There you go again, getting the shit beat outta ya.
A rock set of knuckles right on your jaw, a sharp toe in your gut.
Go on, fall down.
Get your face dirty.
That’s always right.
Son of a bitch Yorigami Joon.
Ain’t that the truth?
You ain’t never gonna fuckin’ change.
The Land of the Oni— - --
Right. Pick the fucking money up.
I drag my nails through Hell’s black soil and close my hand around twenty-thousand: all I’ve got to my name. The gang that got me down here departs, the youngest of them turning around to spit one more word at me.
“Can’t you get the fuck out of here already?”
No can do, nuh uh.
“Hey, stubby-horns,” I raise my jeweled hand, and the finger and thumb on it while I grin, “kiss my ring.”
He stomps over to me, winds up his left leg, and punts me in the stomach. Knocks my mind black, but I’ve still got the money though.
I wake up later, still in the alley, aching pretty bad I guess. Not my worst screw up.
I pick myself up and fall against the wall of the bar I’d caused some trouble in a few(?) hours earlier. I dust off my shirt. It’s tough. It’s tough work swindling oni. It’s not tough to swindle them, it’s tough if they ever find out. Fuck, did I lose a tooth? Heeeyy, that could become its own little god, couldn’t it? Ha, ha ha...
“Ha ha ha ha...” I laugh to myself in the alley, the light of the busy and faraway street warming my face. I am a god, right? Me and her... we’re goddesses. Didn’t ol’ Izanagi make gods from taking a bath? What a champ.
I start rubbing my face harsh-like, gripping my last dollars enough to wrinkle ‘em in my hand. How late is it? This’s why the Underground’s so lame... you never know what time it is. Like, these idiots even got a second sun six years ago and all they use it for is a factory or something. What?
I sigh, breathe in sharp after that, and put my left hand on my ribs.
The fuck am I doing here...?
I close my eyes.
“Pfff... yeah right,” I laugh to myself, “Sis, you goddamn idiot, I only ended up here cause I heard oni are easy to fool. Not like you... ha... ha ha...”
I push myself off of the wall and start to shuffle toward the light of the city streets. I don’t really need to eat but I could use some food. I don’t really need the worship but I could use some faith. The little land of humans topside... I mean, you can use it but... the oni are way more loaded.
I’m just still not used to it.
I’m just getting warmed up.
I reach the mouth of the alley and look up.
Shops, bars, spots for guys and ladies, and spots for guys and ladies, the vibrant and full-throttle land of the oni. Lantern lights, yelling and fights, gambles and fireworks underground. It’s a crazy fuckin’ underworld.
I’m gonna put my foot down on this place. On the whole damn thing.
Where am I gonna sleep tonight?
 Can I work that satori over in that castle? I look pretty beat up right now, might be able to trick her—I know satori.
 Maybe I’ll sleep under the bridge that leads into this town. The youkai on top of it ain’t got nothin’ to be jealous of me right now.
 Might be I can trick some other oni for a place to sleep tonight. I’m not that infamous here, yet...
 I’ll spend some money, at least tonight. Take some heat off and sleep in a nice place, no bullshit.
Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2018/11/02(Fri)03:00
Here's my attempt at nanowrimo. Yup!
While voting is "closed" at the approaching (approached now?) time, post past it if you like, idgaf.
“What the hell do you have to be jealous of? Do you see my face?” I point to make it obvious.
“You’re so pretty, I’m jealous.”
I roll my eyes. “Yeah, thanks.”
Maybe half a mile out from the city (I don’t know), I’m beneath the bridge that connects the surface and under worlds and my feet are just... angry with me. Bridge ain’t anything special, just a little red and wood thing that makes crossing a rocky, tiny stream far less of a hassle than it could be. Above me, with her arms on the railing, is its... whatever. Guardian? She’s one of the many youkai who were banished here after the surface world got sick of ‘em, and now she spends a hell of a lot of time on a bridge. She’s a hashihime, It means what it means.
“I can pick and choose what to be jealous about, ” she says, “like your rings.”
My rings are really sweet, that’d be a good choice actually. I’ve got four on each hand, some of my last signs that I can actually do this whole “spending cash, getting paid” thing. Well, “paid”. The other signs are my gold bangles and my earrings: hefty, emerald, dangling and diamond-shaped motherfuckers. They make me look great.
I’ve also got a pair of giant amber sunglasses, but... that’s not a sign, I just like these. I keep them hanging off my hoodie’s collar. The hoodie, I could do without.
“You jealous of my gray duds, too?” I ask, trying to be cheeky. I pluck at the short sleeve thing by both sides of my chest, like this crappy, oversized thing is anything worth bragging about.
“I’m jealous you’re not embarrassed by not wearing a skirt,” she tells me.
I answer, “Tch... it’s that obvious? I mean, it covers my thighs but...”
When I first ended up here, I did what I always do in a new town: I walked through like I owned it. Humans eat that up. It always feels nice stepping over them, dazzling them.
Didn’t work on oni.
My diamond-laden overcoat got nicked when I couldn’t foot winnings on a bet, my shoes... I don’t even wanna think about it... and my comfy satin dress got ripped up and ruined when I got caught up in a fight later. Well, I say fight but... really, with oni it’s always just a beat down. Not that I’m a fighter (or a lover, really...)... I threw it away and found this T-hoodie in a dumpster. Looks terrible for sure, but... it’s at least familiar. Gives me a little peace of mind wearing it.
“Ew, don’t do that,” says the bridge princess.
I’m thinking weak.
“Haaahh...” I sigh.
Under the bridge really isn’t a good place to sleep. There are spiders and crap down here. The bridge is only good for echoing the sounds of the city, while blocking out most of its lights. The rocks aren’t good for my scrawny backside, and the stream... it’s like a trickle, but it’s cold, and I keep touching it with my toes by accident. I should probably get some shoes.
“You’ve really been in a bad way since you got here,” says the girl above me.
It’s stupid, but I answer her. “Bad ways happen,” I say, “and most often, I’m the one who makes them happen to other people. Right now, it’s just a little wrong direction, a wayward path.” I bring up my knees and hug my arms around them. “I’ll turn around, and get on a gold one.” I glance up her way and say, “Be jealous of that.”
“That confidence makes me jealous,” she says.
That said knowing me it’s going to be some shit crawling up from the bottom here without humans to exploit. Whenever I got in bad with a group of humans before, I could pretty easily shove ‘em away (like, actually just shove ‘em down) and walk off unscathed, but the oni here aren’t pushovers. If I fuck up, I’ve already learned three times that it’s bad news. Before that, even on the surface I got run down more than a few times once the jig was up. And once I get some money... hell yeah I’m gonna wanna spend it.
But none a’ that will ever be enough to stop this whirlwind.
I grin to myself.
I’m going to “want” until the whole world falls to ruin around me; that’s my meaning, that’s my raison d’être, and I’m not someone who ends at wanting.
Sleep now, take on reality tomorrow.
“I’m jealous you can sleep down there.”
While she jabbers on about random crap and how she’s jealous of my glorious situation, I try to make myself tired by making up plans.
Money, clothes, or hygiene.
Which is most important right now?
More money can mean getting better clothes and a bath faster.
Better clothes means I can get around bett.
Hygiene, I can lie a bit more convincingly to richer people, right?
What’s important is whatever story I spin to whoever’s willing to listen. Like, playing a pity card if I seem poor, or playing a card like “I just fell into some trouble” if I at least smell good while not wearing a skirt or shoes. Money is great because it’s a fast-track solution to most problems, but getting it would mean messing around and I just got some oni angry with me. In the months I’ve been here, aside from my first day I’ve been keeping a low profile.
Ohh... how about this?
Money: I trick some big-spending sap of an oni and clear out quick. Something low-risk... not gambling, since it’s too immediate. Investments, maybe? Something like that... huh...
Clothes: if I can get some shoes, I can explore a lot better. Right now there’re only a few places I know about: some gambling dens, this bridge, the castle in the distance, some unsavory joints I pass by now and then. I could get some pity from someone if I could walk to richer places and not collapse on bleeding feet. Without faith, I’m not healing very quickly nowadays.
Hygiene: I could sweet-talk someone into getting in a love hotel. I don’t think I’ll rob him if I do, but I’ll get a fuckin’ shower at least. That’d just help me all around. If I don’t smell like a trash heap, I can even start sweet-talking more and then start pilfering wallets.
Well well well, that sounds like a set of plans!
So which one should I go with?
Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2018/11/03(Sat)03:45
Sleep went about as well as it could, and the bridge princess didn’t do shit.
Once I’m all awake, I head out toward a well-known local earth spider, but only after I find a place to hide my rings along the stream. Put ‘em under a big rock, and put a mark on that rock to make sure I know which it is later. I can keep my earrings and bangles, but for right now I’ll get too many questions about the gold I keep on my hands.
I think it’s morning. It feels like that, like the air’s kinda cool and not so dry. Feels like a little water’s clingin’ to my face. Come to think of it...
I stop walking along a smoother path of stones and look at the little stream catching light from the ditch below me. Should I wash my face...? ... Yes... I step onto the slope and carefully make my way down with my arms up. I tell myself: never overplay it. The best way to lie is to speak honestly, and it’s easier to tell a false truth when you’re not in a false getup. So let’s be honest: right now, any normal person would try to clean themselves up a little, even if they didn’t have anything else that’d help them smell better.
I kneel down and dip my finger in the water flow (which’s a little wider here upstream, thankfully—I can actually cup it, prolly) and after a few seconds I check. It... seems clean. Hard to tell by sight. It’s always pretty dark down here when you’re not around civilization. I lift the hem of my sweater-shirt so I can see my thighs and drag my pointing finger along my right one.
I don’t... feel[/i] any sediment...[/i]
This is good to use. I drop the bottom of my hoodie, get onto my knees and start gathering some of it in my hands so I can wash the dirt off my face and arms. God damn but I’d like an actual shower. This brook is colder than a witch’s tit... Agh, whatever. I can also do something about the swelling the oni gave me with this, I guess... I splash my face and let the soiled water fall between my fingers.
... So here’s the plan.
The lady I’m going after, Kurodani Yamame... from what I hear she isn’t exactly known for being charitable, not that I’m trying to make it sound like she’s a stingy bitch like me or something, but like that’s just not her reputation—despite what I’ll be going for. It sounds like she’s a nice youkai... to youkai. Most youkai aren’t fond of gods, but I can change her mind. I’ve just gotta convince her, and nothing’s easier to mold than a soft heart.
After washing my head—the whole thing—I wipe the dirt from my wrists and forearms and... fuck it, I’ll wash my feet too. They’ll get dirty again fast, but they could use some soothing at least. I sit on my bottomless ass (is it a miracle I still have my panties?) and keep my feet in the stream. Ahh, man... Yeah, it’s like shivers all the way up my legs. Soooo much better.
“Hahh...” I sigh very nicely. While I’m doing that, I take some water and pool it in my hands, resting my cheek in the puddle of my palms to heal up my face too. I could really use a cloth for this, but I guess you gotta make do.
It’ll take me a while to cool off every part of me that hurts, but I’m not in a rush. Let’s take our time...
10:30 AM ?
The Kurodani hovel.
Whoa this place looks pathetic.
I’m not gonna say that out loud, but it seriously just looks like a huge pile of dirt with a few holes in it shining light through. Was she a regular spider before becoming a youkai? Like, she’s comfortable with weird claustrophobic holes like this? Eh...
I look over the dirt streets. The city’s pretty far behind and there are a few other houses like this one around that could get you confused if you were looking for one in particular. As she’s a saint Kurodani’s made that easier by marking hers especially, with gold and stripes near the top. Other than that... man; I heard the earth spiders were big on architecture, but it looks like that’s only for work. I bet they’d all live in shoes if they could. Recluses, man. They even act all shady whenever they get work done aboveground, allegedly.
But, that Yamame has a good reputation.
I silently build up my despairing persona. I remember the bad times, remember my early days... Remember Sis, remember the choices we made... Enough to get you down, come on...
I drag my feet to the spider’s door, and rather than knock I call out.
“Um, excuse me? I heard Kurodani Yamame lives here...? Hello...?”
I keep that up for a while, making sure not to put my calls close to each other. I won’t knock either, cause—
“Hey, little one,” I hear from above. A blond-haired head is looking at me from a window. “There’s a door! Don’t you know to knock?”
“Knock like...” while trailing off I look at my hands, “like... ‘knock knock’?” I kinda rap on my left pointer finger with my knuckles, almost pawing at it, playing up like I ain’t never heard of knocking before.
“You don’t know what knocking is? Hold on,” she goes back inside and I can hear her coming down. That’s step one, nothing to celebrate.
Her door is this hard to make out clay thing in the front, and it opens up wide so that I can see her, Kurodani Yamame, in the entrance hall of her decently bright home. She looks like a tomboy, and she’s a little fat. You can tell she’s a sweet type, but not that she spreads diseases and eats up humans whenever she happens to come across them.
“What are you? You don’t seem... like a youkai,” she says squinting and leaning near me.
“Y-You shouldn’t lean too close...! I don’t smell very good these days...” I warn her, backing away. She chuckles, bats a hand in a little motion of rejection.
“Oh come on,” she says, “I work with oni most of the time. You know how long some of them go without bathing?” She puts her hand beside her face and tells me like a secret, “Honestly, sometimes we spiders gotta go a few days without too, if you know what I mean.”
I show an awkward smile. “Oh, uh, no, I don’t,” I tell her.
“All-nighters!” she declares at a high volume, gesturing fantastically. I think she’s nearing my bait. “So? What are you?”
“Oh, uh, yeah, I’m... a youkai?” I say turning my head away and glancing in an obvious lie.
“Huh! Do you not know what you are?”
I shrink like I don’t want to say.
“Hmmm...” Kurodani starts spinning one of her locks of hair around her fingers, pouting in thought and a little curiosity. “Well if you want, you can come inside,” she offers, opening her door to me. Pile it on now.
“Ah, no!” I answer quick, jerking back raising my hands, “Really, no! I really shouldn’t get too close to you!”
“‘Cause of the smell?”
“Th-That too, but...” I wilt like I’m a bundle of nerves, sigh, and reveal the kill, “... Actually, I’m a god of pestilence.”
That’s it: I tell ya, I’ma get more than shoes in a few minutes.
Like I mentioned, Miss Kurodani Yamame spreads diseases.
In a really strict, classic sense, so do I.
However, both of us don’t do that unless it’s on purpose. Now, here’s the lie: I told her I can’t do anything about it, just like her. Now not like Miss Yamame—she can’t do anything ‘cause her blood makes her bite—I mean like my sister.
“Honestly, as a youkai I wanna say ‘serves you right’ but it really does sound bad,” says Miss Kurodani, standing against a counter in front of me while I sit down on a stool. I went inside eventually, and now I’ve got a cup of hot chocolate. Fuck yes.
“It is,” I admit, “but I came here to find her, and that’s what I’m gonna do.”
“I don’t usually admire gods, but I can’t help but feel for that struggle,” she tells me, and it takes all my power to not grin like a madwoman ‘cause wow.
What a fuckin’ idiot.
I mean really? This is all it took?
Fuckin’ A’ girl, don’t ever go to the Outside World, you’ll get eaten alive. Stuuupid! Ahahahahahaha!!
“Are you sure you only want some shoes I made?” she asks me for the fifth time, noting the pair of perfect and new sandals she cobbled together for me snug and comfy on my dirty feet.
“Oh, no,” I say innocently, “I really don’t want to take all that from you and, honestly, I don’t like how I smell at all so ruining anything nice you make for me will make me feel awful.”
“Again, I said you could take a bath,” she says frankly. I do like her, ya know. She’s straight-shooting and that’s mad respectable, even if pulling one over on her is easier than breathing.
“I’m ending your kindness at this delicious drink you gave me,” I tell her.
“Hot chocolate,” she tells me, smirking, “come around when you smell more like flowers and maybe I’ll give you another cup.”
“Thank you, Miss Kurodani... You really...” I tear up, and stop talking. I pull a girlish hand over my mouth and practiced, carefully, without exaggeration, start choking up too. “I-I thought this place was only full of mo—ah, auhh...” my tears stop short.
“Monsters?” she asks, dropping a hand on my head. Then, she pulls me into a hug. “Listen, if there’s one thing we in the underground know, it’s how valuable we all are to each other.” She pats my back. “You’re a newborn god, but we can help you however you need.”
Maaan, but that said I gotta be careful about who Miss Kurodani knows. If I meet her again and she’s heard about my first exploits, she’s gonna come at me with a sickness I can’t stop. I may be a pestilence god, but what I infect is bank accounts, wallets, savings, cash. This girl is the real deal, and without a shrine or followers I’d be fucked if she made up a disease that bleeds gods or something and sicced it on me.
Miss Kurodani, I will cordially use your kindness, and start to spread a better name for myself. Spin all my earlier exploits as desperate mistakes.
I’ll say it was all for the sake of family. It was all on the way to Shion.
I wrap one arm around the youkai’s back and can no longer hide the dark smile from my lips.
Thanks, Sis. Look: you’re good for something...
AND JUST LIKE THAT, THIS BITCH GOT SHOES!!!
When I’m long out of sight of the spider commune and making my way back toward the Former Capital, I allow myself to spread my arms and breathe in deep the underground air.
And I still smell like a dog. Fantastic!
Miss Kurodani was right, though, most oni may not care about that. But, it’s still a convincing scent, right? That said let’s get rid of it soon, I like, so don’t wanna act the part of the bum. I’m not my sister. No.
Whatever. Let’s get going. I can walk more, I’ve failed a few times, I got this. I want money now. I won’t try tricking some sleazeball with my body and whatever fetishes it might ignite, ‘cause if I fuck up and get, well... fucked... yeah. No. I’m feelin’ like a million dollars. I’m gonna get some cash through legit means: begging, investments, and deals. Fucking oni are always so drunk out their skulls and honesty-addled that I could sell them air. I was wrong trying to get rich quick off of gambling and bombast; the real good game is a long one, and it flies like a rocket. Go up, ditch what got you there... up further... ditch it... keep climbing, keep dropping.
Till you’re in Heaven.
 Let’s get to the rich district for some grade A begging.
 Bar and tavern trawling to trick someone into paying big to earn more later.
 Find some poor sap willing to fall for the schemes of a god. Selling lies for faith and money! Viva religion!
Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2018/11/04(Sun)12:00
Unlike with youkai, being a god ain’t intuitive. You either get born into godhood, or ascend into it, maybe get some fancy power or something. Then, if you’re fodder, you just become the divine spirit of a rock or something. If you’re anything else, this’s where things get into the work of life. Nothing’s imprinted.
If you’re a god and you want more, generally you need faith. This’s somewhere else where we’re different from monsters: our faith can come from anything, as long as it can think. We don’t need humanity. We use it. And why’s that? Why else?
Like I said, being a god ain’t intuitive, and that’s pretty much why. How about this? Think about it: humans came after gods, they weren’t here from the start. The same goes for the “need” for faith. I think unless you were actually born from the power of faith itself, your existence won’t, like, rely on it. For anyone else (like me) even if you zero-out on faith, that just means almost or no power at worst. Like shit man, you’re still breathing. In my case it means nothing. I don’t need to be worshipped, I just deserve it. My powers still flare with or without belief.
SO, BASICALLY, even now when a god wants to collect faith, it’s not something that comes natural, ‘cause the whole faith game’s not, like, some tree that took root in an age before history; it’s a building, a tower—a design by conniving hands. You’ve gotta master that design, and if you want to... if you wanna be a divine power worth anything at all... you’ve got two paths, basically: the path of strength, or the path of wisdo—no... wiles. Guess which I’m taking.
All that said my faith has never been consistent and that’s fine. I think of that as my nurtured nature, I go in cycles: gathering faith, then abandoning believers after they figure out I’m just a parasite. It’s all brief spurts of crazy splendor, but that’s... man, that’s what I live for. Anyway, oni aren’t human but the same sort of schemes I use on humans can work on them. See everybody wants something, even these Zen oni, hiding away from the rest of the world. Find out what that is, and make them think you can give it to them. Love, wealth, success, reason, retribution... whatever it is they’re askin’ for, and if you want a real faithful belief sack, you make ‘em scared of your wrath, too. Not really my style right now though. My style is more like fishing.
So that’s what I’m doin’ here, doin’ my best to look like I’m at peace, sitting cross-legged on one of the busiest streets in the Former Capital with my eyes almost totally shut. I washed off my feet and (waterproof!!) shoes before coming here, and got my jeweled rings back. All that walking and I still feel like a million bucks. You really can’t go wrong with something under your feet—and there ain’t no better hands at “making” than earth spiders’. These shoes? Star-level fine. I gotta get more free duds from Miss Yamame... though I’d like ‘em more if they, like, sparkled ya know? Wait, wait—whatever. Right now: people-watching.
Like I said I’m only almost shutting my eyes. They’re open, and my ears are too. I’m paying attention to everyone around me, and trying to see which looks like the easiest mark, the most useful mark, the best mark... ‘Cause just getting any sorta guys one by one doesn’t make a church, it’s getting the guys who tell their friends.
So far no one’s jumpin’ out at me; it’s mostly the usual oni getting by for the daily grind of this Old Hell, so I guess I’m probably right that it’s probably the middle of the day. A little tougher... but it’s safer too. My reputation’s foulest with the nightlife, though if I’m lucky (I usually am) it’s only messed up with a few of its members overall.
Something most people don’t really get is that oni are really sensitive. I guess it’s easy for people with no backbone to miss that over the spitting, violent rage they tend to blow up with when their hearts are broken. But that’s the thing: they rage when their hearts are broken because their hearts are easy to break. Most oni are, ultimately, some of the chilliest fuckers that roll through the few realms they still choose to tread, but that’s ‘cause they live like the world’s perfect. Any time the world shows them something contradicting that thought, they get hurt.
So I’m looking for those who look hurt, because though it’s easy to trick just about any oni, sober or not, there’s rarely any good reason to overplay your hand—take the low-hanging fruit. Only take risks when you know you can fly off once shit goes south. I can’t even fly right now, and I’m not plannin’ to work these shoes any more than I gotta.
Looks like he just won something...
Up on his luck... Just happy...
This guy sounds tired.
This one got laid, probably.
Well shit, is that Hoshiguma Yuugi? Don’t see me, don’t see me...
This one’s depressed.
A lanky demon of a guy is trudging along the street, maybe three meters tall. He’s gangly, his gray-clouds kimono’s all open showing his almost too-thin torso, visible ribs. He’s tatted. Part of an oni-gumi. He’s actually dragging his knuckles on the floor, they’re that long. His horns are long, too, like ibex-tier, seriously. Gray skin. Those tats are pretty sweet, gotta say. He’s mumbling a little through those thin and black lips. Hm? He closed up his kimono when he noticed where he was. Oni are too honest for that shit to worry them, usually. This guy...
He’s lost faith in his brothers.
Family. That’s what he wants. Looks like you’ll come in handy again, Sis. Miss Yamame, you too. If I do this right...
I breathe in.
“More precious than the bonds of blood...” I say in a clear voice, drawing a few eyes, “are the bonds one makes in life, for those are they which speak to the truth of trust. To the true power of life. That we may rely on each other... even without a single drop of that red and natural pretense.”
And then I have his.
“Excuse me,” I call, looking toward him, with a serene face, “I think you there have lost that understanding.”
“Huh...?” he whispers. God damn my ears are good. He looks a little weepy. God, in the end they’re all such big softies. Get over here, you softy.
“Please.” I open my hands, inviting him. This trick is one of the best: calling to someone in a crowd really makes them feel like a spotlight’s on them. He stomps over and towers above me, looking down on my tiny body. “Hello,” I say, “I am Yorigami Joon, a god of pestilence.”
“‘Pestilence’...?” he repeats in a coal dark voice. I wonder how old he is. Looks a bit young but that never means anything with oni. “What is a god of pestilence doing preaching about relationships?”
“I am trying to turn my power toward some kind of good,” I say. “Who chooses how they’re born? While that’s no one, anyone can choose their path in life.” I turn my hands over my lap, looking down at them fondly. “But it is no easy task... After a few months’ worth of attempting to do the best I can, all I’m left with are these rings: my mother, my father, my cousin, and my aunt,” I touch them one by one, bullshitting entirely, “my friend, my companion, my... sister,” deliberate, “and this...” I point to the last finger on my right hand, “is me.”
“You can’t go against your nature,” the oni speaks wisely, sitting before me, and still his head (even with him slouching) is way over mine. He rests his lengthy hands on his thighs and tells me, “it’s only a path of ruin, that one. Yours.”
I shake my head. “I can’t really be swayed that easily, Mister Oni.”
“Uradaka,” he says, “that’s my old name. Uradaka Ouzu.”
“As I thought,” I say disappointedly, “you have abandoned your family.”
“No!” he says in despair, sinking into an even worse seating posture, “they abandoned our promises.”
Shit, I might end up feeling bad for this guy if he keeps giving off that sadness aura. I’m not just saying that, I can feel his sorrow, it’s one of the things that helps me find people ready to lose it all.
I reach out my hand, placing it over the back of his (which is seriously gigantic, holy crap), and ask him, “Shall I bless you?”
“Even oni aren’t that ‘truth’ foolish. You are incapable of giving blessings,” he tells me, and the movement of his shoulder makes it seem like he’ll throw me off. Uh oh, quick.
“With many gods,” I say, taking his hand up very gently, “their powers are dual-focused. There is something else I can give other than a poor condition.”
“What?” he asks bluntly. And as I imbue him with it I say:
That isn’t a lie. I don’t really want to ever, but I can give people hope; it’s one of the reasons humans flock to me. For people who have it, hope is pretty fucking useless. You can’t buy a designer handbag and gold rings with hope. You need will to do anything, and I guess at best hope can spur will but...
It’s just feel-good bullshit.
“In the end, my afflictions are not done simply to spite others. The other side of the despair they leave the afflicted is hope, and I would like you to have some.”
It’s about time for the sell.
“Hope won’t rescue this, little goddess,” he tells me the facts, even as my little power flows into him, “I can’t allow it.”
“... I see...” I say disappointedly, putting his hand back down. I’m a little curious about what beef he’s got with whatever family he’s part of that’d break him up so bad, but I don’t need that info for the se—
“We were trafficking young gods, meaning to sell ‘em, however.”
My hands are still on his, and he doesn’t notice my nails dig into him.
“Humans and animals that have ascended, we traffic them,” he tells me, and my skin goes cold.
M—My act, gotta keep it up...
But my heart is beating fast. That—... I’d heard about that.
Stop right there, Joon.
No. Cool it.
If you fucking bring it in now... If you get this guy now... Listen, it can wait. What good would it do getting confirmation? You can’t do anything. You’ve got no clout. You’ve got no strength. Wait.
“Have you considered... stopping that?” I ask him, not looking in his face.
“What do you mean, little goddess?”
“A wonderful spider... told me the truth of it: that this is an entire world willing to help do the right thing.” I grab his hand again and look fiercely in his eyes. “Mister Uradaka... I will help you, if you will help me.”
“Sudden. What are you thinking?”
“I want to grow strong off that ideal Kurodani Yamame spoke of. I want the strength of this world to be mine, and to be a part of that family,” I tell him. “Because I have someone to save.”
Am I lying?
“You were preaching about the value of bloodless bonds, girl,” Uradaka tells me.
“I want both,” I tell him.
“... Hmph, what a strange little shrineless god I found today,” he says with a very slight smirk. “I can say your hope is moving my heart, but is that all you can do? You sounded like you weren’t keen on using your more despicable abilities.”
“I can do more than foster hope,” I say, speaking into my chest. “I can give hope actualization.” I lock eyes with him again. “I am a god. First-most, what I am capable of is making miracles happen.”
“Then make one happen now,” he requests.
“I can’t without more faith,” I say honestly, again lowering my head. “I am weak.”
“You are,” he agrees, “... but let’s say I believe you.”
A familiar feeling alights in my core. My eyes go wide.
I look at Uradaka... no, Ouzu.
He stands to his towering height, and his eyes look like they’re shining in the shadows of his face. I finally notice his sideburns and goatee, like how kept they are. I finally notice the scars along his limbs.
“Give me something to believe in strongly, Yorigami,” he prays. My hands aren’t moving from where they were. He turns around, his kimono flowing. “You can find me in the Ibuki Quarter of the noble district. Come with proof that you are a god.”
He walks away.
What the fuck did you do???
That didn’t go by the plan at the end at aaaaall!
HOW DO I PERFORM MIRACLES WITHOUT FAITH!?
OH MY HOLY SHIT. I’M SCREWED!
And just when I got a lead like that...! Fuck!
I’m seriously sweating cold... I mean like, I could just give up on this but...
He’ll know where she is.
He’s got connections to increase my number of faithful.
And most importantly...
He’s GOTTA be rich.
It’s an opportunity. I should do something about it.
Miracles down here... that I can do...
 Could always... break out the parlor tricks. Most of ‘em oni wouldn’t’ve seen...
 Hoshiguma... says she’ll never spill her sake... Is my power enough to...?
 The... satori’s little sister? Right? Wasn’t there talk about her and “hope”...?
Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2018/11/05(Mon)08:00
[X] Hoshiguma... says she’ll never spill her sake... Is my power enough to...?
I am going to die.
No stylish flair to that statement, I am *fucked*.
When I think about doing something miraculous in the Underground, one of the few things that comes to mind is breaking a legendary streak a certain oni’s been keeping up for years. The thing is, this oni is the strongest one except for maybe the one who left. Let’s not mince words here: oni are already pretty outrageous. Oni like her? Break. Rules. Bullshit. I’m talking “trouncing any idea of weakness” bullshit. I’m talking “not even rumored to’ve ever been defeated” bullshit. “This chick could probably give the Dragon a black eye” bullshit.
And that’s why it’d be a miracle... if I could break her streak. Not only that, I’ve gotta do it a special way... Ouzu wants to see what I can do without using my powers that more obviously make me a pestilence god. I still will... I’d have to, but if I do I can’t be aggressive and fucky about it. I’m going to challenge Hoshigumi Yuugi to a fight, and I’m gonna tell her I’ll make her spill her drink without me ever fighting at all.
Which means the likelihood is that I’m dead.
Aboveground there’re these things called spell cards that everyone plays with for happy ha ha fun times when they want to “fight”. Dangerous fights? Not allowed. Whereas down here, nothing’s changed in a thousand years. If you want blood, you’ll have it. And while Hoshiguma Yuugi’s actually a pretty nice old lady who holds back for most of her fights... I am going to piss her off.
Times like this I wish I had some faithful... Someone, anyone, believe in me for the next three hours. Sign of the cross, clap your hands twice, Namu Amida Butsu, piss on the Blarney Stone. Let’s do this.
The first thing I do is find her. Then, I stalk her. Openly. She’s dense.
Yuugi is a pretty classic oni. Adorably straightforward, but that means no double-talk, nothing subtle. And, like, the level of “subtle” for her is “you just didn’t say it outright”.
But she’s not an idiot. No, she’s an innocent... even after how long she’s been around.
I admire her, if I’m being real. A bruiser, unshakable, just, and she’s got huge tits. She’s an incredible woman, that’s why I didn’t wanna meet her: I’m trash.
I keep following her until she heads to a promenade. They’re not really popular here, and like most days it’s empty here besides us. I mean... what’s there to see? ‘Specially if you been down here a long time. But, I’ve seen her walk this walk a lot. The city behind us, the Palace of Earth Spirits to the right of us, and to the left a spiral mess of caves and falling water. The promenade itself is like a giant wooden bridge, but it’s not actually crossing anything, they just put it here near the ground like, “whatever”. Anyway, now’s the time.
“I’m following you!” I shout when she’s a good ten yards away from me.
Hoshiguma Yuugi, the blond giant of the Underground, the girl with the red horn, the Strong, puts a hand on her neck, cracks it once, and takes a step back with her left foot to half-turn in order to see me. Her skirt turns with her, making me look down without thinking. Great, now I look like I ain’t got no backbone.
Yuugi the Strong drops her hand.
“Ah, I thought for a sec that might be it,” she says. Then, she frowns, she shrugs, and she turns back around.
“Wait!” I yell desperately. Shiiit, what am I doing? “Where’s your sake?”
“Sake? It’s morning,” she says, “I’m not Suika.” She’s referring to the one that bounced.
“I need to show you up,” I yell to her, making the Hoshiguma very confused.
She seems to double check in her head what she just heard, her mouth open since she’s that perplexed. Then, she understands, and that open mouth goes smirk.
“Oho... challenged by a little god!? You’ve got guts! My sake, huh...?” She folds her arms after saying this, thinking. She’s just going on and on... “You want a fight, then!?”
“I want you to fight me,” I say pointing at myself, “and I’m gonna make you spill the whole dish... on your head... without any fighting back.”
“... Huh!? That’s your vow!?” She rolls her neck and pulls her arms apart wide. As she slams her hand into the opposite palm in the next second (nearly giving me a heart attack through the vibrations alone) she declares, “But you’re so weak! Can you even do anything at all?”
Ha ha... fuck.
“I need to do this,” I tell her, “so it’s not a matter of whether I can or can’t.” I lock eyes with her. “I’m gonna.”
“Ha! ... Okay, let’s go then,” she accepts my challenge, and immediately pulls her red lacquer, yellow-starred sake dish from her right side (come to think of it, there’s a yellow star on her red horn, too: how cute). From her left, she lifts a giant gourd of sake. Well..
She’s muscular, she’s fast, she hasn’t spilled a drop in six years.
Once she gets mad with me that’s when the trouble starts...
But, for now...
... Let’s have a game plan.
 Her skirt is long as hell. Can I make it so she’ll probably trip?
 Maybe I can use the environment of this walkway itself, uh... The railings, maybe?
 She didn’t finish all of that gourd. Maybe I can slip her up with something like that.
No timer this time. Missed the deadline cause I was focusing on other writings! Believe me!
I swallow, and steel my nerves. It’s now or never, she ain’t gonna wait on me.
She steps down once and the whole promenade waves out from her foot. Showin’ off, she shows me how the sake in her cup isn’t even rippling. Just for a second. Just a second, then she jumps at me while the boards below us are still waving. My powers of misfortune aren’t the same or as strong as my sister’s, but I gotta use them now. I draw up disaster in my lungs and breathe it out... onto myself.
The pier-like walkway below me shatters just as Hoshiguma Yuugi gets close to me. She looks confused.
“It shouldn’t’ve broken...” she notes, and it’s like time’s slowing down between us. Boards and splinters fly, my whole body drops without a solid floor below me. Yuugi’s got her leg ready to swing at me, but she’s hesitating. A plank passes by her eyes... another... another. I bend back, contort myself right, hide my right hand with my left, and bring my body close to the gourd on her hip. Can I do it...!? Just one step...!
Hoshiguma Yuugi stops her forward motion, driving her foot down straight through the storm of debris and quaking the earth when she makes contact, shooting dirt up like a geyser. Sounds like a fuckin’ bomb went off. She lifts the dish onto her pointer finger, breathes in, and brings her free hand up. I see that it’s clenched, and her veins are pumping. Oohhh fuck.
Nothing I can really do here, honestly. I brace, and hope my godly body can tank at least one of her punches. She swings the thing like a wrecking ball, and I... dodge it.
Yuugi’s punch dusts everything that was already broken, and the wind coming out of it feels like a typhoon, almost knocking me off my feet. I’m beside her, not sure at all what the fuck happened. She looks at me, grins and says, “Ha... alright,” like now things are interesting.
But what the hell was that!? I moved without thinking! Hoshiguma Yuugi sets her dish on all five of her fingertips and lowers herself. She doesn’t look like she’s gonna hit me, and that makes me way more worried. Back up... back up back up back up!
Next thing I know I’m way away from her, and she gives a fucking terrifying shout. The air around her explodes outward and the ground underneath her fractures again, huge chunks of the earth getting hurled way up above us. That’s... fuckin’ IMPOSSIBLE! WHAT! Fuckin’ god, thank shit I got outta her range somehow... I look at my hands and down at my feet. Somethin’ funky’s goin’ on.
“Very good!” Yuugi yells, looking at me through raining stones and wood. “The golden flame! How long’s it been!?”
“Wha—hwhuh??” I babble. The hell’s she talkin’ about?
“But it’s still small,” she says, standing to her full height again. She catches a boulder bigger than her head and looks at me, all fulla excitement. She starts to let the rock fall. Then, she shouts “I’ll stoke it!” and she taps the stone my way with her knuckle. It flies like a bullet.
“AAGH! NOOO!!” I scream and dash out of its way. I look behind myself to see that it collided with a stalagmite off and past a turn of the promenade and burst it apart. I look back at Yuugi and see that she’s walking slow, careful, over my way, and tapping stones toward me over and over. I’ve got to dodge, mostly just narrowly avoiding shit since I can only move fast in bursts. She won’t let up... It’s like high stakes danmaku, fuck.
I eventually dodge another one and stop with my fingers to the ground, breathing hot and heavy ‘cause I thought I was gonna die. I see a large foot drop in front of my eyes. Aw... aww, shit...
Hoshiguma Yuugi stands above me with a smile, her free hand on her hip. Okay... Okay, now what?
“What’s the golden flame?” I ask her.
“Hn? ... Ahh, you don’t know what it is,” she says. YEAH, NO SHIT.
“Keep bringing it out and you’ll see!” she cries, and she brings her right leg all the way up. Whoa! Her panties!
Her calf falls like an axe and I blaze back. Oh what... She’s right: I see it. On either side of the chasm Yuugi made, there’s a single, dying, trail of shining yellow fire left behind from my feet. I quickly look down at my heels and see two spirals of the stuff are swirling around there, spinning like wheels beside the bone. “Hey! What is that!?” I yell.
“No, not yet,” she says. She’s fucking toying with me! I’m completely on the back foot, I haven’t even been thinking about what I had to do here in the first place. Golden flames whatever—look, I don’t care. I don’t care. I can make short and rapid movements... somehow. How can I use this to my advantage?
I look at her with determination and fill my lungs with curses again. She takes a step forward, and I rush in, breathing out over myself again. I trip over my ankles, and she looks surprised, concerned. Yuugi reaches out to catch me at my chest and when she does I breathe out the rest onto her. Misfortune takes hold, and her hand spasms suddenly. Though she went for my chest she collides with my shoulder instead. I spin while she grabs hold of me, I reach out, and I tug down her dress.
“Whoa!” she yelps, and while she’s distracted by how her cotton panties are on display, I hide within her dress, stretch out my hand, find the stopper of her gourd, and super loosen it.
Yes...! I think, taking my hand back, but Yuugi unexpectedly pulls me away from her while she’s trying to readjust her stance and my fingers get under the waistband of her undies. Oh no...! I overdid it! Even though I don’t want to, even though I try to take my hand off in time—!
I end up pantsing Yuugi the Strong.
My eyes widen at the sight of her flaxen bush. It just looks... awesome! Like a lion or something! And she keeps it so well! Like, I wish I had pubes like tha—
Yuugi lets go of me and I fall down wrapped up in her skirt. I poke my head out and see her yanking her panties back on. I can’t see her eyes, but I can see her hand: its fingers twitching, cracking sounds popping off from it as she holds in a trembling claw. “You. What are you up to?” she asks coldly.
“Abah, ah,” is what I say.
“You’re a pestilence god, right?” she asks, and I see one of her eyes, cold and red as it locks onto me. “What are you trying to pull?”
“Y...” I start, telling myself to stop inside my head, “Your panties down, ha... haha...”
Energy surges off of her and I get violently shoved and rolled back, somehow managing to get on my hands and knees as her power rushes out relentless. I feel something on me. I look down and see that her skirt’s now gotten wrapped around my shoulders and is billowing out behind me like a cape now. I hold it in place, and look at the wrathful oni in her underwear.
R... Right, soooo... here’s the deal: it’s only a matter of time before I can pull off the plan I had, but... I figured she’d get pissed off at me when we did this, but I fucked around with misfortune too much and now she’s all out. Uhh...
I get up onto my feet, and it’s like I’m standing in front of a storm.
Apologizing or begging for mercy seems much more sensible, in the short term, but this choice might be the only way to pull off the plan.
I’d say our odds of survival depend significantly on whether Jo’on can do the “golden flame” thing when Yuugi’s tapped out of misfortune. Hopefully so, it seemed like something she was doing instinctively/subconsciously. I’m curious to learn more what that was about.
>>16200 No worries, best of luck getting through the day.
Oni hate cowardice and starting a fight only to start begging for mercy is super chickenshit. It's a fifty-fifty chance whether pissing her off further will make things easier or harder, but it's hopeless already, so...
In a dining room of a small workplace surrounded by many other homes and shops shaped like it, a pair of builders take their time with plates of charred fish and cups of tea.
“Pass the shouchuu,” says one.
“Bloody oni...” says the other, “it’s not even five o’clock, we still have work to do.”
“Drink, spider! Twelve is the time to loosen up!”
“I’ll just end up loosening foundations that way.”
“AHAHAHA! THAT’D BE HILARIOUS!”
“Ugh, chill alrea... hn? Do you feel that?”
“Feel? Hm? Nah, I’m not as sensitive as a spider.”
“Then can you hear it? It’s going like ‘don’, ‘don’, ‘don’...”
“... Dude, the cups and plates are shaking.”
“... We should probably clear outta here man.”
“Out with i... Hm? Ain’t it getting loude—?”
The building is destroyed as the wall behind them explodes.
Wisps of fires catch the eyes of the two, and the earth spider between them notes a small, light red-headed girl looking panicked and horrified stepping off their now flying table. The oni meanwhile sees one of his kings.
░ ▓▒▒ ▒░ ▓▓░ ▓ ░░▓▒▓░▒ ▓▓▓ ▒░ ▓░▓▒ ▓▒▒▓░
I get why humans are afraid of youkai, now. My heart is gonna blow outta my chest.
Yuugi’s been chasing me for like only two minutes and she’s flattened a good stretch of the neighborhood on the way. I’m hopping reverse and holding onto her skirt while it flows over my back. Whatever that fire is that’s dancing at my heels, it seems like it’s got no limit. I can go and go and go, and I really need to.
“I knew it!” I hear. “It’s Boss Yuugi and she’s pissed!”
Come to think of it I guess this avalanche I’m escaping from was a building before. Through the dust, falling walls and ceiling, metal dropping down bent and broken, I’m only paying attention to the oni swelling with muscle only a little bit away from me, her head lowered, her right hand held up, holding a wide sake dish perfectly steady. Come on...
“Wh-Whoa, where’s her skirt?”
“Don’t LOOK, you fuckin’ idiot!”
Fuckin’ what? Some sorta comedy routine?
I dash down to a dirt road and slide and skid my way right, keeping an eye on the clouds and ruins I’m clearing. I stop and I stand on one of my feet, leaning back; I see the outline of the giant who’s after me, along with clearly seeing two guys with sand on their heads.
One of them with black hair points at me, looking shocked, the other who’s got pointy horns pushes their head down angrily and looks like he’s yelling. Then, Yuugi puts her hand on her fellow oni’s upper arm, doesn’t wait at all, and just shoves him off to her right. He and the other guy both blast off into the building next to this one, opening its wall and starting its way to collapse. Yuugi steps out, still only in her panties.
... You know what, it is kinda funny. I just realized we’re both dressed like that. I kinda forgot about that with the whole running for my life thing.
Other people start coming out of their homes and businesses. We’re in the common district, looks like. They point and comment, and the guys and girls who point keep getting their hands slapped. Yeah, I mean... it’s her.
She sees where I am and barrels at me quick. Yeah. I’m getting used to that part. The part that keeps fucking me up is, after I dodge her attempts to rip me apart or grab me or lob my head off with a kick, a lotta the time weird shit happens.
What sort of weird shit?
This time, one of her nails rips open my shirt at the stomach (which close ta makes me piss myself—everything goes tight down there and I don’t breathe for couple a’ seconds), and while I’m thinkin’ to back off I notice some sparks and arcing electricity coming off her arm. I curse and jump away, but before I can bounce a bolt of lightning falls down from the cave roof and hits my left arm, rippling up to my shoulder and flying off at my fingertips. I can’t even feel the limb anymore, which I appreciate because it looked like it fuckin’ hurt. When I zigzag backward, it just sorta limply flails along. Eventually, I stop, and I stare.
Yuugi looks down on her fingers and the blue power whipping off of them while more lightning slams down around her. She clenches her hand in a flash and the force of that shit makes my shirt ripple. The lightning stops just like that. So, yeah. That kinda weird.
See, the last time she stomped down when I was a little too away from her and it felt like I suddenly got put on Jupiter. Like seriously gravity just fuckin went twenty times up and my whole body ate the ground. Getting the fuck outta there wasn’t easy...
I did hear she could “control” unexplainable phenomena... I guess that means “she just does” to whatever? Yikes...
She locks on to me again, I get in a not fight but flight-ready stance, and she comes. And here we are, right back on the back foot again, playing the running game. She lunges at me with kicks, tries backhanding me, throws out headbutts with that spike of hers, the works. I flit around her attacks mostly instinctively, but I know I have to keep an eye out for when shit gets weird again. This is totally flying by the seat of your pants...
Anyway... about that plan.
Hoshiguma Yuugi’s like a walking embodiment of “god mode”, and yeah, yeah, I know; funny coming outta me. I guess it’s appropriate: I’m trying to cheat her, and she’s a natural cheater. All this destruction, all these attacks... and I swear I ain’t even seen the sake in that cup fuckin’ sway. She hasn’t jostled that gourd much, either... I was lucky to get her skirt but not her belt. I need to get her to knock that thing open.
She arches back, her left arm raised, readying up a haymaker. I take a breath, drop low, and exhale foul luck over myself again.
“No you don’t,” she mutters, and before I can dash under her arm she opens her hand and drops it on me like a UFO catcher. I let go of her skirt and drop even lower.
She closes her hand.
Her finger catches on the back of my sweatshirt.
She rips the cloth open.
My face falls into her crotch.
Damn it...! ... Not exactly what I wanted to happen... My nose is pressed up on her privates, I’m wincing and making a frustrated expression, but then I think to myself, Hey Fates? Smelling this I’m not sure you know what ‘bad’ luck is. Not for nothing, but Hoshiguma Yuugi’s seriously S-ranking down here.
“Whoafuck!” I exclaim, and hope nobody heard me cussin’ that loud—I was wantin’ to maintain a clean image for later, at least a clean personality. But, I couldn’t help it. She started rumbling the air.
Everything is shaking like we’re in the ruthless hands of a toddler, and I pull her skirt back down over me as I try to regain my footing. I notice I can’t hear anything, look up, and damn near shit myself.
Hoshiguma Yuugi is yelling in my face, her eyes totally white, her jaw dropped way too open, her teeth looking like fucking spikes and blinding. At least I think she’s yelling. Her shout made me deaf. I shakily stand up under the pressure of her voice and metaphorical-like stand to the pressure of her terror. Look her right in the eyes, only managed to stand halfway, and I look fierce. She’s roaring. I’m reaching, right for those bottoms.
Something feels like it pops inside me, I throw up and blood comes out. She got louder. The earth below us starts breaking. I lift up off my feet from the force of her screaming. I look around us and see glass exploding off of windows, and I get thrown back like a fucking rag.
But I saw it.
The stopper on her gourd fell off.
“OOHHGH, FUAAGH!” I cry, or I think that’s probably what it sounded like since I tried to say fuck. I got used to demolish a telephone pole. Yeah, they got phones down here. It splits at the base and crashes down behind me. I fall in a heap. I try to whisper “step two in the bag”, and it felt like it worked. Like my vocal cords moved and shit. I spit a lot though. I open my eyes and notice something’s wrong... like, I can’t really see? I think she kinda made me blind. Oh, fuck... something’s definitely broken... Up... up and at ‘em, Joon.
I put my right hand down on the ground and push my torso up, lifting my head, seeing blurred bright crimson, looking through a white-filled filter to where Hoshiguma should be. My luck... she’s still yelling.
You’re a god... You’re a god...! I tell myself, biting down, pushing more, seeing blood dripping through my teeth, dragging my right leg up under me. Fucking listen, Joon! Stand the FUCK UP!
I punch the earth, and it starts a fire.
“Whoa! I’ve seen that before, that’s...”
My ears are starting to work again.
“... I’ve seen purple before, but...”
My eyes are clearing up too.
“... blue in the— district...”
Up on my right foot, knuckles down in the dirt, I look over at Hoshiguma Yuugi through a raging spiral of golden flames.
“Yeah...!” she bellows in the distance, holding her hand shut so fierce I think her bicep’s gonna burst, “YEAH!!”
Well here we are, not knowing what the fuck is going on.
... Aaaand there go my flames.
“Keep them up!!” she shouts angrily.
“Don’t even fuckin’ know how to turn ‘em on...” I grumble finally fully standing up. Alright... not much more after this. What broke was... one of my ribs. What popped was... god, can we not think about it? All you gotta know is I feel like a fucking corpse.
“GOOO, MISS YUUGI!”
“GO GET HER, LITTLE GIRL!!”
Cheering... This is Hell alright.
I flip Yuugi off.
Yep, here she comes.
I had to drop her skirt to do that (which should’ve hidden the gesture too). I quickly scoop it back up while she’s running. When she’s close, she throws a punch.
It’s a punch I can thankfully still dodge, but a red tornado starts to burn off of her arm. Please. No.
She looks at me hard as if to say “yes”.
And now it’s just hot. I look to my left to see that the force of that flier alone went and wrecked a fountain that was reeeaaally far away, and pushed the people watching back through their front doors. This heat cyclone is just going to fuck me. It isn’t fire, it’s just heat. I put up her skirt like it’d help me as a shield, and it gets more and more sweltering every time a whip of her strange power waves over me. I start sweating like I just ran a marathon through the Outback, and I see that her body is glistening too. It’s not the time at all to be thinking this, but Hoshiguma Yuugi is fucking gorgeous. This is hot.
She pulls her arm in with her knuckles still ready, like she’s cocking a fucking shotgun. I gotta stay and take this... I can’t back off just yet. I step down and my yellow flames burn up, up, higher, higher, until they’re surrounding my body. Her red power is still going too. I throw her skirt over my back again, and I just stare at her.
And like that once again I’m dodging, but I notice it isn’t like before. Before she was doing power swings, like always build up and then a fucking awesome release. I didn’t think she did fast, but bitch does fast.
Right now I’m dodging like The Matrix. Not slow-mo, I mean like what that shit’d be in real time. She’s throwing out her hand like a bullet over and over, aiming for my head and body, and I’m moving not even like a blur. I think if you were looking, it’d be like you couldn’t see me at all.
She swings a kick under me, I jump.
She pushes with another punch and I move in midair. I still can’t fly, so... the fuck?
I’m like swimming past her. She stomps once.
Lights fill the air.
I shoot myself down-back, she stomps toward me again and I realize that all the shops nearby are falling down.
Hoshiguma Yuugi cocks her hand back again, lifts up her knee high.
She stomps and she [/b]beats[/b] the earth, and her gourd splashes sake onto her shirt but she doesn’t notice. I don’t blame her: after her famous “Knock Out in Three Steps”, the streets just got nuked.
After blinding light and a womanmade earthquake, there’s nothing left but the people who were here and watching. Yuugi bombarded the place with her powers, and I think most of that was just the regular strength of her blows. I would’ve thought Hell itself would’ve caved in from that, to be honest.
And as for me, I’m standing still in front of her, and still being honest: I do not know how I didn’t get hit in any of that. I look over my shoulder. Was it these? There’re three separate golden flames floating behind me and struggling to maintain. They all die out, and I see Yuugi standing back to her full height out the corner of my eye. She’s grinning again.
She holds up her sake dish over her head to her full arm’s length and holds her left hand out beside her. Above her palm, her fingers going rigid, it looks like the space there is actually cracking. I do not want to see what that means.
“W-Wai...!” I sputter, and she continues, “Sake—eh, y-your sake... spilled... your shirt, there! Y’spilled yer sake on yer shirt!” I’m desperate. I drop her skirt off of me to point at what I mean. This is it!
Her power cuts and her whole demeanor dies down instantly. It legit makes me hesitate. She looks at where I’m pointing.
“Wha, really?” she asks, looking. I leap at her, I step on her hard stomach and try to stand off of it, I start to bring my hand up, my face falls in her breasts, I look at my hand, she looks at me in her tits, I see golden fire dancing off my fingers, I take another step to climb her, I bring my head out from her chest.
And then my hand’s ablaze.
It shoots up before she can do anything about it.
I push to tip the dish in her hand, and it spills all over her head, down her shirt, and all over me.
I can feel my left arm again. Actually, I can move it. The sake that spilled over me is too strong. It’s making me dizzy. These tits... Oh my god.
“I did it,” I say, Yuugi not lookin’ like she knows how to process this. “I fuckin’ did it,” I say, and I put both my hands on her breasts, stating, “now gimme these.”
Yuugi is still looking completely out of it while I squeeze ‘em. Waaaoooohh... they’re so big...! They’re soft!
“You... did you trick me?”
“I didn’t lie,” I tell her, still focused on these amazing things, “Said spilled yer sake, yer sake spilled. Look,” I look downward in the direction of her gourd while also pushing my face more into her bosom. Yuugi looks.
“... Ahaa...” she says, still ignoring me even while I’m checking the weight, lifting them over and over (verdict: melons). “Ahaha...” she starts laughing. Hm... can I get at her nipples...?
I get pulled away! Ah, no...!
“Ha ha ha ha haaa!” she roars. Yuugi holds me up in front of her by my hoodie, bringing me up so we can talk face to face but dude, put me back in the pillows!
“You’ve got crazy guts! What’d you do all that for?”
“I gotta do a mircackle!” I say, reaching for her chest and vainly struggling.
“A miracle, you say?” she confirms.
“Are you saying it’d be a miracle to get my sake to spill? Boy, I’m embarrassed! Thank you!”
This oni sure turned around.
She pulls my face really close to hers and I skin up mine with a real messed up frown.
“I’ve taken a liking to you!” Then, breasts...! “What’s your name!? I am Hoshiguma Yuugi, the strong!”
“Ask me again when I’m not drunk,” I tell her, then I request, “put me back in your boobs, pleash.”
“Hahahaha!” she laughs, and she puts her dish back where she’d first taken it, puts me in the crook of her right arm, and pulls me in to her body.
“Gwuh!” I make a noise as I’m crushed into her, but hey, my cheeks are in her valley again. I put my hands on them and squeeze a few times absently.
But really, I’m too comfortable here...
I’m gonna take a nap...
My consciousness starts to fade and I start to drool on her tits.
I nod off, and the last thing I see is the bottom half of her face.
I wake up in some sorta bed, one that’s nice and warm. I feel pretty awful, though...
Looking toward where the sky would be, I see Hoshiguma Yuugi looking into my face with a plain smile. What.
Wait this isn’t a bed, this is her lap. Huh. Oh! She’s wearing her skirt again.
And man, I’m not that small but damn, she’s a big girl, eh? I pick myself up by lifting off of her left thigh.
“You can move?” she asks in a happy voice.
“Hrn,” is my grunt of a response. “Take me to the Ibuki District,” I tell her, putting my free hand on my head. I look down at my clothes. It’s like this thing got lost in a storm—it’s fuckin’ shameful...
“Suika’s amazing, but there’s no district named after her clan. You mean the Quarter?”
“Whatever,” I speak through grit teeth. I need medical help. She keeps talking.
“Tell me your name first,” she says. Wait, where are we right now?
“Uh, Joon. Yorigami Joon,” I say after lifting my head up to check this place out. We’re “outside”, I guess, in the cave parts of Hell, not any buildings. Yuugi took a seat on a bench.
“Well, you seem like you’ve had enough waiting. Sorry, sorry,” she apologizes, and tosses me over her shoulder.
“Ugh!” My stomach...
She stands up and starts walking. Man... I’m in a bad mood but she really is cool. What a girl.
The miracle I performed, but not the way I managed to perform it.
He believes the story, but... now no one’s saying anything, uhh...
... Nice place.
Looks like Ouzu’s a jade collector. There are jade figures, weapons, urns and weird art pieces all over his mansion. Jade’s kinda dull. The gold stuff he’s got here and there—that’s rockin’.
Anyway I feel like super scum. I was thinking I might wander into rich neighborhoods on my own maybe, but while I’ve been at this kinda low point in my physical and wallet well-being before (lower, really) I ain’t never been in a place that looks like an old goddamn palace... at least not one that still had folks living in it. It’s like someone left a trash bag in the middle of a museum. The trash bag’s me, duh.
I’m sitting on my knees in a throne room or something. Ouzu’s strange-shaped body is seated on a red cushion, and he’s looking between me and Yuugi pretty slow. He let us in and stared a long while at Yuugi (who waved at him like a joyful kid) at the door. Well. That is his queen. One of ‘em.
“Sovereign—” he speaks up all of a sudden, breaking the smelly silence I’m pretty sure I’m causing. I look up and see he’s looking at Yuugi.
“Hm? What?” she asks, cocking her head. She’s standing against the doorframe with her arms folded just kinda... watching us.
“It’s been a while. Can I get you anything?”
“Nah,” she says with a half-grin.
“Alright,” he says, and he turns those darks onto me. I sit up straight. “You look like she hit you,” he tells me.
“Never directly,” I say, smiling for some reason. He nods.
“You have the spark of the golden flame after all,” he says, staring real hard at me.
“My eyes can tell me useless things... potentials,” he explains, ‘cause my face musta told him what I was thinking. “Everything and everyone has potential.”
“Maaaan, you’re still like that, Ouzecchi?” Yuugi addresses him from behind me. “Every time with you, you’ve always been a baby about everything. Potential’s awesome, you idiot!” I toss a look over at her, she shrugs and shakes her head. “Every time I remember about you and ask after you, I’m surprised you haven’t just gone and died yet.”
Oof, ouch, ruthless, Yuugi...
Ouzu just apologizes. “Sorry,” he says truthfully. “I still want to live for a while longer.”
“Uh huh,” she says, fiddling with something in her nose and not paying him any attention anymore. The sad sack in front of me starts laying it on thick. I look back his way and see he’s slouching more and frowning. You’re gonna make me depressed...
“Yuugi,” I address the queen, who I can feel perking up in anticipation, “could you leave us alone? I have to work on this guy.”
“Work on him?” she asks.
“We’ll talk after, ‘kay?” I don’t look at her.
After a few seconds I hear the door close. Just like they say, an oni who likes you is gonna like you too much. Not... that I should push my luck.
Anyway time to make myself like that for another one of them.
“Mist... Ouzu, is it alright if I walk toward you?” I ask. I mean, I’ve got blood on my shirt, sake over that, just general filth of an unwashed body, no pants on... like, I’m surprised there ain’t flies buzzin’ around me.
“Please...” he begs... Alright.
I stand up.
I don’t usually do this. I’m pitying him a bit. Probably just a matter of perspective, since I’m usually in a way better place bodily and financially when I stick to people for cash. I’m just soft right now or somethin’. Ouzu holds his hand out to me and I take it. I start to fill him with hope just like that. While I do, I notice something flickering near my shoulder, take a look, and see a little gold flame behind me. Once I see it, it disappears. Huh.
I look at Ouzu, stopping the flow of energy between us. “Ouzu, you are my first believer,” I lie, “so I will tell you the truth.” I won’t.
“In order to find my sister again, I intend to take as much of the Former Capital under my wing as I can,” I explain, leaving out my desire for money on the way. “If that means I have to get demonic, I will.”
Ouzu says nothing.
“Then... are you willing to follow me into a different hell if we have to go there? Look at me,” I order him, since he was looking down at my hands. “What potential do you see in this goddess?”
He looks into my face, and his contorts with worry. “... You—” he starts, and he stops.
I pick up for him. “I am Yorigami Joon, pestilence god. I can want for happiness all I like, but misery follows this faith, be it our misery, or... So, if you understand that...” I take a step back, letting his hand go “... then let’s start. Take my hand on your own and follow me. I swear I’ll do it. I’ll change how the Underworld runs, and our family will be strong, close, and impossible to break. Come, Ouzu,” I bid him again, my hand open in front of him very casually, “worship me.”
He lifts his huge hand, reaching tentatively toward my small one, and I think he’s going to hesitate but he lets it fall on mine out of nowhere, on purpose. I waste no time and squeeze his palm. When I do, those flames of mine rush up again and start to flow and fly over us. Maaan, this’s so formal, I usually do this without consent, and there’s never any fire...
“Ouzu, take this blessing,” I say, smiling a little darkly. I present to him a smooth, small, white stone in my other hand.
I picked it up when we were waiting outside for him.
“This is a manifestation of the hope I give,” I tell him, and I did imbue some hope in it, “please cherish it,” I insist.
“Of course, Lady Yorigami,” he says. In the time it took to get him to say that, looks like a bunch of my wounds healed up. This guy is really feeling me.
Like I thought, I pick the best marks.
So... what to do with you? What do I want, and what can I have this influential, loaded, desperate oni provide...?
... Maybe I should be careful not to split his energy and resources between too many things. I want more, but less between more is like... y’know?
 All of the above.
 Don’t ask for anything right now.
Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2018/11/09(Fri)12:00
“... Hey, did I like... squeeze your breasts after I tipped your dish over?”
Fuck! This is why I don’t drink!
“Sorry about that,” I tell Yuugi, who’s walking ahead of me. She waves off my apology.
“They’re just breasts,” she says.
I guess it’s not “just” your bush, then, I think to myself, looking aside.
We left Ouzu’s place and we’re walking some pretty empty streets now, between districts. I decided, since Ouzu seems especially into “wanting”, he’ll do best right now providing me with faith. I told him to pray to me “whenever worry entered [his] heart”. This guy alone’s already got me all healed up. That said I told him to tell other people about me whenever he thought’d be best.
And I got a little donation.
I’m counting it right now, over and over, just in case I’m missing something about it. I only talked to Yuugi ‘cause I suddenly remembered how her boobs feel when I was kinda absently pressing my palm with my fingers. The springiness, ya know.
“So what was that deal with Ouzecchi about?” she asks me now that I’ve talked to her. Well, not that I find it annoying or anything. If anything, I’m happy she hasn’t gotten fed up with me yet.
“I’ll be honest,” I tell her, “I was lying to him. I’m basically just a thief. Thieve money, thieve faith. Whatever works...”
“Wha—Really!?” she exclaims.
“Yeah so feel free to ditch your interest in me.” Alright, money seems good. I look up at her, looking at me. Girl’s got a face saying that really came as a shock, but... “I mean it. Someone like you shouldn’t be messing with someone like me, not unless you’re just worried about how many lives I’ll ruin on my own without someone like you stepping on me and wiping my pulp off the geta.”
“... So... you... You really are just a pestilence god... through and through,” she mutters that, and she’s stopped walking, started quietly glaring.
“Yeah,” I tell her, passing her by, “I may be a fuckin’ badass, but I’m also real nasty. Don’t bother, ‘kay?”
She not following me...? Good.
I throw a lazy wave over my shoulder, shoving the cash into my pockets (which really deserve a prize for holding out through everything I put ‘em through). “Thanks for being there,” I inform her, and I continue on. I hope she doesn’t follow me. It doesn’t sit right, and it’s risky for me to get too famous too fast. Should be only a few will recognize me from that chaos going for the dish, at least.
A hand falls on my shoulder.
“What, you got something to sa...” I turn thinking I’ll see Yuugi. It ain’t Yuugi. Feet, light a fire.
... But it’s too late. A big red bruiser yanks me into a blind alley and the back of my head feels like it explodes. I’m gonna fall, but a punch catches me in the gut before I can. I throw up chocolate and grip my abdomen, standing on wobbling legs. I take a few shaking steps then someone kicks me down off my back. I fall and see money in the air, three pairs of legs, and one pair of familiar black and red-cloud socks.
Oh no... I think, and I groan, they’re some of the guys I ditched when I first came here.
Blacksocks takes a few steps around, and I see his jeweled, pierced, and bangled hand reach around for the money that came from my pockets.
“Pick her up,” I hear, and I growl while someone drags me up using my hair. A hand gets on my throat, and before I can say anything I’m slammed into a wall. It craters, bits of stone and plaster falling over me. I struggle... or more like, I want to struggle and mostly just try to lift my arms. That blow to my head is fucking over everything. Through spots, I see the young-looking oni with the black and red socks. He gathers up the rest of the cash, counts it, twice, then puts it into his chest pocket. He’s wearing some kinda longcoat. Expressionless, he walks toward me, shooing away whoever is holding me. I drop, taking a breath, and he catches me by my hair.
I can’t talk.
“You remember me, right?” he asks. He looks right in my eyes. Purple, cut with sky blue just a little bit, like in shards. His hair is short and scrappy. His horn is like Yuugi’s, just black, no star on it. “A god who just steals and skips out on a fair deal... what the fuck,” he complains, sneering just a little, little bit. “You know,” he says, “oni don’t like doing this sort of thing. I mean, setting up a trap? But when you want to catch rats, you don’t chase them.”
He drops me. I fall on my knees and suck my teeth. I think if I was human, that woulda broken something. The ground here’s all stone after all. I shift, pick myself up.
“That said, I caught you,” he says, “Let’s fight this out. You dishonored me.” He stands with a stable stance, his hands in his coat pockets. “I’m gonna beat the shit out of you.”
“Oh...” I say, standing up. He’s no Yuugi, but since he caught me by surprise pretty much everything hurts worse. I hate that.
... Anyway, I’m already getting better. Let’s get out of here. I wanna bounce—hear that, fire? Rush on left toward the alley exit—
It feels like I just slammed the left side of my face into a wall. My neck sprains, and I look to my right. There, I see Blacksocks looking at his right hand, and my face in it. He squeezes me.
“So they were right, you’ve got that golden fire,” he says. “Well, whatever.” He tugs me back and shoulder checks me back into the wall. “Tighten up your stomach muscles,” he says, looking down.
I try to, he pounds me there, causing a little whirlwind and damaging the wall at my back even more. I feel it in my spine and brain. Just like that it feels like I got liquefied. He punches me again, and again, and again. And again, and again. He waits a second, glancing at my dead-looking face. He mashes my core with his knuckles one last time. I dunno how I’m still conscious. My whole body is quivering with thumping, gross, sickening pain. He finally lets me go, and when I fall onto the floor he waits again, drags his right foot back, and punts me in my cheek. I can’t move.
He leaves with his crew, saying nothing else.
We were supposed to work together to cheat some races. He’s like... one of those weir...
... weird oni. I can’t think straight.
I don’t think I’ve ever gotten beaten like that before. It’s kinda scary how eye-opening it is.
Ow. Ahh... I’m... am I gonna die?
I don’t want to...
... I can’t...
... but I can’t move...
Ouzu needs to pray to me, or—
The ground shakes, the rattle of an oni’s shackles hits my ears.
“H... H... H...” I try to speak. “H... H... He... Hel... H-H...”
I’m crying. There’s a warm puddle on my legs.
“Please?” says the voice of a strong woman.
“But you won’t change.”
She steps closer, standing before me for a second before plucking me up by my hoodie. She walks to where behind me was, and keeps walking. From where I’m looking, I see that the wall completely broke. This looks like a warehouse or a garage or...
... Ah, ah, my belly... my belly’s...
Yuugi tosses me inside, and when she does I fall in a way that I can look at her—on my stomach, face on the floor, one arm outstretched. She’s lookin’ like a shadow against the light of the broken wall.
“Why didn’t you fight?”
“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.”
I’ll do that. I’ll pull my fingers through concrete if I have to.
Show my knuckles: defiance, pride, confidence, power.
Might, refusal, fight, spirit.
Will. Strength. Backbone. Godliness.
Wealth. Greed. Drive. Arrogance.
Wasn’t I born for greatness?
I do it. I clench my fist, scooping up dust and pressing my nails into the heel of my palm, cutting through the skin, my blood flowing.
Ice and water feel like they’re rushing through me, setting my insides all right, getting my breath out. I can feel it coming. I put my everything into my grip, my arm is pumping, feels like my back’s breaking with lightning. Spirit spirals around me, and a wind picks up. I look up at my convulsing hand.
And it ignites.
What’s this soft shit?
I never said I’d stop at the bottom. I deserve gold.
A shining inferno blows out around me, burning the air, flying like a tornado, completely relentless.
But it’s not hot.
It’s not anything. Not anything new.
I open my hand up, my wounds searing closed, pushing myself from the ground, opening my other hand to help. The fires are coating me, cleansing everything on me. Dirt, impurity, filth, and anything soiled gets burned away in the surge. Stains are purged, and I’m flowing with a fragrance like I’m out a field of flowers, like I came out something pastoral. And inside, I feel more alive than I ever have before. I close my hand again. My jewels and gold rings bling.
I feel godly.
“Fuuuuu...” I exhale, now on my knees, both my hands closed. I look over myself. My body’s totally clean now, and the pain from before is slowly getting out of me. My hair’s floating up a little, and my shirt is rippling kinda gently. The fire is seriously intense, but where it’s strongest is right behind me. Three flames, there again, and just bursting now: billowing like crazy. “Heh...” I can’t help laughing.
I bring my left foot to ground, the earth shakes, and there’s a sound like a boulder just fell. I look over at Yuugi, and see that she just took off her gourd. It broke the floor.
She cracks her knuckles.
Rolls her neck.
And starts stepping toward me.
“...” I just look at her. What’s she thinking...?
“Well?” she says, letting her arms fall. She’s standing right in front of me... “Ain’t that how it should be?”
“You gonna fight me now?” I ask, grinning nervously.
She brings up her hand, and coaxes me with a gesture. She tells me simple, “Put ‘em up.”
I jump at her, throw a blazing hand over her eyes, pull my right hand back...
... and clock her right across her jaw, gold fire shooting off the hit like falling leaves.
Yuugi takes it, her hand still up. She sneers with half her teeth, and gives me a look. I breathe out sharp, and stay in the air. Subtle, almost like nothing, I show her the same flick of my wrist that she showed me with hers. Let’s do this.
She pulls her head back, and I know what she wants to do. She throws her forehead, and the horn on it right at me.
it’s like I can see everything.
I grab the side of her face as it comes along, quickly pull my head up for an answer, and shoot it down on hers while it’s coming up, slipping just out the way of that spike. For a second, I look like a meteor. Energy flies off and cuts through the walls. Yuugi’s feet get planted in the ground, and her grin goes wider. She looks at my eyes, hers telling her excitement.
I still don’t totally know what’s going on.
But she better not be thinking I’m gonna lose this.
She takes a breath, she wants to yell again?
I push off of her using her shoulders and jet back. Looks like I can fly now, I swing my right foot towards her face, shoot forward, and shut her mouth with it.
Her brows shoot up, and she laughs with my foot in her mouth. I bring back my left one, and kick up on her chin with it in a burning arc getting out of there before she can bite a part of me off. I flip backward and it feels totally normal. I land on one foot, and hop back on it in a few directions to clear out her way. When I do, I see how far my fire’s spread. The whole hangar is colored gold, flickering, dazzling. I thumb my sunglasses out of my collar, twirl ‘em around my pointer finger before I flick out the arms and throw the big-circle shades over my face.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah...
I’m the fucking best.
Yuugi laughs like crazy. “That’s it!” she shouts. “That’s what I took to!”
“Can’t blame you,” I say, opening my palms in front of my shoulders to show her who it is, “I can even make rags look good.”
“Ahahahahaha!!” she roars. I grin at that.
I’d look better in gems, though, I think.
How about we make the first order of business once I’m back in business decking this bitch out? I feel like burning money.
Yuugi finishes laughing.
She pulls back her arm and lifts her leg like she’s gonna throw a pitch instead of a punch. When she does, she looks at me from under her other arm and there’s a glint in her eye. It resonates with me, right in my soul.
My flames glow a little brighter.
I dash over to her in bursts. I crouch low and skid to a stop in front of her. I pull back the same arm, breathing out all the air in my lungs. I meet her eyes.
And I make a fist.
The force blasts down the walls. They just blow off. The ceiling starts to fall in slow motion.
In respect, in revelry, in new rivalry—
—we meet knuckles.
My flames whip around in a storm. Her veins crawl up her forearm. I take a look at her face, and see that we’re both smirking with teeth.
We bump our hands together.
And start fighting.
I throw out jabs at her faster than I ever thought I could, pummeling her abdomen to no sell. She meanwhile jabs right back with a miss—miss—miss! The air after her punches puts dents in the floor. I keep juking and delivering hooks and crosses and counters, but I can tell that I’m definitely sloppy about it compared to her. She’s letting me do this, letting me go wild. Like she’s answering that thought, she suddenly stops me by pressing her thumb on my forehead. It slips me right off my feet, and while I’m gonna fall on my ass she jabs at my stomach.
And I catch her at her forearm with both hands, still shaking from what little of the hit made it though. From here, I see how close the ceiling is to coming down on us. I swirl around Yuugi’s arm until I can stand can stand on, it point my elbow at her chest, and launch myself at her like that, knocking her onto another foot. I think she thinks it’s done, but I hid my right hand filling with power behind me. I slam it into her side, and she moves a little again.
Another... fuckin’ clock...!
With my left and right, I keep knocking her face in the opposite directions. She’s smiling with sheer glee while I do so, and when I can feel how imminent the roof is on the two of us, I push myself off from her chest and pull my hand back again... Just build it... Build it...!
I throw my fist, right between her breasts. It stops. I push it. Halt. Push. Like I’m a sledgehammer. I fall forward, turning over when I do. Felt like a comet, hit like a fucking slug, sent Hoshiguma Yuugi off like she got fired out a railgun. Like I’m not exaggerating, there were shockwaves...
That was all so fuckin’ fast...
So this is the golden flame.
... Fucking awesome.
The roof explodes off of me, and I stand up. I’m out of fuckin’ control.
Yuugi is in someone’s house, getting off of their shelf.
“You ain’t done yet right!?” I yell with enthusiasm.
“This is your second time fighting an oni... You know I’m just getting started!”
We both jump up...
... and with our blood burning, we meet fierce in the sky of the Former Capital. Yeah.
After she knocked me down for the win, she sat down at my back and we both just slept there, on a roof with broken tiles for the night (and past the day and afternoon, I think). When I woke up, she did too, and she asked me, “Wanna know about the golden flame?”
Of course I did.
The long and short of is real simple, actually: a few—really, only a few—special gods and divine spirits can summon a part of themselves in the form of flames with a swathe of effects. It shows up in a lot of ways and a lot of colors: flames like tails, burning at your back, swirling one limb—violet ones, ultramarine ones, ones made up of all sorts like a rainbow. It’s rare, but if they’re out or noticeable it’s one of the more obvious ways to tell someone’s a god.
The golden ones?
“They’re some of the best,” Yuugi revealed to me, talking over her shoulder and mine. I put my pointer finger up under the right arm of my shades and pulled them up into my hair, so I could see her swollen face better. Feel impressed with myself. “You’ve already figured out a lot of what it can do on your own, right?”
She faced forward and clasped my left shoulder, almost pulling me down.
“Go and see what else you can do.”
And I thought, Sure I will.
Now I’m in a tavern, elbows on the bar; still dressed like a bum but smelling like a Celestial (which is the only reason I got through the door). I’m here looking for blood. Ol’ Yuugi wasn’t totally serious when we were punching each other, so it’s hard knowing what exactly I can handle. Since I don’t want to get too well known in the Underground before I’ve got some kinda hold on it, I don’t want to just jump into public challenges these oni are so into all over the place, or get into any pro boxing or anything. I just want street brawls. Drunks are good for that.
And if I play my cards right, I can get cash off it too.
I’m tapping my foot to the steady beat from the drum and flute players in the corner of the room, watching people and looking for a mark in the crowd. Got my sunglasses on, too, to hide my eyes. Look at the wrong oni the wrong way and you’ve got a big, bruising problem on your hands.
‘Course, it’s not just oni here... They’re the majority, the kings, but there are a shitload of weaker, still dangerous youkai all around this city. That said, I want an oni. These knuckles should only be dusting chins that can take it.
Tonight, that is. A pocket’s a pocket and a purse is a purse, and if I’ve got to punch someone in the mouth to get at that sometimes, then I’ve got no problems being the thug.
Most oni are jovial drunks, that and this concept of “strength” through “intoxication” are what make alcohol so popular among them. Though I say that, I’ve seen myself the other side to any happy oni is the rage that made the phrase “becoming an oni” equivalent to “flipping out like holy fuck”. I’m looking for anyone who looks easily agitated. Surprisingly, most oni ain’t—you’ve really gotta provoke them yourself to get a reaction. Once you’ve got it though, you’ve got it. Their attention, their passion.
And there’s one.
A tough, blue-skinned lady who’s showing a lot of skin is trying her best to not look mad as hell. Her horns, blending with her flesh, are small on her forehead, and the ones with smaller horns tend to feel like they’ve got something to prove. She even brought something in here: a giant club, studded all over that she’s got pressed to the floor, grinding it like she milling flour. Her face is happy, but her shoulders are up, and her grip on that kanabo is intense. She’s in a group, it looks like. A mix of youkai, here to unwind. I could speculate... Hm, I think I will.
With a finger under one of the arms, I pull my sunglasses arms and make my way to the friends, watching what she’s unsubtly watching: a male, olive-skin, four-horned demon with bulging muscles who’s not laughing with her, but with a cheerful female earth spider. Hm hm, alright.
I hop over to his left arm, his elbow out and hand on his hip. I gingerly put my fingertips on him, blink rapidly, and say, “Oh my God~! It’s my first time seeing an oni looking like this!”
His face starts shifting to a ruddy blush. “Eheheh!” he giggles, his voice drowned in alcohol, and his under-tooth showing smile lookin’ real goofy. “Oh, naw little goddess! Muscle doesn’t say much wi-with oni—what’s a god doing down here anyway?”
“I’m suuuper interested in oni!”
“Haha, really?” he asks, and it’s a little subtle but the floor shakes. I glance down and see a fissure, follow it to—the source: the end of a club. I briefly turn an eye to a pair of pale ones green with envy. Bingo. The earth spider this guy was talking with can’t seem to comprehend my existing. C’mon girl, I’m not even glitzing yet, don’t go getting dazzled.
I place my left hand on this guy’s upper arm, squeezing at his forearm with my right. I lean in close to him and, “Saaayy...” I breathe in an eager voice, “can you show me these better? I’m... really interested.” He seems to get what I’m getting at, but before he can stumble out a response the blue oni thrusts her club at my face. A flame is between my shoulder blades and I jerk my head back, just in time.
“Whoa... gold...” the male whispers as glittering fire crackles over my shoulders and starts creeping up my fingers. I smirk at the jealous girl.
“Watch where you swing that thing, there’s a crowd in here,” I tell her as I let the guy go. I show my palms, mocking. “If I didn’t know any better I’d say you were trying to hit me.”
“A scrawny god like you...!” she growls, her free hand shaking and tight at her side. She roars at me, “GET OFF OF HIM!”
“‘Scrawny’?” I answer, killing my flames before anyone else can notice them. “I’m a god, you’re just an oni. I’m literally above you.” I aim my finger at her with moxie, pointing a little downward to make things clear.
She seems embarrassed. She brings her weapon back and holds onto the handle while fuming red, trembling. Her emotions... anticipation? Oh.
Now I feel kinda bad.
“I’ll beat you...! I can beat a harlot god down, yeah!” she tells herself. Ahh, ye~p. She thinks this is a chance: a chance to prove herself to him.
Sorry girl, but I’m not playing wingman tonight.
I snap my fingers over my head and yell, “Yoooo!! Anyone wanna see a fight!?”
A wave of bloodlust consumes the place in an instant. I get cheers and “hell yeah”s from the oni, while the other untouchables build up some cautious excitement.
“Then place your bets!” I shout, putting my hand over my chest, “I’m serious! Put your money on the table! Go and take a good look at me—take a good look at her! Who’s gonna win!?”
I hear a lot of muttering and chatter. Too much to sort out. I keep announcing, “Bartender! You collect! Personally I think my chances are great...” I say. Now to play the heel. I bring my hand down near my forehead, putting my fingers on it and drooping all but the thumb and middle one down. “Well, I only came down here to play with oni after all, so of course I’ll knock her out with one punch!”
That’ll do it.
Even if anyone saw and knows about my golden fire, enraging a room full of oni like this is gonna build solidarity. Every oni here will bet on the girl, out of loyalty. Dunno about the others, but let’s hope on groupthink. As everyone in the tavern rushes to the bar with their bets out, I toss my hair and smug at the cobalt woman, nodding upward just once.
Seeing that, she looks like she’s gonna explode. Next thing, she does.
Without a word or a roar, she thrusts right at me just like that, and I hop back out of the range casually. She swings, and I duck it while it slams another youkai in the back of their head. Hope he placed his bet...
I keep hopping playfully backward until we’re out on the street, the crowd following us. I keep an eye on the door, checking if everyone’s out yet and dodging while she gets more and more angry.
That’s it, I think, seeing the last person leave. I meet her eyes again, and close up my right hand, setting it ablaze. I offer her an apology in my smirk and brow, and tell her too, “Sorry about this.”
“Eh?” she utters while stabbing down at me again. I put my hand on one of the studs, shove it, and so rip it out of her hands, sending it flying in rotation and dropping an oni who was just minding her own business down the street. While the girl’s still confused, I flare up, looking like I’m wearing a cape of fire. I jump at her, and—
I crack her jaw, seeing her eyes go white after the CRIK and BAM of my rings against her face. Her spit flies out, and she falls down on her knees, lights out. I watch her crumple in midair, then settle back down to the road, looking at and flexing my fingers. I don’t feel good about that one. If she’d just been jealous, that would’ve been better.
Too bad. Your dreams just got crushed for my gain.
In the throng, the olive boy from before looks completely stunned, though at the same time a gleam in his eyes says he knew this would happen. Right, he did notice didn’t he? The rest of the crowd is a mix of reactions, but all surprised variants at any rate. Not everyone is happy with that.
On my way back, I bend a bit to slap her once across the face, building infamy. I part the agitated crowd like an aristocrat and damn it feels great to do it. With that, I march straight to the perplexed, unprepared, and darkly purple bartender: a cute girl with a long, sharp, obsidian pair coming straight up from her forehead. Her bar has two huge piles of cash and coins on it, and a little blackboard with chalk between them. She’s quickly flicking at an abacus while looking at each thing, and she’s totally flustered—she doesn’t notice me. I put my hand on the counter and reach over to pull the calculator out of her hand, doing what she was just doing except faster, smooth. When I’m done I drop the beaded instrument heavy on her bar and throw my grasp into one of the money piles, pulling out however much I figured I’m owed for the win. While I’m counting, the bartender (who seriously looks young, like a teenager now that I’m glancing) just seems super confused.
“This is the truth,” I tell her simply, shoving the grip of cash I’ve got into her face and putting my other hand on my hip, “and that’s what I tell. Just like I said I’d knock her out in a hit. You oni believe fists, right?”
While I think again what my calculations were, I start dividing the winnings based on the logged bets, my price clenched in my left hand while my right zooms through everything in front of me. Girl may not be much of an accountant, but looks like she sure can write fast. While I’m sorting it all out, I hear the crowds finally coming back in.
“Hey! The hell are you up to!? Just setting up a fake fight like that to get a quick buck!?” someone growls at me.
“‘Fake’, nah,” I answer, not bothering to look back. “Do you want to find out? You can place bets too.” Now I throw a challenging glance and grin. “I didn’t even break a sweat. Come on, set ‘em up and I’ll knock ‘em down.”
That pisses everyone off. Oni sure are easy...
I shove the cash into my sweater pocket, and turn to face them.
Yep. It’s gonna be a good night.
Wanted a choice this update, but I guess I'll wait until the next one later tonight (tonight my time)
Only made it through four other guys and girls before they finally started to leave me alone, but at the end of it I got a cool stack to live comfortably with. I wanna get rid of it right away, for real.
But before any spending I gotta meet with someone. A gross little tanuki mainly. He (she?) was hanging out in the tavern and put a few leaves in the pile on me, guessing my game. He’s got an idea about messing with something more official, which sounds good to me. This stuff? It’s pocket change compared to getting into some more legitimate business deals. If you ever want to rake in the dosh, even unscrupulously, the best way to do it is to at least look like you’re doing honest work. I won’t lie: mostly I just feel like leeching off of big fish, ‘cause that tends to work for me day to day, month to month. Get ‘em earning some so they can lose it all on me. But I came to the Underground with a list and a goal; that kinda angle won’t cut it for those. I don’t just want money this time.
After showing off how strong my fist is I’m not worried about meeting this guy alone—he’s not gonna try anything. I walk down the bright and busy street, trying to show in my stride that I’m way above it all. I think anyone who gives me a look is gonna have to give another one right after, cause this posture ain’t nothing like this skirtless outfit’d suggest. I take my steps with my fires out and swaying, keeping me clean, fresh, and glamorous. The people of the Former Capital don’t much care; I’m just not that eye-catching yet and rumor still hasn’t spread, I guess. I keep strolling with my hands behind my head, glittering with that audacious spirit and looking at the faraway cave roof, black and dangerous. Traffic through the air’s almost as dense as on the ground... Wonder what Yuugi’s up to now...
I left her alone to do her own thing but I wanna talk with her more and learn how to fight better. If things get hairy again for me, and in the Land of Oni they sure will, I’m gonna need more than instinct and base power to shut mouths and make waves. Yuugi didn’t give up on me... she awakened my flame because she wanted me to burn bright. Like Hell I’m gonna disappoint her. There’s no honor among thieves, but she saved this thief’s life. I owe anything I get from now on to her, and I’m not gonna disrespect that.
I drop my head and look at the stalls and stores I’m passing by, hear the calls for customers, see the wares, buy some gorgeous ribbons. They’re CUTE! I wasn’t going to NOT buy them!
With one red ribbon in my mouth, I start tying two others up in my hair to trail when I move. I’d rather make my hair, like, drills or something but I need some stuff to work with for that. I tie one more ribbon behind my head and take the one in my mouth into my hand, looking at it while I walk. I can use four... later. Right now it wouldn’t look so good. I stuff it in my other pocket and wander over to someone sewing clothes right there. I slap down cash and ask her to spin up the tears in my hoodie. Nice.
After that I buy a jewel-set necklace on a gold chain, burning away most of what I had left. It’s like some green and polished cat’s eye—chrysoberyl, I think? It looked really pretty and said, Joon! Buy me![/b] And would I, Yorigami Joon, ever ignore a plea for help? No.
I could use a bag...
While I’m still walking and thinking of what to shop for next, I gasp suddenly ‘cause I realize I’m near where that tanuki asked me to go. I’m also near a hot spring... Even if the golden flame cleanses me, I still want to bathe y’know... I lean forward, looking at the alleyway across from the mahjong parlor he told me about. Wonder if he’s there... Ahhh, but I [i]really want a skirt... Ahhh...
I squeeze my eyes shut and decide against it, ‘cause I’d rather have Miss Yamame make me a dress, and I’ve got a good idea on what I want after seeing this snazzy, high-collar overcoat on the way here that was just outside of my spending range. Later, later... Later! Tanuki now!
I force my feet to the alley, looking around just in case anyone’s got their eye on me. Since it doesn’t look like it, I start twirling one of my earrings and head into the alleyway.
“You here, tanuki...? You’ll have to say so, it’s hard to pick out how an animal stinks in a city,” I call absently. The tanuki shows himself from behind an armoire here that looks like it got thrown away. He’s dressed a little flashily, but mostly seems like he’s wearing what’s comfortable.
“You’ve really got a bad mouth,” he tells me with a smile, his tail flicking once. I don’t know what trash bears’ tails mean. “So you’re here because you’re a pestilence god, right? Dangerous. You’re better off messing with humans.”
“I can do whatever, and shine wherever,” I say, closing my eyes and shrugging one elbow. I hold up my hands in a bit of a shrug. “Though I’ll admit I started off on a bad foot here.”
“Oh really?” he asks, resting his back into the old wardrobe beside him, “You did?”
“Yeah,” I tell him, opening my eyes and showing a fang in a bit of a smile. I put one hand on my hip and lift the other to lazily motion my rings at him, saying, “look into it if you want me to knock your teeth in.”
“Wow,” he says, “already talking like you can back up your words.” He chuckles, but he’s a little nervous.
“Punching you would be easy,” I say, “messing with me would be trouble. That’s all.” He holds up his hands, a bead of sweat running down his cheek.
“Alright, alright, calm down...! If you’re gonna do any punching, do it in a ring, please!” he begs.
“Only if I get paid. What’d you have in mind, tanuki?”
“Doushi,” he says.
“Okay...” he relents, looking defeated. “Basically I wanted to sponsor you under one of my identities down here and profit off of you.”
“You wanna run circles around people, rig the bets, that kinda thing?” I ask, finally dropping my knuckles. He nods.
“I’m pretty good at slipping in and out of disguise and keeping track of who’s seen me. I’m not the best at disguising, but management is my specialty.”
“I won’t lie man, that sounds risky,” I say. “You know Hoshiguma Yuugi?”
“H-How could I not?” he asks, his shoulders slouching.
“If she’s just having a good go of it, I can pretty much match her blow for blow—I’m not bragging; it takes everything I got to do that much,” I tell him, leaning into the wall opposite from him to fold my arms. His jaw drops. While I keep explaining, I rotate one of my wrists, gesturing absently with my hand, “I need to let you know that ‘cause I don’t know the capabilities of most oni who get really pissed off. I riled up small fry back there. If Yuugi’s serious, at least, she can ghost me man.” I grasp my upper arm and ask him, “So? How about pro fighters? How are they generally?”
“That’s a good point...” he says, pale-faced and looking to the ground. “I didn’t think about that...”
“Seriously!? And you were talking about this being dangerous for me... Are you a moron!?” I snap. He shrinks.
Frowning, I tell him, “Listen, okay: it’s fine to want to rig fights, but if the lie ever gets exposed, especially if you get popular, the fallout’s gonna get crazy. Like ‘good luck getting back into the Underground, if you can even leave with both arms and legs’ crazy. When you’re playing games like this, you play with low risk. High risk? That’s when you can get killed. That’s the game you’re playing.” He swallows his spit. “At least down here. Oni may be stupid trusting, but even they can sniff out a tanuki. And you’re telling me your disguises aren’t top notch? They’ll get you for sure, man, and they’ll make raccoon gloves outta your hide.”
Now he’s dismayed.
Alright, time to possess him.
I walk over to the young, naïve youkai and put a reassuring hand on his back, lifting my free hand friendly and taking note of what his ears and tail look like (‘cause hey, I might need to). With a “kind” smile I tell him, “But listen here... you don’t have the worst ideas, I gotta say; and I can’t fault a guy or gal for looking at me and seeing yen signs in their eyes. I’ll help you, but you’ve gotta let me run it.” Through my palm, I start infesting his soul with mine.
“W—Really? Oh, I mean... Yeah! Um, yeah, let’s do it your way.”
I beam at him nicely. I’ll ring this brat dry.
“First go do some research in disguise for some low-level boxing circuits or whatever,” I instruct him, “and tell me whatever potential risks there are in fighting certain matches. If you want me, pray for me—” I pull him in, my misfortune oozing out my back and my grin showing I’m too excited,
“—I’ll come running.”
Alright, now that’s done with, what’s up next?
 Go see Yuugi.
 No more waiting, go see Miss Yamame.
 I think it’s about time I get familiar with the Earth Palace Mistress.
Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2018/11/13(Tue)12:00
After that I buy a jewel-set necklace on a gold chain, burning away most of what I had left. It’s like some green and polished cat’s eye—chrysoberyl, I think? It looked really pretty and said, Joon! Buy me! And would I, Yorigami Joon, ever ignore a plea for help? No.
I could use a bag...
While I’m still walking and thinking of what to shop for next, I gasp suddenly ‘cause I realize I’m near where that tanuki asked me to go. I’m also near a hot spring... Even if the golden flame cleanses me, I still want to bathe y’know... I lean forward, looking at the alleyway across from the mahjong parlor he told me about. Wonder if he’s there... Ahhh, but I really want a skirt... Ahhh...
I’ve got something to ask her. The trouble might be finding her.
Yuugi’s one of the four old “Devas of the Mountain”, and they ran Gensokyo in ancient times, basically. That’s why down here, in the Hell they took over after Afterlife Society restructured, she’s got a part of the city named after her. That said I wonder if she actually lives in it. The Ibuki quarter was simple and quiet—just like a nice uptown place for rich oni to relax when they were done with the downtown hustle and bustle. Wide roads for strolling. Underground parks.
The Hoshiguma Quarter has a message.
When I walk into it, first thing I see is a statue of a closed hand aiming up as high as a guard tower (like six or eight “me”s tall), the back of it facing me when I find it. Around it, the earth looks like it broke and got pushed up in crags, like this thing punched through the foundation. Around its wrist is a heavy shackle, and massive chains are flying off of it in stasis spirals and turns that really catch my eye. The fist is black and imperfectly molded from melted down iron, while the bindings and links are gold, iron, and glittering with a bunch of gemstones. I step up to the monument and find a plaque below it. Thing reads:
REMEMBER EVERY LAST ONE.
THIS IS NOT AN ESCAPE.
EVEN BENEATH THE EARTH, WE BEAT AT THE SKY.
“Heehh...” I moan with some interest. I wonder what this is dedicated too.
I look up at the rest of the quarter beyond.
Yuugi’s part of hell is history viewed. It’s on a rise, and along the curving roads leading to a villa on top of this underground mountain there’re statues of her people in poses of might, defiance, and defeat too, most rippling with muscles, holding studded staves, surrounded by chains suspended mid-revolution. The homes all stand tall, built like pagodas and shining gold and silver, high-price. Then there’s what’s beyond the hand but at the base of the hill: reaching high above the highest point down below is a firm dedication to Yuugi in the form of a huge spike, emblazoned, I think, with a star. Her horn... though it’s red and black here (and more on the black side). It looks like it’s shaped magma: fissures and cracks going through it glowing like they’re quietly alive. The star I have to fly around a little to see completely, but when I do... shit, it’s the brightest thing I’ve ever seen down here.
“Man...” I say quietly to myself, overlooking it from a railing on one of the quarter’s higher levels. This place is money: money and ego. I’m not sure if Yuugi actually lives here, but if she does then I gotta admire the gall. I think I’ll stay on the rail a while longer. The vibe here is almost intense in how cool it is, and the breeze is easing my mind. I hope that’s Yuugi’s place; I wanna give her a pat on the back.
Eventually, still feeling pretty calm, I start walking my way up to the most obvious house, taking in the sights ya know. Same as when I was in Ibuki’s part of the city this place looks pretty much empty. I guess people come to these places just to sleep or something. The homes on my way have more dedications to kinsmen, statues of old-style sake from huge to small, emblazoned with kanji like fire (火), spirit (気), oni (鬼), and sake (酒) itself of course, it’s all got my head feeling sober, funny enough.
I start up the path to the overlooking mansion. It’s immense, shaded dark and while I’m going I think I spot something off to my right, on a side of the hill that’s not obvious from when you’re walking up. It’s another bunch of statues, but this one’s specific. Overlooking the Former Capital are some life-scale figures of oni, two of which I recognize. There’s Ibuki Suika sitting cross legged with her gourd and opening it—hard to miss those horns... knew I saw them out the corner of my eye. After that sitting next to her (and a lot taller) is Yuugi, holding her special sake dish full of stars on the tips of her fingers. Beside her is a standing oni with cropped hair and some pretty odd horns, holding a box for drinking in her left hand. There’s another one, but I can’t see her very well from here...
It’s kind of a downer to look at, just tucked away over there. Like seriously, buzzkill over here. I turn my head and keep walking.
On either side of a stone-lantern way is a little garden of stones and a few boulders for Zen. I stop before the entrance and shout, “Yo Hoshiguma! You here!?”
I flinch (cutely, if I do say so myself), and take a look at the roof. Sitting on the right side of it with a sake dish balanced on her fingers is Yuugi, looking kingly with the breeze carrying her hair as she watches the city. She looks down on me. “What is it,” she asks without any change in her tone.
“U-Uh...” I falter. I dunno, looks like she’s in a bad mood. When I think that, her eyebrows lift up while she lifts her chin.
Then she bows her head a bit and puts on a smirk.
“What is it?” she asks again in a stronger voice. It calms my nerves.
“Yeah...” I say, “I wanted ta ask you to help train me, and figured the sooner I got to it the better.”
“Train you? But you’re plenty strong on your own. What do you need me for?” she asks.
Well duh, “Refinement,” I tell her, holding up a jeweled hand. “I’m fast and I’m strong now, but I can’t really fight.”
She frowns. “You fought me. That wasn’t a fight to you?”
“If you got serious,” I say straight-up, “you woulda floored me.”
“...” she stares, her red eyes the only thing I can see for a moment in the shadow of her body. She turns her head and puts the dish to her lips, drinking until its half-gone. “... Mm,” she eventually admits.
“So? Could you help me out more?” I ask her openly. “I-I really respect you, so—...”
I cut myself off. She’s smiling at me again, and I dunno, it just shut me up.
“... Sure, okay,” she agrees with a slow, kind-of-bow, “I can nurture a god for a little while.”
“... Thanks,” I answer, but what the heck.
I’m feelin’ really uneasy. I swallow my spit.
Should I ask her...?
 Ask why she’s still down here, Underground. (blunt)
 Ask her if something’s wrong. (careful)
 No. (wuss)
Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2018/11/14(Wed)12:00
[x] Ask why she’s still down here, Underground. (blunt)
>Oni >Not being straight with her >"Yuugi is a pretty classic oni. Adorably straightforward, but that means no double-talk, nothing subtle. And, like, the level of “subtle” for her is “you just didn’t say it outright”."
Either we don't ask at all, or we get straight to the point. My pick is to the point.
“Say, Yuugi...” I speak up, “... I’ve kinda thought about it for a while, but... What gives?” I ask. “What are you doing still down here when you used to rule the world?”
Her eyebrows go up a little and she looks away for a breath, only to turn back and tell me direct: “I never ruled the world, just mine. That hasn’t changed.”
... And I don’t like that answer. I ruminate on it.
“Get up here,” she orders while I do, looking to the city again, “drink with me.”
I pause for a sec, but decide to listen. Flying up and behind her so I can sit down at her left. From here, the city almost reminds me of the Outside World. It’s not anywhere near as big as one from there, but it definitely feels as bright underneath the earth. That dazzle is what draws moths like me in, I guess; that fast pace from the youkai flying all around over and through it... I dunno. I definitely like it, but maybe I’d give up on it if I could. Here, with Yuugi, it’s quiet, and quiet’s not a bad thing.
After I’ve contemplated next to her for a while, the greater oni holds out a hand to give me her dish. I have to hold it with both mine to carry it, though (and it’s kinda heavy). Not thinking it over, I lift it up to my face and down the burning stuff. See I’d usually refuse, but this’s a special occasion. At the very least, whatever sake she poured into it this time is a lot less strong than what got poured over my head yesterday. I think I can handle this.
“...” She watches me quiet and with a bit of a smile on her face while I try to sip, but basically just chug. I pull the dish away after five gulps and feel heat rushing through me, then I let her tool rest on my lap, meeting her eyes almost defiantly.
“Suika left,” I tell her, “Ibaraki left, they all left right? Hell are you still here for?” I’m talkin’ kinda aggressive now. I dunno, it’s annoying me. “Do you really have to be here? Stuck down here? You deserve a whole lot more! You don’t have to rule, right? You already do whatever you want, so just leave!”
My volume’s too loud.
“I’m here ‘cause I got something to do,” I say straight. “What about you? What could make you waste like a thousand years on dirt and shadows?”
She opens her mouth and starts a practiced “It’s an o—...” but she stops fast. She looks at herself, and thinks that over. After a bit she picks her head up and tells me, “It’s a kinda promise I made to myself, without ever saying it or thinking about it. It’s... responsibility.” She reaches for a bottle that I hadn’t seen from below (actually there’s plenty of alcohol up here), plucks it open and pours it into the dish in my hands. When she’s done and the bottle’s back down, she leans down with an intent to drink. I lift the huge sakazuki and pour it to her lips. Her face is really close... I end up blushing.
She pulls away and goes back to her last pose, licking her lips. “On an old day, in an old age, four hands of oni came together and pointed within The Mountain. Mine was one of them, and I was sure in that direction.
“A great number of my friends, my people, were massacred on the lunar surface in a dead end suicide rush that Suika’s companion suggested. More than that, over time we were being challenged in fairness less often by humans, and hunted under the disguise of challenge with frequency instead. It was getting bad, and we had to decide if we should fight the humans and enslave them, or try to reach a compromise. We tried compromise on Mount Ooe.”
She stops. Just breathes for a little while. She looks at me. “Drink,” she says.
While I’m going through more sake, she keeps on. “We didn’t hate humanity, we had many friends among the humans—some of our best. We also didn’t want to destroy them. Without humans, most of us weren’t strong enough to continue to exist. After Ooe, the four of us had to really... really take charge. Like... until then, it hadn’t felt real, Joon. We were only The Mountain’s strongest, and that just meant we were the most free. Suika... pushed us to try, and then kicked us in the ass and told us what we had to do after Ooe.”
“What happened at Ooe?” I ask.
She doesn’t answer.
She puts on a faded grin.
“We were fooled,” she says, none of that usual bravado in her tone. “Like... I actually... don’t remember it very well.”
And sorrow starts floating off her back.
“It was the worst betrayal I’d ever taken, mixed with loss I hadn’t felt before... and it... it hurt.”
Oh no, her eyes.
“It was going well, and then we all shared cups. We’d decided on boundaries and we were having a blast. I felt...” her voice cracks, “... I felt like I’d really risen up and led my people! You did it! Just like Suika said you could! Then my head blacked out, and I woke up tied to something.”
I’m just looking now. At her stare out over everything, at the shine on her face.
“Me, Suika, and them were up on sealed towers or something. The oni we’d brought with us were almost all dead. I saw the ones alive getting impaled through their hearts and throats while they were sleeping, and then decapitated. The ones who hadn’t gotten totally unconscious and were fighting back would get stabbed through the backs of their heads, through their eyes. Then, off at the necks.” She runs a thumb across hers. “A whole bunch of exorcists in front of us, but I kept looking at my brothers and sisters. I didn’t want to miss a moment of that, because I was going to break my body free, and I wanted to make sure I got back at every one of them. I wanted to make sure I delivered everything right back to them a hundred, thousandfold.
“Suika said, ‘Don’t give up, we’re going to save you’, and I felt... stupid! I was thinking about revenge, Joon!” she smiles with irony. “I wasn’t thinking about saving anyone. I’d already given up, totally.”
She goes still then, and her eyes tell me she’s thinking.
“... What happened next?” I ask her.
“I don’t remember,” she answers. Now her voice is just hollow, making me frown. “I felt... empty. Not like Zen, like my heart was gone, and I couldn’t think. Then Suika was in front of me with a purification rod running through her chest, looking... probably the angriest I’d ever seen her. She ripped open the wrist of my right hand trying to claw off my bindings,” Yuugi touches the spot, where you’d feel a pulse, “and she dug her nails into my side and the back of my neck pulling me down. I looked at everything, woke up, and destroyed Mount Ooe.”
My eyes are wide when she looks at me. “Just the top part of it, the trees and surface you know,” she says. She brings her head back to where it was and goes on to say, “We lost almost everything. It didn’t even feel right to say ‘look what we still have’. Decided we had to go. We told a lie.”
My eyebrows go up again.
“We said the world above had gotten boring for us, and we even faked that everyone wasn’t moving all at once.” She stops. “... But for promises, I think I made one to myself then. Something like a promise to be there. Something like a promise for strength. A promise for joy. I wanted... wanted to be what I said I was...”
Another moment goes to herself.
“... And I have been,” she admits, “for over a thousand years.”
“But you never made any real promise,” I remind her, “it’s all in your head.”
“No, my heart,” she tells me with a real grin this time, “which is a lot worse. Heads... listen to reason. Hearts... don’t listen much at all.”
She explains: “This heart says I failed, this heart wanted to crush the bones of those I hated, this heart wanted a throne and the right pair of shoulders sitting on it, this heart remembered all that... and still wanted to stop.”
She puts her hand over her left breast. “Because this heart misses it: the skies and forests... But, that was the world that brought us to the brink, you know? And are skies and forests worth more than blood? Is anything?”
“That’s why I’m here, same as you,” she gives me this conclusion, “I’ve got something to do: being the last king of the oni, until they stop needing that. Until they’re all strong. Until then, if they need someone to believe in them... I’ll do it.”
She stares long into my eyes, eventually being the first to speak.
“It’s love keeping me here, the love of one of the Four Heavenly Kings.”
... I’ve got a policy. It’s to never take anything at its face.
Whenever I get told something or see something, I take in the context, take in my experience, take in what I know and what I can find out. ‘Cause I’m a liar, and I know how strong a lie can be when pulled off right. I won’t ever be caught up in one.
But Yuugi’s expression breaks me down. I’ve said it before: that I didn’t even want to meet her, and this face, strands of her gold hair waving over it and behind her head... this face is why. It’s a highlight between her and me. In front of her, I don’t feel like a god. She’s higher. She’s admirable.
Honestly, I’m never going to be like that.
I can’t do what she did and make convictions to throw away my “self” for somebody else, let alone for a nation. She’s probably right... In the Outside World, oni are remembered well, but in Gensokyo as far as I know before Ibuki Suika showed they’d started being forgotten (and record shows Suika wasn’t even convincing when she arrived). Without the strength of the Four Devas’ will, strong enough to break the rule of a youkai’s reality, I don’t think these guys could survive in this part of the World. Yuugi and them have basically been keeping them alive for a millennia, refusing to forget their family.
I can understand it, but I can’t admit it to myself. It still feels like weakness to me. Pity is weak. Love is weak, if it ain’t loving yourself.
But I break down.
Yuugi puts her hand on my back while I’m sobbing. It’s just the sake. It’s definitely just the sake. While I go over her fate in my head, her determination, her character, I blame the alcohol for my messed up face.
I want to be like Hoshiguma Yuugi. I am Yorigami Joon.
“...” I look at it there in silence—it’s dulled with shadow now. I put my left hand to the ground and my gold bangle shakes. I push myself off of the floor and onto my bottom, onto my skirt, my eyes always on the prize. Fifty en... can I get a bit of a better meal with this? Can’t escape, definitely.
... Knowing my luck, showing it to the wrong person would make them get angry at me. I don’t know people like Joon. Well, it’s hard to. No one likes me so I know no one. I don’t even have any cellmates...
I look around.
There’s a toilet and a bed. That’s actually kind of better than how I had it before I wound up down here. I thought that this Gensokyo place might be easier to live in since less bad things could happen to me, maybe... I guess I was right, then? The floor is dirty but it’s not dirt. The meals are tiny but they’re meals. You know what it’s pretty good all in all. I don’t have any freedom, but when I did I didn’t have shelter either.
... But it doesn’t look like this is a good place for gods. I miss the Sun, if I’m being honest. It’s really dark down here.
My eyes fall on the flame around my left calf. Blue fire’s been swirling around it ever since I got into Gensokyo. It doesn’t burn, it’s not bright, it’s not even warm. I thought I got possessed by something and asked what its name was, ‘cause I mean if it’s a dark spirit, then maybe we could be buddies. If it’s alive, it doesn’t talk. I think it’s actually just me, especially since the ends of my hair started turning into fire too.
“Hah...” I sigh short and close my hand around the coin.
I flinch and hide my hand inside my hoodie’s pocket. I turn my head to outside the bars. I didn’t hear the door open. It’s metal and creaky too, I must be out of it.
In the little concrete part of the room that’s not the cell, there’s a bearded and buff old-man oni looking at me—three small horns. At his left is the little girl who found me and caught me in a... well, she caught me. She’s another oni with reddish skin and kinda devil horns out the sides of her head. The whites of her eyes are black, and the color part is yellow. She’s wearing something expensive as usual... is that coat made of satin or something? I don’t really know...
“Can you use her, Mister Douton?” she asks, businesslike.
“Eh... I’m not sure just from looking. Hey, god.” Is he talking to me? “Can you control your abilities?”
“Uh... yes...” I answer. It’s hoarse. Right, haven’t spoken in a few weeks...
“Do you mean you can stop yourself from unwillfully cursing others?”
I open my mouth, and close it.
I shake my head, slowly.
“So that’s why you’ve been sequestered,” he speaks with confirmation in his voice.
“So it ain’t no good with you neither, Mister Douton? Whaaat the hell...” the little oni complains. “Why can’t you do that? Come on!” She kicks a bar, denting it in and holding her boot there. I shrink away out of reflex. I’ve seen feet coming before... “Useless god. Tch. I don’t think I’m ever gonna get rid of you at this rate.”
I look at her, saying nothing.
“So? Mister Douton? Can you recommend someone who could use a cursed doll?” she throws that question back, still glaring at me. Glare all you want, I can see your stupid polka dot panties...
“I think you should try getting rid of her with a lie,” The Douton guy says, scratching at his beard. “Or sell her to someone who can put her off on people they have a grudge against. She’d pair well with humans.”
“You’re always so helpful, Mister Douton!” says my captor cheerfully, finally stopping her flashing at me to hold a hand up at the old guy. “But what if I can’t do that? Any advice?”
“Kill her,” he says. Hmm...
“Just kill her dead? I dunno, I don’t like just offing people, even if they’re gods.” Douton shrugs at this.
“If you kill her the right way, you might be able to capture her power in an artifact. It’d be more valuable than something unsellable, though I can’t guarantee its strength will be the highest.” He nods once, and points at me. “Look, she’s awakened to a flame. ‘Glooming’, I believe. That would make capturing her spirit a little easier.”
“That’s fucked up, Mister Douton,” says my captor. “I dunno, I’ll think about it but it’s not my style. I’d rather take my stress out on her with my fists than just kill her, Sir.”
“Do whatever you like,” he says with a pleasant smile. “She’s a poverty god, they serve a function same as death: something that keeps the world steady, but nobody truly wishes for it.”
What a dipshit, fat, piece of crap.
This old man needs to taste poverty himself.
“I’m going to possess you,” I tell him in a crooked voice, and the two of them look at me, “I’m going to make your life hell.”
My captor blinks. “Stuuupid,” she says, not even in a mocking voice. She puts her pinky in her ear to start cleaning it. “Is your brain getting hitched up without thinking for so long? I’d put you in a cell with other gods if you wouldn’t ruin them by accident. Listen, the cage is sealed. Look,” she knuckle-taps an ofuda wrapped around one of the bars, and there are a lot of them, “these mean your powers only work inside that cell. They’re on the walls and ceiling, too. I told you about them. You forgot?”
I didn’t forget.
“Curse us all you want but you’re only gonna be spittin’ expletives,” she says, shoving her hands in her pockets, rocking onto her heels, and bending forward. My flames grow a little.
“Watch it, girl, she might still manage,” says Douton. “The divine flames are a little like us oni in their absurdity.”
“Let her try it, I’ll jab her throat and cut meals for a week,” she says, turning from me. “Let’s go. It stinks in here.”
I stare at their backs while they open the door.
With the coin between my thumb and pointer finger, I channel my soul. I imbue the money with misfortune.
I keep staring, until I’m sure they aren’t paying attention to me.
 Curse the old man.
 Curse the little girl.
 Don’t. It’s risky and I could use this fifty en.
Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2018/11/15(Thu)12:00
[X] Don’t. It’s risky and I could use this fifty en.
... And I bite my teeth together.
The door closes, and I’m alone again.
Maybe I can use this later... but I’m not going to ruin what little good life I’ve got in here now.
Inviting misfortune... For me, that’s just a bad idea. For now I’ll bide my time and make this coin a cursed object. I’ll fill it with misery and bad luck until it becomes a bomb. I’ll let it go off in the right hand at the right time, and collapse their life from top to bottom. Ruin... as much ruin as I can manage.
I throw my right fist out and into Yuugi’s stomach. It thuds, and feels satisfying but... it’s basically just hitting a punching bag that doesn’t want to swing.
“Here,” she says, and she grabs my arm and shifts it. “Try again.”
Alright; I punch her abs. A wind slices out and fire flares off my knuckles.
“Better. Just go at it for a little while.”
I keep pounding at her muscles, rings on and everything, and she takes it like it’s a light wind. Well, I’m used to that at this point though.
Yuugi’s been training me for this last couple a’ weeks. The raccoon I possessed hasn’t called out to me so I just keep working with her, refining my technique.
“Fu—!” I breathe out sharp and take my hand in to my side, empowering it before I bring it out in a falling arc on her six-pack. My fist shines over my head before I smash it down to her.
“Mmf,” she grunts, skidding back a little. Shit, that hurt me. I shake my fingers and knuckles out, backing up a bit.
“If I put in my all,” I start saying something, and she lifts an eyebrow, flexing the hands on her hips, “could I actually hurt you, Yuugi?”
“Of course. I’m not invincible,” she says, and she smiles like ha ha, come on. Please.
“Alright, I’m gonna hurt you.” I tell her, putting the fingertips of my left hand over her shirt, feeling those sexy as fuck ridges. Like, for real.
I raise my right hand and start building all that I can into it, the golden flame getting stronger and stronger. Soon it feels like I can’t even hold it, really. I cock it back, lock on, and fire.
Yuugi’s hand comes down again on my arm. I almost don’t see it it’s like, crazy fast. She moves herself out of my way, switching hands and guiding my punch straight into air. She’s basically watching over me like some sort of buff puppeteer. Her left fist comes up over my back, but my instincts aren’t good enough to shout for me to get out of the way. Like it’s coming so fast I don’t think I can. I freeze, and just brace instead.
Yuugi punches me down into her gym’s floor, there’s a sound like a bomb dropping, and I think she breaks my spine. It feels that way. Basically it’s like hitting a pencil with a sledgehammer.
I open my mouth and soundlessly scream as I get cratered through wood, and underneath that foundation. Yuugi lifts her fist out of my back. “Uh,” she says, “sorry. I just... Whenever something dangerous comes at me I just act without thinking.”
“Frrrrgg... Owww...” I’m just growling. Good thing I’m a god.
“So you’re still set on making money, huh,” says Yuugi like nothing’s wrong here. She scratches her head. “Do you have to try screwing people out of it to make it?”
“... Faster,” I can say.
“Just ‘cause it’s faster?”
“... like it.”
I can practically hear Yuugi frowning. But I like it, so...
Basically there’s an immense satisfaction out of knowing I ruined someone else for a bag or a gem. There’s no sugarcoating it and hey, I don’twant to: I’m a bad person. I’m, like, the baddest, and isn’t that awesome? I can admire Yuugi all I want, but I enjoy the more evil shades of life too much to let them go. Nothing like knowing an idiot fell for your lies, nothing except knowing they weren’t even actually stupid.
With the pain finally dulling, I can start to pick myself up. I talk, too, “Lemme do what I do, Yuugi. I’m a pestilence god. I don’t exist to make people happy.” I smirk at her, still doubled over but now on my feet. “At least I can make myself happy. Not everyone can do that.”
“I guess that’s true,” she admits, crossing her arms. “You’re skirting a line with what I find acceptable, though.”
“You’ll kill me if I go past that line?”
“Probably not,” she tells me honestly, “but I’ll have to kick you out.”
“I’ll probably cross it,” I tell her, shaking as I straighten my back, looking at the faraway ceiling, “when I do, get ready: I’ll hit you with that punch and make sure you take it.”
She doesn’t say anything, and I’m not looking at whatever face she’s making.
“I’ve been feeling more faith in me lately...” I continue on, staring down at one of my palms as if I can see it in there. “A lot more. I don’t think I could’ve recovered from your punch this quick otherwise. Most of it’s Ouzu, but he’s gotten me a crew of nice believers, too.” I finally look at her with a face full of self-satisfaction. “That’s probably why you got scared of my fist,” I tell her, “‘cause it’s actually pretty strong now.”
She also looks self-satisfied. “Yeah,” she admits (oni, seriously—no hesitation!), “I’ve been mostly working on how you move rather than how hard you hit because of that. I can tell there’s a lot of power growing in you.” Then... she grins, and I shiver. It’s a wicked one, cold with anticipation. “You said you’ll make sure I take that punch when you fall out of line?” she asks. “It’s a promise.”
“... Yeah,” I stop trembling, and tell her that.
I’ve still got a pretty long way to go before I make Yuugi step up, though, I think. Actually, let’s go over my plans...
I want to get a little into the boxing game and game it hard, but Raccoon hasn’t gotten back to me about it. I don’t like waiting. Other than that I want to expand my religion more with a goal of either followers or money. I also want to start getting my fingers in other businesses that way, either through who I know or what I can pay for. The idea is to rise in power, of the dollar and in influence. I want to find out where my sister is, and once I really start my search, I’ll tear through all of Hell to find her, no matter how much gets put to fire on my way down.
I’ve been thinking the satori might be able to help me with that, being a mind reader “at the top” and all, but at the same time I’m less emotionally stable ever since Yuugi spilled her heart to me... I’m not actually sure I can bullshit her as well if I get in contact with her now. If I do, maybe I should just be honest... Even if she’s in a palace, even if she does keep her gross third eye on things (and, honestly, I’m not actually sure that’s the case), it’s not like she runs things down here. It’s the prison she chose. Maybe she just gathers rumors, if anything, but doesn’t spread them. I dunno, Yuugi just said nobody likes her.
I also want to get to know Yamame more, for a few reasons. First, clothes, yes, but second she’s an architect, and one of the best ones among earth spiders. That means she’ll have knowledge on who lives down here. Maybe knowledge of hideaways? Speaking of, Ouzu can definitely enlighten me more to the subject of kidnapping young gods. Let’s put talking to him on the “it’ll definitely happen” list. It’s actually lower priority, then. Ouzu won’t be giving up on me any time soon.
... Hey, you know, I wonder if he ever will? Since I want faith out of him, I have to keep him happy. Shit, I might actually end up doing some good down here just to keep belief in me strong until Sis is under my arm again. That’s funny.
Speaking of I’m going to see him and collect donations. Ask him about the new folks praying to me and collect from them too—maybe grant some requests, so far most prayers have just been for emotional strength. I think it was a good call to make myself overall stronger, I gotta say. Money makes the world go ‘round, but might makes right. Or, in my case, wrong! Yeah!!
I put up my dukes and Yuugi beckons me. Let’s keep at it, but I think I’m gonna head out today. Basically...
 ... I want to go light a fire under that tanuki’s ass.
 ... I want to wear a dress again and learn the lay of the land better. Miss Yamame, here I come.
 ... I want to start figuring out where Sis might be early, so I’m gonna come at that satori... ----  ... as honestly as I can. ----  ... as deceptively as I can.
Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2018/11/17(Sat)13:00
[X] ... I want to start figuring out where Sis might be early, so I’m gonna come at that satori... ---- [X] ... as honestly as I can.
I picked up some things.
My new followers aren’t all oni. Actually it’s just Ouzu so far, while the others are youkai scared of losing their existence without the fear of humanity. I keep bestowing on them hope, which just makes my darker powers build. They also all gave me some cash. Not a lot, but enough to get what I need if I’m gonna talk with Komeiji Satori without any real assuredness in my silver tongue right now.
I’ve got them both in the grip of my left hand while I fly toward the Palace of Earth Spirits way beyond the limits of the Land of the Oni. There are a lot of things I’ve gotta consider when coming up against a satori like her. First is that I’m a scumbag, and I’ll want what she’s got as soon as I see it. I mean, she lives in a castle. She’ll pick up on that, and I don’t know what after, but it’s exactly ‘CAUSE it’s unknown that I don’t want to screw up. She’s got a lotta animals, so the place will probably stink. There are vengeful spirits in there since the place is a prison, which means they’ll be a little interested in me...
I’m also going to want to try to one up her. I know me. I WANT to think I can throw her off.
I just need information. I keep telling myself that, and land before the drawbridge of the palace, which is thankfully open. Gates beneath an archway have been swung open as well. The whole thing is real European-styled, but also weird as fuck. It’s like a shadow’s been made into a building, with parts on it given to multicolored windows of stained glass. Does the place need to be this big, too...? It’s like I’m looking at a mountain here...
A stench wafts out of the place and my nose scrunches up. The smell of a zoo... Ugh... I guess there’s only so much one satori who allegedly barely gives a shit about anything can do. I march into the mansion, flanked by huge, bright, pink, and square sections of glass on the floor, obscuring everywhere else “dark” from my eyes. I stop there in the entrance hall, open the notebook to the first question I’ve written in it, put it question-outward over my face to hide my expression...
... and I completely clear my thoughts, just listening to distant sounds of falling earth and the rare footstep.
“A guest. What? ... I see. Is a countermeasure like this really necessary? ... Oh, you have an answer for that. Thought of everything, huh. But you’re not thinking now. Hmph.
Are you just going to stand there? How odd. Even if I do... this? ... Wow. Really? What dedication. Fine. Return the page to your first question again.
Yes, I am Komeiji Satori, mistress of the Palace of Earth Spirits.
Heh. Alright. Because there isn’t any point to it going out and mingling. Traditionally, my kind prefers seclusion. It’s a misconception that we bother people, we only want other people to have nothing to do with us. Would you like to know more?
There was a time when humanity sought to exploit Yatsugatake for what resources it would offer. Of course, the oni tried to stop them but were oni and tried with their ways. This cost them. My people, whom the oni hated for even they bear dishonesty in their hearts, were responsible for driving out humans. Even today, ‘Youkai Mountain’ is only home to those for which it is named, hm? You see, my quiet guest, it is the satori that reigns. Not gods who scheme, or oni who value but do not always uphold honesty. We satori see the truth. The truth is the enemy of those who would plot. The bane for humankind. How does it make you feel, dear guest? Are you a liar too?
... Ah, so you’re done again. Fine. It’s cute how you hesitate in your thoughts like that, though. Show me again?
Alright, what next, what next...?
Certainly. Though I do not seek to observe the Former Capital I still know much of its goings on... as a hobby. You suspected that? It was polite of you to ask if it was my job to begin with but no, I am simply rude.
I also like that you asked why I keep to myself. That was nice of you. Many assume it’s because of my species. I suppose it still is, but it is not self-hatred like so many believe. Give me your name.
Eh? ‘I didn’t write that down’? Then tell me.
... Like an iron box that breathes. Hey.
Tell me, won’t you?
I don’t want to have to pull this book down. You’re keeping me entertained, but only so much. Give me y—
... Ahh... thank you.
‘Hoshiguma Yuugi’. Yes, thank you very much. It is an honor to see you again today, as it ever and always is. Thank you for keeping the Underground very safe. Pardon, but you look unusually small today, don’t you?
... I appreciate jokes, actually. I’m not humorless.
‘Wakase Meia’. Hm. See? That wasn’t very hard. Wherefore are you here, Miss Yorigami?
‘What! How did she—!? Ahh, ahh, damn it, damn it!’ ... Done? You hid your true name behind a fake. That you thought of Lady Hoshiguma with much more conviction tells me a lot about you. Has Miss Yuugi made a new friend in an awful little goddess? That’s adorable. She’s very cute, as always.
If your name is Yorigami I can suspect why you’re here. There has been a group capturing newborn or newly ascended goddesses for dubious ends. Has one of yours been tak—Your sister?
‘I can’t believe I gave that away’... yes. I think the charade is about over. Show me this goddess’s face.”
I pull down the notebook.
“‘Shit. I completely bombed.’”
I blink at her, making a frustrated face.
“‘So much for triumphing over a satori...’ Hah...!” she reads aloud my thoughts and puts on a cattish smile at my self-evaluation. “... Yes, certainly I can help you. I am not without kindness.
‘Komeiji Satori. She dresses like an old woman and smells like she sleeps on old books and cats. She’s got bags under her eyes, fingers stained a bit with ink. She meets eye to eye with me in height. A shorty, huh? Her lavender hair is short, too, and totally frumpy just like her off-color shirt and skirt. Her purple gaze is locked on my face, and her red third eye is locked on to my heart. Speaking of hearts, she’s totally decorated in those. Her cuffs have hearts, her buttons are hearts, there’s a heart on her collar, there’s a heart on her hairband. All yellow, and some look like they’re tied to those gross tentacles coming out of her creepy, extra eye, blending from sunlight to blood. It’s weird... but she’s basically the most monstrous youkai I’ve ever seen.’ Hm.
... You went through all of that on purpose, no? Ink on my hands... Ahhh... you’re right. I’ve been writing quite a lot... And as for my overall appearance, well, without visitors who is there to be impressed...? If not for the animals’ fur and feathers getting everywhere—you see, I stay with them because I can understand them—I’d perhaps join them in their appreciation of birthday suits.
‘Heh. She is cute though.’ Thank you.”
“‘I don’t know... maybe I should scoot on outta here.’ Why?”
“You’re dangerous,” I finally say, putting my right hand on my hip and standing cool, “if you’re willing to give me information about someone in the Underground just like that, just ‘cause you thought you’d gotten the truth out of me and thought, ‘how sweet-hearted’... I can’t trust you won’t sell me out, like on the basis of perceived good intentions with some other guy.”
“‘You think you got the truth, but it could’ve been I only lied to get to here.’ Fair enough. I mean, if it helps I tend to give this kind of information to those who fight and defeat me, and I consider myself very powerful... But then, I’m not particularly inclined to facing off against something on the level of a god, whether or not they’re wearing pants.
Yes, I noticed.”
“Yeah but see that doesn’t sound great. I want to make sure you keep what you find out about me secret. If you just give it away to whoever beats your face in, then fuck that, it’s not worth it. I want a guarantee.”
“Damn straight! I’m not playing fuckin’ hopscotch here!”
“I don’t know what that is. Anyway, I think that fear is warranted, knowing me. What do you propose? ... ‘Well...’”
 “‘I could ask to live with her for a while to build trust, but secretly figure out something about her I could blackmail her with.’ Hoh.”
 “‘I could do her a favor, or a lot of favors. Build her trust in me, until it becomes mutual.’ Oh, that sounds nice.”
 “‘I have a hell of a lot more confidence now. I could help her sist—’ Eh? You already know Koishi? Have you met her?”
Another short timer! Kindly vote quickly, and I'll get a second update out today!
... Probably! Very probably. This is what happens when I work a 6 day week...
[X] “‘I have a hell of a lot more confidence now. I could help her sist—’ Eh? You already know Koishi? Have you met her?”
Now it’s my turn to be smug.
“Last year,” I begin, the satori paying attention to the words on my tongue instead of those on my mind, “didn’t your younger sister get caught up in those religious wars during the Plague of Pessimism in the summer? Word is she was even the cause.”
“Even if that was a rumor,” Satori answers, resting a finger atop her third eye, “because of Koishi’s condition, you shouldn’t be able to recall anything about it.”
“She caught my attention,” I say, “‘cause I thought I could help her.”
Satori only looks at me curiously.
“My name is Yorigami Joon, and I’m a pestilence god. Komeiji Satori, do you know what gods of misfortune can do? Aside from the obvious.”
“Go ahead, take a look, and remember what your sister was looking for so desperately during those wars. ‘Cause on the flipside of a god of misfortune’s flood of despair...”
“... ‘is hope’...!”
I can practically read her mind. Her eyebrows raise, she grasps the front her skirt. It clicks.
And I show a straight delighted grin.
It’s simple. I can basically help that Koishi out. It might be a lotta work for me, and I’ll have to spread more misfortune to get it done, but I can make her one of my worshippers and supply her with hope in exchange for faith. Why would I do that? Well, why would I do anything for anyone else?
‘Cause I know what she wants. Everybody wants something, even if they’re like her and just don’t know it yet.
The Palace of Earth Spirits, third floor
Komeiji Koishi can’t think.
She’s a satori maiden who closed her third eye, rendering her a youkai that lives in and off of the unconscious rather than the conscious mind. I saw her early on into my Gensokyo forays, and even remember seeing her facing the menreiki that was spreading pessimism at the time. I remember her gloating about finding the mask youkai’s face for “Hope”, and refusing to give it up. Someone interested in my useless power? Of course my ears perked up.
That said I only remembered her a long time after that, after picking up a rag called Kakashi Spirit News and getting a reminder. It’s always been hard to keep her in my memory. Like, I remembered her when Ouzu asked me to perform a miracle, but started forgetting her again after that. Until I talked with Yuugi about the other satori youkai from the Underworld, I wasn’t sure why.
“Satori said she’s probably up here... What a pain, not even the sister knows where she is like this,” I complain to myself. There aren’t any fucking windows up here, either—what’s with this floor?
I make a fist.
The golden flame rises up in three like always at my back, and I flick my thumb up from under my pointer finger, like I’m sparking a lighter. Illumination starts dancing out from me, illuminating a floor that seems totally empty save for the stairs behind me going either up or down. Just a stone floor and two or three chairs put wherever. This place is creepy.
“... ‘hem, Koishi? Komeiji Koishi, you here?”
The thing about living through the un/subconscious is that, well, you can’t consciously be acknowledged. Apparently the younger Komeiji sister thought closing her third eye would make people stop hating her. I guess it did, but people stopped thinking about her at all after that.
But, funny thing, Yuugi said that while she had the menreiki’s Mask of Hope, she remained in people’s thoughts. Specifically, it was the power of hope that made her recognized. If you ask me, it doesn’t make any sort of sense. I don’t know what hope’s got to do with whether or not a person gets recognized in the hearts of others. Maybe she’s hopeless? Like her despair is a factor?
Maybe people just need hope to get by.
I guess I can understand that. Most people are pathetic.
“Whoa! You’re all glittery!”
I hop onto my left foot, crossing my forearms and throwing up the horns for rock and roll, thumbs out. Next to me, out of nowhere, is a kind of ridiculously adorable girl. She’s dressed like Satori but in more... autumnal colors? Her sleeves are really long, too, and wide at the ends. That’s cute. This green haired girl... Yeah, this is Koishi.
Her third eye’s got violet tentacles, while the eye itself is a dark shade of teal... and closed. Right. I look up into her face. Her pupils are white... I look higher...
“I like your hat,” I tell her.
“Thank you!!! I like your jewelry, lady!” she shouts with a wide smile, waving her arm excitedly. Her sleeve flaps around and I get back on both of my feet. She really is cute. So is that nice hat, looks classy y’know. Black, wide rim, charmin’ yellow bow on it.
I clasp my hand on her shoulder, stopping her where she is.
“Huh? What’s this, what’s this?” she asks, practically like question marks are comin’ outta her head. I’m not letting her get away.
“You want hope, right?” I come right out and say that.
“Huh? Hope? Hope...” she ponders this for a moment, pushing her lips out. Then, she suddenly hops up into the air, floating under my hold. “Oh! Like my Mask of Hope! ... It broke...”
Figures... It got removed from what made it have power in the first place. But...
I’m surprised she can remember it at all. She’s not supposed to be anything other than impulsive, right? Living in the moment, never the past, nor the future.
“Yeah...” she says a little remorsefully, “when I had hope, people could see me...”
Is that... sadness? Shouldn’t be poss—
I shiver. “Eugh...!” I groan without thinking.
The eye over her stomach was just the slightest bit open. It’s closed now, but that scared the hell out of me. Gross...
I guess she’s not “hopeless”, ha ha ha. Okay.
“I can give you that again, but you gotta do something for me if I do,” I tell her.
“You can? How?”
“I’m a god,” I boast.
“Why do you want to help me?”
“Huh? Why do you care?” Seriously.
“I can’t care?”
“I... thought you couldn’t,” I admit.
“When people acknowledge me I can think a little better,” she says, “and my sister told me a long time ago to be careful of anyone, and especially gods.”
Thanks a lot for making this a little complicated, Satori...
“Haahh... well...” I did say I’d be honest...
I close my eyes, and decide to tell her.
“... I need to save my useless sister. To get that done, there are a lot of little other things I have ta do. One of them is getting your sister to help me out. But, I need to...” I sigh again, meeting her eyes with an anguished look on my face. “This is really complicated, do you really want me to go through all of it?”
“...” She blinks. She’s quiet.
“You have a sister?” she asks, cocking her head to the side.
“Is she your little sister?” she seems almost like she genuinely wants to know that. Again, shouldn’t be possible... Is her eye open?
“We’re twins,” I admit. “But she was born first, so I’m the little si—”
I feel warm cloth on my cheek. “Eh?” My eyebrows go down at once. “What are you doing!?” I snap.
What she’s doing is putting her arms around me and pulling me in. Close to that creepy eye—whoa! Step off.
I’m gritting my teeth and have one hand on her chest, the other on her stomach, ready to push her away. Then I feel her patting my head.
“There there,” she says, holding me snugly. “Pain, pain, fly away~.”
“What!?” I rage, “Get off of me, damn it! Don’t touch me!”
“There there, there there,” she keeps rubbing me. I know she doesn’t but, seriously, what is she thinking!? “It’s okay,” she says, and she brings her left hand down on my breast, over my heart, “I can hear you.”
“Shhh...” she goes back to hugging me, and I start... letting my hands fall. “Being a little sister is hard, huh?”
... I cling to her back.
“So that’s why you want to help me, huh? Big sis was right, I guess we really can see the truth.”
“I don’t really know you though, Miss God. Let’s hang out or something! Then we can get friendly!”
What the hell...
I press my face into her chest. She has, like, a kinda calming scent to her.
 “Let’s go shopping.”
 “Let’s go talk with your sister.”
Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2018/11/19(Mon)13:00
Shades on, Koishi’s at my side, and I’m ready to spend it.
“Got anything you want?”
I look at her from over the top of my glasses. “Right.” I turn from her, protecting my eyes from city lights. “Let’s find out.”
Hot air rushes over us from the old furnace below the Palace, and chilling air blows our hair back as we approach the Former Capital. I’ve got the satori’s arm linked in mine to not lose her, and my hands in my pockets.
“Isn’t that breezy?” she asks, one of her sleeves at her chin. She’s looking at my bare legs.
“Yeah,” I answer. “I’m actually getting used to it, which’s the worst. How do I feel about it, unconsciously?”
“Hm...” she reads me, I guess, then happily declares, “You hate it!”
“I hate it,” I confirm. “Let’s put that on the list of ‘definitely gonna happen’s: me buying a dress.”
“You said we’re going shopping so just buy a skirt!” she suggests.
“No! I’m not gettin’ stuck in this sweater, no matter how nice it smells now!”
She checks its scent while we walk into the business area of the Capital, the place so bright I needed to start saving my eyes way back there. “It’s true!” she says. Well yeah.
“Now c’mon, Koishi,” I point at her, just about poking the tip of her nose. “Have a little bit of hope, and let’s see what you like, yeah?”
Her face gets brighter as emotion fills it. Before she can say anything I tug her along with a cool stride.
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The blur starts with soft cream and sprinkles. Fair enough, Koishi.
We each get a cone of cold and sweet, vanilla desert, covered all over. Good thing it’s still pretty early in the day or that cart might not’ve been out. I lick absently while she bites into her cream without any regard for her gums or skull. She regrets it quick, only to laugh right after.
“Ahahaha!! What the heck! It hurts!”
“Watch it, it’s cold,” I warn her, pointing with my ice cream.
“Eh!? Warnings afterward?” She laughs again. I tap her nose with the vanilla, making her squeal.
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I stand next to Koishi while she tries her hand with a guy doing shells. Anyone’d get tricked but...
She reads con artists like an open book. Guess hiding your intentions won’t work on the level she can see.
She earns hands over fist on the youkai, until he has her take his spot for a bit after she asks, just to see if there’s any trick to her lack a’ tricks. I stay on the sidelines, loving the show.
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“Shouldn’t you be trying skirts, Joon?”
“I’m getting a dress. I’ve got plans. Put it on.”
She takes it and I go off into the rest of the store for other stuff, hoping she won’t disappear.
Cool that oni have adopted some Outside World store styles. Or did they invent them?
I run back and throw a print shirt over the curtain of Koishi’s dressing room, hearing a “Kya!” Let’s get more—
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More... Hm... What else...?
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I throw the curtain open, facing a pale and tentacled girl in a monochrome shirt emblazoned with the Eye of Providence. No pants, just flower-print panties.
“Hah...! M-Miss Goddessss!” She’s whining, covering up. I’m forming a theory but—
I evaluate. Hand to chin, looking the embarrassed child up and down. “This, and this,” I say, holding up a long skirt and scarf. She grabs them, a blush spreading way over her face. She starts putting them on.
Her kinda waifish look almost makes her look sexy like this! “How’s that!?” I ask, excited.
“I-It’s embarrassing,” she moans. I grab her by the shoulders and turn her to the room’s mirror.
“Check it out: a hot satori. A black scarf, tight skirt, a goofy tee—you look like a modern century girl!”
“No girl dresses like this!”
“What the heck do you know? Try this next!”
Gloves – Earrings – Spring coat.
I frame her with my fingers. “Ahhh! I wish I could take a picture!”
“Is this what you’re like!? Ahh, jeez!”
“You gotta look at yourself in the mirror!”
I force her to turn around again. The light coat has long sleeves. She likes those, right? She looks at herself and shrinks, her shoulders going up. I squeeze just a little on her shoulders and speak softly behind her. “Take a look, this is what you can look like without your sister controlling your wardrobe...!”
“I like what my sister picks...!”
“Huh...!” Like, she says!? “Oh yeah...?
What else do you like?”
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“Let’s go there next!”
I have a bashful Koishi under my arm, aiming at an accessory-only store. I thought she’d look good with a bag, but that place just wasn’t jiving totes with her style you know? What’s her style, you ask? Happy you did! Yeah!!
The new age Koishi is a girl who has embraced that she’s an odd one, and that she’s a proper little sis, but this Koishi knows that time didn’t stop in the 1700s. I’ve got her in the high-waist lime-green skirt with the funky fried shrimp design. I’ve got her in the long and puffy-sleeve safety-lookin’ jacket, red heart pockets of course. I liked that Eye of Providence top, got her in that too. The hat stays on.
What a cutie!
I carry her along to the accessory shop and realize my fire’s going. She follows me meekly, having lost a lot of that childish charm and replacing it with self-consciousness. It is fucking adorable. She keeps slouching and trying to hide herself using me or using things around. I love it, but I also just plain can’t have that. I throw the noren for the shop open and go straight for the fur scarves. Toss a long one around me, turn to face her, and throw a pose while the ends are still swinging. Arms up! Fingers flared! One knee bent and raised...!
“Praise me: a god!” I say with strength.
“That’s embarrassing!” she shouts.
I swipe something and say, “My girl, my girl, listen here...” swaying over and leaning on her shoulder, my other hand aloft, “it’s... fun!”
I throw a scarf around her neck and move backward, pulling her toward me as I start to float. She yelps, and then starts giggling. “Atta girl!” I cheer.
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I put on a pair of star sunglasses over my regular circle ones.
I look at Koishi. She’s wearing a pair of heart-shaped shades.
Stone-faced, we nod at each other once. No words needed.
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“I like ruby on you. What do you think?”
“I... I mean I love anything that sparkles.”
“Would you like copper? Plain ass silver? Hey now.”
“You know what I mean!”
I have Koishi’s hand carefully in mine, and I’m knelt in front of her while she sits on a little cushioned chair without a back. I have a catalogue from the storeowner and we’re in front of the rings.
“Real fuckin’ pretty!” I say. And It is! I show her in the catalogue: an almost transparent, rose-red stone. It’s gorgeous. The facets almost look black and—black plus pink? That’s delectable, I say.
“It’s expensive...” she says with a sympathetic smile. I take my hand from hers, raise it, and snap my fingers.
“Hey clerk, this one,” I say to the spider behind the counter. I put my finger to the same ring I showed Koishi.
“J-Joon...!” she complains.
“What’s her ring size?” he asks.
I take her hand up in both of mine now, having put down the catalogue. Her body warms up as I feel along her ring finger, looking closely.
Give him the number.
Pay for it.
Start putting it on her: a gold-band beauty with a simple, but not exactly small peach-hue gemstone set on it, shaped like a teardrop.
“Hwah... ah...” she mumbles as I slide it past her joint. I smirk at her.
“Nothing wrong with wanting to shine,” I tell her.
She totally melts.
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Still in the accessory store. This place is the tits.
I finally spot, like, exactly what I wanted, and throw it onto Koishi without warning. It swings down to her side. “Well!?” I demand.
She fondles the hot pink heart bag I’ve offered her and says, softly, “... It’s so cute...! Ha...!”
“Then it’s yours!” I declare, turning and chirping with joy. This is really a blast. I used to do this with Shion before I got fed up with her ruining everything I got. Ha... Ha ha... Uh...
I point at myself, throwing a glance to Koishi over my shoulder and talking with a kinda wicked smile. I say to her, “Koishi,” I say, “should I get you to pay me back for all this stuff? I’m, like, totally splurging on you!”
I start snickering. I need to. I don’t wanna feel down right now, thanks. Before I’ve taken a second step forward, I feel something slap onto my head. Koishi is beside me, looking determined. “You’re getting something, too...” she tells me seriously. She put something on me!?
I catch myself in a mirror as we go to pay.
... A tiny top hat!
I mean it’s not that tiny, but...
It’s... SO... ME!!
Look at this thing! I just need drills and it’s perfect! This thing is ridiculous! It’s so obnoxious, I love it! Ahh, that white bow on the band...! Did she give this hat as a joke? Did she suspect? I mean either way it’s perfect. I start holding its brim in the mirror close to the cashier, turning my head, pulling up my sunglasses, smirking. Ohh... Ohhh...!
I hug Koishi, who’s paying (guess Big Sis gives her an allowance), suddenly. She flinches then smiles at me a little awkwardly. I squeeze her tight and plant a kiss on her cheek.
“What’s this closed-eye satori doing, reading my mind!? Ahahaha!!”
She huffs a laugh through her nose. I guess I’ve got her in my pace.
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To prove it, I take her to dance at an oni’s club.
I take her to sing at a karaoke bar.
I take her to get shaved ice.
My hair done, shooting the shit with her.
The night hits at some point, the lanterns getting brighter, music pounding this way and that, hawkers everywhere, us two strolling down arm in arm, Koishi looking at everything and taking it all in like it’s the first time.
Y’know, I figured it out.
It wasn’t “Hope”, it could’ve been anything.
An emotion this girl remember her other ones. She’s not back to what must’ve been her normal, but... I think she got really close on this trip. Close to whatever kinda personality drove her to self-mutilation out of despair.
If it was like that... I’m happy to give her hope to pull her out of it.
... Nothing wrong with doing it. That’s it. That’s all I’m saying.
Wanted to do two updates but don't have it in me. Will just have to settle for being on schedule rather than ahead! This'd flow better with another update ready... You'll just hafta wait, I guess!
Koishi is on her knees behind me. I’m sitting at one of the underground parks overlooking the city. Not that far away. I’m a little tuckered out. She’s fixing the ribbons I bought to my now (fantastic) drill-shaped hair (they’re long and a little loose, coming from the back of my head, fancily done—my hair looks great now), and she seems tired too. At least I’ve got faith to restore me; she could just collapse. A little too much fun, eh?
“... Aaand, done! This really does look cute!”
“But you shouldn’t walk around in just your panties anymore...”
“It’s not a choice!” I tell her. Then, I think, well, it kind of was? I sigh short. “... Alright, let’s get that dress I want.”
“There you go!” she chirps, shaking me slowly by my shoulders. Bleh. I would’ve eventually.
“Before that,” I say, turning to look at Koishi, “wouldja—”
I cut myself off. She looks at me a little confused, but still happy.
I’ve got to stop getting close to people. It’s messing with my business. See, uh... my plan was to basically give Koishi hope in exchange for faith. Properly, you know? It’d take a lot out of me to supply her as much as she needs to retain a kind of consciousness. But, y’know, that feels...
... It doesn’t feel right.
It’s not even like I’d be exploiting her if I asked, it’s just...
... This relationship started for something practical, but we clicked and it’s grown fast, and way outside of that premise. If I went back, it’s like... “yeah, yeah, glad you’re happy, now fork over the faith”. I, Yorigami Joon, am a shitty person.
But if I’ve got a friend, I don’t want to hurt them. Okay?
I think that’s fair.
“Never mind,” I finally tell her, standing up. I hold my hand open behind me, and she eventually takes it. When she does, I feel for her ring and start imbuing it with hope, so that even if I’m not here or I’m not in her prayers, she can stay a little visible. “Let’s just get going,” I tell her, and I pull her ahead. I’m not going to rescue Komeiji Koishi from her closed mind... she’s gotta do something about that on her own, but—yeah; I don’t mind giving her a push.
I knock on the door. It’s a heavy one, resonates loud. Last time I saw her I looked a lot different... Should be fine, though.
“Oh!” Koishi voices behind me. I look to see her pointing her sleeve above us. An unhappy little pair of eyes (only two of them—misleading name) stares at us from the bottom of a window. Miss Yamame. Uh oh... What time is it?
She blinks, not saying anything.
“Is it a bad time, Miss Yamame?” I ask her.
“It’s two A.M.” she answers, so quietly I almost miss it.
“Is that a yes?”
She squints at me. “... Who are you,” she says, not even asking it.
“I’m Joon, the god you helped out a little while back. This is Koishi, Satori’s little sister,” I show her, putting my hand on my fellow younger sister’s upper arm and moving her to my side. She looks nervous under the spider’s gaze, but I’m here.
“... That god...” Yamame closes her eyes rather slowly, only opening them after a few long seconds and at an even more tired crawl. “... You’re still liking those shoes?” she asks.
“They’re amazing!” I shout.
“You’ve gotten a lot of other things though... are you sure you’re still looking for your sister?” She referring to my bling and drills et al.?
“Miss Yamame, I gotta be straight with you,” I say, holding up my palm, “what my sister is caught up in is pretty big and pretty dangerous down here. There are a lotta steps I’ve gotta take to even get close to wherever she is, and even then she could be far away...” I close my hand, and keep talking, ”... Before I came to the underground I was a menace. I still try to be one, because menacing is what I know, and it’s what I gotta use to get Shion back. ‘Work with what you know.’ I wouldn’t expect you to try solving problems by playing music, Miss Yamame. You build things, make things. I wreck shit and step over the ruins.”
The two youkai look at me, their eyebrows up, and they’re speechless. Here’s the thing about being a good manipulator: knowing the value of honesty and trust. If you only spread lies and pretty words: unless your goal is short-distance, everything’s gonna fuckin’ fall apart some way down the line.
But if you blend lies with truth—
If you get people to really believe you: with facts, with frankness, and with a little bit of open heart—
Your social standing can’t and won’t ever fall... well, probably.
Deploy everything at the right moment. If I told Yamame some bullshit here, while I’m all decked out like this, that’s what would’ve collapsed any bond she had with me. Because I’ve been straight with her—
“... I guess you are a god of pestilence...”
—she’s not even gonna think twice.
“I need to look the part of the person with the kinda power down here I hope to have,” I tell her, hiding the truth that I also just fucking want a whooooole lotta expensive shit, “so soon as I want to bust the doors down to the motherfuckers that kidnapped my sister, I can breeze right up to place, and be the figure they don’t want to mess with when I do. Not some ragamuffin, fallen god: the god who planted her foot down and made her mark in the violent Land of the Oni. The god with the gold fire and fist.”
And Yamame stands in a start as I let my power loose, shining energy floating at my back. Her eyes glitter and her mouth hangs open just a little. She whispers, “Wh-Whoa... that’s my first time seeing it...” I just look smug.
“Now that being said,” I continue, bringing my hand down to my side, “I could use your help with a step.”
“Like this!” I pull the pen away from the paper, the drafting table rattling from my overdramatic motion. On a big sheet of paper is my ideal dress design with notations: a ruffled and high collar, white number with a kinda short, flared skirt. The waist is kept tight with a black belt, and a nice red ribbon, tied in a thin bow, will be a little above the hem. Short sleeves! No sleeves? Any way, it looks nice! I think it’ll show off my legs well, especially if—oh!
Yamame watches over my shoulder as I press close to the table again, sketching beside the dress with my tongue out in concentration. We’re in her clothing workspace, in the lower level of her house. It’s candlelit, still pretty dark, but at least it’s well ventilated. Bundles of material are stacked at the wall and in a small-squares shelf. Yamame has a wheel for spinning some of it, a case of tools for all sorts of clothes-making, and some books too. As for me, yeah... leather boots. Tall, lace-up, and a little belt clasp on ‘em. Gold buttons! That’s it. I pull away again, fiddling with the two thin bangles on my left wrist—I ever mention the specifics of those things? It’s like that, and my right bangle’s pretty hefty.
Koishi comes over by my right shoulder and peeks at my designs while I’m putting the pen (a fountain pen) down. She looks happy with them. I’m happy with them.
“Yeah, I can do this,” says Miss Yamame, thinking it over. “I can do it now, if you want.”
“Please,” I request with a nod, smiling wide. I follow with, “And I’m sorry about this. My new girl kept bothering me about it, and we lost track of what time it was.” I throw a pointed thumb gesture at her.
Eh...? “What’re you blushing for?” I push down on her hat. “We’re buddies now, right!?”
“R-Right, just, you know... ‘girl’—nothing! N-Never mind!” she mumbles and stammers from under my hand. I only see her mouth, floundering to form words. Hehh...
“I need to measure you,” Yamame says, “take off that rag you got out of the garbage.”
“‘Kay,” I answer, taking my hand off Koishi’s head and looking at Yamame over my shoulder. “Wait a sec ‘kay, Koishi? You can sit down or something, might take a little while if Miss Yamame knows what she’s doing.”
“I do know buildings better than bust, waist, hip...” she mutters in reply, hands on the canvas and absorbed in my sketch (plus her own thoughts, I guess). Koishi goes to sit on the bench in front of what looks like a really old sewing machine, and I pull off this godforsaken hoodie over my head... Uhh... should I keep it? Uhmm...
“You can take a bath after, here, if you want,” says Yamame, taking the top from my dubious grasp. “I know the golden flame cleans you, but why do I get the feeling you haven’t bathed in a month?”
I shrug. “Dunno, ‘cause it’s been two.” Yamame is annoyed with this answer. “I’ve been training to fight almost nonstop for a while and totally forgot about it.”
“Like a celestial...” my benefactor complains (by the way, I will be paying her when the stuff’s done, just with a discount), smelling my sweater and frowning. “... But it does smell fantastic.” I nod twice, stretching my arms up over my head. Then, I notice staring.
I spot Koishi looking at me with a very slight frown, her face still red, and she’s only showing me one of her eyes. I adjust my bra strap, slipping my thumb under the top of the left one and shifting my left boob just a bit. Her mouth squirms as the one eye I can see shoots its glance to the side.
 Tease her.
 Keep up a flow of conversation.
Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2018/11/21(Wed)12:00
“Mmm, by the way, Miss Yamame?” I extend my right arm to the left, and my left arm to the right.
“What?” she says, putting down my sunglasses.
“I should probably confess something to you,” I tell her, tugging at my bra straps again. I hear a quiet gasp behind me.
“What’s that?” asks the spider, now finding and removing the money from my pockets.
I bend down to touch my toes. “I’m more like you than I let on before.”
“Ohh?” she hums, now putting the things I gave her aside. I look past my left leg and see Koishi’s face. Her expression like she doesn’t know what to do with this, all worried and embarrassed. Her eyes fixed on my hips—
I stand up straight, still glancing at her with a smug face on. She hides hers quickly. I turn my eyes on Yamame. “I borrowed the truth of my sister’s power to get more of your sympathy... I don’t actually spread misfortune without wanting to.”
“You also don’t seem pure and innocent,” Yamame says, lowering her eyelids and frowning at me while she hugs a large roll of some sort of white cloth. “But...” she says, sighs, and closes her eyes completely, “I guess I can understand why you were desperate. So long as you acknowledged your mistakes, I don’t think I’ll have to deliver a sickness targeted at divinity to you.”
I chuckle, and spread my arms happily. “Heh! Thank you, Miss Yamame!” I hop backward then and sit my butt down next to Koishi without warning, kicking my legs out and slouching. She flinches and puts her shoulder up on reflex. I lean just a little bit toward her, my arm aaaalmost touching hers, and she seems to shrink. “Hey, Koishi, let’s take a bath together,” I suggest, gracefully, carefully taking each of my rings off. “It’s late, but better then than never, right?” I show her a catty look.
Seems like Komeiji Koishi is into me. I actually wonder why... I mean, I’m cute, but I wouldn’t say I’m well... traditionally “attractive”. I don’t try to be! Actually, Sis is kinda gorgeous, but she doesn’t wear anything nice and she’s too thin... Can’t help it either way. Me, though, I just want to show off, and I’m kinda short and kiddy. I don’t get to flaunt myself in a sexual way much unless it’s to scam specific sorts of guys and girls, and the younger Komeiji doesn’t strike me as that sort.
So she just likes me...
She looks at my hands while I remove my jewelry, smiling really nicely, gently. She seems to have missed my question, because she suddenly blinks, looks away, and goes, “O-Oh, okay, let’s do that!”
Then she realizes what that means and her face goes pale.
I wonder if this is actually, like... helping?
I straighten up and start taking off my earrings, watching her while I do. She’s slumped down, and if I had to guess she’s probably frowning again. I-Is it weird that I feel a little bad? Here I am, just casually reawakening her consciousness, and what I do with it is mess around with her fledgling feelings? Ahh, but—!
But she’s cuuuute. She’s so... so shy! I’m, like, totally torn here! She was all bubbly and spontaneous before when we met and when I watched her during the religious wars, but I guess... Ahh, I don’t know! What the heck am I doing? What am I gunning for??
With my necklace off next, I put my hand down on top of the back of hers beside me, and lean down to look at her face. “Let’s go?” I suggest pretty nicely, and she nods.
Thank goodness Miss Yamame had something like a shower cap; I didn’t want to mess this hair up that fast.
“Phew...” I sit down in the first bath I’ve come across in months, shoulder-to-shoulder with Koishi ‘cause it’s real small in here.
We cleaned ourselves back-to-back, not ‘cause I’m embarrassed, but ‘cause Koishi obviously is. When I took my bra off in Yamame’s laundry room she couldn’t decide whether to ogle or be polite. I couldn’t get a look at her well, either, since she covered herself. Not much to look at, probably, but I still wanted to see it...
She got into the bath before I could get my panties off. I watched her butt as she went, and it seems her third eye noticed cause she put her hand over it, palm my way, just before the door closed. I put my pair into one of the nice spider’s baskets and followed after her, pulling open the frosted glass thing and stepping onto a spider web patterns of stones.
And now here we are. Yamame’s bath itself is square and made of hardwood, smooth on the inside and decently deep. Warm, and it smells nice. Her stools and buckets are fashioned from wood too. I wonder how the heating works... Hot spring? Fire? That nuclear power in the depths?
“Hm! Hahhh...” I bend my toes and wiggle them, looking through the rippling water toward Koishi’s feet. I then turn my eyes to her face, which is facing a little down.
And I touch the purple parts of her.
“Hyah!?” she gasps, splashing the water up. I feel along the cord coming from her body, and maybe I’m just imagining it, but I feel like the water’s thumping with her heartbeat. This part of her is really smooth, it almost feels plastic, but pressing it lightly I get the impression that it’s definitely a kind of skin. Maybe leathery? I pull at it very, very lightly, and see where it goes taut. I look down and spot it running into her side, the color fading out to blend with the rest of her skin.
“So that’s how it works...” I mutter.
There’s a lot of this tentacle stuff too. Some of it’s wrapped around itself almost like a noose. While I’m caressing it a bit out of curiosity, rubbing it a little slowly up and down, it suddenly undulates, and Koishi pulls it away from me. Like, it moves on its own away from my hand. She puts on a sad face, not looking at me at all, her shoulders up again.
I poke her ribs underwater (her ribs that I can see), lifting my finger away when she twitches and moans a bit.
“What’re you all embarrassed about?”
“M-My eye... it’s...” she hesitates to talk, “you think it’s ugly, most people do. A lot of youkai have... cute ways to show off what, um... doesn’t make them human, but we can’t...”
“I guess it’s pretty weird,” I tell her, putting a finger on a tentacle again. It bends away at my prodding, and her posture gets worse. “But, I dunno, I could learn to like how it looks,” I say with a half-smile, putting my hand down on her wet hair. She turns and looks at me, shaking her head.
“No, no one ever could,” she says, “I remember that—that, it wasn’t... it wasn’t only that I could see people’s thoughts, or that when I heard them, I had an urge to repeat them out loud... it was that even compared to oni, we look more like monsters...”
“And on top of that, I look pretty creepy and scrawny... So... pale, ha ha...” she talks hollow, bringing her knees up and putting her chin on her legs. The action makes my hand fall down her back, and my fingertips grace the hills of her spine.
I swallow, and take my hand away.
“Koishi,” I tell her, “this is how you used to always think?”
“I still... think... like that, when I do,” she reveals. I frown, and put my hand on her shoulder.
“Hey,” I speak up, “that’s ridiculous. You’re not, like, hideous or something.”
“I’m sure Big Sis saw it too when you met her, your ego,” she points at me, and I wince, putting up an eyebrow. “You don’t think much of youkai, Miss Joon. You look down on them like any god does, but like any other person you look on satori the worst. I felt it when you came upstairs in the palace. You really got put off by me.”
“I want to say it’s fine but it’s not... and never was. I just was me, and I didn’t choose anything about my body, or my abilities, or what I felt like doing. I was just alive, and everyone hated me for it. They all hated... hate my big sister, too. On top of that, it just sucked making everyone miserable just by being around... I couldn’t take it anymore.”
I don’t know what to say.
“But, all in all you feel nice things about me...” she tells me, her lips turning up, her cheek on her knee. “I make you feel happy somewhere deep inside, and that makes me feel better. You’re cool, Miss Joon.”
“Hey, drop it with the ‘Miss’.” I take my hand off her shoulder.
She frowns up her face, uncomfortable.
“And drop it with that crap outlook!” I shove my palm at her, placing it over her heart. She backs to the other side of the tub, putting her arms out like she’s a victim to me, her thighs closing, her breathing getting faster and her eyebrows sloping like a V that got flipped. I’m... really angry. I’ll show her that.
“Don’t accept the world as it is, make it what you want it to be!” I growl at her, putting myself more over her defenseless body. “You’re right, you know!? You’re you! That’s not what ever needed changing!” I look at her breast in my hand, feeling how heavy the beat of her heart is. I glare at her pale chest, and grasp a little harder. “... Are you alive?” I ask her.
“Then live like it!” I snap. “Stop that apathetic, depressing, bullshit, Komeiji Koishi!”
She looks like she’s going to cry.
“I don’t know how hard it was for you, but I’m someone hated, too... I live to be hated! I OWN that!” I tell her, and I notice my hair is falling down over my shoulders, so my cap must’ve been knocked off. “I’ve lived despised and never... I ain’t NEVER regretted it! I’m Yorigami Joon, and there’s no compromise on who Yorigami Joon is! Badass, bold, beautiful, and one un-fucking-forgivable bastard!
“But you—!” I put my other hand on her stomach, gritting my teeth, “I don’t want to hear that someone kind, someone who’d hurt herself for the sake of others, someone who can laugh because she’s happy and not because she’s made another person fall... I don’t want to hear that that sort of person can’t stand herself!”
I bring up my left hand and grab her right ear, pulling it out. She looks at me with an almost ruined, aching expression.
“Komeiji Koishi is a good person.
Komeiji Koishi wants the best outta people.
Komeiji Koishi has a caring heart.
She’s... a satori.”
I look at her with determination in my eyes.
“I... swear,” I start, “none of these things will change. This heart of yours that I got beating again, I’ll keep it going. If you need hope, I’ll give it to you. I’ll make you open your eyes again, and when you do I’ll make sure that I’ve built you up so you can stand what you see.”
I struggle to keep her eyes with mine. I want to look away from her because I’m not used to this. I don’t get it.
I’m still who I am, right? I’m still the worst, most disastrous sister around, right? But ever since I met Yuugi... no, way before that—ever since... I heard that rumor while I was above ground...
I told Koishi that I’d never change, but since then I have.
It’s terrifying but... that’s just ‘cause I’m not sure about any of it. I don’t know if any of this will go right, and I still think this is only one little step on a stairway that’s reaching way up high. See I prey on the weak of heart, so I know the problem with this. Still, I’m changing.
And come to think of it, I guess I want to change her too, huh.
Rather, I just want to be... the ideal me. And I don’t want to see someone I like squander what would make them the ideal “them”.
“This is... an oni’s promise, Koishi,” I borrow some of Yuugi’s words, “I, god of pestilence, Yorigami Joon, will save you.”
I make a vow, the first one I’ve ever made in my life.
And I mean it.
“M-Miss... Joon...!” Koishi’s voice is shaking. She quivers, her eyes all shut. I finally move my hand from her breast and lace my fingers with hers instead, pulling our hands underwater. I bring my left hand to her side, and lift her upper body toward mine. “It’s scary...” she sobs. “Everything I remember... is too scary...”
“The world’s scary as hell, I’ll be honest,” I tell her, my hand getting secure on her hip. I look at her broken, crying face. “That’s why I’m going to make you brave.”
“J-Joon,” she whispers putting her other hand in a vague fist over my chest, “I’m sorry...”
“I can hear... how scared I made you too.”
“That’s not why I’m scared.”
“Joon... you really are cool,” she tells me.
I’m really not.
But I like that she believes that. My heart feels lighter, and I can tell it’s because she has faith in me.
Who I want to be, huh...?
... Koishi leans closer to my face, and kisses me on my cheek. It feels warm. It’s ticklish. It surprises me.
She holds my hand tighter and holds the kiss, breathing out on me.
Ennh. I might change this vote later, but Koishi is in a very vulnerable position here (which affects the gravity of both options, really). I really did like Jo'on encouraging her, and how she's now fully onboard the helping-Koishi train. But this take on Koishi just feels to me like a girl with her first crush, just starting to come out of her shell. Jo'on... really isn't that, and isn't on an equal footing with her, even if they understand each other pretty well.
But hey, maybe pursuing this could be good for both of them. What's already happened has been, it seems. I just think holding off for now might be better.
I turn my face to hers, and press to her cheek in return. It’s springy, soft. At first she bends into my kiss, but she suddenly pulls away a pair of seconds later with a shocked and flustered look on her face.
I lean toward her one more time, caressing her thumb with mine and kissing her cheek again. The hand she has to my chest, she brings it down and connects it with my other one, snaking her fingers into my grasp and clasping tightly. She lets me kiss her more, so I keep it up. She smells a lot like rosewater, like naturally, and it’s kind of intoxicating to me. After a while I realize I can feel something stiff just below my breasts. I suck at her face for a second and she squirms, arching her back and causing me to feel that stiffness pushed into me even more. I draw away a little and look down at her chest. Ahh, yep... I got her turned on. Now that’s confirmed, I look into her face and see she’s got her eyes closed again, her brow twitching with apprehension, her mouth in a tight kind of frown.
I peck her cheek again and blink my eyelashes against her, making her look at me with her eyes half-lid. I lock mine with hers and tell her, “First: don’t hide away from me.” She says nothing, but doesn’t close her eyes either. I wordlessly take my right hand out of her left and bring it to her aroused, small breast.
Wha... S... Supple...
Didn’t... notice how much, before...
“Hy... Nm...” she makes noises like that, and I feel my face flush with heat.
I squeeze her lightly while looking down at her, and she pants. I meet her eyes again, feeling nice whenever her hot breath falls onto me.
“Hey, did I hurt you before?” I ask.
“A... A little...” she admits, still looking worried.
I drop my eyelids halfway and bend toward her chest. “Sorry,” I tell her, rubbing her very slowly, “here, I’m gonna return the favor you did for me... ‘Pain, pain, go away’...” I kiss that jutting nipple of hers, and she cries out, gripping my left hand more, putting hers on my shoulder.
“M-Miss Joon, I-I...!” she moans, her body twitching every time I put my lips against her, and believe me I’m going back in on that a lot.
I pull back for a moment and remind her, “You don’t need the ‘Miss’,” and I notice that I can’t take my eyes off this pink, glistening shape here. I want to suck it, but don’t want to scare her. It’s... It’s taking way more willpower than I woulda thought. I decide to suffice with more of her body as a distraction, showering her with affection all over and making her convulse and scratch me without thinking. I kiss at her sternum, I kiss her neck, I flick her nipple lightly, accidentally (hence the clawing), while reaching for her back, pull her toward me and start hungrily kissing at her torso, her ribs, her stomach, her armpit, her breasts.
“Haa...! ... H-Haah...!” I can’t hold my breathing back. I stop, feeling like my lust is going to explode with her lithe shape right here in front of me like this. How thin she is, and the slopes of her form... I want to lick her up and down. I want to get inside of her.
Before I can break, Koishi starts to hug me, and I feel the cords of her third eye draping over and wrapping my body. This girl... She’s sweet as hell. “Koishi...” I talk to her, “is it alr... Can I... Can I do more...?” I pull my head back, letting it hang. I chuckle and tell her, “Don’t say ‘yes’.”
She puts her hand under my chin, lifting my head. With her eyes shut from some sort of fear, she brings her lips to mine. Again, s-suddenly forward!
Those lips stay shut, though, which is so charming and innocent. When she pulls away, still looking nervous about all of this, I reach up and thumb her face, my shoulders raising. She closes the eye for that cheek, and I put my hand on her left ear, feeling it: how small and hot it is.
She stares at me in some real obvious yearning.
“Open your mouth up...” I tell her. She does, closing her eyes again. Ahh, Koishi... what’d I say?
I look at her red and moist tongue, and I look down her throat, feeling like someone (me) is tugging my neck on a leash. I relax my shoulders, close my eyes and mirror her, and finally our tongues entwine together. She shudders and pants her breath into me, and that sets me off. It’s like mine is training hers: pushing and caressing it; playing with it; letting her move back against me, teasing her. Every touch sends a ripple of almost electrifying pleasure down through me, and my heart feels brighter and brighter, like something in me is fluttering and free. I move in closer, and I close my mouth over hers. She relaxes into me and I drink her, gulping her saliva. There’s no taste... but I can’t get enough. I want to keep here, licking inside her mouth. Koishi opens her eyes, same time as me, and then she starts getting into it, drinking me back, testing me with her tongue’s motions. Slippery, warm, probing... f-fuck...
I open my mouth again and kiss her upper lip, sucking at it too. Soon we’re going at it in earnest, and she’s moving her head with feeling trying really hard to pleasure me with only her mouth. It’s... It’s the best. I could stay like this for an hour, sitting here and letting Koishi deep kiss me however she likes, diving back into her however I like, getting hotter all the time. I get anxious, still wanting to go for more, but I start feeling at ease when she rests her hands on my shoulders and cords down my back. I put my fingers on the sides of her stomach, rubbing slowly up and down to see how small it is and getting more turned on. After stroking her and making out with her for a long while, I realize that she’s spread her legs on top of my left thigh, and she’s sliding... Oooh my god.
I lift my hands to cup and massage her breasts while she enjoys herself on me. She’s slow, but moving naturally, and since her crotch has gotten sticky (enough that I can feel it even with all the water) it’s like she’s kissing me down there too—just coating me in herself, pushing into me passionately, but awkwardly. She’s seriously tugging at my heart, making my stomach ache in the best way. Eventually while I’m still tasting her lips and tongue and teeth, her moaning gets stronger, and she moves a little faster... only a little; still gentle.
I bring my hands to her waist and I move my face back, her spit dripping down between us. I watch her as she grinds into me, not really understanding what she’s doing, the bathwater churning rhythmically in her action. She must be feeling incredibly good... I get a little watery eyed watching her, holding her eager body in my hands as she thrusts at a measured pace, and almost lurching with her every time my thumbs move back with the push of her hips. Koishi... fuck. Maybe I’m losing it, but I’m getting so wet myself I think I can even see it in the water. It’s all making me want to put a finger inside myself, because god damn is this erotic. But I just watch and wait, wait for her to climax while using me.
“Ah...! Ah...! H-Hah... Mmah...!” her voice is high and loud, and she’s shutting her eyes reflexively. She looks up at me and I see they’re shining. Meanwhile her clit digs into me like a pebble, and that makes my heart thump so much I think this can’t be healthy. After a few seconds, she starts flinching and flinching, whining pitifully as her legs close desperately over me. My own leg feels hot from her body, that heat spreading out on my skin, and I feel like I’m gonna cum just from that. L-Like, holy shit... wh-what an experience.
I gulp, and put my hand on her ass, grabbing and pulling it up just a little. This softness... this pliability...! Like m-mochi... She groans and writhes as I pinch her between my thumb and forefinger... Ah...!
Ahh—J-Just... Just this much...! This’s far as I’ll go right now, uh... Oh god... this is adorable...
She slumps down on me, her arms put over my shoulders sloppily and her mouth open as she breathes that enticing warm breath on me again and again. Her legs spasm and she squeezes them over, sticky, me one more time. J-Jeeesus. Uh—
I hold out my tongue and she closes her eyes, extending hers as well. We tongue and kiss again, her kissing a lot lazier, like sleepy or something. Just this, j-just this...
I REALLY WANNA PUT SOMETHING IN!
I DIDN’T EVEN GET TO EAT HER OUT, SHIIIIIT!
Koishi falls asleep with me still in her mouth. I take my tongue out, gulp, and embrace her. “... Night,” I whisper.
... Whyyyy does “blue balls” not only apply to guys? Fuuuucking god damn it, she’s such a turn on, too! FUCK, Koishi!
Alright. I take her more into my arms and start to lift her out the bath in a cradle. My eyes move to her hairless, tender-seeming lower lips, a pool of water draining between them. I swallow again, my ankles not moving from the water.
... Y... Yeah, uh... I-I’m gonna masturbate. I’ll put her down, make sure she’s okay, and I’m gonna go hard on myself. My little sister needs a hand.
I basically spent like... fifteen minutes? Pumping in and out of myself, pinching my nipples; the works. I even made a mess... that never happened before. I, uh, hope the bathroom just smells like a bathroom after that.
I kept Koishi in the changing room after drying her off and then cleaned myself a second time after going to town. Now I’m in a bathrobe and heading down a hall with Koishi in my arms again, though she’s wearing a robe now too... snoring and making me want to kiss her. I make my way to Yamame’s tailoring room and speak up with a, “We’re done!” to apprise her of our presence.
“Welcome back, I hope you enjoyed that,” I hear Yamame’s voice and enter the room through a wooden door. Come to think of it... weren’t the doors here clay before? She... upgraded(?), I guess.
The spider lifts her head from her work (eyeballing cloth, looks like) and sees that Koishi is out. She asks, “What happened to her?” with a concerned and confused look on her face.
Oh. “O-Oh, right, she... uh... she got a little too hot,” I say awkwardly. It’s not often I can’t lie right.
“She got hot, or you got hot with her?” Yamame asks, and my blush is immediate. “Did you think I didn’t notice what you were up to? Old Yamame knows enough people to follow that much—she’s a popular girl. I’m surprised you went all the way with the younger satori, though.”
“W-Well...” I stammer, “I... uh, look... I’m...” I look at the youkai in front of me fiercely, and she raises her eyebrows, “I’m serious about her!” I declare.
“Wow...” she comments, going back to her work, “that’s nice.”
This bitch...! ... No, no, I keep bringing this stuff on myself.
I sigh, exasperated. “I’m being really imposing,” I say, “but can we impose on you a little further? Do you have a guest room, Miss Yamame?”
“Yeah, second floor, go on,” she shoos me away.
“You don’t have to work so hard on that, Miss Yamame...” I grumble.
She smiles, not looking at me. “Work is what I live for,” she says. Hmph, alright.
I turn away and start to tell her, “Well, in that case...” I throw these words over my shoulder: “buckles, not buttons, for the boots.”
“Tch,” she glowers, and looks up at me, “you’re really impertinent... a god will ever be a god.”
“Nah,” I say, giving her a half-smile in turn and lifting Koishi a little higher, “Joon’ll be Joon.”
I end up walking down a different hallway, upstairs, looking for this guest room. I find Yamame’s bedroom, what looks like a toilet... oh, here, this looks like the place.
A simple empty room with some nice vases and portraits for decoration. There’s a shelf on one wall full of bedding and pillows. Good. I push the door open with my foot and walk in. It’s dark, so I watch my step. Just a tatami floor though.
I lower Koishi to the floor and say a quiet, “Sorry” when I do, hoping this doesn’t wake her. I walk over to an oil lamp on a nightstand and flick it on. My flames would be too bright. From there, I take blankets and pillows... and I choose to take one, kinda big futon. I... want to sleep next to her.
I put everything down and go back to Koishi, careful not to scratch her third eye’s extensions or anything when I do. I look at her sleeping face once I have her in my arms again, I close my eyes, and kiss her on the cheek.
“Mm... Miss Joon...” she mumbles. I smirk. I hope my dream self reminded her to lose the honorific.
I put her down on the bed rest her head on a pillow, leaving my arm under her as I tuck in next to her. I look up at the ceiling and realize I left the lamp on... but dude, I don’t wanna get up now.
I close my eyes.
Come to think of it, I haven’t had sex with all that many girls. Maybe four? And two of those were just business... manipulation. Never had something that felt totally real. I look at Koishi and she rolls toward me. I put my other arm over her and my nose in her hair. This flowery aroma is the sweetest thing. I feel my consciousness fading.
And I receive a prayer.
“Hm?” I grunt. Who is it? Isn’t it like 3 or 4 in the morning?
... I’m not gonna come running for you, Raccoon. I hope you’re not dead tomorrow.
Let me hug my new girlfriend and sleep. I’ve been fighting nonstop for weeks...
I part them inattentively, like if it’s a bug or something maybe it’ll screw off. The sheets jostle.
... After a few seconds the feeling comes back, and I dunno why but it’s something I recognize. I open my mouth and lazily put out my tongue, it slides along something definitely similar. Yeah, I know this. I love this.
I hug what I was clinging to when I woke up, goosebumps raising all over my body. I open my eyes just a bit... Yeah: Koishi. She’s kissing me freely, her eyebrows at rest, her eyelids shut. I hold her tighter. After a little while, after she’s let my water flow into her and swallowed it all like she’s parched, she pulls her tongue out of my mouth and blinks at me, a shy smile coming onto her face.
“G... Good morning... Joon...” she says. Ohhh...
I squeeze her close again. Koishi... that satori I just really met yesterday. I draw on my divine power, and fill her with hope.
After draining most of the hope I can give, I sit up, rubbing my upper right arm and looking at her in her sexy robe. Well, I guess we’re wearing the same, fluffy and white robes, but... she’s definitely making it look way more tantalizing with how much of her bare chest she’s left open. My girlfriend sits up next to me and I talk to her. I say, “Hey, um,” gripping my arm before I keep going, and slouching a little, “did I go too far last night?”
She shakes her head, looking peppy, happy.
“Okay, good,” I tell her. I’m relieved. I put my left hand to her cheek, and we both lean in for another exploring kiss. I only pull back after a minute of sucking at her, look at her blushing face, and then move in again. We do that four more times, until I calmly push her down. Her breasts are out now, and her third eye is squirming beside me. She props herself up on her elbows and we lock lips again.
She falls back down under me, breathing heavily, swallowing. Her arms are wide, elbows bent, hands down to the sheets with the fingers halfheartedly closing. I bend down and kiss her chest, dragging up my right hand over her breast deliberately before I reach under her left arm, opening the bathrobe more. I rest my head on her and breathe her fragrance, playing with her breast absentmindedly and noticing a kind of... a bit sharp, a sexual scent. “I should stop,” I say.
“Why?” she asks, putting a hand atop my head and pushing so I can look up.
“... I’m going to get a little wild if you let me,” I tell her. “This body’s too cute, all of it.” I reach and feel with my left hand until that special sensation her third eye’s cords have comes to my fingertips. I caress her and move until I detect the sphere of her eye, turn my head to see it, and move to kiss the top of it.
“J-Joon, you don’t have to...”
“Nah, I like how it wiggles,” I answer honestly, watching her odder parts try to escape my touch. She squirms below me and the smell of an aroused girl becomes more pronounced. “Well,” I say, looking at her stomach, “I should at least do this much.”
“Huh?” her voice’s all fluttery. Hm~ hmm~. I kiss her belly.
“I really want you...” I start, still kissing her, moving myself lower, “to feel loved, totally...”
“Hya...!” she gasps, when I’m at her pelvis. It feels like steam down here. I put a finger in the band of her bloomers (as bloomers were all Miss Yamame had) and lift, breathing and enjoying the thick scent that tells me I’m doing... very, very well. Sniffing to her protests, and smiling at how innocent they are.
I push up under her right thigh and open a button at her crotch with my left hand. I don’t hesitate really, though I guess I’m not fast either. I put my mouth to her lower one and she cries when I stick in my tongue, wriggling it around.
My name, no “Miss”. That’s what she calls.
Koishi’s uneven walls clamp down on me and I continue unabated. I pleasure her slowly while I enjoy her myself and she pushes my head into her on reflex. Kind of like the mouth of hers that talks, this one doesn’t have much of a taste (what’s there is a bit like sweat, I guess?), but I eat away as if it’s delicious. It’s contracting on my tongue quickly over and over and flowing like a faucet. I take my left hand and spread her a little, smelling her more strongly and feeling a bit heady. I lick her exposed self more roughly, grinding my tongue into her pink flesh, grabbing her thigh hard.
Now she’s really loud. I kiss her down here again and pick my head up, licking my lips and looking at her, hiding her face with drool running carelessly over her cheek. I smile and lift my left arm so I can press her to me. She looks dazed, her eyes almost faded. I open my mouth. She swallows, and opens hers, leaning toward me on her own. Aww, you’re so goddamn precious! I fill her mouth with mine, and subtly bring my right hand to her vagina.
She twitches and I try to reassure her with my arm’s security, shoving my tongue to her throat and feeling my own lips tighten when she coughs and shudders. I palm her vulva, sliding its own lubricant up until I reach her stiffened clit. I pull my tongue out her mouth and squeeeeeze her real gently. She bites down and curls up. See? Close call.
Koishi has another of her heart-pulling, soft-moaning, short-panting orgasms while in my embrace, and I pull my right arm from her thighs before it gets trapped by her squeezing. I lick some of her juices from my thumb with an expression of satisfaction. Yeah, that was arousing, but I’ve got business to take care of this morning—I’ve got the conviction to go cold turkey on my lust... especially with how much I sated it before bed last night.
“Did you feel good?” I ask her, still smiling. The clinging smell of sweat and sex is filling the room now. Ahhh, Koishi...
She blinks at me. Gulps again, and puts her arms around my shoulders, lifting up to kiss me deeply, despite how weak her body most feel right now (it’s definitely still twitching a whole bunch). Oh, fine... I’m happy you’re happy. I put my right hand down for support, lean backward so she can rest on me, and let her do what she likes with my inner cheeks, my tongue, and teeth.
When she stops, I giggle, beaming. “I’ll do that whenever you want!” I tell her joyfully.
She looks down a bit, and puts a hand on my chest. “... I want to, um, do something for you too...” she says.
“Hmm...” I consider it. I don’t want to shatter whatever ego she has if she ends up really screwing up, not really pleasuring me much at all and me not being able to hide it. Lesbian sex isn’t as, uh... straightforward as lock and key action, you know what I’m saying? “Tell you what,” I inform her, “think about how you want to make me feel good, and next time we’re in bed, let me know what you want to try.” I hold my (wet) right hand to her left one and put my nose to hers. “I’ll open up however for you.”
I move my face from her, and she smiles. Even though she’s still breathing heavily, she looks relaxed. Yeah. I’m happy. I don’t want to guide her too much, but given where she was when I started picking her up... this’s fine. More than fine—I’m not complaining.
Yamame made us breakfast, we got our clothes on, and I now have most of the outfit I want. The earth spider heard us in the morning, unsurprisingly, and she mostly teased Koishi about it which is good. Koishi needs shame, too, if she’s going to stay a complete person. Come to think of it, she’ll eventually need the same feelings that drove her into self-denial in the first place... that’s tough, but nothing I’ll give up on. I swore it, and I don’t swear easy. I’m going to save her. Little Joon’s savin’ ALL the sisters down here, yeah yeah!!
I leave Yamame’s place and don my new top hat, securing it with a hairclip inside of it. I turn to Koishi, who’s looking at me at me gladly as ever. “Well? How do I look?” I ask her, standing confidently.
“Silly!” she says. Tch.
“Yeah, yeah, like I said—what do you know?” I grumble, and she laughs. “Listen, alright,” I tell her, lifting a finger, “I know I look good.”
“Whatever you say, Joon,” she says, her eyebrows on different levels, her hands behind her back and one foot kicked up on its heel. Tch! She’s lucky she’s cute!
Gold on my knuckles, a white and smooth dress over my body, tall, stylish boots, more jewelry, and this hat my girlfriend bought me. I play with the sunglasses in my hair and toss my curls, the red ribbons tied to them flowing. All I need is... maybe one more necklace, and that overcoat I saw. Then I’ll feel like I’m on top.
... Oh, and a bag! A brand name from the Outside World, ideally...
“What were you planning to do today, Joon?” Koishi asks, bringing me out of my fantasies. I put my hands on my hips and look at her.
“I’ve got two options,” I tell her, “both important, both business. Dunno which I should take care of first...”
“One of those things is seeing my sister?” she asks.
I’d say that Raccoon is definitely priority. I can see Satori whenever I want, but young Raccoon in the city wanted me last night. Probably an emergency... or he’s just stupid enthusiastic about giving me news about fighters. That said, basically the only real reason I want to let him stew in hot water is ‘cause he made sleeping that much tougher for me last night. Praying at four in the morning... What a punk!
Also... whether or not to ask Koishi to tag along... If I go to Satori bringing her could be awkward since we’ll probably be talking about her openly. If I go to Raccoon, eh... dangerous, ain’t it? Though if I remember right, Koishi is pretty damn strong herself so maybe not. Could be some nice prompts for her thoughts and feelings there, too.
 Go see the Raccoon about his prayer. ----  With Koishi. ----  Without Koishi.
 Go see Satori about Koishi, for information regarding Shion. ----  With her sister. ----  Without her sister.
Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2018/11/24(Sat)12:00
Even though I’m well-rested and a little sexed out, it still never really clicks when “morning’s” supposed to be in the Underground. I honestly wonder how most people down here get used to it. 12 AM? The shadows of the caves are being fought away by the city’s electrics. 7 AM? Same thing. The afternoon, evening—3, 4, 6, 8, 11? It’s all just this choking darkness and artificial lights. Don’t get me wrong, I kinda can’t get enough of artificial lights, but the Sun is the sign you can rest, and even gods need that sometimes.
I have Koishi linking her arm with mine while we head to a part of the city with less power, like it’s where those youkai no one liked aren’t even liked down here. That’s just my perception, to be clear. It’s a decrepit, lost place. My girl clings closer to me as the architecture and infrastructure gets lazy, more old-school, like the former parts of this former hell. What I mean is, the rest of the Former Capital has been modernized—fanciful, convenient, updated, and since the place was cut off from the rest of the world for Dragon knows how long, this is all purely by oni invention and forward thinking. Hey, about the oni—
See, it’s easy to misconceive these guys and girls as plain old bruisers and drunks, but the oni are stupid cultured at the same time. Thing is they’re all about “freedom”, which means freedom from slavish tradition and old things just as much as freedom from “common society’s” restraints like politeness and tact. These guys make miracle inventions like it’s nothing—and that’s not just a word, y’know. One of their oldest tools, the Miracle Mallet (a fucking hammer that grants wishes), was even rediscovered last year after being casually lost centuries back. So, like, oni are... kinda perfect. You think about it and it’s like: smart as hell, strong as hell. Other beings can’t even compete. But, hey, they didn’t fix up everything down here when they moved in for good.
Signs and rules stand with flaking paint, posters on walls are faded, everything here’s warning sinners and encouraging enforcers to raise their staffs against rebellion in any shape, at any level. Old as shit shops stand with tourist goods, but they’ve mostly got unsettling selections like depictions of tortured souls, preserved body parts, statues to and busts of old Judges with their steady, uncompromising glares. Gives me the fucking creeps. Glad I asked Koishi to come here ‘cause she’s really calming me down with her hands on my arm. Otherwise I think this place’d make me want a smoke. It’s not too often I get that craving...
I’m here because Raccoon is probably here. I don’t know why he was here, don’t really care why, I just know he’s probably here now because this is where the prayer came from last night... well, early in the morning. If he wanted me to come by, he’d stay.
I step through a road with spider webs broken above us, or at least that’s what these nets look like. They’re black, lookin’ dirty. That soot...? Soot, I guess... The road is flagstone, lots of it broken up and revealing dirt and gray foundation underneath, lookin’ dusty. To our sides are homes just fallin’ apart... or I think they’re homes. Some youkai stare at us with their eyes glowing yellow through shade as we step past, making me realize that other than them this place is pretty much empty. I start to slouch after that. It’s a pain, but youkai can basically even make gods fearful if they’re “bad” enough. And that’s pretty much what everything in the Underground is all about. Koishi leans her head on my shoulder, her hat lifting up without her notice and some of her hair touching my neck. I get a little more relieved, move her hair a bit with my chin and bend down, turning to her for a kiss. I guess there’re benefits to having someone reading your unconscious thoughts.
Aight, we’re close now. I check cluttered alleys one by one as we go, ‘cause it was one of these, right...
... This one.
“Here,” I tell Koishi, and I stop walking.
“What exactly are you looking for?” she asks me.
“It’s ‘who’, actually.” I walk into the alleyway. There are bars of metal, broken ceramics, and bits of glass thrown all around it. I keep walking deep into the place, looking up at the walls surrounding us, the lanterns lining their rooves and giving off dull illumination.
“... Whoa, a legit dumpster,” I mutter, stopping to look at a huge metal container with a brown, hole-pocked sheet on top of it.
I lift my hand and rap on it with my knuckles.
... It opens up.
“Lady Yorigami!” says Raccoon, popping up from the filthy rag that was covering this thing. I grimace and take a step back. Koishi doesn’t care.
“Damn, what happened to you?” I ask. He reeks of poverty. I know exactly what happened.
Raccoon shivers all of a sudden, his back straightening up, his mouth in a strange line and his eyes wide.
“What?” I ask.
He lifts a finger, pointing while his tail sways in jerking, sudden movements. “That... who... Is that who I think it is?”
I look, pulling my shades down over my eyes when I do.
I take my right arm from her left one and put it lax around her shoulders, bringing her in. While still looking at her, putting my other hand on my hip, I say, “This’s Komeiji Koishi, my girlfriend.”
“Koishi!?” he exclaims. I look up at him over the top of my shades, one eyebrow up. “But... her eye’s still closed!”
“Let people know...” I say, looking at her face (she’s smiling like a cat, agh), “the goddess Yorigami Joon is making Komeiji Koishi remembered. Anyway, you—”
I look back at the tanuki and reach into the trash to grab his collar. I tug him out, and he looks like that was the last thing he was expecting. “What the fuck were you doing praying at me in the fucking dark hours of the morning?”
“The city is always dark,” he says with a nervous laugh. Admittedly, a smart mouth thing to say, and I can respect his big ol’ tanuki balls for it. I just keep my glare on him though. “Uh... I wanted to test if what you said was true, about coming running,” he admits.
I pull him from the trash and throw him against the back wall. Before he has time to recover my flames ignite, I lift my arm from Koishi’s shoulders, and I rush to him, lifting him by his collar again, shoving him into that wall. I shake him once, pounding him into the stone. “Listen here y’fuckin’ oversized, stank-fur, glorified rodent: I did mean what I said... but gods fuckin’ sleep too.” I drag him up higher, the golden fires at my back swaying vicious. “It’s not my style, but I think you gotta be punished.”
“Whoa, isn’t that a little dark?” my girl comments behind me.
“Nah, Koishi—” I say, still keeping my eyes locked on him through the amber color of my glasses, “this guy’s just a scumbag who wanted to use me to scam oni. He’s lower than even me.”
“You’re low?” she asks.
“The lowest. You just get to see my rare good sides all the time,” I smirk at her over my shoulder.
I reach into Raccoon’s coat’s left pocket and fish around in there. I check his pants too and find a wad of cash. I look it over. Decent, I guess. I toss it over to Koishi, who catches it and holds it up to the waning light. “Donation, punishment,” I say, flexing my fingers a little. “I won’t punch you, but let the record show that’s a god’s mercy, holding back some well-deserved divine wrath.”
He nods furiously up and down, looking depressed while I fish through his other pockets. I find another roll, and turn it over in front of my face. “... Leaves? Eh, that’s smart.” I give it back to him, and he sighs for a long time.
“Thank you... you took the last real money I had left,” he tells me.
“What happened to your money?”
He lost it betting.
I know because I put a part of myself into him that would get him spending over and over. It was basically to eventually put him on the ropes like this while he was looking things up for me. I wanted him to feel desperate, wanted to make sure I had him under my control both ‘cause of my fist, and ‘cause he really needed me. I don’t want to work with anyone like a tanuki on an even close to equals basis. They’re too fucking shady and tricky. I’m squashing any chance of deception even vaguely possible just before the gate.
“I, uh... lost it betting,” he says.
“You were supposed to be researching. Did you even do that?” I avoid bringing up that I possessed him, of course. Behind me, I can feel Koishi looking at me. I guess I never told her how I get by, but she knows I’m a god of pestilence at least, and she’s no idiot.
“I did! I did! But after a little while I thought, ‘why the hell not’?”
“And you went almost zero like that. Get run out a den for filling a pot with leaves, too? Really not shaping up ideal over here, uh... Tanushi...?”
“D... Doushi,” he says.
“Ah, right... my bad, Doushi. Anyway what did you learn? Ah—before that,” I cut myself off and pull him from the wall. Swiftly, gently, I set him back in the trash box. I grin. “This’s where raccoons belong.”
“Ta... Tanuki aren’t raccoons...” he says, putting his fingers over the edge of the dumpster, but not leaving it. I sputter with laughter, and he reaches into a back pocket to take out a piece of paper. “Here: a breakdown of circuits, fighters, zones, the works!”
I take it and open it up. Koishi steps over and looks at it too, asking me, “What’s that for?”
“I talked bad about him but in the end I wanted to work with Doushi to scam oni,” I say, stepping backward until I hit the wall I threw him into. Koishi nears me and looks like she wants to hug me/wrap me up, so I lift my arms and let her in. She embraces me, her third eye coiling over my stomach and legs as too. I drop my arms and read while she puts her cheek on my breast, “Hope that doesn’t sound too scummy, Koishi. That’s the girl you went head over heels for...”
“Hmmm... I get it though,” she mumbles at my chest. “That’s what pestilence gods do, like how satori bother people. At least you’re cool with it,” she says. I smile. It’s just... nice being respected for this zeal and confidence of mine.
So according to what Doushi’s written down here... I think my best way in to the world of pro boxing is this one organization that kinda bounds around between the Former Capital’s residential area, red light district, and eh... “business” area, where oni and spiders get their construction shit prepared for—where I ended up spilling Yuugi’s sake. Reason being Doushi makes it sound like it’s pretty popular, but not regulated too well. It’s a casual sorta thing that fighters tend to use either hobby-like, or to springboard into bigger circuits. I think about now I’m feeling like having a name in the Underground. I wanna make any bad news about my first days in hell disappear, plus—I spent a lot of time pretty secretly fighting and training with Yuugi and now I want people to know for sure there’s a minor god down here that can meet fists with the best of them. Money is important... but judging by young Doushi here’s present situation, I mean...
Let’s just put it out there: he got pushed to the friggin’ city’s limits and into a dumpster overnight just for (probably) screwing around with his fake, tanuki, leaf-money. I think what I theorized about messing around with the whole system and trying to rig the bet itself is pretty much right, then. Maybe there’s a big payout opportunity in it, but the cost could cut my journey short. I ain’t fuckin’ with that.
So, no matter what, I’m gonna do fights for money... “legit”. Probably. I may try to sway how my odds seem to gamblers, but other than that I am NOT risking it. Doushi can try if he wants, but I’m not gonna publicly associate with him if he falls back to the floor for that kinda stuff.
I close the paper.
Doushi did good. He deserves a cut. I’ll help him, but he’s on his own other than that.
I pick up Koishi’s face from under mine and put my tongue in her mouth for a little while. Am I doing this too much? It’s kinda like whenever she’s near me I just feel like it. After kissing her, she pinches and tugs one of my cheeks. Wah... It feels tight inside my chest...
I guide her off of me and she trots behind me as I get back to the raccoon. I put my hand on his shoulder and address him, extracting the part of my soul I left inside his while I do, “I’m gonna thank you, Doushi. This is really helpful.” I lift up the paper, nodding at him. “I won’t go through with the plan you had to rig shit, but I’ll be using what you learned to make some fame and dollars, so you get a cut of the earnings. How much you want?”
“... Fi... Fifteen...?” he ventures.
“Sixty.” I tell him, he reacts just like you’d expect.
“PFFWHAT!? Si... Sixty... percent!? To me!?” he sputters, any last vestige he had of composure shattering.
“I’d go with eighty but... eh, you know what? Fuck it. Eighty percent of all my future winnings to you, Doushi. Finder’s fee.”
“M-Miss Joon, you’re not being serious right!?” he begs me.
“I’ll tell you what’s serious: I don’t even need that twenty percent,” I tell him, waving my hand dismissively. “If I wanna be anything, if I wanna get anywhere, if I wanna get done what I wanna get done, this sorta endeavor is just another step. I love some impulse, some thrilling spending but me, now...? I have a big picture to think about.”
I give Koishi Doushi’s notes and hold out my now-free hand to him, ready to take his. “Is it a deal, guy? If it is, shake on it.”
He shakes my hand immediately, almost pulling my rings off with how eager he is. I grin, holding his palm tight. “Sorry about grilling you for like a month, man. Let’s be good friends from now on. You help me, and I’ll definitely help you... just not at four AM.”
Swaying hearts is about swaying expectations, making promises and delivering on them, being caring when they want and condemning when they need that condemnation. Making someone trust you.
This’s the faith game... and sometimes I wonder why not all gods take up the brand of pestilence. Really, it’s just the way to be.
 Make an explosive entrance into the ring. Knock socks off.
 Explicitly hustle. Lose several fights to manipulate the odds. Win big later.
 Feign being normal. Totally even odds, earning a reliable and respectable reputation.
Accepting all comers. Show the Underworld what you’re made of.
A wooden sign saying this stands outside a crowded, large, gray building. A young youkai girl slips through the throngs of inhuman folk unnoticed, her eye closed, her presence lost to the senses. She enters the building and stops to watch the ceiling, shining red and pulsing. A white arena stands bright and empty at the center of the arena. A steady beat of a drum somewhere in the room pounds through her, overpowering the din of the people. Oni, tanuki, foxes, ghosts, even a few kappa stay pressed together, the drum’s constant rhythm stoking their anticipation. The girl who slipped in continues to make her way past, to a series of windows, with a roll of cash in hand.
She puts three fingers to a ring on her finger, and the world becomes aware of her.
“All this on Yorigami, please!” she yells happily over the noise. The burly demon on the other side wants to ask her name until he sees her face. Knowing who she is, he takes the money, confused.
The girl in the black hat looks back at the ring. Yorigami would fight first. This name didn’t have the lowest odds, but there were some putting their faith in the goddess’s victory, wishing for a miracle. Most, however, expected a god’s sacrifice today, to the god-loathing oni. That was the idea behind this frivolous match. Now, the bold incarnation of pestilence sits slouched on a stool, her sunglasses hiding her eyes as she awaits her opponent. Her rings and gemstones glint crimsons in the stadium flash, and a mauve and high-collar coat catches every eye with its gleam from its place around her shoulders.
░░ ▓▓▒▒▒ ▓ ░ ▒░ ▒▓ ▒▓▓░▓░░▓ ▓ ▒▒░▓▓ ▓▓ ░▒
That was the best I could get. Every fighter with better odds than this one didn’t want to bother facing me when they could be facing someone they knew was tougher. Well, I’ll change their minds tonight.
Somewhere in here someone’s destroying a bass drum, and every so often hints of other instruments manage their way through the screaming audience but really, that drum is shaking.
Am I nervous?
Are you fucking kidding? Of course not! And no, I ain’t lyin’ to myself to psyche my heart out: I’m getting to the point where motherfuckin’ Hoshiguma Yuugi is starting to take me a little seriously. Right now, I’m contemplative. What do I do to rile up everyone, the best way? That’s what I’m considering.
Koishi should’ve entered the stadium a minute or two ago. For now I had her keep our association less obvious, just in case anything seemed suspicious about her betting on me on my first night, and I won. Like, anyone can bet, but I don’t gamble with anything that’s a risk to my own ass (anymore). Not Koishi’s ass either. That tush is property of Yorigami Joon... not that we’ve done it since we started going out. Shit was busy.
Anyway speaking of property, I got a nice coat.
“Long lives are something we all know right!? Well here’s a fighter with a short one so far!” Announcer...
Anyway, it’s the one I was eyeing a while ago. A flower-patterned, royal purple kimono-like dealy coat with a brilliant white collar that raises almost halfway up the back of my head. The sleeves are loose and wide at the ends too, hanging way open, which just looks nice. I can roll ‘em up easy when I punch shit. It’s got gold buttons on the lapels, of course.
“... Now she’s come here! And she says she can FIGHT!”
The crowd screams. The air quakes.
“WHO WANTS TO SEE A GOD’S TOOTH KNOCKED CLEAR OUT THEIR JAW!?” the announcer yells. I stand up, and pull my glasses into my hair with my pointer finger under one of the arms. People were really looking forward to this... The oni have a pretty bad history with “higher powers”, I guess, and probably all the other marginalized youkai here too. I start crossing my arms, keeping my head down and turned from the audience. Oh yeah... I lost a tooth a while back didn’t I? Whaddya know... it grew back.
The arena rumbles under my feet once, twice, again. It’s that guy, Sannouji, the not-so best. I don’t look at him. I know what he looks like: a very tall oni with fairly tall, black horns. He’s got that reverse-canines thing going on, pointed teeth jutting up from his lower lips. Kind of a pretty face, hair’s jet black and stupid long, straight. Pale skin. Arms are chiseled like a beast, chest’s pretty wide. He never wears a shirt, but likes a heavy pair of pants and a stone pair of geta. And of course...
Bam... bam... rattle...
He’s got shackles on his limbs.
“MISTER OO! MISTER OO!”
Guess I missed the intro, the crowd’s already cheering for him. He takes a step, I hear his chains clatter like he’s moving them. Posing, probably. The people eat it up. I open my eyes.
The drum’s beating, beating, beating.
Light is spinning colorful over this shadowed hall.
Youkai are spitting with bloodlust and pride.
Fight, yeah? Fight.
I pull my arms apart. I lift my head back, breathing in the atmosphere of sake, sweat, and raw evil, gripping my hands tight at the sides of my chest. I feel a spark at my back—
When I slam my knuckles together and my fire kick up, my sleeves waving with the motion, the only sound is the clash of my rings, followed quick by the golden flame bursting up from behind me, waving out, and rolling quick to the ropes. From there it roars over the heads of the crowd, shutting them up in awe of divinity. While the shining light of my power turns around me, I turn to face Sannouji. He and the announcer both recognize it. And as whispers start up again outside the ring, I hear people noting that shit might be bad tonight.
“Yo!” I yell to the announcer, “Ring that bell!” I grin at the oni I’m going to be wrecking, pointing at my sharpest tooth with my left hand. “Ya wanted this... right?” I taunt, bringing that hand up, while my other keeps a little low near my chest. The cheers and boos erupt as Sannouji sneers, lowers his head, and raises his clawed hands in clawed shapes, facing each other for a second before he raises his right hand a little higher... Like Doushi said, he’s a grappler.
And there’re no real rules in the world of Underground boxing.
“Round one...!” I hear over fire blazing by my ear. “... START!”
I grip my right hand and fire corkscrews my arm. The oni lurches at me like a black beast, and I’m in front of his stomach next thing while he’s still looking at the corner of the ring he thought I was at. His eyes are faster than his arms. Just as he realizes where I am, he moves to grab me and I fire a quick jab at his chest that hits with the sound of a cannon. The shot pushes a wave of silence over the arena again and Sannouji is lifted off his feet from the impact, his teeth grinding, his eyes getting glassy. “Hm...” I mutter, looking him dead in the eye while this moment grinds on slowly, “grappling, huh?”
I kick up and throw my right hand at his throat, grinning again. I can barely even put my hand around the front of it, but I grip anyway. I breathe out sharp, lift, push, and throw the bastard to the mat. The whole motion is heavy, but almost impossibly smooth. When I turn him and shove his body down, I almost think the whole ring is going to buckle and collapse it shakes so much. Spit flies out of Sannouji’s mouth, and it’s clear he doesn’t know what’s going on. I turn in the air and my flames die out.
“Take a good look, plebs...!” I declare mirthfully, too loudly, raising my right hand above my head in a fist, “this right here, is the might...” I clench my fingers to my palm, and my flames rush over my entire arm like sunlight, an inferno, overwhelming, blowing out the whole room. I aim my elbow at Sannouji’s stomach.
“... OF A GOD!”
I drop and fire spreads. Sannouji’s abdomen bends beneath me and I hear how bad I wind him. Through licks of flame I see his eyes go white and I beam. It sounds like a wave crashing down, and I stop myself from rolling to the floor ingloriously. I get up on a knee and a foot, pat the dent I left in Sannouji’s unconscious body, and stand up. I put the back of my left hand to the right of my mouth, put my right hand fast on my hip, lean back...
... And I laugh in glory and mockery.
The sounds around me are mostly misery, but I wasn’t here looking for praise. I was here looking impact, and that’s what I gave. People rush all over to the betting windows. My peals of laughter slow and I walk deliberate over to the ropes while the ref checks on Sannouji to see if he’s still breathing. I put my hand on the top, white cord and smile down at the crowds. I spot a familiar shape among them, and put my free thumb up.
Koishi claps twice, and matches my gesture with enthusiasm. Yeah, I’d say I did pretty good.
 it’s the red light district, let’s get somewhere sexy. For information. Seriously.
 it’s about time to check out places with a lot of gambling going on again, smooth over the bumps in reputation.
 night on the town with Koishi!
Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2018/11/26(Mon)12:00
I make my way through the food and cologne-smelling district, now with a few more eyes on me than normal. I just took my winnings and got on outta there, ignoring the jeers and challenges. Koishi’s waiting for me in front of a statue around here—one to the fourth of the Four Devas. I find her easy, though I gotta admit the clouds of perfume and sake-laden breath are, like, gross distracting.
“Hey Joon!” my satori says as I approach her, pushing from the leg of that oni statue (shit, that thing’s always bigger than I remember—the way the darker shaded lights hit it really make the thing imposing... but maybe a yama would’ve been better for this part of the city). She leaps at me with her arms ahead. I hold out my left and she falls into my embrace. I smirk at her shining, simple face, then bend my head a bit to peck her on the lips.
“You’re seriously adorable, Koishi,” I tell her.
“Kyaa~!” she squeals. Hng. “Oh, you got a new bag.”
“Yep! And a necklace, check it! These totally caught my eye on the way here! Aren’t they just excellent?” I reach for praise. The necklace (making for two) is a large one with small beads of gold and a few (very few) large beads of amber. It just really pulls the outfit together, I think, and amber’s cool. As for the bag, it’s an import: a hefty, long-strap, sun-shaded Chanel bag from the Outside World that wound up down here and got refurbished. I like new and all, but the craftsmen of the Underworld blow most human hands out the water. I basically wanted this bad boy for the name. Anyone who knows it’s gonna be like, “Whoa, Chanel!?” Of course!
“Super gaudy!” is Koishi’s evaluation. I pout.
“Pull your punches! Give me some compliments! Grow taste, Komeiji Koishi!” I growl, putting her in a half and sorta chokehold. She laughs and slaps at my forearm.
“I give! I give!” she complains.
“Hah? What do you give?” I question her like a thug.
“Uhh, up?” she ventures.
“Another kiss, how’s that?” I ask, grinning to my canine. She sticks out her tongue playfully at me, I huff through my nose, and open my mouth to hers.
While I’m enjoying this sweet-hearted, three-eyed charmer, I look up beyond her face. People whisper and stare... and it’s not ‘cause of the kink of girl on girl. That’s that Yorigami... And isn’t that the satori’s younger sister?
I pull my tongue from hers. These aren’t great rumors for a god, but to spread the idea of “me” I want out there, this definitely serves. I wasn’t lying to Miss Yamame when I told her... When I confront the bastards who stole my sister, I want my figure to cut through their hearts and leave them marked with fear. I want my name to make them understand at once that there ain’t no hope left for them. The god who slays oni without mercy, the god who does what’s impossible and flaunts it: “me”.
Kissing Komeiji Koishi, who shouldn’t even exist, is just another part of the miracle tapestry of this fresh-to-Hell god. Thankfully, it’s also just really, really satisfying. I coax out her tongue again.
The next order of business tonight is to confuse the fucking hell out of everyone down here. I essentially just became the villain to a huge swathe of Undergrounders. If there were any in the audience from my first open display of power outside that bar—where I OHKO’d that oni broad, that bad rumor’s just gonna build and build worse and worse. Which I like... I mean, back above, I took pride in holding a title of “most despicable, most disastrous” son of a gun. But, unfortunately, I can’t just be hated and lord over everyone while I dance over their unconscious bodies (unconscious from my fist). Tonight I remind them why I’m building a religion down here—
Yorigami Joon is welcoming.
I stop massaging Koishi’s tongue and lick her spit from my lips, thumb off the rest. I hold the now drowsy-lookin’ girl (rosy like she’s got a fever) around her shoulders and smirk at the onlookers like “Yeah, that’s right”. Then, I sweep her into a cradle and stand confidently. She gasps in surprise, then makes a noise of delight.
“Why the heck are you so cool!?” she asks, bouncing in my arms, her eyes shut in glee.
“A lot of practice,” I tell her. “Hey reach in my chest pocket, get me a cigarette.”
“You smoke? That’s not cool,” she tells me pointblank. Yeah. Well.
“Yeah,” I admit, “but where I’m going I gotta smoke to look the part. Though sometimes I’ll light up on the occasion, y’know... Mmf.” I make a soft sound as she puts a cig she extracted from my coat between my lips. “Light it too, Koishi.”
She takes the lighter I’ve got along with the packet of cigarettes I bought and fingers it open, clicking at it till it burns. She lifts it to the smoke in my mouth.
“Now watch thish,” I say through my teeth, holding the filter between my incisors. She cups her hands over my mouth, and the tip’s soon glowing embers, sizzling. I breath in... and I blow the smoke I gathered all out my mouth. It looks like it’ll cloud over Koishi... but then it glows like sunset and fades to nothing before she can even get a whiff of tobacco. I open my mouth again to talk, and the inside of my mouth looks ethereal and heavenly too. “‘Nother benefit of that fire a’mine,” I tell her, “gets rid a’ the worst part a’ smokin’.”
“Just don’t smoke if you don’t want the worst parts,” she tells me looking smug. Bah!
I move the cigarette to the right side of my mouth. “Go on, keep pushin’ it Komeiji. See what your makin’ fun’ll do when I drop your butt to the stones.” I start walking.
“You wouldn’t,” she mocks me, folding her long-sleeved arms. She takes those floppy things up then, and stretches them past either side of my head. I shift my cigarette up so it won’t burn her. She whispers at my ear, still pretty childishly but... “I remember what you did, right before I fell asleep in the bath...” she says, moaning faintly in remembbrance. I stop my steps, one foot in the air. Koishi giggles, and I feel my cheek getting warmer. She tells me, “you love my butt.”
“... Let’s go already,” I say with a smile, looking defeated, but she can probably see it... how glad I am that ladies don’t get erections. Really wouldn’t look nice with this dress.
I go to the place where I brokered the deal that I broke quick, eventually leading to my guts getting pounded so bad I still kinda remember it whenever I have to piss. Shit was bad, man. It’s The Dead Horn Hole, a bar where shady and, eh, “wholesome” gamblers in the Former Capital like to roost. A whole bunch of them. The building is three floors tall, has a dead oni preserved as just a head over the entrance (and he’s got one broken horn, one good one). His expression’s as melty and zombie-lookin’ as ever. Under his neck is a plaque that says “Sezaru. The Liar”.
Otherwise it’s a pretty normal, Japanese-lookin’ building. Sloped, tile rooves, ya know. I walk up to a guy standing outside, the bouncer. He’s shorter than me, but his ram-horns are curled enough I know he’s old as fuck. The little old boy blinks at me, and I (who am now beside Koishi rather than carrying her) grin, holding my still-burning cigarette between two fingers while warm-color smoke dies in and out my mouth. “‘Eeeeyyy, fuckface. Remember me?”
“No,” he says, “should I?”
“Not if you wanna lose fifty thousand en, yeah? I scammed the guys in here a while back. I’m the god who rolled in with promises of payouts.”
He stares at me, and it’s obvious this has totally blindsided him. His jaw is hanging open and his eyeballs are staring at the same subject (me) while shifting very minutely in place, brow furrowed in disbelief. I open my bag and take out a green cylinder—paper, money, tied with a string. I offer it to him careless. “I don’t think I owe you anything but go on and take it, old timer.” I yawn, waving the money his way. When he doesn’t take it, I shrug and mumble “eh, whatever”, and drop it while I walk inside, Koishi saying “sorry” for me while she follows close with my arm in hers. The money falls in front of his feet or something, I don’t care.
Before we got here and I set Koishi down like the princess she is, I had her combine her payout with my winnings for this bag full of bandages. Time to mend some wounds.
The smoke sets on us immediately. Pipes, cigars, bongs, and cigs, it’s all here and it’s making everything hard to see. Fuck it. Glasses on.
“Koishi, start trouble, drink, whatever,” I tell my girlfriend, taking my arm away and putting my hand on her head. “Gamble some, you’ll wreck everyone here,” I suggest, looking smug as always.
Koishi salutes. “Aye aye, sir!” she declares, and I laugh. She bends toward me and kisses me on the cheek before hopping backward so she can sit on the bar. Yeah. Not at it. I head upstairs while the patrons make a fuss.
The first floor is basic stuff for an oni bar, just drinks, a record player, and a few games. The second floor is all games. Just as dark as the first, just as thick and gag-inducing with narcotics. I hear belches and winds breaking here. Relaxed oni—what can you do? A lot more start recognizing me here. I made some money on this floor when I first entered the new old hell.
Now, the third floor...
Where Blacksocks is.
“Is there a Lord Gasha in the building!? I say, is there a Lord Gasha!?” I shout, and all dark eyes are on my while I summit the stairs. Gasha Uri—Blacksocks—looks at me from a wall way at the back of this lowlight floor, surrounded by burly and handsome youkai men. He narrows his eyes. He knows who it is.
“Why are you putting your shit face in front of my eyes again, Yorigami Joon?” he asks, not moving from his lounge. Third floor, high rollers, organizers. I take another roll of cash from my bag, but in the dark of this room— “What’s that?” he asks.
I toss it up and down, looking the room over. It’s always so comfy in here. Less smoke, more fluff-filled lounge chairs and sofas. There’s also a radio, spouting news about the town. I finally address Gasha. “It’s a gift,” I tell him, and I wind up for a pitch, “... for you!”
Once I’ve let it fly with fire from my hands, I’m surrounded by two thick oni and one lass. One of Gasha’s boys tries to intercept the wad, but with the speed granted by the golden flame it just smacks against Gasha’s forehead, right next to his horn. He grimaces, one of his eyes closed in quiet, but obvious rage.
“Now, please look at that gift befo—” I start, but I’m cut off by the girl swinging her leg at me. “Careful!” I yell, smiling like an asshole (I am an asshole). “You guys got ears right!? Let’s use em.”
One of them throws a punch.
“Oh fists, huh? That’s how oni talk huh?” I mock with the guy’s knuckles in my grasp. I let them both go, ready to fight back.
First, I jump at the girl since she struck first. I throw my palm at the horn on her forehead, shoving her neck back from the blow. I see that throat, and I fire my left set knuckles of at it.
Ooh, nasty. She spit. I sneer. I jet myself above and around her, pick up my right set of knuckles, and knock down on her skull with a real satisfying bonk. She plants into the floor. Like, legit, I’m pretty sure her horn got stuck. She’s out.
The two others who came at me try to grab me and I just disappear, dashing outside their range and pulling both my fists back. I hurl both out at the first guy, the room getting bright with gold as he gets put to the wall, knocking a bunch of shit down. The other oni, who’s kinda fat, makes the mistake of looking at his friend collapsing. I dash forward and set a punch in his gut. When he bends over to breathe, I swipe him across his jaw. He spits too and I wince. He falls. I wave my hand out.
“Phew! That was a little sudden, wasn’t it? Gasha, you—” When I look toward the head honcho here, I see the same heavyset red fuck who caught me at the alley before hurling himself at me. I hold my fist up and punch him in the face.
Paper on the floor kicks up, and bottles on tables shake. He doesn’t stop so I duck low fast, and when he’s flying over me hit him with an uppercut in his dick. He starts to falter with that. I push up, stand up, flip him over, fly and swing over to his front, and lift my fist again while he’s groaning beneath me. We’re flying to the stairs with this momentum.
I punch him down into them.
The wood fractures and splinters go flying, sounds like everything’s grinding and bursting. Planks soar past my arms and the stairs just totally fall apart while we slide down them, the banister getting blown out too. Still crouched on top of this guy, I look up at the third floor, ignoring those on the second who don’t know what the fuck is going on. This place isn’t actually the kind of one fights happen in, surprisingly... Trust is a big factor in the ol’ Dead Horn. That’s what the bust out front means, you know...
“Gasha!” I yell. “Cut it the fuck out and look at what I gave you!” I stand up and step forward, and ah—ah, fuck, I stepped on the guy’s face. Forgot about him. I squat down in front of his mug, frowning. He’s out... ish. I slap him. “Wake up, asshole.” He groans, I slap him again, shaking my fist a little at him after. “Man I wanna fucking wreck your jaw,” I tell him. “Tch.” I stand up and start walking the broken stairs, bending before I really ascend to get a grip of this fucker’s hair—he’s got enough of it. I pull him along as he cries out in agony and when I’m back on the third floor I kick him all the way back down to the second. I take out my cigarette and spit at him. Then, I fling it down to his chest. I turn. “Gasha,” I say again, “did you fucking count the money?”
“I’m counting it,” he says, and he is. “Is this supposed to make up for your betrayal?”
“Nah,” I say frankly. “I just want to show off.”
He stops counting, ties the roll back up, and then starts fiddling with it atop his fingers. The piercings on his hand glint in my light. “... That’s like you,” he says, “but it’s not true, is it?”
I wonder if me fucking him over made Gasha more perceptive.
“... You’re right, it was supposed to be recompense,” I tell him, smiling bitterly. “And speaking of, I’m gonna have to pound you in the stomach sometime until your bladder goes, Gasha,” I say, holding my hand up, palm to the ceiling. “That shit wasn’t worth what I owed you, and honestly it kinda fuckin’ pissed me off.”
He chuckles, just once. “You couldn’t even if you wanted to,” he says.
“...” I glare at him.
 Prove it.
Calm down, Joon: that shit isn’t what you came here for. You don’t need to try that and it might not even work out, just...
 ... stick with the plan.
Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2018/11/27(Tue)12:00
Uri-kun does not actually look like this. I never even watched that show/read that manga. >filename
[X] ... stick with the plan. Be... Be rational!
Don’t take the bait.
Don’t give him an excuse, Joon.
Act like a goddess for once, Joon.
I breathe out. “Look—”
“You already saw it,” he cuts me off without noticing, looking at the money before letting it fall into his coat’s sleeve, “right? That my hand is faster than your flame. Or, what?” Now he looks at me. “You think a fledgling god can stand up to oni because she beat down a few weaker ones? You think only Hoshiguma Yuugi is worth anything down here in the Underworld?” He laughs again, like it’s such a joke. “You think you’re strong, Yorigami. You’re not.”
“That’s what we oni hate about gods,” he prattles on with his eyes closed (not even looking smug, that’s actually worse—he’s talking like all of this is irrefutable) while I start darting toward him, “so many promises, so much boasting and—” I raise my fist, then gag—he flew to me out of nowhere and grabbed my throat; the rest of my body jerks forward, legs kicking out while I wince, “—no delivery.”
His feet gently step to the floor, and the ends of his coat start to fall too. He doesn’t look at me, holding me out and away from himself, his expression empty. “Listen, Yorigami...” he says, “don’t get it wrong, alright? Though we oni now live below the mountain...” now he looks at me, pressing his black claws into my skin, “once upon a time, we lived on top, and we left that throne by choice.”
Ha ha... that’s not true... Little Uri must be young.
Humans. Humans scared you off...
But that’s Yuugi’s secret. I won’t break it.
I grab his thumb—
I’ll break this instead.
“What!?” he snaps, letting me go while fire rises at my back. The whole action transpired in less than a second. He didn’t see my hand until I’d let his go, crippled.
I get serious.
Up until now the only oni I’ve fought and actually tried to beat was Yuugi, but it was all practice, never felt like something was on the line. I watch as Gasha holds his broken thumb, going down to one knee, his harem joining up behind him slowly—no.
I’ve felt this before, with Yuugi in the warehouse. It’s like my mind’s in overdrive to keep up with how fast my body can move. Everything seems to slow down. Well—
First thing, I back off from him and stand ready to fight.
Thing is, oni tend to have weird abilities if they’re powerful enough, and if Gasha has one like I think he does... well, that should tell ya: I don’t know what it is.
Gasha is baring his fangs, looking with pained and furious eyes at his quivering, swollen digit. He puts the fingers of his left hand to it and closes his mouth in a frown, his eyebrow twitching. I think I hear something—a tick, but I’m not sure. He flexes his healthy fingers a few times and starts to stand up, wobbling a bit.
“That hurt...” he says.
“Not enough if you’re still standing up,” I tell him. “I came here wanting to make amends, y’know? But I can’t help it: looking at your stupid fucking stone-ass face makes me want to redeliver what you gave to me before anything else.” I lift my rings. “I wasn’t kidding, I’m gonna beat you ‘til your bladder breaks.”
“Kick me in the face too...? Tug out my hair?”
“All of it,” I swear. “Think of the way an oni thinks fair for once in your life, shit-for-brains.”
“Think about what provoking an oni can do, Yorigami Joon...” he mutters, smiling and looking at his feet. His coattails start to wave. “Sorry. I like warning people first but,” he picks his head up, his purple eyes gleaming, his grin toothy, “you’ve already went and made me mad, girl.”
Something thumps through me and my stance fucks up. My head swims, I almost fall onto one of my knees. I pull my shades up in my hair and try to look at him, my eyes not keeping focus. What I see is that the papers that were scattered around got flattened to the walls and floor, and most of the oni and other youkai up here are on the ground and foaming at the mouth. Only one guy, a tall oni with an immense single horn and long-ass hair, is still standing, though he’s got a mean grimace on. Gasha lifts his left hand and I see paper getting blown out the way as something invisible flies toward me. I can’t move though...!
It hits like a whip and I grunt. Wha... telekinesis? No, if he had that he’d have used it on me by now. I hold my head and rock it a few times, ignoring the stinging pain on the left half of myself. I get lucid, and Gasha grips the air in front of his face, grinning enough I see his gums now.
The room feels like it’s getting shaken all over, like an earthquake through the air. I can’t... can’t...!
I punch down on the floor before I can fall on my side. The oni behind him is holding on to a sofa’s arm and reaching for his face. Gasha moves his hand to the side, and silently snaps his fingers.
The space next to my ear bursts impossibly loudly, and I can’t hear out my left anymore. My neck pulls right from the blow, and I palm the wood underneath me to stay standing.
“... Ow!” I exclaim. Just like Yuugi...! Oni like these are bullshit! “Wh-What...? Y-You...” I force myself to talk, trying to get stable again, “Y-You talk about... strength and you... won’t even come near me!” I taunt. “D-Deliver, Gasha!”
He takes my bait. If his shit is something ranged or area, then I need him close... shouldn’ta backed off earlier.
Gasha don’t fight normal. He’s fast, and he doesn’t throw himself around brutally like most oni do. When he comes at me, arriving like a dark whirlwind in shade and impact, his eyes wide and his expression sharp-cold, he just raises his palm, like he’s planning on swatting me down like a bug. I grit my teeth and force myself to dash around him. He brings up his leg in a swinging kick to clothesline me. Thank god I’m already getting used to that.
I catch his leg to guard against it. He twists then and gets aloft, pointing his elbow at my stomach. Nuh uh! No!
I thrust backward. He reacts fast, and without caring about the damage extends his right arm a bit out from the elbow drop pose so he can get his palm steady on the floor. He breakdances, pivoting on his right hand and spinning both his legs around himself in a violent swirl. I pick my forearms up in a guard, his calf slamming into me and throwing me like two meters back. Almost hit the wall...
With his coat falling down and his shirt showing his happy trail, Gasha looks at me upside down from his handstand, his legs both bent over his head, and spread a little. My guard’s still up, it’s not like that didn’t hurt. He shows his left hand, his middle finger pressed into his thumb.
I duck. He snaps his fingers.
The space next to where my right ear just was warps, and the poster on the wall there gets torn apart. What the hell is that?
No waiting. I rush him, aiming for his face. Unsurprisingly he pushes off the floor to get in the air, and I stop, shift on my heel, and throw a blazing uppercut at the guy. My skull vibrates, and I totally miss. I look up, my eyes not focused again, and see him standing on the ceiling like it’s nothing. He reaches out toward me and falls.
I’m too disoriented to do anything about it. Gasha drops his arm through the loop of my handbag’s strap and swings his legs forward to land in a crouch and tug me down toward him with the band. He grabs at my collar and separates me from my cash, throwing me at the couch he was sitting in. I fall into it like a ball in a mitt, I pick myself up, and I give him the dirtiest look. He pulls up my purse and looks at it dangle in front of him.
He lifts one claw.
“Had money in here, right?” he asks. “Mine now, I guess,” he says lazily, reaching for it with his sharp digit.
“That’s mine, asshole!” I shout, and next thing I know, even though he was like four meters away, I’m right in front of his face. He looks at me, I look straight ahead, my hand outstretched. We both don’t know what happened.
I close my hand into a fist.
Gasha starts to put his right hand up, but I sock him in the cheek before he has a chance to block. He yells, getting pushed back, and he lets the strap go without thinking. Still in the momentum of my strike, I turn myself in a corkscrew and slip my bag back on in midair. I throw out my left hand and catch his face by the right cheek. I pull him up and my flames rush dazzling around my hair. I suck in my breath, and with bared teeth rock my skull against his, his horn giving me a little scratch on the way.
He collapses onto his right knee, grunting, my forehead still pressed to his. Think that’s it?
I pull my head back again.
Gasha’s eyes go white and he opens his mouth, his teeth shining. Oh no! That’s ba—
Every piece of porcelain, every pane of glass in the room shatters. His friend is finally down to the ground, still conscious but shaking—oh, shit, no, it’s my eyes. My eyes too? Everything’s vibrating up and down—
I let go of Gasha and drop, still keeping up under the pressure. It’s worse than Yuugi! I guess I did hear oni have screaming contests—that’d mean more than one’s real good at it but damn! It’s so much louder—!
I hold the rings on my right hand and bend down like I’m suffering, while secretly building up power. Gasha’s lungs are almost endless, he just keeps screeching, rippling the atmosphere with his rage. I feel good about the power in my hand, meet his white eyes, and hurl my fist at his gut.
“AAAAA—gh!!” his voice cuts out on the hit, which sinks into his muscles and flesh with a heavy OOMPH of a smash. Golden flame scatters across the floor, but he doesn’t move. While color returns to his eyes, and he starts to reach for his stomach, I build even more power in my fist while pulling it back. All of it. As much as I can. Burn.
“Take this, you fuck...!” I shout, and I throw another haymaker, picking him up off his feet and shooting him into the wall next to the stairway down. The whole building shakes. I’m on fire. I’m actually on fire: the divine flame crawling all over me and blazing. I look past it to my Chanel bag. I grab the top of the accessory and without warning fling it at Gasha’s reeling body.
When it hits him, I wish for it, and I instantly show up in front of him to take the bag back. From there I push my left palm against him, my nails digging into him through his shirt. I flare up my right hand again, and while I shoot out a straight, strong breath I punish his abs one more time.
“Ghahah!!” he aches. I punch him again. “Fghh!!”
Treating a girl like that...
Treating a god like that...!
I’ll make a paste outta you, you son of a bitch!
“Ghahah... hah...!” he breathes ragged. Not enough?
Then fucking take this!
A golden tornado turns out when I tear my hand back and twist the toe of my boot. Again, I crush his stomach with a blast of a jab. He moans, obviously hurt, but I don’t see a stain on the front of his pants yet. The fires around me flicker as instinct takes over and I make a fist again. Let’s see some blood... Let’s see what’s inside you, you fuck...!
“Ah—!” I scream as something pulls on the back of my coat. I’m thrown at the other wall near the stairs and fall down awkwardly. Wasn’t expecting that... Growling, I look down at the second floor, and the oni worried about coming up, milling around that red fuck I kicked down there. I turn my eyes back to Gasha.
“So much for the pride of oni...” I grumble, picking myself up.
The tall bastard boy toy who’s been watching ‘til now’s finally joined right when I got the upper hand on Lord Gasha... He looks at me with fury in his eyes... You wanna see fury!? HUH!?
My fires roar.
“Fhuckk...” Gasha swears, digging his heel into the floor over and over and putting his hands over where I was striking him. He breathes deliberately and steps off the wall. His lips part into an unstable grin, his teeth bright and brilliant.
Can I take the two of them? I’m not sure. Tall guy’s lasted this whole time through whatever Gasha’s been doing, so I guess he must be one tough bastard. Two on one like this...
 Back down. Go to the first floor. Find Koishi.
 I can take them.
Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2018/11/28(Wed)12:00
When it hits some guy in the mug (a brown-haired spider), I shoot to it in a flash, pick it up, and step on his face while my fire startles everyone around. I grip my bag again and toss it down the next flight.
It smacks down at the bottom, skids a ways in, and I jump off of this spider’s nose. I slide through space and arrive on the ground floor to snatch my purse up over my shoulder, coat waving and my fire searing away all the smoke in the air. Through the glow, through the tongues of fire, I look up at a gorgeous pair of legs, their ankles crossed.
“Koishi...” I mutter as my clothing settles, “gimme a hand.”
I face back where I came from. The spider I used as a step just now is falling down the stairs toward me, too quick. Poor bastard got pushed, too? I hop up and lower my left hand, catching him by the front of his shirt. I rotate with the momentum, swing him over the stools, and switch hands just before making a full revolution. I gather up strength, grunt, and throw him back where he came from like a bowling ball.
Spider bro, I owe you a drink.
He’s hurled into good ol’ Gasha, who must’ve sent him here. They collide, and for a moment the head honcho doesn’t know what to do. Like I thought, surprise is my best asset here.
I will myself to the youkai I used as a javelin and to my luck, I appear just above him (didn't think that’d work), landing on his back. No moment to wait: I jump over Gasha’s head, thrust my hand down, and get a grip on him from over his skull. I grab at his hair, and rather than pull, I call on my flame to plummet fast into the stairs behind him.
Even though I know his friend’s gotta be close, I take a satisfied look at Gasha-boy’s twisted face.
While my gaze is on him, I see Koishi fade into existence above Gasha’s body, floating almost like she’s underwater. She reaches casually past the now-unconscious earth spider with a hand of lightly bent fingers. She pokes Gasha’s chest, and in the second after that all hell breaks loose.
Rapid flashes curl away from her back, firing circle after fast circle of two dozen glowing pale-green diamonds each. The bullet curtain spreads, and soon everyone is ducking, diving, and getting the fuck out of dodge because it’s like a forest snowstorm up in here. I let go of Gasha’s hair (a clump and several strands dropping out of my hand) and leap at Koishi, catching her by her stomach with my left arm while the sound of an impact THUDs behind me.
I step on, pivot around, and kick backward off of the bar, flying toward the center of the room while magic darts helter-skelter beautiful through the hazy air: viridescent, crazy. I land on a table, knocking it over, staying on its edge, and make a very drunk oni stumble out of his chair. Gasha’s man is lifting him up by his back, and his clothes are tore up. Hmph! Nice!
I hop to the floor and spin Koishi out of my grasp, grabbing her hand to stop her (to her surprise). We both lean away from each other, me with one knee up, her with one leg out, and I pull her back to twirl her toward my right hand, letting her fall halfway to the floor before I catch her and hold her palm with my left again. With our little dance done, I deliver to the satori a coquettish simper. I grip her hand tightly, bend down, and take her lips.
“OOOOOHHH!!” everyone yells. Even Gasha’s hmph’s with a smirk at the sight. I stand and steady Koishi (who’s ecstatic) right next to me, clench my fists, spread my stance, and face the bastard again, my fire twisting eagerly and igniting fierce and golden at my back.
“You gonna keep it up with all these guys around, Gasha!?” I ask.
“You’re paying for this bar,” he says, stepping past “Tora” with a hand on the other oni’s shoulder. “I mean that monetarily. With another meaning, you’re paying for this hair.”
“What’s this? What’s this?” Koishi asks at my right. I blink at her, then smile.
Gasha-boy holds his right fist, and cracks his knuckles—to no sound.
“Move, Koishi!” I yell, disappearing to the left. Koishi just disappears.
The air around the two of us starts exploding throughout quietly, some patrons who got caught screaming and holding their ears. While I’m zipping through the almost invisible distortions of sound, I look at Gasha and see him reaching for his other hand. I start to slide backward under a table in spurts. While I go, I see that the wood above me’s getting dented and splintered, blasted over and over while it follows me. I jump up when I’m out from under the thing and see that Gasha’s holding his hand out toward me. I throw my bag at the ceiling. He snaps his fingers.
I land upside down, the bar-goers and gamblers looking up at me in disbelief while sound scatters down where I just was, taking a bite out of the table. Gasha aim’s at me again, a smile on his face. Wai—eh?
Next to me, right-side up is my girlfriend. She spreads her arms, then throws them out to me. I see purple hearts for a split second, then realize she’s caging me in her tentacles. Wha—!?
Everything’s amber and soft for a moment, and it smells like her, and next thing I know I’m rocketing at a very surprised Gasha. Uh—no time! I raise my fist, and I smash his nose in, the strike wet and warm. I feel Koishi’s third eye around me again and turn around to see that she reached me all the way over there, from the other side of the room. She yanks me back toward her while Gasha’s nose is bleeding. When I reach her I’m enveloped in petals again, but this time the leaves all just fall away and she’s left hugging me under my arms, eyes all closed and beaming.
“K-Koish—?” I start, but she fades away and there’s a sound like a chime.
Tora leaps at me with his knuckles behind him. I lift my hand, ready to bat at his overcompensating horn, and I stop because Koishi’s behind him. She holds her head, and a faded red line zips through the oni, who stops and spits. She then holds her arms out and cocks her head cutely. A giant, sky-blue rose blossoms in front of her, into Tora’s back, and explodes in color. He crashes, and destroys what’s left of the table.
I just watch while Koishi pivots in the air, puts one finger to her kissing lips, points another finger at Gasha, and blooms another giant flower. And another. A lot of flowers. A line of them start slow, then rush toward the still swaying stronger oni. He gets thrown into the wall, roaring in pain. Koishi then... leaps(?) while still aloft, throwing her hands in the hair, and a shit load of girlish hearts start Itano Circusing into the poor boys down below with pink and white clouds, and without a moment of mercy. I keep looking.
“Hm--!? Eh!” Holy shit! Gasha’s comin’!
The guy’s shirt is totally blown open now, and his muscular chest is on full display as he starts cascading through Koishi’s barrage. He reaches Koishi, and swings at her with his left. I make sure I’m in front of her to catch it, and Koishi vanishes before he can get anywhere close. I pull his arm into a grapple, hold his hand so he can’t snap shit. Let’s break it...!
Then it’s like a bomb goes off in front of my stomach, knocking my air out and forcing me to let him go. I look at him, and his right hand is practically quaking. He snapped with his broken thumb...!
I throw a punch, he closes his right hand and throws up his forearm to block it. Fine... let’s get in there!
Koishi appears a ways behind him without theatrics. She looks at me, closes her eyes, and puts her finger up in a “shhhh” sign while grinning. She opens her eyes, grabs the brim of her hat and her hip in a sass-filled post, and becomes a rave.
Lights of all sorts of colors, each one to a ring, starts spinning and expanding out from her. I hold off on going at Gasha again until a line of them collides with his back. He gets thrust forward.
“What!?” he growls. I punch him in his side. “Fucking—!”
While he’s bending, I send out my left fist then my right again to finish a combo. I throw my hand at his lapel and he swats it away. Koishi’s bullets show up again and we both duck. Actually that’s a lot of bullets. We start dodging through the air, and gunning for each other whenever we can.
We slip past one another. I sock him. He recovers fast, and throws a punch to my belly. I cough, and the pain burns through me.
I see Koishi behind him. Her eyebrows arch and she frowns. She lifts her hand toward him, and a double helix of hearts, pink and blue, erupt our way from behind her. Wait, ah—!
I bend my back, while a stream of pink hearts grazes my face. Blue hearts hit Gasha in the back and he curses again. I dash toward him, call for my flames, and give him another headbutt.
I swipe his jaw.
I beat my fist in his nose again.
I grab his hair and send a blazing knee into his teeth.
I dodge Koishi’s attack, all the colors, all the intensity making my heart thump faster and faster. I’m too focused.
Below us, Tora starts coming up. I reach for Gasha-boy’s coat again and this time I get it. I swing him at his friend and they both fall down. Koishi’s pattern bursts into shimmers and sparkles. She looks down and then puts her hands to her face. Anyone who’s still in here for some reason starts flying quick, and I see why. On the ground, coiling through everything are these strange, green bullet patterns reaching for and devastating basically everything they touch. They grasp and hold the two oni. I turn, pull the flame to my elbow, and become the meteor.
Green and gold erupt from the floor, glittering as it falls back down. I listen for gagging, but notice Tora’s hand’s on my arm instead. Gasha is glaring at me on the floor. Oh, fu—!
I feel Koishi coiling around me again, around my ankle. I get flung to the ceiling and look to where she was, but she’s gone. Uh... Oh! She’s... She’s where I was! I look down and see Koishi floating upside down, holding Tora’s hand and looking uncharacteristic. Her third eyes spreads around him, and from another perspective I see how she “swallows” him with them, making a sun-colored flower from his body. She “spits” him out to the ground with a crash, and while petals are still falling grabs him and does it again, bouncing him like a basketball, just with the speed and power of a cannon.
Gasha throws another punch at her, and connects this time. Koishi makes a sound I don’t wanna hear, I blur down to his back, and I drop my purse.
“You already know you’re not fast enough!” he says, turning on me with his strike. I dodge it, turn around him like I’m trying to get him from another angle and he follows just as quick. Then I shift to my purse.
I pick it up, skidding against the floor while time seems to slow again: Koishi reaching for her arm; Tora getting up; Gasha not knowing that I’m behind him again. I flash to his upper back, throw my arms forward, and grab him under his. I bend backward and give him a German suplex.
Gasha Uri, the pride of this part of the Underworld, crumples. I let go and burn the floor sliding out the way of his falling back. I see Tora getting grabbed up in tentacles again, and I stand up to see him getting pulled to a corner of the room. I look down at Gasha, then I look around at everyone else. He’s finally taken enough damage that he’s not just up and at ‘em like it’s nothing again. I slowly step over him, slowly get on my knees and over his torso, put my left hand on his collarbone and tell him:
“Tighten up your stomach muscles.”
I grip my right hand, the rings on it sparkling.
And I land an easy hit in his gut below me, fire raining down.
Careless of everything else, I beat into him. I keep pounding, watching his face go from defiant, to pained, to misery.
I, keep, going, while a crack forms in the floor, dust falls from the rafters.
I stop looking at him. I don’t even feel him anymore. I keep going, my mind drifting as my body takes over, until I feel a delicate hand on my cheek, a warmth against my back.
I get pulled off of him, and I look at the now-unconscious oni. I look, but he’s dry. I look at my knuckles, they’re dry too. Damn it... God damn it...!
He... was right...
I close my hand again.
Koishi whispers in my ear while rubbing my head, “You had something to do, didn’t you?”
I open my bag and spread my fire within it so only the bindings on the cash are burned away. I grasp a handful and throw it over Gasha’s body. Then, I have my flames erupt everything inside out, cutting their heat so it’s just force. Everyone cheers. Everyone’s confused, but happy.
I put my hand on Koishi’s forearm.
She hugs me tightly.
If this is what I can do...
... then can I do it? When Shion’s on the line, and it’s only my fist that can get her back...
... this isn’t enough.
 Leave The Dead Horn Hole, ---- just like that. ---- with Gasha Uri.
Time remaining: :: Timer ended at: 2018/11/29(Thu)12:00
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...!
Now then, sex stuff. 18+ update,folks. Kids go home, but feel free to vote first 'cause the choice got nothin' to do with it. On that note, with this update, counting only "Make a fist.", I complete Nanowrimo. /bows| I shall take the first crown.
I gulp, and close my fist over the sheets. Hearing that really set me off.
“You’re excited,” she says, turning into me again, quietly putting her hand over my heart, “good...” Her third eye, closed as always, sways up above her head, silently reading thoughts I can’t put into words. I kinda find it comforting... I have a hard time saying how I feel unless what I’m saying is vile, rude.
Koishi kneads my breast softly over the lace nightgown she had me borrow, the breath of her nose falling on my skin in way that feels like a warm, calming cloth draping my collarbone for a moment before disappearing. More than feeling good, her hand calms me down. The excitement I’m feeling is from knowing someone else will be taking the lead for once.
“This hurts...” she says, squeezing my chest. From her hand I get a shiver that goes all the way down to my stomach, and lower. “Joon, I think you’re like me.”
“H-How so?” I ask while she lifts her hand to move it to my dress’s strap, lifting that too and reaching with her right hand to slip off the other shoulder’s band.
“You gave me a big speech but you struggle with yourself, too. With your nature, and your heart.” She pulls my dress down, looking almost sleepily at my breasts. Then, she turns her eyes on me. “It’s the struggle between a want to be good and a need to do ill. I... I really remember it.”
Koishi slowly brings herself in front of me, on top of me, and when she spreads her legs over my left thigh—the heat of her crotch waving over my skin— “Nn...!” I end up moaning at the memory of her masturbating on top of me. With each of her thighs over each of mine, she cups my breasts and slouches to put her face at the left side of my neck, her hair sliding over me and sending tingles through every touch. She speaks hotly, “But you—” presses, grabbing the whole of my chest, and I squeeze my thighs together, “—the way you’re different from me is that despite the struggle, you stay strong. I figure, you’ve got to’ve gone through something crazy—a lotta crazy things.”
She kisses my neck. “Hah... a-ah!”
“But you’re you,” she tells me, releasing my breasts to touch me only with the pads of her fingers, and dragging them slowly over the top of my skin so caringly, so nicely, that the trembling pleasure that reaches my crotch makes it wet immediately. With her caresses, I feel my nipples prickling little by little, becoming stiff. I bite my bottom lip just a bit, and she licks me just once, making me let go and pant.
“So you’re here,” she says reassuringly, her words cool on the small spot where her tongue touched me, but intensely hot everywhere else. She kisses me more, her hands coming to a gradual stop just under my breasts. She holds me without any strength, and after sucking at my skin enough almost to leave a mark (making me shake, my pussy throb), she straightens her back to look me in the eyes, saying—
“And I fell in love with you.”
Wha— Really—? You...
“I’m in love with you,” she repeats while looking downward, and something similar in feeling to the awakening of my divine flame starts to build inside me. I feel heat welling in my eyes again. My mouth flounders open, wordless.
I dunno, I’m... I’m... happy.
A tickle I wish I wasn’t familiar with draws down my cheek, and Koishi catches the culprit teardrop with a kiss. “I love you, Joon,” she whispers that, almost like a secret, and the last doubts and apprehensions fall away from my heart. She licks up my cheek with affection, bends to get closer to my lips, and when hers meet with mine – her tongue hugging me, touching me, caressing me – I admit to myself that I feel the same way. More tears fall, a pleasant sensation blends between my body and mind, and I find my hands inside her gown. I love her, don’t I? I love this wounded girl. My fingers trace her stomach while she tongues me more and we each start to lap up the saliva of the other.
Koishi, I love you. I fell for you too. I totally did. I speak in my heart, wanting her to hear me. I take my hands from under her gown and bring them above. I pull down her straps and soon feel her nipples pushing against mine. They brush, I twitch, they press on my breasts and I pant onto her tongue, Below me, I feel something like a mist through the cloth, and thinking about Koishi’s vagina I feel my own clenching, the inside of my thighs getting sticky enough you can hear them part and shut.
Koishi pushes me down a bit haltingly, kissing and pulling short from my mouth again and again, licking ticklish at my extended tongue and staring at me with her white-center eyes in a way that almost makes me cum just from seeing it. Her eyes are locked on mine, her face is completely flushed and composed—adult—and she closes her eyes – her eyebrows flinching – every time she presses the crotch of her damp and warm panties against my belly. Seriously, I’m gonna cum from this...!
While I’m on the bed, Koishi rises up and starts riding my stomach, playing with my tits again. She pinches my nipples, twists them, palpates, all while humping me with her tongue slightly lolling, saliva dripping down on me as she pants. I feel my mind going white... I keep my teeth ground against one another, and I can’t stop moaning with pleasure while she takes control of my body.
Before she can climax against me, Koishi repositions herself. She shifts so her steaming crotch is over my left thigh again, and while I look at her nipples bouncing gently from the motion, she pushes her knee into my panties.
“NHaA! Ah! Ko... Koi... shi...!” my brain’s in chaos from the raw force against my slit, I shiver and convulse since she got my clit too. While she rhythmically moves her knee and my hips rear up in time, in natural motion, wanting however good this can feel—the best it can feel—Koishi bends down again and starts licking my chest. Her mouth and tongue are slimy, almost searing, but it feels so... so good. She gets her teeth around one of my nipples and starts suck at me, exhaling warmly after each tug. I’m vibrating... I’m floating... Ngh...! “Koishi... Koishi... K-Koishi—!”
I hold her head at the sides and bring my nose to her scalp while she goes to town. I breathe in deeply, still calling her name, dampening the top of her hair with my breath. Her smell, the odor of sex, the pulling at my chest and pushing at my crotch... I start seeing stars. I feel all crazy...!
I take my right hand and push her torso up, grabbing her breast.
I take my left hand and yank at the right side of her panties, once, twice and I tear the band. With them off, I push her hips down, her free and glistening pussy, her hard nub opening a little over me. I sit up, totally losing my mind.
Aw man... I don’t know what to do! Sniff her panties? Keep pushing her down? Keeping molding her breast? Ah... ahh...!
Koishi grinds on me while I slouch in front of her and savor it, still shoving her down because I want more of this slippery, slimy feeling—this little touch of her aroused, stiffened, and most sensitive part. Her skin... I grind into her knee, and she keeps up the rhythm with the sway of her hips. I pull her nipple far out.
“AAAHH!! J... Jo—!” Koishi quivers all over, her left hand down on the bed, her right one clawing into my shoulder.
I take the panties from my left hand, still squeezing her flesh, and I push the crease into my face, my brow twitching over and over as the fragrance of her soaked underthings overwhelms me. The smell of sweat... this stuffy scent... flowers... Koishi’s...
I’m at my limit... Nnf...
I chew on Koishi’s panties, cumming in shakes and sucking the almost flavorless juice from the cloth. My thighs go up and down rapidly, but I notice Koishi isn’t cumming with me. What...? I didn’t get her off.
Koishi lets me finish, and at the end I’ve completely soaked her left leg. I droop as afterglow sets in, and she takes her hand from her shoulder to stroke my hair a few times (since I don’t have it in drills now, I guess). It tickles... but it’s nice. I lean into it.
She turns her head to give me a loving kiss without tongue for a few seconds, and when she stops she whispers, “Now I’m gonna lick you.”
“Hyan!” I squeal a bit hearing that. I feel, like, way more like a girl than I usually do.
That said, when Koishi crawls away from me, taking off her gown over her head and then pulling off mine, she sits naked on the floor in front of me looking like all her confidence is lost, her posture tense. I’m still breathing heavily and twitching from the climax, but I think hard and tell her, “B—...” her panties drop from my mouth, “Be c-careful with my cl-clit... I’m, hahh... sensitive right now.”
Looking at her vagina (since the way she’s sitting, her legs are wide), I pick my legs up and start tugging and pushing my underwear off. It’s hard, they’re, like... totally done. “Put... Put your tongue in and... wiggle it around...” I say, finally pulling the undies from my right foot. I let them fall out of my hand to the floor and I open my legs in front of her, my heart pounding in my ears, my body leaned back on my elbows.
She brings her face near me, her expression equal parts anxious and anticipating, her brow lowered and kind of stern. I’m nervous... because I think anything she’ll do will make me go nuts again, even if she’s awkward at it. That, said, first I want...
“Um, also,” I say, “ki... kiss i—IH!? Hyahh! Agh!”
She kisses it.
She pecks at it all over, and each time she puts her face to my genitals so cutely (her eyes are closed and calm now) a jolt fires through me. She starts teasing me with small laps of her tongue and my heart thumps more and more heavily. Eventually, she kisses my pussy full on, and I feel like I’m gonna cum again ‘cause she spreads her mouth wide, opens her eyes halfway, and gives me an unexpected, wide, rough lick all the way up. It feels like it sparks—I sit up, my hands moving over her head but not touching it.
Koishi eats me out with none of the style I used on her—at least not yet. She kisses me and slathers me with her tongue, but doesn’t put it in yet. It’s incredible, because I want more, but god I want this—it’s adorable and feels just amazing. Her hands on the floor between her thighs, she keeps at it, and swirls of stupid strong pleasure churn through my lower body.
She spreads me out, again without warning, and kisses my insides. I start panting high-pitched like she does, spurting my juices on her cheeks, jerking up and down. She laps long at me, kisses me; I shut my mouth, put my hands on her head, and groan. I exhale, exploring her hair, rubbing and caressing her ears when I find them.
I suddenly grasp her hair totally, gritting my teeth and grunting. “Ugh! Ahahhh... Ahh, hah—! Ng... Hh...” I... It’s in...!
I feel her start to push inside, curl, and thrust. I put one hand over my face, and my thighs close up while this impossibly euphoric wave swells up from my deepest parts. It’s hard, but I manage to force my thighs open and push my hips toward her. I want more so bad... I start to hear a squelching noise echoing in the room, Koishi’s moaning, and realize one of her hands is at her own place, and I can’t see it. S-Seriously? K-Koishi’s masturbating and I...!
Nn, but the mental image is...!
For a while I push Koishi’s head into my crotch and get off on her twisting tongue and her sounds. It doesn’t take long for the familiar rolling sensation of an incoming orgasm to come to my loins, but I speak to Koishi before I let it explode. “Tell me... when you’re... gonna cum...” I ask her through intermittent breaths.
And after a few more minutes of desperately holding back I hear, “Now... Now...! Mm...!”
I finally let the buildup release, spraying into her open mouth and over her face and wow, I’m feeling lightheaded. I see her hair bouncing as her body spasms with constant pleasure. We both let this feeling wash over us, panting like dogs, but before I can feel any more exhaustion I will myself to reach down to her cheek, then under her chin. I lift gently, and she halfway stands on wobbling legs. I pull her up by her arm then, and she falls on top of me, her skin sticking to mine with sweat. My back falls to the bed, and I feel her heart beating. I look at her floating extra eye, bring my eyelids down, and kiss the top of her head. I relax like that for a bit and then, summoning strength again, I scooch back and pull her further onto the bed so neither of our legs or feet are dangling. I hug her, but she doesn’t have the power to hug back. I reach down and squeeze her ass, touching her pussy too and enjoying how my fingers slide and how taut and tiny everything is. She puts her right hand on my breast, and weakly grasps me.
“I love you...” she says, her breath cooling my skin.
“Koishi, I love you too. I love you... so much.”
I feel twisted emotion again, sadness and worry tying with joy and hopefulness. I start to cry again, and I thank her.
I feel tears roll from Koishi’s face as well, down my side, and she thanks me back.
My consciousness starts to fade, and as it does I appreciate what it means to have someone love you who isn’t yourself, and how important it is that that person isn’t related to you at all.
She just loves you.
Even if you have nothing but contempt for yourself, at that lowest point she can bring you back up.
Remind you who you are, and right you.
This is love, one of the bonds one makes in life...
And I, Yorigami Joon, am too happy I found it.
Satori will give me information about (probably) Shion’s kidnappers tomorrow. What should I do after that?
 Consult with Yuugi.
 Talk with Ouzu about his old “family”.
 Slow down. Build influence and reputation while exploring the city with Koishi.
“It’s been a rather lawless place since its namesake’s departure.”
The Palace of Earth Spirits.
“‘Lawless’? What the heck are you saying?”
“This is the Land of the Oni, right?”
Satori puts down a cup of tea and lifts a piece of bread. A large dog—not sure what kind, a mutt maybe—steps loudly over to her and pushes its nose toward her. Satori says “no”, and pushes the animal back. I meanwhile look around the room, where exotics and common sorts of creatures are lazing around, leaving the room or entering it. My eyes move to my food. Ehh... eating with animals...
“Claiming this land to be lawless in front of one of its rulers is a bit off, Miss Yorigami,” she says, and I gotta scoff that.
“You live in a palace,” I tell her, “that doesn’t mean you’re a queen. Don’t pretend it’s not a cage, Komeiji Satori.”
“It is only as much a cage to me as any home is to any person,” she replies, biting her toast. I shake my head.
“You don’t even do anything, right?”
“My job,” says Satori, “I do my job.”
“When it shows up in your face. Everyone heard about your blind eye to your pet crow, right?”
“... That was just an example of my being trusting.”
I reach for my own toast. “‘Trusting’ to you. ‘Lazy’ to the Shrine Maiden.”
I bite on the crust, the dog from before plodding over to me and Satori shooing it off from her side of the table. While it stalks away I glance at Koishi sitting next to me, drinking tea.
“‘Cute...’ you say,” says Satori. I swallow, and glare at her.
“So, she’s in the Ibaraki Quarter, right?” I try returning to the subject.
“Their operation is within the Ibaraki Quarter. I don’t know if your sister is there.”
“How’s it lawless? It dangerous or...?” I ask.
“It’s a seedy place, and the youkai there operate unscrupulously. Yuugi does nothing about it, because she believes that part of the Underworld is her friend’s responsibility. It does exist in the Noble District, though... so despite being seedy, the only ones who seem to do any business there are high in status within oni society.”
I lean into the back of my chair. “So it’s good I’m planning to be high society, high influence,” I confirm halfway to her and halfway to me. “I’ll probably need sway to get people to trust me, let me in...” I slam my rings into an open palm, “... so I can beat their faces.”
“Whatever you wish, I will support you,” Satori vows to me casually, taking another sip of tea.
“So all you know is where they are?” I ask her, slumping a bit down in my seat.
“I pick up rumors on the occasions I am out. Nobody really tells me anything... ‘Makes sense’? Yes, I suppose it does.”
“Well...” I say, putting a hand on my face, “I’ll find them, definitely.”
The satoris both smile at me with different levels of affection. The older sister speaks: “I’m glad you’re honest in saying that.”
I left Koishi behind, told her I wanted my heart to grow fonder.
She knew I just didn’t want distractions.
It hasn’t been long since Ouzu became a follower of mine, but since I told him I wanted faith out of him... boy’s given me faith. I’ve never felt as strongly believed in. That’s why... I almost feel bad about having to roll up on him and get him to give up his past to me. I need to be careful... need to make sure he doesn’t think all I really wanted from him was a few words and belief... even if that’s the truth. The premise was I cared about him... so I’ve got to show I care. More than just appreciation, y’know? Concern.
... I can probably do it, I just need to make sure that my head is clear.
I walk through the Ibuki Quarter, much nicer lookin’ than the last time I came around (me, not the place... although...)
Come to think of it, Satori said the Ibaraki Quarter lost its shit with the absence of its Matriarch. Why not the Ibuki Quarter? Ibuki Suika’s been topside for over a decade now and the place looks perfect. Hmmmm...
... Whatever, here’s his place.
“... Ouzu!” I shout from outside his mansion, not even walking up to it. “Your god seeks an audience!”
After a few seconds, the gray giant opens his front door, dressed colorfully, expression light. He looks like this nowadays... happy.
“Lady Yorigami...! I see life has been kind to you!” Yeah, happy.
“Pretty much... Hey, do you only need hope, Ouzu? I can bless you with oth... well, curse enemies, if you’ve got any.”
“Hope was what I needed to begin steering my life to a different path,” he tells me, looking all enlightened. “Bringing conflict in again right now might ruin it all.”
“... I just wish I could give you something else.” I look over my hands and clothes. “This stuff is mostly on you when it comes down to it, Ouzu.”
“I’m overjoyed to hear it,” he says, smiling warmly. “If what you need to become a hero in this Hell is my support, I will gladly give it to you.”
I feel my cheeks blush, looking at some of the statues of rabbits outside of his house instead of him.
“... Alright. Say, Ouzu?”
“I need to talk to you about who you swore by before me,” I admit, locking my eyes with his.
He gazes at me stonily. I breathe in with my eyes closed for a second.
“I need to talk to you about Kurode.”
Just another yakuza type running in the underground, not too benevolent but not too criminal neither, the Kurode aren’t notorious or particularly heralded. Uradaka Ouzu was formally “Black Hand Ouzu”, and he was an old hand at that. He gained wealth and influence under that name. His life wasn’t all charming, but I could understand his loyalty real well once he told me the reason for his family’s name.
It was simple: the first head of the family was an oni who lived for others, rather than for himself. The “black hand” was literal—representing the fact that he saved a fellow who had, at the time, been an enemy of his often after his head. Kurode Yuuen rescued Kurokatachi Heirei from a tar pit, sacrificing his arm to molten pitch simply because to Yuuen, all that mattered was that he was there and a life could be saved. Although it scarred him for life, although he could have been trapped as well in the attempt, although the act could have been futile (and yeah, Heirei’s new name said it all about how he turned out after), he still went ahead and did it. A man too noble, and a brother for life. Selfless camaraderie thus defined a brand new oni-gumi that started from nothing.
Those values of helping others were ultimately what gathered good-natured oni to the crew, so... I mean, it was never a lot of guys and girls, but it was worthwhile. Time and the world spit in the face of altruism, though. By the time Ouzu joined them, they had to resort to some dirty stuff just by being around and needing to protect their own first. Because of that, though, they ended up becoming pretty obscure in time... not notable for much of anything.
“Few even know what the name means,” Ouzu tells me. We left the Ibuki Quarter, the noble district, the city altogether to some obscure and stony outskirts. Even if he left them without any major problems, Ouzu’s got to be careful with the shit he says about them. If they’d be listening anywhere, it’d be at his house.
I drag at a cigarette, exhaling luminescent smoke. “So?” I ask him. “Where do they set up shop nowadays?”
“Ah, yes... because of...” the god-trading. That was Ouzu’s last straw, having had to do a lot of ill alongside good under the Kurode name. “You believe they have your sister.”
“Do you know if they do?” I venture, looking up from my rock-seat.
“I don’t. I’m afraid all I know is that they trade divine slaves. I never tried to dismantle the operation, let alone look into it.” He sounds frustrated with himself, and definitely he’s giving off bad vibes again.
“Don’t worry, they’re still your family even if you swore against them. Can’t blame you for not wanting to fight them.”
“... They’re in one of the unfinished parts of Old Hell. That’s where the Black Hand operates and trades.”
I drop my cigarette.
“... Not the noble district?”
“Ibaraki don’t ring any bells?”
“It’s only the name of one of our queens,” he tells me.
... Two? ... There’s... two!?
I pick my cigarette back up from between my legs, crush it in my hand, and burn it all away in golden fire.
Two asshole groups committing violations of life in the same crap city... Sis, which would’ve taken you?
And damn if the areas couldn’t be any more different...
I open my hand, my flame dying and ash falling out of it. “... What else can you tell me about them? Nothing?”
“... I hope that doesn’t disappoint you.”
“... Nah, but,” I answer him, but don’t find myself able to follow through. Two... Two trades...
... I’ll, have to think about what this really means, ‘cause it... might mean more than Shion...
If I’ve got two places to see, I’ve got two sets of eyes to see them. After stopping by the Palace again, I asked Koishi to check out the place her sister told us about on her own, try scoping it out for anything about my sister. I told her the important details... a tall, thin, blue goddess who stinks and causes trouble just by being around. Koishi didn’t like my description.
Now I’m back in the forgotten parts of this forgotten Underground once again, and hating it. Does it really have to look so... abandoned? Youkai squat around here, right? Make it look more lived in! Fuckin’... glass and shit on the streets—I can’t take it.
And like, I look so much nicer than this place does now. Ugh.
Hope Shion isn’t here...
The Kurode’s House is supposedly nondescript. It’s a high rise, old apartment building that the oni had built for sinners. Ouzu told me there’s only a few like it, so finding the right one won’t be hard... Should I start my fires up? Seriously, I can’t stand this place.
I bring my sunglasses down and skulk down an old touristy road, vaguely moving toward a big ol’ shadow looming, like... North and East of here (fuck if I know if it’s actually those directions). I think it’s probably a sky... ceiling-scraper, but it seriously just looks like an oversized 2001 monolith from here.
I’m smoking again. I probably shouldn’t, even if it can’t do anything to me, but it feels right here. The way fumes lift up and twist outta my mouth, disappearing in the air, fading into light—it’s nice, and nice is something I need in this shady-ass literal hellhole.
I round a corner, and in front of me is a cracked, colorless plaza. A poster of rules drifts by, riding a draft from topside or downside—who knows which. I take a gander at the shape stretching wide and tall out ahead of me... closer, it’s definitely an old apartment building. Shitty, too, because of course it is. I crane my neck, and spot a few other ones around, just like Ouzu said. I close my eyes.
Let’s see... which a’ these has people in them...
I send a feeler out for emotions, waves of thought or whatever...
... And I catch something, some vague wishing from somewhere behind this thing. I open my eyes and look at the apartment.
Alright... behind that’s another building for sinners, I’d guess. And it’s the only one that’s occupied... That means The Black Hand.
I hold and crack my knuckles.
... Let’s be diplomatic for now. I don’t want Ouzu getting in any shit over my reckless action. I start stepping over the concrete, making my way around this colossal architecture and slowly, slowly watching the building I need come into view.
I step into the lobby. There weren’t any doors.
I look back over my shoulder and get a bad feeling. Even if kindly old Ouzu used to hang here all the time...
... right, the family’s changed beyond what that kindly old oni can accept. Shit... I’m nervous.
I put my palm to the dusty floor, squinting at it through my shades.
... Something’s... down there.
Not to sound like it’s a monster or anything...
I stand up, looking into the darkness beyond the mailboxes.
... It’s a barrier. Any god or youkai could sense that.
Anyway, if this is the place, nothing about it gives that away. This building looks like it got ransacked an age ago... or like an eruption blew through it. Seriously... I think this isn’t dust: it’s ash.
I start walking in, my boots making a little (which is too much) noise.
According to Ouzu, Kurode changes which floor they’re operating on daily, only letting other members know. If I want to find them...
Well... maybe I don’t just yet. I stop at a staircase and bend my head inside. Going down, or going up... either way, it’s pitch dark. I blink, and straighten up.
I can just start sneaking up floor by floor, I can fly around outside (and maybe get spotted) trying to figure out where they’re at but... maybe that’d even be better. Almost less suspicious, being that upfront. I don’t like my odds against a group of oni yakuza, ya feel me?
I lift my shades up with a finger under one of the arms and take out my cigarette, burning it up into nothing in my grasp.
Carefully, I start to levitate, and make my way down, not giving off any light—sticking near the wall. Silent... let’s hope whoever’s standing guard doesn’t have good senses.
I’m not even hearing any mice. I know this is the place, but damn if it doesn’t feel like it. Doesn’t take long before I’ve gone past enough stairs that I straight up can’t see anything anymore. I hold my breath and descend, lower, fall, until light starts shaping things for me again. The (at least) first basement floor... I approach where the stairs end, and sharp blue bleeds in from the first hallway underneath me. I stop for a second and check again for feelings... No one. No oni, I guess. I hover down to the bottom.
...? This is...
I stop and look at what I’ve found.
... a barrier?
A wispy cerulean haze makes a thin wall just a few steps into the basement floor. Making a circle... square along the walls, roof, and floor are some red and white seals, grounding it. It’s actually really sparse of a barrier... the reason I notice it, aside from the glow, is that I can feel it pushing me away. A barrier against gods?
This must be the place... Sis...
I look past the waving magic and see that there are fire lights brightening the hall, shining from glass lanterns. I look around this place... Broom closet, but aside from that the only way to go is back up. I look down at the floor, at the garbage left here. It’s not piles, just a lot of stuff left behind. I bend down to a wayward sake dish...
... and shove it toward the barrier.
I watch quietly as it slides through, skidding with a little light scraping a meter past the blue border, not disturbing the thing at all. I wish for it back in my hand—
—and, just like that, I’m on the other side.
“... I’m lucky that worked,” I mumble, picking the red lacquer thing up. It looks like what’s actually happening when I do that is I legit teleport, rather than actually moving at all. That explains why I don’t have any momentum beyond what I started with when I catch whatever I threw. But seriously, if I actually moved real fast... I’d have fucked with that barrier bad.
I look back at it, bring my sunglasses down again...
... and I start heading into the halls.
Almost every door I pass while floating through the basement has that same sensation as the barrier at the entrance. There’s no doubt in my mind: this is where they keep their stock. The basement floor(s?), converted into more of a prison. I keep wandering, not sure what I should do but... no guards down here. They’re really confident in their barriers, eh? ... Where’s Sis?
Sis’s powers work whether or not she wants them to. If she was kidnapped, the smart thing to do would be to put her far away from anyone else. It’s too bad they changed out the doors in the basement from cell-type ones. Or I’m guessing that much since I saw the ones on the ground floor had windows, bars. I can’t check what’s behind any of these doors without making a lot of noise.
Eventually I make it to an intersection of a kind. I go left, trying to look invisible. I wish my fires could do something like that.
After a while, I see another staircase down. That’s definitely...
I stop at one of the doors that has a barrier on it. I look around for a sec, land, and open my bag. I take out a pen and my notebook. Going to an empty page, I write on it “Take this please!”, turn it over and write a warning. With that, I drag my finger down near the binding. A line of shining fire burns it off without a sound, and I take it into my hand, putting everything else away and kneeling. I slip the paper under the door.
... I hear something. A gasp, definitely.
While I wait for the occupant to take it, I look around the hallway for something else. Hm... that tokkuri there on the wall? Good enough. I stretch out to put my fingers on it for a little while. This is another target.
The paper gets tugged out from my fingertips. I look over to the door. Half a minute goes by, and I wish for that paper again.
I’m in a cell.
Well actually, it just looks like a small, stone, and one-room pad. I pick up the paper and look at my second message: “Now put it on the floor and get away”. I put it in my back and lift my gaze. A green-haired boy looks at me confused, He’s dressed pretty fancifully, like ceremonially. I can tell pretty much just by being near him that he’s a god. Dunno of what, though.
I glance at the door behind me. The thing is surrounded by more ofuda, The doorknob has a rope bound around it. Shimenawa... I think? There was probably one at the start of the floor, too. Must’ve missed it. These things are specifically for holding a god in place.
“Hey,” I whisper. “Do you know who stole you? Kurode?”
I look at him. He looks confused. “Tatted up oni. Each one of them has a mark of a hand on the left side of their chest. Well?”
He thinks for a sec, then nods at me.
“Alright... now how about this? You hear anything about a god of misfortune getting caught? Really thin. Like, rail-thin right.”
He thinks again, and shakes his head.
“Do the oni talk about others at all whenever you see them? Any mentions of an office?”
Now he opens his mouth, saying “Sometimes... and yeah.” That’s good... Alright, I should get out of here. “Are you here to rescue us?”
I look at the little god. “No,” I tell him, “I came here mostly to figure the place out. Don’t put your hopes in me.” I lift a finger and aim it at myself. “I’m a god too, so I can’t do anything about the seals on the rooms or in the hall. My friends... I’m not sure if I want to bring them in on this either.”
He turns down his eyes and lips, wincing just a little. I turn around and put my ear to the wall beside the door. “Disappointing?” I remark. “Get used to it. We can’t all get saved.”
Doesn’t sound like anyone’s out there...
“But hey, maybe I’ll get you out of here. I’m just saying, don’t believe in it.” I throw him a look over my shoulder. “I don’t need you cursing this god for not answering your prayers.”
He glares at me, then a door’s in his way. I switched to the other side, in front of the tokkuri I touched. I pick it up and gaze down the next staircase which is still well-lit.
Can’t figure this goes down any further past that... let’s find Sis, or find an office. Maybe there’s a registry...
I’m worried how there’s no guard, though. Ouzu said there were seven members not counting him. Seriously? Not even one is down here?
I haven’t tested how far this teleport stuff works but I’m guessing I can’t shift back outside the building to escape... or even to the start of the floor. Rather, I shouldn’t bet on it. I wonder if I can shift through floors, though. I don’t see why not...
Anyways, let’s go.
The journey down and through the next floor is just as quiet as the first basement floor. I hover over stairs, hover past doors, and keep going further along, not a sound interrupting, further and further in. Until I’m at a long, narrow hall. A hall with only a light over a door at the far end... Shion.
No mood overtakes me. My heart remains consistent. It’s Shion... right? It’s probably her.
I move toward the door.
Soon enough, I stop in front of it. I take off another sheet of paper from my notebook. Just in case... Just in case, ‘cause if it isn’t her, but it’s still someone dangerous...
I write on the paper, “Shion?
Knock twice if yes, once if no on the wall”
I slip this note beneath the door...
Now I feel something. Sinking, crap emotion, defeating me. I pull the paper back and write on it: “If they find out I was here, and they want a name, give them ‘Hoshiguma Yuugi’”.
I hold that under the door for a little while, hearing knock, knock after near a minute. I pull back the paper and crumple it up.
... I feel a little bad about that, but I can’t risk surprising a god they clearly separated from the rest. I don’t feel bad about giving Yuugi’s name. Nobody’s going to fuck with Yuugi down here. Hell, if that’s the name they get it might make them scared shitless... more likely to make ‘em scoff.
An office, now.
Even after all this exploring, I can’t detect anyone’s joy, wishes, pain, or sadness. Gods don’t register, but any youkai would. I walk through the second basement floor openly now, tired of flying around, checking door after door for the telltale signs of god-repelling barriers. There’s gotta be at least fifty slaves down here...
After a few minutes, I find one: a door that doesn’t push me away. I look around a bit, walking over to a different hall and checking both ways. I put the sakazuki around a corner and step back to the door. Next, I lift the flask I picked up from before, putting myself flat to the wall next to the entrance—to the right of it. I hurl the tokkuri at the floor, and it shatters loudly.
I wait, and hold my breath.
... The door opens. I go tense. A lanky woman with curled horns steps just outside, adjusting her kimono slightly and glaring at the floor. I ignite like an inferno and dash in front of her, throwing an uppercut at her jaw. She’s alone. I can do this.
She’s baffled. Before she can figure anything out, I throw my bag at the wall behind me and hit her over her jaw. She acts fast, opening her thin arms wide over me. She takes hold of me, and I slip back to my bag, out of her hand. While she’s even more confused I kick off the wall and shoulder-check her into the room, to the ground. Still making sure the golden flame is going strong, I punch her across her right cheek, jab her in the nose, and seal the deal with a headbutt to her skull. While she’s agonizing (blinded, bruised, and beaten), I shoot my gold fingers to her throat, grab her by the neck and drag her off the floor—pushing, pushing, until I have her to the next wall. I raise my other hand, blazing, in a fist, and watch her face while I squeeze, pushing my thumb into her artery and cutting away her breath.
Her skin slowly goes blue.
After a minute of her eyes fluttering, she knocks out. I let her drop against the wall and turn my head around quickly.
I bend down to the guard and rip open her shirt, looking over her clothes and ignoring her tattoos... Nice: sarashi. I pull the bindings over her chest off and her breasts spill out. While they’re like that, I adjust the long strip of white cloth in my hand and move to wrap it around her face. I cover her eyes, and bind it tightly. A small, strong knot. I pull her away from the wall and drag her to a desk.
A wooden desk. I push a rolling chair out of the way (it’s cushiony, and the seat’s obviously depressed) and shove her under it. Then, I push the desk over on top of her—hearing something slap onto the floor. Finally, I check around the room—for the lights. I quickly dash to the two lamps in here and punch each of them broken, making the room too dark to see. I take my golden flame, and use it as a torch.
First, an evaluation tells me aside from the heavy desk and the chair, there’s a filing cabinet nearby. I look around the walls. A poster explaining virtues is there, but that’s about it.
I check the floor while the oni starts waking up. There’s a folder... I open it, and see it’s empty. I look around quick and don’t see anything. Just an empty folder, then...
“Nnn... whuh... Who...?”
I zip to the cabinet and fling open the top drawer.
“Who’s there!? Yosho! There’s someone here!”
I don’t think anyone’ll hear her but I dart over to her anyway. I carefully lift the extra length of sarashi trailing onto the floor so she won’t notice, and burn it off. It’s long. Long enough for another wrap. She grunts with effort, not sure how much she needs to stand. I grip her kimono and rip off a piece.
“Ah!? Who the fu—ffh!?”
I balled up the cloth and shoved it in her mouth. Next, I tie the sarashi over the makeshift gag. She roars with anger and confusion. Back to the files.
I start making a mess, yanking every drawer out and dropping them to the floor, each with a metal crash. The top one’s empty. The second one’s empty. The third one... something! I open the fourth one, too. It’s empty.
The third drawer has a bunch of folders sorted around. I flip through them, checking each category. “Searches”... “Families”? ... “Risk Clients”... “Gods”—Gods!
I hear the desk moving. I move to the oni and elbow her in the back of her head. She falls, whining.
I go back to the “Gods” section. Pulling out its contents, it’s just a few sheets of paper, each a list of “sorts” of gods. Types. I look through the lists twice under golden light. Thrice. I look over and over... but there isn’t even one “binbougami”.
They wouldn’t mistake her. She can’t hide it, after all.
Shion isn’t here.
The desk flies off and hits a different wall with explosive sound. I look at the oni, flailing and mad as hell. She knows some shit is up and is already reaching for her bindings. I bounce.
While I’m going out I turn left and start destroying each lamp on the walls I can find, creating a path of destruction until there’s a turnoff. I turn down the hall and destroy a few more, back up a bit, and teleport back to the other end on the other side of the office door, to where I left the sakazuki. I pick it up, and start rushing for the stairs.
Turn... turn... go—
I start to stop and slide the dish underhand through the barrier. I slip through, not looking back.
Alright, just the home stretch now.
This security... is it too low, or did they not think someone could circumvent it? Before heading back up the stairs, I check out the ofuda around the place... on a closer look, they’re different from the ones on the door I saw holding the green-haired kid. I don’t know anything about seals, but since there’s no rope I can see (I mean, what would it get tied to?) could this be a general barrier? Maybe it alerts people that someone tried to cross it if they do. That’s the only thing that makes this laziness make sense. I’ve heard of people exploiting gaps, but... there’s only a few folks out there who can use skills like that, and none of them would care about what’s going on down here, I’m sure.
So... this isn’t it. Does that mean Shion’s in the Ibaraki District?
So what do I do, then? About Ouzu’s place...?
If I leave it alone... he’s not gonna like that, I guess.
I might not like it either.
 Just escape for now.
 Go do some more damage upstairs before leaving.
When the golden flame really woke up at my back, I remember thinking it couldn’t start a fire. To me, it felt too familiar. It was just my willpower, given some sorta shape.
I learned fast enough it could burn.
With memory in mind, I clench my fist and stoke the fire. It’s morning, right? Let’s go and make something like sunshine.
First, I ascend. I can already hear the oni from before rampaging beyond the barrier. Glowing, I start to flash up the stairs: higher, higher, past the ground level, and into the upper and lightless stories. I don’t know what floor the Black Hand is on, but I’m going to the top. I’ve got a wicked sort of plan.
Every new hall that I shoot by looks empty, until I’m far up and can feel some wayward wants. I can’t say which one it was—I’m not counting. I just fly to the top, until the only staircase left will lead to the roof. I don’t go there, I go around the top floor’s rooms. I find old sheets and beds, and I start yanking them from where they were, pushing armoires down to the floor, spreading things evenly across as much space as I can, and of course reaching to the walls.
In three minutes, I stand at the stairwell again, staring at what looks like a shelter for disaster relief. Well, there’s about to be a disaster.
I take a cue from Gasha. I lift my forearm in front of me, middle finger pressed to the joint of my thumb. I push them together, cause a snap, and my power spreads wildfire. Shining energy consumes everything in that moment, and grows beyond just me, casting a glow of money on the entire floor, while black smoke builds and builds. I hold an ignited hand over my mouth and nose, causing more illumination as it stops the dark air from taking my lungs. Flame licks at the floor and ceiling, the walls begin to peel. I leap backward over the stairs, draw back my other fist, and punch a ball of fire into the inferno.
A blast shakes everything, and I hear glass shattering at once while I drop. I swing down to the floor below. This tomb is now sure as hell afflicted by arson, but I want it to burn more.
At every floor I dart within the first hall and alight like a phoenix, casting fire out over the level like a broken dam of molten gold. I get three floors down doing this, before four oni climb to the same story. Surrounded by flame that can’t even sweat me, I look at them through shades while knelt on the floor. I slowly stand, my hand raised, and turn my thumb down at them while something bombs and ripples my clothes behind me.
“That’s the one...”
“Hey...” I address them. I pick up my chin. “This is fine, I’m tired of punching air. Come and give me some faces.”
I start to make fire saw around me like a cyclone.
A heavyset guy climbs out behind two others, his horns almost like antlers: twisted, high. It’s hard to tell in my light, but it looks like he’s got purple skin. He’s dressed like Ouzu used to – gray and unremarkable – and there’s a story in pictures on his chest, circling the mark of a palm over his heart. His muscles are unbelievable... like cartoonish strong, shoulders and biceps shaped like boulders. I grin for a moment. I want to fight this guy.
“Who’re you with?” he asks.
“Bullshit,” he spits, “Sovereign Yuugi wouldn’t bother with us.”
I shrug, still smiling, fire whipping past my cheeks.
“You’re really with no one? You’re doing all this shit by yourself?” he asks, starting to march my way.
“I told you I’m with Hoshiguma Yuugi,” punch my palms and crack my knuckles. “She’s not here right now, but that’s who gave me this fist.” I hold it up, my rings catching light and blinding.
“Yosho, what do we do?” says a half-familiar voice.
Not looking back he answers, “One person stick with me, the rest get everything fucking out of here.”
Hm. “‘Out of here’?” I repeat. I raise my pointer finger and rotate my wrist to wag it at him lightly. “Nuh uh, all this is pointless if you aren’t hurt in the end.”
He stomps once in front of me, raising his knuckles back and above him, looking at me with mad eyes.
“Not you yourself,” I say pointing at him and almost tapping his navel. Fire starts to curl up and smoke billows. I turn my finger’s aim straight up to the ceiling and break my gaze from him with a lowered head. “I’m hurting every finger on this ‘Hand’.”
The floor below me cracks and falls away, “Yosho” now throwing his fist through fire. With embers and cinder falling around me along with singed and burning planks and unaffected insulating material, I drop to the floor below and set off again, a geyser of shimmering wrath erupting around me and taking the oni’s brows. While this floor burns further, I fly to the stairwell again.
Two oni are running down and don’t expect to see me coming. I throw my purse to the wall behind one of them and flash to their back. It’s the girl from the basement. I reach my hand back to grab her face, grip tight, and jerk her skull to slam it into the wall I’m standing on. I push it with every ounce of my strength. The walls cracks and crags.
I imbue my bag with flame and swing it at the other oni’s (a male’s) face. I don’t engage him and head downstairs while I hear his boss telling him to take care of the one I guess I shook unconscious.
I skip igniting the floors after that, searching for desperate desires to figure out which is specifically the floor they were using today. After only two skipped, I find one; pursuers not even close to my heels with how fast I’m blinking through the building. I rush in, and shoot myself to the ground straight away. A studded club screams over my head, swung my a three-horned oni with hair as long and straight as Ouzu’s. I stand still while he completes the arc and while I wait for him to swing again, I make as if I’m about to move away. He throws the club, I catch it and push it away with my fire.
His eyes go wild as he near loses his grip on the bat, and before he knows it I’m right in front of his face with my forehead out. I smash against his head (cutting mine on one of his short spikes) and while he’s reeling shoot my left hand into his mane. I grip and tug, bringing him off his feet and all the way down. I stand, look down at him. Looking at him, and looking at how stubby his horns are, I’m sure he’s a kid.
I pick my boot up and stomp an amber-raging foot into his face, repeatedly, tossing teeth and warm red until I can’t feel how worried he is anymore. My vision sharpens and my heart really starts to beat. I turn my head around, because I can still feel that desperation that stopped me here. The smoke from above starts to crawl down.
I light this floor on fire.
“You crazy bitch!” I hear. But before I can move anything but my neck, through the curtain of yellow flame the mauve-colored oni grabs the back of my skull and pushes me to the floor. My cheekbone smarts, my ribs feel crushed, and I nearly land wrong on my arms, but the biggest problem after all that is that I can’t lift up against him. I strain, and he takes my left forearm and bends it to my back. I glare, and see the oni he’d told to stay with him rushing into the hallway. “Help Jeira get the documents!”, orders his boss.
“Don’t worry,” I tell the purple people eater, my body only quivering underneath him, “I’ll cauterize it immediately.”
Before he reaches “—t” I use my flame to force my body to turn around, feeling my left arm snap and pop. I meet straight with his gaze through the dark filter of my glasses, ignorant of the pain rushing through my limb, and I through my free right hand at his face, my empty palm to his cheek, my sharp thumb in his eye.
Flame shoots out of his wound, the hot juice and gunk of his ruptured organ largely evaporating in the flame surrounding me. I pull my hand back.
He roars. I throw the heel of my palm under his nose, hearing a pop.
Yosho frees me and cradles his face, hardly able to kneel, and I burn a path to the oni who went to help “Jeira”. I repeat what his boss did to me, fast taking the back of his head (bald, for what it’s worth), shoving his nose to the ground, but not twisting his arm. Instead while he’s still in shock I grip the back of his kimono, ignite again, and pick him up to throw him into the nearest wall. He gasps, my heels sear the floor beneath be as I turn to face him. I lift my rings, and focus.
I smash into his face. Again, and again, crunching and softening his mug. It turns out oni faces are more delicate than oni stomachs. He loses an eye too in my pounding, since a ring of mine met it, and that pulls me out of the fever destroying his face was making me feel. I stand up from him, looking at the sticky, not-all liquid stuff dripping off my knuckles and then at my limp and painful left arm. I place my palm against the wall above the now-groaning oni, and I bleed fire into it to spread the chaos even further. I don’t need to find the specific things they’re looking for: this message is clear.
“Can’t fhhucking beliefyu... I can’t FHUKKING—!” I hear a voice rumbling through clenched teeth, and look to see the bloody-faced clan leader (probably) standing perfectly fine, ignoring his damages. With his only remaining eye, he looks at me, and I can feel his rage. Even if I try low blows now, I don’t think I can stand a chance against a beefy oni THAT pissed.
“You...” I start, turning to face him, “you’ve got stock you’d better take care of. Tell... ‘Jeira’ and the conscious oni upstairs that they’d better get that safe before the building chokes every god below. There’s another one too, right? Another Kurode. Hope she’s on that.”
His grimace is twitching from anger and pain, his bared teeth near-chattering, but he doesn’t deny the problem.
“I couldn’t take the gods, so I took all this instead,” I tell him, gesturing to the fires around me that are swallowing floors faster and faster now. “I want you to know, this was a whim.”
I put my good hand in a pocket and stand with my chest out, looking at him without words for a moment. Then, I lift my shades from my eyes, just to show him them. We watch each other for that moment.
“When I start to plan,” I say, dropping the strap of my purse into the crook of my thumb, “cover your ass.”
I toss the bag behind me and slip to the end of the hall. I quickly turn and open the room there. I throw my bag through the window and when the shattered glass and it fall, I vanish and catch the thing outside, falling from the building now lighting up the underground like the top-point sun. I drop all the way down to the earth in a cloud of dirt and stay still for a couple seconds, letting my adrenaline lower. Then, I move to hold my left arm. I focus, squeeze it, and with faith it starts to reset. I clench my left hand a few times and take out a new cigarette. With no look back at the building now over two thirds done in with fire, light it and start to walk back toward the Palace of Earth Spirits.
I’m looking forward to this rumor being added to the pile. Spreading my fame.
Spreading my infamy.
Heading back to Koishi’s place...
Next order of business?
 MORE business. It’s time to start talking with money-makers.
 Meeting up with Yuugi again.
 Fuck. Just relax with Koishi for the rest of the day. Fuck, man.