean fishes, new vegetables, marrow, and more.  But I wouldn't have been hired if not for my food cart.”

“Cooks are at a premium, then.”

“With all the money coming in, everyone wants the sophistication of the megacities, especially with food.  So any smart would-be restauranteur is going to look for a chef that can not only cook well, but can turn out a lot of dishes in a short time,” Mystia said, taking a small plate filled with clear cubes covered in fruit from her waitress.  “So all the cooks pushing little carts and struggling to get by suddenly have big money offers because the owners know they can get the job done.”

Koishi took a cube and slipped it in her mouth.  Her eyes widened as she chewed.  “What did I just eat?”

Mystia laughed.  “Tuna marrow with apricot caviar.  You should have seen our waitress's face when she first tried it.  You'd have thought she had just been kissed.”  With a clatter of plates against the floor, the red-faced waitress ran inside the kitchen.

“I can see why,” Koishi said, dabbing a napkin at the corner of her mouth.  “Don't you miss your old stand?”

Mystia pointed to a polished wooden cart at the edge of the patio.  “Not really.  I made it part of the restaurant, both physically and in the menu as well.  Most of my cooks wouldn't have gotten a job in anything other than a cart, so we take care to remember our roots.”

“Yet your menu is anything but traditional,” the food critic pointed out, sipping from a glass of water.

“I forgot who said it, but food's the new rock and roll,” the chef said.  Behind her, rabbit ears poked out from the bushes near the food cart.  “People are fierce champions of restaurants, just like bands and music.  The Noodle Bar gives them something different from everything else in the Village.  People either like us or hate us, but no one confuses us with any one else.”

“So, you're not worried about competition?” Koishi said, watching as a team of rabbit youkai converged on Mystia's cart, taking up positions at the front and rear.

“Not at all.  We're-” the songbird chef said.  Wood creaked and protested as the rabbits pulled the cart away from the patio. One dark haired rabbit stopped and showered the restaurant in flyers.  “”Get back here!” Mystia shrieked, dashing after her rapidly retreating cart.

Koishi finished off her plate as she read one of the flyers that floated her way  “The Bamboo Child.  She's right, food is fiercely partisan.”

***

After the break, we'll see a spell card battle, and, yes, Rin, I'll finally catch up with my sister, Satori...
« Last Edit: April 08, 2012, 04:49:38 PM by Achariyth »

Esifex

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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge! - Crossover Central
« Reply #935 on: April 08, 2012, 07:58:17 AM »
Marisa Dresden


My name is Marisa Kirisame. Conjure by it at your own risk.

For a long time running, I'd been Gensokyo's only openly practicing Magician. A few newcomers to the block have forced me to change that slightly; now, I'm Gensokyo's only openly practicing human Magician. While you can usually bet dollars to donuts that some of the nasties from the supernatural side of Gensokyo - the Nevernever - are blatantly hostile, there are in fact quite a few benevolent preternaturals.

Take Kedama the Plushy, for example. An inherited spirit of intellect, previously held by my former instructor in the ways of magic - The Greatest Magician, Mima. I inherited the spirit after Mima's untimely passing, brought on by a severe case of underestimating her star pupil and subsequent flash incineration. It's a real nasty bug, but thankfully, it's pretty rare.

Kedama, however, could be a bit of a smartass, sometimes, and had this obscene fascination with sappy doujins and fanfics. While he is an embodiment of vast cosmic knowledge, having to pay him in steamy fanfiction starring some of the very people I know could be a bit unsettling, and sometimes he refused to help me until I provided what he wanted or released him from his fuzzball plushy shelter to go find his own entertainment.

"I'm just saying, it'd be absolutely horrendous if this potion ended up making your target, like, completely immune to magic and, say, a dozen times faster and stronger, instead of blowing them up. I might need something to help me remember the proper recipe."

I sighed and resisted the urge to smash the fuzzball with a heavy grimoire. "And exactly how is smutty Yumemi-and-Shikieiki fanfiction supposed to help you remember?"

The plushy bobbed up and down on the tabletop. "Easy! Yumemi is a scientist, so she's always doing alchemical stuff, and Shikieiki is a judge. She's talented at balancing scales, so that way I can get the dosage right."

I stared long and hard at the plushy. Being a plushy, it wasn't exactly able to return my contemptuous sneer, but the glowing eyelights that marked Kedama's presence twinkled mischievously. The plushy continued its fool's grin at me.

"One of these days, I'm going to learn the recipes and manage to remember them myself. No matter if the will and effort spells being dumped into them makes them hard to retain; hell, I could render you obsolete with a pen and paper."

The plushy nodded. "And until then, I'm gonna milk you for all the slashfics and lemons I can, and in the meantime, provide you with excellent advice on putting down youkai and crafting new spells. So, since that day is evidently not here yet, do we have a deal?"

I sighed again, and this time, gave in to the urge to smush the plushy a little with a nearby grimoire. "Fine, fine, I'll see what I can dig up."

"Y'know, boss, it might be easier if you let me out to find it, myself. I have a talent, you know."

And it'd give me some free time, since Kedama obviously wasn't going to help me until I got him his smut. "Fine, you can leave your confines for the sole purpose of finding your new blight upon paper, and then returning immediately after you've acquired it. I'm going out, too. When I get back, you're going to help me with this next batch of bomb potions. Got it?"

"Of course, of course! Have fun!" With that, the glowing eyelights faded, and a sparkling cloud of candle flame-colored light drifted out of the Kedama plushy and zipped out through the window.

At least spirits of intellect don't have mass, or the ability to shatter windows on their way through. Because they also lack the capacity to open them.



Short on hard spending money, but easy on time, I decided to head to Mystia's Pub. Located on the outskirts of the hustle and bustle of the Human Village, Mystia's was a quaint little place that perfectly lived up to the definition of 'pub'. An old-fashioned wood grill, perfectly set up for cooking anything your heart could desire - and after trying just one, your heart usually desired more of Mystia's phenomenal lamprey - with flasks and flasks of Mystia's very own brand of sake. Rumor had it that she'd learned some techniques for distilling the rice liquor from the oni, but neither Mystia nor the oni would confirm or deny them. A bit of Mystia's warm sake next to a tray of her gourmet lamprey could turn any day for a brooding Magician into something more tolerable.

Like days spent dealing with fussy spirits.

I descended into Mystia's, ducking my head as I came through the door so as not to knock my hat off on the lazily spinning ceiling fan. Mystia had decorated the place with thirteen erratically placed wooden pillars, each decorated with hand-carved scenes espousing the tales and adventures of the local shrine maiden. My personal favorite was the one featuring the flying saucers; I had a hand in a lot of the incidents portrayed on those pillars, but the saucers were just way too much fun to chase after. There's a small cameo of yours truly on that pillar, though it's not in great detail and you have to actually look to find it.

In the corner, two Goddesses, in warm autumn colors, sat at a table playing shogi. Nearly every time I came in here, they were at it. Nearer to the door, two more Goddesses sat with a bottle of Mystia's Sake between them, lazily whiling away the time. Mortal concerns clearly did not concern them, unless curses or war were involved. I tipped my hat towards them; they were the deities backing another local shrine maiden, and I didn't like to be on their bad side. It was hard enough dealing with Reimu, who was in charge of the supernatural side of youkai extermination - getting the spiritual side of investigation angry at me has more often than not left me with obstacles instead of allies.

See? I step into a tavern, and already there are four Goddesses. That's why the distinction about being the only openly practicing human Magician is so important. You've really gotta stick to your guns when you've got talent like that swinging around over your head.

Mystia herself stood at behind the counter, idly staring off into space and wiping the bartop with a cloth white enough to be called bridal. I waved lazily in greeting, and she grunted back without bothering to even focus her eyes.

"Hey. Bottle of sake and a skewer of lamprey, if you'd be so kind." I reached into a pocket and drew out a pair of coins, and set them rolling across the counter towards her. She absently whipped the cloth over them, and they disappeared. Finally seeming to take note of me, she nodded at me and turned towards the grill. "You were followed," she mumbled. Mystia doesn't usually talk to me, as such. Not since a little misunderstanding several many nights past. She takes my coin, serves me food, but tends to try to stay detached from any of my business now.

I sat down at the bar and listened carefully. Sure enough, I heard the dull clicking noise of wooden slats on wooden floors working its way through the room. Based on Mystia's insistence that said person was following yours truly, and the wooden slats, I took a fairly confident shot in the dark.

"Mrs. Shameimaru, pleased to have you join us. Have a seat, I'll treat you to some sake while refusing to feed your gossip mill."

The footsteps halted for a second. Even though Aya Shameimaru had just as much of an investigative mind as I do, even she fell prey to the same trap most normal humans do when they're dealing with me. They attribute my apparent omnipotent knowledge to something arcane; I 'magically' knew it was Aya approaching me. No, it wasn't because I knew she wears geta and walks with a long, confident stride and I could hear her footsteps across the wooden floor.

"Hmm. Guess I'll have to stop wearing so much perfume if you're able to smell me coming like that."

Hmm. Close, Aya. Maybe she doesn't necessarily attribute everything I do to magic.

"Whatever tickles your fancy. So, what's new? Some faerie uprising you want me to quash? The latest details on the forbidden romance between a ghost and her executioner? Werewolves on the lam?"

"Actually, I'm here as a favor."

My stomach dropped. Aya wouldn't consider doing someone a favour unless she was being paid in riches, gossip, or knew she was getting back more than she was putting in. Sometimes all three. That I was involved could only be bad news. She'd been wanting to get as much information as she could about my hakkero and broom enchantments, find a way to reverse engineer it so the average human could make use of them. Whatever she got out of this favor was likely aimed at getting under my skin.

"Hakurei wanted me to fetch you and bring you down to the shrine."

I blew out a breath. "Stars and sparks, it's my day off. What does Haku want with me?"

Aya snorted. "You're self-employed. It's always your day off until the bills start piling up. She didn't tell me much, just that something involving the Puppeteer had popped up and that she'd tell me the next step in disarming the wards into your house if I came and fetched you."

Hell's bells. Now I had to add another layer of wards - that'd bring it up to roughly eighteen different spells barring entry to the house.

"Ugh. You don't get any sake, then, if you're here on business. It's bad form for you to drink on the job."

"How about I foot the bill for your lunch there, since you're about to go and see the shrine maiden. You don't want to show up completely sauced, do you? I'll just take the bottle of sake from you. I'm done working in an official capacity now, I can drink however I want to."

"You weave words into unbreakable spells. You bind my actions and strip away my free will. You are a fiend and a scourge upon Gensokyo. Enjoy the sake, I'll take the lamprey to the shrine."

Aya grinned at me as I rose from the bar.

So much for time off, and spending the day relaxing with some alchemy. Something had come up with Alice, and Hakurei wanted my expert opinion on the matter?

Well, why not. Marisa Kirisame - Human Magician, and Incident Investigator - is on the job.



This was rolling around my head for a while~
I might continue it once I get a proper working computer~
« Last Edit: April 08, 2012, 09:57:55 AM by Esifex »

Iced Fairy

  • So like if you try to hurt alkaza
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  • I will set you on fire k'?
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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge! - Crossover Central
« Reply #936 on: April 09, 2012, 02:47:24 PM »
Hammer.

A thanks to our entrants.  Judging may take a little longer then normal (until tomorrow say).

Iced Fairy

  • So like if you try to hurt alkaza
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  • I will set you on fire k'?
    • Daisukima Dan Blog
Re: Weekly Writing Challenge! - Crossover Central
« Reply #937 on: April 11, 2012, 09:02:38 PM »
Judgement

It took a little longer then normal for various reasons.  Not the least of which was my back up judge swung the other way then I did and I had to get a tie breaker.

capth : You got in before the original deadline, but your formatting and story were a little rushed.  Remember you can edit up until the deadline, and in this case I think it would have served you well.

Zent: Not bad at all for a first attempt.  You followed the pattern of the story well, though your writing slowed a little much in a few places.

Esifex: Your little story was funny and flowed nicely.  It also referenced it's source material well enough such that I knew what you were referencing despite having never read it myself.  However it seemed just a little unfinished where it stopped off.  It's a tiny little nitpick, but that was all that separated you from the winner.

Congratulations, Achariyth.  I didn't have a clue what you were referencing but the tone and pacing immediately told me it was a cooking show.  You're also the first person to successfully bring in one of their other works to the WWC, telling a self contained story within the boundaries of the contest.  Enjoy your Wordsmith, you earned it.

And you'll get to keep it a little longer.  I'm breaking for a bit, though I have some ideas for the next contest.  I need a build a machine that gets you people to write more then an hour before deadline first though.

Dead Princess Sakana

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  • E is for Elodie, who swims with the fishes.
Re: Weekly Writing Challenge! - Crossover Central
« Reply #938 on: April 11, 2012, 09:10:25 PM »
Hohoh. Congrats, Achariyth, that was a pretty excellent entry there.

Esifex

  • Though the sun may set
  • *
  • It shall rise again
Re: Weekly Writing Challenge! - Crossover Central
« Reply #939 on: April 11, 2012, 09:13:30 PM »
I think I'll just pull the story to my short story thread~ I was a little sleep deprived when I wrote that, and yeah, I definitely kind of left it hanging, but I wanted to write it because it was floating around in my head for a while. Wheeee~


Yaaaay Achariyth! You have a tricky name to type out but congrats! Excellent work for a first(?) entry!

Bardiche

  • Mafia: Worst Game Ever
Re: Weekly Writing Challenge! - Crossover Central
« Reply #940 on: April 11, 2012, 10:04:04 PM »
Quote
I'm breaking for a bit, though I have some ideas for the next contest.  I need a build a machine that gets you people to write more then an hour before deadline first though.

:V I'd enter if it wasn't just "Touhou stories only"!

日巫子

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    • Hydrangeamaiden
Re: Weekly Writing Challenge! - Crossover Central
« Reply #941 on: April 11, 2012, 11:06:44 PM »
Congratulations, Achariyth.  I didn't have a clue what you were referencing but the tone and pacing immediately told me it was a cooking show.  You're also the first person to successfully bring in one of their other works to the WWC, telling a self contained story within the boundaries of the contest.  Enjoy your Wordsmith, you earned it.

The show being referenced was No Reservations; it is about cooking and food, but it's also about traveling around and seeing the cuisines that the cultures of different countries have to offer.  Considering Koishi seems to be somewhat of a traveler, this crossover was very fitting for her.

As a side note, when I read the first sentence of Achariyth's piece I actually wondered for a second whether I should be reading this in Andrew Zimmern's voice or Andrew Bourdain's voice, hahaha.  Achariyth captured the tone of the dialogue from those kinds of shows quite well.

☆ Check my profile for links to my sites! ☆
[21:12] <OneLoveOnePurvis> *Black as hell and bitter as love. That is coffee.*
[17:42] <Amra> Himiko's one of the people that's really cute but sometimes art shifts into like hard jojo-style
[17:42] <Amra> as she does something out of character

Iced Fairy

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  • I will set you on fire k'?
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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge! - Touhou: Origins
« Reply #942 on: April 17, 2012, 04:20:33 AM »
Alright, my life is a little... Okay my life isn't stable at all, but I don't have to write things.  You do.  Thus I'm summoning up the contest thread from the depths.  This time we're going to move a bit into the past.  This week's challenge is:

Origin Stories.

Everyone has a past.  For many people their pasts are dull and uninteresting.  For others, it was be a long and winding road to the place they now live.  This contest focuses on those stories.  How did a cat and a crow become friends before they met their Satori mistress.  Why is Youmu's position head gardener?  How do you build a hyper-dimensional vessel without knowing any magic?  None of these, but hopefully more will be answered by your words!

You have two weeks to create some history.  The due date is the 30th.  Good luck.

Screw it.  I'm gonna force write.

Bonus Challenge
Since people aren't setting up alters to me in the library commons I obviously require more of my own writings as well.  Thus I'm betting my own wordsmith (see the badge that still doesn't work right) as a Bonus Challenge.  In addition to the normal winner, if any runner up's story is better then mine they too get a Wordsmith.  There's a lot of ground to play with here, so I wanna see lots of entries!
« Last Edit: April 17, 2012, 04:30:17 AM by Iced Fairy »

...fffffffffffdammit this is the perfect contest for me. Right before I start finals too-

....

*glances at the calendar*

*glances at his finals schedule*

...

...CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

Spoiler:
oh god why am I doing this I'm going to die I'm going to die
All lies and all sin, all dreams and all majesty, Everything rots in this ruined hell

[The Perfect, Elegant Maid] [Pathos of the Hated People] [Music, Projects, and Art]

Tengukami

  • Breaking news. Any season.
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I'm in, adding the additional challenge to click Random Page on the Touhou wiki until landing on a character.

AH GOD WHAT. Holy crap why. Alright, need a secondary ...

Ehh ... wow. OK, I think something could gel there. Now a third to round it out ...

OK! This is more like it.

Also, holy crap there are a lot of lyrics pages on the wiki.

"Human history and growth are both linked closely to strife. Without conflict, humanity would have no impetus for growth. When humans are satisfied with their present condition, they may as well give up on life."

The ⑨th Zentillion

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Origin stories, huh. Sounds hella fun. I'll see what I can do!

...Hopefully. :V
Did you bring a light?
...No...


Smash the Fash; The far right belongs in the TRASH.

theshirn

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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge! - Crossover Central
« Reply #946 on: April 17, 2012, 04:52:45 PM »
Marisa Dresden
:slowclap:

That was brilliantly well executed.  Props.  Perhaps I'll scribble something up for this week's, it's been a damn long time...

[09:46] <theshim|work> there is nothing like working for a real estate company to make one contemplate arson

Esifex

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  • It shall rise again
Re: Weekly Writing Challenge! - Crossover Central
« Reply #947 on: April 17, 2012, 07:11:09 PM »
:slowclap:

That was brilliantly well executed.  Props.  Perhaps I'll scribble something up for this week's, it's been a damn long time...

And I hammered it together while sleep-dep'd and in one sitting, too~

Ryuunotaki

  • Rollin' fluffball.
  • Am I sane, or insane? That is the question.
________________________________________
Black Maiden
Yuyuko Backstory [Contains OCs]
________________________________________
[662 CE]
Two weary travellers see in the distance a young, beautiful sakura. One is an enchantingly beautiful sixteen-year-old woman with golden hair, wearing a white silken dress and nine months pregnant. Beside her is her Husband, young chap two years older than the lady. They have been travelling for over a year, looking for a good, peaceful land to raise their family in for the first half of their journey and going homebound on the second half.

The two are orphans, their families wiped out when a particularly warlike kingdom invaded their own. They met during their escape and, wounded by their tragedies, they found solace in each other. They slowly fell for each other and then, nine months back, made love under the very same tree that delight their eyes. It is in full bloom, the same as it was back then.

On the homeward road, is it really just coincidence that the very same tree where their child was conceived is to be the three where it is to be born?

The young man helps his young wife sit on the ground, leaning her back on the bark. The young man is thirsty and he knows his wife is too. Putting his love’s needs before his, he gives her his gourd. The lady smiles sweetly. However, just as she touches the gourd, a sharp wave of pain rocks her entire lower body, slowly spreading throughout her body.

The container breaks, wasting the precious drink. However, the lad pays it no mind and delicately lays her wife down on her ground. He gently takes off the dress and lower underwear to prevent any obstructions in the birth process and as the lady starts panting and groaning, he sets his eyes on his young wife’s lower hole as it slowly opens up. His eyes widen, his blood boiling, heartbeat and breathing speeding up with every passing second. NOt in perversion but in uncontrollable anticipation and anxiety.

The wife screams one last time, much louder than any she has let out yet. A moment later, the crying of her child takes over and blood stains the ground. The sakura’s blossoms suddenly turn red and start raining on the lad, his wife and new baby.
The young chap clenches his teeth, claws the ground and starts shaking. After a few seconds, he throws his head back and lets out a very anguished cry. “KUROMI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

[677 CE]
Ten years later, a mansion is erected around the enchantingly beautiful tree, which has grown to gigantic proportions and gained a name for itself as Japan’s most beautiful blossom. The mansion is named Hakugyokurou and the Sakura, now named the Saigyou Ayakashi, is in the large, spacious garden.

In the view of the grand tree, a woman lies on the ground, surrounded by two midwives. Yes, midwives. Just like the woman ten years ago, she is also giving birth near the sakura and, unlike the one before her, her childbirth goes well and the mother smiles gently at her child. “It’s a girl”, the midwife holding the newborn says. “Mine hlafdige, hvat sceal been thy duchteres nama?” [My lady, what shall be thy daughter’s name?]*

Caressing her child’s head lovingly, she weakly says “Yuyu...ko. Yuyuko her nama sceal been ” [Yuyu...ko. Her name shall be Yuyuko.]
Right after, the mother falls unconscious, exhausted by her delivery.
Fifteen years later...

[692 CE]
“Lady Yuyuko!” calls out a servant of the Saigyouji household, running after her young mistress with her eyebrows raised in worry. “Stay away from that tree!”*

Under the sakura, a young maiden stands, melancholic eyes set on the fluttering pink blossoms. Hearing the call, she turns around and frowns at the servant. This is Saigyouji Yuyuko.

She wears a white kimono with a matching obi. Her hair a silky black waterfall of black beauty and her eyes are like brown sapphires, clear and glowing with the sparkle of life.

“What now?” Yuyuko asks with distain staining her lovely musical voice. Ever since her father died under the shade of the tree, people have been stopping her from going near it, not even to pay respects to her father’s soul. People from all over the land come to visit the tree and sleep at its roots though. They never wake up... but her father... he was already old.

The tree’s deadly attraction supposedly started when her grandfather, the great poet Saigyou decided to die under the fluttering blossoms.

Recalling the story, Yuyuko could not help but feel disdain for her grandfather. Why must her grandfather do such a thing? It’s turned the tree evil! ...still, she can’t blame her grandfather. He did not know the outcome, didn’t he?

The servant approaches her young mistress and kowtows. She is over thirty years older than Yuyuko, but she’s a servant and servants always kowtow to their masters. “Lady Yuyuko. I beg you. Your mother instructed me not to let you near the tree!”

“Oh~ Spoilsport!” Yuyuko groans as she fans herself. “Very well, go on ahead. I will follow shortly.”

The servant gets off the ground and, after a polite bow, turns around and walks back to the mansion. Yuyuko is about to follow. However, she hears someone call her. “Hey!”

Yuyuko turns around, but there is nothing behind her save the Saigyou Ayakashi. She tilts her head to the side, confused. “Someone there?” she asks, uncertain.

“H-hey!” says that someone again, voice soft and hushed. “Over here!”

Following the voice, she narrows her eyes and trails to the left of the tree. She sees a pretty young face hiding behind the tree, with hair of gold dotted here and there with pink strands and maroon eyes.

Yuyuko walks around the tree until she’s on the same side as the girl. From what she can see, she’s more or less her age, wearing a sky-blue kimono with white frills and a pink flower design. A dark-blue obi, two swords clipped onto the obi and, on her hands, a mob-cap matching her kimono in colour.

“Who are you?” Yuyuko asks. She’s curious... so far, she’s the only one who somehow does not feel drowsy staying near the Saigyou Ayakashi for more than one minute. This person in front of her is somehow immune to the effects as well: She’s touching the tree and while it takes one minute for the tree’s hypnosis by being NEAR it, touching it makes the hypnosis almost instantaneous.

The young girl politely bows to the young mistress. “I am Hayajini no Junreiuta, daughter of Kuromi. May I ask for yours?”

“I am Saigyouji Yuyuko.” The young mistress replies with a neutral tone. “Why did you call for me and why did you not fall asleep?”

“I don’t know myself,” replies Junrei. “I just saw you standing there and not falling asleep... so I thought that I may have somebody to talk to.”

Yuyuko approaches Junrei. However, the strange lassie backs up, horrified. “D-don’t come near me! Y-you’ll get cursed and die! You’ll become an onryou!”

“What are you talking about?” asks Yuyuko as she holds Junrei’s right hand with her left. In return, the human stiffens, shuts her eyes and lets out a cute gasp, absolutely sure that something bad is about to happen to young mistress.

However, the sound of the lifeless body falling to the ground does not occur and Yuyuko’s hand is still holding her own. Slowly, Junrei opens her eyes to the young mistress’ sweet, heavenly smile.

“Y-you’re not dead?” stutters Junrei, a look of combined disbelief and happiness on her face. Yuyuko did not die, and that is a great relief as far as she is concerned.  How she managed to survive it is beyond her, but Yuyuko is safe and that means she has a friend she can truly interact with!

“Yes I am”, Says Yuyuko. “Let’s be friends!”

Overjoyed, Junrei falls on her knees, her eyes in tears as she raises her face and looks up at Yuyuko, clutching the young mistress’ hand between her own. “Thank You!”, she gushes.

However, their friendly time together just had to be broken. “Lady Yuyuko!” calls the servant. She had noticed that Yuyuko failed to follow her as promised and decided to remind her young mistress just in case—who wants to be scolded for failing orders? Well, there’s Tenshi, but…!

“Coming!” Replies Yuyuko. A bother, really, to be interrupted all of a sudden… but then it gives her an idea. “Hey, want to co- ehh?“
She tries to invite her new friend but, as soon as her eyes rest on where Junrei was a second ago, alas! The stranger was gone!

“Lady Yuyuko!”

Yuyuko does not seem to hear her servant, her mind working on the strange person’s sudden, stealthy disappearance and, for some reason, though she can no longer see her, she somehow feels that Junrei is still here. In fact, it feels like Junrei has been here all along…
‘Weird’, that’s all she can use to describe the current situation.

“Lady Yuyuko! Come back here or I will tell your mother about this!”

...!

Speaking of her mother, Yuyuko remembers something- an important guest is supposed to visit their mansion this evening! As for whom this guest may be… the young mistress has absolutely no idea.

And speaking of guests, she needs to dress properly in the name of honour… and this simple white kimono won’t do!

“Coming!” she says, and this time, she heads to the mansion immediately, shooting past the servant and rushing straight to the bath.
An hour later, Saigyouji Yuyuko emerges from her room, all primed up for the visitor.  Her silky black hair is tied into a bun and held in place by two golden pins, Her face decorated with light makeup and on her body is an elegant blue kimono with expensive silver and gold inlays, all to appear respectable and presentable enough for the guest.

A servant walks up to her, bows, and leads her to the dining room, where other servants have readied a myriad of mouth-watering and expensive delicacies, ranging from expertly-made ordinary dishes to more… exotic meals such as a strange soup which was apparently made from water buffalo blood, rib meat, bone marrows and wasabi.

The aromas somehow blend together perfectly into a perfect perfume that effectively excites Yuyuko’s appetite, none too harsh or undesirable. A myriad of scents born from the individual odours of meat, blood, fish, wasabi and many more cooked by the Saigyouji’s most prized cooks. If this does not exude “world-class”, then what will?

The dining room seems to be fixed up for the awaited guest not only in the food department, but also in the d?cor. Normally a large room, it now looks twenty-five percent smaller, some of the space being traded for simple, but well-placed artefacts that make it look more like a room that you reserve only for meetings with the emperor. The table is placed at the exact centre of the room and to the right, a sliding door is open, showing the Saigyou Ayakashi in full bloom and, in a corner, chamber musicians have settled into their designated positions and are testing their instruments, which are the Saigyouji’s best Kokyu, Koto, Shamisen, Biwa and Fue.

Yuyuko’s mother enters the room from the same door that Yuyuko went through. A moment later, a third door opens and her father enters with a beautiful woman beside her.

She has golden eyes and matching wavy hair tied into a bun, pinned by a golden ornament that is best described as a disc carved into a butterfly’s shape and form. She wears a purple kimono considerably more stylish than that of Yuyuko, with intricate designs woven in with gold and silver threads mixed with silk.

She looks absolutely stunning in Yuyuko’s eyes. Her face has to have the most perfect angles in a person she has seen yet, with no feature bringing ruin and all working together to create a perfect symphony for the eyes.

Yuyuko and her mother politely bow before their guest and motion for their guest to take her seat on the table, opposite of where Yuyuko was predetermined to sit and beside the young mistress’ mother’s.

Once the family and their belle of a guest have seated, the musicians start playing and a very soft, gentle and relaxing tune pours out into the world, filling the room and reaching the Saigyou Ayakashi, where on one of its branches, a young lady, hidden by the shadow, hums along with an eerie tone, her own voice filling the garden and blanketing it with an ominous air.

Back in the dining room, Yuyuko’s father motions an open palm to their visitor and promptly introduces her. “My beloved daughter and wife, this is Yakumo Yukari, the very person who gave us the resources to have this mansion built around the Saigyou Ayakashi, which she desired to be done. She also was the one to give us the wards to partially seal the tree of death, which was her bidding as well.”
Yuyuko and her mother exchange pleasantries and are introduced by the man of the house to the visitor.  When the formalities are done, Yuyuko’s father calls for the meal to commence and was obeyed right away when the three ladies chow on the repast with ladylike control.

After the meal, Yuyuko politely asks to leave and goes to the garden, standing before the glorious ever-blooming cherry blossom, enjoying a private moonlight hanami.

After a few minutes, a disconcerting humming slowly makes itself known to her ears, slowly fading in like a vocal ghost. For some reason, however, the young mistress does not feel the least bit frightened and instead, the normally spine-chilling sound calms her.
Behind her comes the gentle crunching of geta as someone casually approaches her.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” says a delicate female voice from behind the young mistress. “Beautiful, but deadly…”, she says as she gets beside Yuyuko, who turns her head to look at the person speaking, who does the same and looks at Yuyuko’s lovely face with a smile.

The lady turned out to be Yukari, who, after that brief pause, walks over to the Saigyou Ayakashi. Gracefully, she lifts a hand and Yuyuko, knowing what she is about to do, warns, “Lady Yukari! Don’t! It’s dangerous!”

Yukari does not seem to mind and places her left hand on the gnarled bark. Yuyuko’s eyes widen in surprise as the visitor trails her hand down the tree, which was supposed to be able to kill on touch.

Taking her hand off the bark, Yukari turns around and, smiling, stares at Yuyuko in the eye with interest. Meanwhile, the young mistress, staring into those eyes of gold, could swear that somehow, they glow faintly in a very inhuman light.

“I see you’re surprised that I did not die, Yuyuko-san. It’s because I am more than the average human or youkai you see around here. I am Yakumo Yukari, the great youkai of boundaries and no tree of death is about to kill me anytime soon.”

Yuyuko is still too stunned to speak and having Yukari introduce herself as a youkai did not help. The youkai of boundaries, seeing that Yuyuko is unable to respond, says “It’s interesting that you don’t die on touching this tree… but what I really came here for is that I want to check whether the seals are still working. You might be thinking that you are the reason, but sadly, no.”

Yukari walks back towards the mansion, laying a hand on Yuyuko for a moment as she passes the young mistress. “Anyway, I shall be going”, she says just before she leaves the garden.

Every month after that night, Yukari regularly visits, checking the youkai tree’s barrier and slowly befriending Yuyuko. By the fourth month, the two have become very close and Yukari starts coming more frequently, sometimes almost daily and for reasons other than inspecting or repairing the tree’s barrier.

But say… doesn’t the tree kill still?

Yukari explained to Yuyuko that the barrier prevents the tree from spreading its influence beyond the Saigyouji mansion and delays its effect by a considerable amount.

Junrei also frequently shows up, always near the tree. Strangely, she seems to disappear when someone other than Yuyuko or Yukari is in the garden and no member of the Saigyouji household ever seems to notice her entering and leaving.

However, Yuyuko always meets the two near the Saigyou Ayakashi and somehow, that triggers a gradual change in her being. Slowly, she develops strange powers parallel to that of the Saigyou Ayakashi and by the time a full year has passed, the people outside of the household that by chance touch her die within seven days with a contorted face and a heart attack.

Because of this, the Saigyouji start restraining Yuyuko and forbid her from ever leaving their dwelling, which is not so bad, Yuyuko reasons, trying to comfort herself. She still has Yukari and Junrei after all.

Still, she’s quite sad that she can no longer meet her old friends from the outside. She ponders about this as she stands underneath the tree that might have ruined her life.

“Hee~y! Yuyu-chan!” Junrei calls out enthusiastically, hanging by her left leg from one of the Saigyou Ayakashi’s lower branches. “Quit moping and cheer up!”

Yuyuko looks up with a smile for her enigmatic friend. However, that smile soon turns into a look of shock as Junrei’s leg slips. “U-uwaaah!”, she cries, frantically flapping her arms up and down in an effort to slow down her fall. Of course, she fails but thankfully, lands on the ground feet-first on a pile of blossoms that cushioned her fall.

Junrei shoots up from the pile a second later, laughing nervously and scratching the back of her head with her left hand as she waves at Yuyuko with her right. Yuyuko sighs, relieved that no harm was done.

The young mistress walks over and helps her friend up, saying “Gee, Junrei, please be more careful next time, will you?”

“Of course I will!” declares Junrei as she stretches her hand to the side and falls on her back. As soon as her back makes contact with the blossoms, she cheerfully waves her arms and legs up and down. “Look, Yuyuko! Sakura Angel~!”

Yuyuko blinks twice, thinking ‘how silly…’, then, all of a sudden, cracks up and imitates Junrei: It’s a good thing that the household doesn’t clean the Saigyou Ayakashi’s blossoms for fear of death. Otherwise, she’d have nothing to do right now.

“Saaaay, Yu-yu-ko-chaaan! Guess what?”, she asks in her trademark cheerful tone. “I’m going to be sacrificed to seal this tree forever and ever!”

Yuyuko, of course, stops her merrymaking and freezes as a myriad of emotions race inside her head. “Junrei? Being sacrificed? Why did she speak about it in such a cheerful manner?”

“Yuuup~ Yukari’s going to bind my soul to the Saigyou Ayakashi~ And you will no longer be able to cause death~ Yuyu-chan will be free~ And the price will be merely my breath~” Sings Junrei with a bittersweet smile on her face. One can hide feelings in their voice and manner, but never on their faces.

Sayu shoots up and shakes Junrei, her eyes wet with tears. “When!? Why!?”, she asks, her voice ridden with deep sadness.

Junrei’s smile and cheerfulness wither away and, with solemn eyes, she says “Tomorrow, when Yukari comes to check the border.”

Yuyuko lets go of Junrei and clutches the withered blossoms on the ground. The enigmatic human has been her companion for over a year and is as dear to her as Yukari and her family. She has comforted her and made her laugh more than just one time with her carefree and silly antics… and now, she’s going to offer herself as a sacrifice for her sake?

Sorrow takes over her entire being at the thought of losing one of only two very, very close friends, and her head fills with angry screaming.

No, literally, there is screaming. Outside the mansion, a mob has formed with the intention of raiding the Saigyouji mansion and killing Yuyuko, who they have dubbed a freak and a murderer, with not a few among them bloodthirsty and more than just willing to avenge the deaths of the people Yuyuko accidentally killed.

The gate in has been closed and is under assault. The servants, willing to defend their homes, fill gourds with flammable oil and sake, plug them with cloth and then toss them onto the other side of the gate, creating small explosions and burning a considerable number of the invaders. However, this enrages the mob even more and they ram the gate with increased fervour.

The Saigyouji’s guards, assisted by those staff of the Saigyouji that were once warriors do their own offensive as well, shooting poisoned arrows at the mob, which consists of nearly the entire town. In addition to that, they toss small cups full of rotten vermin corpses mixed with excrement as well in hopes that the vile smell will at least weaken the mob’s morale somewhat.

It does demoralise a few weak individuals, but eventually, the gate gives way and the mob storms in, cutting through the few Saigyouji guards that had their swords drawn and flooding into the mansion, killing each and every person –be it a lady or a gentleman- that they meet, even a few of the younger servants experiencing violent, rough, and excruciating rapes before their demise.

The murders were brutal, with not a few being literally twisted to death and others being slashed open by a sword being stabbed into their anuses. Still yet a few were thrown into a deadly bath of sewing needles, where the tiny bits of steel dig into their skin by the thousands, killing them either by bodily damage, blood loss, or from the unbearable pain.

Yuyuko’s parents have rushed to the garden in the meantime, ready to guard their daughter’s life with their own. Junrei has fled, climbing up the Saigyou Ayakashi with surprising agility. However, Yuyuko could not and slides down the smoother upper section of the tree on every try. Junrei couldn’t even try and help Yuyuko, as she herself would slip if she were to try.

Before long, the crowd storms out of the mansion, bloodied and hungry for death. Yuyuko’s father, being a nobleman, finds this gruesome sight disgusting and could not resist asking, “Are you sure you are gentlemen, hmm?”

The crowd does not entertain his question and storm forward, cutting Yuyuko’s parents in half. This does not seem to satisfy them and they toy with the bodies, a few even going as far as ripping their organs out and stabbing their poor bodies with pitchforks.

Yuyuko’s emotions skyrocket to new heights, having witnessed the brutal and merciless death of her parents at the hand of the crowd. In her rage, she lets all of her killing intent loose, even going as far as bypassing Yukari’s boundary.

The everyone except Yuyuko and Junrei cough fiercely, sputtering blood all over the place. They fall to the ground, one by one, and start crawling in agony. Finally, their faces contorted and they all suffer simultaneous heart attacks.

All is quiet for the next few minutes, for shock has petrified Yuyuko and Junrei has passed out from witnessing the brutal dismemberment of Yuyuko’s parents.

Yuyuko crawls forward, moving in a daze and, finding her father’s sword, she walks over to the Saigyou Ayakashi and leans back on it. Tears pouring from her eyes, she stabs herself, the blade piercing her heart and digging into the Saigyou Ayakashi’s wood.

The dead mistress’ soul wraps around the Saigyou Ayakashi’s being and binds it, sealing the tree, which then ties Yuyuko’s soul to itself in a strange form of double-torture.

The next day,  A black rip in space, full of an ending array of eyes and swirling ether opens a distance away from the Saigyou Ayakashi and, after a second, Yakumo Yukari walks out of the gap, all smiles. She steps on something soft and her face instantly hardens, her cheery smile giving way to a look of shock and terror. Slowly, she opens her eyes, and what meets her eyes is a scene straight from hell that makes even her, the great youkai of boundaries, flinch in terror.

The Saigyouji mansion is in ruins, much of the main building having collapsed and the walls blasted to oblivion, bloody splinters spread across the garden, through which a river of drying blood flows, the sources being the innumerable pale, bloodied bodies spewing dark blood through each and every orifice in their body.

The corpses themselves mostly lay face-down, but a few lie face-up, their faces warped in what might be overly exaggerated looks of pure terror, as if they had seen a being that should not exist just before their death.

She can make out the only living body in the mass genocide—a young white-haired swordsman she identifies as Kompaku Youki. A breed of half-phantoms, the Kompaku family has been in the Saigyouji’s service long before Yukari came into their lives and the mansion was set up. Youki is face-down and bloodied like all others, but he is still visibly breathing and might as well had been merely knocked out cold and was about to be killed when his attackers suddenly died. It’s evident that he was about to turn in for the night when he was attacked, since his swords are not with him and he’s wearing night clothes already.

With credits to Yukari’s youkai sight, she can see that the bodies within the mansion died in a different way, most of them showing inhumane torture by human hands and even a few suggesting their being raped before their bloody end. Amongst the bodies within the garden, Yuyuko’s parents died differently too, from what the youkai sage can make out, being completely shredded and with a few internal organs being far, far away from the roughly halved bodies.

In the midst of the destruction, Saigyouji Yuyuko lies pinned against the Saigyou Ayakashi with her own father’s sword, as beautiful in death as in life and a true sight for sore eyes. Unlike the other dead around her, the corpse of Yuyuko shows no sign of torture and perfectly unblemished save for the single stab through her chest. Her face, once smiling and so full of life, now is raised to the sky, with blank eyes silently gazing at the blue yonder and her mouth open in everlasting, silent song.

“My God, Yuyuko…” Yukari gasps, stumbling with arms stretched forward as she approaches Yuyuko’s lifeless body with teary eyes. “How did this happen? How!?”

“The Saigyou Ayakashi did this, didn’t it?” says a low and sad female voice from behind the grieving Yukari. “I couldn’t save Yuyuko. she sealed the tree herself…”

Yukari turns around and sees Hayajini no Junreiuta, staring off into space, her eyes red and swollen, as if she had been crying since the break of dawn. “When did this happen?” demands one wretched youkai sage.

“Last night,” says the second of Yuyuko’s only friends. “The villagers came, bloodthirsty for the deaths the Saigyou Ayakashi did through Yuyuko.”

Yukari collapses on her knees, immediately figuring out what the Saigyou Ayakashi’s intentions were. ‘It wanted to kill those sealing it. However, the wards I placed on the Saigyouji and their servants rendered them immune, so it resorted to slowly channel its powers through Yuyuko, who always stays near it.’

Knowing the thoughts crossing Yukari’s mind, having gone through the revelation herself many hours ago, Junrei says, “It wanted to kill people through Yuyuko so that people will curse the Saigyouji and attack. It had hoped that the upon the Saigyouji’s death, the barrier you made them watch over will collapse, freeing it and allowing it to establish its reign of terror once again.”

Yukari looks up at Junrei as the human sighs, taking a short breather before she continues, “The thing is, it did not expect Yuyuko to gain powers of death herself through excessive will and hatred… that, and Yuyuko sealing the Saigyou Ayakashi with her soul and body.”

Yukari slowly stands up and, facing Junrei, she croaks, “Yuyuko… the tree is torturing her in hope that she’ll undo her seal, isn’t it?”
Junrei chuckles, a dark and sad sound that fills the gloomy garden of corpses and, turning her face to meet Yukari’s, she says, “torture? Worse. The tree is enraged at Yuyuko and is trying to rip her soul to shreds.”

That little bit of information shocks Yukari speechless. Yuyuko? Being destroyed by the very tree that ruined so many lives?

Her time with Yuyuko flashes before her: drinking tea on the porch, laughing and enjoying the world like there’s no tomorrow… dancing with the young mistress in the moonlight, black hair flying in the wind like an angel’s shadow… and many, many more wonderful memories. In each and every one, Yuyuko’s kindness and sweet, sweet smiles overwhelm everything else.

She snaps out of her thoughts when the dull thump of a lifeless body hitting the ground reaches her ears. In one quick movement, she turns around and sees Junrei –or rather, her ghost- hovering a foot above her lifeless body.

“Junrei! What are you doing!?” shouts a surprised and confused Yukari. While she had known that this particular human, with her close ties to the Saigyou Ayakashi knows Astral Projection perfectly, she had never expected her to do it ever.

“I know how to save Yuyuko”, declares Junrei in monotone. “What-how-why?” asks Yukari, who allows some happiness and relief to seep into her.

Junrei rests a cold hand on Yukari’s shoulder and,  flashing a sad ghostly smile, she says, “I will use my ties with the Saigyou Ayakashi to bypass its personal defences and approach Yuyuko’s essence. Once I have touched it, I will allow you to work your boundary manipulations through me. You will sever her essence from her soul and transfer it to mine.”

Yukari’s eyes widen at this. A being’s essence is even harder to remove from the soul as the soul is to the body. It’s very dangerous and even if she succeeds, then that means that both Yuyuko and Junrei will share a soul. Not attractive at all. “What about you?” asks the astonished gap ha- err, mage. “What about you? Won’t it be a problem if both you and Yuyuko share one soul?”

Junrei replies without delay. “No. When Yuyuko’s soul is severed from her essence, the tree will no longer recognise it as Yuyuko’s and allow it to go and go for slowly devouring the body’s seal instead. When that happens, I will force my essence to leave my soul and enter what was Yuyuko’s and with that, I will re-enter my body.”

Yukari thinks it over. It’s actually a good idea, since that means that Yuyuko and Junrei won’t have to share a single soul with that and leave the tree to work on the body. The soul switch is genius as well, since the Saigyou Ayakashi won’t recognise Yuyuko as Yuyuko, since her essence is residing in a different soul, meaning that Yuyuko’s and Junrei’s signatures mix and throw the youkai tree off track. The same with Junrei, who, Yukari is sure, will be the target of the Saigyou Ayakashi’s wrath after Yuyuko’s essence is freed.
That leaves only the seal to work on. Somehow, Yukari already knows what she going to do about it: she will renew Yuyuko’s barrier and permanently seal the Saigyou Ayakashi with her dead body and dead body alone.

“You got yourself a deal!” says Yukari, enthusiasm in her voice. However, Junrei still looks sullen. “What’s the problem?”, the gap sage asks, noticing the look on the projected ghost’s eyes.

“This plan… has a downside”, says Junrei with darkness still in her voice. “Yuyuko and I… we both will lose all of our memories, save for personalities, native language and maybe our names.”

Yukari feels herself going down once again at this revelation. Still, it’s better than having Yuyuko disintegrate into nothing, right?
The gap sage pulls herself together and, with a determined air about her, she declares. “Let’s do it.”

Several minutes later, Yukari is all set, a hand on the shoulder of Junrei’s perfectly humanoid ghost.

The projected ghost closes her eyes, which are maroon as opposed to the pink of those on her body and concentrates. Slowly, she projects her presence into the Saigyou Ayakashi’s own, which accepts her as a part of itself due to their link. She carefully moves around, trying to find Yuyuko’s essence: she can’t be too hasty or the Saigyou Ayakashi will find out what she’s up to and suck her own soul in.

She keeps on probing, and then slowly picks up traces of Yuyuko. However, at that moment, the tree’s presence tenses up, almost as if she had just been found out. After a few seconds though, it seems like it was merely a false alarm and allowing herself a ghostly sigh of relief, Junrei probes on until finally, she finds Yuyuko’s essence, vibrating in hellish torture.

Having found her target, Junrei nods silently to Yukari, who nods herself in confirmation and closes her eyes, slowly splicing the boundary linking Yuyuko’s essence to her soul. A success and Junrei hurriedly merges Yuyuko’s essence with her soul as she frees the young mistress’ own.

The tree groans, having found out at last and starts to destroy the barrier Yuyuko’s body is supporting. Knowing she has little time, Yukari creates a new, everlasting barrier on the Saigyou Ayakashi, using Yuyuko’s body as the root. She finishes the new barrier just in time, for Yuyuko’s significantly weaker barrier is completely dissolved by the raging tree a moment later.

Yukari adds another barrier, also using Yuyuko’s body as a root, this one intended not only to limit the tree’s powers, but seal it completely, as Yuyuko’s original barrier had done and protect the young mistress’ body as well.

The youkai sage stumbles backwards and collapses, having spent most of her energy on enacting the two powerful barriers. She was weaker back then after all.

Meanwhile, Junrei frantically tries to sever her essence’s ties to her soul herself and finally, after what must be an eternity, her essence splits with a hell-load of stress and pain and shoots towards the blank, featureless ghost that was Yuyuko’s, merging with it and falls into her body, which was just below Yuyuko’s soul.

Yukari loses consciousness and for an hour, the three were out cold, Yukari shocked from a near-complete magical drain and the other two adjusting to their new souls.

Junrei is the first one to wake. Without memories, she’s  completely clueless and casually walks away, innocent to the state of the corpses around her and apologising to each and every one that she steps on or walks over, noisily complaining to the dead more than once about their strange sleeping habits and apparent lack of hygiene.

Yukari is the next to wake up, followed closely by Yuyuko.

The gap sage shoots up, having recovered her magical reserve completely. She hears Yuyuko in her new soul gasping for breath… somehow beside her.

She turns around, all smiles as she caresses the dead mistress’ innocent face. Yuyuko, of course, had the expected memory wipe as well and, with eyes raised in wonder, she asks “Who are you? Where and who am I?”

The gap sage closes her eyes, bittersweet tears welling from within her closed eyelids as she holds Yuyuko’s astral form against her body. “I am Yakumo Yukari and you…”

Yukari turns Yuyuko around and stares into those maroon eyes that were once Junrei’s.

”And you… you are…”

She could not help but think of Junrei when she looks at Yuyuko’s new form. Still, she still feels like herself, so there’s no doubting it, so she says with full confidence,

“You are… Saigyouji Yuyuko.

________________________________________
Characters, spell cards and scenarios belong to ZUN -Team Shanghai Alice
Junrei(uta) (Eastern name order: Hayajini no Junreiuta) belongs to Zurocha. *
Written by
Zurocha, the Blood-Tea-Lovin’ Vampire of Ragnar?k for the MotK WWC
________________________________________
Spoiler:
*I’m using old English for this short bit since I want to give a sense of authenticity. I mean, come on! It’s over a thousand years in the past! Remember that CH is pronounced the same as the German CH.
*I’m no longer using old English here for their dialogues since they are going to speak a lot more from this point.
*I wanted the story to be longer and more detailed—especially on the parts involving Yuyuko’s relationship and its development… however, I fear that if I do that, it might take me two to THREE weeks (putting real life into consideration) and extend this story to beyond 15K words… thus, I shortened those parts. -_-
*Yuyuko is OOC here because well… she was still alive by this time! Living and dead Yuyuko are very different people: I just can’t visualise the living Yuyuko act like her dead self.
*I hope it was satisfying!
**Hayajini no Jinreiuta means “(piligrimage/holy[?]) song of early death” or something like that… I’m not sure as my Japanese is… bad. I can’t even form straight sentences.
** Maraming Salamat sa iyo, resident translator of the Scarlet-Library IRC (sorry, but I can’t remember your name because the IRC has so many people and you have used more than one alias. To top it off, I am a newbie there.) with the OC’s name.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I wanted to add an omake along the lines of "And so, Junreiuta took on the name Sadako, created the cursed video for LULZ and started the ring series trololololol"....but then I remembered this story's purpose so...

EDIT: For some reason, my spaces and formatting got messed up when I posted. I had very little time to fix this as well, so It's not the same as the .DOC version.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2012, 04:37:51 AM by Zurocha »

GuyYouMetOnline

  • Surprisingy not smart for lynch dodging
The girl crept up the hill, carefully but quickly. She had to make it into the woods before the next guard passed by. If they knew she was out here, they'd rush out to find her, to bring her back before she got hurt. And she couldn't let them take her back, not yet. Not until she was done.
 
She'd studied the guards' patterns; she knew their preferred routes around and through the village. There were quite a few of them, but not nearly enough to keep watch everywhere simultaniously. Not everyone could reliably fight off a youkai, and those who could had to be split into shifts so that the village was always protected. So there were opportunities for one to escape unseen. And she couldn't let them see her, because they'd come to take her back, and she couldn't let them, and so if they tried, she would want them gone, and then...
 
No. That wasn't going to happen. Not tonight, and after tonight, she wouldn't have to worry about it ever again.
----------------------------
"...until someone had the idea of seperating Gensokyo from the rest of the world. That person, of course, was Leria Hakurei. But she couldn't do it herself, so she sought the aid of a youkai, something almost unheard of back then. She went to find Yukari Yakumo, the youkai of boundries, who she knew had the power needed to..."
 
She tuned the teacher out. He wasn't saying anything she didn't know from reading the chapter.
School's stupid. Why do they still think I need someone to tell me what I just read? I'm nine! I can read just fine! Maybe everyone else still needs it, but I'm smarter than them! Everyone says that! Why do I still need to be here?
 
She let her mind wander.
What kind of name is 'Leria', anyways? It should be, like, um... Lyrica! That's a nice name. Didn't I meet a 'Lyrica' once? Yeah, that girl with the keyboard! I remember her from that talent show! I wonder what happened to her? She was nice. And she had a nice name. Much nicer that 'Leria'. They should have named her Lyrica, too.
 
"...convinced Yukari to help, making her the first human to do so. In fact, the two of them maintained a friendly relationship until Lyrica passed away."
 
Yeah, Lyrica's a nuch nicer na-wait, what? "I thought you said her name was Leria."
 
"Please don't inturrupt," the teacher said. "And no, her name was Lyrica. Lyrica Hakurei."
 
"What? No, that's not right." She looked in her book.
What the-? Now it says Lyrica in the book, too!
 
"Are you all right, Keine?" the teacher asked.
 
"I... I'm fine."
 
"Very well. As I was saying, Lyrica..."
 
What's going on here! It said her name was Leria! It said her name was Leria!
 
"...and when Leria passed away, Yukari made her first ever visit to the village to attend her funeral."
 
Her name was- wait, he just said 'Luria' again! She looked at her book. It says 'Luria' here, too. Huh. That was weird.
 
The strange event soon left her mind. After all, this was Gensokyo; strange stuff happened every day.

 
----------------------------------
 
Keine slipped into the woods, still unseen. She couldn't really relax, though. These woods were fairly safe, but youkai still showed up from time to time, and Keine didn't want to run into any of them. Even if she were youkai, she didn't want to do anything to them. And she knew what would happen if one attacked. The same thing that happened to that boy three years ago.
 
Keine fought back tears when she realized she couldn't even remember his name. He didn't deserve to be forgotten. He didn't deserve to be... to be...
 
Keine moved deeper into the woods. She would be concealed here, but she needed to find a clearing. She needed a spot where she could see the night's full moon.
---------------------------------
The strange name-changing event had happened a week ago. Not that she thought much about it. It was just one more strange occurance.
 
She exited the lavatory-
I'm probably the only kid in the class who says that name right every time-and made her way back to the lunchroom. Except that while she was walking, a kid put himself in her path. She knew who this boy was, and nobody wanted to be alone with him. He was big, dumb, and mean. A basic bully, and he got away with it because he was the teacher's kid. She'd had run-ins with him before, and they were never pleasant, but this time, he looked even madder than usual.
 
"Well, hey there, K," the kid said. "What're you doing in here all alone?"
 
Scared, she turned to run, but he was faster, and quickly caught her, slamming her against the wall. "Yeah, no running."
 
She was panicked. "W-w-w-what do you want from me?"
 
"Shut up. That's what I want. You think you're so damn smart, don't you? All your right answers and big words. Smartest kid in the class, right? Fine. Be the smart girl. I don't care. But that's not enough. You have to make sure everybody knows that you're the smart one and I'm the dumb one."
 
"W-w-w-what are you talking about?"
 
"Shut up! Don't act like you don't know. You always have it right, every single time, and you always tell me I'm wrong. And everyone thinks you're so special, but guess what? You're not." He made a fist. "And I'm going to prove it."
 
"NonononononoJUST GO AWAY AND LEAVE ME ALONE!"
 
And just like that, he was gone. She fell to the ground, shaking.
 
She sat there until the teacher came looking for her. "Keine! Keine, are you okay? What happened?"
 
"'What happened?' Your son happened. He was going to hit me. He... he..." She fought back tears.
 
"Keine, calm down. What are you talking about?"
 
Ordinarily, she wouldn't have said it, but today, she was just sick of it all. "I know you don't care. You just let your son do whatever he wants."
 
Another adult came up. "What's going on? Is she okay?"
 
"I don't think so," the teacher said. "She keeps talking about my son."
 
"It's true!" Keine said. "You just don't care about what he does to us!"
 
"Keine," he said, "I don't have a son."

----------------------------
Keine found a suitable location and set her bag down. She took a quick look around, confirming that the clearing was empty, then began setting up. She smoothed out a patch of dirt and drew a complex design, completely from memory. She then took hold of the knife she'd snuck out of the house with. She made a cut on her finger and let it bleed. She put one drop of blood in the center of the design, and more at various other places on it. And then she waited, waited for the moon to pass directly overhead.
--------------------------------
 
"She's still getting worse."
 
"I'm aware. What exactly do you want me to do about it? I've already tried everything I could think of. I don't think there's anything I can do."
 
There's not, Mom, but it's not your fault.
 
Her parents, of course, didn't know she was listening. They never did. She couldn't let them, because if they found out, they'd get mad, and if they got mad, she'd want them to leave her alone, and then they'd be gone. Just like that kid.
 
She was the only one who remembered that kid, the only one who even knew he'd ever existed.  She'd wanted him to go away, and he had. He was gone completely, gone even from people's memories. He had never been born at all. The history of his birth had been erased. And she had done it. She had changed the past. She had erased him from existance.
 
"...never comes out of her room except to get food," her father was saying. "She doesn't talk to anyone, not even us. And if anyone-even us-tries to talk to her, she runs away and hides. She won't accept anything but solitude."
 
"And all she does is read those history books," her mom said. "We've gone through this list who knows how many times. The only time she's willing to see another person is if she's getting a new history book."
 
"I know I've said this before, too, but that's important. Why history?"
 
Because I have to know it.
 
She was always worried that she would once more change something unwittingly, might cause untold amounts of damage just because of a stray thought. She could change it back, but only if she knew what change had been made. That's why she couldn't bring the boy back; she didn't know what she'd changed. If she didn't know it, she couldn't reverse it. But the books changed, too. Only she could know what had changed. She couldn't look it up, so she had to know it all, have it all memorized. But just knowing history wasn't enough. History books didn't list people's names, their jobs, their everyday lives. Only the most important people were named. That kid wouldn't have been named. She wouldn't be named. A stranger she'd see out walking wouldn't be named. Her classmates wouldn't be named. Their parents wouldn't be named. Their leves wouldn't be explored. If she changed something about any of them, she wouldn't know enough to undo it. Couldn't know enough. So she had to stay away from everyone. Had to stay alone.
 
"How should I know?" Her mom said. "Why are we even having this conversation? We've had it a million times before."
 
"Because there's something new now," her dad said. "I caught sight of the title of one of her new books."
 
"The title? What was it?"
 
"I don't know where she found it-it's certainly not in the library-but she got her hands on it somehow."
 
"What book?"
 
"'The Arcane Approach to Combating Youkai'."
 
"What? Why does she have something like that?"
 
"I don't know. And you can be sure she won't talk about it."
 
"You're sure it said 'arcane'? A lot of kids get interested in fighting youkai; that's normal."
 
"It did. She's going straight for less savory methods against them."
 
No. Not against youkai. She was researching seals, but not for use on youkai.
 
She knew one fact above all else: she was to dangerous to let live. When a stray thought from her had the potential to bring about the end of the world, she couldn't be allowed to keep living. But she couldn't be killed. She couldn't let anyone else kill her, because some part of her wouldn't want them to, and then... they just wouldn't be there anymore. And she couldn't do it herself, because again, there would be that desire to undo it, and then it would be undone. That fear of death was normal, but unacceptable. She had to get around it. And a seal wouldn't trigger that last-second fear. If she couldn't die, then she would seal herself away, ending the threat she posed to everything that ever was.

------------------------------------
It was time.
 
Keine stood in the center of the design, completely naked. The knife lay on the ground beside the design, dropped there after Keine had used it once more, this time to carve onto her chest the same design she'd drawn in the ground.
 
With the exception of the ribbon she wore in her hair, Keine's own natural body was the only thing within the design. And as the moonlight shone on her, she began the incantation.
 
As Keine spoke, the drops of blood she'd made on the design began to glow, as did that coming even now from the cuts on her chest. Then the entire design lit up, shining with the same light as the moon.
 
Keine thought she heard something. No. Can't look. Can't inturrupt the ritual. She continued the incantation, ignoring the sounds that began to draw closer. And then, just as she was finishing, it came.
 
It was a beast; a hakutaku, as she would later find out. It lunged at the seemingly defenseless girl. It passed within the design just as Keine finished the incantation. As she spoke the final word, there was a flash, and then nothing. No beast, no light, no design. Not even the cuts Keine had made on herself. She stumbled forward for a few steps, then fell to the ground, unconscious.
-------------------------------
There was hope. For the first time in three years, there was actually hope.
 
At first, she didn't dare believe it. But as she investigate more and more, it became clear that it was true. There was a way to seal a person's power away, but leave the person otherwise unaffected.
 
Her history studies were completely forgotten. She did nothing but research this ritual. It didn't require anything too special. All she'd need was the night, a knife, the ground, a full moon, and the time to speak a fairly long incantation. The knife would be easy; she'd just take one. She wouldn't be able to have enough time unseen in the village, so she'd have to go elsewhere, probably the woods just beyond the village. The incantation was easy. So all she needed now was the full moon, just a couple weeks off.
 
She memorized the incantation, practicing it endlessly. She went through the steps of the ritual again and again and again. She studied the routes of the village's night guards, learning how to get to the woods unseen. There would be no mistakes. And when the full moon came, she would end this and be a regular person again.

----------------------------------------
When she awoke, Keine noticed four things in a very specific order. First, she noticed that it was still night. Second, she noticed that her head felt strange. Third, she noticed that she could see far better than before. And fourth, she noticed that she was fully dressed. And not only that, she was wearing clothes she'd never seen before.
 
A quick look around confirmed that she was still in the clearing where she'd performed the ritual. Her things were exactly where she'd left them, including her clothes. She raised her hand to her head to check for the ribbon, but she found something else. Two of them. She felt the ribbon wrapped around one of them, but this didn't register. What are these? She tried to pull them off, but without success. And she could feel it in her head as she tried, like they were part of it. Almost like...
 
Keine ran. There was a small pond neardy, and she ran to it. She bent over the water to see her own face in the reflection. And when she did, she leapt back in shock. What happened to me! I'm a monster! I'm some kind of beast! I've turned into a be- oh! The beast that attacked me! The ritual took it in! And made me into this!
 
A few minutes later, Keine started back to the clearing. She still had something to do.
 
When she returned to her stuff, Keine grabbed a history book and opened it up to a specific page. Whatever had happened with that beast, there was a more important question: did the ritual work?
 
Keine found a name she knew well. Leria Hakurei. Her first change. Leria to Lyrica. She focused, thought of her having the name Lyrica. And then she looked at the book.
 
The name had changed.
 
Somehow, Keine kept her presence of mind long enough to reverse the change. And long enough to try to change what had happened during the ritual, to attempt to remove the beast's interferance. But it didn't work. Of course it won't work. Just like I could naver change the power away. The only thing it can't change is what I am.
 
Not only had the ritual failed; it had turned her into a monster, as well. Now there was nothing for her. She couldn't even go back to locking herself in her room. She couldn't be seen in the village at all. And even worse, she was still the greatest threat to existance there had ever been.
 
Keine fell to the ground, crying.
----------------------------
Keine didn't know how long she'd been there for. Hours, surely, but she hadn't paid attention. She hadn't responded to anything, not even the sun's rise. Until she noticed that she was once again naked.
 
Keine leapt to her feet in surprise. Then she noticed something else. Wait, my head feels normal again! She felt it. No horns! I'm human again! The ribbon was gone with the horns, but she didn't notice. I'm human again! I'm human ag-wait, if I'm not a monster, then what about-
 
She picked up the history boog again. Opened it to the same page. Found the same name. Focused on changing it again. Looked at it in the book. Nothing. Nothing! It didn't work! I can't change things anymore! But wait, why am I not a mons-the moon! The ritual needed the full moon! That has to be it! It only comes out on a night with a full moon! Which wasn't perfect, but after thinking she was doomed for life, it was all she could ever have wanted.
 
Keine ran for the village. Then she retraced her steps back to the clearing, found her stuff, and put her clothes on. Then she picked up the rest of her stuff. Then she ran for the village.
 
There was activity when she exited the woods. Her parents must have noticed she was missing when they woke up, and the search was underway. They must have gone through the village already, because some were already heading up the hill. Keine saw one figure among them. "Mommy!"
 
Keine dropped everything she was carrying and ran to her mother. "Mommy!"
 
Keine's mother knelt down, her daughter running into her open arms. "Keine! You're okay! We were so worried!"
 
"I'm okay, Mommy. I'm okay. Everything's okay now."
 
-------------------------------
END
-------------------------------
Yeah, couldn't think of a non-sappy way to end that.
 
Anyways, if that seemed familiar, it means you read Orphan. This was Keine's backstory, easily my favorite one of the backstories from Orphan, with second place going to Byakuren's. I liked it enough that when I saw this, I decided to revisit it. Hope it was good.

Phlegeth

  • DPS LFG
  • Time expired: 121:45
King of the Mountain

The sun was gleaming through the forest canopy and the trickle of a near river blended seamlessly with the chirping of the birds.  A slight breeze picked up and sent a chill down this tall woman?s back.

?It?s summer all right!? she loudly proclaimed and thrust her fists in the air.  With a large smile on her face she walked down the path to a small cottage in a clearing.  The smell of grapes wafted into her nose.  She looked around the house at the garden in the back.  There were large leafy plants as far as the eye could see.  The grape vines were half picked and she took another look over the garden and noticed that a few of the plants were already picked.

?YUUGI!? a small voice yelled from the house, interrupting her thoughts.  Yuugi turned around and saw a small blonde girl with short hair staring at her from the window.  She heard rusting and turned to see a taller blonde girl peeking out over the crops.  The door creaked open and a small yellow flash ran over to Yuugi.

?Little Aki!  How ya doing?? she said bending down to pick up the girl.  ?And Big Aki!  Early harvest??

The taller girl let out a sigh, ?It?s Shizuha, not Big Aki.?  She pointed at the little girl on Yuugi?s head, ?Minoriko.?

Yuugi let out a hearty laugh, ?I know, I know.?

?I just want to nip it in the bud, before she gets older and we look even more similar,? she smiled at her friend.  ?So where?s my hug?  My back?s almost pain free.?

?Oh c?mere you!?  Yuugi wrapped her arms around Shizuha.  She squeezed tight, picking her up and she made a not quite healthy sounding cracking noise.

?Ahhh,? she let out a pleased sigh, ?I?m sure my future chiropractor will send you a gift basket.?

It was clear that she was avoiding the ?Early Harvest? comment.  Yuugi was of the mind that if someone wanted something, they?d ask for it and if they were quiet about it, then she?d assume they were going to handle the problem themselves.  Or not, the Aki sisters were a little weak, Yuugi thought to herself.  It could be bugs or it could be robbers.  She sat Minoriko down and patted her head.

?Well, I was only passing through,? she said and started to head off.  I hope its robbers, she thought to herself.

She left the farm and started looking around at the ground.  She didn?t find anything.  She looked up towards the mountain.  Tengus could just swoop down and take things.  And Tengus are always fun to fight.

She started walking along the river bank towards the mountain when she heard the sound of sudden splashing, she turned to look at the river, but didn?t see anything.  When she turned back, there were three figures standing in front of her.

?Drop everything you?ve got or we?ll drop you!? the middle one took a step forward and pointed at Yuugi. 

?Kappa,? she took a couple of steps towards the assailant and looked down on him, ?You?re half my size.?

?The bigger they are, the harder they fall!? he yelled and threw a punch.  It hit her in the stomach, but his hand made a nasty noise and he let out a yelp and backed away holding his hand.

?You?re out of your element here,? Yuugi shook her head.

?Then come in ours!? someone yelled from behind, Yuugi turned around and saw someone jump out of the river, pointing a strange contraption at her.

?Kawashiro!? the middle one yelled, ?He?ll save us!?

This Kawashiro fired the devise, it let loose a rope that wrapped around Yuugi.  He picked up the loose and pulled.  Yuugi did not move.

?Come on Kawashiro, you can do it!? the three yelled from the sidelines.

He grunted and pulled, but Yuugi would not move.  He pulled once more with all his might, and the rope recoiled and flung him into Yuugi.

She looked down at him, ?You done??

?Yea,? he dropped the rope and walked off.  ?I have daughter to think about.  I?m out.?  He waved with his back to his companions and disappeared into the river.

Yuugi flexed and broke the rope binding her.  She turned her attention back to the first three.  They started looking at each other anxiously.

?What do we do?? the left one asked.

?Chinatsu?s not going to be please,? the middle one sighed.

?Chinatsu?? Yuugi repeated.

?Yea,? he looked up at Yuugi.  ?You?re pretty strong.  Why don?t you??

Yuugi held up a finger stopping him from talking.  ?I know where this is headed, so tell me more about this Chinatsu.?

?Okay, well one day she just showed up on the mountain and said she was in charge, she started bossing the kappa and tengu around.  She?s real scary.  She got the strength of a bull and is poisonous like a spider and can turn into fire!?

Yuugi?s face lit up, ?Oh great!  A Ushi Oni!  I?ve always wanted to fight one!?  She let out another hearty laugh, ?Don?t worry your little kappa heads, I?m going to kick her ass and then I?ll be in charge of the mountain!?  She took off towards the mountain with a new resolve.

?Think she can beat Chinatsu?? the left one asked.

?I don?t know, but I hope so.  Kawashiro?s daughter sure is cute, I?d hate to think of her being brought up in a world where the kappas are thieves and muggers.?

?But what if she?s even worse than Chinatsu,? the right kappa asked.  The three of them stared at the path to the mountain in silence for a bit.

?Damn it,? the middle one said after the silence.

Meanwhile, in an alcove halfway up the mountain there was a determined oni standing on a ledge staring at a wolf tengu.  There were claw marks leading to the ledge from the ground.

?There was a path!? the wolf pointed behind her at a winding path that went around trees and up the mountain.

?My way was faster,? Yuugi shrugged.

?What do you want, oni!? the wolf tengu snarled at her.

?I?m here to kick Chinatsu?s ass,? she said bluntly.

?Eh?? the wolf tengu was taken aback.  ?What did you just say??

There was a sudden flash of black and there was a crow tengu standing beside the wolf tengu.  ?Momiji!  Did I hear that right?  Is she going to fight Chinatsu??

?Shameimaru, what have I told you about using my first name.  It?s disrespectful,? the wolf tengu shook her head.  ?And,? she pointed her sword at Yuugi, ?if she wants to fight Chinatsu, she?s going to have to go through us!?

?Us?? Aya repeated.

?It is our job as Tengu to stop intruders!? Momiji said.

?Alright, I am the wind!? she yelled and rushed at Yuugi, who gingerly stepped out of the way and let Aya disappear into the distance.

??and she?s gone,? Momiji sighed.  ?All that speed and no control,? Momiji shook her head and looked at Yuugi.  ?Taking on an Oni by myself is less than desirable,? she rose her shield to her face and readied her sword beside it, ?but I have a duty!?

She took a cautious step toward Yuugi, who let out a big smile.  ?Yea, finally a real fight!? 

She lunged at Momiji, who was expecting this and knocked Yuugi in the side of her head with the shield and took a swing with her blade.  It ripped through her shirt, but stopped at the skin.

?Hmph, oni?s really are something else,? she said.

?Heh heh,? Yuugi laughed, ?yea we are!? she yelled.  Momiji swung down hard with her sword, connecting with Yuugi?s shoulder.

?You?re not even trying to dodge are you??

?Don?t need to,? she said and kicked Momiji, sending her flying into the waterfall.  Yuugi looked over the side and saw a wet Momiji crawling out of the river.  ?Aww, over already,? she shook her head and shrugged.  She looked up at the mountain and looked over at the path the winding up the mountain.  She started doing squats in preparation for the jump, when she was suddenly knocked off her feet.

?I?m back!?  Aya yelled.  She looked down the cliff, ?Momiji, what are you doing down there.  And you?re wet.  Don?t you know how bad you smell when wet??  There was a  tap on her shoulder and she turned to see Yuugi?s beaming face hovering above her.  Aya gave a sheepish smile and waved before taking off.

?Hmph,? Yuugi pouted at her opponent running away.  Just as she was about to jump, she was knocked off her feet again.  She looked around for Aya, but all she could see was a black blur.  It rammed her again and again.

?Hit and run tactics,? Momiji said rejoining the fight.  ?Not my way of doing things, but it works.?  She jumped at Yuugi and bashed her with her shield.  Yuugi staggered back and Aya rammed her pushing her back farther.  Yuugi raised her fist at Momiji, but Aya crashed into her before she could swing and Momiji bashed her again with the shield and Yuugi took another step back.  The roar of the water fall was getting closer and Yuugi grinned.

?I see what you?re trying,? she stomped the ground hard with one foot and used it to push off and she jumped over Momiji and into the forest.  ?But it ain?t going to work!?  She laid a hand on a tree and motioned for Momiji to come.  Yuugi heard the suddenly rustling of the leaves above her and she knew Aya getting ready to back.  Yuugi sunk her claws into the tree and pulled it out of the ground.

?Craaaaaaap,? Momiji said staring at the oni holding a full grown tree in one hand.  She swung it like a bat and felt two connections made.  The bark gave way and the tree and two tengu went flying.

Yuugi walked back over to the edge of the cliff and quickly looked around.  Deciding it was safe she started squatting and made a lunge for the cliff above her.  She reached the top and saw a woman standing there with a malicious grin.  She looked tall, but was actually floating about the ground.  Her long red hair was dragging on the ground behind her in eight braids.  She had two bull like horns protruding from the side of her head.

?Sweet potato?? she said, offering a half-eaten one to Yuugi.  ?They?re not quite ripe yet.  But what are you going to do??  She walked over to the edge, passed Yuugi and looked down at the forest.  The sun was starting to set.  ?Are the farmers going to bed??  She outstretched her arm with her palm facing Aki?s home.  ?Is the problem that the sun went away and there?s no light??  She produced a flame from her palm.

?What the hell are you doing?? she grabbed the girls arm and threw her back.  She gently floated back.

?Is that all you?ve got?  Those tengu and kappa are weak,? her malicious grin widened.  ?Apparently I wasn?t clear enough!?  She turned her attention back to Yuugi.  ?Do you have kids??

?No,? Yuugi answered.

?Shame, I bet you?d make strong offspring.  Those tengu and kappa have children.  The children are about as useless as their parents.  But they have potential!  I?m going to test that potential and you?re going to be my witness,? she walked over to the water fall.  ?I?m going to poison the water and those that survive will be worthy!  What do you say??

?You?re crazy!? Yuugi said.

Chinatsu?s face darkened, ?I thought an oni would understand.  It?s survival of the fittest.  Only the strong survive.?  She looked around at the mountain.  ?This is the highest peak; the one who rules it should be the strongest and those beneath should be worthy!  Even you must agree!?

?You?re right, the strongest should control the mountain,? Yuugi said and jumped over and grabbed Chinatsu and threw her away from the river.  ?And those people beneath us are strong in their own ways.  And it?s not always physical strength either.  And one more thing?ugh!?  Yuugi hunched over and gripped at her chest.

?Let me finish that, and one more thing, there?s a curse goddess living on this mountain,? Chinatsu looked over at Yuugi.  Now what do you say??

Breathing hard and struggling to get to her feet Yuugi said, ?What pitiful tell it will be when you see your ancestors.  Losing a fight against someone who is cursed, worn down from previous fights, and climbing a mountain.  And you will lose,? Yuugi grinned and motioned for Chinatsu to come.

Chinatsu let out a strange roar.  Yuugi grinned, ?That no roar,? and she let out a beastly roar that knocked Chinatsu back and broke the ground between them.

Yuugi started walking towards Chinatsu.  She started throwing fire balls from her hands, one after another.  When Yuugi got closer, she switched to a constant flame from both hands and started backing away.  But it was pointless; Yuugi reached out and grabbed Chinatsu by the throat.

?I?m disappointed in you.  We share the same name and all your talk about strength, but you?re weak,? she tightened her grip.  ?I like a good fight, which is why I despise taking another?s life.  There?s always a chance for others to grow strong.  But you,? she tightened her grip again; ?You believe you?ve reached your peak.  There?s nowhere for you to go, so you find people weaker than you and built yourself up upon them and made it so no one would surpass you.  Survival of the fittest my ass, it?s your survival that you wanted.  You hide up hear behind your kappa, tengu, and curse goddesses and they?re afraid of you.  The thought of fighting you, never crossed their minds.  It?s good for you, sure, but it?s bad for the world.  It?ll grow stagnate without challenge.  And that is no world I want to live in, but if you do then you don?t get to live in mine!?  She tightened her grip one last time and then collapsed.

* * *

??ugi, ?uugi,  UUGI!  YUUGI!?  There was a pressure Yuugi?s chest.  She looked down and saw Minoriko sobbing.  She looked around at her surroundings.  She was surrounded by the people she met on the way up the mountain and someone she never saw before with green hair.

?I?m Hina, the curse goddess,? she introduced herself.  ?Sorry about this,? she said and looked at the ground.

Everything suddenly came back, ?CHINATSU!?

?She?s taken care of,? Hina said.

?We heard about it from Aya,? Shizuna spoke up.

?I liked the part where everyone on the mountain gave you power and turned into a giant and fired a blast of friendship at Chinatsu,? Minoriko spoke up excitedly.

?What?? Yuugi asked.

?I may have taken a few artistic liberties about the stuff I didn?t see,? Aya said.

?Here,? Momiji stepped forward, holding a red sake dish.  ?Don?t think badly of us Tengu because of her.?  Yuugi stared at the dish.  ?I heard oni liked sake, take it.?  Momiji?s face was turning bright red.

The door suddenly opened, interrupting the awkward silence.  ?Nice place ya got here,? a small girl with two horns on the side of her head walked through.

?SUIKA!? Yuugi proclaimed.  ?But this isn?t my place.?

?Um, it kind of is,? Hina said.  ?You were kind of heavy, so it was easier to build this place around you than move you somewhere else.?

?Pst, hey Momiji,? Aya whispered in Momiji?s ear.  ?They have horns like Chinatsu, was she their boss??

?You?re getting weird ideas again, aren?t you??

?I should write some of this stuff down,? Aya said excitedly and ran out the door.

?Write what stuff down?? Yuugi asked.

Momiji sighed and shook her head, ?It?s hard to tell.?
« Last Edit: April 29, 2012, 01:07:38 AM by Phlegeth »

(I considered putting music in this, but after finishing the post and accidentally hitting the back button on my browser I gave up on that.)

   Shuff-shuff. Shuff-shuff. Shuff-shuff.

   ?Whew.?

   The girl released her grip on the scrubbing brush, letting it slide gently this way and then that, the soap and water covering it and the wooden planks beneath it facilitating its mimicry of the ship's gentle swaying. The back of her soapy hand rose to push back her bluish-black bangs and wipe the sweat from her brow. The hand dropped, and she grinned as she cast her blue eyes around the ship's deck, where the other sailors bustled here and there, making sure the ship's system ran like clockwork.

   ?You're looking pretty clean now, girl,? the cleaner commented, though to whom it wasn't clear. There didn't seem to be any other females on the ship, or at least on the deck.

   She lowered a hand to pat the planks beneath her, running her hand along the wood in a way that would have been called ?lovingly,? had the planks been another human being. ?I think we'll be pulling up a good catch today,? she continued, moving to tip the bucket of water next to her and splash away the remnants of the soap. ?Just hang in there like you always do, and we'll make sure to do what we do best, alright??

   A small chuckle as she dropped the scrubbing brush in the bucket and hoisted the wooden container by the handle. The girl glanced down at the wood again, nodded once, and then turned on her heel to stride down to the lower decks.

   She weaved past the other sailors. Nods were exchanged. Salutes. Waves and smiles, friendly yet solid claps on the back, laughs and greetings and encouragements.

   The life of the ship, the blood coursing through its wooden veins. That's what these sailors were to her, she thought, descending the stairs to the small closet where the cleaning items were kept. They kept the ship alive. They were the muscles and tendons pulling the bones to motion, the organs purging the system of impurity, the dutiful cells working day and night to ensure that the heart of the vessel never stop pumping, asking nothing in return except some life from the sea on each journey to put in their markets and set on their tables.

   But...

   ...why am I thinking of all of this now, she thought, her brow furrowing as she hoisted the cleaning bucket onto the shelves to be stored for later. I've been here for years. Slept in the barracks every night, whether we were docked or not.

   She stopped just before turning to leave the room. Her hand lifted, hovering over the shelf, pulling back and clenching as if apprehensive of making contact. Your heart is my heart. I've been closest to you, ever since you saved me. Gave me a place to live. A place to be happy, with all these other sailors.

   The hand finally lowered, resting on the cold wood. It comforted her as she ran her hand along the shelf's surface. A small smile found its way to the corner of her mouth. ...you wouldn't betray me. I know that. Just like I would never hurt you, I know you wouldn't hurt me.

   She stopped again. The smile faded, flattening her lips into a line of concern. The hand dropped to her side, and the other arm bent across her stomach to grasp the elbow.

   ...but...if that's true, then why did I feel like I needed to remind myself of it?

*****

   The air rumbled in the distance. The girl leaned on the railing of the ship, her elbows supporting her as she stared out at the sea of black, rolling clouds encroaching upon them. She saw the electric serpents darting through the clouds and leaping down into the turbulent water, their movements so fast that they shattered the air in angry, growling roars.

   Rather, she didn't see it. She felt it, and it frightened her. This wasn't the first storm she had seen at sea, not by far, but something about it felt wrong. Angry. A malevolent, destructive intent, warping the air with roiling hatred, stirring it up to act as a vessel for its rage.

   The girl's hand clenched tightly on the rails. Behind her, the other sailors made their usual preparations for a coming storm, locking away the recent haul of fish with the meat and bread they brought to sustain them on the trip, getting into positions to move the sails and rudder and wheel in whatever ways they could to ensure the ship could weather the storm.

   ?...you'll keep me safe, won't you,? the girl asked, a whisper under her breath. ?I know you will. And I'll make sure you get through this, too. We'll both make it. Just hang in there and I will too.?

   Thunder broke in the distance. Less a rumble and more a scream.

*****

   The sun fled, leaving the sky a pitch-black void. Rain shot down in torrents, like ceaseless waves of bullets from a firing squad. Lightning flew like lances stabbing into the water, eliciting a sound like the shattering and twisting and grinding of massive bones under a giant stone. The ocean churned and lashed, writhing as a massive body in excruciating pain whose waves beat the ship aimlessly and relentlessly. The air screamed, shrieked, howled and roared.

   The girl gripped the wet rope holding the sail in place as tightly as she could, standing in a line with the other men of the ship. She gritted her teeth, narrowing her eyes against the waves of spray from all sides. She could hear shouting, but it was nearly incomprehensible under the cacophony of the storm. Pull. Hold. No way. Out-

   Her feet lost their hold on the deck as a wave slammed over the railing, bucking the ship dangerously to one side and soaking the planks below her even further. She slipped with the others, her hands and their hands losing hold on the rope holding the sail steady. With a mighty groan, the sail spun to the side as commanded by the wind, the few sailors still holding onto the rope taken with it and swung over the side, tossed to the merciless water with no hope of return.

   The girl scrambled to her feet as the ship rolled in the direction the wayward sail pushed it, the ship's wheel spinning wildly out of control and knocking aside the captain. The shouts of command were marred by screams of death and panic.

   The girl tried to reach for the rope in a desperate attempt to reorient the sail, but she stumbled and fell as she felt the snap and crack of something smashing through the lower levels of the ship. She slid across the slippery deck, coming to a painful halt as her back met the railing, barely saving her from rolling over the edge. She refused to let herself recover, raising her hand to pull herself to her feet and break into a stumbling run to the lower parts of the ship.

   ?...can't let water in,? she panted, practically falling down the stairs as she rushed to the find the hole. ?Don't worry. I'll protect you. Just hang in there.?

   The hole sat next to the opening for the anchor's chain, a gaping, fanged maw vomiting salty water into the ship like a bleeding wound. The girl grabbed a bucket on the way and began scooping water up and out, frantically doing everything she could to minimize the flooding, at least as long as the storm continued.

   Through the hole, she saw another sailor fall screaming into the water. She jumped and shouted in surprise, stumbling back and falling to the floor. She grabbed something to stop herself from sliding out of the hole as the ship leaned again, but it gave way almost immediately with the rattling of the chain and the clunking of some metal mechanism.

   The chain of the anchor, now freed from its lock, unraveled from the turnbuckle with frightening speed. The anchor sped down and crashed into the water as if pulled by some unseen force. With the splitting shatter of wood, the turnbuckle was freed from its place on the ship, yanked by the force of the chain even as one of the links snapped.

   The girl turned just in time to see the chain whip toward her, slamming into her neck and wrapping around it. She felt her spine snap as the anchor's weight pulled the tangled chain and its victim out of the hole and into the ocean.

   She tried to scream before she hit the surface of the water, but the only thing that came out of her mouth was a small spurt of blood.

   ...why?

   She tried to move after the cold ocean enveloped her, but her limbs wouldn't respond. She opened her mouth, but no bubbles of air came out. Just a cloudy scarlet trail leading up to the surface.

   I don't want to die. Why didn't you protect me?

   She couldn't hear anything, but the flashes above the shimmering waves of the surface were clear as she sank lower and lower.

   ...I protected you.

   A cold, unfeeling hand gripped her arm in a tight hold. Another came. And another, and another. She felt the anchor hit the floor of the ocean finally, the vibrations rumbling up the chain to her neck. The hands pulled her down faster, and the light of the surface grew further and further away. Her lungs ached as they begged for air that would never come.

   ...I...trusted you...

   Her last thoughts were enveloped in darkness, as was her sight.

*****

   She didn't know how long she waited until her vision returned to her. All sense of time in the darkness was gone. No sun or stars pierced that far for her to watch. The only light, she realized, was a faint, greenish glow.

   ?...am I alive??

   The voice that came out of her mouth rattled and scraped. The voices that responded were little more than faint whispers uttering a single word.

   No.

   The girl raised her arm to her face. The skin was encrusted with barnacles, the flesh festered with the crawling things of the ocean's bottom. The green glow was from her, she realized, as her form flickered and sputtered as if she wasn't quite there.

   ?Where is the ship??

   Gone.

   ?...she sank??

   No response. The girl sat up. The thick chain around her neck rattled in the muffled darkness. It was light, no worse than a thread. The pain was gone. The cold was gone. The weight and torture were gone.

   She glanced around in the darkness. She couldn't see much, but she felt many things. The fish of the deep, swimming through the heavy water. The crabs and worms, scuttling and crawling through the muck. Less describable things all around her, watching, listening.

   She thought. The chain came around from behind her like a metal tentacle, dragging the anchor along with it. She felt other chains on her ankles, and they moved too, waving through the water and slowly swinging the iron hooks on their ends.

   She rose up, ascending briefly off the ground. The wood of a shipwreck creaked and groaned behind her in protest, but followed after a moment, creating a jagged structure around and below her like some kind of wooden, broken serpent.

   ?...what am I??

   Murasa.

   ?What??

   You are Murasa.

   She felt something in her hand. When she looked down, she saw a  simple wooden ladle in its grasp.

   ?...I am Murasa.?

   Do you remember how you died?

   Murasa's voice was flat as she responded. ?She killed me.?

   Who?

   ?The ship.?

   Even after you promised you would protect her?

   Her fist clenched tightly around the ladle in her hand. The anchors suddenly slammed down and embedded themselves in the muck, sending the things in the darkness scurrying away. ?...yes.?

   What are you going to do?

   ?...find her.?

   And then what?

   ?She betrayed me. I will...?

   Kill her.

   ?Kill her.?

   The water around Murasa began to boil and churn. The anchors tore deep trenches into the ground. She clenched her teeth as the rotting wood behind her groaned and snapped into position.

   Reduce her to splinters. ?Drown her under the waves.? Tear her to pieces. ?Bury her in the muck.? Make her feel the pain you felt. ?Make her die the way I died.?

   The rage stopped. Murasa looked up, her eyes wide. She could feel something. Something approaching.

   She's coming.

   ?...she's coming.?

*****

   ?Looks like we'll be getting some good change from this.?

   The sailor wiped his brow as he surveyed the net full of flopping fish that his crew had just pulled out. ?Yeah. What luck, huh?? He grinned to the other sailor who had spoken, landing a hefty pat on his back in congratulations.

   Their joy was broken by the sudden clap of thunder from behind them. The crew turned in surprise to see a sea of rolling black clouds coming toward them at an alarming speed. Lightning leaped through the clouds like dogs eager to be let off the chain as the storm barreled down on them.

   ?...what in...?

*****

   The storm was ferocious, angry, alive. The waves battered the ship with angry punches and shoves. The space was a field of lightning, electricity shooting down from the black sky with little direction or reason, the air filled with a constant barrage of cracks and howls and rumbles as of some enraged leviathan. The wind screamed with many voices, all pained and frightened and furious, but none of them from the struggling crew.

   And struggling they were, trying desperately to keep the ship from flipping over in the crashing waves. Their shouts were drowned out by the thunder and wind, their lights all gone and forcing them to work and toil by the constant flashes of arcing lightning.

   The surface of the water finally broke as some towering, jagged shape burst from it. The lightning illuminated the serpentine column of wood formed from a dead ship, wrapped with chains to keep it together. At its head was the glowing green form of a girl, rotten and eaten by the things at the depths of the ocean.

   Murasa opened her mouth and howled. The air and the waves roared with her. Chains like tentacles rose out of the water, each holding a giant anchor at the end. They swung, digging into the sides of the ship. The sailors screamed as the ship was lifted into the air, where a stray bolt of lightning pierced through it and set it aflame.

   The anchors tore it to pieces. In minutes, there was nothing left but flaming shards. The crew was crushed and drowned.

   And Murasa was not satisfied.

*****

   ?...it wasn't her.?

   The ruined ship added itself to her bulk as she sat on the ocean floor again. Planks locked in place, forming more jagged protrusions.

   She will come.

   ?...so I just wait??

   Yes.

   ?...how long??

   However long you need to.

   Murasa looked down at the ladle in her hand. She turned it over a few times. ?...I can do that.?

*****

   Years passed.

   Murasa continued to destroy any ship that came on her path. Fishing vessels, battleships, traveling boats. She developed new ways to sink them. This one she splintered with her anchors. That one she filled to burst with her endless ladle. At times she sat and watched as the crew tore itself apart with panic and mutiny in the middle of the doldrums she incited. Other times she riled up the unseen beasts of the depths to attack, giving the sailors a frail chance of survival against the sea monsters.

   Between the destruction, she sat and waited at the bottom of the ocean. Her bulk grew larger and more terrifying with every ship she brought down. She surrounded herself further and further with the corpses of vessels as rotten and degenerate as she had become. Word spread of Murasa, the ghost of the sea who controlled the waves with her rage and hatred. What caused it, nobody could say, but the effects were clear.

   Murasa continued to wait.

   ...what are you doing?

   She glanced over to the side, watching the things she could not see in the darkness. ?What are you talking about? I'm getting stronger. Everyone is afraid of me now. Anyone who so much as glances at this cursed ocean dies.?

   Have you forgotten why you are here?

   She paused. ?...what do you mean??

   Did you forget your goal?

   A frown came over her face, twisting it with annoyance and no small amount of contempt. ?What goal? What was there to forget? Stop speaking in riddles, you're making me angry.?

   You forgot her.

   ?Forgot who, dammit?!? Her voice rumbled through the water like an earthquake. She swiped an anchor into the darkness, but it sailed through empty water before sticking itself in the ocean floor. ?What the hell are you talking about? Stop taunting me and just say it already!?

   You've been consumed by your own wrath. You lost your own purpose. You forgot her.

   ?SHUT UP!?

   Her voice was an inhuman roar. She felt the unseen things in the darkness scurry and crawl away in terror. The wood of her makeshift corpse-body groaned and snapped and wailed. ?I'm so sick of you! I have a purpose, and that's to kill anyone who comes here. I thought you'd get that much, whoever the hell you are!?

   Silence. Complete silence.

   Murasa's body shook with rage. The chains wrapped around her rattled. Her head finally lowered again to stare at the floor. The silence hung, but for how long, she couldn't say.

   ...there is a monk coming to vanquish you.

   Murasa let out a hollow chuckle. ?Really? A monk? Heh. Well, that's perfect, isn't it? I'm not going to be feared by everyone just by killing normal humans. If I drown that monk here, my status will spread. Maybe...?

   She lifted her rotting hands to her face. A grin formed on her mouth. ?...maybe I can even free myself from this cursed ocean and attack the humans on land.?

   The voices were silent again.

*****

   ?Are you sure about this, Lady Hijiri??

   The robed woman turned her head to look at her follower. A warm, reassuring smile came over her face, and she nodded to the other man. ?Yes. Don't worry. Everything will be fine.?

   Byakuren turned her attention back to the black clouds they were approaching. Murasa's ocean, the cursed waters that so many frightened rumors had spoken of. The monk's expression turned blank and unreadable as she watched the approaching darkness.

   ?You will be free of this curse,? she mutters under her breath. ?I promise.?

*****

   Soon, Byakuren's ship reached Murasa's stormy domain. The ship kept its steady course, even as the waves broke and the dark sky cracked with bolts of lightning. Byakuren herself remained at the head of the ship, staring out into the darkness, waiting for the inevitable appearance of the drowned ghost.

   The wait wasn't long. The jagged column of dead wood burst out of the water in front of the ship. A crown had formed around Murasa's glowing, ghostly body, almost like a mouth. Many anchors on many chains rose up like serpents ready to strike. The stench of thousands of dead, rotting fish and the stirred-up muck and filth at the deepest depths of the ocean assaulted the torrential air, but Byakuren remained steadfast.

   Murasa grinned. ?You came. Ha...hahaha! You actually came!" Her voice was hollow, mirthless despite the mocking laughter. "How stupid of you. You know you can't defeat me. Nobody can!?

   The monk refused to respond. She just stared at the ghost towering in front of her.

   ?...tch.? Murasa scoffed, and with a thought one of the anchors swung down to slam into the side of the ship with the crack and groan of splintering wood. ?Come on! Defend yourself! You're here to get rid of me, aren't you??

   Byakuren stumbled from the force of the collision, but she remained silent. Not the slightest motion signified that she wanted to fight back.

   Another anchor hit the ship. ?Come on, you worthless human! Fight me!?

   And another. The ship split in half. ?Fight me!?

   The descent of another slammed the rest of the ship under the waves. ?FIGHT ME!?

   Nothing. The ship was gone, and the monk with it. Murasa's face contorted into an expression of utter contempt. ?Stupid...waste. I can't believe-?

   Did you forget?

   The voice shot through Murasa's mind, silencing her instantly. It wasn't like the ones she spoke to before. It was someone else. ?...w-what? Who are you??

   A flash of light in front of her was her response. She shut her eyes from the painful rays, and when she opened them again, she saw something unbelievable.

   Byakuren floated above the ocean, on top of a shining ship. Not the one Murasa just sank. It was...

   ?...my...ship...?

   She stared at it in amazement. Her eyes were wide, her mouth open, trying to articulate something, but failing. It wasn't possible. It couldn't be possible. How did she forget? How was it there again?

   The wood of her artificial body started to groan. Jagged planks fell off and splashed into the water. The lightning gradually ceased.

   Byakuren smiled, her face as bright and welcoming as the rising sun.  The dark clouds began to recede from her, pierced by the light of the blue sky outside Murasa's storm. ?You were looking for this ship, right? That's why you sunk all of those other ships.?

   Murasa croaked faintly, her mouth moving wordlessly. More planks fell from her. Some of the chains lost their hold, tumbling into the slowly steadying waves below. ?...how...why...??

   ?The ship that brought us here was sunk in that shipwreck,? Byakuren continued, her tone warm and soothing. The dark clouds continued to roll back. ?I've used my powers to make a new ship, but this is a very special ship, so there's no one that can captain it.?

   The monk extended her hand out to Murasa. That bright, welcoming hand, offering salvation from the darkness and decay that the ghost had mired herself in for the years she lost track of.

   ?But you can captain this ship.?

   Murasa stared for a moment, and then another. Slowly, her own arm rose, and she floated forward. Her hand met Byakuren's as the dark clouds receded, letting the sunlight strike her face after far too long in the darkness. The shell she had built up over the years tumbled in one crumbling mass of wood and metal into the ocean, sinking to the bottom without its owner. The chains binding her snapped and fell with it, and Murasa felt a great burden suddenly lifted.

   As Byakuren slowly pulled her onto the ship, Murasa could feel herself recovering. The barnacles and worms feeding on her fell off into the waves, repairing the decay of her flesh. The sickly green glow faded, replacing it with the healthy tone of one still alive. That blue sheen returned to her eyes and hair, and the stench of rot and death surrounding her faded, replaced by the gentle scent of cool sea air.

   And as the anchor that started it all gained a fresh glimmer and Murasa's feet stepped onto the deck of the ship, her vision became marred by growing tears in her eyes that rolled down her cheeks.

   ?What is your name??

   ?...Murasa. Minamitsu Murasa.?

   ?Welcome aboard, Captain Murasa.?
« Last Edit: April 30, 2012, 06:20:19 AM by Unassuming Squid »
All lies and all sin, all dreams and all majesty, Everything rots in this ruined hell

[The Perfect, Elegant Maid] [Pathos of the Hated People] [Music, Projects, and Art]

日巫子

  • It's a cheer up charm!
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  • ふそそそそそ
    • Hydrangeamaiden
I have no idea what I'm doing.



August 14th, 109
Pandemonium, Makai

Shinki stood at her palace and looked over her vast kingdom.  The capital city was a beacon alone in the rolling hills and thick red clouds of miasma that lingered in the grid-like sky.  The city glittered like glass from the lanterns in the streets.  Beyond the stone walls lay those barren hills with the glimpse of a shepherd leading their flock.  Past that lay darkness.

Shinki stood at the balcony and watched the same view as she had for a long time, but eventually she felt as though she were growing tired of it.  She had created everything in this land, but even she could grow tired of it.

She spread her wings and flew from the balcony, floating down to the front steps.  The sky rumbled above her, threatening rain, but she paid it no mind and headed down towards the garden.

The garden was quite like a wall separating her palace from the rest of Pandemonium.  It was one of the few quiet places within the confines of the crowded city, where hedges grew tall with white roses flowering in the green, and the trickle of a stream that ran between the rocks.

Much like the babbling of a brook, Shinki could hear the faint laughter of children echoing throughout the garden.  Perhaps her daughter had found a playmate and was here now.  Chuckling to herself, Shinki continued further into the garden.  Perhaps she could have one of the maids prepare tea for them later.

Before she knew it, Shinki had wandered deep into the garden, and the laughter had stopped.  Just ahead were the tall gates that led out to the rest of Pandemonium.

?Oh, my, time just slipped right by.?  Shinki couldn?t help but smile.  She turned to head back.

?Ahh.?

A small gasp of surprise came from behind the goddess, and she looked over her shoulder.  There near the gates stood a little girl, but it wasn?t anyone Shinki recognized; it was neither her daughter nor someone who looked to be from the city inhabited by devils and magicians.

This girl seemed rather out of place, in fact, with her aqua colored eyes and hair and loose white dress with a thin ribbon at the collar.  Clipped into her hair was a round pin in the shape of a frog's head with two red eyes, and a brown feather stuck to it.  A white coil wound around another lock of her hair.  What was even more strange was that she wore no shoes, which, given Makai?s rough grass and harsh rocks, wasn?t very smart.  She looked more suited for an ocean: a human ocean, not the still black waters at the edge of the land.

Nonetheless, as suspicious as she was, she was still just a child.  Shinki took a deep breath and knelt down to the girl?s level.

?Did you wander in here by mistake?? Shinki asked gently.  ?Or were you invited in??

There was no way she would have been able to sneak past the gate guards, after all.

?Umm.?  The girl smiled and fidgeted with the hem of her dress.  ?I was invited.  Can I play here??

Perhaps she was from the city after all, or maybe she came from another part of Makai.  Shinki could never quite keep full track of her creations.

Shinki then heard two things come out of her mouth.

She straightened up, and her smile faded.  ?Intruders aren?t allowed here.?

And then, ?Of course you can!?

The girl took Shinki?s outstretched hand and smiled a bit wider.  ?Thank you!?

?My child is around your age,? Shinki said as she led the girl off.  For a brief moment, she wondered what had come over her.  Perhaps she had just imagined declining the girl?s company, but even imagining that wasn?t like her to say.  The strange feeling she had seemed to numb itself, and she decided not to think about it too much.

?How old are you??

?Today,? the girl answered, looking rather proud of herself.  Shinki forced a small laugh; the girl didn?t make any sense at all, but because she was just a child, she was excused from any blame.

?Is that so?  What?s your name?? 

The girl swung Shinki?s hand back and forth.  ?Sariel!?

Shinki offered a kindly smile.  ?What a beautiful name.  You?re quite lucky.?

?Ehehheh.?

The two were now rounding the palace and nearing the back gardens.  Here larger streams joined to feed a lake at the center of garden.  Here it was less of a wall and more of a paradise, a maze of delicate flowers to get lost in and crystal clear water to wade in.

The girl tugged on Shinki?s hand, trying to break free.  ?It?s a swimming pool!? she cried, her eyes practically shining.  Before Shinki could even react, the girl was pattering towards the lake with her arms outstretched, as if she was going to hug it.  Her hair flew up, and that?s when Shinki noticed that the back of her dress was cut, revealing her back.  But there was nothing there?why would it be like that?

Of course, in Makai, those with no wings had no need for those kinds of dresses.

The girl leapt into the water.  Her dress was immediately soaked as she splashed around, but she didn?t seem to care.  She just held the skirt up above her knees, stamping and kicking and squealing with laughter as droplets rained around her.  Shinki found her way to the nearest stone bench and took a seat, content with watching the girl entertain herself.

?I like this place!  I like this place a lot!? the girl called out as she danced.  ?There?s so much water; it feels nice!  With water this nice, the wind must feel even better; if it were windy this would be the best place ever!?

Shinki smiled a bit.  ?Well well, not many people take such a liking to Makai so quickly.?

The girl hopped out of the pool and ran over to Shinki, dripping water on the marble pathway as she went.  ?It?s really fun.  Where I come from the sky is blue, and we have mountains??

She took one of Shinki?s hands in both of hers and squeezed tightly.  ?Can I play here??

Shinki looked down at her hand.

A thousand more hands were coming, stretching themselves from the black ground desperately and moaning in agony.  The bench was gone, the garden was gone, everything was gone but her and the girl and yet Shinki was rooted down, unable to move.  It was as though she was watching everything happen from outside her body, as she saw herself paralyzed in midair with the girl still gripping her hand, and clouds of white feathers emerging from her back.

That was the first time Shinki awoke screaming in a long, long time.

?Lady Shinki?!?

Shinki looked down at herself.  She was in her own bed, in her own nightgown.  Her tangled lavender hair spilled over her shoulders and into her quaking hands.  It was unbearably hot.

?Lady Shinki!  Are you okay?!?

Shinki growled, threw the covers off her, and swung her legs over the bed.

?The door?s open!? she yelled over the knocking, which felt like rocks on her head with every beat.

At the sound of her voice, however, the knocking finally quieted down, but the voice from the outside still sounded worried.

?Then, please excuse me, ma?am??

The door swung open to reveal a young woman with long, wavy blonde hair, in which she wore a frilly white headband.  Her dress, different from so many of the workers in the palace, was bright red and long-sleeved, with a more intricately-designed apron indicating her status as Shinki?s personal maid.

?I heard the screaming all the way from?um, Lady Shinki?  What happened??

Shinki held her head in her hands and rested her elbows on her knees.  Her breathing came out uneven, and her body shivered as though she were cold.

?That?s right?she shouldn?t be that age for three years, at least??

The maid blinked.  ?What was that??

?Nothing.?  Shinki sat up and brushed her hair out of her face.  ?Fetch me my robes, Yumeko.?

?R-right away, ma?am!?

Ten minutes later, Shinki was striding through the halls with Yumeko, the maid, close on her heels.  The goddess of Makai felt dizzy just from walking, but she hardly noticed.  The dream was too vivid, and she couldn?t take her mind off it.

However, she had at least regained her usual composure.

?Has anyone slipped past the gates?? she asked.

?No, ma?am.?

?And have we had no one in the gardens aside from its usual caretakers??

?Just the usual caretakers, and no one else,? Yumeko replied.

?And where has Alice been?? Shinki asked, looking back over at Yumeko, who seemed to shrink back from the glare.

?She?s been in the palace all this time,? Yumeko said, speaking slowly, hesitantly.  ?In the nursery, the library, and the parlor?her usual haunts, Lady Shinki.?

Shinki sighed.  ?I see??

The pair walked in silence for a while, before Yumeko spoke up, still hesitant.

?Where might we be going, Lady Shinki??

?The garden,? Shinki snapped.  Yumeko flushed with embarrassment, and kept quiet the rest of the walk.

At the back doors, however, Shinki saw that there was a crowd of servants gathered there.  It wasn?t just the back doors, either: workers were gathering at the windows and running to the front door, too.  It seemed as though everyone was in a hurry to get outside.

At the sight of their goddess, many of the ones at the back door backed away, bowing and looking rather caught off guard.  A few, however, wasted no time in calling out to her.

?Your majesty!  Come quickly!? shouted one demon, his tail flicking back and forth in excitement.

?It?s beautiful!? swooned another as she pushed open a window.

Shinki and Yumeko made their way through the crowd, and when they caught a glimpse of the outside, they both gasped.

Raining from Makai?s abysmal, dead, grid-like sky were pure white feathers.  Falling like snow?

Shinki?s heart nearly stopped.  She whirled around and grabbed Yumeko by the shoulders.

?Why didn?t you tell me this?!? she half-screamed, shaking the maid back and forth.  For the first time in a long time, the goddess of Makai was losing her composure.

?I was in the basement kitchens!  Please forgive me!? Yumeko pleaded, her eyes fearful and filling with tears.  At this sight, Shinki let go of her shoulders and turned back to the door.
?I don?t want a single soul from the city or anywhere else in Makai getting within the palace grounds!? she snapped to the rest of the workers.

?Yes, ma?am!? they all shouted.

Leaving her servants alone, Shinki burst out the doors and tore off into the sky.  She had the same numb, terrified feeling looking at the feathers raining down on her beautiful world.  These feathers were not her doing.

It was no use trying to prevent someone from entering the palace; someone had already entered Makai.  Someone was already here.

Cracking down on palace security at least gave Shinki a sense of security.

Not far from the palace Shinki saw the sea, rippling with the thousands of feathers that had landed upon it, gently sinking down.  The air felt unbearably heavy here; not of physical weight, but of something that pressed down upon her mind.

Shinki dove into the water headfirst, her wings pressed flat against her back to keep from slowing her fall.  Water rushed against her and tore against her, resisting but ultimately failing as she broke through and kept going, down into cold, cold darkness.

Something was rippling down below, sending white rings rippling throughout the darkness.

A smallish figure was curled up in a fetal position at the very bottom of the ocean, far, far below the bowels of Makai.  A figure with long, long, aqua hair, a figure that was wearing a modest dress with long sleeves and boots whose tops disappeared under the hem. 

The figure had six brilliant white wings growing from her back, splayed on the cold floor.

Shinki floated above her and beheld.

?Oh my god.?

She felt as though she were floating there for an eternity, staring at this winged girl slept serenely far, far below the bowels of Makai, oblivious from the hands that reached up to her from even farther below in some godforsaken abyss.

It was when Shinki was starting to be unable to take it anymore that she saw Yumeko slowly descend beside her, smoothing out her skirt.

?So this is where you went??  Yumeko?s voice was understanding, but faltered when she saw the girl down below.

?What is that?? she asked, pointing to her.

Shinki frowned.  ??I do not know,? she admitted.  ?Could we even kill it?? she went on, wondering to herself.  ?I mean??

The little girl?s voice played out in her head: The water?s all cold here!  I told you I could warm up, though.

In her mind, Shinki answered: Oh, hush.  You?ve just been causing a lot of commotion.  You?re such a reckless child.

Blehhh.  I don?t like youuu.

?Lady Shinki??

?Yes??  Shinki shook herself out of her reverie.

?This place gives me a bad feeling.  If you are not against it, I humbly suggest we leave??

?Then leave we shall,? Shinki said.

And so they left.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2012, 02:47:26 AM by 日巫子 »

☆ Check my profile for links to my sites! ☆
[21:12] <OneLoveOnePurvis> *Black as hell and bitter as love. That is coffee.*
[17:42] <Amra> Himiko's one of the people that's really cute but sometimes art shifts into like hard jojo-style
[17:42] <Amra> as she does something out of character

triangles

  • gotta stock up on dark matter
  • each pound of which weighs over 10,000 pounds
So something I whipped up on a lark a few weeks back vaguely fits the theme sort of and someone suggested I post it as the comedy option.  I am putting it in spoilers as to not detract from all of the actual entries.

Spoiler:
But first, you must have the appropriate BGM: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qHA366oRMs

Spoiler:
Now this is the story all about how
My life got twist turned upside down.
I'd like to take a minute, just listen to me
I'll tell you all about my quest for immortality

In imperial royalty born and raised
Hearing people was how I spent most of my days
Doing some thinking that death was not cool
But Taoism was not how I could rule

Yet this Buddist thing, that I understood
Started preaching all over my neighborhood
Good for the people but not what I believed
And a plan for eternal life I soon concieved

I waited to revive and when it came near
the time to wake up after lots and lots of years
But in the meantime the faith in me was lost
And the border of Gensokyo my mausolem crossed

I woke up to a shock at where I was at
Stuck under a temple of some Buddist brat
Now I got a plan to return the status quo
To be the stage six boss in the newest Touhou

capt. h

  • Only sane townie
To be clear, is the due date is Monday, April 30, at 11:59 PM Pacific time?

I'm kind of busy, so knowing if I have less than 12 hours or closer to 36 makes a difference. Kind of a bad time of year for writing, frankly.

Iced Fairy

  • So like if you try to hurt alkaza
  • *
  • I will set you on fire k'?
    • Daisukima Dan Blog
It's due tonight I fear.

Iced Fairy

  • So like if you try to hurt alkaza
  • *
  • I will set you on fire k'?
    • Daisukima Dan Blog
The sword maker carefully examined the blade under the light of the candle.  While the human eye could not see the level of detail he was interested in, the glow from the blade told him what he needed to know.  The layered soft and hard steel had worn away perfectly, creating a serrated cutting surface.  Of course that meant the sword wasn't as strong physically, but that didn't matter.  The will forged into the blade would would give it a strength that steel could not.

He set it down on the sword rest then picked up the larger blade, the sister sword to the one he had created.  It was long, too long for a hand and a half blade in his mind, but the buyer had demanded this length.  The shine of this blade was different, brighter.  There was far more strong steel at the edge.  It was duller but heavier.  The sword-master shook his head as he maneuvered the blade.  Had he tried to forge this weapon it would have been brittle, but somehow the master had forged it to be just as flexible as the katana he'd made despite using stronger steel.

His inspection complete he placed the two swords on a display rack.  The sword maker rose and opened the door to where his guest was waiting.  "They are finished.  Come in."

The ronin entered with a bow, carefully moving to the sword stand before looking over the blades.  "What are their names?"

"The longer blade is Roukanken, the smaller Hakurouken.  They have been made to your specifications."  The sword maker hesitated for a moment before continuing.  "My master said you should be informed as to how the blades here are truly made."

"Your master?"  The ronin's eyes narrowed in confusion.  That was to be expected of course.  The sword-maker knew he was showing the eighty seven years of life in his withered frame.

"Yes.  My master.  The youkai that taught me sword crafting.  The Ippon-Datura."  He pointed at Roukanken.  "That blade is his work.  It is youkai forged.  With a strong heart behind it, there is nothing it cannot cut."

"I see..."  The ronin lifted the blade and turned it in his hands, feeling the balance of the weapon.  "I will have to use the other blade for the final duel, but that was my plan anyway."  He sheathed Roukanken and picked up Hakurouken, once again feeling the blade's weight with his hands.  "They are both excellent.  I trust this blade contains the spells I asked for."

"It has the effects you asked for," the sword master said proudly.  "There are no spells there, simply an awakened sword with the will to cut hesitation from the minds of it's victims.  A living being  struck will find their resistance to death slip away.  A ghost struck will abandon it's life to the path of 'Mu.'  So long as your will does not falter it will perform its duties.  No magic spell or koan will stop it."

A grim smile slowly crossed the ronin's face.  "Your skill has exceeded the rumors, Master Takane.  With this weapon I can complete my quest.  I thank you."

"There is one more matter before you leave," Takane Yamada said.  "You must prove yourself worthy of wielding these blades."

The ronin stiffened, then nodded.  "I understand.  What must I do?"

Takane pointed towards a rock pillar.  "Cut the pillar."

Without a seconds hesitation the ronin dashed forward.  In a flash he drew both swords then swung them in a mighty arc.  Takane swore that he could see the trails left by the blades in the dim light.  The pillar fell, cut into fourths.

The ronin sheathed the blades.  "I trust all is in order."

"Yes... yes indeed."  Takane hesitated for a moment, then bowed to the ronin.  "However, I would request a favor.  What is your name honorable samurai?"

"Youki.  Furuhashi Youki."

---------------

Youki double checked the straps on his bags.  His heart burned with the need to finish his quest.  It had been burning ever since Sword Master Takane had given him his swords.  But there were other matters that needed to be taken care of first.

"Are you leaving today honorable samurai?"

"Not today.  Tomorrow.  Today I have business I must attend to."  Youki replied.  He stood and bowed to the village elder.  "I will likely be late returning, so do not feel a need to wait for me.  I will sleep in the warehouse if need be."

"I see..."  The village elder stroked his beard.  Youki could tell the man was trying to press him for information.  It was a reasonable thing to do after all.  Most lone ronin in this area were bandits.

Youki answered the man's unspoken question.  "I'm going to Shorumura."

The elder's eyes opened wide at that.  "Honorable samurai, that village is gone.  It was destroyed by youkai ten years ago.  Now all that lies there are angry spirits.  Forgive me but I humbly urge you to reconsider."

Youki turned and began walking.  "And vengeful spirits are the spirits that need offerings the most, right?"

Youki heard the elders clothes rustle as the man bowed behind him.  "That is so, lord samurai.  May the kami and Jizo watch over your journey."

"Thank you."

Youki walked away, along the narrow road.

As the day slipped away he tried to recall familiar features, pick out the landmarks from ten years ago, but time had erased his memories, both within and without.  The mountains stood as they always did, but the land around him had changed.  The path which he remembered as a well traveled road was now just a small trail with crumbling rock steps along the way.

His arrival at Shorumura was sudden.  The forest just stopped, being replaced by brush and smaller trees.  Outlines of walls and irrigation fields still showed under the plants that had reclaimed it.  The grass was shortest near the center of the village.  Where the fires had burned brightest. 

That was where Youki headed.  When he reached the gravestone he stopped.  He carefully pulled away the grass that had grown around the stone, then poured water over the stone to clean it.  It was a futile effort, given how unimpressive the makeshift gravestone was, but he had to try.  When he was done he pulled out the mochi and the incense.  He set the rice cakes down in front of the grave, then placed the incense beside it and lit it. 

He sat there for some time in silence, watching the incense slowly burn.  Finally he clapped his hands together three times.  "I don't know if any of you are still here.  If so I'm sorry I haven't been able to tend to you.  I wanted to bring sake as well, but I couldn't afford it.  I'm sorry."

He fell silent again.  It was probably pointless, but he felt as if he should linger here.  Perhaps his presence might calm the last remnants of hatred and loneliness that infused the poor lost souls here.

Finally the growing shadows warned him that he could stay no longer.  He clapped his hands again, then bowed.  "I do not know if this gives your spirits some comfort, but I finally have the tools I need to seek vengeance in your name.  I swear I will slay the monsters who did this."  He swallowed the lump that formed in his throat.  "And mother, I promise I'll do my best to survive our revenge."

He stood and after a moments hesitation walked away.

The shadows continued to deepen as he walked back down the long road to the village, but time seemed to stop for him.  It was if the twilight of that night long ago had returned to cast a shadow over him.

He knew that he'd arrive back after dusk.  Perhaps that was for the best.  He wasn't going to be good company.  If he was lucky he could sneak into the warehouse under cover of night before anyone saw him and was forced to offer him a place to sleep.

Youki sighed as the sun finally set.  He could tell he was going to have nightmares again.  He could almost almost smell the smoke from that night....

The clang of a fire bell snapped him out of his reverie.  He really had smelled smoke, and it was coming from the same direction as that small mountain village.

He began to run.

As he reached the top of a small rise he saw the village again.  The houses below were in flames, but Youki's trained eyes could still spot the arrows that had started the conflagration.  The fire tower was ablaze as well, the corpse of a man showing what had happened to the man who had tried to warn his fellows.  He could hear the screams of the panicked villagers, and all around the village he could hear the guttural laughter of their attackers.  He had to act quickly.

Youki rushed down the path.  The trees flew past as he used his true speed, honed by years of swordsmanship.  He reached the edge of the village within seconds.  The twisted shapes of bakemono and other lesser youkai appeared before him.  He drew his sword without thought and swung.  He heard the tearing of flesh and the screams of his victims, but the cut felt like he was swinging through air.  He swept the sword back again, and the rest of the youkai fell.

His enemies defeated, he looked around.  None of the youkai seemed to be anything of note.  Still his Roukanken had served wonderfully.  He flicked the blood off the blade and took a deep breath.  He'd have to pay more attention to his swordsmanship if he wanted to survive the night.

"You bastard!"  Youki turned to see another group of youkai burst out the the trees.  Four in all.  They must have heard their allies death screams.  They lowered their weapons at him and charged.  Youki stepped to meet them.  This time he angled his strike properly, making sure to cut the spears of his foes while avoiding the blades.  There was another shower of blood as his long blade cleaved through the attackers.  They screamed, then died.

Youki looked around.  The youkai marauders attacking the village would have surrounded it.  He could kill them off group by group, but it would take too long.  They would be sure to reach the humans hiding in the village center and begin the slaughter first.  He had to act boldly.

Youki dashed into the rice fields.  Taking a deep breath he called out, "Foul spawn of darkness!  I, Furuhashi Youki, challenge you all!  Come and fight me!"  A shower of arrows flew at him in reply.  In return he gripped his sword with both hands and swung upward.  The muddy earth of the rice paddy splashed into the air, taking the arrows out of the sky.  "Pathetic!"

The monsters in the trees could no more ignore that taunt then a human bandit could.  They rushed out to kill him for his insolence.  Youki guessed they numbered forty or so.  He also guessed they expected their superior numbers to win out.

They would soon learn differently.

Youki retreated slightly, moving slowly to the right as some of the youkai pulled ahead of their comrades.  The muddy ground here quickly separated out the skilled from the ranks.  Those who weren't trained at keeping their footing fell behind their comrades.  Humans might slow and try to reestablish their organization, but youkai were too proud to do such a thing.  As Youki slowly pulled away the youkai attack changed from a wave into a line.  When his enemies were in the proper positioning he stopped his retreat.  He flipped his sword behind him and began moving forward.

The first youkai single huge eye bulged as it realized it's mistake.  Youki was back-lit by the flames, so pinpointing his movement was impossible.  Youki felt its bloodlust revert to fear and struck, cutting the monster down and cleaving into the beast behind it.  Youki fell upon the group like a farmer harvesting the rice.  Each sweep of his blade, each death, sent the survivors into more confusion.  When he'd hacked through half of the monsters the rest broke and tried to run, but the rice fields slowed them.  He continued on, running the monsters down.  None would be spared.

When the last one fell, it's four arms spasming as it died, he turned back and ran towards the village.  He hoped he still had time.

His heart rose when he saw humans running towards him.  "This way is clear!" he yelled.  The fleeing men and women redoubled their efforts.  Behind them he could see a few villagers armed with makeshift spears trying to hold back the approaching bandits so their families could flee.  He pressed himself to move faster, hopping onto the road so the muddy field wouldn't slow his stride.

Youki reached the village proper just in time to see the last of the young men who had been defending the village cut down by a twisted dwarf kappa.  He rewarded the monster by dashing forward and unleashing a powerful twirling cut that removed both it's legs.  He set himself in a wide stance as the youkai moved to encircle him.  "Come then beasts!  Let's see how you do against a real warrior instead of farmers!"

"Don't act so full of yourself human!" roared a voice.  Youki's eyes widened as a giant red oni stomped into the light of the flames.  The oni swung around a iron club the size of a tree trunk, and the rest of the youkai laughed as they formed a makeshift circle around him.  "Now be crushed by my might!

He shivered, then gripped Roukanken tighter.  He wasn't a boy anymore.  He wasn't the same frightened child that could do nothing as the youkai ravaged his home.  His eyes narrowed as the red giant moved forward.  "And you aren't really an oni, are you?"

The creature blinked in surprise before raising it's club high in the air and bringing it smashing down straight at Youki's head.  He casually hopped aside then jumped over the beasts follow up swing and dashed forward.  He cut low, where the creatures true body would be.  Sure enough there was a scream, a meaty tearing noise, and the tanuki trickster fell to the ground in a spray of blood.

The youkai surrounding Youki fell silent in shock.  He took a few seconds to wipe the blood from his face before dropping into a low stance again and charging the nearest group.  He killed three before the rest broke and ran.

Youki gave chase into the night.  He wasn't going to be satisfied until all of them were dead.

----------------

The fires were dying when Youki returned to the mountain village.  The familiarity of the scene struck him yet again.  This time however the village was filled with humans searching for their loved ones, and his arms were covered with blood instead of ash.  He didn't feel any better about it though.

A matronly woman approached him as he reached the main square.  Her face was an impassive mask, but Youki could see tear lines on her face.  She bowed deeply.  "We thank you lord samurai.  Without your aid...."

"I only wish I could have done more," he replied.  "Are there any trapped in the rubble?  People I can search for?"

"Thank you lord samurai, but everyone is accounted for.  One way or another."  The woman was silent for a few moments.  "The elder is dead.  As are most of the men.  There is no way we can rebuild here by ourselves.  We will be leaving here to petition our lord for aid."

"Then before you go, allow me to make a request."  Youki pulled out his money pouch and handed it to the startled woman.  "I wish for two days supplies.  I understand barter at this time is unreasonable so please just take what is needed.  I will return for the remainder when my quest is over."

The woman's mouth dropped open and she trembled as she clutched the pouch.  "Thank you.  Thank you lord.  We....  I...."

Youki shook his head.  "My father may have been a samurai, but my mother was a tavern worker.  You have no need to call me lord."  Youki turned away so as not to shame the woman by viewing her tears.  "I need to rest.  If you have the supplies ready for me by morning that will be fine."

"Lord..." The woman called out from behind him.  "Your quest.  Do you mean to...?"

Youki's fists clenched.  "I mean to kill the oni Nanbanji.  The leader of these brutes.  The beast that murdered my family."

"...  May Bishamon-ten and Hachiman-ten watch over you then, lord."

"Thank you."  Youki walked away looking for a patch of ground that was smooth and clean to rest in.  He needed as much sleep as he could get.  Especially since the nightmares were sure to plague him again.

----------------------

"What?!" the oni roared rising to his full height.  "What did you say?!"

The tengu standing before him managed to keep his expression neutral.  "I stated that Jinryu has been killed.  He led his band on a quick raid to get more human prisoners for the larder, but a samurai killed him.  My apologies for the bad news Boss Nanbanji."

Nanbanji slammed his iron club into the earth in frustration.  "What of his men then?  He had ninety nine youkai under his command!  Even if they are little bugs a human shouldn't have defeated all of them."

"Apparently this human can.  If he is a human.  The man wields a nodachi one handed."  The tengu replied.  "There was only one survivor, and he apparently only lived because he played dead.  The fool was limping towards our camp, so I questioned then killed him for incompetence."

"I see."  Nanbanji grumbled.  The large oni thought for a moment.  "I think it best to make an example of this samurai.  Have the stronger youkai go out and hunt him down.  Make it gruesome."

"Yes boss."  The tengu bowed and left.

Nanbanji grumbled again and sat back down.  Annoyances like this always seemed to pop up at the worst possible time.

"Sending out your thugs?  Have you slipped so far you're afraid of a fight?"

He froze at the voice, then whirled around towards the source.  Sure enough a small oni in hybrid form was looking smugly up at him.  Her unique chains and purple gourd made it obvious who she was to any true oni.  "Suika!  I don't care if you are a deva, if you accuse me of cowardice I'll fight you!  I just don't want to waste my time fighting a human."

"You insult humans a lot for someone who acts like them so often," Suika replied.  The little oni shrugged.  "Well that's not my problem.  I figure he can kill you even after he cuts through your group of thugs.  Bet a whole warehouse full of the good stuff against Yuugi too."  Suika smiled happily.  "Which means if he does make it to you, you better fight fair and not back down, or Yuugi's gonna break you good!"

Nanbanji growled and ground his teeth as the small oni faded away into mist.  "A human who can beat an oni?  Ha!  He'll never even get to me."

He gabbed his iron club and strode out into his camp.  Dealing with Suika had made him angry.  Perhaps a little training would make him feel better.

---------------

Youki kept his steps even and his eyes searching the path ahead.  The mountain trail looked like any other, but he was certain youkai lurked throughout the area.  He'd followed a blood trail from one of the bandits that attacked the village until he found the place where the creature had apparently stumbled off a cliff.  From there he'd backtracked the raiding party itself.  Most youkai could pass without damaging their home environments, but some of the more wicked and twisted ones damaged everything they passed.  From that damage Youki had managed to find the game trail he'd been following for the past hour.  It had led him further into the mountains, and Youki imagined that if he had a proper map it would show him getting further into uncharted territory, but closer to more human villages.  The perfect spot for a group of youkai raiders.

The trail itself was also a boon for bandits.  It had several stretches where no more then ten men abreast could walk, and some that shrank even further.  However it also had open forested areas where spies and saboteurs could easily hide.  A army group could be easily stalled by only a hundred men.  Probably even less if the defenders were youkai.

As Youki moved through another choke point he felt something in the atmosphere change.  He paused, drawing his canteen and drinking slowly.  The pressure increased.  Someone was planning on ambushing him.  He carefully put his canteen away and continued on, doing his best to act as if he couldn't sense the killing intent being focused at him.  The enemy waited for him in the trees right up ahead.  Either they would be coming from above, or from the bushes.

The killing aura increased as he walked into the forest.  There were two... no three of them.  All strong but inexperienced, as he was when he first started out.  He'd have to hit them hard and fast to shatter their confidence.  Now was the time to use Hakurouken.  He slowed his pace as he entered the forest.  Forcing his foes to wait would make them irritable.  If they were irritable they would make a mistake.

Youki felt the killing aura change a second before the bush rustled.  A kama-itachi sprang from the bushes and charged him, the weasel youkai moving faster then his eyes could follow.  Hakurouken arced through the air with his iai cut.  This time Youki felt the blade strike.  He tightened his grip on the blade as it sliced across the foe's chest in order to avoid getting caught in bone.  The strike had been intended as an air pressure strike at range, but the youkai rushing him had been so fast it had reached arm's length.  Blood splattered across him, but he ignored it.  He'd been covered in blood before.

Two more of the creatures sprang out of other bushes.  ?Brother!? they wailed in anguish and rage.  They dashed to flank Youki, drawing their kama as they did.  If they had been humans Youki would have feinted at one, then attacked the other, but kama-itachi knew from birth how to fight as a group.  He would have to counter their assault when it came.

Once again he read their moments by mere seconds.  The two creatures screamed and charged as one, both blindingly fast.  Angered by the loss of their third they didn't even seem to care that one of them was certain to strike his blade.

Youki dropped into a low stance and met their charge.  He thrust Hakurouken out with his right hand, while using his left hand to strike with Roukanken's pommel.  His hilt slammed into the breastbone of his first assailant while the second ran himself through.  The weasel youkai who Hakurouken struck seemed to shudder as the balde struck it, then it dropped it's weapons and slumped into death.  Youki twisted the weapon to pull it free then struck the stunned kama-itachi a second time in the throat with Roukanken before swinging Hakurouken into the youkai's head.

Silence fell over the clearing.  He couldn't sense any more danger, but he looked around anyway.  When he was certain all his foes had been felled he flicked the blood off of his sword and resheathed it.  Sadly there was no way the blood was coming off of his clothes, but the kama-itachi had carried medicine and water.  He cleaned his skin as best he could.

He was pleased at how well Hakurouken had performed.  Unless you struck the heart, a youkai of that caliber wouldn't die from a simple stab wound.  Even a human could sometimes fight on with injuries like that.  Hakurouken however had cut through the beast's fury and will to live.  He'd need that ability, in the future.

But first he needed to catch his true quarry.  He continued up the trail, eyes open for more trickery.

-------------------

?Help!  Someone help!?

Youki's eyes narrowed at the scream from up around the bend.  He dashed forward, then rolled as he reached the turn.  The sword strike aimed at him smashed into the ground and he rewarded the ambusher with Roukanken.

To his surprise there actually was a woman surrounded by youkai ahead.  Well she had been surrounded by youkai.  Now the five beasts were charging him.  He sighed and stepped forward.  Roukanken struck once, then twice, and the inept thugs were dead.  He flicked the sword off his blade and walked up to the woman.  ?Are you alright??

?I am, thanks to you good sir samurai.?  The woman adjusted her disheveled kimono then gasped as it fell open.  Youki politely stepped back and pretended to be looking for more attackers while the woman blushed and got her wardrobe back in order.

?Can you walk?? Youki asked when she was finished retying her obi.

The woman blushed furiously.  ?Yes sir samurai.  I'm uninjured.  Um...  My name is Kitsu.  May I know who saved my unworthy life??

?Furuhashi Youki,? he replied simply.

?Furuhashi,? the woman's eyes widened.  ?Was your father Furuhashi Souzaemon?"

Youki nodded.  "I am his son."

"I see..."  Kitsu smiled and wrapped herself around his arm.  "No wonder you're so strong.  I see you carry two long swords.  You know the school of Miyamoto Musashi?"

Youki carefully pulled himself free and started walking again, keeping himself alert for danger.  "No.  My father is unaware of my birth.  I only inherited his strength.  My school is my own."

?I see.?  Kitsu followed along.

?Does your family know you are out here?? Youki asked as they walked.

Kitsu hesitated then looked down at the ground.  ?My family is no longer with me.  I am alone these days.?

?You have my condolences,? Youki replied quietly.  ?It is difficult to lose family.?

They walked in silence for some time after that.  Kitsu approached Youki occasionally but she always collapsed back in on herself before speaking again.  Youki did his best to simply keep an eye out for danger.

Finally they reached a point where the trail branched.  Youki nodded, then turned to Kitsu.  ?And now we should part ways, boy.?

?Boy?!?  Kitsu stumbled back.  ?Why I nev-?

Youki simply gave a stern look.  ?You shouldn't bother trying to keep the facade.  Your 'name' gave your race away immediately kitsune.  We both know the chances of a lone woman with your figure wandering though these mountain passes is zero.?  Youki folded his arms.  ?You might have been able to claim you were a kidnapped peasant or noble, but the only bandits around here are Nanbanji's thugs, and they eat humans they capture.  In addition your honorifics are straight out of a play.  A woman would already know the proper honorifics.  So you must be male, and fairly young to botch your deception so poorly.  I imagine you only have one tail, right??

Kitsu's mouth opened in shock, then the fair features twisted and bent into the kitsune's true form.  As youki suspected the boy was young.  Given the difference in aging he probably wasn't much older then Youki himself.  The stunned kitsune stumbled back, then reached into his sleeve.  Youki's eyes narrowed and he drew Roukanken in a flash.  ?I would not suggest drawing that knife.  I spared you because you didn't have the smell of blood on you, and because you hesitated to attack me when I gave you openings.  I don't know why you joined this band of thugs, but it would be best if you left now, before your soul is muddied like theirs.?

'Kitsu' was trembling now, and his eyes were tearing up, but he put his hand on the hilt of his knife anyway.  ?You humans and your exorcists killed my parents!  They skinned them and left the bodies to rot!  Nanbanji will give me the power to-?

Youki laid his blade to rest on the boy's throat.  The kitsune froze.  ?It was youkai who killed my mother.  Should I take my vengeance now?  Would that be fair and just??

The boy stood there tears slowly falling.  Finally after a long pause he let go of the knife and let his arms fall.  Youki put his sword away.  ?Vengeance is like a sword.  It must be tightly controlled or it will destroy you.  Go train more.  The city should teach you how to master your powers.  Then find those who are truly responsible for your sorrow.  Don't let the honeyed words of those who would use you stray you from that path.?

The kitsune boy wiped his eyes, then turned and ran down the mountain.  Youki waited until he was out of sight, before turning and walking up the other path.

---------------------

Youki's nerves were on edge as he approached the turn before a final canyon choke point.  There had to be more bandits.  If they were going to make an attack, it would be there.

He froze as he rounded the corner.  His foes had prepared for him, and there were far more then he had ever suspected.  Ranks on ranks of monsters filled the pass.  Spears and swords formed a thicket of blades that stretched as far as Youki could see.  This wasn't just a bandit group.  It was an army.

"Welcome, welcome," a haughty voice came from above him.  "I see you have some skill after all."

Youki looked up to see a crow tengu sitting in the air without a care in the world.  The tengu smiled down at him.  "You've annoyed the boss a bit, so he's put a big bounty on your head.  Sadly I can't claim it, but the other nine hundred youkai in the band are all interested."  The tengu snapped his fingers dismissively.  "Kill him.  And remember no arrows.  We can't tell those apart so you won't get the extra human meat."

The horde poured down the canyon with a terrifying roar.  Youki hesitated.  He wanted to run, flee from the certain death bearing down on him.  But his training, the history of deadly duels he'd fought, kept him steady.  To flee was death as well.  He could no more escape the force rushing him then a wader could escape a wave.  He drew Roukanken and charged.  He would have to break the wave!

The distance between himself and the front ranks closed quickly.  He was lucky, they would meet just past one of the closest points of the pass.  Youki took two steps beyond the choke point, then swung his blade in an arc along the ground with both hands.  The youkai forged blade broke the earth sending dirt and rocks flying forward in a wave of his own.  The youkai at the front flinched back causing their comrades further back to bump into them.

Youki took advantage of the pileup to strike.  He cut low again, beneath the weapons of his foes slicing their legs and thighs.  As the first rank fell he attacked again, cutting down a mountain kappa by slicing through it's spear, before twisting the strike into the head of a three eyed creature he couldn't identify.  He hopped back away from the strikes of the youkai who still lived, then used his swords reach to cut down three youkai who leaped over their fallen brethren.

With that strike he felt the flow of the battle shift.  He was now in control of the tides of war.  When he moved forward the enemy grew cautious.  When he stepped back the enemy grew overconfident.    With each cycle more fell to his sword.  It was a dangerous game.  If he pushed too far in either direction he would be crushed by the mob.  If he stayed still or repeated himself he would lose control of the battle.  It was a dizzying battle.  Two steps forward, three back, then another step back followed by a lunge.

Youki was lost in a swirling mass of yells and screams, swords and spears.  His kimono grew heavier with the blood of those he killed.  The ground became thicker and thicker with bodies.  At some points he was forced to retreat just because the ground was so littered with corpses fighting was impossible.  He was fortunate the youkai he fought were similarly limited.

?What the hell is this?!?

The roar from the far end of the pass caused all the combatants to freeze.  Youki looked up to see a red oni standing there, iron tetsubo in its hand.  Power and rage radiated from it, enough that even a peasant could feel it.  This was no illusion.  This was the monster he'd seen ten years ago.

?You fucking pipsqueaks can't kill one human?  Why the hell am I bothering with you?? thundered the oni.  Youki blinked and survived the battlefield.  To his surprise most of the youkai army had fallen.  Less then a hundred still stood upon the field.

The joy he felt on realizing he was winning was sapped by the sudden fatigue rushing through his body.  Now that the flow of battle had been broken all the aches and pains from the long journey and the battle started to plague him.  He'd picked up a light slash on his left arm and a cut across the ribs somewhere along the way as well.

He took a deep breath and tried to force the pains away.  ?Nanbanji!  Murderer of my family and village!  I, Furuhashi Youki challenge you!?

?You?  Challenge me??  The oni snarled.  ?You've wasted enough of my time!?  The oni slammed his club into the ground then pointed at his minions.  ?Any youkai who can't kill a  human is of no worth to me!  Kill that samurai or I'll crush you myself!?

The remaining marauders hesitated for a moment, before turning towards Youki and rushing him.  There was no way to break their advance now.  He drew in another deep breath then charged, yelling his own war cry.

The next few moments were a flickering chaos of screams, lights and sword clashes.  He felt a spear cut his leg, and pain from someone biting his shoulder, but he moved on, dealing death as best he could.

Finally there was a cut, a scream, and he found himself standing alone, covered in blood.  He took a few deep breaths before flicking the blood from Roukanken and sheathing it.  He looked up at the oni and sneered.  ?It seems none of them were of worth to you.?

?Getting ahead of ourselves are we??

Youki ducked just in time to avoid a swooping cut by the tengu who had greeted him.  He quickly drew Hakurouken and tried to position himself to counter the crow tengu's next attack.  ?You wish to challenge me in a pass?  Your arrogance will be the end of you.?

The tengu sneered.  ?Don't insult me human.  It doesn't matter if my lines of attack are limited.  You won't even live to feel my sword.?  The tengu pulled out a leaf fan and twirled it before using it to send a blast of air at Youki.

Youki narrowed his eyes and focused his power.  When the air blast was close enough he twirled his sword in a circle in front of him, the blade forming a mirror in front of him.  ?Ha!?

The air blast struck the twirling sword and rebounded back towards the tengu.  It dashed aside to avoid it's own projectile then looked back down at Youki with more appraising eyes.  ?Not bad.  I guess you will get to feel my sword!?

Youki held his sword in a high guard.  The tengu hovered in place for a moment, then slowly began it's dive.  Youki waited, trying to anticipate the moment the tengu would get within range.

With a flicker the tengu suddenly changed it's dive.  Youki felt the blade strike his own, but he wasn't ready for the counter.  As he stumbled forward, he felt pain lance through his back.  A clean cut from his foe.  He hoped it was shallow, but he didn't have time to check.

He turned to face the tengu again, raising his sword back into a high guard.  He focused on his breathing, then closed his eyes.  His eyes couldn't capture the speed of a tengu.  He'd have to counter based purely based on his other senses.  He allowed his consciousness to seep into the sword, until he could feel the wind playing around it.

The winds ebbed and flowed around the sword, and then, like the prick of a pin, he felt the tap of a sword.  He pushed forward, then called upon his own speed to circle around the tengu.  He couldn't match the tengu for speed, but by altering his pace, he could confuse the youkai's sight.  The beast would see five Youkis circling it.  ?After images?? the tengu cried.  ?Those won't save you!?  Youki replied by snapping his blade into a low stance.  His eyes snapped open as he brought his blade forward, then leaped.

In the tengu's mind the images of Youki kept going.  After all, this was the perfect time to attack.  Its mind filled in the details that it expected, even though it was falsehood.  So as Youki flew into the sky the tengu retaliated against the warriors only it could see, sending its blade in a beautiful arc.  Youki wondered briefly if the tengu saw through the illusion then, or if the creature imagined it had cut down the images.

In the end it didn't matter.  Youki dropped down like a meteor slicing straight through the tengu's chest.   The tengu's eyes grew wide as Hakurouken cut through it's confusion at the deception.  Then the creature fell in one last shower of blood.

Youki cleaned his blade and returned his gaze to Nanbanji.  ?You are all that is left.?

The oni seemed to consider the matter.  ?So I see.  Very well little samurai.  I will take you seriously.  You wish for my death?  Then come into my camp.  The center is open and clean.  There will be no tricks or illusions.  No stones or logs to trip us up.  Come and learn what it means to fight an oni.?  The giant turned and trotted away.

Youki wanted to rush after the oni, but that was foolish.  If he arrived out of breath and bleeding he'd lose for sure.  Instead he sank to one knee and cleaned off his hands.  He didn't want to lose his grip because of all the blood on them.  Then he pulled out the medicine he'd gotten of the kama-itachi.  The strange ointment wouldn't cure his bruises or mend a cut, but it would stop the bleeding.  After that he worked on his breathing to stabilize his chi as best he could, before walking up the stairway of corpses to the top of the slope.

The camp stood empty and quiet.  Youki began to realize the tengu had spoken the truth about the camps numbers.  It seemed more a tent city then a couple of huts.  There was a small set of farmland and even a smithy here.  One of the tents he passed had several tables with mahjong tiles laying on them.  Games that had been interrupted to deal with an intruder no doubt.

Now the inhabitants of this city lay dead along the mountain, slain by his hand.

Youki turned away and walked on.  Those who chose the path of murder must be willing to die themselves.  This was the way of the world.

Nanbanji was sitting, club planted in the ground, waiting for him at the center of the camp.  As he said it was a large open place, clean of obstructions.  He wasn't sure if that was in his favor, or would work against him.

He stopped just outside the oni's massive reach.  The red giant slowly stood and looked down at him.  ?You've cost me a lot Furuhashi Youki.  It's gonna take a long time to gather a thousand youkai again.  Especially since most of my race has decided to wander off for some stupid reason.?  The oni cracked his knuckles.  ?But know this.  No human has ever beaten an oni in fair combat.  Ever.  You're gonna die here.?

Youki slowly placed his hand on Hakurouken's hilt while dropping into a draw cut stance.  ?There is only truth in this fleeting world.  Today, you die.?

?Like hell you runt!? Nanbanji cried, sweeping his club through the air.  Youki dipped low, then pushed off the ground beneath the arcing weapon.  He was slow, but his first slash cut across the oni's leg.  He considered the follow up, but instead he kept running.  A wise move because Nanbanji stomped just where he had planned to be standing.

?Ugh!  That sword!?  The oni glared at Youki, then down at the cut he'd received.  ?So that thing can cut confusion, eh?  I suppose you can hurt me little runt.  But only if you hit!?

Youki replied by raising his sword high.  He began focusing on the blade, calling what energy he possessed into it.  The steel began to shine a light green.  ?Life Cutting Sword!? he cried, bringing the blade down, towards the oni's head.  As he did green energy erupted from the sword, extending it's length.

Nanbanji roared in challenge and swung his iron club in front of him to block.  The energy met the tetsubo with a loud clash.  Youki grunted as he pressed down trying to cut through the club.  There was a screech of metal, then Nanbanji laughed and slammed his left hand into the club.  The energy around Youki's sword shattered, and Youki stumbled backwards.

?You can't cut an oni's weapon like that boy!  Now let's finish this!?  Nanbanji held his club up over his head, then slammed it down blindingly fast.  Youki leaped to the side as the earth shook under the mighty assault.

Then he cried out in pain as the oni caught him out of the air with his left hand.  ?Nice dodge, but you can't defend in the air,? the oni gloated.  Youki felt his ribs strain, then break under the massive giant's incredible strength.  His vision blurred as pain shot through his body again.  He desperately lashed out with his blade, drawing a howl from the monster.  There was a sudden burst of speed, then a horrible crunching impact as the oni threw him into the earth.  His sword clattered onto the ground as he struggled to breath.

Nanbanji slowly advanced on him, club raised.  It couldn't end like this, Youki thought as he lay there.  He could almost see his soul rising from his body, but he couldn't die yet.  His village, his mother hadn't been avenged yet!  Nanbanji still lived to wreck chaos and murder.  He needed to get up.  To force his battered body to pick up the sword and strike!  He tried to push himself up but all he got was a bloody cough.  His next effort couldn't even manage that.

Then, as if in a dream, he saw himself rise.  Whole and unbroken again.  He watched himself pick up the sword as Nanbanji stared in shock.  And then as if driven by his will, he saw himself literally fly across the air to bury his blade in the oni's heart.

Then darkness claimed him.

---------------

The next thing Youki noticed was pain.  Dull throbbing pain all over his body.  The only parts that didn't hurt were numb and cold.  He groaned as the pain intensified with his waking.

?Oh hey.  Looks like he's gonna live after all.?

Youki forced his eyes open.  To his shock a ghost was floating right over him.  Even more shocking was the sudden certainty that it was his ghost.  Yet he still felt his body.  Oh, did he feel his body.  How was this possible?

?You know getting beaten half to death is supposed to be a figure of speech, not a real condition,? another voice said.

Youki tried to turn his head to see the speakers, but his neck protested any bit of movement.  Another flash of insight flowed over him and he focused his sight into his spirit.  There was a shift within his mind, and he found himself looking down at his own body.  Turning away from his injuries he looked to the voices, then twitched towards his sword when he saw them.  It was two oni.  Though they wore fairer forms then the great red beast he'd slain, their horns and chains still gave them away.

?No need to fight.  We never liked that slob Nanbanji anyway,? the shorter one said cheerfully.  ?Besides you showed us something cool, even though I lost the bet.?

?Indeed,? the taller oni replied.  ?'He who bathes in the blood of a thousand youkai will become one himself.'  Always thought it was just a story.  Guess it's real.?

Youki coughed weakly.  ?Is he really dead??

?Saw the Shinigami myself,? the short one said.  ?Anyway me and Yuugi decided to see if you were gonna live before we wandered off.  Figure even if Nanbanji was a half rate oni, anyone who can kill him would be a fun person to rumble with one day.?

Yuugi nodded.  ?Since you're gonna survive, we'll patch you up a bit.  We'd drop you in a village but that ghost of yours is gonna be a problem.  I'm interested to see how your gonna handle that.?

Youki just lay there.  Lost.  For a second he wondered if turning his own sword on himself could cut through the confusion that now engulfed him, but he discarded that idea.  He had promised to live if he could.  And while he hadn't been successful, he wouldn't sacrifice the gains he had made.

Finally he decided to just live in the moment.  ?I thank you for your aid.?  He did his best to lay still while the two oni moved and started roughly binding his wounds.  As the pain lessened he began to notice his ghost half more.  It really was a part of him, as alien as the idea was to his conscious mind.

When they finished, Suika stretched.  ?Well, that's it.  We'll head out now.  Try not to die out there Mr samurai turned youkai.  Next time you find me, we can have a match.  If you do well enough I might clue you in about someone who can teach you about ghosts.?

?My thanks?? he managed to say.

The two walked away, seeming to have put his plight out of their minds.  ?So, double or nothing Yuugi??

?Nah, we'll call this one a draw.  He did kill a thousand guys before he fought the loser.  That makes up for it not being a honest oni and then some,? Yuugi replied.

?Right!  I'll find another good match up soon.  Just you wait and see.?

?I won't hold my breath.?

Youki closed his eyes as the two left.  He wondered what he was going to do now.  For that matter he wondered what he was now.

Still there was little he could do about that now.  He slowly used his will to get his ghost half to bring over Hakurouken so he could clean and sheath it.  Then he painfully pulled out his canteen and drank some water.

As he settled in to sleep and heal an whimsical thought passed through his mind.  ?I'll need to change my family name.  After all this is a big enough event to warrant such a thing,? he muttered.

Then he slept.  He had a long journey still ahead of him.

capt. h

  • Only sane townie
The hell raven found herself in a place she didn?t recognize. It was green. She didn?t see any walls, and the ceiling was a light blue and miles higher than any ceiling in hell, with fluffy white things drifting beneath it. There were trees much taller and more colorful than the trees of hell, and flying above the tree line she could see they went on for miles, until reaching huge mounds in the distance topped with white stuff. It was the most open place she had ever been, and surprisingly bright considering that it wasn?t hot.

Then, the light appeared.

?Utsuho Reiuji,? the light declared, landscape trembling under each word as Utsuho was forced to shield her eyes. ?You have been selected to continue the legacy of the Yatagarasu.?

?Why?? the raven asked plainly.

?Because you are capable of holding its power,? The light said, ?and because it is my will. Gaze upon all that stands before you; through me you will come to this place yourself, and my work can spread under the earth.?

Then, buildings arose from the ground, grey structures, and the ground was paved with concrete. All around Utsuho a city grew from the field filled with machines beyond the hell raven?s imagination. Glass and metal twisted and turned to form buildings that scraped the sky.

?Behold this vision, hell raven, for this future is only possible through you,? the voice said. ?Underground and the above world will merge, and the world will be revolutionized!?

Then, the landscape changed again. This time it was to the edge of the hell of blazing flames. ?You know this place well,? the voice said, dragging Utsuho through the flames far faster than the raven enjoyed. ?Here rests the ultimate power.? The light said, leading it?s captive through a small cove in the ceiling. The raven soon spotted an open stone doorway through which lay a small shrine. In the center of the shrine was a small red gem that looked like a snake?s eye. ?Consume this, the heart of the Yatagarasu, and you will obtain the ultimate power. Then I will show you the way to your new world?.

For the second time, the raven?s voice found itself. ?Who are you?? the raven asked.

?You shall know me as Kanako.?

Then Okuu woke up.

***

The dream had troubled the raven greatly these past few weeks. Her friend Orin confirmed it wasn?t an evil spirit, and her master Satori confirmed that the surface really did look like the vision she saw, which to Okuu meant it might really be a god.

Not that she was particularly happy about it.

The denizens of hell have always had a somewhat negative view on deities, and Utsuho was no exception. Hell was always a punishment for the wicked, but it is also a resting place for the many pawns the gods have cast aside. Few people want any more divine intervention than Hell?s already got.

?Utsuho Reiuji??

Great, Okuu thought. This dream again, only now she was awake. She realized that she?s either going crazy, or dealing with a very stubborn god.

?Look, Kanako, I?m not interested.? She thought to the voice.

?You are destined to hold the legacy of the Yatagarasu. Accept your destiny, and bring about the new world,? the voice from the dream said.

?No.?

?Foolish mortal. Doth thou not know who I am? I am Kanako, Lord of the Surface, and I command thee to retrieve the Yatagarasu?s heart. I remember those who please me, but you would not want to earn my disfavor, little??

?Fine. I?ll go. Just shut up and tell me where it is.? The raven thought.

?I?ve told you a million times.?

?And I?ve put a lot of effort into forgetting it a million times.?

The voice grumbled, ?Follow those ravens.? At that moment, about a dozen ravens flew away together.

?Hey guys, come back! You?re still on duty!? Utsuho yelled at the ravens, which cawed loudly as they continued to fly away. ?What have you done to my friends??

?I granted them my favor, and nothing more. Why do you have to be so stubborn about this?? the voice retorted.

?It?s been a bad month, between your damn dreams and a lot of my friends just vanishing. You wouldn?t happen to know about those ravens, would you?? The raven grumbled.

The voice paused. ?Recently the Yatagarasu died, but its power lingered. Only a worthy hell raven can take it, but that hasn?t stopped a number of lesser ravens from seeking that power. I suppose they?ll continue foolishly trying to grasp it until someone truly worthy comes and takes the power for themselves. That someone is you.? Partially giving in, Utsuho sighed and followed the others.

?If I do this, will you leave me alone??

?If you do this, you?ll be a god. Not many mortals and even fewer youkai get that privilege,? the voice replied.

Eventually, the raven came across the cove from the dream, with 6 ravens perching on either side of a small set rock doors and a sickly stench emitting from its depths. Utsuho didn?t trust the smell, it was the smell of burnt flesh though unlike the human flesh that would make her mouth water, this smell made her gag.

The voice spoke, ?This smell and a few charred remains are all that?s left of those unworthy to grasp the ultimate power. You have nothing to fear, for you are more than capable.?

Utsuho forced herself through the stone doors, protecting her nose from the overpowering stench. She could barely make out the figures of the skeletons of ravens strewn around the small, red, glowing gem from the dream, resting upon an alter in the center. Except while it looked like a shrine in the dream, now it looked like a tomb.

?If you can consume the stone and withstand its flames, you will control the ultimate power.?

?And if I can?t??

?You see before you what happens to the unworthy. This power will continue to draw your kind until it finds a suitable host. You can stop it.? The voice let its words sink in for a moment, before it continued. ?Go on,? the voice said. ?Consume it. You need not fear, for I will be by your side, and you can do all things through me.?

Trembling a bit, the raven grasped the stone from its altar. ?You owe me for this.? The raven said.

?I am generous with those who are loyal,? The voice said.

Utsuho swallowed the gem.

***

First, the raven saw a blinding light. Then she began to remember things that had never happened. Memories of sciences she never knew and families she never had. But before she could remember all the things she remembered, her memories were interrupted.

?Good job Utsuho Reiuji. You have made me proud,? the voice declared. Okuu found herself back in the field from her dreams. However, she was different. Very different.

?You are wearing the garbs of the Yatagarasu.? The light explained ?On your back is the cape of infinity. On your chest the Yatagarasu?s heart.? Utsuho noticed for the first time a gem much like the one she consumed, on her chest, but much larger. ?Your left leg is the leg of fission.? The god noted a small atom circling the raven?s leg. ?The right leg is the leg of fusion? This one had a sizable chunk of concrete stuck to it. ?And on your arm is the third leg of the Yatagarasu, the control rod that brings it all together.?

?This is a very trying time for you raven, but let it not be said that those loyal to Kanako aren?t justly rewarded.? The voice continued ?Allow me to impart upon you the history of nuclear fusion.?

?No need? the raven said, glaring at the god. ?This power has memory.?

Kanako was taken aback. This was a dream entirely of her design, the raven shouldn?t even know how to take control back. ?Is there something bothering you??

?How many ravens have you temped to their deaths??

The light was speechless.

?This power remembers. I remember wars from centuries past, civilizations I have never seen, and the lives of all the ravens you tempted into consuming this power. I?ve lost count of how many you?ve killed as the memories swirl together."

?Utsuho, please understand, there needs to be a Yatagarasu.?

?Kanako, be gone!? the raven said, hurling the god out of her dreams.

***

Utsuho woke up in her bed, groaning. She felt like she swam in the fires of hell itself, and judging from the bandages, looked like it too. Orin was by the side of her bed, asleep.

?Orin?? the raven groaned. The raven was getting worried. How long was she asleep? Why was she banged up? What the hell is going on here?

??Okuu?? Orin asked as she left her daze. ?Okuu!? the cat said, hugging the raven, causing Utsuho to groan.

?Oh, sorry.? The cat said, immediately releasing her.

?What? happened?? It hurt to speak, in fact everything felt like it was on fire.

?A few of the ravens brought you back really burned up, any worse and you would have been dinner!? the cat grinned. ?You smelled delicious.?

?Don?t joke. ? Utsuho mumbled. ?Get Satori.?

?Right,? the cat said running off.

As Orin left, Utsuho took a minute to assess the situation. She knew what had happened, the power showed her what had happened, but she had to see it for herself. In spite of the protests of her arm, she brought her hand to her chest, and felt a hard lump in the middle of it. Right. That?s probably Yatagarasu?s heart.

Damn Kanako.

***

Epilog:

?So, how?d it go?? A little girl asked a tall woman who appeared to be in her forties.

?I found a suitable host??

?Finally,? the girl said.

?But she probably wants to kill me.?

?Welp, look at it this way Kanako,? the little girl said. ?finding a host is half the battle. Sure, the next part might be a little bit more difficult, but at least we found a host!?

?You know what?? the tall woman said. ?I can?t argue with that!?

« Last Edit: April 30, 2012, 02:31:30 AM by capt. h »

I'm not entirely sure if this really qualifies as an origin story... nor have I proof-read it... and it's a bit on the short side... but here goes regardless.


   In that vacant underground manor, where the only background noise is two girls? quiet breathing, it does not take much to break the silence. Discreet as they were, the soft footsteps in some vague distance were enough to raise the girl from her light sleep. Even as her slender frame slowly moved into an upright position, she glanced sideways towards the other end of the bed. In her just-awoken daze, she pondered over the empty sheets for a moment. Once it had passed, the information neatly registered. She mechanically slid off her own side of the bed, donning a nearby pair of slippers and grabbing a candle on her dresser.
   Koishi, Koishi, just what are you up to now?

   Finding a single girl in the dark, inside a massive palace, while half asleep, being guided by nothing but the sound of her footsteps, isn?t normally an easy task. Even Satori herself wondered why she was going the way she was; it seemed as if her body moved without her guiding it in any particular direction. Perhaps she was too tired to care. She was not even sure of why she left bed to look for her sister. It wasn?t as if Koishi was some child who would hurt herself horribly if left to her own devices, and she certainly hadn?t deemed whatever she left bed to do dire enough to wake her sister for help. Still, groggy as she was, the protective instincts of an older sister easily dominated rationality. Onward Satori continued through the darkened halls.

   At some point, the footsteps ceased. This should have made finding her sister near-impossible, yet Satori kept on moving. Even though the noise level had been minimal since she had awoken, now that her own steps were the only source of noise, the atmosphere seemed to become a shade more sinister. Satori had no fears as illogical as the dark ? she?d seen far too many horrors far more real for that. It just seemed to her as if the air itself seemed to whisper to her: something bad is going to happen. She quietly dismissed the voices in her head as sleep-deprived hallucinations, but her legs started to move just a tiny bit more quickly.

   It was the sound of glass cracking that properly wore her up. Not anything as violent as a vase crashing on the floor ? it was a much more discreet sound, only noticeable because of the thunderous silence around it. If it had been such a sound, Satori would?ve likely been less worried, as it would?ve just turned out to be Koishi being clumsy in the dark. What Satori did hear ? the sound so subtle it was clear Koishi was trying to not be heard ? made her alert. Not quite worried, but alert enough to attempt to properly locate her sister. 

   When she heard the sound of glass slicing through air ? an extremely subtle sound, one Satori likely wouldn?t have heard if she hadn?t just been startled to full awareness ? made her properly worry. Even as she transitioned from a mechanical walk to a careless run, her head ran through a list of harmless explanations for the situation, each one less palatable than the last. The instinct which had led her before had all but evaporated, leaving her to glance into every doorway she passed. When she spied a light out of the corner of her eye, it was both a beacon of relief and a flare of tension all at once. She had found Koishi, but what else? Satori almost hesitated, but her body did not wait for her mind to reach conclusions, and sprang towards the light.

   She wished she hadn?t. She really wished she hadn?t. She didn?t want to see Koishi standing there, her eyes completely blank. She didn?t want to see the glass shard clutched in her fingers. She didn?t want to see the tiny pool of blood, formed on the ground from the droplets trailing from Koishi?s third eye. And she most of all did not want to see Koishi?s third eye, which looked so serene and so sinister with its eyelid closed, blood slowly flowing from the folds like tears.

   And Satori did not want to feel the emptiness. The emotional emptiness ? not her own, for her heart was far from empty at the moment. Koishi was empty. Satori could not hear a thing from her sister?s heart, a very bizarre feeling for one who was accustomed to having the hearts of others laid bare to them. She quickly ran towards Koishi, for a moment afraid that the emptiness was borne of death. Yet, as she wrapped her arms around her sister and buried her face in her shoulder, she was certain she heard breathing, and certain she felt a heartbeat. Once again, it was a relief and yet only worried her more ? her sister was alive, but in what state? The pair remained in that room, frozen like statues, illuminated only by a pair of candles: Koishi?s, which had been carefully placed on a dresser, and Satori?s, which she had let drop upon the sight of her sister. The silence was now drowned out only by Satori?s sobs and heavy breathing.

   It was Koishi who first spoke.

   ?I did it, Onee-chan.? She said flatly, a perfect contrast to her sister?s flaring emotions. ?I closed my heart.?

   ?Y-you what?? Satori managed to ask between her tears and gasped breaths.

   ?I closed my heart,? she repeated in the same monotone. ?Now people won?t hate me. Now you won?t have to worry about me.?

   Satori did not understand ? did not want to understand. She merely held on to her sister, and so they passed that night in silence.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2012, 04:15:31 AM by Bearorcat »

Nat Tea

  • ★三 ☆三 ★三 ☆三 ★三
  • 三☆ 三★ 三☆ 三★ 三☆
"M'am, I'd like to tell you that this is an exquisite piece of work and that I'd love it if you purchased it." The man proposed to the lady.

The woman in a dark green yukata examined the doll with further scrutiny. The item in question was finely crafted, with its joint able to move without problems and its dark black clothes with mahogany trim in very good condition. When you open its eyes, you see its irises of blue and its mouth has a slight smile, not one of deception but of joy.

"I guess it'd be okay for my daughter then." The woman takes out her purse and pops it open to place the bills on the counter. "Thank you very much."

"You're welcome." The merchant grins and waves his hand. "Don't break it."

The woman gives a heave to pick up the human-sized doll, very light indeed. "This will cheer her up, I'm sure." She walks out the door of the wooden building with the doll in her arms.

She arrived home and her daughter ran up to her, scanning the doll the woman held.

"Who's this, mommy? Who's this?" The daughter inquired incessently.

"Do you like her?" The mother asked. "She may look strange, but I want to know what you think of her, dear."

"She's really big!" She exclaimed loudly. "She'll protect me from anything!"

"She's your new friend then. I'm going to put her in your room, alright? Come with me, you're going to bed too!"

"My friend!" The little girl jumps for joy. "Maybe I should tell daddy too!"

"Well," The mother sighed as they both entered the room and she placed the doll down. "I'd like it if you didn't tell dad, alright?"

The sparkle in the girl's eyes faded away. "...Okay. Night, mom!"

The mother left the room and slid the door closed behind her. "A temporary cure, at best. It'll distract her for a few years from what the doctor told me about how short her life will be."

And so it did, the days flew by as of the weeks and the years as the girl grew older. The girl became old enough to sew and thought that her friend, who she named Medicine, would get lonely, so she made a new friend for her resembling her friend's image. Its quality was that of an ameteur, yet the girl still smiled as she placed it beside Medicine and gave Medicine a hug.

"You won't get lonely." She whispered to Medicine. "Not anymore."


Three years after Medicine lived in their household, the daughter's father came back and discovered that the mother had spent a large sum of money on their daughter despite being diagnosed to not be able to live as long as a normal human.

"You moron!" The father yelled at the mother while their daughter was playing in her room with the door open. "Why did you buy that stupid doll for her if she was going to end up dead sooner than we thought?"

"It was supposed to make her feel better!" The mother screamed at him. "What did you want me to do, throw her out and keep everything to myself!?"

"Exactly!" He slammed the door to his daughter's room shut. "I wanted to come home knowing that we didn't have something holding us back!"

"And you expect a mother to do just that? For you!?"

"I told you before I left, we didn't need that kind of baggage!" The man produced a wakizashi in his right hand. "You're useless! You can't do anything right!"

Her blood splattered audibly against the door and their daughter opened the door, seeing her mother slumped on the ground bleeding out.

She stepped back a bit, then ran and grabbed Medicine. "Dad! Get away from me!"

"You're not supposed to be alive." His eyes were filled with rage, his blade was stained with his wife's blood. "You were supposed to die a long time ago so we could have lived a comfortable life!"

The man arcs his arm back and tries to cut through the girl, but instead Medicine takes the blow through its chest. The girl clutches Medicine in her arms, grabs Medicine's little friend and escapes from the house, running as far as she can from her father.


The girl runs out of breath at the crest of a shallow hill with Medicine, then falls over, letting go of the doll she made for Medicine. "So I was going to die anyways? Mother told me you were a cure, but is that true?" She cries out.

Tears run down her cheeks as she gets up while Medicine lays on the ground, her arms spread out and her eyes closed with a slight smile. "Were you really a cure? You did make me feel better, but at the cost of something more dear to me."

She walks away from Medicine, wipes her tears from her eyes and tells her her farewell. "You protected me, but I have to leave you behind. I'm not abandoning you, you're not alone, I made you a friend so that you can remember me. I just... have to move on."

It wasn't running away from her problems, she just knew that association with what led to the death of her mother would have held her back.


Medicine blinks her eyes and gets up, her joints squealing loudly. She stretches her arms out and scans the area, nothing but a sea of purple, the lilies of the valley engulfing the entire hill in any direction above the horizon to the farthest distances.

"I've woken up. No one's around. Feels really lonely around here." Medicine looks to her left and sees a small doll sleeping beside her. "Are you awake?"

The small doll rolls around and flies upwards to the level of her shoulder.

"Who left me here anyways? Why's this field so full of purple?" Medicine inquires.

The doll just floats up and down with no ability to communicate to her.

Medicine grabs the collar of her blouse and looks down under it, seeing a faded crack in her chest. "I'm still confused about all of this. Did the humans throw me away because I was broken?"  She turns her wrist and pops her hand open to a cloud of hazy purple swirling above her palm. "Or because I was too dangerous for anyone?"

She stands and walks forward a bit, the moon shining above her. "I'm not broken, the humans don't treat dolls with much respect." She then glances at the doll again. "You remind me of someone familiar. Maybe I'll remember."

Medicine gazes at the moon and reaches out to it with her hand. "Maybe if I try hard enough, dolls won't be junk to the humans. We can cure the humans of their inability to understand us. In a state of melancholy, even poison can be medicine."
Horie dorie~
Pixiv: http://pixiv.me/choja / PSO2: Choja (Ship5) / 3DS: 3496-9942-9472 / PSVITA: choja206 (English) / chojahiragawajpn (Japanese) / Cosplays: Koishi Komeiji, Kogasa Tatara
Tumblr contains cooking and cosplay. Twitter contains me retweeting everything.
I draw but I do not use artist title. I also write, but I have been inactive lately. I want to get better at those things and more!