Return to: Fiction_by_EZMode
You are a young onmyouji, a practitioner of the Huziwara school, trained nearly from the womb to work your mystical arts against the various dangerous denizens of Gensokyo. Today is the day of your 18th birthday, and the celebration of your coming of age coincides with your final test in onmyoudo arts; a one on one challenge against your grandfather, the current Master of your 'dojo' of sorts, and a widely renowned expert in the art revered even by youkai who practice. The duel begins, and lasts for the better part of three hours before you manage a narrow victory by invoking a curse of sleep. The party following the event lasts well into the spring night.
You awake early the next morning, before anyone else, and head outside. Your house and dojo is located near the bamboo forest, and as such there is a light fog in the air at all times. Today's seems to be thicker than usual however, though is doesn't concern you, since you rather enjoy the fog. Wandering around the grounds, you seem the remnants of last nights celebrations, a myriad of sandal prints in the soft dirt and crushed grass from the blankets that had been laid out for seating around the charred remains of a fire pit. You notice something odd however, a set of footprints with a slight point near each of the toes, as if the person had claws of some sort. You feel a slight unease, wondering who or what could be in the area, or was in the area.
A sound from behind you catches your attention, and you turn quickly, ready to defend yourself. Your younger brother jumps slightly at your sudden movement and asks you what you're doing.
"Nothing," you say, covering your concern. "Just thought I'd take a bit of a walk."
Your brother nods, wiping at his eyes. He doesn't seem to notice the footprints, and soon enough he heads back into the house, leaving you alone once again. You turn back to the footprints and decide to investigate more, tracking them right to where they emerge from the bamboo forest. It is as you thought, though you also noticed that the footprints themselves were partially obscured by other, different prints, leading you to believe that whoever they belonged to had come during the party last night, and was probably no longer in the area. Human or youkai, you were sure whatever it was that came out of the forest last night would know better than to do anything stupid. Your curiosity sated, but your concern lingering, you head back to the house to find everyone else beginning to wake up for the new day. Your concerns fade away for the time being, as you get ready to begin your daily chores and do your morning exercises and training.
You find yourself unfocused however, and making minor mistakes you haven't made since you were ten, much to the amusement of a few other students in the area. You chalk it up to the slight hangover from the night before, but you know the real reason: the footprints. You feel a tinge of worry biting at you as your mind floods with questions constantly, why would a youkai come out among onmyouji? What were they after? Where did they go afterwards? Will they come again? The day drags on, and the questions grow and multiply. You are surprised several times as the day goes on, snapping back to attention when someone addresses you, realizing you were zoning out. As the sun sets, you steel your resolve. You're going to track down the owner of those footprints and get your answers. You prepare some talismans and charms that night, your newfound focus clearing your mind of troubles and allowing you to complete the work without distractions or error. That night, you sleep soundly, all your questions and worries will be answered tomorrow.
Tomorrow comes soon, and you wake up several minutes before daybreak. You change from your casual wear into your onmyoudo robes, slipping several packets of amulets and talismans into the pockets. You silently creep from the house and turn towards the forest, the fog today just as thick as the day before. You take a few steps from the house, looking for any signs of the tracks when your heart jumps in your chest. You see the tracks, but they're fresh. Your mind is alight with questions again, and you find yourself turning to follow them to where they were going rather than where they came from, and after several minutes of trailing footprints as they vanish into grass, you come to a point where they turn back into themselves and realize that whoever it was had stopped outside the room you were in last night when you were preparing your talismans. You're following the footprints back around the house before you even realize it, a burning conviction to find the person that had left these tracks, a personal fire raging in your mind. Whoever left them was looking at you, and anyone slinking around in the night and spying on people likely has malicious intent. You disappear into the bamboo forest.
Minutes turn into hours, and you're still following the sporadic trail of footprints through the forest. Even as the day approaches evening, you're dead set on the tracks and will continue even through the night if need be. The fog continues to thicken as you follow the prints, and the world begins to darken. You can feel your heart in your chest hammering away as the thought of losing the trail in the dark fog eats at your mind.
That's when you see a faint light shimmering in the distance. The faint traces of sunlight remaining in the world reveal the prints leading towards the light. With new speed, you run full tilt towards the light and come up to a large, exquisite looking mansion built in a clearing. Upon inspection, you can see the footprints lead right up to the house. You've found it, this was where you would face whoever it was that was stalking your property at night. Before you can retrieve a talisman and prepare yourself, you hear some voices from within and the rhythmic pounding of running footsteps.
"Come back here Tewi!"
"No way, you totally left yourself open!"
A sliding door flew open, and moments later, you were bowled over.
Your head is swimming from the impacts of both person and ground, though you feel someone moving around. A few seconds later, a young but attractive dark haired girl is looking down at you. You don't notice the rabbit ears until a few seconds later.
"I think he's dead."
She kneels down next to you, her red eyes somewhat unsettling, but holding no malice. She seems as if she's assessing you for a few seconds before you notice she's looking into your eyes.
"You in there?" she asks, not sounding overly concerned. You manage to pull yourself up, sitting on the ground. The world still feels like it's spinning, and your head is throbbing in pain, but you otherwise feel fine. You turn to her to apologize for being in her way when you catch a glimpse of her feet. Barefoot, with small claw like nails.
"You!" you say, fumbling towards your pocket to retrieve a talisman. The girl extends her hand, there is a flash and the world went dark.
The next time you wake up, you're in an unfamiliar room. A young girl at your side stands up and walks towards the door, you notice she also has rabbit ears, though her hair is red. She opens the door and calls out into the hallway. A few seconds later, the black haired girl from earlier comes in, finding you sitting up once again. You reach to your pockets, but find them empty. They must have confiscated your talismans, you curse your luck under your breath.
There is silence for a few seconds, as you watch the girl and she watches you. She breaks the silence first.
"Do you like rabbits?"
Her question completely throws you. You fumble with words for a few seconds trying to give a response.
"Yes. As long as they're not troublesome youkai rabbits," you say. She gives a small smile and walks over to you, crouching down next to you again like she did outside. In the lighting of the room, she looks even better than she did in the gloomy fog. You feel a slight burning in your cheeks.
"Then it's a good thing there are no troublesome ones around here." she says with a smile.
She introduces herself as Tewi, and you introduce yourself in turn. You explain that you'd noticed unfamiliar tracks around your home at the edge of the bamboo forest and tracked them back here. You felt they had belonged to someone with sinister intentions, and you were determined to get to the bottom of it and get rid of any potential dangers to your household as the newest graduate and the current heir to the Master position, due to your father's death. Tewi listens to the entire explanation, but offers no explanation for her own goals. Instead, she simply stands up afterwards and walks towards the door.
"I'll lead you out of the forest, you'll get lost on your own."
The trek through the bamboo is long and silent. You briefly consider saying something just to start a conversation, but you find yourself lost for words when it comes to talking to a youkai rabbit. Instead, you find yourself thinking back to when you woke up, the other youkai you saw, she appeared much like Tewi, and there were a number of other rabbits in the building as you were leaving. Though your suspicions of a dangerous youkai prowling your estate had been cleared, you find yourself wondering about a possible army of youkai living in relative isolation, hidden in an almost impossible to navigate forest of illusions. Before you can dwell on it too much longer though, you realize you can see the edge of the bamboo forest.
"This is as far as I'm going, I'm pretty popular among humans for my good luck," Tewi says, turning on her heel towards you. You notice she's not looking directly at you. "'Everyone gets one' as they say. People come looking for me to achieve good fortune, so I can't rick being mobbed by showing my face too often."
You nod in agreement. It did sound rather harrowing to have to deal with, though after a few seconds her words finally sink in.
"So, can I get some good fortune for finding you?"
Tewi looks you in the eyes, a disappointed expression on her brow.
"Well, you did manage to find Eientei and not get lost and die, so I think the good fortune already found you. Consider yourself lucky enough to be home safely."
She sounded a little upset. You regret asking after the fact, thinking that even when people do find her, they probably ask the same question, and they receive the same reply.
"I'm sorry, I guess my greed got the better of me." It was a weak apology, but you felt that it would be better than nothing. You offer a slight bow as a goodbye and turn towards the edge of the forest. As you begin walking you hear the sounds of rustling behind you. Looking back, Tewi has already vanished. Moments later, as you near the edge of the forest, you hear voices as family and students rush towards you, clearly surprised to find you and begin peppering you with questions about your absence. You don't answer them, but instead head back in to the house. Only then does it dawn on you you never retrieved your amulets and talismans before you were escorted from Eientei. Against your better judgment, you plan a second outing into the forest the next day.
Dawn comes, and once again you enter the tree line near where you exited the forest. The fog today is almost non existent. You can see your own footprints leading out, and trace them back to where Tewi lead you. You're surprised to find that while Tewi's tracks lead up to the location, there are no return tracks. Could she have flown back? You dismiss the idea idly, after all, she's a rabbit, not a bird. Rabbits can't fly, youkai or not. Having become somewhat adept at following Tewi's footprints, especially in a clearer day like today, you have very little trouble following both sets of tracks back the way they came from. Just as the night before, you reach the mansion around sunset, however tonight has a much different atmosphere. You can hear music and singing from quite a distance away, and it grows louder as you approach. When you reach Eientei, you discover it has been practically opened up, and is nearly surrounded by youkai rabbits dancing and singing, pounding mochi and celebrating apparently just for the sake of celebration. Among them, a single black haired rabbit bounds around, equally involved in the merrymaking. You find yourself watching too long however as Tewi eventually notices you and quickly disappears into the crowd of other rabbits. You decide to enter the main building.
Somehow, the interior seems much smaller than you remember it. After a short time of wandering around however, you notice that all sound has faded away. You turn around and notice that what had been a simple hallway leading in from the outside has stretched into eternity, the end long out of sight. You feel your heart begin to pound in your chest. Something is wrong, something is seriously wrong. You approach the nearest door and slide it open, revealing another hallway. Stepping in, you reach to shut the door behind you, only to feel nothing but air. You look back again and notice the doorway has completely vanished. Your heart rate increases as you begin to panic. That's when you hear laughter, a dry, feminine laugh. It resonates down the hallway, coming from somewhere far out of sight. You glimpse what appears to be the shimmering form of a person, and strain your eyes against the growing darkness to see. A pair of bright red eyes open in front of you, seeming to shine with an inner light. You stumble backwards in surprise, to see the eyes belong to another rabbit, much unlike the others you've seen so far. This one was wearing a strange outfit that appeared as something you've only seen at the expensive western clothing stores in the village. Her shining red eyes complimented her equally insane grin, as she pointed her right hand towards you, thumb and index finger extended.
"You've got some nerve coming for my Mistress, human. You're not leaving here alive or sane, you have no choice in the matter."
You take a few more steps backwards, trying to control your fear. You lament your lack of amulets, thinking that if you had some right now you would be able to stand a better chance, but you still have a repertoire of other arts at your disposal. Before you can decide on a plan however, four circles of light appear in front of her hand, and all too quickly, barrages of glowing bolts of light shoot out, flying towards you. You instinctually dodge the bolts, remembering the Spellcard rules obeyed within Gensokyo, something even you had learned in your training. You realize a pattern to the shots, and realize the less you move, the easier it is to maneuver between the shots. As you do, you begin to recite an incantation, the same sleep curse you used on your grandfather. The rings of light fade and the barrage ends, and using the mere seconds you have, you invoke the curse, sending out a thin wave of coloured lights. This catches the woman off guard, and two of the lights impact her and vanish. Seconds pass, and a full minute comes around as the rabbit stares you down, clearly fighting the effects of your invocation.
"You... you'll never... beat... Master..." she says, slurring her words in her increasing fatigue.
"Why did Tewi send you after me?"
You're not sure if she was surprised or just staggered really hard at that moment.
"Tewi? No... I..."
She never finishes her sentence. The light in her eyes fades, and almost instantly, the hallway snaps back to it's normal state, and the sound of music and singing fills the air again before she even hits the ground asleep. You look around, relieved to be back to normality, and decide to at least put the unconscious rabbit in one of the rooms, so she's not just laying in the middle of a hallway. Sliding open one of the doors, you find an empty room, and with relative ease, you carry the sleeping woman into the room and lay her down on a futon already unrolled on the ground. As you begin to leave the room, you see the packets of amulets and talismans you had on you. Claiming them, you are relieved at your small victory. That is, until you turn to the door.
"Oh dear, what have you done to my Udonge?"
Another woman stands in the door, bow readied and arrow nocked. Dark grey eyes that seem ready to pierce you just as easily as the arrow pointed towards your heart stare at you with cold calculation. Much to your dismay, you find yourself unable to think of the best way to explain yourself. You're about ready to resign to whatever fate was about to befall you, when a voice sounds out in the hallway.
"Help me! Eirin~!"
For a moment, the womans attention falters as she takes her eyes off of you. With single motion, you throw an entire packet of talismans and utter a short incantation. The packet bursts apart, releasing a barrage of paper. The woman turns her attention back with a surprised expression and releases her arrow. It bites through the seals with ease, but your small window of surprise allowed you time to move, suffering only a wound to the shoulder as a result. The talismans close in on the woman and surround her, eventually wrap around her, trapping her in a spell of binding. Her surprised shout as she falls caught the attention of others, as several seconds later, a number of youkai rabbits appear in the doorway, several still carrying the kine used to make mochi, and all of them bearing angry glares. You set your hand on the arrow in your shoulder and wrench it free, thankful it wasn't barbed. Wounded and outnumbered, you're almost certain to be overpowered. Not willing to simply give up, you take out another packet of talismans, preparing to invoke a spellcard. That's when a familiar face appears in the crowd.
"What are you doing?"
Tewi pushes her way into the room through the crowd, visibly furious.
"First you show up out of nowhere again, and now I find out you've not only attacked Eirin, but you were preparing to do who knows what to Udonge as she was sleeping," she says, stamping her foot like a child throwing a tantrum. "What were you thinking?"
You simply hold up the packets in your hands.
"I came back for these."
Tewi's irritation fades slightly as it seems to be slightly replaced with embarrassment. You get the feeling she forgot to return your possessions before you left, and is just now remembering.
"Well, guess that's partially my fault."
You stand up, wincing slightly from the wound in your shoulder. A growing stain has already formed, and you hear several murmurs from the other rabbits in the door. You notice Tewi looking at the blood spot.
"I'll be fine. It'll heal."
Tewi looks at you, then looks back at the woman bound in talismans on the floor, currently struggling to free herself with several help from several rabbits. Tewi looks back at you and sighs.
"You've got a surprising amount of good luck for a normal human. Are you sure you're not some kind of luck youkai?" Tewi says, a small sarcastic smile forming. She turns towards the door and starts commanding the various rabbits around, ordering several to draw water, a few more to fetch some medical supplies. She then joins the other rabbits in freeing the bound woman, all the while saying something.
You are treated by the rabbits, who clean and dress the wound. Much to your surprise, the woman you bound, Eirin, donates some medical salve to the process, easing the pain to near non-existence. The other rabbit, who you learn is named Reisen also begins to wake up eventually.
"So... what is this place?" you ask following the treatment, even more curious now that you've encountered several dangers within this building.
The explanation details that the building is called Eientei, and that while it is largely populated with youkai rabbits, it is mostly controlled by several people. Kaguya Houraisan, an exiled princess who claims to come from the moon, Eirin Yagokoro, Lunarian genius and medical expert, Reisen Udongein Inaba, who is what is apparently a 'Moon Rabbit' and is responsible for the maddening illusions that take place within the building. Finally, Tewi introduces herself again, though she mentions that she'd been in this forest long before Eientei existed, and was actually the oldest person in the building. She also includes that she is the 'Commander' of the youkai rabbits. Following the explanation, you explain in turn, mentioning that you had been there the previous day, the reasons that lead you here that time, and the loss of your talismans that lead you back here today. Eirin and Reisen are particularly embarrassed at their actions over a misunderstanding, and apologize for their actions.
You then discover that their hostility is largely due to someone named Fujiwara no Mokou, who is supposedly an immortal, who constantly sends assassin's after Kaguya, despite her being immortal as well. You learn of an almost timeless rivalry between the two eternals and their countless attempts to kill the other. You find it fairly absurd to believe that someone like Kaguya could have lived for more than a thousand years and still retain her apparent youth, but then you consider that Tewi is older and looks even younger. Still though, you have your doubts. Youkai do have their differences from humans after all.
Explanations give way into light conversation over tea. The youkai rabbits eventually return to their revelries, and the others all return to their various duties, leaving only you and Tewi in the end. Once again, you find yourself hard pressed to start a conversation. Time ticks by as you two sit in silence, both of you seemingly unable to begin a conversation.
"So, I'll lead you back to the forest's edge. Make sure not to forget anything this time." Tewi said, standing from where she was sitting on the floor and heading over to the door. You hesitate, feeling that you'd much rather stay, but ultimately give in and follow.
The walk through the bamboo forest is silent once again, the only sound being the sound of the two of you walking. You feel a slight hint of embarrassment, your second time being guided out of the forest, and your second chance to ask Tewi what she was doing loitering around your property int he first place, but you can't bring yourself to ask. You do however enjoy the walk more this time, as the clear sky offers much more illumination of the forest, allowing you to enjoy it's almost magical allure. Despite it's danger, the forest really is a beautiful sight. You look back to Tewi from admiring the forest, and find her walking backwards, her eyes set on you.
Tewi doesn't respond, she simply tilts her head to one side, much like she did the first time you were in Eientei.
"Do you like rabbits?"
That question again. You've wondered why she would ask a question like that in the first place, though it wasn't quite as jarring now as the first time she asked it. Perhaps she was self conscious about being a youkai? Or maybe she was just worried that you had a particular distaste for rabbits.
"Yes, as long as they're not troublesome youkai rabbits."
She gives the same mischievous smile you remember her having the last time.
"Then it's a good thing there are no troublesome ones around here."
The same response as before too. Maybe she's just strange. You'd figure that several hundred years of life would probably cause the most stable individuals to start losing their mind, or maybe it's a side effect of living with someone like Reisen. Whatever the case, you can't be too sure of her reasoning behind it. The rest of the trip is uneventful. Tewi stops at the edge of the forest again, and you continue on alone. This time though, Tewi is still standing there when you look back. Once again, people from the house come running out to you with the same questions. This time, however, you have answers.
You tell them about the house in the forest, about the youkai rabbits, the moon princess, her resident genius, the mad rabbit and the rabbit of good fortune. You tell the younger family members and students about your battle against Reisen and Eirin, though your attempts to show off the wound you suffered from Eirin proves futile when you discover the wound had completely healed already, leaving only slightly stained and medicined bandages behind. Regardless, the kids eat up every word, and the tales of your experience seem to encourage them to train harder. Your grandfather however has a different feeling on the matter.
"You must never go back there, you will come to regret your involvement in their affairs."
His words come as a surprise to you, even though they contain a great deal of mystery. What affairs was he talking about? Your attempts to press him for more information are only replied with more warnings, which eventually give into demands. You agree to respect his wishes, and the matter is set behind you. It rains that night. The next day, you notice fresh clawed footprints leading around the house again. It takes almost all of your willpower to choose to ignore them. Several days pass, and every couple days you see a new set of footprints around the yard. Sometimes leading to the house, up to the windows, other times seeming to just wander aimlessly. You begin to keep track of when they appear and when they don't. You begin to find yourself able to predict when they'll appear again, and one night, you decide to set a slight trap.
One summer night, long after night fall when all others are asleep, you're alone in your room meditating. You've snuffed all lights, to make it appear that you've gone to sleep. An almost indiscernible sound comes from outside your window as a pair of small twigs you set up crunch underfoot.
"Do you like humans?"
There is a quiet rustle and then silence. You quietly walk to your window and look out. You see a slight glint of moonlight on red eyes as Tewi looks up at you from beneath the window. She truly had the appearance of a rabbit caught in a trap. Despite the darkness, you can make out the slight mixture of surprise and amusement in Tewi's expression.
"You scared me there." she said quietly, moving away from the window. You simply smile.
"Well rightly so. I hear there's some troublesome rabbits out here that like to spy on people."
Tewi furrows her brow.
"Well sorry for being troublesome."
You offer a slight snicker.
"I thought there were no troublesome rabbit youkai around here?"
Tewi's expression changes to surprised embarrassment as she stamps her foot again.
"Oh, you totally set me up for that one." she says, looking like a kid that just lost a game to a friend. Silence falls between you once again, but this time, you're determined not to let it persist.
"... Want a carrot?"
"That's not some kind of euphemism for sex is it?"
You instantly feel your face begin to burn as Tewi's mouth widens into a sly grin. It seems she's turned the tables on you this time, but she does agree to come in.
You prepare some tea and carrots, and sit down with Tewi. You ask her about her reasons for coming around your property all the time. At first she seems hesitant to give a straight answer, but before long you pressure her into spilling. Apparently there have been a number of incidents in the past few years that have caused quite a bit of excitement, but it's been a long while since anything has happened that gave Tewi an excuse to leave Eientei and she's begun to get a little stir crazy having to stay in one place. She often takes walks at night now to relax and to just enjoy the night, and having a group of humans living so close to the forest gives her something different to look at. She had always been aware it was an onmyoudo dojo, but due to being a youkai she had always been afraid of coming during the day out of fear of being attacked, so she never gets to meet everyone else. You decide then that you will help her out, and promise to tell everyone else more about her, and tell her that she'll be safe to come during the day if she pleases. This really seems to cheer her up.
Leaving that topic behind, your conversations turn into Tewi telling you stories of things she's seen during her life, many of which are things that you yourself learned about from Keine while you attended her school. In this case though, you get a much more radical viewpoint, history from the youkai side of life. Her stories nearly continue until sunrise, at which point she hurries off back to Eientei. You too head off to bed.
Several days pass without sign of Tewi, though you've had plenty of time to inform everyone of the agreement the two of you made, and that she should be treated as a normal person rather than a youkai. When she does finally turn up on the hottest day of the summer, she's welcomed pleasantly by everyone on the grounds at the time, many of which are pleased to meet her. She is strangely shy the first few visits, but when she starts showing up more regularly she gets more and more open with everyone until she seems just as naturally part of the household as anyone else. You also learned second hand that she's a prankster, and her constant tricks keep the current students on their toes, giving them practical experience against youkai tactics and deceptions. Even your grandfather, who had initially been wary of a youkai entering the grounds unrestricted seemed to lighten up.
One day, however, when the students were allowed a free day to rest, the grounds were nearly empty when Tewi came by. You greeted her before you had to leave on an errand to the village, and informed her you'd be gone for a while. She didn't mind, and said she had something she wanted to talk about when you got back. She seemed slightly nervous, which in turn made you worried as you traveled to the village. The entire time, you wondered what it was she had to say, and you began to fear the worst. You've come to enjoy her company more, and she seemed to be much happier around your house and dojo than she was back at Eientei, you didn't want to have to lose her. You made every effort to get back as soon as possible. By the time you returned from the village, you set the groceries and supplies in the kitchen just as you overheard what sounded like a muffled shout. You realized it was Tewi, something was wrong! You hurried towards the back of the house where you thought you heard it, hearing voices as you got closer to your grandfather's room.
"Grant my request, you god forsaken beast!"
That was your grandfather's voice! In an instant a feeling of hatred and anger boils up inside you that you've never felt before. You kick in the sliding door to your grandfather's room, finding him partially disrobed and forcing Tewi down, her dress pulled up to her chest and his free hand tugging at her bloomers. Tewi looked at you with tearful, frightened eyes, and you nticed for the first time the large burn scars that covered your grandfather's back and upper arms. You ran forward, your own fire burning inside, and dug your foot into the old man's ribs with a sharp kick, he gave a shout of pain and rolled off Tewi as she scrambled away from him. You saw a few amulets stuck to her, and you recognized them as seals meant to weaken a youkai. Tewi could barely force herself to stand as she curled next to your legs, sobbing.
"What in hell were you trying to do to Tewi."
Grandfather just sneered and spat.
"She's a youkai, she doesn't deserve the same treatment as humans, especially one with such a gift as good fortune. She should be an obedient slave to some powerful onmyouji as a shikigami, granting him the easy life."
You felt your stomach turn over. You never expected such coldness was possible, let alone from your own grandfather and a renowned Master famed throughout the land.
"You're a disgusting person, grandfather. I can hardly tell you from the beasts in the wild, forcing your own lusts and desires onto whomever you want. I won't let you hurt any girl I like, even if she is a youkai."
You saw Tewi look up at you out of the corner of your eye, face soaked from tears, clearly surprised by what you've just admitted. You felt a slight wave of embarrassment over it, even though you displayed a front of anger. Grandfather's sneer turned into a cold glare.
"You'll never have what it takes to be the next master, you damned deviant. I forsake you from the dojo and strike you from the hierarchy. Leave these grounds now or face punishment."
So it had come to this. He was willing to turn you away for defying his cruelty. You didn't care, you couldn't stand to remain in the family any more after his sickening treatment. You kneel down and help Tewi to her feet, still shaking and crying, and lead her from the room. You briefly stop in your own room to retrieve some personal effects, then take half the groceries you had just dropped off. You briefly regretted having to leave while everyone else was out, including your younger brother, but you swore you would come back for him another day, take him away from the leadership of that disgusting man. Instinctively, you headed into the bamboo forest. It didn't take long for Tewi to start slowing down however.
"Wait... I can't... wait..."
You stop and turn around. You can see Tewi is clearly struggling to even stay on her feet, and you recall the amulets that were used on her. You tell her to remove them, but find out that she can't, that the amulets themselves prevent her from touching them. You agree to take them off for her, but she hesitates. Realization catches up to you, and you get a weird mix of anticipation and embarrassment.You're going to have to take the amulets off yourself. You start with the ones stuck to her arms, peeling them off first. An awkward pause follows, as Tewi is too nervous to continue, and you're too embarrassed to continue as well. You take the initiative however, and start to lift her dress to get to the ones on her legs at least. She gives a little yelp and moves to push her skirt down, but stops half way, her hands resting on her stomach. You can see she's starting to turn red, and you can fell you are as well. Never the less, you begin to peel off the amulets closest to her ankles, working your way up, by the time you reach her knees, she's closed her eyes and begun to turn an even deeper red. By the time you finish with her legs, you almost feel it would be dangerous to continue as well, as certain parts of you other than your cheeks are now receiving ample amounts of blood.
"You okay Tewi? There's still some-"
"I- No, I can't..."
"It'll be fine, I'll just sit behind you and start at your back, and you can put my hands on the rest."
There was a hesitant pause. You know she needs to get the rest of the amulets off, and you know you want to take them off, but you're also concerned with being too forceful. She's probably already been traumatized enough coming so close to being violated by an old man, the least you want to do is cause her any more suffering. You get up and walk around behind her. She slowly lifts up her dress the rest of the way, and lets it hang forward from her neck. There are a few amulets on her back, and you can see the edge of one on her side. You peel off the ones you can see, being sure to be careful when peeling off the one on her side, though the way she folder her arms into her chest made it harder than it should have been. After those, Tewi adjusted her dress, hanging it the other way, and took hold of your hands, placing them on two different spots. You could feel the edges of the amulets at your finger tips, and you also realized that one hand was on her stomach, and the other was right in the middle of her chest. Taking a deep breath, you focused on removing the amulets and nothing else, completing the process carefully.
"Is that all?"
Tewi nodded, slipped her dress back down. You took this moment in her blind spot to adjust your recent growth as to not draw any attention to it that might cause negative reactions. Tewi didn't move aside from shifting into a seiza position.
"You're okay, right? Tewi?"
Tewi nodded again. You almost hate to ask, but have a feeling something like this might have happened before. As for now, you help her back to her feet, pick up your bags, and walk further into the forest with her. The entire way back to Eientei, Tewi never lets go of your arm.
Getting back to Eientei takes longer, and it's past nightfall by the time you arrive. When you do, youkai rabbits come out in droves, and Reisen is right behind them all. They quickly notice Tewi looking a bit worn out and look at you with suspicious eyes. She quickly dismisses their suspicions though, informing them of what happened earlier in the day. Naturally, the reaction is one of anger. In the resulting chaos, Tewi wanders into the building and disappears into a room. Concerned for her, you follow her and enter the room behind her. She's already managed to ball herself up in the corner and huddle into a blanket. It really breaks your heart to see her looking so broken and hurt.
You can't find any words to fix what happened. There probably aren't any words that can do that. All you can do right now is be there for her. You walk across the room and sit down next to her. She leans against you and buries her face into your shoulder, and you lay your arm across her shoulders. The two of you sit like that until you both fall asleep.
By the time you wake up, Tewi is already gone, a crumpled blanket left where she once sat. You wander around Eientei for a while, coming across a few youkai rabbits that are already awake, and Reisen, who seems to be filling in for Tewi by commanding what rabbits were active around. You find Tewi herself sitting in a small courtyard near the back of Eientei. You head towards her quietly, but find yourself surprised when she turns quickly, a bright smile on her face.
"You sleep a lot, you're missing a great day."
You look outside. The fog is thick again today, and there is a light rain falling. All and all, it appears to be a fairly dreary day.
"What makes today so great?"
Tewi stands up and throws her arms around your neck.
"Because it's the first day of a new love."
Your heart skips a beat, and before you even have time to recover, Tewi leans in and kisses you. You have to focus on staying upright to keep your knees from giving out on you. Tewi pulls back and buries her face in your chest. The only thing you can do is wrap your arms around her.
"Thanks for yesterday. It's been far too long since someone treated me like a woman instead of a good luck charm."
You don't know what to say. While you did save her from the perversions of an old man, you didn't really realize what was happening until you had already jumped into action. Could you really say it was a conscious decision to save her? You chase such thoughts from your head. Of course you meant to save her, and you did because it's the right thing to do. She was a friend and a companion, but that man only saw her as a source of power and sex. It made you angry just thinking about it again, but that was far in the past now, and would never happen again. Your only fear is that Tewi will never trust other humans again. Tewi slides from your arms and takes a step around you with a spring in her step.
"Can't spend the entire day being all lovey, I've got work to do. You just enjoy the day normally!" she says cheerfully before bounding off to wake up more rabbits. You felt relieved that she seemed to have gotten over the trauma of last night so quickly. You decide to take her advice and enjoy the day normally, or rather, what you would consider normal. You perform your routine exercises, and even assist with the chores. You even help Reisen and Eirin with dinner, despite Eirin's insistence on using a bunch of odd ingredients you've never heard of. You thoroughly enjoy the day, and retire to a room now shared by you and Tewi near the more isolated back of the house, something she apparently arranged earlier today. You could get used to life like this.
You open your eyes sometime during the night, the deep silence of Eientei a little unsettling for the first time. You slide out of your bed to go get a drink of water, when you hear a slight rustling sound. You stop to see if you can hear it again, and you do, but it sounds farther away. Whatever it is, it's coming from outside. Before you have time to think on it, a series of loud noises erupts from around Eientei, and parts of the building erupt into flames. Tewi wakes with a scream, as does half of Eientei. By the time everyone's caught on to what's happening, you've already snatched up the remaining packets of amulets and rushed outside. That's when you see her, blue hair wreathed in flames, gouts of flames licking across her body. She looked like a fiery goddess, afloat in the air above Eientei.
Her shouts tear through the night air with a venomous hatred you could never have thought existed. A small group of youkai rabbits rose into the air, but were met with a shower of fire and amulets. Another onmyouji? You ready your amulets and let them fly, they spiral outwards in thick waves. She notices the attack however, and with a single sweep, burns several amulets out of the air and approaches with impossible speed, squeezing right through the tiniest gaps. You're startled by her rapid approach and take a few steps back. You can see a deep look of familiarity in her eyes.
"You. Where did you learn that attack?"
You have a sudden dread deep within the pit of your stomach. A lingering hunch that you've gotten into something beyond your control. You realize now, even though they were the words of a disgusting man, that they were true, that he never should have come back out here.
"I'm a student of the Huziwara Onmyoudo-"
She bursts out laughing. At first a light laugh, but it quickly builds into an insane cackle. The flames sheathing her body grow bigger as she continues, to the point they threaten to ignite the forest around her.
"You don't even know. You don't even know the truth do you? Is that pathetic excuse for a man still alive? I thought I burnt him to death for his arrogance."
Your heart sinks as images of your grandfathers burns flash into your memory. Did she burn him? Does that mean she knew him?
"What you know is an art I've long since created, the personal training of an ancient aristocrat developed into a private style. That lecherous dog stole my technique, then he tried to steal my dignity, and now he's passing his theft onto new generations. Inexcusable. Unforgivable! I'm going to finish him once and for all, once I burn this place, it's inhabitants, and Kaguya to the ground." she said, with a wicked smile. Realization stuck you like a ton of bricks. This was Mokou! "That prissy princess will be so lost without all her precious servants, it'll only be a matter of time before she gives up on life entirely."
"I can't let you do that."
Mokou's fires flared violently in response.
"You think you can stop me with a technique I invented?"
"Do you think you can stop a man dedicated to protecting his friends and loved ones?"
A wave of fire washed forth, and you took several more steps back, the heat already causing you to break a sweat. The lesser foliage in the forest had already dried out and caught fire. You could see the rabbits in the background, frantically working to douse the fires that had erupted around Eientei.
"I'm giving you a chance to live, human. I will kill you if you get in my way. Kaguya and her sympathizers must die, and I'm not going to let some young upstart get in my way."
Without warning, a ball of fire issues forth from the wreath of flames and speeds towards you. You avoid it in time, and produce a handful of amulets, tossing them forth with an incantation. Tounges of flame lick at the amulets, but have no effect. Mokou only barely manages to avoid a direct hit.
"Fine, have it your way."
Mokou took to the air, producing a wave of amulets similar to the one you attacked with first. You're familiar with the pattern, and avoid it easily, countering with your own shower of amulets in return. Mokou's agility in the air gives her an advantage, but she comes much closer to being hit. You smile to yourself, feeling that your own personal touches to your training and technique have varied your patterns enough to make them unfamiliar to Mokou. The two of you exchange waves of amulets for what seems like an eternity, as you stall for time until the mansion can be put out. Once the last of the flames have been doused, you see Reisen and Eirin exit from Eientei and begin heading in your direction. Your turn is almost up, and Mokou had descended fairly close to the ground. Now was your only chance. You produce a single talisman and charge towards Mokou, leaping towards her with all your might.
"Immortal「Fire Bird -Flying Phoenix-」"
You can barely react before a large bird of flames swoops over you. The pain is unbearable as your skin burns and cracks and your clothing burns away. Through the flames, you reach out with your single talisman and, with a wild swipe, manage to stick it to Mokou's pant leg. The flames dissipate and you collapse into a heap, your breathing strained as you try to force air through your heat scorched throat. You hear a loud scream, and only barely see Tewi at the edge of vision, being restrained by several other rabbits. Her screams of anger are broken only by painful sobs. Eirin hesitates before running back into Eientei, likely to try to find something she can use to save you. At some point, Kaguya had emerged from Eientei and was now locked in battle with Mokou. Moving is hard, breathing is hard, but you manage to roll over onto your back to see the two in mid air engaged in a furious battle. You smile through burned and cracked lips, and utter your final incantation.
Mokou's flames flare brighter than before, surprising everyone including Mokou. In an instant, the flames turn upon themselves as a roiling torrent of flames issues forth from Mokou in all directions. Kaguya retreats in surprise, unsure of what's happening as Mokou's screams pierce the night sky. The torrents of flame cut out suddenly as a huge bird of fire materializes from Mokou's body. The Phoenix writhes in it's own personal agony momentarily before bursting in a brilliant display of white light, the force of which utterly obliterates Mokou's body, now separated from her source of immortality. Your consciousness begins to fade as you hear Eirin's voice, coming from what seems like an eternity away. The night is so clear now, it feels like a perfect night to sleep under the stars forever.
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