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No timer and I'm unsure I can get an update out in time for the end of November for the competition.
That said I already won like two or three days ago by the original rules so it's fine!
[X] Leave The Dead Horn Hole,
----[X] just like that.
[ ♫: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=eI_YYEE7A90 ]
[クライム・ストーリーときみのウソ - Adrastea (ShibayanRecords)]
I run my fingers, rings still on, under the cold fall of a faucet, and rapidly they get relieved—feel soothed. My hand doesn’t look great here... the knobs for hot and cold are these fancy rose fixtures made of touch glass. The sink itself is marble. The metal of the spout is shining flawless. Then there’s my hand and rings... a dark red, almost rust-colored stain slowly runs off the skin and gold: the blood from Gasha’s broken nose. The only blood or anything I could squeeze out of him. While I wash it off, I don’t look at myself in the mirror.
The Komeiji Household, ground floor.
Faucet’s on, no lights.
I twist the cold rose and stop the flow, water dripping from my hand as a bunch swirls clean down the drain. I call my fire to my hand and it eases up and around my digits and palm, waving gently, warming me back up—I wonder why Gasha’s blood didn’t burn off while I was fighting him before.
I left The Dead Horn Hole with Koishi and with revelry at our backs. Before I walked out, I told one of the flustered patrons “Hey, I’m Yorigami Joon,” and I walked out saying and doing nothing more than that. For a second I thought about dragging Gasha-boy outta there with me, maybe toss him in the river and have a chat or something but I’m too miffed. I was too miffed, and I still am. The whole way over to the castle where she sometimes lives, Koishi had both her arms around my right, and walked me home gently. She knows I’m pissed. I’m smoldering.
I punch at the mirror above the sink, stopping just short of the surface. I’d really rather break it but that’d be a dick move...
I drop my arm, turn around, and open the bathroom door to leave. The only reason that fight with Gasha worked out at all was that I had the element of surprise on my side. My divine flame awakened another ability and Koishi saved me, so I won. Without the last-minute rescues, the machine-made gods, how would it have ended?
I walk toward the direction of their sitting room, a two-tailed cat sauntering up beside me and following me there, the tips of its tails dancing with dark flame. I hold the hand I used to beat into Gasha closed and bring it near my face, looking at the knuckles and rings, Gasha... isn’t the strongest an oni can be. He’s not close, I think, otherwise he’d boast more about it since, weird as he is, oni gonna be oni. Ouzu... Ouzu’s part... he was part of a “family”, the family probably responsible for kidnapping Sis, but that’s not the important part here. The part is that names – known ones, big ones, clans – mean everything to oni, and those who carry names, even Sezaru, The Liar, carry them for their strength. I haven’t asked what Ouzu’s old “family” was, but that they’re a family at all means they’re respected: respected for strength.
I don’t have it: what it takes to topple that strength on my own—and it has to be on my own. Just then, Yuugi’s words ring out from my heart:
You can’t survive down here on your wits, Joon.
You have to be honest, and you have to be strong.
More than anything, you have to fight.
“How long will it take...? Before I can do what I swore to...? Shit, fuck...”
Suddenly, I wince. A light show of dark red rays starts right next to me, covering this medieval-lookin’ stone hallway in a real horror show glare. I suck my teeth, and then feel the obvious touch of a fairly big pair of boobs against my cheek, pressing me almost aggressively. The cloth on top of them feels expensive. Well, I don’t really appreciate it though—
“Oi—” I start, lifting my hand, but whoever this is talks right over me.
“C’mon, c’mon! Cheer up, Sister! There’s so much good news today! Grin, Sister!” says a girl’s voice. With her tit still pushing at me and my back bent from her “friendly” hold, I do the opposite.
“Let me g—mmf??” I stop talking, not ‘cause she did anything but— “What the... You smell like a corpse!” I can’t believe it. Ash, too...!
“I cart corpses, Sister! It’s what kasha do,” she says too loudly. “This is Hell, you know!?” I turn my eyes to her face. Her lips curl into a cat-like smile—no, wait.
That scarlet base and raven-toned hair, those twitching extra ears pointing from her head... the tails.
She’s the cat.
“Ohhh!?” she bellows, a gleam passing over her eyes, “you didn’t think I could do that did ya, Sister!? Well!? Awesome, right!?”
“Nothing awesome about a monster cat,” I reply, putting enough irritation in my voice I hope it wards her off. Just in case, I start pushing her over that lolita, deep-green dress in some extra effort. She resists, a lot. I start gritting my teeth. She’s stubborn...!
“Snff... Hm? Snff, snff, snffff...!”
“Quit sniffing me!” I snarl while she pushes her nose in my hair, and then breathes in around my fingers once I start shoving her face. Igh...!
“That... blood? On the fist of a god? Wha... That’s real compelling...” she comments like I said nothing, then licks one of my fingertips. I shudder.
“Dumb cat... Get a hold of yourself!” my voice rumbles and I bring up my other hand, pushing down on her hair, smushing one of her ears and finally getting out of her grasp.
“Oh...!” she utters, bending her head under me. She turns it again, pushing back against my palm, her ears flopping up when my hand slips over them, back down when I slide back on. She nudges me with her cranium enough that I unfortunately get what’s happening. It gets obvious once she starts purring.
I pull my hand back, my eyebrows furrowed. “I don’t pet bad cats,” I tell her.
“Myaa...!” she moans plaintively, her eyebrows sloping. “Pet me!”
I take off. No more walking.
She gives chase. Tch!
I stop down at a crossing and dash with my flame around a corner, hoping I can gain ground before she figures out which one (seeing as I practically disappear when I move like this).
I blink-rush over a velvet carpet, making more random turns, zooming past paintings of the sisters and going for the sitting room, where they’re in the flesh and waiting on me. I throw a glance over my shoulder and don’t see the cat youkai... I’m safe, I guess? I throw the door to my destination open and dash into the floor, looking behind myself again, too worried to greet the Komeijis.
“Lost her...?” I wonder as she leaps from a different direction from the one I came from. Wha—!
I flinch, she pounces me and starts nuzzling my palm, squirming on top of me, revving like an engine and vibrating like a lady pleaser. She stinks...!
“Orin!” I hear Koishi’s voice and crane my neck to see her on the ceiling (wait, no, right, I’m looking at her upside down). She’s standing in front of a couch and pointing. Komeiji Satori is still sitting down, looking at Koishi with disbelief, her hands awkwardly raised like she doesn’t know what to do with them. “What are you doing with Joon!? Stop that!”
“Orin” isn’t listening. She starts to curl up on me (and for the record, she’s definitely a bit taller than me). Koishi shakes her fist and stomps her foot down a few times.
“Koishi...!” her sister exclaims, “you’re jealous...!”
“Of course I am, Orin’s got...” she looks down at herself briefly, crosses her arms and closes her eyes, turning her head dismissively “... you know!”
Oh Koishi, I’d take your cute, soft breasts any day over big, stanky, cat tats.
“Eh?” Satori sounds confused. “Who was that?” she asks. Uh.
“Get off me already, cat! Your masters are calling you!” I complain, trying to separate her from me again. This’s why dogs are better... they listen!
“But...!” the cat whines, looking up into my face, “Sister saved Lady Koishi! I want to thank her.”
You want to get pet.
“At least take a bath first...” I say, practically under my breath. Satori speaks again, assertively... half-assertively. She’s really distracted.
“O-Orin, take a bath. We have guests, not everyone is desensitized to the s... smell of death like—Koishi, Koishi do you remember who I am? Who Okuu is?”
With her sister’s attention turned on her, Koishi meets eyes with the pink youkai and screws up her mouth, twisting her eyebrows. “I didn’t get amnesia, Sis...” she says, quietly annoyed.
Satori touches her sister’s cheek, sitting on her hand and knees now. The cat on top of me slinks off and starts walking presumably toward the baths. I pick the top half of myself up from the floor, feeling golden fire tingle over my body and seeing it flicker over my clothes, cleansing me from that reek. I dust off the front of my dress and coat and finally stand up. “So, you figured out what’s up with Koishi, I guess,” I say, rubbing my neck and walking toward the couch they’re at (where Koishi is now sitting down, Satori still at her face and looking almost-broken).
Koishi told me to head to the bathroom and back here when we arrived. Now I look at the kinda cluttered sitting room: the old lamps, the bookshelves, the fancy-patterned doilies on top of everything, the old and patterned rug, the stained glass designs on the walls. It’s actually got a cozy atmosphere... ceiling’s high, and the place is this warm, almost twilight-like dark. Like it’s dark, just gives me that same sorta feeling watching the sun go down—there ain’t no orange lights here or anything.
“Komeiji?” I ask, and Satori doesn’t budge. Can you hear me, oh cat lady of the third eye?
She turns slow toward me, mumbling “... ‘the third eye’...” absently. She blinks, and meets my eyes with a hard stare. “... Orin was right; you really saved her—why? Really, just for your sister?”
I put my hand on my hip, staring down to my feet hard.
“‘No, it’s not just that anymore; I think I’m falling in love with her,’” she says, and I pick my head up, fast. I grit my teeth in a grimace while my cheeks burn. Koishi puts her hands over her mouth and picks up her knees in a self-conscious move. “‘Ahh, don’t do that—I’ll wanna tease you!’”
“Stop that!” I snap at the older sister while the little sister squirms in her seat, not taking her eyes from my face. I cover it with my hand and sigh... Man, I don’t need this—I’m having a crisis of goals and motivations here; I don’t need Satori—
“—‘reading my thoughts about her tasty’—ohh, tasty?—‘sistyeah, she’s been saying what I’ve been thinking this whole time right?’ Yes.” Satori sits down against the couch a lot like Koishi, her knees up and her third eye’s tentacles wobbling very slowly in, like, an orbit around her. She looks at me with her ordinary eyes, her hands out on her knees. “You’ve... had sex with my sister?” she drops this casual bombshell.
If I’d had tea or something, I’d have spat it out now. “N-No!” I lie at her. I don’t wanna talk about this with family!
“‘Not the time sh—ah! No, don’thin... kle babble, bah, buu, buu, bah.’” She talks nonsense.
“Yeah, yeah, that’s enough outta you...” I say, trying to think up mental chaff to throw her off. Am I really sure I want to restore Koishi’s old self completely...?
“Well,” Satori says all of a sudden, as if she hadn’t just said a bunch of dumb tongue twisters about persimmons and peaches, etc., “I have to thank you at any rate. I can read her again. This is... it feels like nothing short of a miracle.”
She talks earnestly, and Koishi looks over at her silently, somber, her hands stretched onto her knees and completing this inversed-mirror look they’ve got going on with their colors.
“I...” I start, bringing up my hand and rolling some of the soft strands of my hairline between my right ear and eye, “... I haven’t saved her. If I’m being honest, Komeiji Satori... I’m worried whether I can or not.”
The sisters don’t say anything. I frown.
Ngh... Feels awkward...
“I see...” Satori eventually talks, breaking the quiet. “But... even when she stole the Mask of Hope last year—”
“I didn’t steal it—”
“—her personality wasn’t restored entirely. The menreiki’s mask was—”
“Mine! I found it, she lost it!”
“—something like an artificial object... a crutch, support, but nothing to heal...” Satori finishes despite Koishi’s interruptions. She hugs her legs, pushing the lower half of her face into them and having her eyelids fall halfway. Her third eye drifts off, its staring done. Satori closes her eyes. “She’s Koishi... my Koishi again...” she flinches—oh, no. Actually...
Koishi looks over at her sister sadly and I frown, feeling kinda complicated as I watch that seemingly cold, clearly obnoxious Satori start to weep, not caring a lick about our watching. “I didn’t think... I never th-thought...” Tears rolls down her cheeks and Koishi finally turns to hug her, her face showing kind of how I feel.
Because this isn’t healing either. “It’s just a stopgap,” I admit to her, unable to look at the near-sobbing chief of hell. I put my left hand on my neck, scraping my nails at it lightly, “I... don’t know if I can... do anything really.”
“That’s so dishonest,” Satori says, her voice shaking only a bit. I look at her rose-magenta irises, glassy beneath a tortured brow-line. Her third eye bores into me with its gaze, and I turn my head down under it, “you, you... You are made... of arrogance. You should be arrogant.”
But I don’t have anything to be arrogant about.
I don’t know if I can stop whoever it is kidnapping gods.
No, I can’t.
I’m just some lousy god. I can’t even perform real miracles, I just force things to happen.
“What’s more miraculous than a golden will...?” I look up again, seeing that Komeiji’s eyes are shut while her sister cradles the red part of herself in one hand, petting through her pink tresses and locks, comforting. “Maintain it... please. Be who you are, I beg you from the bottom of my heart.”
“Stop,” I insist. “From the bottom of my heart, I can tell you how gross and scum it is.”
“I can tell you,” Koishi mutters, “how bright and pretty it is.”
Something hits like a wave. My nose scrunches a little and I bring my head back reflexively. Just like that—quick, hot—my eyes fill with water. My lips quiver, and I try to take the frown from them, but then a tear rolls down my face. Another, and another one.
Don’t tell me that Koishi...
I can’t match that... and I can’t be a better person.
I can boast, but the facts are facts, and walls are walls. You can’t just punch a wall down when it’s in your way. And if I wait long enough that that might even be possible for me, my sister might not be behind it anymore.
And the hope I keep giving you will run out.
And what’ll I have to show for it, in that dead end?
Pretty clothes, jewels, but not even a single slip of cash left.
“Koishi,” Satori says, just looking her sister with a turn of her head. Koishi nods, rubs Satori (who eases into it) one more time, and steps from the couch. She takes my hand, and I look at her, still feeling wrecked.
“Come on,” she says, squeezing her fingers, prompting me to close mine, “just come.”
I was pretty despondent throughout the bath. The Komeijis can pretty much just open my heart up and touch me where I flinch, where I break. I just let Koishi wash my body and hair and after we finished and she dried me, I followed her, still holding her hand, to her bedroom.
Her room is as gothic as most of the rest of the palace. The floor is a red carpet, her bed is huge, circular, and soft, hidden behind see-through, very elegant curtains from a high banister. The sheets are lavender and smooth. There are flowers on her nightstand, and a bookshelf of what looks like family albums. We’re sitting on the edge of her bed, side-by-side, her hand on the back of mine while she leans in toward me. My heart beats with feeling all of a sudden again when her hair tickles against me. Koishi’s... bedroom...
Ah... It’s been... three days....
Koishi sits up straight and looks at me, determined. I blush.
“I... I’ve been thinking,” she tells me, “so... I know... what I want to do with you, now.”
I shrink a little, and she holds my hand a bit more firmly. Waa... I’m not used to this...!
“I... I want to—
 eat—ah, put my... tongue in you...”
 um, put my... finger—fingers, in...”
 grind us together, l-like, uh...”