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Why was I born a youkai? I always wondered that to myself when I was young. Why couldn’t I have been a human or some other race? It wasn’t that I wanted to be what some people called a demon. It wasn’t my fault. I just woke up somewhere and found myself near one of the human villages that are scattered around this place. I was hungry…I was tired. I thought that the villagers wouldn’t mind helping me out. All I was thinking was how hungry I felt. How was I supposed to know that youkai like me eat and kill humans?
I walked…more like crawled, into the village, my stomach grumbling with uncontainable hunger. I saw what appeared to be an apple on the ground and I reached for it, gobbling down the fruit as fast as I could. I never thought food could taste this good. A shadow fell across me and there I saw a group of humans standing in front of me, their expressions grim. Frightened, I let the apple drop from my hands and I backed away.
“I-I’m sorry…I was just hungry…”
“Hungry from human flesh, maybe! You damn youkai, why are you here?!”
My eyes widened. I didn’t want to eat anyone. I stepped backwards, gulping in fear as one of the villagers lowered a sword to my face. “P-Please…I don’t want to hurt anyone…”
“Hah, fat chance! Not only do wolves prey on our sheep, now we have wolf youkai preying on us! I bet you were hunting for a child to eat, weren’t you?” The man with the sword walked closer, waving his weapon threateningly. “Weren’t you?!”
“No! No!” I raised my hands feebly in protest, which is when I noticed that my hands had become claws. Nervously, terrified of what I might find, I moved a hand to the top of my head, where it found a pair of furry ears. Fur brushed against my leg and I knew that I had a tail as well. But…I didn’t know why that would mean I would eat humans. I was just different…right? People can move past differences. “I wasn’t hunting anything! You must believe me!”
“Lies!” He swung the sword at my face, drawing a line of blood across my cheek. Why wouldn’t he believe me? I didn’t mean any harm! I was just hungry! Before I could protest again, he slashed at me again, hitting me on the chest. I saw that no matter what I said, he wouldn’t listen. I tried to run away, but then a rock flew out of nowhere and hit me on the back of the head, knocking me to the floor. Scrambling to my feet, I heard a nasty chuckle and saw that the man’s cohorts were joining their friend. Why were they picking on me?! It wasn’t my choice to be a youkai! I didn’t want to be their enemy! Hell, if it wasn’t because I wanted some food I wouldn’t have gone to their damned village anyway! Why are they blaming me for something I can’t control?! I…I hate humans!
It was then that some…barrier, some seal within me, snapped. I felt some power flow through me, driving the fury I felt at that moment through my whole body, giving me the power to defeat my attackers. It was over in a couple of minutes, really. I can’t remember parts of the fight, though, as if a black curtain had been drawn over those memories. Still, all I know is that after I had mutilated their corpses, I fled to what would be my future home, Mt. Shuuyoujo.
I was happy…or at least content there. It was beautiful, it was untamed, and best of all, it was peaceful and far removed from any human civilization. With no humans to bother me, I was free to live my life in peace without having to worry about outside interference. At least, that’s what I had thought. Apparently, there were teams of humans dedicated to wiping out stray youkai. I, unfortunately, was one of their targets. It was during the aftermath of one of their attacks did I meet Yayoi.
I don’t know how I found her, really. I was limping back towards my cave, with blood all over me, most of it theirs. As I was passing my a small growth of bushes, I heard a small whimper and I stopped, thinking that it was just my imagination playing tricks on me. However, a particular smell came to my nose and I realized that I wasn’t hallucinating. Pushing back the bushes, I saw a young girl, probably around six years of age. She was kneeling on the ground, creating small pictures in the dirt with her fingers. The reason she had whimpered was because she had accidentally poked one of her fingers against a sharp thorn, drawing blood.
I was tempted to just eat her. After all, if they were going to hunt me for eating humans, I might as well eat any humans that came to bother me. I found that while their taste wasn’t as great as compared to some other species, it did well for a snack of some sorts. I was about to kill the girl then and there when she looked at me and flashed me a smile. A bright, innocent, happy, genuine smile.
“Who are you? Do you want to play with me?” She didn’t even seem scared. She just kept smiling at me. The claw I had raised with the intention of cutting her throat lowered back to my waist and I managed a tentative smile at her. Suddenly, she frowned and crawled up to me. Before I could even react, she was flying up to my face and pinching my cheeks. “That’s not how you smile. It should be more happy.”
“H-Hey! Get off!” I protested, trying to shove her fingers off of my face. I struggled with her for a couple of more minutes before I finally managed to pry her off of me and set her back onto the ground. On a closer look, I realized that she wasn’t a full human as I first believed. She appeared to be some cross between a human and a demon, another person that nobody would want. That was probably why she was here in the forest, dressed in nothing more than an oversized shirt that was already showing signs of wear.
“Aw…Your smile is gone…” She pouted, folding her arms as she glared at me. Somehow, that statement brought another smile to my face and I felt the corners of my mouth, so unused to smiling to believe that I was actually doing it. Every since I had been chased away from that village, I never really smiled. I wondered why I was starting it now.
“Can we keep playing?” She looked at me hopefully.
“Don’t your parents have to pick you up?” I asked, a portion of me hoping that she would say no. Yes, I knew it was cruel to wish that she didn’t have parents, but I knew how people would treat such a half-breed. “And I don’t even know your name.”
“I can’t…remember my parents.” Her voice dropped for a moment and she almost seemed like she was going to cry. But her sad expression passed in a matter of seconds and her smile came back on her face. “I can’t remember much, really. But I know my name is Yayoi Mikami. What’s yours?”
“Shiwasu…Shiwasu Okami.” I knelt down to the small girl, looking her in the eye. “Since you don’t have parents…I’ll take care of you, okay? And we’ll be able to play as much as you want.”
“Yaaay!” Yayoi gave a cheer and jumped up onto Shiwasu’s back. “Let’s go home! I wanna see what it looks like!”
That half-demon…I don’t know how many times she has brought a smile to my face. I would never let her see it, though. Ever since that day, I assumed the role as her parent, raising her, taking care of her as if she were my own child. And when she grew up, she stopped acting as if I were the parent and more as if I were her elder sister or something. I admit…while there are times I wish she would just disappear…Yayoi has filled a very important part in my life. But sometimes…Just sometimes, I wonder what would have happened if the people in that village had accepted me for what I was.
The wolf youkai’s eyes snapped open and she reflexively sat up, letting out a hiss of pain as her body screamed in protest. After the quick wave of pain washed away, another one came up, this time in the form of Yayoi hugging her so tight she thought her bones would break. Shiwasu managed to shove Yayoi off of her before she went into a spasm and gratefully lay back on the soft bed that she had found herself on. “Yayoi, please, not now…I feel horrible.”
“Well, of course!” Yayoi snapped back. “Look at yourself! Not only did you ruin those nice clothes I made for you, but almost every inch of your body was covered in wounds! Do you know how worried I was when I found you like that? I thought you were dead!”
Shiwasu was about to shout out a reply of her own when she saw Yayoi’s teary, blue eyes. She sighed and closed her own eyes, settling into the warm blankets. “I’m sorry, Yayoi. Don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine.”
“Are you sure about that?” The half-demon asked, eyeing her friend with worry. “And don’t tell me you can take care of yourself, because in these recent days, I’ve been extremely skeptical of your ability to do so.”
Shiwasu managed to smile. “Trust me.”
“Well, okay. I’m going to the library to see if we can pick anything up. Just stay here and rest.” Yayoi said sternly before leaving Shiwasu to her rest. The half-demon closed the door behind her and let out an exasperated sigh. She knew that Shiwasu could handle herself…but still, seeing her mangled body did not help at all. This was all supposed to be some fun journey to find out why things were going wacky. The fact that Shiwasu could actually die fighting never crossed her mind until now. ‘Shiwasu…Are you really going to be okay?’
She found it kind of funny that she was worrying more about Shiwasu than herself, especially since her friend possessed more power than she did. Yayoi shrugged mentally and began walking towards the library. In the time where Shiwasu was unconscious, Yayoi had taken some time to get acquainted with the mansion, even meeting the mistress of the mansion herself. Granted, Remilia didn’t say much other than to ask where she lived and what her blood type was, but that didn’t bother Yayoi.
Poking her face into the library, she was greeted by the assistant librarian, a demon named Koakuma. Yayoi honestly didn’t know what to make of her, really. Sometimes she seemed the perfect assistant, docile and helpful. And then other times she would lead you to the wrong section of books and wait for the inevitable yell of disgust before breaking out in an uncontrollable fit of laughter. However, at the moment, Koakuma seemed to be in helpful mood, so Yayoi decided to take full advantage of it.
“Koakuma? Can you tell me where Ms. Patchouli is?”
“Ms. Patchouli?” A small smile appeared on Koakuma’s face. “I’m certain she’ll be surprised to be addressed that way. Follow me and I’ll show you where she is.”
A couple of moments, Yayoi found herself in front of the witch Patchouli who was doing her favorite activity, reading. Bowing slightly in respect, Yayoi cautiously looked up at her. She didn’t know how Patchouli acted, but she needed her help if she was going to find anything useful in the library. “Um…Ms. Patchouli, may I ask you some questions?”
“Eh…?” Patchouli looked up from the book, curiously titled Genshiken, and frowned slightly. “Who are you? I hope you’re not here to steal any books.”
“O-Oh, no!” Yayoi bowed quickly. “I-I just want to read some of them! There’s been some strange occurrences lately and me and my friend were hoping to find the cause of them! So please, let me read some of the books!”
A smile appeared on Patchouli’s lips and she nodded almost imperceptibly. “I’ve never had someone actually ask me to read my books before. Feel free to see any book you can.”
“Thank you!” Yayoi bowed again, wondering why she was acting so…crazy in front of Patchouli. Sure, she respected the witch for being able to manage so many books by herself. But…for some reason, she felt that the witch deserved the utmost respect and deference. It was odd. Maybe it was because being able to cast such powerful magic while having a fragile body was admirable. At the moment, Patchouli ranked only second on her list of admired people, Shiwasu obviously taking the top spot. “Um, if you wouldn’t mind, can I ask you a couple of questions?”
“What is it?” Patchouli asked.
“Have you noticed anything wrong with the elements lately? You’re known as the One-Week Witch, right? Surely there must have been something that has been strange.” Yayoi answered, looking curious.
“I don’t go out often, so I can’t say for the outside world, but I have noticed that my spells have been acting strange lately. Sometimes, when I try to cast my fire spells, they spontaneously change into other elements or the spell comes out completely different from intended. Is this what you’re researching right now?” Patchouli said, eyeing Yayoi.
“Yes.” Yayoi nodded. “The elements and nature have been acting strangely, so Shiwasu and I are trying to find why this is happening and to stop it. Thank you very much for your help. Hopefully your problems will disappear.”
“I doubt all my problems will disappear, but I like your spirit. I think this book will be very helpful to you.” Patchouli picked one out of the stack and handed it to Yayoi. “I have another copy of this volume, so feel free to take it with you. Come back any time you want to read anything.”
“T-Thank you!” Yayoi gratefully accepted the volume, bowing quickly to the librarian. “I’ll take good care of it!”
Patchouli smiled. “I trust you will.”
Yayoi thanked Patchouli one last time before hurrying back towards the bedroom where Shiwasu was, wanting to show her friend what she had found. She entered the room to see Shiwasu sitting up on the bed, looking thoughtful and twisting her brown-black hair into her normal braids. The half demon jumped on the bed, startling her friend out of her reverie.
“Yayoi!” Shiwasu said breathlessly, a hand over her bandaged chest. “What is it?”
“Look what Ms. Patchouli gave me!” Yayoi proudly showed her friend the book she had received. “Um…It’s called The Legend of the Five Celestial Beasts. She said it would help us find out what was going on.”
“Really?” Shiwasu asked, slightly curious to see what the book contained.
Yayoi nodded vigorously, opening the thick, leather-bound volume. “Let’s see…”
In the beginning, the world existed as a barren rock, uninhabitable to everyone. However, one day, five beings know as the heavenly creatures came across this land. These were Seiryuu, the Azure Dragon of the East, Suzaku, the Vermillion Bird of the South, Byakko, the White Tiger of the West, and Genbu, the Black Tortoise of the North, and their master, Kirin, the Golden Dragon of the Center. Using their powers, they created this world that we now live in. Whether you are from the outside, from the Netherworld, or from Gensokyo, the reason why we can live on this world is because of these five beings, who, along with creating life, have created nature and the seasons themselves.
Take care to not anger these beings, however. While at most times, they are content with just watching over their world, there are times when their anger has spilled forth and thus disrupted the delicate balance of nature. One example is the year 1816, when the heavenly creatures grew so irritated with the constant abuse of nature that they left, leaving only Genbu as the remaining beast. In that year, the winter, Genbu’s domain, lasted so long that hundreds died.
“Oh…wow…Do you that’s what happened now? They grew angry and decided to not watch over our world?” Yayoi asked, looking at the words again. “But how can we convince them to come back?”
“There’s a reference to a Section IV: Strength of the Beasts. Maybe they have something about it.” Shiwasu pointed to a reference and flipped through the pages. “This is it.”
These beasts, while they may differ in terms of personality and ability, do recognize one thing in common. This is strength. If you are strong enough to defeat them, and I mean all five of them, then they will acknowledge you as an equal and will be willing to do something you ask them to. These can range from denying a certain area a particular season or element to bringing back order to a particularly chaotic piece of land.
Be warned, though, for these celestial beasts are strong, much stronger than your average human, demon, or youkai. Suzaku, watcher of Summer, commands the element of fire and can literally evaporate your blood with her heat. Seiryuu, the queen of Spring, has complete control over wood and can bring forth life as quickly as she can take it away. Byakko, the lord of Autumn, has mastered the element of metal and can freeze things in its hard touch. Genbu, the peace of Winter, possesses the techniques of water and can drown you from within. And their leader, Kirin, master of the change of seasons, controls earth and can trap you within its crust. Defeating these beasts is not an easy task, so if you intend on challenging them for any reason, you must be prepared. As you can imagine, each are weak to their opposing element. Wood is weak to metal, metal is weak to fire, fire is weak to water, water is weak to earth, and earth is weak to wood.
As for finding these creatures, they do not live on a similar plane as the rest of us. They reside on a third plane of existence, called the Celestial Plane. To reach their plane of existence, you’ll need the help of a powerful witch, for to open a portal to the celestial plane, you need to merge all five elements into one spot. Fire must merge with water, wood must merge with metal, and earth shall be added in order to create the portal. Once it is open, the portal shall last for a day before disappearing so a word of warning to those heading to the Celestial Plane. Have a way to get back or finish your deed within a day. And trust me, traveling the Celestial Plane will probably take longer than a day.
“Patchouli could help us!” Yayoi said eagerly as she finished reading the last paragraph. “She’s a really powerful witch who lives in the library. Although with the state of the elements this way…Well, Patchouli can probably handle it. Come on, let’s go ask her!”
“Okay, okay.” Shiwasu said, trying to calm down her companion. Sure, it felt good knowing that there was actually something they could do, but that was no reason to rush into anything. She slowly slid out of bed and winced as her foot hit the cold floor, pain from her earlier injuries still affecting her. Carefully, she lowered her other foot onto the floor and was relieved when it didn’t hurt as much. “You lead the way.”
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