Everlasting Child: The Story of Hisako

By evolution-500

Genres: Horror/Angst/Tragedy

Feedback: Always welcome

WARNING: This story contains violence, course language, disturbing themes and imagery. Reader discretion is advised.

Disclaimer: KILLER INSTINCT is a property belonging to Rare and Microsoft. I do not own any of these characters.


Shinano Province, 1493 - Sengoku Period

The rain was hard and unrelenting, eliciting a shiver from Chiharu's cold, soaked and bleeding form as she lay still on the muddy ground. Blood seeped out from the cuts on her face and various stab wounds, streaming and coalescing with the crimson puddles that oozed from her fallen enemies as they all lay scattered around her. Turning her eyes over to the eviscerated cadavers, she watched as they stared either skyward or down into the earth, their faces submerged in mud, water and gore.

How am I still alive?

Pushing herself slowly off from the mushy ground, Chiharu used her father's naginata to steady herself, letting out a groan before stumbling slightly. Once she regained her footing, Chiharu glanced around at her surroundings.

Red cedar trees loomed around her, the village lying in tattered and flaming ruins. Not one building or person that she knew had been spared. Bodies of beloved friends and family alike lay all around her, some so mutilated that it was difficult to tell one apart from the other.

Lowering her head in sorrow, Chiharu sniffled as she tried to stave off both tears and a cold.

Bastards.

Damn those evil bastards, each and every single one of them, especially that arrogant little shit responsible for all this destruction!

Wiping her eyes and nose, Chiharu looked carefully around, tilting her head to the side as she listened to the distant din of battle, the screams, shouts and clashing swords echoing from some far-off location.

A small smile of satisfaction edged its way up one corner of her mouth. She knew that the people from the neighboring villages were strong - from the sounds of it, they were driving the invaders back, and quite successfully.

Her father would have been proud of them. Proud of her.

Chiharu's features fell at the thought.

At least, she reflected, she hoped that was how he would have felt.

As Chiharu surveyed the damage, one body in particular caught her attention; a young man on his back, his face contorted in agony.

Brushing her thumb absent-mindedly against the gold neko-te on her middle finger, Chiharu silently glowered over the man's carcass, her hand tightening around the naginata in anger.

The prissy little oaf had the gall to attack her family?! Her home?! Her village?!

All because Chiharu refused to have him as either a husband or a lover.

When they had first met last week, the fool - a spoiled young aristocrat passing by the village on horseback - had happened to spot her as she was fetching some pails of water from the nearby river.

Much to Chiharu's annoyance and displeasure, the oaf had seemed to take an interest in her, repeatedly calling out to her.

At first, Chiharu had pretended not to hear him, but the fool had been persistent in his endeavor. Finally, when he became fed up with her lack of response, the oaf moved his horse right in front of her, blocking her path as he berated her, asking if she had been hard of hearing.

When Chiharu didn't answer, the young man then started to tease her about her mud-caked feet, further increasing her dislike for the arrogant little shit. No matter the insult, no matter the remarks he had made, the girl had remained silent, patiently waiting for him to move on, like one caught in the middle of a storm and waiting for it to pass.

For a long time, the young girl had held back her tongue, for this particular individual had a very troublesome reputation.

The son of a particularly vicious renegade shōgun, the young man - Chiharu refused to give him a name, not after what has happened, not after what he did - had been a renowned womanizer and a bully who had always got what he wanted regardless of the consequences, and few were willing to defy him.

Not unless they wanted to incur his father's displeasure.

Chiharu had hoped the man would just go away, but rather than being deterred, he just seemed to take her silence as a sign of encouragement. The man's demeanor had softened as he started commenting about her appearance, telling her that she was very pretty, that she seemed to be of legal age to wed, saying every conceivable compliment that made Chiharu want to roll her eyes.

Perhaps a more gullible girl would have had fallen for his insincerity, but Chiharu hadn't been fooled. She knew exactly the kind of man he was.

Tossing a beaded prayer bracelet to her feet, the man had then asked her- although demanded was a much better and more accurate description, really - to marry him.

Chiharu knew from the arrogant smug look on his face that he hadn't been sincere - he was mocking her, laughing at her with his lit-up eyes, looking down at her, the peasant simpleton with the dirty feet.

Her initial thought had been to strike him down herself...but she kept that part of herself under control.

For a moment.

So, Chiharu had ended up laughing in his face. She had wanted to be a samurai, not somebody's housekeeper. Especially not to a prissy-looking oaf like him.

The wealthy young man then became angry and had drawn his sword, and when he had tried to lash out, Chiharu had knocked him off his horse with her bucket and proceeded to beat him on the rear like the insolent child that he had been.

Children and other villagers had laughed at the sight of a grown man being spanked like a child, but the man had been far from amused.

"Aru Ni~Tsu, majo, fukushū shimasu! (One day, witch, I will have my revenge!)" He had sworn.

The humiliated man then got back onto his horse and had ridden away from the village in shame.

Looking to the prayer bead bracelet on her wrist, Chiharu's fingers clutched them tightly. Even though she had rejected his "proposal", she still kept them as a way of reminding herself to never marry a fool.

Hesitating, her eyes shifted away from the prayer beads, a feeling of melancholy and despair creeping into the girl as she eyed the destruction all around.

Was...was it her fault that all of this had happened in the first place?

Had Chiharu complied with the little bastard, could she have-

No. She would not allow herself to feel weakness. Her honor remained intact, and her family had been avenged.

Chiharu could bask in the knowledge that she was able to successfully send the miserable swine to Yomi-no-kuni.

Father would be proud.

Even more, she was at least able to save many of the village children from being slaughtered, so that had to count for something.

The girl hesitated.

The children...

As the thought crossed her mind, Chiharu looked around.

Wait a minute...where had they gone?

"Kon'nichiwa? (Hello?)" She called. "Dare ka kikoemasu ka? (Can anyone hear me?)"

The village was still as it burned.

"Dare ka kikoemasu ka? Kodomodachi? Kodomodachi? Kodomodachi! Kikoetara nani ka itte kudasai! Kowagaru hitsuyō wa arimasen." (Can anyone hear me? Children? Children? Children! If you can hear me, please say something! You don't have to be scared.)

Worry filled Chiharu's heart as she wondered what became of them, for as far as she could tell, the area was deserted.

Had they gone to the neighboring village for help?

Shivering, the girl fastened her red and pink kimono with her red obi sash around her waist, her legs trembling in the cold as she sneezed.

The sun was setting, and it wouldn't be long before night fell. She needed to get help, and quickly - Chiharu needed to find those children. She'll need to wash and purify the remains of her family.

Turning to the red cedar-covered road, Chiharu proceeded on in silence, holding the naginata close as thunder rumbled overhead.


The forest was eerily quiet as she crossed a stream, the water rising up to her knees. Aside from the pitter patter of water droplets on leaves as rain cascaded down, the slushing, squelching and crunching of her feet through mud, soaked grass, leaves and puddles, hardly anything stirred.

Wiping her eyes, Chiharu brushed her bangs out of her face, flinching as her hand lightly touched the freshly bleeding cuts across the bridge of her nose and brow.

Seeing her bloodstained fingertips, the girl waivered unsteadily, collapsing onto one knee as she used her father's naginata for support.

Damn it, just a little longer...just a little longer...

Looking up, Chiharu paused at the strip of red cloth tied around the naginata.

Clutching the fabric, she leaned her head into the weapon, the cloth brushing against her face.

It had once been her father's, a strip torn from his late shōgun's battle banner in remembrance that he always used to wear around his neck.

When Chiharu found it, it had been on the ground alongside his decapitated head.

'Please give me strength to last a little longer, Father, just so that I can make sure the children are safe.'

Straightening herself, Chiharu continued on through the woods, shivering as she tightened her sash around her, the kimono soaked and heavy, feeling like a second skin on her small frame as she pulled it in more with one hand.

Letting out a sneeze, she wiped her nose and face as she looked carefully around, listening intently.

While part of her wanted to call out, Chiharu knew better than to do so; she was alone and vulnerable, armed with only her father's naginata and the neko-te on her finger, and while she can certainly fend for herself, she was also injured, which made her position even more precarious.

Tree leaves rustled, their finger-like branches raking and flexing in the wind.

Chiharu shivered, and not because of the cold rain.

It was possible that there were still soldiers somewhere out in the area, in which case she needed to be on her guard at all times. Wolves and bandits were also sometimes known to lurk around these parts...among other things, but that wasn't what had been on her mind.

As she navigated her way through the dark wood, one memory in particular resurfaced.

When Chiharu had been a child, a traveling theatrical group came to the village and had performed a puppet show called The Story of The Ghost Wife. It was a story of love and betrayal, the tale of a woman who died and then came back from the dead only to murder her husband's new bride by ripping off her head.

She remembered how much it had frightened her as a little girl, the Ghost Wife's puppet especially with its pale skin and long wild black hair.

Chiharu shuddered as she tried to force the image back.

Ever since that puppet show, she had nightmares about the Ghost Wife.

Even now, even at nineteen-years-old, Chiharu still felt that cold fear in her heart.

The girl's fingers tightened around the naginata, her hands trembling from the cold, her breath caught in her chest.

As she eyed the dense underbrush and looming trees, Chiharu's imagination went wild with various possibilities.

For a long time, part of her wanted to experience something more than the simple mundane life a farm girl. Part of her hoped to encounter something wonderous, something beyond the ordinary.

What spirits wandered these woods as soon as Man had his back turned to it?

What mysteries lurked in the dark corners of this world?

Chiharu knew the various tales of yokai from her friends, family and other villagers, the strange encounters some have had outside in the woods - that was partially why she would practice in the bamboo fields with her naginata in the first place.

Sometimes, while practicing, Chiharu would hear strange noises or catch glimpses of something, but oftentimes the latter were so quick and fleeting that she would wonder if she had seen anything at all, if it had been nothing more than a fleeting fancy conjured by her own imagination.

Staring out into the shadowy, grasping and swaying claw-like branches of trees, for a moment, Chiharu could imagine the woods themselves calling out to her with a quiet, silvery voice.

Chiharu...Chiharu...

Part of her felt tempted to stray from the path she was on and go deeper into the woods, to go out and explore...but then the image of the village children flashed in her mind, a harsh slap of reality that roused her from her fanciful musings. Somewhere, the children were cold, alone, and frightened. Chiharu could almost envision them huddled together somewhere like chiclets in a nest searching for their mother.

Other, more hideous possibilities started to edge their way into her mind. Even if they were children, that hadn't stopped the depraved and cowardly from doing whatever they wanted...

Tightening her grip on the naginata, Chiharu hardened her resolve.

Whether it be bandit, animal or oni, nothing was going to stop her from making sure those children were safe.

Chiharu felt the soft earth squelch beneath her feet, the mud sliding between her toes and up her shins as she unsteadily moved forward.

Pulling herself out one foot at a time from a mud puddle, the girl adjusted her kimono slightly, casting a suspicious glance around her surroundings even as she walked on.

She could just imagine the Ghost Wife somewhere out there, ready to peer out from the trees at any moment.

Chiharu exhaled, shaking her head.

'It's just a play, silly girl,' she tried telling herself.

There was absolutely nothing to be-

She stopped in her tracks.

Something moved in the underbrush.

Chiharu waited, the air still as she caught her breath.

Looking to her left, then to her right, Chiharu squinted her eyes through the dense trees and rain.

….There!

A branch snapped some distance behind her, probably twenty feet away.

Someone or something was following her, and while part of her hoped it was one of the children, she couldn't be for sure. Straightening herself, Chiharu calmly continued forward.

The closest village was an hour's walk, and she still needed to wade through the rain, the mud and whatever other obstacles blocked her path.

Somewhere behind her, branches and leaves rustled.

Chiharu tightened her grip on her naginata, listening intently.

She wanted to believe that it was just an animal, a bird or perhaps a fox, but the more she listened, the more dread crept into her soul.

Clutching the naginata, Chiharu anxiously swallowed as she eyed her surroundings, her form deathly still, her heart racing so fast and hard that she could practically hear it in her own ears.

It wasn't even night time yet, and she hadn't heard the tell-tale eerie cries of the oko suzume or "sending sparrow" yokai that marked the presence of an okuri inu, and yet she still remained on edge.

From the sea of green ahead of her, a painted and mutilated white face rose, startling her enough to elicit a loud shriek from her.

A man stood before her completely nude, his entire body painted white and marked with strange and horrible-looking runic symbols that bled freely, his exposed crotch a horrible mottled mess.

Parts of his scalp and face were flayed off, giving him a skull-like countenance.

Before Chiharu could demand who he was, a series of strong hands grabbed hold of her and lifted her off the ground as she struggled, her weapon snatched away from her.

"Kanojo o sugu ni mura ni tsuremodoshite kudasai! (Take her back to the village, quickly!)" Someone said with a harsh grating voice. "Junbi ga hitsuyōda! (We need to make preparations!)"


As Chiharu was forcefully carried back, she was chilled to find a small gathering of nude men and women, their features flayed and painted white. One ghoulish figure, a muscular giant, stood with her father's naginata in hand.

Forced down onto her knees, she watched as the group knelt before what she assumed to be their deity, an idol representing some octopus-faced, bat-winged scaly abomination, chanting in some language she couldn't identify, the dialect and syllables so strange and foreign.

Unearthly.

"Ia! Ia! Cthulhu fhtagn! Ia, ia, Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn. Ia Sekitsui! Ia Sekitsui!"

Chiharu struggled in their grip, then froze as she caught sight of something that broke her.

Bodies of the village children were lying on the ground, their chests carved opened, their organs ritually removed and presented to the octopus-faced idol.

"Bangō…(No...)" Narrowing her eyes, Chiharu bared her teeth, tears freely running down her cheeks. "Anata wa yarō! Anata wa naniwoshita?! (You-you bastards! What have you done?!)

Letting out a shriek of pure rage, the girl twisted herself in the grip of her captor, taking a bite out of his arm as he screamed.

Tearing a chunk of his flesh off, Chiharu wrenched herself free and ran straight to the muscular giant that held her father's naginata.

Snatching her weapon from the brute, though a little surprised by the lack of resistance, with a wild rage-filled swing and a scream, the girl decapitated him before he even had time to react.

All eyes turned toward her as she stood there, her mouth and naginata red with fresh blood, her eyes burning fiercely. Every part of Chiharu trembled with pure burning fury.

"Anata wa kitanai yarō! (You filthy bastards!)" Chiharu snarled, blood frothing from her mouth. "Watashi no saiai no mura o anata no sonzai de yogosu nante nante kotoda! Kodomo o korosu nante nante! Anata ga tatte iru ji ga anata no chi de akaku nari, karera ga fukushū sa reru koto o watashi wa sore ni kidzukudeshou!(How dare you taint my beloved village with your presence! How dare you kill the children! I will see to it that the ground on which you stand will run red with your blood and that they will be avenged!)"

Hatred and pure outrage guided her blade as she struck wildly in all directions, slicing and dicing everything that moved, every blow punctuated by her screams.

Thunder crashed while lightning illuminated her being, the tiny girl turned war god as she cut a bloody swath through the cultists.

Rain mixed with the rumbling thunder, the gurgling, dying gasps and screams as one by one they were all eviscerated.

Charging toward the last cultist, an elderly man, with a scream, Chiharu ran the man through, the cultist letting out a sharp pained gasp.

Tugging the weapon violently out from his chest, Chiharu watched as the man collapsed to his knees, looking down at his blood-soaked hands.

Letting out a cough, he weakly raised his eyes to meet hers, then, to the girl's surprise, gave a slight smile and laugh.

"Anata, anata wa jibun ga fusawashī to shōmei shimashita. Watashi no shujin wa motto tekishita hito o erabu koto ga dekinakattadeshou…(You-you have proven yourself worthy, child. My master couldn't have selected anyone more suitable...)"

Before Chiharu even had time to react, the man fell lifelessly to the ground, a pool of crimson seeping out.

Staring down in confusion, the girl puzzled over the man's words.

What had he meant by "selected"?

Looking around, Chiharu was startled to find that the bodies of the cultists had disappeared along with their strange idol, then looked down to her feet.

Even the old man himself was gone - not a single trace of their presence could be found anywhere. Not a single footprint. Not even a droplet of blood anywhere.

Holding tight onto her naginata, Chiharu swallowed as she eyed her surroundings distrustfully.

What had just happened?

Taking a step toward the remains of a ruined house, Chiharu stumbled and fell forward, a feeling of exhaustion coming over.

Lifting her head weakly off the ground, she crawled shakily to the remains of her family, her form soaked as she was mercilessly pelted by the rain.

Wiping the blood and rain from her eyes and mouth, Chiharu shivered as she desperately crawled.

If she was going to die, she wanted to be near her family. Her father. Her little sisters Yua and Yui. Her grandmother.

Fingernails grasped hold of cold mud as she pulled herself forward.

So near, yet so far.

As she crawled weakly along the ground, something struck Chiharu as odd.

She hadn't given it any notice at first, but when she attacked those cultists, she couldn't help noticing that they had refrained from attacking. In fact, they had barely put in any effort in stopping her.

'Had any of it actually happened?' Chiharu wondered.

You have proven yourself worthy, my child. My master couldn't have selected anyone more suitable...

What did that man mean?

Proven herself "worthy"?

"Selected"?

Selected for what?

By who?

Night began to fall along with a series of footsteps that drew closer, the rain growing heavier and thicker.

Weakly raising up her eyes, Chiharu saw a figure moving toward her, his form and appearance completely concealed by the rain itself, her vision wavering even as he drew closer.

"T-Tasukete, (H-help me.)" She said weakly, reaching up pleadingly. "Onegai… tasuketekudasai….Shinitakunai...(Please...please help me...I don't want to die...)"
A strange warmth flooded through her being as she touched the stranger's boot, a sensation that she had trouble defining.
Before Chiharu lost consciousness entirely, the last thing she remembered was a low grating chuckle, a bony white hand gently caressing her face, and the sight of red glowing eyes.


And that concludes this story! Feel free to let me know if there are any corrections to the language or facts relating to Japanese mythology, history, and/or region here that need to be made and I'll be sure to correct them. My apologies if there are any errors here. I tried being as true to Hisako's story as much as I could. Also, I want to thank StarAquarius, Sir Attlich, ButterflyMiko and EcoSeeker for their immense help and highly recommend their works to anyone reading this - thank you so much, guys! You are all awesome!

Hope you all enjoyed the story - take care, everyone! :)