Teaser: Hensou

The night air was still and cool, touching flesh with fingers not yet ice, and it was silent in the clearing lit only by a crescent and a brilliant dusting of stars blanketed by whispering clouds. A blade slicing through the air and the muted breaths of exertion from an alabaster girl provided the only noise that dared break the perfect lack of sound, as her companion, an older man, was motionless and dead in voice where he leaned in the engulfing shadows of a prominent tree. Timing her swings with her breath, one-two-three, she twisted it into an arcing loop over her head, releasing it from one snow white hand to the other in two quick breaths before, sucking air into her lungs desperately, she dropped the weapon to the frosted grass and ran a hand through her cropped amethyst hair. Moonlight, made bright as a cloud freed the sliver from the tentacles of obscurity, touched on her face to reveal the disappointment she felt clearly. The glaive, for that was the poled weapon, glittered darkly and she knelt with a sigh beside it, tapping the dulled edge with one despondent fingertip. She was an ethereal beauty, wreathed in the delicacies of an understanding sorrow and a halo of wavering starlight, and as the clouds reclaimed the moon, she became a child of thirteen years once more.

"Stand up, Hotaru," the man said brusquely, shoving off the rough bark of the tree, still cloaked in the shadows of the ebon night as he walked swiftly to her. She rose, slowly, perhaps shy or perhaps a bit afraid, grasping the smooth pole in her hand and bringing it up with her. Resting its butte on the already bent grass, she kept her gaze down, grateful for the silky strands that hid her violet eyes from his cold grey-amber ones. It was a futile hope to think he might not demand her full attention, and she was barely disappointed when his fingers probed under the protective curtain of her downy hair and caught her chin, gently pulling her face up. Imperceptibly, her own fingers tightened around the glaive's staff, the pale skin of her chin crawling in a way that was both frightening and exciting. "You are letting your mind's control over your body fade," he said with mild annoyance, releasing her face and taking the glaive from her. He stepped back several paces as did she, knowing well this exercise, and he twirled it with a careless manner, flipping it over and under his fingers with one raven eyebrow arched slightly. Then, his air becoming suddenly deadly, he swung it like an outward pendulum, the blade and pole blurring in the speed and darkness. Hotaru did not blink, though her hair flew past her ears at the faux wind produced by the motion. He had frozen the muscles from his shoulder to his hand the second before he released it, leaving the tip a scant few centimeters from her nose.

He smiled briefly and flipped it back into an upright position in his hand. "Haven't lost everything," he commented dryly, tossing the glaive to Hotaru with a practical flick of his wrist. She caught it, bending her legs momentarily, and trotted back to her original spot, adopting a loose stance, wriggling her toes in her shoes to restore complete feeling in her feet. "Remember that your mind can eliminate the pain your body feels," he called as he strolled back to the tree, turning and folding his arms over his crimson jerkin. With a nod of his head, he stated, "Begin again."

She breathed deeply in preparation, closing her eyes and lifting it up parallel to her body. As if a timer had gone off in her mind, she exploded into elegant movement, twisting and swinging her weapon in efficient, beginning sweeps. Opening her eyes, she began the macabre dance.

"It is an extension of your arm, your finger," he intoned from his seemingly relaxed state, keeping his eyes fixed on her. She followed his words mentally, having memorized the recitation months ago. "As of now, you are not a warrior or a student, but a dancer and a poet. /Smooth/ motions; be graceful." Obediently, she stepped lighter and flourished more, losing herself in the cursive steps and broadening sweeps. While his voice faded from her mind, she realized it was happening again, the separation of soul from body, this heralding of the Sight. Her body, she knew, would operate on autopilot. Already she could sense Tachyon, her spirit ally, stirring to watch her, and she was free from the constraints of her mortal body, soaring up, only to be pulled into the nothing of the Sight…
::A girl was smiling, though Hotaru could not say how she knew, for the girl was blinding: she glowed with the brightness of a magnified moon, all silver and joy and laughter, burning Hotaru's eyes and scalding her flesh with cold heat. When the shadows came, swallowing the amethyst child, she was relieved to feel the dark familiarity, but the moon-girl was crying now, lost in the darkness that so comforted Hotaru, and there was pain!::

"Ow!" Hotaru shrieked, trying to drop the glaive as the nerves in her shoulder pulsed with electric agony. Tachyon hissed and flickered, its red electricity spinning around its spirit body. She was chagrined to discover the glaive had not dropped, but was instead pinned to a tree. The man scowled at her from where the blade sects had pierced the wood on either side of his slender neck and she flushed.

"Do you mind?" he asked in irritation.

Still red-cheeked, she wrapped her hands around the pole and dug her heels into the cold earth, pulling with all her might. It popped free and, through the power of inertia, it flew over her head, narrowly missing Tachyon, who squeaked and dove out of the way, to land, points down, in the ground.

"/Always/ keep control of your weapons," he all but spat, rubbing unconsciously at his neck and frowning deeply. "And the goal is to /keep/ your mind to use your body correctly." He sighed, then, rolling his shoulders experimentally and glancing at his furiously blushing protégé. "Tell me what you saw," he said, his voice softening. The fiery red slipped from her cheeks like a bloody tide from albino sands and she seemed to shrink slightly.

"I saw Her," she whispered and he nearly missed it. "But Hao-sama," he grimaced, regretting she had yet to rid herself of the habit engraved into her mind as a child, "he…devoured Her, I think." She pressed her lips together thinly, face thrust into partial, flickering shadows by Tachyon's unsteady glow.

Tao Ren's mood went to hell.

Blabble: Can you say 'OOC'? ;] Please review. Compliment, comments, and constructive criticism (notice 'constructive,' as in 'kindly') are desired, and I would be much obliged.

Disclaimer: Hiroyuki Takei created Shaman King and everything in it; he, Shueisha Inc., Viz, and various others own the Mankin series and such. Naoko Takeuchi, as everyone knows, created the very famous Sailor Moon universe and all that entails; she, DiC/Disney, Cloverway, Kodansha, Mixx, and around five million other people/companies/organizations own it.