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Who is Best Girl?

Shoku Twins

Author Topic: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (COMPLETED)  (Read 36633 times)

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Offline OhGodHelpMe

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Re: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (COMPLETED)
« Reply #390 on: February 23, 2018, 04:37:16 PM »
The Tempest Lord and the Deathless Child

Prepared for yet another endless day in Heaven’s council of war, Bishamon, dressed in a black kimono with blood-red trim, sat on his bed as he slipped his feet into his sandals. For some odd reason, despite being a god of such high importance, he had chosen to stay in a relatively quaint bedroom, a much smaller version of what Amaterasu had. The eternal, unending sunlight of Heaven beed through his window, glaring off of the marble floors. He stood up, tying his hair into a ponytail before an ominous aura sent chills down his spine. The room went silent, so much so that he could hear the blood rushing through his head as if it were thunder. He shut his eyes, cocking his head as the sensation traveled down his back like an icy snake.

His entire body went numb as the sound of footsteps echoed in that small room, as if he were in a great hall. The sound indicated small, bare feet slowly slapping against the floor, coming closer to him with every step.

He opened his eyes to a woman whose body was completely wreathed in fire, cloaking her definitive features beyond her feminine frame. Perhaps just six inches shorter than Bishamon, her glowing, fiery eyes scanned his confused and horrified face. But it seemed that the flames burning around her didn’t burn any part of the floor she touched, nor did any smoke arise from the fire. He couldn’t even feel the heat radiate off of her. The fiery woman slowly turned her head to the mirror lying against the wall, in complete synchrony with Bishamon. As if to haunt the god of war, the woman’s reflection was that of a naked Ichiki, smiling with her emerald green eyes and black choker. It was a perfect image of Ichiki before her brutal murder, one that infuriated Bishamon to no end. A perfect reflection of his former wife, alive and healthy, insulted the memory of her death and the gods that mourned her.

Bishamon walked towards the mirror, each step brightening Ichiki’s smile. But instead of embracing her, Bishamon slammed his fist into the mirror, the cracked fragments now reflecting Tsukiakari’s image. The war god pulled away his hand, staring at the blood that gushed from his knuckle and ran down his wrist in warm, crimson streams. A polite knock upon his door startled him out of his trance.

Amaterasu: Let’s go, Bishamon. You’ll be late to the meeting.

Bishamon: I’ll be right there, my lord.

He looked back down at his hand, the blood he felt gone without a trace. He looked to his mirror, and not a single crack distorted his own, perfect reflection. Finally, he looked towards his bedside, and the woman wreathed in fire was gone. Still, the smokeless, heatless flame left something behind in that room, something that sent a shiver down Bishamon’s spine and flames igniting in his bones. He couldn’t quite name the feeling that fueled those fires, but he felt he recognized it to some extent. If pure, raw hatred could ever take form, he knew it would look a lot like those flames.

The same flame that seemed to haunt the divine world danced and flickered in front of Izanami and Inari, down in the basement of the eldritch and ancient island hideout. Inari stayed in the shadows as Izanami crouched down to the Phantom Maiden, placing her pale hands on the maiden’s mask of shadow.

Izanami: It will only be a matter of time before this one regains its strength. We should make this as quick as possible. If I can just bring her back...

Inari: Izanami, are you going to tell me why this is happening? You haven’t been very transparent about any of this!

Izanami sighed, her eyes closed as if to seal in her own emotions. She inhaled sharply and swiped her hand across the maiden’s face, removing the shadow that obscured her identity. Inari threw her hands over her mouth after a brief gasp of shock, her eyes fixated on the Phantom Maiden’s face. Even her nine tails shot up in a mixture of fear, grief, and vexatious ire.

Izanami: Forgive me, Inari. I’m going to begin with this one. I cannot be completely honest with you this time. Still, you’re my only true ally in all of this. I beg of you to place your trust in me, at least just this once.

With tears swelling in her eyes, Inari shouted in response, her anger made clear to Izanami.

Inari: Izanami, this is beyond cruel! If you know what’s happening, you have to tell Tsukiakari! Don’t you recognize this girl?!

Izanami: Of course I do.

Inari: Then-

Izanami: If we get this right, Inari, we’ll have another powerful ally at our side! Another banished god will be freed!

Inari: You’re using these people for your own gain! You understand how dangerous this is, right?!

Izanami: I already know. Not a single one of the gods can kill me, Inari. Even Amaterasu would have a hard time with such a task.

Izanami stood up, her eyes reflecting the guilt of having to lie to her only friend.

Izanami: Right now, all that remains is the horseman. Retrieve him. That’s all I ask of you.

Here, the flame hungers and churns.

The voice led Tsukiakari far across the land, over the hills and across the streams. At long last, she could lean over on the handle of her blade, catching her breath after her lengthy trek. Her payoff was a seemingly endless expanse of flat land, a meadow of sweet, aromatic, purple flowers swaying in the breeze. For you every flower, there seemed to be a wooden plaque sticking up from the ground, bearing the names of the deceased. Soldiers, victims of war, starved and sick peasants, their names were all there. In the center of all those flowers and grave markers, a single, black statue of the starved and emaciated Buddha gleamed beneath the moonlight. The Buddha, twice as big as Tsukiakari, sat in his famed, meditative position, his bones more visible and pronounced than his face. It was a true testament to the six years of self-imposed starvation the Buddha subjected himself to before his enlightenment. Dozens of small candles flickered and glowed at the statue’s base, somehow staying alight in the frigid air of the night.

Tsukiakari: It’s like there’s thousands of these grave markers. Fitting that a phantom would meet us here.

The Tempest Lord. He will not be easy. Of all of our phantom pursuers, his hatred of you is most potent. It’s almost like it’s personal.

Noriko: So you’re really going through with this, Gekko.

Unseen even a second beforehand, Noriko gently laid her hand on Tsukiakari’s shoulder as she caught her breath. Her sudden presence was no shock to the smiling war goddess.

Tsukiakari: I don’t have much of a choice. As long as these phantoms are after me, vengeance is impossible. I’ll put you all to rest, and at the end of it all, I’m sure I’ll see you again. After rediscovering you, I was able to decide what I had to do. I know what’s important now.

Noriko: I’ll be with you, Gekko. Though I fear your tribulation will only become more difficult.

Thunder boomed and tumbled within the clouds above like war drums. The wind grew steadily stronger, lifting Tsukiakari’s hair as Noriko disappeared from her side. She stood tall and fast, gripping her sword by the handle.

Tsukiakari: Here we go.

One mighty and blinding bolt of lightning struck down upon the Buddha statue from the heavens, like a hammer upon an anvil. The accompanying thunder briefly drowned out all other sounds from Tsukiakari’s ears. The smell of smoke and burning wood lifted into the air as all of the grave markers caught fire across the meadow, glowing like candles in the distance. Lo and behold, the Tempest Lord, the fiery horseman of the night, stood before Tsukiakari, his flaming stallion screeching into the air. Even the statue was wreathed in fire.

Tsukiakari: Why such strong hatred?! Is it because I hurt your precious maiden?!

The horseman lowered his head, glancing at the fiery spear stuck through his heart. He returned his blazing gaze towards the war goddess, the two cautiously circling each other. The horse seemed deathly eager to kill Tsukiakari, with furious gusts of air jetting through its nostrils every few seconds. The heat from the horseman and his beast made Tsukiakari sweat in her clothes and wreathed the flowers at the horse’s hooves in gentle, life-stealing flames.

Don’t you wonder what drives him so? What force could be so strong that it rejects the embrace of the Shinigami, and the home of Izanami?

Tsukiakari: It’s no ordinary hatred. Was the maiden that important to him?

It has nothing to do with the maiden. Phantoms don’t care for one another.

Tsukiakari: What? Then why the hell is he...

The horseman unraveled the intestinal whip at his side, winding his arm back and coiling the fiery organ around Tsukiakari’s wrist. With his great strength, he swung Tsukiakari around and around before she could sever the intestine, circling her around at dizzying speeds. She could hardly see a thing as she was suddenly slammed into the ground with a nearly explosive impact, cratering the ground around her. The whip uncoiled from her wrist, leaving behind a blistering scar. Recovering from the impact, she dug herself out of the crater, her ears leading her eyes to Tempest Lord.

The horse circled his master around the area, keeping a far distance from Tsukiakari. The Tempest Lord  withdrew his fiery bow, aiming an arrow imbued with fierce, crackling lighting at the war goddess. She gathered her strength with a mighty war cry as the Tempest Lord shot his arrow, it’s lightning screeching through the frigid air. Already a master of lightning, she had no issue cutting the arrow in two with her extended slashes of serrated air.

Tsukiakari: You messed up, bastard!

She sent forth another blast of razor sharp air, the gust racing towards the Tempest Lord with a trail of severed flowers and grave markers following it. The horseman ducked his head and spurred his stallion, narrowly avoiding the blast of air while circling back towards the war goddess. She nearly froze upon the realization he was going in for a direct attack, her eyes peeled open in disbelief.

Move, you fool!

The horse’s thunderous gallop was overpowered only by its master’s monstrous, harrowing war cry as they raced towards Tsukiakari. She snapped out of her moment of shock and drove her blade into the earth, turning it like a key in a lock. The ground just ahead of the horse lifted slightly, tripping the beast over and sending I tumbling over Tsukiakari’s head as she dropped to the floor. At last, the beast and its master were separated.

Landing across from each other, both of the fiery phantoms set more of the flowers ablaze. With her blade still stuck in the ground, Tsukiakari’s hands quickly weaved together the kuji-in to channel the purifying power of ice through her palms. She ripped one of the grave markers from the ground, coating it in a thick shell of hard ice before throwing it directly at the downed horse. The blast ripped open its stomach, sending its flaming organs and intestines flying out of its belly and plodding onto the ground. The resulting cloud of ice from the impact doused the horse’s flames and silenced its demonic cries.

Tsukiakari: Now for the horseman!

She frantically reached for her blade, but saw the horseman’s intestinal whip coil around the handle and fly his way before she could take hold of it. Fixated on the Tempest Lord wielding her blade as if he owned it, another surprise startled her in the form of heat behind her back. She quickly spun around, rolling out of the way of the Tempest Lord’s sword swing. The fiery lord before her disappeared, but the other was still in the exact same place, marching towards the war goddess with her sword in hand.

Spared no time to think, another Tempest Lord seemed to come flying out of one of the flaming grave markers, charging at her from the front. Yet again, after dodging his strike, the Tempest Lord faded into a thin cloud of smoke. Two more charged from opposite sides of Tsukiakari, one of them delaying his speed by just a second.

Under enormous pressure and forces to think on her feet, Tsukiakari shielded herself from the fiery stab of the first with a thin wall of ice at her side, the wall breaking into chilled fragments as it took the hit. The other Tempest Lord attacked just a split second later, successfully catching her off guard and bringing his blade down upon her arm. The war goddess shrieked in agony as the nerves in her arm all spiked and exploded with pain, lopping the entire limb off from her body. At least, that’s exactly what it felt like.

After the attacking Lord vanished, Tsukiakari observed that her arm was still there, firmly attached to her body without even the slightest sign of damage. No blood, no rip in her kimono sleeve, and yet, the pain was so dire and real to her. Still, the Tempest Lord’s strange attacks continues relentlessly, now with five Lord’s dashing towards her from all sides. She slammed her icy palm upon the ground, encasing herself in a thick, glowing, and small dome of blue ice. The fiery blades of the Lords rocked the dome and cracked its surface, but each of them failed to penetrate her defenses before they vanished into puffs of smoke. With the resulting smoke from the Lords accumulated around her, Tsukiakari was doomed to hear the cacophony or voices echo all around her. Whispers and cries that flowed like the wind and lingered like the smell of incense surrounded her outside the dome as the original Tempest Lord calmly approached. He gently touched the dome with the tip of his flaming finger, observing how the ice could douse his flame. With Tsukiakari realizing she was safe in the dome, and the Tempest Lord realizing its purifying power, the two were at a standoff as well as a brief moment of respite.

The burning, pulsating sting of losing a limb still pervaded her nerves, the agony suffused with limb down to the bone. For just a moment within that cold dome of ice, she could let out an exhausted sigh of bygone worry.

Tsukiakari: Wraiths born of flame, allowing you to attack from multiple angles at a time, with swords that inflict phantom pain.

The Tempest Lord kept his blazing stare locked upon the war goddess as he circled the dome like a lion just waiting for the first moment he could attack his prey. As if to tease Tsukiakari, he dragged her blade across the dome, the meeting of steel and ice producing an awful, dissonant whistle. The blade left behind a thin, white line on the outer layer of the ice, but it wouldn’t be enough to break through it.

Tsukiakari: I can’t believe I almost died to a damned ghost. You think you’re the only one with hatred nesting in your heart? Do you think you’re the only one who wants to unleash their rage? Vengeance moves the earth as much as it moves the heavens. It’s flow is inescapable. But you’ve already had your time. Why don’t you just lie down and die like you’re supposed to?

She looked to the clouds, taking note of the thunder still booming in the sky.

Tsukiakari: Okay. There’s my way out. Let’s end this, Tempest Lord.

Tsukiakari weaved the kuji-in to switch over to lightning affinity, preparing to end the fight quickly. If she could just do that, it would all be over. The phantoms would no longer be a problem. The end of it all was in clear sight to her.

Tsukiakari: Let’s go!

A mighty bolt of lightning ripped through the sky and scorched the ice dome, shattering it in a furious explosion. The Horseman seemed unfazed in the blast, but it wasn’t the explosion Tsukiakari placed her hopes in. It was the electricity being conducted by her blade, the perfect beacon for teleportation. A second, much smaller lightning strike flashed just inches away from the horseman’s face, and Tsukiakari appeared out of its brilliant light. Her hand was already wrapped firmly around the hand he held her blade with.

As more wraiths of the Tempest Lord dashed out of the surrounding grave markers, Tsukiakari twisted his wrist and turned her own blade against him. She let her legs spread apart as she helped him drive her blade through his chest, allowing her to sink lower towards the ground as the wraiths closed in on her. Her blade, along with the blades of seven wraiths, all pierced through the Tempest Lord at once, most of them just narrowly missing Tsukiakari.

The wraiths vanished, lifting their choking smoke up into the air. The Tempest Lord remained still and silent, his grip on Tsukiakari’s sword loosened. She pulled her blade out of his chest and leaped backwards, keeping her distance as he fell on his back. His flames slowly died down, the spear stuck in his heart vanishing just as the wraiths did.

Tsukiakari was surprised to find that although the flames simmered away into a cloak of smoke, a fully armored body was still left behind. She slowly, cautiously stepped closer to the corpse left behind, the flames wreathed sound the starved Buddha and grave markers also dying away. She could see up close the traditional and rather dated, but colorful armor of leading general. The vibrant colors of green and purple stripes among the primary blocks of red indicated the wearer as a central figure of the forces he commanded. A large, jagged hole through the armor was left behind by the phantom spear, exposing the pale, almost dark grey skin of the wearer. The body was clearly going through the stages of decomposition, kept in tact only by the Tempest Flame.

At last, Tsukiakari removed the helmet, the face she was greeted with making her jump back in shock before falling on her bottom. Her trembling hands tightly grasped a handful of blackened, charred flowers as she tried to remain calm. She took several deep breaths, willing up the courage to take a closer, harder look at the face of the corpse.

Crawling towards it and checking again, her heart swirled with frenzied confusion and surprise. Her shock made her blood feel like fire in her veins.

Tsukiakari: I remember you...Yoshihisa Ashikaga!

The fiery horseman, the Tempest Lord, was none other than the long dead shogun she had slain in battle many years ago. Yoshihisa Ashikaga.

She could accept that Noriko was merely a phantom in her own mind, but for one of the phantoms blesses by flame to be someone she once fought in battle, what little sense she managed to make of her predicament crumbled. Or rather, she realized just how little she truly knew.

Tsukiakari: Why?! Why are you here?!

Yoshihisa Ashikaga, the center of the Onin War, a precursor to the past century and a half of conflict that has consumed the entire country. Son of Yoshimasa Ashikaga, his birth was a complete surprise to his father, who had already made arrangements for a successor from outside the family. His mother, Tomiko, was possessed by vengeance upon learning that her son would be denied his birthright. A single, vengeful woman sparked the flame of the Onin War, allowing your fated encounter with Bishamon to occur. When the baby grew up and rightfully took his place as Shogun, you two met on the battlefield and killed each other. Only you came back. Or so you thought.

Tsukiakari: That’s why he was so drawn to me? He wanted revenge on the goddess that killed him?

The Tempest Flame sought his vengeance and accepted him. Embraced him.

Tsukiakari stood up in silence. Nothing about the events of that night felt right anymore. The voice knew too much. Everything happened far too perfectly.

Tsukiakari: You aren’t helping me destroy these phantoms. You’re helping yourself.

It was only a matter of time before you found out. Our conflict was inevitable.

Tsukiakari: Talk. Stop speaking in vagueness and riddles and tell me exactly what this Tempest Flame is! Why did Yoshihisa Ashikaga come back from the dead to kill me?!

Her answer was an agonizing burn in her heart that brought her down to her knees. It was as if her very heart was on fire. She undid the breast of her kimono and observed her chest for herself.  The scar that had been left there by the Phantom Maiden was alight with small embers flickering within her very flesh.

The Tempest Flame is within you now. Rejoice, for you are almost one with the Deathless Child.

A warm flame shined its light upon Tsukiakari’s face, drawing her eyes up from the ground. The same woman wreathed in fire that appeared before Bishamon now stood before Tsukiakari, her flames burning gently like a camp fire. Her cloak of fire simmered away, revealing the pale, dead skin of yet another phantom from the past, the source of the voice inside her head. Though her hair remained alight with gentle flames and a crown of embers around her head, Tsukiakari  could recognize her face anywhere. That beautiful, black choker, those alluring, green eyes that shined like emeralds in the sun. Ichiki.

She stood before her completely naked, the wounds she died with healed, but leaving her body with scars. Most notably, an intensely pronounced scar across her stomach where she has been disemboweled. It was as if it had been sewn right back up.

Tsukiakari: Ichiki...you...the whole time...

Ichiki: Oh how I’ve missed you, Gekko. If there was anyone in Heaven I ever truly wanted, it was you, not Bishamon. Is murder how you repay such strong love?

Tsukiakari: Damn you! You’re back too?!

Ichiki: Like Yoshihisa, I too was blessed by the Tempest Flame. Though, it seems his blessings didn’t quite go to good use. Not within him, anyway. But you...the flame is drawn to you with a special vigor.

Ichiki chuckled.

Ichiki: Oh, but you seek to know more about the Tempest Flame, don’t you?

Tsukiakari stood and pointed her blade at Ichiki, her hands and knees shaking with fear and uncertainty.

Ichiki: You have very little to threaten me with, Gekko. Besides, this is bigger than the both of us.

Tsukiakari: I won’t ask you again! Talk!

Ichiki slid her tongue across her top lip, rubbing her fingers around her small breasts.

Ichiki: Your hatred still enraptures me so. To think my murderer, and the murderer of my children soul still command my attention like this.  It’s infuriating. Do you remember the story I once told you? About the early days of Izanami’s existence?

Tsukiakari: What about it?

Ichiki: Izanami gave birth to many children, but there was one that scorched her so badly that she died soon after giving birth to it.

Tsukiakari: Kagutsuchi!

Tsukiakari’s eyes flung wide open as the pieces all fell into place.

Tsukiakari: The flame? It’s linked to her?! How?!

Ichiki: You don’t realize it, do you? Your best answer lies not with me, but with three people. The Shoku Twins, and most importantly, Izanami. Seek Izanami, Gekko. Expose her great lie for what it is. The Shoku Twins can guide you to the truth, if you give them no other option. Izanami’s immortality has nothing to do with her being a goddess of death.

Like the wraiths before, Ichiki vanished, leaving Tsukiakari with the corpse of Yoshihisa, The Tempest Lord, as well as a furious thirst for answers.

Tsukiakari: The Shoku Twins...someone is going to tell me the truth.

Just so you know I’m not a hack, the subject of this reveal first appeared in Samsara, the first chapter of Book of Betrayal. Just in case no one remembers that battle. Also one of the first signs of Tsukiakari suffering dramatic hallucinations concerning the deceased

Offline OhGodHelpMe

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Re: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (COMPLETED)
« Reply #391 on: March 01, 2018, 08:19:16 PM »

Izanami’s Greatest Lie

The sky had shifted from a dark, all-consuming black, to a deep shade of early morning blue. The sun would be up in just a few hours. Tsukiakari managed to survive the night, as well as the pursuit of her vicious phantoms. She couldn’t stop looking into Yoshihisa’s face, the memories of their battle against each other swirling around in her mind as if it happened yesterday.

Tsukiakari: You, the seed of the Onin War and all the violence that came after it. Ironic that you would choose to hang onto your vengeance, to outlive the very war you were heir to.

Noriko stepped forth into her peripheral view, a phantom seen only by her blinded eye. The two stood side by side as the morning breeze ruffled through their robes, both of them overlooking Yoshihisa’s corpse.

Noriko: I still feel your hatred. It’s reaching towards Izanami now, isn’t it?

Tsukiakari: If the Tempest Flame really is linked to Kagutsuchi, there’s very little chance that Izanami didn’t know about it. One can’t assume that kind of ignorance upon her. She knows more about everything than any other god in Heaven. She’s the oldest surviving one, after all.

Noriko: But we cannot assume her guilt either.

Tsukiakari: Then why? Why is she immortal? Why is she free from being cycled out? She’s not being truthful about her own power, her own existence. She’s been lying to us from the damn start. If she has such a power and refused to share it, it means that all of this could’ve been prevented. But she sat there and watched the fear of death corrupt all of those around her, all while she rules over death itself. She commands death, but doesn’t succumb to its rules. She takes but never gives.

Noriko: And you hold her partly responsible? For killing all that you loved?

Tsukiakari: I hate the gods that betrayed me and butchered the only family I had in this world, but if there was a way to stop gods from cycling out and Izanami has been hiding it, it was her omission that allowed all of this to unfold the way it did. This Tempest Flame must be part of that.

Noriko released a saddened sigh as she vanished. Tsukiakari sheathed her blade and began making her way, to back the abandoned temple, itching to confront the Shoku Twins. The whole time, she was well aware she was being watched by a familiar god.

Inari Okami observed the scene from afar, hiding amongst the flowers. Winded and frustrated, she realized she arrived too late, that the Tempest Lord had already been bested by Tsukiakari.

Inari: I didn’t make in time?! Then...Gekko absorbed the flame? I have to get back to Izanami!

(At last...I can hear my own thoughts again.)

A race for the truth for Tsukiakari, a race against time for Inari. Blaring shafts of sunlight broke through the leaves of the forest as the war goddess marched her way back to the abandoned temple with a vengeance. She could hear those damned crows in the sky cawing with all their might, as if they were actually trying to make her go deaf.

(Their stories conflict. I can remember that now. The story surrounding Oyamatsumi’s fight with Izanami revolved around a conflict regarding the use of Mount Fuji to quell the wars going on at the time. But the Shoku Twins insist the fight revolved around their ascension into divinity. Granted, I trust the Twins much more than I trust Oyamatsumi. All I know is that this story is missing a piece of itself. It was not told to me in whole.)

Tsukiakari barged through the doors, startling the Shoku Twins standing inside. Omagatoki’s face lit up with all the joy in the world as she ran with her little legs to hug Tsukiakari’s thighs.

Omagatoki: Welcome home! We were so worried, you know! Did you get rid of all the scary ghosts? Are you safe now? Want some tea? Sis and I brewed some for your return!

Tsukiakari’s voice grumbled with anger.

Tsukiakari: Get the hell off of me.

Omagatoki: Huh? Ge...Gekko?

Tsukiakari pushed Omagatoki onto her bottom, scaring the two girls as she withdrew her blade from its scabbard.

Akatsuki: What is the meaning of this?

Tsukiakari: Those phantoms out there were those who should’ve been long dead, revived and kept here on Earth by something called the Tempest Flame. The horseman we saw earlier was none other than Yoshihisa Ashikaga, a man who I killed on the battlefield long ago. She thought I wouldn’t notice, but Inari Okami was watching me from afar. If Inari was there, it means Izanami is also involved. I reckon Inari was meant to confront the phantom before me, which makes me wonder if she also confronted the floating girl.

Akatsuki: What are you trying to say?

Tsukiakari: It’s no coincidence that the Shoku Twins and I crossed paths at just the right moment. It’s no coincidence that Inari was also searching for the phantoms. You’re involved in this too. You will tell me everything, truthfully, or I’ll cut you both down.

Akatsuki: Killing either of us would lead to the end of the world, Tsukiakari. You’re aware of this, aren’t you? That was our deterrence against Heaven.

Tsukiakari: Your deterrence, not Izanami’s. Do I look like I could give a sh*t if the world ends right now?

Realizing they were dealing with someone who no longer cared for their own fate or the world’s, their deterrence was stripped of its power. They were forced to oblige.

Omagatoki: You’re right. It’s our deterrence. Not Izanami’s.

Tsukiakari: Start from the fight between her and Oyamatsumi.

Akatsuki: Fine then. There are two versions of this duel, both ending the same way. The first version describes the duel taking place because of Oyamatsumi’s suggestion that they use Mount Fuji as a weapon against the warring mortals, to make them bow to the might of the gods. Through disaster. Oyamatsumi hoped to bring peace to the world of mortals, and Izanami challenges that idea.

Omagatoki: The other is what we told you. The duel took place because Oyamatsumi contested Izanami’s proposition that we ascend to divinity, being victims of war.

Tsukiakari: So then? The truth.

The Twins glances at each other, as if to figure out who would be the one to say it. Ultimately, Akatsuki spoke up.

Akatsuki: Technically, both of these versions are true. Oyamatsumi indeed wanted to use Mount Fuji as a leash upon the country following the outbreak of the Onin War. Izanami contested with her own idea, to let the war continue on while she gifted Heaven with a different, valuable tool. Us. Masters of time, balancing the flow of the universe. Raising the sun, occulting the moon. A neutral party to handle these responsibilities in place of the divided gods. But that was only Izanami’s surface reason.

Omagatoki: The Tempest Flame you mentioned, it made its appearance after the Onin War, according to Izanami.

Tsukiakari: What?! That damned flame was here this whole time?!

Akatsuki: Since the very beginning.

Akatsuki: It lingered around the country in pieces, unable to latch onto anything or anyone like it has now.

(Oh my god...)

Tsukiakari: Akatsuki...did she...try to use you two as hosts of the flame?

Their silence was all the confirmation Tsukiakari needed.

Omagatoki: She was so careful and calculating. She made sure that we knew the man responsible for our deaths. Oyamatsumi. She made sure we acquired a taste for vengeance, oil for the Tempest Flame.

Tsukiakari: It worked. You still feel that vengeance.

Akatsuki: But we feigned cooperation with her plan, all so we could use that information against her. Izanami taught us what the Tempest Flame was, what it wanted, and where she would be able to gather its pieces.

Omagatoki: We threatened to expose it all to the gods. That was our deterrence. We refused to lose ourselves and die to the Tempest Flame in service of Izanami’s wants.

Tsukiakari: So you had her arrange your positions as masters of time, using her to kill Oyamatsumi and avoid harm. If the Tempest Flame took either of you, both Heaven and Earth would fall apart. You were protected by your positions, granted your vengeance, and left Izanami without a conduit for the Tempest Flame. She underestimated your cunning.

Akatsuki: But Oyamatsumi reincarnated, our vengeance nullified. We didn’t hate Izanami, knowing the truth of the flame. We simply protected ourselves as siblings. We thought there was a better way to do this.

Omagatoki: The Senkumo clan’s rise through the Warring States left plenty of opportunities for the Tempest Flame to take hold in others. Strong feelings of hatred and revenge circulated around you and your comrades, around your enemies. We didn’t know who the phantoms were beneath their fire wreaths, but it makes sense if the horseman was the Shogun you killed. The Tempest Flame must’ve accepted him, feeding off of his powerful hatred for you.

Akatsuki: We’ve no clue who the floating girl is though.

Tsukiakari: The Tempest Flame. Is it connected to Kagutsuchi?

Omagatoki: The Deathless Child?

Akatsuki: It is. The Catholics obliterated Kagutsuchi’s body after the failed negotiations to send her back to the Shinto pantheon. Naturally, they thought this would kill her. It failed. The Tempest Flame are the fragments of Kagutsuchi’s soul that wandered back to the country.

Tsukiakari: Her soul?! If the body is destroyed, the soul is supposed to travel to the House of Souls to be judged!

Akatsuki: Not Kagutsuchi’s. That’s why they call her the Deathless Child. She’s unbound by death, much like her mother. Her soul was split into three in the attempt to kill her. When it returned here, it sought physical form. Kagutsuchi is trying to get her body back. We don’t know why she chose to take the corpses of the dead, why she actively chose to feed off of the vengeance of a man who hated you. But we do know that she fed off of those intense feelings. She was drawn to them the most.

Tsukiakari felt around the scar on her heart through her kimono, now fully realizing the consequence of her victory over the Tempest Lord.

Tsukiakari: I...absorbed two parts of Kagutsuchi’s soul. You let me go out there knowing that this was a possibility?!

Akatsuki: You decided yourself you would vanquish the phantoms. It would raise too many questions if we tried to stop you. Inari was meant to gather them before...

Omagatoki: Sis?

Akatsuki: Wait...you absorbed two pieces?

Tsukiakari: The voice in my head. I never mentioned it. I thought it was just me going crazy, but I had a phantom within me the whole time. Two, I suppose. The fragment of Kagutsuchi’s soul that attached itself to Ichiki, who then attached herself to me.

Omagatoki: And then the horseman?

Tsukiakari: Exactly. Ichiki left my side, thankfully. Yoshihisa’s fragment is all that remains. What if the floating girl?

Omagatoki: With Izanami...

Tsukiakari: Take me.

Omagatoki: I...don’t think we can do that. We have strict instructions-

Tsukiakari: You will do exactly as I tell you, or you and your sister will die here. Show me.

Akatsuki stepped forth, as if to shield her sister from Tsukiakari’s threat.

Akatsuki: Izanami can answer the rest of your questions. However, the place we’re going will only make you ask more questions. This will be a case where knowing more means you know less than you did before. You may think very ill of Izanami after this, but I must ask that yo put yourself in her shoes. Remember that even Izanami the Cruel has a heart.

Tsukiakari: I’ll judge her as I see fit.

Akatsuki: Very well. Sis.

Omagatoki: Right.

The Shoku Twins held hands with each other, each of them taking one of Tsukiakari’s hands as well. In the blink of an eye, the three of them vanished from the dilapidated temple, their feet softly landing on the wet sands of the hidden island Inari had visited before.

Their ears were filled with the harrowing cries of black-tailed gulls circling above the shoreline as the sparkling, sunlit sea continued to kiss the shore. Landing on all fours, Tsukiakari took a minute to catch her breath. Teleportation with the Shoku Twins seemed to leave her winded and nauseous.

It didn’t her long to stand up and look out towards the far reaches of the ocean, noticing the colossal, statue-like corpses stretching their arms out towards the sky with the sun rising behind them.

Tsukiakari: What the hell...what are those?

Though the corpses captivated her tired eyes, she looked back towards the Shoku Twins as they helped each other up, brushing the coarse sand off of their kimonos. Her eyes were naturally guided to the island’s center the massive death plateau formation acting as a sort of turtle shell to the island. She marched towards the entrance at the plateau’s side, stopping just twenty paces away from the small, stone crypt covered in foliage and weathered by years of exposure to salt water and rain.

Tsukiakari: A crypt? Did someone die here?

Omagatoki: We know about as much as you do. Izanami forbade us from ever opening the crypt. We weren’t even allowed to mention it.

Akatsuki: Tsukiakari...I beg of you, do not open that crypt. Whatever’s in there, I think Izanami kept us away from it for our own good.

Tsukiakari could feel it too, these perilous tendrils of raw darkness circling around her. A strong aura around the crypt begged her to go away, to not lay a finger upon its door. Even Akatsuki took a few steps back with her sister, wanting nothing to do with whatever was inside. Tsukiakari’s fingertips brushed against the crypt’s door, chilling them deep in the flesh as if she had touched an iceberg.

Tsukiakari: I’m going to open it...

Omagatoki: No! You shouldn’t!

Akatsuki: There will be no going back, Tsukiakari.

Tsukiakari: I’m already past the point of no return.

Defying the cautious fear traveling through her nerves and veins, Tsukiakari places both hands flat against the crypt door, pushing it wide open. It took considerable strength to open such a small set of doors, strength only a god could possibly have. The inside of the crypt was dark, it’s trapped air carrying the reek of old death. Within the dark of the crypt, Tsukiakari caught the slow but very lively movement of some human figure. Expecting only to find bones and corpses, Tsukiakari instinctively leaped back from the crypt, landing just in front of the terrified Shoku Twins. She clutched the handle of her blade, her heart racing and pumping chilled blood through her body.

Omagatoki: What happened?!

Akatsuki: Gekko?

Tsukiakari: Stay behind me!

(Who was that?! I swear I saw someone move!)


The wind fiercely raced through the palm trees and foliage, making their hair dance in front of their eyes as they tried to focus on the opened crypt. But it seemed that Tsukiakari’s eyes did not deceive her one bit. A woman emerged from the crypt, her hair long, voluminous, and black as deep space, covering her face, back, and shoulders. Her thin, tattered, long shirt extended to just above her knees, it’s once vibrant, white threads turned dingy with age.

The color and quality of the woman’s skin was unlike her decrepit dress. Her skin was lighter and brighter than the sand at her feet, so healthy that it seemed to glow and reflect the sun’s light as she stepped forth. How could such a lively, vibrant being be locked in a crypt among death-stricken air and bones? But as the woman turned her head, Tsukiakari and the Shoku Twins only experienced a heightened sense of fear. The sight of her face nearly made their hearts explode.

With eyes that radiated a rosy pink color, a smile that was all too familiar, and cheeks that blushed like flowers in spring, they knew exactly who they were looking at. And yet, her existence didn’t make any sense to them. The warning bestowed upon Tsukiakari just minutes before was not heeded. The answer she sought care forth, wrapped in nothing but truth.

Akatsuki, Omagatoki, and Tsukiakari realized they were looking right at Izanami, alive, full of color, and perfectly well. As if she had never died in the first place.

Izanami: He...hello. Are you...guests?

(The Izanami we were looking at was alive and well. Nothing like the pale Izanami we all knew, marked by death.)

Tsukiakari: How...how is this possible?

It was no illusion. No phantom. No trick of time manipulation. Izanami-no-Mikoto was alive and well before their very eyes.

Offline OhGodHelpMe

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Re: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (COMPLETED)
« Reply #392 on: March 04, 2018, 12:33:21 AM »
The Truth in the Crypt

Izanami stood before them with a gracious smile, alive and well. Just as she was warned, Tsukiakari was burdened with more questions than answers.

Tsukiakari: Izanami...is that you?

The living goddess tilted her head like a confused dog.

Izanami: My name...how do you know my name? Have we met before?

With a helplessly confused expression, Tsukiakari turned her head to the Shoku Twins.

Tsukiakari: What the hell is going on? Your idea of a practical joke?

Omagatoki: What? No! We didn’t travel through time at all! All we did was teleport here!

Tsukiakari: But...why? This isn’t making sense!

Akatsuki: That is undeniably Izanami. Face, voice, and all. The only possible explanations I can think of are that either Izanami discovered a way to bring herself back to life, or this is a different Izanami. Given that this one doesn’t seem to remember us, I’m more including bed to believe the latter.

Omagatoki: Another Izanami? A clone? A phantom?!

Izanami excitedly inhaled as she clasped her hands together, coming up with a novel idea.

Izanami: Ah! You look hungry! How about you join us for dinner? My husband Izanami should be back soon with the best fish from the sea!

(What? Izanagi?)

Izanami: Though, I wonder where Mizuhame is. She said she’d be right back, but I don’t really remember what she said she was going to do. Have you seen her around at all?

Those woeful, innocently asked questions turned their confusion into shocked sadness. This Izanami spoke of her family with the brightest smile they had ever seen. It was as if she had no idea where or when she was. She had no memory of anything past those happy days with her family.

Tsukiakari: Izanami....You-

Izanami: Ah! My love! Welcome home!

Tsukiakari stepped forth without so much as a blink as she watched Izanami talk to thin air.

Izanami: It seems we have guests! I know! I told them to stay for dinner so they could enjoy the fish you caught! Shall we set up the table? Oh don’t worry about it, dear! I’m sure Mizuhame will be home soon! Come, come! We’ll have everything set up for you guys soon!

Izanami gleefully skipped her way back into the crypt as if it were her house, enticing Tsukiakari and the Shoku Twins to come closer to her resting place. The sunlight began to creep onto the floor of the crypt, inching deeper and deeper until the light hit a pile of human bones. A female femur, a cracked, male skull, pieces of the spine, and more that the girls couldn’t bare to look at. Tsukiakari shoved herself in front of the Shoku Twins, protecting them from the terrible sight. But Izanami sat down among the bones, arranging them and rearranging them like a madwoman. It has become all too clear that this Izanami’s mind lacked not only important memories, but sanity as well.

Izanami: Don’t be shy! You’re welcome here! Izanagi catches the best fish around! Please do try some!

Picking up one of the bones at her feet, Izanami’s mouth opened up as she drew the bone closer to her lips.

Tsukiakari: Izanami, stop!

Tsukiakari rushed inside, forcefully yanking Izanami out of the crypt by her arm. She was deathly afraid Izanami would really bite down on the bones, convinced it was actually a piece of delectable fish.

Tsukiakari: Listen to me, don’t do that again! That isn’t fish!

Izanami: It isn’t...fish?

The beautiful smile on Izanami’s face faded away as she looked back towards the crypt, fearful of what it was she had really been eating. Fearful of any semblance of the truth.

Noriko: I see...so your whole world consists of them.

Tsukiakari could make out Noriko’s visage in the corner of her blinded eye, only for her to vanish as soon as she turned her head. A bone-chilling shriek suddenly blared out from the plateau entrance, drawing everyone’s eyes towards the terrified Inari...standing alongside the pale, speechless Izanami. Inari kept looking at the woman in Tsukiakari’s arms, then back to the Izanami at her side. She undoubtedly came to the same realization as everyone else. For whatever reason, there were two Izanami’s, one clearly alive, and one white with death.

The pale Izanami could not hide her brew of powerful feelings. Her anger that the crypt has been opened was apparent within her gritted teeth, but her fury was then washed away by a wave of silent sorrow, and then finally, shame, the kind that hung her head towards the ground.

Omagatoki: Inari!

Inari: Is that...Izanami?! She’s alive! But then...

Inari stepped away from Izanami, backing up towards Tsukiakari and the Shoku Twins.

Inari: But then, who are you?

Izanami: ...I told you...never to open that damned crypt! She was to stay in there for eternity! Not only that, but you led Gekko straight here?!

Tsukiakari: I threatened them with death so they’d show me the truth! For years, everyone has wondered how you’ve been able to attain perfect immortality, never dying or cycling out! We all assumed it was just because deities of death don’t die in the first place, but that’s not actually the case, is it?! Why?! Tell us why you sealed this woman inside of that crypt!

On the verge of tears, Inari could say not a word, but her eyes were fixated on the pale Izanami. Those eyes were clearly begging for an explanation from the woman she thought was her friend. Izanami knew how cruel her lie was. She had tricked the entire world and locked away her secrets on that island. Most of all, she realize she had hurt Inari, the Shoku Twins, and her dearest Gekko.

Izanami: Alright...I’m done lying to all of you. I never wanted it to come to this.  But the truth will always reveal itself, won’t it? You can’t bury your phantoms forever.

With a heavy heart drenched in sorrow and shame, Izanami looked everyone in their eyes and prepared to tell them the truth.

Izanami: That woman is Izanami. I am also Izanami. This happened immediately after I died giving birth to Kagutsuchi, after she had scorched my entire body. I was hardly little more than a skeleton at that point. Even my organ were burnt to a crisp. As hard as Izanagi and Mizuhame tried to keep me alive, I died from my burns. It’s just as you know already. While I awoke in the underworld, Izanagi thought to avenge me by murdering my Kagutsuchi and sealing my remains in that crypt. While I lived out my life as a walking corpse, my body remained in that crypt for years...slowly healing. For so long, I had no idea that she...that I was still in there, alive.

Izanami’s thoughts traveled back thousands of years, to one particular moonlit night on the island. That singular, lonesome island was all too familiar for her, for it was all that was left of a once greater landmass. It was an area meant to be surrounded my mountains and valleys, heavily forested and vibrant with greenery. But it was all reduced to that single, pathetic island, set far apart from the mainland.

When she arrived there that fateful night, the crypt had already been opened. At first, Izanami thought her remains had been stolen, perhaps by Amaterasu or Tsukuyomi. But after approaching the crypt door, the moon blaring behind her, she came to the same truth that Tsukakari and the Shoku Twins would come to find. Izanami found herself in that crypt, sitting amongst the wrapped corpses of her family in silence. The living Izanami had already run out of tears to cry. All that remained was endless pain.

The two Izanami’s met eyes, the pale one anchored by her shock. She almost wanted to vomit, almost wanted to scream and run. All she could do was stand there, gazing into the eyes of her former self, trying so hard to make sense of what she was seeing. Though, it seemed the living Izanami already knew. She spoke in an exhausted, defeated tone, lacking any lively energy she may have once possessed.

Izanami: That explains it. That’s why my family has been reduced to this. Bones at my feet. I killed them.

Izanami: That’s...my voice! My face! How-

Izanami: It’s exactly as it seems. I am Izanami-no-Mikoto, The Woman Who Invites, creator of the earth and mother of the Shinto pantheon.
Don’t look so afraid. This is no omen before you. No. In fact, it’s entirely our fault.

Izanami the pale stepped inside the crypt, staying within the reach of the moon’s light while her other seemed content to brew in shadow.

Izanami: It all makes sense now. You were created after my death, were you? There’s just one issue. Death did not truly exist by the time I had given birth to Kagutsuchi. Once a god is...was successfully born, they were here forever. Even children that died after birth went on to become gods or life in different form. They could become trees or valleys, rain clouds or mountains. Death, premature and unfinished, created you upon my destruction, and yet, I could not truly die.

The living Izanami softly chuckled.

Izanami: Take pride. We are the only god in existence to be dead and very much alive at the same time. The others here...well, they weren’t so lucky.

Izanami the pale knew exactly who those wrapped corpses belonged to at a mere glance. Having already been freed from the Underworld by Amaterasu, she knew very well that her family were all but dead.

Izanami: You’re right. This is my fault. I woke up in hell, begging to be saved, to see them all again. There are no words for the misery we created down there. All that is good rots away. What remains of the life that is gone is turned into a putrescent mess. Myself included. I was rotting. Izanagi came to rescue me, but he...he...

The memory of her final confrontation with Izanagi still haunted her, the wound still bleeding.

Izanami: You don’t have to say anymore. I understand. You’re free now. Your nightmare is over. Mizuhame and Izanagi are gone because we chose vengeance over acceptance. It was the worst way to end the nightmare, but regardless, it’s over. We unleashed death upon the world, salivating at the fact that Izanagi would die. But we forgot that if we made that decision, there would be no one left alive to see us. He wouldn’t be the only one in our family to die.

Izanami: ...Do you ever see them? Their phantoms?

Izanami: Do you?

Izanami: I asked first.

The living Izanami folded her hair behind her ear, looking across at Mizuhame’s wrapped corpse.

Izanami: Seeing them like this keeps the phantoms at bay. The nightmares only happen when I’m awake. Sleeping is more peaceful than it should be. Your turn.

Izanami the pale simply nodded “no”.

Izanami: I see. And I thought we were the same in heart and mind. I wanted to believe that. Yet, we’re the same person with different feelings. Your vengeance is not my vengeance. Your hatred is not my hatred. At the same time, I’ve already forgotten what was mine in the first place. Shadows creeping in my mind...occulting everything I once knew...it gets worse by the day.

Tears streamed down Izanami’s pale face, her voice shaking and feigning happiness. She and her other both came to a haunting realization and understanding. It was a reconciliation as much as it was a declaration of hatred and scorn towards the pale Izanami.

Izanami: You’re right. We are not one of mind and heart. I am you, and you’re me, but this vengeance is mine. The blood of our family in on my hands, not yours. The blood of our forefathers rains over me, but you remain dry. I chose vengeance while you waited for someone to return to you, to find you, and bring you home. I crushed your future. For that...I cannot apologize.

Her admission of absent regret was but a lie. The living Izanami knew that much. She didn’t choose not to apologize because she lacked the regret to do so.

Izanami: I’ve chosen this already. And though much of our family has departed, some of them, like Raijin and Fujin, still remain. If Amaterasu was able to kill Izanagi and take his place, anything can happen to what remains of our family. She’s become more dangerous than we could’ve ever imagined. I will be your phantom, watching for the day when she goes too far. I’ll guard over those we love. I’ll become even more powerful, even more black-hearted than her, so that no one can challenge us.

Izanami the pale patted her other’s head, who wrapped her arms around her dead self, gently laying her face against her stomach.

Izanami: Relinquish your guilt, your hatred, your misery to their rightful heir. They will become my greatest weapons, and our name shall haunt the Heavens. Leave it all to your phantom...so you can be free of the weight. So you can see them again.

Finally free to let go of her pain, to surrender the constant, exhausting fight to maintain her sanity, the living Izanami began to softly cry into her other’s belly, holding onto her even tighter. Her thrust burned, her chest felt locked. She could peacefully let her mind wither away. She could live in false happiness, while her ‘phantom’ carried forth the love and wrath she could no longer give.

Izanami: This...this is my vengeance against you too, you know. You won’t find love for a long time. You may never know peace again.

Izanami: I know. I deserve as much.

Izanami: But I’ll protect you...by staying here. My immortal phantom...protect all that which you love. Do what I could not.

Izanami the pale kissed her other’s lips, her cheeks, then her forehead. Alive and dead at the same time, Izanami reconciled with herself, each half inflicting their own revenge on the other, all while protecting each other. As the deceased Izanami slowly backed away from her other, they kept their hands loosely close together, savoring the tender feel if their skin and fingertips until they were too far away to touch anymore.

The living Izanami sighed in peace. Her fight to remain herself was over.

Izanami: Go forth, Izanami the Pale. I will guard your life.

And so, the Izanami the world would come to know sealed the doors of the crypt, the ray of moonlight creeping inside minimizing until the it was wreathed in darkness. The dead Izanami walked the earth, all while the living remained in that crypt. That was Izanami’s Greatest Lie, the ruse she pulled upon Amaterasu, Heaven, and Earth.

Now, thousands of years later, the truth had been freed from its crypt.
Izanami owed an explanation to her friends.

Izanami: She has long since lost her sanity. Her mind has already been fragmented by the years she’s spent here.

As if forgetting the earlier conversation, the living Izanami returned her smile, twirling around and away from Tsukiakari, stopping on the soles of her feet. She didn’t even acknowledge the other Izanami.

Izanami: Have any of you seen Mizuhame? She said she had something to do, but she should’ve been back already! She’ll be late for dinner and Izanagi will be furious!

Inari: So...she’s...

Izanami: That’s right. She still thinks she’s Izanagi’s wife, living with all of her children. She doesn’t respond to anyone or anything that conflicts with her internal timeline.

Inari: Dissociative amnesia? She’s blocking certain memories to protect herself?

Izanami: Her personality has also reverted to accommodate for it. She sees her loved ones every day. Our loved ones. Though, of course, not even the phantoms she sees are real. She has no idea that Izanagi, Mizuhame, and many of our children have been dead for millennia.

Akatsuki: So it’s the same manner in which Kagutsuchi’s soul broke apart, except she didn’t have her body. Suffering an incomplete death, Izanami split into two, one living and the other dead. The dead Izanami then completed Death and spread it across the world in a fit of vengeance.

Izanami: Kagutsuchi had already been sealed in the sun, so she remained untouched by Death. This Izanami fooled Death in her once rotten state, but she soon regenerated completely. She also remains deathless.

Tsukiakari: That’s why they call her the Deathless Child! You and Kagutsuchi avoided the curse of death this whole time! The others remained here alive, so they died as any other organism would.

Inari: And those corpses out at sea?

Izanami: The three primordial gods. They were the first gods, born when the universe was just a pool of chaos. Izanagi and I were the 7th generation of their descendants, and we made form out of the chaotic earth. The Forefathers, we called them, but they aren’t really male or female. Much like everyone else, they fell to Death after it was unleashed upon the world.

Izanami: Guys? Dinner, it’s-

Tsukiakari: Now I get it...she’s the key to your immortality. Her heart keeps the both of you alive. To hide this, you locked her in that crypt while you amassed more and more power against the newly founded pantheon. Your scythe, the Shinigami, death itself, and now the mechanism of reincarnation, and the Shoku Twins. You were building the foundations of Heaven and Earth, the underbelly of it all, while my mother built everything on top.

Izanami: Before she knew it, she relied on me to make sure Heaven and Earth operated harmoniously. I had the most valuable bargaining chips in my hands, and I went through hell to get them.

Omagatoki: So then...are you truly Izanami? Or are you just her phantom?

Izanami refused to answer, fortifying herself with impenetrable silence. The living Izanami kept looking back and forth between both parties, their words sounding like muddled gibberish to her the whole time. She could only observe the disgusted expressions on everyone’s faces, the pity for her biting at their hearts. None of them even knew if they could really call the woman they’ve known all this time Izanami.

(I don’t think I was the only one that felt the sting of Izanami’s lie. It was betrayal, played cleverly well up until that moment. By all accounts, the dead Izanami should’ve gone back to the living Izanami and made her whole again. It’s exactly what Kagutsuchi was trying to do with Tempest Flame. The woman before us was just a fragment of the whole, a phantom born from the original. And yet, the dead Izanami let her greater half resign her own sanity and identity. Would the living Izanami have been okay with her other half’s deeds? Would she be okay earning the of Izanami the Cruel, of killing swathes of humans out of furious revenge? The dead Izanami took the loving, gentle image of the person she owed her existence to, and morphed it into an ugly nightmare. It was such a strange, but profound tragedy.)

Inari: ....Even if this one is the true Izanami, I still formed a bond with you. If it’s true that this one relinquished her life and mind so you could take her place, then I’ll consider you Izanami as well. But only on one condition.

(A condition? What is she...)

Tsukiakari: Inari, where are you going with this?

Inari looked the woman she called her friend in her eyes with a stern gaze.

Inari: You have to give up this lie. Use the opportunity we have now to lay her to rest. You can’t keep doing this to her. She’s been wasting away on this island, in that damned crypt, waiting for her dead family to come back to her!

Izanami looked towards her frolicking other with the utmost pity. She never thought about how she may have felt, having her name change from being a symbol of love and kindness, to a curse filled with hate and tainted by blood. Phantom or not, did she not have an obligation to carry forth and improve the standing of such an honorable name? Her other half, who gave everything to her deceased self, did she not deserve a reputation that reflected the love she was capable of? Did it not occur to Izanami that vengeance and power were but a hollow anodyne for the real emotion locked away at the bottom of her heart?

Inari: She may have agreed with your plan, but wasn’t that because you presented it under the pretense of protecting your family? Did she want you to go as far as you did with all the power you’ve amassed?! You’ve forsaken her and everything she stood for! That’s how you repay her for keeping you alive?! For keeping you immortal while so many other gods have died and cycled out?!

Izanami’s lips trembled at the sight of Inari’s tearful, angry eyes and flustered face. The sight of the Shoku Twins, who she originally, callously tried to sacrifice to bring her own daughter back. The sight of the war goddess that inherited her taste for revenge, using it to drown out the true emotion they both shared.

Inari: Power wasn’t the only reason you locked her away. It wasn’t the only reason she agreed to resign her own existence. She didn’t just allow time and grief to fragment her mind so you could grab power! In reality, you both just found different ways of coping with the same affliction. Izanami...you have to stop.

The living Izanami managed to find a pure, white seashell in the sand, smooth and soothing to the touch. Her first instinct upon finding such a beautiful and relaxing thing was to skip on over towards Tsukiakari and offer it to her.

Izanami: For you! To a long-lasting friendship!

Tsukiakari blushed, taken aback by the crude but heartfelt gift. Gazing into that colorful, blissfully deranged face of hers was all too heart wrenching.

Tsukiakari: You’re too kind, Izanami.

The gleeful, living Izanami spun on her feet, playfully kicking up the sand as she she hummed an improvised tune. “Kind”. That single word struck like lightning in the pale Izanami’s heart. Her blackened eyes widened upon the realization of the great crime she committed, not only against her living self, but even against her phantom self. Even in a state of deep madness, even in a stupor of protective amnesia, Izanami was a kind person. She wasn’t a schemer, a liar, a mass murderer, nor a tyrant. All she was, and all she ever wanted or needed to be...was kind. Above all, that’s what her living self strived for.

At long last, the pale Izanami felt she had regained a part of herself that was lost, the same part her living self discarded long ago. Her self.

Biting her lip in mournful agony upon this realization, the pale Izanami clenched the breast of her kimono, relieving the lock in her chest.

Izanami: I really have failed you all. I lied to my dearest friend. I tried to use two of my most precious allies. My daughter and granddaughter...you both inherited my curse. And it wasn’t just death...

The upbeat, care-free humming of the living Izanami cake to a stop. Her rosy eyes were suddenly captivated by a floating flame in the sky, pointing and signaling the others.

Izanami: Look! Fire in the sky!

Her signal gave everyone’s attention to the floating flame, soon manifesting as a fiery Ichiki.

Tsukiakari: The Tempest Flame is here!

Izanami: The third piece? It took hold of Ichiki?!

Ichiki’s sinister smile stretched from one ear to the other as she floated high above them, her voice booming like fierce thunder.

Ichiki: Tsukiakari...for some reason, she has a profound hatred for you. A daughter’s jealousy, perhaps?

The Phantom Maiden, free of her chains and fully healed, appeared in the sky as well, her body wreathed in violent fire. Ichiki slowly turned her head towards the unmasked Phantom Maiden, chuckling one she saw her face.

Ichiki: It takes true hatred to pull a stunt like that.

(Is that...)

Tsukiakari’s hands trembled, her tongue frozen in silence. Seeing now who the Phantom Maiden really was, she realized that she was being targeted by Kagutsuchi with the utmost hatred. The disembodied fire goddess was all too careful in her selection for conduits to the flame.

After all, who could forget such a cute, heart-warning face?

Tsukiakari: Ebina?! You sick bitch! How dare you use her corpse for this!

All along, behind that mask of shadow, it was Ebina who was marked to be the Phantom Maiden. Twisted by Kagutsuchi’s fiery hatred, she was able to cling to life well beyond her death.

Ichiki: So this island is the gravesite of the three primordial gods. Only they could look so beautiful in death. However, I only see two in the far distance. Tell me, Izanami.

Ichiki teased the deceased goddess with a malicious grin.

Ichiki: Where has the third been all this time?

Both Ichiki and Ebina disappeared in a cloud of smoke, the island suddenly surrounded by black clouds that slowly began to shower embers upon the sea. A rumble in the ocean wobbled the island, making the very act of standing up straight a challenge.

Inari: What’s happening?!

Izanami: No! They’re using the corpse of the third!

The living Izanami stood and watched in calm wonder as the third primordial god rose from the ocean in the far distance, just as breathtakingly colossal as its dead siblings. It had been laying down in the sea this whole time, resting in peace until the flame commanded its corpse.

But this one was a skeleton, it’s skull adorned with a rusted crown void of its former glamour and glory. A black, fur robe decorated its skeletal body, stretching all the way down to its legs protected by worn down, broken armored boots. As it’s arms arose from the ocean, so too did a pitch-Black and glossy greatsword, held firmly by its right hand. It’s colossal, godly stature cloaked the island in the dark abyss of its looming shadow, disrupted only by the ignition of tempestuous fire in its eye sockets, and the great,  bat-like wings of fire sprouted from its back.

Even Izanami trembled and swayed in the wake of the ancient god.

Izanami: Amenominakanushi...

Once a lord of the universe itself, Amenominakanushi now stood before them as the fiery Awakened King, embracing Kagutsuchi’s Tempest Flame.


Do you see now the reach of revenge’s rot?

Offline OhGodHelpMe

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Re: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (COMPLETED)
« Reply #393 on: March 09, 2018, 05:52:30 PM »
Hey folks. I've transferred over the rest of the Belle fight for Inari Standoff. Go ahead and give it a read

Offline OhGodHelpMe

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Re: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (COMPLETED)
« Reply #394 on: March 11, 2018, 03:35:40 PM »
I’ll flesh out the fight a little later. Still don’t want these phantom confrontations being too long considering that the Book of Revenge is all about Tsukiakari going on the warpath.

The Struggle of the Butterfly
The Awakened King, Amenominakanushi. Such a horrific sight froze everyone in shocked wonder, especially Izanami. Both of them.

Izanami: If he accepted the flame, he too must’ve wanted revenge. Revenge against me...

Inari frantically grabbed the living Izanami by her arm, rushing her back inside of the crypt as Tsukiakari and the Shoku Twins stepped forth, completely shaken by the task at hand.

Tsukiakari: How the hell do we take this thing down?!

Akatsuki: We will all need to work together. Whatever happens, you cannot be the one to kill Amenominakanushi, Tsukiakari. If you do, you’ll absorb the rest of the Tempest Flame.

Izanami turned her head to Tsukiakari, her eyes gleaming with fear.

Izanami: ...And Kagutsuchi will use your body to revive herself!

(Damn you, Kagutsuchi. What the hell do you have against me for you to go this far?)

Inari quickly pushed the living Izanami back inside the crypt, using her smile to deter her from worrying.

Izanami: My friends, will the be okay? What’s happening?

Inari: Don’t worry about a thing! Just stay in here for a little bit, okay? We’re gonna make the big bad monster go away, but you have to stay in here. If you die...so does she.

The living Izanami reached out her hand to Inari, stuttering on her words as she struggled to plead her to stay. Inari shut the doors to the crypt, the only safe place she could hide.

Inari: Everyone! We have to lure it away from the island! Fight it on the water instead!

Tsukiakari: The water? Understood! Izanami, back me up!

Izanami: Right behind you!

The two rushed off towards the water, running on top the sea’s surface as if it were solid ground. The Awakened King lowered its fiery eyes upon the sea, focusing on the two goddesses standing between it and the island.

Akatsuki: Sis, The kuji-in required to walk on water will be constantly draining their power during the fight. We should give them support from here.

Omagatoki: Did you have something in mind? We’ll draw too much attention to the island if we manipulate time.

Akatsuki: We’ll use the water itself against Amenominakanushi.

Omagatoki: Purifying ice! Got you! Let’s do it!

Izanami and Tsukiakari watched as the Awakened King took his first, plodding step towards them, slowly but surely closing in on the island. The ocean’s breeze flew through their hair as they stood side by side, their weapons drawn and the spirits fortified. However, an air of division remained between them.

Izanami: I know what you did to Ichiki, Gekko. Her children too. Do you even understand the gravity of what you did? You’re officially an enemy of Heaven.

Tsukiakari: I know already. I don’t need you to lecture me. I’ve got a very special surprise for Heaven after all of this is done.

Izanami: Gekko...

Tsukiakari: On guard! He’s attacking!

Izanami snapped her eyes towards the Awakened King as he raised his black sword skyward, much of its length lost among the clouds.

(A vertical swing at this distance? Not even that sword will reach is from there.)

Betraying their predictions, the Awakened King threw its black blade directly at them, its skeletal body disappearing in a cloud of fire as soon as the hilt left its hand. In a mere second, the Awakened King reappeared with the sword in hand, having instantly closed the distance between itself and the two goddesses. The direction of its blade was telegraphed clearly by its stance and arm positions, enough so that both goddess were able to predict a hard, vertical slash upon the water.

The two leaped away in opposite directions as the black blade smashed through the deep sea, the displaced water rising and folding away from it like blooming flower petals. The sheer, earth-shattering force of that single attack produced hurricane-like winds that suffocated both Izanami and Tsukiakari. The flesh and bones in their legs were left with a feeling of phantom vibration, as if all of their nerves were going off at once.

Izanami: As bad as this is, he’s not nearly as powerful as he once was.

The ocean water at her feet suddenly emitted a bright, blue light, a sign that the water had been blessed. She turned her head back towards the island, realizing the Shoku Twins had successfully divined the water. The two of them sat on the shore together, their hands locked in the To sign with their eyes firmly shut. Behind them was Inari, who gently laid her hands on the backs of the twins to feed them her energy. As if locked in deep meditation, her eyes were shut as well.

Izanami: Gekko! The water! The others charmed the water!

Noticing the ocean's sapphire glow, Tsukiakari's morale was renewed. She could finally figure out how to take down the Awakened King.

(With this, Izanami and I can use purifying ice to quell Kagutsuchi's Tempest Flame!)

The Awakened King would have none of it. Its blackened sword suddenly ignited with ferocious fire as he focused its deathly gaze upon Tsukiakari. Dangerously quick and nimble for his colossal stature, the Awakened King lunged its entire body at the war goddess, its attacks quickly becoming far more wild and barbaric in nature. She managed to dash away from Awakened King just as its body slammed into the ocean, landing on all fours like a ravenous beast waiting to pounce. The Awakened King gripped its skeletal hand around its opened jaw, ripping it away from the rest of its skull. With its jaw discarded, the Awakened King spit forth a wall of bone-charring fire towards Tsukiakari, who stood shocked and awed by its desperate thirst for revenge.

A thick wall of water burst forth in front of her, quickly solidifying into purifying ice and protecting the war goddess from the scorching attack. Izanami landed just in front of her, her scythe in hand.

Izanami: Gekko, pay attention! We need to use the waters to douse the flames! I'll attack from the front, but I need you to go around it!

Tsukiakari: Right!

Izanami allowed the ice wall to shatter apart, prompting Tsukiakari to begin her sprint to the side of the monster before them. Standing up on its own two feet again, the Awakened King plunged its blade into the water, raising its other hand towards the dark, thickly clouded sky. A rolling rumble in the heavens grew louder and louder until a bolt of lightning struck down upon the Awakened King's hand, maintaining its glowing, electric form in the shape of a katana.

(What the hell is that?! A lightning blade?)

Izanami: Kumogiri?!

With a mere slash, Kumogiri brought down a barrage of shrieking lightning upon Izanami from, burning her flesh black and melting it off of her very bones. Several dozen blasts of lightning hit her, obliterating her body until it was just a fleshy sludge floating upon the water. But the sludge almost immediately began to form itself again, with every little piece of Izanami's flesh, her bones, her muscles, organs, and veins all rematerializing as they were just moments ago. With her kimono ripped apart and reeking of burning fire, Izanami stood tall in the face of her ancestor, truly unable to die.

Izanami: That's enough, Kagutsuchi! What right do you have to hate me after everything you did to me?! What right do you have to steal Amenominakanushi's corpse?!

Tsukiakari quickly used Kumogiri to her advantage, using the lightning possessed by the Awakened King and re-forming it into her signature dragon. The lightning dragon coiled around the Awakened King's arm like a constricting snake and detonated, sending fiery, acrid bone fragments flying through the air. The king was brought down to one knee, plunging his sword into the sea floor to hold himself up somewhat. Its bones creaked and cracked as it lifted its head skyward.

The Awakened King unleashed a loud, ear-piercing screech into the air, its power shaking the earth and sending violent ripples through the ocean like a ferocious hurricane wind. Both Izanami and Tsukiakari stood their ground atop the lapping waves, their robes fluttering out of control. When their eyes returned to the mad king, they were horrified by the bright pillar of fire sprouting from its arm socket. It showered the ocean with a rain of spark and ember, taking the shape of a skeletal arm to replace the one the king had lost. With its new limb, the Awakened King reach towards the heavens, summoning a blast of lightning into its flaming palm. Kumogiri, the Cloud Cutter blade of pure lightning, shined like a dying star in the king's flaming hand.

All of a sudden, its movements became far more flexile and swift. It leaped right over Izanami's head, spinning around in mid-air and slamming its raven greatsword upon her. Her body awash with sea water, Izanami blocked the attack with her scythe, the arms in her bones snapping and protruding from her skin from the sheer strength of it. From the shore, the Shoku Twins could see things had taken a bad turn.

Omagatoki: Sis! She's in trouble!

Akatsuki: Give her help from below!

*N O I R*

Tsukiakari rushed to Izanami's aid, taking notice of the built up light below the Awakened King.

Izanami: Now, Gekko!

The two goddesses slammed their weapons into the ocean, entrapping the Awakened King in a swirling tornado of purified water. Desperate to break free, it spread apart its fiery wings in an attempt to evaporate the water all at once, but as its prison of holy water solidified into ice, its wings were doused and severed from its back, fading away into plumes of gray smoke. The ice calmed the flames, but the Awakened King's movements grew vicious and barbaric again. With its bare hand, it punched a hole trough its icy prison, though its forlorn efforts were negated as Izanami kept fortifying the prison with more and more layers of ice. Again and again, the Awakened King would break through the ice only to be trapped once more, the flame inside growing weaker, fainter.

Finally allowed a moment to breathe, it seemed they had managed to stop the Awakened King.

Tsukiakari: Is it done?

Izanami sighed. A weight had been lifted off of her aching shoulders.

(Kumogiri? The Cloud Cutter sword. It's so similar to my dragon attack...)

The icy prison suddenly exploded with raging fire, melting away as the Awakened King reached its arm for the heavens as it fell forward, its entire body wreathed in flames. The infernal pile of bones fell and sank into the ocean, but not before the flames possessing it sprouted out from its remains, twisting and coiling towards Tsukiakari. Realizing she was too far away to intervene in time, Izanami could only desperately yell out to her granddaughter, the fear of seeing her die swelling in her blackened eyes.

Knowing she would only be possessed by the flames if she attacked, Tsukiakari was frozen in her indecisiveness, ignorant of how to counteract possession by the flame.

Izanami: GEKKO!

Tsukiakari shut her eyes as the infernal coils sped towards her, her moment of fear interrupted by the sound of feet splashing upon the water in front of her. The living Izanami stood in front of Tsukiakari, her arms extended open as if to embrace the Tempest Flame into her own body. As the two coils of fire formed into the visage of Ichiki and Ebina, the two realized they had mistakenly impaled the living Izanami as a result of her sudden and fearless sacrifice.

Izanami: No more. It's time to come home...Kagutsuchi.

Tsukiakari stood stunned and petrified by the sight of the sacrifice. The two remaining pieces of the Tempest Flame flowed into the living Izanami as Tsukiakari's heart ached with great agony, as if she were having a massive heart attack. Hyperventilating, she fell over on her side, and the living Izanami too fell unconscious.

Izanami: Gekko! Izanami!

The dead Izanami raced towards the two as the Awakened King's skeleton continued to fall into the sea. She knew not why her living other did what she did, but it was already clear that a far greater emergency had arisen. Both Gekko and the living Izanami could die. Though they had won the fight against the Awakened King, Izanami was ultimately defeated by Kagutsuchi. The fire goddess had gotten exactly what she wanted.

Inari rushed across the sea as the Shoku Twins stayed on the shore, resting for just a moment now that the fight was over. Though, Inari saw how dire their situation had become as she got closer, seeing the unconscious Izanami and Tsukiakari. Any trace of optimism or momentary relief only turned into fuel for more anxiety, more anticipation of what was to come.

Inari: Did she take the flame?

Izanami: They’re both in danger, Inari! We need to settle this soon! But...

Inari: One of them will die. Both if we’re not careful. Izanami, it’s your granddaughter or your living self.

Izanami: Damn it! This isn’t what I wanted at all! Inari, what do I do?! How am I supposed to choose?!

Inari smiled, gently laying her hand on Izanami’s shoulder.

Inari: Considering what just happened...maybe the choice has already been made. For now, lets keep them separated. Stay with your other half outside. I’ll have the Twins work on Tsukiakari inside.

Izanami:...I’ll carry Gekko.

The sound of the ocean’s long, deep kiss on the shore caressed the ears of the living Izanami. The sun’s light warmed her skin like a thick blanket as she owned her eyes, her first sight being the swaying, sparkling sea. A small, snow-white butterfly caught her eye as it fluttered around her, it’s beauty summoning a smile upon her face.

Mizuhame: Hey mom, Izanagi’s got dinner ready!

Mizuhame’s voice startled her, but the sight of her sparkling smile and joyous face immediately calmed her down. With her eyes of blue and bright, orange lion’s mane of hair, Mizuhame grabbed her mother by the hand and walked her inland.

Mizuhame: Enjoying the view?

Izanami: Yep! Oh, I meant to tell you something! I’ve got quite an interesting story to tell you that happened while you guys were gone!

Mizuhame: Oh yeah? What happened?

Izanami: I made some new friends! They came by earlier. One was named Tsukiakari, and she had this really beautiful and extremely long hair! Like, all the way down to her feet! No, even longer! Well, it was tied up for convenience, but you could tell how long it was!

Mizuhame giggled, excited to hear more.

Mizuhame: She hair way beyond her feet?

Izanami: Mhmm! And then there was Inari, who had nine fluffy tails growing from her rear like a fox! She’s super kind and gentle with me. And then there were the Shoku Twins, these two adorable little girls! Oh! But a big monster suddenly appeared before the island!

Mizuhame: Huh?! A monster?!

Izanami: That’s right!

Izanami had serious, but cute expression in her eyes as she retold her grandiose tale.

Izanami: Everyone worked together to quickly fight him off! He was covered in flames and had a katana made out of lightning! Kumogiri, he called it, The Cloud Cutter sword!

Mizuhame: What happened next? Did you help out?

Izanami: I sure did! These tendrils of fire emerged from the monster and tried to possess Tsukiakari! But I managed to get in front of her and take them myself! Thank the heavens I was able to get to her in time! I was scared she was gonna...

Izanami suddenly stopped.

Izanami: What...what was I scared of? Why did I feel the need to save her?

Mizuhame: You okay? You look a little pale. Hey, maybe some food will make you feel better!

They stopped in view of a single round table just up ahead, on a small bed of flat rock overlooking the shore. It was there that Izanagi waited, waving at his daughter and wife. The fish was already roasted and ready to be eaten. But not even the sight of her love could quell the strange feeling inside of her. It only made it stronger.

In a world where everything could only ever be born and grow up, what was she scared of? What did she fear would happen to Tsukiakari and the rest of her friends? The butterfly re-emerged, flying up towards the blinding sun until no one could see it anymore.

At last, everything began to make sense. At last, Izanami could relate to the struggle of the butterfly, flying away until no one could see it again. She looked back down into Mizuhame’s face, her expression melancholic. Her beautiful smile was mixed with saddened eyes glistening with tears.

Izanami: Mizuhame. I remember why I thought to save her.

Mizuhame returned the smile.

Mizuhame: I see. That’s it. That’s good. Dad and I...

Izanami: I know. I remember it all now. I haven’t finished saving my friend. You guys...will have to have your dinners without me from now on.

Mizuhame: I understand. Go finish your story, Mom!

Izanami: No. It’s only just beginning.

Izanami closed her eyes, knowing she would awake from her phantom slumber soon. She awoke to the same sound of the ocean, the sun setting in the distance and cloaking the sky in a veil of orange. She got up off of her back, realizing she was sitting on the shore with her other half. The Tempest Flame churned inside of her.

Izanami: You’re awake? How do you feel?

She gazed at her living self with clear worry in her eyes, knowing how unpredictable the Tempest Flame could be.

Izanami: They never came back...

Izanami: What are you...

The living Izanami gave her other half the same expression she gave Mizuhame. One could easily tell. Something changed within her.

Izanami: I remember now. They never...came back...

« Last Edit: April 13, 2018, 07:09:36 PM by OhGodHelpMe »

Offline OhGodHelpMe

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Re: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (COMPLETED)
« Reply #395 on: April 04, 2018, 04:15:15 PM »
Haven’t updated in a bit, so I’ll tell you guys what I’ve been working on since the last post.

-Yes, Book of Phantoms is getting finished and will be the last “new” DbeG story (I promise this time)
-Working on implementing cut content from the second part of The End of Osamu Ashikaga. Will include more interactions with the vampirical lord’s, Osamu’s journey across the globe to restore Hima’s empire, and Lucrezia’s involvement in a series of vital events
-Implementing cut content from Senkumo War Stories: Book of Betrayal. A new minor character has already been added (Ayadachi), chapters have been expanded upon to more intimately illustrate Tsukiakari’s command of the Senkumo clan, her relationships with its members, and some of their non-Bishamon related hardships. Also expanded to better illustrate the “descent into madness” the clan experienced as the war really started getting hot. Among that cut content, the Plague Chapters will be added as well, dealing with an outbreak of Bubonic Plague in the Senkumo mansion.
-Ending Letting Go on such a miserable note may have been too cruel. Working on a bittersweet resolution chapter where Osamu properly scatters Rousoku’s ashes. Fits more with theme of letting go of things.

I’m a very very busy writer  :ninja:

Offline OhGodHelpMe

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Re: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (COMPLETED)
« Reply #396 on: April 11, 2018, 08:20:37 PM »
Finally done with the Plague chapters!

They start here! with the Avidya chapter and finish with the Pratigha chapter. I'll continue fleshing things out over time, but I hope you enjoy this. Feedback desperately needed lol

Offline OhGodHelpMe

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Re: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (COMPLETED)
« Reply #397 on: April 12, 2018, 10:17:37 PM »
The Slaves and the Heir
Izanami: They never came back. And they never will.

Izanami the pale understood exactly what was happening, but she never expected it to happen at all. Her other was no longer chasing phantoms. The breeze bestowed upon them by the ocean commanded the lift and fall of their hair. The living Izanami kept her eyes fixed on the ocean’s glare and the faraway corpses of her ancestors.

Izanami: Every morning I wake and expect them to return, but the day goes and I remain alone, playing with their phantoms as if they were really here. But...I’ve figured it out now. Izanagi and Mizuhame...died a long time ago.

The Pale just couldn’t look away from the clear, colorful face of the Living.

Izanami: Why did you jump in front of Gekko?

Izanami: I asked myself the same question. Why did my heart jump with fear at the mere idea of her being in danger? Why did I feel like I was going to lose myself if I lost her?

Being her other half, the Pale could already feel in her heart what the Living was going to express with her words.

Izanami: And then I remembered. You existed. Death...existed. And if death existed, I’ve already lost my family. I refused to lose my descendants. Did you feel it too, Izanami?

The Pale turned her eyes away from her other, hanging her head in woeful silence.

Izanami: You appeared before me as my mind was on the brink of destruction. You offered to be my phantom, to amass great power in my stead. You were to be the greatest deterrence against Amaterasu and all the other gods of the pantheon. You became Heaven’s shadow while I remained here, protecting your life while my mind had already been fragmented. Such great power you amassed...perhaps far too much.

Izanami: Too much?

Her blood boiling with anger, the Pale stood in front of her other, her voice serrated by rage. Her shadow cloaked the Living in shade, blocking the setting sun from her view.

Izanami: Too much?! Are you telling me I did my job too well?! I promised I would be your vengeance, the anger you were too broken to feel! I used that power to make myself stronger than every single one of those bastards in Heaven! I earned my name! Izanami the Cruel! I became death and calamity incarnate! I did exactly what was needed, suffering more than anyone to achieve it! And after all of that, my reward from you is saying that I’ve done too much?! Look around you! The gods rule the land, sea, and sky that Izanagi and I created! I haven’t done nearly enough!

Izanami: Yes you have. Izanami...you’ve done enough. You can’t spend your entire existence like this. Motivated by anger and rage, constantly chasing after what has already been lost. In the end, you and I weren’t all that different. We were both trapped in crypts of our own making, both chasing after phantoms.

Izanami: What are you trying to say?!

Izanami: You and I suffered the same fate in reality. It wasn’t just my mind that was fragmented. It was yours as well.

Izanami: My mind is just fine!

The Living shot up onto her feet, startling the Pale. Face to face, neither was willing to back down. Every time this happened, this peering into her other’s rosy eyes, a certain kind of pain welled in the Pale’s heart. A pain she always tried to suppress as soon as she felt it coil around her heart.

Izanami: You’ve forgotten...in much the same manner that I did. You protected me and isolated me from the weight of our sorrow. But you...you were isolated from our happiness.

Izanami: What happiness?! Have you been listening to anything I’ve been telling you?! We’ve lost everything that was once ours! Only a few of our children are even still alive! What happiness is there to be had?!

Izanami: The happiness of this island. Don’t you remember? The dinners, the nights besides the fire, the soothing light of the moon. You and your family lived here. This was our home.

Izanami: I know that already. What are you trying to say?

The Living smiled as she folded her hair behind her ears.

Izanami: You know, what Izanagi did...what Kagutsuchi did...it hurt like nothing else. I may not remember it all myself, but I can see that much in your eyes. But even so, though our family wasn’t perfect, though we could never achieve all the things we wanted to...when I was married to Izanagi, when I was a mother of his children...

The fiery rage inside the Pale flickered and dimmed as the Living’s voice shuddered and broke, her tears trailing down to her beautiful smile.

Izanami: I was happy!

The Pale’s sunken brows lifted in heartfelt surprise. It was that simple admission of past content that continued to dim her hatred.

Izanami: So...I hope you too can remember why we can look back on those days with happiness. There’s so much more to our memories than sorrow or hate. After all...it doesn’t matter if you become the most feared god in all of Heaven. It doesn’t matter how much power you have. You can butcher Kagutsuchi, take revenge on Amaterasu, and burn all of Heaven down to the ground! But no hatred, no matter how powerful, can give you back what was lost. It’s all gone for good. But even so, more so, that’s the reason why you should start anew. You will love again. You will be a wife and mother again, because you are not Izanami the Cruel. That’s not what Izanami means! No...you are She Who Invites. You’re a kind and loving soul beneath all of your rage.

Izanami the Pale’s hands trembled as her lips quivered, her heart remembering those fine days where she was truly happy, truly kind. The Living took hold of her cold, shaking hands, giving them warm serenity.

Izanami: Soon, we will have Kagutsuchi back. Our daughter will have her own body again. I will use this body to do it, saving both Kagu and Gekko at the same time.

Izanami: No, you can’t! If you do that-

Izanami: It’s okay. I will die, but my flesh and heart will remain intact. They will shield both you and Kagutsuchi. You’ll be one step closer to building anew what you have so painfully lost. And...one final gift. I know exactly why you worked so hard to amass such enormous power. Why you fought and suffered to become so feared. It has nothing to do with hatred, does it? After all, rage is never born alone. Even your trembling hands tell me what you’ve been really feeling.

Izanami: Shut up...there's nothing but hatred left...

Izanami: Your true emotion...

The Pale's gentle clasp turned into a bone-cracking, vice grip as she yelled out in anger, her breaths deepened by her rage.

Izanami: Stop it!

Izanami: It's pain, isn't it?

Those words alone, that recognition of what her life had been up until that very moment, set the Pale free. It was a mournful, heartbreaking freedom, to be stripped naked of the cloak of revenge, to have the true reason for her hatred out in the open. Pain. Physical, emotional, mental. Her life was nothing but that.

Clasped in gentle, loving warmth, Izanami’s hands ceased their tremors. But upon realizing this, her heart ached and rolled in her chest. Hand in hand with her other, she too began to cry, the both of them falling to their knees as the Pale’s whimpers and sobs finally escaped from the depths of her heart.

Izanami: Set that emotion free...and I promise...the hatred will be gone too. Let your pain guide you to a brighter future. I am yet another fragment of the past that will be gone to make way for the future. This day will be my last. After all is done, my flesh... my bones... will protect our daughter. And this island will sink into the glittering sea, laid to rest with our ancestors.  You’re already well on your way, Izanami. But you have to grasp these things before you let them slip away. You have to invite the new people in to make you happy, instead of waiting for phantoms of the past to come back to you. We can do this. Together. From today forth, seek not an abundance of power or vengeance. Seek love. Seek forgiveness. Seek new hearts to mend your own, and invite them. That's all you have to do.

The Living's eyes traced the darkened sand wet with the sea's kiss and caress, spotting the white butterfly bouncing about in the air. Its snow-white wings glowing like fragments of broken light, it fluttered towards the Living as the Pale's cries calmed down. She too sensed the butterfly's arrival.

Izanami: Look! There it is again!

The Living opened up he palms, letting the butterfly make a delicate landing in her hands. The Living's lips curled upwards in a gracious smile as she presented the butterfly to the Pale, putting it in her open palms. Something so full of light and life, fluttering its wings in the palm of death itself, spoke wonders to the Pale.

Izanami: Beauty has a language. Its words are silent, and we may often miss what it's trying to say, but it speaks right to our souls. This butterfly doesn't have to be anything else than what it is to be beautiful. The same goes for you. From this day forth, you are Izanami no Mikoto. You don't have to be anything else. You need only let your pain fly out and guide you.

The Pale lifted the butterfly up into the sky, watching as it quickly returned into the air, fluttering away as quickly and quietly as it came to visit. An overwhelming and peaceful relief washed over the Pale, as if the butterfly had taken with it all of her troubles and agony. A heavy burden had finally been lifted.

Izanami: Are you ready, Izanami?

A melancholic smile blessed the Pale's face.

Izanami: Yeah. Let's save our family.

*N O I R*

The two returned inside the island's plateau, descending the spiraling stairs into the torch-lit dungeon. Before they even turned the corner, they were immediately alarmed by Inari's increasingly frantic cries echoing throughout the room.

Inari: Gekko! Come on Gekko, breathe! Breathe!

The two Izanamis raced down those final steps, immediately rushing to Inari's aid in the center of the spiral dungeon. The panicking fox goddess held Tsukiakari's unconscious body in her arms, the breast of her kimono pulled open to give air to her sweat-covered chest.

Izanami: Inari, what's wrong?!

Inari: Gekko's heart isn't beating! She isn't breathing either! I don't know what's wrong!

The Pale dropped to her knees, feeling around Tsukiakari's chest while Inari felt for a pulse in her wrist.

Izanami: Nothing?!

Beads of hot sweat rolled down the Pale's face as the Living rolled up her sleeves, wasting no time in saving her granddaughter's life.

Izanami: Kagutsuchi is trying to kill her. We have very little time to act, but we can still make sure Gekko doesn't die. Inari, I need you to help Izanami draw out the Tempest Flame inside of Gekko and transfer it to me. We'll use my body to restore Kagutsuchi.

Inari: What?! But you'll-

Izanami: We don't have any time! Prepare the circle!

Izanami: Go ahead and start, Inari! I'll prepare the left side!

Inari and the Pale immediately shot up onto their feet and got to work while the living held Gekko's body in her arms. Knowing now that the war goddess was her granddaughter, she seemed a thousand times more beautiful than she was mere hours ago. It brought a warm smile to the Living's face.

Izanami: Gekko...hang in there, my love. Your grandmother will protect you.

Tsukiakari awoke to the sound of wordless chanting, a Gregorian melody. The first thing she saw were the high, vaulted ceilings above, their gold outlines shimmering in the rays of multi-colored light. She immediately sat up in a fright, the sound of splashing water pounding behind her. She came to realizing that she was sitting in ankle-deep water, with the floor beneath made of multi-colored tesserae. Her raven hair and kimono were both soaked, her sword lying at her side.

(What...where am I?)

Looking over at her right, her breath was all but taken away. She held her arm over her overwhelmed eyes as she gazed at the massive column of stained glass ahead, its patterns and colors reflected by the shimmering water. Six red cloaks knelt before a sleeping woman on the golden throne, three parted to the left and three parted to the right. But the woman bore a familiar visage. Hair thick, beautifully long hair was as black as a moonless night, its strands twisting and curling down to her feet. She wore a scarlet haori over her shoulders like a cape as a golden thurible necklace dangled over her snow-white kimono. Her face remained hidden behind a demonic noh mask, her slender hands gently clasped over the sheathe of the sword resting across her lap. Dozens of unlit candles surrounded the base of the throne, yet their aroma could be sensed in the air. At the center of the room, a sword nearly identical to Tsukiakari's stood with its glimmering blade stuck firmly in its pedestal, a small, silver thurible necklace wrapped around the hilt like a rosary.

Though the red cloaks folded and wrinkled as if there was a human body beneath them, Tsukiakari could see neither feet nor arms, nor any part of a physical person beneath the cloaks. And yet, deep voices emanated from them, bellowing out from their emptiness in melodic chants and wordless song. An eerie yet precious and sacred aura surrounded them, their robes painted by the color of the stained glass shining down upon them. But their chants went silent the moment Tsukiakari stood up on her feet, sword in hand. In strange unison, the empty cloaks turned themselves towards Tsukiakari in complete silence. Large, silver thuribles hung from the insides of their sleeves, releasing plumes of aromatic smoke into the air.

The light shining through the stained glass died away, as if the sun faded from the very sky and plunged the world into deep darkness. The thuribles held by the phantom cloaks shined with the gentle light of fire burning inside them, setting the candles alight as well. The previously sleeping woman slowly raised her head, silently awakening from her slumber. She arose from her throne, slowly descending the steps and wading through the water. Drawing the blade she held in her hand, she then sauntered towards the blade in the pedestal, taking firm hold of its handle.

The metal of the sword rung out as it rubbed against the inside of the stone pedestal, that single sound echoing and repeating throughout the room a few times over before quietude returned. Tsukiakari could only watch in stunned amazement all the while.

The sword blessed by the thurible was suddenly wreathed in black fire, while the other blade faintly illuminated the room with its ghostly, blue glow of holy ice. The gaze of the woman and all of the emptied cloaks focused on Tsukiakari, who knew now she had to fight them. Curiously, with such quietude between them, the war goddess had come to know their names.

Gunshuu, Eminent Slaves of the Hallowed Elder.

Samudaya, Hallowed Heiress of the Pyre.

Offline OhGodHelpMe

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Re: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (COMPLETED)
« Reply #398 on: April 15, 2018, 10:45:33 PM »
So, uhhh...

I believe it was mentioned early on in the story, maybe in a passing sort of way, that Osamu had seen Yoko naked before he had even returned to Kyoto. This is a true little detail I forgot to write about, but Osamu and Yoko did have an interesting interaction one day during a typhoon, about a year before Isabella came to Japan.  :ninja: I've always wanted to write this chapter so I can't believe it slipped my mind during The Corpse's Romance.

here, Friends into Lovers

Offline Walter B

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Re: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (COMPLETED)
« Reply #399 on: April 16, 2018, 08:45:54 AM »

Maybe Oni can make a drawing of that part  ;)

Looked at some of the art in the first page, that girl with the akatsuki-like robe looks nice!

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Offline OhGodHelpMe

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Re: Death By Ex-Girlfriend (COMPLETED)
« Reply #400 on: April 16, 2018, 04:58:46 PM »
Honestly, I'd kill for some Yoko lewds. Yeah the girl is Tsukiakari Senkumo, the war goddess  :clapping: