I am a very bad girl. Rather than writing in the stories I already have started, I took up not one, but TWO new stories... This is just the first one. The other one will be a Shiki Karneval crossover called The Other Half, but it doesn't have any completed chapters yet. As such, I cannot give an update schedule for this story. I want to see if I can keep my focus on my other stories as well, but seeing as to how this one wouldn't stop bugging me I eventually relented.
A quick note, I have only ever watched the anime series for this, but I looked up some additional information. How much of it is canon I cannot say for sure, so if I completely screw something up I'm sorry.
Another note, I have taken some liberty with the creation of Jinrou, which was inspired by Salt-The_Catgirl's Another Way series. She was kind enough to let me build on the themes she created for my own story, and I would like thank her for that. I will not include the details in here for they will (most likely) be explained at a later date and I wish not to spoil any plot points that might be connected to it.
I do not own Shiki :'(
Chapter 1: Aftermath
The extinguished fire perfectly mirrored his rage, now that the ashes were cooling his head was finally able to think clearly again. Toshio Ozaki looked upon the destruction served by his actions and couldn't help but wonder just how much he had lost in this war. Half of the village was burned, many were dead—his wife among them—and he had lost the person who meant the most to him. He didn't know what had happened to Seishin, but judging from the remains of the temple he now stood by it couldn't be good. Was he dead? If so, did he Rise?
Had there been another way?
These things had been monsters, evil, and yet… His mind wandered back to the conversation he'd had with Ritsuko's friend, the frightened nurse insisting on seeing the staked body of her friend. From what she'd told him Ritsuko refused to feed on her, stood by her resolve for days before finally convincing her guard to release her friend. Tohru Mutou. The boy had been the one to free her at Ritsuko's request. He hadn't remembered seeing him among the corpses, but he also hadn't seen them all. If it hadn't been for that boy then they wouldn't have found this place in time and who knows how many Shiki would have escaped.
Dropping his cigarette to the ash covered ground and grinding it cold with his shoe, he turned to face the Kirishiki's mansion, now in shambles from the raid and fire. He had almost been controlled by them, so very close to just being another pawn in covering up their scheme. Had it not been for Natsuno, had the sixteen-year-old Jinrou not gotten to him first then the entire village might as well have been killed. He distinctly remembered the explosion in the distance, towards the ravine they'd been throwing the bodies into. He could only guess it was that boy's doing.
In the end, they had only managed to win in the battle against the Shiki because some of them helped them. And now that it was all over, it couldn't help but cringe at the brutality with which they slaughtered them. He didn't know if there were others like Ritsuko or Tohru or Natsuno. Maybe they were the rare deviants of their kind. But the fact that it wasn't just the Okiagari that they had killed was starting to weigh heavily on his shoulders.
Turning from the ruined temple, Toshio slowly started back down the hill. A couple villagers greeted him on the way, rummaging through the remains of the empty houses, some left deserted when the families ran and other from the fact that the residents had long since been Okiagari. It didn't matter which, for those left behind needed the supplies to survive.
Eventually his feet took him passed the clinic he once worked at, where Ritsuko used to work, where he had brutally tormented his Risen wife to learn what he needed about her kind. He couldn't even bare to look at it. He had been a doctor, meant to save lives, and he had instigated the terrible massacre at Sotoba. No, he had no right to call himself a doctor anymore, and once he helped the few people left and gathered his own things he would leave this place, and find some other occupation that would keep his as far away from medicinal practices as possible.
Natsuno stared up at the other Jinrou with blank eyes, absently striking the match into life and introducing the flame to the end of the wick. "Don't you fear dying?" the other asked him, voice sounding almost resigned, as if he realized there was really no way out of this situation. He glanced around their deep prison, as if wondering if there was some place he could go to escape the blast, before returning his gaze to the dark-purple-haired teen.
The fuse continued to shorten, drawing ever closer to the three sticks of dynamite in his hand. "I already died awhile ago," he replied, a sense of relief in his voice. It was finally going to end, he was going to take this monster that had stolen what little happiness he had found in this backwater village down and that would be that. If it wasn't for them then maybe he could have gone to a city once he graduated, convincing that annoying blonde that had managed to weasel his way into his life to come with him.
He hadn't seen Tohru's body amongst the dead, but he hoped that wherever the boy was that his death was quick. Funny, how even after he had offered him another way, even after he had betrayed him, killed him, turned him, he still wished to see the other boy. Lying to the other boy had been easy, saying he could never forgive him, but trying to hide it from himself was… He still hoped that Tohru would be spared a horrid death.
Then an image appeared at the mouth of their tomb, a dark splotch against the red glare of the growing fire. It grew rapidly, the whistling of disturbed air accompanied by a terrifying scream. He couldn't make out what was being said, if anything was, but in just a couple quick seconds the younger Jinrou realized the object hurtling towards him was a slab of the chasm wall approximately five meters in length. It landed with a loud crash behind him, another form launching off it like a projectile straight at the smaller Okiagari. Vaguely Natsuno recognized the feel of fingers on his wrist, the explosives wrenched from his grasp as his body was quickly tossed—no, carried—behind the new barrier. The other Jinrou howled in rage, but his mind had already decided to shut down. Then there was the explosion, and everything went black.
The sun had already traveled across the sky when Natsuno woke, the smell of smoke and charred flesh heavy in the air. Despite not needing to breath he could tell that the oxygen was thin around him, and judging by the rotted stench permeating from the other side of the wall he was facing he could only guess it had been consumed by some kind of fire. He still couldn't seem to think straight, though, and as he brought a hand to his nose in an attempt to escape the assaulting smell he slowly took in his surroundings.
His senses gradually started coming back to him, his memory unclouding as the sun set closer and closer to the horizon. How was he still alive? The dynamite had been resting on his chest, positioned just over his heart. By all rights he should be in about a hundred pieces right now, so how was he still alive? Something was still missing in his thoughts, a hole in his recollection of the previous night. At least, he guessed it was the previous night; there was no way to gauge how much time he had passed in that pit. And since he was still alive he would have to find a new way to dispose of himself, since his previous plan didn't seem to have worked.
Then the shadow came back into his mind, the feeling of the dynamic being taken from him and his body being lifted from where he landed. Right, someone had saved him. But who? Why? Was Tatsumi still alive?
Struggling to his feet, first forcing himself to his hands and knees, Natsuno eased himself over to the large slab of upper wall. How had it been dislodged? Perhaps it had been about to fall as it was and someone else just helped it along. Strength returning to him even as he forced his way over the uneven surface of Shiki corpses, he leaned on the barrier as he peered around it, searching for any sign as to what had happened to the older Jinrou. At first, nothing stood out to him. There were large scorch marks on the steep sides of the chasm, pieces of charred bodies scattered around a large crater, but nothing indicative of he highly eccentric Okiagari.
Then a flash of teal caught his eye. Head whipping around to face the splash of color, to both his horror and relief he laid his violet eyes upon the man he had been searching for. Or, at least, his charred, severed head, an expression of sheer terror frozen on his face. He had managed to take the other Jinrou out. So whoever had stopped his own death was either not on Tatsumi's side, or had accidentally killed the one he was really trying to help. But who had done it?
Now feeling well enough to move away from his support, he started scouring the devastated pit for whoever had fallen down with the slab? We're they even still alive, or had the blast done them in as well? The only other thing in there with him seemed to be the unmoving corpses, so the latter might very well be true. And considering the damage before him, had they not been on his side of the barrier then there was little chance of their survival.
Turning around and glancing over the piles of bodies, the young Okiagari was starting to doubt he would find the one when one of the bodies caught his eye. Maybe it was the fact this one wasn't wrapped in a cloth, perhaps it was that half of it seemed to have been seared despite being well behind the rock, or it could have been the familiar shade of blonde hair covering half of its head, but he immediately knew that body. "T-Tohru," he stuttered, shambling over towards his best friend; and almost surprisingly, he still seemed to consider him that in some deep part of his being despite what the other had done. So... You are dead...? he thought, kneeling beside the corpse. Placing a hand on the Shiki's forehead, he could do nothing but stare for a moment before the sight became too much and he looked away. He was about to stand and walk away when a strange sensation overcame him, gluing his hand to the blonde and his feet to the floor. Almost mechanically, his head turned back to face the one that had sired him, dark eyes studying the burnt remains of the Shiki's head. Oh my god... he thought, unable to tear his eyes away. He's still alive! "But why isn't he moving?" He asked aloud, gazing up at the sky that had now darkened with the end of dusk. As a Shiki, Tohru should be stirring from the 'dead sleep' by now, but he was completely motionless, nothing indicating that the older Okiagari was still among the undead even though the Jinrou just knew. The injuries on his body were severe and not healing, but Natsuno didn't doubt his gut instinct. Now just to get them both out of there and somewhere safe.
Searching the bodies at his feet for a couple lengths of rope, a plan of escape from the pit was already forming in his head. He was certain he would need all of his limbs to climb the steep walls, leaving carrying his friend's body out of the question. However, tying the slightly taller male to his back, provided he could find the supplies, should work. Finding what he was looking for several feet away, he reluctantly removed his hand from the boy's body, his thoughts inexplicably fearing that by losing that contact that the blonde would mysteriously evaporate into thin air. But if he didn't retrieve the rope they would both remain trapped in that dark hole, and without some type of nourishment Natsuno would not be able to climb out for much longer, as well as the fact that any delay could lead to them being exposed when the sun rose again and sear the rest of Tohru's body.
Scrambling over to the bound corpse, he made quick work of the knots and pulled the thick cord out from around the dead Shiki's ankles. Dried blood stained the brown rope, coloring it a shade similar to brick in splotches, but he barely paid it any heed. Untying its twin from around the form's wrist, it was only then that he realized the body was of a woman. She wasn't one that he recognized, but her face was twisted in a terrified visage, obviously having been awake when the human mob had staked her. Part of him actually felt sorry for her, but he quickly shook those thoughts away, both physically and mentally. How many people did she kill? he asked himself, purposely ignoring the fact that the Okiagari he was currently working to protect had done the exact same thing. He didn't know this woman, though, couldn't know for sure if had she regretted her actions or reveled in them. And he didn't have time to dwell on it for every second he waited was a wasted second Tohru might not have.
Rushing back to the unconscious blonde, the Jinrou carefully placed his hands under the older male's arms and lifted him from the debris, trying his best to not disturb and aggravate the wounds littering his body. Pulling his pale arms over his shoulders, he tied the Shiki's wrists together in front of his neck, doing his best to make sure the knot was secure enough to hold him, but not so tight that it would slowly dig through the skin. Next was to bind the other's ankles around his waist. Praying it would not inflict further injury on his friend, Natsuno gently bounced Tohru higher up on his back, resting the blonde's head on his shoulder. Quickly tying the older male's legs together in front of him, he then allowed him to sag back down and to the point where his bound hands were practically choking the Jinrou. Then he stood and gazed up at the monumental task ahead of him.
Natsuno wasn't even sure where to start. The task at hand loomed high above him, and he hadn't exactly taken rock climbing before. If there even was a route to picked out from the steep walls he hadn't the faintest clue where to start looking. However… Looking at his hands, the violet-haired male wondered if his claws would be strong enough to pierce the rock. Stalking over to the rough surface, he glanced between it and his nails for a short moment before quickly slicing his hands across the glaring rock face. To his delight, five deep gouges appeared in the solid stone, pieces of rock flying to the side with the force of his swing. This just might work…
It had taken a bit of trial and error to figure out exactly what he needed to do to scale the wall. At times he had to back up slightly because he couldn't find a proper foot hold, which typically resulted in him making one by digging out sections of rock, and others he found menacing cracks that reminded him of the jagged edge of the barrier that protected him from the dynamite. Last thing he wanted was for another slab to dislodge because of his actions and result in him falling back to the bottom of the pit. This resulted in slow progress, and it ended up taking over an hour for him to scale the pit.
Tohru hadn't stirred once the entire climb, but through the contact Natsuno still got the sense that his sire wasn't truly dead. Now out of the chasm, he repositioned his charge to make himself more comfortable, hands locked under the blonde's rear and his head again resting on his shoulder. Their problems were far from over, though. When he woke Tohru would need to feed, and Natsuno had no intention of letting him attack humans again. By no means would he make his best friend starve, but they'd have to come up with a solution quickly. Also, there was the problem of shelter. He wasn't sure just how far the fire had spread, and if some were spared if they were already occupied. If the village had been saved from the fire he was certain the humans that were left had holed up in the intact buildings, so there was no point in checking there, and he was certain Yamairi had been decimated. Still, for some reason, he found himself walking towards the latter in hope something had been spared.
Sure enough, just as he'd expected, there was only the charred skeletons of the former settlement. Ash covered the ground like snow, the lumpy patches scattered around the only markers for what remained of the dead Okiagari. Old support beams that hadn't quite been entirely devoured by the flames jutted out of the grey expanse as if they were broken ribs through the chest wall, the last markers for what used to be the Shiki hideouts. None remained intact, as had been expected, but the trip did confirm one other suspicion the Jinrou had tossed around; there were fresh boot prints in the ash. Someone—or more accurately, someones—had been back here since the fire broke, most likely checking to see if there were any survivors. The tracks led back in the direction of Sotoba, so more likely than not their owners had been human.
Following the tracks, Natsuno quickly climbed the small hill until he could see down into the valley below. Despite the night sky offering little light he could see just fine, one of the perks of being an Okiagari, and from what he could tell the fire was stopped before it could completely destroy Sotoba. There was a line about a third of the way through town where the damage hastily lessened, no doubt where the fire trucks had finally intercepted the blaze, and beyond that there appeared to be no signs of fire. His house was on that side, as was Tohru's. He didn't dare try to make that trip, though. If those who came up to Yamairi were doing so in search of surviving Okiagari then the last place he wanted to bring the unconscious blonde was into the heart of their domain. However, this bit of knowledge was extremely helpful because he distinctly remembered finding a cottage several miles west of his home, tucked away in the woods, when he wandered through them after Rising. If its owner lived on the safe side of Sotoba—or better yet, had been an Okiagari that was now slain—he could easily take up residence there for a few days until he managed to sort things out without too much worry of being discovered. And since the humans were no doubt still leery of surviving Shiki during the hours of darkness he should be able to make it through without obstruction provided he stayed away from the roads.
Shifting his burden's weight slightly and glancing at his shoulder to confirm the older teen was still asleep, Natsuno sighed quietly and started picking his way down the slope, careful to stay in the tracks of whoever had previously traversed the hill. If they chose to come back up the next morning he didn't want to risk them becoming suspicious of his tracks. It was for this reason, too, that when he came to the road he followed it in the wheel tracks for approximately half a mile before slipping over the opposite edge and continuing on his way. If the expedition to Yamairi had all piled into a vehicle once they made it to the road then it would look really odd for a set of footprints to continue down at that spot and they might follow in search of a Shiki.
The ash thinned to just a light dusting the closer he got to the village. Soon he knew that he would have to start detouring to the north until he found more concealing trees, the skeleton remains he was currently walking through providing little cover if he happened upon someone. That side was also away from the road leading out of the village and was less likely to have anyone on watch.
The only trouble he ran into as he picked a path through the forest was time. It was taking longer than he'd thought it would making his way to the mountain but he'd seen before, his pace weighted by the young Shiki he was carrying on his back. Had he had the ability to run there it would have taken him maybe an hour because of his Jinrou-enhanced speed, but with the risk of worsening Tohru's injuries he had to trudge on slowly. At this rate it looked like he might make it just barely before sunrise.
Fatigue was already setting in and the sky was lightening with the first tinges of dawn by the time the wooden structure came into view. He hadn't seen any indication that anyone had come this way recently, though, so with any luck the building would be considered deserted and the two Okiagari wouldn't need an invitation to enter. If his luck was bad he'd simply hole up in the woodshed until nightfall and find a new place in the morning, possibly even risking entering the village to go to his own home because he honestly had no clue where else he could go that could provide his companion with cover.
Standing a few feet from the door for over a minute, just staring at the metal handle, he bravely swallowed his apprehension and stepped up to the wooden portal. Moment of truth time, he thought and reached for the handle. It was locked, but it didn't repel him. Vaguely he remembered Tohru trying to open the door to his home that first night he came to drink his blood, but he couldn't let doubt invade his thoughts. It may be locked, but his new strength could more than match it.
Jerking down on the handle he heard the locking mechanism snap and the bolt slide out of the way. And opening the door he took the first step inside their new shelter.
The first room was a large living area, a couch and two chair circling a coffee table and area rug in the center of the room and a wood fireplace depressed into the far wall. A couple end tables with vases of fake flowers were pressed against the walls as well, but whoever owned this cottage didn't seem to hunt for no trophies adorned the walls. The large windows made this room less than ideal, though, so closing the door carefully he headed down the hallway to his left.
The first door he came to was a bathroom, and if the worst came about it would work for their current needs. While fairly small, the bath/shower combination taking up just under half the space, there were no windows. He could lay Tohru in the tub to sleep and take the floor for himself. The next door, though, looked much more inviting. The king-sized bed was pushed back into the corner, the only window in the place offset from it by more than a meter and covered by thick curtains. The bedside table could easily be moved to hold it down more securely as well, hopefully preventing any sunlight from reaching the vulnerable Shiki. And if some did manage to reach the bed there were several plush blankets he could use to cover his friend.
Taking just a moment to reposition the nightstand against the window, finding that it also extended partially over the sill which could help slow down any who tried to enter there, he walked back over to the bed and sat down on the edge. Untying the blonde's feet first, he kept a good grip on his pale wrist as he let the other rope fall to meet it on the floor. Tohru's back was where most of the damage to his body was located, so as he slowly lowered the other boy to the cotton surface he made sure to lay him on his side. Then, gently as possible, he shoved the older male back into the far corner, as far away from both the window and door as possible. And feeling his own weary body trying to give out, he curled up around him protectively as a Jinrou shield and fell into a light slumber.
Alright, something I will explain here really quick. I'm not sure if it is mentioned somewhere in the manga, so if it is or if it contradicts what I'm about to say, just know this is how it works in this story. Neither Jinrou nor Shiki can enter someone's home uninvited. However, if the house has been abandoned (No one has lived there for more than a week) then the barrier fades and they can enter. If someone decides to reoccupy the house (which is accomplished just by walking through the threshold with the intent to stay there) then the barrier will go back up. If the Shiki or Jinrou are already inside at the time nothing will happen to them. But if they leave then they lose their 'invitation' and cannot reenter unless invited.