For a moment, you lower your gaze, staring at the crumbling floor of the train compartment beneath you, ignoring the hand held out toward you. You're hesitant to take the boy's hand?to accept his request. However, the cracks only continue to grow as you idle in your seat. All of it. Everything. it's all crumbling away, falling apart into countless little specks.
Is this really a decision that I have the right to make?
Even if it's to help that girl, it's not something that I can accept so easily.
I don't want to make a mistake and end up all alone again, with no one?absolutely no one at all?left to turn to. I don't know if I can do this. I don't know if I should be allowed to take that request. I always mess everything up. I can't do a single thing to help anyone. I can do nothing but cause pain and misery. If I'm the one to do this, I might only end up hurting her again.
At the same time, I don't want him to disappear.
I want to help him.
I don't want this boy in front of me, who has lost everything, to disappear. I don't want him to be forgotten. I don't want him to crumble away and be lost to complete oblivion, with no one left to recall him and think of him because of what I've done. By helping him, I can at least soothe that girl's pain? and his?
And my own.
I'll be able to do it, and leave behind all my regrets and mistakes and finally free myself from this endless cycle.
But even so, I'm afraid?
I'm afraid that this might only end in disaster?
In light of that, can I really continue? Am I? willing to go through with it even though it may rob me of what hope I still hold?
You slowly lift up your hand, closing it around the one extended to you by the boy standing in front of you in a lose grip. A small grin forms on that boy's face as he looks down at you, the world around him continuing to break down and vanish into nothingness. His fingers tighten around yours, and a warm sensation travels from his clenched hand through your fingertips, running up your arm and filling your body with that warmth.
Yes? maybe? running away? wasn't a bad idea after all.
Maybe there are things that are best forgotten. Maybe there are things that are best left forgotten. From those things, I will turn away, and walk on without looking back. If those things catch up to me and cause me to falter and fall, then I will fully shoulder the burden of that forgotten past and do what I have to. If? I can cast off its shackles and chains, and finally free myself, then? I will embrace the future with open arms.
Even if by doing so, I am changed forever.
The world shatters completely, extinguishing any light left in the world and casting everything in absolute darkness.
But I can still feel the warmth in my body.
he's still here.
You open your eyes as sunlight shines through the uncovered window. Feeling sore all over, you take your time in sitting up on your futon, rubbing your eyes. Stifling a yawn, you reach to the side for your mask, fitting it on yourself before forcing yourself to stand up. Grabbing hold of the blanket that covered you during your night's rest, you hasten to neatly roll up your futon.
Once that's done, you wander over to the window, staring out at the morning sun. Shaking your head, you turn away from the opening, walking over to a table nearby, on top of which there are assorted bottles of different sizes and colors, though the fact of what they are eludes you. However, there is a large mirror standing behind those bottles, directly set against the wall opposite you.
You stare at your masked reflection, your hand wandering over to the back of your head on its own. Your fingers undo the strap, and with your other hand, you touch the tips of your fingers to its smooth, cold surface. Gripping it tightly, you close your eyes as you pull the mask away from yourself.
And then, slowly, you open your eyes.
The reflection of a dark eyed boy stares back at you.
You tie the straps around your head just as several knocks rattle the door to the room, followed shortly by the sound of your benefactor's voice.
"Are you awake?"
Turning to face the door, you open your mouth to speak, "Yes, I am."
"Good!" the voice says as the door slides open, revealing Sanae standing behind it wearing her usual smile. She's already changed out of her sleepwear, clad in what you assume to be her casual outfit: a shirt and a pair of shorts. "I wasn't sure what your sleeping schedule was like, so I didn't know if I should cook now or cook later, but I just ended up doing it at the regular time while worrying about it."
"I'm an early riser."
"Maybe," you say, letting out a single laugh.
Following behind her, you walk into the living room, where all the dishes and food are neatly set out. The shrine's gods are already present, seated at opposite sides of the table, though they haven't so much as touched the chopsticks yet. Lady Kanako, by the looks of her, seems to be really out of it, blinking dazedly at the bowl of rice in front of her. Lady Suwako, on the other hand, seems to be as energetic as ever.
"-morning, you two!" she greets enthusiastically as the two of you approach, raising her arm up.
"Sanae, didn't you set out an extra bowl today?" Lady Kanako says sleepily as Sanae seats herself. Lifting her gaze, her unfocused eyes meet yours, and almost immediately, she points a finger in your direction. ??hey, what's he doing here so early in the morning?"
"he's staying here for now, remember, Lady Kanako?"
"-oh right," she says, nodding slowly as she studies you with an uncomforting expression on her face. ?That happened yesterday. Wait, was it yesterday? Doesn't seem like it was yesterday?"
She continues on in an incomprehensive muttering, looking like she's ready to nod off at any moment.
"Forgive her. She's not a morning person," Lady Suwako says to you in an aside, giving you a wink.
"Right, right," Lady Kanako says, massaging her temples with two fingers on each hand. Letting out an exasperated sigh, she throws a sharp glance across the table at Suwako full of resentment and envy. "Ugh? Why is it that you're such a bad drinker and yet you never suffer from hangovers? That is too unfair."
"Heheheh," Lady Suwako snickers, gloatingly showing her grit teeth at the other god. "That's why you're still a fledgling compared to me."
?I'm the fledgling, you little midget?"
"Hey! Height has nothing to do with this, you?!?
"Ahem," Sanae clears her throat, silencing the noisy gods. "Since everyone's here, let's just eat, okay? No fighting."
You can't help but smile at the scene. they're really strange, aren't they?
"That's one of the rules at this house," Lady Kanako says as she picks up her pair of chopsticks, looking over at you. "No one starts eating until everyone is here. That way, everyone eats together. it's a good rule, is it not?"
You nod, picking up your own set of chopsticks.
Soon after finishing up breakfast, a knock comes at the front door.
"I'll get it," Sanae says, standing up from the table.
She hurries on over to the door, sliding it open. Not long after, she returns with a somewhat heavy look on her face, seating herself at the table again. Looking over to you, she says, ??Um, they want to talk to you. You know. Those two."
Understanding immediately, you push yourself up off the ground, nearly stumbling and falling over on your way to the front door. There, standing at the opened doorway, you see Miss Momizi and Miss Aya.
"Good morning, Miki!" Miss Aya greets you in a high spirited way, excitedly waving your hand. "So, you've spent the night at the Moriya shrine! How was it like? Were you privy to any of the shrine's darkest secrets? Was there an underground torture chamber hidden in any of the rooms? "A First Hand Account of the Moriya Shrine's Unscrupulous Activities, Revealed!" or something like that, if we run it."
"Miss Shameimaru, save it," Miss Momizi says sternly, letting out a grunt that sounds almost like a snarl. With a concerned expression, she looks over to you. ??I'm sorry, Mikio. It must have been hard?"
Miss Aya frowns, staring at her subordinate for a few seconds before glancing back over to you with a pleasant smile on her face. "Excuse us for a sec, Miki."
With that said, she links her arm with Miss Momizi's before dragging her off, presumably to where she thinks they're out of your earshot, though you can hear them just fine. A frown returning to her face again, she speaks to Miss Momizi in an almost berating tone.
"...Look, Momi, I know you're worried about him and all, but if he sees us walking on eggshells around him, he's just going to feel worse. Try to loosen up a bit, okay?"
"Oh," Miss Momizi replies, her face flushing a bit. ??I'm sorry. I thought you were just being thoughtless again."
"I'm offended!? Miss Aya says in a mock-hurt voice.
You stand silently, watching the pair return to you. Miss Aya is wearing that bright smile full of energy again, and while Miss Momizi doesn't smile, she at least seems less tense than she was before.
"So, did they feed you alright?" Miss Aya asks.
"They didn't make you sleep in the shed or anything?"
"No, I slept in a room."
"Mm," Miss Aya nods, satisfied. ??So you're probably wondering what's the situation on our end, huh?"
"Well, the official temporary cover up is that you're here to act as a live-in bodyguard to the mountain's shrine maiden," Miss Aya says, leaning back on one foot as she keeps her fingers busy playing with her pen. ??That's what they?ve decided to tell the others, anyway. As you know, the tengu can't show any signs of internal turmoil to the others at any cost, even if it only concerns a single member of the clan."
Of course, the tengu were always cautious.
"-Basically, the daitengu council's stance is to maintain the current status quo?that is, your stay here?until they've determined exactly what you are and what you are capable of. So? unless you have some stuff to tell them, this situation might end up a little more permanent than it should be."
You avert her gaze, not saying anything.
??.I'm really sorry, Mikio," Miss Momizi says apologetically. "But we don't have a voice in the council. If it were left up to us, you'd be back with us immediately, but?"
"Why don't we go to Lord Tenma?" Miss Aya suddenly says.
"Eh?" you blurt out, looking up at her.
"We'll go over the council's head and straight to Lord Tenma," Miss Aya repeats with a small, mischievous smile. "The chief will understand, right? he's a big guy with a big heart. Plus, he was a pal with Ogata. I think he'll grant you a favor if you ask for it."
"I'm not sure if that's a good idea," Miss Momizi says doubtfully. ??Lord Tenma's rule is no dictatorship. Even he has to follow the will of the council, if that's the will of the majority. Many of the council members are jaded and old. They opposed his acceptance into the clan to begin with, and without both Master Ogata's and Lord Tenma's influence, I don't think they could be convinced a second time."
"Well, it's really up to you to decide though, Miki," Miss Aya says, winking. "If you like it here, then I guess that's fine too, though we'll be a bit lonelier. But hey, it's not like we're not going to see each other again."
Ehhh, I really want to see him back with the Tengu. They're his family; he doesn't belong here. I'm afraid, though, of what the council will say, or do for that matter. If they ultimately decide to outcast him, it would totally crush his spirit. Then the thing with Hoshuu and Sanae... There's no way it can't be fixed, though. Right?
The tengu want to leave us high and dry? Coming up with some bullshit to cover THEIR own ass? Fine. Personally, I hope Mikio ends up telling them off goddess of the damn mountain in her own element. Well fuck that shit...the tengu aren't leaving us, we're leaving the tengu.
>>16361 You know I voted otherwise before the site went down and the thread was lost. Now that I hear your reasoning for your choice I wanna vote for this now. Really do think we should make some peace with Lord Tenma, Momizi, Aya and that wolf leader clan guy (Gah been up so long my brain is fried...Ra or Ro-something?). Other then those guys though, fuck 'em. The more I think about it, then more I see the Tengu as nothing but Empire showing signs of crumbling...
>>16361 Someone theorized that Ogata knew Mikio was Tayasumi. The same could go for the council, and they're the only ones leaving us. Apart from Tenma, they're all assholes who are afraid of anything threatening their way of life or position of power. The rest only have them to trust, and we're already a strange case as it is.
The goddess only recently took residence on the mountain. She's something new to everybody here. We held our own; that'd freak anyone out. However, it's only been a period of 24 hours. It's not as if we've been treated like this for weeks. Even Aya and Momizi felt the same, but more likely because they've witnessed our illnesses and changes and were worried about us.
They've all had time to recover from the shock. They'll probably have forgotten about it by now and accept him back in. We do need to make a little effort, though. Running away just makes us seem even more untrustworthy. The Tengu are our family, and if we're willing to confront the council and prove that our loyalty is with them, they won't feel so uncomfortable around us.
>...you're doing this on purpose, aren't you?
He's been doing it on purpose since we started the fucking dream sequence.
Get this buisness resolved ASAP. People are going to notice Mikio being shunned by his own clan, especially at the festivals. Even if the Tengu throw him out, it's better than languishing in uncertainty.
First off, this has to be resolved before anything. I get the feeling that if we stay, the guilt will eat Mikio alive. Besides, even if the rest of the tengu didn't all like him, Tenma saw past it. Come on, this is the same Mikio who can keep up with Tenma in a drinking contest. Even if ultimately it's the council's decision...two wrongs don't make a right. If they abandoned us, it's just as wrong to abandon the ones who raised us, who gave us our name, who pretty much made who we are Izanami Headgames and all. If anytime at all for the Momi or Aya or even Tenma to step up, now would be that time while we give them that chance while we're there. It's their chance at redemption for themselves as well. As much as I want to see how things turn out after that dream sequence, "family" comes first. I get the feeling that if we end up ousted from the tengu, the council will find a way to restrict both Aya and Momiji and possibly Hatate from speaking with us ever again.
Then again...we know quite a bit about the inner workings of the tengu. If all goes to shit, Mikio may end up the target of asssassination. But that's just absurd paranoia.
>>16365 That's assuming a bunch of old tengu would change their minds that quickly. If A nearly clean record failed to change their minds, neither would the discussion.
If I though it'd be worth the trouble it'd bring to those three, I'd be all for seeing Tenma. But as it is, his hands would be tied by the council and trying to do anything more might damage his position. Had Master Ogata still been around, things would have gone differently.
>>16374 You don't think ANY of the other Tengu might vouch for him? Not Aya, not Momizi, not any of his instructors or work-buddies? You don't think it's possible Rouga will come busting in there like a badass and defend us? Why stop there. Why not every goddess and kappa on the mountain? Have we ever done wrong by anybody?
I don't care what position the Daitengu hold. If your own people are so against your rulings, then you're not much of a leader, now are you?
>>16376 That doesn't happen on a moment's notice, the amount of time it takes for something to go sour. At the moment the news of the incident has been tightly concealed and has yet to spread to the Tengu and minor Goddesses.
You lower your head, staring at the ground. Even if you go, what good will any of it do? It won't change anything at all. It'll just be the same as yesterday. they're all afraid. All so afraid of you. They'll never accept you. You were never accepted by them to begin with. What point is there in going now? They'll reject you. You are no longer welcome there. And you never will be, ever again.
But, isn't it at least worth a try?
"-I'll go," you say as you look up again, nodding firmly.
"That's the spirit, Miki!" Miss Aya says with a bright smile, clapping you on the back with enough force to nearly knock you off your feet. "You never know what you can do without giving it a go, right? You have to be a little adventurous to succeed! I know that as a journalist."
"The problem with you is that you don't know not to cross a certain line?" Miss Momizi mumbles with distaste, though the bitterness is gone by the time she turns to you to speak. ??But anyway, Mikio. Lord Tenma should be in his personal study room as of this moment. I somehow doubt that the council will let you speak to him alone, but if we go now, we may be able to evade their attention."
You nod again. ??Then, I'll go tell everyone in the shrine that I'll be going."
"Go on, hurry," Miss Aya says.
they're all staring.
Walking with Miss Momizi and Miss Aya at each side, you can't help but notice the stares all intently focused on you. The tengu who saw the demonstration of your abilities stare at you with fear, and the tengu who have heard of your display from hearsay do so with looks of wonder and mild shock. Either way, it's painful. No one says a word as you continue to walk past them. A few of them even hurry out of the area; presumably to report your return to the superiors.
"Miki, you holding up okay?" Miss Aya asks concernedly. "How are you feeling?"
Glumly, you reply, "Like I'm walking to my public execution."
Miss Aya looks at you with a wry smile, probably not knowing whether to laugh at what you said or to console you. It doesn't matter, anyway. The result will always be the same, no matter what. How many times have you experienced it already? Isolation; it is a part of your existence that you will never be able to discard. This is pointless. This is a waste of ti-
"Go on inside, Mikio," Miss Momizi says in a quiet voice, nudging you a little on the back toward a door. "Come on. We're with you, too."
Nervously you gulp, staring at the imposing set of doors before you, the corridor lit only dimly by a couple of lamps that shine their weak light over your heads. With a trembling hand, you reach out and knock on the door. Receiving no reply, you reach out again to slide the door open when it does just that on its own.
"Yes?" a deep, rumbling voice booms out somewhere above you.
Stumbling back a few steps, you jerk your head back just to be able to see Lord Tenma's face. he's still as enormous as you remember him: easily three times your size in height and more than twice as wide. Seeing him up this close, you feel as though his long, pointed nose is ready to shoot out at you like an arrow and pierce you in the throat.
"Oh, Kirita," he says, the pupils of his eyes focusing on you. They then dart toward Miss Momizi and Miss Aya. ??and Shameimaru and Inubashiri as well. I had a feeling I would see the three of you soon enough."
"As expected. You're always so perceptive, Lord Tenma!" Miss Aya pipes up.
"Spare me the flattery, Shameimaru. They won't work on me," he responds dismissively, making a shooing gesture with his hand. "I know why you've come here. Let's not waste any time, then. Shameimaru, Inubashiri. Take leave of us."
"Sir," Miss Momizi says with a salute, which Miss Aya imitates with a somewhat sour expression on her face.
"You may enter, Kirita," Lord Tenma says, turning around to head back into te study.
You cast one last backward glance toward Miss Aya and Miss Momizi before walking forward and into the study. Closing the door behind you, you look around the room. it's filled with not only scrolls, but also books of various sizes and varying conditions of wear and tear. At the center of the table rests a table, on top of which are a blank page and an ink brush set, with Lord Tenma seated on one side of it. You walk on over to the table, unsure of whether to sit down or not.
"Have a seat," he says.
You do so, albeit a bit hesitantly.
"The council's decision regarding your return as well as your little display of abilities previously unknown to us were meant to be kept as low-key as possible," he begins, though halfway through it he puts on an ironic smile. ??so, naturally, the entire clan knows about it by now."
You remain silent, not daring to say anything.
"As you already know," he begins again, raising one hand to give his white beard a stroke, ??the focus of our clan lies in acquisition of information. We are a knowledge-based society. To seek new knowledge, to create and maintain a steady network of information, and to deide the best course of action given what we know; that has been the way of the tengu for centuries."
You nod, "Yes, of course."
"-And so when you, who was thought to be little more than an amnesiac human child, displayed abilities far beyond what anyone had expected from you, they turned away from you," he continues, sighing. "People fear the unknown. Youkai?and especially the tengu?are no different in that respect."
Just as I thought.
"And that's why the council won't take me back, right?" you ask with little hope in your voice.
"-Most of them have been living for millennias. They are cautious, they are stubborn, and they are old fools. They see you as a threat to old customs and traditions. They saw you as a threat long before yesterday. Though it was not unheard of for tengu to teach humans in their arts, it was unprecedented for one to be raised as one of our kin."
"And it wouldn't have been possible without Master Ogata."
"I'm afraid so," he says, pinching the bridge of his nose. "Ogata was my friend, and at the same time, he was my mentor and former liege. He had the respect of every tengu on this mountain. Even then, bloodlines and old grudges run deep, and had it not been for his as well as my own support, your initiation would never have happened even in one's wildest dreams."
"And that's why it won't work again."
He has nothing to say to this, only letting out another sigh.
After a few seconds, he takes a breath and begins, ??Kirita, you need not think of this as a punishment. You are, by no means, restricted from interacting with the other tengu, nor the other denizens of the mountain. It is only that? well? it unnerves the council to have an unpredictable factor so close to home."
"Is there? nothing that I can do?"
"-You may try to tell council what you really are, in truth," he says, though he doesn't seem to keen on this idea.
"I don't know," you immediately reply.
"Of course, that's what I thought you would say," he says, nodding. ??And that is why I personally requested that I be allowed to speak to you alone, without their presence, should you come here. If the council were to be involved in this meeting, they would demand to know what you are, and what you can do. I thought you might not appreciate that, but?"
"of course there's nothing for me to do. There's nothing I can do. Absolutely nothing I want to say to them will change anything. I am no longer welcome here; that much was clear the moment I set foot here. No. It had been clear since over ten years ago, when I first arrived here.
Without waiting for him to finish, you get up from the floor. Not saying a word, you take off in a dash toward the door, opening it and shutting it as you run outside into the corridor. You run past Miss Aya and Miss Momizi, not looking at either of their faces as you continue to run, even as they yell at you to wait. Away from here. Away from these eyes. You need to run away.
But to where?
[ ] To the place where you're accepted.
[ ] To the place where there is a fellow outsider.
[x] To the place where there is a fellow outsider.
The words of another in your position can sometimes be the most empowering. I believe we will find enlightenment through this.
Especially if I'm right in assuming it's Hina.
Being angry at the Tengu for what the council decides is blaming an entire society because of a few bad apples. Looking for comfort in a bit of acceptance without trying your best to overcome your feelings of betrayal and search for ways to change it is just running away again.
No more running. We want, we need, to be accepted.
>>16463 Trust me, it's not. Being accepted back into the Tengu isn't going after a specific character route. Crying to the Moriya shrine residents about being outcast when they already knew this isn't pursuing her route.
We haven't even done or sensed anything since Hoshuu hopped aboard that would link us to fulfilling whatever favor he wanted of us regarding her. It's certainly not "Leave the Tengu behind and make her feel worse with your situation."
We've been given a break from dream-protagonist drama to deal with our own. It'd get tiring if we kept at the same thing for too long.
>And while Sanae isn't an outsider to her home, she is to Gensokyo.
Then what the fuck are we? Originally an outsider, yes. But we've been here for many years, and apart from our secret, everyone regards us as someone born here, or at least meant to be here. We didn't try to take over the mountain when we arrived, either.
In recent events, the ones who have accepted us are the Moriyas. The ones we're currently staying with. The Aki sisters don't know we're human, either, and they're quite welcomed amongst the human villagers.
There is nothing deeper to this choice than what you see on the surface. You're being paranoid because Lion isn't being 100% specifically clear that "THIS CHOICE LEADS TO THESE PEOPLE".
Did you re-read Kira's Snow End again? Because this line of reasoning is seriously retarded.
>?The council's decision regarding your return as well as your little display of abilities previously unknown to us were meant to be kept as low-key as possible," he begins, though halfway through it he puts on an ironic smile. ??so, naturally, the entire clan knows about it by now.."
>>16467 Because it's Lion. We've had several one-option votes, and even more votes with options so vague that there may as well have been one option. I wouldn't be surprised here if this choice is about Mikio's attitude when he goes back to Sanae's, not about where he goes.
[X] To the place where there is a fellow outsider.
>>16476 Never thought of it that way. The response would be just as vital, though, I believe. Sanae can't just be our ever caring guardian angel to fall on whenever we're down. That's selfish; we need to deal with the problem ourselves.
While vague, we could still pretty much figure out what most of the options lead to. Keeping with the story trend and all. But we have a whole mountain here, and many acquaintances to turn to. I guess we just wait and see.
"To where there is a fellow outsider" sounds kinda... unhealthy, somehow. It has implications of "I am running to this person, and this person only" instead of "I am going to a society that accepts me", and I think the latter would be better for Mikio atm.
>>16456 >You may try to tell council what you really are
I wonder if we could get away with calling ourselves an oni. Exceptional strength and the ability to drink massive amounts of liquor. Heh.
>>16481 The 'society' is a shrine made up of three people. While the outsider may be one (or perhaps more) he's in the presence of someone who understands him and could give him advice. I don't see how that could be construed as "that person only", though. We're not segregating ourselves and hating others, but turning a blind eye to those like us would be just as bad. We don't need to be an outsider to talk to one, as our friends have taught us. Anybody can be part of our social life. We could even end up helping this fellow outsider.
[x] To the place where there is a fellow outsider.
Ah jesus, how did you manage to piss Lion off Wiseman.
Anyway, changing vote. Because it's the right thing to do. Suddenly straying from your path is not what we should do.
Dunno what to choose. Since I'm not A ??, I guess I'll try to read explanations behind posts.
>>16481 Sounds kinda right. A group of people (a 'family' to replace the one he has lost) will help him better than a single person.
>>16482 Not a bad point, but all that you've said applies to the other choice and don't really counter the post you quoted, so I'll go with...
[X] To the place where you're accepted.
[x] To the place where there is a fellow outsider.
The first place Aya and Momizi are going to look for him is at the shrine, and I don't think he's ready to talk to them again just yet. If there's anyone who can teach Miki a healthy way to deal with exclusion it's Hina.
>??You may try to tell council what you really are, in truth," he says, though he doesn't seem to keen on this idea.
>?I don't know," you immediately reply.
Hina is one of the earliest characters to notice that something was deeply wrong with Miki. Any hint as to what it actually may be will go toward reconciliation with the rest of the tengu. As much as I'd like to say the rest can go stuff themselves, the way things are now is a burden to the tengu who actually care about Miki.
Best way to escape isolation = going to an isolated house. What the heck?
I'm all for keeping her company, but not before he takes care of his own problems. In his state, he'll be more of a burden than anything
[X] To the place where there is a fellow outsider.
Who better to talk to than someone who knows the pain he's going through? Besides, Hina knew something was wrong with him from their first meeting, yet she said that even she couldn't take away all of his misfortune. We might learn something about not only Headgames, but we may get a verbal Bright Slap bit of encouragement from her anyway, since Hina still does what she can to help people, though she is still feared...very similar to Mikio in a sense.
[x] To the place where there is a fellow outsider.
That is what I want to know. That is the question to which the answer desperately eludes me, even now. If I can hear just one answer to that question from the mouth of someone who suffers as I do, then I can keep carrying on. That's why I need to go see her. That's why I must speak with her. That's why I must warn her.
And before you know it, you're standing at the edge of a river. You don't even need to look around for her. After all, it's all too familiar; that unwelcoming aura of misery, disaster, and death that swirls around ever and ever. Never ending, never relenting, the spiral of misfortune continues on and on, and once you're at the center of it it's impossible to climb out from within it. You will never know peace, sinking in the midst of a maelstrom of hatred, resentment, regrets, and hopelessness.
She must know that as well.
No matter what you do, denial of your nature is impossible. It is decided at the beginning of your existence, and nothing you do can change that one, simple fact. She is a curse god, therefore she is hated. That is the one simple truth of her existence, and that is the one truth about her that will never change.
"So how can you bear that burden?"
Crouched down, with her hands folded neatly atop her knees, she remains silent. Her eyes are fixed on the flowing river before her, staring vacantly at its surface. Finally, you see the mouth of her reflection in the water open just slightly; she is ready to speak.
"If I can make even just one person happier by taking in their misfortunes into my body, then that is enough," she begins in a slow, dreamy tone, her eyes unblinking and her body rigid, "I have done so for many people. I am no stranger to their sufferings. Compared to what they face, my own misfortunes are as nothing."
Slowly, your feet step forward, and you sit down on the grass, seated next to her now. ??But doesn't it bother you at all? You take from them their pain and make them your own out of kindness. You give to them relief, but receive only hostility and hatred in return. It isn't fair."
"There is no kindness in what I do," she replies, finally turning her head toward you. Her cheerful smile is replaced with one that shows fatigue and weariness. "I do only what is my duty."
"Is there no resentment? Even though what you do is the opposite of what curse gods are thought to?"
"There is no difference between what I do and what they do," she cuts in, interrupting you. "I do not resent being hated out of a misconception. I do not consider myself ?nobler? or ?kinder? than the other curse gods in any way. I am simply one part in the cycle of misfortune."
That's what I can't understand. How can you simply accept that you are a being meant to be hated, outcast, and isolated? How is it that you are able to bear that cacophony of hatred, directed at you for being what you are? To be punished with everlasting solitude, your only sin being your existence.
I can't understand.
I'll never understand.
Is it simply a matter of kindness?
Kindness enough to forgive and accept everything?
If that's so, then I'm not kind enough to be able to accept all that with a smile on my face. The only thing I can do is to hide my real face behind a mask that will be able to smile for me. Is that? still running away?
I'll never understand.
"Alright, that should fix it up, mostly."
Kiyone takes a step back from the wall, admiring her most recent handiwork, which, from what you can see, consists of a couple of wooden planks nailed over the hole she had created in the wall just the night before. The wooden mallet she used to drive in the nails held in one hand, she turns to you, grinning brightly.
"it's good as new now, isn't it?" she asks cheerfully.
You remain as silent as always, not answering her question, though that doesn't seem to put her out of her bright mood. She walks on over to a nearby shed, presumably to put the tools she had been using away. Before she returns, you turn your gaze back toward the wooden planks. How very conspicuous. In what way is this ?as good as new?"
"So, Mr. Nameless," Kiyone says as she returns, dusting off her hands. "You don't have a home, money, or food. What do you plan to do next?"
"-same as I've always been doing," you croak out in a grumbling voice.
"That's not a very telling answer," she says, frowning slightly. ??Well, I've only heard of rumors of what you've been up to these past years, but from what I gather, what you're aiming for is going to get you killed one of these days."
"That's not your concern."
"I suppose it would be a bit messy to get between a fool and his death," she says with a shrug, sighing. ??but you know, there's more to life than just what you've been doing."
"I don't care."
"Come on, don't say that," she says, glaring up at you. "Honestly, have a little concern for your own life, would you?"
"Fine, fine," she says, throwing up her hands in the air. ??But at least rest here for a couple of days."
"That won't be necessary."
"Don't be so quick to say that," she says in a harsh voice. ??You know you've caught the tengu's attention, right? They sent a pretty small team yesterday, because you were in the village, but they'll definitely send a whole battalion once you're out of it."
"I'll kill them all."
"Because you did such a great job of that yesterday."
"So come ooooon, it's time for breakfast.."
Before you can think of something to respond to her with, she's already grabbed you around by one of your upper arms, dragging you toward the open door to her home. How annoying, this woman. Why does she insist on meddling like this? It is unnecessary. It is unwelcome. It is? unfamiliar.
>>16585 It's not like running back to the shrine and having a pity party would have been any better. Sure, he might have felt better, but only for a short time. It would just encourage him to run away from his problems instead of facing them.
>>16586 I think we should have all seen this coming... I think Lion saw how we thought we knew everything ("Going to sanae is just throwing a pity party, Hina's the best choice for coming to terms with it"), and decided to show us that we don't know everything.
Now we have to get through YET another flashback before we can get back to the present and hopefully make GOOD decisions.
Having said that, We should try to get through this flashback in the typical manner (resisting the urge of hostility, etc.)
>>16587 >It's not like running back to the shrine and having a pity party would have been any better
Pity party? Just that? Heh, what story are you reading, anyway?
Anyway, didn't go as planned, live and learn, etc, etc. Let's just move on.
>I think Lion saw how we thought we knew everything ... decided to show us that we don't know everything.
So basically you're saying Lion is the type of guy who would screw us over based on our theories? Crush our confidence in making sensible votes? God forbid we get ONE thing right out of an entire story full of choices. We can't have that now, can we? Hell, we should have received a bad end then and there!
The shit that spews out of your mouth is endless.
>get back to the present and hopefully make GOOD decisions.
You don't read a lot of books, do you? You're convinced it was a bad move? That he won't think back on her words? That this dream sequence won't open our eyes and let us discover how she can put up with it? You honestly believe the decision ended then and there and we're not going to see any form of continuation? No flashbacks in the future?
You think Sanae, in all her colorful bounciness, in a position where she's loved and accepted, would have given a better answer than to kill them with kindness like Hina did?
It's a good thing you're not the protagonist. Everything would go through one ear and out the other. Just roll with the punches, never looking back, never actually giving thought to your circumstances and how to change them.
Well this anon certainly doesn't - though I railed hard against the left/left/left dream choices.
Besides, Good/Bad don't matter - it wouldn't be a story if neither happened. In fact, on that note (but deliberately missing the point).
[X] "Let go."
Even though it'll never happen, some people don't want happy endings.
Plus of course - we have no idea how she'd react to either, silent acquiescence can be more insulting than even negative acknowledgement. Isn't it annoying when you can't get a response out of someone?
I think Squall said it best - "...Whatever"
Well, this post might not make any sense - but there ya go.
Ah, not the best wording - I was talking about tall-dark-and-bloody. Though it might be better to say that some people are for whatever reason (pride, fear, hatred, history) unable to let go and find peace.
Not exactly the most rousing speech, Hina. But it does give him something to think about. Besides, we're at least still conscious this time before the flashback transition. Which means that either Hina has more to say to us, or this update may shed some pretty significant light on Tayasumi's story.
Either way...the story isn't over yet. There's still plenty of choices left to make.
>>16619 Depends on how Mikio takes it, either he'll grow stronger or Headgame does. Headgames seems to thrive in moments of distress and is stifled by moments of joy. All we can do is hope for the best.
But mind you, we didn't pass out before transition. I think Hina has more to say to us, she really didn't give us any guidance at all, even though she probably knew what we had come for anyway. I think Hina still has more to say to us...unless it results in a timeskip after this flashback ;_;
Not to claim a monopoly on wisdom, but I was referring to something that already happened, although obviously it doesn't rule out things happening in the future either. More specifically, what she did in >>15062 and >>15108
As for romantic love... I'm certainly not against it, but I'll note that I don't see alot of that in this story. Mind, if you're looking for a different kind of love, the story actually oozes with it.
Tayasumi and his relation to his brother and sister.
How Hoshuu thought of Sanae.
Mikio's protective Onee-san, and his adventurous Onee-san.
And of course, the Akis.
>>16631 Tayasumi has long since disappeared from Mikio. Though he met his end, he gave up on hunting youkai, and apparently regained his personality afterwards. ( See >>12741 )
I'm thinking Kiyone somehow managed to break his shell and reach his heart. That's why I see romantic love there. Maybe not. Maybe it's one-sided and he became the man of the house out of love for her and her daughter.
Maybe he was just killed without any of that, his mind free to return to how he was before headgames, and just forgot about revenge having been dead and dormant for so long. I guess it depends on how we vote from here on out; quite frankly I'd like to see him with a new purpose in life, and Kiyone with a man who loves and protects her.
That was my serious answer. Though I really just keep imagining them having a steamy night together; her teaching him how to love again. Or he slowly falls for her and decides to confess. This all ends in tragedy, mind you. She gets killed by the Tengu the moment he announces his feelings, resulting in pure rage, mass murder, and his own demise. Holding her lifeless body in his dying arms...
Sorry, been watching one too many grim-dark tearjerkers.
>>16634 I was just tying it in as a reason for the pairing. Even if it ended badly, that doesn't necessarily mean that the story leading up to it was horrible.
You're looking for how the two could be connected from the Izanagi/Izanami theory. That's what I was getting at before - perhaps they're not. She could have broken that cycle, no resentment being had by either.
Or one of us will turn out to be the Izanagi, abandoning the other. We turn on her, or she betrays us. Looking at either, they'll both spell his death.
>The other risked her life for that of a stranger.
She saved the fire child. She did what Izanami could not as a mother: saving her son from being killed by Izanagi. Tayasumi is Kagu-Tsuchi in this case, and his powers seem to match. Just what I think.
Inwardly sighing at yourself, you silently acquiesce to her, allowing yourself to be dragged back into the now "repaired? home. Passing through the doorway and into the dusty interior of the small shack, she finally lets go of your arm as she walks ahead of you, pointing you toward the main room.
"Just have a seat and wait, okay? I'll have breakfast ready this time! I mean, yesterday's meal was kind of a flop, but if at first, you don't succeed, try again, right? Though, this is probably something like my hundredth try at making a passable meal? but details, you know? This time, I'll get it right. I can say with absolute confidence that at least you won't die from it, eh?"
She turns around and pauses to flash a playful smile, her long, tied up silver hair sweeping through the air behind her head. Gazing at you for a moment, she waits for some kind of a reaction or a response from you, though you don't bother to give her any. With a small look of disappointment, she turns back around and heads back into the kitchen. What a noisy woman. She should know better than to expect anything else out of you.
Still, you quietly march in the direction she pointed. A part of you is unsure why you're even playing along with this idiocy, until you remember that you still haven't retrieved your weapon from her. Walking over to the table where you sat just the night before, you seat yourself on one side. The woman's daughter, sitting on the other side of the table, lets out a small, frightened squeak when you walk in. Looking at you with wide, timid eyes, she squirms uncomfortably, her small hands tightly clenching the cushion she's sitting on.
Blankly, you stare ahead without letting out a single sound, save for that of your breathing. In front of you, the small girl continues to stare at you with those large eyes. Her look of fear is gradually replaced with curiosity as she slowly inches forward, craning her neck forward and looking this and that way, as if she's studying you from as many angles as she can. When your eyes roll, meeting her gaze, she takes in a shrill breath, immediately jerking herself back and staring down at the floor.
"Nn?" she lets out a soft, uncomfortable whine.
What a shy little creature.
Not too long after you've taken a seat, that woman Kiyone marches toward the table, distributing the food and utensils for the two present and herself. You cast a quick glance over the meal she's given you; a bowl of rice each, though your portion is a lot bigger than the others, and a dish of scrambled eggs. She sits down next to her daughter.
"You'll be fine with chopsticks. Right, sweetie?"
The small child nods, receiving them chopsticks, though they're too large for her to comfortably use. Nevertheless, she begins eating without complaint as her mother looks down at her with a small degree of pride, fondly stroking her head.
Having eaten quickly, you set your pair of chopsticks down, waiting for the other two to finish their meal. As expected, the child is having some problem using the adult-sized utensils. Holding them awkwardly in her small hand with the guidance of her mother, she eats at a slow pace. Watching the scene before you, you feel something stirring at the back of your head. You're not sure what it exactly is, but something about this view feels familiar.
Slowly, you see the images of the mother and daughter change. You see a young boy with long, silver hair seated at a worn, rickety table with a girl a couple years younger than him sitting on his lap. The boy smiles and laughs as he gently grabs a hold of the girl's hand, guiding her fingers as he shows her the proper way to hold chopsticks?
For a faint moment, you feel your lips twitch up slightly.
"-but you know," Kiyone's voice is suddenly directed at you, catching your attention as you quickly dismiss your current train of thought. "You seriously need some new duds. I mean, just look at what you're wearing right now. I mean, even if you're going for a total barbarian look it just does not look good!"
As if you would care about something as trivial as that. Your clothes, worn and torn from age and battle, and patched up with various bits of clothing that were intact enough picked up from freshly killed corpses, you've never given thought to. Stained with blood, both from you and from your enemies, your mismatching outfit may look odd and catch the occasional wandering pair of eyes, but it's never been a concern to you.
So why is it that she's dragging you into the streets despite your silent protests?
Leading you by the arm with one hand with the other clasped firmly around that of her daughters, this meddlesome woman flashes that bright, undaunted grin at you as she continues to lead you through the crowded streets. With a hard frown, you look around vaguely at the many pairs of eyes looking at you strangely. Though you don't care what others think of you, it's troublesome to have to deal with this many pairs of eyes staring at you; a circumstance that isn't helped by this woman's boisterous way of carrying herself.
"You're still a young-looking guy, so if you want to be popular with the ladies, you have to dress nicely!" she says cheerfully, swinging the arm carrying yours up and down energetically, forcing your body to jerk back and forth in response. "Maybe get a haircut, too."
"You already know better than to argue with her. Doing so would be an exercise in futility; even if you bothered to tell her that all those things are unnecessary to you, she's too stubborn to accept that. Either way, you'll just end up being strung along into doing these tiresome things, so you might as well keep quiet.
Giving yourself up, you allow her to drag you into a secondhand clothes shop in the middle of the marketplace.
Kiyone wastes no time in hiding her amusment when she looks upon your figure, now garbed in the bizarre article of clothing she's stuffed you into, which happens to be what you think is a dress of some sort from the West, with sickening amounts of frills and laces. Wiping a tear from her eye, she places a hand on her chest to calm herself down, her face reddened from laughter.
"Oh, that really doesn't suit you."
"Of course it doesn't," you say frankly.
And you're not going to waste any time in taking it off. You walk back into the small area closed off by a curtain to be used as a dressing room, quickly throwing off the dress and contemptuously throwing it to the floor. This is all so stupid. Why are you allowing yourself to be subjected to idiocy such as this? You have things that you must do, so why waste time over something as stupid as this?
"-You know, you don't have to do it," Kiyone's voice comes from beyond the curtain. Her tone is with neither cheer nor enthusiasm. "What you do, I mean. it's not too late to come around, but what you're doing right now is just evil."
Evil? You almost allow yourself to laugh bitterly, as you stand with your back facing the curtain. Someone in her position shouldn't speak of such things. What you're doing has nothing to do with whether you're evil or you're good. Something that is simply keeping to its nature can't be called ?good? or ?evil," for it is what it is. You don't hold youkai ?evil? for what they do, nor do you hold any delusions of yourself being an champion of humans. Youkai kill humans; that is their nature, one that cannot change. And you?you are simply an existence that kills youkai, and it would be meaningless to rebel against that nature.
You can't fight what you are. it's useless to deny the nature of your own existence. You already know that?
[ ] Voice your thoughts.
[ ] Discussion is useless.
Because she is wrong, and it's not worth Tayasumi blowing up later for it. She's been interminably cheerful but "my entire family and everybody I ever knew got murdered because I showed a youkai a moment of kindness" is not something she can ever argue with, since we already know that no matter what happens to her, her daughter will survive.
Isn't she a youkai? I mean, everyone is calling her 'Sacred Beast'. Canonically Keine wasn't a were-hakutaku at birth, but unless she was turned into one because of someone's keen sense of irony over Kiyoni's title, it's probably hereditary here.
You would think she would have some pretty good arguments about how youkai can possibly not kill humans, if that was the case.
>>16658 Oh use this for part of the update for sure. I think a cold and harsh but quiet tone would work best. Tayasumi doesn't seem like the sort to blow up and yell loudly at Kiyone, at least not in a situation like this.
>>16661 The way I read the last part, I pictured his response coming out as condescending and a bit pissed off. "Hahaha! Is that what you think? Well, let me tell you something!" Here we see a maniacal grin while he's wearing a dress.
Of course, I know this isn't like him at all, and will most-likely not happen as such, but there's something that's just keeping me from imagining it any other way.
[x] Voice your thoughts.
"-it's not a question of good or evil," you mutter in a dark voice, pausing in the midst of undressing yourself. You don't know why you're even bothering to give a reply to something like this, but for some reason, you feel that you can't just let this pass. "I do only what it is my nature to do. That's all there is to it."
"That's your ?nature??" Her voice comes with a hint of disbelief mixed in. "That's your justification for what you're doing?"
"it's not a justification," you reply immediately. Allowing the world to wallow in silence for but a small moment, you slowly turn your body around so that you're facing the curtain dividing you from that meddlesome woman. "it's only how things are. No one calls it an evil act for beasts to slay one another in the name of survival."
"-That's it, then?" Kiyone replies, sounding unimpressed. From beyond the veil hiding her from sight, you hear a sigh. "So you're only on the same level as a beast?"
"And that is wrong?"
"Of course it is!" she says sternly, almost irritably. "Humans are born with the ability to live beyond their instincts! Don't you realize what a precious gift that is? Do you know how much it's coveted by those who aren't as fortunate to be given that gift from birth?"
"I don't need it. it's useless to me."
Something like ?morality? means absolutely nothing to you. You don't care if others call you ?good? or ?evil." You don't want to live forever under the harsh judgment of those who deem things ?right? or ?wrong." You are beyond those labels. It would be better if it was possible for you to throw away all such unnecessary things. No emotions, no ethics, no memories; only instincts would remain within you.
it's better to live in complete, blissful ignorance than to live consciously feeling pain and guilt.
A hand grips the edge of the curtain, violently pushing it aside. "You are just?!"
Kiyone's form, no longer hidden by the curtain between the two of you, is now visible to you. She stands there with her mouth gaping slightly open, a delicate hand keeping the curtain from falling back into place. She blinks a couple of times, and her gaze slowly travels down your body. Almost immediately, all the blood rushes up to her head, filling her cheeks with a red blush. Taking an uneasy step back, she quietly closes the curtain again.
After some time, a pair of hands reaches into the changing room, carrying a pile of clothing between them. You hear the woman beyond the veil give a small cough before saying ?Hurry up and get changed already."
Having changed into the set of she brought you, you push the curtain aside to see Kiyone standing there with her arms folded together. Looking over your form with eyes piqued with interest as you step out, she circles around you, surveying your appearance. Raising a hand to brush the hair out of her eyes, coyly playing with a lock of hair entwined around a finger as she does so, she stops before you to show you a smile and a look of approval.
"Not bad," she says, nodding to herself. "I guess clothes really do make the man, huh? Though, I really wish I could get you to wear something other than that sour look of yours on your face. I suppose you can't buy something for that in a shop like this."
You have nothing to say to her. It seems she no longer wishes to speak about the earlier discussion. Well, you had no interest in such an argument in the first place, so if she wishes to leave it be, then so will you. You knew from the beginning that such a thing wouldn't do anything to change anyone's perspectives, after all. Useless. it's all useless.
"By the way," Kiyone starts, staring up at your face with a frown. "I've been meaning to ask for a while, but?"
She raises a delicate hand up to your face. Brushing aside part of your wild hair, she touches her soft fingertips to your face, warmth traveling from her warm hand to your cold skin as she runs a finger down one of your cheeks in a curving line.
"What are these tattoos?"
Raising your own hand, you push her arm away -- though not too roughly. You touch the tips of your cold, dead fingers to your face, allowing one of them to run down the same path that hers did just now, following one of the dark markings that blacken your face.
"Burns," you say, letting your hand fall to your side. "From a long time ago."
"Burns?" she repeats after you, cringing a little.
"These marks were branded onto my body," you continue.
"That sounds like it hurt," she says uneasily.
"It doesn't matter."
She shrugs her shoulders. "Alright then. Let's get going."
"Why do I have to?"
"Hey, this is the least you could do to repay me for those clothes, you know?" she says with a sidelong wink. "You aren't really going to make a frail girl like me carry all those, are you? I mean, you're big and strong, and with you around every one clears out of the way! it's so nice to have you around."
"I never asked you to buy these for me," you retort, though you're still carrying those paper bags for her anyway.
"Oh, maybe I should just keep you forever! It would be so convenient. Do you know how to work with tools? Even if you don't, you could learn."
She's not listening?
"Hey, don't make a face like that," she says with a playful smile, finally looking at you again. "For you, I'll make something special tonight, you know? You probably doubt my cooking skills, but I'm actually pretty good with stuff I practice!"
"I'm not staying. And this is my normal face."
"Really?" she says, letting out a small giggle. "Has anyone ever told you that you look like you just swallowed a bug? Oh, but I hear some bugs are actually considered delicacies in other countries, you know? I mean, personally I couldn't ever see myself eating a bug, but if there was nothing else I guess I could stomach?"
You raise your palm, pressing it against your forehead while still carrying the considerably large bundle in your arms. So noisy. So talkative. You can't stand being near her at all.
But for some reason, you ended up staying for dinner after all. You don't know if it's because of this woman's overbearing, almost demanding nature, but you haven't been able to quietly excuse yourself at all because she's dedicating every minute and every second to paying attention to anything at all around her, which unfortunately includes you.
Looking over to the other side of the table, you notice her staring at the entrance to the humble abode with a distant expression.
"Tonight's the night, huh?" she mutters under her breath. After a small, thoughtful pause, she turns to you and opens her mouth. ??Say, can I just ask a small favor of you?"
Before you even begin to answer, you raise your hand, touching the middle of your palm to your forehead. Whatever she's going to ask, it's sure to be something you wouldn't agree to do. You should just flat out refuse right now, because anything she wants your help with is only going to be a waste of time. But even so, you still require some rest before you've completely shaken off your current weakness and vulnerability, so if it isn't too unreasonable, then maybe you might be inclined to agree.
"-What is it?" you finally ask, lowering your hand and casting a dull look across the table at the woman.
"Are you good with kids?" she asks immediately, inching forward slightly. "You look like you'd be good with kids."
"No. And I don't see why you would think that at all," you give an abrupt reply, turning your head away somewhat disdainfully. Ah, so that's what she wanted.
She clasps her hands together, closing one eye as she leans forward in a pout. "Pleeeeeease, just say ?yes?! I need you to say ?yes?! Come on come on come on come ooooooon!"
"You're heartless?" she whines with a sigh, her body, outstretched toward you, slowly wilting onto the surface of the table. She recovers from it quite fast, however, and immediately sits up with a stern expression, glaring at you with her arms crossed together. "But I think it would be a good experience for you. Honestly. I'm not saying this for my own benefit. Honestly. I mean, it's really for your sake too. Honestly."
"If you have to say ?honestly? that many times, then that means you're not being honest," you say with a hint of irritation, narrowing your eyes. "I'm not going to babysit."
"But look at this kid!" she says, snatching at the little girl sitting next to her and hugging her so tightly that she seems uncomfortable, squirming silently in her mother's arm. "Isn't she adorable? Isn't she so adorable that someone might just come knock on the door and then snatch her up and take her home and dress her up in a bunch of clothes and do awful, awful things to her?"
As if you would know anything about that.
"Then don't leave her alone."
"Weeeell," she says, averting your gaze with a somewhat nervous edge to her voice. "Today?s? uh, special, see. I've got places to be, stuff to do. Very, very busy today. You know how things are around here. it's all hectic, and y?know, sometimes you just gotta pull off an all-nighter to get things done, you see what I mean? A once-in-a-month occasion, you might say! If I don't do it today, who knows when I'll be able to get it done!"
"So whatever you're doing is more important than your daughter?"
"I-I didn't say that!" she yells defensively, looking flustered as she hugs her daughter even tighter, causing the little girl to squirm about a little more. Kiyone bites her lip, looking somewhat angry at you. "Look, it's just that there's stuff I don't want her to get involved with tonight. I used to feel uneasy leaving her alone here. But since you're here now, you can watch her for a while, can't you?"
"You've known me for only a single day," you reply with a sharp, cutting tone of voice. "Furthermore, you know what I am. What makes you think you can trust me with your daughter?"
She bites her lip again, unable to give an immediate reply. Loosening her hug and finally allowing the little girl to relax, she mulls over your question for a few moments, her eyes looking uncertainly at the floor beside her. ??Well, it's because of how you are, I guess??"
You give her a good, hard look, which flusters her into waving her hands around in front of her frantically as she struggles to come up with a halfway decent way of explaining herself.
"W-well," she quickly tries to follow up, though she's clearly stumbling over her words. "it's just, uh, how to say it, you seem really determined to do whatever you're after, you know? S-so you don't really seem like someone that would do something like that??"
She doesn't even sound like she's sure of it herself.
"She's scared of me," you say, looking over to the girl.
She catches sight of your eyes, and whimpering slightly, she shies away, shrinking back as if trying to make herself look as small as possible in your eyes. She's terrified of you, and you wouldn't blame her. Even adults are hesitant and wary of even going near you much less keep you company for any long period of time. Everyone's the same way? everyone? except this meddlesome woman here. Why won't she leave you alone like the others? Why does she insist on making you stay? Irritating. So irritating. it's almost as if she thinks she's?
?" Um. I'm not scared," a tiny voice squeaks out.
You turn your gaze back to the little child, who, contrary to her words just now, still flinches from your mere act of laying eyes on her. She meets your gaze this time, though, and despite her clearly frightened expression and desire to hide behind the visage of her mother, manages to remain where she is. Smiling brightly, Kiyone places a hand on the girl's head, gently rubbing it.
"See? She's not scared."
Even though she obviously is. It doesn't matter anyway, since you're not planning to stay around here in the first place. If that woman thinks she can do whatever she likes, then she's sorely?
"And so, I'll leave it to you!"
When did she get to the door?
Still sitting at the table, you slowly turn your head away from the recently slammed door, looking forward at the little girl now sitting there alone. As always, the room is filled with awkward silence. Neither of you are willing to talk much, content to sit there in silence; though for the girl it might be less of being willing to talk and more being frightened into silence. How selfish of that woman.
"Keine," the girl suddenly speaks up. "Kamishirasawa Keine."
? Is that her name? Come to think of it, it's the first time you've heard it. How neglectful and irresponsible of her mother, forgetting to even tell you her own daughter's name. Not that you particularly care for things like that. It doesn't make a difference whether you know the girl's name or not, since you weren't planning on staying, anyway. That's right. it's just another useless bit of information you'll soon forget, so why bother learning it in the first place? There's no point. Absolutely none.
But what is it that that woman is up to? The way she was unwilling to speak about the so-called ?duties? she held? that is most certainly worthy of suspicion. From what you witnessed last night, you'd guess that her occupation would be a respected youkai exterminator in this village, but? What was it that she said? A-once-in-a-month occasion? Is there something special going on tonight?
The full moon?
The sound of an uncertain sound coming from the child snaps your mind back to reality, and your eyes fix themselves on her frighteningly quickly, startling the girl.
"You? you look like you're thinking really hard," she says quietly.
[x] Spend time looking for spear.
I must be the only person on the board who actually wants this guy to continue being a monster. I dont know, I kinda feel like he made his damn bed, and he now has to lie in it, no matter what he wants, ya know?
>Keine showing some signs of transformation herself and Tayasumi going nuts
I am sure we will get a choice if it will come to this. And enough time to stop him from doing it and embrance loli Keine and show him a better way.
Maybe that is why she wanted him to stay with her, risking her daughter to help him.
We will soon know it.
You continue to stare at the small child seated at the other side of the table, fidgeting about nervously and shying away, as though she's physically being repelled back by your gaze. She's still intimidated by your presence, but she's not showing signs of complete terror like before. Rather, she seems almost curious of you, and as you watch her movements, you notice that there seems to be a look of interest in her eyes as she gazes back at you, her small body slowly becoming less and less tense gradually.
"If all you need to do is watch her for a night, then you suppose you can oblige to that much. You had already decided that you should cease activity for at least a couple of days in order to regain your strength, anyway, so this won't be getting in the way at all. If what you suspect of that Kiyone woman is true, then it's best not to act until a later time.
"-it's nothing," you finally say, lightly shaking your head.
She falls silent, still gazing at you. Lowering your head, you cross your arms together, closing your eyes as you sit there quietly, not a single sound escaping your lips. In the complete silence that blankets the house with a heavy, awkward atmosphere, you can hear only the child's breathing, regularly taking in and expelling air. After a few moments, that regular interval of breathing is interrupted when the child begins to speak again.
"She's always going out?"
You open your eyes, looking at the girl once more. Her shoulders have sunk, her eyes drooping somewhat sadly as she stares down at the surface of the table before her. Now, even more so than before, the girl looks very pitiful and small.
"Does this happen often?" you ask.
She gives a heavy nod, frowning. "Always. it's always once a month. When the sun sets, she tells me to stay inside and not to go out, and then she's not back until morning."
Your mouth twitches just slightly into a disapproving frown. Just as you thought; how irresponsible of that woman. Always doing whatever she wants without ever thinking of the consequences. But that's really none of your own concern to begin with. Returning your expression to the blank one you always wear and keeping your arms crossed, you begin to speak again, your lips parting only just enough to let the words escape your mouth.
"-I see. You must be lonely."
Almost hesitantly, she nods. But a moment later, she quickly raises her head and speaks in a brighter tone of voice. "But sometimes Miss Mokou is here with me, so I'm not lonely then. She's a bit scary, though?"
The immortal phoenix? So there must be times when she's unable to escape that Kiyone woman's overbearing nature as well. You're now in the same boat as she would be in, should you not have been present here. The thought is somewhat amusing, though it does nothing to assuage your slight annoyance at being made to stay here.
"-so she's always busy, then."
She nods along. "Uh-huh. But you know," she pauses, putting on the innocent smile of a child for the first time, having finally shaken off the fear she feels in your presence to speak her mind cheerfully. "I really, really like her!"
You don't understand why love must exist between family members. Is it only because of their relation by blood? Do the ties of blood bind those who share it into an obligation to love one another? Why is it that a mother feels love for her child? Why is it that a child loves their parents? The answers to these questions, you do not possess. It feels as if you possessed them a long time ago, but not any longer. You do not know the answers to these questions, but it's meaningless to question this child for them. it's impossible for you to try to seek out these answers in the first place; you no longer possess anyone you can call ?family."
"Um?" the small child catches your attention, leaning forward with the curiosity that she had been exhibiting before finally unrestricted by her fear. "What about you, mister? Do you like your mom?"
Such a person doesn't exist. At least, not anymore. She may have existed before, but that was such a long time ago that you don't remember. But? when she did exist, what was she like? You can't recall anything. Not her face, not what she was like, not what may have happened to her. What? happened to your family? Was there ?love? in that family? If you once possessed the answers to those questions you cannot figure out, then does that mean that you were once loved?
A gentle feeling of warmth begins to fill your body as you feel a hand gently running through your hair, lovingly stroking the top of your hair as a quiet, soothing voice coos into your ear; warmth that you haven't felt in an unbearably long time. It is happiness so simple, yet so precious and so nostalgic. This feeling? it's from a time before the first blood was spilt. It is a feeling that you buried deeply within yourself; a feeling that you thought was lost to you forever.
It would have been better if you hadn't remembered it. Now that you remember it, that knowledge brings with it only pain and suffering. Never again, can you experience that same happiness. It was lost to you, and it will forever remain that way. Nothing will change that fact. Absolutely nothing at all can budge that truth. It is a feeling that you must never experience ever again. If you do, then that will only create greater suffering for you. That is simply how things are. You have accepted that already.
"That doesn't matter."
Sometime later, in the dead of night, you remain sitting at the table, while the small child you're watching over is slumped over it, fast asleep. it's most likely not that late, however, as a child, it's only natural that she would fall asleep this early. Supposing that it would only be natural to at least bring her to her bed, you slowly stand up from the table, walking around it to get to her. Crouching down next to the girl, you gently pick up her light body in your arms. Squirming slightly but not waking from her slumber, the girl rests her head against your chest as you lift yourself up.
Navigating the shack that serves as home to the Kamishirasawas, you make your way to the room shared by that woman and her daughter. Two sets of futons are already laid out on the floor, and so making your way to the smaller set, you kneel down, carefully lowering the kid in your arms and letting her lie down on top of the futon. Grabbing hold of the blanket, you pull it up, tucking her in.
"again. There's that feeling of familiarity and nostalgia.
Your hand hovers over the head of the sleeping child, hesitating. Almost involuntarily, it reaches down, and begins gently stroking the girl's hair. It is a pointless thing to do, and yet you're doing it anyway. How stupid. How unlike you. Tearing your hand away, you stand up, taking a step back as you shake your head. Two figures of the past appear before your eyes. Keine disappears, replaced by another girl with short, silver hair. Next to her, a long-haired youth is there, looking over the girl as he gently strokes her hair, the two of them talking and laughing together.
They look so happy?
"No. This is dangerous.
Immediately, you leave the room.
"Hey, I'm back!"
it's not until the daybreak that Kiyone returns, slamming the door open and stepping inside with somewhat of an uneven step. She walks in, looking tired and a little harassed, but not in any way worse for the wear. Stifling a yawn with a hand, she looks sleepily at you.
"-hey, thanks for watching Keine for me," she says with a tired smile. "Were you awake the whole time?"
Wordlessly, you stand up from the floor. Without replying to her, you walk swiftly past her, heading toward the door. You're stopped, however, as Kiyone catches you by the sleeve. She looks at you with a startled expression, her fatigue having run away from her.
"H-hey, where are you going?"
"I'm leaving," you say.
You firmly tug your sleeve out of her grip, not even turning to look at her as you continue on toward the door at a brisk pace. You have only a moment to yourself before she comes after you, her hand reaching out and grabbing you by the wrist this time, forcefully turning you around to face her.
"Why?" she asks.
"I can't stay here," you say.
"Why not?" she says, her brows furrowed together. "Isn't it fine for you to stay here just a little longer? I mean, I'll allow it! it's fine, so don't just suddenly up and?"
"Stop it," you cut her off harshly.
"I said stop it!" you yell out, tearing your arm away out of her grasp. Lunging forward, your hands shoot out, gripping both of her wrists. You twist her around and push her back, forcing her against the wall behind her and pinning her to it. "Stop it, stop it, stop it!"
"Ow!" she gasps in pain, one eye closed in a wince. She tries to struggle against your tight grip, but her strength is no match for yours. "S-stop what? What are you talking about? L-let go, you're hurting me!"
"Why??" you say in a low voice. "Why won't you leave me alone? Why do you worry about me? You know what I am. You know what I do. So why is it that you won't leave me alone? Why is it that you won't stop caring about what happens to me? Stop it."
She does not answer, only staring at you defiantly.
Slowly, you relax your hands, allowing your arms to fall to your side as you take a step back. Avoiding your gaze, Kiyone rubs her wrists, red marks clearly visible on the skin. After an awkward moment of silence, she meets your eyes again, her expression very serious.
"You?" she begins, closing her eyes briefly and taking a deep breath before continuing. ??you're afraid of being loved, aren't you?"
"-No. Rather, I should say you're just afraid of forming attachments in general. Am I wrong? You interact with other people as little as possible, not even becoming acquainted with them, because you're afraid that you might end up caring about them. That's why you were so insistent on leaving this place as soon as possible, and why you're trying to leave now, am I right?"
You take another step back.
"Jackpot, huh?" she says in a deadpan voice, watching your reaction. ??So, I'm guessing at some point in your life, you ended up losing everyone you cared about, or you were betrayed by someone you trusted, and that's what made you shun human relationships, because you don't want to experience anything like that ever again. Am I right or wrong?"
"If that's the case. Then I won't stop you if you want to leave. But you know, to love someone and to be loved in turn can be a painful thing sometimes, but it's also something very beautiful, isn't it?" she says, smiling slightly. ??If you forfeit human relations, then you're also giving up on one of the most important aspects of the world."
Kiyone steps forward, and as she nears you, you find yourself stumbling back until you're the one against a wall now. "But if you stay, you might be able to reclaim that," she says, looking up at you. She's standing so close to you now. "Instead of being afraid and rejecting everyone, you can start over here and now."
"Well, to kick it off!" she says with sudden energy, grinning brightly and raising a finger. "We start with being friends."
"What, don't want to start at just friends?" she says, her grin becoming somewhat coy as she jabs you in the chest with a finger. "Then, want to start as lovers instead? Oh noooo, that can't be allowed. There's a procedure for this, we can't just start at that level of intimacy! You have to work for it! Say some smooth lines, buy me some gifts, take me out on a romantic moonlit stroll, etc."
Somehow, it seems like the original topic of the conversation got lost somewhere.
"Oh!" She seems to have realized it too, as she makes to clear her throat. "Ahem. Aaaaanyway. Think about it, will you? And I mean think about it. As in, put some real thought into it, and not just a minute or two's worth. I'm tired now, so I'm going to sleep. You should probably get some shut-eye before you make your decision, too."
Stifling another yawn, she walks toward her room, disappearing behind the door and leaving you out in the hallway alone.
I get the feeling this is going to end up disastrous no matter what route we take, here. If Tayasumi leaves, he'll just get himself killed eventually, and it will probably be a very bitter death. If he stays, the things he's done will catch up with him, and he'll still probably get killed. Which leads me to Kiyone. I can't remember if it was ever actually stated that she died at any point prior, so while it's entirely possible she did, it's also possible that she was just out of the picture before, so to speak. Or rather, it could be both; by which I mean that whatever path we take could decide this.
Forgive me if any of this is sort of disjointed. I'm running on no sleep and about to head out, so, I'll be back to vote after I've had more time to think about this.
>>16753 I understand and agree completely. But when I say 'bad' and 'disastrous', I mean it'll either end up as you explained, or it will end up as you explained with larger amounts of suffering and despair.
I'm just saying don't throw caution to the wind; let's try and pad the blow a little.
For example, all our loved ones die - again. Now, this can either be "I knew it, I knew it all along..." or "OH GOD WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME AGAIN?!" Which of the evils would you rather choose?
[x] No straying.
Only path. No regrets. Etc. etc.
Haven't we got the Tengu and countless other youkai on our ass? Staying with Kiyone and Keine would only be inviting danger into their home. And that's just terrible.
>The more we resist here, the more likely things will get easier for Mikio.
Has we ever actually discussed this before? We have been resisting Tayasumi's nature the entire way through, and Mikio just kept getting worse. Call me crazy here, but maybe resisting is whats causing Mikio to go batshit. It's been a while since I breezed through all the commentary for this story, so forgive me if I'm wrong.
Even though she should know that asking something like that of you is useless and meaningless, even though she should know that you would never agree to something like that, even though she should know that you are incapable of such a thing? Why is it that she's not discouraged from requesting than from you at all? Her behavior shocks you and astonishes you; it cannot be attributed to mere naivety, for she is surrounded by an aura of knowledge and experience, though it is not readily apparent at first glance. Is it altruism, then? Is it compassion? What drives her to do something like that, for the sake of a monster such as you?
it's almost intriguing.
If you were to stay with her, then would the answers to those questions become clear? Would those answers, in turn, be able to change the very nature of a being? No, that's impossible. Nothing can do that. The nature of a being is decided at its birth; no, maybe even before that. Maybe even at its creation. it's unfathomable that anything at all can reverse such a thing. To even think that would only be a doomed, misplaced hope.
"And yet you cannot turn toward the door again.
Why is that? Is it because you believe in her words? That can't be. You already know that it's pointless to rebel against your own nature, and yet you can't bring yourself to forever shun away what little humanity remains within you? Idiotic, foolish, useless, and sentimental?!
You lift a single foot, slowly inching forward. Almost unconsciously, your body begins to move toward the door the woman disappeared behind. Arriving just before it, you weakly reach out with one hand, sliding it open. Stepping through the narrow doorway, your gaze wanders about the room before settling on a particular spot on the floor. You see Kiyone lying on top of the futon, soundly asleep with one arm wrapped around her daughter, hugging her close. In that same dreamy state, you walk toward her.
You clench one hand into a fist before extending out the fingers, hooking them into claws. Dark mist begins to flow out from your hand, black wisps rising up from it as a black flame envelops your hand. You stop just next to the two, and slowly, you lift your hand, keeping it hovering over them.
One clean motion would be able to do it. It would only take a split second. No matter how skilled this woman is in youkai extermination, she is completely defenseless in her sleep. She would not feel pain. She would not even realize that something is wrong until it's far too late. They are obstacles. They will get in the way. You should remove them both, here and now, before it becomes too unbearable to do so. All you need to do is bring your hand down, and bear a small pain for just a little while. Slowly lowering yourself to one knee, your hand sinks a little lower. Just a little more. Only an inch more.
You release your held breath, as the black flame burning around your hand flickers out, leaving no traces of itself save for a few dark wisps in the air.
Already, is it too late? In such a short time, have you already? become attached to these two? After such a long time of isolation, why is it that you are unable to once more return yourself to it? There is only pain in seeking the company of others; you should already understand that well, but why is it that you can't bring yourself to kill that which threatens to invite only more pain to you?
You raise your head, dully watching over the face of the woman lying down next to your kneeling body. A hand gently reaches up and takes hold of yours, intertwining the fingers together. One closed eye of hers flutters open, a clear pupil focusing on you. A faint smile creeps up to her lips as the woman watches you, still leaning over them both.
From the beginning, I always thought that I could do no good.
As much as I tried, I could do nothing but destroy. I thought that was just simply how I was. I had accepted that fact as my nature. I had accepted that role.
That's why I cut myself off from others. I would only invite them to share my cursed fate.
"That's what I thought, but the real reason was? because I didn't want to be hurt anymore. I would never again be pained by loss. I would fully embrace my nature, regardless of good or evil or other petty human morals like that, and simply live without feeling anything, without knowing anyone. That was what I thought was best.
Yes, that is what I thought, but?
Solitude is the only pain that exceeds that of loss.
So, once more?
Just once more, shall I trust in others?"
"Sure would be nice to have an Onbashira festival here," Lady Kanako says in a bored tone of voice as she stuffs a clump of rice into her mouth using a pair of chopsticks, a look of reminiscence reflecting off her eyes. ??I think one of them needs replacing, anyway."
"Onbashira festival??" you repeat in confusion.
"Those big, tall pillars you see sticking out of the lake," Lady Suwako answers. "Back in the real world, there used to be an Onbashira festival every six years, where a large tree was felled and carved into a pillar."
"Oh, I know about that," Sanae says, her eyes lighting up. "They were still holding it when I was little! People would ride on top of the pillar while it slid down a mountain."
"What's the problem with doing it here, then?" you ask, curious.
"Mostly manpower," Lady Kanako says with a dismissive wave of her hand, still speaking with her cheeks full of rice. ??If we bribed the kappa with some cucumbers, we could probably get them to carry it out for us, but cucumber season isn't until summer, so I don't have any. And, well, the tengu would probably get suspicious and think I'm planning something."
She's right about that last part. They were always a suspicious bunch.
?Then why don't we hold it ourselves?" Sanae suggests.
"Us?" Lady Suwako says, nearly breaking out into laughter. "You've got to be kid?"
Lady Kanako slaps a hand over the other god's mouth, silencing her while grinning proudly at her wind priestess, boisterously puffing out her chest. She proudly declares ?Of course, a work that has to be completed by a mere dozen men can easily be done by a god!"
"Right?" Sanae replies with a smile, touching the tips of her fingers together. Immediately after, she turns to you. ??And you'll help, right?"
Still smiling, she says ?I'm really no good at manual labor."
Poor Tayasumi. You allow yourself to hope, forgetting that all you've done in the past will eventually come back to haunt you. You are a monster, a target. Your presence will bring calamity; another village, another community of frail human beings and a guardian who cannot protect them all. You will be outcast, she will be outcast. You will be hated. She will be blamed. You will know loss once more. You will not receive forgiveness. You've suffered, you will continue to suffer. Life isn't fair, it never is. An endless cycle governed by actions and emotions and world that will never accept you. You will learn, in time...
Indeed it can't- but in that is beauty! Despair is, itself, ease. Did you wonder why you fall into despair? If you could simply rise out of it, effortlessly, then have you really escaped? No! The escape- the bitter climb, the tearing and burning in your soul as you struggle, reaching for the light above- it is battle you wage, the war of liberation. In it, you become stronger, enough to hold yourself above, and, when you fall again, enough to begin, fighting, climbing up once more.
>>16805 Sometimes, some people are, in a way, fated to always be unhappy. They will experience nothing but pain and sadness and will forever be alone. Die alone. That's the regrettable truth of this world.
The paths you continue to pave, may always come to a dead end. That hope you cling to, may never reward you. And in your final moments, you will see that all of your efforts have been a waste, and that the world can be very, very cruel.
When that time comes, that is when you will know true despair. Savor it. Toss that broken facade away and learn to hate; learn to laugh bitterly with the rest of the damned world.
There is no hope. There is only rapacity and malice and the mindless jeering of the masses. You do not simply work hard and expect good things to come your way from it. You need to be willing to take them. Even if it means stepping on the lives of others to better further your own well-being. If you can't do that, then you're of no worth to anyone, including yourself.
Sorry to interrupt you two, but I'm getting pretty sick of this word.
If people wanted an excuse to give up, they could always use 'I'm a faggot' but the very concept of belief in a mystical power who dictates what is going to happen and what isn't beforehand is just so goddamned ass-backwards that it gives me a headache.
I will admit one thing: As much as we may forget it, things don't end well for the hunter. There's really no changing it, seeing how this is the past, and basically all of Mikio's story is built from the assumption that something very bad happens to happened to the hunter.
What we can change, however, is how he will face it. Will he lie down and die, giving in? Will he rush into that unfortunate end? Or will he stand and fight it, struggling until the last?
>>16815 How would you feel if someone governed your actions towards the most possible amount of despair? Yeah yeah, I know, it's fiction. Though, regardless of how you answer that, not all of us want to read one big letdown after another until even we feel like killing ourselves.
When his world crumbled he was apathetic. Completely broken. Willing to let go of his existence in Mikio's mind and disappear. Inevitably, it will all come back around to this point in the end.
Yes, we're the ones who steer him towards his doom. However, the only thing we change is how he became apathetic. Will it be from mere inactivity, or will it be from being thrown into the deepest pit of sorrow until his mind shatters?
He's been through enough already, and so have we. There's no need to torture him further and make his every waking moment a literal hell.
>>16816 >Literal hell
That won't happen unless the entire town is set ablaze and demonds from Makai decide to pop up for no aparent reason...
Ok, now let me respond seriously. I might have lost your point, or maybe I'm using someone else's, but what you said is that he should just leave to avoid getting hurt right? Well, have you heard the phrase: 'Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all'? It's something like that; he even said himself that his feeling of loneliness was much worse than the feeling of loss.
You see, even when he appeared to be apathetic, he was just suffering in silence, each and every day.
Just like it happens in real life, you can't just close your eyes and cover your ears: no matter how much of a doll you want to become (Kohaku style) you will always be a living, sensible, human being.
>>16817 When he wrote that line, he wasn't considering an eternal afterlife of dwelling on the past and suffering for it.
Some people might hold on to pain and manage to remember the 'good times'. Though that can lead to even more pain. Some can't handle it, and they become monsters hell-bent on wiping an entire species off the face of the earth. As punishment, he was left for the memories to torment him, never completing his goal, never saving anyone, and dying incomplete.
This is especially true if whatever memories we make with this 'new beginning' end up horribly. His loved ones die yet again, and he dies hating everything and screaming at the world. However he fights ( >>16815 ) or whatever end he faces does not change the the way he feels or will feel. Again, will it be from inactivity or sorrow that he becomes apathetic? That choice is up to us, depending on where we go from here.
He's a walking corpse, revived for just one purpose. While he may still have some human left in him, 'sensible' is only what he makes of it. Human beings are not sensible. They will more often follow their emotions. Revenge and turning away from others is perfectly normal. Wanting to make connections after all he's been through is not normal. It's masochistic. It's the optimism and romantic notions of the voters who believe this path won't end badly.
Brushing off his goal even though he's only alive because of a spirit that can take over his mind and will most likely kill his loved ones (which he will blame himself for; because it will be by his own hands) is downright retarded. Or have you forgotten about the hungering deity by the name of 'Headgames'?
Depending on what you're referencing, your post may as well be void.