Yūgure cringed at the inhuman cry. No creature, be they human, yōkai, devil, or angel, could produce a sound like that. It filled her with dread. It chilled her to the bone. That was not her brother. It wasn’t.
She and Chinami were running now, racing across the pavement at speeds that made her gasp for breath. Sweat had already broken out on her forehead. She may have been a yōkai, but that didn’t mean she was strong. She had powers. However, physically, she was no stronger than an ordinary human.
Chinami was running ahead of her. The fox yōkai had grabbed her hand and was pulling her along. It wouldn’t have been inaccurate to say they were running this fast because of Chinami.
H-how does she do it? I’m about to die!
The beating of their feet hammered in her ears, or maybe that was the sound of her heart trying to beat out of her chest. Only her own ragged breathing was louder.
“KURO!!!!” another roar from behind.
Chinami looked back. She squeaked and hurriedly looked back up front.
“Don’t look now, but your brother is following us!”
Yūgure wanted to say that the thing chasing them wasn’t her brother, but she didn’t, she couldn’t. Even if she was willing to speak, she had no breath to speak with.
She could feel him closing on them. Loud footsteps echoed like the pounding of a hammer behind her. His screams, incoherent and deranged, were growing louder.
Then they stopped.
A shadow fell over them.
It was Kuriyama!
Yūgure pushed Chinami away in desperation, and just in time, for something powerful slammed into her back, sending her to the ground. She released a scream. Her tore from her throat before being abruptly halted by her face meeting the ground. Blood welled up inside of her mouth. It was coppery and thick.
Something breathed on her ear.
Her eyes widened.
She turned her head and looked behind her out of the corner of her eye, her heartbeat rapidly increasing. Kuriyama was standing above her, but he was different. Skin had become a chalky white. Glazed eyes like milk stared at her. Dark purple veins ran along his body. They didn’t pulse with blood.
What… what is he?
This was not Kuriyama.
This was not her brother!
Kuriyama raised his arms as though to smash her face in, but he never got the chance as something wrapped around his arms, picked him up, and slammed him into the ground. It took her a second to realize what they were. Tails. Bright, orange, furry tails.
“Kuro!” Chinami ran up to her. “Are you okay?!”
She offered her hand, and Yūgure grabbed it, allowing Chinami to pull her up. Her legs were shaking. She almost fell. However, Yūgure gritted her teeth and slammed a fist into her thigh, willing her legs to stop.
“What’s going on with your brother?” Chinami asked in shock, eyes staring at the dust cloud that her tail drop had produced. “I’ve never seen a power like that before!”
Neither had she. It was definitely not a nekomata power. Something had clearly happened to her brother, if that was indeed her brother and not just someone with his face and memories.
“Kuro…” Kuriyama moaned as he staggered out of the dust cloud. His clothing was torn, but he didn’t have a single injury on him. “Kuro… Kuro… Kuro!!”
Repeating only her old name, Kuriyama rushed forward and attempted to slam into them both. Yūgure and Chinami leapt apart. Kuriyama skidded along the ground, kicking up dust. He looked at Chinami. Then he looked at her.
The ground cracked underneath his feet as he raced forward. Yūgure couldn’t keep track of him. He was too fast! He was way too fast!
Yūgure had no time to even put up a defense. Her instincts were screaming at her, so she jumped away from the place where she had been standing, just as something whizzed past her.
She stared at the split ground, at the long crack that looked like a small trench, and then she looked up, at her brother, who had once more turned to her.
Eyes gleaming with madness stared at her. She had never seen such eyes before, such insanity before. Those eyes. Those eyes those eyes those eyes!
“Kuro…” laughter bubbled from Kuriyama’s lips. “Why are you running, Kuro? Why do you run from me… KURO!!!”
Once more Kuriyama blasted off the ground like a manmade rocket. He soared through the airspace between him and her. Yūgure could do nothing. She couldn’t match that speed. All she could do was take whatever attack he dished out and hope she survived.
Except his attack never came.
Yūgure blinked several times when Kuriyama ran right past her. What just happened?
“Kuro!” Chinami rushed over to her, grabbed her hand, and took off. “Let’s hurry up before the illusion wears off!”
Now I get it…
Fox yōkai had three powers. Illusions, enhancements, and enchantments. Enhancements was simply physically strengthening the body with their spiritual powers. Enchantments allowed fox yōkai to control the minds of others. Illusions created a false reality that distorted and warped people’s minds.
Chinami must have used an illusion to make Kuriyama think he was chasing her.
“What are you doing?” Chinami yanked on her hand. “Let’s move!”
Yūgure let Chinami pulled her forward, and once more, they broke out into a run.
The hotel proper was getting closer now. She could see the building as more than just a small hill. If they kept at this pace, they could make it. No, they would make it.
The howl came from behind her. Yūgure didn’t want to look, but fear had a strange way of forcing the mind to do what it didn’t want to. She looked behind her.
Kuriyama was running toward them and quickly closing the distance.