Chapter 4:

May There Please be a Way Out

The Flowers Are Ugly

In her rebellion, Yumiko’s teachings burned inside her branded mind.

“This path is my path, Yuki. I made it with my own body, just as I made you. And that is why, Yuki, that this path is also your path- and that one day you will walk it, just as I do with you now, with your own daughter’s hand in yours.”

“Remember not the upsetting ramblings of that unfortunate creature. Remember instead the jubilant feeling he must have felt, when his diseased mind was freed from this world.”

“You will love the mushrooms.”

Yuki had at times wished to disobey her mother, but never did she expect to do so in such directly a manner. She couldn’t say what would happen. Running through the cherry forest, she had no destination or plan. She’d just reached a boiling point.

Ever since Yuki was born, this fear existed within her. It was like a curse made purposefully to demolish her, and any chance at happiness she ever had. Like death, it was unavoidable. Something always crawling after her.

As time passed, life grew worse.

As time passed, her body ceased to resemble what it once had.

As time passed, the future her mother had created for her grew ever nearer.

No matter what she did, it always felt like this something was steadily approaching behind her. Always watching, always chasing. It was something dreamlike- something that could not be seen. Yet still it seemed to pursue her, if only in her mind.

Except at this moment, it really and truly did.

The vermillion thunderbolt struck without warning. Her scarlet adversary could only be seen in the moment she regretfully turned back to ascertain its form- a phoenix, large and powerful. Nothing like the other creatures of this realm. Under its scarlet flames lied not skin, however- but something else. Something stiffer.

Yuki ran faster, legs naturally drawing her back to places she’d walked before- places her mother had taken her as a child. And so she found herself again on that boring woodland trail, the one she was always forced to walk. She cursed herself. Surely it would be even easier to follow her on so well-mapped lands. Her very instincts had already betreayed her.

The bird’s talons tore into the back of her kimono, drawing blood. In the constraining dress, she fell.

The bird did not kill her. She felt its beak rest against her head as it began to lift her up, but she heard no breath nor heartbeat as the beast pressed against her body. The flames already subsided as to not to hurt her, she could feel its texture- hard and false, the construct was merely a strange machine.

Knowing the bird, sent by Yumiko, would likely not be able to kill her- and truthfully, not fearing the possibility of it doing so anyway- Yuki had little fear left in her as she kicked the mechanism, pouring into her muscle all the frustrated bile she called blood, crying out as she ravaged the beast.

It squawked, but was unable to escape as the girl unexpectedly kicked it again, and again, and many times more after that- promptly ruining the remarkable structures its late creator had given it. In its final moments, this machine was rendered unable to serve its owner in even the most basic of ways- never again could it watch after young Yuki in fear for this very day.


Even now, she still felt as though she needed to apologize for destroying one of Yumiko’s creations.

Standing alone on the path, Yuki’s reflection was granted to her by the pool of her own blood forming on the ground. Not wishing to leave any trail for her mother to follow, the fugitive removed her garbs and pressed them against her stinging wounds, soaking up the foul liquid granted to her by her mother.

Continuing on the path, Yuki had already decided on a place she could hide. The one place she was never permitted to go- not by her lonesome.

Crawling through the bush concealing the Tainai caves, Yuki prayed for salvation.