Chapter 1:

Kotaro Nishiki

Densetsu: A Beautiful Day

The golden sun arose like a baby, painting the darkness into light; the layers of white remained motionless upon the green; and soon the fork in the road would change his life forever.Bookmark here

Comfortably cuddled in his blanket, the instrument of time rang a song of capriccios. Brows adjusted before a pillow was placed over his head. The sound wouldn’t stop.Bookmark here

“Kotaro, breakfast is ready!” echoed a serene voice across the hallway.Bookmark here

He arose from his bed, yawning gloriously, and his arms raised in the air. His eyes were met with a paper portraying a courageous man pumping his chest forward. To his left arrayed a set of three wooden boards with a collection of movies, including books. Kotaro walked up to his working desk, retrieving all of the unfinished homework and shoving them into his folder, and then into his backpack. Bookmark here

Exiting his room, he progressed through the hallway on his left. He continued on his way to the halls, passing the living room to his right, and heading straight to the kitchen. Bookmark here

It seemed to be a normal day. A typical morning routine. Breakfast. Bookmark here

“Thanks for the meal, mom!”Bookmark here

After finishing his breakfast, he proceeded to the bathroom. One final spat into the sink, Kotaro picked up his backpack before heading out to school. Bookmark here

“Have fun in school!” said Amanda.Bookmark here

“I will,”Bookmark here

As the morning chill swept through the bustling city, from its steel skyscrapers to its smallest home, its icy touch kissed Kotaro’s cheek as he maneuvered through the quiet streets.Bookmark here

Vehicles drove by as the cold wind blew about, and the white snow fell upon the earth. One of the neighbor’s homes bore a bell hanging on the porch where it constantly chimed by winter’s breath. Bookmark here

Nothing could go wrong until he encountered a fork in the road. Darkness lurked in the alley. No one touched the path before. Even his friends dared him to enter it.Bookmark here

Kotaro was too scared to move. However, he lost a bet. He had to check what was behind on the other side. On his own. Bookmark here

He extended his right leg forward. The young man felt the strong chill breathing down his spine.Bookmark here

Nonetheless, he continued. There was no turning back at this point. Bookmark here

Cold. Dark. Bookmark here

His heart raced at a fast tempo. Bookmark here

Warm. Bright. Bookmark here

“Hm?” A dim light shone ahead. Whether it was an illusion or not, the snow was no more. Bookmark here

He couldn’t stop himself falling into a trance by the colorful avians soaring through the environment of life, vibrant trees with branches having multiple pink spots on them, or even the entire tree itself becoming the color of the sun itself. Bookmark here

“So pretty!” Like a tourist in a different country, Kotaro strolled through the forest and turned his head from left and right. Bookmark here

A slithering snake with wings of a butterfly flew past Kotaro. A shy, crimson skinned, and sharp-tipped squirrel picked up a piece of nut left on the ground before retreating straight into the forest. He continued onward, encountering a large silver cat with curved horns. Its menacing appearance intimidated the young man, but he was lucky the cat had zero interest in him.Bookmark here

Embracing this world’s heat, he carried his winter jacket to the side. He wandered the forest like a child. Then, he remembered. School. He only came here to check, so he turned around.Bookmark here

However, to his surprise, something was out of place. How long he spent walking in this path, he wasn’t sure. One thing he knew was that he continued a single path. Yet his footprints seemed to imply that he had taken several turns. Bookmark here

“Where am I?”Bookmark here

Returning would be impossible. No, this must’ve been a dream. This had to be an illusion. Bookmark here

He could hear the peaceful chirps of birds distort into sounds of metal scraping against another metal. Anxious, Kotaro followed his footprints briskly. He covered his ears and increased his pace at which he was traveling through the forest. Bookmark here

No matter how fast he ran or how hard he tried not to perceive the hellish chirps, his eyes caught the upcoming trees growing larger in size, and the bark slowly shaped into murderous grins. Crowds of ghostly waves of laughter manifested within the forest.Bookmark here

His eyes shut. Kotaro refused to stop moving his legs. Blinded by his fear, he tripped on a stick—or a rock. Heavy breaths were released. Sweat poured down his forehead, and his hands dug into the soft ground. Bookmark here

A rough growl quickly caught his attention, so he raised his head. He was startled by the sudden appearance of a dark figure.Bookmark here

“Meat…meat…meat!” The dark image became clear, and Kotaro saw the sight of a shirtless man, his ribs showing and his wrinkled face almost seemingly about to rot in any second.Bookmark here

The sight to behold was grossing; its grotesque form wanted Kotaro to vomit in disgust. Bookmark here

The man seemed hungry, so the frightened Kotaro tried communicating with him. Bookmark here

“Are you h-hungry?” Bookmark here

“Meat!”Bookmark here

His ravenous growl spooked Kotaro, forcing him to maintain a safe distance from the old man. Bookmark here

“D-Do you want some snacks?” Kotaro offered. Bookmark here

The stranger had different plans. He swiftly charged towards the young man, but Kotaro was quick to push him away. Bookmark here

“Meat!” the old man grinned, revealing his large canines. He wasted no time on his prey. Bookmark here

Attempting to defend himself, Kotaro threw his fist at the delirious human; however, the stranger managed to catch it before throwing him into the ground. Despite his puny appearance, the old man was rather strong. Bookmark here

This was no ordinary human. Crimson eyes stared into Kotaro’s soul. The hungry man howled, and then he started leaping at the young man. Only death awaited poor Kotaro.Bookmark here

Suddenly, moments before Kotaro would meet his end, a young lady in red-and-white robes kicked the aggressor away from the young man. Bookmark here

The old man quickly picked himself up, screeching in a pitch that was no longer human. “Shrine maiden! Me want to eat!” Bookmark here

His heart pounded vigorously. Everything was happening all too quick, Kotaro wasn’t sure what was happening. Bookmark here

The old man attempted to move around the priestess, hoping to find some sort of opening for his prey. She kept her eyes on the aggressor, paying close attention of his body language and any antics he was planning to pull. Bookmark here

It was clear he was limited in what he could do. The only option he had: to attack the girl himself. And so, he did. Bookmark here

The old man leaped forward with his sharp claws and teeth. He was faced with the priestess’ hand. A mere hand caused him to retreat and rethink his actions. Bookmark here

He crouched on all fours. “Me knows what shrine maiden can do. Hand scary! Hand bad!”Bookmark here

“But shrine maiden no good if she don’t see!” His hands dug into the dirt.Bookmark here

Before he gained the chance to act, the shrine maiden manipulated the earth with a simple stomp to the ground. The earth was materialized from underneath, and it struck the old man’s stomach. Bookmark here

He laid lifeless on the dirt. The young woman slowly approached him.Bookmark here

“Who are you?” Kotaro stopped her.Bookmark here

The girl took a quick glimpse—both their chestnut eyes interlocking and trading glazes. He saw two matching crimson tubes on her sidelocks. Bookmark here

Their staring contest didn’t last long as the old man quickly recovered. Learning the might of the shrine maiden, the old man retreated into the forest.Bookmark here

She sighed in irritation. Narrowed brows, she turned her sight away from him. Bookmark here

“If you don’t want to die, follow me…” Then she began walking.Bookmark here

“Hey wait, who are you?” Kotaro followed her. “Are you even listening?”Bookmark here

“Because you distracted me, that man will wait until you’re alone and attack.”Bookmark here

“So where are we going?” Bookmark here

“Taking you back where you came from,”Bookmark here

“So, shouldn’t we turn ba—”Bookmark here

“The portal you came from is closed. It’s not going open anytime soon.” Bookmark here

He comfortably followed her. It was safer that way. Occasionally, the two exchanged a couple of stares, but most of the time, the two sauntered the unknown trail. Bookmark here

Walking through the mysterious woodland, Kotaro encountered many creatures in different shapes and forms. He even came across this world’s greatest abomination.Bookmark here

A titanic-sized arachnid passed by. Kotaro picked up a stick and went into a defensive stance; however, the girl walked past him and caressed the spider. It hardly reacted.Bookmark here

Then he noticed the stick crawling within his hand. Dropping the stick, he watched it slithered into the nearest bushes. Bookmark here

A sudden giggle caught his attention. “What’s so funny?”Bookmark here

She immediately stopped laughing, turning her sight back to the trail. Kotaro could see a slight smirk on her face. Progressing through the forest, Kotaro discovered more unusual things; flowers had birch stems while some plants radiated in multiple colors; trees had venus flytraps as leaves while other trees bled the color red.Bookmark here

“We’re here…” the girl announced. The wind blew behind them. Two leaves danced along the skies; one of them, black and withered, faded away into the ground, and the other leaf, green and fresh, continued flying into the azure skies. Bookmark here

A path of cobblestone stairs awaited them, ascending to the very top. At the end mark, a tall scarlet gate stood as a rock. A familiar energy slowly returned to him.Bookmark here

That gate…where have I seen it before, he recalled. Memories of two boys emerged from his thoughts as they raced each other to the top. Bookmark here

Smiles. Joy. Laughter. Lost in thought, he found himself at the top, meeting a sacred house, with small stairs ascending to the entrance to the house, and a large rectangular box laying in front of the house. The roof was triangular in shape, having two other roofs intersecting from the sides of the triangular roof. To his left and right, two standing stones evenly spaced glowed azure. Bookmark here

The rain of nostalgia returned him. Have I been here before? Why does it feel so familiar?Bookmark here

“Welcome to the Kamiyama Shrine,” the girl announced. “My name is Riku Kamiyama, the Kamiyama Shrine Maiden.”Bookmark here

“Kamiyama Shrine Maiden?”Bookmark here

“That old man who attacked you? He was a yokai, disguised as a human. It’s my job to protect humans from monsters like him."Bookmark here

Kotaro widened his eyes, “Wait! That person wasn’t a human?” Bookmark here

She nodded, “Recently, monsters have been emerging and attacking careless humans in the Forest of Nothingness. They’ve become more ruthless and deadly as the days—”Bookmark here

Riku stopped herself. Kotaro was a mere human outside of this world’s comprehension. “Forgive me, but this world doesn’t concern you. I will…send you home right away.”Bookmark here

“But, I have more questions!”Bookmark here

“You don’t belong here, K—,” she turned her face away, “Outsider…”Bookmark here

“What if there’s some way I can help?”Bookmark here

Riku froze. Her pupils dilated. The history of words flickered like a flash of a lightbulb, endlessly repeating itself. No matter how it changed, words of time remained the same; and history would soon repeat. Bookmark here

How many times had she heard him say those words? More than twenty times. Bookmark here

“I will fix it!” Riku murmured.Bookmark here

“What did you say?” Kotaro leaned closer, unsure what she said.Bookmark here

“You must return, Outsider. Densetsu is not a safe place for people like you.”Bookmark here

“Densetsu? What’s that?”Bookmark here

“This is Densetsu, the world of the Legends. Now, this world isn’t safe for you. Follow me, and I will send you back to the Outside World,”Bookmark here

“Wait, I have one more.”Bookmark here

“No!”Bookmark here

“I promise it’ll be the last one!”Bookmark here

She sighed roughly, waiting to hear him.Bookmark here

Kotaro had seen them in the movies—individuals traveling into another world. His curiosity was dying to know this answer. “Has anyone like me ever come to this world before?”Bookmark here

“There were plenty of them, but one of them stood out the most. His name is Joe Jones. Like you, he’s from the Outside World.”Bookmark here

“What’s he do—”Bookmark here

“No more questions! Do you want to go home or not?”Bookmark here

He nodded. Bookmark here

“Then, promise me something…don’t ever come back…”Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.