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File 152993577696.jpg - (348.79KB, 1000x437, before titles and feats.jpg) [iqdb]
2180 No. 2180
First note: This is tied to The Magician's Apprentice Exchanged Cups With an Oni (>>65260) and is ideally read after chapter 9 (>>66514), but can totally be read on its own.
Second note: Archaisms abound.
Third note: This will be updated once a day for six days.

Let's begin.

++++++++

I grew too soaked last night. After I washed the wood from my mouth with the river’s water, from Yuugi I departed, and to find more sake I went. Not yet am I used to alcohol’s back-bite. My skull is in chaos, cacophony. I run my hands through my hair and stop at my budding horns. I touch them, feel them, and confirm. Aye, this is me: oni.

Now to know what it means, young Ibuki.

[ ♫: http://www.infinitelooper.com/?v=rzpsp4KiW3s#/4;133 ]

I groan and grit my teeth, growling bitterlike and unsure why this emotion boils inside me; regret from the sake washed down my throat, or regret that my sweet ignorance had been washed on way? My stomach is wet. What is this, now?

A snoring pink head, over my navel and on sleep. The youngest, the Ibaraki? Had she found me on gain when I went to rest for the night under a far on way tree? This girl, this Kasen, is too charming. “Too”. I had wanted to sleep all lone, and with no drool on my stomach.

This forenoon time is still cool, though, and her head is warm. I embrace it close, and I toy with the tops of her ears.

Through her cute noises and squirming I think. I think, I should not bite through any more twigs from now on, whe’er I am frustrated or not. I think, I should strike Yuugi when next I see her.

Insults. It all feels like the most sland’rous insults. The freedom which I champion, as an oni, is insulted.

We live on the mountain Yatsugatake, and until last night I thought nothing of the truth that we ruled it. I knew me self: Ibuki, oni, young, power full, honest, and dynast. I knew... “knew” all oni be side as the same but not onlike young, and that simplelike ev’ry oni stood masterless and free. I knew this freedom as not solelike ours. I did not think onbout it—any of it, or onbout what we all did with our incredible power.

And so, to think: to day we will march down the mountain so that me self and Yuugi can become “true” oni. It is our first hunt of humans. Now I sit on a lie, smold’ring beneath me like a fire, but in stead of building to consume me it wishes to onlike burn and anger me, so I may roar and rage across all of Gensokyo, Yamato, and then the world.

Forenoon, with another of my kin sleeping in mine arms, and at the age of nine: I, Suika of the Ibuki, realize I am no longer sure of what I am.


Under the already familiar light of the full moon, and full of the familiar scents and sounds of an unbridled party, pumping full of that familiar want to clench my digits together and feel flesh and muscle and bone crash into them. I was joy full, raucous “oni”, and I danced between pyres singing songs to the dead, and wishing safe travel for their journeys across the river Sanzu. Aunts and uncles sang with me; the youngest Hoshiguma was be side me, hugging me warmlike, pressing that red nub with its yellow, starlike spot over my skull. I drank. I was merry. And, for once, I had a moment of lucidity in my revelry. I finalike saw that the humans who were our guests refused to join the celebrations.

And I, stupid Suika, thought nothing of them being in cages.

“Suika, that is not it,” Yuugi had said later in the night, while she tugged at a fishing rod on the shore of the Misty Lake. “‘Kidnap humans’, ‘bring them here’. We have to test them: those who fight with us become friends of us. This is our bond, it defines us, and it is unbreakable.”

She spoke straight that line of balderdash. Like it was so simple.

I had... so stupid... offered the humans my hand, and they’d refused to take it. I had said, “Do not worry, humans! I can bend the cages’ bars!” and they said “No”. What is this, this “bond”? Is the world mad? Who, who brings another man or woman a slave’s collar after having bested them in a game, and takes their wings to clip them? What... what?

I agonize over this, in silence, and seek answers in my head that I cannot find for what feel like hours. I hug Kasen to me, my nose in her hair, and think of praying.
Expand all images
>> No. 2181
>>2180
>This is tied to The Magician's Apprentice Exchanged Cups With an Oni (>>/others/65260) and is ideally read after chapter 9 (>>/others/66514), but can totally be read on its own.
wwwwww
fuckin idiot alert
>> No. 2183
File 153001342112.jpg - (341.57KB, 928x590, horned children.jpg) [iqdb]
2183
“Ahh, that is you, Ibuki.”

Some one addresses me, taking me out my thoughts. I stand slowlike, moving Kasen soft as I can to warmer grass, and turn to see an elder, clothed in the best our tailors have. He says, “Now, do you not look as though you’ve seen sad death? You’ve got to drink more, young one.”

May be.

“This one,” he starts, dragging his arm out from behind his back, “still sleeps.”

[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qeQsPHo2iKM ]

It is snoring Hoshiguma Yuugi in his hand, hanging by her ropes and long shirt that all the younger oni wear.

He shows her to me and says, “Bring her to the river and have her washed and then come down for us to greet the humans.”

He throws Yuugi's limp body over to me and I catch her in mine arms, cradling her large self (she is mine age, and over a head taller than I) and looking at her safe, sleeping face. I could damage it now, and honest, I verylike want to.

“Yea, I will,” I agree. And then, I shout, “A crow! To me! Hurry up now, come on!”

A crow drops from the trees as the elder walks on way. This tengu immediatelike bows before me and answers, “Yes!”

“Take the youngest Ibaraki to a bed in one of the camps, and have an easy hand with her,” I order.

“Yes. Have the best time in the hunt to day, Gentlechilde Suika.”

“Gent—!? Tch, what!?” I am repulsed. This is new, Tenma... Will this one call me “Yamato Nadeshiko” next? At once, spit fills my mouth, and I am ready to shoot it at her face.

“... Ah!” the crow speaks, noticing my swelling cheek and anger. “No! What—What would you prefer in address!?” she asks, her eyes fear full. So, I swallow.

“I would... I would prefer you think! Now, go!” I dismiss her with more anger than I truelike feel, but it was the truth what I said. I do not like it either, that the crows and wolves and turtles all listen to us. She dashes behind me to the pink-hue oni, and I walk with the blond in my hands to the river.


“Wake your self, oaf.” I drop the Hoshiguma, full clothed, into the stream.

“Bwfaahh!!? Eh!? Eh!?” Yuugi stammers, trying to swim in shallow water. “Suika!” she calls. “Are you selling a fight?”

“All way,” I answer, and shrug, “but bathe first.”

“I must be dirty before that!” she insists, and she leaps at me from the water. In the same second I grin, and catch both her fists to start another bout.

Yes, this is true: we are violent, oni, and cannot sit long without being anxious for battle. While I may be secreting all my causes for a fight in this case, I mainlike wish to feel the heat in my veins on gain, as I ever do: tossing her and tossing boulders and trying to feel on life.

We have a good scrap, and we are finished beneath the waterfall, fallen into one another’s chest with each a grip of the other’s hair in her hands, breathing fast and heavy onto one another’s face. The turtles who had been here are hiding, and I smile reminded that without exception, we oni can scare any on round us. It is true: beasts, humans, youkai, and e’en greater; all will fear us. Such is our being.

For the moment, I decide to forget that I hated Yuugi. We let each the other go to clean ourselves properlike, scrubbing the other’s back too when it comes to that. When it is her turn to wash mine, the tumultuous glut of confusion and spite returns to my gut on gain, though, and am I forced to speak on it.

I say, “Yuugi, can I talk of last night?”

“Did you do some thing drunk?”

“No, I—well, sure-certain I... did, but not to talk of that,” so I explain.

“‘Lright then, talk to this bear,” she tells me, and I can feel her smiling down on the nape of my neck.

“Do you...” I begin, ready to ask, but then... “Do you—” I say, the question stopping in my throat. “Do you think... we will... do well to day?”

Do you believe it right, ev’ry thing that we do?

She laughs and says to me, “What? Did we talk onbout the morrow on the yester day?”

Do you not feel like it is a chick in your palm when in your hand is a human there in stead?

“Yes,” I lie, and an iron weight falls in my heart.

Are you not afraid of crushing them? Does nothing bother you onbout locking a life in a cage?

“Of course!” she declares, scrubbing me with force. “Who else but us to do the best, Suika!?”

I...

I secretlike grind my teeth: there is a pain in me now, that a rule has been broken.

For I know it is true. Isn’t it? But this... What I’ve done is a denial.

Oni are honest.
>> No. 2184
File 15301011985.jpg - (508.56KB, 1075x826, it's a fight.jpg) [iqdb]
2184
Despite my determination to be in a foul mood, I am swept up in the excitement of the coming hunt as the sun nears its full height. How can’t I enjoy me self? We are singing and dancing down the mountain through the woods. We shout for bolst’ring vigor, and our march will take us to some special humans: ones who have trained to fight youkai kind. I—I will not capture them, but, I still wish to brawl. Nay, I need this, especialike now.

“Suika,” begs an aunt before me with hair colored as flames, “drink! Be all proper for the coming swords and spells and spears, yeah?” She offers me fire-water in a gourd.

All though I’ve still a thorn of a headache in my skull from my last drowning, I want to listen to the adults: I’ll drown the thorn more. I take the gourd, and finish the whole thing fast to a chorus of “Yea! Yea!” I pull it from my lips, corded to my mouth with my spit, and sigh hot breath. I’m full ready, now.

[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZCJrnT51g8 ]

The group roars: six of us here, two young, full roused for some bashing. A crow above shouts, “Close now!” Here it is, here it is~.

They come out, or rather their weapons. First come arrows, and I think to blow them out the air me self but one of our men becomes a giant before I'm able. He cannot become mist and grow like me, but he has a special mallet to do it in stead and, raising it over his head, wishes on it to rival the mountain in tallness. Head in the skies, he slaps the twenty or more arrows from the air as though they were flies, and so we cheer.

Some women next try to reach our backs with their blades, using the trees to hide their advance, but another man and a woman from our band are quick to meet them, blurring on round us and taking the sharp metal into their hands to snap it all like twigs. This leaves us, Yuugi and I and the woman who offered me her gourd, to roll into their encampment and throw it all into a riot.

In honest, disappointinglike, no time at all, we have the humans all subjugated. As if I have been suddenlike pulled from a pile of sugary fruit, I am aggravated and without patience, tapping my bare foot while I sit on a tied-down man.

The crows monitor the camp from above our heads and so do wolves watch from behind trees, all surelike seeing it is like we've toppled here a castle of sand. One tengu descends from the sky to the greatest, but not oldest of our crew and addresses him, “Sovereign Rouki, all the humans that we knew to be camped are counted.”

“Oh,” says Rouki, folding his arms—all way impressive, with all the muscle filling them, “that’s good then. Let’s all of us pick some men and women to challenge, eh!? What say all of you!?” I shout mine agreement, very same as ev’ryone else.

It was all too rapid and fast, after all; it may be that there is at the least one among this too-weak lot we’ve thwarted that could catch mine eye and heart.

“Yuugi and Suika, you are first,” the elders agree. The two of us nod, and begin to walk through the smoking and ruined encampment.

We did throw this place on sunder... It is nice to see: their bed rolls are torn, their tents are onlike now cloth in the wind—ah; we didn’t touch the fish and other meat and food. I suppose we may be taking that. Broken bows and iron shards of once-armaments litter the place. I brieflike think, They lost with so much ease. I wonder what they e’en came here for?

“Ho’ there! That’s a look in your eye that stirs my blood, old dog!”

It is Yuugi calling.

I look across the way to see her squatted before a very large man who one of our women has beneath her foot. He glances at the Hoshiguma’s hair, sweeping the dirt on the ground, and then looks into her face.

“Aye, does it?” he asks.

“It does, verylike. Will you match with me?” she requests.

“At what?”

“At wrestling,” she says with firmity, and points on round the rest of the camp as she speaks her next words—her proposal. “Hear this, big human: onlike Suika and I matter for this hunt, and so onlike our say matters—Yes!?” She turns onbout and we all loudlike agree. “And I’ll beat down the one who challenges it! So, yea, hear,” she returns her gaze to the man, “I fight you, and at my loss then half of you may be free to go. At your loss, your freedom is in stead mine, well as any more who fail to day.”

“Half?” the man confirms.

“When Suika picks,” she swears for me, “the same conditions will be her partner’s deal.”

“I accept.”

His answer is plain. Yuugi, though, is so happy. Her grin could blind the Sun.

“That spirit and mine agree! Matches that body, eh, eh!?” she laughs a boist’rous laugh, patting his shoulder all the while. When she finishes, she declares to him, “Be honored: you are the first human to face Yuugi of the Hoshiguma; she who will one day bring ev’ry oni to her heel, and have full dominion of this mountain.”

Hoh... The truth. That is her belief. Was Yuugi more incredible than I’d known? Until yester day, what was I doing?

While thinking this, in spite of odds I spot my girl: a dark and short-haired, thin child who steals my heart with her eyes. She does not look tough of body but, neither do I. It’s her expression. She looks mine age, but her anger is so matured and clear. Her look makes all the hairs on my body raise, and in the next moment I am leaning over her restrained body.

“Ho’,” I offer mine address with a smirk that is involuntary, “will you compete with me, little one?”

She is glow’ring. When she answers, I am surprised at the sweet pitch of her voice—she sure enough looks like she can speak at a depth of Hell, I would say. She tells me, as if it is a refutation, “I am a child.”

I am bewildered, and shake my head. “And I?”

“Though you are not liars, even ancient oni can betray their age with their looks,” she delivers this fact to me. It is true enough, so I say:

“Well, I am Suika of the Ibuki, an oni who is onlike nine.”

“I... am Neieiki of the Sunai, a human and the same.”

She hesitated, but I am glad that she told me.

“The Sunai...” I repeat, sealing the name in my thoughts. “Young Sunai, what is your answer?”

“I do not feel like refusing, but I do not know what’s the contest.”

I reach a hand out to her and say, “Then you agree, eh~? Oh Sunai, you agree, then, to a test... of balance.”

With that, she is allowed one hand free. And with a look at hers she thus, boldlike, takes mine.
>> No. 2186
File 153018578492.jpg - (458.44KB, 610x1050, in the name of tradition.jpg) [iqdb]
2186
[ ♫: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=LuIisHc4nf0 ]

“I have to remind you at least once more, demon: I’ll allow it if you still choose another game, or even combat, in stead of this.”

Neieiki of the Sunai speaks to me with a confident simper worn on her face, and onlike a touch nervous. I shake my head.

“I am not a demon, I am an oni.”

She frowns, and will not answer.

Here we both stand, “first to fall” a loss, on the tops of the tallest trees that we could find in the mountain’s Great Youkai Forest. I made the crows go and the wolves too so we are entirelike all lone. It is full beauty mid-day; we can see the mists of the Lake below from here, eerie and pretty all on way. She is still not answ’ring what I said, so I’ll continue my denials, and do it sing-song.

“And no~” I pipe, “I do nooot want to end this or change it! The impulse felt right, yes~. Yes, yes~.”

“You are drunk.”

Well!

“Of course I am drunk! Did I not just say so what I am!?”

“No, I heard you oni onlike drink for celebration.”

“We drink when we wish to be merry, and this is... aaaall way!” voicing this, I wave side to side with mine arms spread out and mine eyes closed, basking in the hot Sun. This, certainlike, is another truth.

“Fu, that’s a lie,” she scoffs.

Now it is my turn to frown, and hers to go on that I refuse to respond.

“I will tell you a truth in exchange for the rare oni lie:” she mocks me, folding her arms (and I mirror her, and still pouting), “I cannot lose this game.”

“Hooh~? Verylike?” I ask. Now I must say, I am curious.

The girl, puffs up her flat chest and smirks with self-satisfaction. I look her over on gain, and admire her posture as well as her artisan-stitched, and colored-black clothes. To do this challenge in a shade the sun hates, and it’s the peak of summer; I have a heart for that.

“The Sunai are building men and women of the highest abilities: monster hunters, smiths, and, best of all, night soldiers.”

“Night soldiers?” I ask, pulling a cold gourd of sake from one of my ropes. It will not be good, but I will be more drunk.

She opens her eyes and says, “We call them night soldiers becau—”

“‘Monsters’!?” I interrupt, with the mouth of the gourd just before mine. “Did you mean me by that?”

“I did,” she says without worry.

“I have half a mind, Sunai,” I say. “I will forgive that now, but I’ve half a mind to throw this gourd at your head I tell you.” I drink.

Mine opponent pauses before going on, “... Night soldiers, are so called by cause we are trained to fight when you youkai are at your most dangerous, by darkness’s cover.” She holds up and opens her right hand, putting her left on her body. “My honored father pioneered the combat art, and I am one of his best pupils.”

“So you fight when it’s easiest to fight, eh?” I ask, having finished my drink. The taste was very good, I am surprised to think. Well! Sod mine expectation.

“Do not be confused! Humans are not creatures of the night!”

She shouts at me terrible suddenlike, and after wincing in reflex I scratch at my head. I am a little confused. Was that so? The Sun is a great thing, both in size and majesty, but the Moon all ways grants power. So humans are not the same... Are onlike youkai swayed by the Moon?

“So you are impressive...” I determine, rubbing my chin and not looking any where particularlike.

“I am,” she says definitive, and, well, I imagine she is. She still stands, and it has been half an hour I think. I huff. Mhm, yea, it was a right thing to choose this challenge. “Do not look so impressed...” she complains.

“I am impressed, though,” I tell her, and I see her face is red. Sick? Not drunk... “Your face has gone a bit red. You’re feverish?”

“No!!” Ah!

So emphatic... Like fire flowers, this one.

Hmm... Aye.

I must confirm for me self another truth. The truth is: I like this... “Sunai”... very, very much.

~~

So it’s twilight. Mm~, I feel I’d like to sing.

“You look at me too much,” the Sunai says from across the way.

Yea: I was looking, happy.

“Are you worried I’ve fallen in love with you?” I ask her.

“I am, a little,” she grumbles.

“Well,” I say, “a little.”

“Blackguard...!” She recoils. “Do not even suggest it! To a woman...!”

And, ha! I laugh as I answer, breaking my words, and shaking my head too: “You are not a woman.”

She growls.

“I love a good many things, girl,” I say, looking now at the Sun (one of those many things) as it sets. “That is all.”

“Such a small thing...” I hear this whisper, and next, “brought down so many of us.”

“Are you looking at me now?” I ask without turning.

“There were six of you come to the camp?” asks Neieiki. “And the tengu did not help you to fight.”

“Mhm, six of us, twenty I think of you?” I answer.

“It was thirty...”

Thirty, you say? Verylike? Mercy, humans are so...”

—Eh? Eh? Eh...

“... weak.” And like that my voice, all so, falls to a whisper. Damn, I’m out of spirits.

“Now, what’s got you down?” mine opponent mocks. “What is weighing on your heart, have it pull down your body too, hm?”

“You are very smug,” I remark.

So she explains, “I have all and full truth confidence in my race, oni.” She, who was crouching on the tree, now stands to her height and puts her hands on her hips. “Perhaps you hadn’t known this, but humanity, unlike your kind, is marked by growth. We change. We are each better than the last one of us. You oni are full of power, yes, but you sit satisfied onlike with that, never to try.”

Squatting here, I stare at her.

“So I had wanted to laugh,” she continues, “when the yellow-haired one in your group said she would have this mountain under her foot. No: it is us humans who will do that, sure enough in time.”

And before I am able to form any full thoughts on what I’ve just heard, I speak directlike from my heart: “Now, that challenge is one I’d like to face.” My mouth is a little open, and I am smiling. I feel this way—honest, I do.

You’ll cage or kill them all before that happens.

I claw into my thigh.

“You... just how upset are you? Acting that way...” Neieiki observes. I look at my bleeding thigh, but do not answer. Out my periphery, I can see her folding her arms, and folding too somewhat into herself. “You call me smug, but look at this. Your pride is nothing to wound.”

“It is not my pride that is bothered...” I tell her.

I shiver.

I feel, right now, I am confronted with a monster risen over my body, huge and staring. Under it my head gives way, and bows. It is not her, it is some thing much greater. It is some thing I... I am not proper able to describe, in my folly and drunkenness. But, I feel it bearing heavy on me, and wanting to have my soul. A sickening idea is facing me, and I want to rebel and fight it but...

... I can’t. I am, shaking, afraid.

“N-Never mind!” I shout, pulling free my nails and waving the blood off them. I grin and give a great laugh. “Nothing, nothing! Oni have no worries, Neieiki!”

“Call me ‘human’ or ‘Sunai’, but do not call me my name,” she demands.

“Neieiki, can you play any instruments, eh?” I ask.

“I jus—… Eh? What?” she says, seeming stunned. “What sort of question is that?”

“One of... whether or not you can play an instrument,” I tell her. I do not need to clarify.

“... I can play a flute,” she tells me, and for an instant I brighten. Yes... keep this. Feel this...

“Ohh, how g-grand!” I force these words out, and I believe them. Believe them. “Now? Have you one on your person now?”

“I... do.”

“Ah, play then! Play!” I shout, clapping. “That is most good! You play, and I will sing!”

“Are all oni like this, or is it just you?” she asks.

“Y-Yes!” I swear with a fist on my chest. “I am an oni, Neieiki! Suika of the Ibuki! Full of beauty and bold oni of most recent years, all power full, joy full, honest!”

Believe it.

“I...” I laugh, “I want to sing with you, please.”

I think she sees the strangeness in me. Is it my smile? My posture? Straighten your back, Ibuki! Grin! Do not let... let the lies show on you...

In... truth, we aren’t all lone. There are still the beasts, now going home and flitting and burrowing and twitt’ring as they go to sleep. The human across from me listens to these sounds I am so used to, and draws out her flute. Readies it to play.

“Give me the song, oni,” she says, dragging her fingers over the miniscule holes on its top.

And... there is some thing in mine eyes, and there is a choking feeling in my throat, and my heart, tight... I grip at my chest and smile at her better, my fangs showing over my lip. “Mm...” I manage. And I hum the old tune.

It is a song of Yatsugatake, and of living here on nights like that coming now, that the fireflies drift and cicadas call. I need to hear this song, and better: affirm it with mine own tongue. Once she knows it, she plays me the melody—terrible, so I chuckle and in her eyebrows she frowns—and it carries on the summer zephyrs. I can smell a meal somewhere being cooked. I bring in my voice.

Dancing shadows shifting in a bright season...
The road where they stand back to back;
Near by, you stand there beyond my reach
All ways watching with a smile shone on me.

A dream that lingers after night has passed
Is resting in this palm of mine...
And now, each season follows to its end
And with stars above no lies hide within...

The moon dances once on gain!
Brilliant on the water's face,
On this splendid mist full lake, night sure-turning.
Full white and shining! A light shooting quicklike past
Finds me soon, and runs my body through...


Mine eyes, full of warm water...

Her gentle, to-rhythm sway...

... Is this not it?

Is the bond we oni and the humans share not this thing I cherish?

I want it to last for ever, or at least as long as it can. I do not want to take it from her: that, by her will, she can do this. I want her to live, wholelike, in this world, as being born has granted her.

So... I think...

I am not an oni.

The song stops.

I smile at her and my smile, for the first time, is returned. It is a kind moment between warring races, and e’en the dumb me can recognize this as very precious.

The day ends, and we sleep, balanced, through the night. I can do it well and Neieiki too, but as the next morning comes she falters.

And this is victory. On the previous evening, I told me self I am not what I am. But, that must be more of my new lies. Neieiki tumbles from her place, waking in a start and reaching for any thing, saved by none. I see her and know, She’s lost and She’s dead. And, I will let it lie like this. Neieiki fell, I have won. To honor the fairness of our competition, the sacred nature of our bond, I... must...

My heart thumps.

The human girl is cradled in mine arms, and I am flying above the ground. She grabs hold of me round my neck, and I turn to see mists of my self trailing from the tree where I had been. I realize what I have done, and my face cracks apart. Feelings roll up and out of my, so I bawl, wretched, over her, my tears falling heavy from mine eyes, e’en shut. I tell her I am sorry, I’m sorry.

“W-Why are you apologizing?” She asks, trembling.

“I... I...!” I can’t speak. I try to speak, but I’m hicking and sniffling. With a shattered voice I force the words out: “I broke our vow. I-I’ve dishonored you b-but I... I didn’t want you to die, so...! I can’t let... I do not want to do it! I will not do it!”

I grip into her, agony and fury boiling over inside me, spilling vile and cruel in my belly. I... I do not know any thing any more. It onlike hurts, clawing reckless throughout me. Gods, I am wrath full, and I dig my claws into her skin, piercing her leg and her arm. I feel like tearing her, and then my self, apart. Her blood runs over my fingers, and I know it would be easy—

“Hah—” I breathe out steam. She’s brought my head down, into her small breasts.

“Shush, Ibuki. Steady now,” she says. While still soothing me with her voice, she begins petting my head, “I want to thank you. I want you to know I am thankful. I didn’t want to die.”

My grip recedes, but I am still quiv’ring.

“If I had died there, would we have been able to compete on gain?”

I shake my head. The rivulets down my cheeks slow.

“It’s all right... Suika. Thank you for saving me.”

With this whisper, for now I am calm. I feel her warmth on gainst me, and for now I am relieved. The Sun full rises and the new day proper comes, with the birds loudlike not caring for this moment. I will have to confront what all this means later and deal with the grief it will bring, but for now, just for now... I want to be well.
>> No. 2187
File 153027401440.jpg - (220.56KB, 500x616, battle between oni.jpg) [iqdb]
2187
We arrive at the humans’ camp, still earlike and forenoon, to celebration. “Both” the challenged humans have won; they are now all free to go. Neieiki gives me a full joy nod as she is brought into the welcome of her kin and praised. I allow me self a little joy as well in seeing her there, but it is swallowed fast by the latest sick lie built on the others in my gut. Hm... So Yuugi lost, did she? Keen... I would have liked to see that.

Like a satori that’s heard unspoken whispers of her name, the Hoshiguma happylike barrels out the crowd and finds me who’s just thought of her. She bashes into my body with a wide grin on her face, and she rubs her cheek to mine.

I cannot hide that I cried before, and ev’ryone here believes I must have done so for losing. My first loss, after all. I say this is so, and the weight (guilt) within me is suffered more. No one can tell by cause oni are honest, so…

“Brighten your self, Suika!” Yuugi declares, her arms over my shoulders, her grin toothy and bright. “You’ve found a good human, and that is a gain!”

In mine eyes and brows I cringe, and I am wanting to shrink. I suppose that I can, but I shouldn’t. Still I consider it seriouslike, and am disrupted when I feel hands at my waist and look to see the youngest Ibaraki there, trying to comfort me with a tough squeeze. Hmph. I put my hand on her head and say, “Be on your way, Kasen. Oni or not for you to be here isn’t either safe or wise.”

She onlike uses more power to hold me.

“Hmnn...” I mumble, glancing over the growing party on round us. I cannot feel any excitement from it vicariouslike, so aye, I know...

“You look too depressed, Suika,” Yuugi observes. Mad, if this bear can tell there is some thing off onbout me, it is showing far too clearlike. But she is off the mark, asking, “Your stomach hurts?”

“Might I speak with the two of you all lone? In some quiet place.” I ask them.

“‘Some quiet’...? Hmn, well, yes I’d say that is fine. Suika, you aren’t well?” Yuugi asks, touching her stone forehead to my skull and feeling for heat.

I tell her, sure.

“Aye, I am definite unwell.”


And for mine unwellness, I am punched.

“Bfwuh—!” I spit out, fall hard into dirt, and when I recover caress my jaw. Tonguing my gums I... Ach, I must spit on gain, into my palm. There it falls: one of my first teeth, in a tiny pool of blood.

The Hoshiguma is standing at twenty feet on way from me, gentlelike massaging her fingers. How much of her muscle was put behind that strike, I wonder?

As I wonder, the Ibaraki strides over to and squats before me. She drags me into her grasp, by my shirt’s collar, and she tells me, “That was deserved,” before she collides her skull to mine with the words “and this”. I slam on gain to the earth, and the impact is so heavy the leaves of the trees near by shake. The little, short-haired, nearlike hornless girl hits as a grown woman does. Very, very full pain, this... Still, I can stand, and do... try.

“Ho’, Kasen...” I say, placing a hand on my knee and bringing my self up, “were you so mighty, or have I angered you? Ha ha...”

She pulls me in by my collar on gain, and I find mine eyes wincing. “Open your eyes!” she shouts, and I do. “An’—An’... do not accept! Fight!”

“No.” I want this, after all.

She bares her teeth, glaring at me with a fire in her eyes. Then, I am thrown; caught ungentlelike by Yuugi and feeling as though my limbs will be broken. My word, these two... do they think my collar is a handle? The golden bear, looking over me in sober contempt, speaks: “Suika... I didn’t think you so daft.” And there is a low growl behind her words. “Lies? Breaking out of the ways? And now, Suika, we must beat sense into you? Have your ears broken?”

“They still work.”

“Then I say, why will you not listen!?” the girl shouts, and her volume shakes the trees, as too my heart. Tears well in mine eyes, and when she sees that, so well hers too, at once. She talks more, saying, “This does not mean you will die, Suika! It can onlike be worse! Do you want to vanish!? Into nothing!?” Her voice then gives out, as she surrenders to emotion and drops her studded head light onto mine sore. She pulls me closer, though all so she tries to hide her face from me. The act coaxes out my suppressed grief in its entirety, and I bellow the denial I have been skirting these last two days.

“It is senseless!”

And, it is as if all on the mountain has gone still.

“With all this power you crush bugs! With all this freedom you make slaves of women and men!” I cry this out, like I am conviction manifest. “With all this time we take what little others have out their hands! With all this mirth and hedonistic insobriety, vapid full cheer inanity we sit on this mountain, glad that all below it, and those chained to it, all bleed, die, and are silenced by masters they serve but could not ever choose!”

Yuugi and Kasen stare on as if the foulest things have just come off my tongue. But not yet. I declare it:

“Mount Yatsugatake...! The hill where worthless oni pretend at being gods!”

Yuugi sticks her fist fierce into my stomach at once, wounding me and with contact pounding too the atmosphere. I heave dry and almost vomit, managing onlike to spit voluminous sweet water in nausea, and feeble reach for her forearm. I feel a hand holding the back of my head, then. Yuugi lets go of me, and Kasen behind puts my face harsh to the ground, almost busting my nose. Now down to the soil and grass, I push from the surface with my hands and fingers spread, and the Ibaraki struggles to keep me down.

“Suika, you cannot be like this!” I hear her say. “Hear the elders—hear any on the mountain: a youkai cannot be any thing other than what it is! An oni who lies!? An oni who won’t steal away humans who have lost!? If you follow on denying this, then the world will deny you! You will not exist, Suika!”

“Well then, I’ll have that,” I plainlike answer, sudden rising more and startling the girl, “No, I welcome it to try. Hell, if the world will want me gone for what I have to think of it, I will find what is its face and I will spit in it. Let it try to refuse me.” My muscles swell with blood, tighten up, and begin to pulse. Pressing teeth to teeth I lift my self, and so Kasen’s hand. Finding an opportunity, I grab that hand and swing her right, spinning her so that she is under me. Her ribs straddled between my legs, I hold her down with my palm on her chest. “Let any try,” I say, “I avow: I will not bow for a second to any of it. I will demolish what ever stands on gainst me with these hands: this mock-kingdom of the oni, the rule of nature, the Dragon God... you.” I poise my right fist, and summarylike knock her ‘cross her chin.

I drag my left hand to her throat, full squeeze her there, and raise my right on gain. And burning now, I beat her face in. I want to hurt her. I will split her head open. Her spit and blood speckles my face, and I just hit on gain. When I have struck her a seventh time and make for an eighth, Yuugi’s toes sharplike find my side, as my fellow oni kicks me off of our younger friend so to collide with some bark. The ground is broken from the falling and uprooting of the tree which caught me, and after I lay amidst clouded sand and splinters. This feeling... Yes: that shot was one that sought a kill.

But I stand as if it were nothing. I have a cause, and now feel onlike as the belly of Yatsugatake it self. This Ibuki Suika is hellfire whole. I am bolstered. And, with this shatt’ring of the earth, now I will erupt.

The Ibaraki can sense this coming. I can see it in her swollen face as she picks herself up, staring at me with a light hold of her wrist. I see her glance back at Yuugi too and—yes. Yes. There it is. You want it, too, eh bear? We are aligned as “oni” on this. I all so want to have you. Come on, then: let’s fight. But, do I have to say it? I am greater than you.

I breathe out and fog escapes me, but I will not grow. No, I do not need that advantage for Yuugi. The want of murder between us stands our hairs, and our malevolent wills replace the air. Kasen gets out the way, and I am ready. It is then that a crow finds us and lands in front of me. I look at this red-eyed servant, her slight-cropped hair frayed and frantic. I look at her, and begin to raise my grasp for her neck.

“W-Wait, Sovereign Ibuki! I beseech you, stay your hand!” she cries, seeming to want to stop me by hers, but she is too fear full to do so.

“‘Sovereign’...” I repeat in an unhappy tone, “I am not the Ibuki’s Sovereign. Why that address?”

“O Suika, I had onlike meant—”

“There is a word I have learned from mine elders to describe crows of your ilk. It is ‘sycophantic’. Do you know this word?” I ask.

The crow falls silent.

“What is your name, crow?” I request. “I wish to know it.”

“I-I am Shameimaru Aya, O Suika. I meant you absolutelike no disrespe—”

“Miss Aya,” I calmlike interrupt, and bring her close by the front of her robes, “I think that what whispers on the wind brought you here should be to your self kept, or I say: it will not end with a Hoshiguma’s blood I see spilled today.”

[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVfLTGgDem0 ]

She swallows, and nods. I let her go.

“Be gone, Aya!” I shout, and she flies by gusts at my order.

Yuugi and I stare each other down once more. The blond child brings her knuckles to pose. I slouch, and drag back my right foot. Yuugi squints just slightlike, and it is the signal to our fight. We both hurl forward, our fists cross, and we plant them violent each into the other’s cheek. The surrounding forests fall from the power, flattened right to earth, and their bark becomes skinned and turned to dust in an instant. We keep one another here, Kasen observing us, and I put mine other hand to the Hoshiguma’s face. I make her eyes meet mine. I pull my head far back. I take in a deep breath. And, with a grunt, I crash my skull into hers. I let go at the ruthless blow, and she is shot backward into the air, hurtling like a spear. I jump, become mist, and speed through the sky after her.

I’ve propelled her through the forest canopy and over Misty Lake. Quicklike I find her there flying with wet and clenched eyes. Becoming whole on gain, I reach for the front of her shirt, tugging her close to me, and I then step care full onto her, stand slowlike, and stomp her that she plummets into the lake water. She falls like a comet stricken to Earth, and when she is swallowed it seems for a moment the lake cannot in reason accept her speed and force.

It sinks and then, after being all still for some seconds, it entirelike fires up like the angriest hot spring. It was enough to reach and rain over me, and while I await the bear’s return, I spot a glint of light that just as quick I see it becomes a white-hot ray making steam of any water it passes. I have seen it before, spat out by her: a wicked power beyond comprehension. It is too soon from my seeing it to move, so her strange energy is allowed to burn clean through my left shoulder. I look at the new hole in my body, eyes wide, and mind alerting me loud to the pain. I reach for the wound and open my mouth to cry out, but before I am e’en able, Yuugi jumps above me, raises her right foot straight above her head, then brings her leg down like an axe on my damaged side.

“Ah—... g... ggaaaahh!!!” I am made to scream, and now cry distressed. I close my teeth over mine own searing blood that has burst out my body and splashed into my mouth. With it draining down over my jaw, all the sudden, my thoughts become blank, and I am mist on gain, billowing, spreading, and collecting my self greater and greater, closing the hole, verylike becoming a mountain in a person’s shape. Soon I see Yuugi hov’ring below my chin and at my chest, there in place the size of a beetle. I open both of my hands and swing them fast into a clap on round her, aiming to crush her.

There is a boom from mine act, but the sound is damper than I had expected it would be. I feel pinpricks in my hands, and no matter how intenselike I try to push them together, they do not touch. I bring them farther out from me and I see it: Yuugi is there, holding back my palms like one would hold back impossible, moving walls, and with as much effort showing on her face and body. With almost white eyes, all veins beating at a fast pace, she begins to force me apart. Her shining teeth are like a furious mill, gnashing as if with them she could cast sparks. Sweat beads down her skin—enough of that.

Mine efforts are redoubled. As I am now it is enough to soon make her into a paste, and knowing that, it seems, she opens up her mouth, raises up her head, and wails like death with a pitch and intensity that may crack the sky. Her scream near bleeds mine ears, and my heart begins to flutter in resonance. My hold is weakened, she throws my hands apart, and she wastes no time to fly in an arc to my left, fist out, and punish my side in a single, vicious strike that finds and cracks a rib of mine.

At once I return to smoke and then normal dimensions, but I cannot reset the bone. S-So, so much anguish flows throughout me. I am racked with it. Yuugi does not want me to recover and brings her leg round for a dang’rous kick. I do not allow it, and half-turn to wisps and ether. She looks frustrated as her blow sweeps through a black and shapeless part of me. With my corporeal hand I reach for and jerk at her hair. I pull my body up, using it for support and forcing her skull down. I put the sole of my foot on her face and use it to nudge her head upward. Good. I step my heel down on her nose with so much effort. Her blood paints mine ankle and she is sent backward on gain. She stops a yard out from me, holding her injured face with both of her hands.

I stay, and start trying to collect and reform my shattered rib inside me. I breathe out hot when, after a little while, all is right and back in place, and look to see Yuugi an inch on way from me on gain. We meet eyes, and we immediatelike have unspoken agreement. Our powers flare, and we start to destroy one another. Ferocious. Vigorous.

Our knuckles are banged, we each bite the other’s ears, arms, neck, thumbs, we butt our heads into bone, pound the wind from our lungs, pull violent at one another, kick, scream, thrash, and roar. I crack my knuckles on her teeth and then, while she is reeling, bend backward. She sees this and bends to mirror me. We breathe, we focus, and with speed we ram our skulls so fast together the blast distorts the air above the Lake, and the thund’rous sound is sure enough to have Raijin him self hide his navel scared. With my vision blurred of the pain, I grab her skull on gain, driving it low that I can be brutal to her nose once more, next with my knee. I bruise her horriblelike, and she growls but then slams her claws down on my scalp in a split-second. She tears my head down, fires her knee up, and returns my strike in kind. Hellish vibration.

Mine entire body feels rocked as if an earthquake has gone through me in stead of the land. Now we both weaklike waver far back from each other, blood dripping and bodies aching some thing terrible. I am vexed to admit this, but the bear is more power full than I. But, it is surelike to laugh: I think that she must feel the same. I can sense from her a gath’ring of mysterious energy. That is her top ability, after all. She has settled, honestlike, to kill me. Ha... No. I will kill her first.

I lift my hand. Mine is the ability to gather and disperse. With it, I am certain... I am sure I can rip the fabric of the world it self apart, and so shape a hole of death to devour Yuugi. My fingers twitch as I manipulate nature’s make, turning and twisting all of it to its stressed limits. There, on the cusp of rending and as the heat of Yuugi’s phenomenon builds to a level that I find terrifying, we are interrupted. I see an older oni before me: a woman, in her hands a kanabo. She lifts the colossal, studded club to ready it for an attack, and under her arm I can see a male doing the same before Yuugi. The weapon crashes down on my head, and in not one second I am on the Lake’s floor and under water, mine ears ringing. My consciousness falls with an avalanche’s momentum, though I struggle to retain it. Interference... Interference, now...? I look through the shimm’ring, rippling surface above, and see on gainst the Sun a black-winged figure. That was it.

That was it.

Hahh... blasted tengu.
>> No. 2188
File 153036189773.jpg - (732.11KB, 1280x751, forgathering a dream.jpg) [iqdb]
2188
[ ♫: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=uc8rtxEx7ko ]

I wake up, open my eyes to a dark sky.

My body feels almost entirelike ruined: my head is aching, my joints feel yanked out of place, and I am tired. And—now this is odd—I am sleeping on some soft thing. I grope it and find that it is... a bed. Then that isn’t a sky: it is a roof. I mostlike sleep where ever I happen to fall for the night, and do not have many memories resting on pillows or cots. I do not know where I am, then. There is no place like this on my side of the mountain. I do feel pleasant, though. I brieflike close mine eyes. Some thing smells very good... and calming. It is left of me. I look there, and see Yuugi sleeping. This scent... like soil and blue berries, and perspiration. I feel like crying, but I know not why.

Yuugi’s arm is under my head, and I turn into her to put both mine around her body. She makes a small sound, and her left hand falls on top of me. I cry against her chest for a little while, as memories of our fight return to me. I tried to kill this girl. I pull her close, and listen for her heartbeat, still crying.

“You wake first, eh? I win, then. I bet that you would.”

“Hah—!” I gasp, lifting my head at this voice. I turn to look and see the oldest man of our people, dressed sparse as ever in a very loose robe and hakama, and he’s smoking a pipe. He looks my age, and his thin, spiral-ridged horns reach far behind his head.

“Still crying? What did you do, Suika?” he asks. In the chair he’s sitting in, he slouches deeply. It can’t be good for his back. While I think onbout this, he keeps speaking, “The violence between the pair of you was such that I would imagine promises were broken.”

“I—...” I stop after sitting up. I do not want to tell him.

“... Answer onlike if you’d like, little Ibuki,” he tells me. “There are secrets that even us oni would like to keep. Why do you think we steer so far from the damnable satori? Mercy, though, the intensity of you children...” He sighs, and shakes his head. My mouth wavers, and I start to hiccup.

The old man looks at me plain. “You two are on life, now keep your memory that with lateness it may not have been so.” He fades from light and slips into shadows. I watch him as darkness go to a doorway, where he turns into a man on gain and tells me: “It is you who will sort your problems out, do not expect any one here to hold your back and show you the way. Strong Suika, you will only take this from us: the fact that we know that you can.”

I swallow, still unstable with tears. He walks away, parting with a few final words. “I will see you, Suika,” he says. “Come out when the two of you are ready to do so.”

With him gone, I stare off at nothing and begin to pull at and gather the sheets over my legs to over my stomach. I hug my knees, and continue to cry. I do not think it is true: I do not think that I can face the monster that made me scared. But, I all so do not think that I can accept its presence. The monster is truth. A beast of fact that whispers You really will disappear and If you do not want to, then you must change. There is no good ending in my sight. I feel more hot, and soon sad sounds echo the room.

“Sui... ka?”

“Y-Yuugi...?”

The bear at my side groans and wakes. She feeblelike stretches, not much able to, and grumbles in complaint. “Hell,” she swears, “what happened? Hark, was I put on the moon under some rabbits’ hammers? I certainlike feel the same as mochi.”

“I... did treat you as mochi,” I answer.

Yuugi blinks full force, and seems to think. When she opens them again, I can see that now her eyes are wet as well, and she looks very miserable. “I am sorry that I tried to kill you, Suika,” she says in an infirm tone. I reply that I feel the same, and I see her teeth as she holds back emotion. I open my arms to her, the girl gets up onto her knees, and we embrace, letting go the cages on our hearts and sobbing like the hurt children that we are.

We weep for a long while, overcome, clutching at each other’s clothes, wanting to hold on for ever. When we are done, we stay together, breathing and confirming that Suika and Yuugi are still here. We keep sniffling—or not, in stead having the drippings from our noses and our tears fall out onto our backs while our chins each rest on the other’s shoulder. We grip so desperate. I’m very sorry I ever thought I hated you, Yuugi. Sorry, Yuugi.

The Hoshiguma eventually speaks before me. “I am sorry Suika, but...” she starts, “... in truth, I just had wanted you to know: you can’t do what you wanted. Not as you are now.”

“I know, or... I... Oh... What do you mean, bear?” I ask.

“I have heard tale about it...” she says, holding me close, “that a youkai can do it if they are strong enough: that they can break out of the role nature has subscribed to them. But, for an oni, it can’t be simple. You can’t just be a little strong, you have to become strength.”

“Eh...?”

“Oni are so many things, but if you can do that...” she says, parting a little from me so I can see her face, “I think that you’ll be fine.”

“It’s scary,” I admit. “It’s scary, and I do not like any of it. Thinking of it makes me horrible... I honest am sorry, Yuugi, that I tried to k-kill you, as well.”

“You enraged me,” she admits, smiling, and my gaze is downcast, “but it was only a moment of your hate, so I forgive you.”

“I became so terrible and angry, and you were right to stop me. I wasn’t right. I should not have your apologies, or your forgiveness,” I say.

“Oh Suika, come on now,” my friend says, bringing up my gaze with a finger beneath my chin, “rage becoming you, for any reason? That is the day to day. We are oni, after all.”

Looking at her, my sight shimmers, my shoulders raise, and I drop my head down, burning once more, and starting to moan and cry on gain. Yuugi cradles me to her breast, and lets me tire out.

~~

Out side, I find that we are indeed on a new side of the mountain. The two of us lost some days to unconsciousness, and we came out here to sunset. Mount Yatsugatake... had more to it than I had thought I’d known.

I face the warm-color sky while standing at a cliff. Yuugi is sat behind me, trying her best to stack small stones onto other small stones. We have chosen to keep my will a secret, though I do not want it to be one for ever. I told the Hoshiguma, “I will do it,” and I meant ev’ry thing in that.

Yuugi... is right. To be an oni means to be strong, above all else. All that makes an “oni” is built on top that idea. We are strong, so we rule. We are strong, so we are feared. We are strong, so we fight. We are strong, so we are liberated. It is not only strength in the meaning “power” (of body or mystic), it is spirit. An oni should have an unwav’ring conviction, and a heart that can never be clouded. They are strong like that, too.

We oni are strong, and I will be e’en stronger.

I make this new promise to my self: and I swear to my friends, my clan, and my people that I will not ever break it.

I swear, too, this promise to Yatsugatake, Gensokyo, Yamato, and this entire world:

I will be the strongest, freest oni to ever live, and I will show any and ev’ry one that that is what it means to carry this blood—to be on life. It isn’t only the joy of revelry, nor the love of brawling... It is not only sake, nor is it slavery... It is not only these horns, nor should it be these chains.

It is strength.

[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nP5_Q6qJg6s ]


This little story has ended, but not her journey.
>> No. 2189
File 153036197086.jpg - (2.58MB, 1600x1200, spring means flower viewings.jpg) [iqdb]
2189
Hoped you liked it! See you in the future/present/past.

>>2180
Unfindable image sources:
https://www.pixiv.net/member_illust.php?mode=medium&illust_id=50267648
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/1953886
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/370638

And, a gift: for download, perusal, or whatever. I find it nice to have all these tracks (from all the threads) in one place, so I may as well share.
Tracks used:
https://mega.nz/#F!1BdBzIKZ!bhLzijfM3iyphpueDOKf0g

Title - Album (Circle)

[笛子]東方Project 碎月 (cover of FELT's "CLONE") - (Dizi)
CLONE - Blue Drop (FELT)
And Other - Blue Drop (FELT) [bonus]
華は春に還り - Crystal Stone (ShibayanRecords)
Drunk As I Like - Distant Phantasm 6th (Distant Phantasm)
砕月 - Aoki Touhou Komoriuta (TAMUSIC)
Otherworld - Final Fantasy X
幻想郷への扉 - LUNATIC EASTRONICA (Fluid Stance)
Memory of Forgathering Oriental Dream - Immaterial and Missing Power (NIGHT DISC)
>> No. 2190
File 153044950073.jpg - (249.34KB, 750x750, 151388963064.jpg) [iqdb]
2190
>“rage becoming you, for any reason? That is the day to day. We are oni, after all.”

I know she tried to cheer her up, but that really wasn't the best thing to say to someone who is trying to escape their nature.

Anyway, thank you for this short story. I really liked it.

The best thing, for me, is that, despite knowing the future, we cannot see how her journey ends. Suika incident and the exile can be taken in many different ways, all very very exciting.

My favorite things are the OC girl and the fact that Yuugi "Lost" a brawl against a human. Maybe she's too soft, too?
>> No. 2191
>>2190
>I know she tried to cheer her up, but that really wasn't the best thing to say to someone who is trying to escape their nature.
As I see it, Suika loves being an oni, but she's not technically an "ideal" one. Part of this was exploration as to why, and I'd say that line was Yuugi trying to remind her that even if she doesn't fit all the ideals, she's still what she thought she wasn't (but nonetheless wanted to be... while also not wanting to be). Girl's conflicted!

As for "exile"... It may be better to interpret her as a simple aberrant oni according to her original Japanese description in her IaMP ending as being, eh, an "outcast". Outcast is an off the mark reading of what she's called, although "異端児" can carry a heavy, but accurate connotation of "heretic" (some sources will tell you it means "maverick", and more readings seem to support that idea https://dictionary.goo.ne.jp/jn/12267/meaning/m0u/ ). For what it's worth I won't be going from a perspective of her being a cast out of society oni (especially given according to Satori, Yuugi is jealous of Suika's freedom to abandon the Former Capital and do as she pleases), but she is undoubtedly unique for better or worse. She was a ruler at one point in her past, as one of the Four Devas, so she probably had the respect of her fellows. That's my interpretation!

And finally, thank you~. I'm happy you really liked it, it was a fun exercise.
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