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Messages - OhGodHelpMe

Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 57
1
Oh!

Uh...

Book of Betrayal is out. Forgot to mention that. Enjoy!

2
MR Pub / Re: Chit Chat 2018
« on: January 28, 2019, 11:18:53 PM »
I just wanna give a shoutout to all the homies that didn't live long enough to see Kingdom Hearts 3 get released

We made it, peeps.

We made it.

3
Music / Re: OGHM's Wacky Slappy Guitar Riffs
« on: January 26, 2019, 12:02:39 AM »
The Temptation of Saint Anthony
http://chirb.it/1nFLEc


4
Alright guys, With Book of Blossoming complete and Book of Betrayal up for pre-order, I'm shelving the SWS series for now so I can focus on getting Death by Ex-Girlfriend out. Since I did two for SWS, I'll probably go ahead and do two for DbEG.

Though, I seriously have a mind to go out of order again and do Inari Standoff  :unsure:


5
Thanks suuper!

So, someone gave me a really cool suggestion. They said I should rewrite Inari Standoff to be in the first person. Most of the story takes place in the airport with Inari and Osamu and doesn't really change perspectives like the other arc. It would be a good opportunity to make the experience more intimate by getting inside of Osamu's head. I think I'll actually do this.

I tried writing out a foreword from this perspective.
A Foreword That Wasn't a Foreword, But a Confession
Spoiler
I've been wondering where to start with this story. I've been wondering exactly how I'm supposed to tell you about everything that happened during those fateful three days. You know me. I'm no good with organizing my thoughts. I've always been the kind of man that shoots from the hip and figures everything out later. But I suppose, if I had to start anywhere, it would be with a foreword of sorts. No, that's not right. Instead, consider this a confession, from me to you.

I have many regrets in my life, many of them you've been a witness to. Though there are many stories and experiences I've divulged to you thus far, I must begin my confession with a simple admission that I have misled you. Hell, I've been misleading myself as well, so I hope you don't take it too personally. Of course, for the sake of cheap suspense, I won't say exactly what I've misled you about all of this time, but if you've a keen eye, you might've already guessed what my lie was.

My second admission is related to the first in a way. What happened with Rousoku Himawari...I shudder to even remember it. Usually, my tales end on a bittersweet note, but not that one. It ended in tragedy and nothing more. What you witnessed was love, hatred, and envy culminating in a bloodbath that none of us wanted. The whole experience shook me like I've never been shook before. All of the color in the world turned gray, and even the shadows turned a deeper black. Needless to say, I was not a good place.

And that is where this story comes in.

I am going to tell you a tale about a particularly pivotal event that I unwittingly involved myself in, an event referred to as the Inari Standoff. Three days the standoff spanned. It was so brief, and yet, with her at my side, it felt like a lifetime. This "her" I'm referring to is the namesake of the event itself; Inari Okami. A fox goddess with deep-red eyes and snow-white hair. An alluring beauty whose body and spirit were both riddled with scars. A once-proud and noble deity, reduced to a flesh-eating, blood-drinking fugitive desperate to do anything to survive. A being who was once worshiped by humans, being hunted by them. She terrified me. Her scarlet gaze froze my spine and set fire to my nerves. And yet, I was drawn to her. So utterly drawn to her. To this day, I still can't quite comprehend what came over me, what possessed me to stand by her side. Still, in all of my foolishness, allow me to try and explain.

I think, during those three days of the standoff, Inari and I saw ourselves in each other. We both saw the hurt, the pain, the guilt, the anger the other felt. Initially, we were only using each other for our own gain, but our relationship quickly became more than that. We fell in love. It was a love born in darkness, anger and grief. It was love given form by shedding our blood and tears together. It was a love of two wounded souls seeking comfort in each other.

You've loved someone, I'm sure. Even if they didn't love you back. You probably considered that person your reason for living at some point. You thought that they embodied everything that made life such a worthwhile journey. The love I will tell you about in this tale is much more sacred than that,

You see, we loved each other, not because we saw each other as a reason to live.

We saw each other as a reason to die.

Inari and I hoped to survive the ordeal and live together, but we both knew that such a possibility was like a coin toss. Knowing that, we both marched in lockstep towards our deaths. To us, that was alright. Dying was okay, because we would die together. All of our earthly burdens would be left here. Our bodies would join the soil of the earth, and we'd be long-gone, in a much better place.

Our story is sacred to me, so much so that I did not want to recite it to you. In telling this tale, I feel as though I'm exposing myself before you and tearing out my hair and my eyes. No, it feels even worse than that. It feels as though I'm desecrating the tomb of a beloved friend, a tomb that was enwreathed in flowers and offering, never meant to be disturbed.

I feel that way, because Inari meant everything to me. And because, in this story, she is the one that exposes how I've mislead you. She was the one who spoke the truth and set me free. It is entirely because of her that I am here now, solemnly healed of all the pain I had felt before.

At this point, I'm sure you're wondering where Inari is right now. Did she make it through the standoff, despite all odds? Well, I suppose I can let you in on this little secret. Accept it as your reward for making it through this drawn out confession of mine.

Inari promised me that her heart would still be beating by the end of the standoff.

Despite all odds, she upheld her promise.

That's the kind of woman Inari is.

My dearest friend, my guiding lover, my reason to die.

This is the story of Inari Okami, and the infamous Inari Standoff.

Enjoy.

6
Wooo I did it!

Kind of  :ohmy:

Book of Betrayal comes out on February 8th, but it's available for pre-order for 99 cents.

I hope this one does well too. Like Book of Blossoming, this one went through a lot of rewrites and improvements, so I promise you that it's well worth the dollar.

Ironically, SWS has turned out to be the most intriguing aspect of DbEG to me. I guess it's just because it sets everything up that happens in DbEG. Tsukiakari living past the Warring States and into the modern era despite receiving no prayers as a goddess. Izanami reuniting with Kagutsuchi hundreds of years after she's given a physical body again. The question of Izanami's strange immortality despite other gods being able to die. The exorcist system arising as a reiteration of what Bishamon did with the Senkumo. Inari turning into a flesh-eating butcher who's distrustful of humans after several centuries on the run. And the culmination of the Third Great Holy War between the Shinto pantheon and the vampires.

7
Through a shocking turn of events, Senkumo War Stories: Book of Betrayal Part 1 is just about 99% complete. Just adding a few more tiny scenes and reading it over again. I could really finish it tonight and publish it, but I would still like to wait a tad bit. I wanna run promotion and get some final thoughts before publishing  :thumbsup:

Aika Crisis is still in the oven on the DbEG side of things. Book of Azaleas (the one I'm working on now, about the abduction of Yachi Otonougi) will be next on the SWS side of things. Book of Blossoming was about 53,000 words and Book of Betrayal looks like it might be a little over 65,000.


8
As I continue working on Death by Ex-Girlfriend: Aika Crisis, I'll also be finishing up Senkumo War Stories: Book of Betrayal.





Good ol' Tsukiakari had a rough life. Anyway, I plan to release Book of Betrayal sometime in March, and Aika Crisis soon after in April.

9
Revision to the chapter "I Need You, I Need You, I Need You..." in the Dawn and Dusk arc. Because I like to make my audience suffer by making them emotionally attached to certain characters and then messing those characters up really badly.

Isabella Confesses
Spoiler
Later that night, Isabella woke in her hospital bed to find Izanami standing at her side, as still as a shadow. Izzy's head throbbed and shuddered as she sat up and turned on her bedside lamp, taking a blurred, tired gander at the fidgeting Izanami. The goddess's eyes were downcast, but they glimmered like glass with the moonlight beaming into the hospital room. Izzy knew Izanami long enough to know something was wrong.

Isabella: Izanami? What's wrong?

Izanami lowered her head.

Izanami: I'm so sorry, Izzy. I'm so sorry...

Isabella: It's not your fault, love. I just got dizzy and fell, that's all. Really, it's okay. Come, sit down with me.

Izzy patted her hand on a spot right next to her, beckoning Izanami to come over. She accepted the invitation and plopped down on the hospital bed alongside Izzy, the two sitting in silence for a short time.

Izanami: How are you holding up?

Isabella smiled and released a few giggling suspirations.

Isabella: For someone who fell down the stairs and hit their head, I'm doing just peachy! I think some of the others in this wing have it a lot worse than I do right now.

Izanami: No offense, Izzy, but...you don't look all too 'peachy'.

Scratching the back of her head, Isabella's nodded as her smile waned and withered. Her sigh shattered her optimistic attitude.

Isabella: Yeah. I know. Pancreatic cancer. Can you believe it? Of all people, me. At my age.

Izanami: I'm sorry...

Isabella smiled as she held Izanami's hand, shaking it slightly as a sign of reassurance.

Isabella: No more apologies out of you, miss. This isn't your fault. Besides, I'm glad you came here. I was just thinking I needed someone to talk to. You're always so patient and understanding, Izanami. You're the perfect ear!

Izanami: Well...of course! Whatever you want to say, I'll listen.

Isabella: I, uh, called my mother. Once I learned the extent of the cancer, and, well, how this was gonna end...I had to decide what I'd do afterwards.

Izanami: Afterwards?

Isabella: My...my body. After I'm gone.

Izanami's lips trembled, as if she was scared to delve any deeper.

Izanami: What did you decide?

Isabella clasped her hands together as if in prayer, nodding as her eyes darted across miscellaneous objects in the room, trying to busy themselves.

Isabella: My folks wanted me to come home as soon as they heard I had cancer. They thought that maybe I'd be able to have it removed surgically in the United States. Unfortunately, my kind of cancer is usually spotted and diagnosed far too late. As was the case with me. By the time the doctors found it, I was already out of options. All I could do was wait for the end. Then, it became a matter of waiting at home with my family, or staying here. It was...the most painful choice I've ever had to make, Izanami, but I chose to stay and meet my end here. I had to prepare myself to tell her, but I was able to let my mother knew. That was the first time I'd ever made her cry. I'll never forget that.

Izanami: I'm sure she understands.

Isabella: Yeah, I'm sure too. I hope I'm sure, anyway. It's just...I'm my mother's last child. My brother died nearly seven thousand miles away from home and was brought back in a box. Looks like I'll be going home in a similar fashion.

Izanami: But you're pretty strong for being able to decide these things and communicate them clearly. You're a decision maker even in a time like this.

Isabella: I guess so. No parent should ever have to outlive both of her children.

Izanami: As morbid as it is to say, there's really no helping it at this point.

Isabella: Man, Izanami. What am I gonna do now? It feels like I've hardly even lived much of a life, like I've still got so much unfinished work to do. I wanted to make more friends, get married, have children here, maybe find a job near a U.S. base here. If I had enough of my own money, I wanted to open up a restaurant, a nice, small one near our neighborhood. So many things I wanted to do...

Izanami: Perhaps you've done enough. Perhaps your job here is already done. Maybe, just maybe, you've already brought happiness to more lives than you know. I think the most important thing you can do with the time you have left is to make yourself happy. Find your joy.

Isabella leaned back and nodded with a smile.

Isabella: When I think of what it is that makes me happy, I just think of you and the others.

Izanami leaned in towards Izzy.

Izanami: Then, perhaps, that's all you truly need.

Again, with those giggling suspirations, Izzy grinned widely as she spoke.

Isabella: You're right, you're right. I'm having all of this doubt and guilt because...I...well, Izanami, if I had to confess... I...

Her smile broke apart, melting into a somber frown. Her glossy eyes glistened beneath her slightly raised brow, her voice breaking with childlike vulnerability and mortal fear.

Isabella: I'm scared...

Her saddened expression, her fear of what was to come, broke Izanami's heart.

Izanami: Don't be, Izzy. We're all with you, and we'll be with you until the end. Don't simply wait for the end. Waiting is what fills us with fear. Like a book, we have to forge our endings carefully. Write yourself an ending you can be at peace with. An ending worthy of Isabella Bailey. We'll all help you do it.

Izanam took hold of Isabella's hand, squeezing it like it was the last solid thing on earth.

Isabella: You're right. You're right...

10
Manga Talk / Re: what manga are u reading now?
« on: December 29, 2018, 05:16:15 PM »
It's Winter, which means I do my yearly re-reading of some of my favorite manga! The first one is a short, but really sweet manga called Ane Doki by Mizuki Kawa*censored*a. You might know her as the creator of Ichigo 100%.






Despite being my favorite work of hers, this is one of Kawa*censored*a's most unpopular works. Ichigo 100% seems to be her biggest one, and you'll probably hear more about Te no Kuchi than you will about Ane Doki. And to be fair, Ane Doki fulfills all of the clich├ęs of its genre. Misunderstandings and accidents galore. However, I didn't mind that for a pretty simple reason: Kouta, the MC, is 13, and he finds himself living under the same roof with a 17 year old girl. I mean, I have experience being a young boy living with older girls, so it just reminds me of my childhood hijinks and the sexual tension that comes with that kind of situation.

Ane Doki's strengths are its art, presentation, and its characters. Ane Doki's art is much more refined and cleaner than Ichigo 100%. I feel like this was the manga where Kawa*censored*a really started to hone her visual style and I love it.

Presentation wise, this was really influential for me. This is a story focusing on Kouta living with a 17 year old girl named Natsuki. In stories focusing on the home setting, I feel like the passage of time needs to be felt, even if the work is short, to make the inevitable emotional impact really hit home. Despite only being 26 chapters, Kawa*censored*a made it feel much longer with one simple trick. Seasons!







The manga depicts the changes in seasons and weaves it into the story. Kouta met Natsuki during the sweltering Summer, a hot season for a hot girl. Right at the start of Fall, Kouta realizes his feelings are a mess after he goes on a date with his longtime crush, Kanade, has his dream come true when she confesses to him, but can only think of Natsuki when that happens. Winter time is when those feelings come to a head. It's the saddest part of the story, as Kouta's father finally returns from his sudden, business trip and breaks the news that he's being transferred to Sapporo, which means they have to move. At this point, Kouta had been living with Natsuki and her sister Chiaki for six months, so needless to say, the news is quite a heartbreaking bombshell for them.






Knowing that he and the girls will have to part ways, Kouta wanders the neighborhood to sort out his feelings. What I love about this is that Kanade confronts him and confesses to him again, knowing full well that Kouta really loves Natsuki. Kanade takes the defeat with some mighty grace though. Kouta himself doesn't outright say that he loves Natsuki, he only apologizes after being confessed to. Kanade can see it in his face and demeanor that he loves the older girl living with him. She even admits that Kouta changed because of Natsuki. He became more assertive, more willing to take action when it's time to act.









"Now that I've done it, you have to do it too. You better tell her how you feel." She even encourages him to confess to Natsuki before they part ways. It was definitely the most graceful and somber acceptance of defeat I've seen from a girl in a manga.

Throughout the story, Natsuki does seem like she's acting purely out of self-interest, but by the time the Winter chapters come, Kouta realizes that everything she was doing was to help him grow up and become who he is now. And despite him being young and small, she never lost faith that he could do what he needed to in any given situation.






It's such a short manga, but it never fails to hit home. This was the manga that influenced how I write in pretty much every aspect. I prefer home settings because of this. I make my characters live together and have plenty of slice-of-life moments because of this. I learned to make the passage of time feel more tangible by depicting the change of seasons, and then changing the mood of the story to match those seasons. I associate Spring with beginnings and discoveries, Summer with excitement and sexual tension, Fall with changes to personalities and traits, and Winter with reminiscence and melancholy. Then Sankarea would come along and influence how I view depiction of lighting and color, but that's another story.

If you like Kawa*censored*a's work, Ane Doki is a hidden gem buried beneath her more popular manga. I really wish it were longer, but it packs quite a lot in just 26 chapters. Most of all, it's very homely feeling and genuine towards the end. Bonus points for chapter 26.5, the four page mini-epilogue. I'm a sucker for endings that mirror the beginning. That was beautiful, Kawa*censored*a. Absolutely beautiful.  :clapping:

Read during the Winter (NOW) for maximum effect.

11
Music / Re: OGHM's Wacky Slappy Guitar Riffs
« on: December 28, 2018, 10:41:40 PM »
Sora ni Hoshi ga Kirei
http://chirb.it/0eKKfq

With the beginning of Spettri's Medium as the intro  :clapping:

12
Harmless Lie
Spoiler
The trio remained at the scene for some time, stewing in their shock as they tried to piece together what happened to Yachi. Tsukiakari held her bloodstained blade close to her heart as if it were a lock of Yachi's hair, or some sacred remain that would vanish forever if it wasn't kept close at all times. Inari sat next to her, soothing the mournful war goddess with a slow, constant rub of the back. Taeko remained standing, carefully analyzing every inch of the scene.

The elderly man removed his straw hat as a show of respect for their grief. "I'm sorry I couldn't help more. Is there anything I can do for you?"

Taeko shook her head. "It's very likely Yachi was taken because of her affiliations. If that's the case, it would only put you and your son at risk if you helped us any further. Please, go home. Forget you ever saw us or any of this. Say nothing to the village guard."

"Very well. May you find her alive and well, ladies. Good luck to you."

The old man bowed and waddled back to his boat. Inari followed him, eager to help him push his boat back onto the water so he could be on his way again. Meanwhile, Tsukiakari approached Taeko with a jumbled mess of words swirling around on the tip of her tongue, but ultimately resulting in cold, hard silence, fitting for the harsh winter. Thick sheets of clouds had begun to settle in the sky once more, bringing the gentle snowfall back from its brief hiatus.

Seeing that Tsukiakari was yearning for answers, Taeko explained her deductions thus far. "There's a lot of blood here, but not nearly enough to indicate that Yachi was killed. The blood on her blade is a sign of a struggle, one that she ended up losing. Whoever took her saw enough value in her to want her alive. You'd think that if it were the Ashikaga, the guard presence here would've increased as a result of Yachi's presence."

Tsukiakari remained silent, her eyes locked in a dark, thousand yard stare. Realizing hard dark her assessment was getting Taeko thought of what they could do next. "There are still people we haven't talked to yet. Yachi came here on a mission, right? She must've spoken to more people other."

"She came to arrange food shipments with one of the farmers here." Tsukiakari whispered, her tone broken and cracked. "She also wanted to get her sister a gift. Azaleas. There's a florist here that grows them, even during the winter."

Taeko nodded. "We need to talk to those people, see what they know. Gekko...you've got to stay strong. For Yachi."

"I know that." Tsukiakari muttered. "But I know what my enemies are capable of. I know exactly what kind of brutality they're willing to use to hurt me and my clan. It would've been better if Yachi was killed instead of taken."

Taeko shut her eyes in disgust. "Gekko, don't say that..."

"It's true, Taeko."

Inari waved the old man goodbye as he made his way down the Hozu, and returned to Taeko and Tsukiakari. "So, what should we do now? Do you think Yachi was taken further west after she was abducted?"

"It's very likely." Taeko replied. "It would be harder to get away with a wounded girl if her abductor went east in the direction of town, but we don't know that for sure. Even if she was taken west, how far do you think one could go in seven days? For now, we should talk to the other two people Yachi interacted with here. I'll start assembling my men here to help us search for her. We can't trust the Ashikaga to do it."

"I'll go to the florist." Tsukiakari said with a slightly raised hand. "Inari, you should talk to the farmer. Yachi came here to negotiate a deal with him. They would've discussed shipment contents, frequency, and routes to our drop-off points. He's the only person who knew Yachi was a Senkumo, so he could be our prime suspect."

Inari nodded. "Got it."

"Remember, everyone..." Taeko began. "Don't draw too much attention to yourselves. If the Ashikaga are the ones that took her, there's no telling what they'll do once they find out we're here."

After figuring out how to continue, the girls rushed back to town and split up to handle their tasks. Inari steadily made her way towards the town's farmstead, keeping her fox ears hidden beneath her black hood. Foot traffic on the streets remained light as the snowfall returned, the cold breath of winter keeping most folks tucked away inside of their warm homes and beds. The farmstead seemed just as empty, with not a single soul out in the fields. Even with all of their grain stored away and all of their hay cut and baled, the farmhands would still have work to do in preparation for Spring. So, why the quietude? Compared to the rest of Kameyama, the farmstead felt more like a graveyard.

Inari unlatched the small wooden gate out front and entered the property. She cautiously walked along the dirt path until she reached the farmer's home, still not catching sight of anyone. She gave three gentle knocks upon the door of the humble, wooden home and awaited an answer. To her surprise, the locks twisted on the other side, and the door slowly creaked open. Jinbei, the farmer Yachi met during her trip was as pale as the driven snow. Dark circles blighted his bloodshot eyes while his trembling, right hand clenched the handle of a knife.

Seeing he was armed, Inari took a few steps backwards "Are you Jinbei?"

"What do you want? Who are you?!" Jinbei interrogated.

"I work with Tsukiakari Senkumo. You made contact with a girl named Yachi here about a week ago, right? She came here to negotiate shipping terms with you?"

Jinbei slowly lowered his knife. Despite it being such a harsh winter, his forehead glistened with cold sweat. "You're with the war goddess, huh? Get inside, quickly! Before anyone sees you!"

Inari wasn't exactly comfortable rushing inside of the home of a frantic, knife-wielding farmer sweating bullets in the middle of winter. She hesitated at first, but the thought of Yachi spurred her to get inside as Jinbei asked. Jinbei hurriedly slammed the door shut as Inari entered, flicking each of his four locks back into place. Once they were locked inside, he released a long sigh and calmly put his knife back on the roundtable in the center of the room. Animal hides acting as curtains shut out most of the light from the outside, masking his one-room home in darkness.

"I knew something was wrong." Jinbei began. "Yachi arranged for some of her men to help with the shipping process, but they never showed up. I thought she might've gotten caught, maybe the Ashikaga arrested her or something. If they find out I'm collaborating with the Senkumo clan, they'll kill me."

"When was the last time you saw her?" Inari asked, standing against the wall.

"Not since..." Jinbei wiped his forehead as he pieced together his scattered thoughts. "Not since we made the deal. She came, we agreed on our terms, she left, and that was it. I didn't see her after that. Some Ashikaga guards came knocking on my door a few days ago, but I wasn't here. One of my farmhands reported the incident to me and I told them to leave and lie low."

"You came back to the place they checked first?"

"I didn't have anywhere else to go, alright?!" Jinbei hissed. "At least not without the money Yachi gave me as part of the deal. Where the hell else was I supposed to go in the middle of winter?!"

"Damn it..." Inari cursed. "Listen to me. We found Yachi's belongings on the riverside, some distance west of here. There was blood at the scene, but no trace of Yachi. I have to find her as soon as possible."

"Blood? So she was taken! I knew it! *censored*! I knew it! I don't know where the hell she is, alright?! I haven't seen her since we closed the deal! If I don't get out of here soon, they'll probably find out that I worked with her and they'll come grab me too! I'm sorry, but I can't help you."

Inari took a long moment to think. "We might be able to get you out of here and put you somewhere safe. Lord Tsukiakari is gathering a small team as we speak to handle the search. We can escort you out of here."

Jinbei, presented with a ray of hope, erupted into wheezing, tearful laughter. "Praise her! Praise her! I owe her my life! When can we leave?"

"Tonight. We can leave tonight. You should pack your things now."

Jinbei nodded excitedly, still laughing in lieu of further words of gratitude. He rushed over to his drawer, hurriedly packing a few of his belongings into a small rucksack.

"Your lord just saved my life! I thought I was a goner! If you can get me out of here, I'd gladly farm for Tsukiakari in her province!"

Inari watched from behind, tightly clenching her right hand in her left, wracked with guilt. While Jinbei continued to elate over his freedom, Inari tip-toed closer towards him and lightly tapped his neck with her long, claw-like nails. The joyful Jinbei suddenly went silent, his eyes reeling back into his head. He fell unconscious, knocking over his roundtable and slumping against the wall. Inari stood in shocked silence. Perhaps, she surprised herself by how willing she was to lie to an innocent man.

"I'm sorry..."

She undid the locks on the door and let herself out, leaving Jinbei behind. Once outside, she slouched against the front door as she fought back tears. Her chest felt weighted. Her throat burned as if she were parched. It was too late to go back now. She made a decision in the heat of the moment, a decision that she was sure would help her find Yachi. And so, wary of being seen, she picked herself up, took a deep breath, and left the premises.

She marched in silence down the main street, her mind still spinning from what she had done and planned to do. By luck, she spotted Taeko exiting Kobayashi's bar with eight men trailing behind her, all of them wearing black, fur robes. Noticing their gruff, hardened appearances, their rough beards and battle scars, Inari surmised they were the men Taeko commanded in Kameyama. When Taeko noticed Inari approaching, she gestured her men to enter the alleyway, so they could all convene without being seen. Inari followed them, slipping into the darkness of the alley.

The men stared daggers at the strange woman with crimson eyes, snow-white hair, and wriggling fox ears. Sensing their unease, Taeko stepped forth, laying a gentle hand on each of their shoulders to assure them they were in good company.

"Careful, boys. This girl here is a goddess. Inari Okami." Taeko said.

Clearly not in the mood for introductions, Inari skipped the formalities. "I spoke to Jinbei, the farmer Yachi cut a deal with. He knew something went wrong after days went by without a follow up on their deal. He was completely spooked."

"Did he know anything about her disappearance?" Taeko asked.

Inari shook her head. "He hadn't seen her since they finished negotiating. But...he did insist the Ashikaga might've had something to do with her disappearance. He mentioned that they made a stop on his property while he was away, but he wasn't there to see them. The Ashikaga are looking for him, he knew that. So...I...knocked him out. I'm thinking we should let them take Jinbei. They might lead us to wherever they're holding Yachi."

Taeko smiled. She lightly slapped Inari's shoulder, then rubbed it to console her. "I was wondering why you were so tense. I would've done the same thing. You did well, Inari. You did this for Yachi. Don't forget that."

Inari simply nodded, her eyes still downcast and saddened. Taeko turned to her men, each of them eager to receive their orders.

"Gentlemen, we're going to allow our Ashikaga friends to pick up Jinbei. I want eyes on that farmstead at all hours of the day. Be ready to tail whoever takes him, but do not engage, and do not be discovered. You are to find out where they take him and report back to us with all haste. Got it?"

With a plan of action set in motion, the men replied collectively. "Yes, ma'am!"

13
Red Ice
Spoiler
Several hours of riding later, Tsukiakari and Inari waited besides their pale horse, the former pacing back and forth in anticipation. They had stopped on a small hillock close to the grove that preceded the Hozu river. Inari watched as the war goddess walked in her own footprints over and over again. It was easy to tell she was lost in thought, analyzing and overanalyzing all of the possibilities regarding Yachi's disappearance. Taeko marched back up the hillock, returning from a quick visit to the farmhouse ahead. Upon hearing her footsteps, Tsukiakari snapped out of her trance and rushed to approach her.

"Did they tell you anything?" Tsukiakari asked.

"They said a lot of travelers come down this road to head towards the direction of Kameyama. They barely interact with any of them, though. They certainly don't remember interacting with a girl like Yachi at all." Taeko explained.

Inari rubbed Tsukiakari's back as her shoulder's slumped. "Don't worry, Gekko. We'll find her. I'm sure we'll find more eyewitnesses once we get to Kameyama."

Tsukiakari nodded, allowing herself to be reassured. "You're right, you're right. Let's get back on the road. Kameyama isn't too far now."

The trio mounted their horses, Inari riding with Tsukiakari, and made haste towards Kameyama. They arrived at the small, peaceful town by sunset, exhausted from the long journey. For Tsukiakari, the constant anxiety of not knowing where Yachi was, whether she was safe or in some sort of trouble, was the only thing keeping her awake. They dismounted their horses as they approached the town's main road, leading them by their reigns. As it was evening, the townsfolk were all tending to their final errands of the day and preparing to go home. Children playing in the snow down by the fishing village threw their last snowballs before cleaning themselves up and rushing off to their warm beds. Fishermen, carpenters, and butches made their final sales and began closing their shops.

Taeko and Tsukiakari were especially on the lookout for Ashikaga troops. After all, the two of them led armies against the clan, killed their shogun, aided the insurrections against their allies, and garnered the hatred of the iron-willed and militant Tomiko. Though the two of them wouldn't admit it verbally, it was thrilling to remember that they were both wanted women, that they still had people out there who cared enough about them to want to execute them. Ashikaga presence throughout the village was incredibly light, most likely due to the clan's waning political and military power. Lords that had once aligned themselves with the shogun could now care less for the position, nor the man wielding it. The power vacuum created by the On?n War lived on, inviting everyone with an appetite for war and its spoils to take whatever they could get. This left the Ashikaga clan alone, with few supporters, and most of their troops drawn back to make a fortress-city out of Kyoto.

"Yachi would've visited the stables to drop off her horse after her arrival." Tsukiakari said.

"I'll go ask them if they've seen her." Taeko began. "Gekko, you should check the hotel. Find out if Yachi completed her stay and signed out with them or not. That'll tell us if she was still in Kameyama when she disappeared, or if she was ready to leave."

"Right." Tsukiakari nodded. "Inari, can you get some of your kitsune ready? I want a search conducted around the town perimeter, all the way up to the Hozu river."

"I'll get to it right away. Where will we all meet up afterwards?" Inari asked.

"We should make camp just outside of town." Taeko suggested. "We'll be noticed if we put ourselves in a hotel room, especially with Inari's tails."

A little hurt by the comment, Inari's shoulders slumped in dejection. "Sorry..."

"She didn't mean it like that." Tsukiakari assured with a smile. "You're the most capable out of the three of us. There's no need to feel down."

"Watch yourselves out there, especially you, Gekko." Taeko warned.

Tsukiakari nodded. "Same to you."

While the two goddesses went their separate ways, Taeko made a steady march into the same stables Yachi used to house her horse during her trip. The gates were wide open, as the family that ran the stables left their business open for longer hours than other places. Once she passed the gates, Taeko hitched her chestnut-brown horse and sauntered inside of the small, administrative building. The door was wide open, inviting any last-minute customers inside before closing time. Taeko was greeted immediately by the small, petite Hinata with a friendly bow and smile.

"Welcome, Ma'am! How can I help you?" Hinata sang.

Taeko flashed a quick smile before reverting back to a more serious expression. "Good evening. I'm not here to house my horse or anything. Actually, I was wondering if I could ask you some questions."

Hinata's smile wilted. "What kind of questions?"

"See, a friend of mine came to Kameyama on a business trip about a week ago, but she never came home after that. She has short, black hair, green eyes, often wears a black choker. Her name is Yachi. Yachi Otonougi? Did she come here at any point during her trip?"

Hinata's eyes lit up. She easily remembered the upbeat, optimistic Yachi. "Oh yes! I remember her! She did come here, to put her horse in the stables after she arrived in Kameyama. She was such a sweet girl, so full of energy! When she came here, I gave her directions to the hotel just up the road. You said she hasn't come home?"

Taeko nodded. "I'm afraid so. Where she lives, it should've only taken a day at most, maybe two to get back home. Instead, she's been gone for nearly a week. I'm very worried for her."

"Goodness, bless her. I'm so sorry to hear that. The last time I saw Yachi, she had come to pick up her horse. I think she was getting ready to head home that day." Hinata recalled.

"Did you notice anything...off about her? Did she seem out of it, compared to your first meeting with her? Anything at all?"

Hinata shook her head. "No, not at all. She was just as chipper that day as she was in our first meeting. Nothing seemed off about her whatsoever. She thanked us for our service and we wished each other a kind farewell. In fact, she was such a pleasant customer that I offered free service to her friends."

"I see." Taeko muttered, rubbing her chin. "When she left that day, did you see which direction she took?"

"She made a right down the road out front. That road leads west and runs parallel to the river."

"West? Yachi needed to head East if she was going home." Taeko said, slightly taken aback.

"She could've taken a boat down the Hozu in that direction, hence why she headed West first." Hinata explained.

"Boat?" Taeko asked.

Hinata nodded. "There's a family here that runs a business offering boat rides to visitors, for sightseeing. He has several stops further east and will take a patron as far as he can if they pay him well. There's a reduction in visitors during the winter, so he'll use his boat to ferry people for extra money."

"Is that so? Thank you for the tip. I'll be sure to ask them if they saw Yachi."

"Of course, I'm happy to help." Hinata bowed. "Please bring that girl home safely. I had no idea she's been missing. I'll be praying for her."

Later that evening, Taeko linked up with the two goddesses on the western outskirts of the town, not far off from the Hozu river. Winter's pale, radiant moon hung over them like a watchful eye as they took shelter in a small cave, huddled around the warm, amber glow of a crackling fire. With the day at an end, the girls exchanged what they learned, each of them thickly wrapped in warm robes and kimonos.

"Inari, did you find anything out?" Taeko asked.

Inari shook her head. "Not yet, but I sent out twelve of my kitsune to search in and around town. They'll continue the search as we rest."

"Good. What about you, Gekko?"

"I found the hotel Yachi was staying at and spoke to reception." Tsukiakari began. "Yachi completed her stay, paid them in full, and signed out with them. That was the last time they saw or heard from her."

Taeko turned her glossy eye towards the dancing flames before her. "And I heard from the lady that runs the stables that Yachi picked up her horse and went west down the road. If she were going to ride home on her horse, she would've went east, but there's a good chance Yachi wanted to take a boat down the Hozu. By all accounts, it looks like Yachi was making her departure before she disappeared."

"You don't think there was an accident on the river, do you?" Inari asked.

"The Hozu is a very tranquil river, perfect for long boat rides. It's very unlikely she was hurt on her way home if she was taking the boat." Tsukiakari analyzed. "If she left the hotel and picked up her horse without a problem, the next person who saw her last..."

"Would be the person in charge of the boat." finished Inari.

"I checked the riverside on my way here, but the dock was empty." Taeko said. "It's probably too late to talk to him right now. We'll see what we can find out in the morning. For now, we rest. If we get a good night's sleep, we'll be sharp tomorrow."

"Right." Inari nodded.

Tsukiakari remained in silent agreement as they all laid their heads on their spare robes, using them as pillows. She was almost hoping Yachi was just causing trouble and went off on her own to take a prolonged vacation somewhere. But by all accounts, Yachi seemed to have been operating exactly as instructed. It only further drove home the possibility that something terrible had happened, that something had gone horribly wrong. If that were the case, Yachi might not be safe after all. It felt as though these thoughts kept her up four hours, but Tsukiakari managed to drift off to sleep. At least for just a few hours, she wouldn't have to worry about anything. She could dream all she wanted of Yachi's smiling face and her quirky interactions with her twin sister. A beautiful mirage, accessible only in the dark comfort of sleep.

Early the next morning, before the sun had even begun to crest over the horizon, one of Inari's small, white kitsune rushed inside of the cave, rubbing everyone's faces with its tails to wake them up. Inari got up first, barely able to open her eyes all the way.

"What's wrong?" Inari yawned.

Able to communicate with the nine-tailed foxes, Inari was able to understand its whimpers and moans as if they were human words and sentences. She immediately shot up to her feet, shocked awake by what the kitsune was telling her.

"By the river? Guide us there!" Inari urged. "Taeko, Gekko, wake up! I've found something!"

Spurred by the alarm in Inari's voice, the two immediately got up and put their sandals on. At last, it seemed they had found a solid clue as to Yachi's disappearance. The trio, guided by the kitsune, rushed through the cold, frigid forest beneath the dark blue hue of morning, the chilled air brushing through their hair waking them up further. The kitsune guided them further east up the river, stopping about half a kilometer away from the Hozu dock. It stopped just at the riverside, turning to Inari to let her know they had arrived at the right spot.

"Your kitsune really do work fast, don't they?" Taeko smiled.

"They're the hardest little workers I know!" Inari cheered.

Tsukiakari looked around the ground, any place where Yachi would've sat down to rest. The kitsune turned towards the river just as an old man on a small, wooden boat began to break into view.

"That must be boat Yachi took! Let's flag him down!" Inari pointed.

Over and over, the three girls shouted as loud as they could to hail the old man to the riverside. Noticing them, he steered his boat towards the three. The girls helped the old man drag his boat onto land so that it wouldn't start drifting downriver.

"My goodness, are you three alright? Calling out like that, you made me think you were in danger!" the old man sighed.

"Sorry, we're not in danger or anything. We're looking for a friend of ours. She was supposed to take your boat east about a week ago." Tsukiakari explained. "Short hair, green eyes, a choker? She had a black horse with her, packed enough on it to last a few days? Did you anyone like that leave town on your boat in the last seven days?"

The old man suddenly looked as if he had seen a ghost. His eyes darted across the faces of the three girls, his expression both shocked and saddened.

"You must be talking about that Yachi girl, right?" he asked.

Tsukiakari stepped forward in elation. "Yes! Did she leave on your boat? Have you seen her at all?"

The old man frowned and shook his head. "I'm sorry, girls. I took Yachi west and dropped her off in Kameyama. My son handled her horse for her. We agreed that I would pick her up in a few days after that, but when that day came...she never showed up. I'm afraid I haven't seen her since."

Their elation turned into horror, as their worst fears had been confirmed. Yachi did everything right, as far as they could tell. She arrived as planned, left as planned, paid her dues, and only had to catch the boat to leave. She never did.

"My son and I...we did find her horse, though. It was all tied up to a tree a little further down west." the old man explained. "She seemed like she knew how to take care of a horse by herself, so we thought it was odd that she'd hitch her horse by its neck."

"By it's neck? Yachi would never do that." Taeko said.

"Can you show us where you found the horse?" Tsukiakari asked.

"Of course! Follow me."

The elderly man led them further west, pointing them towards the exact spot where he and his son retrieved Yachi's horse. The girls immediately started combing through the area, digging into the snow with their bare hands to see what they could find. Knowing Yachi had never hitched a horse by its neck, they began to suspect that someone else was responsible for that. Their worries mounted as they questioned whether that person managed to hurt Yachi before binding the horse to a tree. Tsukiakari, perhaps more vigorously than the others, dug through mound of snow after mound of snow like a woman possessed.

"Did you happen to find anything else at the scene?" Taeko asked the old man.

"No, but I didn't really search it either. I'm not as young as I used to be, so..."

"Of course." Taeko sighed. "I don't blame you. Whatever happened to her horse?"

"Well, my son contacted the village guard and handed it over to them. They said they'd hang onto it until they found her." the old man explained.

Inari shook her head. "They never had any intention of doing that. A girl goes missing here and the security presence remains as light as ever."

"They might've realized who she was after they took her horse. In which case, they'd be glad she went missing." Taeko examined.

Tsukiakari suddenly gasped, seemingly finding something amidst the snow. Taeko and Inari rushed to her side as she slowly stood up, her breath growing heavy and fast. Speechless, she turned around and held up Yachi's red prayer bracelet and her unsheathed short sword, both of them stained with congealed blood. On the ground lied more of Yachi's possessions, her gourd and her haori, stained with more blood.

"Oh, god..." Taeko muttered.

Inari zoomed towards Tsukiakari as her breathing worsened, her body shaking and shivering. The fox goddess threw her arms around her, embracing her in a comforting, warm hug as she fought back tears.

"There's so much blood! What did they do to her?!" Tsukiakari furiously questioned. "What did they do to Yachi?!"




14
Sorry for the break between the last chapter.

Winter's Mirage
Spoiler
It was another frigid, winter day. Tsukiakari sat on one of the benches outside of Ichiki's temple, her eyes closed and her breathing shallow. Fluttering flakes of glimmering snow gently floated from the sky and melted on her head of raven hair. The wind moaned and howled as if it was trying to break her meditative concentration. The war goddess's mind was clouded, benighted by hatred. Memories of the onslaught of tragedies she endured in her time on Earth floated to the surface like corpses rejected by the heartless sea. Ebina's injury and subsequent demise. The village massacre, the plague outbreak. Mayumi's death, Taeko's excommunication from the clan. The soldiers she immolated with her own two hands and blade, soldiers that called her Lord and worshiped her as if she were the center of their worlds. Her powerlessness in those incidents fueled a fiery hatred within her, though not even she knew exactly who that hate was aimed at. Herself? Her comrades? Bishamon? Perhaps the country at large?

A fiery warmth settled next to her, as if she sat beside a campfire. The war goddess felt chills travel up her back and tingle her spine, all while the fine hairs on her arms shot up in unison. While her mind was awash with these echoes of the past, she could just slightly perceive an unwanted presence in her immediate surroundings. The warmth beside her grew more intense, becoming more threatening than comforting. While the goddess's eyes remained shut, the phantom maiden arose through the solid ground as if it were water, lured to Gekko like a fly to a carcass. Her long sleeves covered her hands and draped down towards her pale, dirty feet as she continued to levitate right next to Gekko.

The phantom maiden slowly tilted her head as she observed Tsukiakari, her crimson eyes hidden behind an intangible mask of deep, dark shadow. Some force was connecting the two, drawing one to the other. As if she were energized by this connection, the phantom maiden floated higher towards the sky, raising her hands as if she were being crucified. Her ashen hair caught fire while her eyes glowed like dying embers.

"Damn it..." Tsukiakari cursed beneath ragged breath.

Farther away from the war goddess, the phantom soldier sat in the saddle of his flaming horse, watching the war goddess from the rooftop of Ichiki's temple. Two long, devilish horns protruded from his forehead, one of them broken while the other curved upwards. The fire enshrouded his entire body, as well as his horse's. It was like the two were plucked right from the insatiable furnace of Hell's deepest pit. The flaming horse wailed and cried from the rooftop, calling out to the tortured Tsukiakari. But when the war goddess opened her eyes, the two phantoms disappeared as if they were never there.

 Ichiki sauntered out from the temple entrance, descending the stairs with a seductive sway in her hips. Her white negligee bounced and floated on her body like a weightless, aurora veil, revealing her curvy figure with little left to the imagination. Her rosy lips curved upward in a subtle smirk as she approached the brooding war goddess.

"Sulking again, Gekko?" Ichiki teased. "You'll tarnish the good looks your mother gave you if you frown like that all day."

Tsukiakari stood herself up, using her sheathed blade as a cane. She drew a deep breath that betrayed her vexation.  "Is that so? Perhaps I should sulk more often, then."

Ichiki snickered, her straightened fingers partially covering her smiling lips. "That baleful scorn of yours is so adorable, Gekko."

The sound of a horse's gallop slowly swelled in the distance, breaking through the ambient noise of snowfall and wind. Ichiki and Tsukiakari turned their eyes towards the forest, certain that the Otonougi twins had come to visit yet again. The horse's rhythm spelled urgency for the war goddess. She could tell that something was wrong when she only heard the gallop of a single horse, rather than two.

"Gekko!" Chiya shouted from the treeline. She hopped off of the saddle and ran towards her lord, trapping the goddess's arms in the tight grip of her shivering hands as she caught her breath.

"Chiya? What's wrong?" Tsukiakari asked.

"Gekko..." Chiya began, still catching her breath. "Yachi is missing!"

The revelation stole the breaths of the two goddesses.

"Missing? What happened, Chiya?" Tsukiakari questioned.

Chiya spoke in rapid-fire succession. "She never came back from Kameyama! She was supposed to return six days ago, but she never showed up! The shinigami looked for her and turned up nothing! I'm worried, Gekko! I'm so worried!"

Tsukiakari knew more than anyone that Yachi wouldn't have taken so long to come home. If she had gotten a suitable gift for her sister, she would've been eager to race back to the base. She would've presented her winter azaleas with a pearly, white smile and blushing cheeks, doting over Chiya while the men laughed in amusement. Six days? Just to get back from Kameyama? It didn't make sense. None, whatsoever.

"Please Gekko...I'm begging you..." Chiya cried into Tsukiakari's chest. "Please bring her home. I just want her to come home..."

Tsukiakari looked to Ichiki without a word, as if silently asking for her permission to leave the temple. Moved by Chiya's concern for her sister's well-being, the war goddess was already determined to search for her.

"I couldn't stop you if I tried." Ichiki sighed. "You should go. Get the girl back to her loved ones. If Bisha starts asking questions, I'll cover for your absence."

Tsukiakari nodded and returned her focus to Chiya. "Chiya, listen to me very carefully. Return to base and stay there. I'll go to Kameyama and see if I can find Yachi. Once I do, I'll bring her back home. But it's important that you remain at the base until I do, okay? Say it back to me."

Chiya's tears were soothed by Tsukiakari's promise to find Yachi. "I'll return to base and stay there until you bring Yachi home..."

"Gekko, are you sure about this?" Ichiki asked. "You still haven't fully recovered from your reincarnation. If you run into trouble-"

"I'll be fine. Even in this state, it would take a small army to kill me again."

"Still, be careful, Gekko." Ichiki began, the cold air making her subtle suspirations visible. "It's not just your physical health you need to worry about."

Ichiki spun on her heel, sauntering back to her temple with steps as light as air. Gekko continued to clutch Chiya to her breast as she watched Ichiki disappear beyond the thickening draft of snow. Her grip around Chiya's shoulder's tightened, her thoughts returning to Yachi. For her sake, the war goddess wished deeply in her heart that she only got lost amidst the snow, or simply couldn't return to base for some reason. Whatever the problem was, Tsukiakari was going to figure it out and bring her home. She was absolutely sure of it.

Not even an hour after hearing of Yachi's disappearance, Tsukiakari was already plowing through the open roads on horseback, with nothing but her sword and a few extra robes in her rucksack. Treading down the same road Yachi would've taken to begin her journey to Kameyama, Tsukiakari embarked on her first task. She knew she would need help if she were to find Yachi in a timely manner. And so, as the pale clouds above parted to reveal the glimmering, sapphire sky, Tsukiakari made a detour towards Inari's shrine. Wary of shinigami patrols around the base, she led her horse around the long way, approaching the shrine from the other side of the hill it was settled on. Her white horse slowly plodded up the steps as she kept her head ducked to avoid the canopy of twisted, dead branches overhead. Gentle winds blew flakes of snow off of the trees, prickling her face before melting into droplets of water.

For just a moment, Tsukiakari caught herself enjoying the love bites of the snowflakes, snickering to herself behind sealed, smiling lips. "Yachi, you must've been giddy with all of this snow around. Isn't that right? I can almost hear you laughing somewhere in these woods, playing in the snow."

Finally, she arrived at the shrine, the doors wide open. Inari was sitting at her table, a steaming cup of tea at her side, as she sorted through the ema stuffed in her prayer box. Her nine, puffy tails waved and tottered around while she took a cautious sip from her porcelain cup of green tea. Noticing Tsukiakari dismounting her horse outside, Inari shot up on her feet and rushed to greet the war goddess outside.

"G-Gekko! I didn't know you were coming!" Inari stammered. "How did you get here? Izanami already began her investigation, didn't she?"

"Inari, listen to me. I need your help." Tsukiakari said, her eyes reflecting her anxiety.

"Gekko, if this is about the investigation-"

"It's not about that and it's not about Izanami. It's Yachi..."

"The Otonougi girl? Did something happen to her?"

Tsukiakari shook her head. "That's the thing. We don't know. She went missing, Inari. She was running errands in Kameyama, nothing major. She should've returned already. She should've been back days ago, but she hasn't returned. No one has seen or heard anything from her since she left."

"She's disappeared? In Kameyama of all places? How long has she been gone?"

"It's been over six days, Inari. It doesn't take that long to get back from Kameyama. Yachi isn't the kind of woman to dawdle around the countryside in the middle of a harsh winter, either."

"Well...how am I supposed to help?" Inari asked.

"You used to spy for us before you gained your popularity as a goddess." Tsukiakari began. "You have good tracking skills, a good sense of smell, and you have kitsune to widen your search area and gather information. When it comes to manhunts, you're the most capable person I know. I'm going to Kameyama right now to search for Yachi. I want you to come with me."

Inari recoiled in surprise. "Now? Right now?!"

"I know it's sudden, and I'm sorry, Inari. I truly am. But I need to find Yachi immediately."

Inari pinched the bridge of her nose. "Gekko..."

"Listen, Inari. I'm no stranger to war. I know what happens to people who go missing. Every day that passes reduces their chances of staying alive. They could be sold into slavery or handed over to the enemy for money, and enemies is something that the Senkumo clan has no shortage of. There are people out there that would do horrible things, sickening things to a girl like Yachi, just to hurt me personally."

Tsukiakari extended her hand, rubbing Inari's arm as she contemplated her decision. "Please, Inari. I need you."

Inari's lips trembled, her mind bouncing between accepting and denying Tsukiakari's pleas. The war goddess's scarlet eyes were so often the inspiration of fear on the battlefield, but in tender moments of crisis, they were sweet and vulnerable. They were glossy like marbles and reflective like a river's gentle purl. Inari sighed away her worries, surrendering to that helpless gaze of Tsukiakari's.

"Alright, Gekko...I'll-"

"Yachi is missing?"

The sudden interruption from a third person startled both of the goddess, summoning their eyes towards the shrine's torii gate. It was Taeko, who had overheard their conversation.

"Taeko..." Tsukiakari muttered.

"If Yachi is missing, I'll help you find her." Taeko assured. "I know I'm not part of the Senkumo anymore, but...Yachi is still family to me. I'll help her in any way I can. I have men near Kameyama. I can be of use."

"I don't know." Tsukiakari began. "Your methods are aggressive and dark."

Taeko smiled. "In a race against time darkness is needed. The Senkumo can't act while under investigation, but my men can. If I tell them we're searching for an old war buddy of mines, they won't leave any stone unturned."

"Gekko..." Inari said. "Power is best utilized when it operates in both the light and in the shadow. Whatever resentment may exist between you two, you cannot deny one simple fact. You are the light, and Taeko is your darkness."

Tsukiakari sighed. "I can't be picky right now. Yachi's safety depends on us. I'll accept your help, Taeko. Inari, get ready to leave immediately. The three of us are heading to Kameyama."

"That's what I like to hear!" Taeko cheered. "Let's go bring Yachi home!"

"I don't have a horse. Can I ride with you, Gekko?" Inari asked.

"Of course. If you need to pack anything, pack lightly. We need to be able to move fast so we can find Yachi sooner."

"Gotcha! I'll just bring some thicker robes!" Inari yelled as she ran back inside to collect her things.

Even now, Yachi's phantom laughter haunted Tsukiakari, like a beautiful mirage hiding beyond the snow. Traveling down the same roads she would've taken was like treading right in her footsteps. That alone made it feel as if she was still alive and safe somewhere, simply waiting to be found. And so, with a team of three, Tsukiakari sallied onwards towards Kameyama.


15
Welcome Center / Re: Returning and Forgetful
« on: December 17, 2018, 01:04:13 AM »
I either wasn't around for all of the drama or I was just neck-deep in trying to write something worth a crap. Either way, each ending is a new beginning. Welcome home.

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