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Sorrow



 
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Saito Eiji

A tiny oval was all he had to admire his home from, the silouhette of Sendai appearing framed by the encroaching dawn. It was a more than welcome sight to the sallow man sagged against the cold plastic surrounding the porthole. Dark bags hung under his eyes, their hollow expression filling with whatever energy he had left to muster. The past week had taken a gluttonous toll on him, both spiritually and physically... He could still feel it, his parasite, lurking where the light didn't touch. The fiend bode its time for when sleep claimed the priest again, when it could freely burrow into the most delicate parts of his psyche and whisper foul nothings of contempt and doubt.

It was an insidious gift that came along with his latest task, the latter half of which had been entirely self-imposed. His thoughts drifted to the empty seat he had purchased next to him, his hand absentmindedly lifting to reach towards it. Aching, he gently stroked the companion that no-one else could see. More for the dog than for himself, it was a token of reassurance. Crimson red scratches crawled up from his splintered fingernails, gifts from last night's nightmare... No part of him blamed the beast for the entity that had chosen to latch onto him, and he hoped it could understand that through such a mundane gesture. It was only natural for all things to seek serenity, and this suffering would be a small price to pay to give it rest.

"Almost there, Inugami." Eiji whispered, unkempt tendrils of coal-hued hair obscuring his eyes. Vacancy died to a dim warmth as he tilted to glance at her, cracked lips splitting into a smile. "Excuse my friend, he's not as sociable as I am. Ota's his name."

Their eyes would disconnect then, as he thought to his handler of the past twenty years. It was Ota that helped him process his connection to the unknown, and convinced him to steer away from who he was when he was younger. His fingers lifted for a moment, as he reminded himself how close he had been to the edge; his two smallest fingers lacked fingerprints, and beared formidable scars... That close, he thought, to being Yakuza.

"I'll have to tell you more about him sometime. After we see him."
March 08, 2018 02:57 pm

Gyldi

Admittedly, saying goodbye to Father Davies - and the church that had been hers for centuries - was harder than expected. Eiji and the Priest had dug up her bones without incident, and the unveiling of her skeleton had taken a visible toll on the man. Gyldi never thought leaving that place would have been difficult, but seeing Davies’ warm eyes brim touched her still heart. He made his farewell short and to the point, thanking them both for their services to the church, and her for her companionship. But as they set off on their way, the beast couldn’t help but to turn back for one last glimpse of her makeshift home and the man that had been good to her...only to see the tears finally fall as her incorporeal form faded from his sight.

She couldn’t help but feel excited, though. There had been no real future for Gyldi; she was doomed to spend eternity on the sacred grounds of the church, each day blending with the last. Now, while there was still no real chance for her, it was at least different.

For once, she was glad to be dead; to say she was overstimulated was an understatement. Time stood still in that quiet church, but everywhere else, it droned on, bringing change and technology that she had no idea how to fathom. And so many people. She’d thought Eiji’s eyes so strange, having never encountered an Asian before, but there were so many like him. There was such variety in people now, and that was just the beginning of everything to take in.

He took her into a wheeled carriage made of metal that went faster than anything she’d ever seen. Then they got into a tubular carriage that was impossibly long and held an impossible amount of people, and she thought to herself, how strange that the world could simultaneously feel much larger and much smaller. Everything was bright, even during the night, as they’d learned how to harness lightning and put it into small glass balls. The only reason she knew of the light’s nature was because, when she reached out to harness her electric abilities - dampened as they were - the bulbs pulsed and dimmed.

Gyldi wanted to take everything in, she wanted to explore and discover and understand. But her freedom came with a price that was paid by her savior, and it took its toll. She was careful to not leave his side, for as much as she wanted to see everything, she was also terrified of it all. He would attempt to sleep wherever he could find a spot, but it was fitful and restless. Something was plaguing him, and she could do nothing but watch. Her warding abilities had waned considerably with the instability that came with digging her up, and the guilt that racked her was enough to send her into a panic as she watched him tear his fingertips apart with his vice grip on whatever he could get his hands on. Occasionally, he would seize violently, and she’d taken to laying her head on his chest to attempt to ease his rest.

It was when he reached out and absently tangled his fingers in her fur that she pulled back in shock. He could...he could touch her? Even in life, there weren’t many that would touch her freely; either they were afraid of her fragility, or they were afraid she was contagious. So, naturally, she’d always been touch-starved. But this...it was as if she had a connection to the waking world that she’d never been offered, and as she laid her head back on his chest and felt that muted touch - muffled, much like a child covering their ears to ignore what they don’t want to hear, only with the sense of touch - she wondered just how special this man was.

A week later, and they were aboard a plane (don’t get her started, she’d always wondered what it was like to be a bird). She was staring out the circular portal to the sky when Eiji’s hand reached out to stroke her fur, and she automatically leaned into it. There was an undeniable comfort in his touch, one that she hadn’t felt since her mother-- no, she had to force her thoughts away from that, at least for now. He spoke, and her ears perked at the strange word he used. Being in an English church for so long, she had picked up on the language fairly early on, and even adapted to the changes in the dialect as time passed. This word, she’d never heard before. However, her keen hearing picked up on the voices around the plane, and the strange sounds were very similar, so she could only deduce that English wasn’t his first language.

Something she found very endearing about her new companion was that he didn’t hesitate to speak to her. He talked to her with full knowledge that she could understand him, and she guessed that he’d been lonely for quite some time. Eiji spoke of another man, Ota, and she committed his name to memory as well. Gyldi would never forget anything he told her. Absently, she even thought about how content she’d be to remain his companion, for as long as her strange existence afforded her.

As if to remind her of Eiji’s looming fatality, the plane suddenly began to rumble violently. Instinctually, she stiffened, moving just that much closer to him as a soft whimper emanated from her chest. Was this how he died?
March 08, 2018 08:08 pm

Saito Eiji

"Don't worry, we're just landing."

-

Despite the dull glow that the menagerie of monitors that surrounded his desk bathed him in, a faint sliver of golden light that leaked through the perimeter of the curtains irritated him. Pale fingers drew away from the well-worn keyboard that had been carefully positioned on his lap to wipe the sleep from his eyes. Another long night putting together leads, and browsing some obscure imageboard... He felt the compulsion to get up from his plush deskchair, walk into his bathroom and take a shower, but he wouldn't. Or rather, he couldn't. No matter how hard he willed it, his legs simply would not respond. Putting forth the effort to travel the thirty feet seemed too high a price to pay for hygeine, at the moment. He'd wait an hour, or a week, and then he'd get around to it. It's not like a hikikomori, a hermit, had anything like company to look forward to.

"Oh, right." He thought aloud, pushing shaggy tendrils of black hair from his bagged eyes. It had been a couple months since he had been home, thought they spoke over the phone most days... Except for this past week. Ota'd only received a short text announcing his friend's homecoming. Eiji was probably the only person he would willingly be in the presence of, so he'd have to muster the energy to atleast be presentable.

Handling an executor of Ordo Umbra was lucrative enough to afford him some small luxuries, like a built in shower chair... Which he might have used, if Eiji hadn't installed it so poorly. It seemed too much of a hassle to call a professional, so he opted to run a bath instead. The steam might soothe his eyestrain, he mused, as he discarded his clothing. Just above his navel rested a permanent reminder of the bullet that shattered his spine, and forever cut his lower half off from control. With an empty glare he'd glance at his atrophied legs. At one point, he might have manually exercised them, but nowadays he simply couldn't see the point.

Bathing was always a struggle, but he'd become adept enough to ease himself into the steaming water with little consequence. His head would fall back against the rim, letting his lungs fill with the warm precipitation. There were already more jobs for him to issue Eiji, but he wouldn't tell him right off. He could stay for a while.

-

Sendai was a city filled with lush foliage that balanced itself against the industry of modern society; every skyscraper in the distance was sure to be surrounded by tall sakura trees that canopied the sidewalks. In Spring, the entire city would be bathed in their pale pink hue. Eiji's gait was a bit unsteady, but his expression was far more relaxed than it had been recently. Unnerved pedestrians would walk a few extra steps around him, probably assuming he was plagued by a more mundane type of illness. This didn't seem to bother the exorcist much, he'd been avoided for far less reasonable rationale.

"I'll have to take you to Rinnoji Temple after this. It's beautiful, and the god there is an inugami, like you." A small chuckle rumbled from him, as he recalled the first time he met Date. "But he might just rattle on about the Masamune family, and preserving their legacy or something. But you'd like the gardens. They're peaceful."

The climb up to Ota's apartment was an arduous three flights of stairs... Something that, when he was more lucid, wouldn't have been a hassle. Bedraggled and breathless, he'd push the door open and step past the threshold. His best friend of the past two decades would be found behind his desk, staring down his digital hydra of screens, hair still damp.

"Took you long enough, boke."
March 11, 2018 11:21 pm

Gyldi

Eiji’s homeland was bright and colorful. Subconsciously, she hoped they'd stay until spring; Eiji had talked of pink leaves on the trees and the stories that were passed among campfires didn’t even seem quite so fantastic. There were so many people, rushing to and fro, yet it was bizarrely quiet. Everyone seemed reclusive, expertly weaving in and out of each others’ paths and keeping to themselves.

As the initial shock began to wear off, she noticed that everyone - everyone - seemed to be giving Eiji an especially wide girth. Glancing up at his face, she wondered what it was about him that was so off putting, yet he didn’t seem to mind. Really, if she had to guess, she would say he preferred it that way.

Or maybe he’d just convinced himself he did.

As he spoke, Gyldi picked up on that word again. ...inugami, like you. Her ears instantly perked; like her? There were others like her! She leapt about him for a moment, showcasing her excitement to meet this kindred spirit. Perhaps this inugami could pass along some information about her existence that she was unaware of.

They came to their destination, and she followed behind him on the stairs, keeping his pace. It wasn’t lost on her that he wasn’t handling the ascent well, and a soft sigh escaped her as she nuzzled his hand apologetically.

However, her focus was garnered elsewhere as he let them into the apartment. Stopping in the threshold, it was all she could do to take everything in. The place was admittedly small, but the space was filled with so many glowing squares that mimicked the flashing signs outside in everything but size. Before them sat a man in a strange, wheeled chair, and she could only guess this was Ota. As they exchanged words in their strange language, Gyldi took it upon herself to bound inside and prop herself up on the desk that held all the main sources of light.

Displayed across them were strange images and symbols, some moving and some not. She canted her head to the side as she tried to comprehend what she was seeing. If she thought hard enough, a memory of Father Davies chastising a teenager for interrupting the sermon with what could only be described as a handheld version of this came to mind.

Unable to fully understand, she soon lost interest and turned her attention elsewhere once more. Primarily, Ota. She walked around his odd, wheeled chair a moment, wondering why he sat in such a contraption. But, as she looked more closely at his legs, she noticed how weak they were, and her heart sank a bit. He was frail and sick, just as she had been; so illness was still prominent in this new age. There was no denying the disappointment in her earthen hues, and she could kick herself for thinking that sickness would have been eradicated.

Gyldi doesn’t have time to dwell as she all of a sudden catches the gaze of the man before her. Still, she wasn’t exactly sure he’d been looking at her, so she twitched her tail from side to side to see if it caught his attention. Sure enough, his eyes fell to her again, meeting her gaze, and she recognized that yes, he was seeing her and not just an empty space where she stood.

She wondered if Eiji knew.
March 15, 2018 10:24 pm

Saito Eiji

"Sorry I've been so absent. I was lost in Jotunheimen for about two weeks alone, Norwegian trolls like to make camp where there's no cell service... And that emergency call to England had some baggage." Eiji glanced at the Black Dog, as it sated its curiosity on the marvels of Ota's apartment. Not that he could blame her; some of the things in here baffled him, even. "Baggage I'm still dealing with, unfortunately. I can't stay long."

Ota's expression fell, though he had expected as much... It was a rarity that Eiji was home for more than a few weeks at a time, which usually wasn't much of an obstacle for their friendship. "How soon?" He asked flatly, stuffing away his disappointment.

"Soon. I'm sick of field rations and river water, and I assume you've eaten nothing but cup ramen..." Eiji continued, reaching over to tip over a short stack of empty styrofoam cups. He caught Ota's fleeting dismay, but letting himself stick around too long would just endanger him as well... He'd done his best to keep his parasite at bay, but it was undoubtedly dwelling in some dim place nearby. "How's hotpot sound?"

"Fine. No cabbage, though." Ota turned his chair away then, setting his fingers back to the keyboard. Ever since they were kids, that had always been the way Ota'd show his irritation. Back then, Eiji would have sat across the room and pelted him with tiny paper airplanes until he drew enough ire to be shouted at, and then they'd both have a laugh. This time, he'd just get to work. A stomach full of sukiyaki would have to suffice as his apology.

Ota reclined in his chair, breathing a sigh of contentedness as Eiji picked the last few pieces of steak from the bottom of the pot and shoveled them into his mouth. If Eiji had any particular talents outside of his disposition for the preternatural, they were most certainly culinary. His mother had done a thorough job of ensuring he wouldn't end up like so many other kids once they left home, subsisting on convenience store food and poorly steamed rice. Ultimately her teaching didn't stop him from living like a vagrant whenever his work demanded it of him, which was often. But a warm meal with a familiar face was good for the soul, all the more so if it's well prepared.

"I'll be back before long, and I'll spend a few weeks at home." Eiji expounded as he scrubbed the hotpot and put it atop Ota's fridge, where it would wait until Eiji needed to apologize for something else. "I just need to work something out. Nothing serious, I promise."

Ota gave him a questioning look before nodding, accepting that it was something he probably didn't want to know anyway. He shifted towards his computer once Eiji started to leave, only pausing long enough to look after him with a sinking expression. "We should go see Dad when you get back. Don't take long."

Eiji nudged his companion with his foot, giving Ota a final nod as he left the apartment. A weight had already started to come off of his chest; he'd almost forgotten what it was like to feel so at ease.

"I'm going to need your help, my friend. Do you mind?"
March 18, 2018 05:08 pm

Gyldi

They continued speaking in that odd tongue, and Gyldi felt the mood shift ever so slightly. The disappointment in Ota’s voice was palpable, at least to her, and she couldn’t help but wonder what had been said. Her head canted to the side curiously, but they quickly moved on.

Eiji got down a strange looking pot from the top of a strangely cold contraption, and she went to his side immediately. Her ears perked as he began preparing the meal, the smells becoming all consuming. Gyldi sniffed them hungrily - a figure of speech, of course - and she could swear her mouth was salivating. One of the things she missed the most about being alive was being able to satiate an empty stomach. While her stomach never rumbled, and sustenance was never needed, she still missed food.

She eyed them greedily as they consumed their meal, living vicariously through their contented hums. Her tail brushed across the floor slowly, her own quiet calm taking over as the reality of her situation set in. For now, she was happy and safe; but a dark cloud still lingered in the back of her mind in the form of Ota’s impending death. Her eyes flicked open from their relaxed state, and she watched him curiously. Gyldi had never feared death, nor had she ever looked at it as something to be grieved. Then again, she’d never really had anyone to grieve, either. Sure, she missed her younger siblings, and even her mother, but they were better off now. Much better off than her…

Before she could think on it further, she was being nudged gently out the door. Strange, she must have zoned out during the clean-up process, as the mealtime clutter had already been cleaned and put away. Casting one last glance back at Ota, she decided that she would do her best to warn Eiji.

Not that there was much she could do.

At his question, she gave an easy nod of her head. A derisive snort followed, as if to say, No need to ask.
March 24, 2018 07:13 pm

Saito Eiji

"What are you doing?"

The question seemed to spring from the ether, making Eiji jerk in response. His locker door snapped shut reflexively, and he angled a peculiar glare to his childhood friend. "What are you doing?" A nervous glance was tossed over each shoulder before he drew nearer to the shaggy headed otaku. "We shouldn't be seen talking like this... You don't need the other Crows setting their sights on you." He chided, shoving Ota with a firm palm to the shoulder. "Don't be an idiot."

Ota looked past him, and jerked the locker back open, throwing what little weight he bore into Eiji to make room. A potent admixture of anger and fear filled his eyes, as he reached in to claim what had been hidden there so hastily. "A gun, Eiji?"

---

"We're going west, just outside of town." He spoke plainly, ignoring the questioning looks he got from the occasional passerby that assumed he was talking to them. There wasn't much point in skulking about and whispering to something that nobody else could see anyway. While a certain amount of discretion went into his profession, something told him those few incredulous people whose attention he'd caught wouldn't remember him a few moments after. "There is a shrine there, to a nameless kami. She should be able to help us."

A crooked fenceline ebbed into the countryside, following the sloping hills fluidly enough so as not to mar the pristine horizon. The Sun coasted lazily along the encroaching treeline, casting her luminous fingers through every unobstructed place. That wouldn't matter so much once they slipped underneath the forest canopy, where the waning daylight couldn't penetrate. He reminded himself of the dangers of nightfall, but took solace in the fact that he hadn't noticed the Demon peering over his shoulder in some time.

"Here we are." Eiji announced, almost stumbling over his words between each rasping breath. The Akiu Great Falls stood before them, pure water cascading down a cliff-face that was normally covered in dense vegetation and the animals that made it their home. Winter had taken her due, but the Falls were majestic all the same. Eiji checked the surroundings for any wandering tourists before stripping down to his briefs. His form would be exposed to be covered in a clutter of pale scars, the trademark of his career. Anyone that confronted evils beyond the veil of mortality ran the risk of physical and psychological trauma. Beneath the scars, however, was something that claimed much more estate of his flesh... A pair of striking red eyes would seem to stare back at his companion, seated in the head of the serpent ornately inscribed over all but the small of his back.

The chill air bit into his bare skin, threatening hypothermia if he ignored his body's desire for warmth. Such inclinations would be banished from his thoughts soon enough, he encouraged himself. It always got easier once he fell into the trance.

"This is something like hallowed ground, here. The waters can cleanse anything, even a possession, if given enough effort." He knelt down at the bank of the stream born from the tumbling waters, stifling a shiver. Back bared to her, he would continue. "All you need to do is guard me. Some of the more mischievous spirits here might try to interfere."

Drawing in a deep breath, he would lend the dog a smile. Taking a moment to steel himself, he would prostrate himself and lower his face into the gnawing cold flow, and began a silent prayer.
March 24, 2018 10:55 pm

Gyldi

Gyldi followed dutifully, never more than a few paces behind him. While her gaze never left Eiji for long, she couldn’t pass up the chance to take in this new countryside. Winter had passed through, leaving the growing treeline naked, but the beast didn’t mind; Winter was merely a time for death, and a chance at rebirth.

They entered the trees, and the waning sun lost it’s grasp on the land. The underbrush rustled and shifted beneath their feet, the leaves crunching in that satisfactory way Gyldi loved so much. Occasionally, should he choose to look over his shoulder, he would see the large black dog pounce on a few unsuspecting piles of the dead vegetation, just so as not to waste the opportunity.

When they reached their destination, cemented by Eiji’s announcement of their arrival, she halted in her tracks. The waterfall cascaded down the side of the cliff in a mesmerizing consistency, adding an air of calm to the surrounding vicinity. Life pulsed through this place, even in the final days of the wintery reign. Approaching the water, she met her own gaze in it’s reflection, her dark fur crystalline in the crisp image. She could feel the underlying thrum of his hallowed ground, and there was no doubt in her mind that this was a sacred place. Such strange, holy ground, she thought, untouched by the gods.

Curiously, she stuck her muzzle in the water, the icy liquid having no effect on her ethereal form. Pushing a cloud of air from her nose, her heart sank slightly when no bubbles appeared. She turned back to her companion, hoping he hadn’t witnessed her momentary disappointment.

Perhaps if she hadn’t been so hardened to the world, she might have jumped at the sight of the serpent on his back. The marrings were nothing to Gyldi; she came from a culture whose scars were trophies of battles fought and won. They were to be revered, not grimaced at. Tattoos were even prevalent in her homeland. She just wasn’t expecting such a distinct snake to be carved into his back. She wondered at the reason…

All you need to do is guard me…

Ever the guard dog. Under different circumstances, she may have scoffed, resolved to her duty without choice; but Eiji was different. She’d protect him with her life - or rather, lack thereof - without hesitation. He’d given her no reason to doubt him, and she had no right to question him. So, as he stuck his face curiously in the water, mimicking her own movements from moments before, she would stand as sentry beside him.

It was a few moments of stony silence, the falls taking on an eerie quiet, before something stirred in the brush off to the right. Turning defensively, Gyldi’s hackles raised, her lips pulling back to reveal her impossibly sharp teeth. A growl stuck in her chest, threatening to push past the barrier of silence just as two foxes appeared.

There was something...off. They weren’t normal creatures of the wild. Animals could sense Gyldi’s presence, some could even see passing flashes of her movements, but none could see her outright. These two stared directly at her, and she sensed they walked the same plane she did.

Spirits.

As they closed the distance to Gyldi and her companion, she only lowered herself into her defensive stance. Yet, they didn’t seem put-off; in fact, this only seemed to add to their resolve, as their pace quickened that much more. The one on the left was getting dangerously close, but its target wasn’t the large beast. Just as it leapt into the air to jump onto Eiji’s unsuspecting back, Gyldi’s teeth clashed down on the fox’s tail and ripped it back through the air and toward its partner. The woodland spirit cried out in obvious pain, cowering slightly when it regained its feet, the second one licking the superficial wound and watching Gyldi cautiously.

She was astounded, utterly taken aback, and it showed in the way she plopped down onto her belly. In her line of work, she dealt with evil entities with malicious intent. These creatures… Truthfully, she was reminded of Loki, who often took on the persona of a fox, and she idly wondered… But no, this place was untouched by the gods, she remembered, and these creatures were simply too mischievous. Her head canted from side to side as she watched them practically croon over each other, crying and whimpering pathetically.

She had to reassess the situation.

Getting to her feet, she slowly approached the two smaller spirits, and they recoiled in expectation. In way of apology, she lowered her head to their level, her pace slowing to a step every few seconds, until they were comfortable with her presence. When she was close enough, her tongue lolled out of her mouth and wrapped around both of their heads in a sloppy kiss. Message received, as they immediately began running around her in a playful game.

With a yip of excitement, she gave chase, biting playfully at their heels as they passed. They were impossibly fast, and as the game wore on for a few moments, she could swear she was seeing the same one over and over again.

It is with this realization that she halts, mid-spin, leaving the one fox to continue his game, unaware. Just as suspected, the second was sneaking up on Eiji, who was still too deep in his trance to notice. Earthen eyes narrowed; she’d been tricked. Perhaps Loki had been here after all. No matter, she thought, just as a paw came down, carefully but firmly, on the spirit’s neck, holding it in place so it couldn’t get away. With the one detained, she called to her abilities, pulling at the static from the air until there was a current pulsing around her. Her eyes found the recipient as it prepared once more to launch itself onto Eiji’s back, and she willed the electricity from her.

With a startling precision, the low-current lightning found the fox easily, and it flew a few feet into the air before hitting the ground with a dull thud, fur standing on end. Immediately, it sprung to its feet and made a beeline for the trees. It’s companion struggled beneath her paw and as soon as she lifted it, it was off after the other. It was only from the darkened brush that she saw two glowing sets of eyes turn back for one more glance. She offered a smug snort in their direction, sitting back on her haunches with a calm demeanor once more.

The glow dimmed, and in the minutes that passed, she was sure they wouldn’t return. Glancing at Eiji, her mind racing, she wondered what more this man could teach her. Having only dealt with dark spirits that needed destroying, she was out of her element with simple mischief. Even so, she didn’t want to think about what would have happened, should one of those foxes have reached Eiji. How could one tell playfulness from evil intent? Had she made the right call?
April 02, 2018 10:30 am

Saito Eiji

Reality would peel away around his perception, leaving only his consciousness and an all-consuming blackness. After a moment even the sensation of freezing would dissipate into a comfortable numbness... Every passing moment would feel like hours, artificially extended by his trancelike state. Eiji could feel his irises expanding to their capacity, starved for any trace of the Sun. A pale light had began to extend itself from the depths of the running water, but it gave his flesh no warmth as it passed his skin... Two sets of eyes stared up at him, the center of this illumination, gleaming beneath a swirl of black hair that obscured any other features. The being stopped just short of arm's length from him, each one of its milk-hued irises training his attention.

A menagerie of pallid arms seemed to assimilate from the nothingness, each reaching up to grasp his shoulders and cradle his head, firmly urging him deeper into the waters with it... His temporal coil would resist, but his consciousness fled the confines of his body, coaxed into the abyss until the wanting hands pulled his face near to their owner's. He could see more clearly now, how this being was both familiar and alien; its eyes carried an expression that reminded him of his mother's loving stare, but also the chill of her disappointment. It saw through him, into what made him good. Into his flaws, his doubts, his insecurities... A sensation of dread spread up his gut, filling his mouth with a putrid bile that he could only disdainfully swallow back.

It moved behind him, it's ethereal form sifting through him before emerging its face just beside his. When he went to flinch away, its hands would seize him, fingers locking upon his jaw and above his brow, holding his gaze steady... It drew near to his ear, and whispered through lips its nearly featureless face did not have. The sound was dim and distant, but unmuddied by the waters.

I recognize your efforts, young ningen.

They drifted further away from his prostated mortal vessel with each passing moment, deeper into the murk, until he felt his lungs begin to tighten... How long had he been under at this point? His eyes darted around with growing panic, searching for anything other than the enigmatic being that coaxed him. He'd visited here a few times before, to borrow the kami's healing energy and cleanse himself of hitchhiking demons, but never before had he been greeted so personally.

Pressure began pressing on him from all sides from the sheer depth of the dive, when one of her pale digits sprang forward towards a shimmering golden stream just beneath them... His nostrils burned as the taste of bitter sake coated his tongue. They came to a stop just above the lazily flowing drift, where his benefactor spoke once more, a finality in her tone.

But you have brought death to my door.

She plunged him headfirst into the gleaming river, forceful hands digging into his abdomen to force whatever air he might have retained out... He would hold for a few moments more before his instincts gave in, and he filled his lungs with the bitter, caustic liquor. Blood tinted the gold in thin streams that escaped his nostrils, and he felt himself begin to convulse, and finally fade away.

Air rushed his labored lungs as he pulled his face from the river and suddenly heaved, forcing a viscous black sludge from his gut and into the now innocuous water. Gasping for air, Eiji would stagger to his feet and brush the ice that had built on his brow away. A bit of color had already returned to his cheeks, a sign that his vitality was no longer beleagured by any unwelcomed guests, but his eyes were still shot with blood and filled with grim energy... His stomach swam.

"Hope you had a better go of it than I did."

Eiji laughed.
April 15, 2018 08:24 pm

Gyldi

Pulled from her reverie by a sudden disturbance, she noted the feeling of something off. More or less, she felt another presence. Yet, when she looked around the vicinity of the Falls, they were alone, at least to the naked eye.

Instinctively, and with a low whine emanating from her chest, she rose to her feet. She closed the space between them and, against her better judgment, nudged him lightly. Gyldi was unsure of what she was looking for in such an action, but it kept the feeling of helplessness at bay momentarily.

Then it flooded her psyche.

She paced around him, hoping that some of her warding abilities would magically kick in by mere proximity. Unfortunately, with no church ground to call her own, she offered no such shield of sorts, and could only watch with bated breath. Every so often, in the course of her pacing, she would sit back on her haunches, only to anxiously tap the ground with her front paws and pace again.

The moments seemed to drag on.

Anxiety ate at her and, unable to process such a strong emotion for another being, she found herself turning to her last resort. With pride swallowed and sincerity wrought through her being, she sought counsel with those she hadn’t spoken to in centuries.

Thor, please… I know you spare no love for me… But he is good, and he deserves your protection. This world needs people like him…

Just as she finished her odd prayer, his head lurched forward into the rushing water. With a jolt of surprise, she was at his side, but before she could even attempt to pull him back from the river’s edge, he was coughing up a nocuous bile and pushing himself to his feet. Earthen hues roved over his form, searching for anything out of place, any sign of harm… But he was unscathed. A bit haggard, but otherwise unharmed.

Hope you had a better go of it than I did.

Her eyes narrowed. In a burst of attitude, she began telling him exactly what she went through, and what he put her through! The worry, the waiting, the spirits... It was only in the middle of her spiel that she realized it was coming out in a series of growls and barks. Annoyed, albeit incredibly relieved, she opted instead to tackle him back to the ground with yips of excitement at his return to the conscious world.

Above, a roll of thunder pulsed through the sky just as the first rains of spring began to fall. It wasn’t missed on her, and her earth-colored orbs turned upward, sending up a silent thank you to the heavens.
April 16, 2018 08:37 pm

Saito Eiji

Eiji tilted his face up to the sky, exhaling tension that would melt away with the gelid raindrops streaking down his brow. The rains of his motherland had always comforted him in some odd way... The way he looked at it, you either learned to love the rain early, or spent your life miserable beneath a ninety-nine yen umbrella. Ota taught him that, he remembered. They had been walking home from school, enduring the usual Springtime deluge, Eiji fuming that he had forgotten his umbrella at home (again). A smile would pull his lips a bit wider, as he dropped his posture to scratch his companion behind her ear. He was grateful that he had someone like Ota to be his conscience, his oldest friend.

"I hope you don't mind this too much, but..." Eiji would start, each breath punctuated by a soft wheeze. "I think we'll have to put off traveling to find you a suitable resting place. Just for a couple of days."

He owed Ota a decent visit.

The pace of the rain gradually climbed to a steady downpour, making anything more than a few feet of them all but indiscernable. People hustled on every sidewalk, huddling beneath signs and shopfront canopies to wait out the cloudburst, hiding their heads with their newspapers, a few even had their umbrellas at the ready. Each time the wind picked up, the rain shifted with it, every thrumming droplet building the rhythm that the occasional roll of thunder would follow. Eiji would slip into the doorway of a warmly lit cafe, shaking out his sodden jacket as best he could before placing an order that he had placed a hundred times before. One plain coffee, and one hot green tea.

"We'll probably make a trip to the mountains, visit the old man." The stairs up to Ota's apartment disappeared behind them more swiftly this time around, now that he didn't carry an extra burden. "You'd like him, too. He's got this way of making you feel at home. When Ota and I were kids, he'd make us takoyaki every afternoon once we got home." Eiji cracked a grin and stifled a chuckle, "Right before he issued my daily chores."

Eiji welcomed himself into Ota's apartment unceremoniously, only to find that he wasn't at his usual perch, surrounded by his monitors. He set the drinks atop Ota's desk, before the sliver of light escaping the bathroom door caught his attention. A sigh would break the silence, as he approached and rapped his knuckles against the door. "Hurry up, aho. I brought coffee."

There would be no response.

"Ota?," He questioned, waiting a long few moments for any response. Slowly he would nudge the door open, unease welling in his gut as thin streaks of crimson lead from the center of the floor up into the tub, drawing his eye towards Ota. One of his arms dangled over the edge of the tub, wrist splayed open from palm to elbow.

You have brought death to my door...

Ota was light in his arms as he gingerly pulled him out of the stagnant red bath and crumpled to his knees. His shoulders heaved, stifled sobs breaking through grit teeth... He hadn't paid any attention to how at ease he felt after leaving the apartment earlier. He didn't make the connection. Knuckles whitened to the same pale hue Ota's skin now had, as he clutched him as tightly as he could manage, smothering his anguish in Ota's familiar mop of hair.

Of all of his failures, this would be his greatest.
April 29, 2018 11:12 pm
1
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