[x] Cling on.
Maybe this is alright.
Maybe this is what’s best after all. Maybe you should just disappear after all. The embrace of nothingness would be a sweet comfort, a shelter from the harsh realities of the world. Yes, it is certainly not without its appeal; to cease to exist, to cease to have any worries or doubts remaining, becoming unaware and incapable of thinking and remembering. Yes, it would be best. It would be even better if no one would remember you at all when it happened, it would—
But there are still things that you want to do. Things that you wish you could have said. Things that you wish you could have heard. Things that you wish you could have done. But all of that wouldn’t matter if you disappeared, so why worry? Because that’s wrong. After all these years, after all this time, you wouldn’t have accomplished anything if you were to disappear here. You wouldn’t have made anyone happy -- not her, not your friends, or even yourself. Everything would have been meaningless, and that thought alone scares you. It makes you want to scream in anger and frustration. If you were to disappear here like this…
There would have been no meaning in you being born.
It would have been better if you had never existed.
You hate that thought. You hate it. You cannot – absolutely cannot – allow it to be the truth.
“I—I won’t,” you managed to gasp out, your lips trembling. Slowly, weakly, you begin to lift yourself off the ground, sitting up. The burnt hole in your body, the wound that has gone straight through your heart, begins to close up on its own, a faint dark mist pouring forth from the tightening hole as new flesh fills in the gap. “I won’t disappear. Not here, not now. I can’t.”
“You will resist?” the gap demon asks, raising an eyebrow. There is no other change to her expression. Her violet eyes remain cold and unsympathetic, and even as she crosses her arms together, she looks neither sadistic nor arrogant, only calmly looking at you with the composure of someone merely doing their job. “Then do your best.”
Her arms still folded together, she gives a snap of her fingers, several distortions opening up behind her, filled with bright, intense light. Faster than your eyes can follow, sharp metal shrapnel shoot out from the openings, hurled toward you like thrown javelins. One of the metal spikes embeds itself into your shoulder with a loud, wet thump, piercing through flesh and bone in an instant, lodging itself deep into your body. Jerked back by the impact, you stumble back, right into the path of another projectile, impaling you through the stomach.
“Gah…” you gasp weakly, struggling to keep from falling back down on the dirt.
Even as you reel from the pain, mercilessly, another steel rod jam itself through your bloodied body, stabbing between two of your ribs. Coughing and gurgling blood, you drop to your knees, blood blood blood flowing freely from your mouth and all the wounds on your body. Everything looks red again, just like then. The dirt, your hands, your clothes -- all dyed in the color of blood. Your vision -- wavering between focused and unfocused -- shows you your palm. A black mark begins to appear on the surface of your skin, crawling and writhing across it like a snake, coiling around your arms and hands, a burning, searing pain accompanying its movements.
“Won’t you fight back?” the gap woman asks, standing before you. “You’re about to be killed, you know.”
You look up at her, her figure casting a shadow over you. You reach out your hand toward her. Yes, in order to survive, you must kill her. You must kill her before she kills you -- erases you. You must tear her apart, limb from limb, and destroy those limbs completely. You have to stop her. You have to kill her. You have to erode her away into nothing, so that she cannot turn you into nothing. There would be nothing wrong with that. It is self-defense, and yet--
You lower your hand, as well as your chin. You stare down at the dirt. Why? Are you scared – scared to fight? Scared, scared, scared. Coward. You are scared. Coward coward coward. Running, running, always running, never fighting, never confronting, you have forgotten what it is to bare your fangs. You are afraid.
A boot kicks you in the head.
You crumple to the side, your head bleeding now as well. You hear shuffling of grass as a pair of feet trudge through them, stopping at your body. You feel another hard kick under your body, shattering your ribs in a single blow. You don’t even cry out in pain, keeping silent. The foot draws back, and kicks you again, cracking a few more ribs. This is pain. This is painful. It hurts, it hurts, it hurts.
“So you won’t resist after all. You desire for continued existence, but you’ve already lost the will to fight for it,” she says, without contempt or malice in her voice. “Then I guess this is the end.”
“Not so fast, bitch!”
A tall figure leaps out from the darkness, obscured by shadows. The figure darts toward the gap demon, attempting to pounce upon her. Having sensed the danger, the gap demon glides backward into a welcoming distortion, slipping inside it and reemerging next to her fox servant. You look up, still bleeding profusely from everywhere on your body, and gaze upon your rescuer. A lean, muscular man with wolf-like features stands slightly hunched, baring his fangs at the other pair of youkai.
“The hell’s going on here?” he demands to know, “why are you messing around in our turf, gap hag? This place is off-limits to you.”
The gap demon looks disinterestedly toward the man, then turns her face toward the other woman and asks, “Ran, who is this?”
“He appears to be the leader of Gensokyo’s population of wolves,” she answers.
“Oh, a small-fry.”
Rouga cracks his knuckles, murderous rage written on his face, his prominent canines flashing in the pale moonlight cast over his face. “I don’t give a damn if you’re protected by the Hakurei Border agreement. I’ve been itching to give you a piece of my mind ever since you put that damn thing up anyway, and now you’re invading our turf and screwing around with our friend. We ain’t gonna let this slide.”
The gap demon sighs. “Ran, subdue him.”
The wolfman leaps forward. “Bring it, you damn fox!”
You let your head fall back down again, looking up at the sky. You hear sounds of a scuffle, grunts and cries of battle, and then you hear a body falling to the ground, accompanied by a splatter of blood. You look toward Rouga again, and see him lying face down in the dirt, all four limbs pinned to the ground, large metal spikes impaled through his arms and legs and keeping him stuck to the dirt beneath him. He rages and struggles, trying to pull himself out, but either from pain or battle his strength seems to have faded.
“Damn you both…” he growls, continuing to struggle. “You won’t get away with this!”
“Who’s going to stop us?” the gap demon taunts him, almost as if she were challenging him.
In response, he lifts his head, looking toward the sky. Taking a deep breath, he lets out a long, almost mournful-sounding howl. Immediately after, you hear the shuffling of feet -- many of them, as many as a dozen, perhaps, or even two dozen. You turn your weary head toward the direction of the approaching footsteps, and see a large force of white wolf tengu there, armed with broadsided swords and spears. They all stand in a horizontal line, led by a single gray-haired commander. They look unnerved, scared. Some look to be terrified of even looking at the gap demon, their gazes held low. Some look at you, seeing how terrible of a shape you’re in, and their eyes widen. Murmurs and whispers go unchecked, as the tengu commander steps up.
“What’s this?” the gray commander asks, just as unnerved as the rest of his men. “What are you doing?”
“I’m not sure,” the woman replies sarcastically, smirking. “Why don’t you tell me.”
“Trespassing on the mountain,” he says, emboldened by his growing anger, “Assaulting one of our kinsmen. Assaulting another youkai under our protection. Are you trying to start a fight?”
“No,” she says, “I’m only trying to rid you of a nuisance. A problem. If you know what’s best for you, you’ll let me finish.”
“A problem…?” the tengu commander asks, confused momentarily -- and then, almost instinctively, he gazes toward you, lying on the ground. “You don’t mean--”
“I do mean him,” she replies coolly. “He is a problem. He’s a threat. You all must suspect that as well? It’d really be in your -- our -- best interests that he disappear. You don’t really believe by now that he’s just a human, do you, tengu? You all know that he’s something far beyond just a human. You all already know that he can be dangerous. So, I’m just taking him off your hands. Isn’t that convenient for everyone?”
The murmurs and whispers grow louder, and the gray-haired commander appears to have nothing to reply with, stunned into silence. Some of the tengu look at you again, with those same eyes they gazed at you with when they discovered that you might be far more than a human. Yes… nothing has changed since then. They are afraid of you. They fear what you may be. They hate you, they scorn you, they care nothing for you. It would be better for them if you just vanished. So why, why do you continue to cling on? No one would want you, no one would defend you…
“We won’t let you,” a single voice cuts through all the mutterings.
Everyone’s eyes turn to look at the one who said it. You recognize him as the tengu who always pushed his own tasks to you. Nervously, he steps forward out of the formation, his sword and shield held out in front of him, his voice shaking slightly, though he tries his best to maintain his composure in front of the gap demon.
“He’s one of us,” he says simply. “The tengu do not abandon their comrades.”
His words have a tremendous effect on the other. Nervously, a little fearfully, they all turn to look at one another in the face. Some of them nod, and with a look of determination, they step forward, ahead of the others, raising their weapons at the ready. When the other tengu see this, they -- at first reluctantly, then proudly -- follow in their actions. Each of them begins to step up, pointing their weapons in the direction of the feared gap demon. Finally, all but the commander have taken a stand against the women.
After a second of deliberation, the commander steps forefront of the line.
“Oh?” she seems amused, “You’re going to protect him from me? He’s not even a real tengu. Are you sure you want to do this for him?”
“He is a tengu,” the commander says. “and should you threaten any of us, including him, the whole mountain shall fall upon you, even if it’s you, gap demon.”
“Hahaha,” the gap demon laughs, her smirk growing wider, her eyes narrowing into slits, “Do you think I’d be scared of mutts and birds? You all should really reconsider standing against me. I really do hate it when people try to interfere with what I’m doing.”
They won’t back down. Their united pride is too strong. Even if they are scared of her, they would never back down.
[ ] Stop them.
[ ] Do nothing.