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Author Topic: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (COMPLETED)  (Read 46428 times)

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Offline OhGodHelpMe

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Re: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (COMPLETED)
« Reply #270 on: January 24, 2017, 05:10:47 PM »
Senkumo War Stories: Cyclical Karma
Spoiler

*WAR CLOUD*




(The Battle of Kyoto settled things once and for all...or so we thought. I suppose I'll have to say it like this; The battle resulted in the Yamana and Hosokawa both being too exhausted and under-equipped to fight any longer. Direct fighting ceased almost entirely as soldiers from both sides sat in their filthy, rainy trenches, staring down the enemy on the other side of town. However, none of them fought, because they simply no longer had the manpower to do so. As a result, the Onin War came to an official end two years after our battle.)




*MOONLIGHT*




(I suppose you can Kyoto fell back into a "peaceful" state, in the same sense one may find a morgue peaceful. It remained desolate and ruined, which made it easy for bandits to enter and scavenge whatever they could find. This congregation of peasants, Buddhist monks, Shinto priests, and local nobles would come to be known in Japanese history as the Ikko-ikki.)




*N O I R*




Tsukiakari sat on her legs in front of the cross-legged Bishamon in his room of worship as the aroma of incense lifted into the air. Stripes of bright, warm sunlight shined through the wooden bars that acted as a clerestory, and reflected off of the golden statue of Bishamon in glorious light. Both of them wore the standard, black Senkumo robes and kimono, covering their arms with its longs sleeves and donning the red cloud symbol on their backs.


Tsukiakari: Ikko-ikki...so that's what they are.


Bishamon: Despite what a label or a name may imply, this "group" is not truly organized. They are peasants and monks acting in their own social and economic interest. Usually, such pathetic uprisings would be squashed swiftly by the daimyo and shogunate.


Tsukiakari: But because of the war, the shogunate was severely weakened...


Bishamon: Sharp girl. The Hosokawa clan has effectively taken over the shogunate and made the Ashikaga their puppets, but their dreams of ruling this country are up in smoke.


Bishamon softly chuckled as he unfolded his paper fan and blew cool air in his divine face, gently swaying his long, black hair.


Bishamon: They've inherited a country stricken with a fatal illness, the illness of war. Or perhaps it's more fitting to say that they're now the unfortunate rulers of a land steeped in shadow by the spreading war clouds.


Tsukiakari: So then...will the Senkumo clan be acting on this? The country seems like its about to become engulfed in war, and not just military conflict.


Bishamon: How very right you are, Tsukiakari. The Onin War was just a spark for the great fire. As such, the Senkumo clan will be answering the prayers of the daimyo who wish for victory in their battles. Of course, who we side with is our choice, because it doesn't actually matter who wins or loses. The point of it all is eradicating the weeds, and Tsukiakari...the weeds are spreading.




*R O U G E*





Bishamon: I asked Inari Okami to spy around for me in the Kaga Province. She should have returned today with some very useful information. Please, go to her shrine for me.


Tsukiakari bowed her head, leaning forward on her fingers and closing her eyes.


Tsukiakari: Yes, Lord Bishamonten.




As Tsukiakari politely left the room and shut the door, she could hear the footsteps of her kin creaking against the wooden floors, as well as their voices beyond the walls of their rooms. The halls became much more lively as more members were brought into the Senkumo clan. As she nonchalantly walked through the halls of the lavish and alluring Senkumo mansion however, there was one particular person who seemed to have popped out of nowhere, as unwanted as a terminal illness, with an annoyingly pure, yet devious smile on her smooth and beautiful face.


Taeko: Hey there Gekko!


Tsukiakari just kept walking by. If you ignore it, it will go away. Like a stray dog, Taeko followed her on her walk, never taking her fluttering eyes and increasingly creepy grin off of Tsukiakari.


Taeko: Where ya goin'? Whatcha doing today? Wanna go by the hot springs? Wanna go to Mount Fuji? 


Tsukiakari: Every damn day off you get all excited like this...why don't you go fondle Ebina?


Taeko: I already did!


Tsukiakari: What?!


Taeko: While she was sleeping!




*MOLESTATION?!*




Tsukiakari: You should be thrown in the bog for that, you monster!


Taeko: Gah, she was so cute! She thought she was having a sexy dream and kept moaning in her sleep! Even my cute little Ebina is a fully developed and healthy woman now, complete with her own desires and temptations! Oh it almost makes me so sad, Gekko! Why do they grow up so fast?!


Tsukiakari: Probably because you keep touching them...


Taeko: Hmm...well, I guess I can't argue with you there. Anyway, where you going? Are we off to kill someone?


Tsukiakari: "We"?


Taeko: Yep! We're Team Taeko today!


Tsukiakari: Whoa, hold on, shut up! If we're teaming up today, it's going to be Team Tsukiakari, or Team Gekko!


Taeko: How about Team Senkumo?


Tsukiakari: Everyone here is a Senkumo, it doesn't mean anything if we're referring to a specific team!


Taeko: Hmm... "Taegekko"?


(Wow...that's not too bad, I guess...)


Taeko: Ha! It works...sort of! When Taeko and Gekko merge, we become exquisite moonlight!


Tsukiakari: You're giving me a headache. Alright, alright. Get your sword, I'll explain the mission on the way. We'll be headed to Inari's shine today.


Taeko: YES MA'AM!




*VERT*




Like a child going to the candy shop with her mother, Taeko delightfully skipped Along the dirt road in the open, green, and lush countryside of Kyoto. The natural beauty of the distant mountains, swinging trees, leaves swishing in the wind, and the birds singing above in the ocean-blue sky perfectly masked the harsh reality that was manifesting in the country.


Taeko: Inari Okami? Hmm, I've never heard of her before.


Tsukiakari: Apparently, she's a very minor and relatively new god. She doesn't have many shrines in the area yet.


Taeko: Ah, I see. So we just have to confront her and see what she found out. Sounds easy enough.


(For some reason, despite my personal strength, and the strength of the Senkumo clan as a whole...I worried about what was to come next. I worried about Taeko, Mayumi, Ebina, and all the others.)


Tsukiakari: Listen...Taeko...


Taeko: I already know.


Tsukiakari: You...you do?


Taeko: You want to touch my breasts, don't you?


Tsukiakari: BURN TO DEATH!




*N O I R*




Taeko: Really though, Gekko, you looked like something's weighing on your mind. I can see the worry in your eyes whenever you look at me. Don't trouble yourself about a thing, alright? If nothing else, your big sister will always take care of you. I really meant it when I said I'd fulfill my role as a sister to you guys. We're family now, and we're disciples of Bishamon himself. Whatever challenge may come to us, I know we'll be able to overcome it. So, cheer up. Don't meet a god with such a long face, even if she's a minor god.


Tsukiakari: I...guess you're right. You can be surprisingly mature, Taeko.


Taeko: A sister is a jester on the outside and an oracle on the inside, after all.


(Taeko's words were enough to settle the stir in my soul, for the time being. I realized then she came with be because she was really trying to cheer me up. That damn Taeko, so annoying, but so utterly sweet.)


The dirt path led them right into the heart of the forest, making Taeko understand why they brought their blades just in case. The cool of the trees that gave them shade was refreshing on their faces after walking in the sun for so long. The constant hum of cicadas sitting vertically on top of trees was like music to their ears as their eyes remained focused, constantly on the lookout for danger, or a fox goddess.


Tsukiakari: It's around here somewhere...


Taeko: Oh, let's try this way! New gods like to set their shrines up in cool areas, preferably with a pond or small body of water nearby!


Tsukiakari: And how do you know that?


Taeko: Gekko! I'm not stupid!


Tsukiakari: But you are a rapist.


Taeko: Guilty...


The path Taeko pointed to led them up the base of the mountain, where they did indeed find a small shrine built around a pond. Even for what they were expecting, it was a little underwhelming. Actually, very underwhelming. It was just a small pagoda figure and a stone slat with Inari's name carved on it, with two sticks of incense burning in front of it. The pond however, was clean and pretty, like the shoreline of a tropical beach.


Taeko: Gekko, look!


A small, furry, and adorably cute white fox with nine tails emerged from the pond and shook the water off of its fur, spraying the two with a light and refreshing mist of hydration. 


Tsukiakari: Is this really a...fox?!


Before their very eyes, the fox lit up like a newborn star and began to morph into a human being. Its paws and claws turned into arms and legs, and most of its fur was turned into peachy and vibrant skin. The fluffy, nine tails remained, swirling and swaying behind what looked like the body of a 14 year old girl, much shorter and innocent looking than them. Her furry white ears also remained, jerking in different directions to even the slightest sound of a branch breaking, or a cicada singing. 




*BEAU*




Her thick, wavy, white hair covered her chest and most of her neck, curling around the fox-tooth necklace she wore. Her face was unmistakably youthful, free of any blemish or even the slightest unsightly aspect or flaw. The girl was blessed by bright, red eyes that captivated both Tsukiakari, and the drooling Taeko. Now fully transformed and naked, the girl, the goddess, Inari Okami herself bowed before them.


Inari: Greetings, Tsukiakari Senkumo. I welcome you and your guest to my humble shrine. I apologize if it is unsightly, for I am still a fresh and unpopular goddess.


Taeko: M-MY NAME IS TAEKO SENKUMO, D-D-DO YOU WANNA COME BACK WITH ME AND PLAY NAKED TICKLES UNDER THE SH-


Tsukiakari quickly covered Taeko's mouth with her hand, laughing off her impolite perversion. She could've sworn she could feel blood run down on her fingers too.


Tsukiakari: No, please! We understand! Thank you so much for having us! But...how did you know my name? Bishamon only decided to send me to you today, didn't he?


Inari blushed, covering her trembling lips and cheeks with one of her tails as she twiddled her thumbs and fingers.


Inari: W-well, it's just that I've sort of...heard of you...in Heaven. Everyone says you're Amaterasu's daughter. I actually got really excited when I saw you. My apologies...


(She's...like a gushing fan...)


Taeko: MmmmmhmmM! Mhhmmm! MMM!


Tsukiakari: Fine, I'll let you go, but no more wild comments out of you! Understand?!




*I SPEAK FLUENT MUFFLE-TALK*




Taeko was mercifully released from Tsukiakari's grip of silence. She bowed and behaved herself before the fresh goddess.


Taeko: My apologies...that was incredibly rude of me. 


Inari: No, I thought it as cute! Thank you so much for your affection! It means the world to me! 


Inari turned on her heel and skipped back over to the pond. She jumped and splashed right into, soaking her entire body in its clear water. She surfaced from the pond, wiping her eyes and nose as she stood towards the shallow end, taking handfuls of the pure water and rubbing her arms and legs with it. 


Tsukiakari and Taeko stood to her left and right, watching the goddess, still a mere child in physical form, as she cleansed her body and tails.


Tsukiakari: Inari, Bishamon told me you came here from the Kaga Province. Were you followed?


Inari: Not at all! I checked four times for anyone following me around, but no such thing occurred during my journey back here. I have slightly bigger shrines in more populated areas, but I settled on this one because it was close to Bishamon, and because not many people come up here besides for the locals.


(Hmm...so she's really smart for her age...)


Taeko: So then? Do you have a scroll for us to take back?


Inari blushed again, hiding her face behind her tail as the sun glimmered in her adorably sweet, crimson eyes.


Inari: W-well...you see, I would've written a scroll for you...but there are a lot of kanji I can't write yet. I'm very sorry!


Tsukiakari: Damn...well, I guess that's to be expected, after all. You're still very young for a goddess. So then, can you tell us what happened?


Inari: Yes, I can. Please, listen intently. 


Taeko: Kinda hard to do that, but alright...I'll try...



Inari: Right now, the Kaga Province is being rocked by numerous and increasingly successful rebellions by the lower class. The peasants, monks, jizamurai, and the like. Right now, the province is ruled over by Togashi Masachika, who had been able to quell these uprisings even during the Onin War. However, since the Ashikaga Shogunate has fallen apart, there are many disaffected daimyo who are beginning to lend their aid to the Ikko-ikki.


Tsukiakari: Damn it, so that's what's going on.


Taeko: The daimyo are all breaking up into factions and rebelling against their masters?


Inari: That's right. No matter how much he keeps quelling these uprisings, the Ikko-ikki only come back stronger, and with more help than before. It is my firm belief that the Kaga Province was form another fracture point in the country, and may set another precedent for more civil wars and uprisings. 


Taeko: Do you know why the Ikko-ikki are rebelling against Togashi?


Inari: They claim he has not fulfilled his promise to elevate the lower class with economic reward. They feel that they still live in squalor because of his rule. Whether you believe that to be genuine or not is up to you.


Tsukiakari: Bishamon told me that the Ikko-ikki aren't necessarily organized. Has anything you've seen in Kaga contradicted that?


Inari: Hmm...not entirely...there is some sort of organization, but it's very loose. I searched around, and the closest thing to a leader the Ikko-ikki have is a man named Rennyo.




*N O I R*




Tsukiakari: Rennyo? 


Inari: He's currently the head priest of the Hongan temple. The temple belongs to the Jodo Shinshu sect of Buddhism, founded by Shinran during the Heian period. I've done quite a lot of research about these two, and about the sect.


Taeko: Haha, and by "research", you mean "spying".


Inari smiled.


Inari: Exactly!


Tsukiakari: Tell us. We need to know everything about or enemy. If they follow a certain belief system, the tenets of that belief system could serve as points of subversion. It may be key to understanding how to dismantle the Ikko-ikki.


Inari: Very well. Listen closely.

Senkumo War Stories: How I Envy the Moon
Spoiler
Inari: Jodo Shinshu was founded a few centuries ago by the monk Shinran as a sect of Buddhism, one focused on a different method of attaining Enlightenment. The difference in doctrine wasn't well appreciated by the other sects, and so they urged the government to persecute Shinran, his master Honen, and all others spreading Jodo Shinshu. Shinran thus found himself in exile for years, until the ban on nembutsu was uplifted. Shinran then returned to Kyoto and died there when he was 90 years old. His daughter, Kakushinni, passed down his teachings, and her descendants would become the Monshu, the head priests of the Hongan-ji temples.




Inari proceeded to wash her hair with the pond's water as Taeko inspected every naked inch of her soaked, adolescent body with boiling excitement. Tsukiakari sat cross-legged, listening intently as Inari had previously instructed.



Tsukiakari: And this Rennyo character is the 8th Monshu. In other words, a descendant of Shinran.



Inari: Exactly. Hmmm...let's see...



Inari placed her index finger on her chin and turned her eyes skyward as she kicked her feet in the pond, and pondered how to continue. No pun intended.



Inari: Between Shinran and Rennyo, I suppose you can say that the Jodo Shinshu sect had a turbulent existence. They were constantly being challenged by the other Buddhist sects and leaders. Rennyo is apparently the one who brought a sort of classical restoration to the sect. He's been writing his letters in kana, making it easier for the common man who cannot read kanji. He humbles himself and sits among the congregation when he speaks, not on the raised dais. Because he set such a powerful example, people listened to him when he brought about a doctrine of community rules. No gambling, no slander of other teachings and schools, to respect one's governor, among other things.



Taeko: Ahh, so he pretty much cleaned up their act, huh? He sounds like a pretty swell guy so far!



Inari: I guess you can say that. He's maintained a delicate balance with his followers and the Ashikaga shogunate until now. Now that the shogunate has fallen, however, it seems his followers have taken matters into their own hands and are using violence in aggression instead of self-defense, whether Rennyo approves or not. The Ikko-ikki seem to believe they are in the right, down to a very spiritual level.



Tsukiakari: That's going to be a bit troublesome. So, they just go ahead and break their own rules if they feel like it, huh?



Inari: It certainly seems that way, yes.





*BETRAYAL*





Inari: I'm afraid Rennyo has no power over the revolts currently rocking the Kaga Province and other areas, so targeting him directly would be wasted energy.



Tsukiakari stared at her reflection in the rippling pond, listening as an excited wind brushed through the trees and made their green leaves rain from the sky.



Tsukiakari: Maybe we can't control their violence, but we can still use Rennyo. He can influence their behavior to a certain extent, and he can impose new rules and changes to the belief system....



Inari: What did you have in mind?



Taeko: Ahh...I know that look. When Tsukiakari's face gets all serious like that, it means she's cooking up a strategy!



Inari: Really?!



Taeko: That's right! It was her brilliant mind and power that let us win the Battle of Kyoto a few years ago.



Tsukiakari paced around, walking in circles as if she had lost her marbles before she came to a stop and pointed a finger to the sky. Her face snapped out of it's thousand-yard stare and her eyes brightened with yet another one of her fanciful ideas.



Tsukiakari: I've got it! The Ikko-ikki want war, so they're going to need a war goddess!



Inari: Hmm? What does that mean?!



Tsukiakari: Sorry Inari, we've got to get back now. Is that all you have for us?



Inari: Well...yeah, that's pretty much everything. Whatever you do, please be careful! If you go against the Ikko-ikki, you'll also have to go against their daimyo allies too!



Tsukiakari: Don't worry, I've got it all figured out! Let's go, Taeko!



Taeko: Huh?! But I wanna look at her body more! At least let me touch her belly!



Tsukiakari: Now!



And so, the tearful Taeko was dragged away by her collar, down the dirt road and away from Inari's beautiful, youthful body. The young fox goddess waved goodbye as the two departed and continued bathing in her pond, away from the perverse eyes of the amorous Taeko.





*BEAU*





(Inari relayed some very useful information to us, just as Bishamon said she would. I suppose, since she was so young at the time, her position as a minor god made her an easy target if one needed to have a favor done. The cleverness of entrusting a prolonged mission of espionage to a fox goddess was something I had wished to emulate with my next strategy. Not only did I want to prove to Bishamon that I was powerful with the sword, but I also wanted to show, without a doubt, that I am just as mighty with my mind. I was seeking so badly to impress him...)



That late afternoon, Tsukiakari returned to Bishamon's room of worship, sitting on her knees with her hands resting on top of her lap. After hearing the information given to her by Inari, and then hearing Tsukiakari's plan, Bishamon softly chuckled to himself as he scratched his long, black beard with his fingertips.



Bishamon: I think it's brilliant, Tsukiakari. Why don't we go and do it right now, hmm? There's no need to wait.



Tsukiakari: Are...are you serious, master?



Bishamon: I am a Buddhist deity, after all. The Buddhist and Shinto pantheons formed a sort of alliance a while ago, but that relationship seemed to be the most respected among the gods. There have been people on both sides of these beliefs that have tried to suppress the veneration of deities from the other faith. We can use your strategy to enforce this alliance. It won't stop anything that's going on, but it will supply us with prayers. And that is always valuable.



Tsukiakari: Yes, Lord Bishamon.



Bishamon then stood from his cross-legged position. The war god was mighty, muscular, and his stature was grand. His very presence could command an army without him ever needing to speak a word.



Bishamon: Go and get ready. Meet me in the garden.



(Finally...a mission with Bishamon...)



Tsukiakari: Alright!





*N O I R*
















That night, when the Senkumo mansion grew quiet, and all of the war orphans fell into their slumber, Tsukiakari approached Bishamon in the garden, her feet crunching on cobble stones as she walked a path lined by head-sized stones and rocks. Pagoda lanterns lit the way and reflected off of the small pond where several koi swam together in circles. Red torii gates loomed over her head as she approached her cloaked master wearing a black, hooded cloak like his.



Bishamon: The stars look fine tonight. Are you ready?



Tsukiakari simply nodded.



Bishamon: Very well then. Back to Kyoto we go.





*VANISH*





With just the clasp of his mighty hands, Bishamon teleported himself and Tsukiakari far away from the mansion, and into the outskirts of Kyoto, still mostly in ruin and squalor from the Onin War. What used to be a beautiful, sprawling city filled with stores, entertainment, and laughter was now deathly silent, occupied by nothing more than ruined buildings and wandering monks or bandits. As they appeared in the middle of the street, Bishamon kept Tsukiakari close to him, for the town was more dangerous than ever for a night stroll.



The moon was more lustrous than the capital of Tsukiakari's own country.



Bishamon: Do not stray too far, child. My first guess for where this Rennyo could be is Kyoto, just as Shinran did centuries before him. However, we'll still need to get some information from the monks here. The Ikko-ikki may be mostly religious, but many of them are still violent bandits out for the violence and plunder.



Tsukiakari brushed her master's firm hand off of her shoulder and covered her head with the hood of her cloak.



Tsukiakari: I am not a child. I understand the situation clearly.



Bishamon: Hmmm...you've certainly grown.



Tsukiakari: Information...why not go to one of the Hongan-ji temples? In these ruins, they're probably using their temples as monasteries. Since you're coming along with me, we shouldn't have to be too rough with them.



Bishamon, impressed by her progress as a war goddess, bowed and simply let her lead the way. As they marched through war-torn Kyoto beneath the stars and moon, Tsukiakari couldn't help but indulge in her own curiosity.





*R O U G E*





Tsukiakari: Bishamon.



Bishamon: Yes?



Tsukiakari: I want to ask you something.



Bishamon: Well then, ask away.



Tsukiakari:...Why exactly did the Buddhist and Shinto pantheons ally with each other? I would think different pantheons would try to phase each other out of existence.



Bishamon softly chuckled.



Bishamon: I suppose Amaterasu never taught you about the divine side of warfare. Of course, you were much too young.



Tsukiakari: Stop treating me like a child and just give me an answer....



Bishamon: Very well. You're old enough to know. Your hunch is correct, Tsukiakari. Most pantheons in this world have warred with each other, and some survived while others didn't. It wasn't just pantheons really, but different races of supernatural beings that also arose from those pantheons.



Tsukiakari: How long has this been happening?



Bishamon: Since the very dawn of the concept of "God".





*WAR*





Bishamon: Izanami and Izanagi were the ones who created this great country, and founded the Shinto pantheon, many, many years ago. I suppose you could say Izanami was the first divine queen, and Izanagi the King. However, after Izanami was killed giving birth to her daughter Kagutsuchi, Izanagi was the only one left. He created Amaterasu and Tsukuyomi by washing out his left and right eyes. Those two grew up, surpassed their father, and became the next divine rulers. At the same time, similar stories were taking place in far away lands.



Tsukiakari: I'm guessing we were lucky. Izanami gifted us an entire island all to ourselves, away from foreign influence.



Bishamon: Indeed. She made our people strong, proud, and isolated, preemptively ceasing any conflict with other pantheons before they even had a chance to start. However, things change as the world gets older. Around the time your mother and father took their thrones, this spiritual unity in the country was challenged by the introduction of Buddhism. It took a while, but eventually, your mother decided to work very hard to carefully mix the two beliefs into something all people of the country could agree on, without fighting each other. This merging is what's been resulting in the birth of new gods such as Inari Okami.



Tsukiakari: That's not all, is it? If it took her a while, it wasn't Mother's first intent to unify the two.



Bishamon: Sharp girl. No, it wasn't. Slowly but surely, people from these faraway lands have been coming to our country on large, magnificent boats capable of traversing the sea itself. With them, they brought stories and accounts of their own beliefs, religions, and supernatural beings. That is when Amaterasu became aware of the existence of many foreign races of supernatural beings. However, one particular race had her worried.





*NOSFERATU*





Tsukiakari: Which race?



Bishamon: They are called Vampires. They are an undeniably strong race of beings. They conquered just about every other race next to them, and the ones they contended with were not child's play either.



Tsukiakari: So, what makes them so dangerous?



Bishamon: Their sheer power, but also the fact that they don't look very different from any human. They blend so infuriatingly well into human society, allowing them to subvert governments, institutions, religious sects, and entire empires. It is said they've orchestrated wars, genocides, and other atrocities to serve the interest of their own race. They have the same collective and proud spirit that we do, and the power to preserve and enforce what they hold dear.



Tsukiakari: Unbelievable...I can't actually fathom such a powerful race existing...



Bishamon: They've established a powerful and widespread Vampirical Monarchy, as they call it. Their current king is a near-invincible vampire named Count Dracula, if I remember correctly. Dracula and his empire is said to currently hold power and territory in most of the known world.



Tsukiakari: Let me guess, he wants to spread his influence here too.



Bishamon: Exactly.





*N O I R*





Tsukiakari: Hence the unification effort. Otherwise, infighting between Shinto and Buddhism would weaken the country and both pantheons. It all makes sense when you explain it like that. So that's why you were so eager to join me?



Bishamon: Mhmm. Going with your strategy will ultimately strengthen the bond between Buddhism and Shinto. You certainly are a brilliant strategist, even when you don't just how brilliant you are.



Tsukiakari smiled, hiding her rosy, blushing face beyond her hood. A springing happiness could be felt under her words and breath.



Tsukiakari: So then...am I on track...to replace you?



Bishamon: Well, it's too early to tell, but....so far, so good.



(My earlier fear that day...the fear of war consuming and harming my dearest friends, slowly expunged itself from my heart, like a wash rag being rung and freed of all the dirty water it's holding. Becoming the perfect war goddess was my dream just as much as it was Bishamon's. Though, I would learn in due time, that we both had the same dreams for very different reasons. I, a young, foolish goddess, would learn that there is always a price to pay when you obtain power. Always.)

Senkumo War Stories: Veneration
Spoiler






Beneath the dazzling moonlight in the night sky, the swishing sound of a broom swiping against the ground filled the air, as a lone monk cleaned the walkway lined with red torii gates that led into the Buddhist temple. He swept leaves out of the path dutifully and with respectable patience, as one would expect of a monk and devotee of spiritual discipline. Interrupting the almost hypnotic sound of his broom brushing against the ground was the sound of two pairs of footsteps. The monk stopped and opened his eyes to see one cloaked woman with fiercely ominous red eyes, and one tall, beared, cloaked man next to her.



Bishamon: Excuse me, young man.



It takes a lot to unnerve a monk, but the air surrounding those two gave him goosebumps on his skin that the cold, night air never could. He was right to assume that the two standing before him were not humans.



Monk: Y-yes? Do you need something?



Bishamon: I would like to know the location of a head priest by the name of Rennyo. Would you happen to know where he might be?










Monk: Do you wish to attend his next lecture? No one here knows where he lives, but he is scheduled to speak soon at-



Bishamon: I'm afraid that will not suffice. You see, I'm very, very eager to see him.



Monk: Well, sir, I must apologize. I don't know where he is at this hour.



Tsukiakari: We know you aren't just monks.



The monk's eyes met with Tsukiakari's, and a strange feeling similar to the terror of falling into a bottomless pit crippled him.



Tsukiakari: We know this temple isn't merely a temple either. Everyone is calling you Ikko-ikki, the usurpers of daimyo and lordships.



Monk: S-so...you know who we are?



Tsukiakari: Yes, and now that we've had the pleasure, perhaps you'd like to know who we are.



Bishamon raised his palm towards the nervous monk.



Bishamon: I am Bishamonten, the god of war, and one of the Four Heavenly Kings. You shall obey your lord.



The flesh and skin of his palm began to pull themselves apart in the center as an eye sprouted right in the middle of his hand. In response to locking eyes with Bishamon's palm, the monk's eyes turned completely black, as if his pupils took over the entirety of his eyes. He dropped the broom and fell to his knees as black tears ran from his eyes and down his cheeks, dripping off of chin and staining the ground.





*N O I R*





Bishamon: Now, I shall ask you again. The head priest Rennyo...where is he?



The monk was forced to obey.



Monk: He has a house...not far from Kotobikihama beach...



Tsukiakari: Kotobikihama? I know where that is. What does this house look like?



Monk: It's small...humble...he keeps a shrine for Shinran outside...



Bishamon: Very good. Now then, go to sleep, young monk. Thank you for the information.



As Bishamon commanded, the monk fell unconscious, falling to the ground with a hard thud on top of his broom.



(Was that...some sort of hypnotic magic?)



Bishamon: Tsukiakari. It looks like we're heading to the beach.



Tsukiakari: Right.





*HUNT*






Rennyo, the 8th Monshu and head priest of the Hongan-ji temple, sat alone at the table of his small home near the beach, reviewing and writing a pastoral letter to be sent to one of the Jodo Shinshu congregations. The light of three candles illuminated his work as he sat cross-legged in his white kimono and haori, dipping his brush in black ink and writing down his teachings on a long scroll that stretched across the table. He was completely bald, and his face was cleanly shaven. He had the eyes of a man who had seen many things and had spent much of his time reading, writing, and acquiring all the knowledge he could.





All was peaceful in his humble home as the moonlight shined through the wooden bar clerestory, and the distant sound of the ocean's waves whispered in his ears whenever the water kissed the shore.





*PEACE*





The candles flickering on his table were suddenly snuffed out, all of them at once. Single, aromatic streams of smoke arose from their hot wicks as Rennyo ceased all movement, sensing an omen had entered his abode. His decision was wise, for the next thing he saw was the moon's light glimmering off of a beautifully made sword held in front of his neck from behind him. Rennyo remained calm.



Rennyo: Do I grow old, or has someone really managed to get behind me when there is nothing but a wall to my back?



The stern voice of a woman responded. Tsukiakari removed the hood of her cloak and kept a firm, balanced hold of her blade, holding it so her thumb faced the butt of the sword.



Tsukiakari: You don't sound very fearful, Rennyo. You said it yourself. There's nothing but a wall behind you. So then, how did this intruder managed to trap you like this? Aren't you curious?



Rennyo: Yes. I admit, I am very curious. However, I take it you didn't come here merely to impress me with your ability to break into homes that don't belong to you.



Tsukiakari: I have demands, and you are going to accept them. If you refuse or try anything that I deem even remotely suspicious, I will swiftly cull you from this life.



Rennyo took a deep breath to calm his nerves.



Rennyo: If it's money you want, you'll be disappointed to know that I don't have much to give you. I am not a very rich man.



Tsukiakari: No, it's not your money. Pick up your brush and grab a new scroll. Slowly.



Rennyo: Very well.





*R O U G E*





Rennyo shoved his work aside and started anew with another scroll. He stared at the empty stretch of parchment and awaited further instruction.



Tsukiakari: The Ikko-ikki are raising hell across the country, overthrowing their feudal lords and fracturing whatever order is left after the Onin War. I know you don't have much if any control over their actions, but you can affect their beliefs.



Rennyo: What exactly are you demanding of me?



Tsukiakari: The now-unified factions of Jodo Shinshu will listen to your instruction. If the Ikko-ikki are going to continue their circus of chaos, then at least make their existence beneficial to us, whether they live or die. I want you to write a pastoral letter allowing the veneration of Shinto gods in Jodo Buddhism.



Rennyo: What...why would you want me to do something like that?



Tsukiakari: Do you really think a mortal could sneak up behind someone when there's a wall to their back?



Rennyo: Just who are you?!



Tsukiakari: That is none of your concern. Do as I command you to. If you behave yourself, I will spare your life and we can go our separate ways. I know where you live, I know who to target if you go into hiding, and I know how to make even the most disciplined guard or monk break.



Rennyo: ...Very well. Is this all you want? No money, no valuable material object? Just my decree to allow the veneration of Shinto deities? Why do all of this just for that?



Tsukiakari: As I said, just do as I tell you to. Write exactly what I tell you.










(There was an evil, sinister genius to this plan that I was fully aware of. However, this genius would come back to stare me in the face and laugh at me.)



Tsukiakari finally emerged from the little house after everything was done. The corpses of slain and bloodied monks were strewn about on the road and in the sands of the beach, along with their weapons and a few of their severed arms and legs. An absolute, horrific mess was made of them, with the full moon above as a witness.



 Bishamon waited on the tiny tone steps of the house that led to the front door. He stood as soon as Tsukiakari came out, rolling up his whip and hiding it beneath his cloak again. The coastal winds ran through Tsukiakari's hair, making it flow and glow in the radiant moonlight that shined from above.



She brushed aside her hair, folding it behind her ears as she sheathed her blade.



Bishamon: How did it go?



Tsukiakari: I got him to do it. It will be tomorrow among the Buddhist temples in the area.



Bishamon, pleased with the news and with Tsukiakari, gleefully grinned.



Bishamon: Excellent. You truly are Amaterasu's flesh and blood.



(The Ikko-ikki were fighting against their lords and daimyo, most of which already worshiped us Shinto deities. However, if the Ikko-ikki also worshiped us, then it would allow the Senkumo clan to play whichever side it wanted, when it wanted. No matter who we killed, both would pray to us for victory, and if we wanted to, we could slay them all indiscriminately. So, deciding which side to take became a non-issue. Their prayers strengthened the Shinto pantheon. That's all the "weeds" were good for.)







*N O I R*





(Ultimately....it allowed Bishamon to throw me in battle wherever and whenever he wanted. And it allowed me to truly let loose...to slaughter any and all enemies that came my way.)



That night, the two discarded their cloaks and teleported back to the Senkumo mansion. Knowing most of the members would be asleep, they made sure to lighten their footsteps so the wooden floors wouldn't creak as much. They could hear many of them snore and turn on their futons as they passed by their doors until they stopped in front of Tsukiakari's room.



Their mission was done.



Bishamon: Good work tonight, Tsukiakari. Be prepared to enter the field again with Taeko, Mayumi, and Ebina.



Tsukiakari bowed.



Tsukiakari: Yes, Lord Bishamon.



Bishamon: Hmph...you're definitely on your way...



The war god walked away, waving goodnight as Tsukiakari quietly entered the room, hoping not to disturb the girls. As she put down her sheathed blade and folded her cloak, Taeko whispered to her from her futon.



Taeko: Psst! Tsukiakari!



Tsukiakari: Did I wake you?



Taeko: No! I just wanted to say welcome home!



(Welcome...home...)



Taeko's smile was a thing of beauty. For some odd reason, the simple gesture moved Tsukiakari to silent, gracious tears. She turned around as she put away her things, hiding her tears from Taeko.



Tsukiakari: I'm back...



(She had stayed up just to tell me "Welcome home". Perhaps that was the night that I knew, without a doubt, that within the perverted yet protective Taeko, the orderly and good-natured Mayumi, and the quiet yet intelligent Ebina...I had a family again.

Offline OhGodHelpMe

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Re: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (COMPLETED)
« Reply #271 on: January 24, 2017, 05:36:13 PM »
Senkumo War Stories: Masachika Togashi
Spoiler

*N O I R*


That night, after Tsukiakari and all of the Senkumo orphans had gone to bed, Bishamon retired to his sacred room of worship. Strips of moonlight dazzled on the wooden floor, and off of the golden bracelets and feather ear-rings of Hachiman, who surprised Bishamon with his unsolicited visit. Hachiman had merely waited for Bishamon, standing by the open, sliding door to the side of the room and listening to the sound of crickets and flowing winds. 


He smiled as if he owned the place, much to the lighthearted annoyance of the sighing Bishamon.


Bishamon: You have an awful habit of turning up uninvited, Hachiman. Didn't Amaterasu teach you any manners? 


Hachiman: Well, a student is always indebted to his master, after all. 


Bishamon: "What's yours is mine", huh?


Hachiman: Now THAT'S the name of the game. But I didn't come here merely to be a bother. You've got some support.


Bishamon: Hmm? 


Hachiman: You may have already met these fellow gods, but nonetheless, they have been very eager to see you again. Like me, they want in on the fruits this Tsukiakari girl is bearing. 


Bishamon's heavy steps creaked against the wooden floors until he stood beside Hachiman at the sliding door. Yet another pleasant surprise stared him in the face in the form of two cloaked and hooded deities. One of them spoke with a mighty and masculine voice that would be fit for a king, and characteristic of a clap of thunder. 


God: Bishamon...it's been a while.


Bishamon, recognizing the faces of the cloaked gods standing before him, couldn't help but release the soft laughter welling in his chest. 


Bishamon: It's almost too good to be true...


(The travesty that was both engineered and suffered by the Senkumo clan, the cruel pet project of Bishamon, was more than just a consequence of the series of wars that was consuming the country. It was also the work of the very gods who were supposed to be protecting the mortals beneath them. In due time, I would come to know who those gods were that collaborated with Bishamon, and aided him in the unforgivable sins he would commit.)




*N O I R*




(The next morning, all of us were summoned to Bishamon's room in the early and deep blue hours of the morning. Most of us hadn't even washed our faces or rubbed the sleep out of our eyes as we all knelt before Bishamon. The hundreds of red cloud symbols printed on our kimonos and haoris all pointed to the ceiling as we knelt. I would force my eyes up from that uncomfortable position in the front row along with Taeko, Mayumi, and Ebina, just to get a peek at Bishamon's face. He seemed like he was purposely building the tension in the room by giving us only silence. It felt like so much as a sneeze would result in a death penalty.)


Bishamon: Tsukiakari Senkumo.


(He called upon me...)


Tsukiakari: Yes!


Bishamon: Raise your head.


Tsukiakari did exactly that, not even blinking as she stared Bishamon in the eyes. She could feel the nervous breaths of all the other Senkumo members beside and behind her, as if their hundreds of heartbeats droned within the room.


Bishamon: I have come to a rather sudden, but necessary decision. You, Tsukiakari...shall become the Commanding Lord of the Senkumo clan.


Though they kept their heads down and their lips sealed, the fellow members of the clan were silently shocked. Those words looked like their pierced Tsukiakari through her heart.


Tsukiakari: Me...the Commanding Lord?


Bishamon: Yes. Of course, this will be a drastic change in responsibility. You’ll have your own Senkumo mansion, with only one worship room dedicated to me. Recruitment, collection of funds, supplying of troops, and handling of contracted support from the Senkumo clan will be up to you. However, I’m certain your army will be of use to you as you get used to being the Commanding Lord. And if you need my help, I’ll be glad to assist. Do you accept this position?


(I could feel the excited glares of Taeko, Mayumi, and Ebina biting against my cheeks...)


Tsukiakari bowed her head.


Tsukiakari: I ACCEPT!


(Stupid, stupid girl...)


*SIN*



(Indeed, being the Commanding Lord was a tall task. But...it was exciting! Bishamon had some of his men build up the basic facilities of my mansion over the next few weeks. Barracks for the troops, a storehouse for food, training fields, a storehouse for weaponry and armor, stables, watch towers, personal quarters for me, a proper war room, and a storehouse for the dead. The facilities were there, but it was up to me to get the manpower to build the teams that would manage all of these facilities. I began to learn that having my own army required a completely different skill set than just being a good war goddess. Half of my job didn’t even take place on the battlefield.)

With but a handful of troops and some starting money supplies by Bishamon, Tsukiakari sat down with Ebina, Taeko, and Mayumi in her basic and unfinished war room. Such a name might’ve elicited feelings of grandeur, of a great hall seating many great military minds, all of them meticulously planning out their strategy. But alas, this war room wasn’t all that big. Although relatively large when compared to the space of other facilities, the war room was about two and half bedrooms big, consisting of four sliding doors leading to the patio, which then led down to the large, unfinished courtyard.

The courtyard at that point only consisted of sun-beaten soil with not a hint of green grown yet. Stone walkways divided the empty  flowerbeds, each walkway leading to a different facility. Tsukiakari’s men were hard at work on that clear, sunny, sweaty day, finishing up construction on the watch towers, planting seeds in the flowerbeds, and other tasks. Though, “men” was just a general term for her troops. A sizable portion of Tsukiakari’s garrison were young women in their early teens and twenties, most of them handling on-base duties while others were intended to work as combat medics in the field bases and camps.

The sliding doors of the war room were wide open, letting the girls have a view of their base in the works and catch whatever gentle breeze the air was kind enough to relieve them with. The girls all sat around the tea table in the center of the room, putting all the pieces together.

Mayumi: How’s it feel to be the Commanding Lord? Has it sunk in yet?

Tsukiakari sighed as she thought of everything that had been added to her plate.

Tsukiakari: It has. That’s why I’m starting to think I should’ve rejected the position! I can’t believe how hard it is to actually manage all of this!

Mayumi’s smile seemed to be born of pity than amusement.

Taeko: That’s why we’re here, you big dummy. Let’s just calm down and figure this out, alright? Maybe it would work best if you played to our strengths.

Tsukiakari: You’re right, you’re right. Okay then, let’s start with you Ebina.

(I could never get tired of her cute, deadpan face.)

Ebina: Since I’ve been assigned on most intelligence gathering and infiltration missions, I think we would benefit greatly if I were the head of a Shinobi unit. I highly recommend we establish our own Shinobi unit and build an according facility near the mansion. I can handle the training of our own Shinobi as long as I have the facilities necessary. Equipment should be inexpensive as well. Farming tools is all we need.

Mayumi: Ah, that’s true! Gekko, we can get an edge on our foes if we have a Shinobi unit sending out and gathering information. You could also use them for assassinations, infiltrations, theft, and the more underhanded tasks that our standard troops can’t tend to.

Tsukiakari: Alright, I’ll allocate some funds for the construction of a Shinobi unit. As for our equipment...

Mayumi shot up a raised hand in excitement, a pearly white grin decorating her face.

Tsukiakari: Looks like you have an idea, Mayumi?

Mayumi: I have a few connections we can use to supply our troops with weapons and armor! It’ll be standard gear, but if we can forge deeper relationships with the various families vying for power in the country, we can pay them to forge better equipment specialized for our soldiers. Let me handle the clan’s transactions, Gekko. I can take of weapon dealing, accounting for the clan’s money, and resource allocation, whether it be money, supplies, or materials.

Tsukiakari: Alright, if you think you’re up for it. You’re pretty well organized, so I think it’s actually a good fit.

Taeko: If I may, I’d like to tend to the training of our standard troops. Also, Gekko, it’s good to have the girls work as medics in the field, but we should have a medical staff stationed here at the mansion. I’d like to head the medical staff as well. It’ll be useful if our troops get sick, return injured, or...well, dead.

Tsukiakari: Alright, so a Shinobi unit, Mayumi will handle resource allocation, Taeko will handle standard training, and a medical team stationed here at home. Got it. That makes everything a hell of a lot easier, guys. I appreciate you jumping into action like this.

Mayumi: No problem, Gekko!

The four of them turned their heads towards a group of long haired little girls that had been standing there just outside of the war room for a while, all six of the little munchkins running off as soon as Tsukiakari saw them. Everyone else continued to work their butts off to make the new mansion a proper home.

Taeko: The troops all look up to you, Gekko, but especially the girls. Despite not being able to participate in more direct combat roles, they’re determined to help the clan, to help you grow, in any way they possibly can. Keep that in mind, alright?

(Being looked up to by all my troops... that was going to take a lot of getting used to. I was their beating heart, the soul of the army. They were able to fight because they believed in me. It was like I had suddenly become everyone’s big sister.)

Tsukiakari: Well then, everyone, let’s get to work. We’ve got a clan to build.







*8 YEARS LATER*





(Even then I couldn't believe it. I was the head of all Senkumo military operations. 1488 was the year when the endlessly escalating conflicts in the Kaga Province finally fanned into a fiery tempest. It was the year the event known as the Kaga Rebellion took off. Just as Bishamon had predicted, the violent revolts and collapse of societal order spread throughout the whole country. Kaga was not the only place where these revolts were occurring. Nonetheless, the Senkumo clan took part in these conflicts one at a time.)









Rennyo: Rensu. He was an adviser of mine until recently.


Tsukiakari found herself leaning against Rennyo's wall as they met inside of his beach home during a sunny, spring day. This time, the meeting was on much friendlier terms. Dazzling little specs of dust were visible in the radiant shafts of sunlight that shined through his windows and onto the tatami mats. The room was imbued with the fragrance of burning incense which Rennyo lit in Bishamon's honor as he sat at his desk, writing more of his pastoral letters. Tsukiakari, with the beautiful, Spring sunlight hitting her cheek, listened closely to every word Rennyo had to say.


Rennyo: Masachika had been able to squash the Kaga ikki these past few years, but Rensu's recent actions have been putting a strain on Masachika's grip on the region. 


Tsukiakari: What's the extent of your advisers involvement? 


Rennyo: He seems to be their de-facto commander, so to speak. He's secured funding and military assistance for the Kaga ikki from the various disaffected daimyo and noble families. He used his position as my adviser to tell the Kaga ikki that I condoned these violent rebellions, something I could not forgive. So, I had him excommunicated. But, as you can guess...


Tsukiakari: That's not nearly enough.


Rennyo sighed from the sheer weight of the situation anchoring his mind.


Rennyo: Yes, I'm afraid so. Lord Ashikaga Yoshihisa wants me to do more to cease these rebellions, but he doesn't understand that I do not control them in the first place, nor have I ever condoned them. This violent branch of Jodo Shinshu has become its own extreme wing, and I am ultimately powerless in stopping it.


Tsukiakari: That explains why you summoned me here with a prayer. You want me to stop this and other catastrophic revolts?


Rennyo: That is my wish, yes.


Tsukiakari stood up straight and put her wooden sandals back on by the front door, stopping only for a minutes to utter her last words to Rennyo before leaving.


Tsukiakari: 8th Monshu Rennyo...when you pray to a god, you must be heedful. When you make a wish upon a god of war, you must be deathly circumspect. 


Rennyo said nothing as he sat frozen by her words, as if he was trying to unravel them then and there. Tsukiakari walked out, shut the door, and left Rennyo's house with a plan to end the conflict already in mind.


(Rennyo was a wise monk, I'll give him that. But he was too naive when it came to matters of the sword. Cut down one Ikko-ikki rebellion, and another one takes its place. When chaos eats itself, and thus, gives birth to itself, why not take out the reason that chaos exists in the first place?)




*BLEU*






In those 8 years, the Senkumo clan had nearly tripled its numbers. Boys, girls, men, women, big, small, rich, and poor were all huddled beneath its crimson banner. The constant revolts and wars between lords and states resulted in more and more orphans ready to be fed, washed, and sheltered by Bishamon. They had grown much to large to stay in one mansion, and so the clan was spread out between 12 different mansions across Kyoto, all housing a steady garrison of well-trained troops led by an appointed deputy. 


Tsukiakari was given her own mansion and garrison, with supreme authority over the other Senkumo armies. After teleporting back to her mansion sitting comfortably in the center of a misty, forested valley, she took a walk through the torii gates that led her to the courtyard, where she could hear the collective shouts from the children in training. Taeko, fully grown and matured into a fine woman, instructed the columns of panting boys and girls dressed in peasant robes with a loud, thunderous voice. 


Every time she would speak, it seemed like a flock of birds would fly out of the tree-covered mountain just behind the mansion, and fly away into the cool, hazy sky.


Taeko: ATTENTION!


Children: YES, GUNSOU!


Tsukiakari stood in the distance just watching her. Her hair was tied up into the neatest bun Tsukiakari had ever seen, wearing a lightweight samurai chest piece adorned with the Senkumo symbol on the front. Leather faulds dangled around her hips like an armored skirt as she paced back and forth, making sure all of her underlings could hear her loud and clear.


Taeko: What have I told you about your blades?! Your swords are your life! They are your death! They're your beginnings and your ends! Everyday, we do what, Hayashi?


A boy in his early teens called out from the columns.


Hayashi: We clean and cherish our blades, Gunsou!


Taeko: WE DO WHAT, HAYASHI?!


Hayashi: WE CLEAN AND CHERISH OUR BLADES, GUNSOU!


Taeko: Then why was your sword stained today?!


Hayashi: Because...


Taeko: BECAUSE WHY, HAYASHI?!


Hayashi: BECAUSE I FAILED TO CLEAN AND CHERISH MY BLADE, GUNSOU!


Taeko: That's what I thought, you lazy cretin! If you don't cherish your swords, I will not cherish you! Hayashi, Echizen, Kobe, Rin, Kotomi, Ieyasu, all of your swords were stained today! It is disgraceful! The next time I see your blades in such pitiful condition, I shall kill you with them myself! May as well make it easy on the enemy, right?! They've been killing idiots like you since they were children! Is that what you want?!


Children: NO, GUNSOU!


Taeko: THEN FIX IT! 


Children: YES, GUNSOU!




*N O I R*




(Taeko helped handle most of the training in my northern mansion. She was incredibly strict and demanding of our troops, and with good reason. Though they were unfortunate orphans, we could not have have anyone who was too weak or unwilling to uplift the cause of the Senkumo clan in the name of Bishamon.)


Continuing her walk through the courtyard and into the garden, Tsukiakari crossed the small, wooden bridge across the little pond that housed all sorts of colorful fish and sprouting lotus flowers. The cool of the thick, lavender leaves of the wisteria trees provided shade on warm days, leading the way to the cascading hills of beautifully cut grass next to the main building of the mansion. As she crossed the bridge, Mayumi bumped into her from the path to her right.


Mayumi was covered in cold sweat, holding six scrolls in her arms as she gasped in startled surprise. Over the years, she had actually gotten just a bit taller than Tsukiakari, and kept her brown hair at breast's length.


Mayumi: Gekko! You scared me to death!


Tsukiakari: What? You walked into me!


Mayumi: E...YOU'RE RIGHT! I'm sorry! It was my fault!


Tsukiakari: Hmm? Are those scrolls from the weapons shipment today?


Mayumi: Ah, yes! They came in while you were visiting Rennyo!


The two walked and talked through the gardens. Mayumi handed Tsukiakari one of the scrolls to check for herself. Within it were a list of the contents of the shipment, their quantities, manufacturing source, cost, and substitution disclosures if any.


Tsukiakari: Good armor is by far the most expensive thing these days...


Mayumi: Well, we are getting them fitted for people of all ages. The Ashikaga clan was kind enough to give us a discount on the swords and archery equipment though. The Shichikumo mansion the west also confirmed they got their shipment of horses. Cavalry will be of utmost importance since more and more daimyo are throwing themselves into these conflicts.


Tsukiakari: Excellent. I was right to trust you with handling our supplies, Mayumi.


Mayumi: Aww, you're sweet, Gekko! Anyway, what did Rennyo want?


Tsukiakari: Divine assistance. The revolts are damaging his relationship with Shogun Yoshihisa, so he wants me to put an end to the Kaga rebellion that's festering in the region. It's actually a blessing that our weapons and supplies came when they did. 


Mayumi: So that means we're moving out, huh?


Tsukiakari: Yeah, it does. I want you to stay here for this one.


Mayumi: Awww...you're worried I'll die or something!




*BLUSH*




(She got me...)


Tsukiakari: Lies! Lies and slander! 


Mayumi gave a cheeky smile.


Mayumi: See, even when you've got such a serious position, you're still the old darling Gekko we met so many years ago. As you wish, I'll stay here. But really, you don't have to worry, Gekko. Taeko, Ebina, and I can take care of ourselves in battle. Come on, how long have we been together?


Tsukiakari: You're right...my apologies. I'm under-utilizing your potential in the field. I'll...I'll stop being so protective.


Mayumi: That's the spirit! Well, I'm gonna go stash these scrolls. You're probably looking for Ebina now, right? She's in the war room waiting for you!


Tsukiakari: Of course, she's always so attentive. Thanks, Mayumi. I...I love you!


Mayumi stopped in her tracks as Tsukiakari blushed uncontrollably. She looked like she wanted to die after blurting something like that out so callously.


Mayumi: Wow, you really are soft at heart, aren't you? 


Tsukiakari: Ah! What is with me? Any other soldier I can handle, but when it's any one of you three, I just-


Mayumi: Shhh. I think I can speak for all of us on this. We love you too, Gekko.




*A M O U R*




(That fear I once expressed to Taeko came back as the flames of war only grew hotter and cooked the country like a fresh lamb carcass. As such, controlling my urge to keep them out of combat was...difficult. The only person who ever went out in the fields was Ebina, and even then, it was for espionage purposes. Bishamon had fallen out of contact with Inari, so we couldn't use her anymore.)


Tsukiakari's footsteps alerted Ebina as she sat on the floor, waiting for her return. Ebina promptly stood up and bowed to Tsukiakari as she entered the war room, like any good soldier would. Like Taeko's, her white hair was tied up in a bun, though not nearly as inhumanly neat. A lightweight, black leather vest covered her chest, stomach, back and shoulders, whole leather bands protected parts f her arms. The white handle of her katana protruded into view from behind her back. 


Ebina: Welcome back, Tsukiakari. I've returned from my mission in Kaga. 


Tsukiakari: Well then, you deserve a warm 'welcome back' as well! I'm happy you're here, Ebina. Please, ease up. We're alone here.


Ebina sat back down in front of the short, rounded table in the center of the room. Several calligraphic hanging scrolls decorated the walls, written beautifully in black ink.



Ebina: I've received maps and documents from the Togashi clan defectors. They said Masachika plans to return to Kaga to reinforce the region against the Ikko-ikki. Among those documents is a map of Masachika's castle. 


Tsukiakari: Is that so? Open them.


Ebina laid the maps out on the table for Tsukiakari to meticulously inspect. All of the major roads, residential roads, even some of the back-alleys were documented. Several roads leading into cities from the countryside as well as government outposts in and around the more populated areas of the region were drawn and labeled accurately.


Ebina: Before leaving, we were able to confirm the positions of several of the outposts listed here, as well as the route to Masachika's castle. I have firm confidence that their information is accurate.


Tsukiakari: Beautifully done, Ebina. And the defectors...did you silence them?


Ebina: Of course. I made sure none of this could be traced back to the Senkumo clan.




*R O U G E*




Ebina...Tsukiakari...have you decided what you wanted to do with this? Who will we be fighting against? 


Tsukiakari stood and leaned against the opened, sliding door, scanning the gardens and misty mountains with her crimson eyes as she finalized her decision. 


Tsukiakari: We're going to exterminate the exterminate the Togashi clan and kill Masachika. 


Ebina bowed her head without so much as an inquiry behind her logic. She was almost too loyal for her own good.


Ebina: I understand.


Tsukiakari: Hey, come on...don't do that to me.


Ebina: Do what?


Tsukiakari: Aren't you curious why I chose to fight with the Kaga ikki instead of against them? You're my friend, Ebina. You don't have to just go along with my orders without at least knowing why you're doing them. I don't ever want you marching into battle without a clue as to what I'm plotting.


Ebina's cheeks flushed with a rosy color as Tsukiakari smiled at her. Though everyone was getting older, Tsukiakari was still as youthful and beautiful as the sun and the moon.


Ebina: Very well then. So, Tsukiakari...what exactly is your thought process behind this? I figured we'd fight the Togashi clan since you ordered me to go on this mission...but I don't understand why.


Tsukiakari: Not even the brilliant Ebina sees it, huh? It's not complicated at all, dear. Several Ikko-ikki rebellions have occurred in that region under Masachika's rule, right? Sure, all of them failed, but they've been growing more and more threatening to the Togashi clan as they get more support from disaffected nobles. Killing the rebels will do nothing. Killing Masachika and the Togashi clan however, will certainly bring about a change. 




*WAR*




Tsukiakari: Once Masachika is gone, they Ikko-ikki will place the leader they want in the seat of power. The region will most likely revert to a state of peace. And, if it doesn't, we'll simply cull the Ikko-ikki. The one thing that's certain is that Masachika Togashi must go. As such, our battle plans shall be formulated accordingly.


Ebina: Understood! I'll relay the message to the officers.


(Masachika Togashi...it seems another proper battle delivers itself my way.)


*END*


Senkumo War Stories: A Bad Day in Kaga
Spoiler





The sunset divided the day until night was all that was left, and the glorious glare of the sun was partitioned into thousands of tiny, twinkling stars in the sky. The gates of Tsukiakari's mansion were closed, the training square was quiet, and crickets sung their songs of love in the garden.



With the day at an end, Tsukiakari, Mayumi, Ebina, and Taeko all locked themselves in their room, drinking warm sake as they joked and laughed around the table. Tsukiakari continued to attentively parse through all of the documents that Ebina retrieved from the Togashi clan defectors, in another world from their sake laced humor and flirtations.








(The streets of the major villages are even more narrow than what we saw in Kyoto. More parts of the average house in this region are also made of wood, surrounded by lots of trees. There are several mountain passes here...Masachika might be able to reach his reinfor-)



Taeko: Gekko, you're spacing out!



Interrupted. Interrupted during intense strategic thought. Such a sin could not be forgiven.



Tsukiakari: Damn it, Taeko! I wasn't spacing out, I was thinking!



Taeko: Looks the same to me...



Mayumi poured herself another cup of warm sake as the clearly drunk Ebina watched the liquid flow like a divine river.



Mayumi: You're always so deep into your thinking, but unlike Taeko, I understand why.



Taeko: Eat your sword and *censored* it out.



Ebina: More please...






*NO*






Mayumi: You've had enough to drink, Ebina. Don't let Taeko set a bad example for you.



Taeko: Eat your sword again after you *censored* it out.



Tsukiakari: Sorry guys...you have a point, but like you said, it's for good reason. We've had small skirmishes here and there, but this is our first major battle since Kyoto. Your lives, and the lives of all of the Senkumo under my command depend on my sharp thought. I cannot afford to faulte-



Taeko: SHUT UP AND DRINK, YOU PRUDE!



Mayumi: Taeko!



Taeko: What? She worries herself too much! I'm not saying she should jack off-



Mayumi: Slack off.



Taeko: -slack off, I'm just saying she should take some time to relax, you know? Take a hot bath at the springs, let me peep at her naked and all of that good stuff.



Tsukiakari: Idiot...



For just a moment, Tsukiakari put down her papers and undid her kimono. Taeko watched in amazement and uncontrollable arousal as the falling fabric revealed Tsukiakari's bare, beautiful breasts. It was as if all of Taeko's blood rushed to her face, and her lungs grew heavy along with her breath.



Mayumi: Gekko, what are you doing?!



Ebina: Puffy.



Tsukiakari: Go ahead, Taeko. Get it out of your system.



Taeko: Seriously?! Permission to touch, kiss, bite, fondle, lick-



Tsukiakari: JUST DO IT BEFORE I CHANGE MY MIND!





*Y U R I*





Like a mother feeding her baby, Tsukiakari cradled Taeko's head in one arm and let her do everything she always inappropriately dreamed of doing. Needless to say, Taeko was in a state of pure bliss.



Mayumi: Why did you encourage her?!



Tsukiakari: If Taeko is pent up before this fight, her combat effectiveness will drop like a rock. It's better she does this now then lets her stress get to her. She's just the kind of woman who needs physical release constantly.



Mayumi: Well...yeah, I guess you're right. It's not like she'll remember it anyway.



Ebina: For shame, Taeko. For shame.



Tsukiakari: There are several routes here that we could use to our advantage, but the problem is that these routes are all guarded by Togashi troops. Masachika could link up with reinforcements if we don't manage to block him off some- OW!



Tsukiakari suddenly pulled her breast out from Taeko's grip, covering up her chest as if she had just been violated.



Tsukiakari: Taeko, why the hell did you bite so hard?! Are you a freakin' cannibal?!



Taeko: Hehe...I thought it was candy. I'm too drunk right now.



Tsukiakari: You need to get laid, honestly...



Mayumi picked up the papers, scanning through them quickly until her eyes stopped upon several names written in a spy report from the defectors.





*TRAITOR*





Mayumi: Hey, Gekko, do you recognize these names?



Tsukiakari: Hmm?



Mayumi: It says here that five weeks ago, local shinobi employed by the Togashi clan higher ups confirmed the identities of three of the Ikko-ikki commanders plotting the next revolt. It says their names are Rengo, Renko, and Rensei. Apparently, those three tried to bid for the information the defectors had before we ultimately outbid them.



An ominous chord immediately struck and echoed in Tsukiakari's mind. She snatched the paper away from Mayumi's hands just to see those names for herself. Indeed, it was real. A boiling anger welled inside of her as her name traced over those names over and over again.



Ebina: Gekko?



Taeko: Do you recognize them or something?



Tsukiakari: I've never personally met them, but...Rengo, Renko, and Rensei...those are three of Rennyo's sons.



Mayumi: What?! Those are Rennyo's kids?!



Taeko: The hell?! He never mentioned that!



Tsukiakari: Of course he didn't. He was trying to protect them, so he only told me about his advisor, Rensu Shimotsuma.



Mayumi: So...what do we do? Does this change anything?



Tsukiakari: It pisses me off that Rennyo thinks he can lie to us, but still, it's more beneficial for us to see the Togashi clan fall. I think I have an idea...










(It was essentially the same maneuver that we pulled in Kyoto. Thanks to Bishamon's mutually beneficial prayer scheme, money offerings were pouring into his shrines, meaning the Senkumo clan was well funded. This is what allowed us to outbid the Ikko-ikki, who were but mere peasants who couldn't even pool together enough money to sway the defectors their way. We had the information, so all we had to do was use it as leverage. And so, we put our cards on the table and set out to find the three sons of Rennyo, Ebina and I. It was a short trip to Kaga.)



Welcome to Kaga Province. Just as the maps detailed, the houses in the villages were packed tightly together and settled between mountainous areas covered in thick trees and brush. The narrow, dirt streets were empty as Tsukiakari and Ebina sat quietly in one of the local tea shops, watching as the pounding rain pummeled against the ground and wooden homes. The steaming, metal kettle containing their tea sat between them, centered on their wooden table.



They had discarded their wet cloaks and folded them, putting them to the side as they each sipped their hot, mint tea in wait. Not many other people were in the tea shop with them, but they couldn't tell if that was because of the rain, or if they were in their homes, preparing their souls for the possibility of meeting death in the battle to come.





*N O I R*





Ebina reached her hand behind her and took hold of the cotton tie that kept her hair up. As she pulled her hand away, her wavy, white hair, like wavy sheets of snow on a series of hills, followed it and fell down to her shoulders, covering them completely.



Ebina: He should be here soon. I made sure to clarify that he would be paid after he came.



Tsukiakari: Excellent.



Just as Tsukiakari put down her teacup, another stranger entered the shop. He seemed to be just another civilian, perhaps a peasant farmer. Her eyes surveyed every detail of the man, determining from his short, black hair that the man was young, probably in the prime of his health. He was slender and light-footed, making hardly any noise with each wet step he took into the shop.



(It's him...)



Ebina reached under their table and plopped down a small sack of coins, leaving it there without a word. Just as quickly as the man had walked in, he swooped by their table, taking the pouch for himself and dropping off a small scroll in its stead. Tsukiakari dared not trace the man any further with her eyes. Instead, she closed them, waiting until she could no longer feel the man's strange presence in the room.



Ebina: Simple as that.



(Our first order of business was simple. We needed to find the current location of Rennyo's sons, but they were careful not to have too many people knowing their actual location. The only man who knew where they were was Rennyo's former adviser and their courier, Rensu. Ebina pressed the local shinobi who the Togashi used to spy on the Ikko-ikki for any information they had. They found our guy leaving the brothel staggering drunk last night, and were kind enough to bind him up and hold him hostage early that morning.)



Ebina: The address is listed here. Let's go.



Tsukiakari: Right.










The girls paid their dues and threw their black cloaks back on, for they were going to march in the rain, all the way across the other end of the village. Still, as they walked, hardly anyone was outside. All they could hear was the rain, slight swells of thunder in the dark clouds above, and the distant barking of terrified dogs arguing with the heavens.



They arrived at a blacksmith's workshop, where the senile owner guided them inside. In the small room where the owner kept his finest wares to be sold in an "under the table" sort of fashion, Rensu was bound by his hands and feet, laying on the floor with the smell of sake and powdered makeup still bewitching him. His kimono was barely wrapped around his body properly as the three masked shinobi in the room propped him up on his butt upon the arrival of Tsukiakari and Ebina.



Shinobi: Just as you requested, the Ikko-ikki courier.



Tsukiakari: This man...used to be Rennyo's adviser?



No one would ever believe Rensu was ever involved with a righteous monk such as Rennyo. His hair was growing back out, and his beard began to grow on his face again in the form of light-black stubble. He fearfully squirmed around as the girls came in, expecting to be tortured or possibly killed. No matter how much he kicked his legs and shook his shoulders, the masked shinobi kept their trained grip on him.



(He won't just tell us, will he.)



Tsukiakari took just a few steps over to the blacksmith's desk, checking out all of the finely made sickles and swords hanging from his wall.



Tsukiakari: Rensu.



The frightened man immediately cocked his head towards her, something that Ebina kept a keen eye on.



Ebina: He turned his head right away.



Tsukiakari: Ah, so that's your name. You really are Rensu.





*CAUGHT*





Tsukiakari: Now listen, Resnu...



Rensu shook like a child in the middle of a nightmare as Tsukiakari squated down in front of him, tightly gripping her hand around his face to force him to look into her crimson eyes.



Tsukiakari: I just want to have a little chat with the sons of Rennyo. In fact, it will be very beneficial towards the Ikko-ikki. In exchange for giving me their location, I'm going to give you the information you lost out on. You know what I'm talking about right? The info from the Togashi clan defectors. If you simply guide us to their location, I would be extremely thankful.



(A simple visit was all I would need to be able to mark the location of the sons of Rennyo. Though I planned to fight against the Togashi, I also intended to keep an eye on the Ikko-ikki. I had come to realize that they can be used just as satisfactorily as they can be destroyed.)



Tsukiakari: Of course, if you don't want to tell us...the owner of this store gave me his full permission to try out all of these new toys he has hanging on the walls. Make your decision, Rensu.



Though he knew Tsukiakari didn't kidnap an Ikko-ikki courier just to help the Ikko-ikki, he couldn't figure out just what she had in store. He had a churning, sick feeling in his stomach, for he felt that in some way, he was selling out the Ikko-ikki. However, Tsukiakari had framed her words in a way that allowed Rensu to merely cast away that feeling as a form of overthinking. It allowed him to be comfortable, and to yield.



Rensu: Fine...I'll guide you...










(After he buckled, it was simply a matter of giving the information we had bought from the defectors to the Ikko-ikki.)



The next thing Tsukiakari knew, she was dropping all of the document and scrolls she had on the round little tea table where Rennyo's sons sat in their small and humble house at the very base of the mountain. The house was surrounded by trees and blossoming flowers of all sorts of colors. The rain had cleared up, and golden shafts of sunlight pierced through the clouds, shining down on the mortal world.



Rengo, Renko, and Rensei all looks so much like their father. Their heads and faces were cleanly shaven, and all of them wore jade magatama necklaces. They were too fearful to even meet eyes with Tsukiakari as she suddenly barged into their home and presented them with a treasure trove of intelligence on the Togashi clan.



Rengo: What is the meaning of this...what is-



Tsukiakari: The information you failed to buy. I'm going to give it to you for free. Monetarily free, that is.



Renko: So then...you want something in return?



Rensei: Nonsense, we don't have to comply with your uninvited negotiations!



Rengo: Brother, any intelligence we can gather on the Togashi will be valuable. We've already failed several revolts in the past few years. We cannot afford for this effort to be a miscarriage as well.



Renko: Indeed. That information was very valuable. Before I take it, I want to know what you want out of this. What are your terms?



Ebina leaned against the doorway, keeping her eye on the brothers.



Tsukiakari: Masachika was most certainly try to link up with his reinforcements stationed around this area when he comes back. As soon as you launch the revolt, he WILL turn his forces here and leave Shogun Ashikaga Yoshihisa in the Omin province in order to defend Kaga. With this, you and your stronger, noble allies are to cut off his reinforcements, trap him here and force him to retreat to his castle. I would like to be the one that kills him. I also want the rights to his corpse after the deed is done.



Tsukiakari's dead-serious eyes and cunning chilled the very bones of the three sons. They began to wonder, in ignorance and the fear that it induces, who and what they were really dealing with.



Rensei: Very well. We will allow you to do the deed and keep his corpse. However, we decide who takes his place.



Tsukiakari: Fine, but that's not all.



Rengo: There's more?!



Tsukiakari: The Ikko-ikki will follow Rennyo's call to allow the veneration of Shinto gods and goddesses. You will especially pay great tribute to Bishamonten, the god of war.



Renko: Why such an odd request? What do you gain from us venerating the Shinto gods?



Tsukiakari: Is there a problem?



Renko:...No. Most of our followers won't have a problem with it at all.



Tsukiakari: Good. Then do as I say. Give us Masachika's life, corpse, and your Shinto prayers, and this information, along with this province and the self-governing thereof shall be yours.



Ebina: Do we have a deal?



The three sons silently weighed their decisions in their own minds. Nothing about the deal felt particularly normal or right, but again, Tsukiakari's brilliant way of framing situations always kept her true intentions buried beneath what seemed like odd and inconsequential requests.



Renko/Rengo/Rensei: Deal.



(And thus, our short mission in Kaga was done. With the Ikko-ikki more or less officially on our side, the Senkumo clan prepared for its next major battle. It was time for this war goddess to shine in blood yet again.)
« Last Edit: February 26, 2018, 02:47:16 AM by OhGodHelpMe »

Offline OhGodHelpMe

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Re: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (COMPLETED)
« Reply #272 on: January 25, 2017, 03:49:14 AM »
Senkumo War Stories: Kaga Rebellion
Spoiler






(The day finally arrived. The Ikko-ikki had an astonishing 200,000 troops at their disposal. The Senkumo clan weighed in with another 11,000. All that was needed was for my bet to pay off, for Masachika to spring the trap.)






*N O I R*






Maschika Togashi, clad in his vibrant and colorful samurai armor, hurriedly and anxiously led his army through one of the mountain passes that would take them to the city. A seemingly never ending army of armored men and horses dutifully marched at the order of their lord, towards the soaring trails of black smoke that dared to smog the heavens. The clear skies and vibrant sunlight that glared off of the leaves of the trees ahead were the only beautiful things about this cursed day.



His bodyguard, riding a horse right besides him, leaned in and spoke through the golden mask that covered his face.



Bodyguard: We should reach the first outpost soon, Masachika.



Masachika: Good. Let us hurry. We must bolster our forces and strike swiftly in order to repel the Ikko-ikki revolt, lest they wreak havoc upon Kaga like a swarm of locusts. I just hope shogun Yoshihisa Ashikaga will be alright on his own back in Omin...



Bodyguard: The shogun is far too young to be out in the field like he is. I too wish he didn't exert himself so much. Should something happen, Yoshimasa won't be able to retire. The younger shogun is far more vulnerable to fall in line with the wishes of the Hosokawa clan, after all.



Masachika: Yes, it would be bad for our allies. Eventually, the juice from any rotten fruit drips down to fruit below it. Hmph...we shall worry about that later. For now, we continue towards Kaga and smite the accursed rebels.










As his ambitious eyes kept scanning the area ahead, the march came to a sudden bump and standstill when the bodyguard's horse wailed and screamed in terror, kicking its hooves skyward as the men around it tried to calm it down.



Masachika: What is going on?!



The headless, blood-spraying corpse of the bodyguard plopped down into the dirt at the shock and awe of the surrounding soldiers, as well as Masachika himself. No one heard or saw a thing, and yet such a gruesome death struck so quickly and effectively. It could only be...



Tsukiakari: FIRE!





*R O U G E*





The war goddess herself. Tsukiakari Senkumo. The clear, blue sky was suddenly darkened as a swarm of arrows ripped through the air and eclipsed the view of the heavens. The Senkumo troops, clad in armor just as fine as Masachika's and aided by the Ikko-ikki, had been lying in blood-thirsty wait in the thick cover of trees and bushes along the base of the mountains surrounding the path. The symphony of arrows striking through armor, tearing flesh and gouging eyeballs took the army by complete storm. Many of them fell to the ground, wounded or dead before they could even parse what was happening.



Tsukiakari: Keep firing! Mayumi, the Popper!



Mayumi: Got it!



As the young soldiers of the Senkumo, and poor peasants of the Ikko-ikki continued with their barrage of arrows, Mayumi, dressed in black, lightweight armor, brought her gloved hands together to perform a simple, three-sequence kuji-in. After the hand seals were completed, she aimed her palm to the sky. A sparkling flame flew from her hand like a firework, producing a rapid popping sound that could be heard on the other end of the hill by the cavalry of the Ikko-ikki's noble allies.



Upon hearing their signal, the legion of thunderous horses and fearless warriors charged in and descended upon Masachika's army from the side as they fled to avoid the barrage of arrows. The thunder of their charge and clouds of dirt they kicked up were the only warning Masachika had of their arrival.



Masachika: Cavalry at our flank! Counter-charge and fall back! Get away from the hills!



Tsukiakari watched with excited breath as a section of Masachika's cavalry pulled away to block their charge. Her breathing, almost as if she was drawing pleasure from the sight and sound of battle, caught the worry and attention of Mayumi, who shook her shoulder to snap her out of it.



Mayumi: Gekko, you alright?



Tsukiakari: Y-yes! I'm alright! Just kind of...happy.



Mayumi: Happy?



Tsukiakari: It doesn't matter. Masachika is heading right where we want him now. Let's press the assault.



Mayumi: Right!



Mayumi fired another popper from her hand, configured so the pops went off in consecutive bursts. The pattern of the pops was a perfectly audible code to the Senkumo troops telling all of their forces to charge the enemy. As the pops rang in their ears, all of them put aside their bows and arrows and took hold of their sheathed blades, descending down the mountain like a massive pack of killer animals hunting a flock of fleeing deer.



Masachika: How did they know we'd take this route?! Did they overtake the outposts too?! Spearmen! Go around and flank their cavalry while they're engaged! The rest of you, form a defensive line to our rear, tight formation!



Soldiers: YES, SIR!



Mayumi: He's going to try and make a stand!



Tsukiakari: He must expect reinforcements from the other outposts. Hahaha! Too bad Taeko and Ebina took care of them! I'll break their formations!



(I truly looked like a goddess of war. My sword was mighty and spotless. My armor was colorful and decorated like that of an empress. And when all those below me saw me fly into the hair like a wingless angel, I could sense their fear, their awe, and their disbelief.)



Masachika: What...what is that?! Is that person floating?!



Tsukiakari's blade, held firmly by both of her armored hands, illuminated with an orange glow, as if it were just taken out of a blacksmith's furnace. Thin, white smoke flowed from the blade itself and dispersed into the air around her like clouds forming in the clear sky.



('I am the next god of war, the third after Hachiman and Bishamon. Witness my power, and remember your place as a mortal on this earth, for your lives ultimately belong to me.')



It was the birth of her signature attack. Small bursts of electricity formed within the clouds she formed as the wind grew as restless as the soldiers below, masking most of Tsukiakari's face behind her wildly dancing hair. Before the very eyes of the mortals below, those small bursts of electricity suddenly exploded into a shower of blue light and sparks that rained down upon them. The screech and scream of tamed lightning possessed their ears as it took the shape of a massive, serpentine dragon.



Masachika: By the gods...



Mayumi: I...I didn't even know she could do that!



Tsukiakari: Be gone!



The mighty, heavenly dragon slammed into Masachika's formation with an explosive thunderclap that was heard for miles. Soldiers of all forces stood in awe as the strong odor of smoke and severely burnt flesh penetrated their noses after the blinding flash of light that resulted from the dragon's impact. Many of Masachika's forces were left on the ground, completely unrecognizable from the people they were just a moment ago. Many had their bodies partially burnt right down to their skeletons, with only their flaming armor covering them.










Masachika:....fa....fall back...FALL BACK! RETREAT!



(Though, I may have been too eager to try out my newfound abilities...)



Tsukiakari slowly descended back to the ground. Her entire body was soaked in sweat, and blood dripped from her nose. She held her head as she landed and Mayumi came to head, along with a few of the Ikko-ikki.



Mayumi: Gekko, are you alright?!



Tsukiakari: Hahaha...I had been wanting to try that one out...



Mayumi: Geez, Gekko! You almost gave me a heart attack! Are you sure you're okay?!



Tsukiakari: Yeah, I'm fine. Also, Mayumi...



Mayumi: Yes?



Tsukiakari: Can you please not call me "Gekko" when we're on the field?



Mayumi: Oh gosh! Yes, commander!



Tsukiakari: That's more like it. Now then...we keep pushing Masachika...all the way back to his castle! We'll box him in without mercy!










In the greater scheme of things, perhaps a god would turn his eyes to the city, and view it as nothing more than a smoking pan filled with pooping oil and screaming, searing food. Being on the ground, such a comparison was worthy to be made. Fires burned through wooden homes around town, the streets were filled with those fighting, wounded, and those dead. The Ikko-ikki had amassed an army of 200,000 volunteers, a number that was far too great and overwhelming for the Togashi defenders.



Every inch of the city sung with war cries and clanging swords, sickles, and pitchforks. Among all of that bloody chaos and carnage, Taeko and Ebina, donned in armor just like Tsukiakari's, stood back to back in the corpse-riddled street in the center of town. Blood covered their swords, hands, and stained their faces.



Taeko: Babe, you alright? That was a hell of a fight, but we still got the other streets to clear up!



Even in battle, Ebina's voice was soft.



Ebina: Please don't call me "Babe" in battle.



Taeko: Alright babe.



Ebina: Seriously...



Taeko: Come on, we should push up with the Ikko-ikki.



Ebina: Lead the way.





*R O U G E*





The Ikko-ikki, partly led by Taeko and Ebina, pushed deeper into the city, slowly inching their way towards Masachika's castle. Those who dared not participate in the fighting had already left town, leaving the city to be used as a rules-free battleground. Though Taeko urged everyone not to destroy property, the Togashi samurai blocked off the major streets that would give the Ikko-ikki a straight shot to the castle with wooden pavises. Spearmen backed the pavises in tight formations, forming forlorn walls of wood, armor, and steel to block the enemy.



Taeko: Damn it, I'm starting to regret my "No Mindless Destruction" policy...



Togashi archers stood up on the roofs of the houses and shops on the street, ambushing the swarm of Ikko-ikki below them. Their arrows were wrapped with flaming straw and other easily burnable material as they all pulled back on the string of their bows, took aim, and fired. The girls didn't notice what was going on until they caught sight of several of the charging Ikko-ikki suddenly catch on fire as they screamed and dropped to the ground, unable to move as the flames burned through their muscles.



Ebina: Flaming arrows?!



Taeko: Get down, Ebina!



Ebina suddenly felt herself yanked into an alleyway by Taeko, watching in horrified awe as those who ran past the narrow opening of the alley were struck with flaming arrows a lit like breathing, walking bonfires. Several other troops had the same idea and hid among the alleys with them and across from them.



Ebina: Taeko...thank you.



Taeko: Don't worry about it. What kind of big sister would I be if I let you die here? Regardless, we have to take out those-





*CRASH*





The ground violently shook beneath their feet, and their ears were invaded by the deafening sound of something extremely heavy crashing into the Togashi fortifications ahead. Splintered wood, tatami, armor, and human limbs rained down on the street with cracks, crashes, and fleshy plods.



Ebina: What is that?!



Ikki: Trebuchets! The noble families are firing onto their positions to break up the Togashi lines!



Taeko: Why the hell would they fire while they have infantry in the middle of the city?! I swear, you idiots have the worst training!



Ebina: Though I agree, I think it's-





*CRASH*





Ebina: Working...



A distant voice from the alley called out in a victorious yell.



Ikki: THE TOGASHI ARE FALLING BACK! PRESS THE CHARGE!



Taeko: Well I'll be damned...



(1488 was the year we all felt something bind us and trap us, but we had no idea we were dancing on a widow's web.)



As the troops all emerged from the alleys, Taeko kept Ebina right by her side when the charge forward began. The Togashi's defenses were simply not adequate for the sheer volume of manpower the Ikko-ikki had. But something awful caught her ears, like the sound of a massive sheet of paper ripping in half. She turned her head and stopped, catching the sight of Ebina falling to the ground, her long, white hair covering her face.



Pieces of her fauld armor flew all around her as an arrow completely shattered the hip piece. In that split second that seemed to pass as slowly as a snowflake, Taeko couldn't wrap her mind around how an arrow could've possibly struck Ebina with brutal force and accuracy. A well placed arrow should only pierce armor, not break it into pieces.



Taeko: Ebina!



Ebina pressed her hands around her bleeding hip, breathing deeply and heavily as the agonizing pain of the arrow's impact settled into her nervous system. Taeko dropped her sword and slid on her knees by Ebina's side, examining the arrow and the wound with frantic, sweaty haste.



Taeko: Oh my god...who...who could've done this?! We cleared out the area behind us!



No one was there. No one in the alleys, on the roofs, or in the houses.



Taeko suddenly felt the hurtful grip of Ebina's hand around her arm, bringing her eyes right back to her.



Taeko: Hang on, Ebina! I'll get you someplace safe so we can get it out! Just hang on!



(My worries and fears about bringing my best friends into battle were about to be validated. I knew it in my heart and bones that they should've stayed back, stayed away from this black widow's web.)

Senkumo War Stories: Bushido
Spoiler
It took days of brutal fighting for the Ikko-ikki to push the few remaining Togashi troops and Masachika back to the castle. The massive army of peasants, lower nobility samurai, and monks encircled Masachika's beautiful, white castle, adorned with blue, slanted pagoda roofs. If anyone dared step outside of its walls, they would surely be torn to an unrecognizable pile of shreds. Only a few dozen of Masachika's elite troops survived all of the fighting. Those that remained guarded their commander with their swords and lives, anxiously peering over the walls and out of the windows for any sign of enemy advances.



The waiting alone was enough to make them all sweat in their armor.






*R O U G E*






The sun was cloaked and concealed by the thick sheets of dark, gray clouds above. It looked like it could rain any minute. Tsukiakari stood atop a hill with a good view of the castle from the distance, observing the activity below with Renjo. The monk-turned-warrior sat on the saddle of his horse, petting its neck as he spoke to her.



Renjo: The order has already been given out. The Ikko-ikki shall surround, but not advance on the castle. Can you get in?



Tsukiakari: Yes. I'll do it right now and end this.



Renjo: Hmph, very well then. As we agreed, you have full rights to Masachika's corpse, and we shall encourage the veneration of Shinto gods within the province. Especially Lord Bishamonten. I expect you to keep good on your promise of self-governance.



Tsukiakari: As long as the other terms are met, I don't care what you do to this region.



Gekko discarded her heavy, colorful armor, chest piece and all. Wearing only her black, Senkumo kimono, her body felt incredibly lighter and more agile, perfect for speedily clearing out a lightly defended castle. She grabbed hold of the handle of her blade and withdrew it from the sheet by just a few inches, checking on the condition of the base of her sword.



Renjo: Are you alright?



Tsukiakari: Why do you ask?



Renjo: Your eyes are bloodshot.



Tsukiakari: I'm just tired, is all. I exerted myself a little too much a few days ago. The effects of that are only just now starting to wear off.



Renjo smiled and turned his horse the other way. With a wave, her parted farewell to Tsukiakari.



Renjo: Happy hunting, Bishamon.










(I almost corrected him. 'No, my name is Tsukiakari.'.But in their prayers, I was Bishamon. Bishamon was me. We were one and the same entity, inseparable like the earth and the sky.)



Tsukiakari filled her lungs with a breath of the fresh, cold air around her. She could feel her hands and knees steady themselves, and all worries vacate her mind.



Tsukiakari: Now!



With unimaginable speed and power, Tsukiakari lunged off of the hill and slammed right through the wall of the castle's 3rd story like a cannonball. Her impact knocked away two unlucky soldiers standing in the hall, killing them on immediately. Almost the entire floor was saturated with the smoke and dust from her impact, forcing Tsukiakari to cover her mouth with her sleeve as she stood up and calmly navigated hazy, blood halls.



Tsukiakari: Damn it...I got splintered wood in my arm...



Blood dripped down in hot, red streaks down her arm, but it was no matter to her. As she walked, a sudden and powerful force pushed her shoulder forward, an arrow had pierced her from behind. The Togashi guard that fired it behind her immediately discarded his bow and unsheathed his blade, charging in for the kill. The rush of being in battle dulled the pain of the arrows entry into her arm, allowing her to tirelessly ready her blade and clash with the guard.



Guard: Die, you wench!



Tsukiakari swung her blade as his sword came down vertically, deflecting it with power that sprained the guard's hand and left him wide open for her jaw-breaking kick that planted his face through the wooden wall of the hall. For good measure, Tsukiakari drove her blade through his armor and back, her sword exiting out of the center of his chest.



More guards alerted by the sound and shake of the earlier crash converged on her position from both sides of the hall, armed with swords and spears.



Guard: Kill her!



Tsukiakari: Damn it!



Tsukiakari quickly let go of the sword's handle and performed three, rapid hand seals. Her right hand glowed red as she shaped it as if she were going to chop someone's neck. Indeed, Tsukiakari drove her glowing hand through the neck of the man she had planted into the wall, cleanly separating his head from his body. Her hand went through his flesh and bone like a hot knife through butter, with steam arising from the cut. Even as the body was removed, the guard's head stayed planted in the wall, blood gushing out of its exposed flesh and down onto the floor.



With the body now free, Tsukiakari propped it up with her sword, still lodged in the guard's chest. She used it as a meat shield as the guards to her left came rushing in first. Their slashes and swings cut through their comrade as Tsukiakari evaded their strikes from behind the corpse.



(That's right...cut through your friend, idiots!)



Tsukiakari planted he foot against the guard's back and kicked it with all of her might, sending it flying from her blade and into the way of one of the guards ahead, distracting for just a moment. That moment was all she needed. When the guards refocused their sights ahead, Tsukiakari was nowhere to be found.



Guard: What...where did she go?!





*N O I R*





Their ears alerted them to turn their eyes upwards as the sound of Tsukiakari's sandals hitting against the ceiling made them realize she was running right above them. Before they could react, she dropped down from the ceiling and sliced her blade through their spines in one, circular swing, sending their heads flying into the air and back onto the floor along with their bodies.




Guard: FIRE!




The other end of the hall was still blocked by fighters as multiple arrows swiftly ripped through the air, a sound very recognizable to Tsukiakari's ears. Two of them struck her in the stomach, but even as she flinched from the pain and force of their impact, she was able to snatch one of them out of the air with her bare hand. As she held it, the arrow tip glimmered in hellish, red light, and a burning fury welled up in her eyes as she bled through her kimono.



Tsukiakari: Go to hell!



She threw the arrow faster than a bow could launch or an eye could see. The soldiers were dead before they even realized it as the arrow exploded like a bomb in front of their faces, leaving only their bones, teeth, and flesh left to be scattered around and sprayed onto the walls.



While this chaos unfolded in his own castle, Masachika, now stripped of his armor and sitting cross-legged and alone in his personal room, remained quiet and calm. He wore a black kimono as he finished writing on a piece of parchment in black ink. The kanji were in cursive, with all of the strokes beautifully connected together. A warm cup of tea sat by his side, as well as a tanto. As if trying to savor these moments, Masachika took a deep breath of the aroma of tatami mats and tea that filled his room. This way, he drowned out all of the screaming and explosions that shook the tea in his cup outside.



His bloody, battered armor sat in the corner of his room, the helmet staring at him like a ghost from the dead.



Masachika: So this is it...we've utterly lost.



Masachika, being the noble commander he was, always noticed silence more than he did noise. As such, after all of that chaos and screaming outside in the halls, he noticed immediately when those halls suddenly fell deathly quiet.





*SILENCE*





*IT'S TIME*





*R O U G E*






Masachika: I know you're there. I know what you've come for. Come inside. Meet the man you are going to kill.



Masachika waited in very mellow anticipation for that sliding door ahead to open, for the rebellion to finally end with his death as the climax. Finally, at long last, after moments that felt like an eternity, the sliding door did open. Tsukiakari, in her tattered, bloody kimono, stepped inside of the room with still lips. Masachika could barely make out her appearance. No candles lit the room, and the clouds outside blocked too much of the sun's light for the indirect light pouring in through the windows to be sufficient.



However, one thing he did see was the glow of her ominous, crimson eyes, and the several arrows that stuck out from her shoulder and stomach. That was all he needed to see. That was all he needed to truly feel as if death was an unstoppable certainty now, and that the crimson eyed-bringer of his demise was death itself.



Tsukiakari: Masachika Togashi...



Masachika: And you would be?



Tsukiakari caught he breath and sheathed her blade.



Tsukiakari: Bishamon.



Masachika: Bishamon...the god of war...I could actually believe that...



The doomed Masachika, finding the circumstances of his demise somewhat funny, erupted into laughter. Tsukiakari had no reaction, nor anything to say about his behavior. She laid her eyes on the tea and the letter by his lap, knowing exactly what he planned to do.



Masachika: So...that was you that floated into the heavens and sent lightning down upon us. Divine assistance is the only way the Ikko-ikki could've decisively won this battle. Of course...hahaha! It all makes such perfect sense! So this was the work of the gods. What grave sin have I committed to be on the receiving end of your fury, Bishamon?



Tsukiakari took a few steps forward, stopping and standing right in front of Masachika, who kept his eyes shut.



Tsukiakari: Your sins have nothing to do with this. Circumstance simply was not your friend in this fight. I have chosen to fight on the side of the Ikko-ikki. That is all.









Tsukiakari: This castle is completely surrounded. You have no reinforcements. The noble families in this province have all turned against you, and the shogun is busy in the field. So then, Masachika Togashi...what will you do now?



Masachika: Take a good look...Bishamon.





*RITUAL*





Her eyes again returned to the floor, where the letter and tea lied. This time, she noticed the sheathed tanto laying next to him.



Masachika: If you're here, Bishamon, the almighty god of war, then it's more of a reason to choose the fate any warrior worth his own salt and blood would choose. We men of this earth...how can we ever dream to match the glory of the god of war, or the salvation he brings us warriors through the beauty of death? We cannot. We never could. However, we have tried to achieve this through a sacred code we have long since called Bushido. Frugality...loyalty...rectitude...calmness...



Tsukiakari: Fairness. Courage. Compassion. Duty. Self-control. And honor until death.



Masachika smiled as he took a final sip from his tea, savoring the spicy taste and bitterness on his tongue.



Masachika: Such values are our way of inching just a little closer to providence. But our position is an ironic one, isn't it? Our jobs involve taking other lives, and as such, the idea of an afterlife is lost upon a warrior. The very nature of our profession precludes any spiritual reward for our deeds.



Tsukiakari: Well then, accept the only reward a good warrior is entitled to.



Masachika: A good death...



(I'm going to see...with my own eyes...)



Masachika gently slid his kimono's sleeves off of his arms and shoulders, exposing his torso, which was spotted all over with purple and black bruises.



Masachika: I ask that you deliver this letter to shogun Yoshihisa Ashikaga after my passing. Please.



Tsukiakari: Very well.



Masachika: Thank you...



His hands were as steady as a bridge as he pulled the tanto out of its sheath. His eyes remain closed as he took one final breath of the cold, rain-scented air that chilled his skin through the windows. But Tsukiakari wasn't as calm as he was. Her breathing intensified the closer he got to death. Her face turned a rosy pink as Masachika plunged his blade into the left side of his belly with only a short, loud scream from his mouth. He dragged the blade across his skin and inner flesh, carving what looked like a deep smile into his very stomach.





*R O U G E*





A smile blessed her face as she saw Masachika's intestines spill from the wound. His insides were so warm from the tea that steam was visibly exiting from his belly his bloody, fat-covered innards revealed themselves. Exhausted from the ritual, Masachika fell over on his face, unable to speak. His breathing was deep as his lungs tried hard to supply his body with air, so his heart could continue to pump oxygenated blood throughout the body. It was only making him die faster, until finally, his breathing stopped, and his twitching fingers ceased their movement.



(I was becoming something that was the complete opposite of what Masachika wished to be...)



Tsukiakari could still feel a surge of intense excitement even as Masachika laid dead in front of her. She traced her hand down her belly and under her kimono. When she withdrew her hand from underneath, she understood her own feelings, but realized there was so much more she didn't know.



Tsukiakari: I'm...wet...



(I couldn't understand why. Why was I wet? Why did my breath feel so hot? Why did my breasts ache, and my nipples harden? Was I becoming a masochist? I had noticed a welling excitement within me that grew larger in every battle...but sexual arousal? I just couldn't understand. Perhaps this is what happens if you are raised like I was raised. Every boy and girl lucky enough to have a home and family is raised correctly, for the most part. You all develop your minds, bodies, and feelings in a way that is socially normal. But I didn't have that. My mind, body, and feelings didn't have the chance to develop normally.)





*VERT*





(As such...even our sexual attractions grew as warped and violent as the period we lived in. That was why Taeko grew so interested in younger women. That's why I grew so interested in death and warfare.)



The Kaga rebellion was over, with the Ikko-ikki as the victors. The sons of Rennyo celebrated in the streets with their men was Tsukiakari held the head of Masachika in front of them from the top of his castle. The province was all theirs, and their prayers were hers.



(Sweet victory...)










That night, both the Ikko-ikki and the Senkumo counted and mourned for their dead and treated the wounded. The victory did not come without its price in blood.The Ikko-ikki by far lost the most troops. Thousands of bodies had to be carried out of the city and into the mountains and forests to be buried. All who survived celebrated in the restaurants, bars, and even in the streets, drinking and cheering to their heart's content.



Meanwhile, after checking on her troops, Tsukiakari returned to the rented room that she, Mayumi, Taeko, and Ebina were staying in. It was small, but the girls didn't mind one bit. Ebina was the one who was given the most comfortable futon. She was finally out of her heavy in armor in in her weightless robes, all tucked in. The other girls sat next to her, keeping her warm and making sure she was alright.



Tsukiakari: I can't believe that happened...



Taeko: It just came out of nowhere and completely destroyed her hip piece. It wasn't even a particularly heavy arrow, so I don't know how it could've done that. It looked like something even a light-foot soldier could've fired, and yet, no one was there when I turned around.



Mayumi: Unfortunately, she can't seem to walk with this injury. We'll have to go back to Kyoto so Bishamon can fully assess the extent of the damage. All I can do is keep her stable.



Ebina: Mayumi...Taeko...Gekko...thank you. Stabilizing...is more than enough!



There's that smile. Ebina rarely ever smiled, but they all knew she was doing so to keep their hopes up.



Taeko: Geez, Ebina...I was in tears carrying you here! Don't get hit like that again, alright? Next time, your big sis will take the arrow for you.



Mayumi: Taeko, that was oddly mature of you!



Taeko: It's like none of you have any faith in me! I really do want to protect all of you!



Mayumi: No, no, I don't doubt that at all. I just thought you were in it for the carnal reward!



Taeko: Well, I mean, I partly am, but that's not the main point! Look, I love you guys. If you weren't here...I don't know, I probably would've killed myself already. You're all three reasons why I want to keep living, even if it's in a war zone. So, of course...I'm gonna protect you with everything I've got. I take this seriously.



Mayumi could only smile at Taeko in that moment. Her words had gotten through to her and echoed inside of her.



Mayumi: Well, I suppose we should get to bed.



Tsukiakari: Yes. We'll be moving the last of our bodies in the morning. Then, we'll make our way back to Kyoto.



Ebina: Understood, commander.



Taeko: Goodnight everyone.



Mayumi: Nighty night!



Taeko: Mayumi, what do you say we-



Mayumi: No.



Taeko: PLEASE!



Mayumi: Accept the no or die!





*B L E U*





(Even as I stared at the ceiling that night...I was still incredibly wet. All caution went out the window. I had undone my kimono without shame and relieved myself of that accursed excitement. I cared not if they heard my moans, nor the squish and squash of my wet flesh. Those were all so much easier to explain than what was going on in my head. If they heard me, I'm sure they thought I was having the normal thoughts a girl might be aroused by. However...)





*ABNORMALITY*





(It was the thought of Masachika's death and corpse that caused my trembling fingers to stray downwards. It was the recollection of the smell of his insides that made my mouth water and my breasts grow tender. I knew these feelings were wrong and detrimental to my mental health. What was shameless pleasure to me would end up a ticket to death for them.)

« Last Edit: January 25, 2017, 03:53:19 AM by OhGodHelpMe »

Offline OhGodHelpMe

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Re: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (COMPLETED)
« Reply #273 on: January 25, 2017, 04:29:14 AM »
Senkumo War Stories: Out With the Old
Spoiler

With Kaga won, Tsukiakari and her troops made their trip home with their heads held high and their spirits even higher. As promised, Kaga would venerate Shinto deities alongside Buddhist ones, with Bishamon receiving the larger share.

It was early in the morning when the troops made it home, the sun just beginning to ride of the misty hills in the far distance. Everyone took a collective sigh of relief when they reached the main gates of the mansion, knowing they’d be able to rest soon and take some much needed, warm baths. Taeko stepped down from her horse, waving her sheathed blade in the air in view of the tower guards.

Taeko: Hey! We’re all here! Open the gates!

Guard: Lord Tsukiakari is back! Open the gates!

Everyone could hear the chain of call and response beyond the walls until the wooden gates were pushed open by two armed guards. On top of her horse and wearing the black hood of her wooly cloak, Tsukiakari led the walk inside. Judging by its excited neighs and constant wagging of its tail against its snow-white skin, it seemed even her horse was glad to be back

Tsukiakari: Welcome home, everyone! I want each and every one of you to get some rest and a warm meal! You’ve earned it!

Her troops responded with thunderous cheers as they followed her inside the mansion, but their cheers died down into silence as they all filled in through the gates. Everyone came to a complete standstill as they were greeted by a wall of armored Senkumo soldiers blocking their way, each of them tightly holding spears against the ground with their polished, gleaming blades pointed skyward.

Taeko: What the hell is going on?

Tsukiakari dismounted her horse with her hand wrapped firmly around her sheathed blade, her sandals crunching in the dirt and tiny rocks of the field grounds. She was utterly confused as to why her own troops formed an armored wall against her. Mutiny? An internal coup? A protest of sorts?

But to her surprise, the spearmen before her all knelt on one knee in perfect, rehearsed synchrony. All of them removed their helmets, revealing their smiling faces just before they took a large, collective breath. Together, the men and women shouted so that all of Earth and Heaven could hear them.

Everyone: HAPPY BIRTHDAY TSUKIAKARI!

No words could describe the flustered, tomato-colored shock on Tsukiakari’s face as she was suddenly bombarded by cheers and hugs from her female recruits, and raised-weapon salutes from her male ones. Mayumi and Ebina, sharing a horse with Mayumi riding in front, both erupted into laughter. Laughter, being as contagious as it was, spread all around the mansion with their surprise being successful.

With her beautiful brown hair let down and her glittering hazel eyes fixated on her lord, Ayadachi stepped through the cheering crowd with a large wooden tray in her hands, bearing an assortment of manju and daifuku made especially for Tsukiakari. She too knelt on one knee, her hair swaying over one of her eyes in the breeze.

Ayadachi: Happy Birthday, Gekko! From the Senkumo clan to you!

Tsukiakari: Wait a minute, who told you about my birthday?! Who sold me out?!

Taeko raises her hand.

Taeko: Guilty! I know you don’t like surprises, but I just had to!

Mayumi: Go ahead and try them, Gekko!

Everyone, especially the younger, prepubescent girls in the crowd, watched with laser-focus, some of them riding on the shoulders of the taller males to get a good view.

Tsukiakari: T-thank you very much, everybody.

She took one of the manju presented, taking that first, soft, sweet bite into it.

(I hadn’t had manju in so long, I almost forgot what it tasted like. But that particular batch...it was made with love.)

Tsukiakari: Question.

Ayadachi: Y-yes, my lord?

Expecting harsh critique of the manju, everyone’s hearts laid in deep suspense, the blood flowing through their chest feeling like it had gone as cold as ice. Just how was their lord going to react to this?

Tsukiakari: Would you think ill of me if I ate all of these in one night?

Proving to be much more lighthearted than anyone thought, Tsukiakari got a collective chuckle from her cheering troops, smiling at Ayadachi for all of her efforts.

Ayadachi: Not at all! Eat away! And again, happy birthday!

Taeko: Save some for me, you glutton!

Ebina: I would like some too. Manju was not a very common sight back home.

Mayumi: I call first serve on the daifuku!

Ayadachi: There’s no need! I made enough for everyone! Stop being so competitive!

(What a joy it was to be back home.)








Hachiman: So, the Kaga Rebellion was a smashing success, huh? Now that's just beautiful to hear, Bishamon!



Radiant shafts of sunlight poked through the cover of towering trees as Hachiman and Bishamon walked together on a dirt path in the forest of Kyoto. Hachiman wore a lavish and alluring red kimono with black lining while Bishamon wore only his usual, black Senkumo kimono. His hair was tied back as gentle breezes brushed through the trees and gave flight to the wings of birds above them.



Hachiman: That Tsukiakari girl has rolled in an obscene amount of prayers. Our other two friends are quite pleased with her progress.



Bishamon: Sure...



It seemed to Bishamon that Hachiman took absolutely none of this seriously. After all, Hachiman benefited from all of this while Bishamon had to do most of the legwork. Most.



Hachiman: Hmm? Come on, I know you're not a very bright kid, but why the downcast look, huh? Summer is on its way, the heat is back, the oceans are glimmering beautifully, and even the birds are singing your praises!



Bishamon: Why did you intervene in the Kaga Rebellion, Hachiman?



Hachiman: Intervene? My, my, whatever could you possibly be talking about, my dear former student?



Bishamon: Do not feign ignorance, Hachiman- my temper has a very short fuse.



Hachiman scoffed and crossed his arms behind his head of messy, grey hair.



Hachiman: What's a little arrow to the hip, hmm?



Bishamon: You're the best archer in the entire pantheon. There isn't a single arrow you fire that doesn't have an intent and message behind it. So...talk.



Hachiman: Tsukiakari's progress is astounding. Because of her, veneration of us Shinto deities is increasing, and even gods like me who risked fading into obscurity have a lifeline now. However...it's not as fast as it could be. She's magnificent, but there are three little things holding her back. I'm simply hastening the process of getting rid of those things.



Bishamon: And you hope to achieve what?



Hachiman: Make her even more cruel and demonically powerful than either of us could've ever imagined. You know better than me, Bishamon! That woman is a weapon and a resource, nothing more.









Bishamon: Why was Ebina your target? Why her first?



Hachiman: No reason, really. It was either her of the Taeko girl, and Ebina was just unlucky enough to have caught the arrow.



Bishamon: Clever bastard...because of you, Ebina has been unable to walk since her return to Kyoto a few weeks ago. At this rate...



Hachiman: You'll have to let her go?



Bishamon: I see no reason not to just have her in a non-combat role. Ebina still has a fantastic mind. That much is useful to me.



Hachiman: Fool...what we gods of war need more of are fantastic weapons, not minds. Minds are used for diplomacy, and diplomacy is the archenemy of war. Tsukiakari would be even more beneficial to all of us than she already is if you'd help remove those three limiters holding her back.



As Bishamon pondered the question, an unnaturally heavy, pounding on the ground alerted them. It was the sound of iron hooves hitting against the ground, growing closer towards them.



Bishamon: Stop!



Hachiman: What is that...



Glimmering just a few yards ahead of them was something they knew was divine the moment they set eyes on it. A stag stepped forward out of the cover of trees and brush, completely made of hardened iron, yet moving as if it were made of flesh and bone. Its antlers were as sharp as any blade, and its very stature was like that of a god.



Hachiman: Oh! It's you!



Bishamon: You know this one?



Hachiman: You do too, Bishamon. You've just never seen him like this.



Bishamon: Hmm? Is that so? Fellow god, please reveal your-



The iron stag opened its mouth and filled the entire forest with skin-searing heat as a highly concentrated blast of white flames built up between its jaws. The fire was violently flung from its mouth like a missile, right towards Bishamon and Hachiman.





*C O M B A T*





In the heat of the moment, Bishamon grabbed Hachiman and leaped through the towering trees with him on his back just before the mountain-shaking explosion went off behind them. The end of Bishamon's scarf was safely lit with the searing white flames that almost engulfed him and his master. As he landed, he realized a shrine was in the distance behind him, built on top of a single spire of land surrounded by the sunlit, glittering water of the lake.



Hachiman: Woo! Talk about a rush! It's like he's gotten younger!



Bishamon: Even if he's just playing around, that's no way to introduce yourself!



The iron stag came charging right out of the wall of white flames and immolated trees and bramble, right down the slope towards Bishamon. He lowered his head as his hooves stomped down the slope, pointing his deathly antlers right at him.



Hachiman: Whoa, hey! Be careful, Bishamon!



Bishamon: I've got him!



Bishamon stood his ground and stopped the stag's powerful charge with his own omnipotent grip, grabbing his antlers and pushing back against the stag. The force of their meeting was like a sudden, short burst of hurricane winds that were quickly sealed back within a jar. Bishamon actually broke a sweat and struggled as he lifted the stag and began to spin around with it, over and over until they both grew disoriented.



He timed himself and let go at the right moment, throwing the iron stag into the lake with a heavy splash that ejected enough water in the sky to cast a large shadow over the forest, and dampen the heat Bishamon and Hachiman felt from the sun's light. Drops of water came raining back down on them all as the two gods waited anxiously for the iron stag's next move.



Bishamon: Enough of these games! I'm a very busy god right now!



Hachiman:...Do you feel that? That shaking...



Bishamon: What is he-



The iron stag was no longer a stag, but a colossal, iron whale that flew out from the depth of the lake in all of it's awe and magnificence. It became clear the air was its ocean as it didn't fall back down into the lake, but instead took flight as naturally as the birds did.







The shrieks and yells of the iron whale circling in the sky scared away every flock of bird and every mammal in the area. Bishamon could hear them fly away, and he could hear their panicked paws and hooves even in the distance.



Hachiman: Haha! Now you're just showing off! I think he gets it now, so just come on down!



The whale rapidly decreased in size and collapsed into the shape of a young man, his features veiled by the light of the sun shining behind him. The young man fell hundreds of feet from the air and landed hard, yet perfectly in front of Bishamon and Hachiman. Upon seeing that late-teen face, his skinny, yet muscular physique, His long, blonde hair tied in a ponytail, and the brown, bear fur coat he wore, Bishamon began to realize who his sudden attacker was.



Bishamon: Is that...Oyamatsumi?!



Hachiman: Bingo.



Despite his young appearance, Oyamatsumi stood just barely shorter than Bishamon as he extended a hand of welcome, after so rudely getting the jump on them. Those green eyes of his just radiated with energy.





*GOD OF MOUNTAINS, SEAS, AND WAR*





Oyamatsumi: My sincerest apologies, Bishamonten! I was just so eager to try out some new moves in front of you that I just couldn't help myself!



Bishamon: You're...Oyamatsumi? What happened to you? Why are you younger now? Did you reincarnate?



Oyamatsumi reeled back his hand of welcome and used it to pat down his hair.



Oyamatsumi: What do you two geniuses think, hmm? I suppose you can say I got into a bit of a scuffle with Izanami-no-mikoto.



Hachiman: Izanami? Over what? She's so gentle and sweet, you wouldn't think she'd ever fight anyone over something.



Oyamatsumi: Well...it's a bit complicated. Izanami seems content on limiting my power wherever I go. I was proposing to Lady Amaterasu that she should re-centralize the roles of maintaining war, the sea, and the mountains to me. The older gods like Hachiman and myself feel like they're being phased out by the newer ones, especially since we merged with the Buddhists. When new deities emerge and do the things we were once responsible for...well, I'm sure you know what happens. That's the end of a god's existence and purpose.









Oyamatsumi: However, Amaterasu declined. It set legal precedent for the rest of us, the Old Guard, as we're so insultingly called. Well, that conversation shifted to Amaterasu at least lifting her restrictions on the use of Mt.Fuji. When the Onin War started, I suggested we should use the mountain and cause a massive eruption to bring the humans to the heel of the divine, before things could boil over and get ugly. But Izanami, the goodie-two-shoes of Heaven, shot down my proposal. Amaterasu said that because such an action would threaten the lives of so many people, the authority to make the decision ultimately falls with Izanami.



Bishamon: And so, she refused.



Oyamatsumi: A tragic story, isn't it? I challenged her and lost. I died in that fight, so that's why I'm like this now, and that's why I wanted to test you a bit, Bishamon.



Hachiman: I know Izanami is strong, but is she really THAT strong? She seriously beat you in a fair duel?



Oyamatsumi sat down against one of the nearby trees, crossing his legs and twirling a twig between his slender fingers.



Oyamatsumi: I think the rumors are true. Izanami can't die. She really lucked out when she was appointed as the goddess of death and creation. It's too important of a job for Amaterasu to entrust to anyone else, and because life is always in supply, death is always in business. She can never outlive her purpose as a god. Regardless, my recent defeat and dwindling prayers spell a visible end for me.





*HOW TO COMPROMISE WITH A GOD*





Hachiman: You see, that's what we've come here for, Oyamatsumi. Bishamon has quite the little program running under his belt. It's already benefiting two other gods, not including myself.



Bishamon: If you're willing to keep every detail you learn here in absolute secrecy, I may just let you in on something that can prolong your life long enough so you can re-attain your purpose in Heaven. You must not share any of this with the other gods. No exceptions. However, I expect something in return from you. I hope nothing is impossible for the brother of Lady Amaterasu.



Bishamon's sudden proposal had the hopeless god's ears by the lobes.



Oyamatsumi: Alright. I can keep a secret. Tell me what this little "project" of yours is all about, Bisha.



(And so, another conspiring bastard joined him...)








That windy, dark night, Bishamon took a visit to Tsukiakari's mansion after his encounter with Amaterasu's brother. Ebina laid before him on her futon as he hovered his green-glowing hands over her hip while the other girls watched in wait. He stood up from his cross-legged position on the tatami mats of their personal room and sighed. Bad news weighed on his breath.



Bishamon: It's been weeks. No amount of muscle therapy seems to be working on her. Ebina, I'm going to be frank with you.



Ebina's untied, wavy, white hair was beautifully fanned out in all directions as she laid her head on her pillow. Her face was calm and reserved, ready for almost anything Bishamon could possibly say to her.



Bishamon: Give up on performing a combat role in the Senkumo clan ever again.



...But her heart wasn't quite ready for those words.



Bishamon: You will never walk again, Ebina.



Taeko: Wait a minute, Bishamon! A-are you sure about this?! Are you really saying Ebina can't fulfill her duties here?!



Mayumi: There must be something we can do! You're a god!



Bishamon: I am not a god of healing nor medicine. My occupation deals with the taking of life, not its restoration.



Tsukiakari: Who can heal her? I'll-



Bishamon: You'll what? You've been gone from Heaven for hundreds of years. Not many gods are going to lend you their help. Besides...don't you know that warriors don't receive blessings from the gods? Those who live and die by the sword are not given any spiritual reward for what they do, for they are mortals who have sworn their lives to their lord, their people, their kingdom, their country, and their gods.



Mayumi: But still...what are we supposed to do? Our Tactics and Espionage division is stuffed full. Ebina was the best at gathering information for us out in the field.



Taeko: Maybe we can put her at a sort of desk-job role? It would be boring as hell, but...that way, she could stay around and do something.



Ebina slowly shut her eyes as their voices bounced around the room.



Bishamon: Ebina. You know what you are. And when you know what you are...you know what you must do. I trust you understand what I mean, don't you?



Ebina:...Yes, Bishamon....



Bishamon: Tsukiakari. Come with me out to the patio. I have to talk to you. Taeko, please get Ebina out of bed and get her sandals on.



Mayumi: Hmm? Is she going somewhere?



Bishamo:...Tsukiakari, the patio.



(We all looked at each other in profound confusion. I knew the task he had for me was no good. I could sense it on his heavy, almost disappointed breath. But you see, I also had something to talk to him about on that patio. The moon was unbelievably beautiful that night...and the stars...you could almost just reach out and touch them)










From the patio, they saw the lights seeping through the windows as well as through the darkness and deepness of the heavens above. The gentle sound of the small garden ponds below turned Bishamon's eyes to the lotus flowers that sat above its fresh waters. Tsukiakari took her position and knelt behind Bishamon with her head bowed, and her fist planted on the patio.



Tsukiakari: Excuse me, Bishamon, but if I may...there's something I need to talk to you about as well.



Bishamon: Oh? And what would that be?



Tsukiakari:...I think I need some time off from battle.



Bishamon: Why?



Tsukiakari: I've come to understand that my tireless involvement in battles, both on a small and large scale has ultimately affected my mental health.



Bishamon: Please elaborate.



Tsukiakari: It's...hard to say...



Bishamon: Out with it, Tsukiakari.






*R O S E*






Tsukiakari: It appears...the rush of violence gives me sexual stimulation. When I watched Masachika commit suicide, I...it made me wet, Bishamon. I felt so sick of myself, and yet, I was also aroused for some reason. This has led to me being unable to control certain, personal carnal urges, if you understand. I believe this his eroded my sense of self-control and restraint.



Bishamon had wished for something like this, but not quite in the way it was taking hold in Tsukiakari. Even he was disgusted that she would take sexual pleasure in violence.



Tsukiakari: I was hoping that Ebina could temporarily take my place. She's very skilled in tactics and strategy. I believe she can properly plan out our battles and spread the influence of the Senkumo clan. Please, consider her for the position while I recover from this sick ailment of mine.



Bishamon:...I cannot do that. You're right, Ebina is very talented. However, her talents lie in espionage, not in commanding. Besides, why would I replace a commander like you with a mortal? You can do everything she can do and more, and you can do it better. Your powers are magnificent, and your growth as a war goddess is unparalleled. Appointing Ebina would be a detriment to our commanding strength.



(Damn it...)



Tsukiakari: I understand...



Bishamon: About your "problem", even goddesses need to cope with constant involvement with warfare. Perhaps you shouldn't involve yourself in minor conflicts anymore, and you should take more days off. A goddess with your heritage has no business being a slave to her own carnal urges. That is a trait I expect from a human. Don't let it affect your ability is their commander.



Tsukiakari: I'll try my best. So...about Ebina...



Bishamon: Yes. This is what I want you to do with her, Tsukiakari...



(I'll never forget the words he said to me on that balcony. They were few, and yet powerful like an army. Ebina would become the domino that knocked us all down...)



« Last Edit: February 27, 2018, 02:56:08 PM by OhGodHelpMe »

Offline OhGodHelpMe

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Re: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (COMPLETED)
« Reply #274 on: January 25, 2017, 05:14:17 PM »
Alright, that's the end of Senkumo War Stories: Book of Blossoming. Now I move onto the Book of Betrayal, and then the Book of Vengeance. The last one is going to be quite the murder-fest and tragedy.

Senkumo War Stories: The End of Your Blossoming
Spoiler

Taeko and Mayumi's ears just barely caught the sound of Tsukiakari's lightened footsteps beyond the wall before she opened the sliding door to the room. Bishamon did not return with her.

Mayumi: Gekko...where are we taking her?

Tsukiakari: Ebina, are you ready to go outside?

Ebina's eyes were hidden beneath her hair, but her voice was the voice of someone who had suddenly lost all hope.

Ebina: Yes.

Taeko: Wait! Gekko, what did Bishamon want you to do? Where are you taking her?!

Tsukiakari knelt down by Ebina, letting her throw her arms over her so she could carry her on her back. She stood up, bouncing Ebina off her back a bit as she prepared to walk her out, away from the mansion as instructed.

Tsukiakari: Taeko, Mayumi...it's okay if you hate me after this.

Mayumi: Gekko...

Tsukiakari: Let's go, Ebina.

Ebina: Right...





(Perhaps, even you will come to feel the disgust that I felt within and for myself as I carried Ebina out of the mansion. I could feel her left cheek pressed against my back like it was the only pillow she'd ever have in her life. She must've been gazing at the flowers and ponds in the garden as we walked by, wondering why and how it had all come to this. In an instant, her career with the Senkumo was over, and the circumstances were abnormal.)


*L O V E*


Ebina: Gekko...

Tsukiakari: What is it?

Ebina: I hope Taeko and Mayumi won't be mad with you.

Tsukiakari: Dummy...that's what you're worrying about right now? Think about yourself, Ebina. You're...

Ebina smiled and closed her eyes, enjoying the long walk as they passed through the mansion's front gates and the guards that opened them. Tsukiakari took the right turn, towards the path that led down to the forest. The moon watched over them with blinding radiance, and the trees seemed to chant for them as the winds brushed past their leaves.

Ebina: It's okay. I think it was a lot of fun. As fun as a life like mine's could've been, at least. I never thought I'd make such great friends, or have such great comrades to match.

The one other comfort besides the sounds of nature and her ability to cling to Tsukiakari in those moments was the Senkumo crest that decorated the back of her black kimono.

Ebina: I'm proud to have been Ebina Senkumo.

Tsukiakari, knowing she'd only burst into tears if she uttered even a single word now, stayed silent.

Ebina: Bishamon is right. A warrior swears his or her life to whatever drives their heart to live by the blade. Dying in battle is its own reward, isn't it? Though, I guess I couldn't do that much properly. Maybe that's why this is happening. A warrior who can no longer stand, no longer fight, becomes a shadow of what he once was. Where's the honor in that? This is the least I can do...

Tsukiakari: How...

Ebina?

Tsukiakari: How can you be processing this so much better than I am? My heart is breaking, Ebina! Every step gets harder to take!

Just like that, Tsukiakari was brought to her knees as well as to tears. Her spirit refused to let her go any further.

Tsukiakari: None of this is fair! Honor?! What honor?! Every lord and statesman has abandoned their honor! Now everyone only cares about power! Even if you can't fight, isn't there a place for you somewhere?! Even if it's just helping Mayumi take care of things, isn't that better than this?!!?

Ebina: Of course not...

Tsukiakari: You get it so much better than I do, Ebina! Tell me, then!

Ebina: Because if we weren't required to stay true to our positions until death, how much would you really be able to depend upon your comrades?





Ebina: Death is the Great Equalizer. It unifies us all beneath the crest we share on our backs. If such a code is thrown away, one's duty to their lord, their god, or their country vanishes. Most importantly, one's obligation to their comrade erodes into nothingness. If death were not certain and even required of a warrior, then our ranks would be filled with cowards who would retreat at the slightest hint of defeat. The most subtle chill of death would strip them of their bravery and morale. Don't you see, Gekko? You, Mayumi, Taeko, and I became such good friends because death is certain for all of us.



*N O I R*



Ebina: Thus, when we were grouped together, that bond became our most sacred link. We all knew from the very beginning that we would all die the way warriors are supposed to die. So...stand up, Gekko.

Tsukiakari: Please don't...

Ebina filled her lungs and shouted.

Ebina: TSUKIAKARI SENKUMO! STAND UP AND FULFILL YOUR TASK!

(That was the first time I heard her shout like that. It was so beautiful and hauntingly angry that it made roses bloom in my bones and lungs. Most of all...beneath its fury and harshness, there was an infinite echo of love.)

And so, Tsukiakari stood up and continued down the path.

('Go to the forest. Abandon her there.'. That was my task. This tradition was usually reserved for the elderly as a form of euthanasia, but in the Senkumo clan, it applied to those who were wounded to the degree of becoming a burden on the clan. Especially if you were in a combat role, to be in such a state was shameful. It was considered a mercy, a glorification and preservation of your honor as a warrior who fell wounded in battle for the sake of Bishamon to be abandoned this way, and ultimately left to die.)

The path beneath Tsukiakari's feet was gone as they walked into the deep of the forest. Along the way, Ebina would reach her gentle hands out, snapping twigs off of the trees and dropping them on the ground.

Tsukiakari: ...What are you doing?

Ebina: Nothing, really...Gekko...this is deep enough. Set me down.

Tsukiakari: Damn it...



*A M O U R*



The smiling Ebina was set down against one of the trees. Her eyes bore no resentment for Tsukiakari, nor any misery regarding her situation.

Ebina: Thank you, Gekko.

Tsukiakari: There has to be a better way than this...Bishamon isn't even looking into this with more caution. Where did the arrow come from, and who could've made a shot like that? There's no way any arrow should've been able to shatter your armor!

Ebina: How's and Why's matter very little when it has already happened.

(Ebina...seemed to have already accepted her fate. How could I forget? She was a brilliant mind, and brilliance isn't the only thing that courses in the minds of the bright. Dark, foreboding thoughts circulate around those minds like the rings of Saturn. Of course she knew what would happen to her if she did not recover.)

Ebina: Actually...to be honest with you, Gekko...those twigs I snapped back there...

Tsukiakari: What about them?

Ebina: It's easy to get lost in the forest at night. Light a fire with your sword on your way back, and you'll be able to see them. I made sure that they all point you back to the road.

Realizing her final stroke of brilliance, tears silently streamed down Tsukiakari's face. She wondered how on earth someone who knew they were going to die could think only of their friend, even as they marched to her grave.

Tsukiakari: That's why you did that?!

Ebina: Mhmm. Be mindful of animals on your way back, Gekko. You're a beautiful goddess, but you can still get hurt. Protect yourself, and look after the others. Not just Taeko or Mayumi, but every Senkumo under your command. That's all I ask of you.

Tsukiakari: Ebina...

Taeko: EBINA!





Taeko trailed them and followed them all the way into the deep of the forest, panting heavily with her eyes focused on her darling Ebina.

Tsukiakari: Taeko!

Taeko: So this is what Bishamon asked you to do. Damn him! Ebina, you should be rewarded for your service, not told to just go die in a forest alone! How can you just accept this?! And Tsukiakari, I'm so disappointed in you! You took her all the way out here without a fight, didn't you?! You were going to leave Ebina here without even explaining anything to me or Mayumi!

Tsukiakari: What was I supposed to say?! Bishamon's orders are absolute!

Taeko: Don't talk about yourself like you're a slave! You're one of the brightest people I know, Gekko! Does any of this actually sit right with you?!

Tsukiakari: Of course not! I hate every bit of this!

Ebina: Please, stop fighting.

Taeko: Ebina, you-

Ebina: Taeko.

While distress mocked the true beauty of their faces, Ebina only had a smile on hers.

Ebina: Let it be. I don't have a use any more. I can't walk. I can hardly use the restroom by myself. I can't provide anything to the Senkumo clan except burden after burden.

Taeko: You're not a burden to me, Ebina! I'd still love you if you couldn't even open your eyes by yourself!

Ebina: We may be friends, but ultimately, we live in service of Bishamon and the Senkumo clan. We're not just a group of girls who grew up together, Taeko. There's more responsibility to this than just to ourselves and each other. Remember what we all swore allegiance to.

Taeko fell silent, softly laughing to herself with her head hung low.

Taeko: Scolded and silenced by my younger sister...have I really become so useless?



*DECISION*



Taeko: Tsukiakari.

Tsukiakari: Yes?

Taeko: If we leave her her, Ebina will die a slow and painful death. She'll either be picked apart by animals, die of starvation, hydration, or simple exposure to the elements.

Tsukiakari raised her eyes, uncertain what Taeko was getting at.

Taeko: If any of you are going to die while I sit by and helplessly watch it, I at least want to make it easier for you. Give me your blade, Tsukiakari.

Tsukiakari...What? What are you going to do?

Taeko: I'm not going to let Ebina suffer for days until she dies. If she's going to die anyway, I want her to pass as quickly and painlessly as possible. She at least deserves that much.

Tsukiakari: But Bishamon asked me-

Taeko: I'll accept all responsibility for interfering in your task. Don't worry about it. In fact, I deserve whatever punishment I get from Bishamon.

With a nod of encouragement from Ebina, Tsukiakari reluctantly gave over her sheathed blade to Taeko, fighting back the thunderous sobs in her chest. Taeko wrapped her arms around Tsukiakari, embracing her warmly and tightly during that cold, windy night.

Taeko: I'm sorry for yelling at you. You know I love you, right?

Tsukiakari: I know...

Taeko: I love you all so much I can hardly stand it. Let me be the one to do it. You won't feel guilty that one, and if Mayumi gets mad...I'll be the one she hates for life. I'll bare it all for you, so you don't have to. That's what it means to protect the ones you love.

Tsukiakari: You really were serious...

Taeko: Say goodbye to her, and let me have some time alone with her. I'll come down when I'm done.

Neither of them could still believe they were doing this. Tsukiakari pulled away from the secure and warm sensation of Taeko's hug and returned that same love to Ebina, whom she embraced with all of her might.

Tsukiakari: I love you, Ebina.

Ebina: I know you do. I love you too, Gekko. Remember what I told you. Make me proud, okay?

Tsukiakari: I'll...I'll try my best...





(I entrusted it all to Taeko...and felt even more horrible for doing so. Taeko's love for us and for the clan was real, and it was more powerful than even someone as expressive as her could ever let on. I sat just a short distance away from Ebina's tree, wondering what they were talking about, and if Ebina was really prepared for death. As a goddess, I couldn't even imagine what death was like. What would happen once my blade pierced her heart? What happens after the warmth and light leaves you, and the sounds around you all fade away? Will she go to Heaven? Will she go to the Underworld? I knew the destinations, but not the journey. Not yet, anyway...)


*N O I R*


(And then...after waiting for so long...I finally heard it. I heard the pained wails and cries of Taeko. She had done the deed, and Ebina, one my dearest friends and comrades, was gone. All on Bishamon's orders.)



*WHIP*



The very next day. Tsukiakari and Taeko bowed before Bishamon in the central Senkumo mansion where they once stayed. Mayumi sat off to the side, trying desperately to hush her cries and mournful breaths. Bishamon, angered by how the task transpired, circled the two of them like a fierce lion, brandishing his brown leather whip. A heavy silence cursed the air of the room, save for Bishamon's soft footsteps on the tatami mats. It was so quiet, Tsukiakari and Taeko could hear their own blood rush through their heads.

Bishamon: Taeko.

Taeko:...Yes, Lord...

Bishamon: Last night, who did I ask to handle the task of Ebina's abandonment?

Taeko:...You asked my commander, Tsukiakari, my lord.

Bishamon: Knowing this, what did you do that night?

Taeko: I...chased after Tsukiakari and Ebina...

Bishamon: Go on, child.

Taeko: ...and I took over the task, opting for Ebina's quick extermination rather than a slow and painful death in the forest. In doing so, I disobeyed you and disrespected my commander, my lord.

Bishamon: And Tsukiakari, you are much more powerful than Taeko. You could easily bring any soldier who disrespects your authority and my orders to hell. Yet, you didn't. You let Taeko do as she pleased.

Tsukiakari: Yes...

Mayumi: Bisham-

Bishamon: QUIET, Mayumi. Taeko, Tsukiakari. Expose your backs.

Taeko: Yes, my lord.

Bishamon stood behind them as they both loosened their kimonos and turned them so the back covered their torso, leaving their backs and behinds exposed. They held their robes close to their chests to keep their breasts and other sensitive parts in the front covered, neither of them saying a word as they did so.

And so, Bishamon unraveled his whip. It sharply and loudly crackled through the air, warning Taeko for just a split second before it's hard leather slammed against her back. That one hit brought her to the floor as she let out a brief shout of pain, the area from the whip's impact marked with red and dripping several small streams of blood.

(Of course. This was our punishment.)

The same fearsome crackle came before the whip to Tsukiakari's back, like thunder before a strike of lightning. Her teeth gnashed together as her back screamed in pain and blood dripped down her back, bottom, and onto her clenching feet. Mayumi shut her soaked, tearful eyes and tried sealing the crackle of the whip and their soft cries from her ears by covering them with her hands. Despite her efforts, those dreadful sounds pierced her defenses every time they rang out.

On and on this painful ordeal went. It carried on for so long that the two girls almost thought they were in the middle of an endless, karmic cycle.



*R O U G E*







(Over and over...)







(Until our backs couldn't even feel the whip anymore...)







Bishamon: We're done here. Mayumi, tend to their lacerations so they don't get infected. Cover yourselves up and get out of my sight. Tsukiakari, I expect you to punish Taeko further for her transgression. If you fail to do so, I shall punish you both myself, again. Now leave.

Both of them were beaten into tearful exhaustion, their backs forever horrendously scarred.

(Isabella once inquired about the scars on my back when we had first met. Well...now the cat is out of the bag. Things were much different after this. Taeko's 'punishment' was a temporary suspension from the field. She'd be forced to take up janitorial duties around the mansion. In reality, this was so I could keep her safe. I didn't want her returning to the battlefield after what we just went through. By Bishamon's order, I was still required to command my troops in the field. I returned to the battlefield along with Mayumi. It was 1489...that was the year I killed one of Osamu's ancestors.)



*YOUR BLOSSOMING IS OVER*



(That was the year springtime of this war goddess turned into a heavy downpour of sorrow.)



*END OF THE BOOK OF BLOSSOMING*



*SENKUMO WAR STORIES*





Offline OhGodHelpMe

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Re: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (COMPLETED)
« Reply #275 on: January 28, 2017, 05:45:20 PM »
Boom, now I can establish the next part with this post.

Senkumo War Stories Part 2: Book of Betrayal

“Yet each man kills the thing he loves
By each let this be heard
Some do it with a bitter look
Some with a flattering word
The coward does it with a kiss
The brave man with a sword”


The viciousness of what it means to be a war goddess is a blindfold that veils both the eyes and the mind. When we're blind, it is easy to be betrayed. Such is the fate of Tsukiakari Senkumo as she loses more and more of her compassion in the endless chain of battles she fights, becoming more powerful as she goes along. But power always comes at a price, and it is often too heavy for even a deity to pay.

Book of Betrayal is the tale of the Senkumo clan’s descent into madness. It is a tale of losing everything, including oneself. Can there be any hope of retrieving what was lost?



Prelude to Madness (Prologue)
Spoiler
(A prelude to madness, when the light of the Senkumo clan was strangled by the darkness. Our darkness, creeping from within.)

Guard: Open the gates!

Obeying the thundering shout of the tower guard, the two soldiers posted at the entrance parted open the wooden gate, their boots splashing around in the mud as they pulled with all of their might. It was almost night, and the torches around the mansion had already been lit aflame, their light sparkling across the glossy mud and dirty puddles scattered about. Deep, dark clouds remained fixed above the area after a long day of hard rain.

Tsukiakari, Taeko, and Mayumi rushed inside with their small force of 50 troops, their faces, hands, and souls dirtied by the rain, mud, and guilt. All of them looked like walking corpses, as if their souls had left their bodies. Their eyes were the most downtrodden and mournful they had ever been. The men were silent. Many of the younger girls cried into the arms of their older peers. Tsukiakari and Mayumi dismounted their horses, still having important duties to tend to.

Taeko: It won't be long. Yoshihisa Ashikaga will most likely catch wind of the massacre. When he does, we'll be his primary suspects. Everyone here knows we're the monsters in this situation.

Tsukiakari: The last thing I wanted was to incur the shogun's wrath. Looks like we no longer have a choice in the matter. Taeko, get everyone washed and rested. After that...sort the dead.

Taeko: Right away. Let’s move, everyone. It’s over now. It’s all over...

Tsukiakari and Mayumi jogged across the muddy, silent mansion to the medical barracks, leaving their boots by the entrance as not to track filth inside. The facility was much like the living quarters, with each patient resting in a small bedroom, tended to by nurses and surgeons should they need it. It was warm inside, the smell of incense floating in the air. But such a relaxing energy did not dispel the worry and chaos in Tsukiakari’s burdened mind.

Mayumi: The said she’s down here, in this room.

Tsukiakari opened the sliding door to one of the rooms without hesitation, stopping dead in her tracks as she saw the state of girl she was looking for. Ayadachi lied in her futon, writhing in pain, wearing only a thin white sash around her breasts that exposed her stomach, and black, cotton shorts. Her left arm was gone, cut to half its length with what remained tightly bandaged up. And finally, those beautiful, hazel eyes were veiled behind a black blindfold, her face partially covered by her wet, brown hair. The two slowly approaches her, their hearts breaking even more the closer they got.

Tsukiakari: I had no idea...she was hurt this badly.

Mayumi: Ayadachi, can you hear us, sweetheart?

Straining herself just to talk, her dry lips parted open as she drew breath and spoke.

Ayadachi: Mayumi? Gekko?

Tsukiakari: We heard the horse-drawn caravan was attacked on the way to one of the other mansions. We sprung into action as soon as we could, but...

Mayumi: Ayadachi, your arm...and your eyes!

Ayadachi: Poison arrows...we were bombarded with them. My arm...it was the only way. The surgeons amputated it. And my eyes...slashed by an enemy sword.

Tsukiakari: Your vision? Is it healing?

Ayadachi: I’m afraid not, Gekko. I...can’t see a thing.

Tsukiakari and Mayumi locked eyes for just a few seconds before turning back towards Ayadachi.

Mayumi: The troops...they suspected a nearby village may have given our travel route to a local enemy. While you were being hauled away, they...

Tsukiakari: Massacred the residents. We had to execute them, and dispose of the evidence of our involvement.

Ayadachi found it hard to swallow. Her ears wouldn’t stop ringing with rising intensity. She began to shiver and ache, her left arm especially throbbing in vicious, blood-biting pain. She attempted to hold her left arm, the area she felt the most pain in. But alas, the limb was gone.

Mayumi: Ayadachi? What’s wrong?!

Ayadachi: No, it’s nothing! They said this would happen! It still feels like my arm and eyes are there, still aching and hurting!

Tsukiakari: I don’t understand...

Taeko: Phantom pain.

Taeko’s entrance startled them, but as the head of the medical division, they trusted she had the answers. She approached Ayadachi, gently laying her hands on her stub of an arm.

Taeko: It’s not uncommon for amputees to describe sensations of pain...in their missing limbs. She’s also been experiencing it in her eyes, as well as detailed hallucinations. We don’t currently have anything to treat this since we haven’t had that many cases of it. We’re running low on medicinal supplies too, mainly medications. The yield of plants and herbs we need to make medicines are dropping, both due to terrible weather and raging Daimyo in the area.

Mayumi: I’ll see what I can procure. We should shrink the size of our deployed forces, Gekko. We can’t afford to have too many wounded until we get more supplies.

Tsukiakari: Alright. I’ll shift the groupings around.

Ayadachi: Gekko...you won’t’...get rid of me, right?

(That single question broke me. Ebina’s death sent waves of fear among the seriously wounded. Fear that they’d share the same fate as her. My own troops were scared of me.)

Tsukiakari: I-

Taeko: You won’t. I absolutely will not allow it. I’m sure you’re thinking of Ebina, aren’t you? Then you shouldn’t be asking Gekko that question anyway. I’m the one that killed her, not Gekko.

Tsukiakari gasped in shock, but was hushed by Taeko before she could say a word.

Taeko: Don’t, Gekko. She should know the truth. She should know she has no reason to fear her Commanding Lord.

A heavy silence choked the air in the room. Taeko’s will to take responsibility for executing Ebina was not something Tsukiakari or Mayumi wanted. But at the same time, their silence was a very clear admission that it was paramount to dispelling the aura of fear swelling around the Commanding Lord.

Ayadachi: I’m so sorry...

Taeko: Don’t you worry about me. Just focus on getting better. We’ll find a place for you somehow. Gekko, we’re just about finished handling the bodies. Let’s leave Ayadachi to rest.

Tsukiakari took gentle hold of Ayadachi’s right hand as she stood up to leave, wearing a saddened smile she could never see.

Tsukiakari: Rest well, okay? Let me know if you need anything.

Mayumi: Get well, Ayadachi!

Ayadachi: Thank you, everyone. And goodnight, Gekko.









(The next few weeks were miserable, but there was no time to wallow in our self-pity. There was no spiritual reward in it, but the Senkumo clan was given a monetarily lucrative offer from the Sasaki clan. We were to kill Yoshihisa Ashikaga and stop his army’s campaign against them. It was opportunity we needed, both in money, and in vengeance. All of us needed a place to throw our own anger and rage, to the point where it seemed most of us, including myself, had forgotten what even ignited our rage in the first place.)

With everything prepared for tomorrow’s deployment, Tsukiakari opened the sliding doors of the war room to the sight of blessed moonlight shining down upon the land. Crickets composed symphonies with their wings as the flames of torches gently crackled all around the mansion. Stepping outside onto the patio, Tsukiakari finally let her hair down for the day, the last few, curling strands of it reaching well beyond her feet and laying on the floor.

Ayadachi: Hasn’t anyone told you to cut your hair, my lord?

Ayadachi has been waiting on the patio for her, listening intently and gleefully to the sound of the night’s breeze flowing through the trees and flowers in the courtyard.  She wore her black kimono open while her white sash covered her breasts, the sleeve of her missing arm flapping about in the wind. She stood with the help of a cane, useful for navigating without her eyesight as well.

Ayadachi: One wonders how you manage to tie all of that up into a bun when you need to.

Tsukiakari smiled and whispered with a playfully sinister tone.

Tsukiakari: By the power of fiendish, dark magic! It is the Fold of a Thousand Strands technique, left unmastered even by the most skilled queens and courtesans!

Ayadachi tried to keep her laughter down, as not to wake her sleeping comrades. Though it seemed her lord’s ridiculous evil voice was making it very difficult for her.

Ayadachi: I bet you’d make a fine villain in a Noh play!

Tsukiakari: Oh how I wish I could be a goddess of theatrical entertainment. So? What’s keeping you up so late? I’d expect you to be resting.

Ayadachi was silent for a few seconds, her lips parting open as if to speak, but not a word passed by them. She stifled her hesitation and spoke her mind, regardless of what the answer may be.

Ayadachi: I heard you’re fighting against Yoshihisa Ashikaga. The Shogun. I’d like to go with the field nurses on this one, get away from the mansion. I’ll be safe and sound way behind the lines, right?

Tsukiakari: You...want to go with them? True, you should be safe from the battle, but we don’t usually bring the wounded with us.

Ayadachi: It’s wounding me more being stuck here. I don’t want to be tucked into my futon while my sisters are out there by themselves. I can’t see anything, but I can feel it all the same. This...bitterness swelling among everyone.

(Her blindness indeed sharpened her senses, in more ways than one.)

Ayadachi: Ever since Ebina and that mission following the attack on earth it horse-drawn caravan, you’ve all been emitting this strange energy. I can’t tell if it’s sorrow or anger. Perhaps both? Even though we’re all nothing more than trench rats in the field, we were always a family within the walls of the mansion. I don’t think we should ever let that die, Gekko. If we do, I won’t be the only one stricken with phantom pain.

Tsukiakari: Your arm and eyes...still?

Ayadachi nodded.

Ayadachi: Still. Sometimes I swear I can still see out of my window, the younglings playing around and the flowers crisscrossing in the breeze. Sometimes, I grasp the handle of my porcelain cup of tea, and I can really feel my fingers curl around it. Every time I feel these sensations, every time I grasp them for just a moment, they vanish. My arm is gone. My eyes are no more. I know it’s like to feel what isn’t there, to chase after it. And everyday I sit in my bed, all but useless, I feel the same anger as you. That anger drives the course of war.


Tsukiakari: You’ve had plenty of time to think.

Ayadachi: Exactly. So the least I can do is be there for the girls. One of the women in the medical unit came to visit a few days ago, to make sure I was getting better. We had a long talk about her job that morning. She handles corpse collection and disposal, you see. I asked her basic things, you know? What is it like? How many people do you process on average? How long have you been doing this? What got you interested?

Tsukiakari: Yeah?

Ayadachi: But when I asked her if the job ever takes its toll on her...she just started crying. I think it hurts her to go through the bodies like that, to see so many young and bright faces turn pale and bloody. It’s as if she could feel the wounds that killed the dead. That pain lingers, much like my own. Losing anything grants us all the same sensation, Gekko. We all still feel it, the sensation of what we lost. You can still feel Ebina. You still feel whatever part of you remains in that village. But I’m hopeful...that after this battle, we’ll all come home and regain what we’ve lost. You’ll find that missing part of your heart. I just know it.

Ayadachi smiled beside Tsukiakari, unable to hear the silent tears streaming down her lord’s face, glistening against her moonlit cheek.

Tsukiakari: Ayadachi.

Ayadachi: Y-yes?

Tsukiakari: You can come with us. I’ll have Taeko wake you early, so get to bed. Rest well.

Briefly covering her mouth to silence her cheers, Ayadachi bowed to Tsukiakari.

Ayadachi: Thank you! You won’t regret it, Gekko!

(A prelude to madness. I present to you the story of our descent into hell, of the blackening of our hearts. Neither you nor I should forget this tale, lest we suffer the lingering pain, the phantom sensation, of the parts of ourselves we discarded. And so...we shall let the madness begin.)









Senkumo War Stories: Samsara
Spoiler





*SENKUMO WAR STORIES*

*BOOK OF BETRAYAL*








*meurtre*





*la démence*




(It was my largest battle yet. 1489. It was fought in the vast and open countryside. All of the beauty associated with such a scene was blighted by the countless corpses that littered the grass and the screams of the hundreds of thousands who continued fighting each other there.)







(Shogun Ashikaga Yoshihisa, son of previous shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa. The baby that had been unexpectedly born and served as the trigger for the Onin War was all grown up, and lived a life on the battlefield. Outnumbered 10-1, the Senkumo clan met his army in that vast countryside, plenty of space for us to fight. We lacked in numbers, but we all thought a numerical advantage would be nullified by my furious, divine powers. After all, gods are immortal...)



*N O I R*



(Aren't they?)

Kneeling in the middle of the corpse-riddled battlefield, wounded by several arrows stuck in her shoulders and arms through her armor, Tsukiakari struck her sword into the ground for a mere moment of rest in the midst of all the chaos. Thick, heavy clouds, smoke and embers filled the air as much as they filled her lungs with every breath. A fellow Senkumo member, a young boy no older than 15 laid wounded next to her. His leg and chest had been struck with several, well-placed arrows.

Boy: Commander, above!

Tsukiakari lifted her head and turned her eyes to the sky, instantly catching sight of in-flight boulders fired from the other side of the battlefield from Yoshihisa's trebuchets.)

Tsukiakari: Damn it!

Her treasured blade suddenly illuminated with a shade of lunar blue, and all of the corpses around her lifted into the sky as if God were rapturing their bodies away from the earth. An unbelievably wide and vast wall of corpses formed from every individual body, acting as a net that would slow down the boulders. The smell of death quite literally permeated in the air.

Though all seven boulders broke through the net of corpses, sending dozens of them raining back down to the ground with every impact as they came through, the wall greatly slowed down their speed and disrupted their trajectory. Each and every one of them fell many yards short of Tsukiakari's position as Yoshihisa and his troops looked on in awe. He cared not if he was truly fighting a god.

Commanding his troops on horseback, Yoshihisa rode through the lines and gave his brave and numerous soldiers the order to charge the retreating Senkumo troops.

Yoshihia: Do not fear their wicked powers! Heaven smiles upon US in this battle! Charge! Finish them off!



*WAR*



The few that remained by Tsukiakari's side knew exactly what was going to happen to them.

Samurai: Commander! Your orders! The enemy is pressing the attack!

Tsukiakari: ...Stay here and buy time for the rest of them to prep their defenses!

Samurai: With honor, commander! Fall back while you can! We'll hold them!

The small line of Senkumo samurai tightened their formation and braced their souls for the glorious death that was befitting of a warrior. Tsukiakari clasped her hands, initiating her teleportation that brought her back several miles away from the enemy, where Mayumi and her troops rested and prepared to meet the enemy again.

Blessed be the colorful, fertile plains of crops and the wounded goddess that walked on top of them. Blessed be the soldiers reforming their line, some of them missing their eyes and fingers, badly wanting to make it through and go home, but ultimately accepting the possibility of death. Upon seeing her wounded friend, Mayumi rushed to her side and knelt beside her along with several other troops, all of them awaiting her orders to pass down to those below them in rank.

Mayumi: Commander, are you alright?! You're soaked in blood!

Tsukiakari: I'm fine, Mayumi.

She said with deep breath and slow words...

Tsukiakari: Right now...a few of our samurai units are holding off Yoshihisa's advance. It won't be long before they come rushing down here. The crops here can be used to our advantage. I'm going to burn them to smog the sky and the general area. I want our archers ready to ambush...

Tsukiakari realized something when she looked at all of their hopeless and pathetic faces.

Tsukiakari: ...What's wrong?

Soldier: Commander...

Mayumi: Tsukiakari...we...even with your powers, we are not equipped to take on Yoshihisa's army. M-maybe...we ought to rethink this...

Tsukiakari:...Have you all lost your courage? Is that what this is?

Mayumi: Tsukia-

Tsukiakari: COMMANDER, Mayumi! Of course we're outnumbered, we knew that much coming in! This is what Bishamon ordered of us!

Mayumi: Ever since Ebina, his orders have been more and more unreasonable! Just look at you! You're covered in blood and pale as a ghost!

Soldier: Please, we must not waste time fighting each other. I'll get the mounted archers ready to circle and shoot, Commander.

Tsukiakari: Excellent. Mayumi, you make sure the heavy infantry are ready to engage small clusters of enemies. I'll be partitioning their army into smaller parts with the flames. The flames will be intense enough to scare their horses and halt their cavalry as well.

Mayumi: Yes, Commander...







Tsukiakari stepped forth, flying back towards the direction of Yoshihisa's army with her powerful leap. The pieces of her fauld flapped around her as she landed hard in the middle of a field or swaying rice crops. Her aching legs wobbled and staggered as she tried to stand up straight, and it seemed like the more she tried to breathe, the less air her lungs were getting. She stayed kneeling on the ground, hidden among the crops and short of breath.

Tsukiakari: Come on...get up, Tsukiakari. Everyone needs you. They can't win without you.

(Mayumi saw it before I did. I was blindly following the orders of Bishamon like a proper lapdog. But war was my pleasure, my purpose as a deity. What was I supposed to do?)

Tsukiakari lifted the frontal piece of her fauld and felt herself through he pants.

Tsukiakari: My legs are bleeding, but I can't feel any burns that would indicate a wound. The adrenaline must be dulling the pain...

She unsheathed her blade and struck it deep into the ground with earth-piercing force. The sword flickered with a bright, orange glow like the flame of a candle before instantly being swallowed in a blaze that spread beneath the ground. The flames seemed to form a pattern as they burned crops in a peculiar grid formation. This formation worked exactly as she planned. It beautifully sectioned off unit from unit in Yoshihisa's incoming army, and even scared the horses from going any further.

Yoshihisa himself was trapped in his own flaming, smoking square with his bodyguard detail, bewitched by Tsukiakari's tricks. No matter how much he screamed and shouted, the crackle of the flames surrounding everyone overpowered him, and his army came to a complete standstill.

Yoshihisa: Damn her! Not even the horses will move!

Even louder than the flames came the thunder of circling horses as Senkumo mounted archers arrived and surrounded the grid of flames.

Yoshihisa: Damn it, we can't see them through the fire!

Archer: Circle and shoot! Don't stop moving!

Countless horses ran around and around the grid of flames as the archers fired merciless arrow after merciless arrow. Sectioned off from his troops, Yoshihisa was forced to listen to the deafening cry of screams of his troops as a swarm of arrows pierced their throats, chests, necks, and eyes, all while Tsukiakari watched with glee from the distance.

Tsukiakari: It's beautiful. Because they're all cluttered and divided into squares, it doesn't matter if our archers can't see their targets very well either. With the troops packed like that, they're sure to hit someone no matter where they aim. Now then...

The thunder and suffocating air of war circulated a tingle through her blood, giving her the energy to stand up straight again. Like she was ripping band-aids off, Tsukiakari fiercely pulled out all of the arrows that had pierced her fleshed with apparent ease and pleasure. In that clouded and flaming battlefield, a smile just as sinister as the veiled thunder in the heavens carved itself onto her beautiful, bloodied face.



*R O U G E*



Tsukiakari: Here I come, Yoshihisa!

Bodyguard: Lord Yoshihisa! Above!

The young shogun set his eyes towards the heavens, witnessing the brief twinkle of Tsukiakari's blade as she came down from the sky like a thunderbolt. So forceful was her blade that both Yoshihisa and the very horse he rode on were split in horizontal halves. His bodyguard detail was violently blown away from the power of her impact, along with debris from the upturned soil and dirt it kicked up.

At her feet was a mess of the blood of Yoshihisa and his horse, as well as the exhibition of their intestines and internal organs. Though the horse was dead, Yoshihisa laid conscious as his dreary and wandering surveyed his split open stomach, and drifted off to see Tsukiakari's bloody and dirty face.

Even still, Yoshihisa felt around the burning grass for his sword.

Tsukiakari: You lost, Shogun. Bear witness to the almighty power of Bishamonten, the god of war!

Yoshihisa tried desperately to speak as his hands trembled, and the life shining in his eyes and skin died away into pale, cold nothingness.

Yoshihisa: Accursed....wench...y-y-you will rue t-this...this day...

Tsukiakari: You'd think a dying man would have classier dying words. What was I expecting of an Ashikaga?

Tsukiakari held her blade downwards, stabbing the tip into Yoshihisa's throat as slowly and painfully as possible. Something incredibly satisfying came out of being able to watch Yoshihisa's eyes helplessly circulate in pain, his eyebrows and the skin beneath them scrunch he felt every inch of the blade pierce his skin, tissue, and vocal chords. In just a few seconds, all of these signs of life and tension faded, and Tsukiakari's target was dead.



*GOD*



(I've done it...I've killed him!)

The flames surrounding his troops blew out like the flame of a candle, filling the area with a thick, hazy cloud of smoke. It was just on time, as Mayumi and the heavy infantry finally made it to the battlefield.

Mayumi: Engage them head on while they're weakened!

The troops all chanted in unified obedience as the two sides clashed once again, the odds now evened by Tsukiakari.

(The bodyguards! I still have to take them out!)

A hellish throbbing in Tsukiakari's head brought her down to her knees in agonizing pain, in the worst possible moment. She was a sitting duck in the middle of all of the chaos of man and steel around her.

(You've got to be f*cking kidding me!!! Don't tell me I'm fatigued from using my powers! Not know! I can't do this right now!)

The heavy exhale of a man behind her alerted her to roll out of the way as a sword came down upon where she just was. The seven remaining elite samurai of Yoshihisa's bodyguard unit surrounded her on the battlefield, where she had foolishly gone in by herself, walled off from her own troops by the defensive lines of the enemy.

Bodyguard: You'll pay for what you've done in blood!

His heavy sword seemed to whistle through the air as it swiped down upon Tsukiakari again. Only holding her blade with one hand, she blocked and deflected his sword, using the brief time window she had to get up on her feet.

(I...I can't see a f*cking thing! Why is my vision going so blurry?!)

Bodyguard 2: DIE!

Before she even knew it, the second bodyguard cut her left arm clean off from behind. At first, she couldn't even feel a thing. But that was exactly the problem. When she tried to move her left hand, she realized there wasn't even an arm there for her to control anymore.

The mighty goddess screamed and stumbled away as blood spurted from her empty arm socket. The blade of the third bodyguard sliced through her side, cutting through what was mostly flesh and fat. Her intestines remained in place, mostly held together by her tightly fastened armor. The two blade of the fourth and fifth came down upon her with fury from both the left and the right. Tsukiakari miraculously held her blade firm in her other hand, raising it horizontally to block both of them.



*WAR*



She forcefully and angrily summoned what little energy she could, channeling a brief blast of electricity through her sword. The thunderbolt ejected from the tip of her blade went right through the body of one of the bodyguards, killing him before his legs hit the ground. Again, the agony in her head intensified.

Tsukiakari: Damn you, lowly mortals!

(It's getting so much harder to breathe, and to hear...and to concentrate...)

Tsukiakari ducked, just barely dodging a sudden thrust from the third bodyguard. Her duck turned into a dance of spins and sidesteps as she desperately dodged and deflected the swords of the rest of the bodyguards that surrounded her. The clash of their blades rang the loudest on the battlefield, creating dazzling sparks with every impact.

However...a brief loss of balance in her agile footwork resulted in one of their swords going right through her back and exiting her stomach. Her feet scuttled repeatedly as she stumbled over, as if she was trying to keep herself upright. Regardless of her efforts, Tsukiakari was brought down to the burnt ground among the corpses and strewn about intestines from the horse she killed. Blood poured from her mouth as she somewhat propped herself up with her elbow.



*DEATH*



(What? No...this can't be it. I'm a goddess. We divine beings cannot die...can't we?)

Bodyguard: Return to whatever circle of hell you came from, witch!

Seeing her final moments through a crack in the Ashikaga lines, Mayumi saw with her own eyes the near-defeated state of her best friend.

Mayumi: TSUKIAKARI! GET UP!

Finally, the killing blow. Three of the remaining bodyguards stabbed their blades through her chest at the same time. That moment was so chilling and precise for Tsukiakari that you one could cut a butterfly's wings with it. It was like everything slowed down for just a minute, and all the colors of the world were painted black and white. The sounds of war faded out, and as if she was locked away in a solitary cell, Tsukiakari could only hear her own thoughts.

(I'm...going to die?)






(What else could this feeling be? This must be death...ahhh, I must be right. I have to be right. Was it this calm for Ebina too? I can only hope so...)

Mayumi's cries from the distance were vanquished. In death, even for a goddess, all earthly burdens were stripped of the soul. The body, the emotions, the physical pain, the lingering thoughts and guilt, all of it was gone.








Death was darkness. Death was peace. Death was nothingness. Death was divine. Death was blessed. Death was freedom. Death was the end of all suffering. The end of all feeling.

Death was stillness.

Death was silence.

Death was comfort.

Death was love.


And just like that, spell of death was broken.



*N O I R*



Awakening with a resurrected gasp of life, Tsukiakari jolted off of her back and sat up in her futon, drenched in sweat with strands of hair stuck to her forehead. Her eyes were wide with shock and her hands trembled as if she had seen and absorbed all of the knowledge in the universe.

Tsukiakari: Wh...what...

She slowly turned her head and realized she was inside Bishamon's sacred room in the main Senkumo mansion, far away from the battlefield. Her armor was gone, for she was comfortably dressed in the standard black Senkumo kimono. Her hands trembled, and her mind ate itself inside out trying to figure out why any of this was happening.

Bishamon: Good morning.

Bishamon came in through the sliding door an sat besides the confused and shocked Tsukiakari, who looked like she had just woken up from a life-changing nightmare.

Tsukiakari: Bisha...Bishamon...what happened?! WHAT HAPPENED TO ME?!

Bishamon: Shhh. Calm down, Tsukiakari. Listen carefully.

Bishamon stared her straight in her eyes as he spoke.

Bishamon: You died.

Tsukiakari:...Then...why...

Bishamon: Do you remember what I told you around the time you were ready to deploy to Kyoto during the Onin War? There is a reason I had you operate in my name when you answered prayers. It's beneficial to the both of us. The name "Bishamon" belongs to me, but the prayers are directed towards you. While I receive the increasing volume of worship from the mortals, you receive something of your own. Because these prayers are all directed to you, you can use them as grounds for reincarnation, which is exactly what you just did. You have died and come back to life through reincarnation.

Tsukiakari: I...reincarnated?

Bishamon: Ultimately, it is Izanami and the Shinigami who allow us gods to reincarnate. You should be just as thankful to her as you should be to me.

Tsukiakari: Ah! Mayumi!

Bishamon: She was wounded in the battle, but she's okay. She's at your mansion healing nicely. Unfortunately, many Senkumo souls were lost in the battle. Roughly 12,000 casualties. However, the intended target is dead, and most of his army was weakened and forced to rout at the end of the fight.

With that, Tsukiakari was able to calm her nerves, but her shock was replaced by a vast curiosity. The very concept of reincarnation sent her mind running in circles trying to understand and comprehend it as Bishamon poured himself some tear from his kettle.

Bishamon: Would you like some? You must be thirsty.

Tsukiakari:...Yes please.







(What a contrast...it felt like only a moment ago, my nose was filled with the fouls stench of my own blood, and the reek of cadavers scattered about the earth. But now, I'm in a warm place, and all I can smell are tatami mats, incense, and mint...)

Tsukiakari: If I die again...will I reincarnate just like this?

Bishamon: That's not a very easy question. You see, you may not notice right now, but your body is slightly younger than the one you died in. Die too much, and you'll probably revert back to the little girl you were. Not every reincarnation is the same, so you must be careful not to throw your own life away.

Tsukiakari: I see...and Izanami...where can I go to thank her?

Bishamon: Her shrine, of course. She's always there, and even if she isn't, she'll appear if you call upon her.

(Come to think of it...I've never actually met Izanami, have I? I've never seen her in Heaven, but her name was always widely mentioned among the gods and servants there.)

Bishamon: Are you thinking about going there? You've reincarnated, but you'll need time to let your body come back to full strength. You've been out for about a week, after all.

Tsukiakari: That long, huh? No, I'll go there. I should thank her properly. If she allowed me to reincarnate, she must know that I'm a goddess. There's a good chance she knows I'm Amaterasu's daughter, the shameful little minx that abandoned her home. And yet, she still did me this favor. She deserves my gratitude.

Bishamon: Very well then.



*REINCARNATION*



Tsukiakari's limbs felt like noodles as she stood up, using her sheathed blade as a cane to help her maintain her balance. Walking was comfortable enough, but it definitely seemed that rest would be a requirement before she could set foot on the battlefield again. She slipped on her sandals and silently walked past Bishamon as he enjoyed his tea. The clouds parted, and sunlight was free to shine on the land and pour through the windows of Bishamon's sacred room.

Bishamon: Tsukiakari.

Tsukiakari: Yes?

Bishamon: Reincarnation is a gift rewarded to our Shinto pantheon when we merged with Buddhists. As such, it has made us quite a powerful pantheon on the global stage. However, our ability to reincarnate depends greatly on the amount of worship we gods receive, as well as our standing with Heaven and Izanami. Do not take your time recovering. Do it quickly and return to the battlefield. Cut down more weeds and make our garden beautiful again. And though you're shunned from Heaven's light, make sure you stay on Izanami's good side. Should you offend her, she can easily reject your reincarnation, no matter how many prayers you collect.

Tsukiakari...I understand.

Bishamon: That is all. Get well, Tsukiakari.

(Don't get too comfortable. Don't grow too careless. That's what he was saying to me. The battlefield was my lifeline, and answering the prayers of those who wished to see their enemies destroyed was my lifeblood. If I wanted to live, I had to fight. If I wanted to fight, I had to live.)


Dazed by what she perceived to be an All too sudden change of scenery, Tsukiakari opened the sliding door leading outside to the breezy courtyard, the cool air filled with the whistle of the wind brushing through the vibrant, gleaming leaves of the trees and bushes that adorned the courtyard. The sweetness of blooming flowers and the earthiness of freshly watered soil calmed her frenzied nerves even more. The cherry blossoms were in good health, attracting a peculiar band of colorful sparrows to make the trees their home. Wonderously towering clouds were pushed far into the distance of the bright, blue sky, sparing the area of a rainstorm. These beautiful blessings of nature enraptured the war goddess, but her daydreaming within the peaceful embrace of nature came to an abrupt end.

Soldier: My lord! You’re awake!

She found herself approached by two of her swordsmen, both of them wearing their black Senkumo clan robes as they knelt before her in front of the Sakura tree. The one speaking to her was an aged man, his face worn by time and decorated by pronounced wrinkles. His voice was deep and grizzly, partly due to the scar across his throat indicating it had been slashed before.

Tsukiakari: What do you need?

Soldier: Please come to the storage building, my lord. There’s a lot of them we need to sort out, but we aren’t able to establish some of their identities. We require your help in the matter. 

Tsukiakari’s widened eyes reflected confusion.

Tsukiakari: Sort out? What do you mean?

Soldier: The casualties, my lord.








And so, Tsukiakari was led to the large storage pagoda in the corner of the base, situated on an elevated hill overlooking the rest of the area. As the swordsmen opened the door for her, the peaceful sounds of her their surroundings all seemed to go mute with a deathly silence. The three stepped inside, the two swordsmen bowing their heads to their lord as she cautiously marched forth, her bones chilled by the miserable sight before her. Rays of heavenly, golden sunlight shined like spotlights through the clerestory windows, illuminating the rows upon rows of corpses laid out on the wooden floor, all of them covered by ghostly, white cloaks. About a dozen men were in charge of processing the identities of the deceased that returned home after every battle. Tsukiakari’s last fight was no different. The handlers always wore black kimonos and black cotton gloves, covering their faces with a sash of cloth to act as s shield between them and the stench of the dead.

Tsukiakari’s feet were anchored to the ground by an overbearing weight, an invisible force that could even bring shame to a god. A terrible emotion found itself locked at the bottom of her merciless heart as she watched several of her young soldiers, boys and girls, weep and sob over the cloaked corpses of their beloved comrades, killed by their lord’s avaricious hunger for victory.

Tsukiakari: These corpses...they’re from the battle with the shogun?

Soldier: Yes, lord. We’ve already processed most of the deceased, so this is all we have left. Our medical team has been working closely with Superintendent Taeko to get them processed and buried quickly.

A lump nested itself in Tsukiakari’s sore throat, making it hard to swallow. She mustered up the bravery to step forth, the thump of her sheathed blade echoing more loudly than her footsteps. The sobbing, young Senkumo warriors all stood up like frightened cats, bowing to their lordas she stepped through the aisles of bodies. Their pale, dirty hands stuck out from beneath their cloaks, their nails blackened with dirt and dried blood. The young girls and boys couldn’t cease their cries as they dutifully saluted their lord. None of them could’ve been older than 15.

Girl: L-Lord Tsukiakari! Thank you! W-we will live and die by your command, just as they did!

All of them bowed to the speechless war goddess, unable to even get a word in as they marched out of the building, crying and holding onto each other along the way. Without much time to even think, she was then confronted by one of the medical examiners, who bowed to his lord like all the rest before explaining the situation further. Even more dejected and dazed warriors of varying age and experience sat in a line against the left wall, silently mourning their comrades.

Examiner: Lord Tsukiakari, can you identify some of these bodies for us? We’re just missing a few names here, but we’ll be done with the death list soon. Superintendent Taeko will handle the revised troop roster, and she’ll forward that information to Chief Treasurer Mayumi. To...correct the budget, of course. Taeko told me to tell you not to worry about administrative aftermath. She has it all taken care of.

The calm and pragmatic language of the medical examiner was almost frightening to her, but she could expect no less of someone exposed to such a line of work day in and day out.

Taeko: Show them to me...

Examiner: Right this way.

The examiner led her down the aisle to the fourth body in the second row, kneeling down by the corpse and pinching a part of the cloth.

Tsukiakari: Wait. I’ll unveil them

The examiner, surprised, silently stepped aside, letting Tsukiakari do the work. She lifted the cloak to reveal the face, a gentle gust of some strange emotion bellowing in her heart.

Examiner: Young man, early 20’s, he-

Tsukiakari: Matou Senkumo. This is him. He has three small skin tags on his neck that form a triangle, and a birthmark just below his hairline.

(Live and die by my orders...)

Examiner: Alright. If you’re certain, let’s movd onto the next one.

The next body over was a young girl, most likely killed at a Senkumo camp before the battle commenced. Her hair was brown like the autumn soil and her nose was very petite. A streak of dried blood from her nose led all the way across her ghostly pale cheek, almost reaching her ear. Upon noticing her missing left arm and blindfolded eyes, she came to the terrible realization of who the girl was.

Tsukiakari: Ayadachi Senkumo. Seventeen years old. Everyone adored her for her cuteness. She has the nose of a baby, you see. In the wintertime, she’d ask me for tea to help her get over her cold. She’d say “Gekko, they’re teasing me about the sounds of my sneezes again!”, because she also sounded like a baby when she sneezed. I don’t ususlly let people call me Gekko, but I couldn’t find a reason to be so stiff and imposing that winter. I wanted to form a different kind of bond with her, with my troops. So I...let her call me by my nickname. Silly girl...they weren’t teasing you. They adored you...

Tsukiakari shut her eyes and covered up her body, as if to seal away a terrible nightmare. Her senseless orders and poor choices killed the young girl who loved her more than anyone.

Examiner: My lord...I apologize, but...we only need the names.

Opening her eyes again to the cold, deathly reality before her, Tsukiakari composed her shivering voice, the wind in her heart growing stronger still.

Tsukiakari: Of course. Show me the rest.

(It felt like I was in there for hours, my memories of them at war with my heart. But I knew all too well what I was feeling inside, the emotion that made me shiver and wish there had been a different outcome. Perhaps you know it too? Perhaps you’ve felt it yourself.)

After identifying all of the unknown bodies, the medical team prepared their scrolls for delivery as a second team prepared to load the bodies on wheelbarrows waiting for them outside. A tint of soft red blessed the sunlight sneaking in through the clerestory windows, several beams of it shining directly on the cloaks of several corpses. The indirect light bounced off of the cloaks and surrounding wood, warming the bodies around them in a veil of reddish orange. Before the second team could carry out the first row of bodies, however...

Tsukiakari: Wait.

Examiner: My lord?

Tsukiakari looked around her, hesitating before giving an answer.

Tsukiakari: Give me a few minutes. Please.

Standing in one of the spotlights of the setting sun, the war goddess wore the reddish-orange veil of light for herself, hanging her head in shame. Her elongated shadow looked over the corpses behind her.

Examiner: As you wish, Lord. Let’s go, boys.



https://youtube.com/watch?v=oYvw7jm-lsw



Everyone vacated the room, leaving Tsukiakari all by herself in heavy silence with the dozens of cloaked corpses. There she was, standing in the middle of it all, thinking and saying nothing, but feeling everything. Their last moments of pain, their final thoughts, their memories of their friends at the Senkumo base, their wishes and dreams but short because of their lord’s impatience.

Tsukiakari: You were...some of the finest soldiers in this country. But to each other, you were even finer friends.

So many more words failed to scale her trembling lips, failing to get passed her sore and blocked throat. She continued on, marching towards the exit with an aching pain in her heart. Again, the thump of her sheathed blade echoed louder than her footsteps. But as she got to the door, she could sense a chilling presence behind her, forcing the delicate hairs on her arms to stand on edge. Cautious and terrified, she refused to turn around, feeling as if the corpses behind her were moving. When it was just too much to bear, she slowly turned to face them again, swearing for just a moment that she saw them all sit up in unison, their cloaks still covering their faces.

Alas, her split second illusion died away, and the corpses remained still. And yet, another illusion took its place. Or perhaps it was no illusion at all. A magnificent, jeweled throne sat down the aisle of bodies, gleaming in a ray of sunlight.

(Guilt. My guilt. Your guilt. Our...guilt.)

Illusion or not, Tsukiakari accepted her place on that throne, walking down the aisle of death as of it were her turn to share a eulogy for the deceased. The echoes of her sheath and footsteps were far too maddening. Standing before the throne, she gently slid her finger across the golden, gleaming arm rest, her eyes fixated and the seat itself. She slowly turned and let herself down on the throne, her entire body afflicted with throbbing pain. She sat all the way back, resting her back against the rest made of the blades of the fallen, their handles pointed toward the Heaven.

From her righteous throne, she had the perfect view of her deceased comrades, all of them as still as the mountains. The face of the war goddess churned and shifted as she battled her tears, but such a battle was futile. They forced their way out, bringing out her sharp, vulnerable cries along with them. All the while, she hung her head in agony, as if she were ready to accept her crown of guilt. Her cries turned into dreams of anger and buried sorrow as she hit her fists against her head, striking herself over and over for getting her comrades killed.

Tsukiakari: Forgive me! Oh god, please forgive me!

Such an unfair and cruel fate. After every death, she would rise again to witness the aftermath of her decisions, forced to endure and regret for as long as she lived. The monarch of the kingdom built with the stones of the dead, sitting in a throne that bore its weight upon her instead of the other way around.

Her aching heart was ripe for betrayal.







« Last Edit: May 17, 2018, 09:22:53 PM by OhGodHelpMe »

Offline OhGodHelpMe

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Re: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (COMPLETED)
« Reply #276 on: February 06, 2017, 07:16:05 PM »
Thanks to everyone who's been reading this 10 ARC story so far. It seems, besides for Aika Crisis (not counting that one since it's the first one), Inari Standoff is everyone's favorite, just going by the fact its readership doubled in size in like the past month after adding those extra chapters.  Something like 3.5k readers for that one, and 5.3k for Aika Crisis. :hmm: Makes sense. It's one of my favorites too



Senkumo War Stories: Izanami the Cruel
Spoiler





(What a hot summer it was. I remember walking down through the gardens of my mansion, feeling as if Amaterasu herself was shining her disgust on me, and on this country. Our mansion was...less populated. It seemed Bishamon was right. We had indeed taken quite a hit to our numbers after the fight with Yoshihisa, a truly vicious opponent. As I instructed after Ebina's death, Taeko was temporarily suspended from her military duties. I caught her that day, sweeping the porch of the central building, wiping the sweat from her forehead as her hair gently laid over her saddened eyes and curled around her stomach.)



Taeko: Gekko! You're back!



Tsukiakari: Yeah, though I don't feel all too well, to be honest. How's Mayumi doing?



Taeko: She's spending most of her time asleep. Her injuries were pretty bad, so she might be out of it for a while, but she'll be okay. That's what our medics said, at least.



Tsukiakari: I'm glad...





*...*





Tsukiakari: Taeko...have you been feeling alright?



Taeko's grip around her broom tightened, and a forgery calling itself a smile revealed itself.



Taeko: Yeah. I'm alright, Gekko. I'm just glad you're safe.



(But that's not true. After Ebina's death, Taeko barely ate or slept. Ever since then, she felt...hollow compared to who she was before. What could any of us expect? She had to kill someone she loved with all of her heart with own hands and blade. She was right there...right there next to Ebina the day she took that arrow...and she hated herself for being unable to protect her.)



Tsukiakari: Taeko. Drop your broom and come with me to Izanami's shrine. I'll need help walking uphill. It's difficult to walk right now, you see. I should really be in bed recuperating, but I must give Izanami my gratitude for allowing me to reincarnate.



Taeko: Alright. I'll come with you.













(That's right. Uphill. The shrine we went to that day is the same shrine that still stands, not too far out from Osamu's neighborhood. We walked up the steps under the cover and cool of the trees above, and among the songs of creatures and insects around us. I was actually a little nervous climbing up those steps with Taeko. Despite her absence, Izanami was a huge deal in heaven, almost as much as my mother. It was my first time meeting her. It was the beginning of our relationship to one another.)



It wasn't all to different from how Osamu would usually see her, hundreds of years in the future. A narrow and neat path of stone tiles led the eyes right to the central pagoda of her shrine, where the open sliding door exposed a resting, but not sleeping Izanami. Her kimono was beautiful, adorned with the most colorful floral decorations and symbols all around, yet it was lazily done, as if she had put it back on after mating with a loved one.



Her hair was the beautifully long, voluminous, and shiny hair of a true goddess, one worthy of all the stories and legends surrounding her. And of course, her black eyes and furious, red irises shined through the darkness of the shade inside of the main building. The smell of incense flowed from out of the room, and her double-bladed scythe hung on the wall behind her as if it were Joyeuse or the Sword of Attila the Hun.






*W O R S H I P*






Taeko and Tsukiakari politely walked onto the porch, sitting on their knees and bowing as the goddess inside sat up from her futon with an exhausted groan.



Izanami: Hmm? Who are you two?



Tsukiakari: Izanami-no-Mikoto, is it? I'm Tsukiakari, the goddess you reincarnated not too long ago.



Izanami: Tsuki...akari...



(Would you believe me if I told you I was trembling? Me...a war goddess...trembling before Izanami.



Taeko: Do you not remember? You saved my friend's life. As such, I've come with her to thank you as well.



Tsukiakari: We're very sorry if we've disturbed you, Izanami-no-Mikoto.



The memory seemed to be coming back to her.



Izanami: Tsuki...AH! It's you!



To both of their surprise, Izanami leaped out of bed and lovingly tackled Tsukiakari to the ground below the porch, wrapping her arms around the confused as she laughed and cheered.



Izanami: Thank goodness! I'm so glad you're okay! You came back in good form too, I'm glad! You're so beautiful, so I felt bad that you died in such a violent way! What were you doing in a battlefield, you dummy?! A girl like you has no place in what amounts to hell on earth!



Tsukiakari: OW! I'm still recovering, Izanami!



Izanami: Oh! I'm sorry! I'll get off now...



Taeko: She's...not scary at all...



(It was in that moment that we both noticed how pale Izanami was, as if she was a corpse. We couldn't see it in the shade of her shrine, but the sunlight exposed all of her features for us to see and judge. Honestly...I've never seen death look so beautiful. Izanami truly was, still is, and always will be an absolute diamond of beauty.)



Izanami extended her hand to the young princess, helping her off of the ground with a genuine and heart-warming smile.



Izanami: I'm very sorry about that. I'm just so excited to meet you properly! Amaterasu really did have a beautiful child.



Tsukiakari: Izanami just called me beautiful...



Taeko: I-Izanami, am I beautiful too?!



Izanami: You sure are! You two look alike in a lot of ways too! Your hair and breasts are pretty similar to each other!



Well then...that killed the mood.



Izanami: Uhh...did I say something wrong? S-sorry! I'm...I'm not too skilled in conversation or socialization unless I'm making a speech or speaking diplomatically. Please forgive me!



Izanami was so quick to bow to Tsukiakari and Taeko that neither of them knew what to say at first. Their expectations of Izanami as some sort of intimidating goddess as mighty as her reputation was shattered by her almost suspiciously kind and loving treatment of them, as if they were on equal ground.



Taeko: Oh no, it's okay, really! I quite like the compliment! It's not everyday I compared to a goddess by another goddess!



Tsukiakari: Yeah, and it's an honor to be flattered by Izanami-no-Mikoto...or should I call you Izanami the Great? Izanami the Creator? Destroyer? No, that sounds too cruel...



Izanami: No no no! Just Izanami!



Tsukiakari: Huh? Just Izanami?



Izanami: Mhmm!



The girls were already loving her. Tsukiakari smiled and shook her hand with a rather tight grip befitting of a warrior, the type of grip one should give to anyone with such a remarkable reputation.



Tsukiakari: Very well. As you said, it's a pleasure to meet you properly Izanami. Me and my friend here came to thank you for my reincarnation. It really means a lot to the both of us that you did that.



Izanami: Oh, of course! Don't worry-







*R O U G E*







Izanami: I was going to say "don't worry about it", but...well, that's not entirely true.



Taeko: Hmm?



Izanami: Honestly, I went ahead and reincarnated you away from the investigative eyes of the Shinigami, because you're Amaterasu's daughter. Exiled or not, you're an important piece of the divine family. Since she's born from my late husband's eye, I sort of view Amaterasu as my daughter, and you like a grand-daughter. That's why I reincarnated you so swiftly. However, there were some alarming circumstances surrounding your death.



Tsukiakari: Alarming circumstances?



Izanami: The prayers addressed to you were made in the name of Bishamonten, the god of war, but you're Tsukiakari, daughter of Tsukuyomi and Amaterasu. The prayers didn't match up with the deity.



(Though she was nice...she was dangerously keen. She suspected me and picked up on the scent of Bishamon's operation from the very beginning.)



Taeko: That's...



Tsukiakari: Bishamon knew I was a stray god, so I've been doing him some favors for a while. As reward for my work, he allows me to act in his name so the prayers benefit us both. That's why prayers addressed to Bishamon are ultimately attached to me.



(It's not a lie...it's just enough information to satiate her curiosity without revealing the details...)



Izanami: Hmm...well, if Bishamon agreed to that, I guess it's alright. We're forbidden from reading the prayers sent to our new Buddhist deities and allies as of now, for the sake of making them feel like their privacy is being respected. The merge would probably fall apart if they were being so closely monitored from the very beginning. Still, do those prayers really have something to do with you being on the battlefield? Bishamon shouldn't send a young girl out there like that...



Tsukiakari: No...I acted of my own accord, to defeat Bishamon's enemies. It was my own foolishness that got me killed. I apologize for the trouble.





*LIAR*



*SINNER*






Izanami: Hmm...well...please be careful next time, okay? Make sure you rest up too! Don't take any more long walks like this. Drink plenty of water and only walk around your immediate premises. And please, come here any time you want to! You, Taeko, and all your friends are always welcome here!



Taeko laughed and kicked her feet back and forth off of the edge of the patio.



Taeko: Wow, I thought you'd be a lot more intimidating, but you're actually the sweetest woman on earth, Izanami!



Tsukiakari: Yeah...it's almost unbelievable. Everyone would always talk about you in Heaven as if you were some fearsome deity, but you're as gentle as a cherry blossom.



Izanami: Well...





*N O I R*





Izanami's eyes drifted to the side, lost in some sort of profound realm of unpleasant thought.



Izanami: The same people who call me Izanami the Great also call me Izanami the Cruel...











(Izanami the Cruel...I would come to understand why and how she earned such a terrifying name. Izanami held just as many of her own secrets as any of the other gods. No, perhaps even more than any one of us. After all, she was and still is the oldest god alive. The knowledge and experience she accrued in her thousands upon thousands of years of existence was utterly invaluable to the gods around her. The Great and The Cruel...she truly earned both of those names.)





*V E R T*





Hachiman: So she's resting now, huh? Bummer, man. Well, I suppose it's alright for our little war cloud to take a break. I think we've all amassed quite a fine amount of prayers thanks to her.



Bishamon. Hachiman. Oyamatsumi, and two others. All of them sat around a circular table in Oyamatsumi's shrine in the center of the lake. Like Bishamon's own shrine, Oyamatsumi's smelled of tatami mats, the fragrant aroma of freshly made tea, and burning incense. The two other cloaked gods that Hachiman once invited to see Bishamon lifted their hoods off of their heads.



Raijin, god of thunder and lightning, exhibiting stern temperament in his golden eyes and thickly bearded face. So long was his beard that it could flow freely in the wind just like his shoulder-length, voluminous, red hair on his head. His very presence was menacing like a thunder cloud.



Raijin: Perhaps this is more the fault of our timing, but I'm afraid the results we've been given have not been...satisfactory.



His brother Fuujin was the other god. Fuujin ruled the winds like his brother ruled the lightning. His head and face were cleanly shaven just like Rennyo's or any other monk. His eyes remained closed as he crossed his hands, hiding them in the kimono sleeve of the other.


The large, wooden gourd that sat against the wall in the back of the room belonged to him. Though seemingly finite in capacity, the gourd was like a gateway to an eternally large dimension in space, as vast and empty as the sky inside, all for the purpose of containing and controlling the wind.



Fuujin: Her work is fantastic, but in order to live comfortably as gods being phased out by our Buddhist counterparts, we'll need more breathing room in terms of prayers.



Bishamon set aside his tea and clasped his hands together with his elbows on the table.



Bishamon: Look, I under-



Fuujin: Elbows, Bishamon. It's unbecoming of a god to be so impolite.



Oyamatsumi: Ha! That's Fuujin for you.



Bishamon: Ughh....fine. My apologies. As I was saying, I understand that you're all feeling impatient, but it is imperative that Tsukiakari rests for some time. The way things are going, this period of war and upheaval is only going to continue throughout the country, not simmer down. Daimyo across the lands are bringing their armies to the field to stamp out revolts, conquer territory for their own, and even go up against other daimyo in battle. Violent wave after violent wave of military and political chaos keeps unsettling the foundation of the country.



Oyamatsumi: Which means that the business of war is still a lucrative trade.



Oyamatsumi smiled as he twiddled with his pearl necklace, dangling against his bare chest as he wore his brown fur coat.



Bishamon: Exactly. Even if there's down time in the Senkumo's operations, the battles will continue anyway. Rennyo's uplifting of the ban on veneration of Shinto deities makes the spreading of your shrines and names an inevitability, even without direct involvement in the conflict itself.



Raijin: I hope I can trust you on that, Bishamon.



Hachiman: My former student hasn't let us down so far, right? Be patient, you two. You'll never get anywhere if you ride your horse to death. Generals and warlords will most certainly pray for weather conditions that only you two can produce before they head into battle. Perhaps they'll pray for fog, a thunderstorm to scare the enemy horses, or rain to bog down their trebuchets.



Fuujin: Yes, I suppose so...













Oyamatsumi: So then...that leaves us to discuss a much more probable and dangerous problem. Bisha?



Bishamon:...Izanami. Our little war goddess told me she nearly caught on to what we're doing. Thankfully, Tsukiakari was able to throw her off the trail with a simple lie, but just because Izanami stopped the Shinigami from investigating the circumstances of her death, it doesn't mean she won't do it herself to satiate her curiosity.



Oyamatsumi: Wretched corpse, always sticking her nose where it doesn't belong...



Raijin: If worse comes to worse, could you kill her, Bishamon?



Bishamon softly chuckled as he crossed his arms, thinking back to Oyamatsumi's defeat at her hands.



Bishamon: Not even The Iron Stag could beat her, hence why he looks so young now. As powerful as I am, even I would think twice before fighting Izanami.



Fuujin: I've never actually seen Mother in a fight before. Is she really that strong?



Oyamatsumi: Her flowery personality and sugary sweet kindness can give off fatally wrong impressions about her. Izanami is probably the strongest of all the gods, including Amaterasu. At least when it comes to physical and magical strength. Hell, that's probably why Amaterasu only killed Izanagi but not Izanami.



Hachiman: More reason to just have her join and be on Amaterasu's side. It was a very smart decision, as opposed to having a possibly vengeful and rebellious element getting powerful on her own in the depths of the underworld. So then, what should we do about her?



Bishamon: Raijin, Fuujin, I want you to keep close tabs on your mother and any investigation her Shinigami may open up regarding Tsukiakari. Let us know anything and everything you find out.



Raijin: Very well. We can do that.



Bishamon: In the meantime, perhaps this little break of ours has come at a good time. We should limit our movements to avoid detection. And...I may have a plan for removing Tsukiakari's second limiter...


Senkumo War Stories: Avidya
Spoiler
The day began at the crack of dawn, with Taeko’s black horse hammering the muddied ground with its hooves as it raced through the roads. The air was still cool from the night, but Taeko’s head burned hot with ceaseless worry and haunting thoughts as she made her hasty return to the Senkumo mansion, bringing awful news with her. The tower guards could see and hear her horse beating upon the road, signaling the troops at the entrance to open up the gates with a loud shout. Passing through the gate, Taeko hurriedly leapt off her horse and continued to run towards Tsukiakari’s personal quarters, leaving the entrance guards to lead the horse back to the stables. Her lungs exhausted, Taeko’s inhalation was loud and frequent, barely giving her the chance to catch a proper breath in such a hurry. She zoomed right by the few Senkumo girls in the courtyard, who had woken up early to tend to the flowers. She drew their astonished attention, but they had nary a chance to even say anything before she barged into the women’s quarters.

If there was anyone still sleeping, Taeko’s thunderous sprint through the women’s halls woke them
right up. The sky was still a dark blue for the most part, leading the ladies to believe they were woken up in the middle of the night, did not a ray of sunlight broke through their windows yet. Taeko ran and ran, realizing she had just skipped by Tsukiakari’s room. She came to a slippery halt as her wet sandals squeaked against the wooden floor. Taking a few steps back, Taeko flung open the door to her lord’s room, finding her sitting up in her futon, barely even beginning to rub the sleep out of her tired eyes.

Taeko: Gekko! Bad news!

Her voice coarse with exhaustion, Tsukiakari fought hard to open her eyes, hardly able to see a thing just yet.

Tsukiakari: Taeko? What happened?

Taeko: It’s the bodies...from that mission in the village down the road.

Those words alone woke the war goddess right up.

Taeko: The ice on the maintain range melted down into the river where we hid the bodies. The corpses were washed up across the riverbank.

Tsukiakari: The bodies...washed up?!







Within the hour, Tsukiakari and Taeko returned to horseback and made their way out to the southern end of the Katsura River. Taeko’s medical team as well as a team of black-clad Senkumo Shinobi were already on site, pulling the decayed cadavers off of the riverbank. The section of the river the bodies washed up on were largely enclosed by two large, tree-covered hills on both sides, hiding the atrocity from view of traveling parties and peasants. The men all wore masks to guard themselves from the toxic stench of death and decay as they pulled more and more corpses out of the water, the riverbed, and freeing more trapped on crags and rocks. Many of their faces didn’t even look human anymore. The water washed away the color in their aimless eyes and made their skin waxy to the touch. Many of their tongues had turned black and swelled in their mouths like gags. The nails on their fingers fell right off as the men picked them up, and the women had to have the maggots nesting in their hair washed away before being piled in horse-drawn carriages.

Taeko and Tsukiakari dismounted their horses, their hearts racing with fear as they surveyed the scene from a short distance.

Taeko: The river refused to swallow our sins for us.

Tsukiakari looked over at Taeko, noticing her trembling hands and deathly pale expression.

Taeko: I’ve already ordered them to round up the bodies out of the river, but that still leaves the question of what to do with them now. Yoshihisa was already defeated, so it’s not like we have to worry about the wrath of the Ashikaga forces for this right now, but still...

Tsukiakari’s ears caught a very important sound, and those ears guided her eyes to her right side, where a crow swiftly landed on a swaying tree branch. The caws of crows were few for now, but those few had already begun to circle around the area directly above the bodies. Their dissonant, harrowing cries would only attract more of their own to the grand feast awaiting them, and that would draw the attention of anyone nearby. Their sin would be discovered.

Tsukiakari: Take them back to the mansion for now. I want a team prepped to transport them further away from mountain range. I’ll incinerate the bodies myself.

Taeko: What? No, Gekko, you-

Tsukiakari: My men did this, Taeko. Whether we punished them or not no longer matters when we also helped them hide this. And it was because of my actions that Yoshihisa fought against us. Maybe us getting killed was just balancing the scales for what we did to them. So we’ll handle it ourselves. We’ll eat our own sins and quickly, before the crows do it for us.

Taeko looked to the sky, finally noticing the amassing audience of crows circling in the sunburst sky

Taeko: Damn it...Alright. I’ll have it done.

Tsukiakari: Have any of the bodies washed further down river?

Taeko: We don’t know. The melted snow bolstered the river’s current, but the riverbed itself is too narrow for it to flow without flooding over like this. If anything else washed up, it shouldn’t be far. We’ll conduct a thorough search.

Tsukiakari could only think of how much she should’ve known this would happen, that Mother Nature herself would vomit her sins back at her. Just as the sunlight caresses the east and the moon waxes and wanes, so too would the mistakes of a goddess rise to haunt her again. All that was left was to burn them away.

(Then night came. The stars and moon watched over us unflinchingly as we dumped the bodies out on the open field. We sprawled their sorrow across the dirt and grass, each of us choked by our own silence. I think we all got the feeling, if not already, that war had made demons out of us. We stood before the very carcass of innocent life, riven and torn asunder by the very blades beneath our banner. Kith and kin lied together, dead together, waiting to turn into ash together.)

The few Senkumo Shinobi stood a short distance behind Tsukiakari, with Taeko standing in the center of the line. Each of them could only wonder what their lord was thinking, what she was feeling, if anything at all. She drew her blade from its sheath, standing before the slew of bodies with sunken eyes.

Tsukiakari: Forgive us and the mistakes made in our name. I accept all of your sorrow and disgrace unto myself.

Luminous flames wreathed her blade.

Tsukiakari: May you finally find the peace we robbed you of.

With a point of her blade, the flames shot out towards the corpses, making a bonfire out of the mound of dead. Everyone kept their eyes on the dancing fire before them as if it were their sworn duty. Taeko slowly approached her lord, watching the flames twist and spur with her.

Taeko: On behalf of all of the Senkumo clan, we’re grateful, Lord Tsukiakari. Come on. We should get going.

(But not even a goddess can swallow her own sins. Such are the wages of sin itself, it’s binding omnipresence.)







The slow ride home was just as cold and dark as it was silent. Upon seeing their lord’s party down the road, the tower guards shouted down their usual signal to the entrance guards, pulling the gates open to allow them passage. As her troops all filed in past her, Tsukiakari dismounted her horse and approached one of the entrance guards, who slammed the butt of his spear against the ground and bowed his head, a formal salute to his lord.

Tsukiakari: Good work today. Lock the mansion down and switch your shift with the night owls. Rest yourselves. You look exhausted.

Guard: Right away, my lord!

Tsukiakari then marched forward and rejoined Taeko as the guards relayed her orders, all of them sighing in relief as they could rest after a long day. The courtyard was nearly empty since most of the troops had already gone to bed, preparing their bodies and minds for another day.

Tsukiakari: Let’s a take a bath before we go to bed, Taeko.

Taeko: Huh? Why?

Tsukiakari: Why? We smell like rotting flesh and burnt hair.

Taeko actually had to pinch part of her kimono and smell herself as if the mere idea of her smelling bad was just that shocking to her.

Taeko: Oh my god, we smell like death...

Tsukiakari chuckled as she lightly slapped Taeko’s shoulder.

Tsukiakari: Between this and a trench rat, I’d rather smell like a trench rat.

Returning to the women’s quarters, the two put away their swords and gathered their towels from their rooms. The women’s bathhouse was rather large, fitted with nine baths in total. Four lined up on the left side, four on the right, and one more larger bath down the center of the room. The floors were made of large tiles of stone, while all of the wooden, square baths were installed in-ground.

Tsukiakari and Taeko both walked in naked, their clothes discarded for washing later. They were surprised to find Mayumi in the center bath alone, relaxing her tired body in the hot, steaming water. Everyone had their hair tied up into ponytails, a seemingly simple feat that was always a pain for Tsukiakari due to her extraordinarily long hair.

Mayumi: You’re back! Welcome home!

Tsukiakari: I figured you might be taking a bath when I didn’t see you in the room.

Mayumi smiled, resting her pretty little head on her crossed arms atop the edge of the bath.

Mayumi: I’ve been hauling in charcoal and oil shipments all day. My muscles really needed this.

Taeko: Charcoal? You usually order charcoal closer to autumn, don’t you?

Mayumi: Yeah, but our charcoal use is expected to rise a lot more this winter. We’ve gotten bigger stoves to accommodate our larger garrisons, and that requires more charcoal for the fires. We also have more troops being deployed in or around winter time, so they’ll need it to stay warm out in the field.


Taeko and Tsukiakari sunk themselves in the bath closest to Mayumi, whose eyes were immediately and sadly drawn to the cicatrices on their backs left behind by Bishamon’s whip. Their bodies were covered with numerous other smaller scars and even sutures. Not even reincarnation could remove all of the blemishes from Tsukiakari’s body.

Mayumi: Do they hurt? Your scars, I mean

Tsukiakari: It’s no big deal for me. You, Taeko?

Taeko sat back and laughed their worries away.

Taeko: C’mon, you don’t think I can handle a little beating? Yoshihisa did worse!

Mayumi: It’s not just the physical scars. You two bear the brunt of so many of the happenings around here. I just get kind of scared for you two.

Taeko: No need. With a lord like Tsukiakari around, we can all be confident we’ll come home alive. Right, Gekko?

(They placed way too much confidence in me. All I could think about were all of the Senkumo troops that returned dead after my reckless battle with Yoshihisa. About the young boys and girls...about Ayadachi...)

Tsukiakari: Taeko...

Taeko: Yeah?

Tsukiakari: You smell even worse in the bath.

Taeko launched a retaliatory strike of splashing water at Tsukiakari’s face, groaning as the other two giggled at her expense.

Taeko: That settles it! I’m soaking in this baby all night! If I can’t be a Yamato Nadeshiko, I’ll make sure I smell like one!

Mayumi: Oh Taeko...




*N O I R*



As if Mother Nature also sought a bath, the morning brought heavy rain upon the land, with very distant thunder booming and rolling in the background. Each drop of rain pelted against the walls, roof, and ground without mercy as the early bird nurses in the medical ward checked up on the wounded and injured. As the nurses went around every room serving breakfast, Taeko sat in her study down the hall, a small and humble room with but a table, window, and bookshelf. Sitting cross legged on the tatami mats, Taeko quietly wrote out the current stock of medical provisions in a long scroll, as well as the status of the sick and injured. It was usual record keeping and inventory checking, nothing strange about it, until the halls were suddenly filled with cries from the nurses for help. Startled, Taeko shot up onto her feet, bringing her sheathed blade with her out into the hall. She could see several stunned nurses all surround the doorway of one particular room, something quite clearly catching their eyes.

Taeko: Move aside! Let me in!

The young girls all made room for Taeko to enter, letting her see what was causing all the commotion. One of the sick, an older woman in her 30’s, had made a horrific mess of the room after vomiting large pools of blood onto herself and her futon. Yet another nurse standing off to the side had blood all over her white kimono, her hands held up to her shoulders as she had no clue what happened or what to do. The sickly, pale woman groaned in agonizing pain until she started to cry, unable to annunciate her words.

Taeko: Everyone out! Let a doctor inside!

The remaining nurse ran out of the room and shoved herself aside along with all the others, making way for a white-clad doctor to enter. A male about the same age as the patient, he tied his long black hair into a prim and proper bun, approaching the bloody, groaning patient without hesitation. With Taeko to her right and a doctor to her left, the sickly woman was clearly trying to speak, though her agony did not allow her moving lips to part with any words.

Taeko: I recognize her, she was with us a few days ago at Katsura River. Her mouth...she was vomiting blood?

Doctor: It would appear so. Ma’am, can you hear me? Can you tell us what happened?

Still, silence strangled her tongue. However, she did start undoing the folds of her kimono with her trembling hands. For some reason, there was something she was trying to show them, and it required her to be nude for them to see. With her full front exposed, Taeko and the doctor were awed to find her thighs and groin covered in black, puss-leaking buboes.

Doctor: Oh my god, Chief!

Nothing more needed to be said. Taeko immediately shouted out her orders upon seeing the black blogs upon the patient’s body

Taeko: Everyone, evacuate the medical ward! Nurses and anyone not in critical! If you ever tended to this patient, I want you to stay here! We’re quarantining the area!

Taeko rushed out of the building after all of the nurses, save for the one covered in the woman’s blood. One it became clear to the guards of the medical ward that something as going on, they did as they were trained to do and raised the alarm. Bells and gongs went off all across the mansion, driving everyone away from the medical section of the Senkumo property. Everyone filed outside of their quarters to see what was going on, for it wasn’t often that the mansion ever raised its alarms. On they looked, chattering and whispering amongst themselves in the courtyard as two columns of black-clad Senkumo Shinobi double marched past the crowd and towards the sound of the alarm. They were off to secure the area while Taeko ran off to alert Tsukiakari.

Drawn by the commotion, Mayumi and Tsukiakari marched through the crowd and met with a panicked Taeko just a little past the torii entrance of the medical ward. All three of them stood off to the side as the Shinobi all marched in, creating a perimeter around the building. Their boots splashed and trotted on the muddied ground as they went, the rain still beating down furiously upon the land.

Tsukiakari: Taeko! What the hell is going on?

Taeko: Gekko, Mayumi, it’s bad! There’s been a Plague outbreak in the medical ward! We don’t know how many people are affected!

Mayumi: Plague!?

(A plague outbreak...like none of us had ever seen. Not even I could shake the feeling that this was the perfect tempest of karmic destiny. It was then, more than ever, that the Senkumo clan turned to me in a time of crisis.)

Taeko: Your orders? I’ve already got them securing the area and evacuating everyone who didn’t come in physical contact with the patient. How should we proceed from here?

Mayumi: Gekko?

Tsukiakari: Taeko, I want two teams of physicians to assist Mayumi in the courtyard! Have them run physical checks on the men and women here! I need these Shinobi to fetch the latest medical records as well, including the afflicted patient!

Taeko: On it!

Taeko ran off and got to work immediately. There wasn’t a second left to waste.

Tsukiakari: Mayumi, you’re going to work with the physicians and compile a list of everyone outside the quarantined area and whatever symptoms they may have! I don’t care if it’s as minor as a sore throat! Report everything! We need to identify the symptoms and mechanism of infection before more people are afflicted! I’ll have someone send messages to the nearby mansions, but entry and exit through the mansion is strictly limited beyond that!

Mayumi: Alright! I’ll get to it!

Mayumi hurriedly darted off to fulfill her orders as Tsukiakari gazed upon the rain soaked medical ward, the encircling Shinobi blocking a few of the panicked and left behind nurses from leaving through the doorway.

She could see the utter confusion and fear on the faces of those young girls, not even realizing that they were in the closest proximity to the deadly plague.

(Indeed, no goddess can eat her sins. Not a single one.)




« Last Edit: April 11, 2018, 04:52:49 PM by OhGodHelpMe »

Offline OhGodHelpMe

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Re: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (COMPLETED)
« Reply #277 on: February 11, 2017, 10:09:54 PM »
Senkumo War Stories: Raga
Spoiler
The rain ceased, but each and every member of the Senkumo clan was required to submit themselves to an examination by a physician. Young and old, male and female, each person stripped themselves naked to allow the physicians to check for signs of buboes or flea bites. As instructed, males and females were examined separately by physicians of the same sex, but it didn’t do much to alleviate the rapidly spreading fear and confusion around the mansion. Whispers of a deadly disease taking hold of the medical ward did more to turn morale into panic than any form of psychological warfare ever could.

Tsukiakari convened with Taeko in the war room after the examinations began in the courtyard. Piles and piles of medical records, patient statuses, and shipment details were sprawled about as they tried to find answers pertaining to the sudden outbreak.

Taeko: We had 102 patients interred to the ward as of last night. 30 were still recovering from serious injuries suffered in the field, 45 were recovering from minor injuries, and the rest were in for illnesses such as fevers and pneumonia. The patient spotted with the buboes was Sayu Senkumo. She was among those that pulled the bodies out of the Katsura River. We haven’t found any buboes on the other members of that party, but we had them stay inside of the medical ward for now. We didn’t want to risk anything.

Tsukiakari: Do we know the mechanism of infection?

Taeko: The doctors reported irritated bumps in Sayu’s inner thigh, akin to a rash. According to her, these bumps itched like they were insect bites, and she started catching a fever the next day. No big deal, but her fever worsened in the two days she checked into the medical ward. This morning was when she started vomiting blood and noticed the buboes growing around her inner thighs and pubic mound. From that, we can only guess the outbreak is the fault of transmission from infected insects.

Tsukiakari’s brows scrunched and pointed downwards as she read Sayu’s status reports.

Tsukiakari: When the person becomes symptomatic, the signs are benign. Insect bites and fevers are common here, especially among the younger recruits. Did Sayu go anywhere else after she returned from that mission?

Taeko: She said she mostly spent time in the Shinobi quarters, but made a few brief visits to her friends in the regular women’s quarters. The physical examinations are still going, so we should have more information soon.

Tsukiakari: So how many people does that leave quarantined inside of the medical ward?

Taeko: 39, if we count the critical patients and the Shinobi that quarantined themselves. If we count the nurses and surgeons as well, that puts us at 60 people total. One of the nurses was exposed to Sayu’s blood when she started vomiting, and the others maintained regular, physical contact with Sayu in between caring for the other patients. We’re hoping this won’t result in cross-contamination, but the chance is too great to ignore. Anyone who isn’t already infected might just be infected tomorrow.

Tsukiakari: The Plague moves fast. What I’m worried about is how fast it will kill people. Until this is resolved, we can’t allow any shipments to come in or out of this mansion. We have to keep this contained here and get rid of it as fast as possible.

Taeko: That’s the thing. I’m not sure how to do that, Gekko. We have no idea how to cure this plague, and even trying to operate on the infected will put the doctor’s at risk.

Tsukiakari: I’ll figure something out. At the very least, we can take measures to reduce the casualties. The problem now is that anyone with so much as a rash or a fever could pose a danger to everyone around them.

The heavy steps of Mayumi’s sandals on the wooden patio startled them, turning their attention to the opened sliding door just a moment before she stepped into view, out of breath and clearly overwhelmed.

Mayumi: My lord, we’re just about finished out here.

Tsukiakari: Mayumi, what’s the general condition of our forces?

Mayumi: Most of them are perfectly healthy. No problems or symptoms whatsoever. We have found 40 or so people with really minor problems. Coughs, headaches, and the usual common cold symptoms. No buboes or anything of the sort.

Taeko: We should keep up with these examinations considering how fast the plague works. A simple fever can evolve into blood vomiting within a day. If these symptoms are spotted, we need the surrounding troops to assume nothing and report everything.

(Day one of the plague outbreak at the Senkumo mansion encouraged all of us to look to the man at our left and the man at our right. It encouraged us to be more cautious than ever. And yet still, a certain little goddess dared to do what the others could not fathom.)

Day two of the outbreak saw the continuation of physical examinations. The Senkumo mansion was in a state of complete shutdown on that day, the sky as cloudy and pale as a bloodless corpse. No shipments in or out, no more messengers coming or going, nothing. Tsukiakari’s untied hair fluttered about in the chilling wind, as black as a moonless night like always. She, Taeko, and Mayumi stood in front of the guarded and quarantined medical ward, the restless Shinobi dutifully maintaining their guard. On that day, the war goddess made a rather baffling decision.

Tsukiakari: I’m going in there.

Taeko took a bold step forth before Taeko’s stern grip held her back by her arm.

Taeko: What?! Gekko, what are you-

Tsukiakari: Right now, everyone in there, infected or not, is going through hell. No one is giving them answers.

Mayumi: What if you get infected? We don’t know how to treat or cure the plague!

Tsukiakari: Even if I get sick and die, I’ll just reincarnate. I’ll make sure not to touch anyone or anything around them.

Taeko:...I don’t like this. I don’t like it at all. They say this disease has killed an immeasurable amount of people in distant lands. Listen to Mayumi, Gekko. Don’t put yourself at risk. And most of all, don’t give them false hope when we don’t even know what we’re dealing with.

Tsukiakari took gentle hold of Taeko’s hand, rubbing her thumb over the tops of her knuckles to soothe her. The war goddess’s eyes glistened as she took a gander at their concerned faces.

Tsukiakari: Taeko, Mayumi. Trust in me.

Taeko: Gekko...

Guard: Stay the hell back!

The sudden outburst from the torii guards instantly drew their attention. The two black-clad Shinobi positioned at the crimson gate stood in the way of three, young girls bearing a colorful assortment of flowers and blossoms.

Guard: Listen to me, you cannot go in there!

Girl: We want to see Sayu! If we can’t, then at least let her have these! Please! We’re all worried for her!

Tsukiakari: Wait!

The guards stood aside as Tsukiakari approached the gate. The bold defiance of the three girls seemed to fade away upon the presence of their revered lord. Granted a closer look at the three little rebels, Tsukiakari recognized them as three of the youngest girls on base, all of them only 13 years old. The girl in center, unfortunately, was had to walk around the mansion with a short, wooden cane. Her right foot was tightly wrapped in bloodstained bandages, an injury received from falling off of her horse during training. Her shadowy black hair only reached down to her collarbones, but it curled and twisted all around in its voluminous glory.

Taeko: The hell are you doing here, Chi Chi?!

Mayumi: Chi Chi?

Taeko sighed as she pressed her fingers on the bridge of her nose.

Taeko: Chiharu Senkumo. One of our younger recruits.

Chiharu and her friends quickly bowed their heads to Tsukiakari, presenting their case to her with the hope of lenience.

Tsukiakari: These flowers, did you pick them from the courtyard?

Chiharu’s frail arms and knees shook beneath her kimono as she held the offering of flowers in one hand and balanced her weight with herb cane in the other.

Chiharu: Yes, my lord. We picked these for Sayu, so she can know we’re hoping for her quick recovery. Please...allow her these flowers at least.

Tsukiakari’s silence and razor sharp stare continued to cut at the young girls for every second the war goddess delayed her answer. After a quick thought, Tsukiakari lifted the offering of flowers out of Chiharu’s hand. The young girl raised her head in shock.

Tsukiakari: I cannot allow you to go inside, or even anywhere near the medical ward. Return to your quarters with haste. I’ll deliver the flowers to Sayu.

Chiharu’s face lit up like the eastern horizon at sunrise. She bowed to Tsukiakati once more as Taeko groaned and pouted on the sidelines.

Taeko: Damn it, Gekko. Those kids-

Tsukiakari: Let it go, Taeko. They’re kids. They don’t know if Sayu is okay or not, and it’s not like we know any better either. I’ll deliver the flowers.

Taeko: Fine, fine. Give us a report of what you see once you get out, at least.

Mayumi: I think Taeko’s just a little jealous. No one gives her flowers...

Taeko: Mayumi, I swear to God-

Tsukiakari: Yes?

It took a quick second for the “joke” to process in Taeko’s head.

Taeko: You know I’m gonna get you for that, right?







The entrance doors of the ward peeled open like two eyelids waking in the day, pushed apart by the war goddess herself. It was quiet as she took that first step inside past the door’s threshold. Slowly and cautiously, the nurses in the ward peeled their heads around the doorways down the hall, their eyes lighting up with joy when they saw their lord.

Nurse: It’s Lord Tsukiakari!

Dozens of the young girls came rushing out of their rooms with smiles on their faces and happiness in their steps. They all bowed before the flustered Tsukiakari, their voices forming a symphony of praise, renewed hope, and thanks.

Nurse: You really came! We were terrified when they locked us in here!

Nurse 2: Lord Tsukiakari, what’s going on? No one is telling us anything!

Tsukiakari: I know this was all a big surprise, and I’m very sorry for that. You all must’ve been so scared with so little information getting to you. I promise I’ll explain everything to you, but right now, I need to see Sayu. Which room is she staying in?

Nurse 3: Room 46, down the hall, make a right, and it’s the fifth door to the left!

Tsukiakari: Thank you all. You’re doing good, alright? Just stay strong for me. We’ll get you out of here in no time.

Nurse: Thank you! We’ll keep doing our best! Bless you, Lord Tsukiakari.

The nurses all bowed their heads and parted towards the walls, clearing the path for their revered lord. Tsukiakari continued down the hall, peaking in every opened door to give the patients inside just a glimpse of her face. The few who weren’t unconscious or agonized by their wounds caught that brief glimpse of Tsukiakari peeking into their rooms, their spirits immediately lifting into the heavens with excitement. Furrowed brows were raised in delight, flat lips curled upwards in smiles, and petrified tongues moved once more to shout her name in joyous cheers.

The hopeful and rejuvenated smiles and cheers from her soldiers, doctors, and nurses were as precious as to her as any victory and triumph on the battlefield. Their smiles made her smile, and their howls of happiness shook the base of her heart.

(It felt like I was...floating or gliding across the floor. It was like their spirits lifted me up and guided me to Sayu. Their happiness and hope multiplied my own.)

And there she was, Sayu Senkumo. She lied in bed, her naked body covered in black blotches and glistening sweat.

(It was a miserable sight to behold. Sayu looked even worse than she did before. She bore the visage of Izanami, like a woman that was very much dead already. And I felt...such deep and profound pain. None of them deserved such an awful fate.)

Sayu: Lord...Tsukiakari! You’re here? Why?

Her voice was weak. She could only speak in whispers. Tsukiakari sat on the floor to her side, gazing at the sickly Sayu with love-struck eyes as if she were the most beautiful person she had ever seen.

Tsukiakari: I came to see you, Sayu.

Sayu: But, my lord-

Tsukiakari: Don’t you worry about me. If anything happens, I’ll reincarnate. And please, call by my nickname. How have you been?

Sayu briefly chuckled.

Sayu: Not very well, my lord. Oh, I mean...Gekko.

Tsukiakari: Have the doctors said anything about its progression?

Sayu coughed into her shoulder softly before clearing her throat to speak

Sayu: It’s moving too fast for the surgeons to even know what to do. In two days, the raven buboes have gone from my thighs to torso and arm pits. They think relieving the buboes early on may help slow down its progression, but...

Tsukiakari: You’re too far along for it to save you.

Deep quietude washed over them as Sayu turned her head away from her lord. No matter how much she tried, she could not suppress the anguish inside of her. It permeated from her tiresome heart, that aching, sorrowful anticipation of the end.

Sayu: Gekko...Can I tell you something? It’s about why I joined the Senkumo clan.

Sayu wiped her eyes and faced her lord again with an alluring, beautiful smile.

Tsukiakari: You can tell me anything you want, Sayu. I’m here to listen.

Sayu took a deep breath, folding the strands of her shadowy, raven hair behind her ear.

Sayu: I was born to poor parents in Kai Province, a mountain child. My mother died from illness after I was born, and my father had already died several months prior. He was executed for a crime he was falsely accused of. After their deaths, I was adopted into a well-off family tat happened to be staying there, but we moved to Kyoto before the winter came. Can you imagine? The heart of the country, the home of the shogun! Kyoto!

Tsukiakari: You must’ve been dazzled by all the commotion! What was it like growing up there?

Sayu: Oh it was breathtaking! So many people, shops, and homes, all of them built so close to each other. There were so many things you had to do yourself in the countryside, but in Kyoto, there were always people you could pay to do the labor for you. Sometimes they’d even have the product already prepared and packaged! Life was relaxed, made easier for the common folk. But...a girl like me couldn’t really get away from trouble in Kyoto. My teenage years were unbearable.

Tsukiakari: What happened?

Sayu: I...got involved with some bad people. They threatened to destroy my adoptive parents’ properties if I didn’t do what they ask. As such, I worked as a prostitute when I was 14.

Tsukiakari: Sayu...you were a prostitute at such a young age?

Sayu: Sorry, I know it’s shameful to have you think of me that way.

Tsukiakari: No, not at all. It was all in the past, right? Please, tell me more.

Sayu closed her eyes, as if to see her own memories in the clarity of darkness.

Sayu: I gave myself to men and women alike. Some were working class with extra money to throw at a whore, and many others were rich businessmen and courtiers. I did anything and everything they asked me to. Cheating husband sick of their wives, wives sick of their husbands and wanting the touch of a female, lords exercising their power over me, I serviced them all, until the war broke out. Kyoto was reduced to a pile of charred rubble and neglected corpses, including those of my adoptive family, even some of my patrons. I actually went back to Kai after Kyoto was compromised, but I...I couldn’t just go back to normal life. I ended up meeting Ebina in Kai, however. She was recruiting Shinobi for the Senkumo clan at the time.

Tsukiakari: That’s right! I remember that! She thought it was a perfect area to scout for troops. War hasn’t broken out there yet, but plenty of farmers were already getting sick of their ruling lords. From there, you joined us, didn’t you?

Sayu: Yeah, that’s how it happened. During our journey back here, Ebina told me more about the nature of this clan. You weren’t just some ordinary military force led by yet another power-hungry daimyo. You were more like religious mercenaries, free from the command of the feudal lords. She spoke of a powerful war goddess and an elder war god, and how you two were leading this growing group of mercenaries. I didn’t truly believe it until I saw you and Bishamonten.

Tsukiakari giggled.

Tsukiakari: The word became flesh, huh?

Sayu: The word became flesh and so much more. You, Ebina, Taeko, Mayumi, and everyone else here treated their comrades as more than soldiers. You treated us as friends and companions, as important parts of the whole. Gekko, I’ve given myself to many more people than I should have, but when I was here with everyone, devoting myself to you...I was happy!

Her voice shook and broke as tears rolled down her cheeks. The sight of Sayu crying after spilling her soul to her lord hurt Tsukiakari more than any wound on the battlefield. Wounds can heal and go away, but the kind of pain she felt could never be forgotten.

Sayu: So...to see you so clearly hurting inside, trying to bear all of our sins for us, it hurts us beyond measure! I know what you’re feeling what sorrow plagues your heart. I know what emotions are brewing a storm in your chest. We’ve lost a lot of good people, people you feel you could’ve saved. Most of all, you feel, because of you, we’ve all lost a part of ourselves.

Tsukiakari: I...

Tsukiakari’s grip around the flowers tightened around their stems. Sayu’s gentle voice was haunting and powerful. It was the whisper that broke through the thunder of the storm, the hush that silenced the chaos.

Sayu: I hope I’m not the only one here that still remembers the happiness we all shared. The Senkumo clan is a family, not a band of empty, abused soldiers. The pain we all feel for our wounds, for our fallen comrades, for our dying identities...that pain isn’t all there is to remember about being here. I’ll never forget the joy of coming home to this place, seeing the smiles on all of their faces, the flowers blooming in our courtyard. If I could just have one final wish, it would be for everyone to remember that joy, even if just for a moment.

Tsukiakari: Final? No, you’re gonna be able to make as many wishes as you want, Sayu! I swear, no matter what you want in this life, you’ll live long enough to see it!

Sayu nodded her head, silently dismissing her lord’s optimism.

Sayu: You know, one of my happiest memories as a kid was seeing the snow one particular winter, when it piled up more than usual. The sky was gray like an old man’s beard, but just a small section of the clouds parted and made way for the sun. And you’ll never believe what I saw next, Gekko.

Tsukiakari: What did you see?

Sayu: A white rainbow! Everyone was amazed! We had never seen anything like it before. It was so pristine and radiant and pure. Everyone, no matter their situations in life or their personal problems, all stopped to gaze at it. The whole of Kyoto was captivated by peace, brought about by that rare, white rainbow. I wish for something like that here, someday. Something that makes us all stop and remember that there’s more to all of this than what we’ve lost. There are things we still have, and things we are yet to gain. That’s what the Senkumo clan taught me to appreciate in the first place, so I want to give that lesson back to all of them. Gekko, can you help me to it? I’m afraid...I won’t have much time to see it myself.

Tsukiakari wiped away her falling tears, handing Sayu the flowers from Chi Chi and the girls.

Tsukiakari: For you, I would do anything. I don’t know how, but I’ll find a way.

Sayu could finally smile and sink into her bed with the utmost comfort, despite being in agonizing pain.

Sayu: Thank you, Gekko. You’re a good person. Please don’t ever forget that. It was an honor to be here with you, even if it was only for a short time. I was blessed to know you all.

Sayu took a delightful whiff of the flowers, their aroma acting as an anodyne for her. As if they were the most precious thing in the world to her, Sayu clutched those flowers close to her chest, as if she were trying to hug Chiharu.

Sayu: Tell Chi Chi that I loved the flowers, and that I love her. I will always love her, and everyone in the Senkumo clan. You gave me a life worth dying for. I’m sure that Ebina and Ayadachi felt the same way...

Tsukiakari: You got it. I’ll let them know...

(Sayu Senkumo...She knew exactly what I felt. She knew exactly what was going to happen. And yet, she steadily awaited her fate with a heart devoid of regret, filled only with happiness.)

The next morning was yet another cloudy day. Though the heavens weren’t pouring upon the lands, there was still heavy rain in the Senkumo mansion. Rain in the form of tears. A massive crowd of troops stood outside in the courtyard, many of them sobbing, screaming into the sky as their comrades embraced them. Nurses who escaped from the medical ward sat on the resting rocks, crying as Mayumi held them in her arms. Even the Shinobi ahead, dutifully standing guard around the ward perimeter, shed tears beyond their masks.

This awful, mournful sight was the first thing to greet Tsukiakari as she stepped out of the women’s quarters after a restless night. Taeko stood by waiting, knowing her lord would want answers for what was happening.

Tsukiakari: Taeko, what’s...

Taeko shut her eyes and nodded her head.

Taeko: We’ve received word from inside. 12 new infections. And Sayu...Sayu passed away before sunrise this morning. I’m sorry, Gekko.

Tsukiakari’s eyes drifted back toward the crowd, almost immediately spotting the sobbing Chiharu being held tightly by one of the men.

(Day three out of the outbreak. Before the sun had even come up, Sayu passed away. The plague killed her in just three, short days. With even more infections confirmed, it was clear that any optimism we had was foolish. Never had we seen a disease spread and kill so fast. And Sayu was only the first death...)


Senkumo War Stories: Dvesha
Spoiler
(Day four brought even worse news, and yet even more clouds. We convened in the war room as usual, going over what was reported to us by the Shinobi while physical examinations continued outside. I could see the lack of sleep in Taeko’ eyes, and the remnants of tears on Mayumi’s cheeks. This damned plague was sending us right to hell.)

Tsukiakari: 36 new infections?! In a day?!

Taeko: No one knows what’s going on in there. We removed Sayu’s corpse and sanitized her room as soon as we got news about her death, and most of our new infections claimed they never even came into physical contact with her.

Mayumi: And yet we have all these infections?

An usually loud storm of yells and screams from outside put their meeting to an end. They all rushed out to the patio to see what was going on, the screams getting louder still. The physical examinations seemed to have erupted into complete chaos as armored troops ripped certain individuals away from the crowd, away from their group. Their friends and comrades watched in anguish as they were forcefully dragged away, kept back by a steady line of guards directing crowd control. The two sides continued to shout and swear at each other, each of them ready to engage in senseless violence.

Mayumi: Gekko!

Tsukiakari: Stay here!

Tsukiakari vaulted over the patio and marched down to the courtyard as the guards all drew their weapons, threatening the agitated crowd with lethal force.

Guard: One step and you’re dead! Stay the hell back! We’re trying to help you!

The courtyard was embattled by a tornado of screams and insults, with many of the men standing in front to guard the women and younger soldiers. To even see Senkumo troops point weapons at each other, it only highlighted the pain Sayu felt before her death. This was the madness she saw in her comrades.

Tsukiakari: STOP!

The harrowing shout of their lord immediately hushed the storm, the two sides parting further apart as Tsukiakari stood between them.

Tsukiakari: I will say this only once! Don’t you ever, EVER, draw your weapons on your fellow Senkumo again! The next person to do it will immediately be put to the sword!

The guards immediately sheathed their blades and pointed their spears skyward, their every move and breath under Tsukiakari’s command.

Tsukiakari: What happened? Why did you drag off some of the men?

Guard: My lord, we’ve found several new infections among the ranks! We were dragging off those discovered with black buboes!

Tsukiakari: New infections?! Among them? That can’t be...how did this happen?

Medic: My lord, we suspect the mechanism for infection is now pneumonic rather than bubonic. It would explain the furthering reach of the disease.

Tsukiakari: Meaning It’s airborne?

Medic: Yes, my lord. It’s imperative we immediately quarantine the newly infected among the general population.

(Somehow, the plague was now airborne. Did we not remove Sayu’s corpse fast enough? Was their a chain contamination we failed to track? I looked out at the faces of my troops and saw only fear in their eyes. They all knew what happened to Sayu, and feared they’d die the same way. Over the next week, that fear bred mistrust among the ranks. Anyone who was even suspected of having the infection was reported and rounded up. All of them were forced into the medical ward like cattle into a slaughterhouse, left to die within those dark, lonely walls. But the more corpses piled up, the stronger the risk of the airborne infection consuming the entire base. On the tenth day, we convened again in the war room, the clouds blocking the moon from view.)

Mayumi went around lighting the candles in the room, lifting the aroma of vanilla into the air. For many, a pleasant aroma was anodyne and safety, though it wasn’t any real protection against the disease. However, Taeko knew exactly what could protect everyone from the Black Death swallowing their men. Her face expressed the burden of forethought, the burden of knowledge that the others hadn’t arrived to yet.

Taeko: In 10 days. We’ve had 322 infections. Of those 322, more than 170 are already dead.

Tsukiakari: How did you manage to reduce the surge in infections? Did you figure something out?

Mayumi: Right, you mentioned something about torches, Taeko?

Taeko: Yeah. We surrounded all of our facilities with three times as many torches than usual. This worked to keep infection at bay. It’s a simple solution, as old as civilization itself. Fire destroys and cleanses disease. Knowing that, I think it’s about time we did something about the medical ward.

Mayumi: What do you mean? Should we light more torches around it too? Maybe that will-

Taeko: No, that’s not what I mean, Mayumi.

Tsuiakari stood on her feet in shock, her heat beating against her ribs.

Tsukiakari: You want me to burn them all...

Taeko: Gekko, the bodies are piling faster than we can get rid of them. At this point, anyone who goes in there is going to come out infected. That means the corpses will keep piling, and our men will keep dying. Since ancient times, the most effective way of stopping a virus has been to burn it away, along with the people it’s taken with it.

Mayumi: Taeko, are you listening to yourself?! You trained those men and women! You looked after them like they were your own! Now you want Gekko to turn them all to ashes?!

Taeko: Do you have a better idea?! Perhaps something that works as fast as fire, but without the inconvenience of actually having to make a hard decision for once in your life!

Mayumi: What are you saying?!

Taeko: Don’t talk to me like I’m some damn demon when I’m the one that bears all of your mistakes for you!

Tsukiakari: Taeko!

Taeko: Neither you nor Gekko had the stomach to kill Ebina, and you don’t even have the stomach to save the base as a whole! Don’t insult me when I’m the only one offering a way out! What have either of you come up with since we learned the plague was pneumonic?! Name a single strategy you’ve come up with besides leaving them all to suffer and die like we did with Sayu!

Mayumi refused to hear anymore. Holding her arm over her tear-soaked eyes, she stormed out of the room sobbing.

Tsukiakari: Mayumi!

Taeko: Leave her!

Tsukiakari: You didn’t have to attack her like that! Mayumi is doing everything she can!

Taeko: IT’S NOT ENOUGH!

Taeko’s explosive rage almost terrified Tsukiakari. Realizing she was being far too hostile, Taeko took a single, deep breath and swallowed some of her frustration. She clasped her hands in a prayer formation as she searched every corner of her weary mind for the right words to say.

Taeko: Gekko, our troops only have two options. They can sit in the medical ward and die after days of pain and agony, or we can release them ourselves. If we do nothing, they will contribute to the air contamination around the mansion, and they’ll kill their comrades from the grave. The better option is to burn them. Bishamon thinks so as well.

Taeko passed Tsukiakari a letter sent to her by Bishamon, written within a small scroll with thick, black ink.

(Instructions from Bishamon...to burn the victims and the medical ward itself to the ground...)

Taeko: He was kind enough not to issue it as an order, but as instructions, should we be left no other choice. Now is that time, Gekko. Think about it if you must, but it will only get worse from here if we do nothing. And...I’ll go apologize to Mayumi. I shouldn’t have said all of that.

Tsukiakari paced around the room holding her shaking hand to her overheated forehead, battling with the thought of being the executioner of her own men. Turning her own soldiers into char and cinders and bearing the hatred of those that would mourn them. Was that really the only choice left to her? Was that all she could do to save them?

(Turn them into cinders, or let the black miasma choke the life out of the rest of the mansion. I’m supposed to be their inspiration, the focus of all of their hope. A lord is supposed to reflect the unity of her army, not be the downfall of it! But there’s really no right choice here, only a choice that leads to the least amount of death and carnage. Kill hundreds to save thousands...)

Taeko: Whatever you decide, do it tonight. Think of what would happen to me or Mayumi if you woke up and discovered we were infected. Being the lord of these men means so much more than leading them to victory on a battlefield. It means doing what’s right, even if that’s a difficult choice.

Taeko left her lord to contemplate her next decision. A deafening quietude once again drowned out all other sound, to the point where all Tsukiakari could hear was her own blood rushing through her head.

(In the end, it’s not really a choice. It’s the only way out. Either way, they’re all going to die, and they know that.)

Her gaze slithered past her document-piled desk and reached her sheathed blade resting in the corner. She knew full well what had to be done.

(I have to do this. And in a way, we’re all going to burn along with them.)





The wind lapped up with a vengeance, twisting and pulling at the trees and leaves adorning them. Expecting rain at any time, the Shinobi guarding the ward wore black hooded robes over their gear, which danced about in the wind in harmony with the swaying leaves. Each of one of them stood in silent wait for their lord. Holding torches to split the darkness around them, Taeko and Mayumi waited beneath the blood-red torii gate of the medical ward.

Mayumi: Yet another night without moonlight...

Taeko continued to survey the darkness at the bottom of the stairs leading up to the gate. Sure enough, Tsukiakari emerged into the farthest reach of her torch’s light with her sheathed blade at her side. She had discarded the traditional, black kimono of the Senkumo clan and swapped it for a white one, tied with a raven, glossy obi. Her large, scarlet haori danced in the wind like a cloak of blood draped over her pure, white robes. In addition to it all, a golden necklace bearing a small, golden thurible dangled at her chest, with a silver counterpart wrapped around the hilt of her blade.

Taeko: Your Lord is here! Part!

The Shinobi immediately followed Taeko’s order and parted into two lines along the stone walkway at the top of the stairs. Tsukiakari carried a fierce determination in her tired, dark eyes. Her will to resolve the catastrophe was as mighty as the steel of her blade and the bone of her back. That was the commandingly austere aura she was expected to carry with her, a phantom cross she was forced to bear, even on this moon-forsaken night.

The three women huddled together, the wind spewing embers and sparks from their torches.

Taeko: Are you prepared for this? Once we do this, there will be no going back.

Tsukiakari: There’s no other choice. I’m going.

Mayumi presented Tsukiakari with a wooden noh mask carved into the shape of a horned demon’s face.

Mayumi: There’s a cloth covering for the mouth and nose in the mask. It’s been treated with essential oils to keep you safe from inhaling the disease.

Taeko: Gekko, you must ensure there are no survivors. Whether you burn them all or give them a quick death by the sword first...they all must perish. You’re their pyre burner.

Tsukiakari put on the mask of the oni, accepting her role as the pyre burner and executioner. Her crimson eyes glistened behind the mask, bearing the visage of a true demon, a reaper of the moonless night.

Taeko: Go forth...and bring flame to this black night, Pyre Burner.

Senkumo War Stories: Mana
Spoiler
(I still remember the night of that moonless nightmare. Shutting the doors of the medical ward behind me as I stepped inside was like sealing myself in the depths of Yomi. Not a flicker of flame, not even a dance of ember gave light to the dark abyss inside. Even through the mask, the putrescent stench of death, decay, and the wretched plague teased my nostrils. The deranged groans and wails of the dying echoed through the halls, haunting the stale, elegiac air. But amidst that darkness, I was the only bearer of flame. I withdrew my sword, the sword we all lived and died by...and wreathed it in fire.)

Tsukiakari’s flaming sword gave light to the entrance hall, revealing a strange and ghastly scene before her. The tables and chairs were all broken and flipped about, and the floor was thickly coated in coagulated blood and bile. The distant wails of suffering led her further down the hall where the signs of chaos only seemed to get worse. In the middle of her slow and cautious walk, a hard crunch of glass at her feet brought her to an abrupt stop. Looking down at the floor, she noticed a trail of long, brown hair, ripped from someone’s head by the handful. Judging from the length, she deduced it must’ve belonged to a young woman.

The trail of hair led her to a closed door, closed shut and grotesquely decorated with dark, bloody handprints. Beyond the sliding door, her ears caught a peculiar sound. It was like the creaking of old, worn wood, either on the floor or the ceiling. It would go silent, but then slowly creak and rasp again with no further sounds to indicate what was going on. Tsukiakari slowly opened the door, first seeing a dim, flickering candle burning next to a perfectly made and blood soaked bed. Once she stepped inside, the fetor of decay became much stronger, and her flaming blade gave light to the source. The creaking she had heard beyond the door came from a rope dangling from the ceiling, and at its noose, the hung body of a young girl, ever so slightly swinging to the left, then the right.

Her undone, floral kimono suggested she was a nurse, and the blackened pustules on her exposed thigh and chest further told the story of a young nurse infected by her patients. Perhaps in order to avoid the pain from the plague ravaging her any further, the girl decided she wouldn’t give Death the satisfaction, and took matters into her own hands.

Saying nothing, and with no expression visible behind her mask, Tsukiakari pointed her blade at the body. Flames spewed forth with a hiss and crackle, burning away at the corpse and the entire room. She departed, closing the sliding door behind her and moving onward. Venturing further down the hall, the cries of the sick and dying could clearly be heard coming from the rooms, where even infected nurses still tended to their suffering comrades. The light of Tsukiakari’s flame attracted everyone who could walk right out of their rooms, though few of them dared to get close to her. Dozens of nurses, patients, surgeons, and quarantined infected put their gaze upon her, all of them knowing from the flaming sword who she was behind the mask.

That alone elated them. That alone brought forth their joyous cheers and lit up their sunken eyes. The symbol of their hope and identity finally came back for them.

Medic: Lord Tsukiakari, is that you? You’ve come! You’ve come back for us!

Nurse: I told you she’s find a way! She promised she’d get us out of here!

It took everything in her power to stop the trembling in her hands and raise her blade towards them. The gesture silenced the crowd and placed fear on their faces. All of their hope and happiness died once they realized they were not going to be saved, that they were considered something to be saved from instead.

Medic: Lord? No...please...

Nurse: Why?! I thought you were going to save us!

Great swathes of fire rushed from her sword and consumed them all, plunging the hallway into a cacophony of agonizing screams. They forlornly flailed around and rolled on the floor as if to get the flames off, but every movement they made became slower and slower as the fires burned their muscles and flesh away. Tsukiakari could only gaze at their charred bodies as their voices died down, unable to fully comprehend just how fast their deaths seemed to transpire. How quickly they had gone from smiling faces riddled with buboes to piles of char, barely even resembling the human form. It truly began to sink in. She had murdered her own troops, men and women who were utterly dedicated to her.

Man: My god! She IS going to kill us!

An infected male had witnessed the scene from behind Tsukiakari, terrified of what he saw. He immediately ran down the left hall, screaming to alert everyone.

Man: Get out! We have to get out! She’s going to burn us all! Get the hell out!

His screams sent confusion and curiosity throughout the building, summoning more of the infected from their rooms. He ran down to the cafeteria, which had been repurposed and filled with futons for the dying instead of tables to eat upon. The nurses and sick alike all stared at him as if he were a madman, some even calling out to him in panic as he opened the door leading to the dining area outside.

Nurse: What are you doing?! Don’t go outside!

Man: We have to leave! Lord Tsukiakari is going to kill us all!

Expecting freedom beyond the sliding door to the outside, the man was met only with a line of black-clad Shinobi readying their bows and aiming their flaming arrows at him. Taeko stood behind them, giving them their orders.

Taeko: DRAW!

Each of the Shinobi pulled back on their bowstrings, their eyes staring down the sight window. Taeko was like a lion, thunderously shouting her commands with unquestionable authority.

Taeko: FIRE!

A volley of fiery arrows swarmed the cafeteria, successfully setting dozens on fire. So many of them tried to run down the hall just to get out of the hail of flames that the trampled over each other as they screamed hysterically. Tsukiakari steppes forth, blocking their path as the flames she ignited earlier expanded over the front of the medical ward. She was like a demon emerged from flame, no longer the lord they all loved.

With but a flick of her sword, Tsukiakari set them alight, burning them away along with their accursed plague. Taeko and her troops could see their deaths from outside. She could see the men and women, the young, energetic boys and coy girls she once nurtured and trained, burn to their deaths.

Taeko: That’s it. That’s good...

By then, the flames of the war goddess engulfed much of the medical ward, the rising smoke carrying the ash of the fire’s victims. Many of the troops were awakened by the glow and crackle of the flames, slowly filing out of their barracks to observe for themselves. They all knew their fellow Senkumo were inside. They could hear their screams as the fire intensified. Their friends, sisters, brothers, their role models and life partners, we’re all burning before their very eyes. And yet, no one dared to intervene. The fact that the ward remained guarded by the Shinobi branch meant that all of this was deliberate. It was a clear and visible signal to the rest of the Senkumo that their lord wanted this to happen, that there was no hope of letting them live without endangering everyone else. But that did little to sweeten the terrible display of monstrosity before them.

Tsukiakari continued her rampage, burning away every soul she could get her sights on. The nurses tried desperately to lead everyone to safety, but every turn they made led to more flame-wreathed corridors. Among them were younger victims of the infections, children barely turning 13. Realizing they were trapped, one of the nurses embraced the young patients, holding five of the children close to her breast to shield their eyes from the encroaching flames.

Nurse: Children, listen to me! It’s going to hurt a lot! You’re going to feel a lot of pain! But just hang onto me, as tight as you can! When you open your eyes again, we’ll be in a beautiful place together! A place where you won’t ever feel pain again!

All of the other children and nurses huddled together, seeking that final human touch before an agonizing and hopeless death. Just like all the others, their screams erupted down the hall as they burned to death, the flames finally engulfing all of the medical ward. It became a slice of hell on earth, and it’s single, solitary demon stood amidst the flames, rendered numb by what she had done. The flaming carcasses of her own men were sprawled around her.

The harrowing and hopeless screams of fearful, infected men echoed from across the cafeteria, drawing her eyes to a group of trapped soldiers. Sealed inside of the storage room by flaming debris, the young men shouted their lord's name to grab her attention, helplessly believing they would be saved.

Soldier: Lord Tukiakari! Please, help us! We're trapped, we can't get out!

The young man's beard was coated in soot. He and his fellow soldiers coughed heavily as the thick smoke from the flames invaded their lungs. The final glimmer of hope in his tearful, hazel eyes wilted and waned as he watched his lord do nothing to save them.

Soldier: My lord! Oh god, please, don't leave us here! I don't want to die! Not like this!

Soldier 2: Lord Tsukiakari, help us, damn you! Get us out of here!

Soldier: We're begging you, please! Don't let us die like this!

Their pleas for help quickly turned into cries of agony as the flames engulfed them, charring their flesh and turning their bones brittle. It was at that moment that Tsukiakari was most relieved to be wearing a mask, because she couldn't bare to look her men in the eye as she refused to save them. At the other end of the building, Mayumi watched the fire consume those inside with a trembling, aching heart. Children were hoisted out of the windows by the nurses, for they were devoted to protecting their patients and comrades. Each child that managed to make it out, their face wet with tears and powdered by soot, was shot down by the surrounding Shinobi archers. Mayumi shivered, as if she could feel the flames crawl over her own skin, consuming her own flesh. Through the dissonant screams bellowing from the ward, she could very much feel their suffering.

(There’s a social contract between people like us. You see...we were but lordless mercenaries with no allegiance to a daimyo, no allegiance to a shogun. Not even an emperor. The moment I was awarded my own rank and mansion, I became the heart of my army. Though we had no allegiance for our traditional leaders, we placed our trust and lives in one another. They looked to me to guide them, to be their backbone. To be their heart and soul. Regardless of whether it was the right thing to do or not, that night was a bright and burning breach of that relationship. Much like how a mother should never kill her own children, a lord should never kill her own men. And yet...I sent them all to hell.)

Though the flames had consumed everything around her, Tsukiakari could feel something very much alive move and twitch from behind. She turned around in a panic, her eyes instantly drawn to a young girl levitating out of the flames, her body still and lifeless like a corpse. Though she was coated in fire, not a single part of her body burned, save for her blackened feet. Her hair color was almost indiscernible amidst the light of the flames, but it was all too familiarly thick, veiling the face of the levitating, naked girl. Then, all of a sudden, the strands of her hair were lit aflame, and her eyes burned brighter than a blacksmith’s furnace.

Tsukiakari: What?! What’s happening?!

Out of nowhere, Tsukiakari was suddenly tackled to the floor by yet another person, his vice grip around her neck choking the air out of her. The man on top of her was like a bear in his large, strong stature. His entire body, adorned by worn and broken down armor, was alight with violent fire. His eyes radiated in much the same way as the levitating girl’s. The flames hid his face as he roared in rabid rage, as if seeking vengeance upon the war goddess. Tsukiakari kicked and struggled, but the strength of the armored, fiery man was far too overwhelming. The levitating girl hovered over to Tsukiakari’s side, watching as she was choked to death.

(Survivors?! No, it’s like they’re demons or ghosts! They can’t be human!)

And without warning, the flames engulfing the ward were hushed, transforming into a blanket of smoke draped over the charred corpses of the infected. The lifting smoke carried voices with it, dozens of them. Both the levitating girl and the flaming man retained their flames, turning their heads to the side in strange unison.

Izanami. Izanami! No...it’s not her. Is it? No...it’s the imposter...

The fiery man released his grip from Tsukiakari’s neck, standing alongside the levitating girl. Just as ominously as they looked away from her, they returned their gaze to the coughing war goddess in synchronous fashion, before exploding into clouds of sparks and embers. The strange beings vanished, leaving Tsukiakari in the middle of all the chaos she had wrought. She slowly staggered back onto her feet, her heart beating out of control. She looked all around for the two mysterious beings, feeling as though they were still there despite their absence. Their imprint of terror was as present as the corpses beneath Tsukiakari’s feet.

At long last, Tsukiakari removed her mask, her face and hair soaked with sweat and tears. The clouds slowly began to part after veiling the heavens for nearly a week. The haunting light of a scarlet blood moon shined onto her, bathing the entire mansion in moonlight.

(I felt...like I wasn’t even in my own body. Like I was watching all of this from above. And yet, the pain was undeniably real.)

Looking around her, Tsukiakari saw the hundreds of corpses scattered about the charred ruins of the ward, the heat from the flames still lingering around them. Many of them huddled together, choosing in their last moments to die in the embrace of the comrades. Dozens of them were children who were forlornly guarded by their nurses and caretakers. It can’t be said how many of them knew they were going to succumb to the plague. The adults probably knew better than the younger patients. But how could they have ever even dreamed that their own lord would vanquish them so violently, so hatefully? Did they die with that question burning in their hearts? Did they die thinking their lord saw them as trash? This endless maelstrom of sorrow and madness, this tempest flame, didn’t just consume those wreathed by fire. It consumed everyone. Tsukiakari. Taeko. Mayumi. Chiharu. Ayadachi. Ebina. Everyone. Sayu saw that better than anyone.

Izanami: Gekko!

Surprisingly, Izanami arrived along with Taeko. It was just as the fiery man and levitating girl said. But Tsukiakari could not find the energy to ponder her presence here at a time like this, nor could she muster the strength to even speak. All she could do was fall to her knees, her hands still gripped around her blade, and weep. While Taeko embraces her sobbing lord, Izanami only needed to observe the disaster around her to guess what transpired.

Izanami: I’m sorry. This is my fault...

It seemed even Izanami felt the pain haunting them all. Yet, she was as fortified as any castle, unmoved by the raw death and despair before her, as if she had seen it all before.

Taeko: It’s alright, Gekko. It’s done now. It’s finished.




« Last Edit: May 16, 2018, 08:08:48 PM by OhGodHelpMe »

Offline OhGodHelpMe

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Re: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (COMPLETED)
« Reply #278 on: February 15, 2017, 03:24:26 AM »
Senkumo War Stories: Pratigha
Spoiler
(No new infections occurred after the fire. No new plague-related deaths either. With the disease purged from our base, what remained of our medical teams were able to begin gathering the bodies from the char and rubble. It was nightmarish work. Many of them were burned so terribly they didn’t even resemble the general shape of a human. Like...piles of black flesh and bone. Though with a heavy cost, the rest of the base was saved. Though, understandably, not everyone saw it that way. Izanami, for some reason, felt terribly compelled to help dispose of the bodies. I wondered why she showed such strong conviction towards this cause, why those two fiery people seemed to know her. And most of all...why did they even question if it was actually her? They seemed...unsure.)

Several nights following the razing of the medical ward, Tsukiakari convened yet again with Taeko and Mayumi in the war room, with Izanami sitting with them at the table. The crisis was over, but something still remained. Some form of pain and never ending madness still engulfed the clan and it’s leadership. It was more than shock or guilt, more than lingering despair. It as something more akin to hatred, but its direction was a mystery. Izanami could see it in their eyes, in their thousand yard stares and colorless pupils.

Tsukiakari: That night...I don’t quite know how to explain it. I saw two people, a man and a young woman. The woman was floating above the bodies like some sort of ghost. Her hair was made of fire too. The man was wearing battered armor. He was completely covered in fire. He choked me while the girl watched, but they vanished once they realized Izanami was on the premises. Snuffed out the fire too.

Mayumi: Are you sure you weren’t seeing things, Gekko? Maybe you were hallucinating?

Tsukiakari: I know what I saw, Mayumi. I-

Taeko: To be fair, you also mentioned you saw the corpses in the depository sit up, and a throne appear in the room. Maybe it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume you merely saw this as well. Either way, these fiery ghosts you saw didn’t leave any special wounds. We don’t have much to go on.

Tsukiakari: How do you explain the flames all being extinguished at once, then? Not even I have such good control of fire yet. I swear, I’m not making this up!

Taeko sighed, turning her head to the oddly silent Izanami.

Taeko: What say you, Izanami?

Izanami’s hands rested at her lap, her thumbs rubbing over each other.

Izanami: Ghosts and phantoms are beings that really exist. What she saw could very well be real in that sense. However, perhaps it was just an illusion after all. No one can be sure. Gekko was the only one who saw them.

(Maybe...I really was just seeing things. But it all felt so real...)

The sliding door suddenly opened, revealing two, black-clad shinobi sitting on their knees, bowing to their three superiors and honorable guest.

Taeko: What is it?

Shinobi: We've done as you requested, Chief Taeko.

Tsukiakari: What's going on?

Taeko stood up, brushing off her knees and stepped outside with the two shinobi. The night was ripe with cricket chirps and omnipresent moonlight.

Taeko: I took the liberty of conducting an internal investigation regarding the outbreak. Wanted to make sure it wasn't a mistake on our end that resulted in all of this.

Mayumi: This is the first time you've mentioned that, Taeko. Did you find anything yet?

Taeko: We're still working on it. Obviously, I'll keep you up to date if we discover something, Gekko.

(An internal investigation conducted without my permission? Taeko did take over the shinobi force after Ebina was disposed of, so it's not surprising she would conduct an investigation after an on-base disaster. I trust her, but...this doesn't feel right at all.)

Taeko: Goodnight, Izanami. Thank you for your help these past few days.

Izanami smiled and bowed her head.

Izanami: I'm glad I could help during such a difficult time.

Taeko closed the sliding door, her footsteps growing more and more distant as her shinobi led her back to their ward.

Izanami: Gekko, you said that these phantoms you saw spoke of me? They mentioned my name?

Tsukiakari: Well, now that I think about it, it wasn't really them talking. As soon as the flames were extinguished, it felt as if the voices were coming out of the smoke. The voices I heard were more numerous than just those two, like dozens of people talking all at once. It was surreal, chilled me right to the bone, even after such a vicious fire.

Izanami's right hand tightly clutched a piece of her kimono, a telltale sign of omission hidden beneath the table.

Tsukiakari: Why? Does that sound like a kind of ghost you might know of or something? Or was I just seeing things?

Izanami looked her in the eyes, suffering the urge to be truthful and open, but knowing she couldn't possibly do it. Those precious, scarlet eyes. She remembered them ever since the day Tsukiakari was born, since the day they first opened and saw the light of Heaven. Even now, with those eyes darkened by sorrow and restlessness, she could still see the little princess she knew all those years ago. And yet still...she lied to her face.

Izanami: I'm sure...you were just seeing things, Gekko. I'm sure of it.



*N O I R*



The two shinobi led Taeko not their ward, but to the prison ward. The building was alight with plenty of torches, showing just how many people still lived with fear of the plague. Usually, the good discipline of the men in the Senkumo clan meant that very few soldiers, if any, were sentenced to time in the prison. There must've only been a dozen or so in the cells, quietly serving their time for their offenses. Everything there was made of wood and stone. The comfort of tatami mats weren't offered in the prison.

Shinobi: Just down the hall, Chief.

The shinobi led the way, opening up the creaky, wooden door for Taeko. It led them into a very small and quaint stone room with two very small windows a feet beyond the reach of the average person. It was very much just a slightly larger prison cell. One person sat in the middle of the room, their body stripped naked and shivering from the cold. Their hands were affixed to chains hung from the ceiling, and their face was hidden beneath a black, cotton bag. The crack and pop of whips hitting her back filled Taeko's ear as she took the first step inside. The two shinobi pressing her for information found it necessary to start hitting her, but ceased immediately the moment they saw Taeko.

Though girl could only pay attention to the sounds around her to know what was going on. She heard the door creak, the slow footsteps plod towards her, and the men hitting her step away. Someone important had come to see her. Taeko yanked off the black bag, revealing the sweating and bruised Chiharu. Taeko's gravelly voice was serrated by anger and resentment.

Taeko: Do you know why you're here?

Chiharu already seemed to be on the verge of delirium, unable to even properly nod her head. One of the shinobi passed Taeko a glass jar. The carcass of a chipmunk had been shoved inside.

Taeko: Tomorrow...you go on trial. We have witnesses and evidence that your recklessness is what caused all of this.





(Something more monstrous than war itself slept within each of us, and it was just waiting to come out after the outbreak. It was waiting for something to pour its hatred into. Taeko found that target, that scapegoat for us all. She found a purpose and direction for our immeasurable pain and rage. The next day, everyone met in the courtyard beneath the warmth of the sun. Mayumi and I were surprised to see yet another crowd amassed there. I saw anger, hate, and scorn overflow in everyone's eyes, their hearts still wounded by losing their comrades. But instead of blaming me, the one who burned them all away...they put Chiharu on a mob trial. And to my disgust...Taeko led them.)

Chiharu stood before the angered crowd of Senkumo troops at the gallows, a noose already wrapped firmly around her neck as she shivered and cried. Her hands were tied behind her back, and for the maximum effect of insult, she was presented to everyone completely naked, the bruises she had accrued from her questioning visible to all. Taeko stood on the gallows platform with her, pacing back and forth in front of her as her team of shinobi held up the pieces of evidence.

Taeko: Our shinobi were hard at work from the very beginning to determine the cause of the outbreak here at the Senkumo mansion. Initially, we thought our first infection, Sayu Senkumo, acquired her flea bites from a previous corpse disposal mission. But then it hit me. Fleas? On washed up, rotting corpses? I didn't make any sense. So we decided to turn inwards, to see if the cause could be traced to a mistake made here. We even checked our inventory and recently acquired shipments for reports of infestation of any kind.

The shinobi held up the jar containing the chipmunk carcass, while another held up vials of black liquid and dead fleas.

Taeko: One of Chiharu's roommates gave us a tip once the outbreak took Sayu's life. Chiharu had secretly taken in a family of Siberian chipmunks, despite our rules regarding pets. Now normally, you'd just get a stern talking to for such a minor offense and be on your way. But this...this was different. The chipmunks were vectors for plague, which then infected the fleas they were carrying with them. When fleas are infected with plague, the bacteria accumulates and blocks their guts, essentially starving them. Starved by the disease, the fleas constantly searched for new hosts, driven by hunger to bite...and bite...and keep biting. That explains why so many of the initial infections were girls riddled with flea bites, and why Sayu was the first casualty.

Her voice shaking with fear of her own comrades, Chiharu shouted through her tears, hoping to reason with the vengeful crowd before her.

Chiharu: I didn't know they were infected! How was I supposed to!? This is insane! I never meant to hurt anyone! I...Sayu...

Taeko: You expect anyone to believe that? That you accidentally brought these vermin to our home? That you accidentally got all of our friends and comrades killed?!

Chiharu: I never wanted anyone to die! That's why I brought them here in the first place! Do you have any idea how many of my friends came back depressed after what happened in the village?! Aiko told me she thought of killing herself! Yume started cutting her thighs to cope with what she saw! But you never paid attention to what they felt! You never paid any heed to the war they fought in their own hearts and minds! I brought them here to cheer them up, to give them something to care for again! I would never intentionally hurt any of them! I loved them all just as much as any of you!



*R O U G E*



Chiharu: Everyday I look at you all...and it's like you're still in pain. You became less focused on finding things to love, and more fixated on finding vessels for your rage. That's really why you could stomach murdering your own. That's why you chase phantoms and make enemies out of no one. We've all been flogged by war, and you want the pain to stop. You try to cauterize your mental wounds with hatred and it doesn't work. The pain remains. It lingers. It haunts. I understand what you're all feeling. I get it, because I'm a Senkumo too! Sayu was a Senkumo! Aiko and Yume were Senkumo! I feel the hurt too!

Taeko softly chuckled.

Taeko: You haven't felt a god damn thing. Not yet. You know, Tsukiakari said she was attacked by two ghosts while she was in there. One of them was a woman. What do you think the chances are it was Sayu's phantom? Do you think she'd do that? Come back from the dead with a vengeance in her heart?

Chiharu turned her tearful eyes to Taeko. Her heart riven and betorn, all she could do was beg.

Chiharu: Taeko...please...

Taeko turned to the crowd, her lips still with silence for a few seconds.

Taeko: Men, with everything the prosecution has shown you, with everything Chiharu herself has said, what's your decision? What fate will you give her as the jury?!

With a thunderous, wrathful, and collective shout, the hundreds of men before her responded, sealing Chiharu's fate.

Everyone: GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTY!

Taeko smirked at Chiharu, watching as the color bled from her face. Her own comrades, people she had once called her family, aimlessly and violently called for her death. All they wanted was blood, vengeance great enough to fill the hole that war and disaster had left within them. Each and every one of them looked just like the Pyre Burner that Tsukiakari had become, except they didn't need the mask to show their horns and demonic teeth. Levitating above the gallows, the flaming girl reappeared, though no one seemed to notice her presence. Just like before, her mane of fire shrouded her shadowy face. No longer was she naked and scarred, but rather, she took on the visage of the Pyre Burner Tsukiakari became that fateful night, wearing the blood-red haori, white kimono, and demonic Noh mask. Across from her on the roof of one the buildings, the armored, flaming warrior sat on the saddle of his fiery stallion, watching the chaos unfold, feeding off of everyone's madness.

Tsukiakari and Mayumi stepped onto the gallows, the phantoms instantly disappearing into streams of clear smoke, as if they were never really there to begin with. The shouts and cries for death from the crowd stopped the moment their lord stepped on.

Taeko: Gekko!

Tsukiakari wasted no time in unbinding Chiharu's hands and freeing her from the noose's vice grip around her neck.

Tsukiakari: Mayumi, take her to her room.

Mayumi: Understood.

Chiharu: Lord Tsukiakari...thank you! Thank you so much!

Mayumi gently carried the naked and sobbing Chiharu off of the gallows while Tsukiakari stepped forth to handle the rest.

Taeko: What the hell are you doing?!

Tsukiakari: I could ask you the same question. An internal investigation is one thing, but we DO NOT support mob trials! The last thing we need is to put another one of our own to death.

Taeko scoffed, chuckling is disbelief and shock. She stepped closer to Tsukiakari, her anger boiling over and consuming her yet again.

Taeko: Our own? Our own?! Gekko, she's the enemy! She's responsible for all of their deaths! All of this pain and sorrow is her fault! Sayu's death is her fault! Think of all the people we had to butcher, all the children we had to burn alive! We had a noose around her god damned neck, exactly as she deserved! She's guilty, nothing more and nothing less!

Tsukiakari stepped closer, staring Taeko in her fiery eyes. She could just feel the unbridled rage flowing from her body. As if...she were on fire.

Tsukiakari: Taeko. You have a point. Chiharu broke a simple rule, and it contributed to the outbreak. For that, some punishment is needed. But we are not going to hang a child at the gallows. We're not going to resort to this fraud you call justice.

Taeko: Then what the hell will become of her?!

Tsukiakari: She'll pack her things. We'll send her back home, try to contact her family if we can. This pain we all feel, this madness consuming us...let's at least try to end it, not fan its flames. Dismissed.

Taeko: But..Gekko-

Tsukiakari: YOU ARE ALL DISMISSED!

The crowd dispersed, returning to their posts, rooms, and duties. Taeko dispersed along with them, bitterly brushing past her troops on her way back to the female quarters. Gallows in the middle of a courtyard...what an awful sight.

(I could sympathize with them. I could feel what they were feeling. I could completely understand why they chose to put Chiharu on trial. And perhaps, if I hadn't had that talk with Sayu, I would've just sat back and watched. I believed her, that she didn't mean to hurt anyone by bringing those animals here. I believed she was just trying to cheer up a demoralized group of friends. She was just a child. She didn't possess the evil that the rest of us did. Chiharu was an angel, forced to work for monsters. That's why...we let her go.)



*N O I R*



At the very first light of dawn the next day, Tsukiakari and Mayumi saw Chiharu off. They met outside the entrance gates, having given her one of their horses, food and water for her journey, and a small pouch filled with coin to cover her expenses. The light and joy that may have once existed in those eyes of hers were gone, forever changed by her experience in the clan, by being told to die by her own family. The birds took to the air, singing their songs in the sky and among the trees. It was peaceful, but a mournful aura lingered around the three. Once Mayumi helped her up on her horse, Tsukiakari handed her a scroll.

Tsukiakari: Here's a map of the area. We've marked down known military checkpoints and natural hazards. The safest route home is also highlighted. Are you sure you don't want an escort?

Chiharu, wearing a regular white kimono instead of her traditional Senkumo robes, felt the burden of the clan lifted off of her shoulders. And yet, a new burden weighed down upon her gentle heart.

Chiharu: I'm sure. I can't trust anyone anyways. Because of Taeko...there isn't a single person in there that wouldn't love to kill me. I'll go alone.

Mayumi: And you've got your weapon? You know how to manage in case you need to camp outdoors, right?

Chiharu smiled, reassuring the worried Mayumi.

Chiharu: I'll be fine, Mayumi. Thank you for always being so kind. And Gekko...

Her lips shook and quivered, by she worked up another smile for her former lord.

Chiharu: I will always remember you. It was an honor to be by your side, even if it was just for a short while. I..I know that nothing I say can make anything better...

Tsukiakari: It wasn't your fault, Mayumi. You had no way of knowing what would happen.

Chiharu: Gekko...

Tsukiakari: It wasn't your fault. I will always love and care for you. Carry that with you wherever you go. Live free, Chiharu.

Chiharu turned her face away, wiping her tears from her tired eyes.

Chiharu: Goodbye, Lord Tsukiakari! I'll write to you!

Tsukiakari waved goodbye, her crimson eyes glistening in the light of dawn.

Tsukiakari: We'll be waiting.

Mayumi: Goodbye, Chiharu! Good luck! We'll miss you! I'll miss you terribly! Even Taeko will miss you! She's just too angry to realize it!

Chiharu waved goodbye as her horse sauntered its way homeward, leaving behind the Senkumo clan and all the nightmares within. They watched her ride off into the distant road until she disappeared behind the hills and trees, their hearts feeling just a little more empty and cold with her absence.

(I wondered. Will she have nightmares? Will she be able to readjust to normal life? Will she ever be put in danger? Are all the memories we gave her only filled with blood and rage? I felt a pain just as miserable was witnessing the death of one's comrades. Perhaps...that was the pain of longing and regret. For her sake, and for my own, I wished Chiharu and bright and beautiful future, like a lotus growing and blooming out of dirtied waters. For her sake, and my own.)

Senkumo War Stories: Supposition of a Broken Goddess
Spoiler


*YUME*






Before wrestling with the weight of exhaustion on her eyelids, Tsukiakari's nose picked up an awful, familiar, and pungent scent.



(It smells like iron...it must be blood...)



She lifted her heavy eyelids and confirmed her suspicion. Donned in her black, Senkumo kimono, Tsukiakari stood hip-deep in a never-ending and infinitely expansive sea of crimson blood. There was no sun, no moon, no shore or mountain to indicate that she was even on earth anymore. It seemed her very body emitted light that allowed her to see her surroundings.



(It's so warm and heavy. Huh? Something solid brushed against my-)



Tsukiakari's heart fluttered with fear as a severed arm surfaced on top of the tranquil waves of blood. Its skin was deathly pale, and its nails were black and dirtied as if whoever owned it was trying to claw themselves out of their own graves.



Tsukiakari: Those fingers...a woman's arm?










An ominous and constant hum reverberated from the ocean's depths as more solid matter surfaced from below. Arms, legs, entrails, eyeballs, but most sickening of all, whole corpses for as far as Tsukiakari's eyes could see. Something was awfully wrong, however. Tsukiakari frantically turned her head left and right, scanning the pale, dead faces of the corpses that surrounded her.



(What...what the hell is this?!)



Every single one of the hundreds of floating corpses were Tsukiakari, all apparently dead due to different wounds. Some had their stomachs busted open and their organs missing, some had their throats slit and their tongues ripped from their mouths, while others had their hands and feet removed and violently stuffed into their mouths. Swarms of maggots made homes of the corpses, seeming to love the eye sockets the most.



(Get me out of here! I don't want to be here! Let me out! LET ME OUT! LET ME-)



Tsukiakari: OUT!





*N O I R*






But it was then in that moment that Tsukakari awoke in her futon, her entire body drenched in sweat.



(As my blurry, sleepy vision sharpened, I realized I wasn't in that horrible place, wherever it was, whatever it was supposed to be. I was in my mansion, and the sun had already crept through the windows. I could smell smoked salmon and freshly cooked rice from the barracks down the garden, but not a hint of blood or iron.)



Mayumi: Gekko?



Mayumi's gentle voice startled her at first, but such a sweet sound was so comforting to here after such a wild nightmare.



Tsukiakari: Mayumi! You're out of Medical Care?



Mayumi: Well, I have some bandages covering my abdomen beneath the kimono still, but the medical wing let me go. I just need to rest up now. Taeko told me you were doing the same thing, since you just reincarnated.



Tsukiakari: Yeah...



For some reason, there seemed to be some sort of awkward distance between the two of them since their last mission on the battlefield. The sustained, unbearable silence that choked the room was proof of that.



Mayumi: Have you...been feeling well? I mean, you looked liked you were having a nightmare.



Tsukiakari: Ah, it's just one of many. There's no need to worry about it, Mayumi.



Mayumi: Idiot. If you tell me not to worry, I'll just worry more.



Tsukiakari: That's because you always do the opposite of what you're supposed to do when your heart is involved in the matter. I actually really like that about you, Mayumi. You have a heart and a conscience, two things that are so often void in a war.



Tsukiakari's gloomy eyes did not tell Mayumi that she was fine at all. There was such a profound sadness in their downcast stare.



Mayumi: Gekko...



The slamming open of their slide door interrupted them, startled them even. A bearded Senkumo male bowed before them both by the doorway, his voice panicked and urgent.



Soldier: Excuse my sudden intrusion, commander! We have an emergency on the training grounds!



Mayumi: Emergency?!



Tsukiakari: What's going on?









Tsukiakari was forced to walk through that cold, morning air with the help of Mayumi and the soldier that intruded on them. She still wasn't well enough to go into a full sprint, as the situation demanded. However, before they even turned the corner and got their eyes on the training ground, they could hear the demonically angry and furious shouts of Taeko, along with the whispers of an intimidated crowd of young soldiers in training.



Taeko: What's wrong, coward?! You don't have the conviction to kill for your lord, so don't tell me you don't even have the stomach to die for him! Go ahead with the ritual, or I shall have you executed!



A single, young boy sat in the middle of the dirt field, bowing his head in utter shame as silent tears streamed from his tightly shut eyes. Taeko encircled him like a lion all the while, occasionally tapping the back of his bald head with the butt of her scabbard. Tsukiakari immediately noticed something odd about the boy's clothing. He was wearing a pure white kimono instead of the standard black Senkumo kimono. Another detail she immediately noticed as she pushed through the crowd of bystanders was the wrapped tanto sitting on the boy's lap.



(Oh my god...)



Boy: Forgive my cowardice, Sergeant! I beg of you, I-



Taeko: Soldiers do not beg, nor do they plead for their lives to be spared! Your actions, or lack thereof were utterly disgraceful! You don't deserve to bear the Senkumo name or crest!



Tsukiakari: What happened?



Soldier: Apparently, that boy abandoned his unit after a rather harsh skirmish in one of the villages up north against Feudal soldiers. The unit he abandoned actually won the battle, so they returned here to let Taeko know that the boy abandoned them. So, when the boy returned...



Mayumi: This happened.



Soldier: Yes.





*N O I R*





Taeko: I won't give you another chance. Pick up your blade.



With shaking hands, the boy did as he was told. He slowly and gently unwrapped the tanto before him. His grip on its handle was loose and insecure, much like his constitution as a soldier.



Taeko: Perform the ritual and drive the blade into your stomach. If you're worthy of even the most basic respect as a soldier, you'll have the courage to take your own life.



Mayumi: Gekko...should we stop this?



Tsukiakari watched in silence, almost as if she wanted Taeko to do it. The boy's cowardice could not be tolerated, lest others think they could get away with abandoning their duties. The boy ultimately could not go through with the ritual. He dropped his blade and erupted into infantile wails and tears. Many of the bystanders watched with sympathy, but most of them only felt disgust for the coward before them.



Taeko: So be it.



Taeko's hands were steady as she quickly drew her blade from its scabbard. There was no hesitation in a single one of her movements as she raised her blade towards the heavens, and dropped it down upon the neck of the crying boy, severing his head from his body. The eyes of his head rotated and jolted to the left and right. His lips moved, as if he was trying to speak without his lungs and his severed vocal chords. All movement in his head and body stopped in mere seconds as his spurting blood pooled around his corpse.



Taeko brushed away a few drops of the coward's blood that stained her cheek. She didn't even blink as she stared at his body, exsanguinating through his neck.



Taeko: Get this cleaned up. Leave his corpse in the woods to rot in the sun.



Tsukiakari looked to Mayumi, catching her wiping away her tears as members of the crowd cleaned up the corpse. Taeko walked away into the weapon's building, away from the intimidated eyes of all those who had seen the example she made out of the young boy.



(This was the day I truly began to wonder what on earth was happening to us. Mayumi was choking on her tears. Taeko was becoming more and more cruel in her punishments. A certain, nagging supposition began to write itself out within the walls of my mind, and its words echoed inside of me as I watched Taeko murder a young boy. It is not just war that erodes our constitution as humans with moral consciences. The code we warriors live by, the friends we knew that died by that code, and even the time we spend away from the war, holding our brooms instead of our swords, contribute to a cancerous growth within our souls. War is the death of reason. That was my supposition.)













*YEAR 1501*





(It was 1501. For all of our battles and bloodshed, what was gained? What was the result of our tribulation and labor? Rotten fruit and dirtied water. The country did not settle down in the least. In fact, even bigger players were entering the nationwide battle for power and land, leading to larger and deadlier conflicts being fought all throughout Japan. The crowning of the new Emperor, Go-Kashiwabara, had no effect on the petty wars and battles between the feudal lords and daimyo. War became the defining characteristic of Japan, and the sweet, pungent, bloated corpse was its most cultivated fruit.)



Both Tsukiakari and the Senkumo clan were back in action, ready to re-enter the fray. It was like a night like all the others, cold and unbearable for the spirit to even think about sleep. The winter brought about a radiant, white moon in the night sky, shining over thin sheet of snow packed on roads, the leaves of trees, and on the roofs of the Senkumo mansions. That night, Tsukiakari knelt before Bishamon in the candle-lit warmth of his sacred room in the central mansion.



A grave, heavy silence permeated in the room. All Tsukiakari could hear was the flicker of the candles' flames until, finally, he spoke.



Bishamon: Raise your head, Tsukiakari Senkumo.



Even Bishamon noticed it. As she raised her head and met eyes with her master, those vibrant, crimson eyes of hers seemed...empty. They seemed drained, lost between sadness and exhaustion.



Bishamon: Your next battle will be of great consequence to the welfare of the Senkumo clan. It is to my understanding that between the Ouchi and Otomo clans, you've decided we will fight on the Otomo's side.



Tsukiakari: Yes, my lord. They're in a much better position to maintain their territories and positions of governance in the case of a loss than the Ouchi are.



Bishamon ran his ringed fingers through his beard, closing his eyes and strolling through his thoughts.



Bishamon: Very well then. I shall accept your decision. However, one thing does bother me, and it has to do with your underling. Taeko.










Bishamon: Needless to say, her behavior has been...callously unilateral. Although discipline is the key to producing fine soldiers, her recent and past actions have been nothing more than cruel...don't you think?



(Damn him...putting me on the spot like this...)



Tsukiakari:...I concur...



Bishamon: I've waited all these years because I know Taeko is your friend, and I know how much she means to you. I was hoping she'd correct herself with a little time, but it seems that whenever she takes one step forward, she rebounds and takes another five steps back. Her abuse of authority can no longer be tolerated.



Tsukiakari: What are you saying?



Ahh...something other than emptiness began to form in Tsukiakari's eyes. It was worry, or more accurately, fear.



Bishamon: It's simple, Tsukiakari.





*R O U G E*





The flames of the candles blinked and flickered, unlike Bishamon's still and stern eyes.



Bishamon: Permanently dismiss her from her role in the clan altogether. She is no longer one of us. Have her leave immediately. Someone like her is too dangerous to have training our troops. Many of them have already reported psychological trauma because of her. Some have even refused to do so much as hold their swords ever again.



Tsukiakari: Wait, Bisha-



Bishamon: She has to go. That is an order. Do you understand?



Tsukiakari dug her nails into the skin of her palms to stop herself from slamming the floor in rage and confusion. And yet, for all of her agony, she couldn't figure out exactly who she was angry with. Herself? Bishamon? Taeko? Who was to blame in all of this?



Tsukiakari: I understand...



(And so, my relationship with Taeko would be the most heartbreaking casualty of the war.)

Senkumo War Stories: To be Divine and Cursed are One and the Same
Spoiler



Though Tsukiakari quietly walked away from Bishamon's room and mansion and returned to her own, there was a ferocious storm building within her heart with every step she took. The thunder booming in her chest exploded into a ferocious flurry of lightning bolts as she stood among the flowers of the garden, angrily kicking over a bucket of water close by. After the water had spilled and intensified the smell of the soil and flowers, the lightning within her calmed into a dreary rainstorm. Sadness overtook her, blending itself with her anger.

Tsukiakari: Damn you, Bishamon! Why do you insist on making the one to always do this! First Ebina, now Taeko?! Why does it always end up like this?! Don't we gods have hearts too?! Don't we?!



*YAMI*



(Those girls have hearts. I know they do! Even Izanami...doesn't she have a heart? She smiles like she does, and she exudes only love and kindness. Isn't that why they call her Izanami-no-Mikoto, She Who Invites? The Old Queen of Gods, Izanami the Great...but also Izanami the Cruel. Could she perhaps be devoid of a heart as well? How else could she have earned such a name? In this cruel world of our own making...why is it that the destiny of us gods is to watch our own hearts either break or turn into lead?)

Even the stepping stones around her feet began to levitate as her emotions flared, twisted, and turned. She was snapped out of it only by the sound of Taeko's voice from behind, and the comfort of her hand on her shoulder.

Taeko: Gekko.

Startled, the stepping stones gently fell back to the ground. Without even turning her head, Tsukiakari knew who it was, and her emotions settled back down.

Tsukiakari:...Taeko...I have to talk to you.

Taeko: Let's talk over tea. It's cold out here.



*N O I R*



The two used the privacy of the war room to their benefit. The two sat at the center desks, talking over cups of steaming, mint tea as crickets chirped outside and lone wolves howled at the winter moon.

Tsukiakari: I have orders from Bishamon, Taeko.

Taeko: I see...

They both went quiet for a while, several minutes it felt like. It seemed there was no limit to how long either of them would wait before saying anything. Only the crickets and the gentle breeze swishing through the trees made any noise until Tsukiakari continued.

Tsukiakari: I've been tasked with...relieving you of your duty. Permanently.

The tea responded more than Taeko with its slight ripples distorting her reflection.

Tsukiakari: You will no longer be associated with the Senkumo clan. You will no longer have a right to enter Senkumo property, nor will you be under our protection. In the morning, we won't know you...and you won't know us.







Taeko smiled.

Taeko: Wow...you're really good at this, Gekko. You sound so serious and reserved. I almost forgot we were friends.

Slowly but surely, Tsukiakari's facade of professionalism was cracking.

Tsukiakari: Aren't you going to ask why you're being discharged?

Taeko: I don't need to. I've been a thorn in my lord's side for a while now, haven't I? I've become my very own demon. I try to stop, but I just...I guess I'm not mentally fit for any role in the clan anymore. Of course I'm being discharged. But to add insult to injury, Bishamon only told you to discharge me, right? He didn't even see me as someone worth dying?

Tsukiakari: Taeko...

Taeko: I guess I'm not even worth that much. He won't allow me to die with the Senkumo name like Ebina did. What a clever and cruel god he is...

Tsukiakari: Taeko! Stop talking like that! It's like you let yourself give into self-destruction! Don't talk with such an "oh well" attitude...you're breaking my heart.

Taeko: Gekko. I died along with Ebina that night. That's the truth.



*A M O U R*



Taeko: Ebina really was like a sister to me. I loved her exactly as I love you and Mayumi. With that in mind, I couldn't let you kill her when Bishamon gave you that order. I was afraid.

Tsukiakari: Of what?

Taeko: Of what it would do to our relationship. I feared that I may grow to hate you for taking such an order, or if you would grow into what I am now because of it. At least this way, you're still a competent commander, and I'm just a lowly wretch that abused her troops and authority. I can easily be replaced.

Tsukiakari shut her eyes, fearing they may leak tears if they gazed at Taeko any longer.

Taeko: At least I can say that by taking on the burden of killing Ebina, I prevented any damage to the relationships between the rest of us.

Tsukiakari: This wasn't how it was supposed to be, Taeko...

Taeko: Regardless...that's how it is. I'll pack my things tonight. It's not like I have much anyway. If I may, I'd like to sleep here for the night, with you and Mayumi. I'll leave early in the morning.

Tsukiakari: Where will you go? The country isn't safe anymore, Taeko. You could easily get caught up in a skirmish or a town assault. The threat of war lurks at every corner, and death walks behind us all.

Taeko: Hmm...who knows? I'll probably just join a regular mercenary group, if they accept women. If not...I suppose I could try going back home. I was an Akiyama before I was a Senkumo, after all. However, you shouldn't be worrying about me, Gekko. You have a perilous fight ahead of you against the Ouchi clan. You will need to be cautious for your own safety, and of course, for Mayumi. Since I'll be gone, I must leave the task of protecting her to you. You're the Big Sister of the group now, Gekko.







Tsukiakari: I'm so sorry, Taeko...

Taeko: Don't be. I'll be fine, Gekko. If I ever need you or want to talk to you...well, it's not like I'm not allowed to pray to you. You are a goddess, after all. Keep your mind on the fight, and on protecting Mayumi.

Tsukiakari: Taeko...for you, I'll do my absolute best. I don't think I can ever replace you, and I'm certain Mayumi will miss you sorely, much like me. But I'll give it my all.

Taeko raised her tea cup for one last cheer. Something magical about her smile brought peace to Tsukiakari's trembling heart.

Taeko: Don't let me down, my love!

(I wondered...is this the misery of being a goddess? Is this the sadness of being an immortal deity in a mortal world? So many thoughts came rushing through my head and gripping my heart. Ebina was gone, Taeko was leaving, and some day, no matter how hard I tried, Mayumi would share the same fate. I was slowly learning the answers to the things I asked myself in the garden. We gods are doomed to have our hearts either break or turn into lead precisely because we love so hard. Love is truly a thing meant for humans, bound to their flesh like a bird is bound to its wings. For them, love dies along with them. For gods, love remains as time whisks everything but us away.)





*ROSE*



*WAR*







It was just a few days later, in the wee hours of the morning, that Tsukiakari found herself on horseback yet again, commanding a support column of Senkumo troops in Southern Japan. The battle between the Ouchi and Otomo clan was as imminent as the sunrise. The sky was a cold, dark blue that morning, wreathed with faint, twinkling stars left over from the darkness of night. A few thousand Senkumo troops clad in finely crafted armor hid among the swaying tall grass covering the uneven and hilly terrain. Their lines were loosely packed and many of them wore bits of straw and tall grass in the crevices of their armor to act as camouflage.

Tsukiakari, slightly shivering in her armor, knelt down by the prone Mayumi, who was shoveling handfuls of roasted walnuts into her hungry mouth.

Tsukiakari: I've heard the Ouchi samurai are formidable warriors. We'll have to be extremely careful. This tall grass is fairly dry as well. It may do us good to burn their side of it. The smoggy skies will also make it difficult for their archers to place their shots.

Mayumi swallowed after her crunching down on her walnuts, coughing for a minute before she spoke.

Mayumi: Our only disadvantage is the river some distance behind us. If we need to fall back, we'll have to cross it. When it comes to actual movement, I don't think it'll be a problem. The current seems gentle today, but...

Tsukiakari: The robes beneath our armor are made to soak up the least amount of water as possible. If its weight and exhaustion you're worried about, I've already thought ahead. The Otomo clan will engage the Ouchi clan with a frontal assault on their lines. Upon their signal, our lines will approach from the left and right in 4 minute intervals. The third and final group will take a more elliptical route around the left side so they can attack their rear.

Mayumi: That's so precise...what for?

Tsukiakari: To confuse the enemy and make it look like we're coming at them out of nowhere, from all directions. It'll make use seem like a larger force than we really are. If the Ouchi prove to be more difficult than we bucked them for, we have multiple options at our disposal. We could flee around the hills and lure them into the woods, or feign retreat into the valley where we can bottleneck them. The Otomo already have troops positioned to facilitate this.

(Everything seems correct about this. Weapons and armor standardization has increased among our ranks. We're blessed with some of the highest ground in this field. If the Otomo raise their flags beyond the tall grass, we'll be able to see just fine, but the hills ahead will make it hard for the Ouchi to notice should they come over the pass. What else, Gekko, what else...)

Mayumi: Tsukiakari...you look really stressed. Are you nervous?

Tsukiakari: You're the one to talk, huh?

Having already shed tears over Taeko's release from the clan, Mayumi had the eyes of a broken-hearted warrior.

Mayumi: You're right...I'm sorry.

Tsukiakari: Cast any darkness in your heart away for the sunlight to eat, Mayumi. Regardless of our meticulous planning, we do expect casualties.

Mayumi: Understood.







(This "battle" set alight a new fire of misery that would burn in my heart like a cattle brand.)

Finally, The hidden Senkumo troops saw the flag of the Otomo clan arise out of the tall grass, the signal that they would advance upon the Ouchi position and begin the first phase of the plan. Mayumi raised the response flag, bearing the three red clouds of the Senkumo clan against a white background. The flag acknowledged the start of the phase, and served as the signal for the cavalry behind them to start moving into their positions.

Mayumi noticed, for some odd reason, each and every horseman carried a satchel containing sharp branches cut down from the trees around them. Each branch had been severed from their trees and soaked in advance, so they would become much harder once they dried, as opposed to their relatively flexibility and softness from being attached to the live trees.

Without a word from Tsukiakari, the infantry was on the move too, making their way to hook around from the bottom right and support the Otomo once they made contact with the Ouchi on the battlefield. The sun's divine light kissed life into the sky, like a deity kissing the cyanosis off of a corpse and restoring its warmth and color.

(This "battle" gave birth to the Tsukiakari all of the remaining gods know now, to the Tsukiakari I hated most.)




« Last Edit: April 13, 2018, 06:28:49 PM by OhGodHelpMe »

Offline OhGodHelpMe

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Re: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (COMPLETED)
« Reply #279 on: February 16, 2017, 08:08:35 PM »
Well this scene ended up being an entire chapter. You're far too kind, Izanami.

Senkumo War Stories: The Battle that Turned into a Campaign
Spoiler




(The Ouchi clan was one of the most powerful and affluent clan in the country during the days of the Ashikaga shogunate. So, it made sense that the army they brought with them was vast, mighty, and well supplied. All together, there must've been about 30,000 of us, Otomo troops included, and 70,000 of them. Their march alone created a thunderous echo in the air. However, both I and the Otomo were devious and cunning like foxes. We wouldn't let mere numbers squash our hopes of winning.)

The massive army of the Ouchi clan was spearheaded by several lines of cavalry with one of them acting as the commander. As they slowly waded through the boundless fields of uneven hills cloaked in tall grass, a peculiar sight caught the eye of the Ouchi commander. Up ahead in the distance, what looked like an eight-man Otomo scout team hurriedly fed their horses right out in the open. It was a golden opportunity for the Ouchi to seize.

Otomo: It's the Ouchi! We're out of time, pull back!

The eight of them all dropped the last bits of grain from their hands and jumped back on their horses. Their hearts thumped beyond their chest plates harder than the hooves of their horses thumped against the grassy ground. Upon their commander's signal, two lines of Ouchi horsemen followed in fast pursuit as the Otomo scout team turned around the bend of the hill.

Ouchi: They're under-equipped! They might lead us right down to their camp! Halt pursuit!

Frustrated, the Ouchi horsemen could only watch as their enemy rode off into the distance, the thunder of their horse's march quieting the further they traveled.

Ouchi: Looks like they're headed back towards the direction of the river...

As the rest of the army caught up with them, they fanned out their formations to cover a wider area, knowing that the tall grass was thick enough to conceal enemy troops should they use it for camouflage. The wind picked up, swaying the green waves of grass like a comb through hair.

With the combined sounds of wind and grass acting as a concealer, the Otomo troops hiding in the distance were free to pull on the strings of their bows and release their arrows

Ouchi: Cautiously continue the march! Expect-



*R O U G E*



However, what they could hear was the sound of a wave of arrows flying over the grass and through the air in an arch formation, raining down upon them like swarms of locusts. A larger line of nearly 200 archers emerged, falling back as they loaded their bows again. The Ouchi took no casualties, but now the attack was on.

Ouchi: Horsemen, charge! Hunt them down!

The fearsome lines of cavalry responded with a united battle cry, and ran down the archers as they fled, periodically stopping to fire their next volley of arrows. Sending in the horses first meant sending in troops that were slightly elevated above the grass, allowing them to see where the enemy was better than the infantry. One unlucky soul was trampled by one of the Ouchi horses, its hooves smashing his teeth and jaw until its master drove his blade through his neck. The sounds of steel ripping through flesh and bouncing off of armor filled the field as more and more of the Otomo archers fell to their pursuers.

Tsukiakari, amused by the execution of the plan, chuckled to herself as she watched from the clouds. Anxious to join in, she kept unsheathing her blade with her thumb, only to push it back in and repeat.

Tsukiakari: Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. As long as you make the bait progressively bigger, even a highly trained army of Ouchi clan warriors will follow it like flies to a boar's carcass. Now then, what will you do about the army lying in wait?

The fleeing archers led the Ouchi down a small slope that in turn led them into what was effectively a bowl, encircling the army in some of the only mountain formations in the area. Only when their lines traveled down the slope did they realize they were face-to-face with a much large force of Otomo troops. Their horsemen were trapped with only an upwards slope to their rear, and a charging line of spearmen to their front. Seeing the frontal assault finally begin sent a shiver of joy up Tsukiakari's spine.

(Good. Their cavalry is sure to take heavy losses against those spearmen, but it'll only be a matter of time before the heavy infantry comes in to reinforce them. Now's a good time to signal the troops.)







With her blade raised to the sky, Tsukiakari ripped open the clouds with a massive crash of lightning that flashed before the eyes of the mortals below. Though they knew the skies did not reflect that there would be lightning, they kept their focus on the battle at hand as the Ouchi rapidly lost their horses to the spears being thrust into their necks.

Tsukiakari: The grass shall feed on the blood of mares tonight.

The Senkumo horsemen stationed around behind the mountain prepared themselves after the flash of the signal.

Senkumo: That's it, men! Fix the branches!

Each one of them took out that hardened branches from their saddle packs and fixed them firmly into the leather pockets around each horse's waist, which was usually intended for extra swords or flags. With each branch fixed downwards, their sharp tips and leaves brushed down against the dirt and sediment covered ground.

Senkumo: GO!

The cavalry moved out in rapid speed. If there was any confusion as to why Tsukiakari ordered to them to fasten branches to their horses, they would surely understand why if they looked behind them.

Senkumo: MASKS ON! RIDE IN A HORIZONTAL LINE! DON'T GET LOST IN THE REAR!

All of them covered their faces with metal noh masks as they rode around the mountain down a path that would lead them directly into the side of the Ouchi infantry. The Ouchi cavalry pulled back, leaving the spearmen to their swordsmen and elite samurai. For now, no one was gaining or losing ground.

Tsukiakari: Trapped in such a tight bowl like this, the Ouchi won't be able to use their higher reinforcement count to swarm around the Otomo. Though, there's still a chance they may notice the paths around the mountains. In that case, all we need to do is disorient and choke the enemy.

The first wave of horses swept in, bringing a massive dust storm with them. The branches were meant to kick up the dirt and sediment on the ground within the mountainous bowl. When the Senkumo cavalry encircled the Ouchi infantry, the thick, massive cloud of dirt completely veiled their vision and confused them. However, there was one more key psychological effect Tsukiakari hoped to achieve.

Tsukiakari: Good, now the next wave is coming in.

A second wave of horsemen from the other side did the exact same thing, and before the Ouchi knew it, the entire frontal segment of their army was shrouded in a man-made dust storm. From above, Tsukiakari could see the Ouchi infantry pull back, rushing to return up the slope and out of the cloud of dust unraveling the organization of their lines. Those that left themselves open as they choked were rightfully put into their place in the earth by the way of the sword.

Tsukiakari: Retreating onto an elevated, flat space is just asking to get nailed by a very anxious war goddess!

At long last, Tsukiakari was able to unsheathe her blade. She closed her eyes and dashed down to the earth like a falling star, with such speed and force that the clouds behind her all dissipated from her propulsion. She crash landed dead center in the Ouchi army formation, clouding the area in even more dust and dirt, and ejecting hundreds of soldiers into the air along with their severed limbs and weapons.



*VERT*



Scattered and confused like a hive of ants during a monsoon, the lines of the Ouchi clan were utterly broken. Their commander, still barely alive, crawled himself out from underneath his dead horse, throwing off his helmet to soothe his aching head. He'd have a better chance of seeing anything during a sandstorm with how thick the cloud of dirt around him was. All he could hear were the heart-racing sounds of his men, one by one, screaming in agony as they were slain.

The fierce battle cries of his troops had clearly turned into wails of fear and suffering, as many of them retreated back up the slope, brushing past their commander in the hopes of getting away with their lives. As he got back onto his feet, the dirt he breathed in burned his nostrils and lungs. He covered his mouth as he tried to navigate his way out of that hazy, corpse-riddled mess, only to come face to face with Tsukiakari, whose crimson eyes shined like stars through the cloud of dirt.

Just by seeing her, just by being in her dreadful presence, by seeing the majestic flow of her long, black, wicked hair, the man knew he met eyes with a god. A strange mix of fear and submission overtook him, and instead of raising his sword to the woman, he bent his knees and bowed.

Commander: Spare my life...I beg of you!

Tsukiakari seemed insulted rather than flattered.

Tsukiakari: Surrendering in the dirt? I can't believe your lot actually fought and survived the Onin War.

Even with all the chaos around her, Tsukiakari still picked up on the presence of an Ouchi samurai behind her. She swiftly side-stepped the vertical swing of his sword, losing a few strands of hair in the process.

Tsukiakari: Learn to conceal your movements, coward!

She firmly planted her feet and strengthened her stance as she swung her blade just shy of the warrior's neck, slicing through both of his forearms and severing them cleanly from the rest of his body. Before he even had the chance to scream, Tsukiakari then drove her blade into his mouth, silencing him forever. He died instantly and slumped down, but Tsukiakari kept him propped up as his blood sprinkled from his severed arms and dripped down the length of her blade through his mouth.

The frightened commander shivered beneath his armor as she turned her furious eyes towards her, wiping a few drops of the samurai's blood from her cheek with her thumb.







Tsukiakari: No...I won't kill you. You can actually be very useful to me. Look around you. Your troops are dying as they flee, their lines are completely broken, and the very soil of this earth makes their mission impossible. Get up off your knees, and like the cowardly commander you are, lead your men back to the safety of your camp. Tell your lords everything you saw here. Tell them that if they wish to continue to resist the might of the Senkumo clan, they will also be resisting the might of the god of war herself, Bishamonten! Go, coward!

The Ouchi commander did exactly as he was ordered to, fleeing with his troops into the distance. Tsukiakari raised her sword skyward once more, firing off another ear-ringing crash of lightning, the signal for all forces to cease their advance. The dust storm she had so brilliantly created dissipated as the collective roars of victory from both the Otomo and Senkumo troops erupted all around her. So many of them raised their weapons to the heavens and cheered, as if they were dedicating their victory to the gods above.

With the battle over for now, Tsukiakari was able to take a sigh of rest as Mayumi ran up to her, still holding her wooden bow and covered in dirt.

Mayumi: Hey! Why are we letting them retreat?

Tsukiakari: Psychology.

Mayumi: Psychology?

Tsukiakari: This will not be the last time we fight them. The Otomo will continue to push into Ouchi territory to take their camps, forts, and towns. In order to weaken a network of defense, you have to let word of its defeat spread throughout the network itself. This lowers morale and weakens the fighting spi-

Mayumi: Tsukiakari, you're a genius!

Tsukiakari: THAT'S COMMANDER, TO YOU!

Mayumi fixed her posture and properly saluted her superior.

Mayumi: YES COMMANDER!





*N O I R*





A rather familiar sound echoed from above, drawing the eyes of the celebrating soldiers. It was the shout of Bishamon's hawk, swooping down from the air with something attached to its leg.

Mayumi: Huh? Is that Bishamon's? It's wearing a war dress.

Tsukiakari: What the hell does he want...

Tsukiakari held out her arm, allowing the hawk swiftly swoop in, spreading its wings to reduce its speed as it landed on her. She untied the small piece of paper from its leg, clearly a message from Bishamon. Mayumi watched in worried curiosity as her face scrunched up in shock.

Mayumi: Commander? What does it say?

(He must be trying to get us all killed...we don't have the manpower to do this...)

Tsukiakari: Damn him...we were only supposed to help the Otomo break through the countryside. Now he wants us to continue onto the Ouchi forts, towns, and the city ahead.

Mayumi: What?! But we-

Tsukiakari: Only armed and supplied ourselves for short-term conflict, I know. It looks like he wants us to go on a full-fledged campaign against the Ouchi while the other Senkumo divisions conduct similar campaigns across the country. He's either trying to test us or put us in early graves. Either way, orders are orders. Help the Otomo gather up the survivors as prisoners. I'll decide how we'll proceed.

Mayumi:...Yes, Commander...

(I could tell from her voice that Mayumi was weary of this life. We went to war more often than we went bathing, for god's sake. I knew something was foul, that something incredibly rotten was going on. Still, I bet my lip and followed orders like a good little war goddess. It started to feel as if Bishamon was my pimp, and all of us were his prostitutes.)




Senkumo War Stories: What You Don't Know How to Ask For
Spoiler

(Of course, the act of killing does not exist in a vacuum. Every soul I reaped with my blade was sent straight to her...)



*WELCOME BACK*



The House of Souls, a place that would become very familiar to Tsukiakari and Osamu Ashikaga centuries later, was absolutely jam packed with hundreds of thousands of souls. The souls of the fallen warriors on both sides of each conflict floated atop the waters of the pools in their rooms, with each pool dazzling with multi-colored lanterns and lotus flowers. A great abundance of flowers of all types, colors, and fragrances surrounded each pool in every room, combining with the scent and warmth of the candles that burned slowly against the stained glass windows that emanated with orange light.

Izanami, taken aback by the sheer volume of souls she had to take care of, marched through the halls of the House of Souls, peering into each room to her left and right and seeing the faces of the deceased briefly. Many of the Shinigami, cloaked in black hoods and silver noh masks, tended to each soul in each room, judging where they would rest for all eternity.



*N O I R*



Like a doctor dealing with an overcrowded sickbay, or a mortician stuck with far too many bodies and not enough storage crypts, each soul that Izanami laid her eyes on as she passed be each of the open doors of those rooms weighed on her mind a little heavier than the last.

Izanami: The stained glass shows a similar story for each, all round the same time...did they all die in a single battle?

A sharp pain that felt like the hot tip of a freshly forged sword being stabbed into her neck caused her to gnash her teeth together, and cover the nape of her neck with her hand. As she closed her eyes, she could see the faint image of an unborn child sleeping in the darkness, held in the palm of a young woman's hands. She held out the baby to Amaterasu as if she was giving the royal goddess an offering. She was far too young for motherhood, or for war, but judging by her spilling and exposed intestines, it seemed she too died in the battle.

Izanami: Another one just now...a young girl and an unborn child...

(Every time someone dies on this earth, Izanami feels it, and she can see them. She knows their names and how they died. She knows how long their final breath was, how warm or cold it was, and the exact date they died. This was the great burden that Izanami had to carry as the goddess of death and creation. Though I know this now, this burden wasn't something I even considered back then.)

Following the battle, the field was still littered with corpses, so much so that walking through the tall grass at all was difficult. Every time Tsukiakari took a step further, she'd step on a the petrified face of a man who clearly died in agony, or the back of a swordsman who died the way he lived. The sky was a vibrant an ominous pink as the sun continued to fall out of sight, and the gentle winds of the evening swayed the grass to the left.






There were still wounded among all those corpses. Otomo, Ouchi, it didn't matter. If they were wounded so badly that they couldn't get up come sundown, they were useless to Tsukiakari. She withdrew her blade from the throat of young woman, who was wounded and dying before Tsukiakari released her of her pain. Many of the plates of her armor were broken, and her intestines leaked out from underneath her faulds.

Tsukiakari: A girl? Was she conscripted, or did she sneak her way into the ranks? I suppose it doesn't matter.

For some reason, Tsukiakari found the sight of the sea of corpses in front of her amusing, chuckling to herself softly as she turned her eyes to the pink colored heavens.

Tsukiakari: I've been in this business for far too long. The odor of putrescent bodies is actually starting to smell sweet rather than sour.

She continued walking, stepping over the corpses and stabbing the occasional wounded soldier through their backs and throats. She had begun to lose count of just how many souls she snuffed out, of how many heartbeats ceased upon the intrusion of her sword in their weak and bloodied bodies.



* R O U G E *



Izanami: TSUKIAKARI!

(That voice...)

Tsukiakari lifted her eyes and saw the one and only Izanami-no-mikoto, dressed in a lazily wrapped white kimono, as if the beautiful, walking corpse was prepared for her own burial. Her eyes were wide with shock, and her breasts moved inwards and outwards as she took deep breaths of the stuffy, putrid air around her. Seeing those worried eyes and sweet face snapped Tsukiakari right out of her stoic mode of mercy killing.

Tsukiakari: Izanami...is that you?

Izanami: I should be asking the same thing. So...it was you who sent all of these people to their deaths.

Tsukiakari pulled her blade out of the latest corpse to be stabbed, wiping the blood off with a handkerchief she kept in her pocket. Izanami watched her, realizing she had walked all around killing off the wounded. For some profound reason, Izanami could feel her heart break for Tsukiakari.

Tsukiakari: I did tell you that I work for Bishamonten, the current god of war. Well, this is our latest mission, to participate in the ongoing battle between the Ouchi and Otomo clans, among others.

Izanami: These battles are becoming so much larger in scale with every year that passes. Even the Shinigami are starting to wonder what is going on in the world of mortals.

Tsukiakari: Well, just look around you, Izanami. Isn't it the Buddhists that teach that violence begets violence? Haha! It's ironic isn't it? Now, we have Buddhist sects actually joining in on the violence like they did during the Kaga Rebellion. The mortal world is going to hell, and no amount of "cutting the weeds" can really save them at this point.

Izanami: What are you talking about? Did Bishamon say that to you?







Tsukiakari: Izanami the Cruel...why do you look so worried?

Izanami: I am worried! This is getting out of hand, Tsukiakari! If battles like this continue-

Tsukiakari: Japan has been rocked by many great and destructive civil wars in its ancient existence. What makes you think they'll suddenly decide to directly blame this one on Bishamon?

Izanami: The proof is in the soul, Tsukiakari. We can see how each one of them died in the House of Souls. So many of them were cut down by you...

Tsukiakari: Really?...Out of curiosity...exactly how many did I kill here today?

Izanami stepped back, her voice shaking with perturbation.

Izanami: Why do you want to know something like that?

Tsukiakari: As I said, curiosity.

Izanami:...18,433 people.

Tsukiakari smiled, but it didn't seem to originate from any sort of glee.

Tsukiakari: Wow. Really? It didn't even feel like that many...

Izanami: Tsukiakari...what's happening to you? You've let Bishamon turn you, the daughter of Amaterasu, into a mass murderer. What about the other girl, Taeko? Where is she?

Tsukiakari averted her eyes in shame and saudade.

Tsukiakari: She was let go. She no longer has anything to do with me or Bishamon.







Tsukiakari: You know...if these corpses aren't moved by the time they bloat, their gastrointestinal fluids might kill all the grass in this area. I should have the Otomo ship these corpses back to the Ouchi clan. Ah, sorry Izanami...I'm just talking to myself now.

Izanami: It won't be long, you know. If this keeps up...the Shinigami will eventually request a bi-dimensional investigation warrant from Lady Amaterasu. Something about this isn't right. It's not necessarily illegal for gods to participate in human wars...but if a god were to engineer or prolong a war with selfish and malicious intent...that would be grounds for his arrest and execution.

Tsukiakari: Is that a threat?

Izanami: No. It's a warning. I want to believe that the growing scale of this war is independent from Bishamon and you, but if the correlation is too strong, there will be an investigation that ultimately concludes whether the correlation equates to causation. In the hypothetical scenario of Bishamon being found guilty for a high crime involving these wars, you would be tried as his co-conspirator.

Tsukiakari: Which means I'd be executed too, huh? I see. That's what you're warning me about.

Izanami fearlessly stared into Tsukiakari's eyes, holding her hand over her heart as she spoke. Her voice and words were so warm and kind that they almost felt insincere to Tsukiakari.

Izanami: Tsukiakari...I know this is only our second time meeting personally, but I already feel so close to you. I suppose it's a character flaw of mine. I just can't stop loving people to the fullest. When Amaterasu and Tsukuyomi killed my husband, I still loved them, and I accepted this position as Goddess of Death for them. And because Amaterasu was so loved, you naturally inherited my affection. I genuinely care about you, Tsukiakari. I want you to be happy and safe, not on a battlefield every single day, killing scores of people on the whim of Bishamon.



*A M O U R*



Tsukiakari: Can you really say that, Izanami? You just deduced that I'm a mass murderer. Whatever little angelic image you had of me is completely gone, isn't it? This is who I am now! This is what I live and die for! Today, I killed thousands of people, tomorrow I'll do the same thing! Look me in the eyes and tell me if you can really love me! Look at this monster and tell her you care for her!

Izanami took a breath through her lips.

Izanami: I love you, Tsukiakari. I care for you. That's why I'm here right now. I don't care what you are or what you do today, tomorrow, or next year. Even if you killed everyone that I loved and held dear...I would still love you as I love you now.

(I couldn't sense a trace of deception in her words, or in the warmth of her eyes. But like a roach does when the kitchen lights come on, I shied away from Izanami's love and retreated into my own darkness. I didn't deserve it.)

Tsukiakari: You should go. The others might see you if you stay too long.

Izanami brushed aside the hair swaying in front of her eye and clasped her hands together, preparing to leave via kuji-in hand seals.

Izanami: Remember what I said here, Tsukiakari. Never forget it. I've seen people like you lose everything. Most of them were gods that killed themselves. But you...you will always have a place here. If there ever comes a day where you end up like the rest of them, lost, weary, and devoid of hope, you can come to me. These ears will listen to your cries. These arms will hold you tight and give you shelter. These lips will utter words that will hush your screaming heart, and will kiss you goodnight. Remember that.

And so, the kind goddess disappeared, leaving Tsukiakari in the field of corpses alone and internally shaken. The sky had grown half black, while the other half faded into a darker pink.

Tsukiakari: No one asked for your love...





« Last Edit: April 11, 2018, 08:16:24 PM by OhGodHelpMe »

Offline OhGodHelpMe

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Re: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (COMPLETED)
« Reply #280 on: February 18, 2017, 07:57:17 PM »
My my, it's been one year since this

Have you ever had your ex girlfriend try to kill you? Well, you're about to find out what that's like.  :hmm:

This may or may not turn into a thing.

Day 1: My Ex Girlfriend Called An Airstrike on My House

Spoiler
(To whom it may concern...


 My name is Osamu Ashikaga. I don't know what time it is, and I don't know where I am. When I opened my eyes, I was tied to a chair in some abandoned bowling alley, and the only person there....was my ex girlfriend. She's quite the beauty if you ask me. She had me falling in love with her blue eyes and red hair years ago. She always gave you this sweet look, like the kind of look your mother gives to you. However...these days...she's nothing but a rotten, violent psychopath!)



Osamu had shoulder length hair as black as night. He usually wore some sweatpants and a black thermal with a golden tomoe necklace.Osamu's ex, Yoko Akiyama, pressed the heel of her stiletto against Osamu's chest and pointed a katana at his face. The only light in the room was an electric lantern she brought with her. Her raised leg meant that Osamu caught a glimpse of her panties, since she was wearing a skirt. She wore a denim vest and a white shirt with the kanji for "Love" printed on it.

(There we go...those eyes again...)

Yoko: Now then, are you ready to talk?

Osamu: T-talk? Talk about what?!

Yoko: Oh, I don't know, maybe why the hell you decided to come back to town after what you did! Do you have a deathwish?! You do, don't you!

Osamu: Yoko, darling, please listen to me-

Yoko: Shut up.

Yoko slowly moved the sword down from Osamu's lips and down to his chest, and then his groin

Yoko: You're still as handsome as ever. It's too bad you're nothing but a filthy insect. Where would you like me to cut first? Your face? Your biceps? How about your-

Osamu: Don't cut me anywhere! I don't understand! Why do you hate me so much?!

Yoko stabbed the katana down into the ground. It stood perfectly still and upright without her holding it.

(That was almost my manhood!)

Yoko: Why? Maybe because you suddenly moved away from Kyoto without saying anything to me!

Osamu: I never....oh wait!

(Oh, I remember now. I moved to Europe for a few years and left her and all my other exes behind...I must really look like an asshole...)

Yoko: Oh? So you remember?

Osamu: Of course I do! But I left because all my exes are insane!

Yoko: What the hell did you just say?!

Yoko picked up the sword again, pressing into Osamu's skin.

Yoko: We're crazy? Hahahaha! Crazy?! After dating you, there's no such thing as crazy! All of this is perfectly normal to me!

Osamu: This is exactly why I left!

Yoko: So then? Why did you come back?

Osamu: Because...I wanted to see someone...

Osamu turned his head away as he said that.

(What? Why doesn't she say something? Wait...is she crying?!)

Osamu looked up, and those sweet eyes that he remembered returned, adorned with tears of happiness. Yoko hugged Osamu, bringing both of them to the ground and knocking around a few of the bowling balls laying around.

Yoko: Osa, you sweetheart! You really did miss me all this time?

(I didn't mean you, damn it! But if I say that, she'll cut my balls off!)

Osamu: Uhh..well...

Yoko: I won't lie, I hated you for leaving all this time, but if you want to start over and turn a new leaf, I'd happily do it with you! I love you, Osamu!

(See this crap?! This is exactly why I left!)

Yoko stood up, her skirt dangling over Osamu. She took off her panties and let them fall on Osamu's face.

Osamu: Holy crap! What are you doing, Yoko?!

Yoko: Stripping! I want to make love, right here and now!

(Do you see why I left yet?!?)

Yoko took off her vest and lifted her shirt to reveal her bra. It wasn't taken off, and rested on her breasts. It was just so that her stomach could be bare. She had a belly button piercing depicting the kanji for ocean, since the "Yo" in her name was written with the kanji.

Osamu: Yoko, wait, I'm not ready for th-

Yoko put her finger against Osamu's lips.

Yoko: I want you to be rough with me tonight. Even if I tell you it hurts and beg you to stop, just keep going.

(M-maybe this situation isn't all that bad...)

Yoko pressed her finger past Osamu's lips and into his mouth.

(What the f*ck is she doing?!)

She removed her finger and sucked on it, her face blushing at the taste.

Yoko: You're so delicious, love! I'm starting to get really hot now! Let's do it!

Osamu: Wait!

An explosion through the wall rocked the bowling alley and disrupted them. Osamu began to cough as smoke filled the bowling lanes.

Osamu: Oh no, it's-

Yoko: "Her"...

An squad of mercenaries stormed the bowling alley and pointed their guns and flashlights at Yoko. A voice rang out from the smoke

Voice: Well, well, well. Look who we have here. Yoko Akiyama and Osamu Ashikaga. My rival and my first love, both in one place. Perfect...

(Damn it, why did she have to be here too?!)

Yoko: Damn it, and I made sure I wasn't followed!

Out from the smoke came Isabella Bailey, an American girl with blonde hair decorated with metal beads, blue eyes, and quite the nice rack. Her nails were each painted red, white and blue, in honor of her home country.

(Yoko, you're so stupid! You can't forget her father is a US general! She has connections to the US military and even more connections to mercenary groups across the globe!)

Yoko: How rude of you, Gaijin. We were just about to make love after 4 years apart.

Isabella: L-love?! Osamu, you cheating bastard!

Osamu: How is it cheating?! We already broke up!

Isabella: But I still love you, you dummy!

Yoko: Osamu loves me more. Your affection for him means nothing. Now scram, Gaijin.

Isabella: Don't...call me...GAIJIN!

Isabella pulled out a desert eagle and pointed it at Yoko. At the same time, Yoko grabbed her panties and her katana, pointing the latter at Isabella.

Yoko: So? What happens now? Are you really ready to die?

Isabella: Please, you crazy bitch. I'm the one with the gun here.

Osamu: Both of you, stop this immediately! This is cr-

(Wait a minute! This is the perfect time for me to get out of these ropes and escape! They might kill each other, but I can at least be free! Just gotta work these ropes off...)

Yoko cut the gun in half with her katana and kicked Isabella into the squad of mercenaries. She dashed back to Osamu, quickly cutting the ropes and taking his hand.

Isabella: Damn you! Kill them both!

As they ran out of the bowling alley and out into the empty, dark streets, they avoided the storm of bullets coming from behind.

Osamu: I knew I should've just stayed home! This is all your fault, Yoko! Why did you have to kidnap me?! I just wanted some mochi!

Yoko: My fault?! What am I supposed to do against her?! She has too many connections! If anything, it's your fault for making your return so high-profile!

Osamu: What the hell do you mean?!

Yoko: I saw you posting photos on Twitter, you jerk!

(She stalks my social media?!)

Osamu: Argh! This is bull*censored*!

Yoko took Osamu into an alleyway, where they can hide from Isabella's army of mercenaries.

(I can hardly catch my breath! I know we're in danger, but how can she run so fast!?)

Yoko: We lost them for now.

Yoko held up her pair of panties, remembering she still hadn't put them back on.

Yoko: Oh, did you want to have a lick before I put these back on?

Osamu: No, that's fine! Go ahead and put them back on!

Yoko: Okay then, don't complain later.

Osamu: Believe me, I won't!

(Hmm? Did someone just tap my back?)

Osamu turned around and saw yet another nightmare before his eyes.

(No...no no no no! This can't be happening!)

Out from the darkness of the alleyway came a beautiful girl with black hair, pale skin, and lips stricken with cyanosis. Indeed, she was dead. More specifically, she was a zombie. She wore a summer dress with cherry blossoms on it, and her eyes were a bright red.

Yoko: You?! *censored*ai!

(Damn it, Yoko! Stop calling her *censored*ai! You know damn well who this goddess is!)

Izanami: "*censored*ai"? Why would you say something so hurtful?! What have I ever done to you?

*Hint: *censored*ai means "Dead Body" in Japanese)*

Yoko: You are Izanami, after all.  I assume you're here because of Osamu as well?

Izanami hugged and held Osamu from behind, refusing to let him go as he resisted.

Izanami: I heard the noise up ahead and knew what Isabella was doing. The only thing that drives her crazy enough to use deadly force is Osamu! Why didn't you tell me you were back in town, Osamu?! Do you wanna come over to my place and watch movies? There's no hard feelings between you and me, I promise!

Osamu: Listen, I've had the worst night so far!

Yoko: Osamu is coming home with me, and we are going to have rough sex until the break of dawn!

Osuma: Like hell we are! I just want to get home!

Izanami began to cry and fell to Osamu's knees.

Izanami: I-is that true, Osamu: Do you still love Yoko?

(Crap, if I say I don't she'll cut my balls off! If I say I do, Izanami will feel terrible! I really don't want a deity to be mad at me! What do I do?! Maybe I should just kill myself!)

Yoko pointed her sword at Osamu, her blue eyes shining fiercely in the darkness.

Osamu: What's that for?!

Yoko: Well, Osamu? You DO love me right? Tell her. Tell her you love me, we're getting married soon, and we're going to have 24 babies.

Osamu: For god's sake, 24?!? Are we starting a clan?!

Izanami: Well?! Who do you love?

(F*ck me sideways! I'm dead either way!)

Voice: Let him go!

(You've got to be kidding me...Aika?!)

Aika stood in the alleyway, her long, brown, wavy hair flowing in the wind. she wore a floral t-shirt with a leather jacket over it. Her brown eyes matched her hair, and her black, torn jeans matched her jacket. The shirt was a little too short and didn't cover her belly button.

Yoko: Seriously?! You too? I'm gonna have to kill 3 bitches today...

Aika: Izanami, let him go! I still owe him a fist up the ass for breaking my heart!

Osamu: How does everyone know I even-

(Wait, Yoko said she saw me post pictures on the internet! Does that mean they all stalk my social media?! This is why I left this town!)

Yoko: You should really just throw all of your electronics in a river, Osamu.

Izanami: No way! Osamu wants to watch movies with me!

Yoko: He wants to make love to me and rebuild our relationship!

Aika: Shut the hell up!

Aika threw fireworks into the alleyway, and the fuse was almost completely burnt out.

Yoko: That...that crazy bitch...RUN!

Everyone ran out of the alleyway and back onto the street as the fireworks splashed inside the alleyway and flashed blue light all around.

Osamu: Maybe I really should just stay with Yoko...

Izanami: Osa! I thought you loved ME!

Yoko: Didn't I tell you? He loves me!

Aika: I don't give a sh*t who he loves! He's dead! I'm gonna shove your head into your ass so hard it opens a supermassive black hole! Prepare to die, Osamu!

Osamu: Aika, baby, lets talk about this! There's a lot that none of you guys know!

Yoko: "Baby"?!

(Screw me like a pooch!)

Yoko: Oh, I see what's going on here. This Rock n' Roll whore is your mistress!

(Someone please just nuke this city!)

Aika started running towards Osamu with intent to punch him, but...

Osamu: Aika, wait!

Aika: Don't tell me what t-

Aika fell face first on the pavement. She tripped on her shoelaces, of all things.

Osamu: You were never good at tying your shoes...

Aika, with a bloody nose, started crying like a baby.

Aika: Don't look at me, I'm hideous!

Osamu: You were always a cry-baby too. Here.

(Thank god I'm one of those assholes that always carries around a handkerchief.)

Aika: F-for me? Really?

Osamu: Come on, go ahead and use it.

Aika: Osamu...

Yoko: Keep staring at him lovingly like that, and I'll gouge your eyes out.

Aika: You don't scare me, bitch!

Izanami: I want a handkerchief too...

Isabella: Ah-hah! Found you!

(There she is again! And she brought her troops with her!)

Isabella: Oh, so it looks like all of the exes have come out of the woodworks! It's time to die, everyone! Are you ready, boys? Fire on my mark! One! Two! Three!

(So this is how I'm going to die, gunned down in the streets like some animal. I always wished I'd die in a sea of mochi, or maybe in a sea of boobs. Here I come, Death. Embrace me gently.)

Suddenly, one of their mercenaries' digital watch started beeping.

Isabella: What the hell is that?! That's not gunfire I'm hearing!

Merc: Alright, pack it up folks! This is all the time we got paid for. Have your father wire the money whenever he can.

The mercenaries all dispersed and headed back home, leaving Isabella by herself.

Yoko: Oh look at that! Gaijin is all by her poor, lonesome self, while I have my man and my blade! What are you going to do, Gaijin? Will you run and cry back to the United States of Crybaby Land?

Isabella: Damn you, Osamu! Why did you come back here?! You should've stayed gone!

Izanami: Don't talk that way about my eternal husband!

Osamu: Husband?!

Izanami: You don't want to get married?

Suddenly, the sound of a jet flying overhead roared through the sky. Isabella's phone began to ring.

Isabella: H-hello?

Fox 1-9: Isabella, this is Fox One Niner, target in sight and JDAM being released in 5, 4-

Isabella: Oh my god! Duck!

Osamu: What's happening?!

Yoko: Just duck!

Everyone huddled on the sidewalk together as a fighter jet released two JDAM's in the direction of Osamu's house. The explosion was visible from their position.

(No way...that's in the direction of my house!)

Osamu: Izzy! Did you call an airstrike on my house?!

Isabella: I'm sorry! He came late!

Osamu: That's not the problem here!

Fox 1-9: Isabella, this is Fox One Niner, good effect on target. The building is completely destroyed. Returning to base, over and out.

Yoko: See? You always mess everything up.

Isabella: Crap...

Osamu: Now I have nowhere to live...I'm homeless! I'll have to beg for money and dig for food in trash cans!

Yoko: Save your tears, my love. Tears do not belong on a man's face! Until Isabella can find you a new place, you can come live with me! It works out great, because now I can massage you to relieve you of your stress! You know, down there!

Osamu: I hate my life...

(I think...no way...I'm so angry...that I'm starting to lose consciousness...)

Osamu blacked out right then and there.

When he awoke, he was in a bedroom, laying in a king-sized bed. A blue lava lamp on the table next to bed provided light.

(What is this? Was it all just a bad dream? Did I die? Or...)

He turned to his right and saw a naked Yoko cuddling with him and half-asleep.

(No no no no no! This can't be real! This is Yoko's place?!)

Yoko: Mmmm. Osamu, you beast. That felt so good.

(Dear god, was I molested while I was unconscious?!)

Osamu: Umm..did we...

Yoko: No "we". You were still knocked out. Stop talking now, we should sleep.

(I don't know whether to be aroused or to call the police...but I guess...this is how my first night back starts, huh? This is going to be one hell of a ride..)

Online Operative13

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Re: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (COMPLETED)
« Reply #281 on: February 18, 2017, 11:02:20 PM »
Time sure flies...  :bparty:
“To give of oneself is the noblest of all acts.”

Offline OhGodHelpMe

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Re: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (COMPLETED)
« Reply #282 on: February 19, 2017, 06:03:01 PM »
Not sure how many of you read the chapters in War Cloud where Tsukiakari reveals her memories to Osamu, but we're reaching that point in her memories where she bled out and died alongside that one girl on the battlefield. Ebina Sentani, Taeko Akiyama, Mayumi/Katsumi Mihara  :sure: Interesting names indeed.

Senkumo War Stories: One's True Self
Spoiler
(From village to village, fort to fort, we marched and fought our way deep into Ouchi territory. The fighting was so prolonged and intense that my hands were throbbing and stinging with blisters from holding my sword almost constantly. We had very little supplies and kept losing more men than we gained in reinforcements. Winning the fight at the next town or fort became crucial to our survival and success. It was after three and half weeks of fighting that we managed to decimate most of the Ouchi defenses.)



*N O I R*



(We rested at the last fort before our destination, Toyotsu. We praised the heavens knowing that we only had to endure one more long trek across the countryside, with smaller towns becoming more frequent before we could put an end to the Ouchi clan's resistance at Toyotsu.)

The moon and the stars were the only lights in the sky that night. What remained of the Senkumo and Otomo forces camped in and around the fort they had fought so hard for. Many of the bodies had been cleared out, but the bloodstains of those who fought and died still decorated the walls and formed messy, congealed puddles on the floor of the interior.

Fires were lit all across the fort for light, and for the troops to cook their well-deserved rations of white rice and salmon. Tsukiakari herself stood alone in the fort's central command tower, reading the maps and documents left behind by the enemy under the light of paper lanterns on the desk. She was finally able to take her sandals off and sit cross-legged on the soft tatami mats, but her mind was still concerned with all things related to war.







Tsukiakari: So then...it looks like Toyotsu can reasonably hold between 8,000 and 11,000 people per square inch. With what we have now, I think we could easily take the city. We have to be careful though...



*KNOCK KNOCK*



Tsukiakari: Who is it?

Mayumi: It's Mayumi...

Tsukiakari: Come in.

Mayumi slid the door open and closed it behind her, limping over to the desk where Tsukiakari sat. Upon seeing her, Tsukiakari stood up in shock, helping her gently sit down with her as she groaned in pain. Her right arm was wrapped in gauze and stained with dried blood. Another bandage wrapped around her head indicated she had taken a nasty blow to her temple during the fight. Nonetheless, Mayumi smiled when she finally sat down with her friend, both of them still clad in armor.

Tsukiakari: What happened to you, Mayumi?

Mayumi: Ah, it's fine. I took a few arrows to the arm and fought hand-to-hand against one of the enemy troops. He kept bashing my head into the wall, but one of the Otomo saved me before he could do too much damage. I'm all patched up now, as you can see.

Tsukiakari: Damn it...you can't use your bow without your arm...

Mayumi laughed it off.

Mayumi: You look so concerned, Tsukiakari! I'll just pick up the sword for our next battle.

Tsukiakari: Nonsense. You'll stay here with the wounded. We're not that far away from Toyotsu, so there's no-

Tsukiakari was startled by a warm and pleasant feeling, the feeling of Mayumi's hand wrapped around her own. Mayumi's eyes softened as she smiled again.

Mayumi: Where you go, I go. You aren't just my superior. You're Tsukiakari, my closest friend and comrade.

Tsukiakari:...Taeko told me to take care of you before she left. Honestly, when I think about you dy...

Tsukiakari couldn't even finish the sentence, as the mere thought created a lump in her throat. Still, Mayumi was able to understand her feelings well enough. Tsukiakari's saddened eyes and burdened sigh explained it all.

Mayumi: You only lose what you cling to, Gekko. That's a lesson so many of us fail to learn in life. If we want to stop losing what's dear to us, we have to loosen our grip on it. Perhaps we lost Ebina because we kept her too close. Perhaps Taeko lost herself because she couldn't let go of Ebina. What's next?

Tsukiakari: All of that is more reason to leave you here.

Mayumi: No, you misunderstand. It's all more reason to stop worrying. What happens happens. If I leave this world tomorrow, that's all fine by me. Just because our loved ones die, it doesn't mean we lose them. We only lose them when their memory torments us instead of rekindling the joy we felt when they were still here.



*A M O U R*



(Mayumi had such a beautiful way of articulating it. I just couldn't really say anything back to her...)

Mayumi: Some of the men...

Tsukiakari: Yes?

Mayumi: Well, there have been reported sightings of those phantoms you talked about. The fiery ones that appeared during the Plague outbreak on base. Our 2nd Shinobi team said they spotted a nude woman wrapped in fire out in the field, where a battle had previously taken place. They described her as levitating over the bodies in the field, as if she was searching for something. As soon as they saw her though, she vanished behind a veil of smoke. Most of our troops are superstitious to begin with, so these sightings have them fairly spooked.

Tsukiakari: Really? So I wasn't just seeing things that day. Those phantoms were real.

Mayumi: We have no idea if she's hostile or not. She hasn't really interacted with any of our men directly, and the Otomo haven't been able to see her. For now, I've instructed them to keep their distance upon any future sightings.

Tsukiakari: It probably wouldn't hurt to develop an Onmyouji branch once we get home, huh?

Mayumi: That's...actually a pretty good idea, Gekko! If we have our own Onmyouji, we won't have to hire any of the state agents!

Tsukiakari: That was just a joke, Mayumi...

Mayumi: You say that, but having an Onmyouji branch might even make the men feel at ease. We've never had to fight a supernatural enemy, after all. I'd consider it, if I were you. Let me know what you decide. I'll make sure to organize everything.

Tsukiakari: Yeah, I'll make a decision after I look through all of these documents.

Mayumi: Looking at the maps and letters, huh? You never rest, Gekko. That's always been a bad habit of yours. Sure, a commander works long hours, but even she needs her rest. A tired commander is an inefficient commander.

Tsukiakari chuckled as she put down the documents and stretched her arms.

Tsukiakari: And you always had a bad habit of lecturing your superiors. No other commander would ever tolerate such a thing.

Mayumi: My bad, my bad. It's just because I love you so much. By the way, it's probably just me, but it looked like something else was on your mind these past few weeks. Are you thinking about Bishamon?

Tsukiakari: No, it's not him. Izanami-no-Mikoto came to visit me, that's all. She's extremely upset by all of this.

Mayumi: Izanami?! Wow, Bishamon has only ever said great things about her! If the legends are true, it makes sense she'd be very well-respected.

Tsukiakari: I just don't get her sometimes. There's such a profound mystery around her, but I can't seem to figure it out. She loves so strongly even when we've lived separate lives up to this point. Honestly, she acts just how my mother should've acted. If that's what Izanami is like, I wonder why she was given the name Izanami the Cruel.



*N O I R*



Mayumi: Every goddess has her secrets, I suppose. Have you thought of asking her?

Tsukiakari: I'm afraid I wouldn't get an answer. Everything I do know about her past is mostly tragic. She hasn't seen her daughter in thousands of years, and my parents killed her husband when they got older. I'm surprised she doesn't hate me.

Mayumi: Hmm...now that really is a mystery...






Tsukiakari: Ah well. I'm just burdening my mind with more problems, aren't I? My bad. Inform the Otomo captain that the Senkumo clan will be moving out early in the morning. Each of us will only be leaving a small force here to defend the fort from any counter-attacks, though I doubt the Ouchi can muster up the numbers for that anymore. And of course, we need them to take care of the wounded. Our forces need to stay as mobile as possible, after all.

Mayumi giggled as she saluted.

Mayumi: Yes, Commander! Ow!

Tsukiakari: Maybe you shouldn't do any salutes when your arm is wounded, Mayumi...

The two of them tried to contain their laughter like sisters trying not to wake their parents in the middle of the night. For Mayumi, every breath she took in her held back laugh was a funny mix of pleasure and pain from her wounds. For Tsukiakari, that one little moment restored her peace of mind.

Mayumi: Alright! I'm gonna go head to bed. Don't stay up too late, Gekko!

Tsukiakari: Alright, Mom!

Mayumi: Oh whatever!

Tsukiakari: Goodnight, Mayumi.

Mayumi: You know...I never said this to anyone but...Mayumi isn't really my name. I like to be called that, but my birth name is Katsumi.

Tsukiakari: Huh?! Seriously?! I've known you for years and I'm only just now learning your real name?!

Mayumi: Haha! I guess that's what being in the Senkumo clan does to you. Taeko told me that Ebina's last name before she became a Senkumo was Sentani. And of course, she told you that her last name was Akiyama. I was Katsumi Mihara before I came here. It's funny, isn't it? We were all different people before circumstance forced us to join this clan. We had our own names and origins, but all of that is wiped away in favor of a shared banner and name.



*FAMILY*



Mayumi: After a while, when you've survived so many battles and seen so many things, you start wondering..."who am I?". Of course, our training and conditioning invokes an immediate response. I am "Senkumo". I look out at our dead, our wounded, and our victorious sometimes, and I wonder...how many of them remember their origins? How many of them remember what they real names were? How many of them remember their mother or father? Isn't it such a cruel thing to be tricked into believing that our roots are in war?

Tsukiakari: Mayumi...

Mayumi: Do you remember your true name, Tsukiakari?

(Mayumi raised such an intriguing point about our struggle with our identities within the clan. But really, how many of us were "struggling"? For many of us, our conditioning had already taken a solid hold. But as I always observed and loved her for, Mayumi had a strong conscience. No matter how long she lived a life of a battlefield rat, she never forgot who she is in her heart, what her origins truly were. But I was different. I didn't have a last name before Senkumo. I was simply Tsukiakari, a name that forever lived in the shadow of the two names before it, Amaterasu and Tsukuyomi. Ebina, Taeko, and Mayumi had origins they could trace themselves back to, but the Senkumo clan was all I had.)

With a slight chuckle and a smile, Mayumi closed her eyes.

Mayumi: Now I'm the one burdening myself. Excuse my rambling, Commander. Goodnight.







*douleur*



*perte*



(Because of a thunderstorm that suddenly swooped in, our advance was slightly delayed by a day. We ended up leaving the morning after next, well rested and re-energized. Well, at least the troops were well rested. That beautiful mix of blue and pink made the sky seem like a work of art as the sun steadily rose that morning. I can still remember the scent of rain still stuck in the soil and rocks around us. Those boundless fields of tall grass soon changed into beautiful valleys and crop fields. If we were to die on a day of our choosing, I'm sure any of us would've chosen that day.)

With but a meager force of 6,500 Senkumo troops, Tsukiakari led her troops towards Toyotsu, towards the battle that would end the campaign against the Ouchi clan. Mayumi rode on horseback right next to her, noticing something rather alarming about Tsukiakari.

 It looked as if she had trouble keeping her eyes open for long periods of time, as if she was staving off the temptation of sleep. Her breathing was deep and wheezy. Every so often, she would slouch to the left or right on top of her horse, sharply correcting her posture when she snapped out of her trance.

Mayumi brought her horse a little closer to hers as the troops kept on marching.

Mayumi: Tsukiakari? Are you alright?

Tsukiakari felt as though she had to force the air out of her lungs just to speak.

Tsukiakari: I think I...used too much...power...

Mayumi: Fatigue again? No, it looks much worse than that...

Tsukiakari: Almost four weeks...of constant fighting...

Mayumi: Should we stop and rest? You're in awful condition.

Tsukiakari: It's fine! We've already waited...too long. We have to...continue...

Mayumi: I don't like this. It almost sounds like you're suffering from asthma. Straining your powers is clearly doing more than just invoking fatigue.

Tsukiakari: Maybe you're right...

The frantic cry of an archer at the front of the march alarmed Tsukiakari, and all those around him.

Archer: TREBUCHET AHEAD!

Mayumi: Trebuchet?!







Panic ignited throughout the ranks as all the men realized that the valley itself acted as the perfect trap for the enemy trebuchets in the distance. They now had a straight shot on Tsukiakari's forces.



*N O I R*



But the enemy ahead was not the Ouchi clan, but the Mori clan, vassals of the former. Three teams operated three trebuchets in the stretch of flat, grassy plains ahead. Each team had more members than what's usually needed to operate a trebuchet, and it was all because of the ammunition they were using. The Mori, clad in red armor and kasa hats, used the extra team members to load the severed halves of dead and rotting horses onto the trebuchets.

Flies swarmed around them, and their wide open, severed halves were filled with maggots.

Mori: Ignite and fire!

The deceased horses were lit ablaze as the counterweights on the trebuchets dropped, allowing the arm to throw the payload in the direction of the Senkumo, who all huddled around Tsukiakari's cavalry unit to shield her.

Mayumi: Gekko!

Tsukiakari: I've got it!

Tsukiakari bravely pointed her sword skywards towards the flaming projectiles that shined in the morning sky like falling stars. Each of them were all struck with heavenly lightning, destroying them in mid air. But the troops were horrified to find that horse innards and maggots rained down upon them instead of harmless fragments of rock, glass, or bronze. Mayumi scrambled to swipe pieces of the horse's organs off of her armor as Tsukiakari slouched over on her horse yet again, her head throbbing and aching as if a parasite was eating it from the inside.

Senkumo: Are they using animals as ammunition?!

Mayumi: Put on your masks! Do not let the putrid flesh of the animals get into your mouth or eyes! Do not breathe in their stench! Gekko, we're sitting ducks in this valley! I suggest we charge ahead and rush the enemy with the cavalry acting as the spearhead, spearmen behind them, samurai behind the spearmen, and archers at the rear and wings!

Tsukiakari: Do it!

Senkumo: You heard her! Masks on, cavalry forward! We're charging!



*TO BE CONTINUED*

« Last Edit: July 03, 2018, 07:30:08 PM by OhGodHelpMe »

Offline OhGodHelpMe

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Re: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (COMPLETED)
« Reply #283 on: February 22, 2017, 05:33:12 AM »
Senkumo War Stories: Defeat
Spoiler
(Something about this doesn't make sense...)



*R O U G E*



(How did the Mori clan gather the troops and equipment to reinforce the Ouchi clan in time like this? There was such an impossibly small window of time to react, even with the storm that delayed our advance. It just doesn't add up...it's almost as if someone tipped them off...)

As Mayumi instructed, the Senkumo made a mad dash out of the valley as Tsukiakari hung back, still unable to get a hold of herself. On top of her other physical ailments, her vision was steadily growing blurrier like morning fog distorting the view outside of a window.

Tsukiakari: Damn it...I can't see anything!

Mayumi bravely led the charge as the enemy's trebuchet's fired three more flaming horses into the thick of the army. The first one crashed and exploded against the rock wall above their heads, raining down blood and foul pieces of rotten organs and innards. The second crashed right into the line of infantry, slamming six of the Senkumo samurai into the ground and trapping them beneath the horse's flaming carcass.

Mayumi: Keep going! If you stop, you're a dead man! Cavalry, prepare to assault the trebuchet teams, wide Strainer formation!

The brave riders in the Senkumo cavalry all responded with a collective shout of obedience. The Strainer formation was shaped much like a fork with its middle prong broken short. Having taken the strategy from battles in China, Tsukiakari modified the formation to be applicable to an all-cavalry force, allowing for its quick assembly in emergency situations. It was designed to box in the enemy, and that's just what they planned to do when they finally broke from the confines of the valley, avoiding even more flaming horse carcasses as their horses thundered on.

Mori: They're coming! Fall back to the trenches!

Abandoning the trebuchets, the Mori soldiers scuttled back to the rear trenches, passing by the anxious and battle-ready troops entrenched in the front lines. All of them took deep breaths of the cold, morning air, twitching their fingers and tightening their grip on their spears

Mayumi: Trenches?! Cavalry, break off! Signal the samurai to storm the trenches!

With a unified, responsive shout, the cavalry units broke away from the frontal charge, slowing their speed and drifting off to the wings of the formation while the swordsmen took the lead. Mayumi's wounds throbbed beneath their bandages, forcing her to stop completely as her swordsmen clashed with the Mori spearmen in their trenches, erupting into battle cries and clanging steel.

Ignoring the symphony of war in all of its bombastic display ahead, Mayumi was possessed by the sudden taste of blood in her mouth, and and painful throbs rocking her stomach from the inside. She checked her bandages for spreading blood spots, but found no such thing.

Mayumi: What is going on? Did one of my wounds get infected? T-that can't be...I made doubly sure to disinfect them. That can't be it...something else is happening.






The trenches overflowed with troops hacking away at each others limbs, turning the dirt into blood-soaked mud that reeked of flesh and iron. The heavy spears of the Mori clan troops were fearsome, but failed to penetrate the heavy armor of the Senkumo samurai. As each Mori soldier lost their lives to the fine and disciplined blades of the Senkumo, it seemed that the battle hear would be easy, but something still wasn't quite right. Tsukiakari determined that much as she observed from the mouth of the valley, still wheezing and barely able to sit up on her horse.

Tsukiakari: Mayumi...that's not all of them. The Mori...must've sent more...

Tsukiakari surveyed the area, scanning every direction with her blurred vision. Though she could not see it very well, she knew her ears were not deceiving her. There was thunderous sound that reverberated beneath the earth, managing to startle Tsukiakari's horse, who backed away and stomped its hooves on the ground repeatedly.

Tsukiakari: Cavalry?! Damn it, they're going to flank Mayumi from the left side!



* R O U G E *



The Mori clan came down with the thunder of their horses descending from the valley pass to Mayumi's left. Thousands upon thousands of horsemen tightened their formation once they were out from the valley's mouth, preparing to slam into Mayumi's left flank. With their collective battlecry to the heavens, the left wing of Mayumi's formation fortified itself with the spearmen dividing themselves into several wide and tight lines.

Mayumi: Damn it! We can't repel them with our numbers, but the troops in the trenches will be sitting ducks if we don't do something! Hold the left flank until our infantry can pull out from the trenches! If you fail, your brothers will die!

Senkumo: HAI!

Mayumi immediately rushed off to signal the infantry to retreat, leaving her massive line of defense to stare down the horde of cavalry rushing towards them, a massive cloud of dirt and dust trailing behind their charge. One particular spearman, just a regular soldier like his brothers and comrades beside him, noticed the fear and dread on the faces of his fellow Senkumo. He thought of Tsukiakari, with her ways of rallying the troops in tight situations, and Mayumi, with her ability to keep the soldiers centered even when Tsukiakari is unable to lead.

He thought about them both more than he thought about death, or the pain of dying itself. He laughed to himself, closing his eyes and taking a little initiative of his own.

Spearman 1: Oi! Wipe those looks off of your faces, comrades! Is that the face you want to make when Death embraces you? Look at your enemy no differently than how you'd look at the sparkling, summer sea! The same kind of beauty that lies in the ocean lies in the face of death!

His fellow troops turned their heads towards him.

Spearman 2: Hehehe, are you a poet now, soldier? I thought your job was to hold the damn spear and fight like a man!

Spearman 1: How shortsighted. Holding our weapons is merely a function of our jobs. Our duty is to our lord Bishamon, our leaders Tsukiakari and Mayumi Senkumo, and to our brothers and sisters beside us! There is no greater honor in this world than to die with your comrades! So I ask you again, are THOSE the faces you want to make when you leave this world?! Or do you want to look on with me, towards the enemy, towards death, towards the ultimate goal of a warrior?! What is your choice?!

Spearman 3: You know...you're right. Tsukiakari would never make a face like this if she were in the exact same position.

Spearman 4: I hear she didn't when she died either. She fought until the enemy severed her limbs.

Spearman 1: Well then...let's not disappoint our superiors! When they bury us in this earth...let's show them that we died with valor in our hearts, not fear! Look onward men! Our brothers in the trenches depend on us!

With that, they all tightened their grip on their spears and looked ahead with an unflinching bravery reignited in their hearts. To those to far to hear, the sentiment was shouted down the line, strengthening the will of the troops, old and young, who knew they would not survive the fight.







Everyone realized that that beautiful field beneath the colorful morning sky was where they were going to die. But Tsukiakari, still observing from the distance, would not stand to visit death again without a fight. She clasped her hands together and forced more of her power to surge through her already exhausted body, surrounding both herself and her horse in snapping, screeching lightning.

Tsukiakari: Let's go! I won't let them fight alone! Even if it kills me!

Joining the rest of the cavalry in their counter-charge, Tsukiakari unsheathed her blade and caught up with them, taking the central position. When the others saw her, their hearts were even more prepared for death.

Tsukiakari: I'll lead the way! Steel yourselves!

Senkumo: HAI!



*W A R*



All of the flashing, blue lightning encircling Tsukiakari transferred into her blade, making it glow as blue as the ocean. She pointed her sword into the oncoming horde of Mori cavalry, unleashing her signature lightning dragon from the blade's tip.

Mori: What is that?!

The dragon flew into sky, its light disappearing beyond the patches of clouds looming above before slamming back down into the horde in the form of ungodly colossal strike of lightning. Even its very flash was almost blinding to troops on both sides. The deafening sound of a god's thunder boomed from the sky, echoing in their chests. Hundreds, if not thousands of Mori horsemen were nearly completely eviscerated from the strike.

So many of them were just mere flaming skeletons still sitting upright as whatever flesh remained slid off of their bones like melted butter. Their horses died instantly, slowly falling to the ground as fire burned through their tissue and muscles. A cloud of white smoke carrying the scent of burnt flesh, armor, and hair choked the troops on both sides, forcing them to cover their faces with masks.

Still, the Mori did not fall back.

(I tried to block the thought from my mind, but even then, it kept nagging at me. How did the Mori know? How did they manage to respond in time, and with such overwhelming force? Who...who sold us out?)

And then...the unmistakable slam of the two sides finally clashing echoed through the air. Everyone was lost in a frenzy of thick dirt, dust, and putrescent smoke. It had become a wildly loud and chaotic maze of horsemen killing horsemen, of swords bouncing off of armor and slashing through limbs. Tsukiakari did not stop as she got lost in that maze. Her senses were still keen enough for her to slash her sword across the necks of those were about to kill her.

It was hit or miss in that chaotic mob. Either her blade would strike through armor and sever limbs, or her blade would simply clash against another's blade, shattering it into pieces. No matter the result, the important thing was to not stop. If you stop, you're dead.







Unfortunately, the choice wasn't really hers anymore.

(It takes a considerable amount of time to hone in one's divine powers. Izanami had done so for thousands upon thousands of years. Compared to her, I was merely an infant in terms of divine development. When you force to much power through your body...things begin to fall out of place.)

It felt as if a lock had been secured around her chest. She suddenly dropped her sword and fell off of her horse, shivering on the ground and caked in dirt as the hooves of horses just barely missed her head. The dead and dying joined her on the ground as they fell from their horses as well, and much like them, Tsukiakari was unable to move.

Her heart was beating wildly out of control, completely out of sync with her breathing.

(What's going on...I can't calm my heart rate...)

The blood that pooled around one of the dead, young soldiers beside her stained her fingers. She couldn't even feel the warmth of his blood as her hands went numb.

(I can't feel anything...I-)

Mayumi: GEKKO!

(Mayumi?!)

The rest of the cavalry taken from the right wing of the formation aided Mayumi in a second counter-charge, successfully slowing down the horde. She swooped in, grabbing Tsukiakari by her hand and using all of the strength in her wounded body to pull her up to her horse.

Tsukiakari: You fool! You're going to get yourself killed!

Mayumi: You're the one to talk! I got the infantry out of the trenches! We'll fall back behind the line of spears and circle around to flank them while they're engaged! We can't win this battle, but we can outmaneuver and exhaust the enemy!

Mayumi managed to steer them through the thick of the crowd without getting hurt anymore than she already was. Looking back at Tsukiakari, she could immediately tell she had gotten worse. Her eyes were completely unfocused, and she was turning as pale as snow.

Mayumi: Gekko?! Gekko! Hey, stay with me! What's wrong?!

Tsukiakari: My heart! It's beating too fast! I can't catch my breath!





*N O I R*




Mayumi: You're not bleeding, so...tachycardia?! Gekko, try your best to slow it down! I'm going to get you to safety so you can rest!

They were so close, just shy of the line of spearmen when Tsukiakari slumped over and fell from the horse. Mayumi immediately yanked on the horse's reigns to stop it, looking back at the struggling Tsukiakari as she clenched her chest.

Mayumi: Gekko!

Spearman: The cavalry is falling back! If she doesn't get up she'll get caught in the chaos again!

Mayumi: Damn it!

(Mayumi was rushing towards me from one side, and our retreating troops, followed by the much larger, pursuing force of enemies rushed in from the other side. But to me, it all happened as slowly as snowflakes fall. I could see in Mayumi's face how desperate she was to save me. But why? I could just reincarnate, right? Why risk yourself when I can just come back? Looking back, I can understand why. Mayumi had so much more figured out than I did. She had a conscience and a sharp mind. I was merely taking reincarnation for granted, but she knew that such a thing was only given to me by the mercy of Bishamon. It was not a guarantee.)






(I closed my eyes, saying to myself 'when I feel her hand, I'll grip it as tightly as I can, and we'll both get out of here'. That feeling never came.)






Senkumo War Stories: Home Sweet Home

Spoiler
(Hmph...I'm sure Osamu remembers this as well as I do...)

Mayumi was fast, but just not fast enough. She had slumped over with her hand extended towards Tsukiakari, ready to pick her up again and get away with her behind the lines of infantry. She was so, so close...



*N O I R*



The enemy was fast. With her side exposed in her position, Mayumi suddenly felt the sting and burn of a sword piercing through her unprotected side.

(Mayumi...)

Tsukiakari watched in horror as Mayumi fell from her horse with the sword still stuck in her side, motionless on the ground. Like they didn't even care, the Mori cavalry continued to storm their way past them, slamming right into the lines of spearmen.

In that moment, the Otomo clan had caught up with the Senkumo troops, signaling their arrival on the battlefield with a swarm of arrows fired from atop the slopes and hills above. By the time any of the Mori troops heard the sound of the arrowheads ripping through the air, they were already struck in their chests, arms, and shoulders by the swarm.

With no way of knowing that Tsukiakari or Mayumi were among the mass of enemies, the Otomo fired with the intent to kill everything in the horde. Tsukiakari, still managing to summon just a bit of physical strength, crawled over to Mayumi's body with one arm, her head bloodied by her fall.

Tsukiakari: They don't know...we're here...I have to protect her!

Otomo: Fire second volley!

A second swarm of arrows rained down upon the Mori horsemen, who were unable to advance past the Senkumo's wall of spears and armor.

Tsukiakari: Mayumi!

Tsukiakari protected Mayumi with her own body, throwing herself over her as the second swarm cast a shadow over the area.

Mayumi: Tsukiakari! Don't!

(I closed my eyes again...and for a moment, it felt like I went to sleep. I had blacked out, as if my brain was protecting me from whatever pain I felt when those arrows struck through us, taking much of the enemy with them. And when I awoke, the symphony of war was still booming around us. I could see the sun make its full rise in the sky, and I felt...I felt Mayumi's hand in mine. She was laying by my side...bleeding...crying and smiling at the same time...I couldn't even count the arrows stuck in my arms and legs.)







Mayumi: Ge...Gekko...

As Tsukiakari laid alongside Mayumi, knowing she was dying, tears silently fell from her eyes.

Tsukiakari: No...no, no! Not you! Why, Mayumi!?!

Mayumi: Gekko...calm down...your heart is already going wild...

Mayumi tightened her grip around Tsukiakari's hand.

Mayumi: I guess this...this is it. I don't think...I'll survive this one. I'm sorry, Gekko..

Tsukiakari: ...Why? You know I can just reincarnate, right?! So why-

Mayumi: Gekko. Do not live your life...thinking you can just...start over again. Bishamon allows you...to reincarnate. It is not something you control. I...I don't trust Bishamon that much. If you...get into the habit of throwing away your lives...who knows when you won't be able to come back?

Tsukiakari: Mayumi...

Tsukiakari tried inching her body closer to Mayumi's. There wasn't a single nerve that didn't scream in agony, but that was about to be over soon. Death would calm them both down.

Mayumi: Love on the battlefield...hehe...how cliche. At least...I get to die alongside you, Gekko.

Tsukiakari: Don't give up yet! I'll...I'll-

Mayumi: There's nothing you can do. We'll both die here...but only you will come back. You'll need to be...stronger than ever. You need to be wiser. Don't let...Bishamon trick you, Gekko. You're a banished god...with no following...no descendants. You can still be vanquished...much more easily than Bishamon. One day...I fear...he may not wish for you...to return.

Tsukiakari: If you're not here, I don't want to come back! I can't do this without you, Mayumi! I love you too much! You're all I have left, so please, stay with me! You have to!




*perte*




(It's like the sounds of war weren't even there anymore...like it was just me and her...)

Mayumi: Gekko...I'm glad...I get to die at home...with you...

Tsukiakari: Home? What do you mean?

Mayumi: Thank you, Gekko...

Tsukiakari: Mayumi! Mayumi, what did you mean?! MAYUMI!

(She had shut her eyes forever. She looked so gentle, so peaceful, like all of her suffering and burdens were over. Mayumi...or should I say Katsumi Mihara, died holding my hand. And though I felt as though she died because of me...she still said "Thank you".)

It wasn't long after Mayumi's passing that death wrapped its skeletal arms around Tsukiakari's soul as well. Her heart slowed down until it came to a complete stop. The feeling of her heart staying still was startling, but oh so comforting at the same time. Death was a mystery that became more and more comfortable the deeper she slipped into it.

Death was peace.

Death was release.

Death was love.

Death was regret.

Death was merciful.

(But reincarnation was anything but merciful.)






Just like the first time, Tsukiakari awoke with a gasp of resurrection. She shot right up from her futon, coughing as if something were lodged in her throat. Reincarnated in Bishamon's room again, the god himself along with a few of the surviving Senkumo troops swarmed her and cheered her name. They were young, no older than 17, but they had already received the wounds of war, bandaged in white gauze.

There was that scent again, the scent of tatami mats and incense replacing the scent of burnt flesh and hair.

Senkumo: Commander, you're back!

Bishamon: Welcome back, Tsukiakari. You-

Tsukiakari: Mayumi! Where's Mayumi!?

Not a shred of sadness seemed to exist within Bishamon, but he chose to hide it by closing his eyes.

Bishamon:...She's dead. The sword stuck in her side killed her.

Her stomach ran in circles. She felt so sick she could vomit.

Bishamon: I'm very sorry, Tsukiakari. We gave her a burial of the highest honor for her astounding bravery during the fight. Your troops here have also expressed their wish to reward you with a Golden Sword, a symbol of your own valor. I know this is a lot to take in at one time, but...

Tsukiakari lowered her head, her face concealed by her thick, wavy head of hair.

Tsukiakari: What...did you just say? Golden Sword?

Senkumo: Yes, Commander! It's not much, I know, but-

Tsukiakari: GOD DAMN YOU! Mayumi is dead and you want to give me a sword?! Is that all you care about?! Are you just here to get your fancy military decorations?!

Bishamon: Tsuki-

Tsukiakari: Which one of you sold us out?! Huh?! That counter-attack went down too smoothly! It was too perfectly timed to be anything other than betrayal! So which one of you do I have the pleasure of blaming Mayumi's death on?! Speak!

Bishamon stood, angered and disappointed by Tsukiakari's accusations.

Bishamon: Accusing your own soldiers of treason without so much as a trial? Do not blemish your reputation as their commander, Tsukiakari.

Tsukiakari: You madman! You sent us to our deaths and you know it! You knew we weren't equipped or prepared for a campaign against the Ouchi! It was supposed to be a few battles, but you had us out there for four weeks!



*TRAITOR*


Bishamon: Men, please give me and Tsukiakari some time alone.

Senkumo: But...Lord Bishamon...

Bishamon: It's quite alright. I'll calm her down.

Bishamon smiled and patted their backs, giving them the confidence to leave it all to him. After they filed out of the room and shut the door behind them, the god of war sat down by near-hyperventilating Tsukiakari.

Bishamon: Do you wish for me to make sure that you never reincarnate again?

(Mayumi...you were right...)

With her eyes wide with shock and offense, Tsukiakari turned her gaze towards Bishamon, who smiled as if such a statement was a joke.

Bishamon: How dare you throw such accusations to your own troops? How dare you insult the Senkumo name? Does Mayumi's sacrifice really mean nothing to you?

(Reincarnation was not a given, but a bargaining chip. How did you see it before I did? This curse, this cycle of death and rebirth is but a form of slavery.)

Tsukiakari: Katsumi didn't die for the Senkumo clan that day. She died for her friend.

Bishamon: Katsumi? I see...she told you her true name.

Tsukiakari turned her tearful eyes away as Bishamon stood up again.

Bishamon: But you're different, Tsukiakari. The Senkumo clan is your true self. There was nothing else to Tsukiakari before this. Regardless, your mission was a success. The remaining Senkumo and Otomo were able to repel both the Ouchi and Mori clans, taking the entire province. Congratulations, Gekko.

Tsukiakari: Damn you. Don't you dare call me that. Only my friends could call me that.

Bishamon: Oh? And what am I?

Tsukiakari:...An inquisitor of avarice.

Their eyes met again, entering a prolonged and silently tense standoff. Bishamon had gotten exactly what he wanted, and he realized that as he stared deep into the dark depths of Tsukiakari's eyes. They were driven with anger, despair, and just the right amount of hatred. The best part was that a large amount of that poisonous hatred was directed at herself.

As offended as he should've been, Bishamon responded with hearty laughter.

Bishamon: 'An inquisitor of avarice', she says. I won't ask you to explain your little waltz of words. I'd much prefer to ponder their meaning on my own. You'll need to spend more time resting, Tsukiakari. Your body is all shaken up because of your reincarnation. Though, I suppose it may feel more lonesome than the first time. At any rate, rest well, Tsukiakari.

With Bishamon exiting the room, the only things keeping Tsukiakari company were her tears, multiplying as she sunk her head low. Her gentle cries erupted into angry sobs, and all of her words were muddled by her broken and shaken voice. It wasn't just Mayumi's death that shook her.

 It was the realization that her personal quarters would forever be empty. Ebina's silent cuteness and intellect was gone. Taeko's invasive and perverse form of love had been exiled. Mayumi's smile and respectable sense of responsibility had been vanquished.

And so, Tsukiakari's heart broke into three pieces.

Offline OhGodHelpMe

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Re: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (COMPLETED)
« Reply #284 on: February 22, 2017, 01:33:43 PM »
Senkumo War Stories: The Hunt
Spoiler






Gentle, unkind, omnipresent snow had no mercy on the sorrow in Tsukiakari's soul. As she walked through the cold, blanketed forest with a cane in hand to help her walk, flashes of her dying moments with Mayumi returned to her. There were so many things she wanted to say to Mayumi, but fate had cruelly ripped the two apart and set eternity itself as the partition between them.

(It was back to a resting period, back to physical rehabilitation. I began to understand why the Buddha taught that the cycle of death and rebirth was, in itself, a cycle of suffering. We only lose what we cling to, and this is especially true when you're a god. I didn't even know if it was still worth staying in the Senkumo clan. What was I doing, and why? What was I really doing slaughtering all of those people? Surely, there had to be another way...)

The sound of the crashing waves of the ocean enticed Tsukiakari's ears. The forest path had led her upwards, towards the top of a cliff overlooking the sea and the seemingly endless expanse of blue as far as the eye could see. However, there was something else that caught her eye, something fluffy. In fact, nine fluffy things caught her eye all at once. Tending to two gravestones at the edge of the cliff, Inari Okami stood with her back to Tsukiakari, silently praying.

Her kimono was primarily white like the snow itself, decorated with red designs of cherry blossoms growing on their branches. It took her a minute, but Tsukiakari remembered exactly where she saw those nine, fluffy, white tails before. Sensing her presence, Inari ended her prayer and turned around, smiling when she laid eyes on Tsukiakari.



* A M O U R *



Inari was just a child in appearance the last time they met, but now she was all grown up, blessed by a beautiful and womanly stature like that of Amaterasu herself. Her smile and her eyes were gentle, almost too gentle for Tsukiakari's aching soul.

Inari: I knew we'd see each other again some day.

Tsukiakari: Inari Okami...you...you look beautiful...

Inari bowed.

Inari: Thank you very much. And you...well, I heard what happened. Izanami told me. I suppose things have been incredibly rough, haven't they?

Tsukiakari: Izanami told you, huh?

Tsukiakari closed her eyes, as if she were ashamed.

Inari: Actually, I was told to talk to you immediately after your awakening. Let's go to my shrine and have a chat. It's very important.

Tsukiakari: Alright...







A talk over tea as if everything was just dandy was the last thing Tsukiakari thought she needed. However, as she sat in the main pagoda of Inari's massive shrine close to Kyoto, she looked around in wonder to all of the bags of money she had, piled off into the corner. Dozens of little stone fox statues with red bibs around their necks made cute additions to her shrine as well. It was warm inside, and Inari's green tea was a little sweeter than Tsukiakari made hers. For her weary heart, such sweetness was welcomed.

The shrine had multiple buildings, its own pond, and many multitudes of Ema hanging on her walls. The two sat across from each other, drinking tea and catching up.

Tsukiakari: Wow...this is all yours?

Inari: Yeah, and there's multiple like it popping up all over the place.

Tsukiakari: No wonder I haven't seen you in all these years. You've really grown popular, Inari! How did that happen?

Inari: I'm not all too sure myself, actually. Luck? Sheer virtue? Haha! Silly me, I'm a goddess and I don't even know! Some mysteries never change no matter how divine we are.

Tsukiakari: So...what's it like being so popular?

Inari sighed heavily just thinking about it all.

Inari: You wouldn't believe it! It's soul-crushingly tiring! I have to provide blessing after blessing after blessing! I thought I'd simply be the goddess of foxes, but I foolishly took on the tasks of handling fertility, good luck, and the safety of certain classes of people! I've got so much on my plate I can hardly sleep!

Tsukiakari: Is it that bad?

Inari: You'll never understand! Some of the prayers I get are just downright silly! "Inari-san, please get rid of the itch on my back!". "Inari-san, please kill my husband!. "Inari-san, please marry me!". It's absolute madness!

For the first time since her reawakening, Tsukiakari had herself a giggle. She didn't even want to, but Inari's lighthearted complaints forced it out of her.

Tsukiakari: Crap, I'm sorry! That's just pretty funny! I could probably answer that second prayer for you, if you'd like.

Inari: Tsukiakari!

Tsukiakari: I'm kidding, I'm kidding! Sorry, we Senkumo have a pretty flat and dark sense of humor.

Inari: Geez....







Tsukiakari: So then...what did you want to talk to me about?

Inari watched her own reflection in her steaming cup of tea.

Inari: After allowing your reincarnation, Izanami...

Tsukiakari: Yes?

Inari: Izanami went off to Heaven. She said that she noticed some abnormalities in the amount of prayers a few of the gods were receiving, and those abnormalities seemed to correlate with the battles that have taken place within the past forty to fifty years.

Tsukiakari: Abnormalities?

Inari: It sounds cruel, but...there are some gods alive and healthy right now that should've faded away decades ago. The battles you've participated it in and the victories that resulted from them all seemed to have a secondary effect, the spreading of Shintoism even among non-Shinto regions. Izanami observed that gods like Hachiman were getting more prayers in these than more popular gods like Ebisu.

(Hachiman?)

Tsukiakari: Correlation doesn't equate to causation, Inari. So Izanami has a few suspicions, but what exactly did she go to Heaven for?



*V E R T*



Inari: To demand a search warrant. She's decided to go ahead and open up an investigation into the Senkumo clan and the details of their operations.

Tsukiakari: She what?! Is she insane?! So she's accusing Bishamon of using the clan to further the lifespan of other gods, is that it?!

Tsukiakari was furious, struggling to keep her anger in check, as not to be rude to Inari. The veins in her temple throbbed in pulsating pain, and her hands shook with frustration.

Inari: Tsukiakari, if there's something going on, you need to tell us. I fear Bishamon may be abusing the fact that the Shinto gods have vowed not to surveil their Buddhist guests. Interfering in human affairs to advance the lifespan of gods is an illegal act, Tsukiakari. Some gods simply outlive their utility, and vanish like dying stars. Meddling in that process breeds selfishness, and it feeds the ego. The desire to live forever when it is not your purpose will always lead to suffering.

Tsukiakari held her head in her hands as unrelenting waves of thoughts and worries ricochet'd around the inside of her skull.

(Damn it, Izanami!)







Amaterasu: A warrant?

Izanami: Yes. I demand it in order to carry out an investigation on Bishamon's practices involving the Senkumo clan.

Standing in the middle of the great halls of the magnificent palace of Heaven, Amaterasu peered out of the purple, stained glass window that stretched from the ground all the way up to the golden, vaulted ceiling above. The smooth, stone walls were decorated with large kakejiku. As the eternal sunshine of heaven pierced through the stained glass window, the entire hallway was aglow with its purple light, shining on the beautiful Amaterasu and the pale Izanami.

Amaterasu's long, black hair laid freely down to her hips, covering her shoulders. Her eyes were golden like the sun itself, and her lavish kimono was a mix of white decorated with golden streaks shaped like lightning bolts. Her peachy skin screamed life, while Izanami's screamed death with is paleness. Her very presence was authority personified.

Oyamatsumi: Come on, this is nonsense! Don't you have any better things to be doing, Izanami?

Raijin: Please think this through, mother.

Izanami: I AM thinking this through!

The young, fur coat wearing Oyamatsumi and the long haired, thickly bearded Raijin were there as well, all of them vying for Amaterasu's favor in the matter like coyotes fighting over food.

Raijin: Amaterasu, didn't you stress the importance of allowing the Buddhist gods their freedom? It will make us look like draconian fools if we suddenly place one of the prominent Buddhist deities under investigation over such nonsense.




*N O I R*




Amaterasu: I agree, but to hear that my own daughter had been involved in this fighting...I have to wonder what exactly Bishamon was thinking.

Oyamatsumi: Bishamon saved Tsukiakari's life by bringing her into the fold. She would've died on the streets like a rat if he hadn't came and saved her!

Izanami: You watch your tone when you speak of her! Tsukiakari is not a rat!

Raijin: Even if she's your daughter, my lady, Tsukiakari is still a banished god. She did that of her own accord, and she is reaping the consequences of that decision. What foolish example would we make of ourselves if we showered her with exceptions? Being labeled a Banished God would lose its power.

Oyamatsumi: Exactly! Take your mind off of Tsukiakari, Amaterasu! As far as we're concerned, she's no longer one of us!

The sweetheart Izanami, the living embodiment of eternal love and care, revealed a very ugly side of her in that moment. Her presence reeked of hatred and evil as her eyes sharpened, and her voice grew rough with rage.

Izanami: You'd abandon your own fellow deity for the sake of protecting a mere label, Oyamatsumi?! Have you no shame? Or should I instill fear and shame into you once more?!

Oyamatsumi: You putrid bitch! How dare you threaten me!

Raijin: Come now, you two have already dueled before. Izanami won fair and square that time.

Oyamatsumi: She didn't have to kill me! It's because of her I'm like this now!

Amaterasu: Hmm...such quarrel among the gods. Izanami, if I were to allow you your warrant, just how far would you take your investigation?

Oyamatsumi: Doesn't the warrant itself dictate that? Or do you plan on giving her a Blank Warrant so she can do whatever the hell she wants?!

Izanami: I will be personally involved in the investigation. I'll be utilizing every tool at my disposal, including the Shinigami.

Amaterasu: I see. And what is it that you think you'll find if you are allowed to do this?

Izanami: Evidence of the abuse of human lives in order to prolong the lives of gods.







Oyamatsumi: Amaterasu, you're not just going to let Izanami do what she wants, are you?!

Raijin: With all due respect, Mother frequently circumvents Heaven's judicial process, setting a precedent that only she is allowed to break certain rules. You're far too lax with her, Amaterasu.

Oyamatsumi: Remember what happened the last time we let her do whatever the hell she wanted? She earned the name 'Izanami the Cruel'.

Izanami: Fall on your sword and never come back! That was different and you know it!

Oyamatsumi: You killed millions of people AND COUNTING!

Amaterasu: Enough!



*G O L D*



Amaterasu: Oyamatsumi, you went to far with that comment. You know how much of a sensitive matter that is to Izanami.

Oyamatsumi: Oh, so we're just going to excuse one of the worst disasters in human history with 'it's a sensitive matter'? Izanami is a loose cannon, a walking apocalypse if she wants to be! I don't think someone who ravaged the largest landmass on earth should just be able to get a warrant as she pleases! Don't you see the huge problem that would present us with?

Amaterasu sighed, having made her decision. She uttered just a few more words as she walked away without turning back.

Amaterasu: Go to the Divine Court, Izanami. Once the warrant is in your hands, I'm only giving you 3 months to handle this however you please.

Izanami's air of terror subsided as she bowed in gratitude.

Izanami: Thank you, Amaterasu.

Oyamatsumi: Moral of the story, if you want to be favored by Amaterasu, just kill off multitudes of people for revenge.

Izanami: Do not make me vanquish you again, Oyamatsumi. I'll make sure you never come back if you do. And Raijin, my son, I don't know what's gotten into that thick head of yours, but you better distance yourself from Bishamon while you still can. Do not think that I'll let you off the hook simply because you're my child. If either of you get in my way, the things I'll do to you will earn me a name much more ominous than 'Izanami the Cruel'.

Her words silenced the two gods as she too departed from the halls.

(The hunt was on, it seemed...)