Genbu no Miko: The Winter's Tale

Chapter 1 – The Beginning ofthe Legend

Disclaimer: Anything you recognize doesn't belong to me.

Along side with the world we live in, there exists another. Few knew of its existence and even fewer knew the entrance to it… Perhaps even none at all, for who would expect the portal linking the both worlds together to be hidden in a book entitled "Shijin Tenchisho"?

This secret world, which lay in the book, was called by some living in our world – The Universe of the Four Gods, for the simple reason that in this alternate universe, there were four major kingdoms, each protected by their own respective patron gods whom they served and prayed to. The guardian of the cold Northern Hokkan was the Brown Tortoise, otherwise known as Genbu while that of Southern Konan was the Red Phoenix, Suzaku. Sairou, which laid in the west, worshipped the white western tiger god Byakko and Kutou worshipped the blue dragon god, Seiryuu of the East.

Among the people of the different empires, there existed a myth or perhaps, merely folklore – should the country fall into dire straits, a girl from an alternate dimension would enter their world and gather the seven warriors of the constellations to summon the patron god. This girl would be no ordinary girl – she would be the priestess. With the successful summoning of the guardian god of the country, she would then be granted three wishes…

Many dismissed this as a story spun to enthrall little children or a creative piece of work thought up by some person who desired to add more to the archive of fables that already existed. Others saw it as a sign of dark days ahead and few believed.

Two long centuries ago, before Miaka Yuuki, the Suzaku no Miko and Yui Hongo, the Seiryuu no Miko entered the book, was the time of their predecessor – Takiko Okuda who would soon be called upon the service of Genbu to become the Genbu no Miko – the very first girl who would change the mindsets of the people, the one who would bring the myth to life…

She had fought bravely and hard with great determination to overcome the obstacles that lay in her path while gathering the seven seishi warriors before summoning Genbu. And when she finally accomplished her task, and had her wishes made, she was cruelly devoured and destroyed by the god whom she served, or so some say…

Nonetheless, a living legend she became, eternal in the hearts of those she touched an everlasting memory never to be buried by the thick layers of snow, which blanketed the frosty land of Hokkan…

And as the first page of the Shijin Tenchisho was turned, her legend, her story, began to unfold…

1923 Morioka, Japan


Silence fell over the room as students halted in mid actions and assembled dutifully before the teacher, leaving only ragged breaths to be heard in the hushed atmosphere.

"You've all done well today in sparring. I would like to especially commend Takiko on her improvement over the weeks despite being a new student in our school," the instructor of their spear combat class began before droning on and on. And when she was finally done, she dismissed the class and left the room.

Chatter immediately began with the teacher's departure as the students packed their belongings. In the middle of the room, a girl accidentally knocked into another before she was pushed down to the floor roughly by the one whom she had unwittingly collided into.

"Haven't you got eyes? Watch where you are going in future! Now if you'll just pick up all of my stuff which you've knocked over, I'll consider forgiving you," the girl smiled sweetly and the timid petite girl who had bumped into her.

With furious apologies, she picked up the stuff hastily before a shadow fell over her.

"Quit bullying her Keiko Satochi," a voice sounded overhead as another girl entered the scene.

Arching an eyebrow at the newcomer, the one who was called Keiko Satochi replied, "I fail to see how this is of your business Takiko Okuda. Unless you want no more trouble coming your way then it should, back off… teacher's pet…"

The timid victim tugged at sleeve of the girl who was trying to stand up for her and said, "Please Takiko… It's all right… You're new here… You don't understand… I'm fine…"

Disgusted by how everyone was submitting to the girl whose father was the principal of the school and possibly one of the richest men in that village, Takiko turned, gathered her belongings and began to walk out.

From behind her, came a sickly voice of a girl who no doubt was one of the cronies of Keiko Satochi, "Who does she think she is anyway? Some kind of a defender of justice?"

Screams erupted as a spear landed an inch before that girl who laid on the ground whimpering as she eyed the shiny metal tip that was embedded in the wooden floor before her. Takiko turned back and pulled it out of the floor and smiled at them, "Good bye."

With that, she left the room.

Back in the cramped compounds of her home, Takiko spun the spear in her hands as she went through her usual practices with a little more force than usual, albeit to vent her anger and frustration. Her practice was however interrupted by the shrill voice of her neighbor, which announced the arrival of her father.

"Einosuke! You've been away for so long! It's been months! How can you be so irresponsible to leave Takiko here while you travel to distant places? Can you answer to your conscience? Have you forgotten about your promise made to Kaede?" on and on their neighbor nagged, her seemingly flawless skill which she had honed over the years of her life.

Taking in a deep breath, Takiko ran to the front door.

"Dad!" she called out with a smile on her face.

"Takiko," her father acknowledged. The first word he had spoken since he stepped into the house. With a tired smile, he slumped into a chair and gently stopped the endless flow of his neighbor's words, "Thank you."

Deep into the night, a conversation took place in low voices in the living room.

"Iva, thank you for having taken care of Takiko while I was away. This sum of money is for you."

She protested, "We are neighbors after all… I know it's hard on you to raise Takiko single-handedly… but you must not forget your promise to Kaede."

At this, Einosuke Okuda interrupted her, "I've not forgotten my promise to her. I will take care of Takiko. I… It's just that… it's so difficult… Every time I look at Takiko, I am reminded of her mother… The resemblance… it is too similar to bear…"

His voice cracked as he paused to recover his composure. "We are neighbors after all as you said. Please accept the money. Take it as compensation for the expenses over these months."

"All right then. But Einosuke, I will be moving from Morioka to Tokyo next week… My family… We'll try to return to visit once we're settled. In the meantime, please take care of your family and not leave Takiko alone again like you did soon after Kaede's demise…"

"I was away to fulfill my promise made to her… It's a book… Kaede always wanted to know the stories and legends of Ancient China… She said she always hoped to see a book written by me, with the words 'dedicated to Kaede Okuda' on the first page…"

With a sad smile, he finished his explanation; "I guess I've fulfilled one promise already. I will fulfill the other now… Thank you once again for the help you've given over the past few months Iva…"

The door swung shut quietly, forming an unintentional barrier between the young girl who retreated back to her bed with tears streaming down her face, and the older man who was feeling the exact same heart wrenching pain…

Night receded as Day resumed her hold over the sky. Perhaps the ever-ongoing cycle of day and night is a sign to move on….

"Daddy how was your trip to China?"

Slightly startled by the sudden question, the very first of their conversation that day, Einosuke returned a tired smile. "It was… fruitful…"

Expecting her father to say more and perhaps elaborate more on his journey, Takiko found herself disappointed by the long silence that stretched out after that.

Things never used to be like that…. We used to have so much to say to each other… But with Mum's passing, has everything changed now? Don't give me that tired smile anymore, don't look at me and quickly avert your eyes as if it hurts so much to look at me… Is my existence a burden to you? A promise you have to fulfill?

All I want is a family…

Mum is gone now… You are my only kin left, Daddy…

All I want is acceptance…

Am I really such a burden in the eyes of all?

"If you need me I'll be in my room completing my book and calling up the publishers." With a slight incline of his head, Einosuke Okuda left.

It was late in the night. The petite girl walked soundlessly along the corridor towards her room. Her long brown hair was pulled back in a loose ponytail with stray strands falling across her face. Eyes of a warm hazel were dark in the unlit corridor. Her hand closed in on the knob of her father's room hesitantly before turning it, opening the door in one quick decisive move.

There in the dim light provided by the flickering light, was her father sprawled across the desk. Before him, were several papers arranged messily across the entire length of the desktop, a phone with its receiver improperly placed and a book.

Placing the coat across her father's broad shoulders, she picked up the book gently as she studied the words written across.

"The Universe of the Four Gods," her voice came out as a trembling whisper as she read the title aloud unintentionally.

Flipping open the book, the words, "Dedicated to Kaede Okuda" struck such a chord in her that the tears blurred her vision so, causing her to fail to notice the dark shadow of a mythical creature that swept past her.

A small paragraph below the line of dedication caught her attention. This was what it said…

"This is the story of a girl, who single-handedly gathers the Seven Stars of Genbu and gains the power to make her wishes come true.

The story itself is an incantation and the person who reads this till the end will gain the same powers as the protagonist, to have their wishes granted.

As soon as the page is turned, the story will become reality and begin…"

Without even reading it, Takiko's fingers lifted the page up and flipped it across as tears continued to stream out of her eyes in rivulets that made their way down her cheeks. She, Takiko Okuda, had no idea, that from the very moment she turned the page of the book, her fate, her destiny, would be set and recorded in it, as one of the greatest legends of time…

A/N: Hi! This is my second writing of Genbu no Miko and admittedly, it's quite different from the previous one. After reading the previous one, I felt that my portrayal of Takiko was a bit… uh… weird… I wanted to give a better introduction to the characters especially in the first chapter. Unlike in the story by Yuu Watase, I don't want the relationship between Takiko and her father to be really bad. Every one of us desires to be accepted, and I guess this will be one of the main themes in the story. Please don't mind me if you feel that there's any similarities shared between this and the first chapter of Genbu Kaiden, I promise you that things are definitely different from that of the manga from the next chapter onwards. Please review and give me your comments. Thank you!