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Topics - OhGodHelpMe

Pages: [1] 2 3 4
1
I've had a lot of fun and a ton of success with Death by Ex-Girlfriend and its much darker sister series, Senkumo War Stories. I consider it to be my best work, by far. Bit of an awkward start, but it was written with a lot of heart and it ended up developing into an emotional rollercoaster of sorts. It dealt with themes of altruistic heroism, familial curses, and the different ways in which people deal with loss.

However, some of you may remember my first story written way back when, during a writing contest or something of the sort. It was Anzu: A Friend From The Grave

Anzu came about after a very pleasant reading of the manga Ane Doki, a manga I still come back to read almost every winter. It was a relatively short, mildly ecchi story about a 13 year old boy (Kouta) who encounters an alluring 17 year old girl (Natsuki) one hot summer day. The two share an indirect kiss when Natsuki takes Kouta's ice cream for a little relief from the heat. Of course, Kouta can't stop thinking about the fact he's sharing an indirect kiss with a beautiful, older girl, and Natsuki sees right through him for this. She calls him out about it, and he responds by running away.

Later that day, when Kouta is returning home, he finds his father has to go overseas suddenly, leaving him all alone in the house. That is, until Natsuki catches up with him again, offering to take care of Kouta while his father is out (more like she took advantage of the situation so she could have a place to stay)

Initial annoyance and sexual hijinks aside, Kouta and Natsuki develop a sincere friendship over the course of the manga (along with Natsuki's younger sister Chiaki, who also ends up living with them.) Natsuki seems to be acting selfishly, but Kouta soon sees that she's helping him become more of a man. She teaches him to stand up for himself and those he loves, how to swim, and how to be confident in his own abilities as a young man.

Something Chiaki brings up later in the story is that their living situation can only really last until Kouta's father gets back. There's going to have to be a point where they have to separate. The seasons change in this manga. Starts in summer, goes through fall, and ends around the wintertime. Kouta's father returns during the winter and thanks the girls for taking care of Kouta for all of that time, but soon announces that he's being transferred to a different regional branch of his company, meaning they're going to be moving really soon.

Kouta and the girls suddenly realize that their dreaded time of separation was close, and they'd have to say goodbye in just a few days. Since the girls lived with Kouta for the past six months, they of course decide to stay and help clean/pack the house, but Kouta is too devastated by the news to help, since he's also coming to grips with the fact that he's in love with Natsuki, not the girl he thought he loved.

It's a bittersweet ending as Kouta struggles to confess on the final night, and still struggles even as the girls accompany him and his father to the train station. But, he does make his confession at the last minute and scores a well-deserved goodbye kiss from Natsuki. If it's any consolation, there's a four-page epilogue chapter that takes place four years later. Kouta walks down the street with some ice cream and encounters an older girl with wavy, raven hair. The girl turns around, revealing herself to be Natsuki. The ending mirrors the very beginning when they met, ending the story with them reuniting.

Ane Doki was a very pleasant and heartfelt read, but I also enjoyed its depiction of changing seasons and the homely atmosphere it had, seeing as most of it takes place in Kouta's house rather than just at school. The changing seasons made the story feel way longer, which was necessary for the emotional impact of the winter chapters. It also gave me a taste for bittersweet endings.

I learned quite a lot from that humble little manga and I wanted to employ some of what I gathered in my own story.

It was that combined with the aesthetic and artistic inspiration of Sankarea that I wrote the initial chapter of Anzu. Sankarea's anime did a really amazing job with its art and general aesthetic. Studio DEEN turned what used to be a drab, abandoned hotel room into some otherworldly slice of dilapidated paradise. An abandoned bowling alley fitted with a row of colored windows. (I REALLY fell in love with this aesthetic after seeing the ED)









Vivid descriptions involving colored glass still permeate in my writing. Even Death by Ex-Girlfriend had a similar abandoned bowling alley with a very similar row of colored glass. So, with quite a lot of inspiration going around at the time, the homely, bittersweet, and heartfelt atmosphere of Anzu was born. I promised a long time ago that I would come back to this story.

I'll be giving it the DbEG treatment in my spare time. Hope you all enjoy.

Chapter 1: Fallen Apricots
Spoiler
It was a beautiful Sunday morning in Sapporo, or at least it was for all but one man who stayed in his apartment and didn't even bother to open the blinds after waking up. That sorry, sorry man is Giuseppe Himura. If you were to look upon his frizzy, curly mess of a hairstyle, you'd weep for his lack of care and grooming.

If you were to look into his dark, baggy eyes, you'd cry out in agony for his criminally poor sleeping habits. If you were to look through his closet, only to find shirts and shorts, you'd scream in anger for his savagely disgusting sense of fashion. The truth is, Giuseppe is just a normal, working man like everyone else. And today, he had no reason to be happy. He promised to visit his father today, early in the morning. In prison.

And so, the corpse named Giuseppe arose from his bed. His bare feet landed on a pile of clothes he had neglected to put away. He judged that the tedium and monotony of folding one's own laundry was something he would not suffer today, either. He threw his clothes back into the hamper inside of his sliding closet, preferring to just pretend they're still dirty.

He dragged his feet over to the bathroom, yawning as he nearly tripped over himself. Sharp, radiant beams of cyan light sliced through the gaps in his closed blinds, shining upon his pale face in stripes. He turned on the faucet and gathered a pool of ice-cold water in his hands, splashing his face with it. He repeated this a few times before drying himself off.

He looked in his mirror for just a split second, only to recoil at what he saw staring back at him. He continued his daily routine of brushing his teeth and other grooming practices with same amount of dejected autonomy. After making himself look presentable, he threw on some clothes—a white, long-sleeved shirt and black pants, and grabbed his car keys.

Giuseppe slid his feet into his worn out, grey flat tops and stepped outside, shutting the door behind him. The air of the early morning made his breath visible. After locking the front door, Giuseppe descended the orange tile steps beside him. He ended up in the apartment complex's courtyard, surrounded by legions of shrubs and succulents nestled in earthenware pots. He slithered down the walkway towards the door in the rear of the courtyard, which took him down to the garage.

Giuseppe looked around as he marched towards his car, noticing that the garage was almost entirely empty. The observation only made him wish he had to work on Sundays. He released a sigh of dread as he approached his cherry-red sedan, dreading the drive to the prison. Nonetheless, Giuseppe plopped down in the black leather driver seat, turned on his car, and hit the road.

The scenery of Sapporo may as well have been a greyscale void to him. The various antique shops, cafes, and high-rise corporate offices all blended themselves into a fuzzy, abstract painting. Stopping at a red light, he saw clusters of people marching through the crosswalk. Their cacophony of youthful laughter and conversation made Giuseppe impatiently stare at the traffic signal. Just as one flock of people made their way to the other side of the street, another would line up at the other end, waiting for their turn to cross.

There were far more people in Sapporo that walked rather than drove. Most of them headed towards the huge shopping mall across the street, while others diverged to make their way to other places. If Giuseppe didn't have to travel a considerable distance, he would've been part of the colony of people cluttering the streets. Prison was the only place he actually drove to, besides for work.

After a quiet, forty-five minute drive, Giuseppe had arrived at the prison. The prison complex consisted of six large, grey buildings all connected to one another. They were featureless, rectangular buildings that could be considered the only true eyesore of Sapporo. A blob of formless grey maintained by mannequins in blue—that was the prison to Giuseppe.

Arriving at the prison gate, he stopped to talk with the guards posted outside. After giving them his name and his purpose for his visit, the guards allowed him through and into the parking lot. He found a spot close to the prison's entrance and parked there. He felt like a ghost as he exited the car and went through the prison's front office, dealing with more of the soul-sucking bureaucracy of the prison staff.

The young lady managing the front desk had her eyes glued to the computer as she spoke to Giuseppe. Judging by the sour expression on her face and the dark bags under her eyes, Giusepped gathered her job was a miserable one.

"Here for visitation?" the young lady asked.

"Yeah. My father, Nori Himura." Giuseppe answered.

"Ah, I see the appointment." she said. "Go down the hall to the left. The guard will take you to where you need to go."

 After going through all the proper procedures, he was guided into the visiting room.

When he sat down behind the glass barrier between him and his father, he immediately wanted to get out. Nori's face was scarred with wrinkles. His hair was straight and neat unlike his son's, and it was kept at a short length. He was a fairly muscular man with a gentle smile, giving off the aura of a gentle giant.

"Hey." Giuseppe said in a flat tone. "How are you holding up?"

"I'm doing alright. What about you?" Nori responded.

"I'm alright I guess." Giuseppe said, staring down at his heavily worn shoes.

"Make any friends lately?" Nori asked.

"No..."

Nori sighed. "Twenty-two years old is the prime of a man's life, son. You should take advantage of it while you can."

"Don't call me that." Giuseppe hissed.

Nori's smile wilted into a frown. "I know you can never forgive me. But I swear on every vein in my body that I....I love you deeply."

"So did Mom..." Giuseppe retorted beneath his breath.

"Just....just promise me you'll make some friends, okay? Just go out into the world. Laugh, cry, get angry, get jealous, fall in love, accomplish your dreams. Don't let my mistakes stop you from being you."

Giuseppe nodded. "I'll try."

"You still haven't visited her, huh?" Nori questioned.

Giuseppe shook his head as he bit his lip.

"I understand." Nori said. "There's no need to rush. Someday, you'll find the strength to go see her again. Once you do, you might be able to see the world in a whole different light."

Giuseppe dug the nails of his left hand into his palm. "A different light is just another shade of grey."

Giuseppe left the prison, happy he no longer had to look his father in the eye. Giuseppe returned home and spent most of the day watching television, flipping between mildly interesting cooking shows and oddly soothing news stations. The cooking shows only made him hungry, and he no longer had the energy nor will to cook. So, he settled for the news.

"Patrons of this Sapporo bar were greeted by a wandering deer on Saturday night." the newsman read aloud. " The deer was spotted crossing the street before he made his way into the bar. If you're wondering, he ordered a milk stout and a lager."

The newsman's attempt at humor almost made Giuseppe wish for more news about murders, wars, and plagues. At least then, there'd be nothing to joke about. Even with the mindless distraction of television, Giuseppe couldn't shake his father's image out of his head. He had photos of his mother, himself, and his father laying around the house, snapshots of a much happier time in his life.

Giuseppe took one of the photos off the kitchen counter. He was just ten years old in the photo, sitting atop on father's shoulders while his mother posed with a smile on the side. They were ankle deep in the sapphire waters of Positano, a small, coastal village in Italy built along a seaside hill. Giuseppe remembered the smell of salt on the ocean breeze and the sunlight bouncing against the vibrant, green trees along the hill. The color of the ocean reflected off of the shore, giving every nearby shadow a shade of blue.

Giuseppe took the picture out of its frame. He carefully tore the picture from the left side, coming in towards the center of the photo before tearing downwards. He managed to tear most of his father out of the photo, crumpling his section of it and tossing it in the garbage.

He set the picture down and looked at it again. A mournful sigh escaped his lips.

"That didn't work..."

The sun was close to setting. Even someone as miserable as Giuseppe could see that despite the negative events of the day, it was still a beautiful day, and beautiful days, in his mind, deserved walks. And so, he put his worn out shoes back on, leaving the ripped photo at the counter, and left the house again. He slinked and slithered through the cluttered Sapporo streets and into the more secluded areas of the neighborhood.

"What kind of father tries to say sorry after all these years for what he's done?" Giuseppe murmured, using nature as his confessional. "I can't wait until he's put down."

Giuseppe stopped walking when he realized he was completely alone now. He had walked into a jagged, hilly area covered with meadows of pink milkweed flowers and yellow dandelions. Curiously, there was a dirt road leading up the hill to an old, abandoned church. From the angle where he stood, the blazing afternoon sun reflected against the rows of colored glass lining the outside of the church.

"Is that a church? Hmm...Well, I'm all the way out here, may as well check it out. At the very worst, it will be a messy building. At best, I'll get to sit alone in church like I used to do." Giuseppe said.

Giuseppe plodded up the hill and arrived at the creaky doors of the abandoned church. He opened them up and let himself on, immediately taken aback by the beauty and aesthetic of the abandoned building. There were pristine statues of the Virgin Mary, of child angels, a Pieta replica, and high, vaulted ceilings bearing the faded Renaissance artwork of Jesus, Saint Paul, and other religious figures. The pews were separated by a long, red rug that led all the way down to the podium. Behind the podium was a large statue of Jesus nailed to the cross, and an organ that sat facing the podium.

The church's stained glass betrayed convention. Instead of being more of a mosaic of bold, interwoven colors, each window was, for the most part, a solid color. Both sides of the sanctuary had a row of massive, solid-colored windows. Bright greens, deep purple, vivid reds, cool blues, and fiery oranges. Sunlight gushed through the west-facing windows to the right, its natural color filtered by each window. The result was a breathtaking outpouring of radiant color, a rainbow shining through the windows and onto the pews, podium, and Giuseppe himself. It had an immediate, calming effect on Giuseppe, as if he had walked into a private and sacred world, one of serene silence and multi-colored beauty.

The church itself was wide, with plenty of space between the walls. The beige, marble floors made Giuseppe's first few steps in the building echo throughout the sanctuary. It looked as if the church could hold about several hundred people at once. The floor was messy, as some bits of the roof had fallen off. Being abandoned, this was never cleaned up. There were some plastic sheets draped in the back section of the church, as well as some crucifixes and other religious ornaments next to the podium.

Giuseppe liked this building. It wasn't overly filthy, and the glass made the sunlight colorful and beautiful to look at . He walked down the aisle and sat down on one of the pews.

"It's so peaceful here." Giuseppe said, the spacious church echoing his voice back at him.

Giuseppe took a seat at one of the pews, only to find he had rudely sat on what looked like a diary.

"Anzu's diary, do not steal?" Giuseppe said, reading the lazily scribbled title of the diary. "Who's Anzu?"

Suddenly, there was a loud yell in the church, a frightful shriek that blared out right in front of Giuseppe. A girl appeared out of nowhere and tackled him to the ground, wrestling him for the diary.

"Give it back! Give it back you clumsy idiot!"

"I'm sorry, I'm very sorry!" Giuseppe shouted in a panic as he was tackled right off the pew.

Giuseppe caught his breath and let go of the diary. He sat up and was able to look at the girl. She wore an unbuttoned, floral cardigan with a black shirt underneath and black jeans. Her hair was long, black, and curly, adorning her face and blue eyes beautifully as it continued down to the end of her back. She wore a silver, sparkly choker around her neck, and had very mild freckles on her face, particularly around her nose.

"I'm sorry, I didn't know that was yours! My sincerest apologies, lady!"

"It's Anzu! You literally just had the diary in your hands! You read my name out loud and you couldn't even call me by it!"

"Why the hell would I call you by your first god damned name!?"

Realizing he had just cursed in a church, and on a Sunday, no less, Giuseppe slapped his hand over his mouth.

"Wow, cursing on a church on a Sunday? Man, you're pathetic!" Anzu scorned.

"It's not my fault! I'm just a little surprised to see someone else in here. I thought I was here alone." Giuseppe said, his right hand monitoring the rhythm of his calming heart.

"Well, your certainly not, are you? I'm here too!" Anzu said, poking her thumb into her chest. "Wait a minute..."

"What?" Giuseppe questioned.

Anzu brought her face closer to Giuseppe's face, inspecting him up close. "How exactly are you able to see me and talk to me right now? Are you dead too?"

"Well, I'm certainly dead inside if that's what you mean."

Anzu shook her head. "No no no. I mean, have you passed away recently or something?"

"Well if I had, I wouldn't be here, would I?" Giuseppe retorted, feeling as though this young girl was playing him for a fool.

Anzu crossed her arms and arched her eyebrows. "Hmmmm...."

Anzu turned around to think, turned around again, and delivered a swift and mighty kick to Giuseppe's testicles.

"Why did you do that?!?!?" Giuseppe cried with tears in his eyes.

"I'm so confused...you actually felt that?" Anzu questioned, her head slightly tilted to the side.

"Of course I could feel it, anyone could've felt that!"

Anzu kept her thoughts to herself as Giuseppe struggled to get back onto his feet, his pale face still red with pain.

"Why are you so perplexed to see another human being here?" Giuseppe groaned.

"It's just...I'm dead." Anzu answered. "You shouldn't be able to see, hear, or feel me."

"Hold on, red light. You're dead? What do you mean?"

Anzu began stroking an imaginary phallic object in the air. "It means I'm in love with you, and I want to do all those bad things those naughty girls do in those JAV films."

"Whoa, what?!?!" Giuseppe recoiled.

"It means I'm dead, you idiot! Deceased! I'm a ghost!"

"Are you trying to pull a fast one on me or something? This isn't Yotsuya Kaidan." Giuseppe said.

"Ugh!" Anzu groaned. "Just forget it! How did you even end up here anyway? Nobody's come up here, ever!"

"Well, I uh...I just kinda took a walk, made some turns, and then whoosh! I was here all of a sudden. Haha, funny right?"

"More like pathetic."

"Yeah, I know." Giuseppe shrugged. "But wait, how would you know if people come here often? Do you stay here frequently?"

"I live here." Anzu answered.

"Really? How old are you?" Giuseppe asked.

"Seventeen years and not counting! Ghosts don't age, you know."

"Right...ghosts..." Giuseppe sighed, seeing the young girl was insistent on keeping her ghost story going.

"Oh hey, you have my name, but I don't have yours." Anzu said.

"Ah, right! It's Giuseppe, nice to meet you. Sorry again, about your diary."

Giuseppe extended his hand, and Anzu smiled as she properly greeted him with a gentle handshake.

"It's a pleasure to meet you too, Giuseppe. Sorry about tackling you earlier. I just don't like it when people touch my stuff."

Having introduced themselves properly, Anzu and Giuseppe sat down together in the empty, abandoned church, adorned by the colors of the window panels.

Giuseppe closed his eyes and brushed off the tackling like a gentleman. "It's no biggie, honestly. So, do you like sitting in empty churches too?"

"Yeah, I love it!" Anzu smiled. "It's so peaceful, isn't it?"

"Absolutely!" Giuseppe agreed. "I used to do it all the time when I was a child, when my mother.....my mother......"

"What's wrong?" Anzu asked with a worried expression.

Giuseppe smiled. "Ah! Nothing! Lost my train of thought."

"No worries. It happens to me, too." Anzu said.

"So, what do you do here?" Giuseppe asked.

"Well, I like to spend my time watching the dust gather on the wall over there, and the artwork on the ceiling fade up there." Anzu explained. "Oh, and sometimes I watch the wood rot on the podium!"

"...Are you serious?"

"Of course not. There's nothing to do here, genius. Nothing other than hanging out."

"I guess that's true."

"So, Giuseppe, was it? Are you some sort of homeless person or do you like to make a habit of looking like one?"

"No, dressing like I don't fit into the lowest the tax bracket is a hobby of mine."

"Really?"

"Of course not."

Both Anzu and Giuseppe let out amused giggles that reverberated throughout the sanctuary.

"Well played, sir." Anzu complimented as she caught her breath. "Let's see, are you an artist type?"

"Nah, I used to be, but I stopped a while ago." Giuseppe said. "I used to do sketches for a while, but I grew out of my artist phase and got a boring office job like everyone else."

"How boring are we talking here?" Anzu asked.

"It's a PR firm."

Anzu gasped in horror. "You poor thing! I don't have to deal with getting a job because I'm dead!"

Giuseppe sighed. "Except you're very clearly alive."

Anzu balled her fist as she pouted at Giuseppe. "I'm being serious!"

"Yeah, yeah." Giuseppe scoffed. "One day you'll have responsibilities and more bills than money, just like the rest of us. Boredom is a certainty in life, like death and taxes."

"At least I can be bored here and unemployed." Anzu replied

"Yep, you've got it better than me, at least."

"Do you hate your job?" Anzu asked.

"No, it's just not what I really wanted to be when I was growing up."

"What was it you wanted to be? A mobster? A chef?"

"Do you think Italians can only be gangsters or foodies?"

Anzu nodded. "Yeah, pretty much."

Giuseppe snickered at her unyielding honesty. "Well, I'm only half Italian. My father's Japanese."

"Oh! That's pretty cool!" Anzu complimented.

"What about you?" What's your ancestry look like?"

"Uhm..." Anzu groaned, trying to think. "Now that you ask, I don't really know. I can't remember anything about my parents."

"Oh, I'm sorry. Were your parents not around?" Giuseppe asked worriedly.

"I don't know." Anzu answered. "I can't really recall who my parents were, if I had siblings, nothing about my life."

"I see...Sorry to hear that."

"Eh, it's alright. I'm pretty certain most of those answers are in this diary, though." Anzu said, holding up her small, pocketbook diary.

"Hmm? That makes it sound like you don't know for sure. It's your diary, isn't it?"

"Well, yeah, but like I said, I don't remember anything about my life. I'm kind of scared to read through this."

"What can possibly be so scary about a girl's diary?"

"You clearly haven't read any horror novels." Anzu scolded. "There's always a dead girl and a diary involved, and with those two combined come curses!"

"Unfortunately, real life is far too boring to have anything as exciting as supernatural curses." Giuseppe frowned.

"Oh yeah?" Anzu asked with a smug grin. "Have you tried standing in your bathroom at night and chanting Bloody Mary in the mirror?"

"I..." Giuseppe paused, recalling that the rumors around that silly superstition was more than enough to deter him from actually trying it.

"See?!" Anzu shouted, pointing at Giuseppe. "Even if curses don't exist, they exist because they don't!"

"I'm sorry, what?" Giuseppe recoiled.

"Well, think of it like this. Let's say a curse doesn't really exist."

"They don't. Don't present that fact as if it's hypothetical."

"Okay, but the mere idea of the curse is enough to scare people! The very concept of it is what's scary!" Anzu explained as she stood from the pew. "That's why it exists even though it doesn't! People give life to their fears, regardless if the thing they're scared of is real or not! It's all a state of mind!"

Giuseppe laughed. "You're giving me flashbacks to my high school philosophy class. It was as silly and roundabout as your explanation just now."

"I took a philosophy class once and it sucked hard ass. Don't compare me to those losers!" Anzu groaned.

"Oh?" Giuseppe said. "Looks like you remembered something!"

Anzu's eyes widened in surprise. She held her hand over her mouth as her eyebrows arched downwards. For some reason, her face went pale with horror, and her blue eyes glistened with sorrow.

"I...I really did. That's strange. How did I do that?"

"Sometimes, small conversation can help jog your memory."

"But how can a memory go for a jog? It doesn't need to lose weight."

"You're messing with me again, aren't you?" Giuseppe asked.

Giuseppe sincerely wondered if Anzu was some sort of amnesiac or if she suffered from memory loss. Anzu seemed to speak of her life like it was distant, something that had already passed her by. If she really was pretending to be a dead girl, her acting was starting to work on Giuseppe.

What should've been a quick, albeit bizarre meeting of two people, turned into several hours of conversation. The sun had fallen and the moon had risen. Moonlight shone through the colored window panels, and the church grew cold and dark.

"Ah crap! I didn't realize I stayed here so long. I should get going. It was wonderful meeting you, Anzu."

Anzu's smile momentarily faded. "You're going?"

"Yeah, I've got work tomorrow. I'll stop by again sometime though, I hope to...to..."

Giuseppe yawned, his eyelids starting to close on their own. "Oh, I'm sorry. Do you live near here? I can walk you home if you'd like."

"No, that's fine. As I said. I live here." Anzu's said, her expression and tone seemingly deflated and tired out.

"There's no way a girl as young as you seriously lives in an abandoned building all by yourself, with no power or anything." Giuseppe said.

"I do, though. I wasn't lying to you." Anzu assured.

Giuseppe yawned again. He was clearly on the verge of falling asleep. He could practically hear his bed back at home calling out to him.

"Are you sure you want to walk all the way back?" Anzu asked. "You can sleep here if you want. I have extra blankets and pillows."

"Oh, no. That's kind of you but..."

"Please?" Anzu begged. "I haven't...I haven't had company in a while."

Giuseppe really didn't like the idea of sleeping with an underage girl in abandoned building, but he also didn't really enjoy the idea of leaving her there all by herself.

"I like to sleep with two pillows." Giuseppe said.

Anzu looked up at Giuseppe and grinned with renewed energy and happiness. "You'll sleep over?! I'll go get the blankets and pillows right now! Come up on the podium!"

Giuseppe stepped up on the podium, and Anzu brought out a portable lantern to illuminate the area. She laid down two sets of blankets and two pillows for each set. She even had a spare mattress to share with Giuseppe.

"I don't even remember the last time I had a sleepover!" Anzu squirmed with glee.

"Really? Girls your age tend to do that a lot now though, don't they?" Giuseppe asked.

"Yeah, I suppose, but I don't recall having a whole lot of friends."

"Yeah, I get where you're coming from there."

"Alright, we're all set for sleepy time!" Anzu said like an overenthusiastic host of a game show. "I think this is better than making you walk home in the middle of the night like this, since I'm the one that kept you here so late."

"Don't worry about it....uhhh..."

"It's Anzu!" Anzu cried with a pout.

"Oh! Right! Sorry about that! Goodnight Anzu."

Anzu jumped on her mattress and pulled the sheets over her head, facing the opposite direction of Giuseppe. "Turn off the lantern!"

Her blanket muffled her voice, but Giuseppe could still understand what she was saying.

"Alright. Good night, Anzu. Thanks for letting me sleep here tonight."

With that, the light was turned off and the two went to sleep. Giuseppe thought nothing of the nonsense Anzu was spouting about being dead. A young girl always does tend to have a good imagination anyway. Giuseppe awoke and checked the time on his leather wristwatch. It was 5:45 AM. The sky was turning into a deep blue as the sun began to rise. He reached over to Anzu to wake her from her slumber.

"Hey, Anzu. You gotta get up, I have to go soon." Giuseppe said.

Anzu slowly opened her eyes and sprung up out of bed faster than lightning can strike. "Alright! Let's go! Wait....I don't even live anywhere besides for here."

Giuseppe sighed. "Not this again. Listen, you have a great imagination, but you really should get home now."

"I told you I wasn't lying to you! What do I have to do to prove to you that I'm dead?"

"Well, first of all..."

"Don't answer that!" Anzu ordered. "I know exactly how to prove it to you! Let me follow you home."

"What? Damn, I think you got up way too fast."

"I'm serious! Let me follow you around. Watch how people walk right through me! They can't even hear me when I scream!"

"If you somehow manage to pull that off, I'll bake you brownies. How about that?" Giuseppe offered, feeling pretty confident in his betting luck.

Anzu gasped in delightful excitement. "They don't have nuts in them do they?"

"No, I hate nuts."

Anzu's face grew closer to Giuseppe's face. "And they'll be crusted on the top and soft and moist in the middle, right?"

"Of course they will." Giuseppe answered.

Anzu's forehead was now just inches away from Giuseppe's. "And I can have vanilla ice cream on top, right?"

Giuseppe was clearly uncomfortable with the lack of respect for one's personal space. "Y-yes..."

"Then let's go! You're gonna make me those brownies once you see I'm telling the truth!"

Anzu opened the door to the church, letting in a powerful gust of morning wind that blew around her voluminous hair. At least Anzu had a better sense of hair care than Giuseppe ever did. Anzu and Giuseppe marched down the hill, heading back towards town. On their way there, Anzu yelled and screamed at the people walking by.

"Help, help! This man is sexually harassing me!"

Giuseppe quickly threw his hand over Anzu's mouth, shutting her up instantly. "What the hell are you doing?!"

"Rhmphh!" Anzu mumbled, pointing downhill at the people walking by. Not a single person batted an eye at the girl screaming for help.

Giuseppe was utterly confused. Surely someone had to have heard her scream, right?

"Oh look! Someone's coming my way! If this doesn't prove to you that I'm dead, I don't know what will!" Anzu said with gusto and confidence.

A jogging woman came down the path, directly towards Anzu.

Giuseppe pinched the bridge of his nose. "Enough games, you should move out of—"

To his dumbfounded astonishment, the woman quite literally ran right through Anzu, as if she wasn't even there.

"See?!" Anzu asked, raising her arms.

"No...no no no no." Giuseppe muttered, unable to believe what he just saw. "No way! I must still be tired. There's no way any of that just happened because it's just not even possible."

"Why are you such a nonbeliever? I really am dead, Giuseppe." Anzu said. "I guess this means you can worship me now and do stuff like give me food tributes!"

"Like hell!" Giuseppe angrily shouted.

Another civilian was passing by them, and Giuseppe initiated the final test to see if Anzu was telling the truth.

"Uh, excuse me, sir! Do you see this young girl right next to me?" Giuseppe asked.

"He can't see me, idiot." Anzu insulted.

Looking perplexed, the man exchanged a confused stare with Giuseppe. "Hmm? What girl?"

And there he had it. No one heard her scream. A woman ran right through her, and the man before him now coudln't even see the seventeen year old girl standing right next to him. Giuseppe began to truly accept that Anzu was telling the truth. Perhaps she truly was dead, invisible to those who were still alive.

"Oh! Uh, nevermind. Sorry to bother you." Giuseppe said.

Giuseppe walked onwards with Anzu, his heart beating faster than a drum solo at a rock concert.

"Are you okay? You look like you're about to give birth or something." Anzu said with a worrisome tone.

Giuseppe tugged at the collar of his shirt, suddenly feeling as though it were strangling him. "You're....you're really dead. Hang on, I need a minute to catch my breath."

"Oh come on, it's not that big a deal." Anzu assured with a relaxed giggle.

"You're dead! It's a huge deal!" Giuseppe answered.

"Well I wouldn't have even told you if I knew you were gonna be such a biggity-bitch about it."

Giuseppe and Anzu finally arrived back at Giuseppe's apartment. He unlocked the door and allowed Anzu to enter first, since she was a lady.

"My my, how chivalrous of you! I appreciate it." Anzu complimented.

Giuseppe shut the door, locked it, and stared at the doorknob like a madman stuck staring at the walls of a prison cell.

"Wow! You made good use of the square footage of the apartment." Anzu sang, looking around at Giuseppe's humble, yet decent apartment.

"Anzu...."

"Yep?"

Giuseppe grabbed Anzu by the shoulders and pushed her against the wall. "If you're dead then how come you're still here in the world of the living?!?! Don't spirits pass on somewhere else when they die? You know, heaven, hell, or even reincarnation?!?!"

"Your breath smells like cocks." Anzu said, pinching her nose.

Giuseppe backed away and covered his mouth "You just did that to trip me out, didn't you!"

"Yep! And to answer your question, I honestly don't know why I'm still here. But then again, I don't even remember much about my life before I died, or even how I died in the first place."

Giuseppe's shock began to turn into sympathy for the young girl. If Anzu truly was a ghost, she died at a mere seventeen years of age. She probably didn't get to experience much in life other than school.

"All I know is that I awoke in the graveyard next to the church three years ago, and I stayed there ever since. I tried talking to people, but they never even looked at me. I tried singing to people, but they couldn't hear me. I even saw a woman crying in the park once, but she didn't respond when I tried to console her. I realized I was dead, and that nobody cares about me. It's been that way for three years. But the good news is, I met you! And for some reason, you can see me."

"I noticed you immediately after I sat on your diary." Giuseppe recalled. "Maybe that has something to do with it? If so, we could run around making everyone touch the diary if you want."

Anzu crossed her arms and gave Giuseppe a sour look. "Oh hey, I have a great idea! Let's just go ahead and let a bunch of strangers touch a seventeen year old girl's diary! Wow, I'm so smart!"

It couldn't be more obvious Anzu was insulting Giuseppe.

"That's exactly what you just sounded like!" Anzu insulted. "And what if this diary gets reported to the news or something! Everyone from every corner of the world would see it! It's bad being completely alone, but it's just as bad being completely surrounded by people who can only make you feel alone!"

Giuseppe felt those words hit him in his heart. It seemed that he and Anzu were alone in different ways. It's possible to be surrounded by people and still be just as miserable as being in solitude. That perfectly summed up how Giuseppe felt about his own life. In Anzu's case, however, she wouldn't have the choice. She couldn't interact with anyone even if she wanted to, at least not before knowing about the diary.

"You're right. It was a stupid idea. Sorry." Giuseppe lamented.

"Well, don't be too hard on yourself. I didn't even know I could talk to anyone until yesterday. I wonder if it really is the diary that allowed me do meet you." Anzu said. "Oh, and by the way, you owe me brownies."

Taking another glance at his wristwatch, Giuseppe realized it was almost seven. "Crap, I have to get ready for work. The brownies will have to wait. Stay here, alright?"

"I can't come with you?" Anzu asked.

"No! You'll be a distraction! I still need to grasp the fact that you're not actually alive right now. Feel free to use my T.V., listen to my music, and eat my snacks. Just don't break anything, alright?"

"Aww! But being home alone for so long is boring!" Anzu pouted.

"I'll be back soon, alright? I just don't feel comfortable leaving you in an abandoned building like that." Giuseppe admitted.

Anzu crossed her arms and puffed her cheeks in a pout. "Fine. Well, alright then. Have a good day at work and do your best out there! I'll hold the fort down for ya!"

Giuseppe got his suit on, fixed his tie, and headed off for work. Anzu took the time to get used to her surroundings. She noticed the stacks of records on Giuseppe's desk, as well as an extensive digital music collection.

"Hmm....what's this? Buffalo-Shylock? I hope he won't mind if I play something off of his computer."

Anzu hit play on the song Shylock, and was blown away the instant she heard it. She had never heard music quiet like this, at least not in the time she's been dead. When the song kicked in, she couldn't help but rock her head and dance around to the powerful drums and the dark, distorted guitar.

"Oh, hell yes!" Anzu cheered.

Perhaps Anzu took it too far when she began to do an air guitar solo, but for a girl that's been dead, she had never felt so alive. Besides, who was there to judge her? For hours, she listened to that one song, and even managed to learn the lyrics just from repeated listening. Giuseppe finally returned home, able to hear the music before even opening the door.

"Hmm? Is that Shylock? She must've found my music collection."

Giuseppe stepped inside and shut the door, but Anzu seemed to be more caught up in the music.

"Giuseppe! You didn't tell me you had such awesome music! Oh wait, wait! Here comes the best part!"

"Ohh...the false ending before it picks up again!" Giuseppe smiled.

When the song picked up again, Anzu rocked her head and jumped on top of the couch. Giuseppe had taken off his tie and shoes and joined her on Mount Sofa, where they sang the final part of the song together.

"Pay me! Oh Shylock! Pay me! Oh Shylock, babe!"

Did their neighbors wonder why someone was playing music so loudly in the evening? Perhaps. But it didn't seem to matter at all to Giuseppe and Anzu. The both of them felt as alive as ever for that one, precious moment. With the song over, they both sat their bottoms on the couch, both of them out of breath from their energetic singing.

"Whew! So then! What should we eat?" Anzu asked.

"I don't know. I've got left over chicken salad. Wait a minute, do dead girls really need to eat anything?"

"I sure do. I still get hungry."

"Seriously? Hmm. Are you alright with chicken salad, or do you want something else?"

"Chicken salad is fine if you have potato bread."

"Aha! Even you know that potato bread is the best kind of bread there is! Well done, Anzu."

That night blissful, windy night was consummated by nothing more simple and straightforward than chicken salad sandwiches and cheesy horror films on television. Before they knew it, the time to go to sleep again had come. Anzu and Giuseppe took turns brushing their teeth and taking showers, even though Anzu probably didn't have to take showers anymore. Giuseppe really began to wonder what Anzu's actions would look like to everyone else who couldn't see her. Were her clothes visible? Did the food she eat just seem to disappear? It was all very strange.

After Anzu took her shower, she got back into her clothes and met with Giuseppe in his bedroom.

"Did you want to head back to the church? You said you lived there." Giuseppe asked.

"Oh, right! Well...I mean...the church is nice and all, but...well, I don't really have anywhere else to go."

"I can only imagine." Giuseppe said. "Wait, if you're a ghost, can't just just phase through walls? You'd probably be able to live in someone's mansion without them even noticing."

Anzu shrugged. "Wouldn't know. Never tried phasing through stuff. I'd be scared of phasing through much more than walls, like falling through the street and finding myself underground, or maybe falling all the way down to the center of the earth!"

"That...does sound horrifying." Giuseppe shivered. "Well, listen...why don't you just live here? You said that you've been alone for three years since you died, right? It wouldn't be fair if you went back to the church after having so much fun here today, even when I wasn't home."

"Is that really okay then? Can I live here?" Anzu asked, her eyes sparkling with hope.

"Of course you can live here. But if you're gonna live here, and especially if you're gonna listen to my music, you'll also be responsible for the upkeep of the house, understood?"

Anzu smiled and blushed. "Of course! I know how to do housework, I think!"

"Well, that's halfway reassuring..." Giuseppe said.

"But....I'd still like to visit the church from time to time, with you, if that's possible. Just to break up any monotony." Anzu suggested.

Giuseppe nodded. "Alright, sure. I like that church anyway. I've got some extra pillows and blankets here but I don't have a mattress to share with you."

"Oh! Don't worry about that, I'm fine sleeping on the floor." Anzu assured.

"Hmm...Nope. That certainly won't do. My mother would curse me from the grave if she ever found out I made a seventeen year old girl sleep on the floor. You can have my bed. I'll be the one to sleep on the floor."

"Really?! I feel terrible now!" Anzu replied.

"Oh, okay then. I'll just keep the bed."

"No! I want it!" Anzu shouted.

Anzu leaped up and spread her arms and legs wide as she landed on Giuseppe's soft and comfortable queen-sized bed and dug herself into the covers. Giuseppe snickered quietly as he turned out the light and prepared to go to sleep.

"Hey, Giuseppe?"

"Yeah?"

Her fingers curled over the top of the blanket, Anzu spoke in a genuine and grateful tone. "Thanks for letting me stay with you."

"Anytime. Now get to sleep. We do it all again tomorrow."

"Yes sir! Power sleep, activate!" Anzu announced, again, like an overacting game show host.

As childish and playful as it was, it seemed as if Anzu seriously went to sleep the minute she activated her power sleep'.

"Anzu? Anzu? Wow, she's really sleeping." Giuseppe whispered in astonishment. "Lucky her. I still can't believe she's dead. She's pretty lively for someone who's supposed to be deceased. Though, I wonder. She said she was seventeen, right? What on earth, or who on earth would kill a seventeen year old girl?"

Two souls, one living and one dead, were now bound together. There was still much for Giuseppe to discover in Anzu and vice versa. Perhaps they were both too caught up in their happiness to realize it, but this day and the day before were the only times in a long time that they had both enjoyed the company of someone else. Two different kinds of solitude broken by one friendship.

It was a beautiful Monday night in Sapporo, especially for Giuseppe Himura. Iff you were to look upon his frizzy, curly mess of a hairstyle, you'd weep for his lack of care and grooming. If you were to look into his dark, baggy eyes, you'd cry out in agony for his criminally poor sleeping habits. If you were to look through his closet, only to find shirts and shorts, you'd scream in anger for his savagely disgusting sense of fashion. The truth is, Giuseppe is just a normal, working man like everyone else. And today, he had every reason to be happy.

Against his best efforts, he had made a friend.

2
Alright, time to use this opportunity to get Book of Revenge done in a hurry.

What is Senkumo War Stories?
A sister series of sorts to Death by Ex-Girlfriend. In the second arc of DbEG, Tsukiakari Senkumo was introduced to the story. She told Osamu about her past as a war goddess during Sengoku jidai (Warring States era of Japan). The version she recalled in War Cloud was a condensed account of over a hundred years of history. Senkumo War Stories is more of a full telling of the events leading up to, during, and following the Onin War/Sengoku jidai.

It's a chronicle of how Tsukiakari got involved in the war, how she joined the Senkumo clan, what the Senkumo clan even was, and the many military, personal, and political conflicts that involved the clan or Tsukiakari personally. It shows how Tsukiakari met Bishamon, an initial ally and mentor in Senkumo War Stories who was later introduced as Tsukiakari's sworn enemy in War Cloud.

The events of Senkumo War Stories also laid the groundwork for many of the events that would take place hundreds of years later in DbEG, like Tsukiakari bonding with Izanami, Kagutsuchi's reappearance in Japan, the formation of the Exorcist Program, and Inari's wrongful expulsion from the Shinto pantheon that ultimately resulted in the Inari Standoff.

Of a much darker tone and theme than DbEG, obviously. It's a war story that takes place during one of the most violent periods of Japan's history.

What is Book of Revenge?
The climax of the Senkumo War Stories series.

Tsukiakari has lost everything. Betrayed by her master, she wakens to find her beloved Senkumo clan has been destroyed. Haunted by her grief and the indominable phantom of the Man in Black, Tsukiakari sets her mind on revenge for her fallen clan. Oyamatsumi, Hachiman, Raijin, Fujin, and Bishamon are all on her kill list. Unable to reincarnate, she'll have to throw everything she has at the league of traitorous gods. If she dies to any one of them, she'll never be able to come back like all of the times before. She'll be dead for good, just like her clan.

Revenge is all she has left. Hatred is the only thing giving her strength. Death is her only reason to live.

Everything culminates in Tsukiakari's impetuous massacre of the gods. The long, arduous tale of the Senkumo clan reaches its bloody, tragic end in Book of Revenge.




Let's get cracking.
Introduction: Mutual Benefit
Spoiler
It has already been said once, in the very beginning of this long, arduous tale. Perhaps it needs restating. This story does not have a happy ending. No one will walk away from this situation the same person they were before. This is a war story in which there are no heroes, no champions, and no angels. No such things exist, after all. This is a story about the human heart, as well as the hearts of gods, making sense of the world around them in an era of war. As it turns out, gods and humans are not so different, are they? Both are capable of an insatiable lust for blood and power. Both are capable of love and evil. It's no accident that humans were made in the image of the gods they worship. Mankind inherited their greed and ceaseless yearning. Though every man yearns for something different, the desire is there. As long as there is desire, as long as there is yearning, suffering will surely exist.

And so begins the final chapter of the Senkumo war story, a chapter in which only Tsukiakari was alive to take part in. Having lost everything and everyone in her clan, Tsukiakari was enveloped in grief and uncertainty. What would the war goddess do now that her clan was destroyed? What would she do now that she was no longer a player in the Warring States era? She did what she knew best. She did what Bishamon taught her to do, only she turned her talents against her former master. Driven by the Man in Black's lingering influence, Tsukiakari found the hatred to swear a vow of revenge. She reached within herself and found the brutality needed to kill a mother and her two infant children, just to hurt Bishamon. Even that was only a preamble to what she truly planned to do.

Oyamatsumi, Hachiman, Raijin, Fujin, and finally, Bishamon. Tsukiakari made it her mission to kill every single one of them.

A few days after her murder of Ichiki, Tsukiakari returned to the old, abandoned temple where the Shoku Twins sheltered her. Beams of sunlight pierced through the dilapidated roof, shining down upon the burnt, wooden floors. Tsukiakari had remembered that the Shoku Twins bore a grudge against Oyamatsumi, something they now had in common. However, Tsukiakari had no means of knowing where Oyamatsumi was. That was when she enlisted the help of the twins, Omagatoki and Akatsuki.

"Ah, Gekko! You're back!" Omagatoki said, running up to the war goddess for a hug.

"We did what we promised. Are you sure about this?" Akatsuki asked, politely walking up to Tsukiakari. "Oyamatsumi is your uncle, is he not?"

Tsukiakari stroked Omagatoki's pale cheek with a warm smile before giving Akatsuki a serious gaze. "That's exactly why he has to be the first to die. If I can kill him, the others won't be a problem. I'm doing this. There's no going back now that I've made my vow."

"Gekko, you're on your last life, so you have to be careful!" Omagatoki cautioned, her eyes glistening with worry.

"These bastards won't be killing me anytime soon. Don't worry, Omagatoki." Tsukiakari said. "So then, where is he?"

"He should be near Kyoto by now, in the outskirts that were burned during the war." Akatsuki informed.

"He's alone?" Tsukiakari asked.

"As far as I know, the gods are splitting up in order to find you. They intend to widen their search area that way." Akatsuki explained. "Not even Oyamatsumi is careless enough to come with an army based off a tip from us."

"Perfect. I'll head there at once. Thank you for all of your help, you guys." Tsukiakari said.

"Beat the living crap out of him, Gekko!" Omagatoki cheered, flexing her arm.

"Please watch your language, Sis. And good luck, Tsukiakari. Dispatch him with our regards." Akatsuki said.

Tsukiakari wrapped her hand around the hilt of Kumogiri, the cloud-cutting sword. "I will."

Tsukiakari stormed off, her mind set on the battle to come. Her first fight would take place in the very city where she was first introduced to war—Kyoto.


Chapter 1: A Goddess's Scorn
Spoiler
Not an ounce of sunshine pierced through the dark, ominous clouds above Kyoto. All the land was covered by their frightful shade, and bathed in their pelting, heavy rain. The stone-paved roads of the empty city were submerged by several inches of constantly rippled rainwater. Very few buildings were scattered about on the outskirts, all of them just as ruined and abandoned as the empty heart of the city. Ripped planks of soot-covered wood were scattered around the mud at her feet, the ruined and quaint house once belonging to a leather tanner.

She had put on a pair of black, cotton gloves to keep her hands warm from the rain and frigid air. She found it much more difficult to handle a sword if her hands were too cold. The war goddess was determined to murder her lying, treacherous uncle. Their blood relation to each other meant little to her anymore. Her only real family had been slain by his hands, after all.

The city wasn't entirely empty, however. Down at the end of one of the major roads, standing on the roof of the Buddhist shrine, Oyamatsumi leaned his gleaming halberd across his shoulders, his long, blonde hair and brown fur coat drenched by the rain. He stood there patiently, waiting for his niece to arrive. At last, he saw her marching towards him from the other end of the street.

"There you are..."

With her wicked black hair and kimono soaked by the rain, Tsukiakari Senkumo, the vengeful war goddess, made her patient march down the street, slowly closing the distance between her and Oyamatsumi. Her sword was already drawn, and her soaked hair obscured the scarred half of her face. Her crimson eye glimmered in the pallid shade with a vengeful luminescence.

Finally, they were close enough to yell out to each other.

"Gekko.." Oyamatsumi growled. "I never thought it would come to this."

"Then you underestimated me." Tsukiakari replied.

"I suppose you're right. I never pegged my own niece for a baby killer."

"What I did to Ichiki and her sons was the direct consequence of both Bishamon's actions, and your cooperation with his vile schemes." Tsukiakari hissed. "Out of all the people I plan to kill, you make me the most sick, Oyamatsumi. I can't believe I ever called you family. I may be a demon, but I would never sell out my own family just so I could live longer!"

Oyamatsumi's balled his fist until his nails dug through his skin. "You don't know what it's like to face the reality of being cycled out! We gods do not live forever. At least, not if we lose our influence, prayers, and wishes. Many gods have been cycled out as they got older, replaced by newer gods until the process repeated itself. This process accelerated after the merge between Buddhism and Shintoism."

Gesturing with his hands, as if he were pleading for Tsukiakari's sympathy, Oyamatsumi continued. "What god wants to die and be forgotten?! What god wants to be replaced?! Being a god, in its very nature, is suffering! I saw an opportunity to avoid being cycled out when you joined the Senkumo clan! With your power, both Buddhism and Shintoism increased their influence! We were receiving prayers, Tsukiakari! They're a god's only lifeline!"

"That's exactly what your problem is." Tsukiakari shot back. "Not just you, but so many of the gods today. You're all obsessed with living. Didn't the Buddha say that attachment leads to suffering? We only lose what we cling to. I find that those words ring true when I look at you, rambling on about your fear of passing on. Look at you now, Oyamatsumi. You're driven entirely by your own attachment."

"Like I said, you don't know what it's like!" Oyamatsumi screamed.

"Yes I do! Bishamon destroyed my altar!" Tsukiakari roared. "Now that I'm not receiving prayers, I have no doubt that I'm on my last life. I know exactly what it is to teeter on the edge of oblivion, so don't insult me with your suppositions of what I know or don't know."

"You won't have a place or a purpose, Gekko. You know that, and yet...you still want to do this. So that's the power of a goddess's scorn."

Tsukiakari closed her eyes, as if in meditation. "Before we begin...I want to ask you one last thing."

Oyamatsumi hesitated, but accepted the question. "What is it?"

"On the final day of our campaign against the Ouchi clan, my army was ambushed by a Mori clan force. I suspected that someone tipped the Mori clan off about us, resulting in Mayumi's death that day. I hadn't thought about it in a while, but when Taeko named you among the list of Bishamon's co-conspirators, the question struck me again. So...who was it? Who killed Mayumi?"

Oyamatsumi's sinister grin was all the evidence Tsukiakari needed. "You got me. I'm your man. I tipped the Mori clan off about your advance that day. Your precious Mayumi died that day because of me."

The hateful intensity in Tsukiakari's eye burned even brighter as any emotional connection she still had with Oyamatsumi was immediately severed. "So it was you."

"You were so powerful, but those three were holding you back." Oyamatsumi chuckled. "Taeko, Ebina, Mayumi...they all needed to go! When they were gone, you truly became a one-man army, answering scores of prayers all by yourself! You became more powerful, free to go all out on the battlefield without any restrictions, without the fear of losing yourself! Up until Oda Nobunaga came along, your work kept the prayers coming in, which kept us alive! Why does this upset you so? The lives of a million mortals aren't even worth the life of a single god."

"Enough." Tsukiakari growled. "Let's begin, Oyamatsumi. Now I know for certain I won't have any regrets after today. You deserve to die."

Oyamatsumi slammed the butt of his halberd onto the tiled roof. "Very well. Let us begin."

Oyamatsumi bent his knees in preparation to fling himself directly at Tsukiakari. Once his feet lifted off of the roof, he sped forward like a bullet, kicking up waves of rainwater as he flew by. Tsukiakari side-stepped his dash, letting him crash into one of the mansions all the way down the other end of the road, the crash site veiled by a plume of white smoke and dust.

With her head only half turned towards him, Tsukiakari watched and waited for Oyamatsumi to reemerge. "Pathetic."

The ruins of the mansion were suddenly blown apart into millions of tiny, wooden pieces as Oyamatsumi made a second dash towards Tsukiakari, their blades finally meeting with a loud, ringing crash. Oyamatsumi leaped back just a few feet, at a distance that better suited the use of his halberd. Sparks sprayed around as Tsukiakari blocked the swings of his halberd with her sword. She rolled underneath his low, horizontal swing, managing to only lose a few strands of her hair as the blade ran just above her head.

Once she got back on her feet, the halberd was already coming down upon her again in a diagonal swing. With not enough time to properly block, Tsukiakari took the brunt of the hit with her bare hand, using it to catch the blade and push it away from her and momentarily compromising Oyamatsumi's poise. A bleeding, crimson gash was left on her hand, slashed across her palm.

"Bare handed?!" Oyamatsumi recoiled.

Tsukiakari took the opportunity to dash in towards Oyamatsumi, prompting him to hold his halberd horizontally to block what he expected to be a hard, blunt attack. He was thrown for a loop when Tsukiakari cut her distance short enough so that only her blade was in range of the halberd. With a mighty, powerful cut downwards, Tsukiakari's sword severed the halberd into halves.

"Damn it!" Oyamatsumi cursed.

As soon as her foot landed back on the ground, Tsukiakari found herself entirely submerged in a floating sphere of rainwater. WIth his halberd destroyed, Oyamatsumi fell back on magic, controlling the sphere with his hands. Intending to drown her, Oyamatsumi tightened the sphere, trying to rush the water down her nose and mouth. The sphere of what was supposed to be cold, frigid rainwater began to boil, and without warning, the entire thing went up in a swathe of flames. The blaze was so intense that Oyamatsumi leaped back to avoid the heat.

Just as quickly as the flames erupted, they were extinguished into a veil of steam. With steam rising all around her, Tsukiakari stood tall with her sword in hand.

"Perhaps Bishamon trained you too well..." Oyamatsumi said, catching his breath.

"It's just as you said. This is the power of a goddess's scorn."

Oyamatsumi's will to live and Tsukiakari's commitment to vengeance both grew in intensity, just like the rain that pelted and drenched them both. Uncle and niece were absolutely determined to kill the other.

3
General Manga writer discussions / Hurting the Reader! Yay!
« on: September 09, 2019, 03:53:43 PM »
This is another topic I'd like to talk about! Inflicting pain upon the reader!  :clapping: Some of you know I love doing this.

In almost every story, the central conflict has a resolution of some sort. The evil king is defeated, peace is restored to the realm, everyone lives their lives in freedom in harmony. The ancient evil is banished, the world returns to normal, the protagonist becomes a hero. Part of resolving a conflict is the emotional resolution. The low points are countered with high points or moments of reflection and understanding. The story hurts the reader, but most authors are kind enough to put a band-aid over that wound by the end.

What if you didn't do that and just stabbed the reader's heart even more?  :clapping:

I'll use the Letting Go arc of DbEG as an example. This originally only had the ending that it did because I rushed it, and I rushed it because I suddenly came up with the idea for Inari Standoff as I was finishing it. Letting Go was originally supposed to go like this.

Osamu reunites with Rousoku Himawari>Finds out she's a ghost that committed suicide years ago>Antagonize each other as they both tear up their old wounds>Find a place of understanding before vanquishing Rousoku>Bittersweet end, but is ultimately a happy ending

Instead, it went like this.

>Osamu reunites with Rousoku Himawari>Finds out she's a ghost>Antagonize each other>The time comes to vanquish her, but the two still haven't reconciled>She turns into a Jikininki>Osamu and Shinju are forced to kill her>Her body is cremated, ashes given to Osamu>Osamu punishes himself for killing his lover of yore a second time by eating her ashes

So, there's this little emotional wound that is left to bleed at the very end of the story. It ends with Osamu drowning in guilt and anguish rather than finding any emotional closure to the whole situation. Technically, Inari Standoff is the emotional closure for everything that happens between Dawn and Dusk and Letting Go, but I think you get the point.

Would you like to see more stories end without any emotional closure for the characters? Though, one could look at it and say that punishing oneself is a type of closure.  :hmm: I guess you can also take 5 Centimeters Per Second as an example. That one just breaks your heart and says "Lol alright, movie's over. Enjoy the sadness."

I think it's something more people should explore, because sometimes, there really isn't any closure in life.

4
So, this is a concept I've been ironing out as I wrap up the Senkumo War Stories series I've been working on.

One of the biggest themes in both parts of Book of Betrayal can be summed up in one word. Phantoms. Literal phantoms of past enemies rising from their graves. The feeling of fighting an unseen enemy that's controlling things behind the scenes. The phantom sensation of losing a limb, or a metaphorical pain of losing a loved one. These are the kind of themes I wanted to use based off of that one word.

The events of Book of Betrayal 1 give rise to a villain that appears in Book of Betrayal 2 called the Man in Black. I was just going to go through the usual cycle of Villain Rises>Confronts Protag>Protag goes on journey to stop Villain>Protag loses and low point>Protag returns with renewed spirit and defeats Villain, but then I had a wild thought. What if this villain actually became more of a threat after their defeat?

Many stories end with the hero defeating the villain, but what about the influence of the villain? That doesn't go away after they die. In my case, I wanted the Man in Black to have a lasting, psychological influence on Tsukiakari and the Senkumo clan as a whole, keeping in mind the theme of phantoms.

The Man in Black is undead to begin with, having risen out of his grave in the Katsura river. He's aided by three literal phantoms in his quest to take revenge on Tsukiakari and the Senkumo clan for their massacre of his village and the rape and murder of his sister. He inflicts a terrible loss on Tsukiakari for the sole purpose of ingraining himself and the trauma he caused in her mind forever. So, even after the Man in Black is captured, tried, and executed for all he's done, Tsukiakari feels as though he's still there. She sees his visage and hallucinates his presence, but she manages to vanquish him from his thoughts when she deals with the phantoms that aided him. He disappears, but vows that his phantom will return when her inner peace is shattered once more.

Well, towards the end of Book of Betrayal 2, he keeps his promise. Tsukiakari finds out that her clan was destroyed while she was unconscious, waiting to reawaken after reincarnating. The resulting grief serves as the perfect vector for the return of the Man in Black's psychological ghost. He traps Tsukiakari in a recreation of the trauma he inflicted upon her. She breaks free and pursues him during this hallucination, and finds an opportunity to strike him down.

When she comes to her senses, she realizes she's just murdered Chiharu, the only surviving Senkumo. The Man in Black then uses Tsukiakari's grief and urges her to turn it into rage. Acting through her, the Man in Black sparks the events of Book of Revenge, where Tsukiakari sets out on a mission to kill Bishamon and all of his co-conspirators.

All of this while the man is dead, and his phantom isn't a literal out-of-the-grave phantom, but a psychological impression. In death, he manages to inflict even more pain upon Tsukiakari, and then uses her to kill the leaders of the clan that destroyed his life.

Protagonists will usually carry the memory of a good friend after their deaths, so why not their enemies as well? If an enemy could shatter the protag's heart or beliefs and inflict a terrible trauma upon them, then their deaths wouldn't matter all that much, in the grand scheme of things.

It's like when someone's attacker, rapist, or the murderer of their loved ones faces the death penalty, or gets locked up for life. If the trauma is strong enough, you'll still feel as though they're creeping into your bedroom, or watching you from across the street. You'll still have nightmares and relive what they put you through, long after they're gone. That's the kind of phantom enemy I wanted to make, I guess.

I feel that, in this way, the villain stops being a separate, adversarial entity, and starts becoming part of the protag herself. How hard the fight must be to maintain one's sense of self, while dealing with the lingering nightmare of an old enemy. The battle between them becomes a battle within, a showdown of morality, values, and sanity.

What are your thoughts on this? Any ideas or criticisms? Any good examples of something like this in another piece of work?

5
Howdy all.

I kind of hate asking, especially as I have nothing to offer in return, but I was wondering if there were any artist here that wanted to draw up some concept art for some of my characters from Death by Ex-Girlfriend and Senkumo War Stories. I'm especially lacking in the SWS department. Most of these characters are female and some have supernatural characteristics.

You can just pick any character that interests you and go to town with it! This went really well when people were doing art for the DbEG cast  :clapping:


Characters With No Concept Art

Taeko Senkumo
Spoiler
Hair: Long and black, typically wears it down

Eyes: Green. There's also a point in the story where she loses an eye in the battle against Shogun Yoshihisa. After that, she wore a white bandage around her head and covered her missing left eye.

Skin: It's Japan we're talking about here. All the characters have light skin and I don't care too much about specific tones.

Clothes: Usually wore the traditional black kimono of the Senkumo clan. It was tied with a white obi and bore the Senkumo crest on the back. The crest is three red clouds assembled in a triangular fashion. Interpret that how you will.

Other physical features: Laceration scars on her back, received from Bishamon as punishment for disobeying her lord's orders.

Personality: Before she lost her friend Ebina, she was a playful, flirtatious girl. She was always light hearted but very smart and able to analyze situations with a clear head. After Ebina dies, Taeko takes over Ebina's duties as she continues managing her own. She becomes bitter and much more cruel in her methods. She's generally an angrier, vengeful, 'the ends justify the means' kind of person. Do whichever you want.

The Man in Black/Orphan of the Katsura River

Spoiler
Hair: Shoulder length, unevenly cut black hair, but this is usually hidden beneath a tattered, wide-rimmed, black hat

Eyes: Red

Skin: White and pallid, like that of a corpse. He was brought back to life by Kagutsuchi (The Phantom Maiden) and Shogun Yoshihisa (The Phantom Soldier), two fiery ghosts that had been stalking Tsukiakari. His body had been dumped in the Katsura river after Tsukiakari's clan massacred his village, so he was quite literally a corpse.

Clothes: Tattered, black robes, the sleeves rolled back a bit to reveal his arms. Sandals.

Other physical features: Besides the pallor of his skin, his body is also riddled with slight deformities from the wounds and decomposition. Not sure if this is something you can really capture, but one of his arms is bloated, while the hand on the other is nearly skeletal. Face is malformed by burn scars.

Personality: Vengeful, but calm and calculating. Phantoms of the past are a big theme in Senkumo War Stories, and he represents a piece of that theme. He obscures his face with his hat and most of his body with his robes. He remains hidden, appearing and disappearing from shadows, the two fiery phantoms always at his side.

Noriko/Phantom of the Well
Spoiler
Warning because this one is gross and I doubt anyone could draw all of this anyway.

Noriko was one of the people killed in the village massacre that resulted in the Man in Black's death and revival. When Tsukiakari's men stormed the village, they beat her with a hammer, raped her, and threw her down a well to die. She was about 7 months pregnant as this happened. She's rescued by Tsukiakari, but she dies in premature childbirth caused by her wounds. Tsukiakari later finds that her spirit settled in the well, where she experienced true, child-like fear of death and the dark.

Hair: Long and black, flowing down to her breasts

Eyes: Completely black.

Skin: White, just like the Man in Black's. Her phantom form is akin to a giantess, so she's really big.

Clothes: None, other than her bruises

Other physical features: Like I said, giantess. She has long, talon-like nails in her phantom form. Also, and this is the gross bit, an umbilical cord and deceased, giant baby are hanging out from her vaginal opening. The baby is also pale and has no eyes in its sockets. In the story, Phantom Noriko is desperately trying to climb her way out of the cavernous, dark depths of the well, out of her fear of the dark.  As she climbs, her deceased baby hangs from its umbilical cord, motionless.

Personality: Severe Nyctophobia.


The Phantom Maiden
Spoiler
The Phantom Maiden is the corpse of Taeko's friend, Ebina, possessed by the fire goddess Kagutsuchi. Kagutsuchi had her body destroyed and became an Onibi, a spiritual essence of fire. Seeking form and flesh, Kagutsuchi returns to war-stricken Japan and feeds off of the emotions of people around her, possessing the bodies (or attempting to) of those that died with hatred in their hearts.

Hair: Gray, ashen color.

Eyes: Luminescent red. Her face is completely masked by darkness

Skin: Pale, as she is a corpse revived by Kagu.

Clothes: White or floral yukata, torn and dirtied. The sleeves are too long for her and obscure her hands

Other physical characteristics: She levitates most of the time, and often appears and disappears without being seen. Her feet are black with soot.

Personality: Doesn't really express once since she's a phantom. She finds herself beckoned by the hatred of several characters, including Tsukiakari, Taeko, The Man in Black, and others. She's constantly, silently seeking stronger hatred in order to try and possess the host and gain the body she lost.



Characters that do have art, but their appearances change and require new art
Osamu Ashikaga
Spoiler

Here's the big one. Osamu Ashikaga is the main character of Death by Ex-Girlfriend. Senkumo War Stories is a separate series, in a sense, but the two are connected. They share worlds and a lot of characters. SWS is really more like a prequel to DbEG. Just in case you're wondering he we can go from nyctophobic phantoms with dead children to this.



Hair: He had long black hair that went pretty far down early on, but his appearance changes in the War Cloud arc. His hair is like a black version of Robert Plant's hair here



Eyes: Brown

Skin: White, in a normal, living human being kind of way lol

Clothes: He has no defined outfit. He changes clothes everyday. He does wear a blue button up, white jeans, and bullet belt in Inari Standoff though. He also typically wears a silver peace sign necklace, or sometimes a Male symbol necklace.

Other physical features: He's pretty average build, but a little muscular too

Personality: Can't stop helping people to save his life. He's a pretty upbeat guy, always smiling and trying to help out however he can. He's a good natured man with a badly wounded heart.

Speaking of Inari Standoff, there's no art of him with Inari! If you want to take a crack at that, here's a pic of Inari for ya. The two had a fateful encounter in an empty airport, where Osamu agreed to help her fight off her hunters. They have a deep bond. Initially distrusting of Osamu, Inari eventually opened up to him. Since the both of them were brokenhearted at the time, the two made a promise. "We either win together, or we die together." They found solace in knowing that they would very likely die together trying to fight off the exorcists.

Inari is eating a heart here because devouring blood and flesh heals her and makes her more powerful. She has fallen very low since her appearance in SWS, where she was a gentle goddess of foxes, beloved by her peers and people. She's now a flesh-eating fox "demon", loved only by Osamu.



It's a very melancholic bond and the story is filled with tears and blood, as you can imagine.

I have to go, but I'll add more characters later. Do let me know if you're interested in any of these!  :thumbsup: Thanks in advance.

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Manga Writers wanted / Beta Readers Wanted
« on: December 10, 2018, 06:27:05 PM »
Howdy folks, I'm in need of one or maybe more beta readers for Senkumo War Stories: Book of Betrayal. It currently stands at 11 chapters, 37,116 words, so it would take some time to read through. Perfectly fine with me, as I'm in no hurry to edit or release it. I just want the fresh pair of eyes going over it as I handle other tasks. SWS is a prequel series to my story Death by Ex-Girlfriend and features a few characters from there.

It takes place during the Warring States period of Japan and chronicles Tsukiakari's experiences during the war with the Senkumo clan and their bitter struggle to create an ideal society for themselves beneath the ruins of the broken, feudal state. Tsukiakari spoke briefly of her time during the war in DbEG, but this is a more detailed telling of everything that happened. It's kind of a dark read, given the historical era.

Please let me know if you're interested! When I do eventually get it released, I'll be sure you have a chance to get the book for free.  :clapping:

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break Room / End of Avengelion: Infinity War
« on: August 31, 2018, 05:06:51 PM »
So...who else had the same thought when they saw this? :clapping:

https://my.mixtape.moe/pzxzfb.webm




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break Room / If You Could Talk to the Deceased...
« on: January 04, 2018, 06:54:39 PM »
Howdy folks, I’m gathering some more insight and inspiration for the Book of Phantoms. I have kind of a sensitive question to ask you if you have deceased loved ones. If, one day, you saw your deceased loved ones, what would you say to them? What do you hope they would say to you? And if you see them, would you believe that it was actually them, or would you think they’re merely a fragment of your own heart trying to soothe you? That’s a lot more than one question, but I’m interested in hearing what you have to say. Hell, if it’s any help, I’ll gladly go first.

The first one that comes to mind is my middle school friend Ashton. Ashton always got terrible grades. He just wasn’t very book smart. However. What he lacked in academic smarts, he had in knowledge gained through his own life experiences. We didn’t start off too well, as the first few weeks of us knowing each other was mostly comprised of him softly bullying me, since he was tougher and taller than most of the other students. But that ended up being how we bonded, and a sort of respect was born between us. He always dragged me and the older girls along to go play basketball or soccer, and we always played to win with all the girls in attendance, cheerleading for us in the background. Whenever I tried sitting by myself in the cafeteria, he’d crash my parade of solitude along with the girls, who had become our close friends at that point. And if I wasn’t eating anything, he’d gladly offer me money to buy lunch. He wouldn’t even ask you to pay him back.

A few years after middle school, Ashton was murdered when he was 17. He was shot multiple times and died of his wounds in the hospital. During that time, we had grown estranged and our friendship deteriorated. Really, my connection with most people in my life had strained, and I often let that happen willingly. Should I ever be able to see him again, the only thing I’d wish he’d say to me is that he isn’t mad at me, because I sure as hell am not mad at him after all this time. Perhaps we just forgot that even children and teens can die in the most vile of ways, suddenly and without warning. Your life isn’t protected just because you’re young.

Another is more recent, with a Guitar student who practiced and performed at one of my old jobs. Always energetic and lively, always eager to make music and play with the other kids. Tragically, he and his family were killed in a plane crash while they were going on vacation. 13 years old.

With him, no words are really necessary. All I’d want to do is jam one more time, come up with a cool riff, or maybe a nice chord progression. Maybe he could learn how to use 7th chords as well as open chords so he could expand his musical vocabulary.

I’m not the type to believe in spirits, so I’m sure I’d come to the realization that these visions of the dead are just whatever mournful emotions that still ache somewhere trying to resolve themselves. But I like to think that these phantoms of mine would be accurately concocted enough that I could think that our exchange is how it would really go, if I could talk to the deceased.

 :sure:

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break Room / Just Putting it Out There...
« on: October 17, 2017, 03:54:30 PM »
I had Sincerely Your Dearest Phantom removed because, well, for as much praise as it got, I didn't like it. Like, at all. But I realize that I kind of burned down the parade on that one with its swift removal. There's no way in hell I'll ever get back to writing that story, but I can at least tell you THE SHOCKING TWEEST

Spoiler
Yes, the world Shiya and whatever the other girl's name was a digitized simulation, one made of the collective conscious of thousands of other people. In the real world humanity had nearly come to an end and the Earth was torn asunder as the sun began to die and morph into a red giant. Humanity was only able to build a few Celestial Arks (Basically giant space-travelling ships) to save roughly 1 million people while the other billions were all killed.

Shiya and Whatsherface were able to get on because Whatsherface's father was one of the people working on Japan's Celestial Ark. He was also the one who invented the digitized space that everyone on the ship would live until their arrival to a hospitable planet, as well as the AI guardian of that space, Daedalus. Shiya was gravely injured as she first got on the ship, but was treated with prompt medical care before having her consciousness uploaded to the alternate world. Whatsherface had an organ complication and would certainly die in short time while in the alternate world. All 50,000 or so people on the ship were sent there, as it was meant to be a form of morale control and body preservation.

However, Shiya's body continued to suffer from complications during her extended time in her Chamber of Respite (the terminal by which people's minds are uploaded to the digitized world). There was one occurrence where Shiya collapsed in the digitized world because her comatose body was going into shock in the Chamber of Respite. This was when Yonaka collapsed in the classroom as Shiya (I just remembered her name lol) was cradling her. On that day, Yonaka's Angel was born and initiated the scene with the solar eclipse and mass rapture of souls into the dark orange sky.

Got all that? Notice the error in detail there? Okay.

Here's the truth.

In that scene, the one known as Shiya was cradling an unconscious Yonaka as the angel went on its rampage. Yonaka revisits this memory from Daedalus as she realizes something isn't right with it. Without telling her, Daedalus has it so Yonaka revisits the memory as she experienced it when it happen, so she's essentially reliving it. Yonaka could see what appeared to be Shiya cradling her, with her vision greatly blurred and POV taking place from the side (She thinks its an outer body experience like the first visit of this memory). Some surviving students came into the classroom to offer help, laying Yonaka on a row of desks until she woke up again. One of the students then says "But...what about her?" They all turn around and look directly at Yonaka. No, not the one on the table. The Yonaka witnessing all of this, having no idea that she's experiencing it exactly as it happened, and not as a mere spectator. Do you recall the angel that was detected by Daedalus in the classroom? Yonaka is experiencing all of what happened from her body.  :ninja: The one we've known as Shiya all this time was not the cute blonde either. Shiya was originally in Yonaka's body, and the angel they would both later despise was actually the blonde cradling who you knew up to that point to be Yonaka, but was actually Shiya at the time.

Right, so we have a 3-way identity swap here. Here's what happened. The story began after this swap occurred. Let me put this bluntly. As you Know them = How they were

Yonaka = Shiya

Shiya = Angel (forgot her name too)

Angel =Yonaka

The angel that served as the antagonist was Shiya's actual best friend and step sister in the real world. They boarded the Celestial Ark together and entered the simulated world together. Yonaka was a friend of theirs and a sort of role model to Shiya (who was the real source of the angel). Following that classroom incident, the Angel, turned the series of misfortune and loss of life in her favor. The less minds Daedalus has to tend to, the easier it is to simulate the world and tend to the person's body. Since Angel's father (the one you thought was Yonaka's father) was the keyholder of Daedalus, control over him and the world went over to her after the father himself died and released an angel.  Daedalus, under her command, diverted all of the ship's power to keeping Shiya stable, but it was clear she wouldn't last long.

And so she devised her master plan. A reckless, insensitive, and cruel plan.

Angel needed to save Shiya, and that would only be possible if she could receive a new body. She devised a plan where a mental switch would occur in the digitized world, where Shiya's consciousness could be tampered with, swapped out, and placed in her body. This was to fool the angel that was still loose in the world, throwing the heat off of Shiya herself in case it tried to destroy her. While this would happen, Daedalus would tend to her organs in the real world. This is the "Transfer" that is referred to in the story. However, Tenshi (Just remembered Angel's name too!) didn't quite want to die in all of this. So she switched her own consciousness with Yonaka's before doing any of this, without consent as Yonaka was still unconscious. Tenshi tampered with both of their memories, not just their bodies.

Yonaka = Received Tenshi's memories as her own and Shiya's original body, thinks she has been Shiya's best friend this whole time and inherited Tenshi's intense will to save her at all costs, bearing the brunt of the Transfer's consequence in Tenshi's place and becoming the decoy for the angel originally released by Shiya.

Shiya = Inherited Tenshi's original body and retained some of her own memories, but does not remember anything beyond her first day in Daedalus's world, helplessly thinks its the real world.

Tenshi = Stole Yonaka's original body, maintaining her memories.

The world is recreated with the populace that was killed during the disaster simulated by Daedalus instead of, you know, actually being alive. Daedalus is tasked by Tenshi to act as Yonaka's guardian for the sake of the plan to save Shiya, knowing full well the two would have to fight against each other. Daedalus, being the loyal AI he was, successfully fulfilled this role and followed Yonaka. While the first transfer between all three gave Shiya a new body, the second transfer between Yonaka and Shiya ensured that Shiya's original organs would be transferred to the new body in the real world. Otherwise, Shiya would've died from Tenshi's original, faulty organs.

From then on, Tenshi continued to play her role as a villain, provoking Shiya's sense of self throughout the story, fighting against Daedalus and his system, and outwitting Yonaka. In the final cour, Tenshi was to reveal all of this to Yonaka as well as a few other things.

1. Tenshi reveals that Angels are the manifestation of the subconscious will of self-preservation, in a world designed to do that for you. Thus, the angels are naturally destructive in this world, seeking to break free and set others free through rapture so they can freely fight to preserve themselves. Daedalus was supposed to mitigate this, but couldn't keep it under control when Shiya panicked as she neared death in the classroom. Her subconscious fought viciously to break free and maintain itself.

2. Tenshi gained her angel powers by devouring the heart of her father's angel, the one crucified in the church. She and Daedalus managed to grab hold of the angel's corpse after the father died in the first disaster. She decided to absorb the heart after Daedalus discovered it is the nucleus of the instincts that drive the angel. With his help, she was able to balance her own sense of self and the angel's inherent will to break free from the false world.

3. Tenshi reveals that she has played her role as a villain because the "voyage" as she vaguely refers to it, is nearly at an end. At this point, she is confident she has already won, and that Shiya will be perfectly fine now.

In the final chapters, Yonaka is completely destroyed. Everything she knew about herself was a complete fabrication. She remains at home, silent, naked, and too numb to even think of suicide. Tenshi confronts her again, apologizing for what she had done to her and thanking her for playing her role. Also at this point, Daedalus is gone and has not reappeared for some time, despite Yonaka's rather emotional pleas for his company.

With the world unguarded, Tenshi releases Yonaka's angel (though, it's really Shiya's angel), from the moon and initiates the end of the world. The moon approaches the earth just as it did the first time, but then splits open like a dissected eyeball, covering the world in blood. The souls of those that were raptured out come down as angels and begin rapturing the humans still left in the digitized world (yes, there were still thousands of them way outside the town Shiya and everyone was confined in).

Yonaka and Shiya watch all of this from the roof of a skyscraper and Daedalus finally reappears, explaining the role he took in all of this. He also leaves Yonaka with her final responsibility by explaining what Tenshi meant when she referenced the voyage. The Celestial Ark, low on power but still chugging it to its destination, was nearing arrival of a hospitable planet. Soon, there'd be no need for the alternate world. It was up to Yonaka to accept what had been done to her and give Shiya the push of bravery to step out from this eggshell world and awaken in the real world.

A lot of action, blood, and trippy visuals later, we reach the prologue scene where Yonaka and Shiya lie together on the beach, truly and completely alone in the world. Shiya, knowing the truth of everything now, has to make a choice. Stay with Yonaka, who has reached the end of the transfer and will die soon, and wander the desolate fake world alone. Or, wake up, leave Yonaka behind, the fake world behind, and live her new life on a new planet. It's here that Shiya understands the "I am you" dynamic presented in the prologue. Yonaka is trying to say that, through Tenshi's cruel actions, she inherited what was originally Shiya's body.

Tenshi appears in front of them, taking Shiya in her arms and carrying her off in the Fetal Moon. Daedalus sits with Yonaka on the bloody beach, the world locked in eternal, scarlet night. Its implied they remain there together until Yonaka dies.

Shiya and Tenshi wake up in the real world, the transfer successful. Tenshi had stolen Yonaka's body and gave her own to Shiya. They awaken next to each other, slightly malnourished with their hair and nails grown out wildly. A holographic letter sits in wait for Shiya as the Celestial Ark's door opens and lets in the light of the new world. The letter is the one Yonaka mentioned in the prologue, written during her final hours in the fake world. Whether or not Shiya or Tenshi are alone in the new world is left up to interpretation.


So there you have it. Yonaka was the subject of the transfer and was cruelly designated to act as the decoy for Shiya's angel, and as the last person who would remain on and die in the digitized world. The ship is also mostly a necropolis after it lands. All of its inhabitants except for Shiya and Tenshi were killed off (So that Daedalus could stay with Yonaka a little longer until she dies).




What a convoluted mess. I really just took the "identity swap" TWEEST from 6 Cataclysms: Guilty Rat and intensified it. I'm a hack lol

10
General Manga writer discussions / Tugging At Your Heartstrings
« on: September 19, 2017, 01:29:58 AM »
When you're reading a story, whether it be on here or elsewhere, what is it, when a story is trying to convey sadness, that really tugs at your heartstrings? Is it the mere subject matter, something like a dying loved one? Is it overt sadness and drama that gets you, or a slow, painful march into the ultimate sorrow ahead? When a story is trying to make you feel this way, what specifically about the story or characters actually makes you feel saddened?

Trying to master the art of crushing sadness in my writing, so any input would be greatly valued  8)

11
I'm seeking a talented artist to draw covers and characters for the Death by Ex-Girlfriend novels, which I'll be releasing online and selling very soon. The story as a whole consists of 10 arcs, which will most likely be divided into 12 individual books. The story as a whole is already written and completed, with two of the mentioned books edited and ready to be published. It's just that I would like some quality art to make the cover pop, to draw attention, of course. It would be most ideal to have the same artist for the entirety of the series, so your willingness to stick around for the long haul is most valuable.

Death by Ex-Girlfriend's arcs are partitioned into books as so:

Aika Crsis
War Cloud Part 1 & 2
Dawn and Dusk
Satori no Akuma Part 1 & 2
Himushi Redemption
Letting Go
Inari Standoff
The Corpse's Romance
The End of Osamu Ashikaga Part 1 & 2
Senkumo War Stories Part 1, 2, & 3

Arcs divided into separate parts like War Cloud and Senkumo War stories will have separate covers for those parts. So, having put that into perspective, asking you to draw covers for Aika Crisis and War Cloud would be asking for three covers.

There has already been art completed for much of the main cast, so you'll have good references to start from. I'm in no particular rush or time table of any sort, so you'll have the luxury to take your time. Not sure if anyone here is all that interested, but if you have the skill and interest, please do message me. We can work out how to split everything, how long we'll be working together, payment method, all that good stuff.

Thank you.

12
General Manga writer discussions / If You Could Build a Bioweapon
« on: May 17, 2017, 04:38:20 PM »
Greetings, Mankoraiders. I have an interesting question to ask you all for the sake of a story I'm working on.

I'm doing a bit of planning(wow, OGHM plans things?) for the next few chapters of 6 Cataclysms: Operation Guilty Rat, and I'm trying to dive into a topic I've always wanted to write about: Ethnic Bioweapons, or just Bioweapons in general. Chemical weapons are already a thing in the 6 Cataclysms universe, but I wanted to get really creative about Bioweapons. See, it would be easy to just do something like anthrax letters or shipping rice blast crops in the disguise of foreign aid, but as I said, I wanted to get creative.

So, I'm asking you to put yourself in a hypothetical position. If you were an evil mastermind that wanted to destroy a specific race or ethnicity of people at an extraordinarily fast rate, what would be your dream bioweapon? It can be as ridiculous as, say, toilets that eject pneumonic plague when flushed, similar to how they eject fecal matter upon flushing (this is why you put down the toilet seat, kids). Or fireworks loaded with some sort of powder light enough to be carried by the wind that only kills X race of people, or perhaps it infects specific crops or plants the population is dependent on.

You don't have to know the science behind it, and you can use anything, be it a munition, common object, or living organism as the vector. (There's no electronic technology like phones and computers in this universe, but even if your idea revolves around that, let me see it)

I've only come up with two so far.

Medicine-based Ethnic Bioweapon
Spoiler
Common vaccines suffused with inactive bacteria that is injected into the patient's bloodstream as they receive their medicinal shot. The bacteria becomes active upon contact with specific DNA sequences, thus being used to target certain races of people possessing those sequences.

But that's kind of lame huh? How about this one?

Currency-Based Bioweapon
Spoiler
If introduced, would probably be the result of the failure to make a true ethnic bioweapon. Banknotes and paper currencies are common between the Great Nations (Vevoskovia, Syvia, Sankadesh, Asaji). Smaller countries like Skalda used paper currencies out of a necessity to save their common metals for other uses. However, lack of resources prompted Skalda to recycle banknotes and denominated bills, then recirculate them after they were pressed and cleaned

Of course, Skalda took the necessary steps to ensure the bills were safe for everyday use until they could find a more supplemental source of paper. If I were the evil genius here though, I'd take advantage of the fact those bills are recycled. You wouldn't think a bioweapon can be applied to a paper currency, but recycled paper does contain binding agents such as starches and fillers that bacteria can feed and grow off of. The idea would be that, in lieu of making a more direct ethnic bioweapon, using a nation's currency as the vector for the weapon is just as good.

Whatever bacteria used would most likely be applied to smaller denominations of bills since they're used more often in common transactions. Man gives paper bill to children as allowance, children give it to their friends to borrow, those friends give it to a bakery cashier, money is then collected by hiring manager and paid out to employees at the end of their work week, those employees take that money on their day off and give it to the ticket salesman at a theater when they're on a date with their romantic others, etc etc. Money passes through a lot of people and it passes quickly. If one were to apply some sort of bioweapon to paper currency that facilitated the growth of the bacterial agent, I'd imagine it would be pretty damn devastating  :hmm:

The second one is probably the most thought out, but I'm still iffy on it. Give me all your wacky, crazy ideas for how you'd commit genocide  :clapping:

13
Develop Your Story / 6 Cataclysms: Nadiya Notes
« on: May 09, 2017, 06:51:15 PM »
Yet another developing tale from the 6 Cataclysms universe I built. Operation Guilty Rat. I know it tends to look like I know what I'm doing when I write, but I really don't. If anyone can read one of these chapters and give me some constructive criticism, I'd appreciate it. I don't expect anyone to know exactly what's going on or who everything is since this particular story takes place in the middle of the overall storyline, but just give me whatever you can.  :hmm:


Operation Guilty Rat

Set shorty after the death of Queen Kalina, King Tokahev takes the throne of Vevoskovia. Katya is now the commander of the Deshavi Black Ops, and joins her troops in a mission knows as Operation Guilty Rat, a mission to secure a researcher by the name of 'Nikolai', and extract him out of war-torn Sankadesh. The problem is that the Deshavi Black Ops are not the only ones who want Nikolai.


Nikolai was hired in secret by Queen Kalina prior to her death, to research the Forbidden Statue the Deshavi came in contact with during the events of Katyanaishka Chronicles. Somehow, details of what Nikolai was researching leaked to the other nations, forcing him to evade capture by fleeing to Sankadesh. Sankadesh Loyalist Guard and Syvian KGR are both on the hunt for him when it is discovered he is posted in one of the hospitals in Sankadesh. Without fail, Katya puts together the mission to secure Nikolai before the Sankadesh guard or Syvian KGR can capture him.


Much is at risk in this operation. Not even the Deshavi Black Ops know how the leak occurred, where it came from, or the extent of the leak itself. It seemed the other nations knew Nikolai possessed knowledge that could greatly aid weapons development, but did they know about what lurks inside of the Forbidden Statue? If it was Nikolai who leaked the information, Operation Guilty Rat will quickly become a mission to terminate him. If the leak came from elsewhere, Sankadesh and Syvia may not be the only other parties in search of Nikolai.


Lest the next world war be fought with cataclysmic demons, and the war after that fought with sticks and stones, Nikolai must be captured, and the mystery of the leak must be solved.

Guilty Rat
Spoiler
Coughing. Multiple people coughing, as if mildly sick with the flu. Chatter...references to medical conditions such as minor head trauma, with others being as serious as life-threatening infections of the pharynx, violent convulsions, and septic shock. Now she understood. Now she remembered.

She finally woke, brushing her blonde, voluminous hair to the side of her gorgeous, blue eye and remembering that she was in a packed hospital in the middle of Sankadesh. The floors were white, tiled, and polished to perfection, reflecting the flickering lights of the electric lanterns and oil-based lamps hung from the green walls as if they were still water. Though every bed was partitioned by white curtains, she could tell...the hospital was operating at maximum capacity.


Her vision was still blurred, to the point she couldn't even see her own hand in full detail with the aid of a candle on her night stand. Still, she could make out the obvious feeling, or lack of it, in her arms, which were both wrapped in white gauze up to her elbows. Small spots of dried blood stained the gauze from her hand all the way up to her elbow, and even more stained the gauze wrapped around her stomach.


So many people were groaning, writhing in pain from their injuries and afflictions as doctors and nurses tried to assure them they'd be okay. One of the suffering patients responded in vicious, loud anger, shooting down the doctors' reassurances as insultingly false hope. She could see none of it beyond her bed's partition.


She sat up in her bed as a voice echoed inside of her head, dressed in a thin and embarrassing hospital gown that failed to cover all of her butt and breasts. Who's 'she', you might ask? 


Voice: We got your signal. Commander Katya...'Monarch'...you've come to. 








*OPERATION GUILTY RAT*




*SIX CATACLYSMS*







Voice: We're ready to begin, Commander. We're starting the clock in three, two...one. All teams, Operation Guilty Rat is go.


Of course, the beautiful blonde with the ocean in her eye was none other than the newly appointed Commander Katya, unsung hero of her home country, Vevoskovia. Her usual eye patch was missing, replaced by more gauze wrapped around her temple, covering her missing eye. Her single eye traced the shoes of the doctors and nurses visible beneath the partition as she clasped her hands together, as if she were praying to God.


Katya: Understood, HQ. All teams, this is Monarch. Proceed with operation as planned. I'll try to establish contact with the target. Team two, are you already at the coroner wing?


As if the regular patients' quarters weren't clean enough, the coroner wing was twice as pristine, reflective, and clean. A team of 10 surgeons donning face masks and white coats marched through the halls of the other end of the hospital, each pair pushing a loaded gurney along with them. The bodies on the gurneys were wrapped in white sheets, concealing their deceased faces from the other hospital staff. Nurses ran past them up and down the hall, all of them in a hurry to complete some sort of dire task.


Upon reaching the autopsy room, two of the masked doctors held open the double doors, letting the other doctors pass by them with the bodies. Like Katya, one of them clasped their hands together and spoke softly.


Locke: This is Team two, we've entered the autopsy room with the bodies. We'll get to work immediately.


Telepathic communication, a power bestowed upon them by the Art of Venus, allowed everyone to communicate from afar, no matter the distance. 


HQ: Team two, you'll have 20 minutes at most to get those bodies prepped and dispersed inside of the crypts. Katya, that gives you 15 minutes to make contact with the target once the first phase starts.


Deshavi HQ was just as chaotic as the hospital. The communication team stationed there set up shop in the Lunar Cave of the base, a massive, round cave with an open view of the sky, exposing the whole room to moonlight, which was essential for the mission. As they always did, the Deshavi Black Ops utilized the moon as their own celestial eye, using it to spy and keep watch over the entire world. Luck for them, the moon and the stars were bright, beautiful, and full that night. 


Dozens of Deshavi agents ran around, in, and out of the room, bringing paper, charts, scolls, and other necessary items with them wherever they went. Chatter buzzed all around the base and echoed from within its cavernous halls. Twelve agents donned in black, short sleeve shirts and dark denim sat beneath the moonlight in the center of the room, all of them cross-legged and their hands clasped as if they were meditating as a group.


With their cooperation, a map of the area around the hospital, entirely made out of moonlight, reflected off of the floor like a glowing, neon sign. One more agent stood just outside of the ring, holding his open palms up to the moon above with his eyes closed. He was the one talking to the teams inside the hospital This operation was of clear importance.





Locke wiped the tiny beads of sweat off of his glistening, bald head and fixed his face mask as he and the other agent closed the doors.



Locke: Understood. We'll get it done as fast as we can. What's the situation outside?


HQ: A force of roughly 80 potential enemies are closing in on the hospital from the north and west. Identities not confirmed, but they're most probably Syvian KGR, Inodus Tachtussen branch.


Katya: If that's true, our intel was spot on. Somehow, the Syvians caught wind that Nikolai was paid a premium to research 'Material that could lead to a leap in weapons development'. 


Locke: Little do they know he was actually researching the Forbidden Statue. We're the only ones who know what's inside, including Nikolai.


HQ: Which is why it's imperative we catch him before he's taken by Syvians or Sankadesh revolutionaries. I want to remind everyone that although we want Nikolai brought back to Vevoskovia alive, you are authorized to terminate him should he be captured by the enemy or leak any of the information he gained during his research. The knowledge of the Forbidden Statue must not be allowed to reach anyone, be it the military or the public. Tokahev's orders.


Katya: Of course.


In five teams of two, the doctors unwrapped the fresh corpses and laid them on the metal operating tables, using electric lanterns as light. All of them turned their heads as a masked nurse opened the doors, pushing in a small cart covered with a sheet. With her flowery shirt and midnight blue hair, everyone knew it was Jaya.


Deshavi: You're late, Jaya. Did you bring them?


Jaya, panting through her mask like a tired dog, uncovered the cart, revealing the glorious contents within.


Jaya: Fresh canisters of ethylene and oxygen, comin' right up! How much time do we have?


Locke: Just under 20 minutes at best, probably less considering the KGR are already on their way. No time to waste, let's make our incisions.


Jaya: I'll pass these out to everyone then!


And so it began. With all the bodies laid out on the tables, the teams grabbed their scalpels, pressing them through the skin and flesh of the corpses and cutting down from the shoulders to the chests. From the chests, they all made one long cut down the stomach, a standard Y-incision. Weak streams of blood dripped from the cuts as Jaya passed out the containers of oxygen and ethylene as if she were passing out books to her students.




Deshavi: Sir, what exactly is this for? 


Locke: How much do you know about corpses?


Deshavi: Just what's written in the Deshavi Thanatology Manual up to Chapter Thirteen, sir.


Locke: Then you know that when people die, autolysis takes place immediately. It's like the body is digesting itself. With blood circulation and respiration put to a halt, the body, nor its cells, have any means of disposing of waste. Pull back that side of his skin for me.


Deshavi: Got it.


With their Y-incision complete, the skin and layers of fat beneath in the torso area of the corpse were pulled back, revealing the internal organs, intestines, and rib cage. Sudddenly, as the Deshavi agent's eyes traced back to the young face of the deceased man, he seemed less like a human and more like a doll, or a dissection frog. The elements of a human, their skin, their hair, their nails, even their very organs, all just seemed like playthings with no meaning or consequence.


Locke: Now, with all of that excess carbon dioxide just sitting in the body, things start to get a little..acidic. This causes?


Deshavi: Cellular membrane rupturing, sir?


Locke: Exactly. And when that happens-


Jaya so rudely, yet so helpfully chimed in as she set down the last containers to the side by Locke and the masked agent.


Jaya: When that happens, the cell's membranes release enzymes that causes the cell to eat itself from the inside out. Ethylene can burn in oxygen to produce carbon dioxide and water, hastening decomposition if it were to take place within a corpse! The enzymes help produce nutrient-rich fluids in the body, causing it to bloat and leak through the orifices! You know, if you let this occur on a patch of grass, the fluid is often so rich with nutrients that it kills the grass, but makes the soil more fertile for future patches!


Locke: Perhaps we're being a bit too...enthusiastic, Jaya. Vera's curse lives on...








*FINAL THROES OF SANKADESH CIVIL WAR*


*TOKAHEV TAKES VEVOSKOVIAN THRONE AFTER QUEEN KALINA SUCCUMBS TO ILLNESS*








HQ: Team two, how far along are you?


Locke: We're implanting the canisters now. We'll be ready to move the bodies to the crypts in three minutes. 


HQ: Understood. Katya, that's your cue to get ready.


Katya: Already on it.


Katya was already on the move, leaving the room filled with wounded and ill patients and their overloaded doctors and nurses behind. The halls offered no change in scenery. Most of the rooms were so full that many more patients had to be treated right in the middle of the hospital's halls. The sheer volume of chaos throughout the hospital startled Katya as she pressed on, making her steady, cautious march in search of Nikolai.


Katya: So much screaming...how many of these people are-


She was abruptly stopped by a patient who grabbed her wrist as she walked by. Most of his face was wrapped in bandages and soaked in blood. His long, black hair and scruffy beard poked out from beneath the gauze.


Patient: YOU KNOW IT TOO, DON'T YOU?! WE HAVE TO KILL THEM! WE CAN'T LET THEM LIVE!


Doctor: Calm down, sir! You must compose yourself!


An elderly doctor aided by a group of young nurses all restrained the wailing patient, freeing Katya from his grip. His bloody hand print left a crimson stain around her arm bandages. Katya watched in awe as his gurney was hurriedly strolled away, disappearing into the sea of chaos to her rear as she prepared to march forth through even more of it.


Katya: We were right to try and pull him out. Nikolai is in danger here.





*'NIKOLAI' IS THE MOST WANTED MAN IN THE WORLD*


*HE POSSESS KNOWLEDGE OF A 'WEAPON' CAPABLE OF MASS, WIDESPREAD DESTRUCTION*






One room at a time, Katya quickly traced her eyes across the patients' faces in search of Nikolai. The same chaos in the previous room and the halls repeated themselves in a compact mess of screams and blood inside of the other rooms. The thunderous sound of a gurney rushing down the hall captured Katya's ears as she turned her head to see a team of nurses waving everyone out of the way. As they rolled by, yelling for space at the top of their lungs, Katya saw a little girl on the gurney, her pink pajamas soaked in blood as she loosely clung to her dirty teddy bear.


HQ: The loyalists started using rockets bought from Syvia a while ago, but lately, they've been using explosives packed with hydrogen chloride. No one in the international community wants to take responsibility for the loyalists using chemical weapons on civilians. It's a damn tragedy.


Katya: No...it's an atrocity.


Katya kept searching, coming up with negative results in every room she passed by. As she crossed the intersection in the hall, she heard a shuffle of footsteps behind her unlike all the others. They were much, much heavier and synchronized. Looking behind her, she spotted a small squad of Sankadesh soldiers rushing into one of the rooms. It seemed they were on the search as well.


Katya: All teams, this is Monarch, the Sankadesh guards are already searching for him as well. Team two, what's your progress?






*IT IS MUCH MORE SEVERE THAN A 'WEAPON'*


*NIKOLAI WAS RESEARCHING THE FORBIDDEN STATUE IN KOGA*


*IT CONTAINS ONE OF THE HERALDS OF THE END, THE GREAT DESTROYER*





Now in the crypts, Locke, Jaya, and the other agents loaded the unwrapped bodies onto the shelves. Dozens upon dozens of wrapped corpses, some in white sheets and others in see-through plastic, cluttered up the shelves and tables. Some were in good condition, others were already turning a blackish-green from the increase in sulfuric bodily compounds as a result from decomposition. Many of the corpses had their feet exposed so doctors could easily access the identification tags on their pale feet and toes.


Locke clasped his hands and replied as Jaya and the others loaded the corpses.


Locke: We're loading the bodies in the crypts now. We're ready to go on your mark, Monarch.


Katya: Once your done over there, get out of the crypts and take the central hall down to the Geriatric wing. The Sankadesh guard are searching the left hall on this wing.


Locke: Understood. We'll wrap up here quickly.




*IF HE IS CAPTURED, THE GREAT NATIONS WILL PURSUE WAYS TO USE THE STATUE*


*THEY WILL PURSUE WAYS TO USE HERALDS OF THE END*


*EASILY SPARKING ANOTHER WORLD WAR*




Katya: Where are you...


Katya picked up her walking pace, squeezing herself through crowds of doctors and severely wounded or sick patients. The crowd ahead of her all filled the hall with shrieks and yells as more Sankadesh guards ransacked the hospital rooms, forcing several patients and even nurses to either line up against the wall, or lay down on the floor with their hands on their heads. 


Katya: Damn it!


Katya immediately made a hard left, rudely and hurriedly squeezing past the gathering crowd of scared and clueless patients as the doctors and nurses tried desperately to ease their worries, shouting that everything was alright, that the Sankadesh guards were merely searching for some sort of criminal avoiding arrest. Despite their best efforts, frightened word of mouth circulated through those halls, building up their worry and panic. 


Pushing through the crowd in the opposite direction they were looking, Katya sought to get away from the more heavily cluttered areas of the hospital to get a better grasp of her surroundings. However, as she waded through the sea of wounded Sankadesh soldiers, most of them smelling of blood and explosive residue, yet another team of Sankadesh guards pushed through the crowd on the other end of the hall, heading straight towards Katya. She was alerted to their sudden intrusion by the sound of screaming and frantic yells ahead as the guards pushed patients out of the way.


Guard: To the side! Step to the sides, damn you! Move!


Katya followed the motions, stepping to the side of the hall and hiding her face as the soldiers passed by. Though she did not look at them for herself, the chatter among the crowd detailed the situation she was in.


Patient: Oh my god, are those the Heavies? No way they're just here to arrest one man!


Patient 2: Most of the people here fought against the Loyalist forces! They're probably here to exterminate us!


Nurse: Don't say that! It doesn't matter what side you were on! When you all came here, you became patients, not soldiers! It stays that way until you put your uniforms back on! We're just helping our people here!


Katya: Where is he?!


Katya proceeded down the hall for just a few steps, coming at another intersection where she intended to turn right. To her left, a loud crash echoed down the length of the hall, the sound of a trash bin being violently knocked over. 


Patient: No! Get away from me! You have the wrong guy!


It seemed to be another young man, perhaps another wounded soldier taken to the hospital. He seemed deathly afraid of the Sankadesh guards in pursuit behind him. 


Guard: Stop immediately! Stop, you fool!


The man ran up to Katya with tears in his eyes. She noticed now that one of his hands were missing, covered up with bandages that were slightly stained with blood. He placed his remaining hand on Katya's shoulder, screaming in her face for help.


Patient: Please! You have to help me! They're-


Katya hadn't even figured out how to respond or what to do when he suddenly shrieked and fell silent. His body was pushed forward by something, forcing him to hug Katya. She held him for a few seconds and saw the steel bolt shot into his back by one of the guards. Looking up again, she could see one of those guards withdraw their crossbow from their combat stance. His fellow guards pushed him against the wall as Katya let go of the patient. The dying man quickly exsanguinated from his hospital garments as the guards berated the shooter. The halls erupted into screams and cries as witnesses of the man's death circulated the words "He's dead! They killed him!" around the crowds.


Guard: Damn it! Why did you shoot?! 


Guard 2: We don't have time for this! He could be getting away! If anyone resists and they aren't the target, just shoot them! They're revolutionary scum anyway! If we don't hurry, the target will get away!


Katya's breathing grew more labored and heavy as the situation only intensified like flames being fed a sudden supply of gasoline. Another hand gripped her shoulder, forcefully pulling her back. It was another squad of guards, shoving her out of the way so they could partition that section of the hall.


Guard: Out of the way! Leave the hall immediately!


HQ: All teams, The KGR teams are 10 minutes away. 


Locke: Understood! Katya, we're starting now! Hurry and find Nikolai!


Katya: Easier said than done, but do it! 


Katya took one of the face masks laying on a hospital tray as she walked by, fixing it firmly over her mouth and nose. Having vacated the crypts, Jaya clasped her hands, utilizing the Art of Mars to ignite the canisters implanted inside of the corpses. The doors to the crypts were left wide open as team two put their face masks back on.


Locke: Those canisters are going to cause the corpses to bloat and rapidly decompose until their stomachs pop open. Jaya, we'll trust you with manipulating the resulting gas and flooding the hospital wings with it. Once you've done that, leave the area. The guards and doctors will surely converge here to seal the crypts.


Jaya graciously saluted.


Jaya: Gotcha! 


Deshavi: This stuff won't kill anyone, will it?


Locke: No, it should only make them sick to their stomachs to incapacitate them. Come on, let's help Katya search! Good luck, Jaya!


Jaya: Good luck to you too!


Mostly free from the overly congested halls, Katya was able to sprint in short bursts, checking every room and corner she passed by with only a few other patients in her way. 


Locke: Monarch, the gas is building now. 


Katya: Understood, I-


In the corner of her eye. Katya spotted a man walking into the bathroom, the light of the electric lanterns inside glaring against the metal "Male" sign on the door. Another guard dressed in a black rain cloak walked in after him, slowly and cautiously.


Katya: Hang on. I may have just found him.


Locke: Be careful, Monarch.


Katya crouched, sneaking by the door and slowly pushing it open just enough for her to see inside. The man she saw earlier was out of sight, but she could still see the Sankadesh guard. The guard seemed very, very cautious, taking slow, soundless steps as he opened each of the stalls, checking for the man he chased. The guard appeared to be armed with a wrist blade that protruded from under the sleeve of his cloak, glimmering like a star. Katya watched as he opened the second stall with no luck and proceeded to the third. 


Her eyes then turned to a pair of bare feet that quietly touched down on the floor of the fifth bathroom stall. She knew it in her gut that the patient was her target. 








*NIKOLAI*


*'GUILTY RAT'*






The patient barged out of the stall, surprising the guard. His face was completely bandaged up, concealing his identity. Katya quickly entered, closing the door behind her as the guard swung his bladed arm. The patient crouched and tackled the guard against one of the urinals before he was kicked off, breaking through one of the stall doors. 


Katya sprinted in, grabbing the guard by his arm and using it to swing him into the bathroom mirror, shattering into into dozens of pieces. The patient stormed back in with a punch to the guard's cheek, drawing blood from his eyebrow. Clearly trained well in hand-to-hand combat, the guard did not let their attacks leave him open for too long.



He firmly planted his hands on the patient's shoulders, using them to hoist himself up and kick Katya square in her neck, cutting off her breathing. Stunned by the sudden blow, her feet scuffled backwards until she fell on the bathroom floor, barely even able to cough. 




As she tried to free up her airway with the Art of Pluto, the guard slammed the patient's face into the cracked mirror and withdrew his combat knife from its holster, stabbing the patient through his wrist to render his dominant hand useless. Just from the voice that yelled out in agony, Katya confirmed that the masked patient was him. It was Nikolai, the Guilty Rat.




The guard kicked him back into the stall and entered with him. Before Nikolai could get back up, the guard dunked his head into the toilet and held it there against all of his kicking and struggling. After restoring her airways, Katya knew Nikolai was drowning from the sound of his gurgling screams beneath the toilet water. She ran to the broken mirror, picking up one of the fallen pieces of glass and proceeded into the stall, pulling the guard off of Nikolai, who fell to the side coughing up the water from his throat.




The guard swung his knife horizontally, intending to slice open Katya's throat. She managed to dodge with a quick backwards lean, grabbing his exposed arm and dislocating his wrist with her own two hands. His wrist snapped with a loud pop accompanied by his screams, the signal that his guard was completely broken.


Still holding his arm with one hand, Katya slammed the back of his head against the green, tiled wall. She grabbed the knife from his loosened grip, stabbing it right through his throat and quickly drawing the blade out from the wound. Finally, she dunked the guard's head into the toilet, holding him down as he struggled to free himself from her grip. 




The guard was breathing, sucking in air through his open neck and airway and gargling on the blood and water through the wound. It mattered not if he managed to hold his breath through his mouth and nose, since his very airways themselves were flooded with his own blood, turning the inside of the toiler red. His struggling grew weaker and weaker until, finally, they stopped completely. Blood continued to drip down in streams as Katya released the dead guard, letting him fall opposite of Nikolai.




With no time to waste, she grabbed Nikolai's hand and forced him up, both of them breathing heavily, Nikolai even more so than Katya.




Nikolai: Hahaha! You found me! I knew you'd come!


Katya: Bastard, where were you?! 


Nikolai: I would've stayed in my room if the Sankadesh guards did not storm the hospital. I wrapped up my face and moved locations. It was the only way I could've traversed the hospital safely.


Nikolai unwound the bandages around his face, revealing his lightly wrinkled face and partially grayed, short hair. Nikolai appeared to be in his late fifties, and in mighty impressive health considering he managed to fight against a trained Sankadesh guard. With Katya's help, of course. 


Katya: You alright? We need to leave immediately. The whole world wants you dead, buddy. Thankfully, you're in King Tokahev's good graces.


HQ: Monarch, what's your status?


Katya clasped her hands and spoke aloud.


Katya: I've got Guilty Rat. I repeat, I have Guilty Rat. Preparing to exfiltrate now.


HQ: Alright, hurry and get out of there! You only have three more minutes until the KGR arrives! Jaya should be spreading the gas around the hospital now.


Jaya: Yep! I'm moving the gas through your wing, Katya. Be careful out there.


Katya: Understood, I've got a mask for Guilty Rat. We'll be safe. Team two, I've found Guilty Rat. Exfiltrate the hospital immediately. Jaya, once you're done, you go ahead and leave t-


All of a sudden, the electric lanterns died out, cloaking the bathroom in darkness. It wasn't just the bathroom, but the entire hospital. Every light source relying on electricity died out, some of them violently popping and shattering the bulbs.


Katya: What the hell just happened?


Jaya: Hey, did it suddenly get dark for anyone else?!


Locke: We're near the reception area now, all the lights cut out here too.


Nikolai: Those are carbon filament lanterns, all hooked to walls and support pillars. If they all went out at the same time, someone cut the master wires powering them all. Either that, or the storm outside.


Katya: Damn it...if I blow open the wall to create an exit, the KGR will hear it from their distance and converge upon us.


Katya turned her attention to narrow view outside of the rain-pelted window. Just the fact that it was raining was bad news.


HQ: Damn, we can't see anything anymore, Monarch. The storm moved in faster than we calculated. I won't be able to call out the KGR positions from here, but you're right in saying the'd hear the explosion. I suppose you'll just have to find a traditional exit, eh chief?


Katya: It's a pain, but alright. Stay close, Nikolai.


Nikolai: I'm a wanted man. You don't have to tell me twice.

14
General Manga writer discussions / Getting Started on Medibang
« on: March 19, 2017, 11:05:57 PM »
For all those wanting to get started on Medibang, here's a little rundown for you.


About Medibang
Anyway, Medibang. It's a pretty cool site where users share their manga/comics, artwork, and novels. You can find some pretty cool people there, all of them in love with what they do, be it a fancy manga or the occasional short story. If you're a writer/artist and you want another place to share your work, that's probably a good place to start.

Signing up and posting stuff
It's got a pretty standard sign-up process, and of course, it's a free service. They don't sell anything extra as far as I know. After you sign up, make sure you flesh out your profile, yes? Make it so people can get a feel for who you are if they see it. No one likes having seeing blanks where they want to see a bit of info about you. Next, you share some content. Now let's say you've got a short story you want to put up in the Novel section. If you have a PDF or something containing your story, you can just upload that, attach your cover (can also make one if you don't have one), and post it. It's as simple as that.

There's also a text editor there if you'd rather do that, which is probably a little more work, but it's my preferred option because I like to format things a little differently when a post a story there. If you don't plan on changing anything about your story, you can just go ahead and go for the other option. Otherwise, doing it by text editor allows you to quickly go back and correct any mistakes should you notice any down the line.

Some of the interface prompts are in Japanese, which isn't a problem for me since I know Japanese reasonably well, but you don't you're just gonna have to see which button does what you want it to do. Usually, the "accept" or "ok" buttons are green, so its easy to know what's a yes or a no.


Rankings
There are ranking sections for manga, artwork, and for novels. I believe they're ranked by frequent and recent views and not overall popularity, but you can change how these things are organized if you want (views per month, views per week, default is views per day). For instance, Death by Ex-Girlfriend: Aika Crisis, is, at this moment, 4th place with a total of 5,277 views. Whenever that happens, I know people have been reading it in the past 24 hours. The creators themselves are also ranked by points, dependent on how much attention their works have been getting. If you post some quality artwork frequently, you're gonna see yourself in the top 5 positions a lot.

Take your ranking as a measure of how much interest there is in your work.


Socializing
Talking to people on Medibang is a lot like...Facebook, I guess?  :hmm: You can follow and/or friend request people as you please. There's an Everyone's News section on the front page, where people generally share their thoughts, mundane life stories, upcoming works, discussion topics, pretty much anything. Not too different from the Chit Chat thread here, if you want to think of it like that. You'll find most users speak English, but quite a few mainly speak Japanese. You want my advice, learn Japanese so you can converse with everyone, because some of the best artists there are Japs.

Contests
Some other cool stuff goes on at Medibang. For instance, there are several interesting contests that occur there. Weekly Shounen Magazine partnered up with Medibang for a One-Shot manga contest, where everyone submitted their manga for review and possible cash prizes. The MCPO Award for 2017 just finished up there. They have people submit their art or manga for generally the same kind of rewards, as well as publication of the winning works. There's silent manga contests as well from time to time. If you've got some quality work on your hands, it's always a good idea to submit your stuff when these contests pop up.


Let's see...I think that's it for now. My brain is fried from writing nonstop, so I need to rest. Hopefully this helps anyone who wants to get started on Medibang. I go there quite often, mainly just to post the stuff I post here for a bigger audience. The biggest problem I had with it was some of the interface being in Japanese even when the site language setting was English, but I quickly got over that annoyance.

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General Manga writer discussions / Me?! SELL MY WRITING?!?!
« on: March 09, 2017, 08:28:24 PM »
As more and more people have been reading Death by Ex-Girlfriend, I've been getting more pushes to go professional with the story, to publish and actually start selling copies. Now, I'm an extremely humble guy, almost to a fault, so I was pretty averse to this idea for a while. Buuut...if there's even a tiny bit of demand for it, why not satisfy the demand?

I've yet to piece together the exact steps I'll take to go through with this, but one of my hopes is to raise enough Freedom Bucks (US Dollars) to hire an artist to illustrate some of it, in comic/manga form. Of course, finding the artists who would be willing to do this would be challenging, but nothing in life is ever easy.

So, for anyone who has read Death by Ex-Girlfriend, I must ask you something. Do you actually believe that any part of the series is worth money? And if so, how much money would you be comfortable spending on it, per book? And I mean comfortable, not maximum, or "stretching it".

Your input is very valuable as I try to decide whether or not I should go for it.  :hmm:

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