Hello everyone! Please let me introduce myself. My name is KT, and I've been quietly lingering around this board for about four and a half years. For a while, I've been thinking about writing a story with Mokou in first person narrative, so I thought I'd do just that. This will be a fairly slow paced story, and I may even switch around a bit with other characters, but the whole thing should come together within the same setting. Anyway, I'm a bit of a newbie when it comes to writing stories, but that's enough about me. Putting my petty rambling about nonsense aside, this is a story I'll try to write while abiding as much to canon-like personalities as I can and trying to introduce various elements and ideas. Moving on.. Onto the show! Please wait warmly while I get the popcorn.. --------------------- ------------- -------- --
"Do you think we should bring her with us?" "Well, she's only a child. She won't be much of a threat. And it's a long trip down. Not to mention, she's nearly completely exhausted." "Did she come alone?" "Girl, what's your name?" I thought I recognized one of those men's voice. I open my eyes to see a huddle of men above me behind a gray sky, but the sudden light made it hard for my eyes to adjust and the contrast made them look like faceless men staring down at me. One of them helped me up, and another offered me a waterskin. I didn't want to drink water though, it was already chilly and drinking water would make me feel colder, but I could feel my body begging of thirst. I thanked him and reluctantly took a few sips while the men waited for an answer from me. "I'm a bandit." I couldn't give them my real name. After all, if they found out that me, a child of the Huziwara clan, disobediently left home and ran out to the mountain, the news would surely spread to my father. It's already bad enough that I ran out, but he will be really mad if anyone found out that I'm Fuhito's daughter. When I said that, they were puzzled at first and then laughed. I don't blame them. Just the idea is laughable; I'm hardly a threat to even a single one of them. And what's worse, it's apparent that climbing up this volcano has sapped me of my strength. But still, what I had said wasn't that farfetched. After all, I followed these soldiers up the foot of this volcano to steal a certain something... "That's preposterous!", said one of the soldiers. "A bandit living in the mountains?" "She must be a hermit." The men laughed it off and dismissed me. Before I knew it, I drank the whole waterskin. I was more thirsty than I thought. "Do you think she climbed up here alone?" "She must have. Just look at her, she's starving! The poor child probably hasn't had anything to eat for days!" It was true. I did come up here alone. I found myself brought at the center of attention in this group, and what looked like their leader, he was particularly kind to me. It must have only been five minutes, and already I've been given warmer attire and something to rejuvenate me. Even after I told them I was a bandit... Still, I was very grateful for their courtesy. If they had moved on, I would probably have died not too long from now. In a few minutes, the men had packed their stuff up again and got ready to keep moving. We weren't that far from the summit, it was probably only a half hour away now. It looked like they accepted me into their little group, so did my best to keep up with them. "Mokou." The man in the front turned his head to the side to look at me. "That's my name." "I'm glad to meet you, Mokou. I am Ihakasa.", he said that, as he turned his head back. I didn't have much to say beyond this point. But I think he knew I was following him up to now. I couldn't think too much on it, it's Winter, and the chilling breeze feels much colder near the top of the volcano. What's more is it's night, so there was no sun to bring even the slightest bit of warmth. The illusionary moonlight that radiated a false sense of heat made the chill feel that much more sinister. Looking ahead, Ihakasa is carrying something on his back, made specifically to hold a pot. That luggage was what I came here to steal. It was because of Kaguya's meddling that bothered going so far, that I'd risk my life going up a mountain to steal it. That troublesome girl... she's out of her place bringing that much shame to my family. But family honor wasn't the real reason I chose to peruse her. It was because after she humiliated Fuhito, he wasn't the same. He was completely broken. He wouldn't even so much as speak or eat anymore. Yes, my motive was revenge. I had to put that girl in her place, and if she hadn't left so suddenly to the moon, I would have done it too. I was too late, though. By the time I came to the palace, some people were prostrating outside. When I asked where Kaguya was, they told me she was a goddess and left to the moon. When I looked up, I could see a small silhouette disappearing into the moon. At that moment, I should have given up, but when I heard that Kaguya left something to the emperor days later, I decided to peruse to reconcile myself, even if it was just for the tiniest bit. And so, I'm here. "You sure made it pretty far on your own." So I was right. He did know I was following him, probably the entire time we went up the foot of the volcano! Why didn't he say anything? Was he testing my endurance, is it a game to him? He smiled innocently at me. "I'm glad you're alright. When I first saw you, I didn't think you had the guts to follow us all the way through. If I had known that, I would probably had one of my men escort you home." "No." I responded. Why did I say that? I WAS intent to go with it all the way through. Though it seems silly now that I look back at it... my motive for revenge seemed like something of a childish whim now. He's right though, I shouldn't have come up here. Of all the people here, I was the one most out of place. I'm glad I told them I was a bandit. It saved me the trouble of telling why I wanted to follow them. We all marched head toward the summit. It didn't make sense. Why were they going up to this volcano? From what I knew, this pot was a gift for the emperor. Could it be incense for a god that lives in this mountain? I spent my time thinking about it the rest of the way up. When we came to a halt, Ihakasa ordered to place the jar on the ground. There, far forward I saw the activity that gave volcanoes their feared nature. The spectacular eruptions from this sacred volcano made it dangerous to even come close to the pit in order to throw something into boiling rocks below. "Why did you come up to the summit?" "It was by the emperor's order." They were tying a ribbon around the jar. "The ribbon would make it easier for us to fling it far away. We're up here to throw the jar into the volcano's crater and burn it up." They're going to destroy it? The emperor, he must be trying to spite Kaguya as well. That's right, she denied his proposal!! This must be his revenge! After all, he did go through the trouble to have someone take Kaguya's gift for him to a volcano and throw it in. The volcano was raging with activity. It was as if the boiling eruptions and fires were anticipating its offer. How ironic. I came here to extract revenge from Kaguya by stealing this gift, but the emperor was going to destroy it anyway! Still, it was painful to watch because it wasn't me who would bathe in the revenge of spiting Kaguya. I came up here to soothe an anger deep in my heart, but all I could do then was watch and see what would happen. The men were getting ready to throw it in. "Heave!" "Ready!" "Release it!" Just as it was about to fly, someone appeared in a brilliant light, and so close the dangers of explosive eruptions of the boiling rock. A person of an otherworldly beauty and peculiar transience that made it seem like she'd be burned up in the flames of the crater any moment. There was no questioning it, this was a god. The men were shaken by her sudden appearance, and some even prostrated themselves in front of her beautiful figure before they realized it. "I am the goddess Sakuya. It was my power that kept this mountain from erupting. You mustn’t throw that jar inside." But what shocked the men more was what came next. Ihakasa boldly stood out and faced the goddess and told her, "I must burn the contents of this jar in the sacred fires of this mountain. This is an order from the Emperor." When he said that, Princess Sakuya turned a contemptuous gaze upon him. The men were speechless, and I stood there frozen, watching. "If you burn that jar in this mountain, the volcano will begin to resume its activity, and my power will be unable to prevent it. That jar holds a power even greater than that of a god such as I. Do you understand just what is in that jar?" Nobody had a clue. Even me, I only knew it was something Kaguya left behind. As Princess Sakuya began to say, "Inside that jar is ... ", Iwakasa cut her off, saying, "You can't tell them that!" She was enraged. "No, these men have a right to know after making it all the way up this mountain. Inside that jar is the elixir of immortality, eternal life." Of course, the men were blown off their feet. To think that by simply following Iwakasa's orders they'd done something to anger a god. Not only that, but inside the jar they'd carried up the mountain themselves was nothing other than the elixir of immortality... If it wasn't for a god standing before me now and warning me of what it was, I probably wouldn't have believed it. To think that even such a thing exists! And that Kaguya had left it behind! And that she brought herself to do that. And to think, that such a thing was there, right before me, at that very moment... ! With that, the goddess disappeared. The men were frozen, and all but Ihakasa were unable move. Nobody could throw the jar into the crater, they didn't have a choice. Even so, Ihakasa was intent on destroying it one way or another. He immediately tried to light the jar on fire, but for some reason it wouldn't burn. He couldn't simply dump the contents of the elixir on the ground, that may still endanger us and enrage the god. Seeing no other choice, the men decide to spend the night on the summit, trying to figure out what to do next. I wanted to know all about how and why Ihakasa came up here to dispose of the elixir of immortality. I spent the night wheedling the fine details of his orders from the emperor. According to him, the elixir was a token of thanks to the woodcutter who'd raised her, and for the Emperor. The old man, being at the end of his rope, didn't want to live forever. The emperor said there was no point in living forever without Kaguya, so he ordered for the elixir to be taken to the highest ground, closest to the moon and to have it burned. This is why they came to Mount Fuji, Ihakasa was the one whom the emperor ordered to have this task done. Now it makes sense why Ihakasa was so determined, that he so much as stood up against and enrage a god. All of havoc would have been let loose if the men knew about it. Ihakasa must have anticipated this sort of chaos and decided to keep it a secret in order to keep them from trying to take it and drink it themselves. His loyalty for the Emperor was unparallel, he didn't even so much as hesitate to get rid of it. He didn't even lay conspicuous eyes on the jar the entire time. It really was just trash to him. "We will sleep here for the night." Ihakasa's grim voice brought all of our attention to him. "What about-" "Take turns keeping an eye out for it. Nobody take the jar out of sight. Two men will stay up at a time to monitor each other, as well as the rest of the group. Nobody must be trusted alone with it." Nobody responded. Everyone's eyes except Ihakasa were fixed on the jar containing the elixir, and the night was cloaked in an uncanny atmosphere. We all formed a circle and placed the jar in the middle, and the soldiers naturally fell into a pattern of watching the jar in pairs. Silence filled the rest of the night. When it was time to sleep, the idea that something so extraordinary was right there behind me kept pounding into my head and keeping me awake. But the weariness of climbing the mountain wearied me down and I was deep asleep before I knew it.
" ... up." Sakuya's voice woke me up. I woke up and, still lying down in a frozen puddle, looked at her. "While you and that man have been asleep, these foolish humans have decided to take the contents of the jar as their own and have begun killing each other." I looked around to see who was left. It was only me and Ihakasa, who was still asleep. I realized, this discomfort I've been feeling... it was blood. I was sleeping in a sea of blood. When Sakuya awoke Ihakasa in the same manner, I looked around to see the remains of his once' called soldiers. Though it did look like they killed each other, I expected that they were poisoned, or quietly cut their throats in their sleep. But instead it looked like some big battle occured. Some of the men had holes in their bodies the size of large spears, and other's bodies were burned to a crips. And what's more, it looked like one man tried running away, because his body was out in distance. There was no way Ihakasa and I could have slept through something like that. Sakuya explained to him the same tale that she told to me about his men. The shock left him speechless. He was swallowing her story like a seagull trying to swallowing a whole fish. "The elixir is a tool meant to deceive foolish humans. See? Even though nobody said anything about it, everyone around it has fallen into misfortune. I certainly approve of you setting out to dispose of such a thing ... but it is too much even for me to handle. So, please forget about throwing it into this mountain." Iwakasa was lost in thought for a moment. "I was told to take this elixir to the point closest to the moon and burn it there. Is there any point higher than this? Is there any mountain higher than this mountain?" "I see. Well, I happen to know of a suitable place, then. To the northwest of this mountain there is an incredible peak called Yatsugatake. My elder sister lives there. She is the deity with power over the immortal and unchanging, so that would be the most fitting place to dispose of this elixir." "But, Yatsugatake isn't high enough, is it? It's quite low compared to this mountain." "No. In fact, it was once much taller than my mountain is." "Really? This is the first I've heard of that ... " "Ah, long ago, there was a great fight between us ... well, that's not important, in any case, I believe the distance to the moon may be somewhat shorter atop that mountain." "I see ... in that case, I plan to descend immediately and head to Yatsugatake. I'm sorry my men caused you so much trouble." Iwakasa spoke in a trembling voice, and it seemed to mollify Princess Sakuya, as she disappeared into the mountain's crater. "So, do you think that Princess Sakuya killed those men?" "Yes. I think she killed them all and us alive. Maybe it was because she couldn't let someone cast the elixir of immortality into her mountain, or she wanted to make sure nobody would drink the elixir. She may have left us alive for us to do something afterwards." It was early morning, no later than 5:30am, and Ihakasa hadn't said a word to me or looked at me afterwords. He just carried the heavy jar and walked straight ahead, never looking in my direction. As the heavy silence persisted, I felt more and more drawn toward the elixir. The elixir of eternal life... I daydreamed of all the possibilities if I were to drink it. I kept switching my gaze between Ihakasa, the burden he shouldered and the rocky expanse beneath my feat. I had eyes for nothing else. This is the moment of action..! Up ahead is a hard turn with a steep fall. If I push him at the right moment, I could grab the jar on his back while he falls down to his death at the rocks below. My revenge for Kaguya, if I drink this now, I'll live to see the day when I see her again and settle my feud with her. However, I bore no ill will toward Ihakasa. I was grateful for him helping me, and if it wasn't for him, I probably wouldn't have even survived earlier. Should I really kill him and run away with the elixir? Still, I couldn't get something that Sakuya said out of my head. Those soothing, magical words that turn reality on its head, and made it seem like no matter how little care you gave for the consequences, everything would somehow turn out alright eventually. -Immortality These thoughts were quickly buzzing around, tormenting my mind. If I were to escape this madness, I must choose now. Acting on my instincts, I felt strange, like the area around my ears were covered with cotton, and I could hear far away things through little holes in a cloth surrounding my head.
[ ] Kill Ihakasa. Take the elixir of immortality! [ ] Bare the weight of the madness, I have no right to kill him after he saved my life. [ ] Suicide [ ] Write-in
Right there, I walked just behind Ihakasa. I stared intently at the jar containing the elixir, but just as I was about to push him down this turn with a cliff-like edge, I hesitated. I found myself nearly frozen there, watching Ihakasa walk away past the dangers. I stood there for a moment... "Why couldn't I push him down?" I thought to myself. But before I could think about anything, I pulled myself away from where I stood and ran. When I was far away enough to no longer be tempted, I stopped and kept my back up against the wall. "That was too close." I said to myself as I let out sigh that seemed as if it carried away the evils with it as the air escaped my lungs. Guilt has finally struck me. It's true; I almost killed a person! Just how selfish am I? Looking out in the distance, the bright, blue color filled my eyes as I got the temptation out of my system. There, far away, I saw a figure of a person so small I could barely put a shape on it. Was that princess Sakuya? ...Does she know? "Mokou? Mokou, where are you!" It seems Ihakasa noticed I left. I answered to him in a nearly whimpering voice. "I, I'm here!" "What are you doing out there?" "I.. looked down and got scared." With that, I turned back ahead and ran out to him. That person before, was I imagining it? Ihakasa walked halfway back to come for me. "I'm here Mokou. We have to walk this way to get back down. Once we're down, I'll walk you back home. I can tell you're very uncomfortable here." Home... that word made me remembered my father. Just thinking about how depressed he was made me nearly cringe. It's too cruel... even after I went all this way, I couldn't even the slightest bit change anything. My entire trip here was in vain. "It's okay. I'll find my own way back once we're down" I replied. That's right, I still couldn't let him know who I was. I know I'll be in trouble when I get back home, but at least I'll have the excuse that nobody else knows if I come home alone. Ihakasa smiled. "You sure got guts, persisting to so far on your own." Seeing him smile like that made me feel glad. It was a good choice not to kill him, because if I did take the elixir, I would have remembered this event for the rest of my life, and I would never be able to get the image out of my mind. "Let's go. Right past this turn here, we're only fifteen minutes away from being at the bottom. Be careful on it though, it's easy to loose your balance." I smiled back with a hearty "Okay!" When I come home, I think I'll find something else to cheer dad up and get Kaguya out of our lives once and for all. Just maybe if I tell him that even the Emperor wasn't able to wed her, he'll get over it in time. Just up ahead was that dangerous edge I nearly pushed Ihakasa off of. I didn't have any more ill thoughts, though, and easily watched him make it across and gesture for me to follow. Finally! Past this, I'll be able to get over my grudge. Today's events have already put me through a revelation. It was my turn to go across. It's only about five steps, but looking at the dangers below immediately pulled me back away in reflex. I felt a strange sensation, like the saliva watering in my mouth felt both wet and dry, but I swallowed it up and took my first step. Second. Third. This is it! I can make it across! At the forth step, it felt as if gravity shifted a little to the side. But I couldn't think. It's not that far away! Only two steps! I'll just jump and get it over with, and Ihakasa can help me up. "Mokou, keep you balance!" Before I could lose it any further, I jumped forward with all my might. But just as I did, the gravity felt like it shifted again and put my right ankle at an awkward position. Not even a fraction of a second later, I felt weightless. 'Danger!' I must get back up! I reached out my arm and jerked my upper body to the left to face the mountain again. Then I felt Ihakasa's fingers slip past through mine, and when I looked back up, I saw two people. There, up on the mountain's turn which was getting smaller and smaller, was Ihakasa kneeling down reaching for me, and the goddess Sakuya. I only had a couple seconds to think, but I knew there was no way I could survive now. I see... so she did see me nearly push him down. Ihakasa wasn't aware of her presence as he let out a final shout for me. I didn't know how painful it would be to fall to my death but it wasn't something I wanted to see. With the last second I had left, I tightly closed my eyes shut and covered my face with the robe's sleeve on my right arm. Everything is pitch black as I still felt weightless. I counted... "Two.. three.. four.. five... six.... seven...." I paused for a moment. Why am I still falling? .."Open". I tried opening my eyes, but they wouldn't budge. My whole body won't move. Nothing but pitch black. I'm not dead. I'm definitely still alive. I can feel it! I forced my eyes to open. They still wouldn't budge, but this time, I felt the sense gravity coming back; I was lying down somewhere. "Open!!" I thought loudly, as I tried opening my eyes with all my might. This time, I saw light. But up above me wasn't a sky, but stalactites. "Where am I?", I thought to myself for a moment, as I felt control coming back to my body. I got up, and saw a light coming from the end of a short tunnel, there was plant life outside. When I looked back at the stalagmites and rocks, I finally remembered. I fell asleep. Now I remember... It was raining outside, so I rushed to find someplace to get cover and went inside this cave. I see, I must have fallen asleep here. Strange... I've always had this dream, except I always ended up pushing Ihakasa off that cursed edge second thoughts. Then I'd always think to myself, "Just what would have happened if I had taken that other path, I wonder?". Well, it looks like today that's finally been answered. I found myself chuckling at the thought. "It's a good thing I did push him off, then". I said that with a restrained sense of guilt in the back of my mind. It wasn't raining anymore. I remember I had taken off my shirt to dry it off from the rain earlier. I was going to dry it off right then and there, but when I thought about it a second time, I remembered of the Bamboo Forest fire, and that interview that followed with Kaguya and that nosy Tengu. So I decided to wait and fell asleep here. I didn't have to worry about someone walking in on me or anything, this part of the forest is far too deep for ordinary humans to stray into. I put my shirt back on. It wasn't completely dry, but not nearly enough bother me. The air here was very misty and had a cool temperature. I took in a deep as I walked out. Looking far up ahead I noticed the smoke of the youkai mountain, still rising up, and couldn't help but remember my dream and the events that have long since past. I remembered- I did promise myself not too long ago that I'd make it to the top of that mountain and talk to Princess Iwanaga, the goddess of Immortality and apologize for what happened to Ihakasa. There's not much time left today. It looks like the sun will be completely down in about four hours. I think I'll...
[ ] Go rescue some lost people. [ ] See Keine. [ ] Hunt troublesome youkai. [ ] Travel Gensokyo for a bit. [ ] write-in