A Short, Unhappy Shion story Rifle!8xr41kzjvM 2023/02/08 (Wed) 15:17 No. 2752 ▼
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Yorigami Shion was unhappy.
Yorigami Shion does not know why she is unhappy.
“I’m unhappy.” She asked the poverty-stricken shrine maiden drinking tea on a Sunday afternoon. Surprisingly, the shrine maiden did not chase her away on sight for some reason.
“When are you not unhappy?” Reimu replied, before staring at her, “You don’t seem to be spreading misfortune right now, however.”
“I’m not unhappy most of the time! I’m just not actively happy!” Shion loudly protested. Reimu instinctively threw up a wall of amulets to deflect the burst of misfortune from the goddess.
“In that case, did something bad happen to you. Worse than usual, I mean. Where’s Tenshi?”
“Tenshi said she was sick with the flu today. I was going to ask her about what to do before I came to you.”
“But celestials can’t get sick, not even through misfortune, unless…” Reimu’s face darkens, “Tenshi’s losing her celestial status from staying on earth for too long.”
Shion’s hands feel clammy, and her legs wobbled. “That…that can’t be the case! If Tenshi will become a mortal, she would die!”
“I am just theorizing here. But if Tenshi really is becoming a mortal or afflicted with some other malady, you’d better watch it with the misfortune around her lest it get worse.”
“Watch it with the misfortune?”
“You can control misfortune with your mood, from what I observed. If you stay in this state and restrain yourself, you can hang around Tenshi, or anyone, without issue. Problem is, your own misfortune is going to get worse, if the other binbougami I knew were any examples.”
“So if I stay unhappy, Tenshi will be safe, even if I suffer more?”
Reimu solemnly nodded, “Yes.”
“Off to visit your celestial friend again, Shion?” Joon called out to her younger sister.
“Yes, sis.” Shion replied, straightening her bow and her raggedy sweatshirt.
“Well, be sure to shake a few coins off her as usual.”
“Right.” Shion finished and turned. “Jo’on, hit me.”
The younger sister looked up from her phone. “What?”
“Hit me in the face, a good smack, like when I screw up a plan.”
Joon looked at Shion’s deadpan expression, muttered a low “Weirdo.”, and obliged, leaving a stinging red handprint on the side of Shion’s face.
Shion was unhappy, but she knew why this time.
Shion repeated this a few more times, but soon, she no longer needed the slaps to get in the mood.
“H…Hey, Shion.” Tenshi said, her tone nasally, as the poverty goddess came in through the door.
“Hi Tenshi! I made chicken soup with peaches, just the way you like them.” Shion said, holding a small earthen pot. “I can feed you if you want!”
“Hah…nah, the great Tenshi can feed *cough* herself just fine!” Tenshi struggled upwards in her bed and took the pot. She paused.
Tenshi poked around the pot with the spoon. “There’s no entrails included in the chicken pieces and the peaches aren’t spoiled.” She takes a sip, “It’s seasoned perfectly with no odd tastes…*cough*...Shion, are you feeling alright.”
“Never been better!” Shion lied with a bright smile on her face.
Tenshi looked at her, then smiled too, “Seems my luck’s been rubbing off on you then!”
Shion was hit by a cart, smacked by a rock, and tripped into a puddle on the way back, totaling the amount of accidents she suffered this day to twelve.
Tenshi got better soon, and continued to be close friends with Shion.
Shion’s cooking got better as the years and years went by, as did her handicrafts. Joon began speaking of her sister in slightly less derogatory terms as her schemes started succeeding for a change, although she did start asking why Shion never took much shares. Likewise, Tenshi asked why she was content to continue nibbling on the scraps during a banquet.
“Because I want to. Because I like it.” Were the replies Shion gave. She knew from experimenting in secret that as soon as she let herself enjoy her own handiwork, the feast she laid out before herself will degrade into blackened, disgusting slop. This was also the answer she gave when people asked why her clothes are even more ragged than before and her body ever more emaciated.
Except to Reimu of course.
“Reimu, do I have to keep going like this?” She asked.
“If you wanted to keep being friends with Tenshi. You will.” Was the curt reply.
“But I hurt. I’m a god of misfortune, I have to spread it, to not feel…so terrible.”
“And if you do so everyone else around you feels terrible, especially since Tenshi no longer has the infinite store of good luck she had. Do you value your own feelings above everyone else’s?”
“Of course I do! I…”
“Will Tenshi still consider you a friend after you relapse?”
Shion bit her lip. She didn’t know. But she thought Tenshi a good person despite her many faults, which would likely mean she will not be happy. More importantly, Tenshi’s grown too, and has more friends now. Shion’s still her bestie…or was she?
“...Probably not.” Shion conceded.
“Think of it this way. The misfortune in you is trash, disgusting and ill-smelling. You, are a trash can with the lid off, designed to contain and spread the smell. But don’t people like a trash can with its lid on more? And if it doesn’t contain the smell, isn’t it just trash itself?”
Shion paused, “You’re right, but I don’t think Reimu would’ve said that.”
She reached out to touch the smooth surface of the gravestone, her own indistinct reflection looking back with hollow eyes. Shion then turned away, and went back to preparing the next shrine banquet with Tenshi, for the new inexperienced Hakurei.
The banquet was well-received, even though Shion broke her head against a table corner.
The years went by quickly. The roads of Gensokyo became paved, and the Underground nuclear reactor’s power lines spread throughout the walled garden like a spider’s web. The housing of both youkai and human grew to be like Information Age Japan, even as Outside, Japan hurtled towards an unknown future.
It was autumn when Shion was anxiously waiting by Tenshi’s room, when the oarfish from the Dragon Palace came out bearing ill news.
“It’s a terminal illness according to Dr. Yagokoro.” Iku sighed, “She’s been on the ground for too long. Even if by Omoikane’s knowledge she comes up with a cure, the next one will hit, and then the next…”
“But this is Tenshi!” Shion protested. “There’s no way someone as strong as her can die like that!”
“You’re right, she won’t. As a messenger of Heaven, it is my duty to bring her back and reclaim the Pure Land within her before it is too late. And to do so, she must shed all earthly attachments.”
Shion looked down. At this point, she was used to it. “I understand.”
Iku nodded, then stepped aside and beckoned her into the room.
“Tenshi!” Shion yelled as she scrambled to the bedside. Tenshi looked over and gave a weak smile.
“Shion…” The blue-haired celestial never lost her cheer even in this state. “I…I’m sorry.”
“Don’t! If it’s the only way for you to live on, I’m all for it!” Shion lied. An unfamiliar feeling began building up in her long-numbed heart: Despair.
“It’s okay…I only have to go back for a while, maybe just a millenium at most, then we can be together again! And play and drink as usual!”
“Yeah, I know!” Shion replied. She wanted to keep Tenshi for herself, forever if needed. But the physical reality of the situation was that she won’t be deriving much pleasure from an earthly corpse.
“It will be soon, I promise. Pinky swear.” Tenshi weakly held out her hand.
“Pinky swear.” Shion hooked their fingers together.
As she stepped out and watched the procession of Dragon Palace messengers come in to carry their celestial home, she didn’t release any misfortune from any feeling of comfort or relief.
A day in Heaven was a year on Earth.
The future was unpredictable as usual. Gensokyo gained a shoreline, and it was a momentous day when the Sages unveiled their Yggdrasil sapling, due to reach up into the stars where humanity is now beginning their fitful exploration outside of their home planet. Things may be getting better, maybe. But they are definitely moving forward for most people.
“Hey Shion.” Joon called over one day, with several boxes of luggage in tow. “I’m moving back Outside. The economic situation out there’s gone polarized enough that both of us have worshippers.”
“Really?” Shion perked up, though not really stirring any emotions.
“Yeah, for bad things to happen to those they don’t like, not to themselves of course, so don’t go thinking you can cut loose with the misfortune. Good enough for both of us anyway. You coming?”
Shion looked at her sister, who still hadn’t changed over all this time. “Is it necessary?”
“Both of us can function apart from each other now.” Joon dismissively waved. “Stay or come, it’s your choice.”
Shion shrugged, she saw no point. She’ll be doing the same thing outside or inside Gensokyo.
Shion chose to remain where she was, tending her position as a tolerated goddess of misfortune. Sometimes she’ll look up to the skies, where Heaven once was visible from the ground of Gensokyo. The floating islands were no longer visible. Heaven was sealed off.
Tenshi wasn’t coming back.
It was one day that Shion woke up, and decided to go visit Youkai Mountain.
Youkai Mountain’s landscape largely remained unchanged despite the lifestyles and architecture of those who dwelt on it. The old trails are still there, if now served with water stations and kappa-made telescopes to gouge tourists. Even though she could fly, Shion chose to walk up to the summit, and take a good look at Gensokyo below, so familiar, but not like home.
She then descended into the foothills, to a small cabin next to the river.
“Miss Kagiyama.” Shion greeted the other goddess of misfortune standing by the river.
Hina gave a nod, “So you’ve decided then.”
“I have.” Shion took a step forward, then collapsed, kneeling. “Miss Kagiyama, I’m…I’m tired.”
“You are sure then.”
“I am sure. Take me.”
With tender hands, Hina gathered up her colleague into her arms. Shion felt light, and hazy, not feeling the cold water even as Hina placed her upon the river’s surface.
As Shion began slowly drifting down the river amidst a flotilla of Nagashi-bina dolls, she fell asleep, and dreamed.
She dreamed of a world where she was wanted.
She dreamed of a world where Joon comforted her when things went wrong. She dreamed of a world where she and Tenshi continued frolicking in their zany ideas. She dreamed of a world where every night, she could have hot rice, hot baths, and hot tea to look forward to. She dreamed of a world where people looked at her with joyous eyes, rather than vaguely fearful ones.
Shion knew why she was unhappy, and now know the reason is gone. She can be happy. For now. Forever.
As Shion floated out to sea, she smiled as tears crept down her face, the first time in centuries.
And Shion never woke up again.
Anonymous 2023/02/08 (Wed) 15:31 No. 2753 ▼
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I think you did well, it feels a little rough reading it, but the idea behind it is a nice one, and it felt pretty satisfying to read through. It felt almost optimistic I think, in a still steadily downhill sort of way.
I think I especially liked the reveal that Reimu had died, I think it really helped communicate the time passing between scenes.
I think you handled Shion slowly losing everyone close to her really well for having done it in just a thousand or so words of the short.
Good job on this one Rifle!
Anonymous 2023/02/08 (Wed) 22:22 No. 2755 ▼
The bath kills the stank elemental.
Anonymous 2023/02/09 (Thu) 01:58 No. 2756 ▼
This was a really good read. Depressing, true, but also memorable