Death by Ex-Girlfriend: War Cloud
Osamu was about to witness a battle of the gods. Fujin and Raijin charged at Tsukiakari, both of them leaving trails of lightning and wind in their steps.
“Naturally, because Bishamon had garnered so much praise and respect in the heavens during the Warring States period, the other gods sided with him and repudiated me. I, on the other hand was a stray goddess who had fled from Heaven long ago. The Senkumo clan meant nothing to them. I meant nothing to them.” Tsukiakari explained.
“What about your mother? Didn't Amaterasu or even Tsukuyomi try to stop this?” Osamu asked.
“I never did find out myself why my own mother and father had forsaken me. It didn't matter in the end.”
Tsukiakari's lightning dragon struck down Fujin, but its energy was absorbed into Raijin's palm. A swift swing of her katana cut off Raijin's hand, and he began screaming in pain as electricity coursed around the wound in place of blood. Tsukiakari aimed her open palm at both Raijin and Fujin, and they were blown back by a shockwave that tore apart chunks of the earth. Bishamon watched the boulders of earth fly towards him as Raijin and Fujin landed by his side. Without moving a finger, the earthly debris stood motionless in the air before descending like rain drops with loud booms, crashes, and the sound of crumbling rock.
“Damn orphan severed my hand! How dare you swing your blade against me!” Raijin roared.
“Do not forget, I am the one who trained her. She thinks very much like me. In fact, she's a living, breathing, embodiment of my own glory.” Bishamon scorned.
Tsukiakari tightened the grip on her sword and made a horizontal swing. The force of her swing was so powerful it rocked the area with hurricane-like winds and and split apart the tops of the mountains behind Bishamon. She then lunged at them at the speed of those violent winds, only for Bishamon to block the swing of her sword with one finger. Tsukiakari channeled the energy of lightning through her blade and body, shocking Bishamon in a flash of blue light.
She sought to decapitate Raijin's leg as Bishamon was shocked, but she was blown away by a preemptive punch from him. She stuck her sword into the ground to slow her movement, only able to recover or a moment as a gust of wind blew past her. Fujin was now behind her, and he delivered a kick to her neck with as much power as he could muster. Bishamon joined in, catching Tsukiakari and throwing her into the clouds above. The clouds turned black and roared with flames, like a fiery cloud from a volcano looming over the entire sky.
Tsukiakari made a free-fall back to earth, crashing hard into the ground.
“I can't believe she's actually this strong.” Bishamon murmured in awe.
Tsukiakari struck her sword into the ground to stand herself back up, her yukata in tatters and her arm black and red with burns.
“Wretched whore! Just give up!” Raijin screamed.
Tsukiakari turned her pain into a battle cry as Raijin and Fujin charged her again. Osamu watched in awe as the wounded Tsukiakari held her own against two powerful elder gods. Her sword deflected Raijin's thunderbolts, sending them back off into the sky. When Fujin tried to suck her in with wind, she took a deep breath and exhaled flames from her mouth. The tactic used Fujin's power to Tsukiakari's advantage, and he was completely scorched. He screamed and rolled around on the ground as he was burnt to the bone. Bishamon rushed in to try and save him, but it was for naught. It was already too late.
“You're next!” Tsukiakari declared, closing in on Raijin.
Raijin blocked the swings of her blade with arm, the blade conducting electricity with every hit. Her wounds pained her body as the weather grew colder and rain began to fall, giving Raijin an opening. He kicked her in the stomach, sending her flying back towards Fujin's skeletal remains. She gracefully landed on her feet and picked up one of Fujin's ribs, breaking it off from the rest of the rib cage and smoldering remains. She then charged back towards Raijin with lightning in her steps. With only one hand, Raijin was unable to defend himself as Tsukiakari stabbed Fujin's rib into his stomach. It went all the way through, to the point where her hand was now touching Raijin's bare chest.
Tsukiakari blew a hole through Raijin's torso, sending a storm of lightning spewing out of him like blood. Raijin fell to the floor, dead before Tsukiakari's feet. Covered in blood, burn marks, and soaked in rain water, she turned her murderous gaze over at Bishamon.
“Do you have any idea what you've done?” Bishamon asked.
Tsukiakari replied only by continuing her gaze of hatred.
Bishamon began to laugh, realizing now that Tsukiakari truly had no future. “You who have relied on incarnation throughout your existence have just killed Raijin and Fujin. What makes you think she will tend to your soul after you die, hmm? Look at you. Look how wounded you are. Surely you know by now, right? You're not going to survive this.”
Bishamon’s words aroused Osamu’s curiosity. “Hey, Gekko. What did he mean by that? Why was it so important that you killed Raijin and Fujin? He made it sound like their deaths are going to prohibit you from being reincarnated or something.”
The little war goddess turned her face away. “Osamu...did you know?”
She turned her eyes towards Osamu as she spoke a horrifying set of words that shocked him to his core. “Raijin and Fujin were Izanami's sons.”
The air was almost entirely sucked out of Osamu’s lungs. He instinctively recoiled away from Tsukiakari, only to be swamped by a wave of guilt upon realizing how he reacted.
“The one who took care of my soul numerous times and allowed me to reincarnate was Izanami...and I killed two of her children. That's what he meant. It made no sense to assume that Izanami would continue to let me live after this battle. Looking back, it almost seemed like Bishamon did this on purpose. He mostly stayed out of the fighting, allowing them to charge in without much help. He wanted me to kill them so that he could have grounds to have me permanently destroyed. When it came to strategy, Bishamon was and still is a true genius.”
Bishamon unsheathed a sword wrapped in fire and locked eyes with Tsukiakari from across the field. It was a showdown. They stared each other down as the rain continued to pour on them. They leaped at each other faster than Osamu can even see, and then the scene went dark.
“I was so, so stupid…” Tsukiakari lamented.
In the end, Bishamon stood victorious as Tsukiakari fell to her knees, a burning gash at her side.
“Foolish girl. You've doomed yourself more harshly than I ever could. Izanami will never forgive you for this. In heaven, you will be remembered as the orphaned deity who murdered two elder gods in your selfish quarrel with Bishamonten, the god of war.”
Tsukiakari's sight grew blurry as she continued to lose blood. “You have no right...to talk to me about murder. You are the greatest monster of us all.”
The clouds began to part, and the moonlight illuminated the field.
“I am a necessary evil. You are but a nuisance. Still, I will not let you die just yet.” Bishamon said.
Bishamon ripped off Tsukiakari's yukata, revealing her naked and wounded body. Osamu turned away from the scene, and even Tsukiakari herself closed her eyes to shut out the memory.
“I didn’t die after this. That’s the part I hate the most.” Tsukiakari laughed, though none of this was funny at all. “I’m sorry I showed you this, Osamu, but I wanted to be open with you.”
“You went through so much back then, and I’m only seeing snippets of it. I’m sorry, Gekko.” Osamu lamented.
“You have nothing to apologize for. It’s not your fault. Well, after this, I was rescued by a collaborator I had at the time. I forget her name, but I do recall her being a vampire.”
“A vampire?!” Osamu recoiled.
“Like you said, you’re only seeing snippets. We’d be here all year if I told you the entire story with everyone involved. She recovered me from the battlefield until I was well enough to fight again.”
“Please tell me you managed to get that bastard, Gekko.”
“I’m afraid not, Osamu. When I next awoke, Bishamon wasn’t my target. Izanami was. Since Bishamon failed to kill me, Izanami was the next god to be tasked with the deed. My final fight was with her. It was a fight I intended to lose.”
“You mean…you wanted her to kill you? You sought to die?” Osamu asked.
Too ashamed to speak, Tsukiakari nodded as a tearful frown formed on her face.
The scene of the battlefield changed into an empty, war-torn city. Gutted houses and stores were around every corner for what seemed like miles. Osamu and the young Tsukiakari found themselves in the middle of a massive crater in the city, standing next to Izanami as she sat on top of Tsukiakari. The emptied city was treated to a very odd and very rare thundersnow.
(This must’ve been the aftermath of their battle. As expected of gods, they left a lot of destruction in their wake.)
Tsukiakari opened her eyes, her back and shoulders in severe pain from the crash. Despite the agony, she was still very much alive, with Izanami laying on her stomach. Their crash had formed a large crater, a sinkhole in the street. Bits of tumbling rubble and earth fell down into the sinkhole's pit along with gentle snowflakes.
Izanami's arms trembled as she held herself up. Her entire body was covered and dirt and minor scratches, staining her sorrowful face. In the moment Izanami nearly killed Tsukiakari, she had realized what this fight was for, and why Tsukiakari agreed to come to her.
“Gekko…why?” Izanami cried.
In a fit of desperate anger, Tsukiakari struggled and failed to get Izanami off of her, screaming from the top of her lungs. “Damn you! Why am I still alive?! You were supposed to kill me! If you won't do it, then I'll end it myself!”
Tsukiakari raised her right hand to summon her blade, but she suddenly found Izanami's hands and fingers interlocked with hers, slamming them back down on the ground.
“Get off! Let go of me! I was supposed to die here and you ruined everything!” Tsukiakari screeched.
Izanami realized Tsukiakari never had the energy for a sustained fight. She knew she never stood a chance, and that's exactly why she came. “Gekko...how could you? You were trying to commit suicide?! What on earth drove you to this?”
“Shut up! Just let me go!”
“Look at me, Gekko! You can tell me! You know I've tried to kill myself before too! If anyone could ever understand, it's me!” Izanami pleaded.
“Just shut up already! Please let me go!” Tsukiakari continued.
Tsukiakari's angry screams turned into crying yells of as she was unable to free herself of Izanami's grip. That helplessness was like a recurrence of what happened after she lost to Bishamon. That same humiliation, fear, and terror similar to the sensation of drowning, overtook her as she began to hyperventilate. Even considering the situation, Izanami knew there was so much more to Tsukiakari's reaction. This wasn't anger, it was closer to an extreme panic attack in response to some sort of trigger, a reminder of a traumatic event.
“Get off of me! Get off! Get off!” Tsukiakari yelled.
Her legs, her arms, and her waist all resisted Izanami with everything they had, but failed to get her off.
“Get off of me, Bishamon!” Tsukiakari cried.
“I am not Bishamon!” Izanami roared.
Izanami grabbed hold of Tsukiakari's cheeks, caressing them as the war goddess’s eyes shot open in realization that she was not in the middle of that blackened battlefield anymore. Izanami was not Bishamon, and she was not on the verge of death.
“You're okay, Gekko! It's just me, not Bishamon! You don't ever have to see that monster ever again!”
Her breathing gradually slowed and calmed the longer she gazed into Izanami's crying eyes. Still, despair lingered, firmly attached to her very soul.
“Please tell me, Gekko. Please! There's no shame in feeling like you want to die!” Izanami said.
Tsukiakari refused. “I can't tell you! I just can't do it!”
“Is it because you lost to Bishamon? Is it your friends? Because I didn't kill you?!”
Tsukiakari wept as she nodded her head side to side, unable to even open her eyes.
“Then what? What is it, Gekko?! You have to confront it!” Izanami commanded. “You have to accept whatever happened to you, or you'll feel like this forever! I don't want that for you! I swear on my life and everything I hold dear that I'd never want that for you! Gekko...just this once...tell me! I'll never make you say it again, but you have to confront it now before it's too late!”
“I tried to fight back! I tried to get away but I wasn't fast or strong enough!” Tsukiakari wept.
“Gekko! You have to say it!” Izanami urged.
“He raped me!”
Izanami was hushed, shocked, and heartbroken all at the same time. Tsukiakari continued to speak through her cries, short breath, and whimpers.
“couldn't fight back! I...couldn't do anything about it! A-All I could do was just...I'm so ashamed, Izanami! I couldn't live with it! I just couldn't do it anymore!”
Izanami’s lips began to quiver. “Then…all those things you said earlier...they were because of that? Oh, Gekko...my sweet, beautiful Gekko…"
Izanami let go of Tsukiakari's hand, as there was no longer the threat of further violence. With how hard and heartbreaking her crying was, it really seemed like Tsukiakari was finally letting everything out all at once. Her century and a half of suffering, her fallen friends, the betrayal of her clan, and the horror of her sexual abuse all came out in constant, child-like cries and stinging tears.
“Gekko...you're not disgusting. You're not rotten. You're not atrocious in any manner whatsoever. What happened to you was beyond any words in any language on this earth. However, the perversion and cruelty of that act does not define you. Even as it is inflicted upon you, you are free from it.” Izanami explained.
At last, Tsukiakari opened her eyes. “I fought so hard, Izanami...My body wouldn't move...I couldn't...I couldn’t..."
Izanami gently laid her forehead on Tsukiakari’s. :It’s okay. You're safe now, and you'll never have to go through that again. That's why you can let it all out. Lay your burdens on me, so we can bear them together. You'll never walk alone again. I promise! That's why you have to live until tomorrow with me, and all the days after that. It may take time, but I swear, you'll see the beauty in life!”
Izanami softly kissed Tsukiakari's forehead, wiping away her tears with a smile. “Inari and I...we're your friends! We both love you, Gekko. You’ll never have to fight in another war or watch your friends die. Whenever you're sad about something, I'll listen to you. You can tell me absolutely anything! One day, I'm sure of it...you'll find someone to fall in love with. When that day comes, that person will wipe every detail of this nightmare away from your heart.”
“How can you be so sure? How do you know there's a happy ending to all of this?” Tsukiakari asked.
“Because I finally figured out what your name means, and what it represents.” Izanami replied. “Tsukiakari...Moonlight, the phenomenon of the sun's light reflecting off of the moon. The moon, with all of its craters and flaws, is still one of the most beautiful, heavenly objects known to mankind. It's taken so many beatings in its long existence, and yet it still shines gloriously in the night sky, and will continue to shine for all of earth's years. Just as the moon reflects what is shined upon it, you reflect that love given to you. For so long, you've only been fed misery and sadness, and that shined down upon the pantheon as vengeance. But now…"
Izanami truly seemed like an angel in that moment, a living, walking, breathing miracle. Her words pulled Tsukiakari out of the darkness consuming her. “Now, for the first time, we're going to see what kind of light reflects off of you when you're given love! You have to live to see it, Gekko! If you live through this, you'll never look back! And I…"
The building sorrow in Izanami released itself through her gentle cries and tears. Tsukiakari, seeing her crying too, finally understood why Izanami had never given up on her. Tsukiakari’s sorrow hurt Izanami, and Izanami's sorrow hurt Tsukiakari. Just seeing the pale goddess cry made Tsukiakari want to protect her, to wipe away her tears just as Izanami did for her.
“I need you just as much, Gekko...because there are parts of me that still hurt too!” Izanami wept. “I know I should hate you for killing my children, even after all they’ve done. But I can’t. I can’t because I love you too.”
Izanami was surprised to feel Tsukiakari's hand now softly placed on her cheek as a slight smile blessed her weary, tired face.
“Don't cry anymore...you look so beautiful...when you smile.” Tsukiakari murmured.
The war goddess fell unconscious, exhausted from the battle and all of the previous ones. It seemed her constant fighting caught up to her.
“Gekko? Oh goodness...you're just unconscious. And you...said I was beautiful…” Izanami smiled.
Izanami knew exactly why she specifically chose the word beautiful. Tsukiakari was acknowledging a huge part of Izanami's sorrow, her corpse-like appearance. Though her state now was leagues better than her rotten, partly skeletal state when she first died, her pale skin, black eyes, and red irises still set her apart from everyone else. It was like a curse that remained even ages after her death, and yet, Tsukiakari called all of it beautiful.
That alone made Izanami happy again. “Sleep well, princess. Let's get you out of here.”
Being forgiven and being promised a new future only made Tsukiakari cry even more deeply. It was like taking a shower and rinsing off all the blood, guilt, and sadness that consumed her for a century and a half.
The little Tsukiakari looked back on this memory with the utmost love and fondness. “She was so patient with me. I inflicted such great suffering upon her, and yet, she took the burden of reincarnating me herself. She kept praying to me, kept thinking of me, and wishing for me. I admit, I failed to really get accustomed to normal life for a while. I was living among mortals, but I always was a brash and violent girl. I partly blame my experiences for that, but I still act in that way without apology. I drank, I gambled, I got in fights...and she never lost hope or faith in me. She kept expending her own energy to secretly keep me alive after all this time, over and over again.”
The silence from Osamu made Tsukiakari think he had fallen asleep or disappeared. She took a glance at him, leaning her head back to see his face. His sudden silence was self-explanatory when she realized he was in tears himself.
“Goodness, Osamu. Did it move you that much?” Tsukiakari laughed.
“Yeah, I suppose it did.” Osamu said. “It’s just…this all reminded me of how Izanami saved my life. Seeing how she saved you, combined with my own memories of how she saved me, I couldn’t help but cry. I apologize, Gekko.”
Tsukiakari wrapped her small, childish hand around Osamu’s much larger adult hand. “Don’t apologize. I’m happy too.”
Osamu flashed through hundreds more years of Tsukiakari's existence until they finally stopped at the moment she met him in kindergarten. It was a sunny day on the playground. Osamu was quite the popular guy back then, before his hair got really long.
“Here? Is this when we met, Gekko?” Osamu asked.
“It sure is. See? There you are.” Tsukiakari pointed out. “Gosh, you were so cute!”
“I still am! Right?” Osamu asked.
Tsukiakari turned away and pretended to be preoccupied with cleaning her nails. “Well, that's subjective.”
(Shot through the heart…)
That day, Osamu's mother had to leave early for work, and she had no time to give him a packed lunch. As his stomach growled, he had to stop playing with his friends. He sat down inside of a little playhouse that was made in the shape of a chariot.. Little Tsukiakari had always been watching Osamu, who seemed to smile the brightest among his classmates, and was always ready to lend a helping hand to whoever asked. She followed Osamu into the chariot house with her own lunch, wearing a flowery dress and yellow ribbon in her hair.
“Uhh…hi!” Osamu greeted, a bit awkwardly.
“H-hello! Your name is Osamu, no?” Tsukiakari said.
Osamu nodded. “Mhmm! Nice to meet you!”
Tsukiakari nervously shook hands with Osamu and sat down with him, opening up her bento box. “I noticed you were holding your tummy today, so I…I-I…."
Tsukiakari bowed her head and presented the bento like a divine offering. “I want to share my food with you!”
“Really?” Osamu asked in disbelief.
“Yes...take whatever you want.”
The bento was packed with rice cakes, sausages, and egg rolls. Osamu happily took one of the rice cakes and ate it.
“I-if you don't like it, just let me know…” Tsukiakari uttered.
“No way! This is delicious!” Osamu sang. “You saved me...uhm...I'm sorry, what's your name?”
(Looks like I was slow back then too...)
Present Tsukiakari nudged Osamu on the shoulder. “Smooth move, jackass.”
“Come on! I was a little kid!” Osamu whined.
Past Tsukiakari blushed and twiddled her fingers. “It's Tsukiakari Senkumo…"
The expression on Osamu’s face was pretty much a warning he was going to have a hard time pronouncing the name.“Tsuki..aka…aka…"
“Ah! If it's too hard to say, you can just call me Gekko!”
“Gekko?” Osamu repeated.
“Tsukiakari and Gekko both mean ‘Moonlight’, they're just written differently.”
“Oh, that's so cool! Okay! I'll call you Gekko! Thank you for the food!” Osamu praised.
“Of course! Eat up!”
Present Tsukiakari fell in love all over again. “Ah! I wanted to take you away right then and there! You were just amazing! Your smile was refreshing. It was a kind of innocence that I never knew before.”
The scenery flashed through moments where Tsukiakari and Osamu continued to eat together in the chariot playhouse. Osamu also helped Tsukiakari with her class projects whenever the teacher couldn't. They played together and laughed together like two normal children ought to. One particular day, close to the end of kindergarten, they sat together in the chariot house once again, eating lunch together.
“Osamu?” Past Tsukiakari asked, tugging Osamu’s shirt.
“Mhmm?” Osamu hummed.
Tsukiakari tented her hands. “Do you...do you like me?”
“Do I like you? Of course I do! You're awesome, Gekko!”
Little Tsukiakari's face turned bright red as she prepared her next question. “D-do you want to get married? To me?”
(There's no way I actually knew what that meant back then...)
“When two people really like each other, they get married! Then, they can spend forever together!” Tsukiakari explained with a fiery glint in her scarlet eyes.
“Really?! That sounds awesome! We should get married then, Gekko!”
Tsukiakari sprung up with joy and a great smile. “Yes! When we do get married, we'll rid in a big chariot! Bigger than this one! We'll fly across the world like a shooting star!”
“Sounds cool!” Osamu cheered, enraptured by the idea of flying in a chariot.
The two laughed together in their own little world, away from the rest of the students. As Osamu watched, the memory of these encounters came back to him, like a lost item finally returned. The scenery reverted back to the present, with Osamu and Tsukiakari sitting on the swings together in the middle of the night, the school they once went to now abandoned and piled with snow.
“We're back?” Osamu questioned, looking around him to confirm that he was indeed back in the present.
Osamu checked silver, mesh watch and saw that only half an hour had passed in real time. “It felt like we lived a hundred years…"
“Well, we kind of did.” Tsukiakari said.
(Man, what a trip. I had no idea she went through all of that. Not only her, but Izanami too...)
“hat's why, Osamu, I never forgot you. I had it so difficult. Something as pure and innocent as you was something I couldn't let go of. All I knew before you was a dark and cruel world, and you gave me light. Moonlight. It was easy for you to forget, because you had the blessing of growing up a normal boy in a peaceful era. No one forced you to do what I did. No one judged you by bloodline or affiliations. You were just you, and you didn't belong to anyone else. But I was me, and I was used no differently than a sword.
“I'm sorry...I wish I hadn't forgotten you, Gekko. For the record, I'm glad that you came back. Although, I wish you did it like a normal person instead of attacking Yoko!”
“Sorry!” Tsukiakari giggled. “She started it! She lost her mind when I brought you up!”
(Of course she did...)
“Well, I want you to know that I mean it, Gekko. I’m glad you came back after all these years.”
Tsukiakari nodded as she locked eyes with Osamu, feeling the sparks of love flow within her chest. “I know. I am too. You truly mean the world to me, Osamu.”
Osamu stood up and reached out his hand. “Well, let's head back. It's really late.”
“Yeah!” Tsukiakari agreed.
Tsukiakari got off of the swing, and the two walked home together, their hearts closer than before, and the moon high above their heads. When they got home, they saw Isabella in the kitchen eating a handful of grapes. Their return caught her by surprise. Of course, she was in her usual bedtime attire. Tank top and panties, both with the American flag on them
“Oh hey, I didn't know you two went out.” Isabella said.
“Hey there. We uhh…” Osamu trailed off.
“We took a walk to an abandoned school!” Tsukiakari finished.
“Oh that's lovely! Wait what?!” Izzy recoiled. “Osamu! You took a little girl out at night to an abandoned building?!”
“Whoa whoa whoa, it's not as bad as it sounds!” Osamu said, knowing full well how terrible that sounded.
(I did probably break a local ordinance though...)
“I was wondering why you hadn't paid attention to me as much as the others, but now I see why! Osamu, my ex-lover, my one true love, the man for whom I measure every who comes after, is a lolicon!” Isabella declared like a prosecutor making a case in the greatest trial in all of legal history.
“Izzy, come on! You know me! That's not true!” Osamu said.
“Save it. I don't believe you.” Isabella declared. “I won't put up a fight if the police break down the doors to this place, put a bag over your head, and throw you in the party van. Don't expect me to say ,’No, my poor Osamu! You can't take him away from me!’ or some cheesy thing a Yandere would say in such a situation. Nope, not from me. I won't defend a kiddy diddler.”
:Are you even listening, you dense blonde?!” Osamu questioned.
Yoko's voice rang out from upstairs. “Will you two shut the hell up! It's late! Go to sleep!”
The alarm was turned on, and a message sounded around the house from the alarm system. “This is Yoko Akiyama, legal owner of this property. The alarm is now turned on. Please do not open any windows or doors leading to the outside. Trespassers onto this property will be killed. Survivors will be killed again.”
(What a way to end the night...)
“She actually put that as her alarm message?!” Tsukiakari shivered.
“Yoko definitely deserves a Padded Room Award.” Isabella commended.
“Come on, Gekko. Let's hit the hay.” Osamu suggested.
(And so, that long night came to an end. The feeling of getting to know someone you've forgotten...I have to say, it's amazing. I can understand the dynamic between Izanami and Gekko now better than ever. No matter what, I'll make sure she turns her life around.)