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Manga Creations / Re: I Just Want Normal School Life!
« on: January 19, 2016, 12:38:08 AM »
Finally had time to read through this  :clapping:

Okay, let's start with negatives.



I really don't have any. I guess as I was reading through the 2nd half of the 1st chapter, I started wondering "where exactly is this all going?", but right after I started wondering that, it ended with the whole club thing. So, my question was answered as soon as it popped in my head. I guess my only complaint is that the feeling of progression gets lost through the length of the chapter and the many interactions that take place in it. Not too bad though, not like it was jarring or anything.

 8) Positives!

Gotta love the "My feet hurt, I hate this place, it's so cold here, why do those girls keep staring at me, I wish I was at home away from all of these schmucks and whores" kind of MC we have being forced to join the PLATO club. The perspective is new to me, but it didn't feel jarring at all since I've read plenty of stories where it reads as if the MC is narrating everything. So, good job there.

Already, I can tell we've got some good characters loaded in the proverbial gun. The interactions in the story were pretty humorous too and hit home since it reminded me of people I knew in my school days. Yuhi (Which I believe means sunset) is adorable too  :clapping: The strong cast and well written interactions made it a pleasure to read even at it's length, which is always pretty important.

And for some reason, large font makes things easier to read  :hmm: Maybe because of the false sense of progression it gives you

Well, I enjoyed it and hope to see more! Overall, pretty good job with the story! :thumbsup:

Develop Your Story / Re: Dharja: I Can't Find Fault With My Own Villain
« on: January 15, 2016, 12:55:33 AM »
Guess I should post this here since I ended up writing about it. Warning though, this is a 6000+ word chapter  :unsure:
Part 1 of 3 part series

The Path of the Father, The Path of the Son

Far away, in the underground caves of southern Vevoskovia, the nation still mourning the recent deaths of their beloved Tokahev and Amiya, Von Krum Soleais walked through the moist, black rock walls of the hideout, which was massive in wideness. The cave was so spacious, one could fit an army though it and still have plenty of room left to move around. His image reflected off of the flowing stream of water that ran from a river outside the cave, and continued to flow out through the other open end, which was very narrow in contrast with the welcoming and open entrance. The sounds of his footsteps were caught by the cautious ears of a meditating Zenbu, who had covered his body with a fresh set of white bandages, revealing only his eyes. Over his bandage-wrapped body, he wore a black kimono and several other black robes underneath, each of them decorated with art of flowers and animals such as eagles and lions. The kimono had a hood with a black fur trim, which he wore over his head for warmth. The kimono was worn loosely, while the robes underneath were tightened by a rope that was used as a belt. All around him, candles were levitating peacefully, as still as mountains, showing extreme discipline in the Art of Earth. Before Von could say a word as he approached Zenbu, Zenbu spoke out first.

Zenbu: What do you need?

Von scoffed and sat down on the ground outside of the ring of floating candles.

Von: Please, it's not that serious. I just wanted to know something.

Zenbu: Oh? Knowledge is what you seek? Concerning what subject?

Von: You're his lesser half, so I thought it would be appropriate to come to you for this. What was Dharja's life and era like? What is the story behind the genius and prowess of that man?

Zenbu: You wish to know the story of my master? What has brought about this kind of curiosity?

Von: Come on, you know me. I've sought knowledge since I was a boy. It's the curse of an infamous polymath like me. It is especially intriguing since it supposedly concerns the Marluxian Arts, and perhaps even their origins. You do have his memories, right?

Zenbu: Indeed. Dharja gave me most of his memories. If you so wish, I can show them to you directly.

Von: Directly?

The candles landed softly on the ground as Zenbu stood up from his levitation. With his sword, he began carving a seal into the moist rocks.

Von: A Venus seal? You're going to literally show me?

Zenbu: That is what you asked. This seal will project us into Dharja's memories. The ones I hold within me, anyway. It will look and feel like we're really there in the moment. Illusionary magic is much more effective than simply explaining everything to you with words.

Zenbu clasped his hands, and the seal began to light up. Unprepared, Von tried calling out to Zenbu before the effects of the seal started. For a moment, everything went dark. There was only the sound of what sounded like two people fighting. Von could hear the sudden surges of electricity and the hum of a Jupiter force field. Then, he noticed a scent, the scent of herbal incense. The sounds of yelling and physical blows being exchanged, coupled with occasional oohs and aahs of what sounded like a spectating audience. When Von opened his eyes, he and Zenbu were standing among a sitting crowd of young men and black and gold cloaks All of them looked young and wealthy with their intricately patterned cloaks, jeweled rings, shining necklaces, and expensive bracelets. Von realized he was in a palace adorned with black flags hanging from the walls, the symbol of Jupiter painted on the center. The room was an arena shaped like a very large "O" that could seat hundreds of people. As he looked on, he saw other people spectating from their seats, seemingly divided into sections by the clothes they wore.

Zenbu: The section we're standing in right now was the section reserved for the sons of Ganymede, Dharja's father. The ones wearing the white robes across from us were Zenbu clan nobility. The ones in red robes are all women, most of them mothers and wives of the Zenbu clan. The ones is pure black robes are Ganymede's advisers.

Von: Clan? The Zenbu were a clan? Is that where your name derives from?

Zenbu: Yes, Dharja named me that primarily to avoid obvious troubles if he simply named me Dharja, but also to honor the memory of his clan. As a matter of fact, the young man sitting right here is Dharja.

Zenbu pointed to the hooded man sitting next to him. Like his brothers, he wore lavish clothing and jewelry, which was very similar to how Zenbu himself dressed. Dharja was a fiercely handsome and ambitious man who wore his dark, blonde hair down to his hips. His peachy skin and hazel eyes let off the impression that was much more gentle than he really was. A woman in yellow robes, whose face was caked in white make up, and whose lips were as red as blood, offered drinks and food to the sons of Ganymede as the watched the fight from above. Von looked down towards the arena, noticing the huge Jupiter force field that had been erected, containing two participants that looked like they were using the Marluxian Arts.

Von: My god! So this is his world?! What exactly is going on though? Who are those two down there?

Zenbu: Ganymede and one of his sons. They are fighting to the death.

Von: A father and son...but why?! Was there some sort of crime committed? A challenge perhaps?

Zenbu: The latter is more correct. I've told you once about the Great Father Marluxia and how he discovered the Maruxian Arts, hence the name. Well, Marluxia grew ill after traveling the world and revitalizing impoverished countries with fresh water with the Art of Neptune. It was a natural consequence of using the Art of Neptune so much at his senile age. A kidney infection would claim his life as painfully as possible. After he died, people continued to use the Marluxian Arts peacefully, to help one another through harsh times. At last, the world had an answer to problems like hunger, famine, and drought. But as the decades passed, those teachings were changed. Marluxia's religious following underwent a series of schisms after several other planets and their corresponding powers were discovered. These schisms resulted in the birth of the system that would define Dharja's era; One God, One Kingdom. People began worshiping the planets when it was discovered their powers could be used for combat and warfare. And so, the Kingdoms of Mars, Neptune, Jupiter, Uranus, Venus, Mercury, Pluto, The Sun, Earth, Saturn, and the Moon were born. Along with the beginnings of these kingdoms were the beginning of an era that would be knows as the 200 Year War. It's as self-explanatory as it sounds. All of the kingdoms fought one another to prove which of their gods were the mightiest, and which bloodlines had a divine right to the earth, life, and all of its inhabitants.

Von: But what does that have to do with the fight?

Zenbu: Pay close attention, Von. When the Kingdom of Jupiter was founded, it was created by a large and affluent family known as the Zenbu Clan. History's strongest warriors emerged from this clan, so their rich heritage was acknowledged when they assumed sole eligibility for the throne. A young and mighty man named Metis was the clan's strongest warrior during the time of the kingdom's founding, so he was crowned as the Son of Jupiter, believed to be a direct descendant of Great Lord Jupiter. Metis was wise and saw how Marluxia, and all those who practiced the Marluxian Arts, eventually succumbed to its affects on the body. So, to keep the order of the kingdom and the Zenbu clan from falling apart, he established two philosophies that play hand-in-hand with each other; The Path of the Father, and the Path of the Son. What you're seeing down there, this grisly battle to the death, is the manifestation of those philosophies continuing their cycle down to Dharja's generation.

Von watched closely as Ganymede and his son fought in the arena, clashing their sword and shielding each other from streams of electricity. Ganymede was obviously more experienced, and was able to land a cut along his son's side. He held his side to slow the bleeding and keep his intestines from poking out of the gash.

Von: The philosophies...they demand this?

Zenbu: The Path of the Father; Only one shall rule, and he who rules must be the Son of Jupiter. He shall have many wives and many children, and shall embody power throughout the clan, and all of the kingdom. He is the target of idealization, the incarnation of the strength, justice, and might that defines Great Lord Jupiter.

They continued to watch as Ganymede's son continued to fend off his father's relentless attacks with only one arm. His blood began to spatter on Ganymede's dark blue kimono.

Zenbu: The Path of the Son; Many shall crave the power of the Father. They shall be direct descendants of the father, born of pure Zenbu blood. The only way for the next Son of Jupiter to be crowned is for the children of the father to grow strong, and best the father in combat with the Marluxian Arts. Once the challenge is made, one must die, and one must stand. If the son fails and dies by the hand of his father, he is to to be shamed, repudiated, and erased from memory. Give him a disgraceful burial. If he wins, the father must accept death, and realize the glory of the honor of passing on the crown to the next Son of Jupiter. Yes, the father is destined to rule and die, and the son is destined to crave and rule.

Von immediately grew fascinated with the world he was immersed in. This harsh era of war, child soldiers, and destructive combat nearly reminded him of the modern world he lived in. But here, wars were fought with the Marluxian Arts. Not only that, but leaders were chosen through combat, and one's ability with the Marluxian Arts determined their worth to society. Now it all made sense as to why Dharja was the person he was when they met in the 4th dimension centuries ago.

Von: Tell me...who wins this fight?

Zenbu: The boy, Themisto....he dies.

Themisto, in a last act of desperation, struck his sword into the ground, releasing electrical currents that traveled through the ground and towards Ganymede. With ease, the current was blocked by a Jupiter shield. Ganymede clasped his hands, and to Themisto's amazement, he was surrounded by a shaped stream of lightning that took the form of the upper half of a skeleton, with its ribs shielding Ganymede. The skeleton stuck out its hand, which exploded into fast and screeching streams of lightning all aimed at Themisto. He was only able to dodge a few of them, but was struck by 3 bolts of lightning that coursed throughout his body, paralyzing him and making him vulnerable. He laid on the ground, his black hair resting on the rocks and dirt as he slowly raised his head and looked at his mother, who spectated among the women in red robes. His body was bloodied and black with burns and burnt ash that covered his skin. His kimono was ripped and tattered, and his purple eyes were desperate. Himalia, the mother of almost all of Ganymede's children, could not bare to look to witness her son's final moments in the world. She could not bare to see how shameful, defeated, and cowardly he looked. She could not fathom the idea of having to bury yet another one of her sons and be forced to have more to take their place. The electric skeleton around Ganymede receded and disappeared as he walked towards his injured son, with his lightly burnt arm slung over the front opening of his kimono, leaving his right sleeve empty. The other hand was armed with his sword, jeweled at the handle and perfectly crafted to his specifications. His hair was tied in a pony tail as chin length hairs in the front swayed around as he walked.

Themisto: I'm sorry, father...

Ganymede: Yet another disappointment. I hope you find solace in death, Themisto. May Jupiter take you into his embrace despite your failures.

Themisto smiled and closed his eyes as Ganymede raised his blade and swiftly struck down on his neck, decapitating him. When the deed was done, the Jupiter barrier was taken down, and Themisto's corpse and severed head were taken off of the arena floor by royal guards. Ganymede sheathed his sword diagonally across his hip as female servants in yellow robes and make up brought him towels and a bowl of water to wash his hands and face as he was led out of the arena.

Von: Magnificent. Ganymede was a legend in his own right.

Zenbu: Indeed, he was powerful. His sons had difficulty trying to surpass him. They couldn't exactly just quit either, though. Society pressured Dharja and the other sons to take their father's place, or risk being scorned and mocked as a privileged coward not worthy of the Zenbu name and legacy.

Von turned back towards the young Dharja as everyone began filing out of the arena. All of the incense sticks had finished burning, and the torches were doused by servants. He stood still, expressionless, and seemingly completely unmoved by what he witnessed.

Zenbu: Now, let's move forwards just a few mere hours.

Zenbu clasped his hands, and instantly, the two found themselves in the personal quarters of Himalia, standing right behind Dharja, who sat on his knees as his mother rested behind a folding bamboo partition, her shadow cast on the partition by her lantern. It was a large bedroom, with one, big bed in the middle of the room. Instead of a wall, there was a rose window made out of colored pieces of glass behind the bed. Candles were lit everywhere, filling the room with the scent of cinnamon.

Von: Where are we now?

Zenbu: Himalia's personal quarters.

Dharja: Mother, how long will you put up with this? Don't you grow weary of watching your sons drop like flies? Themisto makes the 4th son...

Himalia: The Path of the Father and The Path of the Son are absolute. It's more painful that no one can seem to fulfill their role. If this continues, the clan will look to me and blame me for giving birth to weak children. I don't like this either, but we cannot curtail the traditions of the clan. Ganymede will need a replacement soon.

Dharja: But then you will also be without a husband. If it weren't for the weakness of the Io clan, their kin would have survived, and there would be disunity among the descendants. It would've put you in great danger, mother. But even still, the ones we have left will hardly be concerned with the wellbeing of their own mother when they're all too busy trying to chase power. The "Son of Jupiter" is nothing more than a name...

Himalia: If you're worried about me going the way of Ganymede's wife from the Io branch, you don't need to worry. That situation is...complicated, but I am of pure Zenbu descent. They will not waste pure blood. The most I have to risk is my name and pride. You trouble yourself too much over the affairs of the clans, Dharja. Sometimes, you're too much like your father.

Dharja: My apologies. I can only hope to end these deaths soon, Mother. Please, give me strength and love along the way.

Himalia: You will always have it, darling.

Dharja: I'll be leaving then.

Von: Hey, what is all of that about the Io branch?

Zenbu: Ah, them. They're a side branch of the Zenbu clan. Like distant relatives, really. They spread their genes amongst a more diverse set of other bloodlines, so they were classified as a side branch. And they were treated as such too. Ganymede accepted a woman from the Io clan to be one of his brides, but almost every child she gave birth too failed to surpass Ganymede. Eventually, the nobles began to put the blame on her, saying her inferior genes were resulting in weakened seed. Of course, now we know that this is not how the Marluxian Arts work, but this was a very different time.

Von: Then the woman? What became of her?

Zenbu: She was exiled. Her remaining children were excluded from The Path of the Son. Ever since then, the Io clan and the Zenbu clan had been at odds. Differing political and ideological beliefs has led to bitter rivalry among them, which threatened the sacred unity of the upper class of the Kingdom of Jupiter. They advocated for the retraction of the Path of the Father and Path of the Son philosophies, saying they were outdated and encouraged clan divides.

Von: And this problem persisted up to this moment?

Zenbu: Indeed. In fact, Dharja was the one who was tasked to take care of it. I will show that to you in due time.

Zenbu clasped his hands and progressed further through Dharja's memories, stopping at the time he trained under his father, shortly before joining with the Army of Jupiter to fight against the Kingdom of Mars. They were out in the open, in a rocky canyon in the radiant sunlight. Both of them wore white kimonos with robes beneath them.

Ganymede: You've survived several military campaigns in the past, Dharja, but the Kingdom of Mars is the greatest threat to the Kingdom of Jupiter. Facing them will be your true test. Speaking of which, with all of your experience, why have you not challenged me to fulfill your purpose?

Dharja: Experience is not all that is required to be the Son of Jupiter. One needs wisdom, forethought, mental strength, and a sense of justice in order to perfectly embody Great Lord Jupiter.

Ganymede: You are definitely my son! If only Themisto had come to that conclusion before being reckless and throwing his life away. Now, are you ready? Produce the Jupiter Skeleton.

Dharja: Right!

Dharja clasped his hands and was surrounded by violent streams of electricity. The amount of power he was exerting was bewildering to Von, but he still failed to form the energy into the shape of a skeleton.

Ganymede: Excellent exertion, but you're failing in shaping the energy! Don't bring out more than you can shape!

Dharja: Yes sir!

Dharja tried again, managing to form the ribcage this time.

Ganymede: That was good! You're learning fast! Keep going at it! The arms are the hardest part!

Dharja: Yes sir!

Zenbu: Dharja worked tirelessly under his father's tutelage to surpass him one day. Even the might Dharja needed to be trained and disciplined, like any other novice. After this session, he returned to the battlefield to ward off an incoming force from the Kingdom of Mars. It was not his first military campaign.

Von: I see. So he's fought before? Even as he is now, he's still good enough to fight on the front lines.

Zenbu clasped his hands, taking him and Von to the battle that would define Dharja's military career. Dharja, fully armored and sitting on a white horse, commanded an army of 50,000 soldiers in the valleys between the kingdoms of Jupiter and Mars. Most of the army would wait and conceal themselves in the narrow passages of the valley, and a smaller force, led by Dharja, would charge ahead to confront and fool the enemy into thinking they were a smaller force than they really were. They were simply waiting for their scouts to return with news of the enemy's arrival. Not an ounce of fear was present on Dharja's sweaty and dirty face. He wore his armor proudly, knowing he could prove himself to his father and his fellow soldiers.

Zenbu: The battle you will witness was perhaps the most important battle of his life. It meant the difference between society loving and hating him.

Dharja watched as thousands of soldiers prepared traps, pots of oil and lanterns, arrows, and their own bodies. There were several narrow passageways, and every single one of them was a trapped waiting to be sprung. The moon was red on this night as the soldiers hid themselves on top of cliffs and in bushes. At long last, the scouts returned, riding their horses up next to Dharja's.

Scout: They're here! Thousands of the them! Given their formation, they definitely expected a large direct conflict.

Dharja: Good work. Sound the horn and fall back behind the lines. We'll handle the rest from here.

Von: Amazing...he's going to lure them into a trap! Especially with the Art of Jupiter, he can trap their forces in these narrow passageways with barriers!

Zenbu: You really do get giddy at the expectation of a battle. Just watch.

The scouts sounded their horns, commencing the first phase of the plan. Roughly 8,000 soldiers rallied behind Dharja on horseback and waited for the signal to move out. When the sight of enemy torches lighting the horizon caught Dharja's eye, he clasped his hands, causing the sound of thunder to rumble through the sky, followed by a flash of lightning. This was the signal. The army rode their horses towards the Army of Mars, who were alerted by the lightning and took defensive positions.

Dharja: Do not let them burn you!

Dharja and his soldiers clasped their hands while on horseback, forming a shield around them that would protect them from fire. Fiery arrows were shot into the sky and began to rain onto Dharja's army. Their shields protected them from this, allowing them to keep advancing. Hurriedly, the Army of Mars clasped their hands and placed them on the ground, erecting a wall of fire that served as protection from their advance.

Dharja: Keep going! Move!

Shocking the Army of Mars, Dharja and his army rode right through the wall of fire. Dharja had perfected the Jupiter Skeleton and used it to kill off as many Mars soldiers as he could, his shield no longer active. By the dozen, the Army of Mars suffered casualties in rapid succession, with many of them cooking in their own armor. When the two armies clashed, it was a battle of fire and ash versus lightning. From a distance, the battle was a magnificent light show of orange and blue.

Von: He's taking advantage of the fact the Art of Jupiter can be used to kill precise targets at close range, but the Art of Mars cannot, since it's based off of fire. He brought the fight to them to reduce their numbers before falling back and luring them. How old was he during the fight?

Zenbu: 20. He's still just a kid here. And yet, already, you can see his potential.

When the fighting dragged on long enough, Dharja summoned another lightning strike to signal the retreat.

Dharja: Fall back! Fall back now!

It was a mad dash back into the valley, avoiding swirls of explosive flames being hurled towards them, turning cold, hard rocks into molten magma. The heat of the battle with the Army of Mars made the inside of Dharja's armor feel like a cooking pot. Just as planned, the army pursued Dharja into the narrow passageways, and were surprised by barriers that boxed them in. Immediately, the rest of the army emerged from hiding, pouring lit oil down into the Army of Mars. Arrows pierced their necks and legs, killing them off and wounding them one by one. The soldiers got off their horses, clasped their hands, and aimed their hands down at the ground, propelling themselves up to the cliffs to fight their ambushers. It was a move Dharja had not anticipated. As he watched his men fight with the Army of Mars atop the cliffs, he searched his mind for a plan. Once more, he summoned the Jupiter Skeleton around him and began riding through the passageways. Dharja's men were able to slay their enemies as they were suddenly struck by streams of lightning coming from the skeleton, but many more still remained. It was all up to the fighting skill of each army now. Dharja made his way to the cliffs to join the fighting. The sounds of swords clashing and men screaming filled his ears like a chaotic symphony. One of the warriors of Mars engaged with Dharja, swinging down his sword as Dharja's head as he raised his armored arms to block it. While his arm blocked the blade, Dharja reached for his dagger behind his back and stabbed the warrior through his side, which was unprotected by his armor.

As Dharja marched onwards towards the fight, the sky began to light up as phoenixes were sent into the air, combusted, and then made their violent crash down towards the earth. Upon impact, the screaming, flaming birds exploded, killing soldiers from both Jupiter and Mars.

Von: This must be the work of the Army of Mars!

Zenbu: Yes, I think the commander was willing to accept friendly casualties in exchange for pushing the Army of Jupiter back. A foolish mistake that benefited the Army of Jupiter far more than it hindered them, if you ask me.

Von watched in glee, his eyes sparkling from the flames of battle, as the warriors of Jupiter clasped their hands and covered themselves with Jupiter force fields. The Phoenixes were now only killing their own soldiers. While his men shielded themselves, Dharja summoned back the Jupiter Skeleton, which began picking the explosive birds out of the sky with accurate bolts of lightning. The birds exploded in the air, kissing the clouds with orange light as smoke and falling, flaming body parts filled the sky. The birds were purged from the sky, and their ashes naturally scattered by the wind. The Army of Mars began to realize how many men they were losing, and the horn was sounded to retreat from battle. But Dharja was not going to let the enemy go home so easily. He clasped his hands, and with all of his might, he filled the sky with ungodly amounts of lightning, coursing through the clouds like blood traveling through an artery. To help take some of the pressure off of Dharja's body, his men clasped their hands and took control of some of the lightning in the sky. The valley erupted with the cheers of victory from the Army of Jupiter, before lightning flashed from the sky in rapid succession, killing off the fleeing forces of Mars and setting fire to the ground, men, and their horses. When their lives were snuffed out, the sky erupted with the sounds of thunder, signaling a victory for the Kingdom of Jupiter. Dharja was surrounded by his men, who cheered his name and carried him on their arms like a god. He looked very happy, very "in the moment". He closed his eyes and cheered along with his soldiers.

Zenbu: This was the fist time Dharja was handed sole responsibility of an armed force, charged with fighting a very touch and crafty enemy. His victory here asserted the strength of the Kingdom of Jupiter and made Dharja into a national hero.

Von: The Kingdom of Jupiter...were they the strongest kingdom?

Zenbu: Mars and Neptune came close, but Jupiter always prevailed above everyone else. This victory was short lived, however. Dharja came home to a very volatile situation with the Zenbu and Io clans.

Zenbu clasped his hands, taking him and Von to a moment inside of a small temple dedicated to Great Lord Jupiter. The planet was carved out of a large boulder, depicting its exact look almost perfectly. Next to the boulder was a marble statue of a man in iron armor, who wore long hair and a blindfold over his eyes, his hand extending to the planet. It was a human depiction of Great Lord Jupiter. Dharja and Ganymede sat on prayer rugs, dressed in black robes. The walls of the small temple were made of marble and jeweled with gold, with pillars supporting the structure. All along the marble walls and pillars, paintings depicted the Great Lord Jupiter giving his first descendant to the world, and those descendants continuing to reign victorious throughout the generations. Both of them tied their hair into messy ponytails. Incense and candles burned all around the two as Zenbu and Von stood behind them.

Ganymede: I want to congratulate you again on your impressive victory, my son. Your name is now glorified throughout the country, and you have brought great honor to the clan.

Dharja: Thank you. It was my pleasure.

Ganymede: Unfortunately, I must ask you to take more human life.

Dharja: More? Who is the enemy?

Ganymede: The Io clan.

Dharja's eyes were filled with shock. The idea of spilling blood of people native to the kingdom sent shivers down his spine.

Ganymede: They've threatened to secede from the Kingdom of Jupiter and the Zenbu clan in totality if the discrimination between our two bloodlines was left unaccounted for. Throughout history, not a single member of the Io clan has ever been found legible for the throne. Naturally, I couldn't let them make such outrageous demands at the expense of our kingdom.

Dharja: Perhaps there was a better solution to this problem other than repudiating them from the central government, father.

Ganymede: I too thought that way, but the Io clan is never satisfied. Their fall from grace over the years has hurt them socially, politically, and economically. Nobody wants to deal with any clan with such a shameful legacy of hindering the Zenbu clan. That is why they've resorted to extreme measures, Dharja. Merely settling for low-demand positions in government is a thinly veiled act of pity. They might've taken such an act as an insult. I've implored them to see reason, but they fail at every turn. Their childish behavior threatens to tear the upper class and our unity asunder. I want them dealt with, by any means necessary.

Dharja: You're asking me to annihilate the Io branch? I cannot believe it has actually come to this.

Ganymede: You will be deployed alongside Jupiter's Archangels. You've seen them before, right?

Dharja nodded.

Dharja: They're an elite force, right? They're only called in for special missions. Every time they go out, they wear jade masks and black veils over their heads.

Ganymede: Often, their tasks include executing famous and popular individuals. They wear those masks and veils to remain anonymous while they carry out their duties.

Dharja: Of course. I will accept the mission if you can guarantee that these actions will not be traced back to me personally. But, won't the Zenbu clan face controversy?

Ganymede: Perhaps. But, at the end of the day, the actions of Jupiter are always just. The law of Jupiter is always absolute. The thoughts of Jupiter are always righteous. Do what you must.

Dharja: Yes, father.

Zenbu: Perhaps one of Dharja's greatest weaknesses was that he had too much faith in his father. He was too obedient, too good of a son.

Von: I don't like this foreshadowing.

Zenbu progressed through Dharja's memories a little more, taking him and Von to the moonlit hallway of the capital palace, where Dharja stood alone, anxious about the task he was given. Dharja slammed the side of his fist into the wall and fell to his knees.

Dharja: Damn it! Why did you task ME with carrying out this atrocity?! Have you no love for your own people, no matter how distant they are in blood?!

Von: This is odd...up until now, he's been completely composed. But, he broke down here.

Zenbu: Dharja is a lot like Phaedra. He loved his people, even those that were just considered a side branch. Blood did not have such a heavy meaning to him. Whether it was thick or thin, it did not justify complete extinction of an ethnic group in his mind. What an internal conflict it must've been, to battle between his own personal ideals and the demands of his father.

Dharja, the mighty ruler of the world that Von thought he knew, cried in the dark hallway at the dreaded thought of killing his own. Zenbu moved forward some more, just hours after the scene in the hallway, to the moment when Dharja and Jupiter's Archangels approached the Io district. They all wore black armor, jade masks, and black veils, including Dharja. All of them rode into the district on black horses and covered the district in a Jupiter barrier, preventing entry and escape. The people of the busy town stopped to look in the sky, noticing they were being boxed in. At first, they all thought it was done to protect the district from some sort of emergency. The cobblestone roads were trekked by the black horses, and the lights hanging across buildings shined down upon the black armor of the Jupiter Archangels. Dharja felt uneasy and not like himself in that armor and mask.

Zenbu: This is a sight that you may be familiar with, Von. The destruction of an entire people, for the world to see.

Jupiter Skeletons surrounded all 60 of the archangels, casting their blue light down the roads and avenues, shining on the homes and windows nearby, like a warning to those nearby. Explosions and screams were heard by clueless bystanders in the central plaza. Dharja sent lethal volts through the body of anybody he saw. Man, woman, or child. His heart pounded in his chest like the feet of his horse pounded against the cobblestone as they continued their path of death throughout the district. Bodies littered the streets, and homes were drained of their power and set ablaze. Hiding was futile. Although one could hide from lightning, what were they supposed to do when their hiding spot becomes an inferno? Jupiter's fury was unavoidable. Dharja drew his sword and slashed the throats of people he rode by, still killing more with his Jupiter Skeleton. Brilliant yet deadly flashes of blue light lit up the now darkened city as the Io clan was killed by the hundreds. Before long, the district grew quiet and smoke clouded Dharja's view. In a sickeningly short time, he and the archangels wiped out the Io branch completely. He and the archangels watched from afar as the district burned down to the ground, before riding off into the night, back towards the palace.

Von: It really is similar to our own world. Your earlier foreshadowing makes me believe that Ganymede did not keep his word.

Zenbu: He didn't. He lied. The Io clan never threatened to secede from the Kingdom of Jupiter, but they did try and weasel their way back to the top of society along with the Zenbu clan. This is where Dharja's obedience to his father betrayed him.

Von: They never threatened to secede?!

Zenbu: Dharja was away at war, and only thought he simply wasn't around to witness any of the political happenings of the country. He didn't question his father, like most Zenbu children destined for greatness. But even the father would sabotage his own cubs.

Zenbu clasped his hands and progressed through several days, which took them to the most important moment in Dharja's life; his exile. He was being forced out of the country by Jupiter Archangels, with his father watching in glee and his mother crying in agony, screaming her son's name. The walls of the Kingdom of Jupiter were massive and made primarily of stone. The doors were wide and adorned with the symbol of Jupiter. Dharja tried pushing through the archangels to run to his mother, but knew that taking it too far could result in a fight with them.

Von: What is happening?! Is he being exiled?!

Zenbu: Ganymede broke his promise by revealing to the public that Dharja was the one who slaughtered the Io clan, for no good reason. With his anonymity stripped of him, he fell into disgrace and the public loathed him. What Dharja didn't realize was that his father was doing everything he could to maintain his own standing. Why else do you think he settled with an Io woman and kept killing her kids for years? The Io branch had been historically weaker than their Zenbu relatives. He went with them for as long as he could. He spoiled his Zenbu heirs, hoping their visions of grandeur would make them weak in their minds. Such things did not impact Dharja like that. He was wise, kind, and strong of mind. He was just far too loving. Far too compassionate. This is the result of that, when an evil spirit manipulates a kind spirit.

Von watched Himalia as she was dragged away and the gates to the country were closed. Threatened with death, Dharja accepted his fate. He got up from the ground and walked aimlessly into the wilderness, crying as he walked.

Zenbu: This was a harsh lesson for him. But this event gave birth to the Dharja that you and I know so well. The next thing Dharja will do is discover a very special planet. I'm sure you already know the name...

Von: Nibiru...

Manga Creations / Re: Kingfisher Crimson (Rewriting)
« on: January 11, 2016, 04:20:48 AM »
Alright, I've read up to chapter 4 of Kingfisher Crimson, which is an awesome title by the way. I read a little bit more, but wasn't sure to include them in this little review since it seems like those are still WIP's. Now then...Kingfisher.

Let's start with the negatives, because there aren't that many. The first thing that got me, and this was especially prevalent in the 1st chapter, was the language application in terms of which tense you were using. Maybe it's just new to me, but seeing words like "has" and general present tense stuff jarred me for a while. I've certainly never seen any stories written like that, and it was a little weird in some places. Thankfully though, I got used to it and didn't have much of a problem with it afterwards. If this is a common thing in these kinds of stories, than I guess it just required me getting used to it. I have only written and read narrative sections of work with past tense used to describe everything.  :clapping:

And then just minor things, really. Like the "!" in Chapter 3 I think it was. You're one cheeky bloke, m8. I thought since you used the "!", that it was used in lieu of an explanation of the reactions of the people in the scene. But the reactions followed the exclamation mark  :unsure: This may seem like me just being a really picky jerk, but think of it like this. There are three things that happen in the minds of the reader. First of all, they're gonna remember MGS  :clapping: Second of all, they're going to already imagine the characters acting shocked, gasping, and all of that sort of stuff. If you give the readers "!" and THEN give an actual explanation as to the character's reactions, the same image plays in the readers' minds twice, consecutively. Small and weird instances like this could break immersion just from sheer initial confusion, like with me.

Besides for the content of the story itself, words can make or break effective delivery of a story, so be mindful for instances where you could picture the same scene twice.  :cop:

Okay, now for the positives!  :clapping:

First of all, thank you for not drumming up a boring world or theme. I was worried for a second there with the portals to other worlds and the futuristic kind of vibe the story had, but it quickly intrigued me. I was honestly wondering why throughout the story if the military had sole authority to go fishing through the portals like that, if there were giant corporations doing the same thing, and what kind of changes the discovery of these portals influenced in the world, which I'm going to presume is Earth.

It's always a hit or miss with this, but I liked that it wasn't really clear who the main character is. Stories like this usually converge the lives and interactions of a large cast of strong characters. Everyone is but a microcosm in the totality of the story. With that, you had me cursing Rex for being so bashful, and cheering for the yellow-haired, totally-not-a-Super-Saiyan-heroine to rescue him  :clapping: And the fact that she did that while still under that much pain was a testament to her determination and ability to complete crucial tasks. Pure waifu bait, if you ask me. In a good way.

Ah, and The Pathos were really cool too. Wish the hooded folks had more time, but it successfully brings on the "Mysterious and powerful group of enemies" kind of thing, akin to that of the Akatsuki or Organization XIII. Though I'm guessing it's not as exclusive as those groups?  :hmm:

Well, either way, I had a lot of fun reading that one, Lego.  ;D Cool concepts, intriguing world, and some good action. 

Manga Writer workshop / Re: Writers Roundtable
« on: January 10, 2016, 09:39:55 PM »
Aw screw it. Since it's already up here, I'll just put out Anzu. I really need to share more stuff here,15327.0.html

Manga Writer workshop / Re: Writers Roundtable
« on: January 10, 2016, 07:03:11 PM »
Do you hear that? That's my soul-crushing dread and uncertainty of what to put forward.  :unsure:

I don't have threads for any of my 6 Cataclysm related stories. I'm more than confident in their quality, but it may be too long and heavy to just throw out there.  :hmm:

I do have a thread up for Anzu, which is shorter (but still kind of long), and is much easier to get into, since it's a much simpler concept.

Expansive world, or Fun Time With Sexy 17 Year Old Ghost Girl is pretty much the choice. One is action and one is more of a comedy/drama.  :hmm:


Manga Writer workshop / Re: MR Project #2 - Age of Corruption
« on: January 07, 2016, 03:30:34 AM »
I don't know what's going on here but it's awesome  :sheep:

Develop Your Story / Re: Grey: Home for Strays
« on: January 04, 2016, 08:54:08 PM »
Well that's some vast improvement on that chapter  :clapping:

Manga Writer workshop / Re: Writers Roundtable
« on: January 03, 2016, 07:38:33 PM »
I've never done this before but I'd be interested  :clapping: I'm done writing for now so I need something good to read anyway

General Manga writer discussions / Re: Writer Discussion Table
« on: January 03, 2016, 07:35:15 PM »
- How do you get over writing stuff that feels really unoriginal? It was my biggest bug this time around
- How much research do you do for your settings? I'm having problems making grounded places haha.

I'm no good at getting over it. I just take it back to the drawing board if I feel it's too unoriginal. One of the stories I'm constantly working on is more than just its main cast of characters, there's a long history to the world itself as well. So, I can kind of pull good content out of what I would imagine would happen in that world without much effort. Universes tend to make their own content if you set it up right. But yeah, if I feel it's too cliche, I scratch it out and try to add something nice to it.

Whether it be for realistic or fictional settings, I do quite a bit of research. If it's fictional and draws influence from real life places, I'll research weapons, dresses, languages, customs, burial methods, all sorts of stuff from other places. And of course, if it's a real place, I try to get a feel for the geography, weather, language/dialect, majority religion, and general cultural customs of the area. I had to do this for Anzu for various things like death penalty laws, the availability of kobe beef in the area, abortion laws, and learned a little bit about Kinro Kansha no Hi  :unsure:

I don't think anyone expects you to have everything about the specific place in mind down to the tee, but you should know enough to paint a generally accurate picture of your surroundings.  8)

As for the main character dying kind of thing, you guys are right to say it isn't done in most stories. But, it can be done and done naturally, like in stories that encompasses a long period of the MC's life, or stories where the MC's task will ultimately take his/her life in the end. It really depends on the story and setting, but if anyone goes down that road, you should have a good cast of supporting characters for when the MC does expire, unless you plan to end the story right there.
Lest you end up like Death Note where the show is a borefest after L dies  :unsure:

Develop Your Story / Re: Grey: Home for Strays
« on: December 31, 2015, 11:57:07 PM »
How innocent are we talking here? Make sure those hand-holding scenes are censored  :cop:

Manga Creations / Re: Anzu: A Friend From the Grave
« on: December 31, 2015, 10:52:07 PM »
I know but I keep hitting character limits past 2 or 3 chapters in a single post, depending on how long each one is

Manga Creations / Re: Anzu: A Friend From the Grave
« on: December 31, 2015, 10:48:58 PM »
I Shall Always Be Watching

There they were. Together for the final time, just like the first time. For a while they just sat together in tranquil relaxation under the rainbow of light coming in from the sun-pierced, colored windows that stretched up the length of the sanctuary, all of them washing the pillars, statues, and glossy, wooden pews in bright, delightful, indirect light more radiant than their individual color let on.

Anzu had her eyes closed, and her hands tucked between her knees, simply enjoying the silence and atmosphere of the church, which sheltered her for a very lonely three years. Giuseppe’s eyes admired the beauty of the worn out and abandoned building, with his arm resting on the top of the seat, and his eyes mesmerized by the glaring, colored windows, and the radiant rows of color they shined into the church's interior.

Giuseppe: You know…

Giuseppe’s voice interrupted the silence, and Anzu turned her attention to him.

Giuseppe: I think I’m very lucky to have sat on your diary that day. Very lucky to have been tackled by you.

Anzu smiled.

Anzu: I’m lucky you’re the idiot that stumbled across this place and sat your filthy, monkey ass on the only thing I have left in this world.

Giuseppe: Geez, I know you’re just kidding, but you make me look really evil when you say it like that.

Anzu: No, no. Not at all. I’m actually really happy that you found me. Besides, I gained more things in this world by meeting you.

Giuseppe: Yeah? Like what?

Anzu: Come on! You already know! Don’t make me say it.

Giuseppe: It’s because I know that I want you to say it.

Anzu: What, so it can make you feel good?

Giuseppe: Sure, why the hell not?

Anzu: Fine. I gained you, for one. You’re something I can only have once and can never be replaced.

Giuseppe was infinitely happy to hear those words come out of Anzu’s mouth. She even had the heart to look him in the eyes as she said that, her hair and cheek touched by the purple light of the window behind her.

Giuseppe: Thanks, Anzu.

Anzu: Yeah, no problem, Gissy Poo.

Giuseppe: Oh, I almost forgot.

Giuseppe took out his phone and leaned in towards Anzu.

Giuseppe: Look at that. His name is Oda Miyamoto II. Kyo gave birth to him in late November.

Anzu saw a picture of an adorable sleeping baby, taken by Kyo. Oda was cradling him and smiling.

Giuseppe: They sent me that when I asked about the baby. Pretty cool, huh? Kyo said it hurt like hell but the painkillers helped immensely.

Anzu: Wow, she finally a mommy now! And Oda’s a daddy! I trust Kyo, but are we sure Oda won’t accidentally leave his kid in the park at night or something?

Giuseppe: Nah. He’s more responsible than that, especially with Kyo hounding on him every 5 minutes.

Anzu: Good, I’m happy for them. Hey, Giuseppe?

Giuseppe: What’s up?

Anzu: If you were to die right now and you saw me in heaven? What would be the first thing you say to me?

Giuseppe: The first thing? Hmmm….. Hallelujah.

Anzu: Hallelujah?

Giuseppe: Yep.

Anzu: God, you’re such a nerd.

Giuseppe laughed, as he found that statement to hold some truth.

Giuseppe: Yep, that’s me alright. But admit it, you love me. Come on, just come out of the closet and say it.

Anzu: No!

Giuseppe: You might not get another chance, Anzu. May as well spill the beans.

Anzu: Fine! I love you! I love you to the moon and back, from Jupiter to the sun, from life to death, I love you!

Anzu slapped her hand over her mouth to stop herself from talking too, taking time to calm down and hopefully stop blushing so much.

Giuseppe: Well, you sure overdid it there. Nerd.

Anzu: Whatever…

Giuseppe: I love you too, Anzu. There’s no replacement for you either. You really are one of a kind. I hope you know that. I’m sure my mom loved talking to you, right?

Anzu: Actually, yeah, she did. Your mom was a great woman, Giuseppe! And she gave birth to an even better man.

Giuseppe: I try, I try.

Anzu: Boy, you are just so damn smug right now.

Giuseppe: Am not!

Anzu: Am too! It’s like you just know that you’re better than everyone else!

Giuseppe: Maybe you should stop feeding my ego then.

Anzu: Maybe you should stop being so awesome in the first place! Ever thought of that?

Giuseppe paused for a minute. He didn’t quite have a rebuttal for that.

Giuseppe: Damn, no I haven’t. I’d have to lose you for that to happen.

Anzu’s heart swooned upon hearing those words.

Anzu: Are you saying I make you awesome?

Giuseppe: Yeah. I mean, come on, do you really think I could’ve gone to my mother’s grave alone? Or handled my father alone? You think I could’ve gone out and had fun alone? It was all because of you. You give me a lot of credit for things, but I don’t think you realize that you and I both needed each other in our lives. You knew how to help me confront my problems, and I knew how to help you confront yours.

Anzu: Makes you think it was all destined to be, doesn’t it?

Giuseppe: Maybe so. I do believe in fate, after all.

Anzu: Looks like I have a lot to tell Maria about when I pass on then. I’m sure she’ll be delighted.

Giuseppe: She used to gush over me the same way Natsumi gushed over you. So, I have no doubt she’ll be glad. I was pretty glad to hear she was resting in a good place when you told me about the dreams. Kinda makes you drop all your worries about death and leaving things behind. If people can still smile after dying, it only means they’re at peace with everything that occurred on earth. So, I was just glad that she’s not angry or upset over having lost her life.

Anzu: Yeah, I understand. I think most people obsess over things that they can’t take with them, or end up being scavenged by others after they die. If you ask me, if you’re remembered for the virtue in your heart, you never really die. *censored*, that sounded really corny.

Giuseppe: It was, but it was still very true.

Anzu: Can I just thank you again, please? I feel like I haven’t said it enough.

Giuseppe: You have though. Once is enough. Don’t get the idea that you owe me anything.

Anzu: But I do. If you hadn’t come here, who knows how long I’d just be wandering around the earth, completely alone. I just want you to know that you gave me everything anyone could’ve ever asked for in life. In one year, you gave me the memories and laughter that I really wanted when I was alive. So, Giuseppe, someday, when you grow old and grey and you eventually die as well, I want to be the first to see you on the other side. And I’ll greet you like an old friend. We’ll continue our friendship in a much better place than we left.

Giuseppe: After I die? That won’t be for a long time.

Anzu: Good! I’d be pissed off if you came to me to early! Grow old, get married, have lots of kids, and leave behind something dear to you.

Giuseppe knew what that meant. Anzu was asking Giuseppe to one day join her again, and be with her forever, to join his friend from the grave in the world of the dead.

Giuseppe: So, no getting murdered?

Anzu: Hell no.

Giuseppe: No overdosing on drugs or getting into car accidents?

Anzu: No plane crashes, no choking on olives, no choking your future wife’s strap-on either.

Giuseppe: Oh god! Now that’s an image I never wanted in my head. But, I get the point. I promise you, I’ll live for a long time, Anzu. When I die, I’ll tell you all about my life and the things I experienced, and how sorely I missed you.

Anzu wiped her eyes and looked away.

Anzu: I told you not to say things that will make me cry, idiot.

Giuseppe wrapped his arm around Anzu and held her close.

December brings the night sky very early. By 5:00, the sky was already getting dark, and the thick clouds covered the moon like a shroud over Anzu’s blue eyes. She walked up to the walls surrounding the statue of Christ and laid her hand on the light in the wall. The neon imitation of stained glass bled its dark blue color across the entire sanctuary. Anzu walked back to the 4th row on the left side of the church to sit back down with Giuseppe.

Giuseppe: Magnificent lights. Whoever put those in is a genius.

Anzu: …When I’m gone, would you mind tidying up the church? There won’t be much reason for you to come here anymore. So I want you to go ahead and throw out those futons and pillows. You can keep my electric lantern if you want, I’d hate to see that thrown away.

Giuseppe: I absolutely will, Anzu. I’ll be keeping the lantern too, so don’t you worry about that. You’re probably right, too. There won’t be much of a reason to come back to this place if you’re not here anymore. Sooner or later, this church will be torn down and something will be built on top of it. Who knows when that will be, but it still kinda scares me.

Anzu: Places, like people, pass on as well. The only thing you can carry from it are the memories. And that’s perfectly fine.

Anzu’s smile reassured Giuseppe that even if something does happen to the church, it’s all okay. It’s okay to let go of the places and things that are destined to disappear. It was the nature of life and time to move on with or without you.

Giuseppe: Wise as ever, Anzu.

It was just like that first day. They had spent all day in the church, conversing and laughing together. Nothing had changed, even if the seasons changed. Even if they themselves had changed. The time for Anzu’s departure drew near, and so did the desire to sleep. It would be Anzu’s last sleepover with Giuseppe. She rolled out the futon and handed Giuseppe his pillow. They sat together on the futons, atop the podium.

Anzu: I want to sleep here, with you, one more time. I venture to guess, that when you awake, I won’t be here anymore. If that’s the case, please don’t cry, and don’t feel sad. Because of you, I’ll be able to see my mother again, and I’ll be able to befriend your mother. Who knows, maybe even Nori is up there with them. In the meantime, I’m going to pass this on to you, but you have to promise me that you’ll take good care of it.

Giuseppe: Okay. What is it?

Anzu handed Giuseppe her diary and bowed her head.

Anzu: If this diary is my life and my heart, then I want you to have it. I want to leave this behind in your care, so you can read through it and get to know me better, even if I’ll be gone. When you pass on some day, be sure to leave it in the care of your children, or you can even have it buried with you if you want. Either way, Giuseppe, you can have it.

Giuseppe couldn’t believe it. Anzu was seriously leaving her diary to him. Something as sacred and personal as her diary, and out of all the people in the world, she trusted him with all of those written feelings and thoughts.

Giuseppe: “Donut Steel”…

Anzu: Please don’t make fun of my writing. I was very young when I got this diary.

Giuseppe, who had been stifling the pain of his woeful task as pallbearer, took the diary and held it against his head, covering his crying face. Anzu kept her head bowed, and could hear Giuseppe’s quiet cries of pain. She crawled over to him on her knees and hugged him as tightly as possible.

Anzu: Thank you. You’ve been so brave and so supportive. You kept all of this inside so you wouldn’t make me sad. Now you see why I wanted to thank you so much. I can’t express my gratitude to you enough, for taking on this burden for me, for my sake. I love you, Giuseppe. Dead or alive, I will always be your friend. If you ever need me to listen to you, just pray. I’ll hear it. And I promise, I’ll be laughing and crying with you, wherever you may be in the world. Even though living day to day in life is difficult, we hardly ever see why what we’re doing is important until we finish. So, I implore you to live a whole life, Giuseppe. Keep on being an enduring spirit. Do that and I just know in my heart that you’ll live a fantastic life.

Giuseppe: I’m sorry I held it all in. I just…

Anzu: Don’t even worry about it. What matters is that you let it all go. Everything must go.

The futons were pushed closer together, with only the diary between them. As the late night approached, Anzu and Giuseppe laid in their futons, facing each other. Giuseppe looked sad, but Anzu was ready to leave this world.

Anzu: Gissy Poo. Hold my hand. It’ll give you strength to fall asleep. I don’t want you staying up watching me when you know I’m going to disappear at some point. It’ll ruin your sleep schedule.

Giuseppe: Right…

Giuseppe extended his hand and Anzu held onto it. Anzu didn’t tie her hair this time. She laid on her back, with her hair spread out like the rays of the sun, or the gold paint that always surrounded a figure of importance in religious artwork.

Giuseppe: You’ll be watching me, right?

Anzu: I always will. Until we meet again.

Giuseppe: Until we meet again. Thank you for existing, Anzu. For being the miracle that you are. Keep my mother company, and tell her I love her.

Anzu: She already knows.

Giuseppe was happy to know that even in death, his mother understood that deep down inside, he never feared her, never ran from her. He loved her. It just took a special kind of bravery to stand before a gravestone and say that. A kind of bravery he didn’t have before he met Anzu.

Anzu stretched from her futon and kissed Giuseppe on the forehead. She covered herself back up with blankets and smiled. Her smile was always genuine, always beautiful, and always memorable.

Anzu: Goodnight, Gissy Poo.

Giuseppe: Goodnight, Anzu.

Perhaps it was true that holding Anzu’s hand gave Giuseppe inner strength to do very difficult things. He wanted to keep his eyes on her for every second that she remained on the earth. He wanted to keep her hair and sleeping face in his sights for the whole night until she woke up again. But he went to sleep with her, closing his eyes and letting the hours pass by him. In the early hours of the morning, before the sun had risen, Anzu Hodane, the beautiful soul with the bright blue eyes, tender smile, and extraordinary ability to love and care for those around her, was finally laid to rest after 4 long years. She faded away and joined Maria and Natsumi on the other side, who both greeted her with smiles and praise. All of her earthly burdens were eased off of her with the help of the young man who coincidentally found her. Because she met Giuseppe, she was now able to get some long deserved rest, and to be where she belonged, with those she loved. Never to cry or hurt ever again.

When Giuseppe awoke, the first thing he saw was Anzu’s empty futon. He sprang up out of bed, almost in a panic, and looked around for her. He calmed down when he realized she had truly passed on. Anzu was gone, and yet, not too far away. For life always leads to death. The morning sun gleamed through the windows, providing the last sight of a rainbow of color washing over the inside of the church.

Giuseppe: Thank god. You made it, Anzu. Rest easy up there, beautiful. I promise, I’ll live a damned good life. I’ll have a lot of stories to tell you.

For Giuseppe, his burden as pallbearer was finished. Anzu’s wish was fulfilled. He remembered the diary that was left between the futons and opened it. He had the full right to, since it was left to him. He skimmed to some of the last pages in the diary and saw that Anzu had written another entry.

Giuseppe: Dear Diary, I have quite a story to tell Maria and my mother when I pass on. About how I was saved from loneliness, was given a home, and made a friend all at the same time. I used to pray to god every night, in hopes he’d make my life better, and cursed him when he didn’t. But you know what? Life is beautiful! There are so many beautiful people in the world. I wish I could meet them all! Perhaps that’s a little excessive. It would be difficult to meet them all, right? Well, that’s fine. I already know two great people. Giuseppe and my old pal Myu. Giuseppe may be dimwitted at times, and perhaps a bit too stoic. But he’s an amazing human being. Without whom, I wouldn’t have ever found the peace I needed. Let this diary be a record of how much I love waking up next to him, cooking with him, laughing with him, and lazing about with him. I would do it all again and again if I could. And of course, Myu, who is all too brilliant. She cooks, she cleans, she smiles, and she listens. She was my first true friend in life, and I owe her so much. I want to thank her, and the people who left candles and blessings outside of Satoshi’s Grill after I died. Let this diary be a record of how much I love everyone who loved me, and how I hope this love will never change, even as people and places disappear in the locomotive currents of time. Let this diary be proof that I overcame my inner darkness and made great friends in the process. Let this diary be proof that I have left behind something of value on the earth, and that I have entrusted it to the people I hold within my heart. I love you both, Giuseppe and Myu. I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you. I always will. Don’t either of you ever forget that. See you soon, but hopefully not too soon. Cordially yours, Anzu, your friend from the grave.

Giuseppe’s sad expression turned into a smile, for he was there to witness it all. He witnessed Anzu overcome her problems, confront them, and make peace with them. He was determined to live the rest of his life the same way that Anzu lived in her death. It was a promise between two best friends, one never to be broken. Giuseppe got up, scratched out his hair, and committed himself to wrapping up the last of Anzu’s will. He rolled up the futons, gathered up the blankets and pillows, and put them by the front door. He checked the antechamber to make sure it was clean before throwing up the plastic drape back over the door of the room. Last but not least, he took Anzu’s stained glass lantern, deciding he’d hang onto it. Giuseppe carried all of it out of the church and shut the door before bowing his head to the building.

Giuseppe: Thank you, for allowing me to meet my best friend.

With that, Giuseppe was on his way. He tossed out the futon and other bedding accessories into a nearby garbage bin as he walked by the neighborhood. With one hand in his pocket, and another holding onto the lantern, he slowly made his way back home, enjoying the sight of the clouds coming back in front of the sun, and the breeze blowing through his hair. It looked like it was going to snow soon. As he hot closer to his apartment, Giuseppe could see Myu’s car, and Myu herself standing by it, apparently waiting for Giuseppe. Myu saw Giuseppe and stood up straight, waiting for him to approach her. When she saw Giuseppe’s face and the lantern, she knew what had happened.

Myu: So, she made it, huh? She passed on?

Giuseppe: Yeah. She should be having a grand old time with my mother right about now. She asked me to take of this for her, and she left her diary in my care. There’re still some things I have to do inside the house.

Myu: May I help you?

Giuseppe: Of course you can.

Giuseppe and Myu went inside and set the lantern down on the living room table. The clothes were already taken out and given away. All that was left was to make up the bed and put the sweats in the dryer. Giuseppe began making up the bed and Myu handled Giuseppe’s sleeping clothes. After that, she joined him in setting up the bed.

Myu: She really cleaned up for you. She was always like that. Always considerate of other people’s space. It makes sense tidying the place up and sorting everything out would be on her list of final things to do.

Giuseppe: Yeah. That definitely sounds like Anzu.

The bed was made, the clothes were dry and put away, and the apartment was as it was before Anzu set foot in there. Except, even after she was gone, her energy lingered.

Giuseppe: Well. That’s it. That’s the last of everything.

Myu: She’s really gone. But at least now, she can get some much deserved rest. Anzu always had it rough.

Myu slapped Giuseppe on the back to get his attention and pull him out of his zone.

Myu: Well? Don’t be a mopy sadsack just because she’s not here. Come hang out with me! We can do anything you want, anytime! Just call on me and I’ll be there!

Giuseppe smiled and nodded.

Giuseppe: Wanna catch a movie soon? Maybe we can find something interesting to watch.

Myu: I’d love to!

Myu lead Giuseppe out of the apartment by his hand

Giuseppe: Holy crap, right now?! I don’t even know what’s out!

Myu: We’ll find something when we get there, birdbrains! Live a little!

Anzu’s diary laid on Giuseppe’s kitchen table as soft light from the windows illuminated the kitchen. There was an inexplicable joy to be found by meeting Anzu. The joy of life and the act of living. It took a young girl who knew she didn’t have much time on earth anymore to teach a man who had many years ahead of him how to live and love life. Somewhere, in a peaceful, beautiful place, Anzu was smiling.

The people were alive, and the holy ghost, at long last, was laid to rest. Her work was done, and Giuseppe's life was destined to blossom from what it once was, like a lotus out of dirty water.

Hallelujah, for both the living and the dead are free.

(END) Together in the Grave
Under the summer heat beneath a blooming cherry tree, two young girls played with their dolls. Minatsuki and Kotone were out with a friend of their grandmother, who volunteered to take them out for the day. That friend was Akahana, who had grown old and almost grey in the head. Minatsuki and Kotone also had a diary beside them, the very same diary that belonged to Anzu, and was given to Giuseppe for him to pass on. Akahana’s voice rang through the air and called out to them both.

Akahana: Minatsuki! Kotone! Come on, get up here!

Kotone: Coming!

Both girls had long brown hair and hazel eyes. Kotone wore a strawberry necklace and kept some of her hair up in pigtails. Minatsuki always preferred to have her hair grown out long and hardly tampered with. They both wore beautiful purple and yellow summer dresses that were perfect for the weather. They ran through the cemetery and caught up with Akahana, who sat on her knees in front of a gravestone.

Akahana: Alright. Sorry to keep you waiting. I almost forgot where the gravestone was!

Minatsuki: Aka! You can’t forget something so important!

Akahana: I’m sorry! My memory isn’t all too sharp these days. At any rate, let’s pray.

They all pressed their hands together and closed their eyes.

Akahana: Dearest Giuseppe, we hope you’re doing well in the afterlife. I’ve come to burn incense for you and to offer you blessings. Keep watching over us, especially your beautiful grandchildren. Rest in peace.

Akahana lit the incense and the three stood up.

Kotone: Rest in peace, grandpa.

Minatsuki: Rest in peace.

Kotone and Minatsuki kissed the gravestone and held Akahana’s hand as they made their way out of the cemetery. Akahana noticed the diary Kotone was holding as they walked.

Akahana: Oh, were you reading some more of that?

Kotone: Yes, ma’am. It’s really funny and a sad too.

Minatsuki: It’s a really good book though!

Akahana: Yes, darlings. Yes it is. Now then, looks like the sun is about to set. Let’s get you home to your grandmother before it gets dark.

Minatsuki: Okie dokie!

After all this time, some place, somewhere, the two best friends were reunited. And many great stories of sadness and happiness were shared. No matter how much things change, there are bonds that will remain, like fossils invisible to the eye, and forever felt by the souls that were involved and witnessed it.

Finally and forever, together in the grave.

Manga Creations / Re: Anzu: A Friend From the Grave
« on: December 31, 2015, 10:44:13 PM »
Glory of the Holy Ghost
Life and time can only move in one direction. And so, as a few days passed, Natsumi Hodane, mother of Anzu and Akahana Hodane, passed along with them. On December 1st, her spirit left this world. Her nurses found her laying peacefully in bed, with her hands clutching her prayer beads as the blessed light of the morning sun coated the room in its cold radiance. Akahana was notified soon after death could be confirmed, and she in turn let Myu know over the phone. Natsumi’s soul could rest peacefully, in the place where it belonged, thanks to the soul of her late daughter. The news was passed on to Anzu that morning as well.

Giuseppe had received a phone call from Myu, who wanted to let them know that Natsumi was gone. As Giuseppe broke the news to Anzu, she, in all of her stunning brilliance, laughed and cried at the same time. Nothing more needed to be said in Giuseppe’s eyes. And so, Natsumi was cremated, and her ashes were given to Akahana, where she was ready to take them back to Honshu with her. Akahana met with Myu and Giuseppe in Satoshi’s Grill, the urn of ashes in her possession and sealed.

 Giuseppe found it surreal. How could a kind woman who was alive a short time ago now able to fit in such a small container? Purple rope lights along the windows shone upon the inside of the restaurant, a tradition Myu enacted only last year when the weather had gotten colder.

Akahana: I want to thank you both, from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for being there for her. Your company meant a lot to Mother. She never had anyone besides Misato, me, and Anzu.

Giuseppe: Of course. It was a pleasure to be able to meet her.

Myu: What do you intend to do with her ashes?

Akahana: I’ll take them home with me. There’s not much for her here anymore. Whether I’ll spread them or not is still up in the air at the moment. I…I don’t want to her, honestly.

Giuseppe placed his hand on top of Akahana’s hand, and put the wisdom he learned over the past year to use.

Giuseppe: You aren’t losing her. You’re putting her to rest.

Akahana: You’re a wonderful soul, Giuseppe. I’ll spread them somewhere beautiful. Somewhere near an apricot tree. She always loved those. That’s why she gave Anzu her name.

Myu: Sounds great to me, Akahana. When will you be going back to Honshu prefecture?

Akahana: Early tomorrow morning. I’m actually gonna go now. Maybe take a short walk and head back home. Again, thank you so much for your benevolence. This all means so much to me. I wish you both only the best blessings in life.

Giuseppe thought to himself that he already had the best blessings in life. Anzu was one of them.

Giuseppe: The gratitude is mutual. Make it back home safely, spread those ashes, and make Natsumi and Anzu proud.

Akahana stood up and hugged Giuseppe and Myu on her way out. She waved goodbye one more time as she took a walk through the cold December night. She walked through the windy streets, where most of the trees had lost their leaves. The moon, bright and blue look the eyes of her late sister and now deceased mother, lingered over the land and gave her light in the night’s darkness. She walked into the park that leads to the woodlands where the church is located. It was largely empty, for most people had already gone home.

As if the night was destined by fate, Anzu had also been walking through the park. She had come back from the church as a way to get her mind off of things. To the surprise of the dead young lady, she saw her only and beloved sister sitting on the park bench, next to a double-headed park lantern. Though she could not see her, Anzu walked to the bench and sat down right next to Anzu. Still, as close as she was, Anzu still held firm that revealing herself would only tear up old wounds and bring regret and guilt to the surface of Akahana’s heart. Akahana held the urn of ashes in her lap.

Akahana: I’m so sorry mom. I would’ve given anything to take your pain away. Thank you for everything. For the days you spent with me, and for the nights you spent crying for both of your children. I think I speak for Anzu too when I say I love you….always and forever….

Akahana held the ashes to her chest.

Akahana: I hope you’re both watching the moon right now. It’s almost as beautiful as you two.

As Akahana smiled at the graceful glow of the moon, Anzu sat next to her crying, with her head buried in her hands. Akahan soon got up and left, her spirit hurt by her loss, but motivated to give life everything she’s got. Anzu knew that she didn’t have to be the one to tell her how beautiful she was, how eloquent she was, how being in her presence made her want to close her eyes and laugh at the sky. Aka was already the woman that Anzu never had the chance to grow up to be. Someday, she’d be the wife that

Anzu never got to grow up to be. The people and experiences she will encounter in life will be the testament to how beautiful she is, inside and out. As Akahana left, Anzu too dried her eyes and walked back home, coincidentally arriving back the same time as Giuseppe. Anzu bumped into Giuseppe as he unlocked the front door of the apartment.

Giuseppe: Huh? You went out?

Anzu: Yeah. Sorry, I just thought it would be nice to take a walk, you know?

Giuseppe: You two really do think alike. Well, uh….Myu gave us some food for dinner.

Giuseppe held up a plastic bag filled with Styrofoam containers of food.

Anzu: Sounds wonderful!

With the food still warm, Giuseppe and Anzu dug right in to their dinner.

Anzu: When is Aka leaving?

Giuseppe: She said she’d be gone by tomorrow morning. She’s taking the ashes back to Honshu and wants to spread them somewhere beautiful, preferably where there are apricot trees.

Anzu: She’s always been amazingly thoughtful.

Giuseppe: Yep. I guess it runs in the family, eh?

Anzu: Oh stop it, you! Flattery alone can’t win me over.

Giuseppe: Oh right, they have to be dead too, right?

Anzu: Hey, I wouldn’t even mind if I could find a cute ghost boy!

The two laughed together once again in the resolution to their loss. Life really did just keep moving. Giuseppe and Anzu brushed their teeth together and hopped into their beds, ready for the day ahead. Anzu tied her hair up into a bun, with strands of hair streaming down her face and the back of her neck.

Anzu: Nighty night, Gissy Poo.

Giuseppe: Good night, Anzu.

Giuseppe turned out the light, and the two fell asleep. Once more, in the middle of the night, Anzu slipped into a dream and was confronted by Maria again. In an instant, Maria wrapped her arms around Anzu, somehow knowing she needed to be embraced.

Maria: You did it. Natsumi is here, safe and sound. You did a fantastic job, Anzu.

Anzu: She…she’s really here? Thank god! She can rest.

Maria pulled away from Anzu, keeping her hands on her shoulders.

Maria: There is but one thing left, sweetie. You know all too well what that last thing is, right?

Indeed, Anzu did know. She had known ever since she regained her memories and set out to tie up the loose ends left behind by her early death.

Anzu: Yes ma’am. I’m next. Do you happen to know how much time I have?

Maria: That I don’t know. But our encounters are becoming more and more frequent. It must mean you’re slipping closer to death. At least, that’s my guess on it. I think there’s still something holding you to the world of the living. Do you have any idea what that could be?

Anzu: Yes. There is still one thing I badly want to do now.

Maria: And what would that be, love?

Anzu: I’ve made a best friend. I got to eat mochi, brownies, and all sorts of different foods and snacks. I got to take walks through the park and go into abandoned buildings. I got to take initiative and teach my best friend how to take better care of himself, his home, and his life. I was able to see my sister again, guide my mother’s soul into the afterlife, and even help Giuseppe make amends with his father.

 I met Myu again for the first time since the night I died, got to eat with them, laugh with them, and go on adventures with them. I got to see the snow and the rain again. I cried, got angry, pretended I didn’t care when I really did, and I learned how to be honest with myself, and with others. I even got to pass on Mother’s kiss to someone I love and hold dear. I’ve done everything I wanted to. I guess…the only thing my heart is aching to do now…

Maria smiled, as she already knew Anzu’s answer.

Anzu: Is to say a proper goodbye!

Maria: Then go, Anzu. The final task is finally at hand.

Anzu: See you soon, Maria. I won’t keep you waiting too long.

The dream faded away, and Anzu awoke to the dull light of a morning shrouded in white clouds, like the body of a loved one wrapped in a white shroud. Giuseppe had apparently already gotten up, and was outside in the living room on his computer, listening to his vast collection of music. Anzu untied her hair and took a deep breath out of the cold, morning air that filled the apartment. She got up out of bed and walked outside, surprising Giuseppe.

Giuseppe: Oh, you’re up. It’s still a little early, so you can go back to sleep if you want.

Anzu: Giuseppe.

Giuseppe: What’s wrong?

Anzu: I keep having these dreams. Your mother is in them. She’s always warm and kind, always ready to comfort me. She’s been preparing me emotionally and mentally for some of the most recent challenges I’ve faced.

Giuseppe: What? Are you saying you can talk to my mother?

Anzu: It first happened when I touched her gravestone. Now it happens in dreams, on its own. As I get closer to fixing the unresolved areas of my life, the dreams become more frequent. Just last night, she told me that my mother made it to the other side.

Giuseppe: What….what are you trying to say?

Anzu: There’s one last thing I want to do, Giuseppe. I want to make sure I say a proper goodbye to both you and Myu. After that, I’ll probably pass on.

Giuseppe knew the day would come. He knew every moment they shared together could only end in beautiful pain. This is what Anzu was destined to do in her form. She had to finally be put to rest.

Anzu: I promised your mom we’d get to know each other after I pass on. So, I’ll make sure to tell her all about how her little man has grown up!

Giuseppe stood up from his chair.

Giuseppe: Well then…how do we go about saying goodbye?

Anzu: Well, let’s not rush. There’re still things that need to be taken care of before that. Small things.

Giuseppe: Like what?

Anzu: Well, first….my clothes. You’ve graciously spent your hard-earned money to keep me warm in the cold and cool in the heat. But, since I’ll be gone soon, I won’t need them. Please, gather them all and bag them up. If there’s a receptacle nearby for charity, please dump them there. There are some other things, mostly house chores I want to tend to.

Giuseppe: Well then, let’s get started.

Anzu: Thank you.

As Anzu took out all of her clothes bought by Giuseppe, Giuseppe took them and bagged them up, ready to be dropped into a receptacle the next time he leaves.

Anzu: Oh, can you leave a scarf out? I think that’s all I’ll need until I actually disappear.

Giuseppe: Yeah, sure thing.

Anzu: I can’t thank you enough for buying me all of this. Only my mother ever bought me so many clothes.

Giuseppe: Dead or not, I’ve got to make sure you’ve got everything you need, right?

Anzu: Right.

As Giuseppe pulled all the bags out of the room and by the front door, Anzu began to take the sheets off of the bed. Pillowcases and all.

Giuseppe: What are you doing now?

Anzu: Well, I never really washed these sheets since I started sleeping on your bed. I mean, I probably don’t need to since I am just a ghost after all. But still, I want to make sure your sheets are clean before I leave instead of making you wash them after you gave up your bed to me.

Giuseppe: “Gave up”…heh….I guess you still remember how that night went down. You tried to pretend you didn’t want the bed.

Anzu’s flustered face turned pink when she remembered how selfish she was back then. Thanks to Giuseppe, it all came up to the surface of her mind.

Anzu: Hey man, give me a break! I thought I was immortal and I could rule this house! Besides, you were practically baiting me into taking this bed. Probably wanted to sniff it for my scent and collect my hair strands too, *censored*ing degenerate.

Giuseppe: The go- to ad hominem for a girl who knows she just got called out! What’s next? Denial? Deflection? Oh, maybe blackmailing!

Anzu: Ohhh, you’re asking for it now! You grape suckers sure have smart mouths!

Giuseppe: Grape suckers? Hey, is that because I’m part Italian? Low blow, Anzu. Low Blow.

Anzu jumped at Giuseppe like a snake from the grass, attempting to tackle him down and teach him why messing with Anzu Hodane only ends in suffering. Instead, she found herself face-planting a drawer, Giuseppe completely unharmed. Anzu rubbed her head in pain.

Anzu: Owwie! I can’t believe I missed!

Giuseppe: You had me by surprise back then in the church. Not this time though. I’m wise to your dirty tricks.

Giuseppe noticed his camera was knocked over when Anzu hit the dresser. He knelt down to pick it up.

Giuseppe: Geez, Anzu. You’ve got to be more careful. You could’ve damaged the camera.

Anzu: I almost died!

Giuseppe: You’re already dead!

Anzu facepalmed herself as she remembered that she can’t die twice.

Anzu: Why am I such a retard today!

Giuseppe: Wow….

Anzu: What is it?

Giuseppe sat down on the sheetless bed, looking into the camera and watching the time he filmed Anzu when she had chocolate batter all over her mouth and desperately tried to wash it off.

Anzu: Is that….

Giuseppe: Yeah.

Anzu sat down with Giuseppe, in silence, watching the moment unfold all over again. It was like going through an old picture book for them both.

Giuseppe: Those brownies ended up being really delicious.

Anzu: Yeah, I remember.

Like all things in the world, the recording ended. They both sat there motionless for a while, but soon resumed their work. Anzu put the sheets in the washer and Giuseppe made sure to leave out a scarf for Anzu. Giuseppe almost couldn’t let go of the scarf. It was the last thing that belonged to her that hung in the closet. Besides that, Anzu had her initial outfit folded and put to the side, the floral kimono cardigan, black shirt, black jeans, and golden choker. Anzu’s voice ripped him out of the sentimental moment.

Anzu: Giuseppe! Come on! Let’s decide on breakfast!

Giuseppe got up and rushed out of the bedroom.

Giuseppe: Coming!

Life and time can only go in one direction. As such, as the days passed, so would Anzu. It was almost time for her to ascend, to leave behind the all too familiar green earth. The wordless prayer of the sun, moon, and stars chanted out to her. Her memories and her impact would be her glory.

Pray For the Dead
Anzu and Giuseppe decided on pancakes for breakfast. Banana and walnut pancakes to be exact. Anzu knew it may be the last time she makes a fresh batch on pancake mix for Giuseppe, so she decided to leave behind a recipe for him. As Giuseppe applied the mix to the hot pan, Anzu tore out a page of her diary and wrote down the basic recipe for pancake mix.

Anzu: When I’m gone, I don’t want you eating that store bought horse *censored*. I’ll never forgive you if you die young and fat.

Giuseppe: Please, I’m a complete stud.

Anzu: Yes, well….it’s fun to pretend. Anyway, I’m leaving my recipe in your care. It’s really simple. Two cups of flour, a tablespoon of baking powder, 3/4ths cup of sugar, a capful of vanilla extract, make sure it’s pure vanilla, a capful of almond extract, 1 egg, 1 ½ cups of milk, and two tablespoons of melted butter or oil. Whisk thoroughly. Then, you can add other things to it, like walnuts, bananas, strawberries, blueberries. You get the idea.

Giuseppe: Thanks, I really appreciate it. I’ve never made pancakes before you waltzed into my life.

Anzu: Some change in pace is good! Sometimes you gotta have sweet breakfast foods instead of constant feedings of starches and fish.

Giuseppe: Yeah, I know.

Anzu sat on the kitchen counter as Giuseppe continued cooking pancakes for them both. The morning was cold and cloudy, so Anzu prepared some hot cocoa to go along with their breakfast. The meal was enjoyed on the kitchen table.

Anzu: Today, I want to hang out with Myu.

Giuseppe: That’s fine. Just you two?

Anzu: Yes, just us two. I hope you don’t mind.

Giuseppe: No, it’s alright. You’re going to say goodbye to her, right?

Anzu: Yeah…

The reality of Anzu’s situation didn’t rest well on either of their minds.

Giuseppe: First you have me prepare your clothes for donation, then you wash the sheets, then you leave me your pancake recipe, and now you want to spend the night with Myu. It’s almost like you’re leaving me your last will or something.

Giuseppe said that jokingly, in a very light hearted manner. For Anzu, however, every word of it was the hard truth.

Anzu: I am. This is my last will. And you’re following it bravely. I know it isn’t easy for you either, but thank you for….well, for everything. You gave me friendship and a home. I’m forever in your debt.

Giuseppe: You don’t owe me a single thing, Anzu. I was glad to let you stay here and to wake up with you every day. I’m sorry your home had to be this small apartment.

Anzu: Don’t be. I quite like our little apartment!

Giuseppe: A home you like will always like you back.

Anzu: Whoa there, Nietzsche! Where did that wisdom come from?

Giuseppe: Just kinda pulled it out of my ass honestly.

Anzu: Keep talking like that and you’ll have to find yourself a tranny boyfriend and start pulling dicks out of your ass!

Giuseppe: Ahh, there’s that filthy mouth again. I actually missed it.

Giuseppe could only smile at the sound of Anzu’s laughter and the sight of her joyful face. What a human being she must have been, taken from her living body at an age far too young. As pallbearer, Giuseppe knew he simply had to keep going. Keep facilitating the success of her wishes, even if he’s aching on the inside.

The night came, and Myu was finally off of work. Anzu was dressed in the outfit Giuseppe found her in, wearing only the scarf for extra protection against the cold. Myu picked her up, and together, they drove to Satoshi’s Grill. They had the grill all to themselves, and it painfully reminded Myu of the old days when they would work together there. Myu and Anzu sat together at a table, drinking root beer together.

Myu: Man, can’t believe I never thought about it. But you and I used to be alone in this shop together quite a lot. We didn’t have too many customers back then, but then you showed up and people kept coming back! They always told me you had gorgeous eyes.

Anzu: Hah…I doubt it was my eyes they were looking at.

Myu: Oh please, they’re both alluring. Whether it was your eyes or your tits, anyone would be equally lost in either.

Anzu: It’s the milk these days, isn’t it? Giving young girls torpedo tits and moon butts! It’s probably a conspiracy to make girls sexier so we can mate with guys and help combat the declining birth rate in Japan!

Myu: Or maybe you just won the Darwin Lottery and were blessed by the fruitful gifts of genetics?

Anzu: I’ll accept that too…

Myu: You know, Anzu. When you died, people left candles outside the grill for you.

Anzu: What? Really?

Myu: Yep. One of the customers must’ve heard me and Father talking about it behind the kitchen and told everyone else about it. One night, I came out of the office, and there they all were, lining up the entire wall of the grill with candles, notes, and flowers. I still have some of the notes they left. Things like “Rest in peace, blue eyed angel.” And “We’ll miss your contagious spirit.

 Please find peace in the next world”. And I thought I had cried hard enough when I first heard what happened to you. I completely lost it when I saw that. It was hard to come back here, but I had a feeling you would’ve wanted Satoshi’s Grill to grow. Father left that duty in my hands, and I’ve been taking care of it ever since. This place, this small restaurant, is my eternal gift to you.

Anzu had no idea she had touched anyone’s life like that. For strangers to bother coming out of their way to leave behind candles and notes for her, it was astonishing. She wished she could go back in time and spend more time with them, bring them their food, crack jokes with them, and make even something as small as eating more enjoyable for them. Anzu was that kind of person. She loved spreading happiness. If nobody else, she owed it to them to find peace.

Anzu: I wish I could thank them all. They’ll never know how much that really means to me. If I had a choice, I would’ve never left this world without saying goodbye to everyone if I could’ve.

Myu: We would betray our customers if you never moved on, right? That’s why I’ve been so determined in helping you do that, even though it hurts to have you and see you disappear again. And we certainly can’t ever do that, right?

Anzu: You’re right. Thank you, Myu. For keeping Satoshi’s grill alive and prosperous. I’m proud of you.

Snow began to fall, and the moon was surrounded by clouds, but still shining its light down through a narrow opening. Anzu looked out the window and noticed it had begun to snow. It reminded her of just last year, around the time she first met Giuseppe.

Anzu: There it is again. The snow.

My stood up and finished her root beer before slamming it down on the table.

Myu: C’mon! It’s getting late, but we can still do one more thing together. Wanna go back to that ice rink we found?

Anzu: Yeah, I’d love to!

Myu locked up the restaurant for the night. As she walked to her car, Anzu stayed in front of the restaurant, with her hands pressed together, her eyes closed, and her head bowed. She was saying goodbye to the place where she met her first true friend. She rushed into Myu’s car, and the two drove to the ice rink together. It was long closed for the night, so Anzu and Myu broke in the same way they did the first time, by having Anzu mess with the electronic locks. Even without alcohol, Myu still had an adventurous streak about her.

 With fitting ice skates found, they glided out into the ice, enjoying the colored view of the snow through the massive, colored, tear-drop windows that left their outlines on the ice, walls, and seats. It was peaceful, to be able to glide around and feel the chill of the ice just below their feet. For someone her never got to go ice skating in her life, Anzu had adjusted quite well to the initially awkward feeling of ice skates. No words were said, but there were instances of laughter, glances, and smiles. It was a silent ceremony for Anzu. Another memory for her to take with her.

At around midnight, Myu and Anzu snuck back out of the ice rink and prepared to return home.

Anzu: Thanks for spending time with me, Myu.

Myu: Of course! It was my pleasure, Anzu.

Myu pulled up outside of Giuseppe’s building.

Myu: Well, here we are, love.

Anzu: Myu….I….

Myu showed no despair. She knew it was all for the best.

Myu: The last time I drove you anywhere, it was into the arms of the madman who took your life. I’m glad, Anzu, that our final drive together landed us outside the home of someone who loves and cares for you as much as I do. For me, promise me you’ll bid farewell to him. He may not realize it, but that guy changed both of our lives by connecting us together again.

Anzu: That’s Giuseppe. Always being a blessing and never realizing it.

Myu: I love you, Anzu. I always will.

Anzu fought back her tears of thanks and smiled.

Anzu: I love you too, Myu. Thank you for everything. Keep on taking care of the restaurant! And if you ever have kids someday, teach them how to cook as well as you!

Myu: Of course I will!

Anzu opened the car door, and prepared to head upstairs, back home.

Anzu: Goodbye.

Myu: Goodbye, my friend. Rest in peace.

Anzu closed the door and ascended upstairs. She was given the spare key and was able to walk back in herself. She took off her scarf and put the keys back into the bowl.

Anzu: I’m home.

Anzu kept her voice down, as she wasn’t sure if Giuseppe was asleep or not. She walked into Giuseppe’s room and was able to see that Giuseppe had already gone to sleep. She sat on her knees next to Giuseppe, kissing him on the forehead and wishing him sweet dreams. Anzu wasn’t quite sleepy yet, and decided she’d pick up on her mother’s advice and write down positive things in her diary. The crudely titled “Donut Steel” diary still provided Anzu with a laugh as she opened it up to find blank pages to write on.

An hour she spent there, sitting at the desk in the living room and writing out the best moments of her existence, both dead and alive. The diary was like the human heart, filled with all sorts of negative and positive emotions. In the end, one must come to terms with their circumstances and try to fill those pages with positive things. When she finished writing, she closed the diary and carried it with her to bed, carefully and silently putting on Giuseppe’s spare sleeping clothes, tying her hair, and going to sleep.

Again, for the final time, she began to dream. It was Maria yet again. It was a short dream, as not much needed to be said between the two anymore. Anzu would soon join Maria on the other side.

Maria: It’s nearly time, dear.

Anzu: I know. I just have to say goodbye to your son. It’s my final day, isn’t it?

Maria: It would appear so. You are awfully close to passing on.

Anzu: Alright then. I’ll be with you shortly. Please, tell my mother I love her and I’ll see her soon, okay?

Maria: Definitely. Take your time, sweetheart. Never be hasty when you’re saying farewell.

Anzu: Right. I won’t

Anzu awoke in the bright gleam of the morning sunlight, still in Giuseppe’s bed. There were thick clouds in the sky, but it seemed for now, they had parted away from the sun, allowing light to shine through. The ground, dead trees, and sidewalks were covered with snow and water droplets. Anzu sat up, untied her hair, and began brushing it. Giuseppe woke up as well, thankful Anzu was still there.

Giuseppe: You’re still here. Did you come home late last night?

Anzu: Yeah, I’m really sorry.

Giuseppe: Nah, don’t be. It’s good you spent that time with Myu.

Anzu: Yeah. It’s just you now. Today may very well be my last day here, Giuseppe.

Giuseppe and Anzu both stared at each other, frozen by the fact that the time had come. The hour of separation dawned on them. Giuseppe trembled on the inside, but maintained his composure. If the pallbearer lost his cool, the casket would fall. He must always be steady in his walk, and strong in his heart.

Giuseppe: Well, is there anything you want to do, Anzu? Anything at all? I don’t care how much it costs, I’ll take you anywhere.

Anzu: Yes, there is. But it won’t cost you anything. Remember what I wanted you to do? Just take me up there. To the church. Now is the perfect time. The sun is out, so the church must be absolutely soaked in a rainbow of color. Just like when we first met.

Giuseppe indeed remembered what his final task was. That church was a home and safe haven for Anzu. It made every bit of sense for her to want to return there for her final day in the world of the living.

Anzu: Let’s head there now. Go ahead and get ready, I still have to take your sheets out of the dryer.

Giuseppe: Sure thing, Anzu. Let me know when you’re ready to go.

Giuseppe got up and went into the bathroom while Anzu took the sheets out of the dryer before they could wrinkle up. She folded them neatly and left them on Giuseppe’s bed. She also put the pillows and blankets on the floor that Giuseppe slept on all this time back into his closet, knowing he wouldn’t need to sleep on the floor anymore. Anzu fluffed her pillows, opened the blinds, and made sure everything that belonged to her or was used by her frequently was either out or cleaned.

The room was the way it was when she first entered. She got back into her outfit and put Giuseppe’s sweater and sweatpants in the washer, having used them as pajamas for so long. Everything had been taken care of and accounted for. Giuseppe got out of the bathroom, dressed in an orange thermal with a black undershirt, and dark blue jeans. At first, the two just stared and smiled at each other and walked towards the front door.

They looked back at the apartment before opening the door to leave, and it seemed like the memories of the past year all played out before their eyes in an instant. When Anzu lived with him, the apartment became more than a place to live. It became a home.

Giuseppe: Well? Any last words?

Anzu bowed her head.

Anzu: Thank you for taking care of me for so long. Thank you for being my home. I’m forever grateful.

Anzu stood up straight again and faced Giuseppe.

Anzu: I put your sweats in the washer, so you’ll need to dry them when you get back. Besides that, your sheets are folded up and placed on the bed for you to put on later, and I put away all the stuff you used to sleep on the floor, since I’ll be gone.

Giuseppe: Thank you. You’re a miracle, Anzu.

Anzu: Don’t say things that will make me cry, asshole!

The two laughed as they walked out of the apartment and walked together, through the chilly December air, up to the sacred place where they first met. The wind danced through their hair, Anzu’s hair especially. It flowed like a flame in the wind. They walked through the neighborhood, past the convenience store, through the park, and up to the hill ahead.

The church gleamed like a diamond in the sun on top of the hill as the sun shined on it. Giuseppe felt uneasy, but comforted by Anzu’s own sense of peace. In the end, he really just wanted her to do what she was okay with. If it was supposed to end here, then that was the way it was going to be. The dirt road took them all the way up the hill and to the front door of the abandoned church. Giuseppe opened the door for Anzu, allowing her to enter first. She couldn’t resist, for the final time.

Anzu: My my, how chivalrous of you!

Giuseppe was always happy to hear that. They closed the door and walked into the sanctuary. As Anzu predicted, sunlight dazzled through the row of colored windows on the side of the building, and the clerestory of stained glass windows above them. Everything was as colorful as it was when Giuseppe first set foot inside of the church.

Anzu: Here we are.

Giuseppe: Here we are.

Giuseppe and Anzu sat in the 4th row, where the sun shined through the purple window, dressing the walls, seats, candles, and statues around it in a bright purple light. Together they sat, for Anzu’s final day in the world of the living. So, for one last time, they would enjoy a long day here, talking, and enjoying each other’s company.

Every word was a eulogy. Words shared between the living and the dead, before the dead are laid to rest. At long last, Anzu will soon be free.

Manga Creations / Re: Anzu: A Friend From the Grave
« on: December 31, 2015, 10:39:13 PM »
Agony of the Pallbearer
When Giuseppe woke up, it was under the splash of indirect light from the morning sun shining through the bedroom window. That sunshine would soon be covered up by the autumn clouds rolling by, giving their light rains and winds back to the earth. Anzu had also woken up just a few minutes before Giuseppe. She was brushing out her hair in bed, the view out of the window obscured by the bright sun shining through

Anzu: It's you again.

Giuseppe: It's you again. What time is it?

Anzu: 10:24

Giuseppe: Seriously? That late? Damn...Oh, happy November.

Anzu: And a happy slappy November to you to.

Anzu's voice was much more mellow and calm than it usually was at this hour. Even if she just woke up, by the time she began brushing her hair, she was usually a little more outgoing. But Giuseppe knew why she was like that on this day.

Giuseppe: So. When do you want to go?

Anzu: Oh, can we go early in the afternoon? I want to eat breakfast first. Maybe, 12:30 or 1:00?

Giuseppe: Sure. Myu said she's available all day, so we just need to let her know when to pick us up.

Anzu: Understood.

Giuseppe and Anzu made a breakfast consisting of mandarin salad, grilled fish, steamed rice, and 1 hard boiled egg for each of them. Breakfast was mostly silent for them, but the silence wasn't odd at all, nor did it feel awkward. That could be because Giuseppe understood what Anzu was probably feeling inside.

Giuseppe: You know, sooner or later, we're gonna have to get a Christmas tree. Nobody really celebrates it religiously, but the spirit of Christmas is still pretty universal.

Anzu: I think that would be nice.

Anzu looked beautifully sad with her half smile as she held her bowl of rice close to her face. She put down the bowl and her chopsticks and looked Giuseppe in the eyes.

Anzu: I had words planned out for this. But when I look at you now, I don't know what I should say.

Giuseppe: What do you mean?

Anzu: After I square things out with my mother, how long do you think I have left here?

The question upset Giuseppe to the point where he could no longer eat.

Anzu: Oh! I'm sorry! I didn't mean to ruin your appetite...

Giuseppe: No, it's fine. It's a natural question to ask.

Anzu: I'm just scared. I've gotten used to being here.

Giuseppe: Well, surely you'll still have some kind of wish tethering you here after your mother is gone, right? I don't think you'll just fade away the moment she passes.

Anzu: Yeah, I guess you're right.

Giuseppe: So, don't worry about it, Anzu. We just have to make that time count. If you spend your days worrying about the fact that you'll be gone, you'll never truly be among the living.

Anzu: Thank you. Giuseppe...

Giuseppe: Yeah?

Anzu: We met in that gorgeous abandoned church on the hill. Well, I think it's gorgeous. When the time comes, I want you to take me there, just the two of us. I want to 'die' where you and I first met.

Giuseppe could see how serious Anzu was in her eyes. Already, it felt like he was a pallbearer.

Giuseppe: You're not dying. You're just finally being laid to rest. I'll be sure it's in the place where you want it to be.

Anzu's smile was bigger now. She stood up and kissed Giuseppe on his forehead and went to rinse off her plates and bowls. Soon, Giuseppe phoned Myu to pick them up while he and Anzu got ready. For the first time in a long time, Anzu could feel her body tremble on the inside. They locked up and met with Myu by her car on the sidewalk.

Myu: Good afternoon you guys. Are you ready, Anzu?

Anzu: Yeah. Let's go see her.

It was a long ride, or at least, it felt that way for everyone. Right about then, the clouds finally blocked the sun, and a light drizzle began. Myu found a place to park in front of the facility, and together, the three of them walked in. Though, to the hospital staff, it would only look like two. Myu walked up to the lady at the front desk to sign in for a visit.

Myu: Here to see Hodane, Natsumi.

Lady: Name and ID?

Myu took out her driver's license and presented it to her.

Myu: Myu Kobashigawa. Natsumi's daughter wanted us to visit her.

Lady: Oh yes, she did call about that. She's on the 3rd floor, room 96.

Myu: Thank you kindly.

Myu guided Giuseppe and Anzu upstairs and up to room 96, where Natsumi laid alone and close to the brink of death. Anzu got her long, thick, and beautiful hair from her mother, but she had already lost all of it. Anzu got her ocean-blue eyes from her mother, but now they spent most of their time shut, their color slowly dimming away. Anzu's skin was soft, glowing, and almost flawless. But now Natsumi's skin had grown tired and pale. Anzu saw all of this when she walked in with Giuseppe and Myu. She couldn't help the tears of agony that she cried in that moment.

Anzu: Mom...oh god...

Myu held Anzu's hand tightly to give her the strength to look on. As painful as it was, in order for Anzu to properly make her amends, she needed to let the harsh reality of her mother's health sink in. She truly was not long for this world.

Myu: There she is. Funny how just a few years slip away and people change so drastically.

Natusmi began to wake up. Her eyes fixated on Giuseppe and Myu. She was as gentle as a withering flower, trying to survive in the middle of a blizzard.

Nastumi: Are you....Myu?

Myu smiled and held Natsumi's hand.

Myu: Yeah! Akahana told you about me, right? I was Anzu's friend and co-worker in her last years.

Natsumi: Ah, yes. Akahana did tell me all about you. She said you're a bright girl with a warm spirit. How was Anzu? In her last days?

Myu: She was absolutely beautiful, always smiling. She really livened the place up. She was kind, always ready to get to work, a little clumsy in the kitchen at first, but she refined her skills and became a great cook.

Giuseppe looked back at Anzu, but was careful not to ask out loud. It finally started to make sense how Anzu could cook so well. She learned from Myu during their time together in Satoshi's Grill.

Natsumi: She learned to cook? That's amazing. Thank you for teaching her that, Myu. I couldn't stick around long enough for that to happen. Oh my, I'm sorry, young man. I've been ignoring you. Please excuse me, my brain gets all scattered sometimes. Who are you?

Giuseppe: Oh! I'm Myu's friend. I uh...didn't know Anzu when she was alive, but I've heard great things about her. Anzu was a big part of Myu's life, so I wanted to see the woman who gave birth to her and named her.

Natsumi: How kind of you. Your name?

Giuseppe: Giuseppe. A pleasure.

Natsumi: I think Anzu would've loved a friend like you

Giuseppe certainly didn't need to be told that now. He and Anzu were already good friends.

Giuseppe: Yeah, I'm sure she would've.

Natsumi: Sorry that this is how we first meet. I'm not one to brag, but I used to be quite the darling just a few years ago. But, cancer isn't very kind, you know? It takes and takes and takes.

Myu: You have Anzu's eyes. I can see where she got her looks from. I see a big piece of her when I look at you.

Natsumi: Thank you, honey. I really needed that.

Anzu walked up to Natsumi and attempted to hold her hand. She had almost forgotten, living objects that haven't touched her diary will pass right through her, never to notice, feel, hear, or sense her.

Natsumi: I know I don't have long, but I hope you guys won't worry too much about me. Dying should be easier than going to sleep. Plus, I'll get to see Anzu soon. So, Myu, Giuseppe. Live the best lives you possibly can. Do it for me, if not for yourselves, alright?

Myu: We will. We promise! Right, Giuseppe?

Giuseppe: I suck at keeping promises, but what the hell. It's something I've been working on myself.

Natsumi: Thank you both.

Anzu simply watched with a smile as she witnessed Myu and Giuseppe meeting her mother. If things had gone better in life, perhaps they would've been able to met her and her mother together in a nice place like a diner instead of a hospital. Anzu hated that she was invisible to her, but was also kind of thankful for it when Natsumi started telling embarrassing childhood stories about Anzu running out of the tub and around the house naked and covered in soap. Or when Anzu was caught eating sugar out of a bag with a spoon. Or the time when Anzu cried the first time she was on a boat because the rocking movements of the water scared her. If there was ever a time to be invisible, it was whenever Natsumi opened her big fat mouth about what was supposed to be a forgotten secret. Giuseppe and Myu got to know Anzu in a completely different way thanks to Natusmi, for better or worse. As embarrassing as it was, if it did anything, it showed Anzu how much Natsumi still loves her and thinks about her. Simply watching her eased away any hard feeling accumulated in her lifetime. If the mother loved her daughter even after she's gone, then the daughter would love the mother the exact same way.

After spending the day with her, Myu, Giuseppe, and Anzu left the hospital and made their way home. The car ride back home was peaceful, in contrast with the anxious car ride getting there. It had begun to really rain now and the smell of the wet streets filled the air. Myu parked just outside the apartment.

Giuseppe: Once again, Myu. Thank you for today.

Anzu: Yeah, you're a real champ. I finally got to see what my mother thought of me. Turns out I worried all these years for nothing. She never stopped loving me.

Myu: Of course she didn't, she's your mom. Moms never stop loving their children, Anzu. Well, you two enjoy the rest of the day.

Giuseppe: Yeah, you too, Myu. Drive safe yeah? This rain is getting crazy.

Myu: I will! Bye!

Giuseppe: Bye!

Anzu blew kisses to Myu as she exited the car.

Anzu: Buh-bye!

As Myu drove off, her tires splashing around the rain on the streets, Giuseppe and Anzu hurried inside from their long day at the hospital.

Anzu: Oh man! I'm so glad to be home!

Anzu stretched and fell onto the couch, something Giuseppe often did.

Giuseppe: That's my shtick, asshole!

Anzu: Kiss my ass! What's yours is mine!

Giuseppe: How typical of you.

Anzu: Thanks for today, Giuseppe. You helped give me peace again. I'll be ready when she's set to leave this world.

Giuseppe: Yeah, well...she's a very kind and interesting woman. Sad to know she won't be here much longer though.

Anzu: You just leave that part to me.

Giuseppe had a good feeling that Anzu was indeed capable of handling it. She may only be 17, but she's proven to have a heart beyond her years in age. Giuseppe sat down with Anzu on the couch. Just the sound of the rain beating against the windows accompanying them

Anzu: Thank you.

Giuseppe: Huh? For what? I didn't do anything.

Anzu: For being my pallbearer.

Another wave of silence loomed over the room. Anzu got up from the couch and decided she'd play a song on Giuseppe's computer.

Giuseppe: What are you doing?

Anzu: I always loved playing Monsoon Jungle when it rained.

Giuseppe: No *censored*ing way. Are you saying you played Wario Land 4?

Anzu: Sure did! The music in that game was great. May as well play something nice during this weather. Oh, did you want to make dinner, too?

Giuseppe: Yeah, that sounds nice. Let's see what we got to eat.

The beautiful tragedy of life is that it only moves in one direction. When Anzu understood her mother was dying, she didn't worry about trying to keep her here, or bring her back to life. It was foolish, for Natsumi would soon join Anzu in death. Anzu was simply her guide. Giuseppe understood this fact as well. He cannot keep Anzu here. She was a wandering spirit, meant to find her place in whatever lies beyond life. He would guide her to her resting place until he himself would join her.

Although every step a pallbearer takes is soaked in agony, each step is necessary for what must be done. Thine will be done.

When a Mother's Work is Finally Done
Those cold November days were the same as they used to be. Giuseppe worked throughout the week, leaving Anzu to take care of the house. She always treated the space like it was her own. She kept every inch of it as clean as could be. Every day, she'd have dinner ready for Giuseppe and herself, brush her teeth with Giuseppe, and then the two would fall asleep and do it all over again. Anzu wanted for her daily life to remain the same, even when she knew what was coming ahead. She was just that kind of person, both in life and in death. Giuseppe always did manage to stay level headed, but it would be a lie if it wasn't driving his heart down into a hole. He simply had to remember the wisdom imparted to him by people like Oda, Nori, Natsumi, and Myu. Life only flows in one direction. All who live must die and all who die must be laid to rest. There is no other way to go about it.

On this day, Giuseppe had planned to get his mind out of the slump. As soon as he woke up, he waited for Anzu to awaken too, so he can share his surprise with her. Anzu hadn't even finished rubbing out her eyes when Giuseppe's voiced gutted her ears.

Giuseppe: Hey hey hey, rise and shine! It's a beautiful Saturday morning in the middle of November!

Anzu: It's raining. Again. Unless you finally share my sentiments that cold weather is beautiful.

Giuseppe: Not in a million *censored*ing years. You're wrong, you'll always be wrong, and you should feel like *censored* for being so *censored*ing wrong! Ahem. Anyway...beautiful day! So, I was thinking, wanna take a visit to the aquarium? There's one nearby that's pretty cool, so, you know, I thought you might want to check it out or something. I mean, you don't have to if you don't want to.

Anzu: Fishies?!?!?! What the *censored* are we waiting for, you silly bitch! Let's get dressed and go!

Giuseppe: W-wait! Hang on a second!

Like a bullet from a handgun, Anzu darted into the bathroom and got herself ready. Giuseppe didn't know she'd be that excited to stop by the aquarium to see some fish. At least now he knew another thing about her. Anzu was so excited that he could actually hear here humming and singing as she got ready. Without much time, and seemingly with large amounts of effort, Anzu got out of the bathroom as Giuseppe waited on the couch, dressed up and ready to go.

Anzu: I'm ready! Let's go see some fishies!

Giuseppe: Alright, alright. Calm down! It's not very far away, so we can actually walk there It's a little short of the church actually.

Anzu: Sounds great! The rain is really light today so I don't mind.

It's like Anzu was a child again. She kept humming even as they walked the streets soaked with gentle rain. The wind blew through their hair and the clouds covered the entire sky in a thick, white blanket. The streets were relatively empty, at least where the sidewalks were concerned.

Anzu: Say, Giuseppe.

Giuseppe: Yep?

Anzu: Do you like apples?

Giuseppe: What kind of question is that?

Anzu: A curious question!

Giuseppe: Geez, have you always been this cute? Yes. I like apples quite a lot actually.

Anzu: Okay, well, what about grapes?

Giuseppe: You're asking the guy who loves wine if he loves grapes?

Anzu: Damn! Okay then, how about pineapple?

Giuseppe: Good *censored*, but I can't eat too much of it since it's so acidic. Makes for some great juice too. Definitely not the best thing to eat if you have a cut in your mouth. What's brought on the onslaught of fruit questions?

Anzu: I don't know, I was just wondering. I mean, It's already the middle of November, right? Kinro Kansha no Hi is coming up soon. It would be nice to know what kind of fruits you like.

Giuseppe: It's not you'd be the one buying the food.

Anzu: I know, I know. But I still want to know. Hey, how are Oda and Kyo doing?

Giuseppe: Ah *censored*. You know what? Now that you reminded me, it's been 8 months since they left and Kyo was a month and a half pregnant.

Anzu: What!?! She's sure to have had her baby now!

Giuseppe: Between the car crash and Kyo's pregnancy, we haven't had much time to talk. I'll shoot Oda a message when we get home and I'll tell them you said hi.

Anzu: Thank you! I can't wait to see the baby!

Giuseppe: Yeah and it won't be able to see you.

Anzu: Ugh! Way to kill my high, cocklock!

Giuseppe laughed as they continued their way to the aquarium and finally stepped inside the large, lavishly designed building and away from the rain. Once again, there weren't too many people inside. The front hub of the aquarium was designed much like a Roman-styled dome. Here were many of the guides, assistants, and physical artifacts of ancient species of sea life that had long been extinct. Perfectly constructed skeletons from real bones, or sometimes reconstructed for visualization purposes. Along the front wall where the entrance door was installed, the windows were shaped like roaring waves of the waver, and were colored a deep blue with white at the top of the waves. The dull light from outside shone through those windows, bleeding blue on the floor, ceiling, window sill, and people walking by. Anzu was amazed by the skeletal remains of the fish she saw, finding it amazing that the remains of those who die can be found even millions of years later if nature preserves them well enough.

Anzu: You know what this has me thinking? Is my corpse still buried near that church? What if we dug it out and took a look? Wait, no! That's a *censored*ty idea! Don't look at me, I'm hideous!

Anzu covered her face with her sleeves.

Giuseppe: Well obviously, you're not the one buried in the ground. Besides, how long has it been? Nearly 4 years now? You're definitely a skeleton by now, princess.

Anzu: I'm a spooky scary skeleton?!?! Oh no! Why me! I was so hot too!

Giuseppe: Your ghost is still you though, obviously.

Anzu: True...

They continued deeper into the aquarium, where they got to see large tanks of live fish. Eels, squid, pink salmon, and even small sharks. The bigger fish could be seen in the much larger section of the aquarium which held millions of liters of water to house the fish. At this point, guests walked through a glass tube built in the water, where they could see the fish swim by. Anzu and Giuseppe were both excited to witness something like that, to be so close to large fish swimming right over their heads, traveling through the bright blue tube of aqua paradise.

Anzu: Whoa! It's so big! Giuseppe, this is awesome!

Giuseppe: I gotta say, I've never spent this much time in the aquarium. I really should go here more often. Even if I am kinda freaked out that we're literally underwater...

Anzu: Oh come on, don't be a fish-whipped little bitch.

Giuseppe: You have the luxury of already being dead! You don't have to worry!

Anzu: Even if something did happen, I'd protect you! Well, unless one of these fish feel like eating you. Then I can't really help you with that. Let's keep going, though! There's much more to see!

Anzu ran ahead and Giuseppe watched her like a father watches his young daughter as she learns to ride a bike. The next section of the aquarium was a large room with dozens of very large tanks holding all sort of different fish. Krill, starfish, sea urchins, you name it. Music was playing over the intercom in the room, to which Anzu expressed her scorn at generic J-pop. There was one room that was completely empty however, almost completely dark except for the dark blue ambient light of the water in the tanks on the left, right, and front of the room. Anzu, with her compass of curiosity decided to go there, and Giuseppe followed her, also curious about what was in the dark room. At first, it looked like there was nothing. The music changed on the intercom as the song ended, and Anzu immediately recognized it as Above Your Hand.

Anzu: Now THAT'S a kickass song! That's my baby, Annabel!

Giuseppe: You don't have to be an elitist, you know, There's absolutely nothing wrong with cute girls singing cute J-Pop

Anzu: It's tasteless garbage and you know it!

The argument was ended when their eyes detected light glowing from the tanks. They walked deeper into the room to see exactly what was happening. This room was filled with jellyfish, dozens of them, in all sorts of different sizes and shapes. Given the darkness of the room, the jellyfish were glowing to illuminate the area and see all the other jellyfish around them. Some glowed orange, others were green, some were blue, and others were purple. Anzu's breath was taken away by this phenomenon of glowing jellyfish, washing the room in a rainbow of color.

Anzu: Unbelievable! How are they doing that?!

Giuseppe: Ah yeah. That's called bioluminescence. A lot of different species can do that. It's light produced by the jellyfish themselves. Either to illuminate dark areas, warn predators, attract mates, or whatever. But to see so many of them do it is quite astonishing. Wanna walk through the glass and swim with them?

Anzu: Huh?!?!

Giuseppe: I'm just kidding! It's not like they'd be able to sting you anyway.

Anzu: I ought to just push you in there and watch you get stung.

Giuseppe: Ahhh, that's so cruel, Anzu.

Giuseppe and Anzu stayed there for a while, enjoying the light show being put on by the descendants of mother nature. The rest of the day was blessed by happiness and excitement. On the way out of the aquarium in the late afternoon, Giuseppe bought Anzu and himself shirts from the aquarium. Anzu's shirt was white and depicted carp drawn in a traditional Japanese art style, with strong, thick lines and colors filling them in. Of course though, she couldn't hold the shirt while they were still out in public. The rain had stopped, but the wind was still mighty strong. Instead of going home, they decided to wait inside the church until the wind died down. They got a little lost, but were able to find their way to the path the led to the church. As always, Giuseppe opened the door for Anzu so she may enter first.

Anzu: My my, how chivalrous of you!

Giuseppe: Damn right it was chivalrous. That shirt costed 7000 yen...

Anzu: What was that?!?

Giuseppe: Nothing!

Anzu sat down in the 3rd row in the sanctuary and was soon joined by Giuseppe.

Anzu: Thanks for today, it was really fun! I never knew jellyfish could glow like that.

Giuseppe: Yeah, well you learn something new every day. Glad you had a good time, Anzu.

Anzu: Aww, and you bought me the largest size possible! You didn't have to. Now that it's colder, I doubt I'll be walking around the house in a shirt and underwear.

Giuseppe: Crap, did you want me to get you some sweatpants or something?

Anzu: Nah, yours are fine. They're baggy and comfy.

Giuseppe: Whatever you say then.

The wind was still blowing strong, knocking the twigs of trees against the windows and chilling the church.

Anzu: I can't believe it. One day, we're here shortly before your father's passing, and now we're here mere weeks before my mother passes.

Giuseppe: That's right! She doesn't have much longer now...

Anzu: Don't worry. I don't know what to say to her, but I have a big heart. I'll pull through.

Giuseppe: We'll pull through.

Anzu remembered her own words, that they were in this together. She smiled and closed her eyes, a silent gesture of thanks, and an even more subtle gesture of apology.

Anzu: Alright. Thanks for sticking with me all of this time, Giuseppe.

Giuseppe: No problem. That's what friends do for friends, right?

Anzu: Right. I wouldn't want it any other way. Hey, next week, let's celebrate Kinro Kansha no Hi, alright? You work hard to provide for both of us! It's time for you to take a break!

Giuseppe: I don't know...

Anzu got sat on her seat with both of her knees and clenched her fists as she tried to convince Giuseppe.

Anzu: Oh come on! We can even make brownies again!

Giuseppe: I'm just kidding, Anzu. I'd love to celebrate it with you. We'll invite Myu too. That okay?

Anzu: Sounds absolutely delightful! You're much more willing to do things now. Have you ever noticed that?

Giuseppe: Yeah, because I had a ghost lady shout in my ear until I didn't have any other choice!

Anzu: You're very welcome!

What's more fun than a boring autumn day with nothing to do? They say the heart is warmest when the earth is coldest, and there was certainly a kind of love and comfort in the air. Just ahead lay the final obstacle in Anzu's path towards rest. Many times, Natsumi prayed to see her daughter again.

She would see her sooner than she thought.

Mother's Kiss
Alas, the 23rd of November has come! Today was the day, Kinro Kansha no Hi! The day of workers and laborers. Anzu and Myu had gotten together to purchase plenty of foods and drinks, with Giuseppe's credit card of course. They had gotten plenty of fish, shrimp, lobster, fruits, beef, ingredients for soup, seasonings, and some deserts to go with the wine. Many people were in the store, hoping to celebrate their families and the men and women who worked hard to keep society flowing and productive. Anzu and Myu loaded up the grocery bags in the car and drove back to Giuseppe's place. The weather was a bit nice, but still cloudy and very windy. Anzu quite liked this kind of weather too. Spring and Summer were much to warm and full of insects for her tastes. Myu kicked the door open with her feet, given that her hands were full and Giuseppe left the door unlocked for them.

Myu: We're home! We got lots of good stuff! Even found some kobe beef for a good price.

Giuseppe: Oh nice! Bring it up to the counter and let's get cooking!

Anzu usually took charge as lead chef, but now that Myu was here, she watched Myu cook like a child would watch a magician make a quarter disappear.

Anzu: Here! I usually wear this apron, but you can have it today, Myu! Show us your cooking skills!

Myu: Thanks, love. Alright! How do you want the kobe? Want it prepared as sukiyaki, teppanyaki, sashimi?

Anzu leaped in the air as she declared what she wanted.

Anzu: Sukiyaki! Sukiyaki! Sukiyaki! Pretty please!

Giuseppe: Sounds good to me.

Myu: Sukiyaki it is then.

Giuseppe: I'll handle the meat. Your poor, weak, fragile women can handle the vegetables while the man takes care of the protein.

Myu: Butt*censored*, I work had too!

Giuseppe: Nuh uh uh! You're in my home, so today is all about me. It may as well just be Giuseppe day.

Giuseppe couldn't look more smug if I he suddenly had 100,000,000 million yen in his bank account.

Myu: Ok, fine. Whatever. You did almost die this year anyway, so I'll let it slide. Just don't *censored* up the meat. We need thin slices but that doesn't mean you can shred the *censored* up into doggy chew.

Giuseppe: Thanks, Myu!

Anzu: Watching you suck your own dick like that was pathetic, Giuseppe.

Myu: I'll get the broth ready. Anzu, help Giuseppe with the kobe and then get to work on the negi, okay?

Anzu: Yes ma'am!

The house was filled with the aroma of delicious kobe sukiyaki and its various components. Myu's years of working at Satoshi's Grill really taught her a lot about cooking and culinary chemistry. Giuseppe could easily see how Anzu could get so good at cooking herself. Giuseppe remembered in that moment that cooking is yet another thing that's capable of bringing people together. With Myu's precise and calculated instruction, the course was finished and the bowls were laid out on the table for the 3 to enjoy.

Giuseppe: Thank you for the food.

Anzu: Thanks for the grub!

Myu: My *censored*ing head hurts.

Giuseppe pulled out the sake that Myu bought and handed it to her. They simply had to wait and see if the soft and delicate Myu would turn into loud, rude, and adventurous Bitch-Myu when enough alcohol had touched her lips. For now, it was safe. Myu seemed to have gotten a bit more control over her ability to hold liquor and the almost criminal ideas that accompany the devilish elixir.

Anzu: This is so good! I've never had kobe before!

Myu: Kobe in particular has a good amount of intramuscular fat in it, so it gives off a great aroma, texture, and taste when it's cooked. It's expensive as hell here in Hokkaido though. Most of it is produced in the Hyogo prefecture, so maybe it's cheaper where it's sourced from. But still, I got it at a relatively good price!

Anzu: I should also mention Myu is smart with money, Giuseppe.

Giuseppe: Oh believe me, I don't think that even needs to be said at this point.

Myu: Sake, Giuseppe?

Giuseppe: Ah, yes please!

Anzu: Don't get drunk and pass out. I'm not gonna lay on your side just so you can puke or *censored* the bed.

Giuseppe: As if I ever would! I can control myself, damn it. I only came home drunk once, remember?

Anzu: Oh that's right! You got home from a gay orgy or something that night? I think you won an award for the most dicks sucked in an orgy.

Myu: Ouch! That's gotta burn!

Giuseppe: Yep, you're 17 alright.

Anzu tipped over Giuseppe's sake as he was about to drink it, causing the shot to spill all over his face. He was not amused, but Anzu and Myu looked very entertained.

Giuseppe: Alright. Laugh it up. Go ahead.

Course after hearty course was consumed in good spirits, cheers, and appreciation for one another. Between the food, drinking games, charades, and arguments over whether or not boobs are better than butts, all of them could say it was a great day to be alive, as the people they were born as. Myu's last gift to Giuseppe was an invitation for him to keep the sake and desserts for himself. And for Anzu, she prepared a crown of flowers, roses and lotuses.

Myu: That's for you both. For being two of the most amazing people I've ever met. Giuseppe, I know I kid around with you a lot, but I really do enjoy your presence in my life. And Anzu, you know already how much I love you. I'm glad you and I got to see each other again. I've gotta go now before it gets dark. It's supposed to rain tonight! So, I'll see you both later! Oh, and Giuseppe, do share with Anzu, yeah?

Giuseppe: Oh come on, she's the one who eats all the snacks in the house! But...yeah.. I will. And thank you for your words, Myu. They mean a lot to me. Thank you.

Anzu bowed to Myu and held her hands to her heart.

Anzu: Thank you, Myu.

Myu: Good luck. I assume you're going to see her soon. I trust that you'll know what to do when the hour of separation arrives once more.

Anzu: I will. Thank you for everything you've done for me, both of you. I won't let you down. I promise, Mom will pass on properly.

Myu: I believe in you. See you guys later. And send her my love!

Anzu: I will!

Myu was walked out of the apartment by Giuseppe, and made a safe journey home as Giuseppe went back inside and locked up.

Giuseppe: Well! That was a great time, huh?

Anzu: Yep! Now we have a bunch of cookies and rice cakes to eat.

Giuseppe: Well, I trust you can help me with that. C'mon, let's get these dishes done.

Anzu: I'll put away the left overs!

Anzu put the remaining food in containers and put them in the fridge while Giuseppe collected the dishes and began washing them. With their usual household teamwork, they were getting two things done at once. Once Anzu was finished putting away the food, she rolled up her sleeves and helped Giuseppe finish washing the dishes. Perhaps, doing household chores was one of many things Anzu did to make herself still feel connected with the world of the living. Since she's dead, there's no real reason to do such things, but what else is one supposed to do when they're in a form of existence they're not familiar with, in a world that they're all too familiar with?

By the time the moon had risen, Giuseppe and Anzu were ready for bed, having finished brushing their teeth. Anzu tied her hair in a half-up and jumped into the covers, ready to wrap herself in the warmth of the bed and blankets.

Giuseppe: So....tomorrow?

Anzu: Yeah. Tomorrow. We'll go early in the morning. Wish me luck, okay?

Giuseppe extended his fist up towards the bed.

Giuseppe: Fistbump of good luck. You'll know what to do once you see her, just how I knew what to do when I saw my dad. You can make it right, Anzu. I believe in you, and I'll be cheering you out.

Anzu, instead of fistbumping, opened up Giuseppe's hand and locked fingers with him, like two hands locked together in prayer.

Anzu: I prefer it like this, if that's okay with you.

Giuseppe: Yeah, that's fine too...

Giuseppe turned out the light, and the two prepared for a hard day tomorrow.

Anzu: Good night, Gissy Poo.

Giuseppe: Good night, Apricot.

The two friends fated to meet each other had now fallen asleep with the gentle rain as their lullaby. Some time very late into the night, Anzu began to dream. In the dream, she was confronted by Maria once more, who smiled when she laid eyes on Anzu.

Maria: My, I didn't think we'd meet so soon again.

Anzu: Maria! Wait, why am I here? Oh crap! Did I pass on!?!

Maria: No, it doesn't seem like it. Once again, I think you're just here for a visit. You're not at my gravestone, right?

Anzu: No! I was asleep in bed with Giuseppe!

Maria: W-w-w-with!?!

Anzu: Oh! No no no no! I sleep on his bed but Giuseppe sleeps on the floor! I didn't mean, like, "together" together.

Maria: Whew! I see. That's a relief. You intend to make peace with your mother?

Anzu: How did you know that?! I don't think I told you that, did I?

Maria: I just knew. Maybe that's why you're here? What if we're able to interact without the gravestone because you're getting closer to finding peace? You're slowly letting go of your earthly burdens, the things tying you to the world of the living. Who knows?

Anzu: might be right. But yes, I do intend to make peace with her. She can die any time now, and I just want to make sure she gets here in one piece, you know? My mom doesn't have anyone, and I don't know if Misato ended up here in the same place as you. So, if you see her, please, keep her company, okay? Please!

Maria: I will, sweet little Anzu! I'll be waiting for you too, when you finally pass on. We'll get to know each other more. In the meantime, keep looking after Giuseppe.

Anzu: I will! Thank you, Maria. See you soon.

Everything faded to white, as if Anzu were looking up directly at the sun. When she woke up, it was early in the morning. She and Giuseppe had woken up at the same time. It had apparently kept raining while they were sleeping, as water was still dripping from the dying leaves of trees by the window. The streets and buildings were soaked, with the clouds in the sky reflecting in the settled puddles of water. Giuseppe and Anzu both sat up at the same time and looked each other in the eye. Today was the day.

Giuseppe: Are you ready?

Anzu: Yeah.

Giuseppe: Do you want to eat some breakfast?

Anzu: I'm sorry, Giuseppe. I don't really have an apatite.

Giuseppe: Ah...I understand. Well then, let's just go ahead and get dressed. I'll call Myu.

Anzu's eyes were dead as she thought of all the words she could say to her mother, expressing all the years of the feelings of abandonment, failure, and the feeling of being forsaken. Years and a tragically short lifetime that seemingly passed like the rain in the night, leaving behind only water droplets. Anzu grabbed her diary from under her pillow and dusted off the front cover. She got up off of the bed and began getting dressed. After brushing her hair and her teeth, she took her diary with her to the front door, where Giuseppe waited for her.

Giuseppe: All set? Myu's downstairs.

Anzu: All set.

Thus, the door was closed and locked. Until next time. Myu opened the car door for Anzu and greeted her with a hug.

Myu: It's time, dear. I'll hold your diary for you.

Anzu: Thank you.

With everyone in the car, the interior chilled as it stayed out in the morning rain, Myu drove off towards the hospital for what would be perhaps the final time, to see Natsumi. It was completely silent, a very long moment of silence. They finally arrived at Hasunohana, in a near empty parking lot.

Myu: I never have the bravery for these kinds of things. Already been through it once with you, Anzu. Please do give her my love and appreciation.

Anzu: Alright, I will.

Myu: I'll walk you guys in. I'll be waiting in the car while you're up there.

Anzu: Giuseppe?

Giuseppe: I'll go along with you, walk you in and out. We're in this together.

The three got out of the car and walked into the hospital, as tranquil as it could be so early in the day. The receptionist recognized Myu and Giuseppe and allowed them to go up to the 3rd floor to see Natsumi, who even the nurses knew wasn't going to be alive much longer.

Myu: Alright, you guys remember how to get up there? It's room 96, don't forget.

Giuseppe: Understood, I got it.

Myu: Oh, and of course, you'll need this, Anzu.

Myu handed Anzu her diary back. It was vital for this day to be a success.

Anzu: Thank you for everything.

Anzu bowed her head in heartfelt appreciation, and then she and Giuseppe were off to room 96. Giuseppe and Anzu stood in front of the door to the room as if they had climbed a mountain and were looking at the earth from the top.

Giuseppe: It's all you from here, Anzu. I'll be waiting for you right out here.

Anzu hugged Giuseppe and flashed a sad smile. She opened the door and saw her mother there, alone and clearly weakened. She closed the door behind her and organized her thoughts. All of the pondering over what words to say were meaningless now that she had seen her.

Anzu: Hi Mom. Long time, no see...

Anzu walked closer to her mother, with her diary in her hand.

Anzu: I had wanted to see you again since I remembered who you were. You were there for me that day, when I tried to kill myself. Now, I'm here, in your final days.

Anzu touched Natsumi with her diary and woke her up with a kiss to her forehead. Natsumi's eyes began to open, ever so faintly.

Natsumi: Anzu? Baby, is that you? I...I must be dreaming.

Anzu: Maybe you are, Mom.

Anzu held Natusmi's hand, noticing her grip was weak.

Natsumi: Anzu...I don't know if I'm just dreaming or not, but please...let me apologize to you. I tried my best. I thought of you and prayed for you every single day.

Anzu: Mom...I still love you. And I forgive you. It wasn't your fault, Mom. You did everything you could. You gave me years of great memories. You messed up sometimes, but no parent is perfect. The fact is, you're my mother. My god-given mother. There's nobody else who can replace the woman who named me. There's no other Natsumi, no other "Mom" in my life but you.

Natsumi: Oh god....Oh my god...I...Anzu....

Anzu held Natsumi's hand with both of her hands and held it up to her forehead.

Natsumi: I love you so much, Anzu. A thousand years could pass, and that would never change.

Anzu: I know. And that's why you don't have to apologize. You have nothing to be sorry for, Mom. It's okay. It's okay to forgive yourself as much as I forgive you. Thank you for taking such good care of Aka. She's so beautiful now...

Anzu's voice broke as she started crying.

Anzu: Thank you for your tears, your prayers, your kisses, your hugs, the band aids for my cuts, the birthday parties, the presents, the pictures, the teddy bears, and all of the work you did to put up with what you did. I know it wasn't easy for you, Mom. So, please, for me, forgive yourself. Forgive yourself and get some rest. You deserve it, much more than I do.

Natsumi, as weak as she was, was able to smile. It was the kind of smile one shows when a great burden had been lifted off of their shoulders.

Natsumi: Thank you. Thank you so much. I worried all of these years...but it's okay now. I love you, Anzu. And Aka too.

Anzu: I passed on that kiss you always gave me. Remember? You'd kiss my forehead whenever I was sad, and it would always make me feel better. I passed it own to someone I love. I'm happy now. Aka is happy too. You did a fantastic job. Thank you, for being my mother. I wouldn't have asked for a different one.

Anzu got up and kissed Natsumi's forehead once more.

Anzu: You know, I wrote horrible things about you in this diary. Looking back on it now, I realize how foolish I was being, blaming you for everything. I wish I could take it all back. I should've thought you in a better way. I should've tried to understand what being with Dad was like for you.

Natsumi: No, dear. It's get angry. To be frustrated, lost, and confused. That's part of life. It's part of our daily ups and downs. It's okay, dear. Those feelings make you human, a beautifully imperfect human. Whether you're alive or not, you are still a gorgeous spirit. Keep it as it is. Just try to write out the good days from now on, dear. Write out whatever's in your heart. Whether you hated me or loved me, I had always loved you.

Anzu: Thank you, Mom. I will. I promise, I will. I'll join you soon, and I'll tell you all about the things I wrote down. About Myu, Giuseppe, and all the great times we had.

Natsumi: That sounds wonderful, my love. I'll see you soon then, Little Apricot.

Anzu smiled, her soul finally at peace.

Anzu: See you soon.

Natsumi slipped back into a slumber, and Anzu rested her hand back on the bed. She stood up, and for one last time, kissed Natsumi's forehead. Giuseppe had never known that Anzu's strange forehead kisses were passed on to her from her mother and meant only for those that were close to one's heart. Anzu thought that maybe one day soon, she would tell him. For now, the last obstacle between her and eternal rest was lifted. She made peace with her mother, and they were both able to forgive each other and themselves. Anzu had no worries now, no suffering, no burdens. She grabbed her diary and exited the room, gently closing the door behind her. Giuseppe got up from his chair, eager to her what happened. The look on her face was all that was needed.

Anzu: It's done. We've finally made peace. She can die and pass on peacefully now.

Giuseppe: I see. You did a wonderful job, Anzu.

Anzu nodded, unable to speak as she broke down again. Giuseppe patted her head and hugged her as tightly as he could to comfort her. She had done a beautifully courageous thing. Together, the two walked out of the hospital and back into Myu's car. Myu simply took a glance at Anzu's tranquil face, the face of someone who forgave and had been forgiven.

Myu: I won't say anything. Let's get you two home.

Anzu: Church, actually.

Myu: You got it.

The clouds began to part, and the sun shined over the wet land below. The clouds would return again, but for now, the sun ruled the sky. Myu dropped them off by the park that led to the path that went up to the church.

Myu: Are you gonna be okay?

Anzu: Yes, thank you. I'll be more than okay. I'm very grateful for your help, Myu. I couldn't have done it without you.

Giuseppe: I'm here too...

Giuseppe and Anzu walked through the park, among the fallen autumn leaves, and up the dirt path leading up to the church. The church was like a beacon of divine light as the sun shined down on it. Giuseppe would open the door for Anzu once more.

Anzu: My my, how chivalrous of you!

The door was closed, and once more, under the roof where they first met, peace after a turbulent time was found. The sun shined through the large row of rainbow colored windows on the right side of the sanctuary, washing the seats and window bay in multicolored illumination. Together they sat, in the glow of the green window.

Giuseppe: You did it. You really did it, Anzu.

Anzu: We did it. I couldn't have ever gotten this far without you, Giuseppe.

Giuseppe: So, what happens now?

Anzu looked up at the statue of Christ.

Anzu: Now....we wait. The only left to do is to pass on. I don't know how long that will be from now, Giuseppe.

Giuseppe was genuinely happy for Anzu, but also greatly saddened that it would all be coming to an end very soon. It was a bittersweet mix of feelings. But, in the end...

Giuseppe: We'll make sure you pass on, Anzu. So you may meet her again.

With clemency and forgiveness purifying her tethered soul, all that was left for Anzu is what should've happened the moment she died. For her to be put to rest.

Manga Creations / Re: Anzu: A Friend From the Grave
« on: December 31, 2015, 10:32:49 PM »
It Awaits Her, the Great White Tomb in the Sky
The long dreaded day had arrived. Because of Giuseppe's inability to financially support a funeral for Nori, his corpse was handled under prefecture regulations. His body was buried in a cemetery not too far away from the prison where he was held. In the cool of the overcast autumn day, Giuseppe wept over Nori's tomb stone while Anzu prayed behind him. Giuseppe stood up and walked backwards to stand alongside Anzu, and they began to pray together. Though she didn't have clothing appropriate for mourning the dead, she did dress in black jeans and a somewhat formal black button-up. She brought incense with her, and burned two sticks of them at the foot of Nori's grave. One was for Nori, and the other was for Maria. Giuseppe dried his eyes, and his crying turned into a shallow feeling of numbness.

Giuseppe: We should head home soon. Any last words?

Anzu: Goodbye, Nori.

Giuseppe: Goodbye, father.

The atmosphere at home was as gray as the sky. But that was a given since it was the day after Nori was executed. Still, Anzu was there for him. Oda and Kyo even called to offer their sympathies and respects. Like with most deaths, Giuseppe, day by day, took time to heal. It was a slow and painful healing, but it was steady as well. Myu had resisted the urge to try and bring Giuseppe out of his shell of gloom for the next two weeks, knowing that trying to pressure Giuseppe too soon could only be hurtful for him. In the evening, Giuseppe's phone rang as he sat down with Anzu and ate dinner, sweet onion ramen. Slowly and clumsily, he picked up the phone, knowing it was Myu.

Giuseppe: Hello?

Myu: Hey there. How are you?

Giuseppe: *censored*. But, that's just how this kind of thing works, right?

Myu: Right. Are you able to eat yet?

Giuseppe: Yeah, Anzu got me eating again after the third day or something like that. It was pretty rough, but I've been eating at least 2 meals a day since then.

Myu: That's good. Would it be too much to ask you guys over for drinks at the grill?

Giuseppe: No, I guess not. I need to get out of the house anyway.

Myu: Alright, you guys get ready. I'll pick you up. Drinks are on me tonight.

Giuseppe: You're too kind, Myu. Alright, we'll see you soon. Anzu, finish up. Myu's offering to take us out of the house for a bit.

Anzu: Ah, alright.

Anzu seemingly swallowed all of the remainder of her food at once, like a black hole sucks up the light of a star.

Anzu: All done!

Giuseppe: You're gonna get a massive tummy ache now, you *censored*ing moron!

Anzu: *censored* you, I won't do what you tell me.

Giuseppe and Anzu smiled at each other. Such vulgar language and insults were like a lingua franca for them. They brushed their teeth together, gargled mouthwash together, got dressed together, and were picked up by Myu, who waited outside in her car. Anzu rode shotgun while Giuseppe sat in the back. Headlights blared by, street lights illuminated every turn, and moonlight was largely obscured by the clouds. The three of them had Satoshi's Grill all to themselves. With the colder seasons making their return, Myu had brought back the rope lights. Red, blue, and purple rope lights provided the primary illumination inside the diner. In the spirit of getting Giuseppe back on his feet, Myu, not surprisingly, was the first to get piss drunk.

Myu: Wooo! I haven't been this wasted since that night we snuck into the ice rink! You guys remember that?

Giuseppe: Geez, how could we not. It was single handedly the stupidest idea you've ever had. That place did look really nice though...

Myu: Don't be such a *censored*ing girl! You love it, just admit it! There's nothing wrong with saying "Myu was right!". I mean, I do change lives, after all!

Anzu: It's true, one way or another!

Giuseppe just didn't quite look like he was having all that much fun. Not because Myu wasn't entertaining, but because he had difficulty getting things off of his mind.

Myu: Aww come on! Cheer up, Giuseppe! I mean, I know it's not that easy, but we're all still here, right? People die, and life goes on.

Giuseppe: You're surprisingly inspiring when you're inebriated.

Anzu: Yeah, well, *censored* the both of you. I'm having lots of fun drinking my iced tea. I don't need your Devil's Holy Water.

Anzu's stomach growled while she sipped through the straw of her iced tea. She grabbed her stomach and tried to conceal the pain she was in.

Giuseppe: See! What did I tell you?! Myu, I swear to god, Anzu just scarfed down her entire dinner like it was a box of donuts! I told her she'd get a stomach ache and she was all like "hurrrr don't tell me what to do!"! And now look at you! What do you have now, huh?

Anzu: A stomach ache!

Giuseppe: What's that? Can't hear you.

Anzu: A stomach ache! Giuseppe!

Myu: Oh Anzu, you know better than that...

Anzu looked like she was about to cry from the embarrassment.

Anzu: D-d-don't bully me! I just wanted to get here as fast as I could!

Myu: Forcing that much food down your stomach is like trying to fit the entire Persian Empire through the narrow cliffs of Thermopylae. Lesson learned, huh Anzu?

Anzu: You guys are dicks!

Myu was able to stay lucid enough to lock the doors of Satoshi's Grill, but she was obviously in no condition to drive. With no other options, Myu gave the keys to Giuseppe, who drove everyone back to his apartment. This way, Myu's car could stay in the garage and everyone could just walk over to the church to sleep. Anzu helped Myu walk, just to make sure she didn't walk into a street light or roar at the stray cats on the street. Giuseppe opened the doors of the church, allowing for Anzu and Myu to enter first and closing the door behind him.

Giuseppe: Here, I got here. Turn on the lights and grab the futons.

Anzu: Okay!

Anzu turned on the lights built into the wall and grabbed both futons off of the podium, dashing her way back to Giuseppe so he could lay a near sleeping Myu down on a soft place.

Giuseppe: She's overdone it again. But she did it for my sake.

Giuseppe pinched Myu's cheeks, causing her drunk reflexes to push his hand away. Not quite ready to pack it in for the night, Giuseppe and Anzu sit together in the 4th row, the deep blue glow of the stained-glass style lights in the wall dazzling from the podium.

Anzu: Well, we made it.

Giuseppe: Yeah, I guess we did. And just like you said, you're here with me. And so is Myu.

Anzu: I keep my promises!

Giuseppe: Thanks for sticking all of this out with me, Anzu. It's been a real hurricane lately. Tell you what though. Halloween is coming up soon. Even if we don't go out that day, we can still have our own spooky party, if you'd like.

Anzu gasped in exhilarated shock. She put her hands and knees on the seats and leaned in closer to Giuseppe with every question.

Giuseppe: Oh dear god, not this again...

Anzu: Will there be spooky scary skeletons?!?!

Giuseppe: Yeah, of course there will.

Anzu leaned in closer, her blue eyes widening with every answer.

Anzu: Will there be delicious candy!

Giuseppe: Yeah, we can get some from the store. They'll be selling it in bulk.

Anzu leaned in even closer.

Anzu: Will you dress up as a maid and have forbidden intercourse with me?!?

Giuseppe: What? No!

Anzu backed off and snickered as she sat on her knees.

Anzu: Come on! I was just joking with you!

Giuseppe: Yeah, well that stomach ache earlier wasn't a joke, was it?

Anzu blushed and angrily crossed her arms.

Anzu: Don't you dare say you told me so!

Giuseppe: Fine. I won't.

Anzu: What? Just like that?

Giuseppe: Yeah, you win.

Anzu:....Now I feel like an asshole.

Giuseppe: Hey, Anzu. How long do you intend to wait until you see your mother?

Anzu: Until I know exactly what to say to her. I'm scared that if I see her now, I might utter something that I'll regret in the future.

Giuseppe: You intend to reveal yourself?

Anzu: I'm really not sure yet. I just don't even know what the hell to do.

Giuseppe: Don't worry. You still have time, so take that time to think about it. Remember, it's your mother's soul we're talking about here. We only have one shot.

Anzu: You're right. Looks like you've learned a lot from me, huh?

Giuseppe: Well, I do exert quite a bit of influence on people, you know? You've got the shine on.

Anzu: The....shine?

Giuseppe: Yeah! You know, that "thing". That magic. You've got it.

Anzu was delighted to be complimented in such a way.

Anzu: Thanks, Gissy Poo. For everything. I wouldn't choose anyone else to help me pass from this world.

Giuseppe: You make it sound like you want to leave.

Anzu: No, that's not it. But I know I don't belong here. I've already lived and died. There's nothing left for me. To me, at least that much is axiomatic. I used to life was all one big, vitriolic game of schadenfreude, where God laughed and humans suffered. But then, meeting you helped me see it differently. I couldn't be more blessed to be as I am now, where I am now.

Giuseppe's thoughts of doubt and self-loathing sprang up. To Giuseppe, Anzu was a ghost who had to wade through painful recollections of her awful life in order to remember the manner in which she died, all while resolving her feelings and emotions in an awe-inspiring yet melancholy march to the afterlife. But Giuseppe had to remember that guiding a soul to where it belongs isn't a tragedy. It's a virtue, a task of labor and love for the well-being of another soul. Giuseppe's job was to help Anzu bear her cross, for she was not meant to linger here among flesh and blood.

Giuseppe: Well, whatever you need, I'll be there.

Anzu smiled graciously.

Anzu: I know you will, buddy! Let's head to bed now. It's been a long night.

Giuseppe: Yep, sure has.

Anzu shared her futon with Myu while Giuseppe slept on his own. Trying not to wake and adorably exhausted Myu, Anzu whispered from her futon.

Anzu: Psssst! Psssssssssssssst! Goodnight! See ya tomorrow!

Giuseppe: Goodnight, Anzu.

With that, another day passed along the constantly flowing waters of time. Giuseppe had gotten so used to the warm weather of Spring, and the even warmer weather of Summer, that he was caught off guard when he was awoken by the sound of light rain beating against the blue stained glass in the antechamber in the back of the church. When he opened his eyes, he saw that Myu was the first to wake up, with a massive hangover however. She was already sitting up, hair frazzled, and her face buried in her hands.

Giuseppe: Morning.

Myu: Morning. God, I feel like *censored*.

Myu removed her hands from her face. Her eyes had never looked so tired before.

Myu: Anzu's still sleeping. It's almost 10:30, so I was wondering if I should wake her. Maybe I'll just let her sleep longer.

Giuseppe: Yeah, why not. We'll wake her at 11:00.

Myu sat in a fetal position, hugging her legs and occasionally laying her head on them.

Myu: Do you feel any better? I was hoping bringing you out would help you get out of the posthumous slump, even just a little bit. I really didn't intend on getting drunk and passing out though. Sorry about that.

Giuseppe: Nah, don't worry about it. You're actually really cute when you're drunk. And it did cheer me up a bit. I'm a lot more comfortable going out of the house now. So, thank you for that, Myu.

Myu: That's what friends are f- what a *censored*ing minute! Did you just say I look cute when I'm wasted? Don't tell me

Giuseppe: Oh god! No! I would never do that!

Myu: Damn straight! Not that I think you're that kind of person. You're not the hurtful type, nor the abusive type. I can tell. Anzu always smiles when you're around, even when she's sleeping.

Giuseppe: Come on, I'm just some regular schmuck who was lucky enough to run into her in this church. Well, thinking back, she was the one who ran into me....literally.

Myu: But you're glad, right?

Giuseppe: Every single day.

11:00 had arrived, but Anzu was still sleeping. Giuseppe knew it was a collective kind of exhaust. One created for the days she spent looking after Giuseppe after the death of Nori. Despite being exhausted back then, she stayed up all night with Giuseppe. She was too kind for this world. Giuseppe carefully carried her on his back, with the help of Myu. Anzu's arms were slung tight over his neck, and her head rested over his shoulder. It was like piggybacking a sleeping child. Myu draped her coat over Giuseppe's shoulders, keeping them both warm in the light rain and cool winds of the October morning. Myu drove them both home, safe and sound, helping Giuseppe get the door open while he carried Anzu on his back. He carried her to the bedroom and gently laid her on his bed. She was still very peaceful looking, and had beads of rain adorning her hair. Myu walked in the room to say bye, keeping her voice low so Anzu can continue to sleep.

Myu: You know, even when she would take naps at work, she looked just as tranquil and beautiful. As still as a corpse in a coffin. Almost formless.

Giuseppe: One of these days, she'll go to sleep like this, and she won't wake up again.

Myu: I know. But we're not losing her, Giuseppe. We're guiding her. Giving her directions, sticking with her until we arrive at her stop. It would a painful existence, don't you think? The world and all of the people moving on, changing, and evolving. But you're still the same you you've always been. Nobody sees you or notices you. Nobody is there to comfort you. Anzu doesn't want that. It's better to live for a short time with people that you love then to live forever without them. That's why I'm ready for the day she moves on.

Giuseppe: People have got to start paying you for your wisdom. Seriously, Myu.

Myu: Either that or sucking cock in an alleyway, right? Anyway, I've got to go. It was nice hanging out with you. Keep eating regular meals and get to sleep at good times.

Giuseppe: Thanks, I will. I'll open the garage from here.

Myu: Thanks! See ya!

Giuseppe: See ya.

Giuseppe clicked open the garage from the kitchen and went back to Anzu's side. As the rain continued, Giuseppe took himself to the couch for a nap until Anzu woke up. If there was at least one thing to look forward to, it was Halloween.

God bless the dead, say only the living.

If There Are Angels in Heaven
How lovely it is when the cold half of the year returns! Anzu went back to wearing Giuseppe's sweaters, the two stocked up on hot cocoa, and most of the days were ruled by clouds, wind, and rains. All of the bugs were gone, burrowed or dying. Though, Giuseppe was careful to remind her that ants like to find their way into homes when it gets cold. Many lazy days were spent sitting on the couch, wrapped in sweaters and blankets. Soon, Giuseppe would feel well enough to return back to work, and even found it comfortable to remove his bandages for good. A scar on his stomach still remained from the car crash that nearly killed him, but he had the luxury of laughing at it since he survived. On the day before Halloween, Giuseppe and Anzu headed out together, walking to the store to find good costumes. Coincidentally, they both wore matching clothes this day. Leather jackets, black shirts, and dark jeans. The only difference was that Anzu balanced out the black with her silver choker.

Anzu: I tell ya, after a long spring and summer, it feels good to have the autumn back! I love when it gets darker sooner in the day!

Giuseppe: Really? It always makes me really sleepy.

Anzu: Same for me, but that's why I like it. It feels like home, ya know? Like it can't get any comfier than this.

Giuseppe: Well, I certainly won't miss those *censored*ing bees. *censored* bees.

Anzu: I know, right?! *censored* bees! Oh man, but it's hornets that are the real assholes. They just go around *censored*ing *censored* up for no reason.

Giuseppe: Hornets are the mafia of the insect world. But you know what I really hate the most?

Anzu: Ooo! I wanna guess! Roaches!

Giuseppe: God help us all if yamato roaches survive longer than the country itself.

Anzu: They probably will! A lot of the species on earth survived up to now because they were both herbivores and carnivores. Couple that with good adaption to an ever-changing environment and you can be sure you'll last for a few thousand years unless a meteorite obliterates your sorry ass. But assuming the awesomely destructive forces of the universe don't lick the sugar off of your candy ass, you'd survive even longer if you were a roach. They eat dust, hair, dry food, wet food, *censored*ing anything.

Giuseppe: Now you've got me genuinely wishing butts were made of candy.

Anzu: The fact that they aren't proves there's no such thing as hope in this world.

Giuseppe and Anzu walked into the store. The left section was filled with various Halloween costumes as people searched and searched for the perfect costumes to wear.

Giuseppe: Any idea what you want to be?

Anzu: A kunoichi!

Giuseppe: What? That's *censored*ing lame, pick something else.

Anzu: If not a kunoichi, then a sexy maid.

Giuseppe: Sexy....maid??!?!

Anzu: Yeah, I'll get one of those dresses with the frills on them, a corset, and wear it nice and tight.

Anzu stood on her tippy toes to whisper into Giuseppe's ear.

Anzu: With no underwear.

Giuseppe: Now you're just *censored*ing with me.

Anzu: Damn it! You know me too well now. It was fun being able to pull that on you when we first met.

Giuseppe: Yeah, you were always the joker. Good material too, never got old.

Anzu picked out the French maid costume she wanted.

Anzu: This looks good! What about you?

Giuseppe: I always sucked at these things. Maybe....

Giuseppe picked out a skeleton suit. A rather lazy choice, but still acceptable for Halloween. Content with their findings, Giuseppe and Anzu bought their costumes and went home for the rest of the day. After a long day of doing basically nothing, Anzu shut off the television and yawned as she straightened up the couch. Giuseppe got the bathroom water ready for them both to brush their teeth and hit the hay for the night.

Anzu: Hey, Giuseppe. Your hair is growing out again.

Giuseppe: Aw *censored*, really? It grows so fast, it's difficult to keep it groomed.

Giuseppe's dark hair had grown to his collar bone again. With all that had gone on in the past few months, he never really noticed it.

Anzu: I still think you look great!

Giuseppe: For a man that almost died, sure.

Anzu: For a man that's learning to live, sure.

Giuseppe didn't have anything to really say to that. But he was glad that Anzu knew how much she meant to him. Their teeth clean and shiny, Giuseppe turned off the lights and got into bed. Anzu tied up her hair in a long ponytail and wrapped herself in the covers.

Anzu: Nighty night Gissy Poo.

Giuseppe: Goodnight Anzu.

In the morning, the two started their usual routine. They made breakfast, fried egg over rice with a side of soup, brushed their teeth, and did a little home cleaning. Which really means that Anzu did a little home cleaning while Giuseppe was half asleep on the couch. Still, Anzu didn't bug him about it. Around noon, Giuseppe got a call from Myu, who said she had bought everything that they needed for tonight and was coming over to set it all up. When she arrived in her car, Giuseppe and Anzu went outside to help her take everything out. It was a breezy, cloudy day outside.

Myu: Heya! The trunk's open, go ahead and grab what you can!

Giuseppe took out the bags with the food and desserts in them, while Anzu handled the decorations.

Anzu: This is a lot of stuff, Myu! You didn't have to do this for us.

Myu: Nonsense! Of course I did. I'm no cheap *censored*, after all.

Giuseppe laid out the desserts on the counter. Cupcakes, cookies, candies galore! Anzu's eyes sparkled like quasar, as she had never seen so many sweets in one place.

Giuseppe: Now, now. Hold your excitement. Don't start eating any of this until tonight.

Myu walked in with the remainder of the goods.

Myu: I also got some pumpkin pie and eggnog.

Anzu: I've never had either of those things before!

Giuseppe: Seriously? You've never had pumpkin pie?

Anzu: No, not at all. Is it good?

Giuseppe: It's absolutely delicious! I think you'll love it.

Anzu couldn't be more hyped if a clown rode in on a unicycle and threw a pie at her face. The hours passed slowly and delightfully for her as she waited impatiently for Halloween, something she hadn't experienced even as a bystander since she was alive and little. Myu dressed up as Amaterasu and even powdered her face. Giuseppe put on his skeleton suit one-piece and waited with Myu as Anzu changed in the bathroom.

Myu: So, what exactly did she want to dress up as?

Giuseppe: I think it's better if you just wait and see.

Myu: Oh boy...

Anzu: Okay, I think I got it on right! I'm coming out!

Anzu stepped out of the bathroom and revealed her skimpy French maid costume. Her already large breasts looked even bigger in the tight and sleek costume.

Anzu: What do you think? Pretty good, huh? Giuseppe helped me pick it out.

Myu: You've got her picking out skimpy outfits you perv?!?!?!

Giuseppe: What?! No! She chose that herself! I swear!

Anzu snickered.

Anzu: I'm just kidding. I really did choose this myself, but he was nice enough to buy it for me.

Giuseppe: It's not like ghosts can get a job and make money.

Myu: All considered, you look fantastic Anzu! You're as beautiful as ever! I'm actually a little jealous.

Anzu: Aww! Thank you, Myu! I hoped you'd like it.

It had gotten completely dark, and people were roaming through the streets in their costumes, gathering all sorts of treats from house to house.

Myu: Alright! Halloween is officially on! Let's go see if someone's doing a haunted house this year!

Anzu: Whoa, that sounds so cool!

Giuseppe: No way. You assholes can go through one of those yourselves.

Myu: Awww. It's okay, Giuseppe. I understand. You're a chicken *censored*.

Anzu: Oh *censored*! Giuseppe, are you okay? I'll go call the nearest burn center!

Giuseppe: Harty har har. You chuckle*censored*s are both so funny. Anyway, let's just go out and have some fun.

Anzu took a container of cupcakes with her, to pass out to whoever walked by. To them, it would just look like a floating container of cupcakes and spook them to death. There were pirates, ninjas, shoguns, undead brides, vampires, werewolves, and medusas galore out on the streets. Anzu's smile lit up as she finally witnessed Halloween again. A group of little kids came running towards them, all of them already had large bags of candy. One of them was a little girl and was startled by the apparently floating container of cupcakes. She looked fearfully at Giuseppe and Myu, the only ones she could see.

Girl: H-how is it floating like that?

Giuseppe: How? It's spook magic!

Girl: Spook magic!?

Myu: Giuseppe! You're gonna scare her!

Giuseppe: You see, little girl, it's a ghost that's holding these cupcakes. But don't worry, she's actually a very kind ghost. In fact, she wants you to have one of the cupcakes.

Girl: R-really?

Giuseppe: Sure does!

Anzu knelt down and opened up the container, allowing the girl to choose whichever cupcakes she wanted. The same sparkle that was in Anzu's eyes were now being given to the little girl, dressed as a geisha. She had taken one cupcake for her and another for her friends ahead.

Girl: Wow! What's the ghost's name?

Myu: Her name is Anzu!

The little girl smiled and bowed her head in gratitude.

Girl: Thank you for the cupcakes Anzu! Have a great Halloween!

The little girl ran off to her friends and continued her Halloween. Anzu was moved by the experience, as she's never had anyone who couldn't see her thank her for anything.

Anzu: She's so cute I could cry! She looks adorable as a geisha!

Giuseppe: Thank god she can't see you, your outfit would've only given out bad influences.

Anzu: Shut it!

They continued walking through the neighborhood, spooking people and handing out cupcakes along the way. The last cupcakes were given to a group of teenage girls on their way out from a haunted house event near a high school they went to. It was public and open to anyone. Jack-'o-lanterns decorated the house , along with ghosts hanging from trees, ambient sounds of laughing witches, and flickering lights dimly illuminating the inside of the house, inviting anyone who dared to step in.

Anzu: Ha! Okay! Time to go home now!

Myu: Oh no you don't, sexy maid! We're going in there and you're gonna have the time of your life!

Anzu: I don't think it works like that if you're already dead!

Giuseppe: But it's not like you can be spooked into a heart attack and die again, is it?

Anzu was nervous since she'd never been in a haunted house before. Even just the outside looked scary. Sure enough, her sense of adventure and the presence of her friends gave her the courage to go in despite her fears. They walked in slowly and followed the signs, which led them to the wife of the owner of the house, who acted as a receptionist. She was dressed as a mad scientist and had her hair frazzled and aloof. They were apparently doing this for free and for the spirit of it, requiring only that Giuseppe and Myu sign in and out with their names, just to make sure everyone who goes in gets out safely.

The sounds of screams and running chainsaws filled the halls as Anzu held on tightly to Giuseppe's arm. Myu was probably the bravest one there, she kept walking through and encouraged the others to hurry. The halls were lit by dozens and dozens of candles sitting along the halls. All three of them were startled by skeleton props with red eyes that popped out of the creaks of doors without warning, accompanied by loud screams. With every scare, Anzu held on tighter than a boa constrictor on Giuseppe's arm. As they approached the dining room, they were greeted by the sounds of a funeral song being played on the piano. It was a lone man, dressed in black robes, playing the song. He looked back at Anzu, Giuseppe, and Myu before the room went completely black. Anzu was close to wetting herself. An ominous, blood-red light shone from the hall ahead, casting the long shadow of a woman standing in the middle of the hallway and threatening to eat the three if they didn't leave. She screamed and began chasing them, even leaving Myu running scared. They ran through the halls and out to where they started again. It was both terrifying and exhilarating for Anzu, and it was her first time being in a haunted house.

Wife: Did you guys have a good time in there?

Myu: That was excellent! You guys are good at bringing the scares! I can't believe you're doing this for free, I'd be happy to compensate you.

Wife: Oh no! It's all about the spirit for us! You two have a wonderful Halloween! Get home safely.

Giuseppe: Thanks miss!

The night was complete. Cupcakes successfully handed out, neighborhood successfully explored, and a haunted house successfully explored. Myu, Anzu, and Giuseppe walked back home, and so did everyone else in the neighborhood. Everyone retrieved their Halloween spoils, and now it was time to consume them. Right before walking through the door, the wind began to pick up, blowing the leaves of trees and every loose and light object around, including Anzu's outfit. Turns out, she really stuck to the commitment she made in the store when she bought the outfit. Giuseppe and Myu were both blushing at what they saw as Anzu hurriedly pinned her costume down with her hands.

Giuseppe: Lord really didn't wear any......

Myu: That takes some serious balls...

Anzu: Why did you both look?!?!? Just pretend it was an axe wound or something!

Myu: Okay, it was an axe wound. Right, Giuseppe?

Giuseppe: Yep. What a shame. Glad you survived the massacre, Anzu.

Anzu went inside and put some underwear on before joining Myu and Giuseppe in the kitchen to pig out on the desserts.

Giuseppe: Man, that was a blast. I hadn't done anything for Halloween in a long time. Thanks for doing all of this and taking us out, Myu.

Myu: You don't have to thank me for everything, you know.

Giuseppe: I know, but you really did help us out.

Anzu: I'm glad I got to spend the time with you guys. I'd like to say something really quick, if you don't mind.

Giuseppe: Of course not. Spill the beans!

Anzu: Tomorrow, I'd like to see my mother. I don't know if I'll reveal myself to her just yet, but I just want to see her. November may be her last month if not December.

Myu: Alright. We can do that. Right, Giuseppe?

Giuseppe recalled the fact that with every loose end that Anzu ties up, she's one step closer to a true death. But how could he say no to Anzu's face? Her face silently begged him to let her go on with this. So, Giuseppe surrendered and endured.

Giuseppe: Right. We'll make sure everything you need to do gets done, Anzu. Don't even worry about it!

Anzu: Thanks, Giuseppe!

Myu: Well, alright then. Now can someone help me eat all of these *censored*ing oatmeal cookies?! I bought way too much!!

Giuseppe: Why did you even by 2 boxes of them? You're taking some home with you!

Myu: But I'm really trying not to gain weight!

Anzu: You'll look great if it goes to your ass, honey!

Lo and behold, the spirits come out at Halloween! Anzu, a real dead girl, walked among the not-so-dead mortals around here that night. But perhaps she was braver than anyone. Anzu was walking in the direction of the world beyond life, yet, she showed no fear. If there are angels in heaven, let them chant their wordless prayer for Anzu, Giuseppe thought. Let them sing the holy melody of passing, and guide her to her resting place.

Never to return.

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