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Who is Best Girl?

Shoku Twins

Author Topic: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (DbEG First Arc Almost PUBLISHED)  (Read 73255 times)

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Offline OhGodHelpMe

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Re: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (DbEG First Arc Almost PUBLISHED)
« Reply #480 on: May 25, 2019, 06:12:30 PM »
For those interested, I'm going to be posting the Senkumo War Story novels over at Royal Road. Book of Blossoming will go up first, and then Book of Betrayal Part 1 (gotta go a chapter at a time, so bear with me). Great chance to read it if you haven't gotten into it yet.

I know it's the 'final' arc, release-wise, but it actually takes place centuries before the events of Death by Ex-Girlfriend. You don't need to read DbEG to get into SWS. You'll actually start seeing a lot of connections and cool tie-ins if you read SWS first. The supernatural conflicts laid out in this series are what lead to the conflicts in DbEG, after all.

Offline OhGodHelpMe

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Re: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (DbEG First Arc Almost PUBLISHED)
« Reply #481 on: May 29, 2019, 11:58:56 AM »
Oh yeah, the digital version of Aika Crisis is out now too. Happy reading, everyone.

You can snag yourself a physical copy of Aika Crisis on Amazon now.
Or the digital copy for $2.99 on Amazon here!

Offline Manimal

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Re: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (DbEG First Arc Almost PUBLISHED)
« Reply #482 on: June 04, 2019, 05:30:48 PM »
What is this?


Sure is a long way from when you posted the first chapter. These books always have weird dimensions, I got something else on Amazon that was made the same way and it's a strange size. But the text is really easy to read, lol. Now I can read it in the best format.

Offline OhGodHelpMe

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Re: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (DbEG First Arc Almost PUBLISHED)
« Reply #483 on: June 04, 2019, 06:06:32 PM »
Oh boy I bet that text is easy on the eyes in that size lol
See, the book file is formatted in one size while the standard Amazon cut is another size. They had the size that fits the book file (otherwise words would get cut off) but it’s a weird dimension indeed. Ah well. You get to read fiction is cook book format

Offline OhGodHelpMe

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Re: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (DbEG First Arc Almost PUBLISHED)
« Reply #484 on: June 06, 2019, 04:05:43 PM »
Hearts Betorn
Taeko and Inari gazed upon the lightning-scarred field of burnt, mangled corpses with their mouths agape in awe and disbelief. Nearly all of the Ouchi soldiers died with their eyes stuck open, the crimson glow of the blood moon reflecting off of their melted eyeballs as their flesh cooked and bubbled beneath their armor. Bound by his shackles, the Man in Black led the way back to Taeko and Inari, with Tsukiakari trailing close behind him with watchful eyes. Taeko jumped down from her saddle, stomping down the grass and flowers as she marched towards Tsukiakari.

"Taeko Senkumo. It's good to see you again." the Man in Black said.

"You shut up!" Taeko screamed as she cut Tsukiakari off. "What the hell is going through your god damned head, Gekko?! Do you have any idea what you've just done?!"

"Of course I do. The Ashikaga wouldn't have brought justice down upon this man. They wouldn't have punished him for what he did to Yachi. He was working for Tomiko the whole time. Everything he did was to honor her vendetta against me."

"Gekko, you're playing a fool's game. Release him. Let him die out here, alone. Revenge isn't going to make the pain go away."

"No." Tsukiakari replied. "This bastard is going to answer for what he did to her. He's going to answer to Chiya, who no longer has any living relatives in this world. He's going to answer to all of Yachi's friends and comrades, everyone who loved her! He doesn't get to sit in an Ashikaga jail cell taking it easy until he dies of illness."

"I think it's an honor to be able to meet the poor sow's sister." the Man in Black groaned.

"Shut the hell up!" Taeko screamed. "Gekko, I love you, but if you think I'm going to support this, you're out of your mind. You're coming undone if you really think this is a good solution to anything. I thought we were done with this endless cycle of bull*censored*."

"I'm indebted to you, Taeko, but you don't have a say in this. You're no longer a Senkumo." Tsukiakari said.

Before Tsukiakari could even blink, she received a swift fist to her cheek, knocking her down into the dirt as Inari gasped in surprise. Goro stepped forth with his hand trained around the hilt of his sword.

"Taeko! Do that again and I'll cut you down!" Goro shouted.

"I dare you to, boy!" Taeko challenged.

Tsukiakari coughed the dirt out of her mouth as she slowly got back up from Taeko's punch. "It's fine, Goro! It's alright."

The two women stood faced to face, eye to eye. The blood moon and its army of faded stars hovered above their heads like a cosmic light show.

"Yachi was my friend too." Taeko growled, her hand still balled into a fist. "How dare you speak to me as if I don't know the girl wrapped up in that damned cloth! I loved her! Do you seriously believe she'd support this if she were still here?"

"Get out of my way. I'm taking both her and her killer home." Tsukiakari muttered.

Taeko recoiled in disgust, taking a few steps back away from her former friend. "My god...you've forsaken yourself. You're about to give this madman everything he wants. After everything we went through together, you still don't understand the world you live in, do you? There is no such thing as justice here, Gekko. He knows that. That's why he did all of this."

Tsukiakari scoffed. "It seems you've forsaken yourself as well. You used to shed both blood and sweat to create the justice that wasn't there, the freedom that wasn't ours. That's how this clan has gotten so far, survived all of the tragedies it has. We fight to create the society we wish to see. Don't tell me you've lost your spine."

"You sound just like Bishamon." Taeko hissed.

Tsukiakari pushed the Man in Black towards Taeko, telling her, without words, to carry him on her horse. Taeko bit her lip in vexation as she tugged the Man in Black along. Judging by the veins popping out from Taeko's forehead, Inari could tell that it was taking everything in Taeko's power to leave the argument aside. Refusing to even take another glance at Tsukiakari, Taeko helped the Man in Black onto her horse before mounting up herself. No one said a word. The animosity was too thick in the air for conversation. For Taeko, the silence was preferable. She couldn't bare to think that Yachi might still be watching them from somewhere, listening to Tsukiakari's poisonous intent.

It was terribly late in the night. Most of the Senkumo had already fallen asleep, their day's work completed. As usual, a small team of armed guards patrolled on the graveyard shift, shivering in their boots from the winter cold. Chiya was yanked out of her slumber by a violent knock upon her door. She sat up with a yawn, her vision still blurry and unfocused. She slipped her feet into her sandals and answered the door, worried there was some sort of emergency. Opening the sliding door, she came face to face with Inori.

"What's wrong?" Chiya asked.

Almost immediately after asking, Chiya's ears caught the faint sound of a multitude of whispers down the hall, all of them mentioning 'Tsukiakari'. It seemed everyone had risen out of their beds in excitement, but also confusion.

"Tsukiakari returned just now. It looked like she was headed towards the medical ward with Taeko, Goro, and Inari." Inori said.

"The medical ward?" Chiya repeated, her eyes suddenly widening. "And Yachi? Did Gekko bring Yachi back?!"

"I-I'm not sure. I only saw one other person in tow and I have no idea who that was. They...also carried something wrapped in white cloth to the medical ward. It looked like another person was wrapped up in there."

Horrified, Chiya bolted down the hall and barged out of the living quarters. She ended up in the courtyard and continued sprinting towards the medical ward. Her body was moving on its own, her mind both overwhelmed and blank at the same time. She barged into the ward itself, following the faint sounds of voices and the flickering traces of lantern lights to find Tsukiakari and the others. Turning the corner of the hall, she ran into Goro first.

"Lord Chiya? Why are you awake?" Goro asked.

In tears, Chiya struggled to collect the breath to speak. "My sister, Yachi. Is she here?"

Goro's tongue was made of stone. He couldn't find the right words to break the news to Chiya. Chiya pushed past him, sauntering towards the lantern light pouring out from the opened door ahead. As she approached the door, two Senkumo nurses barged out of the room, one of them embracing the other as they both cried together. Chiya stepped inside, alerting Taeko, Inari, and Tsukiakari to her presence. She saw a mere glimpse of the white cloth Inori described, but it was obscured by Inari's nine tails.

"Chiya." Tsukiakari said, surprised to see her. "I..."

"Let me see her." Chiya demanded.

"That's not a good idea." Taeko warned.

Chiya's voice cracked as she fought back her tears. "I'm begging you. Please let me see her."

Inari patted Tsukiakari's shoulder, then directed a glance at Taeko. Silently, the three of them agreed to vacate the room. Left alone with the body, Chiya could already tell from the smell permeating from the cloth that Yachi was not in a good state. Her hands shivered as her she traced the face of the body through the cloth. Not only was it cold to the touch, but it was riddled with swelling and bruises that could be felt right through the cloth.

Chiya's chest caught fire as her tears blurred her vision and fell upon the enveloped body. She slowly parted the cloth at the face of the body, and came face to face with her own sister. Her face was disfigured by the extreme torture she endured, but Chiya nonetheless recognized Yachi. Tsukiakari, Taeko, Inari, and everyone else could hear Chiya's heartbroken wails from down the darkened hall. Even those standing outside the medical ward, waiting in dreadful suspense for news of Yachi's return, heard those painful cries. It was all the confirmation they needed that Yachi did not return alive.

It was Taeko that cried the most, knowing all too well the pain of losing a sister. Unable to bear it anymore, Taeko marched back into the room. She approached Chiya from behind and took a gentle hold of her right hand. Chiya stood from her kneeling position and threw her arms around Taeko, who hugged her as tightly as she could.

The lantern hanging above Yachi's body flickered and weakened, until the flame was extinguished completely, stolen by the maw of winter's cold.

Offline OhGodHelpMe

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Re: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (DbEG First Arc Almost PUBLISHED)
« Reply #485 on: June 14, 2019, 05:12:14 PM »
Melting Snow
It was a long night.

News of Yachi's death spread like a cancer and robbed nearly everyone of their desire to sleep. Friends and comrades alike congregated in the courtyard to mourn and pray together. Others preferred to lock themselves in their rooms and fight their sadness alone. For some people, quietude and a cup of sake in Yachi's honor was their preferred method of grieving. The night sky was dyed a dark blue, a sign of the morning sun's imminent arrival. Inori exited the medical room where she examined Yachi's corpse, her eyes still red and swollen from crying. She approached Tsukiakari in the hallway while Taeko, Chiya, and Goro stood out of hearing distance.

"I've never seen anything like it in all of my years in this clan, Gekko." Inori said. "The list of injuries and wounds plaguing her body is beyond extensive. It would be easier to write down what didn't happen to her than what did."

"Do you think there was a killing blow?" Tsukiakari asked.

"Not from what I saw. I think all of her injuries, combined with her severe malnutrition and dehydration led to her death. She just couldn't take it anymore."

Tsukiakari nodded. "I can't believe that monster put her through such unimaginable pain."

"What should we do? With the body, I mean."

"I don't know." Tsukiakari sighed. "I won't decide anything until I get Chiya's consent. For now, keep the body cool and preserved."

"As you wish. I'll be waiting on Chiya's decision, then."

Inori bowed to Tsukiakari and returned to the medical room. Left alone, Tsukiakari plopped herself down on a nearby bench, rubbing her tingly hands together as she hung her head. The first rays of the morning sun crept over the horizon and slipped through the gaps in the wooden shutters, painting her face in stripes of orange light and dark shadows.

"Oh, Tsukiakari!"

Tsukiakari raised her head and shot back onto her feet as she met eyes with Inari.

"Are you leaving?" Tsukiakari asked.

Inari nodded. "I'm sorry. I want to stay with you through this difficult time, but I've received summons from Izanami to help her in Kaga."

"Ah, to help with her investigation, I assume." Tsukiakari groaned, plopping back down on the bench.

"I'm...very sorry. This was not how any of us wanted this to end."

"It's alright. I'm really thankful to you for all of your help, Inari. We couldn't have found her without you." Tsukiakari said.

"I suppose...we're enemies now?" Inari said.

"You mean the investigation? I could never consider you an enemy because of that."

"You may feel that way, but I'm sure Bishamon doesn't. As I recall, Tsukiakari, you decided you would remain with the Senkumo clan rather than leave and come with me."

"Of course I'm going to side with my clan! They're my family."

"But even you can surely see that in this situation, siding with the clan is the same as siding with Bishamon. They're not mutually exclusive in a legal battle. Nothing changes the fact that he is your master."

Tsukiakari's silence was all but an admission that Inari was right. That silence was soon interrupted by a frenzy of cheers booming from the courtyard. Tsukiakari could faintly hear the massive, wooden gates  of the base creak on their hinges as they parted open.

"What's going on?" Inari asked.

"No idea." Tsukiakari replied.

Everyone around the base dropped whatever they were doing and swarmed upon the courtyard as if it were a holy site of pilgrimage. A massive crowd formed around one man, or rather, one god. Bishamon had come to visit. It was the first time anyone in Tsukiakari's base had seen him in years. He dismounted his fiery horse and embraced his fellow Senkumo with open arms, accepting their tearful hugs and praises. His mere presence brought the smiles back upon the Senkumo's faces, even if only for a moment. It was a morale boost like no other.

"My brothers, my sisters...my comrades..." Bishamon began, the crowd of hundreds splitting apart to make a path for him. "It's so good to see you all. I'm sorry it has taken me so long to come and see you. I've been very busy, as you can guess."

Tsukiakari, Taeko, Chiya, Goro, and Inari descended from the medical ward. They could tell just from the behavior of the troops that their surprise visitor was Bishamon. The body language of even the hardest soldiers became obedient and submissive, their hands clasped together in prayer and their heads bowed as Bishamon slowly sauntered past them.

"All of those battles, the plague outbreak, and now this investigation, this petty attack from Izanami herself. You've all been through so much, and yet you still stand strong, firmly planted in your cut of the earth." Bishamon praised. "I have never been more proud of all of you than I am right now."

Bishamon felt a tug at his robes. Looking to his left, he saw a young girl, no older than ten, crying at his feet. He knelt down on one knee as he stroked her shoulder, meeting the mournful girl eye to eye.

"What's wrong? Why the tears?" Bishamon asked.

The girl kept her head of brown hair bowed, hiding her tear-stained face. "Yachi...Yachi's dead..."

Bishamon stood up, stroking his beard. "Dead? What happened to her."

"My sister was kidnapped." Chiya interjected, all eyes turning to her. "She went to Kameyama to run an errand, but she never came back. Someone abducted her before she could make the journey home. Who abducts a damned girl? Who tortures her endlessly like that? Who beats her, pulls her teeth, and rapes her?!"

"Chiya..." Tsukiakari mumbled, unable to bring herself to stop her.

Bishamon's eyes scanned over Chiya, but they were quickly drawn towards Inari and Taeko. Even though Chiya was the one talking, his gaze was entirely focused on them. Taeko especially stared daggers right back at him, balling up her fist so tightly that her dirty nails drew blood from her palm.

"To do all of that to her...to give her such an undiginified grave...who would do that? Why? Why her?" Chiya cried, clutching a lock of Yachi's hair to her chest.

Bishamon refocused his gaze upon Chiya. "I am...so terribly sorry to hear that. I truly mean that."

Chiya shook her head. "Where were you?"

Chiya stormed off, retreating back inside of the medical ward.

Bishamon turned around to face his crowd of worshipers and comrades. "Return to what you were doing. I'm going to have a talk with Tsukiakari and our guests."

The crowd dispersed and return to their rooms. With Bishamon's abrupt return, the Senkumo at least had enough morale to actually go to sleep.

"My apologies, but I really must be going now." Inari said.

"That's too bad. I was hoping to reminisce about the good old days with you, Inari. You were an invaluable part of this clan's rise to power. We wouldn't be here without you." Bishamon said.

Inari forced a smile upon her face, taking Bishamon's praise as an underhanded insult, an insinuation that she was merely trying to kill a beast that she helped create.

"Duty calls, Bishamonten." Inari bowed.

"Let's go, Inari." Taeko urged.

"Leaving so soon, Taeko?" Bishamon questioned. "You're more than welcome to stay, at least for just a little while. This was your old home, after all."

"No thank you. I only came back to help Tsukiakari find Yachi." Taeko growled.

"I insist. You're staying for just a little longer." Bishamon commanded.

Taeko had no choice. She calmed herself down, sticking close to Tsukiakari.  The three of them bade farewell to Inari as they entered the base's brig. They followed the reverberating coughs down the halls, stopping at the Man in Black's cell. He lied on the ground, completely naked and exposed, just as he did to Yachi.

"That's quite the cough, young man." Bishamon teased.

The Man in Black snickered. "A progressive lung infection. It's a slow and painful death."

"Oh, I'm sure. I'm the clan leader, you see. I've seen my fair share of illnesses and infections, though most of it was fever, gangrene, bone infractions, just a slew of nasty afflictions." Bishamon said. "Still, I find that there is no rot in this world quite as pervasive as revenge. I've even seen it raise the dead right out of their graves, turning men into phantoms of their former selves. Kind of like you. You seem to be much more of a ghost than a man."

"We're all ghosts. Every single one of us." The Man in Black sighed. "And here I thought I had to destroy the entire Senkumo clan in order to get my revenge. I was wrong. Who knew that Bishamon himself would be foolish enough to play right into my hands?"

Bishamon chuckled. "Was all of this part of your plan? Did your grand strategy include dying of illness in a Senkumo jail cell? How the sick delude themselves."

"Death is a kind of clarity you gods will never understand." The Man in Black retorted.

"So then, what do you intend to do with him, Tsukiakari?" Bishamon asked.

"Every bone in my body is screaming for me to kill him, but that would be far too easy. I intend to put him on trial here at base, so that everyone can know what kind of monster he is. As for his sentence, that's up to Chiya to decide."

"The woman just lost the only family she had left and you want her to deal with this bastard's punishment too?" Taeko hissed.

"No one has more of a right to make that call than she does, Taeko." Tsukiakari replied.

"You do, you *censored*ing idiot! You're the Commanding Lord!" Taeko retaliated.

"That's enough, Taeko." Bishamon said. "As you're no longer part of this clan, I won't accept any hostility towards Tsukiakari. Besides, our enemy is right here. Once he's dealt with, this terrible chapter will come to a close."

"He fails to understand the depth of the human heart."

That voice belonged to the Man in Black, but it did not come from his cell. Tsukiakari shivered as she slowly turned her head to the left, her heart trying to rip itself in half inside her chest. She saw him. She swore she saw the Man in Black standing right next to her, dressed in his black, tattered roads and wide-brim hat. He looked at her and she at him.

The Man in Black turned her attention to Bishamon. "Fear, hatred, respect, even love—they are all powerful feelings. Power is what gives rise to action, and action to change. No one can kill what they fear, hate, love, or respect. No matter what the object of those feelings are, the emotions remain."

"You played the game and lost, young man." Bishamon said. "Well, I won't bother you any longer. I'm sure you have much to atone for and think about in your final days. You'll die an insignificant speck on the canvas of history. No one will remember you. Your tale will never be told. Consider this my way of making sure that your grave is even more undignified than Yachi's was."

Tsukiakari quickly glanced back to her left, but her vision of the Man in Black was already gone. She wiped the sweat from her brow, realizing her armpits were sweating beneath her robes. It frightened her, just how much his continued presence and memory unsettled her.

"Girls, let's leave him be." Bishamon said, walking away.

They left the Man in Black by himself, returning to the snow-covered courtyard. They walked Taeko over to the base's gate to see her off, the sun's light making the snow dazzle like a sea of diamonds.

"Thank you for your help, Taeko. After all these years, you're still a pillar of strength." Tsukiakari said.

"That's what you need to be, Gekko. You need to be a far stronger pillar than I ever was." Taeko replied. "These men here, especially the women and the children, they need you. You have to take on the world's brutality and cruelty in their place. You have to make tough decisions for them. Otherwise, the Man in Black really will win."

"I'll...I'll try." Tsukiakari bowed.

"It was a pleasure seeing you again, Taeko. Where will you go now?" Bishamon asked.

Taeko scoffed. "You must be joking."

The two locked eyes for a moment until the tension was broken by Bishamon's grin. "Good to know you're still a cautious woman, Taeko. Be careful out there. It's a dangerous world and the Senkumo clan has a lot of enemies. With us or not...people out there might still wish to harm you."

"Sure." Taeko said, cutting the conversation short.

Taeko mounted her horse, leaning forward as if the mere act of mounting made her dizzy. She took a deep breath and composed herself. "Farewell, you two. Be well, and give my love to Chiya."

"I will." Tsukiakari promised.

And so, Taeko departed from the base, the gate shutting behind her. Tsukiakari released a lonesome sigh, already missing the presence of her former friend and her nine-tailed ally.

"Well?" Tsukiakari led on. "I assume this isn't just a social call. What made you show up after all of these years? Where were you the whole time?"

"Defending the clan from afar, of course." Bishamon said. "I've been expanding our bases into different regions, keeping our coffers full, and planning out the clan's future. Of course, I've had to stop all of that to deal with Izanami and this investigation. She's very bothersome. As for why I came, it was indeed to let you all know that I am still here, this clan is still strong, and that I will not bend to Izanami. I wanted to tell you in person that you are allowed to resume normal operations again."

"What? Are you serious?" Tsukiakari asked. "Izanami isn't even done with her investigation yet."

"Don't worry about Izanami. I have friends in high places. They won't let Izanami and her gaggle of traitors have her way. We will survive, Tsukiakari. Remember that."

Bishamon's fiery steed approached, allowing the war god to mount and prepare to leave. "Start thinking about where you want to go next, Tsukiakari. Coming out of winter, most of the clans will have their forces all cooped up in their forts. The land is clear for our troops to march. We're very close to achieving our dream, a sovereign state free of the folly of daimyo and emperors."

"It's hard to think about any of that when we've just lost Yachi, Bishamon." Tsukiakari said.

"I know. I'm very sorry about that. Please tell that to Chiya. I must be on my way. I've got an investigation to break apart."

And so, Bishamon departed from the base as well. With that single visit, he seemed to have restored much of the faith that was lost over the years of suffering Tsukiakari's men endured. With his army re-energized, Tsukiakari was left to wonder just what Bishamon had in store for Izanami the Cruel, his pale adversary.