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Favorite Death by Ex-Girlfriend Arc?

Aika Crisis
War Cloud
Dawn and Dusk
Satori no Akuma
Himushi Redemption
Letting Go
Inari Standoff
The Corpse's Romance
The End of Osamu Ashikaga
Senkumo War Stories

Author Topic: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (COMPLETED)  (Read 27100 times)

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Offline OhGodHelpMe

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Re: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (COMPLETED)
« Reply #375 on: December 15, 2017, 11:41:33 PM »
You didn’t learn anything from Anzu did you Lego

Offline OhGodHelpMe

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Re: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (COMPLETED)
« Reply #376 on: December 22, 2017, 04:25:32 PM »
Alright, I said I’d write the missing book in Senkumo War Stories, and I’m doing it. Though I wonder if anyone who read all of Senkumo War Stories was able to detect that there was a section of the story missing  :noidea:

I now establish

Senkumo War Stories: Book of Phantoms


I see the state of all of us who live, nothing more than phantoms or a weightless shadow.
- Sophocles


Tsukiakari takes a brief period of respite before her upcoming war against Bishamon, but her rest is interrupted by the voices of her fallen comrades following her wherever she goes, as well as a strange onslaught of enemies constantly hunting her down. Her silent executioners are more than they appear, perhaps even too much for her to slay with any sword, no matter how divine. Humans and gods are not Tsukiakari’s only enemies. In fact, there may be no greater enemy than herself, and all the phantoms that dwell within her hollowed heart.


The Elixir that Makes Whole Our Imperfect Hearts
Spoiler
Bishamon: Lady Amaterasu.

The god of war humbly sighed the name of his lord, standing just beyond the door of her bedroom with his hands clasped. With his head held low, his eyes were drawn to his own, distorted reflection in her shimmering marble floors illuminated by the sunlight piercing through her open window. Amaterasu stood in front of the window, turning to face Bishamon with her stern and austere gaze.

Bishamon: I ask for your blessing, my lady.

Amaterasu: My blessing...to kill Tsukiakari, I presume?

Bishamon said not a word. He waited anxiously under her deafening silence as she contemplated the notion of signing her daughter’s death warrant. All of her fury as a sickened mother came into conflict with her responsibilities as a queen like two armies in a bloody battle. The wrinkles of such contemplation revealed themselves on her brow as she sealed her eyes.

Bishamon: The things she did to Ichiki...to my infant children...they were pure evil. They were heinous and cruel beyond belief! I will not deny that this is personal for me, but my feelings aside, a murder will always be a murderer! She’s no different than her bastard father! I-

The god of war stopped himself and lowered his tone.

Bishamon: Forgive me for my comment about Tsukuyomi, my lady...

Amaterasu: Now I see. You asked for my personal blessing, my blessing as a mother, not as a queen. Tsukiakari has doomed herself already. You don’t need me to tell you to kill her.

Bishamon: That is correct.

...

...

...

Heavy, unbearable silence permeated through the room. Bishamon’s ears were ringing out of mere anticipation for the sound of her words. 

Amaterasu: Even with all of her sins, her self-exile from Heaven, all the shame she brings to her lineage...she is still my flesh and blood. I can never personally condone the murder of my own child. But as a queen, I can permit you to punish those who have proven themselves to be irredeemable criminals. As your queen, I shall always admire you for doing just that. As her mother...I know I will despise you. Half of me will always hate you.

Bishamon: I’m sorry, my lady.

Amaterasu: Don’t be. A criminal is the creator of their own punishment, but a mother’s passion shall always be with her child. You have my legal blessing and nothing more. Be gone.

Bishamon: As you wish.

Bishamon stood and bowed, turning to exit the room just as Izanami entered. The two of them stared off like old enemies, the friction generated between them brushing off on Amaterasu as well.

Bishamon: Izanami...

Bishamon respectfully bowed his head, a gesture the furious Izanami ignored.

Izanami: Groveling at Amaterasu’s feet, are we? It didn’t take you long after Ichiki’s funeral to come here in search of justification for your own vengeance.

Bishamon: She murdered my entire family!

Izanami: Your family was a farce!

Amaterasu: Izanami!

Izanami: We’re all vengeful! We all want retribution for something! But Amaterasu, this is madness! You know Bishamon and Oyamatsumi are guilty, but you and the Divine Court let it all come to this!

Amaterasu: That is enough, Izanami! I implore you to take a few deep breaths and think about what you say next. Bishamon, you’re excused.

Bishamon bowed once more and silently left the room, his hatred for Izanami brushing off of her as he passed her by and shut the door. Izanami could only glare at Amaterasu with wrathful tears in her eyes.

Izanami: Who are you? She’s your daughter!

Amaterasu: The things she has done-

Izanami: Shut up! You make me so sick! My own daughter murdered me and kicked off one of the worst periods of my life! She ruined me, but I still loved her! I chose her over the world, and you sick, incompetent bastards dared to label me ‘Izanami the Cruel’!

Amaterasu: You chose your daughter over the world. That’s a kind of love none of us could fathom. I know that, Izanami. You’re right about that. But that’s exactly why I am queen and you’re not. If you stood in my position, your Love would’ve ended the world a dozen times over. Because in the end, nothing has changed from the days you ruled this world. Everything you touch dies. Your woeful curse remains affixed to your soul. Even now, you can’t possibly say that not a single part of you doesn’t wish for vengeance against Kagutsuchi. Hatred and death live inside of you. 

Izanami nodded her head side to side as she bit her lip, dressing Amaterasu down with disdainful eyes.

Izanami: And so, the solution was to appoint an empty vessel as a queen? Someone who operates off of laws and pragmatism? I won’t deny that your rule has practically created the pantheon we all enjoy so much, but when it comes to personal matters...you always succumb to these colossal errors in judgement.

Amaterasu folded her black hair behind her ears and returned her gaze to the light of heaven outside.

Amaterasu: Then I suppose...you can be my light, and I will be your shadow.

Izanami: What? What are you saying?

Amaterasu: Gekko is my daughter. I know her strength very well. In the end, Izanami...

Izanami knew exactly where she was going with her words. She knew the terrible insinuation she was making and recoiled in disgust.

Izanami: I refuse to be the clean up girl for a disaster that happened under your watch!

Amaterasu: Iza-

Before she could say anything else, Izanami stormed out of the room, leaving Amaterasu to her view of heaven below.

Amaterasu: You may have to be her executioner...

Visions of Tsukiakari’s young, smiling face clouded Izanami’s mind as she marched through those massive palace halls of gold, marble, and blessed sunlight. She passed by dozens of servants and fellow gods, all of them drawing their eyes towards her for a brief moment before their gazes recoiled out of fear. As much as she hated the name, “Izanami the Cruel” was her title in Heaven.

Those visions only served to hammer home a loathsome reality. Not a single god in Heaven wanted to spare her life, and they had good reason to feel that way. There was no hope of her ever being able to return to those happy, childhood days, where she was proud of her lineage, her pantheon, and herself.

Inari: Izanami!

Inari’s voice suddenly pulled Izanami from her thoughts. With her nine tails fluttering about, Inari gave a half smile as she clasped her hands. At the very least, Izanami could sigh away her anger when she was with Inari.

Izanami: Inari? Are you here for the War Council meeting?

Inari: Was. It just ended. Come on, let’s go find a place to talk.

The two moved outside the palace, sauntering through the various offices, gathering places, and guarded hallways to reach the courtyard. Flowers of every vibrant color filled the air with their sweet fragrance, and the shade around them was tinted green as the sun bled the color of the leaves around the area. The two rested on a quiet bench in the middle of it all, the breeze gently coming through their hair.

Inari: Bishamon was given command of Heaven’s forces in preparation for the Second Great Holy War. We’ll be ready for battle within a few months.

Izanami: Him?! After what he’s done?!

Inari: The reality, Izanami, is that Bishamon’s scheme bolstered the strength of the Shinto pantheon and saved quite a few veteran gods from being cycled out. We’ve retained the number of gods necessary to fight the Vampires. That’s all they see. Not the manipulation of orphans, not the battles fought for the sole benefit of deities, and not the waste of human life.

Izanami: And Gekko?

Inari: She’s not quite considered a priority right now, but the council does want her to be dealt with if she continues to pose a threat. As you know, the last time I spoke to her...she seemed like she was ready to make any and all sacrifices to attain vengeance. Hatred and rage is all that guides her, and Ichiki and her children are proof of that.

Izanami could make no excuses for what happened to Ichiki. It was an undeniably cruel and vile act, one she committed with full awareness of what would happen next.

Inari: The attendance this time around was weird, though.

Izanami: How do you mean?

Inari: Well, it seemed like Bishamon ordered Oyamatsumi and a few others to be booted from the council and remain on earth for security reasons.

Izanami’s eyes widened with contempt as she heard those words. The council so readily accepted such an odd order, almost as if they had been planning it. Bishamon’s actions, the court’s compliance with them, and even Amaterasu’s negligence in the matter started to piece themselves together in Izanami’s mind.

Izanami:...Damn him. He didn’t do any of this to save anyone from cycling out. He did it to consolidate Heaven’s power. They all did.

Inari grew worried as she watched Izanami clench her fist in helpless rage.

Inari: Izanami? Are you...

At last, everything began to make sense to her.

Izanami: We’ve been had all along...



*N O I R*



(You humans are lucky.)

Away from the clean, pristine aura of Heaven, Tsukiakari Senkumo sat with her legs hugged to her chest, watching the rain beat upon the few remaining leaves of the trees. The forest sheltered her with its darkness and obscurity, and the mud at her feet dirtied her sandals and nails.

(You have gods to pray to. You have deities to lay your burdens upon. We wipe away your tears and swallow your sins.)

The fire she made crackled besides her, it’s divine embers slithering out of its glowing grip and towards the clouded sky. The warmth of those waltzing flames was comforting, but as Tsukiakari traced her fingers against the burnt half of her face, it felt more like the flames were making it ache. The skin was tender, pink, and sensitive to the touch. Or at least, Tsukiakari merely thought she could still feel what was taken from her.

(I covet your mortality, your ignorance, your foolishness. Humanity’s curse is also its blessing, you know. You’re freed from your mortal coil after just a few, short decades. A god must endure their sorrows for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Being in pain that long, losing everything that I did...you start to feel as if it’s all still there. The years loosen your grip on what’s real, and what is long dead, ruined, or scarred beyond recognition.)

Tsukiakari closed one of her eyes and held up her hand, testing out the vision of her scarred eye with a disappointed sigh.

Tsukiakari: Blurry. It’s gotten worse.

She picked up her sheathed sword from the ground, pulling out the base of the stainless blade that bore her ghostly reflection...and so much more. She couldn’t help but smile as she lost herself in her sword’s reflection, laughing at what had become of her. It became a laughing matter just how cruel it all was, a comedic break in N otherwise drab and draining tragedy.

But just as the most enchanted of flowers fade and wither, her brief moment of catharsis died down and turned into tears, falling from her eyes before she even realized it. In silence and stillness, she continued to gaze into her reflection, her heart set ablaze by a flurry of emotions.

(Katsumi, Ebina, Taeko. All the others...old and young, big and small...their lives are all gone.)

Tsukiakari stood up, swiftly unsheathed her sword, and snuffed out the flame with its edge, her hands guided by a resurgence of her anger and rage, her unyielding thirst for the bitter elixir known as vengeance. Bitter as it was, she knew no better choice for an anodyne for her sorrow.

Cloaked in darkness and dampened  by the rain, she watched as the dying embers of the silenced flame rose along its aromatic trail of smoke. Seemingly emanating from the smoke, Tsukiakari could just faintly hear the voices of her fallen comrades and friends. Their laughter, their mundane conversations, their hopes and dreams, it was all a powerful haunting.

Tsukiakari: I know I failed you all... but why must you follow me? Do you truly hate me that much?

But alas, the dead would not answer her questions. She sheathed her blade again and turned her back to the dying flame, continuing on her path. Tsukiakari’s long trek through the rain brought her to a painfully familiar place. The black, charred ruins of her Senkumo mansion, the gravesite of her compassion and mercy. Just the sight of the mansion’s black skeleton and ash coated courtyard made her heart race with anxiety.

(Calm yourself...don’t look away from it. Don’t shiver or shake.)

Tsukiakari: I’m home, everyone.



*R O U G E*



Tsukiakari carefully, cautiously walked through the mansion ruins, hardly able to even recognize any of the buildings. Thick ash covered the ground like sheets of snow, turned into a grainy sludge by the rain.

(I came here for a reason. Not to gain any courage, or to make a nostalgic trip. Rather, I came to vanquish a formidable foe.)

Once more, the faint whispers of the dead enchanted her ears as she reached the courtyard, the curvaceous trees burnt to cinders, and the ponds diluted with soot and dead lotus flowers. She came to a stop, realizing that those whispers were rising in volume.

The laughter she heard before turned into cries of agony. The fury of vengeance rumbled in the cacophony of voices that now flooded Tsukiakari’s ears. The screams were far too overwhelming and forced her onto her knees, holding her head from the pain.

She suddenly felt a great warmth around her, and the crackle of fire joined the assault on her ears. The ash at her feet slowly levitated off the ground like snow falling in reverse. As she opened her eyes, she saw her elongated shadow produced by an intense, orange light. The light of flames. She turned around, facing a dreary repeat of the day the mansion was burned. The flames were lit anew on each building, and it seemed she was no longer alone.

Out of the wall of flames in front of her emerged a fiery and naked horseman, riding a flaming, hellish stallion. The horseman’s body was coated in flames as if they were his royal robes. His eyes glowed like stars that focused on Tsukiakari with unyielding focus. A single spear had been stabbed through his heart, the handle protruding from his chest, and the blade from his back.

Despite everything she had told herself, Tsukiakari’s heart raced around in her chest, her breathing growing more and more desperate. Her eyes were fixated on the majestic horseman before her. Terror coiled around her like a demonic serpent.

(Remember! You came here to destroy him! Don’t let Heaven’s tricks scare you! It’s them who should be scared!)

Tsukiakari drew her sword, standing firm in her position.

Tsukiakari: Heaven sent you, didn’t they?!

The horseman remained silent. He stabbed his bare hand through his stomach, grabbing hold of his large intestine and yanking it out from his body. Sparks and embers flew out from his wound, seemingly in place of blood. The intestine too caught fire, morphing into an intestinal whip.

Tsukiakari could only chuckle as she imbued her blade with lightning, drawing forth the booming drums of thunder from the sky. Her divine lightning dragon roamed the clouds above her, ready to strike at her command. A showdown was under way.

Tsukiakari: Be gone!

With a mighty scream to the heavens, her dragon of lightning struck down from the sky, booming and clashing all around in a flash of brilliant light and ear-bombarding thunder. But the show of light and deafening sound came to an abrupt end for some odd reason, as if something had cancelled out the lightning. Tsukiakari kept her eyes peeled on her target, swinging her sword to split apart the white cloud of smoke that veiled over the area.

After the smoke had parted, Tsukiakari stood horrified as yet another executioner appeared before her. The horseman’s movements were greatly restricted as the flames around him simmered down, reducing themselves to a thick cloak of gray smoke that continued to shroud his body. Levitating in front of him was what appeared to be a young girl, her shadowy hair extending down to her bare feet. Even her face was completely cloaked by a mask of darkness, revealing only her glowing, yellow eyes. Her hand pulsates with lightning, the remnants of Tsukiakari’s attack. Only thin trails of smoke lifted off of her blood red and tattered kimono, showing her attack did little to damage her.


Tsukiakari: Another?

Tsukiakari’s hands trembled with a weak grip on her sword. Every nerve in her arms shook and shuddered, and her stomach felt as if it were ravaged with flames itself.

(I shouldn’t be this...terrified...)

The floating girl turned her attention to the nearly paralyzed horseman, levitating behind him. She placed her hand around the handle of the spear that pierced his heart, pulling it from his chest as he wailed and roared in pain like a wounded lion. As soon as she removed the spear from his body, her black hair ignited with flames, glowing like the light of sunset. The horseman’s screams of agony turned into vengeful sails of anger as he too regained his flame.

It was now two against one.

(I see now. We’re the same, aren’t we? Yes...I can feel it. You’re hungry, starving to death. The only thing that can satiate your hunger is vengeance.)




« Last Edit: January 02, 2018, 02:11:14 PM by OhGodHelpMe »

Offline OhGodHelpMe

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Re: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (COMPLETED)
« Reply #377 on: December 30, 2017, 10:51:33 PM »
As I write up the second chapter of the Book of Phantoms, I’d like to share an interesting perspective from a rather keen reader regarding the frequency of dead loved ones seemingly revisiting people in this story, as I’ve accodentally made it a common theme after the Dawn and Dusk arc.

The problem that Tsukiakari is facing here in Senkumo War Stories is the same problem that Osamu ends up facing, though a tad less extreme (his phantoms never tried to kill him  :ohmy: ). Osamu, on the verge of death in Satori no Akuma, was greeted by Isabella’s Phantom in what he perceived to be a sort of limbo between the dead and the living. Then he met her again after almost getting killed a second time, accompanied by a phantom Shinju. Then there was the actual case of Rousoku’s ghost stuck in the world of the living, but he kept hallucinating her existence even after she had already been vanquished. Interestingly,  as he came close to dying in Inari Standoff, he was alone in limbo. After being saved by Inari’s sacrifice, he saw only a brief glimpse of her ghost as he sat outside. The Corpse’s Romance showed how he fell in love with Izanami, a goddess who is most certainly dead, but is indeed real. After finishing his negotiations with Hima and Annabel, he hallucinates his hands being stained by Kasumi’s blood. And in the finale of The End of Osamu Ashikaga, Osamu meets all of his personal phantoms upon his return to Kyoto, and relives his moments with them again upon his journey through limbo and death.

It became terribly obvious with Rousoku that not all of his encounters with these ghosts are actually genuine. One wonders if his meetings with Isabella, his glimpse of Inari, or if much of his encounters with these phantoms were real at all. You can interpreter Osamu’s sanity any way you please, but breavement hallucinations somehow ended up being a common thing in the story. Perhaps it was Osamu’s lack of friends in his childhood that made him want to hang onto those he loved, even after their deaths. I don’t think it matters how much of it was real or fake encounters. Osamu, Like Tsukiakari couldn’t let go of his ghosts. He loved them too intensely and regretted his shortcomings far too much

Offline OhGodHelpMe

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Re: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (COMPLETED)
« Reply #378 on: January 01, 2018, 02:30:21 AM »
Developed one of Dawn and Dusk chapters a little more  8) Go ahead and read if you want to relive the Isabella Feels Train

http://forums.mangaraiders.com/index.php/topic,15620.msg261086.html#msg261086

Offline OhGodHelpMe

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Re: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (COMPLETED)
« Reply #379 on: January 02, 2018, 02:08:54 PM »

Tempest Flame
Spoiler



Name your fears. Give them form. The tempest flame longs for it.

(Who’s voice is that? Is it the girl talking?)

The flaming horseman swung his fiery, intestinal whip, only for Tsukiakari to slash it short with her sword. Her counter attack left her vulnerable to the floating girl, who thrusted her flaming spear toward her chest. The spear’s tip pierced through her black kimono, lightly searing her skin before she leaped backwards, putting some distance between them. Just being around them was making Tsukiakari sweat, the heat constantly eating away at her endurance. The horse’s demonic neigh was like a warning before the rhythm of its thunderous hooves plodding rapidly on the ground, closing in on the war goddess.

Tsukiakari turned her terrified eyes towards the pursuing horseman, slamming her sword into the ground, ejecting a thick, suffocating shroud of dirt and soil to practically bury her foe alive. The horseman fell into its circular grave, sealed in as all of the soil came falling back down. Ultimately unsure of how to effectively fight her enemy, Tsukiakari bolted past the main torii gate of the Senkumo ruins, fleeing into the cover of the woods just beyond the dirt road. The floating girl looked on as she ran, gently landing on the ground with her bare feet, the flames engulfing the area immediately dying away into puffs of smoke carrying the faint voices of the dead.



Out of breath and finally able to let the cool, nightly air relieve her skin, Tsukiakari rested beside a large oak tree after running deep enough into the woods to hide away. She slouched down on the ground, her blade still unsheathed.

Tsukiakari: I came to fight...but I didn’t expect it to become two versus one.

(And if I die now, I won’t be coming back. As much as I loathe the idea of running from a fight, I need to stay safe. I won’t let them rob me of my vengeance.)

Tsukiakari pushed herself back onto her feet with her sword, marching through the woods at a hurried pace. She allowed her ears to lead her to the faint sound of running water, to the small stream further down to woods.

Tsukiakari: Engage with one, the other will try to flank. The horseman can pursue his target, so a cluttered environment like this should slow him down. As for the girl, I don’t know much about her other than she can levitate, deflect lightning, and uses that spear. She’s going to be more than troublesome.

She stopped for just a minute. Moving aside the fold of her kimono to reveal the scar on her breast, just over her heart.

Tsukiakari: She was reaching for my god damned heart...




She continued onwards, hearing the faint neigh of the flaming horse growing more and more distance. It seemed she had finally found some respite. Upon reaching the moonlit stream of water, Tsukiakari knelt down to wash her face of dirt, soot, and ash. A quick few splashes of water did enough for her, but stung her scar in the process.

Tsukiakari: Agh! Damn it!

After the initial splash, the cold air continued to sting her face even more, irritating the damaged sight in her eye. It was then that the earth suddenly jolted, frightening her with a tight gasp. She looked towards the direction of the moon, laying her tired eyes on a giant, humanoid figure cloaked in shadow rising out from the cover of the trees ahead. The figure resembled a woman, naked and pale with death. Her jet black hair shrouded her face in deep black as she stood there slouched over like a waking corpse before straightening herself out and standing tall. Tall enough to wear the moonlight as her crown, the figure turned its shadowy face towards Tsukiakari, her shining, red eyes making contact with the impetuous War goddess.

For the first time in her life, Tsukiakari couldn’t keep her teeth from chattering.

(What is that?! It can’t be a servant! What is going on!)

She sees you. She recognizes you. Her heart stirs with want.

Tsukiakari: Damn voices! Leave me the hell alone!

The floating girl suddenly appeared beside the giantess, her hair of flames illuminating her like a star in the sky. Tsukiakari paced backwards as if to get away from them, only did her eyes to be drawn to the familiar heat and light shining through the trees to her right. The horseman had returned, standing on the rocky hill with his whip in hand and vengeance burning in his fiery eyes. His horse violently neighed, as if it were calling for the blood of the war goddess.

They all recognize you. The tempest flame guides their immortal anger. They will not stop until they have swallowed your ashes.

Tsukiakari fell to her knees, holding her aching, weary head.

Tsukiakari: SHUT UP! JUST STOP TALKING!

Her executioners all charged in, lusting for her blood and yearning for her demise. In that moment of uncontrolled madness, Tsukiakari was unable to even grab hold of her sword. Outnumbered and overpowered, the vengeful war goddess was about to die at long last and become another possession of eternity.

But then...everything went silent. Even the rushing water at her feet was silent and still. Tsukiakari looked up, almost certain she had died so quickly that she barely felt it. But her eyes beheld all three of her executioners standing before her, all in pose to strike her. The horseman’s whip was just seconds away from coiling around her neck. The floating girl’s spear just inches away from her heart, and the the giantess’s pale hand and overgrown nails about to crush Tsukiakari. All of it had stopped right in its tracks. Even the voices were gone.

Tsukiakari jumped up in shock, backing away from her frozen enemies.

Tsukiakari: They...stopped? No, everything has stopped...



Akatsuki: Tsukiakari Senkumo.

She was startled yet again by the sudden call of her name from behind her. As she turned to face the source of the voice, her hand instinctively reached for the handle of her sword, but her alarm was quelled into curiosity upon seeing who called her.

The dead twins, watchers and keepers of time itself, bound together for eternity. Omagatoki Gesshoku and Akatsuki Nisshoku stood before her, both adorned in white, floral kimonos depicting the branches of budding cherry blossoms. They looked as if they could’ve been Izanami’s children.

Akatsuki: Do not fright. We have stopped time to save you. Your perception of everything being frozen is real.

Tsukiakari: No way...you’re the Shoku Twins, aren’t you?

Omagatoki smiled as she rubbed her head in embarrassment next to her stone faced sister.

Omagatoki: Are we that famous? I’m not used to being recognized like this!

Akatsuki: It’s only natural, sis. Izanami dueled Oyamatsumi in order to secure our existence. That fight is still talked about amongst the gods.

Tsukiakari: So, I take it you two intend to either kill me or turn me in yourselves. Is that it?

The twins merely stared at her in confusion. Sweet, adorable confusion.

Omagatoki: Why would we do that?

Tsukiakari: Maybe because...you know...you’re with Heaven? You do know what’s going on right now, right?

Akatsuki: Yes, we know you murdered Ichiki and Bishamon’s children. You’re a wanted goddess now.

Tsukiakari: Then-

Akatsuki: But we are on your side in this fight.

(What? They’re with me on this?)

Omagatoki: Sis and I heard much of the story from Inari Okami. We heard Oyamatsumi was suspected of a multitude of crimes, but the court dropped the charges.

Akatsuki: We know your uncle very well, Tsukiakari. Those crimes sounded just like him. Ruthless, cruel, and deceitful. He was the same way with us.

(I suppose I could tell them...)

Tsukiakari: My friend left behind a list of Bishamon’s co-conspirators before she died. She found out and they locked her in a single, solitary room for nearly a century. Oyamatsumi was on that list. That bastard lied to my face when he said he wasn’t involved with any of this. I intend to kill him first.

Akatsuki: So you’re thirsting for revenge.

Tsukiakari: Yeah, I am. It’s fine, you know. You can insult me and call me a monster if you want. I know better than anyone that this is the worst thing I could possibly do, but it’s the only thing I can do. Otherwise, I...

Akatsuki: We won’t call you a monster. If you are, then I suppose we’re monsters too.

(What did she just...)

Tsukiakari never knew it was in them, but she finally understood. The twins shared something valuable with her.

Omagatoki: We too are vengeful, against Oyamatsumi.

Akatsuki: We want to see him die for what he did to us.

Omagatoki: We want him to feel the pain of our wounds.

Akatsuki: We want him to rue the day he made enemies of us.

Omagatoki: We want him to suffer even after he dies.

Akatsuki: Tear limb for limb.

Omagatoki: Break bone from bone.

Akatsuki: Tear his body asunder.

Omagatoki: Destroy even the concept of his existence.

Akatsuki: And let both Earth and Heaven continue as if he never existed.

The thirst for revenge was everywhere, even within the kindred hearts of the Shoku Twins. Everyone yearned for it, prayed for it, and lived for it. Whatever their reasons for such a strong lust for revenge, Tsukiakari felt their conviction, their sorrow that had taken form and wished to appease itself.

Tsukiakari: Are you sure that’s what you want? You hate him that much?

Omagatoki: More than anything.

Tsukiakari looked back at her frozen enemies, then returned her gaze to the twins.

Akatsuki: Ah, yes. Before we can do that, we have to deal with them, don’t we? You have some powerful pursuers on your tail. Wherever did they come from?

Tsukiakari: Huh? Aren’t they from Heaven?

Omagatoki: As executioners? We’ve never seen anyone like them.

Akatsuki: Inari failed to mention the deployment of any executioners. She simply said that some of the gods involved with the Senkumo clan were sent down to earth to search for you.

Omagatoki: And for such a high profile killing, wouldn’t the executioners be wearing shrouds over their heads?

Tsukiakari: You’re right...to stay anonymous. But, where are they from if not from Heaven?

Akatsuki: It doesn’t matter, really. They’re out to kill you either way. Come back with us in the meantime. We have an abandoned hideout we can use. No one will find you there.

Tsukiakari took a good, long look at their faces, far too resembling of Izanami. Perhaps it was because of that that their appetite for revenge was so ironic.

(I wonder if you’re vengeance is anywhere near as powerful as hers. I wonder where exactly it all comes from.)

Tsukiakari: Alright. I’ll trust you. And if you really do trust me, I’ll make sure Oyamatsumi pays for what he’s done. Let’s find away to get rid of these three, first.

Tsukiakari took her blade and walked over to the frozen, floating girl. She paced around her, studying her every detail. None of them seemed so intimidating now that they were frozen and helpless. Without much thought of hesitation, she stabbed her sword through the girl’s heart, then slit her throat for good measure. Akatsuki watched with an expressionless face as she covered Omagatoki’s eyes with her small and frail hands.

Tsukiakari did the same with the horseman, and then slit the throat of the giantess with a wider, more powerful slash before piercing her large, glossy eyes.

Akatsuki: What are you doing?

Tsukiakari: Killing then while they’re stuck here. Seems like a pretty simple way to get rid of them, right?

Finishing up, Tsukiakari sheathed her blade and began her march through the woods again.

Tsukiakari: Now that those three are taken care of, let’s head back to that place you mentioned. I’m terribly exhausted.

Tsukiakari flashed a tired smile as she scratched her head, relieved she finally had some allies.

Akatsuki: S-sure...it’s this way.

Omagatoki whispered in her sister’s ear as Tsukiakari walked in the direction Akatsuki pointed out, troubled by what little she witnessed.

Omagatoki: Three?

Akatsuki shrugged and the two thought nothing of it. They held their hands together and caught up with the war goddess, pleased to have found a vessel for their retribution.




Offline OhGodHelpMe

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Re: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (COMPLETED)
« Reply #380 on: January 16, 2018, 02:04:35 PM »


Izanami’s Phantom Heart
Spoiler
The Shoku Twins brought their guest of honor to a black, dilapidated Shinto shrine tucked away in the rain soaked woods. By the looks of it, much of the temple had been burned to the ground, probably as part of Bishamon’s clean up operation. The main pagoda still stood, albeit with its walls coated in soot and its spotty roof giving perhaps four of five too many skylights for enjoyment. Their feet constantly crunched on dead and burnt leaves covering the stone walkway as the rain came to a halt. The statue of whatever goddess commanded the shrine sat inside the main goddess, unidentifiable with its head missing. Tsukiakari stopped just outside the entrance to the main pagoda, intrigued by an empty bird cage hanging from the roof. She tapped her finger against the cold, steel cage, her slight touch making it swing back and forth ever so slightly.

Akatsuki: Don’t touch that, please.

Tsukiakari was pulled out from her trance by Akatsuki’s demand.

Tsukiakari: Oh, sorry. I was just-

Akatsuki: Do you like birds, Tsukiakari?

(Such a mundane question, so why do I find it so...interesting?)

Tsukiakari: Yeah...I like the more colorful birds that emerge in the spring and summer.

Akatsuki: I see. How embarrassing.

Omagatoki pushed open the heavy, creaky, wooden doors to the temple with all of the might in her pale little arms, straining and grunting in her attempt. An aroma of burning incense and candles drifted out from the open door, encircling their noses.

Tsukiakari: Why is that embarrassing? War gods can’t like birds?

Omagatoki: Thanks for the help, you two...

Akatsuki: No, I just don’t think the birds could ever like a war god. Please, come inside.

(Though they appear to be kids, I have to remember that they’re almost as old as me. Their bodies are merely trapped in youth, but their minds are more advanced than that. I shouldn’t take offense if they have a bit of cynical wit about them.)

Once inside, Omagatoki sealed the doors while Tsukiakari laid her sword against the wall, plopping down in front of the broken Shinto statue in the foreground of the worship area. To her, she was simply sitting where a god was expected to sit. The Shoku Twins proceeded to sit before her, finally able to relax.

Omagatoki: Is it okay for you to sit there? This temple isn’t yours, is it?

Tsukiakari: Judging by the state of it, whoever it did belong to doesn’t want it back. Besides, there’s hardly any worshippers in this area anymore. You yourselves thought this place was safe because of that fact.

Omagatoki: Yeah, I guess that’s true...






Tsukiakari crossed her legs as she withdrew a thin, red string from her pocket. She reached her hands behind her head, taking hold of her wicked, black hair and tying it into a long pony tail that elegantly curved and meandered on the floor behind her.

Tsukiakari: So, what did Oyamatsumi do to receive the ire of the Shoku Twins?

Omagatoki: How much do you know about us?

Tsukiakari: I know that, somehow, Izanami was able to convince the Heavens to allow you two to dutifully rule over time and space itself. If you two were to separate for an extended period of time, this world of ours would end. Humans and Gods alike would cease to exist. That’s far too much power for some of the youngest gods in Heaven now, isn’t it?

Omagatoki: Perhaps, but Amaterasu didn’t have a god to look over that domain at the time. We proved to be the most proficient at maintaining the world’s balance. Amaterasu is always paying close attention to the gods in her ranks, and the positions they hold. After all, don’t gods cycle out much more often now? It’s far different from the other eras, like when it was just Izanami and Izanagi.

Tsukiakari: Yeah, that much is true.

Akatsuki: My sister and I were normal mortals before all of this. We lived in the outskirts of Kyoto around the time the various wars and power struggles broke out throughout the country.

Tsukiakari: You two lived there during the war?!

Akatsuki nodded.

Akatsuki: It is as you’re thinking. Omagatoki and I were killed in the crossfire. Oyamatsumi played a role in the campaign that ended up killing us.

Tsukiakari: You were collateral damage. What role did Oyamatsumi play? Which armies were fighting that day? Do you know? It’s not the first time that rotten bastard has interfered in the course of a battle.

Omagatoki: I...well, it-

Akatsuki: Shhh. Our memory of that day isn’t all too good. At any rate, once we died, Izanami tended to both our bodies and souls. We visited her shrine very frequently as children. I suppose she had been watching our good deeds that whole time. Instead of sending us to the afterlife, Izanami requested that an exception be made for us, citing that our deaths was the direct consequence of Oyamatsumi‘s actions.

Tsukiakari: Then there should’ve been a trial, an investigation of some sort.

Omagatoki: There was, but... I’m sure you know how well those go. The investigation was inconclusive. Really, I think that the Divine Court was just refusing to acknowledge Izanami’s accusations. She’s always been above the law, and they resented her for that. If they couldn’t get justice for her sins, she wouldn’t get justice for Oyamatsumi’s.

Akatsuki: And so, the two sought to settle their conflict the old fashioned way.

Tsukiakari: A duel. A fight to the death.

The Shoku Twins took hold of each other’s hands, initiating a vision of the past. The interior of the temple faded away like smoke blown away by the breeze, and like a veil being parted, the view of a sunlit lake revealed itself beyond the smoke of the temple. The three found themselves standing among the crowd of gods encircling the lake, an audience to a killing.

(This lake...)

Tsukiakari looked around and spotted Oyamatsumi’s pagoda built atop the lake, realizing the duel took place at his shrine. The Shoku Twins stood beside her, their gaze focused on the two gods in the center of the crowd, both of them standing atop the deep, shimmering water.

Akatsuki: Look, Tsukiakari.

Of course, it was Oyamatsumi and Izanami, the two standing a fair distance from each other as they prepared to begin. Oyamatsumi seemed to have a full, grizzly beard back in this time, keeping his long, blonde hair tied in a bun. He had taken off his fur coat, sporting only his tight, black pants, seashell necklace, and his massive, gleaming halberd.

Izanami, on the other hand, wielded a deathly aura around her. That day was the first time she had worn her shadowy, black, and tattered robes since she caused the Black Death. With her scythe gripped tightly in hand, Izanami’s very presence frightened the gods in attendance. None of them would even dare whisper about her, sensing the wrathful hatred festering behind those haunting eyes of her.

Izanami: Oyamatsumi.

Oyamatsumi: Huh? What is it? You thinking about backing out?

Izanami: You should kill yourself while you still can.

Oyamatsumi scoffed at the sheer silliness of her suggestion before erupting into a fit of laughter that echoed through air.

Oyamatsumi: I see your arrogance hasn’t gone away in all these years, Izanami the Cruel! Unlike these cowards in the audience, I don’t fear you or your threats! I’ve been itching to punish you, the greatest sinner in all of Heaven! Let’s start!

Izanami: Before we do, let us agree on terms.

The wind lapped up their hair and rattled the surface of the lake, distorting their reflections.

Izanami: If I win, those two girls will be revived and made the guardians of time. You will accept your charge as a murderer, and you will be stripped of your ascension to Chief War God.

(Oyamatsumi was supposed to be a war god?)

Oyamatsumi: You rotten...fine! If I win, the twins will pass on, and you will accept one thousand years of imprisonment in the Underworld as your punishment! Agreed?

Izanami sternly nodded.

Izanami: Agreed. Let us begin.

Akatsuki shut her eyes, for witnessing the duel once was more than enough for her. As for Omagatoki, the memory of this day still seemed to invoke a sense of helpless fear in her as she hid herself behind Tsukiakari’s leg, refusing to look any longer.

Akatsuki: How I hate revisiting old phantoms...

(I see now. This was the first time they ever saw it, the cataclysmic aura of hatred around Izanami. They saw her vengeful side, and it scared them, even though they are vengeful themselves.)

Oyamatsumi lowered the blade of his halberd towards the shimmering waters, adjusting his balance and spreading apart his legs. He took every formal, physical measure to prepare for his battle with Izanami the Cruel, all the way down to stance and form. In the blink of an eye, the fledgling war god zoomed across the lake, shrouding the area in a cool mist of displaced water that rained back down all around him. Before she could even see it, Izanami found herself flying and tumbling across the lake, catching glimpses of her legs and severed torso still standing upright. She had been cut into clean halves.

Oyamatsumi stopped to look back at the damage he dealt, his smug expression quickly souring as Izanami’s bottom half slowly melted away into a stew of putrescent, fleshy sludge. Izanami climbed out from underneath the lake like a zombie out of her grave, her bottom half naked and exposed, but nonetheless completely regenerated. She took a deep breath before slashing the blades of her scythe across the waters, her fiery gaze focused on her opponent.

(Knowing her, she made short work of her opponent. Oyamatsumi was a fool to challenge her like this. What exactly fueled his confidence here?)

Izanami reeled back her scythe before slashing it forward, bringing forth massive, crescent splashes of water that instantly hardened into ice. Oyamatsumi desperately dodged their icy entrapment, his eyes carefully tracing Izanami’s pattern of attack. Each icy wave brought him closer to Izanami, until the two were forced to clash blades. With their blades locked, Oyamatsumi kneed Izanami in her stomach, breaking her guard. He pushed his blade against hers, shoving her scythe out of the way and opening her up for an attack.

Oyamatsumi: Even you have your weakness, you rotten harlot!

With his bare hand, Oyamatsumi pierced through her chest, breaking through her rib cage. Izanami stood paralyzed as Oyamatsumi gripped her very heart and violently yanked the sacred organ out from her chest, spraying the lake with her blood. Shocked gasps and screams circulated among the spectating gods as Oyamatsumi held up Izanami’s heart like a prized trophy, all while she fell to her knees, painfully grabbing at her chest.

Oyamatsumi: Why do you fear this rotten wretch!? Why have you let her dominate the very heart of Heaven?! Do you not feel ashamed?! Look! I hold before you the weakness of every god! Izanami’s heart! When I crush this heart, the nightmare will be slain, and this demon will go back where she belongs! To the darkest depths of the Underworld!

Tsukiakari: He actually manages to get her heart?!

The Shoku Twins remained silent, still looking away from the bloody duel before them. Just as he promised, Oyamatsumi put a powerful squeeze on Izanami’s heart, completely destroying the organ. The audience stood in shocked silence, and the very air around them grew still. As the blood and fleshy, chunky remains of her heart dripped down his hand, all of Heaven anticipated, with unflinching eyes, the death of death itself.

Izanami did not drop dead. In fact, she giggled as the pain in her chest faded away, quickly erupting into wicked, amused laughter. No one understood what they were seeing. Not even by crushing her heart could Oyamatsumi Kill her. He backed away in fear as she stood up again, her gaping chest wound staring him tight in the eyes.

Oyamatsumi: You...you should be dead!

Izanami: You precious fool. Did you really think that a woman named Izanami the Cruel would have a heart?

Oyamatsumi: So then...that wasn’t your heart? But how are you...what are you?!

Izanami: You’ve already described me perfectly, Oyamatsumi.

The sky suddenly faded into darkness, as if the sun had grown cold and all light had forsaken the earth. And yet, the lake at their feet radiated a crimson glow, surrounding everyone in a blood-red light. Oyamatsumi thought he had bested the monster, the great sinner herself. It was his greatest mistake.

Izanami: I’m a nightmare.

(No one is reacting to this huge change in lighting? The sky just went black for Heaven’s sake! Unless...I see now.)

The clarity of Izanami’s illusion was lifted, and the reality of the nightmare unveiled itself to Oyamatsumi, as well as the divine audience. No one was sure of when Izanami put everyone under her wicked spell, or how all of them could’ve fallen for it and never noticed. Regardless, the result was the same. Oyamatsumi looked down at his chest, seeing the gaping wound he thought he had inflicted onto Izanami. He realized all too late that he had been tricked into crushing his own heart, destroying his own source of power and divinity.

All of his confidence, his sense of control had been stolen from him. The last thing Tsukiakari saw was the smile of Izanami, warm and kind in appearance, but nothing short of absolute evil in intention. The memory turned completely black, abruptly taking away the view of the lake. A few short seconds in that darkness felt like a few long hours. The next sight horrified even Tsukiakari.

All they could see in the chilling darkness with them was the colossal, severed and bloodied head of Oyamatsumi, his eyes glazed over and looking in two different directions. Even his hands had been severed and violently stuffed into his mouth. A pale, deathly hand with long, black nails held Oyamatsumi’s head by the hair, the hand of death and carnage itself. The hand of Izanami.








Though the memory had faded back to the scenery of the dilapidated temple, Tsukiakari was left with more questions than answers.

Tsukiakari: Those distortions...

Akatsuki: Forgive us. They’re the product of our difficulty confronting such a memory. It’s still shrouded in fear and nightmarish dread.

Omagatoki: We’re very sorry...

Tsukiakari: There are things you’re not telling me. Aren’t there?

The Shoku Twins remained silent.

Tsukiakari: You were already avenged that day, weren’t you? Oyamatsumi was humiliated and stripped of his right to ascension as a war god. All of that came with his death. It seems like the perfect kind of vengeance for what he did to you.

Omagatoki: His reincarnation voided any sense of closure for us. It’s like Heaven had him killed for show, and then stripped away his military authority.

Akatsuki: If what you said about Oyamatsumi earlier is true, then none of it really mattered, did it? He went back to meddling in human conflicts, even dodging legal punishment for committing an identical crime. The only thing achieved that day was the demonization of Izanami.

Tsukiakari: Izanami doesn’t need any help making a demon out of herself.

Omagatoki: It isn’t who she truly is!

Tsukiakari: And how could you possibly know that?

Omagatoki: We have-

Akatsuki: Sis.

Omagatoki stoped before she could say anything that could put Izanami in danger.

(I wonder what she was going to say. Akatsuki wouldn’t stop her without good reason.)

Tsukiakari: More importantly...how is it that Izanami doesn’t have a heart? Where does she get her power from then?

Akatsuki nodded in uncertainty, her face as still as stone.

Akatsuki: I’m afraid we don’t know either. It seems there are many unknowns today.

Tsukiakari: You mean my pursuers, don’t you.

Omagatoki: I don’t think you’ve seen the last of them, Tsukiakari. If those weren’t executioners from Heaven, then the other likely scenario is that...well...

Tsukiakari: Come on, spit it out. Speak your mind.

Omagatoki: I think...they might be phantoms of some sort.

Tsukiakari: Phantoms? As in ghosts? The dead come back to life?

Akatsuki: Does that sound crazy to you?

Tsukiakari: No, I suppose not. After all, you two are basically that. So is Izanami. It’s just...why? Why would I be pursued by the dead?

Fool. Why do you feign ignorance?

Those dreaded voices returned, as invasive and unwelcome as always. She had been hearing them ever since she murdered Ichiki and her infant children. With each syllable they spoke, her head and heart ached terribly, pulsating with maddening, dull pain.

Omagatoki: Are you alright?! You’ve suddenly gone pale!

Akatsuki: Does your head hurt?

A God’s heart is a precious thing, Tsukiakari. But what of her phantoms? There are phantoms here now, witnessing your story unfold. What of them, war goddess?

Tsukiakari: It’s nothing I can’t handle. You don’t have to worry about me.

Akatsuki sighed, as if she were disappointed.

Akatsuki: You’re such a child. We should call it a night and get some rest. We’ll worry about your pursuers tomorrow.

(Just ignore the voices for now...)

Omagatoki: Sis and I don’t sleep, since we’re responsible for fading night into day and day into night. If you need something, just call out to us, okay?

Tsukiakari: Sure. Thank you for your hospitality, and for showing me what happened.

Akatsuki blew out the candles gently burning around the broken statue, leaving only trails of aromatic smoke emanating from their warm wicks.

Akatsuki: Goodnight. We’ll be right outside if you need us.

The Shoku Twins left to attend to their duties while Tsukiakari laid down in front of the statue, resting her tired and fatigued body. Silence overtook the temple. Even the rain had ceased, and the winds calmed themselves. And yet, in this vacuum of silence, the voices left her alone. She sat up again, sitting still and silent for a long, tense minute.

Speak your mind, Tsukiakari.

Tsukiakari: I know you’re there. Yes, you. Peering into my life, my deaths, my anguish.

She knows you are watching her.

Tsukiakari: Are you...a phantom like the rest of them? No...I suppose it doesn’t really matter what you are.

Did you really believe your presence here would go unnoticed, during this banquet of phantoms?

Tsukiakari: You must think of me as a vicious wretch. A demon, perhaps. Well, like it or not, you are a witness to my life. We’re in this together, you and I. See, I don’t have much in the way of an outlet. Perhaps you can be my ears for me? You’ve already done a fine job of being my eyes.

At last, you’ve taken notice of them. Though I wonder if they’re friend or foe.

All the bastards do is watch, like beasts in the darkness.

Tsukiakari: And I shall draw you closer to the light. Say...what do you think they’re hiding? The Shoku Twins, I mean. What secrets could these children by keeping? And what of Izanami’s heart? I’m sure you already have a clue, don’t you?

How could those fools have a single clue? What do they know of a god’s heart? What do you even know of your own?

Tsukiakari: Silence. We’ll figure it out on our own. We don’t need you to mock us. I wonder what you’ll have to witness tomorrow. Be prepared in my stead. Be a dutiful specter for me.

The war goddess slumbers, and for now, the smoke rising into the air speaks not a word.