The team of AXQA, Aishuu and Xandra jointly present:
Rite of Resurrection
Axqa_1@yahoo.com
Disclaimers: Yami no Matsuei is copyright of Yohko Matsushita.

NOTE: Yami no Matsuei had a distinctive vocabulary of terms; if you are unfamiliar with the series (or need a refresher), go to http://theria.net/yaminomatsuei/index.html.


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Prologue
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Kuzuha Keiko looked at her son, wondering if this was the right decision. Still, as she stared at his unnatural eyes, she knew that she had to do this, for his sake.

It had been their family secret for so long that she knew answers would be found only beyond the world of the known. She wished with all her heart that there was something -anything- she could do instead of take the course laid before her, but she had exhausted her options.

Her son's fourth birthday was in four days. If she didn't act now, he would die.

"Mama?" Rui asked, his childish voice high and thin with fatigue.

She regretted having kept him up so late past his bedtime, but Keiko wanted to spend every moment possible with him, just in case she failed. "It's okay, Rui," she whispered into his ear, before placing a soft kiss on his forehead. "How about you go to lie down, and go to bed? Mama has some things she has to do."

Outside, the lightning crackled, briefly illuminating the dark house that held so many secrets. Rui, though, was an obedient child and allowed himself to be tucked into bed without complaint of childhood fears. "Goodnight, mama."

Keiko didn't want to leave her precious son, and for a moment, almost gave into the temptation to remain. He was all she had, and she was probably grasping at straws that would break under her hopes. Why shouldn't she cherish the time she knew she had with him, rather than take this gamble?

Her husband was dead, taken in a sudden accident while returning from work one day. Her first son, gone as well, in circumstances that she feared now faced little Rui. No, she shook her head in determination, she would NOT let that happen to him.

Walking into her room, she unlocked the safe and removed a large well thumbed book. The dark cover on the front was nondescript with an arcane language was written across the center that would make no sense to the uninitiated. It had taken her a long, long time to learn all that she needed to decipher this book. Too long to save Keiichi; but Rui...

Now she was ready.

She glanced outside, and saw the way the sky was threatening to open up. It was dark out, too dark for the early evening, and she wondered if it would be prudent to wait until the next evening to perform the ceremony. The moon was full tonight; that was true. Still, it was hidden by the clouds, and being soaked through wasn't anything she desired.

Keiko firmed her chin, and grabbed her husband's jacket. It still carried his scent, and perhaps retained a bit of his strength, which she needed to borrow. She was making excuses, and if she continued to let her fears get the better of her, she would never achieve her goal.

The book make it quite plain that a full moon was the ideal for the ritual, and she was not a strong magician. Though she had classic training in onmyoujitsu, she knew that this would be a chancy thing. Raising the dead... especially someone nearly a century gone...she would need every advantage she could get.
Still, there was still one more item she required without question, and that was something that turned her stomach at the thought of. She needed a bone from the one she wanted to bring back to life.

Keiko was going to desecrate a grave to get it.

Another flash of lightning lit up her room and brought her focus to the picture by her bedside table. Rui looked so happy in it, perched on the shoulders of her handsome husband, laughing together. That was all she needed to remind her of her resolution.

Striding out the door, she snatched up the shovel and lamp that she had prepared
a few nights before but not had the courage to take earlier. Keiko shot an anxious look at the dark clouds scudding across the sky but the threatening rain had not yet descended. She hoped she would be able to do this quickly.

Finding the exact spot in the family cemetery proved harder than she expected. She had seen it before, but that was in full daylight. Now, stumbling in the dark, the overgrowth in the more isolated section threatened to defeat her. This was a place that had seen no one come for a a very long time.

It was a grave that the family had wanted to forget. Even the children, on those evenings when they dared each other to prove their bravery, didn't approach. Many families whispered of demons in their lines, but only her family had a real one. That line had died, but the Kuzuhas had inherited it by default. They had a curse, and his name was written across the stone above the wards that had been chiseled into it to prevent the demon from rising.

Now she was going to breathe life into the demon's body, all to save her son from the family curse. It was selfish of her, but she was a mother. A mother who would do anything for her child.

The brambles and dried grass clung to her skirt as she forced her way to his grave. She stared down at the dry earth for a moment, and steeled herself. This was a crime against the gods, to defile the final resting place of the dead, but before the night was through, she would have darker sins upon her soul. Keiko took a calming breath in, felt it pass through her ribcage, and set the shovel into the hard ground.

Push...lift... push... lift... the motion soon became clockwork though her muscles protested against the workout. A small hole soon appeared.

Nothing, why was there still nothing! Her mind screamed. Surely this was the spot, she couldn't be wrong. With a nearly despairing will, she continued to dig, there was no other option for her to act on.

Suddenly the shovel impacted upon something. What it what she was looking for?
Keiko tossed the implement to the side and began to rummage through the earth for it. Uncaring of the dirt filling her fingernails, she dug and searched, frantically looking for the one thing that could prove to be the salvation for her son.

She dug until her fingers bled, slowly unearthing what was there. The casket had been a wooden one, like so many of the ones of the time, and most of it had decayed. Still, the paper wards had been infused with proper magic, and survived, and she felt the power as she brushed them back. Whoever had cast the spells to bind the body to the grave had wanted to make sure this person never walked again.

Had he really been so terrible? Would she be able to control him?

Still, she pressed on, shattering the last of the wards and nearly crying as the power tried to surge back into her. Her eyes closed as she concentrated on the ground and earth around her, and being one with her surroundings. She wasn't a Zen Buddhist, but she managed to calm her mind enough to keep the backlash from frying her mind. Then she started to search what she had come for.

There! Success!

She pushed the soil aside and picked up the small piece of bone that remained. It looked so ordinary to her, much like something a dog had buried, but her heart told her that this was it; there was no mistake. Keiko looked with ghoulish fascination at the object in her hand. It looked so fragile that she wondered if it would serve her purposes. There was no way to tell but to try.
Hastily she picked up her lamp and ran from the site, back to the house. Now that she had her relic, she was all the more determined to see through her set course. There would be no turning back.

Keiko paused when she reached the door to her house. No, she couldn't do this inside. She couldn't take the chance of Rui waking up and discovering her activity. She slipped to the back porch. Yes this would be the perfect place. Carefully, she flipped open her grimoire and began to trace the intricate seal diagrammed on its pages to the floor. She had practiced it before, but never completed it. Now she would... and if all went well...

Holding the fragment in her hand tightly, Keiko began to chant. The syllables rolled off her tongue, a repetitive refrain with words changed here and there.
It was intricate and difficult but her concentration was total. She WOULD do this, for the sake of her son.

She maintained her absolute focus for the minutes that it took, building up the energy. The hairs on her skin prickled as she felt the energy swirl around her, and her long brown hair slipped free of its ponytail like it had a mind of its own. Unbeknownst to her, her soft brown eyes began to glow.

Still, Keiko chanted.

Finally, the ritual called for the bone she had stolen, and a bit of her own blood. She took the ceremonial dagger she had smuggled over from China and cut her left hand, letting it pool on the fragment she had plucked from the grave.

"Blood of my blood, I call you from the grave! With your own bone, I bind you!
Flesh of my flesh, I give you life again! Hear my voice, and come across the worlds! Tsuzuki Asato, I command you to live again!"

For a long time nothing happened. The words hung in the air. Then the seal began to glow. Hope rose in her heart.

The lightning was now flashing constantly. With a final roll of thunder, the rain came down. It was a heavy drenching rain, and splashed on her wetly. The water weighed her hair down, her bangs covering her eyes. With an impatient gesture, she swept her drenched locks away only to see a confused pair of violet eyes looking back at her. Keiko gasped loudly in shock.

"Saa, what am I doing here?"

END PROLOGUE