Chapter 9:

09

Densetsu Kenshi: Beginnings


   "Wh-what is this place?" I asked.

   Before me was a terrifying sight. Never have I felt this useless, this weak.

   Massive piles of bones everywhere.   
   Littered across my sight.
   Human bones.
   Animal bones.
   Complete cacasses and skeletons of both.
 
   And sitting on a throne completely made of those bones, was a woman.
 
   The woman that called out to me amidst my bone-trembling panic. My savior? 

   She wore a slick red dress.
   Jet black hair with red highlights.
   Anyone would say that she's absolutely gorgeous.
   But her eyes. There was nothing reflecting life in her eyes. Pure black. Petrifying. 

   Like the devil herself. 

   "Wh-who are you?" I mumbled.

   "My love, do not speak, unless spoken too."

   She got off her throne and approached me.

   I opened my mouth but no words came out. I felt suffocated. Pressure from all angles. I felt cool sweat trickling down my face. Her presence. Pure power just radiating from her, penetrating deep into my very being.

   I-I... 

   "Seiji Yoshino, you are pathetic,"

   My name!? She knows who I am?!

   
"I've been watching you for some time now, and you are not worthy of me. Explain yourself."
 
   She said coldly and her words commanded me to answer.

   "I-I don't know. I-I didn't choose this. Wh-who are you?!" I shouted.

   "My love, you really don't serve any purpose. After all that time with that wicked sensei, and that girl, you haven't learned anything about what really matters?" 

   I felt the shock spread across my face.

   I furiously shook my head. How could I pretend that I knew anything compared to this woman-- this representation of pure power.

   "Hmph. It's clear to me from your actions that you've only been feeling the consequences from what happened. I'll explain everything. My love, take a seat."

   She turned her back to me and returned to her spooky throne. With a wave of her hand she created a seat for me right in front of her.

   Feeling obligated, I sat down.

   My chair wasn't nearly as high quality as hers, but it was made out of bones so I don't think it matters that much.

   "Do you want something to drink, this might take a while" she offered.

   "Uh... no thanks."

   "Tch. I guess I won't tell you then. Hmph."

   "Ergh, may I have something to drink?"

   "Sure!"

   She waved her hand again and a floating cup full of red liquid appeared next to me. I said thank you and acknowledged that I was ready to listen.

   "Okay okay okay. Where to start, I wonder? Ah, that'll be easiest. Seiji, what do you remember about last month. The night your brother went missing in particular."

   "Nothing."

   "Oh well. I'll show you."

   Show me? What does that even mean?

   
"Reaper's Paradise: Night Terror." She said.Bookmark here


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   I opened my eyes and saw... my living room? Wait, she was there too, right next to me.

   "These are your memories from that night. You've been a completely different person since this night, and you seem to have fogotten everything that happened."

   She said this to me like she was me. Like she knew everything I've done since this day. Like she's me.

   "Just be quiet and watch, my love. There's nothing to worry about. They can't see us because they're just memories."

   Who is she talking about? 

   "SEIJI!! SEIJI!! HELP! HELP! HE'S MISSING!"
 
   I froze. I've heard those blood curdling screams before. I was in this house after all. I saw my mother in the corner of the room with her head in her hands. She was sobbing.

   "What is it?!! Mom, what's wrong??!"

   I saw and heard myself shout and run into the room. It felt wrong to view my memories like this, but also overwhelmingly necessary.

   "HE'S GONE!! HE'S MISSING AND HE'S GONE! I'VE LOOKED ALL OVER! HELP ME SEIJI! FIND YOUR BROTHER AND BRING HIM HOME!!"

   She wailed in desperation and she clung to any piece of hope she could find. That hope being, me.

   I saw a flicker of... doubt and anger flash across my face. He went to the front door and left, letting it slam shut.

   "Ooooh-oooh, let's get moving my love, shall we?" that alluring devil whispered in my ear.

   Our surroundings changed in an instant, and we were now viewing myself sitting on a park swing.

   Shouldn't I be looking for my brother? What am I doing wasting time like this?

   
"Why am I responsible for this search and rescue mission. . . I don't care about that kid. . . She should go and look for him for all I care. . . She's always fawning over him like he's some beloved child. . . She never even talks to me and she asks me to do this? Give me a break..." He got up from the swing and started walking down the center of the street.

   "Ooh-ooh, a bit jealous weren't you, my love?" She taunted. "But this is where it gets good, so let's change our angle so we can see better."
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   We were now on the opposite end of the street, and the me of my memories was approaching us. As he passed under the streetlights, I saw his face and was shocked to see the anger so clearly etched onto it. 

   This is ridiculous, how did I get so worked up over this?

   Suddenly, a small person appeared from behind the park shrubbery and started approaching the other me. I looked closer.

   That's. . .

   
"Wait for it, my love."

   I looked at her and looked back at the scene playing out in front of me. I saw a pair of headlights behind my approaching figure. The car swerved to avoid me.

   The car barely missed me.
   It continued moving forward.
   I saw the driver turn his head around and cuss me out.
   The car kept moving.
   Hitting and running straight over the person that was approaching to me.
   The driver never saw him, and kept driving.
   The car kept moving, and left.

   I felt myself coil back in horror.

   "Don't look at the driver in the car like that, my love. He's not the real bad guy here."

   She was right. I looked again and saw myself standing over that flattened body. He looked at it again.
   
   And he took a step over it and kept walking.
   Like nothing happened.
   I kept walking.
   I walked under a streetlight and saw his face.
   Blank.
   Devoid of emotion.
   The face that greets me everyday in the mirror.

   "Do you understand now, my love? Who you really are? It hurts, doesn't it? The self-evaluation of your life really stings. It really really stings. What do you have to say, my love? Explain yourself."
 
   "S-s-stop taunting me," I said in a low voice, "le-let me see him one last time."

   "Whatever you say, my love."

   We were now standing right over the body.

   "From what's left of him, he was quite the handsome boy. I'm sure he was very popular. And absolutely adored by his parents and family. Don't you agree, my love?"

   "Don't talk about him like that."
 
   I stammered. My voice was shaky from a balanced and steady rage rising up inside me.

   "Ooh-ooh. Did you know him, my love?"

   "He... h-he... that's my brother."

   "As a single child myself, I wouldn't know, but there seems to be a lack of 'brotherly love' between you two. I'm referring to the jealousy, the slandering of his name and hatespeech, the forsaking of his life and moving on like he never existed, my love."

   I gave no response to her words.

   "Ooh-ooh, quiet time? My love, there's no growth in mistakes without clearly analyzing them. It's like looking over your test after it was graded. Explain yourself, my love."

   "I-I... loved him. I re-really did."

   "Is that it? This behavior doesn't look like love to me. But why pretend. Why tell people he's still missing. You're a liar. Stop lying to yourself. Explain yourself, my love."

   "It shocked me. I n-never thought he'd die. Die right in front of me."

   "Stop rambling and face the truth. Explain why you lied."

   "I saw how hurt my mother was, and now he's dead. He was hurt because of me. A-and... I-I... didn't want an-anyone else to get hurt."

   "Is that all?"

   "I-I didn't want anyone else to get hurt... myself included. So... so I covered it up and... I denied what happened. Denied the truth to everyone, even myself."

   I forced those words out. The truth doesn't flow as easy when you're the one inspecting your own actions. I forced those words out. I forced those words out and forced myself to come clean with everything.

   "That's enough, my love. Come here." She pulled me into her chest and I let it out.

   All the tears.
   All the sorrow.
   All the anguish.
   All the anger.
   All the confusion.
   All the lies.
   All the excuses.
   All my pride.
   All my being.

   I trusted this woman. 

   "Relax... relax. You've needed this. I've been watching you and it hurts. It hurts. It hurts, I know it does. I'm here for you. I'm here for you. I'm here for you, my love."

   I didn't argue. I didn't question her anymore. I could feel the truth in her words. A strong, strong presence of compassion and love suppressed all my anger and misgivings. I sat with her and I sobbed, trusting her with everything I was.Bookmark here


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   "If you're ready for it, we'll continue in this memory and I'll explain everything."

   I nodded and took her outstretched hand.

   The scene shifted again and we were now viewing my rag-doll body crumpled in a heap on the street.

   "This is where I come into play, my love." I saw the look in her eyes and could tell she was waiting for something. "Watch closely, watch, watch!" She urged excitedly. 

   I looked back at my pathetic body.

   Two people silently dropped down from a building and approached that motionless me. One was clearly female and the other a hulking male. They pulled swords out of mid-air and continued their silent approach.

   Inverse Rift!? Swordsmen... wait! Professional attire... Thermo Corp.! What are they doing here?

   The female swordsman, ergh... swordswoman, lifted her sword up and brought it down swiftly over my body. It was clearly an attack meant to kill me.

   "Now!" My devil savior giggled next to me.

   My body stirred from its still position and dodged the attack.

   "Izumi, looks like the rumors were true. We'll have to work together on this one, regrettably." The male swordsman said to his female partner.

   "oh jeez, like, literally wtf? boss always gives us these literally impossible jobs, i, like, hate them! wbu Kitaro?"
 
   "Izumi, I get it you're young. Regrettably, you're a professional now, so drop the SMS speech, regrettably."

   "lol! kitaro, idgaf about what you say, but you must never correct a lady on her mannerisms, fyi. now, let's take care of this... this... wth?" She squealed.

   Izumi from Thermo Corp. trailed off. She wasn't the only one speechless as her companion Kitaro didn't rebuke her for her speech. I also was silent at what was unfolding before us.

   My now active but clearly unconscious body was rising in the air. A sinister red glow began emanating around me. Twisting and curling like it had a consciousness of its own. Wrapping around my arms and legs, encircling around my body. Even though I couldn't feel anything in this memory state, I knew that it was spectra energy. Accumulating from an unknown source but steadily rising in potency and visible power.

   The two swordsmen from Thermo Corp. staggered back as small blasts of energy emitted from by body, like buffering winds. From their mannerisms, it was clear that they were experienced, but they didn't seem capable to comprehend this sudden change in nature. I didn't understand the situation either.

   My body stopped rising, and the mouth opened and spoke in a distinct woman's voice, "Reaper's Paradise: Incarnation!"

   I dropped from the air, most ungracefully I must add, and from the spectra energy lingering in the air formed a woman. The same woman that's been chaperoning me on this literal trip down memory lane.

   I see why she was so excited now.

   
She was slow to get her bearings, and when she opened her eyes there was malevolence in her gaze. She let out a maniacal cackle and spoke.

   "Ooh-ooh, how expectedly unexpected! I see those swordsmen are still running around, so how about I warm up and stretch out a bit. It's been so long, oh-so long, my loves. I've been terribly lonely. Let's umm... how do they say it now? Get down to business?" She sneered.

   "ki-kitaro, tbh this seems a but much for us" Izumi stammered.

   "Regrettably, this is what we signed up for," Kitaro lamented. "However, we have expectations and quotas to fulfill and a boss to please. We must carry out the job, no matter how regrettable it'll be."

   With that mini-peptalk, Izumi and Kitaro of Thermo Corp. readied their swords and steeled their hearts.

   The devil savior to my side said, "Just wait, wait for it. The final player is a bit late to the game."

   One more? How many people were hurt this night? All because of me?


   Many more panicked thoughts raced through my mind and that was when I remembered. I remembered the people I met and the experiences I had starting from this night onward.

   Please don't be one of them... please, nobody but her...

   
My current thoughts, feelings, and pleading could do nothing to what was already cemented in the past. It was hopeless pleading, but I couldn't face them again if I saw I was the cause for some senseless act of violence against them.

   Sure enough, the last player revealed themselves under the dim street lights. Of course Izumi and Kitaro were too focused on that crazy woman, so they didn't immediately notice her. 

   I watched her carefully as she pulled out that majestic sword and cried out in that all too familiar voice.

   "Inherited Technique X: Kaleidoscope!"Bookmark here

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