Genbu no Miko: The Winter's Tale
Chapter 6 - Iris
Disclaimer: Anything you recognize isn't mine.
"Run Emtato-chan, Run! Go to Chamka's village! Your aunt is there! Go now!"
"We'll be joining you shortly!"
The woman's face glimmered – was it perspiration or was it courage? Her voice resonated with strength and urgency; it spoke of the need to survive. Her hands – one was clenched over a crudely fashioned weapon, the other on the young child. Yet her eyes…they denied everything, for they were but two vacant black holes that had already resigned to fate. Then she pushed her child out of the door, and that was the last memory of his mother.
He was young then. Was he expected to have to go through all this at such an age? Mindlessly, he ran on, her last words pounding in his heart and brain. The fires raged on behind and maniacal laughter that battled with soaring screams became a twisted creation of a song that played in his heart, spurring him on, to leave it all behind.
Across the arched stone bridge, over the river, across the snowy fields and finally! Finally, he reached Chamka's village where a glowing green seemed to beckon to him, guiding him amidst the mess of destruction that stood in his way.
The boy enveloped in the green light that would give him no warmth, turned around wordlessly, and raised his bloodied hands up. Tears rained down on them, as if in a weak attempt to cleanse the sticky fluid that clung to his little hands.
Emtato's gaze fell on the familiar faces of the corpses before them. He needed to ask nothing more. Putting his arm awkwardly around Chamka, he offered a soft prayer to those who had left so tragically, a frozen knowing deep down within that the same fate had probably befell the singers of the song within.
Then, they buried them all and ran.
They should have been tired after two full days of continual running. How did they manage to go on? The fuel that burnt and blazed within…what was it? Fear. It was what that kept them alive. Now the little ones hid in a small cave for a few days. Chamka finally fell asleep.
But for Emtato, the pain that had been nagging at him throughout his entire run, now grew with an intensity that threatened to eat him whole. Bringing his hands up to cover his right eye, a burning heat arose from him to centre itself in that glistening orb. The skin around the eye stretched and pulled, just as the iris did. The little dark lines that formed a circle now shifted to reform themselves into a dark symbol that read as dipper that meant so much more, that marked him.
His blood-curdling scream awoke the younger child up whoran over frantically to pull the other's hands away from his face. The strangely transformed eye now cried blood as it released a strange magic in its light that returned the other child to horrible scene of tragedy. Trapped within their minds, within their pain, both gave into oblivion.
The young girl who found them later healed their wounds.
They remained unconscious for days. When they awoke, they both had new names.
"Tomite" and "Hikitsu"
That was what they called each other. That was what everyone called them then. They made a pact between them to never to call each other by their own names once more. With the mark upon them as the chosen ones who would help the Priestess, they swore vengeance, for justice to be paid in tenfold against them who had torn everything apart.
Then a woman came looking for her grandchild.
They went separate ways with the knowing they would meet once more, both stronger and closer to their goal.
Unconsciously, in his sleep, Hikitsu fingered his eye patch.
Her name was Xue Shuang. She was the one who had bandaged his eye and told him it would be alright. She was the one who had treated their wounds, with mystical healing powers that heaven granted few.
But his eye never healed. It remained that way and it always would until it had seen enough of what should have been seen. Awoken since that instant, it would see it all through.
And it saw her burned at the stake as they threw curses and accusations of "Witch!" at her. He ran away once again as they turned their attention on him. They attacked him because of his mark, his symbol. He could not comprehend nor follow what happened next. It was all too fast. Flying snakes that kept him safe. If only they could have eaten away the fire that ate at her. But it was all too late. The fire died later and left nothing behind. Not even ashes.
"Hikitsu! For the last time, wake up already!"
"Takiko is running a fever! I am getting her to the doctor!"
"The nearest doctor is miles away!"
"Well we aren't exactly spoiled for choice, are we?"
With that, they packed and mounted their horses. Takiko lay in Tomite's arms, mumbling feverishly something he could not catch. With much urgency they left.
The passed a familiar stone bridge along the way, but neither spoke a word. And then a familiar patch of land where pieces of gnarled wood stood watch over the snow-covered land. Then past a familiar cave, and on and on they went.
"They will probably be heading to the nearest doctor who resides in this village." Jabbing a bony finger to a circled area on the map, the old lady continued, "Send some people after them."
"How do you know where they will be heading?"
"You dare question me!"
The soldier bowed his head in fear, knowing full well her authority in the country and apologized frantically. In response, he got her smile, which shook him further, for he knew how sadistic and cold-blooded one had to be to rise within the ranks in Kutou.
"I am in a good mood today… I've spent a lot of magical energy to cast a fever on her that would eat into her sanity. So those poor little fools, so easily manipulated, will attempt to save their poor priestess's life by seeking for medical help!"
Interjecting her words with a shrill laughter, she then continued, "And while they do so, you had better finish them off now! Once and for all! This task is boring me…"
With a wide yawn and a lazy wave, she dismissed the officer to his task.
And so two groups of people moving in opposite directions went on their journeys, eventually meeting near the foot of the mountain, in a dip of a valley that forced the trio into a situation like that of cornered mice.
"Hikitsu! You take that those on the left!" Tomite yelled while stringing his bow with few arrows that already struck down their targets as his voice echoed through the valley.
"Yes yes my good friend. I've got three down already… Don't forget to protect Takiko!"
"Ha! Five down for me already! What do you mean by that? Of course I won't forget!"
Stabbing another with his dagger as his ice snakes took care of the others that milled around him, Hikitsu replied, "You've always been lousy with girls…"
"You are one to speak! Twelve!"
"Look out!" Tomite turned back only to see one enemy fall against the side of the horse, a dagger sticking out of his back. "That's thirteen for me. You better buck up Tomite!"
"And a hundred more to go!" A flurry of dark throwing stars that sliced the air took ten down in that instant as a figure stood above them all, on the edge of the ridge that led down to the valley.
"Your friend?" Hikitsu raised an eyebrow quizzically as he took more down.
"Nah… Looks more like yours rather. You're always mixing around with weird characters."
"Which is why I have you for a friend remember?"
"Darn! I am out of arrows!"
Einosuke flipped the page helplessly.
"Takiko! Takiko! Takiko!"
Her eyes opened, taking awhile to recover from the glazed blurry sheen that distorted it all.
"Wha..? What's going on?"
"Takiko! You're awake!"
She didn't take too long to figure out what was happening. The arrows that sped towards them as the Kutou archers arrived and finally fired, rendered them helpless. Her burning mind was screaming already from the fever and now the scream finally exited her as it cut into the air. Silver light swept across the valley and in that instant, the arrows froze in mid-air for a second, before dissolving into dust in the next.
The remaining Kutou soldiers took awhile to recover from their shock and from the numbing sensation of the light that had just flashed across them. By the time they re-strung their bows, the throwing stars had met their targets.
"Takiko! Are you alright?" Tomite placed a hand over her forehead which burned still. She had fainted after the scream and light tore from within her.
"Tomite! Keep your guard up! He's coming…" Hikitsu rasped, the excessive use of his power had obviously taken a toll on him, not counting the multiple cuts on his body.
Indeed, the dark stranger clothed entirely in black was approaching them.
A/N: Hey there! Thanks for the reviews! And again, I am sorry for the long update! Actually had this chapter written quite sometime ago but I lost it! I think there's some mysterious portal to Bermuda Triangle hidden around my desk that is eating up all of my notes and papers. Or perhaps it could even be the portal to the Universe of the Four Gods! X.x Has anyone read Genbu Kaiden 5 yet? It's so sweet! Heh, please leave a review behind! Thanks!